Karolina Dalca, Dark Eyes by MR Noble – Blog Tour Book Review

Book Cover/Blog Tour Banner

About the Book

Blindsided by an attack that destroys her home and blamed for murder, Karolina Dalca, a half-vampire, escapes, only to plunge into the magical societies from which she was sheltered.

Betrayed by those around her, she abandons her dreams of becoming an investigator and flees, trusting only herself. Her police internship would never prove more useful. Hoofing it through the wilderness, she makes it to her university dorm, disheveled but delightfully deflowered.

Enter a full vampire: one wielding dark magic and a ride out of Canada. A fugitive from the law, Karo complies with his demands to escape, unsure whether his requests are bewitched. She vows to clear her name and avenge her mother’s death, but Karo’s family secrets aren’t so easily left behind.

About the Author

M. R. Noble has played a tug of war between science and art her whole life, but the rope broke when she wrote the first line of The Dark Eyes Series. Immersed up to her keyboard in paranormal romance and urban fantasy, she enjoys blending the real with the surreal. The only drawback is she misplaces her mug while dreaming up her next scene, and soon finds herself six cups overpoured.

Keeping to her Lake Simcoe roots, she is a member of the Writers Community of York Region (WCYR), where her muse is made not found . . . over a hefty cup of coffee.






What I Thought

This is a book that very much puts you straight into the action and it did take some unpicking to understand the rules of the supernatural world we are suddenly immersed in.

To my mind the ‘delightful deflowering’ came out of nowhere and I’d have liked a little more character development before it happened, it’s also barely ‘on page’ and occurs just after the death of her mother so I’m not sure it had the right impact on the reader.

I did enjoy the story much more when the character Andre was introduced and the dynamic between him and Karolina was engaging. Also the mafia style supernatural underworld was intriguing and the fight scenes dramatic.

Karo does, in general, make some quite questionable decisions and I’d have liked to have seen a little more psychological development to her character – she seems quite reactive at times.

Auntie Miruna was an awesome character who really came alive on the page and I’d have loved more time with her.

The mix of vampires and magic was unique and I loved the visual imagery of lightning magic. The writing could have been tighter to manage this really interesting premise.

Thank you to The Write Reads and the author for providing an e copy of the book for the purposes of this honest review. Do check out the other stops on the tour.

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina – Blog Tour Book Review

Paperback Book  Cover

About the Book

A sweeping, moving novel based on an incredible true story.

Picture an old disused telephone box in a beautiful garden, not found easily.

When Yui loses her mother and daughter in a tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue.

Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people travel there from miles around.

Soon Yui makes her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.

What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels like it is breaking.When you’ve lost everything – what can you find?

Author Photo

About the Author

Laura Imai Messina was born in Rome, Italy but has been living in Japan for the last 15 years. She works between Tokyo and Kamakura, where she lives with her Japanese husband and two children.

She took a Master’s in Literature at the International Christian University of Tokyo and a PhD in Comparative Literature at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. The Phone Box at the Edge of the World has been sold in over 21 territories.

Laura can be found on Twitter at@LaImaiMessina and on Instagram at @LauraImaiMessina, or on her website www.lauraimaimessina.com.

Lucy Rand (Translator): Lucy Rand is a teacher, editor and translator from Norfolk, UK. She has been living in the countryside of Oita in south-west Japan for three years.

What I Thought

Picture of my hardback copy with many tabbed pages

Well, what do I say about this one? As you can see from the picture above I might have found one or two quotes that resonated. 

At its heart this is a story about loss, but it’s also hopeful and romantic and captures slices of human life. 

The two main characters Yui and Takeshi are our focus but I love how other characters they meet also get centred at times. 

There is a man who literally looks at life through a picture frame and this creates some of the most vivid imagery in the story. 

As a Humanist I don’t believe in a Supernatural Power but I do remain connected to those I have lost, and yes I do still speak to them from time to time, usually in my head rather than out loud though. Personally for me having a place to go to speak to the dearly departed isn’t necessary but I’m not sure that the Phone box fulfills that for these characters either. At its core I think it is about the human connection that the Phone box brings them. The space to be with their grief for as long as they need.

“Perhaps it doesn’t do any harm, she thought, to continue talking to those who are no longer with us.” 

There’s also a acknowledgment about how individual our responses to death are. Even the people who visit the phone box approach it in different ways. 

This is a quiet book, there are moments of tension but on the whole it’s an observation. Past and present and future are handled as a continuum and details from each time feed in where they make sense to tell us. There is both a distance and a closeness in the narration and it is eminently readable. In fact I read it almost in one sitting. In most of the book every other chapter steps away from narration and almost gives information like footnotes – the number that died in the tsunami, the cost of that photo frame, the top memories of a person gone. You could skip them but they highlight the ordinary, the facts, and the concept that life and death happens off page too.

