Chaos in the Coven, (Witches of Raven’s Landing), Saskia Walker

Chaos in the Coven, (Witches of Raven’s Landing), Saskia Walker

Chaos in the Coven (Witches of Raven's Landing Book 3) by [Saskia Walker]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, this is probably my favourite or the trio. Maybe because I feel I know many of the characters. Its good to see how things are growing in the coven, though even with them being witches I’m still pretty sure it wouldn’t be as easy hiding things from the rest of the village as it seems. Still, that’s the beauty of fiction 😉
This book seems to have a bit of everything, the Coven witches of course and then we’ve Ghosts, Demons and Vampires…Vampires. First time they’ve been around in the village and at first the Coven members cant make it out. There’s more issues with Nathaniel Fox, a documentary crew poking into everything, looking for the paranormal, and an old acquaintance from Aveline’s past crops up, and he’s unwelcome. Sadly he’s also very persistent, very suspicious, and tagged into the film crew.
Its a fun read, not just the documentary crew but the Coven, the 1940’s party ( I had to look up Zoot suit – found from Wiki rabbit hole and the images I remember seeing a pic with my dad in that style trousers…See, even fiction teaches us things). Of course there;s Eben, who adores Aveline, and is such a source of strength. She needs it in this book, there are some hard things to deal with.
It ends with a big bang, literally, and some tear jerking moments too.

Stars: Four, a fun read, I enjoyed seeing how the coven and its memebers have grown over the books, and how Fox was finally dealt with.

ARC supplied by author

The Ends of the Earth, Abbie Greaves

The Ends of the Earth, Abbie Greaves

Genre: General fiction .

I was really intrigued by the description, and having enjoyed Abbie’s novels before I really expected to love it. Maybe in a different time I would, but I’m reading this in November 20, caught in the Covid depression fugue that has many of us in its hold, and its just too drear, too somber for me.

It deals with such important issues of mental health that I feel bad about saying I didn’t enjoy it, but I couldn’t really connect properly to the story or the characters.
I felt when I got to the end ( and of course not the end I wanted…) that I had more questions than answers, and I just don’t get along with stories that make me feel that way. I like everything – or almost everything – wrapped up, questions answered, no missing parts, and here that didn’t happen. Unless I’ve missed something 😉

Stars: Two, I might come back and reread one day, when times are less grim and my mind can take a book that has a lot of sadness in. Right now its just not a story for me. That’s down to me, not the book, others love it and you may too.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Last Night, Mhairi McFarlane

Last Night, Mhairi McFarlane

Last Night: The best romcom of 2021: romantic, heart-breaking and laugh-out-loud funny by [Mhairi McFarlane]

Genre: General Fiction

I’ve really enjoyed some of Mhairi’s reads in the past, but its been a while and maybe that’s why I expected more romance in this, that’s what I recall from past books but maybe that’s just faulty memory 😉 It happens!

I enjoyed this, very real and relatable characters and issues, and it shows us just how fragile life is, how quickly it can change. I didn’t like Ed, or Hester, but maybe she had it tough with Ed, he wasn’t quite as nice a guy as he portrayed, in some ways.
I loved Eve’s revelations about herself at the end, and about Ed. Perfect.

The story itself was great, very real, very emotional. Life has this way of throwing things at us, and Eve’s life was totally turned around. She thought she knew her friend inside out but discovered she had secrets that had a huge impact.
I was waiting for more romance though, but it doesn’t really happen until near the end. That’s on me though, its not billed as romance, something I missed. I just saw authors name, remembered I’d enjoyed her books in the past and requested. My bad.

Stars: Three, It didn’t quite hit the spot for me, but due to my expectations not the book itself.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Book of Love, Sweetness and Light Book 2, Erin Satie

Book of Love, Sweetness and Light Book 2, Erin Satie

Book of Love (Sweetness and Light 2) by [Erin Satie]
Romance
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Romance

I like to read a historical novel sometimes, for an escape into more genteel times – of course that’s only for the wealthy. Maybe times don’t change! I enjoyed the historical setting, the book binding, and the political side of this read but wasn’t convinced by the romance.
Stroud – he came over as an overgrown schoolboys with his Pranks. I just couldn’t get along with them or him, but he grew on me over the course of the book as a good man, one who knew his own limits and one of the rare folk who can see how others see them and adapt accordingly. His love for Cordelia was very clear by the end, yet I didn’t really see how they got there. How they went from his pranks and her condescension to love. That’s just me though, as always this is perfect for others. We all like different things.

