Lost Creek Cabin, (Winston Radhauser Mysteries 11), Susan Clayton-Goldner

Lost Creek Cabin, (Winston Radhauser Mysteries 11), Susan Clayton-Goldner

Lost Creek Cabin: A Winston Radhauser Mystery, #11 by [Susan Clayton-Goldner]

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Its hard to believe we’re now on book eleven in this series. The stories are still very fresh and engaging, unlike some series where the plots seem to get recycled and predictable. As usual I was trying to work out who was behind events โ€“ and as usual I got it wrong….. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I love Radhauser, if I ever need a detective I want one like him. Moral, out for the true culprit, not just a handy stand-in. Policing is tough here in UK, I guess US is the same, and there is pressure to get the job done and on to the next, but he always does his best for the victims. This time its not just Shannon that’s a victim.

As always Susan brings in some very pertinent issues, and school bullying seems to be universal. I so felt for poor Rich, he had a tough life anyway and then to have to go through that at school poor kid. However much his parents loved him they couldn’t protect him from the bullying โ€“ and that must have devastated them.
Sadly kids like Carson, popular, rich family, good at sports too often get away with things others wouldn’t. Schools should not turn a blind eye but I guess they only want to see the good, the front these kids present. Bullies can be very manipulative.

When Shannon disappears time is of the essence, and her disappearance brings out so many more issues, involves so many people. Yet she seems to have vanished without a trace, and the longer she’s missing the less hope there is.
As usual Radhauser looks at every tiny detail and we follow him, seeing his reasoning and for me, trying to work out what he thinks is happening. I was glad he took the route he did, glad he made the connections and found justice.

We learn more about Heron, the medical examiner and Radhauser’s best friend in this book. I’d always imagined him as maybe late forties, early fifties, but was surprised to learn he’s 39. In my head with characters so well depicted as these, I have a clear picture of how they are to me, that now needs adjustment ๐Ÿ™‚ for Heron anyway.
I was so sad for him, he’s such a lovely guy, and I always want a happy ending for everyone. What makes these books special is that unpredictability I mentioned earlier, and a bit of heartbreak makes for some real drama and emotion. Perfect for me. I don’t want all misery and sadness, but equally not all happy, happy, happy. That heartbreak is tempered with some good things for him though. He deserves it.

I love the way what seem like disparate events, co-incidents only, become connected as Radhauser teases out the threads, joins them together. By the end we see the full picture, everything is cleverly wrapped up and its very satisfying.

I enjoyed the quick catch up of charters from earlier books, such as Kendra, and seeing how she and her husband are doing.

Stars: Five. Another winner, kept me gripped to the end, puzzling out who was the culprit and what had really happened. A fabulous series, with book one still free and this latest currently ( 20/10/21) only 77p. 99c for US.

ARC supplied by author

 

The House in the Cerulean Sea, TJ Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea, TJ Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea by [TJ Klune]

Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy, LGBTQIA

Well, I remember reading the amazing Wolfsong, Green Creek 1, some years back and even now parts of that story stay with me, so when I saw this of course I had to request it.
Its another fabulous read, full of characters that will stay with me for a long time.

I love Linus, he’s stuck doing what he really believes is right, in a world that sadly isn’t always as moral as he seems to believe. ( Well, that’s my take on it โ€“ maybe I’m just over cynical) We need people like Linus, those who are truly good,honest, out to do right at all times. Sadly he’s also very kind of careworn, lonely and doesn’t seem to believe he deserves more in life, more fun, more companionship and love, more everything. My heart broke for him. I adored Calliope too ๐Ÿ˜‰

Then he’s sent to check on a very unusual orphanage, one where the children are very dangerous. Their guardian, Arthur Parnassus, is a very unusual man, and Linus isn’t entirely sure he’s doing whats right for the children. He runs the orphanage in a very unusual way. And the children, poor Linus, they don’t get off to the best start. It made me laugh so much, the deadpan way the kids threaten him, so matter of fact as if its normal to size people up for a grave ( Thalia) or Lucy talking about bringing horrific death and destruction to the world, and in the next breath asking whats for tea and singing along to old records as he helps wash up dishes. Yet the fabulous Arthur has it all in hand in his gentle, unassuming way, he’s always there when they need him, always bringing them round to a more reasonable view in a considered way. Not by being dogmatic, autocratic or harsh, not Telling them what to do and think, but showing there is another side, encouraging them to see it. He was just perfect.

