Archive | November 2014

Firewall, Sonya Clark

Firewall (Magic Born)Firewall, Sonya Clark
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
The final book in the Magic Born series, and its a real stunner. I thought after the last book there was still so much discord, and the groups so fractured and struggling for day to day survival, I didn’t see how on earth Sonya would or could pull it all together for a satisfying conclusion in just one more book. But she does,  and its just perfect!!
The people in Freaktown and its outskirts are struggling just to get food, now their jobs and contact with the other side where the Normals live and work has been stopped, and they rely on rations which simply aren’t enough, and are stopped when they protest. Its like the old slavery laws we had where children didn’t belong to the parents, but were subject to owners, in this case any Normals having an child that tests positive for magic has them taken away, the kids that are lucky get adopted by a witch but most end up in orphanages, and struggle once old enough to find a job and home.
Its been six decades now and recently the Normals who’ve had children taken away are beginning to protest and band together. The news that some wealthy people have paid to get past the test, and secretly keep their kids has added to the furore. Magic Born younger people are protesting, using their skills even though they risk death or long imprisonment by it. Tuyet is one who was brought up in the orphanage, and taken from the streets as a young adult to work for the Rangers, a secret Gov unit. It wasn’t really a choice issue though,  and she was there until they decide she was no longer useful….then three years ago she used her magic to escape. Partner Dale thought she’d be living in a country where Magic Born are free, and contents his mind with that – at least one of them has a decent life. She asked him to leave with her, but he felt he owed everything to the Rangers, having been with them and worked his way up from a poor background. He’s been ridiculed since and demoted though for not stopping her, even though she made it look as though he’d been overcome by her…now he’s told she’s been ID’d in New Corinth and he’s to bring her in or else lose everything he’s worked for – failure isn’t an option. He loves her though – how can he sentence her to death?
Out in the field he’s still trying to work a way out of it when he has to chose sides, and he choses her. Then he sees what has been supressed, that the Gov is hiding what they are doing, and what he’s really been working for…Now he’s able to help Tuyet and her friends with info from inside. When they get caught in a riot that kills many innocents, and know that without their film no one outside will know about this, they don’t leave for safety but stay and help. They end up working with a group spearheading revolution to get the Magic Laws overturned. Its very dangerous though and they come so close to capture I was breathless for them.
Tuyet and Hale have some great chemistry, I could feel their attraction even when they were still on ostensibly opposite sides. It was good too to catch up with the others from earlier books, Lizzie and Vadim, Calla and Nate and others. I love the way they band together once organised, and the way that Sonya works threads from earlier books into circumstances that have now become important. Its easy when people have nothing for them to just get over the top and not see reason, to ruin plans that are so needed, and the team have to work hard to ensure they cover all aspects and changes that can happen- or at least as many as possible. Of course something different always happens, but its terrific the way in the story it turned so that the solution is believable, talents and skills people already have are used to get out of the problem, not some new unheard of superpower – that’s one of my real pet hates and in each of these books Sonya has thankfully avoided that easy, but for the reader intensely frustrating option. It makes for a harder job for the author but ultimately a much better novel.
Sonya did what I thought wouldn’t be possible, and in this book came up with a workable and believable solution to the Magic Laws, and its been a great read all the way through the books, full of action and magic, steam and sensuality and a trio for the keepers file.
Stars: Five of course, its been a fabulous conclusion to a riveting and unusual series. I’m always amazed at how authors create their worlds, and with this one Sonya has worked something that for me at least is almost unique, something I’ve rarely read about, Magic and Technology combined with natural Magics. I’ve read some where this has been combined, but not in the way Sonya has done to create such a believable and structured world.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

