Claire loves to read!

I'm Claire and I'm a voracious reader. I've loved books all my life and am lucky enough to have lots of time to devote to my favourite hobby - reading!

 

My favourite genres are crime, police procedural, psychological thriller, suspense, horror, mystery and paranormal; throw in a hint of romance and it'll tick another box. The type of genres I read has been widened considerably by accepting review requests from authors and publishers, so I'm happy to give almost anything a go!

 

    bookbridgr.com   2016 NetGalley Challenge 
      Reviews Published    2015 Challenge Participant

 *NOT CURRENTLY ACCEPTING REVIEW APPLICATIONS*
 

Review: Easy. Whole. Vegan. by Melissa King

Published by: The Experiment (13th January 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1615193097

 

Source: Netgalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Description:

Vegan, whole food recipes that will help families ditch processed meals by taking the hassle out of cooking!

Review: But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! by Kristy Turner

But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan!: 125 Recipes to Win Everyone OverPicky kids will try it, hungry adults won't miss meat, and holiday traditions can live on! - Kristy Turner

Published by: The Experiment (13th January 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1615193424

 

Source: Netgalley

 

Rating: 5*

 

Description:

In But I Could Never Go Vegan!, Kristy Turner proved that anyone can do it - with recipes that overturn common excuses, from "Vegan cooking is too hard" to "I could never give up cheese!" But cooking vegan for the whole family presents its own challenges ...or does it? Now, the 125 recipes in But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! will leave even the most skeptical relatives begging for more. Like its predecessor, each chapter tackles a different objection: Don't have time to cook elaborate dinners? Try an easy weeknight solution: Quick Cauliflower Curry. Worried about satisfying the "meat and potatoes" eaters? Try Lazy Vegan Chile Relleno Casserole. Cooking for picky eaters? Try the ever-adaptable BLT Spring Rolls with Avocado. Turner's cheeky, inviting tone and satisfying, easy-to-follow recipes make it more possible than ever for families to dine happily together!

 

Review:

This book is perfect for the newly vegan. The chapter headings are humerous and engaging, and the dishes are delicious and filling, enough to turn even the most carnivorous member of the family! There are meals to suit every time of day, from breakfast to supper, and everything in between, from light bites to full on meals, all your favourites veganised.

I received an advanced egalley from The Experiment via Netgalley.

Review: Sheet Pan Suppers Meatless by Raquel Pelzel

Sheet Pan Suppers Meatless: 100 Surprising Vegetarian Meals Straight from the Oven - Raquel Pelzel

Published by: Workman Publishing (13th October 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-0761189930

 

Source: Netgalley

 

Rating: 3*

 

Description:

Sheet Pan Suppers is back! This time, with 100 vegetarian recipes for satisfying, sumptuous full meals-all made on a sheet pan, and all meat-free. It's the one-pot meal reinvented with a healthy twist, and what is sure to become every busy cook's new favourite way of getting dinner on the table. There are recipes for complete meals, snacks, brunch, and even dessert, that require nothing more than a sheet pan, your oven, and Raquel Pelzel's inspired take on satisfying, delectable, vegetarian cooking. Recipes include Orzo with Pan-Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon, and Mozzarella; Loaded Chilaquiles with Baked Eggs; Super Creamy No-Boil Mac and Cheese; and more.

 

Review:

I was really interested to try some of the recipes in here as it seemed so easy to just pop the ingredients on a baking tray and stick them in the oven. Was it really that simple? Erm...no not really! Some of the recipes required you to put foil (which I don't like using) between the tray and your ingredients, which made me just want to abandon the whole tray idea and just use a pan on the hob. Then when it came to stir part-way through the cooking time, the ingredients were stuck to the foil, so it ripped. Using spray oil instead of foil would have been a whole lot easier! For some, using your own initiative when it comes to preparation makes it easier.

 

A lot of these recipes are great, for example the orzo with tomatoes and carrots with garam masala, but a lot rely heavily on dairy and eggs, so would not be suitable for anyone following a vegan diet or with high cholesterol. There is plenty of variety here for most , and many easily adaptable with a bit of thought.

 

I received an advanced egalled from Workman Publishing via Netgalley.

Review: The Pumpkin Cookbook by DeeDee Stovel

The Pumpkin Cookbook, 2nd Edition: 139 Recipes Celebrating the Versatility of Pumpkin and Other Winter Squash - DeeDee Stovel

Published by: Storey Publishing (1st August 2017)

 

ISBN: 9781612128337

 

Source: Netgalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Description:

From Currant-Pumpkin-Oat Scones to Chicken-Pumpkin Tacos, Pumpkin-Filled Ravioli with Fried Sage, Ginger-Pumpkin Ice Cream, and of course (seven!) pies, this comprehensive cookbook reminds us that the iconic symbol of fall is so much more than jack-o'-lantern material. These 139 recipes offer diverse and delicious options for enjoying pumpkin and other winter squash, such as butternut, acorn, and kabocha, year-round. With recipes for many forms of pumpkin, including both fresh and canned pumpkin puree, and inspired by world cuisines, the versatility of this superfood shines through in snacks, drinks, salads, soups, main dishes, and desserts.