There has been so much death across the world in the last year that the paperback publication of this feels timely. I hope that it’s increased accessibility means more people can find some comfort in its pages. I will be making a note of all those quotes I highlighted, removing the tabs and seeing if when I return to it I pick them out again, or if I see something different depending on what experience I bring to the book when I next read it.

Inspired by true events, discover the true story of the Wind Phone here:http://www.thephoneboxbook.com/. I was glad to read that the filming rights have been optioned because I think this will make a poignant film and I will be seeking it out.

Thanks to Compulsive Readers for having me on the tour. I already had this stunning hardback copy from Goldsboro as it was a book of the month pick (and I definitely see why). Good news the equally stunning paperback is out now. Opinions are entirely my own. Do check out the rest of the tour stops to see what everyone else thought.

Blog Tour Image

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at the Heartbreak Café – Re-release of the 80s series by Janet Quin-Harkin

Heartbreak Café Book cover and coffee cup with hearts

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone – I hope today sees you having time to read a favourite book or three.

Today also marks the re-release of the Heartbreak Cafe series by Janet Quin-Harkin which follows teen Debbie Lesley as she takes on a new job, and a new way of living, after her parent’s divorce.

I was gifted book one – No Experience Required – for review and I’m so glad I was. As a 42 year old – I may now be closer to Debbie’s parents’ age but these books were around when I was nearer Debbie’s age – or perhaps a little bit before because sadly they are not ones I remember reading. I was busy reading Sweet Valley High in the early 90s instead.

About No Experience Required

Deborah Lesley’s comfortable life in Northern California is suddenly turned upside down. Her family is breaking up, there’s no longer the family home she grew up in and she finds herself having to grow up, and find a job at the popular beach hangout Heartbreak Café.

Life is never dull at the Heartbreak Café and the dram for Deborah Lesly only continues once she starts work. Theres Joe Garbarini for start who runs the café when he’s not at school and whose sarcasm is almost enough to make Debbie walk out of a job she very much needs. But she’d ready to prove Joe wrong and stick to the job, she needs the money after all.

About the Author

Janet Quin-Harkin first found success as a picture book writer, winning several awards. She was then asked to write a teenage series and Heartbreak Café was born! The first in the series No Experience Required was an instant success when it was originally published in the eighties. By the time the third book came out she was selling half a million copies. Since then Janet has gone on to become a New York Times bestseller. Writing under the pen name Why Bowen, she is the author of the historical Molly Murphy and Rpyal Spyness mystery series. She has won the Agatha Best Novel Award and was nominated for the Edgar Best Novel. Janet is British and divides her time between California and Arizona.

You can visit her website at www.rhysbowen.com

What I Thought

This at once took me back to my childhood but in an odd way also seems like it could have been written today. Only a few things firmly placed it in the past, the lack of mobile phones, and turns of phrase such as neat. It’s such an easy read and reminded me of a time when I would read multiple books in a day (at a little over 200 pages it is very easily digestible). One thing I wasn’t so keen on was the slight undercurrent of fatphobia and sadly I think that’s something that does still exist today. The mentions were very brief and mild but they were still present.

Main character Debbie was great to follow, her arc from spoilt rich girl to independent teen allowed plenty of room for growth and the dynamic between her and Joe, snarky and fun is what I like to read. She has insight and awareness but is still a teenager who sometimes acts before she thinks.

Debbie has her toes in two worlds – one is a country club, Harvard aspiring one with a Quarterback future lawyer boyfriend, and in the other she lives in an apartment and has a new part time job to pay to keep the car she had in the first world. But which one does she fit in? Can she belong to both?

Her parents are both present and absent in her life but I am glad they don’t disappear altogether and the angst and upset of divorce runs through this book. I couldn’t help but empathise with her mum.

There is lots of humour too – particularly when Debbie is trying to cook burgers for the first time – I definitely would not wanted to have been her first customer.

The secondary characters are intriguing and I hope they come to the fore more in later books because they definitely have their own stories to share. We definitely only scrape the surface with them in this book which centres firmly on Debbie, even Joe has more to him than we see here.

All in all this was a light, fun read and took me back to the polyester uniform of my first job (supermarket rather than café). If you like YA/teen contemporary then I’d definitely recommend picking these up.

The Heartbreak Café series is published by Ellfie Books the YA and Teen Imprint of the publishers Ellingstar Media.

Book 1 – No Experience Required

Book 2 – The Main Attraction

Book 3 – At Your Service

Book 4 – Catch of the Day

Book 5 – Love to Go

Book 6 – Just Desserts

In this hit eighties series about teen life in northern California, themes of friendship, work, family, divorce, and love are ever present. From movie makers coming to town and surprising romances, the Heartbreak Café series will transport you to a retro California, full of sun, surf, and heartbreak.

It’s author says “I always had a special place in my heart for Heartbreak Café. It seems very real to me (actually it was modelled on a real café in Capitola CA) and I saw it as a place that was where paths crossed and people came out changed. In spite of its humour it had serious underpinnings and a message that is timeless. That’s why I’m so thrilled to see it back in print.”

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