Archive | October 2016

Farm To Table: 50 Recipes for Clean Eating (Clean Diet Cookbook)

Farm to Table Colleen Seward

Farm To Table: 50 Recipes for Clean Eating (Clean Diet Cookbook) by [Seward, Colleen]

Genre: non fiction, cookery, lifestyle

Healthy eating – we see that pushed out all the while don’t we? Yet its usually in the form of buy this supplement, try these health ready meals, or sometimes there are recipes, but they have four hundred ingredients, some of which needs sourcing at daybreak on the summer solstice, while wearing a robe made of unicorn hair…well, that’s how it feels:-)

None of that here, just simple, easy recipes, with ingredients available everywhere.
Colleen doesn’t push any one super food, but more the idea of a properly balanced diet, where making meals from basic ingredients naturally keeps the preservatives and additives to a minimum.
She puts forward the argument for food that’s as fresh as possible, grown without too many extras but doesn’t take the somewhat fanatical “if its not organic its no good” stance. Too many books seem like they are preaching, too pushy and make the reader just switch off. Colleen’s persuasion is more gentle and accepts that sometimes a compromise is needed.

You could start by changing just one meal a day – or even just four a week, something like that, and once you start to get into the routine and appreciate the taste of real food, ingredients that aren’t chemically enhanced, hopefully you’ll want to include more in your life.
Using this book is simple, its dived into sections full of easy to follow recipes that don’t take hours to make, and are easy for even those new to cooking.
Start by adding a few a week and take it from there.

The recipes are simple and its easy to ring the changes using the ideas for one meal and replacing certain ingredients – pork for chicken, mushrooms instead of peppers or sweet corn, things like that.
The main proposal Colleen puts forward is that the most important thing is that ingredients are as fresh as possible and as free from additives etc.
Go to farmers markets, get to know your butcher, fishmonger and greengrocer and you can find out that info.
Supermarkets have a bad name, undeservedly IMO, and the same idea works there – most have dedicated butchery etc so speak to staff, find out how fresh your food is, where its been, how its been treated.
Its your body, take care of it. You won’t put cheap, second grade fuel in your car and expect it to perform top class and its the same with your body.

I found this an interesting read, especially as I tend to eat this way anyway, having been brought up on home-grown fruit and veg and meals from scratch.
In the long run its much cheaper than ready meals too, and with a little forethought so easy to do.
Living alone now I tend to make a batch of meals, casseroles, cottage pies etc and freeze in portions so I have home made ready meals. You can do the same even if you’ve a big family, just double up on the main ingredient and freeze half. Than all you need to do is put your meal in the over for 40-60 mins or so from the freezer,add some salad or fresh veg, maybe some crusty bread and you’ve a meal with very little prep that’s nutritious, healthy and tastes good.

Stars: Five, excellent practical read to start a healthy approach to eating.

ARC supplied by author

Angel Falls, Babette de Jongh

Angel Falls,  Babette de Jongh

Angel Falls (Angel Falls Series Book 1) by [De Jongh,Babette]

Genre:   Romance,

I was torn in this read, I love second chance romances, but was Ben right for the person Casey is now, was he still the same Ben or had circumstances changed him too?
Then there’s Ian, he’s so great a character, such a real charmer and he seems to adore Casey, sets her heart racing too. Whats a girl to do?

Casey’s kind of torn, the town seem to assume she and Ben will pick up where they left off so many years ago, but will she always feel second choice, does she really want that life, she loves Ben and the kids, but does she really love him That Way?
If so why does Ian set her blood racing, is he really where her future lies?

Its a tough one, with both men being protective of Casey where the other is concerned. Lots of male posturing 🙂 and doesn’t that happen so often!
Ben’s still grieving and yet he doesn’t seem able to let the idea of him and Casey go, doesn’t want to see her with Ian.
Ian shares some of his past with Casey, isn’t sure he wants a permanent relationship, he’s open about how he feels and that he may not want long term but he can’t seem to let her go either, can’t seem to let her have that long term chance with Ben.

Its a fun read, so very real and I could have shook both men at times.
I could see it play out exactly as it did if it was real, could see why Ben’s in laws felt Casey was perfect for him and their grandchildren, wanted them to be a family, and they weren’t alone, half the town seemed to feel that was a natural conclusion too.
No-one really looked at how fair that was to Casey though, thought about how she and Ben had changed in the past 12 years even of they were still looking back at their shared past and missed opportunities.
Ian and what happens there – I’d have reacted as Casey did, and I think that’s true of many of us when out emotions are cut, when the past looks like its becoming the present.
I wasn’t sure for a long while just how things would play out, whether it would be Ben, Ian or maybe someone else or no-one… Its a great read and one I really enjoyed, though I’m not sure its a re-reader for me.