New Year’s Promise, Anna Clifton

New Year's Promise
New Year’s Promise, Anna Clifton
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Romance, women’s fiction
My first read from Anna, and I really enjoyed it. There are plots that could be almost cheesy, irritating and yet they aren’t, they fit the overall story arc perfectly. It made me cry, a lot, towards the end, and I love a book that moves me like that.
When we first meet Ellie and Justin, she’s been working for his firm, and we quickly get pulled into their background, their close childhood friendship. I was a little puzzled how come they’d all managed to remain so close, given Justin moved away when he was a young teen, and I thought they’d lost contact, but I guess I must have missed how they reconnected, or maybe stayed in contact some way – whatever, it’s clear there’s a very strong relationship between Justin and Ellie and her four brothers.
Ellie’s lovely, loyal and adores her family. She’d taken over mothering them all since their mum died, and somehow never seemed to stop…now they’re anxious she takes time for herself with a dream position in Paris opening up for her. Her brother Harry though has a problem, he knows if he tells her about it she’ll drop the Paris job and stay, and he doesn’t want that but he does need her around til the new year. He tells Justin about it and persuades him to tell her he won’t waive her notice period, but accept two weeks instead of the four she should give. Somehow though Justin finds himself asking – well telling – her to spend it with him, so they don’t have to go to the usual holiday events alone, as they’ve both just come out of a relationship. He’s always been attracted to Ellie, but has a huge secret that makes him not act on it. Ellie too has always had strong feelings for him, and they come pretty close at times when they’re out together. In the middle of it all though some huge secrets come out, that shatter them both and cause lots of angst and strife.
Its an unusual romance, more tear jerking story that straight romance, though that angle is well covered. There’s so much more here, illness and how families cope with it, mothers who struggle to do just that, and how the love of a family can provide so much joy to everyone. Its not a book I’d re read, but was one that I loved as a one off, it’s so packed with emotion. As I said earlier some of the plots could have descended into Hallmark film territory, ( fine if you like that but I don’t) and yet they’re covered in a way that’s natural, and doesn’t fall into that trap but feels so real that I was tearful reading it. In the middle of all that Ellie and Justin have to decide what they really feel, and whether they’ll do anything about it or just go their separate ways. Of course as a romantic I was rooting for things to work out, and there were moments when I felt the bars placed between them felt forced. Not the “big” one, that was understandable, but the later little ones when they were at odds with each other over how they thought the other person felt. It just seemed to get over complicated and that’s where it lost a half star from me. I didn’t feel that part felt real, but as if it was put in simply to extend the should they/shouldn’t they emotion.
Stars: Four and a half, a great read and have the tissues ready.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic (Dowser Series Book 1) Meghan Ciana Doidge

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic (Dowser Series Book 1) Meghan Ciana Doidge
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal

I got this as it was free, ( yeh- book addicts will know what I mean – can’t resist a free read) and it sat in my TBR pile for a while, then I saw someone who’s reviews I follow rated it highly, ( soIreadthisbooktoday blog) and I bumped it up the list and am so glad I did. Its still free so what have you to lose – try it and maybe like me you’ll love it.

Its a great read – full of snippets of humour as the title suggests, but with a very real mystery to unravel. Its written from Jade’s POV, she’s the main character, and its a style that really works for me. She’s been brought up by her gran, along with Sienna, a kind of adopted relative – she treats her as a sister. Both of them have some magic as half blood witches but its very little, with Sienna able to do virtually nothing. Jade runs a successful bakery ( and the cakes really made my mouth water) but Sienna seems to be a kind of jobless drifter.

Then the fun starts, gran is away and a vampire seems to be watching Jade. Gran’s always said stay away from them and werewolves, but poor Jade doesn’t get the chance. On a night out, hoping to take her mind off Kett (the vampire)she goes clubbing with Sienna and her boyfriend Rusty and meets up with hunky werewolf Hudson on the dance floor.

Then she finds out why the werewolves and vampire are around, there have been murders and somehow leads seem to point to her! She gets involved in rooting out who’s behind them and though I had an idea early on of who,I couldn’t see how or why. I loved the way the story unfolded, the way the magic was used and clues laid out. It was a bit gruesome occasionally but then murder isn’t pretty! Kett – I have a vampire weakness and am hoping for a romance there, but there’s also McGrouchy – Desmond the werewolf Alpha,who’s dark and dangerous but delicious too….oh so many choices. I love a read like this were darkness is mixed in with humour and a side of romance woven through. I want to read books two and three now!

Stars: Five, one to keep and reread.

How to Bake a Man, Jessica Barksdale Inclan,

How to Bake a Man, Jessica Barksdale Inclan,
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews

Genre: Romance, Humour

Well, sometimes I want a light, fluffy humorous book – all that angst and emotion I love to read needs some contrast, and I’d gone through several dramatic books so this sounded just perfect. Sadly though I didn’t like this one.

