#BookReview : The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert @mimi_albert @penguinrandom @NetGalley #PublicationDay

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I am so delighted to be bringing you my thoughts on “The Hazel Wood” by Melissa Albert, it is due for publication today and available in various formats.  Published by Penguin it can be purchased from Amazon UK

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD.

To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .

My Thoughts:

When you think of fairy tales it is often woods, wolves, castles, princes and princesses with a happy ever after.  The Hazel Wood is nothing like that, it contains fairy tales but they are darker with an underlying feeling of dread to them.  The reclusive and mysterious author Althea Prosperine published her only novel Tales of the Hinterland.  Her granddaughter Ella has never met Althea, never read the book, but is aware of it.  In fact not many have met Althea or even have a copy of the book.  Ella and her mum Alice have to move around a lot, they keep their heads down, always try to keep ahead of the bad luck that seems to shadow them.  This story is how Ella and the reader learns about The Hazel Wood, the book and the bad luck.

This is a brilliantly woven story using the basic premise of a fairy tales.  Twisting them into a dark and brooding journey for the reader.  As we follow Ella and Alice there are things that are seen out of the corner of an eye that gives feeling of the supernatural that have mysterious darker undertones, shadows that linger, people that don’t quite fit in, this all adds to a feeling of tense suspense.  As the story unfolds there are several twists that I didn’t expect, they are clever and make this an extremely addictive read. There are several characters in this story and they are easily remembered and play their parts well, they have good backstories, and while I didn’t like all the characters I found them intriguing.

Once I started this story I could not put it down, the descriptions give a vivid and imaginative picture.  I loved the style of the writing, at times it had the fairy tale feel you would expect, but also a darker much more intense feel that was far removed from fairy tales.  I would like to see follow on from this book as there were several characters that I would like to know more about, and some that left me with questions. But overall it has been beautifully put together and is one I would absolutely recommend.

So if you like a dark and twisty fantasy read that has some roots in magical fairy tales then this is a book for you.  It is a young adult read, that an older adult loved.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for my eARC of this wonderful book, my thoughts are my own and are unbiased.

About the Author:

You can visit the author in Twitter and also find all the links to purchase the books HERE

 

Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it please give it a share.  Or go and grab yourself a copy of this brilliant book 🙂 xx

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#BookReview : The Book of Dust – Volume One – La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman

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This is a book I have been looking forward to reading for a while now.  I decided it was going to be my New Years Eve read.  Phillip Pullman’s “The Book of Dust” volume #1 La Belle Sauvage, published by Penguin Random House and David Fickling Books.  It is avaialble in a variety of formats,

Book Details:

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House Children’s and David Fickling Books; 01 edition (19 Oct. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385604416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385604413

Synopsis:

Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, live with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford. Across the River Thames (which Malcolm navigates often using his beloved canoe, a boat by the name of La Belle Sauvage) is the Godstow Priory where the nuns live. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them; a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua . . .

 

My Thoughts:

It was an absolute delight to be going back to Pullman’s version of Oxford, to a time before His Dark Materials trilogy.  This book begins when Lyra and her daemon Pan are babies and how Malcolm and his daemon Astra meet Lyra and Pan for the first time.

Beginning in Oxford; we meet Malcolm and Astra, he is the son of The Trout Inn owners.  He helps out there and also at the nearby priory of Godstow doing odd jobs and chores for the nuns.  It is also when the authorities start to show themselves. There are several secret organisations that have their own motives and Malcolm is soon caught up in the middle of them.  A surprising the change in the weather leads to some dangerous and surprising twists that will take us on a journey down the Thames.

This is a book that I was eager to read and I wasn’t disappointed.  It was one of those books I knew I was going to love even before I started it.  It starts slowly as the story is set and the various backstories and introductions to the characters are made, then it gradually speeds up as the plot is unravelled and unveiled.  The characters are a real mixed bag of the good, bad and ugly, new characters mingled in with some old ones and the villains are indeed villainous.  Pullman has retained the air of mystery around the intentions of characters, you never know who is to be truly trusted and I love this aspect. The plot has, as you would expect, been very well-developed and has a good amount of twists that I am sure will continue into the next book and beyond.