Stars: Five, I wasn’t sure for a long while just how things would play out

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

A Vampire’s Hunger (Vampire’s Promise 4) Carla Susan Smith

A Vampire’s Hunger (Vampire’s Promise 4) Carla Susan Smith

A Vampire's Hunger (Vampire's Promise) by [Smith, Carla Susan]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I’ve loved this series from the first book, and we’re finally in the wrap up. Its got some great secondary characters, as well as the gorgeous Gabriel and Rowan, his Promise.
Its been interesting reading, Carla has taken the usual vampire formats but given them a very different beginning, and some additions to the Originals such as a Promise, a kind of Soul Mate I guess, and a ….darn, can’t recall the exact word..a kind of steward, someone who’s always with the vampire, looking after him, helping him do what’s necessary.

Rowan is of course, Gabriel’s Promise, they’ve met through many lifetimes but this is the first time Rowan has recognised him, and been able to take up her role. Its quite complex some of the rules surrounding these guys.

So once more Rowan’s in trouble, giving in to her friend’s pleading to keep her baby safe she has got herself and Gabriel in a world of problems. She got entangled with a Demon in book two, has been trying to find a way out ever since, but after she made Gabriel vow to be the baby’s protector she opened up a way for the Demon to take her from Gabriel in time.
Then there’s Aleksei, who desperately needs her help at the start of this book, but doing so means she breaks a trust with Gabriel. She can’t just let him die though…he and Anazstazia are good friends of her and Gabriel.
She gets another visit from the Demon, taunting her and leaving her a present, and that really infuriates Gabriel.
Ryiel is trying to find an answer to the problem of the Demon, the b itch vampire Katya is with him and his steward in the isolated mountain area of his home, and of course Kartel and Petrov are still planning unspeakable destruction, something they’re all trying to prevent. Usual service for Rowan then…

I love this phrase right at the start “some quality time in his sarcophagus was needed” – it just sums up the relationship between Rowan and Gabriel where the abnormal, such as hours in a sarcophagus, becomes normal.
Its all action, lots of planning, murders, drama, and the usual mix ups that Rowan finds herself in. Its the final book though, so all the things that have been opened up in earlier books are now coming to a head, and the way they get resolved s very satisfying – except for the Bridal Chain stuff.
For me that wasn’t necessary, seemed to be adding some sexual inferences just for the sake of making the story a little more risqué. It wasn’t needed and had a bit of the “ick” factor for me. Just didn’t feel as though it matched the rest of the novels, dumbed the story down a bit…Still, that’s just my view and its a small part of the overall so though it irritated me it didn’t spoil the story.

I’ve loved these four books, been a fun journey and a very satisfying ending, with this time of Rowan and Gabriel’s lives wrapped up.

Of course there’s still the possibility of more from the story, as they start this new phase in their life. With vampires there’s no such thing as an actual ending, the story always continues when some are power hungry, and the Demons always looking for an opening. The story isn’t static, just this part of it that’s finished, as with real life, things carry on behind this tale and I can see the potential for more books from this world.

Stars: Five, a great finish, fun drama and a very satisfying ending.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

The Billionaire Next Door, Jessica Lemmon

The Billionaire Next Door,  Jessica Lemmon

The Billionaire Next Door (Billionaire Bad Boys Book 2) by [Lemmon, Jessica]

Genre: Romance.