My biggest problem was Becca. Whiny, flighty, seeming to think everything and everyone should do as she wants, I just couldn’t take to her. Her baking business was terribly slick to set up and get customers – OK it’s fiction, but there needs to be a bit of realism, and she seemed to have no problems with funding, kitchen inspections, licences, transport and customers. It looked like one day she decides to run a baking business and a few days later its up and running…Life isn’t anywhere near like that, and I’d have more respect if she’d hit a few problems, or it took longer. Anyone who’s done anything like this knows that Councils especially take weeks to make inspections and decisions. Also I can’t see how she could produce all those lovely goods herself in a domestic kitchen, or how just one office block could support a business.

Poor old Sal, he was a gem and yet she took his help for granted – there’s not even a mention of her providing even fuel money for his car, she just expects him to do her bidding. When she first had the idea surely she should have though about transport? Clearly though she didn’t….She seems to be one of life’s entitled takers, and when she happens upon Jeff she decides she’s in love and he’d be better off with her rather than his girlfriend – who co incidentally is Becca’s double. She knows nothing about her except office gossip, and the fact she’s seen and been subject to some of her nastiness. For all she knows Jeff too could be like that! Jeff seemed to me to be a wimp – what she saw in him on that instant look to fall in love I don’t know, and his subsequent behaviour was not anything to improve my view of him.

The best of the group were Sal, a gem of a man and very under appreciated, and Sasha and Chad from the office where she sold her goods. There were odd storylines that seemed to go nowhere, such as the start where we see her at uni, the fact of Jennifer and Becca looking so alike, her dad’s new marriage, and the lack of contact with him when she as a child…To me those story lines seemed like padding. I was waiting for some kind of connection further down the book, but found nothing so what was the point of them? I could have missed something though, as by halfway I was so bored I skim read to the end.

Its not one for me, but I can see its got a huge number of fans so once again its an example of how not all books suit all readers, nothing to do with quality of the book, simply differing tastes. The biscuits and cakes though – they were five stars!!

Stars: Two, just not one for me

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Entangled Romance Black Friday deals

Enatangled Raomance are having a Black Friday sale from 26 Nov through 6 Dec. There are TONS of titles on sale for only 99cents, and this is the perfect way to stock up those ereaders. You can even gift them to anyone, for awesome early holiday stocking stuffers that won’t break the bank!Sadly its a US only offer but if thats where you are its a great offer. I’ve read some really good reads from Entangled, they’re not all light and fluffy romances but some quite deep ones, and some really gripping paranormals

Part-Time Lovers, Shelley Munro

Part-Time Lovers, Shelley Munro
review from jeannie zelos book reviews

I’d enjoyed a couple of Shelley’s novels before, so seeing as this was the first in a new series I thought I’d try it. I found myself a bit lost though, it felt as if I was reading about characters from an existing series, they all seemed to know each other well,  and references to pasts and the reality show made me feel I’d missed something. I looked up Shelly’s other books and saw that the reality show mentioned was from the third in a series, and the characters had all been featured over three books in the Love and Friendship series. Its quite a short read at 125 pages, so I understand why ground covered in those wasn’t explained but I think if you’ve not read any/all of them you’ll find, like I did, that you miss too much to really get “into” the story.
I didn’t understand why Yvonne seemed to give in so quickly – OK it was (supposedly) sex on her terms and I Loved the way she thanked him the first time and said she was off to watch a TV show next! After that though they seemed to slip into being a couple, and though Nolan seemed a nice guy I just couldn’t get past that he’d just left her with no explanation, saying he was going to be away for three months so he couldn’t see her, when in fact he was on TV searching for a wife, dating other people!! What a jerk, and the excuse his mum arranged it all – what was he ? Seven or something? couldn’t he say No to her? I just felt Yvonne got the short straw and that coloured too much of the book for me.
Its a decent read, and I sort of understood Nolan by the end but if I was Yvonne I’d have made him grovel a lot more….if I’d read the other books maybe I’d have had more insight into him. If it was a longer book maybe I’d have had more time to like him, but I hadn’t, it wasn’t and I struggled with a man who could do that. The sex scenes were hot though, and Yvonne made me laugh over the butt plug part….good for her!
Stars: three, I enjoyed parts but really needed to feel Nolan deserved Yvonne.
ARC supplied by publishers and Netgalley