So did this book live up to my prior expectations? Hell yes and then some, it is Phillip Pullman, it is part of Lyra’s story so what is not to love.  Now comes the agonising wait for the next book 😦

If you have read His Dark Materials you will love this book.  It is a highly recommended read from me xx

I have a hardback copy of this book, I always take off the dust jacket when I read one so I don’t damage it.  Look was hidden underneath it

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About the Author:

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Philip Pullman was born in Norwich on 19th October 1946. The early part of his life was spent travelling all over the world, because his father and then his stepfather were both in the Royal Air Force. He spent part of his childhood in Australia, where he first met the wonders of comics, and grew to love Superman and Batman in particular. From the age of 11, he lived in North Wales, having moved back to Britain. It was a time when children were allowed to roam anywhere, to play in the streets, to wander over the hills, and he took full advantage of it. His English teacher, Miss Enid Jones, was a big influence on him, and he still sends her copies of his books.

After he left school he went to Exeter College, Oxford, to read English. He did a number of odd jobs for a while, and then moved back to Oxford to become a teacher. He taught at various middle schools for twelve years, and then moved to Westminster College, Oxford, to be a part-time lecturer. He taught courses on the Victorian novel and on the folk tale, and also a course examining how words and pictures fit together. He eventually left teaching in order to write full-time.

His first published novel was for adults, but he began writing for children when he was a teacher. Some of his novels were based on plays he wrote for his school pupils, such as The Ruby In The Smoke. He is best known for the award winning His Dark Materials series, consisting of Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

Many thanks for reading my post.  If you liked it please give it a share, also go and buy yourself a copy of this fabulous book 🙂 xx

#Review: Crazy House by James Patterson

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MY REVIEW AND THOUGHTS:

I gave this book a 4 star.

Becca and Cassie are twins, they live in a small town, known as a cell.  It is controlled by a Provost, it has curfews, barbed wire on the boundaries, the children have no choice in school lessons or their career path.

When Becca goes missing, Cassie is rightfully concerned, she is now the 9th person to have disappeared.  When Cassie approaches the authorities, she is told,her sister is an enemy of the state, an “Outsider”.  An outsider is one who does not conform to the rules, a blanket label for anyone who is trouble.  With no-one to help her, Cassie, the reliable miss goody two shoes, breaks the rules to go and seek out the truth about her sister’s disappearance.

She finds help from a surprising source, she is shocked at what actually happens to those who have disappeared.  They are sent to prison, a maximum security prison, where they are on Death Row.  The treatment is cruel and barbaric, but the sisters are a force to be reckoned with, they will not go quietly or without a fight.

This is a great paced story with some quite descriptive scenes.  The characters are well described and developed.  The overall story has a Hunger Games feel with a twist of 1984 added to it. The setting for the story has a very austere and bleak feel to it, down to the great writing.  There is a short history for the girls and a mention of how they were raised, but not a lot of information on the other characters, just brief mentions.

I would recommend this book to readers of YA Fantasy, dystopian.  It is gritty and quite brutal in places where fight scenes take place also some scenes of punishment.

 

 

SYNOPSIS:

There were no charges. There was no trial. There will be no escape.
Seventeen-year-old Becca Greenfield was snatched from her small hometown. She was thrown into a maximum-security prison and put on Death Row with other kids her age. Until her execution, Becca’s told to fit in and shut her mouth… but Becca’s never been very good at either. Her sister Cassie was always the perfect twin.
Becca’s only hope is that her twin sister will find her. That perfect little priss Cassie will stop following the rules and start breaking them, before it’s too late. Because her jailers made a mistake that could get them both killed:
They took the wrong twin.
Crazy House is a non-stop, summer blockbuster by James Patterson, the #1 bestselling author of Maximum Ride, Witch and Wizard, and Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life.
BOOK DETAILS:
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2559 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1784758515
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (18 May 2017)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01N9C6G7V

AMAZON LINK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

James Patterson is one of the best-known and biggest-selling writers of all time. He is the author of some of the most popular series of the past decade: the Women’s Murder Club, the Alex Cross novels and Maximum Ride, and he has written many other number one bestsellers including romance novels and stand-alone thrillers. James is passionate about encouraging both adults and children alike to read. This has led to him forming a partnership with the National Literacy Trust, an independent, UK-based charity that changes lives through literacy. He lives in Florida with his wife and son.

James Patterson website.

James Patterson on Twitter

 

Thank you for reading by blog.

#BlogTour Discoucia:A Victorianish Fairytale by Nicholas Lovelock @gilbster1000 @Authoright

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I am pleased to take part in the Blog Tour for this book on the 12th July for Discoucia by Nicholas Lovelock, published by Clink Street Publishing.

I would like to thank Rachel Gilbey  @Authoright for allowing me a spot on this tour.

MY REVIEW:

This book is like keeping up with road runner on a jet propelled rocket, (in a good way).  It is very fast paced with a huge amount of stories within a story.  This was an enjoyable read, if at times a little confusing due to the huge amount of detail in it.  It has a steam punk style feel to it in places.  A book that will definitely appeal to readers of Teen Fantasy, also enjoyed by an adult reader (me).