 

Review:

I love pumpkin and squash and relish this time of year. In fact, I think it's such a shame to see all the pumpkins that just get carved for Halloween and discarded, when all that yumminess could've been used for so many different recipes.

 

This is a fantastic book. It's full of different ways to use pumpkins and squashes to create delicious savoury and sweet dishes. Wild mushroom pumpkin risotto and chocolate pumpkin brownies are particular favourites, although I do love the soups too.

The comforting dishes are prefect for the autumn and winter seasons here in the the UK and I'm sure many of them will become familiar favourites in my kitchen.

 

I received an advanced egalley from Storey Publishing via Netgalley on a voluntary basis.

Review: The One Peaceful World Cookbook by Alex Jack & Sachi Kato

The One Peaceful World Cookbook: Over 150 Vegan, Macrobiotic Recipes for Vibrant Health and Happiness - Sachi Kato, Alex Jack

Published by: BebBella Books (14th September 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1944648244

 

Source: Netgalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Details:

Marrying traditional wisdom and modern scientific and medical research, a vegan macrobiotic approach recognizes the profound effects food, environment, activities, and attitude can have on your physical and emotional health. Drawing upon traditional and contemporary cuisines from around the globe, The One Peaceful World Cookbook: Over 150 Vegan, Macrobiotic Recipes for Vibrant Health and Happiness shows you how to prepare delicious, satisfying meals that nourish your body and mind.

 

Based on the authors’ decades-long experience as teachers, dietary counselors, and chefs, on scientific and medical studies documenting the health benefits of a vegan macrobiotic way of eating, and on other cutting-edge research on health, vitality, and fitness, this book features 150-plus easy-to-follow recipes, including:

  • Roasted Beet Salad with Orange Mustard Dressing
  • Vegetable Paella
  • Tofu Lasagna with Carrot Marinara Sauce
  • Pad Thai with Tempeh
  • Mochi Waffles with Lemon Syrup
  • Tiramisu with Cashew Cream

 

These gourmet recipes, both savory and sweet, are designed for an on-the-go lifestyle and will both nourish and delight you. The One Peaceful World Cookbook empowers you with the tools and recipes you need on your path to optimal health and well-being.

 

Review:

In addition to offering over 150 delicious recipes, The One Peaceful World Cookbook explains macrobiotics in a clear and simple way that even made sense to me! There is also a comprehensive list of ingredients at the beginning. Although I've been following a vegan diet for 2 years, some of these were unfamiliar to me, so it was really helpful to find out what exactly kombu was, for example.

 

A lot of the recipes use some of the same ingredients, so it's good to know that your bottle/packet of x/y/z that you have sourced won't be used once and then go out of date lingering in the back of the cupboard/fridge.

Many of the recipes I think will become staples in my house as they are quick and cheap to make and based on grains with a few extras.

The recipes are explained clearly and concisely and the pictures are realistic.

Review: Defending Rebecca by A. K Bruinn

Defending Rebecca: a novella - A. K. Bruinn, M. John Harrison

Self-published (6th March 2017)

 

Source: Author

 

ISBN: 978-1520774275

 

Synopsis:

This is the true story (with a little fiction thrown in) of how hiring a Finnish au pair as part of a reality show wreaked havovc on Emma's quiet family life in Vancouver. All she wanted was a little help with her kids...

 

Review:

The idea behind Defending Rebecca caught my attention as I love stories with some truth behind them, and the idea of an au pair and a film crew had endless possibilities for disaster! I really like Emma. She came across as such a warm and generous person. She seemed to have a genuine reason for wanting to take part in the programme in the first place, to have an au pair to help her with the children. She seemed to really want to like Rebecca too. She seemed to be pushed and pulled this way and that by all the people in her life and I felt a bit sorry for her.

Rebecca is an odd character. I really couldn't work her out, which I secretly like.

The children are brilliant characters, especially Ryland.

I like the way the story flows and the character interaction is great. It feels natural and the amount of observation is fantastic. This novella is funny in places, and at the end of the story I was left wanting to read more.