The King, Tiffany Reisz


The King, Tiffany Reisz
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews

Kingsley – the King. He’s a strong character full of sex, sin and sensuality, spiced up with his ability to laugh when the situations gets bad. He sees humour in the strangest of places. Soren is the only person to really understand him, and King’s loyal and in love with him to the death.
I’d looked forward to this book but…it didn’t have that “can’t put down” feeling every other has had for me. Tiffany’s writing style is as ever easy and seductive, and pulls the reader in but the story..maybe its because I know by now what’s happening, I know how it ends, and this is just a strand in the whole weave showing how Kingsley becomes so entrenched in the group. I don’t know – but whatever it was it was a fun read, I love Kingsley and I really enjoyed seeing how he was raised to the level of King. How he grew from that schoolboy who idolised Soren into a person in his own right. I loved the snippets of the two when they were at school, and I also enjoyed seeing how his trademark style of dress came about. What didn’t work so well I guess was the big part of the book which was about the creation of the eighth circle. Or mortem to the point, the getting hold of the building. To be honest I’d have liked it more if the gaining it was briefer, and we got a bit about just how the conversion took place, how they decided what was needed and how it came about. I liked how Kingsley started getting the staff, that worked well for me, and maybe as that was new info. The past that I liked best was where we saw them in scenes we hadn’t seen before, or which had been only briefly alluded to – when Soren took King with him and they went to warn his fathers new wife for example. That was interesting, gave us more insights into both of them and what drove them, and of course it was Hot!! Its a good book of course, I don’t think Tiffany can do less with this series, its just for me it didn’t make that magic five, and I’m not sure its one I’d re read. Its fits with the rest but whereas I would (and have) re read some of the others, this one is probably a one off. It rounds off some scenes but there’s nothing that it contains that we don’t already know in part, and its not one that has to be read to understand the whole series. Still, I am SO looking forward to reading more about Soren! and still love the King of course…
Stars: Four, a good book but not up to the others for me.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.

The Twelve Kingdoms: The Tears of the Rose, Jeffe Kennedy


The Twelve Kingdoms: The Tears of the Rose, Jeffe Kennedy
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Fantasy/paranormal romance
Once again I’ve jumped in to a trilogy without reading part one, but I read the amazon sample and a few reviews, so had a good idea of how the story was working. Whereas last book seemed to focus on Andi and the Tala, this one is centred around Amelia (Ami).
Ami seemed a bit..shallow to be honest. Its not really her fault, she’s been brought up with wealth and privilege, and to believe that her beauty is something to be admired, and add on that she’s Glorianna’s Avatar and its not hard to understand why she’s so vacuous at times. The eldest sister Ursula has always been mother to the two younger sisters and a warrior, always strategizing with their father and looking to protect her people. She’s very conscious of duty, and Andi was always the odd middle child, didn’t have Ursula’s intelligence for military matters nor Ami’s beauty, and was left to go her own way. Now she’s on the opposite side to her sisters, married to their enemy and Queen of the Tala. Ami was deeply in love with the handsome Hugh, looking to have a long future with him and their children, being a bountiful avatar and Queen and now its all gone wrong. Hugh is dead, killed in a battle with the Tala, and her father and father in law seek to control her and the child she carries, and she’s grief stricken and finding it hard to decide anything. Even in that at times its as of she’s playing a role it seems to me. then events begin to challenge her, not least the assistant to Kir, Glorianna’s priest. The White Monk pushes at Ami with some harsh words, and she takes a look at her life, not through her eyes of the past but through the eyes upon her, and sees that she’s at the centre of a power struggle. It seems Kir too has a taste for controlling her. Ami is really growing up now, no longer a pampered child and not happy at what she sees of herself, and with the help of some trusted people slowly seeks to change. Its a dangerous path she treads though, not knowing quite who she can trust and learning as she goes the kind of strategies Ursula excels at. The journey isn’t just mental but physical too, trying to see if she can enter Anwynn, the place where Andi and  the Tala reside that’s full of magic, and along the way she finds a new and forbidden love. I really enjoyed seeing how she changed from the vapid and shallow child she was – even though married she was still a teen and acted like it, to a sensuous and clever lady. I’m keen to see where the journey goes next. Once again Jeffe has come up with a story that takes a magical slant to it, and I was fascinated by that part – as with Jeffe’s Covenant of Thorns series the magic used here is clever, believable and not some miracle power brought in just at the crucial time. I need that, need to have some kind of grounding reference for it so that I can feel its real, and this book ( and Thorns!) does that.
Stars: Four and a half, a great read but not quite as addicting as Covenant of Thorns.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Waiting Hearts, Beth Ann Stifflemire


