An Ideal Wife, Sanjay Grover: A Review


Let’s begin by saying this is not my kind of book. Whose kind it is, we will come to that a little later. Let me first tell you how I came to review this book. Sanjay Grover, the author of ‘An Ideal Wife’ is a Facebook friend and had posted asking if someone wanted to review the book. I volunteered. When the eBook came to me, I was quite busy with my papers and had to wait a little while to read it. And when I read it, I read it in three sittings.

Now, the story begins and a series of jokes are cracked which range from normal to misogynistic to homophobic. There are more jokes to come through the book, and a lot of them would be misogynistic. Let me also point out that misogynism is so subtle and deeply embedded in our society, that many people do not know they are being blatantly misogynistic. [I’ve used misogynism four (now five) times in this paragraph, it’s more deeply embedded than that in our society, and most of the time it’s not, as I said, clearly visible.]

If it was just the idea, I could have still said it was a good book, like most of us agree that despite being blatantly racist and slavery apologist, ‘Gone With The Wind’ is a classic. But the language has some discrepancies as well. It feels too verbose at times, the author tries very hard to be funny at places and the dialogue tags halt you at places. The dialogues are sometimes conversational, at other times, not so much. There is although a redeeming factor about the language. Many colloquial terms, Mumbai terms, and famous Hindi phrases have been added, which add a flavour to the book, which if, would have had been combined with a little sensivity in portryal of ideas and characters, would have made a wonderful book. Which reminds me, the story is good, it lacks sensitivity of course, but it is good.

Another good thing of story has to do with representation of police, criminals and their inter-personal relationships. It is complex and brutally honest.

Sameer, the hero, is a cool macho man. And easily fits into the definition of masculinity which popular media has constructed over the years. Athelete? Check. Handsome? Check? Lover of the elderly and children? Check. Helping collegues? Check. The woman he proposes rejects and ‘friendzones’ him? Check. He is, in short, a typical Bollywood hero.

The story has many troubling scenes to offer (which are supposed to be funny). Example: ‘There was a decidedly feminine flick of his hand as he said this, and I couldn’t help but smirk at that.’ Message: Being feminine is bad, degrading and of course, funny, even in heaven. But the scene is more complex than the blunt statement I made. See, the person who says the above dialogue is a dwarf God, no, not as in ‘less powerful’ but as in ‘physically small’. He is often mocked by other Gods and God aspirants (there is whole lot of politics going on in heaven, which is in quite the similar fashion as of Indian politics and thus a powerful satirical comment on Indian political scenario), yes, even by the feminine male God.

This discrimination reminded me so powerfully of yet another such scene. Minal Hajratwala in her ‘Summer, Manhattan’ writes,

 

“On a doorstep a black man shouts at two white men.

Sitting close together: ‘I dont’t want no homos in my

neighbourhood , go on over to the West Side.’

A white man shouts back: ‘You calling me a homo, you

Fucking nigger.’”*

 

Whether Sanjay does this intentionally or unintentionally is yet another issue, so is the fact that this discrimination is not as explicit to show that it is discrimination but done in such a way as to induce humour. What Sanjay achieves here is that he manages to show, even if unintentionally, that we all discriminate, even Gods.

I’m not sure if I’m revealing the story, my motto is not to, but this story needs to be dissected as it raised many questions for me. Ironically, this was supposed to be a light reading, a fun story. Some of the things which are funny according to author are, a man being touched and groped by women in public, and of course since his wife ‘isn’t jealous’, she laughs, a woman wanting to have sex is also funny, and her husband like a sanskari (cultured/traditional) man is embarrassed by her unsatiable sexual drive, he even wakes up screaming he doesn’t want sex.

The fact that almost all men ogle at women, more so if they are ‘beautiful’ (which is taken to mean tall, thin, white and/or other media advertised characteristics) is present in the book and it is uncomfortable only to the woman’s husband because she is ‘his’ (Grammar lesson, that’s a possessive pronoun) wife. Men can and do comment on (read ‘catcall’) women and again it’s not a problem to anyone. According to the storylne, not even to the women. (Yeah, I know!) But that’s the problem with us. We don’t see the problem.