Sir Arthur Pageon is a renowned spy, adventurer and explorer, resident of Discoucia and owner of the ship Nostradamus, with only one member of crew Corky.  The High King has asked them to go on a mission that threatens the world of Alavonia, and to take with them his daughter Princess Josephine.  Not your normal princess, she is a member if the Discoucian Secret Service.

The journey will take them across this fantastical world, a world full of mysterious islands, people, monsters and magicians.  Then there is Archie.  The mysterious Archie seems to know what the gang will be doing next, where they will be going and is actually a help, even though she can be a little cryptic.

SYNOPSIS:

Discoucia: A Victorianish Fairytale

Revolution, romance and technological wonders are all in a day’s work for the decorated hero of Alavonia, Sir Arthur Pageon.

An acclaimed explorer and inventor, Sir Arthur Pageon takes his unofficial role as defender of the realm of Alavonia very seriously. A fantastical world, Alavonia is home to the Discoucian Monarchy, as well as monstrous creatures and secretive academies for the highly gifted.
Upon returning from his most recent exploits aboard on his personal flying galleon The Nostradamus, Pageon is treated to a hero’s welcome and celebratory procession through the streets of Alavonia’s capital, Evermore. Little does Pageon know he’s being followed by a mysterious group known as the Purple Guard, whose devious leader is his estranged sister, Queen Lily Pageon of Harrha Island. Fiercely intelligent, Lily specialises in dastardly technological inventions with the aim of bringing down the Discoucian Monarchy so that she may reign as its dictator. However, the heir to the throne is one Princess Josephine Olandine, whose youth and royal position masks her role in the Discoucian Secret Service.

Joining forces, Princess Josephine and Sir Arthur’s adventures will take them across the whole of Alavonia — from the fog-bound shores of Karga, to the secret underground shanty town beneath the frozen prison of Icester, south to the verdant city of Proceur and from there to the affluent Starfall Academy — in their quest to foil Lily’s revolutionary plans.

Purchase from Amazon UK – CLICK HERE FOR AMAZON LINK

 

About the author:

Based in a small village in Oxfordshire Nicholas Lovelock is the author of the Alavonia series. As well as a passion for history, Nick holds a keen interest in Numismatics —the study and collection of coins, banknotes and medals— counting a 200 year-old 1826 half-crown and coinage of monarchs like Queen Anne, Elizabeth the First and Henry the Eighth as part of his collection.

 

Thank you for reading my blog.

Darien: Empire of Salt by C. F. Iggulden

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Expected publication: July 13th 2017 by Michael Joseph

MY REVIEW: 4*

Darien is a city in the new fantasy series by Conn Iggulden.  He is more known for his historical fiction books.  This is his first journey into fantasy and is aimed at Teen and YA readers, but also works very well for adult audiences as well.

Darien is ruled over by Twelve families, with overall control lying with the King.  He is only a weak figurehead, with all the decisions being made behind the scenes by the Families.  The main characters are Elias Post from the village of Wyburn, he is the main food hunter of the village.  When the plague arrives he decides that he needs medicine for his family, along with Vic Deeds they make their way to the city.  Vic Deeds has his own reasons for accompanying Elias.  Daw and Nancy are associates of sorts, their own paths meet and events occur that require a special kind of partnership.  Tellius and his group of ragged boys, who work their own trade for the benefit of Tellius and their group, he is a very likeable Fagin type character.  Then there is Arthur, a boy who does not speak.  They all have their own reason for being in the city.  There are a couple of the characters who have an ability, or a knack.  This becomes more apparent as the story unfolds.

The author has created some great characters, as well as the ones previously mentioned, there are also ones who I feel will make themselves known more in future books.  The emphasis for this book seems to be more on the characters than on the setting.  With this being the first in a series, the foundations have been set,  I would like to think more detail about the history of this world will be explored in future books.  The writing is a bit disjointed at times with character changes mid chapter, but not so much as to lose track of the story.  Once the stories of the individuals start to merge, towards the latter half of the book, it really does becomes a brilliant, imaginative and action packed read.

I will be keeping my eye out for further books in this series and will definitely be reading more.

I would recommend this book to more mature YA readers as well as Adult fantasy readers.

I would like to thank Netgalley, Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and also C.F.Iggulden for my ARC of this book, for my honest and unbiased opinion

THE BLURB:

From acclaimed historical novelist Conn Iggulden, DARIEN is an epic new fantasy series of spellbinding imagination.