The characters here are just wonderful, so well depicted that I could picture them in my head, felt as if I knew them and I wanted the very best for them. And staying with Arthur was just that, just what the kids needed. Of course the gentle romance too made the story really enjoyable, and the way the children took to Linus in their very different ways was so heartbreaking. In a good way of course. They, and Arthur, gave Linus what he didn’t know he needed.

Stars: Five. Its a fabulous read, with amazing people who will stay with me for a long while.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

#TheHouseintheCeruleanSea #NetGalley

The Certainty of Chance, Jacquelyn Middleton

The Certainty of Chance, Jacquelyn Middleton

https://amzn.to/3lD0NIs

Genre: Romance,

Yay โ€“ thumbs up for the British setting and slang, as a UK reader that’s a treat.
This was a mixed read for me. Parts of it, the way Madeleine’s grief was dismissed by her family, the way Julian’s profession was looked down by his ex, the Instagram couple and things like that were very true to life, and Madeleine’s grief was so well handled. Grief takes us all differently, and there’s no magic day when its gone. Tough lesson we all learn eventually. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
Its a sweet feelgood romance, dull of Christmas songs, references, and of course snippets of info about British history. I love odd facts โ€“ mum used to say I was a mine of useless information โ€“ she was right, but I still love odd facts, snippets, things like that. The characters are great, cute, genuine, very real feeling. I loved the scenes around London, I only know parts from real life, the rest comes from books and its always fun to read more.
I remember the ash cloud for real, I was on holiday with daughter and grand kids at Center Parcs. Immediately they went from around 90% to 100% occupancy. I know as we’d chatted to staff, and they told us they were allowed to book chalets at big discount on the proviso if they were needed they gave it up, and that week it was all hands on deck, all discount chalets canceled. We knew some people on holiday abroad who were stuck there too, til things blew over โ€“ literally. Strange time.
What didn’t work so well for me with this book was it was a little too sweet and light, I’m more drawn to the drama and heartbreak, here there’s a short interlude where things look rocky but that’s soon over. Horses for courses, others love books like this, hate too much drama. I hovered with rating between three and four, its a well written story, has all the ingredients I love but just didn’t keep me gripped in the way other novels Jacquelyn has written did, and I missed some solid drama.

Stars: Three and a half, like I said I hovered, three o four, so went middle line. If you want a sweet feel good Xmas read this could be perfect for you.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Unperfect, A Grumpy Boss Office Romance, Susie Tate

Unperfect, A Grumpy Boss Office Romance, Susie Tate

Unperfect by [Susie  Tate]

Genre:Romance, Women’s fiction

Gah, bl!!dy Women’s Fiction again…there is no place for that in 2021 IMO!

Aside from that, what a whirlwind of a read. I loved it. At times it did need a suspension of belief, who really gets a job on the day they interview with immediate start, fake name, no refs? But its fiction, so I can accept it, and without some suspension it would be hard to write some things. Mia needed that job to open up right then, or it would have been a very different story ๐Ÿ˜‰

I loved the characters, a terrific mix and so realistic. I want people like that in my reading, folk I can relate to. Then Mia and whats she’s been through, sadly so true for many people. It was heartbreaking reading about her rough sleeping, and trying to cover it. Her situation did make me tearful, even knowing in this instance its fiction, because for many its reality.
That bullying her ex did, that insidious constant telling her in so many ways she wasn’t quite good enough, building her reliance on him, its what bullies do, so that everything then becomes the victims fault. โ€œ If only you’d listen. If only you didn’t make me angry. If only you’d dress, walk, talk, behave differently…โ€ etc. We all think we’d see through it, wouldn’t accept it but these people โ€“ of any sex โ€“ work carefully to break down our confidence, and make us think what they say is true. Its small steps, but by the time a person is in the state Mia is its hard to leave. She knows if she doesn’t the next attack, or the one after that, will kill her. I was in awe of her bravery, and her determination to rebuild her life. Of course I didn’t understand at first why she wouldn’t go to the police, but that comes out later and I then saw her fears.