The politics, where Cordelia is fighting for women’s rights, were something very real, and back then on marriage a woman had nothing, everything she owned, had worked for, was the property of her husband. He could do as he wished with it, gamble it, sell it, give it away and she could do nothing. Not only that, women couldn’t divorce their husbands, only men were allowed to divorce. Its treated as a part of the book, and fits Cordelia’s nature well and I enjoyed reading about that.

Overall it was a fun read, not one that gripped me, but interesting even if the romance didn’t convince me.

Stars: Three, its an interesting historical read, but the romance didn’t quite hit the spot for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Dance into My Heart, Maddie James

Dance into My Heart, Maddie James

Dance into My Heart (A Harbor Falls Romance Book 3) by [Maddie James]

Genre: Romance,

I wanted an easy light read. Sometimes I want historical, sometimes fantasy, sometimes deep, dark drama but yesterday I was in the mood for a gentle romance. This story is definitely that – but for me a little too sweet and gentle.
The characters and settings are good. I loved the small town camerarderie. Rick’s idea of the cafe bar sounded perfect. I know the US is a lot less strict that the Uk about planning but getting all that done in a month. Can that really happen? I so wish it could here, six months would be a good deal, but with council planning., sites visits, 101 forms to fill in it can be far, far longer. Life would be so much easier, more fun if it was only a few weeks.
Gracie has been through such a trauma, and is still recovering. Grief takes different times, some folk need just a few months, others like Gracie still feel after years. Then Rick and Iz come into her life. They turn it upside down, Iz is adorable, precocious as girls that age can be, but fun. And when she talks about her mum that’s so sad, poor kid.
Rick feels attracted to her right from the start, even though they get off on the wrong foot. Slowly their lives intertwine and mingle.
I enjoyed the story, but it didn’t have me gripped, it was just a little too light, almost twee, at times and I need a bit more drama. There is some towards the end, the sweet spot in books where just as everything seems to come together it falls apart. It isn’t really enough for me though. As always though its perfect for others, not everyone wants drama, we all like different things about stories, so though its not a reread for me it could be perfect for you.

Stars: Three, a little light for me, I needed a bit more depth and drama.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Summer Job, The hottest new debut of 2021 – WARNING: this is not your typical rom com, Lizzy Dent

The Summer Job, The hottest new debut of 2021 – WARNING: this is not your typical rom com, Lizzy Dent

The Summer Job: The most feel-good romcom of 2021 soon to be a TV series by [Lizzy Dent]

Genre: Romance, General Fiction

I’ve read a few like this and found them great fun, and hey, with Covid dominating our thoughts fun and fluff is much needed.

I really didn’t like Birdy at first, she seemed careless, selfish, and ready to possibly drop her best friend in it, to “borrow” the job for which she knows Heather has worked incredibly hard. Sommelier – Heather has spent years working at it, studying, building a steadfast reputation, and yet her supposed best friend is ready to risk her career, risk her losing all that?
Yes., Birdie is in a hole, but thinking she could just step into Heather’s shoes was naïve to say the least, selfish in my eyes.

As the story moved on I did come to understand Birdie a little better, and see that she had a good heart, though I still felt she did a horrible thing to Heather.
There were funny moments, serious problems, heartbreaking sadness, and the food…..wow, that was some of the best part, visualising that. One of the best parts, one that showcased Birdie’s talents, was the big food/wine event she presided over. That was just perfect.

The romance. I expected more, and TBH its really just a potential romance for the most part of the book. I’m not sure I was wholly convinced either.

Its a fun read if you can get past the issues of betrayal of her friend, and of course risking the whole hotel’s renovation that hinges like all businesses, on getting the money in.

Stars: Three, an OK read, made me laugh at times but I was irritated by Birdie’s actions too much, with her lack of concern for others.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Midnight Bargain, C.L.Polk.