You may be wondering if the book was as horrible, as I say, why did I even finish it? But then it was, as I had said, not totally horrible. It is funny at places. A Bollywood masala story, not Ekta Kapoor style, thankfully, but of course in the line with those hit stories which claim to be different. I’d like to maintain, however, that the hero is a douchebag and remains that till the end.

Should you  read it? That’s totally up to you. If you are comfortable with what popular media shows, you will love this book. It has that plus Gods and politics. If you can get around the problems I mentioned, you will ‘like’ this book. It is, after all, supposed to be a fun read and to some extent it is. But if the representation of ideas and characters is troubling to you, you’ll be baffled yet again at popular media.

One last thing, I do not know how I feel about using a product name (positively and of course with a view to promote it, and in case you were wondering, a matrimonial website) in a book. But then, market factors are influencing a lot of things. Many movies do that. Why not books?

*Postcolonial Literature: An Introduction by Pramod K. Nayar

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Daughter of the Drackan by Kathrin Hutson: A Review


ISBN: 0692549757
ISBN-13: 978-0692549759 (Exquisite Darkness Press)

Product Description on Amazon: Book One of Gyenona’s Children, born of humans, but raised by beasts, who despises the legacy of men, Keelin is the only one who can redeem, or destroy the future of both races. Keelin is the only human fledgling, weaned by the Drackans, of the High Hills and given their instincts, ferocious strength, and fierce hatred for humankind. But even the Drackans closest to her cannot explain why she has violent blackouts from which she wakes covered in blood. A desperate, reckless search for the source of this secret brings her face to face with the human world and memories from a locked away past, long forgotten. Keelin becomes a terrifying legend among human assassins, while she hunts for answers, and the human realm’s high king is murdered. While a sickly steward hides within crumbling walls, commanding her every move with a magic he should not possess, Keelin’s journey to track him down threatens her loyalty to the Drackans who raised her. The rogue who crosses her own terrifying bloodlust and forcing her to consider that there may be something human about her after all. Mother of the Drackan, Book Two of Gyenona’s Children is set to release in early 2016.

About the Author from Amazon: Kathrin Hutson has been writing Fantasy and Sci-Fi for the last fifteen years. She started the two book Fantasy series, Gyenona’s children, in 2007 and has finally brought it to the world of Indie Authors! In addition to writing dark and enchanting fiction , Kathrin spends the other half of her time as an Independent Editor through her company KLH CreateWorks as Chief Editor for Collaborative Writing Challenge, and as Editing Director for Rambunctious Ramblings Press, Inc. She finds just as much joy and enthusiasm in working closely with other fiction authors on their incredible novels as she does in writing her own. Kathrin lives in California with her husband and two dogs, Sadie and Bucewillis, and is constantly on the lookout for other upcoming authors, great new books, and more people with whom to share her love of words.

Sidenote: Kat is a wonderful person, charming in conversation and witty. The kind of author you would like to have morning tea with, on a balcony overlooking the winding road, on both sides of which stand tall and leafy trees.
Meet Kathrin on Facebook, LinkedIn and her Website or visit her blog here.
I am sort of at a loss as to what to say about this enchanting book. Keeping up with the policy to not reveal anything of the story from my side and yet give you a satisfactory review seems to be hard for this book. It has so much passion, thrill, adventure, emotions, that it’s impossible to say anything without revealing some part of the story. But, I’ll try my best.

Daughter of the Drackan, Book One of The Gyenona’s Children is not only a dark fantasy but a saga of love and friendship, journey of not only our heroine Keelin in search of her roots but also of a woman in finding her dreams and her desires. It is a story of a woman above anything else and though she finds this world strange and unfit for her, she struggles with ease. It would be no exaggeration to say that for her one look, civilizations will fall, because they will.

But let me not give away too much!