 

 

Review: The Vegan Cookbook by Adele McConnell

The Vegan Cookbook: 100 Sensational Recipes to Inspire and Invigorate - Adele McConnell

Published by:  Nourish Books (21st September 2017)

 

ISBN:  978-1848993389

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Description:

Adele McConnell brings a fresh, inspired look to plant-based food, showing just how satisfying, dynamic and undeniably delicious contemporary vegan cooking can be. The beautifully photographed recipes make the most of a wide variety of fresh ingredients, drawing inspiration from cuisines around the world to help you create healthy, balanced meals effortlessly. McConnell proves once and for all that there’s no need to sacrifice flavor to eat animal-free. She creates her stylish, mouth-watering dishes with innovative techniques and nutrient-packed ingredients, including whole grains and protein sources such as pulses, nuts, tempeh and tofu. From Mushroom & Roasted Beetroot Polenta Nests to Chinese Spring Onion Pancakes with Ginger Dipping Sauce, you’ll find dishes that will tempt both part-time and fully-committed vegans alike. Complete with 100 inspiring, easy-to-follow recipes, The Vegan Cookbook isn’t merely about creating great meat-free food, it’s about 

 

Review:

There's a lot to love about this handy little cookbook. At the beginning, Adele lists lots of the main ingredients that are essential for a healthy vegan diet and details just what is so important about them and what the health benefits are. There are instructions on preparing your own basics, such as nut milks and butters, how to prepare and also how to cook tempeh and tofu and a whole host of other ingredients, as well as lots of other really handy tips. What I REALLY love is that there is not a single piece of pretend meat mentioned anywhere. No mention of that Q word either!

What I'm not so keen on is the amount oil used in some of the recipes, although I am on a weight loss programme at the moment, so that is influencing my thoughts! There aren't photos for every recipe, which doesn't really bother me. I tend to find food photos in cookbooks rather unrealistic as a rule, so not having something to aspire to is fine by me! The recipes I've tried, I really enjoyed and I'll be using again. I've got many more yet to try, including some rather delicious sounding pumpkin ones for Halloween!

Special thanks to Nourish for providing the ARC in return for my unbiased review.

Review: Back to the Boy by James Arthur

Back to the Boy - James Arthur

Published by:  Hoddor & Stoughton (5th  October 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1473665880

 

Source:  Purchased

 

Rating:  5*

 

Synopsis:

 

There are many things people don't know about me and maybe when they read about those things they will have an understanding of the journey I have been on and why I've made the mistakes I have.

Nothing that has happened in my adult life makes much sense if you don't know what life was like for me growing up. I have to go back to the boy, because he can tell you a lot more than I can...

In this book James shares his struggles with mental health issues which led to drug-abuse, and how he dealt with the feelings of intense pressure and loneliness that accompanied his sudden rise to fame. Back to the Boy gives an insight into the life of one of the most exciting musicians of today, and how his experiences are reflected in the blend of raw emotion and passion in his music. This is a story of hope and self-discovery to inspire those who have ever hit rock-bottom and managed to pick themselves up again.

 

Review:

 

Wow. Just...wow! Back to the Boy is unputdownable! I read it cover to cover in one sitting, and was utterly transfixed. 2012 X Factor winner and Sane mental health ambassador, James Arthur, really does bare his soul in this refreshingly honest and unflinchingly raw account of his life thus far. A rags-to-riches story you may have heard before, but this one is quite different. This one made me sit up and take notice. Now it all makes sense. The behaviour. The drugs. Everything. 

The candid account of life as a young boy and the struggles as an adult trying to cope with mental health issues make for uncomfortable reading at times and can certainly stir up emotions you may not even be aware are there. I found this so insightful, as a fan and as a reader too.  I just want to give James a great big hug. I'm seeing him live (for the second time) next month, so you never know...maybe I'll get the opportunity! 

If you, or someone close to you has mental health issues, depression, anxiety, panic attacks...you need to read this book, or buy it for them! The book is intelligently written, flows well and has enough high points to balance out the low. I think James's openness in Back to the Boy could help a great many people who are struggling, and it would also make the perfect gift for every James Arthur fan. #JArmy

 

Review: Murder Game (Detective Ruby Preston #3) by Caroline Mitchell

Murder Game: A gripping serial killer thriller you won't be able to put down (Detective Ruby Preston Crime Thriller Series Book 3) - Caroline Mitchell

Published by: Bookouture (31st October 2017)

 

ISBN: 9781786811622

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis:

A killer is playing a twisted game of life or death with his victims. After he captures them, a countdown begins. He marks the time by sending clues to the whereabouts of the women he has taken in three disturbing images: alive, tortured, dead. 

In a race against the clock, East London Detective Ruby Preston must play the killer’s terrifying murder game and decipher the clues before more women die. 