The Midnight Bargain, C.L.Polk.
Magic meets Bridgerton in the Regency fantasy everyone is talking about…

The Midnight Bargain: Magic meets Bridgerton in the Regency fantasy everyone is talking about... by [C. L. Polk]
Romance
Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

I wasn’t sure about this book at first, but quickly became hooked and I loved it.
Its a mix, a magical world, but historical in the sense that women are property, and horrors, no matter how talented magically once married they lose that. As spirits can enter unborn children and take over women have to wear a collar to lock out their magic and therefore lock out any harmful spirits. Not just while they are pregnant, but from their wedding day to the end of their childbearing years. Beatrice is horrified, she is talented, thinks the system unfair and would fair rather keep her magic and remain unmarried. However her families future depends on her making a good marriage, thanks to some poor investments by her father, a fact she’s only just become aware of.
Poor Beatrice, stuck between a rock and a hard place. Her only hope is to continue her magical education in secret and get good enough to convince her father she can help mend the families fortunes that way…
There are some great characters here, a lovely mix of friendship and the usual Mean Girls, as Beatrice isn’t quite from the top drawer. I was surprised how things with Ysabeta developed, loved it, it wasn’t what I expected. Ianthe, who couldn’t love him. One of the few forward thinking men of the time, who was prepared to try to understand what Beatrice had issues with. Like most of us, whats accepted as norm isn’t questioned, and though he knew Ysabeta has problems with it he hadn’t really though about it from a woman’s view. Of course he’s in the minority, and his mother certainly doesn’t share his views.
The star for me was Nadi, the luck spirit. I adored her, she made the book really special, her relationship with Beatrice. They both cared about the other, where convention said spirits needed to be kept in place, and didn’t have those sort of feelings.
Its a gentle romance, beset with society problems and a really fun read. I loved the magic, loved the problems that cropped up, loved the gentle mean girls stuff. It ends neatly, everything wraps up with a neat epilogue, and I’d love to read more from this world, see how the things develop with these characters and maybe others a couple of years down the line.

Stars: Five, a really magical read and I love this world. C L Polk, please write more!

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Cuckoo in the Coven, Saskia Walker.

Cuckoo in the Coven, Saskia Walker.

Cuckoo in the Coven (Witches of Raven's Landing Book 2) by [Saskia Walker]

Like the first in this series the story is fun, light and at times very steamy. Its an easy read story, not one that’s dark and dense, but a kind of sexy, supernatural M&B read 😉

I liked Rowena, felt for her when she thought she’d been let down by Caleb. She’s somehow they type of person you feel protective of, but she actually has a lot of inner strength.
I wasn’t sure about Caleb, I understood his need to know more of his origins, but using someone to get information isn’t really something that sits well with me. The woman holding the story of his background over his head is deliciously horrible. I do like characters of that type in a story, it adds a sharper edge. Knowing that though, and Caleb does, I wanted him to think a bit more about what she was going to do with the information he found for her. It wasn’t going to be anything good, and I needed him to recognise that but he didn’t want to.
She had connections with people from Raven’s Landing that I didn’t expect, and of course everything comes to a head, both groups meeting, magic being thrown out hard and fast, and a brief appearance of sorts by Fox. I do feel that magic is a little bit of a quick fix solution in this and the previous novel, but that’s a personal issue. I like it best when characters have spent time honing skills, not when they instinctively know what to do. Its a small irritation though.
Stars: Three, its a fun read, quite light but easy to follow, no intense concentration needed.
ARC supplied via author.

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman, Julietta Henderson

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman, Julietta Henderson

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman: The most uplifting book you’ll read in 2021 by [Julietta Henderson]

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult),

Wow, a book to make you laugh and cry in the same moment, its a real bittersweet read.

I loved it, for a debut book its a real cracker, something that kept me fully engrossed. There was so much detail, and at times it was so emotional that I read it in breaks. Its not a book to race to the end to see what happens, but one of those where you need to savour the journey, to enjoy each moment, each even as they happen.