That abuse gives her so many triggers that poor Max unwittingly presses, his loud voice, his bluff, overbearing manner, his sheer size. He doesn’t understand why Mia dislikes him so much. He doesn’t realise its not dislike but fear. There were so many things that showed how well Susie understands this situation, I guess as a GP she must have met similar folk to Mia. Things like her needing to squeeze into small space, to avoid rooms with windows, open spaces, places where she’s vulnerable to attack, why she preferred to sleep in wardrobe, they all made it seem so very real. I could picture Mia doing these, feel her fear, feel her heart racing.

I loved the way the story unfolded, bringing in Verity, Yaz ( wonderful Yaz, who’s for a bit of mindful yoga?). Heath, Teddy and of course Nasty Nate. And Roger โ€“ special lad there, dogs know when we need simply reassurance and contact. I liked that Mia hadn’t been Miss Perfect in the past to her family, and yet we knew she still loved them and they her. It was easy to understand her actions and feelings, encouraged of course by Nate. Loved seeing the family issues resolved.

The romance takes time ( the best kind IMO) but is so very real, and we learned even kind, confident Max isn’t without issues of his own. I really enjoyed the way the story played out, and the drama at the end. A fab read. I’m off to read Kira’s story next, its on KU!
And yay โ€“ thumbs up for the British slang, as a UK reader that’s a treat.

Stars: Five, a romance with real people, genuine themes and multi stranded plots. I love those, something more than boy meets girl and they lived happily ever after ๐Ÿ˜‰

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Once Upon A Broken Heart, Stephanie Garber

Once Upon A Broken Heart, Stephanie Garber

Once Upon A Broken Heart by [Stephanie Garber]

Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA, Women’s Fiction

What the heck? We’re bring sexist stuff into YA/Teen reads now?
Personally I think Women’s Fiction is a genre way past its sell by date, has real fifties โ€œlittle housewifeโ€ vibes, but to start introducing younger readers to the idea there’s such a thing as male reads and female reads โ€“ just why? Its such a backwards concept….

Anyway, I adored the first two Caraval reads, not so much book three. Still, I love Jacks โ€“ c’mon, honestly, who doesn’t? Though I have to slide quickly past all the poor women killed by his kiss as they weren’t The One. Sad for him, but for them….much more so. So of course I wanted to read this.

I’m conflicted though, I love the concept, I love the magic world setting, but like book three of Caraval, for me this got a bit too rushed, confusing, jumped around so much. And Evangeline โ€“ if there’s a book labeled how to make the Wrong Decision, how to be a doormat, I think it must be her life template. She’s so Good, so Idealistic, so Loving even when people don’t deserve it, so seeing only the good side/being naive constantly, that she rushes from one crisis to the next. At least Scarlett and Donatella had a) some sense and b) lots of courage and sense of adventure between them.

But there’s Jacks….and I so want him to have a good ending. I didn’t really see him and Donatello as being suited, I think he loved the idea of her. Maybe this time Evangeline will be his True Love? Or not โ€“ who knows? With this story I really can’t see where anything is going, and that’s one of my issues.
There’s no real clear cut main plot, characters are in, then within a few pages, out again. Its a headlong rush of events, old characters, new characters, related characters and multiple concurrent plots, many of which feel too unexplained.
Maybe book two will make it clearer, and as I’ve found before, maybe reading later books will make my rating for this one higher. Rating a trilogy isn’t easy, its rating part of a story without knowing the rest. Like a judge passing sentence after hearing only one third evidence ๐Ÿ˜‰

Stars: Three, but this may rise after reading all the trilogy. And I probably will because hey…Jacks ๐Ÿ˜‰

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Bookbinder’s Daughter, Jessica Thorne

The Bookbinder’s Daughter, Jessica Thorne

The Bookbinder's Daughter: An absolutely magical and gripping page-turner by [Jessica Thorne]

Genre:Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Women’s Fiction

Darn….women’s fiction Again….Why? Just why? I think this book will appeal to all ages and sexes.

