To Pet a Rose, Marie Penn

To Pet a Rose, Marie Penn

To Pet A Rose by [Penn, Marie]
Genre: General Fiction, Romance

Well, I read it. All of it. Yet TBH I still don’t really know what its about, or where the story is going and won’t be continuing with it.
The characters feel a little odd, a bit flat, one dimensional, and I’m not sure I like any of them. The writing throws in a lot of vocabulary that was overdone and felt weird I had to look up, I’m pretty well read and its usually only historical words or specialist ones that have me stumped, but here they were not just used within the fencing/festival setting but thrown into everyday speech, and it just felt odd and a bit out of place.
What I did think I wouldn’t be so keen on, the fencing and the world of Faires and Festivals ended up being one of the best parts of the book for me. I found that really interesting but not enough to actually enjoy this story.
It could well be just me, this is my view and that doesn’t mean others won’t love it. Its not a bad book, a few oddities in the language, but just not one for me. It seems to be a first novel, and ?I hate writing low stars for any book, but especially debut ones but honesty is important and this story isn’t for me.

Stars: Two, one of those where the story and I just don’t gel.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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The Perfect Wife, JP Delaney

The Perfect Wife, JP Delaney

The Perfect Wife: The unique and explosive new thriller from the globally bestselling author of The Girl Before by [Delaney, JP]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers

This was outside my usual comfort zone, but so intriguing. I found it scarily disturbing, the way IT is growing in leaps and bounds its not quite outside the realms of possibility at some future date. Well, the IT side anyway, though the physical reality of creating something so lifelike isn’t so close, intelligent IT is, with developers and programmers getting ever closer to machines that can think ahead of simple programming and learn responses.
The thriller side of it too, is Tim the adoring husband he appears to be, recreating his much loved wife, or are the things Abbie uncovers signals that perhaps theirs wasn’t the wonderful marriage everyone seems to think they had. And how did she actually die? Is Tim not telling her to save her the trauma as he says ,or was there more to the story.
I love this kind of thriller where there’s lots to work out, where each side of the story seemed plausible. What I didn’t like though was that neither Tim not Abbie were particularly likable people. It was interesting reading about Danny and the therapies they tried, but other than to perhaps add a side of kindness to Abbie and provide a vehicle for the events at the end I’m not really sure why it was such a strong part of the novel. It did feel very real, I enjoyed seeing Danny and the issues he faced. Given the authors knowledge of this disability, I feel the problems and various therapies promoted were close to what happens in the real world. What works for some doesn’t for others and its finding the one that makes each person more comfortable with the world around them that is so difficult. I do believe strongly in the ethic that disabilities are not something to be “cured”, that its not a case of making people more “normal” but one of helping them fit in, be comfortable and cope with the world around them.
The ending puzzled me. I’ve gone back and reread it but TBH I’m still not really sure what happened, and that’s why I’ve dropped a star. Its a book I really enjoyed but not one I’d read again.
Stars: Four, An interesting read but ultimately a very disquieting book when thinking of the way technology is advancing, a route I hope it never goes.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Flawless, Fearsome Series Book 4, S.A. Wolfe

Flawless, Fearsome Series Book 4, S.A. Wolfe

Flawless: (Fearsome Series Book 4) by [Wolfe, S. A.]

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Gah, women’s fiction: c’mon publishers, this category has no place in 2019. Men read romance, men write romance, stop trying to alienate a potential reader base.

So, the story appealed to me and I really admired Talia. Peyton was sex on legs too, and I should have been glued to the page but….I just wasn’t.
Its a long read, usually I’m all over that, really lets me get lost in a novel, gives time to get to know the characters but here, well, I just didn’t connect with the story.
I put it aside in case it was just my mood – that happens, but on second read it still wasn’t great for me. After the halfway mark I skim read the rest, just wanting to see how it finished rather than enjoying the journey through the story.
There are some terrific characters, I hadn’t read earlier stories but each are stand alone and I don’t think that had anything to do with me not really gelling with this book.

Its well written, has lots of detail, side plots, and characters feel very real. Somehow though for me it just lacked intensity, I’m all about the nasty characters, the angst, the drama, and though there were suggestions of it here for me it just wasn’t enough.

Stars: three, it was fun in parts, had some great characters but overall it wasn’t a great read for me.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Discretion, The Dumonts Book 1, Karina Halle

Discretion, The Dumonts Book 1, Karina Halle

Discretion (The Dumonts Book 1) by [Halle, Karina]

Genre: romance, general fiction (adult)

Karina is one of my must-read authors, ever since I stumbled upon the wonderful experiment in terror series, and then of course her contemporary romances. Lately though, I seem to be on a different wavelength, I started but abandoned Maverick, and if this hadn’t been a review book I’d have done the same.