TWELVE FAMILIES. ONE THRONE. WELCOME TO THE EMPIRE OF SALT.

Twelve Families. One Throne. Welcome to the Empire of Salt.

The city of Darien stands at the weary end of a golden age. Twelve families keep order with soldiers and artefacts, spies and memories, clinging to a peace that shifts and crumbles. The people of the city endure what they cannot change.

Here, amongst old feuds, a plot is hatched to kill a king. It will summon strangers to the city – Elias Post, a hunter, Tellius, an old swordsman banished from his home, Arthur, a boy who cannot speak, Daw Threefold, a chancer and gambler, Vic Deeds, who feels no guilt – and Nancy, a girl whose talent might be the undoing of them all.

Their arrival inside the walls as the sun sets will set off a series of explosive events. Before the sun returns, five destinies will have been made – and lost – in Darien.

BOOK DETAILS:

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: July 13th 2017 by Michael Joseph
ISBN 071818646X (ISBN13: 9780718186463)
Edition Language English

 

Necrobloods by Lauren Stock and Robert Stock

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MY REVIEW: I give this book a 4*

This is set in Salem Massachusetts, great setting for a group of friends who have special powers.  The “normal” residents have no idea what is going on around them, they are shielded.  Celeste and her best friend Gena have powers, they can summon the wind and use nature as an ally.  When they are being normal 16 year olds they have the usual discussions regarding boys, sweet sixteen parties and their basketball games.  Outside of this they learn more about the battle of the millenia. A battle between Elementals and Spirituals, with an Adjudicator overseeing.  But Celeste starts to have very odd vision like dreams.  A new boy starts the school and is attracted to Celeste, a new girl starts and hates Celeste for no apparent reason.

Overall this is a good book, it is aimed at YA readers.  The characters are well presented, though I did feel that at times they were very stereotyped.  The plot was very good, easy to keep up with, with a few good twists included.

I would recommend this to YA readers aged around the 14-16 ages.  Though as an adult, I did enjoy it.  My initial thoughts were that it had a Twilight feel to it, I by the way enjoyed those books a lot.  The book kept me engrossed right the way through and had a very satisfactory ending.

I read this book for Readers Review Room my review is my own, my opinion is honest and unbiased.  http://www.readersreviewroom.com/

THE BLURB:

16 year old Celeste Boyd casts Elemental magic. With the great battle coming, she and her best friend Gena are learning more about their abilities. Even more pressing, though, are the basketball finals and the mysterious new boy in school, Carter Wells. Celeste now has to choose between her crush and Carter, who is showing quite the interest. And then there are the crazy dreams with the huge dragon eye…

BOOK DETAILS:

Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 10th 2015 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN 1523678712 (ISBN13: 9781523678716)

 

 

My Soul To Keep by Jackie Sonnenberg

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MY REVIEW:  3*

This story tells the tale of Sky, since the death of her father she has struggled.  Her mother enrolls her into Applewhite Preparatory Boarding School.  It is there that she is introduced to the Guardians of Light.

At first she feels this group can help her fit in, it boasts being an inspirational group, with a non religious message of bring light and peace to people.  Sky feels that she needs to find peace and it is one of the reasons for joining.  There are regular meetings and activities.  Over time she becomes more involved with the group and her room-mate Deanna notices her drifting away from dormitory activities.  Sky feels she is being shunned, but actually she is being isolated and more reliant on the Guardians.

As December 21st 2012 approaches the warnings of the end of the world are being banded around.  The more time she spends with the Guardians, the more she is sucked into their beliefs.  How the earth will end, and how, as a group they will need to be prepared and get ready for the afterlife.

This is an interesting read, and not a genre I usually choose to read from.  It was insightful to how easy it can be for vulnerable people to be coerced into a dangerous group. I did feel that is was stretched out in many places, and at times the countless mentions of yet another meditation session could have been shortened.  That being said it is well written, and is set at a good pace.  Ideal read for young paranormal readers.

I would like to thank Jackie for sending me an eARC copy of this book for my honest and unbiased opinion.

THE BLURB:

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take… When thirteen-year-old Sky Monroe arrives at her new boarding school, all she can think about is death and connecting with the afterlife. Soon she discovers her school’s spirituality group called Guardians of Light-and they have a secret. The Guardians of Light can speak with the dead… When Mitchell Brooks, the teacher and leader of the group, reveals this unnerving secret to Sky-though this is exactly what she believed she wanted-she learns the organization is rapidly becoming a cult. Now she’s concerned she and her friend Damien will not be permitted to walk away. Danger and death lurk around every corner… The campus house, where Sky resides, is haunted, and the spirits have their own agenda. December 21, 2012 threatens the end of the world, and Mitchell and the spirits have special plans in store. They just might bring Sky closer to the afterlife-and possibly beyond-than she ever imagined. Sky is looking for a connection to the afterlife, but what she finds may be more than she bargained for…because what lies after life is death.