But this isn’t the first time the police have seen such a sickening crime. The notorious Lonely Hearts Killer, Mason Gatley, was put behind bars ten years ago for murdering six women in exactly the same chilling way. Desperate for more information, Ruby asks her gangster boyfriend, Nathan Crosby, to set up a dangerous meeting to allow her to see into the twisted mind of a murderer.

But the closer Ruby grows to the dark and charming Mason Gatley, the more worried her team becomes. Is he really helping her catch the killer? Or is he lining her up to be his next victim?

 

Review:

Wow! Every time I finish one of Caroline Mitchell's books I'm aware that I've spent the most part on the edge of my seat, mouth hanging open in shock and my heart hammering away! This was a real page turner with such a captivating plot. You can't help but like the fantastic Ruby Preston, who I absolutely ADORE. She's intelligently written and utterly captivating. I really like how her relationships with Nathan and daughter Cathy are interwoven with the case. It gives such a personal perspective in contrast to the professional side of Ruby and makes for a superbly well rounded character.

 

The case is shocking yet fascinating, like the scene of a car crash. The author is an expert at those twists and turns we just don't see coming...and there are plenty here. The story is intricate, dark and gripping, with great attention to detail. I was more than a little annoyed when life interrupted my reading time (much too often!) and I'm now eagerly awaiting my next fix of Detective Ruby Preston! Thanks to Bookouture for providing an ARC via NetGalley in return for my honest review.

Review: Seeking Eden by Beverley Harvey

Seeking Eden - Harvey Alexander Smith with Beverley Billiris

Published by: Urbane Publications (6th July 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1911331896

 

Source:  Review copy via author/publisher

 

Rating: 4.5*

 

Synopsis:

'50 is the new 30 - haven't you heard?'

Or so says Ben Wilde's record producer on the eve of his comeback. If only Ben could win back ex-girlfriend, Kate, he'd be a happy man. But married Kate has moved on, and moved out - to Eden Hill, a quiet housing estate in the suburbs. Lonely and homesick for London, can Kate resist ego-maniac Ben's advances and save her own flagging marriage?

 

Streets away, Kate's new friend Lisa, a Chihuahua toting ex-WAG, is primed for a fresh start - until her footballer ex-husband is found dead and she is vilified in the gutter press. But Kate, Lisa and Ben aren't the only ones having a midlife crisis; local shop owner Martin dreams of escaping his dutiful marriage, and develops an unhealthy obsession with Lisa and her friends in Eden Hill. Alongside a colourful cast of friends and family, Kate, Lisa, Ben and Martin are living proof that older does not always mean wiser because in Eden Hill, there's temptation around every corner.

 

Review:

Seeking Eden is full of interesting, well rounded characters and has a well-written plot with an unforseen ending. There is plenty to hold the reader's interest in this debut novel, which is definitely a page turner. All the different characters really work well together to pack a punch! Being a dog lover/owner, I especially loved the brilliant observations of and interactions between Kate, Lisa, Nellie and Ludo (fabulous name!)

 

There is certainly more to this tale of life in the suburbs than at first glance. There is lots of drama among the personal relationships and everyone seems to want something they don't have! It's like an infinitely more exciting and far better soap opera.

Special thanks to author Beverley Harvey and Matthew Smith at Urbane Publications for providing me with a digital copy in return for my honest review.

Review: Accepting the Unexpected by Mollie Jo Joseph

Accepting the Unexpected - Mollie Jo Joseph

Self-published (25th June 2017) 

 

ASIN: B073BLP8JK

 

Source:  Author provided review copy

 

Rating:  4*

 

Synopsis:

Whoever said love hurts... was not lying!

When Leila Pierce, a creative director for a magazine named "Sleek" got brutally ditched by the man she thought she was going to end up with, that was just the start of her life being turned upside down. After the heartbreaking betrayal, she then found herself in a dark emotional tunnel, veering towards depression.
She finds herself packing her bags and leaving Cornwall, England and heading to New York to help Sleek international magazine make it big in the US. Leila is great at her job, and this means she can quell any anxiety over this amazing opportunity, and when she somehow gets introduced to Blake Collins, an actor and model, things start to look up. 
To add more drama to the mix, she also meets the mysterious Richard Speal, a retired NFL player with a drinking problem and some pretty big emotional baggage of his own. She finds herself inexplicably drawn to Richard—could they be kindred spirits?
How could she possibly fall for another man when she's still broken from the last one? And the bigger question is: which man? 
The one that is too good to be true?
The mysterious one? 
OR
The one she thought she was supposed to be with in the first place?
Too many questions and not enough answers. She needs to work all this out and impress her boss, Miranda Cain, editor and chief at Sleek NY by making the magazine a success. That's a lot for anyone to deal with right?

