Having been away I’ve had time to read. And I’ve read some indie authors so, this being post a review month via Terry Tyler here I thought I’d do that here as well as over on Amazon. In no order that says preference, more that you have to start somewhere:
Willful Avoidance by Jan Twissel
Let’s start with the blurb:
Inspired by a true story. . . Maya Bethany awakes as though from a seventeen-year coma to find herself in bed with a stranger—her husband—who is on a course that will ruin not only her life but those of her children as well unless she does something. But what and how and who will help her? Certainly not the flirtatious millionaire she works for. Nor the jaded lawyer who urges her again and again to compromise with the tax man. No, they only complicate her life at a time when she’s just trying to survive. There will be no white knights to save her. She has to do it herself. Willful Avoidance is a term in the tax man’s lexicon that refers to the refusal of a spouse to obtain knowledge which he or she needs in order to competently cosign income tax returns. JT Twissel spent fourteen years fighting the franchise tax board, ultimately appealing to the highest tax court in the state of California, the Board of Equalization. The charge against her: willful avoidance. She wrote this fictionalized version of the story as a cautionary tale. If you think what happened to her can’t happen to you, think again.
I wasn’t sure what to expect in this romp around Californian tax statutes but, you know what, the dry as dust rules are, in the hands of this author, a fabulous place to start a story of life, love, loss and liberty. Maya is a heroine for our times, a girl still at the start forced to become a woman. She’s flawed in many ways but boy do you want her to win. And along for the ride the grumpy Duke whose sound sense is tried to the point of destruction by her stubbornness. There are tears but to find out whose and why you’ll need to read this excellent gripping novel. Just make sure you fill in your tax returns first.
Ravens Gathering by Graeme Cumming
A bit of a blurb:
As she let her gaze drift around her, she saw that there were more birds. Perhaps a dozen or so, perched among the trees that stood on the edge of the clearing. And yet more were arriving, swooping down through the gap overhead and landing on branches that overlooked them. The birds weren’t threatening, yet the sight of them all coming together in this dark and isolated spot was unnerving. Tanya reached a hand out towards Martin, and was relieved to feel him take it. She felt him move in behind her. After the uncertainty she’d experienced with him in a similar position only a few moments ago, she recognised the irony of her reaction. His closeness offered security.
“You know what they are, don’t you?”
A stranger’s arrival in a small village coincides with a tragic accident. For the Gates family in particular it’s more than a coincidence, but unease increases following a brutal attack. As tensions rise, a dark past returns to haunt them and others, while newcomers to the village are drawn into a mystery with terrifying consequences.
And only a select few know why the ravens are gathering.
I thought at the start that this had something of Straw Dogs about it and the sinister beginning certainly ratchet up the tension. It is rare that a book brings up goose bumps but the early scene with the tractor, broad daylight yet evil everywhere, set a tone that continued. I found myself drawn in, even if none of the characters were exactly warm; this is not a book to fall in love with anyone though one does ones best with Martin. If I have any criticism it was the ending felt rather drawn out but a great first book from a talented author.
Tales from Null City (book 3) by Barb Taub
First the blurb:
In the world of Null City… Superpowers suck. If you just want to live a normal life, Null City is only a Metro ride away. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, become parents, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes. But outside of Null City, now that the century-long secret Nonwars between Gifts and Haven are over and the Accords Treaty is signed, an uneasy peace is policed by Wardens under the command of the Accords Agency.
Just for the Spell of It
Liam is an ungodly soccer-playing card sharp on a mission from God. Eirie is a beautiful punk fairy princess with her own daytime radio talk show. They’ve worked cases for the Accords Agency before, but with war between realms looming and her baby sister as the bargaining chip, partnering just got personal.
Payback is a Witch
Claire Danielsen is a young witch whose goddess is house cat of unusual size. Peter Oshiro is a Warden policing a delicate truce between those who are human and those who… aren’t.
It just would have been nice if someone told them the angels were all on the other side.
I’m not sure what I did expect but I was instantly taken with the humour. The interior dialogue was never less than engaging, the world creation believable and, best of all, explained as you read rather than in an info dump at the start. The characters were delightfully flawed and even the more minor ones dealt with sufficiently to be believable. Also, being me, I began at book three and only realised after I finished. It didn’t matter. It made sense! I will now work back to the start though others may want to take a more traditional route. This book isn’t long – I finished it in a couple of easy reading days but left me wanting to know more about Null City and its inhabitants.
No More Mulberries by Mary Smith
I’ll be honest here and say I’ve not yet finished this book – at the time of writing I’m about a third of the way through, but I want to fit into the August package so here is my review so far (well, after the blurb):
Set in Afghanistan, British-born Miriam finds her marriage to her Afghan doctor husband heading towards crisis. She has to journey into her past to understand how unresolved issues are damaging her relationship. It is a story of commitment and divided loyalties, of love and loss, set against a country struggling through transition.
I’ve reached the point where Miriam leaves her village and her less than impressed husband to act as translator at a training camp. The author has given us, in easily digestible chunks the back story of Miriam, her husband Iqbal and her first husband Jawad. It makes for a compelling read. There are many fine and enjoyable parts to this reading experience not least of all being the sense of being there. The author evokes the landscape, the extremes, the hardships yet the ordinariness of the lives lived with a deft touch and an engaging style. We absorb the cultural dissonance easily, we are a fly on the wall surrounded by the sounds and smells, yet we feel deeply the characters struggles against the codes of that society. Entertainment and education sometimes are not good bedfellows; here in this author’s capable hands, they spoon happily.
I’m not a prolific reader so tend to be wary of books from writers I don’t know or which haven’t been recommended. But Finland was made more enjoyable by the variety I enjoyed courtesy of these four talented souls.