There are some books which start with a prologue and then there are some which do not. My own book Droṇyāksha and The Rise of Asuras has a prologue. Some people like to read them and some don’t. Also there are some good written prologues which excite the readers and some which bore them. Kathrin’s prologue is one of its kind. Crisp and to the point. It throws off all our whims of earlier non-concentration of a book reading and makes us want to plunge deeper into the book. So let’s plunge in!

Drackans are, as you may have guessed from the book cover (which I do not like AT ALL, I love the title though and the text on cover is mind-blowing) a variant of Dragons (and a quick Google search shows that they have been known to the world for quite some time). They have some interesting features which would be revealed throughout the book, their galak is fascinating and Keelin’s acquiring of one is a story worth rooting for. The Drackans are much more than Dragons. They communicate through telepathy and have an organized living. What was not so attractive for me was, their use of colour to talk. Yes, they send green, red, blue, yellow, orange to show their emotions.

The action sequences of the book are carved as tactfully as can be. The jumps, the attacks, the movements, the turns, the kills were all breath-taking and fast-paced, thrilling and enchanting. It was, and I know I’m going a little overboard, but it was a 3-D experience. Not only the characters, but everything, the wind, the city, the animals, all were developed with much care and had unique arcs.

There is something else which you must know before you get the book (and Thou shalt get the book), which is, you’ll love how Keelin and Kaht-Avmir are one and the same person and yet when you see deeply in their characters, they are somehow different, opposites. One is rejected another almost revered. One is feared another belittled. One is the weakest, another strongest. Who? Find out!
But before you do, I just wanted to share some of the lines which pulled a string in my heart:

I don’t think I have read any better descriptions of humans than this!
They were arrogant and selfish, bent on guarding their possessions and struggling for power in both offensiveness and volume.

And all of us know this to be true!
Dogs were easily much smarter than humans.

Beautiful description:
The sun sank as a heavy heart behind the mountains,…

True that!
Most of the world was simple, ignorant, and could not see the importance of finer things.

But don’t get the idea that humans are shown as lowly creatures only, there are many characters, strong and resolute, complex and brave, and they will take you along on a fun-filled ride that this book is.
When I read that Kathrin queried for over two years and traditional publishers rejected her, all I could say was, ‘What the hell were they thinking?’ It is one of those books which I’ll have on my TBR shelf at least twice. And if you know anything about me, that’s way TOO much. To give you an idea, Harry Potter had been there thrice and Pride and Prejudice five.

So yes, I can’t literally wait for Book Two and though I love Winter more than anything else, I am wishing for it to come and go as soon as it can because in Spring comes the Mother of The Drackan!

Care to read other reviews? Here you go!

A Passage to India by E.M. Forster — A Review


I know this is way more than late but as I had said I was very busy writing my novel Droṇyāksha and The Rise of Asuras which is coming along very nicely. I have sent first 20K+ words to a few close friends and the answer is more than encouraging. In the meantime I read Lord of The Rings and The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi! I may do a review of the latter later. I also read Inferno by Dan Brown and am currently reading Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. Here now is what you have been waiting for, a great review of a great book, ‘A Passage to India’!

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In my review of Tranquility by Laurie Gardiner and in a self-defaming post I mentioned I am reading ‘A Passage to India’ and am planning to give a review of it in as much detail as I can. E. M. Forster has managed to captivate his readers and deliver an enchanting tale in this 300 + page novel set in British India of 1920s. Though many would have already read it I am quite sure some of you have not, so relax because there will be no spoilers. I intend to keep and if possible increase your desire to read the book.

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The language is rich and fluid. Easily capturing the mood and scenario of Indian mindset under British rule and exposing the hypocrisy of the ruling class. Our main characters are Dr. Aziz, Mr. Fielding, Ms. Quested and Mrs. Moore. But other characters that come maintain a strong hold and play their parts wonderfully. Those of you who are serious about writing must read this as it shows how characters develop and undergo various changes in course of the novel. There is perhaps no villain or if there is one, it would be different for everyone who reads it.

