‘D.O.G.S’ – M.A. Bennett

This series doesn’t seem to have grabbed everyone, but I enjoyed the first part of the series (however ridiculous the scenario seemed) and this more than delivered.

Trying to come to terms with her role in Henry’s death, Greer is back at S.T.A.G.S and needing something to bolster her chances of getting into Oxford. She doesn’t question the timing of events, but we are very suspicious when the first Act of a lost Ben Jonson play is put under her door. Greer is intrigued by the idea of putting on something thought to be so dangerous that it closed the theatres.

Before we know it we are following the preparations for this play, and – of course – things are inextricably linked to Longcross and Henry’s family. We know someone has secrets, and we can’t help but wonder just how this play fits with our current story.

I loved the feeling of a story within a story, and yet we still have a sense of Greer’s story developing in ways that perfectly blend a sense of threat with excitement. It wasn’t clear just who was hiding what, and even at the end there’s a murkiness to this that suggests our understanding of the Order and the threat they pose has more layers to reveal.

I can’t wait to read the final part.

 

‘The End of Men’ – Christina Sweeney-Baird

Invited to read this by the publishers Harper Collins, and I was really excited to be asked to participate in a group discussion of this upcoming release. The book arrived, I read the letter from the author and then I found myself reluctant to get started.

Being brutally honest the thought of reading a book about a fast-spreading virus that had such an extreme impact on the world felt all a little too close for comfort. How could I expect myself to have a rational reading experience, not bringing my own current experience to bear? Two days before the discussion I wondered whether I’d have to ‘fess up’ and admit to not reading it.

The day before the discussion I picked it up, felt my heart sink as we watch our doctor deal with the first case and then found myself immersed in it. While the discussion of the pandemic and its impact is bound to resonate with our current situation, I was genuinely surprised by how absorbed I became in these stories.

The description of the virus was fast, but the emotional impact on people was evident. There were some scenes I read with my heart in my mouth, holding back a dreadful sense of emptiness. The anthropologist reflecting on the experience was fascinating and it was a bold choice to focus on such a large timescale and such a broad scope of characters.

Perhaps to be expected, some elements of the story were more easy to read than others. Initially I found it hard to keep track of who was speaking and though it would have been bleak to gain little sense of resolution, some parts felt rushed because of the need to take us through to the end.

I can’t wait to see what others make of this.

 

‘The Ravens’ – Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige

 

The first in what promises to be an exciting series, exploring witches in the modern era and chucking in a strong dose of college-based life too.

Vivi has always felt different. Used to moving regularly she is fed up of living with her mother and her fascination with tarot cards and predicting the future. Vivi is set to go to college where she can finally be who she wants to be. But what if the things her mother talks about aren’t complete nonsense?

Vivi arrives at her new college and immediately feels out of her depth. Yet she ends up invited to a party at the most exclusive sorority group…and is invited to join them. The girls are known across campus for their poise and strong bond…but what if there were more to this?

What Vivi quickly learns is that the group she has joined are witches. They have power the likes of which you can only imagine-and, of course, Vivi has strength she was unaware of. She has to come to terms with the responsibility this new power brings, and with learning her mother isn’t quite what she thought.

During a tense time it’s clear that someone is desperate to get their hands on a powerful talisman. They’ll stop at nothing to get it, and the girls are all at risk unless they can trust themselves to do the right thing.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this, and I think this sets up for an intriguing series.