BOOK DETAILS:

Paperback, 404 pages
Published May 19th 2016 by Limitless Publishing, LLC (first published 2016)
ISBN 1680586327 (ISBN13: 9781680586329)

The Castaways by Jessika Fleck

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*I recieved this advanced reader copy for a fair review*

Thank you Netgalley and Entangled Teen for my copy of this book.

MY REVIEW: 4*
I really did enjoy this book, so much so that i read it in one go. There are alot of characters in this book, each is unique and memorable and has their own story. It moves along at a great pace, though at the start the bullying scenes were not nice to read, but it added to the suspense and was used well through the story, so was essential .
This book has a Lord of The Flies feel to it, take away the plane crash and have a corn maze instead. Olive Maxi Gagmuelher has run into the maze to get away from a bully Olive has been teased, beaten up and been the victim of bullying for years from the group of girls called The Trio. They cornered her at the Carnival in town and carried on what they had started at school earlier in the day.
The Carnival was there the year before, it has the usual rides, games and stalls you would expect to find and also a Maze in the corn. Last year a young boy entered the maze but never came out.
When Olive enters the maze she is aware of it’s history, but regardless it is her only means of escape. She finds herself transported to The Island where she finds that she is not alone.
It is on this island that she finds that she is more than the nobody she feels she is, more than the girl with the name that causes her embarrassment, she is not worthless and a target for school bullies. She is accepted into the group after proving herself worthy, for thinkiing fast and for protecting one of the other children on the island.

THE BLURB:

Mean Girls meets Lord of the Flies in this YA contemporary fantasy.

The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous.

Renowned for its infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it.

When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing.

Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.

Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home.

THE BOOK DETAILS:

Paperback
Expected publication: April 3rd 2017 by Entangled TEEN
ISBN13 9781633759183
Edition Language English

Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

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This is an amazingly powerful book. I give a 5* review for this book.

MY REVIEW:
It is set in Juarez a town on the Mexican US border. There are gangs, drugs, crime, violence, corruption, murder, illegal immigration, robberies and a constant battle for power. This is where Arturo grows up, he lives in a world where this is everyday life, in his little shack.
His friend Faustino comes to see him after an absence on 10 months, with Eva and her 1 month old baby. Faustino has been caught up in the gang world and needs the help of Arturo or he will be killed.
The story then starts to pick up momentum and we start to see a country where religion has a large presence, from Christ the King on Mount Cristo Rey with his arms outstretched, to, Santa Muerte known as the White Girl, the Saint of Death, a rebel angel who is worshipped by criminals, police, prostitutes, politicians and the army amongst others.
Belief has alot to play in this story, tests of faith follow Arturo as he winds his way through 36 hours, the time he has to save his friends. He is put into positions where he has a choice. These choices are to test him to his limit, will he commit a crime to save his friends? What will he have to sacrifice? Or will he sacrifice anything at all ?
Marcus Sedgwick does not hold back with this book, he discusses the brutel conditions people living in the border towns have to deal with in their normal everyday lives, but it written with passion and heart. It moved me to the verge of tears in places, it is emotional and strong.

Thank you very much Netgally, Hachette Children’s Group and Marcus Sedgwick for the chance to read this eARC.  In returnI give my honest and unbiased review.

THE BLURB:

A potent, powerful and timely thriller about migrants, drug lords and gang warfare set on the US/Mexican border by prize-winning novelist, Marcus Sedgwick.

Anapra is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Mexican city of Juarez – twenty metres outside town lies a fence – and beyond it – America – the dangerous goal of many a migrant. Faustino is one such trying to escape from the gang he’s been working for. He’s dipped into a pile of dollars he was supposed to be hiding and now he’s on the run. He and his friend, Arturo, have only 36 hours to replace the missing money, or they’re as good as dead. Watching over them is Saint Death. Saint Death (or Santissima Muerte) – she of pure bone and charcoal-black eye, she of absolute loyalty and neutral morality, holy patron to rich and poor, to prostitute and narco-lord, criminal and police-chief. A folk saint, a rebel angel, a sinister guardian.

THE DETAILS:

Kindle Edition, UK, 272 pages
Published October 6th 2016 by Orion Children’s Books
Original Title Saint Death
ASIN B01E4AQP8M
Edition Language
English