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E. M. Forster worked on this novel for nine years and this was his last novel. Why he did not write anything else after this is not very clear. Scholars have given conflicting views and it is not easy to accept any view as truthful. The remark of Forster himself could be accountable. He claimed he had become bored with the novel form. If that is true, though highly improbable, we could understand why he decided not to write further.

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The book is dedicated to Syed Ross Mahood, former chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University and friend and student of Forster. Forster was in love with Mahood and Mahood being heterosexual could not reciprocate his feelings. Though Mahood was not his only love interest, he surely held massive impact on Forster’s thoughts and writing. The frustrated relationship of Mr. Feilding and Dr. Aziz is seen by some scholars to be an echo of Forster’s relation with Mahood. But I disagree. There is no doubt a frustration in the relationship of two friends in the novel and it may reflect to some extent the relationships of Mahood and Forster but it is not an echo of the writer’s relationship with his friend, as nothing I read and interpreted gives this idea.

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Let’s now talk on other aspects of the book. ‘Echo’ when you read this novel will stand out to you, it’s a word that slowly takes form of a character, not a comforting one and certainly not a villain but a disturbing one. You will not hate this new character but I doubt you will love it either. Your best hope would be to hope for a lingo. You would wait and when you would reflect on what have you just read I’m quite certain ‘echo’ will stand out to you.

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One of the prominent questions of the novel is, ‘Is it possible for an Englishman and an Indian to be friends?’ The friendship of our two main characters goes through a lot and can by no means be called ideal. The question is one of ethnicity, can two people with different mindsets and different backgrounds be friends? My experiences have been varied. I have found wonderful people both outside and inside my community who I can call friends and yet the question is still poignant. Once you read the book and analyze other motifs and themes, please do come back to this theme and give a thought. I would love to hear from you.

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One of my friends said she did not like the book, now her reasons were solid and so I must tell you if you are not into reading anything like this which is now at least hundred years old you must stay away. Although the story becomes more potent and charming for it has survived the test of time and still rings true to many.

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There is a charge regarding the mention of Indians as stereotypical. This charge holds some value as the characters are not entirely as the writers has shown but leverage can be given to him if he has stayed true to the story form which he had, and developed the characters well, which again he had.

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I have certainly mentioned some of my favorite lines from the book but that’s not it. I have tons of it and here are another few ones:

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* Opening his eyes, and beholding thousands of stars, he could not reply, they silenced him.

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* You can’t eat your cake and have it, even in the world of spirit.

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* There is no such person in existence as the general Indian.

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* There is no God but God doesn’t carry us far through the complexities of matter and spirit; it is only a game with words, really, a religious pun, not a religious truth.

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* You cannot say “The rose is faded” for evermore. We know it’s faded. Yet you can’t have patriotic poetry of the “India, my India” type, when it’s nobody’s India.

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* There is something in religion that may not be true but has not yet been sung.

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* One man needs a coat, another a rich wife; each approaches his goal by a clever detour.

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* God si Love. Is this the final message of India?

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* ‘I am an Indian at last,’ he thought standing motionless in the rain.

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* The air was thick with religion and rain.

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So, what do you think? Are you going to read it? You must, it’s worth it. Let me know what you think and please check out other great reviews here.

Tranquility by Laurie Gardiner: A Review


While I write the much awaited review of  ‘A Passage To India’ here is a review of a great novel ‘Tranquility’ by Laurie Gardiner.

I received a free ePub of this book by Laurie for an honest review. You can get (and I’ll tell why you should) a copy on Amazon.

ISBN 978-1-908191-98-4 (ePub)

ISBN 978-1-908191-51-9 Trade Paperback

Meet her at Facebook and Twitter.

About the author: (as written in the end of her book) Laurie Gardiner grew up on a farm in a small Northern Ontario community in Canada. She left home at seventeen to experience life in the city and now lives in Cambridge, Ontario with her husband of twenty-seven years. Raising three kids, teaching fitness and operating a home daycare left little time for writing, but she did have some poetry published in various anthologies over the years. In 1997, her short story “‘Til Death Do Us Part” placed first in the Cambridge Writers Collective anthology.