I wasn’t convinced in the insta-love Olivier had for Sadie, though its the kind of start I usually love. Then there’s the way she throws all caution to the wind and stays with him. Would you? I know some folk would, I just didn’t get that vibe from Sadie though, that she’d risk all on a stranger. Gorgeous, seems kind and filthy rich but a stranger non-the-less.
Throw in Olivier’s family, the sort of nasty characters I usually adore, and this should have been perfect for me. I just didn’t really understand why his mistake, his big secret, still affected him so much. Its played that letting it out would hurt his father and his sister, but his actions in abandoning that side of the family business seem to be hurting them more. Plus, he’s rolling in cash, folk like that are usually rolling in lawyers too 😉 and I’m sure one of them could have found a way out of the Big Secret. Frankly, I didn’t think it was something that would particularly shock his family anyway….Throw in that towards the end the drama, the secrets, the whole story line goes a bit OTT, and this just wasn’t a book for me.

The romance between Olivier and Sadie does wrap up, sort of, though it takes til nearly the end. However I still didn’t really think the dangers had gone, it was a bit call-my-bluff, OK bluff-called, but the threats and risks were still there IMO, folk like his family don’t just give up.
I guess that’s for the later books, I’m not sure if the next book(s) detail more of their story, or go on to another family member. I don’t like the kind of ambiguous ending of this one, so think there’s more to come from them, but I could be wrong and their story finished.

Stars: Two and a half, there were bits I enjoyed, Karina’s writing style works well for me but this book seemed a little OTT and choppy somehow. Much depends I guess on the next book, that may make me feel differently about this one, depending on what it contains.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Wolf’s Bane (Moon Marked Book 1) Aimee Easterling

Wolf’s Bane (Moon Marked Book 1) Aimee Easterling

Wolf's Bane (Moon Marked Book 1) by [Easterling, Aimee]

Genre:Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance.

I love fantasy/romance reads, but so may of these seem to be all grunting, monosyllabic alphas, reverse harems or ones where the romance is all the book, no side/sub plots, no overall story line. Still, it means when I do find a read I enjoy then its like a sweet victory!

I added this one last week, it was free at the time, so nothing to lose and I’d enjoyed the sample. I’ve just bought books two and three, as it was an intriguing read, and I’ll be looking at what else Aimee has written.
Mai is great, she’s a Kitsune, Japanese fox shifter. I’ve come across these occasionally – I think the last one was in a Hailey Edwards read as a secondary character, and the Kitsune premise fascinates me. They’re not just shape shifters, but have a kind of fox nature in the way they think and behave, and usually they have some form of magic. Aimee has added a touch here where that magic is connected closely to Mai, and allows her to create real items, her sword for example, within a split second, but it needs to stay physically connected to her or she weakens. I’m still getting my head around the star ball that Kitsunes in this book have, that allows the magic.
Mai is guardian to her younger sister, and struggling. She doesn’t know any other Kitsunes, they live in a city controlled by werewolves, and she needs to tread carefully, as they see Kitsunes as something to be killed.
Its an interesting story, full of some very real characters, sub plots that add up to the whole, the star ball connection to magic, and of course poor Mai doesn’t have anyone she can ask for help to learn more about what they are. She’s never met another Kitsune. Her dead mother offers some cryptic comments at times in Mai’s head, but they’re beyond my understanding, and mostly Mai doesn’t see the logic til too late either. I do like that connection though, and trying to puzzle out what the heck she means by her strange phrases.

There’s a developing romance but its still early days, and apart from a couple of stolen kisses hasn’t gone further. So many fantasy romance reads make the romance all the story, held up by the tiniest of plots, and for me I want all the mystery, the magic, the struggles, with the romance being there but as part of the story, not all of it.

Stars: Four, a fun read, and a good start to the trilogy.

Book purchase – I do buy books in addition to receiving ARCs and having KU!

Bloody Creek Murder, A Winston Radhauser Mystery 6, Susan Clayton-Goldner

Bloody Creek Murder, A Winston Radhauser Mystery 6, Susan Clayton-Goldner

Bloody Creek Murder: A Winston Radhauser Mystery: #6 by [Clayton-Goldner, Susan]

General Fiction (Adult), Mystery and thrillers.

