Fierce Kingdom & The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life


Fierce Kingdom:  A Novel by Gin Phillips is a book that I read a lot about before I put it on my TBR.  I saw reviews in magazines and blogs and it sounded intriguing.  Boy, it sure did not disappoint!

Absolutely un-put-downable!  The premise is a mass shooting occurring in a zoo, not an old concrete and cages in lines kind of zoo, but a more modern one with treed pathways, larger animal habitats, lots of play areas, etc.  A mother who takes her son regularly to the zoo is about to leave when she comes upon the shooting.  Being a regular visitor, she knows the zoo like the back of her hand and as an adult alone she probably would have been fine hiding and waiting out the police rescue, but she had her young son with her.  Like a lot of young kids, he is not good at sitting still, staying quiet, and dealing with hunger and thirst for the hours the rescue takes.

This was such a thrilling ride of  a book, at times I was actually holding my breath, I was so caught up in the story.  The actions and attitudes of the shooters are at times terrifying and at other times pathetic.  I don’t know whether my immersion in this was because it was so relatable for me being a mother, who also had a membership to a zoo when my kids were small or not.  Highly recommended read.

The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life by Sharon Pywell  was a total impulse read.  I was at the library perusing the new arrivals shelf and the title and the beautiful cover lured me in.  The book follows two sisters, Lilly and Neave, and their drive to build a Mary Kay type cosmetic empire.  Neave is the “romance reader” and chapters of Neave and Lilly’s lives are interspersed with chapters from a romance novel that is her inspiration, The Pirate Lover.  Lilly is murdered and is spending her time in the afterlife, as a ghost with the family dog’s ghost as a companion, trying to help  Neave. There are other siblings as well, a child of Lilly’s, an immigrant chemist, and a couple of love interests to round out the cast.

All of the characters are done very well and this is a lovely read in the family relationship pieces and an intriguing read in the murder mystery sections with a dashes of humor expertly placed.  The novel highlights the plight of women in the 30s through to  some time in the 70s, the lack of prosecution for domestic violence, lack of job opportunities, and cultural expectations.  The novel does not fit easily into a genre, rather it straddles lines intersecting mystery, romance, general fiction, paranormal and historical.  I enjoyed it and would recommend it.

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