At the age of forty, Laurie went back to school and began a new career as a personal support worker. Though she ended up working in homecare, it was a placement in the dementia unit of a long-term care facility that inspired her to write her first novel, Tranquility.

Laurie is currently enrolled in the Creative Writing Program through the local community college and is working on her second novel. (And I don’t think she needs it much.)

Here is what the author reveals of her book:

Sometimes there’s a price to pay for doing the right thing.

Support worker Sarah Scott learns this the hard way when, soon after being transferred to nursing home Tranquility’s dementia unit, she uncovers a sinister secret. Doing the right thing could mean losing her job, and unemployment is not an option for the young, single mom.

Meanwhile, Sarah begins to question whether her newest resident, Edie, belongs in the locked unit. The feisty, Scottish woman certainly doesn’t act as though she has dementia. Sarah is determined to have her released, but her plans are thwarted when Edie risks her own freedom to help uncover the secret.

Review: The story pulled me in from very first line but by the end it seemed that line was not very important. As I never reveal what happens in the book and try to keep the mystery as well as honesty in mind I’d say Laurie put the Chekhov’s gun but forgot to fire or never intended to fire it.

Laurie’s language is rich and fluent and her style is eloquent. (I know that’s most common praise but it fits.) all her chapters ended for me to keep reading just one more page and before I knew, I was reading another chapter and another and yet another! She has combined humour and emotions perfectly, her characters have their lives and flaws and the story feels very personal at many levels. There are just a few mistakes but those are the things that firstly are editor’s and second, can be easily ignored.

The only noticeable mistakes are two; she used a few adverbs that stand out. I’m not as much against adverbs as Stephen King is, though I try to write without adverbs just to be sure. Another is she killed a darling. No I’m a fan of killing the darlings, the more the better (No, I’m not a psychopath!). Laurie kills two darlings in the book, death of the first darling is very much justified, that’s how it should have been, but the second darling’s death feels more of an effort rather than a necessity.

The story is good overall; the ending could have been made a little tighter, though it’s very good as it already is. The pace is accurate, not too fast to make you think what just happened? Not too slow to make you yawn and say, move ahead already! I enjoyed it and would recommend reading it, it is a good book for two purposes, if you are starting out writing you could learn a lot, if you are a voracious reader already you will enjoy it.

Reading tranquility makes me feel how there are wonderful authors who with a little help of right platform and promotion could shine. I wouldn’t call the book perfect as no book can be, but it’s a great read and more so because it’s Laurie’s first novel!

I have so many beautiful and favorite lines from the book but I won’t share them all (yes, I’m that selfish!), but here are a few to let you know Tranquility is worth a lot of shots!

 

Memories were all I had left of him. Losing them would be like losing him all over again.

 

Others reached out, took my cold hands in theirs and tried to offer comfort. But it was not comfort I needed. It was my mother.

 

Christmas was over and Dementia was back to its usual state of organized chaos.

 

Coffee could lead to drinks, which could lead to dinner, which, judging by the level of attraction I felt for him, could lead to, well, lots of things.

Yes, I know you want to get your copy but wait and read a little further, I still have a few more things to tell. The story has got love (you’ll love the kisses and feel giddy remembering yours), friendship (you will laugh and feel greatful for having your best friend), family (enough said), standing up for a cause in the face of problems, doing what is right even if it threatens to harm you (umm… with a little persuasion by a friend of course).

Are you still here? Did I not tell you to get the book? Now just hop on and order your book, but first write a comment appreciating me how good a reviewer I am. cough cough

Being a bookworm I read a few book I really like, again, and this is going to be one of those!

Check my reviews of Call of The Herald by Brain Rathbone, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and I Want To Live by Thom Jones if you enjoyed this.

