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The four books of the Shuki series are available as ebooks and as paperbacks. 'Not a Man' is the first of the Shuki Series, followed by 'The King's Favourite.' These are quite separate stories, and can be read as stand-alone books. However, you will enjoy the third in the series, 'To Love and To Protect,' more if you have read at least one of the others. The fourth in the series is a little different, and covers Shuki's mature years, and even ranges forward a few decades. This can be read as a stand-alone book. There is no 'adult' material in this one, though there is in the earlier novels, especially the first.
The six Penwinnard Stories are about the boys of Penwinnard Boys' Home - their spirit, their occasional mischief, and their aspirations. The final one, 'Price of Survival,' will be more widely available shortly. This one is about Bob, whom we first met in 'Angel No More.'
These books are also available as paperbacks.
on July 27, 2013 :
I haven't been this excited about a series in a long time. I'm willing to shift aside other books on my reading list just to get to the next book in this series. Can I call it a series? Each book is self-contained. No nasty cliffhangers here. Let's just say I'm anxious to revisit beloved characters in the next Penwinnard book.
Ian Mackender runs a Boys' home where he takes a personal interest in every child he charged with protecting. He leads a trustworthy, dedicated staff and ensures the Penwinnard boys are well cared for. Consequently, Penwinnard is the best Boys home in the country. The boys thrive there and go on to lead productive lives. Each boy is unique, but none is quite like Bob. Bob comes to Penwinnard broken, battered, and abused. He's undergone horrific abuse, and his abusers are possibly coming for him. He's in great danger and Ian is charged with his safety and protection.
The Boys' home manager, Ian, is my hero. He leads the Penwinnard boys with calm assurance. Only rarely do the boys get one over on Ian, or do they? Ian seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to his boys. He might not always intervene, but he knows what's going on and steps in when necessary. The boys look up to him and respect him as a role model and in many cases the parent they never had. Ian is fair, compassionate, and consistent in dealing with the boys.
Ian is by far my favorite adult character, but I don't think I could pick a favorite among the boys. They are all completely unique. Bob, the abused young man forced to grow up before his years, shows confidence and maturity unusual in a boy that age. But, Bob's no angel--he fights, he sneaks around to do the things boys do, and he lies to protect his own identity. Jay, Liam, Gerry, and many more--every boy in this book will find some way to worm his way into your heart.
The story is absolutely endearing, but there is a dark side. McRae explores such serious issues as child abuse, child neglect, child prostitution, and human trafficking. At Penwinnard, we explore the healing bonds of love and frolic on the beach with rambunctious boys, but the author also shows us a world where men can buy pleasure from unwilling boys, where children are kidnapped and abused, and where the wealthy believe money trumps morals. We meet people who have dedicated their lives to helping children, but we also meet the bottom-feeders of society who put their own sick sexual needs ahead of everything else.
If you're looking for a well-written, touching, heartwarming novel with substance, the Penwinnard Stories are for you. I just hope the author can write these books fast enough to suit me. I have to read more.
(reviewed 6 months after purchase)
on April 04, 2013 :
After reading M.A. McRae's incredible 'Not a Man' and 'The King's Favourite', this book was something of a surprise - a quite different story and style, though still with references to evil characters and plenty of intrigue. It was a much lighter read, and although I would have to say I prefer the depth and style of the Shuki series, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this - so much so that immediately I finished it I went on to read ''You Gotta Have Manners'', another Penwinnard story.
Marj brings her characters and settings to life superbly. I think the test of a good writer is how strongly a story affects the reader emotionally, and whether the characters continue to live in the reader's memory after the story is done. This book is certainly the work of a good writer. Highly recommended, as are all M.A.McRae's books.
(reviewed 4 days after purchase)
on Feb. 24, 2013 :
Angel No More By M. A. McRae
Characters are pivotal to any good book. In Angel No More there is certainly no limit to interesting, deep and even dark characters. It is a story from a boy’s home, where the pasts are mysterious and often delve into the more evil side of life. However M. A. McRae brings a story of intrigue and suspense from such horrors. There are patches of humour that goes with the young boys and it is certainly an interesting read. I’m sure there are more stories to tell. Stitch Says gives Angel No More 4 woofs. To check it out for yourself go to: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/251258
(reviewed 42 days after purchase)
on Feb. 05, 2013 :
For me, one sign that a story has really captured me is when I start spinning off my own plot lines. With a good set of characters and an interesting scenario, it's interesting to try and guess where the author is going, or to speculate on other ways in which the story could be developed. In this case I began doing it from very early on! Though the main character is 'Bob', AKA 'Angel', the other boys at Penwinnard are also well portrayed. Each one is, individually, a unique and fascinating story. McCrae does an excellent job of weaving all these elements together, whilst still keeping the main story in focus. That story - Bob's story - is a harrowing one. The full details of what happened to him are only slowly revealed, and along with the mystery is a sense of real menace: Bob has some powerful enemies. Any criticisms might have of this book would come under the heading of 'minor quibbles!' In some cases, I thought that the sentence structure might have been better, though that is just personal preference. I also found the ending a little abrupt, but that could be down to how absorbed I was in the story! Overall, this is very good story. It deals with some painful and uncomfortable topics, but does so with understanding and sensitivity. The boys of Penwinnard have been hurt, abused and victimised. It shows in their behaviour and attitudes - but they also show courage, loyalty and even love. It takes a skilful writer to depict such a range of life experience - McRae does it very effectively and with a strong underlying sense of compassion.
(reviewed 28 days after purchase)
on Dec. 03, 2012 :
Gripping story. This author has the knack of putting you in the story, along with the characters. The reader ends up following the fortunes of the boys in the home, and living their hopes and failures, and even sensing their dreams.
Good strong them - gripping until the end.
Well worth the pittance it cost, and it gave me great enjoyment.
(reviewed 25 days after purchase)
on Nov. 10, 2012 :
Set in a children’s home for boys in Cornwall, this is the first book in a series, each book presumably focussing on a different boy. This story is about Bob, once known as Angel, who has spent the past couple of years providing sexual services to wealthy men from all over Europe. Bob escapes and ends up at Penwinnard, where he gradually comes to terms with what’s happened to him. But while Bob tries to make a new life for himself, the French police are closing in and Bob is torn between shutting out his past and trying to save the boys he knows are still out there.
Like the author’s other books, this is a story with a huge cast and yet we are never confused or left wondering who is who. Each character is quickly and cleverly outlined with all the quirks and habits of real people living real lives. The focus is on Bob sufficiently to appreciate the appalling situation he’s been in, but there’s enough of a lighter touch in the other boys to keep the novel buoyant and readable. There’s humour as the Penwinnard boys establish their own pecking order and vie with each other to impress potential foster parents. And it all sounds so utterly authentic and believable. Despite the dark subject matter, this is a rich and fulfilling story which will leave you wanting to know more about all of the Penwinnard boys.
(reviewed 7 days after purchase)