Jax, poor, poor Jax. The kid everyone but Norman and Sadie see as a problem. The naughty kid, the one who’s always in trouble. Sadie tells Norman ( and I’m sure she told Jax too) that he makes it hard for people to like him, and yet when it comes to Norman he’s so full of patience, so full of help, ideas, of ways to bolster up Norman.
Lets face it, most kids are cruel and when like Norman you have a very obvious skin condition you can just imagine how hard it is for him. Actually adults can be cruel too, I’m sure Jax deflected as many comments off them too.
Even though Jax dies very early in the book, he’s still there, alive in Normans head, giving him confidence, reminding him all the work they’ve done “ Timing Normie, Timing”.

There’s a host of incredible characters here, some turning out to be not what they first seemed, events that could be so wrong but which turn out just right. Sadie thinks she’s a bad mum, and I guess when it comes to organisation, housework, the mundane stuff she’s not the best, but as a mum she’s perfect, just who Norman needs. He never once doubts her love, she’s always there for him, never says “ not now, I’m busy hoovering” She’d probably say “hoovering, ah well, that can wait til next month”
She adores Jax too, not just for the support and confidence he gives Norman, but for himself. She sees the boy behind the naughty facade.
When they come up with the trip I was thinking What? Seriously? And yet it works, with the help of the wonderful Leonard and his passion for learning via adult education classes.

Its a fabulous read, fun events and characters mixed with tragedy and sadness, and it felt so real, so vivid and true. Though real life probably wouldn’t pack quite so much in one go! The laughter about Norman and his scales dropping off on the hotel bed-sheets ( he’s the one laughing half the time), and that decamping at speed after the Chinese medicine stained towels, with the aid of Adam and the mobility scooter kind of sums up the story. Its sad, its funny, its real. The encounter with James was so funny, I could just visualise James and little Norman brazening it out – and it was the perfect set up for Norman and his confidence, to put him on the track of his future. Dave Allen, like Norman I adored his comedy, and slow burn stories was clearly Normans future.

Stars: Five, a fabulous read, full of a perfect sad/sweet/happy mix. I laughed even as I was feeling so sad for poor Norman, and he’d want me to stick with the laughing.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Learning to Live, (Infinite Love 1), Kira Adams

Learning to Live, (Infinite Love 1), Kira Adams

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre: YA/NA Romance,

I rarely read YA novels, I find it hard to relate the the characters but this had the underog theme that does appeal to me so as its on KU I decided I’d try it.
I was pleasantly surprised, the characters weren’t juvenile and silly, the thing that puts me off many YA reads ( though I’ve read books were people in their 30’s act like YA). Older teens I guess, that makes a difference, these are mostly either side of 18 and that extra maturity shows.
The mean girls – I love those charactes, and they were creatively mean to poor Ciera. I loved her, she was head down and ignore, and of course having been bullied much the same many, many years ago I could relate. Report them as everyone says? OK, then who’s going to be around when they come at you even harder? So we just keep heads down and do our best to avoid bullies. Its wrong, they win that way, but in practical terms it needs adults to be watching, to take action.

Ciera has home problems too, her widowed mum and two much younger siblings don’t have much money, and she works after school to help out. Not only that but later we learn she has her own issues to deal with.
Topher was one of those who didn’t outwardly join in the bullying, but didn’t see what was wrong with it, and didn’t do anything to stop it. Apart from her friend Mack Ciera is alone at school, until an incident with the bulles prompts someone to step in.
From there things change, not always for the better, but it makes Topher look at his own actions, and I thought, finally, he can see whats in front of him. Of course that means standing up against his friends, the top group, the alpha predators, and what will happen then?

Its a sweet and moving love story, and has a huge surprise I didn’t see, but with hindsight there were clues. It did make me cry, Ciera was so brave and I so felt for her and her family. I was luckier than her when faced with similar, but could empathise with the scary side and what she was facing. You’d think fate had put the family through enough without this.
The story covers some heavy issues, not just the bullying. It was well done, well handled, not just a simple bullying school love story, and had surprising depth to it.
I won’t suddenly beome a YA lover, but it proves some well written YA books can have a wider target.

Stars: Four, surprised me how much I enjoyed it. I’m actually going to borrow the next book from KU just to see where things go, although this book is a stand alone and complete.

 

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