Well, by now Radhauser is feeling a bit like an old friend. I know if ever I had need of the police I want someone like him on the case. He’s moral, dedicated but not one of those folk who want to find someone to blame, anyone will do, for him it needs to be the right person.
This book shows too well the pressures the police often face by the media to find a culprit, but like Radhauser I feel finding the actual person who did the crime is important, not just someone to keep the police looking good in the eyes of the media. In this day though, when appearance is all, when money, elections, voting and popularity are so important its simple to be sucked in and take the easy route, not necessarily the correct route.

Once more Susan delivers a well written and complex story, with multiple possible culprits, and side plots that at first seem diverse but which slowly link up. I’m hooked as ever trying to work out whodunnit…and even with the benefit of knowing more than Radhauser what went on, it still took me some time before I could finally piece all the parts together.
Its not as simple though as finding the murderer, but finding the motive too, and of course that brings in so much of the past, of hard times for the people concerned, that my emotions for them were all over the place.
I like this kind of mystery, where we look at why as well as how, at what makes people do things, why they act that way. I want to get to know the characters, their feelings, what drives them, and here they were so well drawn I could visually picture them, really got a sense of who they were.
The secondary plot too, involving one of Radhauser’s cold cases, was incredibly moving, and the epilogue for that was great to read. I’d like to think that if this happened, and I’m sure it does, that it would end like this. Hard for all concerned to do the right thing.

Stars: Five, another cracking story that had me gripped. I think you’ll get more if you’ve read earlier Radhauser novels but having said that, this could easily be read as a stand alone book.

ARC supplied by author

Nothing But This, The Broken Pieces Book 2, Natasha Anders

Nothing But This, The Broken Pieces Book 2, Natasha Anders

Nothing But This (The Broken Pieces Book 2) by [Anders, Natasha]

General Fiction (Adult), Romance

I usually enjoy Natasha’s books, but the first in this series just wasn’t one for me. However I was intrigued by the taste we had of Libby and Greyson’s story.

I found this one a much better fit for me, and really enjoyed reading about Greyson’s desperation to win back Libby and Clara.
From the first book I was astonished at Greyson’s actions, and remember thinking he’d have a heck of a lot of grovelling to do. Could you ever get past what he did, what he accused Libby and Harris of? I’m not sure I would. Yet even feeling like that about him, as the story moved on I began to understand him, see just what made him the way he was. The parallels between him and Tina when it came to making friends, set against Libby and Harris’ easy camaraderie, the way talking to others came so naturally to them made sense of the way they all were as individuals, and made their actions more understandable.
I wasn’t entirely convinced Greyson could just relocate his business, suddenly have all this free time, but maybe he was just time filling before rather than actually busy, that it fitted his excuses for avoiding Libby.
Still, it worked, and gradually things began to move forward. As always though it was one step forward and two back, and I was with Libby all the way when she really made him work for it.

Stars: Four, If it was just Libby and Greyson I think this story wouldn’t have anywhere near the impact, but seeing the two couples and the way each person had separate issues, made the story far more enjoyable.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Free ebook. Michael’s story.

I’ve not read this book, not my kind of read, but for fantasy/sci-fy/gamers its worth a look. Its free as an ebook, all that’s asked is you consider a donation to Michael’s charity.
https://www.fantasticbooksstore.com/michaels-story.html?fbclid=IwAR0rCZFUbbkeVQ2FURpAmp074KS0kJcMkJHSTnRQkHg9AQhhDyMTxMdtSfQ

“Michael’s story” was written for Michael Holyland, a 15 year old Elite Dangerous player who died on 22nd May 2019. It was created in 3 days from start to finish, by the combined talents of Frontier Developments and the Elite Dangerous player community.

Best selling novelist Drew Wagar wrote the story, Antony Taylor created the amazing cover, Anthony Hunt created the iconic Eagle glyph, Commander Cryptic Echo, Commander Orange Phoenix, their respective teams and numerous Elite: Dangerous players contributed to the project by creating materials that are still being used to promote this touching tribute to a brave and inspirational Commander.

An audiobook version was also produced as by the end his treatment was affecting Michael’s ability to see. This was produced using the magnificent soundscape of Elite: Dangerous by Frontier Developments and features stunning performances by Amelia Tyler, Richard Reed and Jay Britton. It was edited by Joe Hogan and produced by Zac Antonaci. It is available for free on Drew’s website here.

This story would not exist without Michael’s Uncle Matt Westhorpe reaching out over Twitter to help bring this project together. Thank you Matt, you are the best Uncle a boy could ask for.

Please enjoy this free ebook and consider making a donation to Michael’s Cancer Research UK page.

