Heartstrings Sara Walter Ellwood
I received this from the publishers in return for an honest review. I don’t gush and give false praise – I don’t believe that helps readers or authors so what you read is what I truly feel about a book.
Well, this book looks a kind of sweet cowboy romance I thought, and sometimes thats what we need, something gentle and non taxing to read. They’re not usually my keepers but fun for a one off read so I asked to review this book. Was I in for a shock, started as a conventional lost love type romance, but quickly diverged into the unusual with twists and turns, and I soon realised that this book is so much more! Just when I thought I’d worked out what the secret was Sara threw in another curve – and then another til by the end the whole plot had taken directions I really didn’t envisage from the beginning and was just so much more that a gentle HEA romance I was expecting. There is the happy ever after – but it comes at a price for many of those involved and includes a journey of so many secrets and deception spanning many many years. The characters learn things about themselves and each other that were sometimes unthinkable.
It was a great read, kept me engrossed all the way through and I just loved Seth – yes he made a mistake as did Abby but at 17 and 18 who hasn’t. Its that time when you’re teetering on the brink of adulthood and yet the repercussions of a simple things can reverberate through the following years with unintended consequences. The betrayals were shocking and very unforeseen by me anyway – and as for the ending, that came up very unexpectedly, never saw it like that!
There’s some hot sex scenes, lots of love and humour, and I enjoyed the mix of people involved. Its (I guess) a typical small town where everyone knows everyone else from long long ago and histories are never forgotten and poor Abby still carries discrimination form some of the older families because of her parentage. We see how that shapes some of her decision – the same with Seth, and to compound it their fears are played on by people they trusted. I really felt for the children they were and was so happy that things finally worked out for them though the others innocently involved must have been heartbroken. Still, thats fiction – if its all happy ever after and no-one gets hurt it’d make for a dull tale wouldn’t it so as long as my heroes can be happy I can deal with the rest 🙂
Its well written and edited as usual from Lyrical, a great story that’s more than just a gentle romance but has angst and emotions in and lots of twists to keep reader wondering what’s going to come out next. All the endings tie in neatly – I hate books where I’m left wondering “yes, but what happened about ….” Sara doesn’t do that – she lets all the plots merge and become part of the whole with us learning what was behind the deceptions and motives of the major players. Priced at £3.71 on kindle for 391kb (I don’t have page numbers but it was quite a quick read so I’d guess around 175 pages perhaps?).
Stars: well this book really surprised me, I was expecting a 3 star ok read but I’m going for a well reversed four stars – a great read.
Both sides of the Portal. Craig Askham
I received this from the author in return for an honest review. I don’t gush and give false praise – I don’t believe that helps readers or authors so what you read is what I truly feel about a book.
OK- I’m a fantasy reader and this is fantasy but based around real life Gaming. What I know of gaming can be written on a postage stamp, my only experience is with Legend of Zelda on the Snez back in eighties….tells you a lot doesn’t it!! However that didn’t stop me enjoying this short story – and there’s another oddity in that I rarely read shorts. Still, Craig asked if I’d be interested in reviewing and the Amazon sample sounded good so….
It jumps straight in with the main character Luke trying to balance his real life with wife and kids with his job as a sort of bounty hunter/retrieval person for the company running Stillwater. What is Stillwater ? – well it seems a company have found a way of opening a portal to another dimension, and people rich enough can pay and be transported through to play out real life scenes with real people. Sometimes things go wrong though, and the retrievers are sent in to bring back those who break the rules. It took me a while to begin to get to grips with this – maybe my lack of gaming knowledge could be to blame, but the actual worlds – both sides as the title says – are very well fleshed out and I felt as if I was there with Luke on his mission. Of course there’s danger – this is playing for real and not a game of “Life ended do you want to play again?”. Luke gets called on at short notice and in this short story it coincides with promises made to his children for an outing – he has to use both sides of the portal to keep his family and employers happy.
Despite my aversion to shorts and fantasy of this type I found I actually enjoyed this story. I feared I’d be lost not having the background knowledge but it was easy to follow and very realistic. There’s another longer book out from Craig and I’ll be reading and reviewing that soon. Having dipped my toe in the water of this type of genre I won’t shy away from it in future – I can’t see it being one I’ll go to often but for a quick escape into something different it was a fun, easy to follow novel and I’ll make the leap again for the right book. Still won’t get me reading Lord of the Rings though or Pratchett 🙂
Craig has done well to create a realistic and yet fantasy world that meshes with the real one we live in – and to be honest whose to say there aren’t other worlds out there after all. Maybe its fiction imitating life?
Stars: well its well written and edited, easy to read and 44 pages for 77p on kindle. Its not one I’ll read again but I did enjoy it as a one off and for sci-fi type fantasy readers its a quick fun read. So 3and half stars – I’m sure readers of this genre and gamers would rate higher but my ratings are for how I personally enjoyed it.