Waiting Hearts, Beth Ann Stifflemire
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
Genre: Contemporary Romance
I’m a romance lover but like my romance to be edgy, angsty, full of deep drama and dark emotion. this debut book by Beth isn’t that – it’s a great read, well planned out and full of gentle surprises but its more like a Hallmark film, the ones my Other Half loves to watch – with tissues at the ready. He used to cry at Little House on the Prairie too – and its the same kind of sweet, heart warming story as they have.
Kayla, there’s so much to admire about her, she’s grown up with this heart problem and it would be easy to just give in, to say life is unfair and wallow, and yet she doesn’t. Full marks to her parents for pushing her to do her best, to achieve as much as possible. It must have been tough on them too. Sadly her beloved dad has since died, but she still has her mum within travelling distance. Her dad crops up from beyond the grave a few times to give her hope and advice, and though many people love that kind of thing it’s not for me. She makes her life, has a good job, and friends, and does as much as she’s able, though of course there are huge restrictions on what she can do. Then musician Gabe comes into her life and he’s a real hero. Not put off by her illness, he’s a huge support and soon they;re deeply in love.
Then Gabe gets his breakthrough and the impact it has on her is huge, she had to make some hard choices. that was really emotional and I felt for both of them. Its a true rock and hard place decision, tough, heart-breaking and I understand why she chose as she did. Makes me glad our NHS in UK isn’t like that. Still, life moves on, and then that’s where it started to get problematic for me, things happen that are just too twee, too coincidental for me and yet I know if this were a film my OH would have the tissues out!! I do cry at books, I’m not unemotional, but it just takes a different kind of setting for me. Its got a well rounded ending, though bittersweet in many ways.
As ever though this is just how it affected me, and lots of readers like that slow, gentle setting, the way the story gradually builds up, and the sweet but heart breaking ending. It was well written and if stories that are like Hallmark films are what you like I’m sure you’ll love this one.
Stars: Difficult, there were parts I liked, and the characters were great, it was just the overall “sweetness” of it that was a bit too much for me. Three, a good book but not a great one for me.
ARC supplied by author.

Return to Me, James Oliver French

Return to Me


Return to Me, James Oliver French
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I’m struggling to review this. It’s a romance and then again its not….I do love my happy endings and this doesn’t have one…or does it? There’s a glimpse of something positive on the way for poor Todd. Overall this has a beautiful romanctic theme that ends far too soon, along with some nifty, interesting futuristic possibilities.
Kyle and Todd, the perfect couple in college, very tender and sweet, and it’s a first time complete romance for both. Todd’s family are supportive of him but Kyle’s – they were typical bigots, and kicked the poor kid out. Sadly it happens, seems Christianity is only for selected groups…
The two lads are at college and getting on really well, getting closer and closer, and finally deeply in love when suddenly Kyle disappears. The police aren’t interested, his parents don’t care, and it seems like only Todd is worried but he can do nothing. It looks like Kyle has got cold feet and just moved on, and yet Todd can’t believe that and is finding it hard to move forward.
Fast-forward fifteen years and Todd is a fully fledged Psychiatrist. He’s never got over the loss of his first love, never really got into a full relationship again. He’s so many unanswered questions. Then he gets a new patient that forces him to look back at the past ,and he makes further investigations into what happened and is shocked and horrified by what he finds. ( So was I, and sadly I have no problem believing this could and does happen)
At times this was a really emotional read, and mixes current medical practice with some interesting futuristic possibilities, to move the story to where James wants it to be. Just when I thought things were looking up though he throws in more drama, and more angst and it takes away all the hope I had. TBH that spoiled it for me, I need my happy endings, and though Todd gets a peek at a happy future it isn’t the one I wanted for him. I’m just one reader though, and not everyone wants the HEA, some would rather the story take a more intriguing direction, and for them this will be a perfect read.
Stars: Four, there were parts I loved, parts I felt a bit slow, parts where I was glad some people got just what they deserved however long it took, and then a part that just wanted a different ending 😦 Ah well….you can’t please everyone. Its really well written and if you can go without the HEA it may be the perfect read for you.
ARC supplied by author

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