 

Review:

This book was very much an unexpected treat! Central character Leila is finding her feet in a strange city, and attracting the attention of more than one gorgeous man. Leila is vulnerable and rather naïve, but rather likeable. During the course of the book, we discover Leila is suffering from depression and anxiety. This subject is covered sensitively, you can tell the author has researched the subject well.

Leila's flatmate Jessie, boss Miranda, Blake & Richard are well written and all important to the plot, which is a twist on the classic love triangle. Other minor characters that appear have their part to play too, and are intelligently written. I did guess from their first meeting who Leila would end up with, but that really didn't matter as I still enjoyed the story very much.

This book could definitely do with a proofread and edit. This would tidy up all the little mistakes and give the book a more polished feel. Readers of chick lit will enjoy this heartwarming tale of romance in the Big Apple. Special thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy in return for my honest review.

Review: I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

I Am Watching You - Teresa O'Driscoll

Published by: Thomas & Mercer (1st October  2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1542046596

 

Source: Author provided review copy

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis: 

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

 

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

 

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

 

Review:

Oh WOW! It's almost 4.30 in the morning and I've just finished reading I Am Watching You.  I've got no idea where the last few hours have gone - I've been utterly engrossed. Gripped. I'm in shock. What an ending! Teresa Driscoll you are a sorceress! 

 

Each character in this book is so integral in their own way, and they are all so brilliantly written. I could waffle on for ages about each of them, but that would make such a long (and boring) review...I'll just mention that I adore Ella, she's so beautifully written.

 

I really like how the story unfolds throughout the book, and how we learn more about each of the character's involvement. There are some real surprises along the way, the story is intelligently written and you just have to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.

 

Hands down, I Am Watching You  is the best book I've read so far this year. It's utterly compelling. I urge all my fellow crime fans to read it!  Special thanks to Teresa Driscoll for providing the review copy. 

Review: Grave robbers by Matt Drabble

Grave Robbers - Mr Matt Drabble

Self-published  (29th January 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1542725859

 

Source:  Author provided review copy

 

Rating: 4*

 

Synopsis: 

DI Lucas Grant thought that he'd seen everything that Bayport had to offer. A grim town run by a crime lord with half the police in his pocket and no one willing to take a stand. But now something new is happening, something that makes no sense. Bank robbers who won't stay down despite being shot multiple times, men returning from the dead to wreak havoc and death on his streets. Bayport might be a crime ridden hellhole, but it is still his town and outsiders don't get to burn it down, not without a fight. Saddled with a new partner he can't trust and forced into an uneasy alliance with the criminal who ruined his town Grant will finally have to make a stand. Forced to fight against the darkness he will get answers and find those responsible, wherever the truth lies and however incredible it might be.

 

Review:

If you're a fan of zombies, this is the book for you! The walking (un)dead are on the loose in Bayport and there's not a lot of people to stop them! Fast-paced, with plenty of action, Grave Robbers certainly packs a punch. 

There are plenty of interesting characters here. The good guys are likeable - I especially like LT, and the villains are loathsome. The story is good, yes, its been done before, but that's all good! Reanimation is all over the place at the moment, in more ways than one, what with remakes of this and that! This is rather gory in places, as you'd expect, but nothing a regular horror reader can't handle. Definitely worth a read! 

Special thanks to Matt Drabble for providing a digital copy in return for my unbiased review. 

Review: The Truth by Peter James

The Truth - Peter James

Published by: Orion (2nd August 2007 -reprint)

 

ISBN: 978-1407220505

 

Source:  Purchased 

 

Rating: 4.5*

 

Synopsis:

Susan and John Carter are crazy about each other and life is perfect but for one thing - they are on the brink of financial disaster. Surely being a surrogate mother to another man's child won't harm such a strong relationship? Especially when the mysterious Mr Sarotzini is offering to save their home and business - everything they've worked for.

What seems to be a perfect solution begins to feel like an impossible situation. Susan's pregnancy is disturbingly painful but no-one will tell her why. It becomes apparent that Sarotzini wields immense power and Susan begins to doubt everything she knows. As she realises the terrifying origin of the dark forces Sarotzini controls she is in fear for herself and John but most of all for her unborn baby ...

 

Review:

What seems like the perfect solution to the Carter's financial problems is the central theme of this horrific tale. Cleverly written, with dark characters and terrifying, grotesque attention to detail, the couple's involvement with the mysterious Satotzini and Susan's ensuing pregnancy are described in meticulous detail. Susan's dreams, in particular, a hard image to shake from the mind.