Thank you.

1

Bloody Creek Murder, A Winston Radhauser Mystery 6, Susan Clayton-Goldner

Bloody Creek Murder, A Winston Radhauser Mystery 6, Susan Clayton-Goldner

Bloody Creek Murder: A Winston Radhauser Mystery: #6 by [Clayton-Goldner, Susan]

General Fiction (Adult), Mystery and thrillers.

Well, by now Radhauser is feeling a bit like an old friend. I know if ever I had need of the police I want someone like him on the case. He’s moral, dedicated but not one of those folk who want to find someone to blame, anyone will do, for him it needs to be the right person.
This book shows too well the pressures the police often face by the media to find a culprit, but like Radhauser I feel finding the actual person who did the crime is important, not just someone to keep the police looking good in the eyes of the media. In this day though, when appearance is all, when money, elections, voting and popularity are so important its simple to be sucked in and take the easy route, not necessarily the correct route.

Once more Susan delivers a well written and complex story, with multiple possible culprits, and side plots that at first seem diverse but which slowly link up. I’m hooked as ever trying to work out whodunnit…and even with the benefit of knowing more than Radhauser what went on, it still took me some time before I could finally piece all the parts together.
Its not as simple though as finding the murderer, but finding the motive too, and of course that brings in so much of the past, of hard times for the people concerned, that my emotions for them were all over the place.
I like this kind of mystery, where we look at why as well as how, at what makes people do things, why they act that way. I want to get to know the characters, their feelings, what drives them, and here they were so well drawn I could visually picture them, really got a sense of who they were.
The secondary plot too, involving one of Radhauser’s cold cases, was incredibly moving, and the epilogue for that was great to read. I’d like to think that if this happened, and I’m sure it does, that it would end like this. Hard for all concerned to do the right thing.

Stars: Five, another cracking story that had me gripped. I think you’ll get more if you’ve read earlier Radhauser novels but having said that, this could easily be read as a stand alone book.

ARC supplied by author

The Ingredients of Us, Jennifer Gold

The Ingredients of Us, Jennifer Gold

The Ingredients of Us by [Gold, Jennifer]

General Fiction (Adult),

Well, I found this a bit of a weird book for me. I was expecting a romance, after all the blurb says this “a delicious novel about the sweet and sour ingredients of life and love.” Its not though, its a book about…Well TBH its hard to say what its about. It jumps from different times, years past, recent past, and of course the present.
Her marriage is stale, and its no great surprise that husband tom strays. yet even then they don’t have a big row and one move out, they’re still house sharing in a cold war of ignoring each other.
The bakery and her partner and best friend Bonnie play a big part in the novel, and there are recipes from Elle’s binder. There’s a weird bit involving Bonnie and her husband, from when she first met him, that Elle seems to have carried for so long, and to her its mega important. It colours how she acts with Charlie, even now years later, and just felt strange to me. I’m not really sure why it was included, it didn’t seem to have any real connection to events in the story.
Elle herself is a curious mix, lacking confidence one moment, full of it the next. I didn’t dislike her, but I’m not sure I liked her either.
We don’t really ever get to know Tom, except that given his first marriage broke up from his wanting kids and his wife not wanting them I’d have thought that’s a conversation he and Elle would have had early on. Clearly they’re also on different wavelengths here, and that’s a huge problem in a relationship.
I didn’t feel any great love between them, wasn’t really surprise Tom played away ( though I never condone cheating – at least try to fix a relationship first). Its a slow progression of life in the months after with flashback to when they were together. They never at any point explore why Tom had an affair, what went wrong. Tom just stays in the background while ellie feels incredibly self righteous, and yet isn’t really any more moral in the way she treats Liam? Oliver? I can’t even remember the guy’s name, just that he’s way younger. I don’t have an issue with younger men, no one bats an eyelid at younger women, but in both cases I like to see them treated properly, and yet poor Liam/Oliver doesn’t really stand a chance. It feels to me he’s really just someone Elle uses to take out her feelings of frustration, to make her feel good about herself, her desirability. He’s after sex at first of course, but it seemed he was trying for more, but Elle just dithers about how she feels never considering his needs.
I finished the book, but at the end I felt underwhelmed, it didn’t seem to have any clear resolution, just a possible one. I felt I was reading an extended part of a wider novel, not a complete book. Its fine for others of course. Its well written, but the content just didn’t work for me.

Stars: Two, I didn’t really like Elle and felt I simply didn’t know Tom. The story itself felt as if I was reading and extended excerpt.

An Amazon First Choice read.

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