Anyway, what a fabulous read, some magic that’s so very different to whats usually found. I loved the story and the way it unfolded.
Sophie was a great lead, trying to retrace her past in a way after her mum’s mysterious disappearance. The more she learns though the more danger her specific talent puts her in.
The Library is wonderful, a truly magical place and I adored the story connecting the leaves and the ideas going out into the world. The characters were fascinating, from Villus the intriguing cat, Edward, Sophie’s uncle, her mum’s brother. Then there’s Tia who’s a whirlwind of energy, and of course Will. There are others, all play a particular role and are well described, fit the story perfectly.
Its a magical read, in every sense of the word, and kept me totally engrossed. I know its one I’ll love to re-read, I love something like this that I’ve never read before. Something outside the usual book norms of magic.

Stars: Five, a story I loved and know I will re-read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Cry of the Innocent: A Faith Clarke Mystery. Julie Bates

Cry of the Innocent: A Faith Clarke Mystery. Julie Bates

Cry of the Innocent: A Faith Clarke Mystery by [Julie Bates]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

I enjoyed this, the historical side really made me feel there with the characters, exactly what makes a book for me. I love the details of the day to day stuff, the food, the chores, the realities of life as a woman, as a slave, as a child. The divide between those who have wealth and those who don’t. Looking at this from today’s perspective its awful, but back then it was the norm and people just had to get on with it.
I liked how Olivia struggled with the conundrum of slave owing and being a Quaker. Its not as simple as just setting them free, I didn’t realise she would need permission from the Governor to do so. And that she would need a good reason before it would be granted.

The story itself is almost basic, someone gets murdered in Olivia’s property. She needs to find the culprit for a number of reasons, she and her slaves could be held responsible, especially as she is in substantial debt to the victim, the scandal could affect her tavern and thus income, which is already finely balanced. The slave girl, Stella, widely thought to be responsible is just a child and badly abused and she doesn’t think Stella could have done it, but knows as she’s a slave no-one else will really look to help her.
What starts off simply gets more complex and involves far more folk in what seemed like a simple murder, and Faith gets put into danger for her sleuthing. The more she looks into it the more reasons and motives others have for the murder, and the more danger she gets placed in. She can’t just leave it though, she’s become in danger either way.

Stars: 4. The story weaves together through into a fascinating snippet of history, a fictional tale that probably played out in similar ways over and over in real life ;-(

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

A Marriage of Lions, An auspicious match. An invitation to war., Elizabeth Chadwick

A Marriage of Lions, An auspicious match. An invitation to war., Elizabeth Chadwick

A Marriage of Lions: An auspicious match. An invitation to war. by [Elizabeth Chadwick]

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance.

Tastes change as you age, but Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels have been favourites of mine for a very long time, a good 25 years or so.
I don’t read historical novels often, but love ones like these, set on a personal level, taking real events and people and weaving what could have happened from the research available. I love that I feel taken back in time, that I’m living events with the characters.
True to history there are hard times, casual violence, starvation and the ever present battles and loss of life. As always women are chattels to be disposed of in political alliances, and do as bidden by their male relatives….Tough times indeed.

I loved Joanna and her feelings and staunch loyalty to William. That was sorely tested at times. We can see when they first marry how William loves her, but is still very much a boy, where Joanna has always been ahead of her age and is the far more responsible of them. William and his brothers are at times careless, heedless of their position, and it brings him into some dangerous areas. Joanna has deep waters to smooth.
Still, life then was very turbulent, things could change day to day, those at the top brought down by a carefully worded whisper to the King. He has strong feelings for his half brothers โ€“ but their being French means there is a lot of jealousy from the English, even though William is very careful to be even handed and treat everyone equally.

As usual this story covers several years, and we see the main characters grow, see rivalries and dislikes become out and out hatreds, leading to some dangerous times. Its a fantastic read, one to treasure and reread.