Call of the Herald by Brian Rathbone — A Review


Fantasy

Series: The Dawning of Power trilogy (Book 1)

A World of Godsland novel.
Call of The Herald
Echoes of the ancients’ power are distant memories, tattered and faded by the passage of eons, but that is about to change. A new dawn has arrived. Latent abilities, harbored in mankind’s deepest fibers, wait to be unleashed. Ancient evils awaken, and old fears ignite the fires of war. In times such as these, ordinary people have the power to save the world . . . or destroy it.

Fantasy is one of those genres which, if not handled properly, has the strength to bore you and even stop you from picking any other book of the genre. When I pick a book it is for one of the two reasons; 1) I have to read it because it is a good book or 2) I have to read it because it looks like a good book. The book is very impressive with beautiful language and a dash of humor thrown in with lots of magic and some great philosophy.

What I particularly liked about the novel was Brian’s use of quotes from his characters to start a chapter. What I disliked was Catrin’s realization of the world around her after she became powerful. I mean it took her magical powers to understand that nature is beautiful? But I think I know why Brian did it. Many of us are indeed so dumb that it would take us great strength to realize that nature is beautiful, alive and vibrant. Osho says many a people who do not know what sunset is are ready to pay millions for a Picasso.

The story starts… wait I can never do that. No matter how often I read a book or how much I like it, I hate to tell how the story starts or ends. What I will do is tell what I felt the story meant and what impact it had on me.

There be spoilers ahead…

I was on Twitter for quite a long time (since 2013) but I was nearly inactive. When recently I started blogging I increased my presence on it and as I unfollowed a lot of actors and followed a lot of writers, Brian Rathbone was one of them. I had not heard of him say three weeks before. Unlike many people whose first Twitter instinct is to send a message to their followers about their website or book, Brian just welcomed and thanked me for the follow. Over time his tweets got my interest and I thought of checking his book despite my very tight reading list. And I was glad I did! With many titles still hanging around my neck asking for their fair share of time (Great Expectations being one of them) along with my mandatory presence on social media for promoting my work I finished his 204 page e-book in three days. Not to brag my reading speed or anything but I sleep more than seven hours and have my students to teach. The book piqued my interest from the very beginning and held me on my seat till the end. Granted I did not read it past midnight like I did Pride and Prejudice, Lolita or The Shining to name a few. But that was because I have started exercising recently and I was tired till then.

The story starts in action and ends in action too. Brian later went on to write eight more books in the series each better and mature than the last one. The story is not very new, it’s retelling of one of the most common stories with one of the most common themes but Brian still manages to tell it very freshly with minor and negligible defects. A girl when given an unknown power is thought to be evil by her village folks and has to escape as ancient enemies attack her land. She learns to control a little of it by help of her friends but needs to learn a lot. As she is pursued by enemies she shows them their power and …

The story telling is captivating and though it has many faults (the characters are not well developed, the action at times is very slow, at other times way too fast, some characters are extra unless they featured more prominently in other books, the main character is someone you cannot easily identify yourself with, plus what farm-living society considers education for all a necessity and allows a teenage girl and her male friends to go camping?) and at times I had to get up to drink water or eat something or just break the boring tone of language, I still enjoyed major portions of the story.

A word about Brian…

A former horse trainer and computer programmer, Brian Rathbone used his old world knowledge and love of fantasy fiction to create The World of Godsland fantasy series, which begins with The Dawning of Power trilogy. The World of Godsland fantasy series includes: Call of the Herald, Inherited Danger, Dragon Ore, Regent, Feral, Regal, The Fifth Magic, Dragonhold, The Seventh Magic.

When I told Brian that I didn’t like some of the stuff he had written he was not at all offended but went on to say that due to reader’s feedback he managed to write much better than before. With what little interaction I had with him I can say he is funny and interesting. He even sent me the picture to post along with this review when I asked for it.

—X—

Final input? I am not reading it again as I often do other books but I’m going to read the whole series because I really like Catrin Volker and would like to know what happened to her but more importantly about the secret of her mother’s sword. Most probably you won’t be disappointed.