 

Although this book is gruesome in parts, I was utterly compelled to keep reading. I had to find out what happened to Susan and her baby. I picked this book up in the hospital as I had nothing with me to read and a long wait ahead. I thought I might be mildly entertained, perhaps pass the few hours, I certainly wasn't expecting it to be so gripping! I've read a couple of books by the author in the past, although not for some time. Why I've not read more, I'm not sure, but I'll definitely be reading more of his work in the future!

Review: Ultraxenopia by M.A. Phipps

Published by: Seven Sisters Publishing (1st August 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1546934400

 

Source: ARC via author

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis:

Don’t stand out. Blend in. Remain invisible. Those are the rules I lived by—the rules I thought would keep me alive. 

I was wrong.

Wynter Reeves is a law-abiding citizen of the State, a willing conformist whose daily life is haunted by terrorism and oppression. With the constant threat of death hanging over her like a shadow, she forces herself to live by a strict set of rules, all in the hope of ensuring she is never noticed. However, on her twenty-first birthday, as she prepares to take the placement exam that will determine her future within society, she begins to show symptoms of a rare and debilitating illness—ultimately attracting the attention of the State. Taken into the custody of the feared research facility known as the DSD, her worst nightmare becomes reality.

Ripped away from the life she knew, Wynter is forced to become the test subject of the mysterious Dr. Richter. Through him, she learns the true and terrifying nature of her condition: a disease called Ultraxenopia.

 

Review:

I initially read and reviewed Ultraxenopia when it was self-published and it was my number one read of the year. It's now been completely revised, together with the most breathtakingly beautiful front cover image I have ever seen. This is my review of this new, revised publication.

 

I was immediately struck by the author's fantastically descriptive writing style. There is such meticulous attention to detail that every possible query is accounted for. This debut novel is intelligently written and haunting with a gripping plot. It is just extraordinary. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars! It is in turn shocking, thrilling, horrifying yet so beautifully written.

 

Wynter is a great character. She's vulnerable yet feisty, determined and resilient. She is so likeable and I believe that readers, be they fans of young, or new, adult, or other genres, they will find it very difficult not to feel empathy for Wynter. Dr Richter, on the other hand, is the complete opposite; he's the epitome of every evil villain you could ever encounter.

 

I'd pretty much stopped reading dystopian books because many of them were so alike and I got disheartened, but Ultraxenopia has restored my faith in the genre. It is, hands down, the best dystopian novel I've ever read - better than all the Divergent, Hunger Games and Maze Runner books.

 

It is difficult to say much else without giving away too much of the plot, but suffice to say, I read it in one sitting as I simply could not put it down! I was utterly engrossed and unaware of my surroundings. It felt as though I was experiencing every emotion alongside Wynter, and was as desperate as she to fight for survival. I simply cannot praise it highly enough!

 

 

Spotlight - Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton

 For a limited period, the eBook version of Rarity from the Hollow is on sale for $2.99 and the Paperback is on sale for $16.99. https://www.amazon.com/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton/dp/190713395X/

Author proceeds contribute to the prevention of child maltreatment: http://www.childhswv.org/

Project Updates: https://www.facebook.com/Lacy-Dawn-Adventures-573354432693864/

Synopsis:

Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.

 

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children's Story. For Adults.

 

“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.”

Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest

 

 

“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.”

    Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review

 

 

. "…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy." -- Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)

 

“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” --Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)

 

“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” — Piers Anthony , New York Times bestselling author

 

“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” -- The Baryon Review

 

Culture: This novel was written in colloquial Appalachian voice.

 

Political Allegory: This novel was the first, perhaps the only, science fiction adventure to specifically predict the rise of Donald Trump to political power -- parody with no political advocacy one side or any other. Readers find out how Lacy Dawn, the protagonist, convinced Mr. Rump (Bernie Sanders) to help talk Mr. Prump (Donald Trump) into saving the universe. The allegory includes pressing issues that are being debated today, including illegal immigration and the refuge crisis, an issue that several European commentators have compared to cockroach infestation; extreme capitalism / consumerism vs. domestic spending for social supports; sexual harassment…. Mr. Prump in my story was a projection of Donald Trump based on the TV show, The Apprentice. The counterpart, Mr. Rump, was based on my understanding of positions held by Bernie Sanders as I wrote the story. Part of the negotiations in the story occur in the only high rise on planet Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop), a giant shopping mall and the center of economic governance, now more easily identifiable as Trump Tower. The allegory was not addressed by ARC reviewers of the novel because so few people worldwide considered Donald Trump to be a serious political contender until the primary elections in the U.S. The political allegory in the novel is obvious now that Donald Trump has become a household name.

 

Formats: Review copies are available in .pdf, .mobi, and .epub formats. With some exceptions, paperbacks for review are limited to the U.K. and the U.S. so as to avoid international shipping costs. If interested, please specify the format and I'll send you a copy.  