Stars: five, another dip into history for me, losing myself for hours in times and ways long gone.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Truth About Secrets, Revenge has never tasted so sweet, L.P. Dover

The Truth About Secrets, Revenge has never tasted so sweet, L.P. Dover

The Truth About Secrets by [L.P.  Dover]

Genre: General Fiction, Romance, Women’s fiction

Gah, bl!!dy Women’s Fiction again…there is no place for that in 2021 IMO!

Well, this is a short novel, and I’m not a fan of those, but I didn’t know before I started….I’m guessing its around 150-170 pages and for me that means the story gets rushed, too much crammed in. The humour was fun though, made me snigger, so that redeemed it a bit.
Its not a novel I could dislike, a good premise, exactly the kind of thing I want to read but…it was very cute and sweet rather than the depth and drama that I enjoy. I’d guessed one part very early though the other was a surprise! Characters were likable in the main, and felt real.
I did get somewhat puzzled over the chemo Clara’s dad underwent. He was pretty sick and yet didn’t seem to be in hospital but at home. The effects too, hit him very quickly, and when they talked about IV fluids at home I was shocked, that would be hospital here. Granted its 25 years since I had chemo but I was in hospital for it, and was tested constantly. Anti sickness meds given for when I was home, though it took a few days to hit. I think a bit more realism here would have helped, or maybe its just the US and UK treatments and aftercare are very different? If that’s so, my apologies.

Stars: Three, a cute read but a bit light for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

A Home in the Sun, Sue Moorcroft

A Home in the Sun, Sue Moorcroft

A Home in the Sun by [Sue Moorcroft]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance, Women’s Fiction

Ahhh, boo, hiss, spit. That awful outdated category AGAIN. One day..please?

Anyway, wow what a read. Sue is one of the few authors I’ve found that can juggle so many threads in a story, and weave them neatly into an engrossing tale. Often when I read books with multiple threads they feel disjointed, too busy, but here its just perfect, opens up parts of the characters that would otherwise be hidden.

Judith, divorced from the awful Tom and found new love in Malta. Her life is happy she thinks, her stepson who she adores, brought up since he was nine, often visits, and she lives with the gorgeous Giorgio. Slight hiccup due to the heavy religion and legal issues in Malta, but they’re in love and work round it. Then as things do, it all falls apart and heartbroken, she sadly can’t face her life there and comes back to the UK. That starts another fabulous thread, but Malta is still there in the background.
Adam is renting her UK house, he’s also divorced ( what a deliciously horrible woman his ex is, I do love characters like that, they add so much extra!) and lives with his son, who in his early 20’s. Adam also had past issues to deal with, the divorce, a horrible accident, trying to run his business, and of course now Judith wants her home back….
I really felt for Adam over his disability, I know from disabled friends his experience wasn’t unique โ€“ it happens way more than we would like to think. I was lucky, my husband never made me feel โ€œless thatโ€ after my leg amputation, but many marriages break up as partners can’t deal with it. We put way too much emphasis on โ€œperfectionโ€ IMO.

I just loved the way the story played out, the little things, Fingers the snake ( fabulous), when Judith went to throw some weed found down the sofa into the fire….Judith’s mum and the care home staff ( yes, Lovie/Love instead of names gets used all the while in these places. I just wish all care homes were like this one.) Judith’s sister Molly, and her husband โ€“ what is it with those males, so sexist. Sadly there are a lot of them about it seems.
I loved that Malta and the people there were always in the background, I wondered if perhaps Giorgio’s actions were a product of what had happened, how depressed and upset he was, how much he was keeping inside.
I understood Kieran and Bethan, I had similar issues at the same age, and my parents reactions were pretty much the same as hers. All these little things, all these multiple plots, wrapped up into a wonderful story that once more kept me reading โ€œjust one more chapterโ€ til it was far too early in the morning to be reading but I needed to know how it ended!

Stars: Five, Its a wonderful mix of drama, tragedy and lightened with some very real humour.

ARC supplied by Netgally and publishers

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