 

Sample Reviews of Final Edition: Requests for reviews of the new edition of Rarity from the Hollow are now being considered. On 1-6-17, the first was published, five stars. To facilitate your consideration of reviewing this novel, the closing lines were: "…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s 'Animal Farm.' I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list." https://marcha2014.wordpress. com/2017/01/06/5-stars-for- rarity-from-the-hollowby- robert-eggleton/

On 2-17-17, Dan'l Danehy-Oakes, a critic whose book reviews often appear in the New York Review of Science Fiction, published his review of the final edition, five stars: "…I know this all sounds pretty whack, and it is, but it's also quite moving. Lacy Dawn and her supporting cast - even Brownie, the dog - are some of the most engaging characters I've run across in a novel in some time…." http://sturgeonslawyer.livejournal.com/

“…It feels timeless, classic and mature in way that would ensure its longevity if more people knew about it… a distinctive approach to the adult-fairytale/modern-retelling sub-genre…I would even say it could be read in a college setting both for the craft itself and its unique brand of storytelling. The premise is brilliant." https://taylaroi.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/rarity-from-the-hollow-by-robert-eggleton-a-revised-book-review/

 

Sample Positive Reviews of Advance Review Copy: The ARC of this novel had a formatting error that has been corrected. The final edition reads much smoother. This problem likely affected some reviewers of the ARC. A few book bloggers have upgraded their reviews based on a review of the final edition and others may do the same. Despite the formatting problem, the ARC was awarded two Gold Medals by major book review organizations, was named one of the best releases of 2015 by a Bulgaria book critic, and received twenty-six five star reviews and forty-three four star reviews by independent book review bloggers. An unsolicited Top 100 Amazon Reviewer found:

 

"Rarity from the Hollow written by Robert Eggleton, to be fully honest, was much more than expected and a great read – semi-autobiographical literary work full of beautiful and ugly things, adventure, romance, pain and humor…."

 

Another reviewer of the ARC found that the writing style was one-quarter turn beyond that of Kurt Vonnegut. http://electricrev.net/2014/ 08/12/a-universe-on-the-edge/

The ARC was found by the editor of Atomjack Science Fiction Magazine, to be “laugh-out-loud funny” in some scenes. Long-time book critic, Barry Hunter, closed his review, “…good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find." http://thebaryonreview. blogspot.com/search?updated- min=2012-01-01T00:00:00-05:00& updated-max=2013-01-01T00:00: 00-05:00&max-results=50

Vonnegut, Douglas Adams (i.e., Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), or Tom Robbins (i.e., Another Roadside Attraction) are also close examples by subgenre. A former Editor of Reader's Digest found that, "Rarity from the Hollow is the most enjoyable science fiction that I've read in several years…."  http://warriorpatient.com/ blog/?p=58 My novel was referred to as a Hillbilly version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy  and awarded a gold medal by Awesome Indies:  “…Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate….”  http://awesomeindies.net/ai- approved-review-of-rarity- from-the-holly-by-robert- eggleton/  

With respect to the story's treatment of tough social issues, this reviewer said: "…I was hesitant to accept. I usually do not read or review books that discuss child abuse or domestic violence; however, I was intrigued by the excerpt and decided to give it a shot. I am glad that I took a risk; otherwise, I would have missed out on a fantastic story with a bright, resourceful, and strong protagonist that grabbed my heart and did not let go http://www.onmykindle.net/ 2015/11/rarity-from-hollow. html

A book reviewer from Bulgaria named Rarity from the Hollow as one of the best five books that he had read in 2015, along with Revival by Stephen King and The Martian by Andy Weir. http://codices.info/2015/12/ top-5-for-2015-ventsi/

On December 31, 2016, the ARC of Rarity from the Hollow was named a Top Pick for 2016: http://everyfreechance.com/2016/12/efcs-top-picks-of-2016.html.

On January 20, 2016, it was awarded a second Gold Medal by a popular book review site: https://readersfavorite.com/ book-review/rarity-from-the- hollow.

Additional praise of the ARC has been posted by book bloggers on Amazon.

 

Social Commentary: My work utilizes SF/F cross-genre as a backdrop. It is not hard science fiction and includes elements of fantasy, everyday horror, a ghost -- so it's a little paranormal, true-love type romance, mystery, and adventure. The content addresses social issues: poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, local and intergalactic economics, mental health concerns – including PTSD experienced by Veterans and the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment of Bipolar Disorder, Capitalism, and touches on the role of Jesus: “Jesus is everybody’s friend, not just humans.”

 

Writing Style: This novel is written in third person omniscient narrator. “…The author has created a new narrative format, something I’ve never seen before, with a standard third-person narration, interspersed, lightly, with first-person asides. This makes me think of Eugene O’Neill’s play Strange Interlude where internal and external dialogue are blended...partaking a little of the whimsical and nonsensical humor of Roger Zelazny or even Ron Goulart….” Jefferson Swycaffer, Affiliate, Fantasy Fan Federation. https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1QI8J7NME5GE/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B017REIA44 Some of the inner thoughts of characters are in italics following the speaker's voice. For some busy book reviewers, this style could feel like it slows down the read and could result in head hopping if an attempt is made to read this novel too quickly, but for leisurely readers with time to contemplate it is a good fit. "…If it does not make you think, you are not really reading it…." http://www.onmykindle.net/ 2015/11/rarity-from-hollow. html      

 

About the Author: I recently retired after 52 years of contributions into the U.S. Social Security fund so that I could write and promote my fiction. I’m a former mental health psychotherapist in West Virginia . After coming home drained from working with child abuse victims, I didn't have the energy left to begin self-promotion of this project. Most of the successes listed above have been achieved in the last fifteen months following my retirement. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program in my home state. http://www.childhswv.org/ A listing of services that are supported can be found here: http://mountainrhinestones. blogspot.com/2015/06/review- giveaway-rarity-from-hollow- by.html.  

 

The Press: Dog Horn Publishing is a traditional small press located in Leeds . Adam Lowe is the owner. http://www.doghornpublishing. com/wordpress/books/rarity- from-the-hollow  The press also showcases other semi avant garde titles and publishes a popular magazine for the GLBTQ community (Vada).  

 

Supporting Information

 

The second edition of Rarity from the Hollow was released on November 3, 2016: http://www.lulu.com/shop/robert-eggleton/rarity-from-the-hollow/paperback/product-22910478.html. The eBook version was released on December 5, 2016: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017REIA44/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk.  

 

Purchase links:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/ robert-eggleton/rarity-from- the-hollow/paperback/product- 22910478.html

http://www.amazon.com/Rarity- Hollow-Robert-Eggleton-ebook/ dp/B017REIA44

http://www.doghornpublishing. com/wordpress/books/rarity- from-the-hollow 

 

Public Author Contacts:

http://www.lacydawnadventures. com

https://www.goodreads.com/ book/show/32993259-rarity- from-the-hollow

https://www.facebook.com/Lacy- Dawn-Adventures- 573354432693864/

https://twitter.com/ roberteggleton1

https://plus.google.com/b/ 108662084126982201049/ 108662084126982201049/posts

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ robert-eggleton-909b154b?trk= nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic

 

 

 

An excerpt from Rarity from the Hollow:

From chapter 13, Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé:

            …..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn's name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.

            I hear her voice. Why won't she answer me? 

            “Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods. 

            Nobody responded. The trees weren't supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.

            I will always love you guys. 

Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.   

            Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front. 

            Jenny looked to the left of the path.

            There ain't no cave Roundabend, but there it is. 

            She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face.  Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn't exit and into a blue light that did.

            “All right, you mother f**ker!”

            “Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you're supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story)."

            DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner.  Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.   

            "Grrrrr," emanated from Jenny.  It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn's dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house.  It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate.  No one moved.  The spaceship’s door slid shut.

            “Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”

            “You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.

            Stay between them.

            “Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I'm old enough -- like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend -- what you call it -- my fiancé.” 

            “You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce. 

            “MOM!  Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”

            Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.

            He ain't got no private parts, not even a little bump.   

            “DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”

            Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.  

            “Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.” 

            I will need much more training if I'm ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.

            “Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”      

            Jenny's left eye twitched. 

            DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…    

            …(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There're a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You ca n see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain't complained since the shots started -- not even with an upset stomach.”

            "He's a doctor?" Jenny asked.

            “What's your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know.  You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that's different -- even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”

            “Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.

            “So?”

            Mommy's right. Maybe I need a different argument.

            A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.

            "What's that?" Jenny asked. 

            She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.

            “But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.

            “Mommy, I'm so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn't talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he'd be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain't had no chance to talk. All I know is that he's home and I'm sooooo happy.”

            “Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more…. 

            It's unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that's a good sign. Maybe she's right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They've been together for a while and I ain't seen a mark on her. That's unusual too. He ain't got no private parts and that's another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. I'd better play it smart. I don't want to lose my baby. 

            “What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.

            “I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”

            “My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition -- the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said. 

            They both glared at him. 

            "Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said. 

            “Okay, Mommy.”

            “I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her. 

            “I love you too,” DotCom said.

            Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile -- at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.   

            Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.  My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”

 

About Robert:

Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next -- never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency. Today, he is a recently retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/ Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

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