My second Jessica Lemmon read, like the previous one I enjoyed its a fun read, light, happy, no deep, dark dramas, no tears and heartbreak, sometimes that’s just the kind of book I’m in the mood for, one to relax and enjoy, not rack my brains putting together plots, working out who fits where.
One thing I have to say – towards the end Tag’s brother comes in, injured in Afghanistan. As an amputee I can say that part was very, very real. I had many of those feelings Eli has, frustration, despair, anger. The phantom pains, sadly very real,like pins and needles but in a body part no longer there so you can’t rub it, try to restore circulation. Its a weird feeling, and along with pain from where the nerves are cut can be very distressing. If you can imagine having an electric shock run through the remaining limb every 10-20 seconds, for hours at a time and no pain relief seems to stop them you’ve got the idea of never pain. Fortunately it doesn’t happen too often now.
So we’ve Rachel, cheated on by her ex, she’s now lost her home and job too and is bartending and sharing with a friend while she picks up her life.
I like Rachel, she’s determined to be self reliant, and is a hard worker, not a moan-and-wail-poor-me type of lady. At her bartending job one of the regulars offers her his home for a month so long as she dog sits Adonis, his Great Dane. He’s got to travel unexpectedly and his regular dog sitter can’t do it. It brings her into the sphere of the delicious Tag, who owns the building and lives in the penthouse above.
Tag’s gorgeous, middle son of the wealthy Crane family, he’s made his own way, made his own money and since his fathers retirement he works with his older brother running the Crane hotels.
He loves his job, travelling, enjoying life, picking up and loving ladies, and leaving them with a smile when he looks to be turning anywhere close to serious. He’s a great guy and all that works for him, and he can’t understand why people like his brother and his best friend Lucas want to settle with one person  – that doesn’t sound good to him, Not At All!
Then he and Rachel meet, she’s a little intimidated by him, tattooed man mountain, bearded, mane of hair right down his back. she’s no idea who he is, but sees Playboy written all over him and after her ex she’s staying far away. Tag won’t let her though, he’s entranced by her, loves that she doesn’t know who he is, doesn’t have expectations and demands as the ladies he meets usually do, and he’s determined they’ll get closer – much closer.
Of course he gets his way, and slowly Rachel opens out….
That’s fun, and there’s some really sensual, scorching scenes, well written, fit the story perfectly, and when every other romance seems determines that Sex Sells, and we’re inundated with scenes that are thrown it for that purpose, rather than fitting the story, its a welcome change to find ones that are a treat to read.
Then of course just when its going well it isn’t. having brought Rachel out of her shell Tag starts having a few problems…..well, the love them and leave them smiling playboy can’t change overnight can he? There’s no cheating, I don’t mean that, but Tag wonders just what he’s doing, where he’s going and why things need to change….but something happens that make Rachel wonder what the future holds for them.

I enjoyed this, loved the parts in Hawaii, loved Rachel and her determination not to be a “kept” woman, not to have Tag just give her things, open doors etc. but wanting to make her own way.
Tag was a gem, a really warm hearted and fun person. I loved how he slowly realised just what Rachel was coming to mean to him, and his reaction to that. It fitted well with the family background.
I’d like to read book one in this series, and look forward to Eli’s story, having a kind of empathy for his position.

Stars: Four, its a sensual and spicy book, a light, escapist read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Believe, Katie Delahanty

Believe, Katie Delahanty

Genre:  New Adult, Romance

I loved Katie’s first two Brightside novels, and was so pleased to get this third one for review.
Its another great read, funny at times, tear-jerking at others – right up my street.

I remember Amanda ( Boots) from the first two books, she’s Liv’s cousin, and knows Liv’s friends Blair and Parker too. They pop up here and it was great to catch up with them. I’d love a Parker/Tux book 😉
Here we really get to know her, and I so understood her. She’s just like me in always lacking confidence, second guessing herself and what’s she’s done. Oh how many times I do that….especially when its something that needs a response from the other person, and then when it doesn’t come quickly, like Boots I’m thinking what did I do wrong, did i say the wrong thing? Indicate that? and why did I ever think to do that in the first place? Yep, her mind rambles were so so familiar and I loved her.

I’m almost ashamed to say I can’t really remember poor Mark though – what is that line keeps creeping in? Ah that’s it “no one takes any notice of the bass player” yep – sorry Mark, I missed you 😉
He’s a gorgeous guy though and I grew to love him, though I wanted to shake him a few times….He was a bit or a jerk a couple of times but when I knew more I understood why, and his reaction was reasonable given what he thought had happened.

Amanda is maid of honour at Liv’s wedding, one held in top secret to avoid all the publicity, Mark is Berkelely’s best man.
She’s got a short time before her career picks up on its next time sucking interlude to life. When she’s in Doc training everything else takes a backseat, its literally work – eat- nap-work- eat-nap-work-eat and maybe this time an actual sleep.
A little side rant here….What we put docs in training through is crazy, sleep deprived and making life changing decisions. When I was having my chemo years ago the doc on call all weekend was like Amanda, hoping to further her career, training for the next leg, and I met her Fri pm, by Sunday pm she was still working, giving me an unusual cocktail of chemo drugs after having been shown the routine in just a few quick minutes on Fri, she then had to remember it all ready for Sat. on little or no sleep, and again on Sunday….Sat she flushed through a litre of saline, usually they’d only do about 100-200ml,  as the chemo nurse had stressed she wasn’t to let the two drugs mix at all, and she said to me “ good job you’re not an 80 yr old lady,doing that would have probably killed you “ 🙂 We were joking about it but she was really scared, really tired, really stressed and yet the only one there able to give me the drugs to save my life. #NotGood But it meant I really understood Boots and the pressure she was under, from her parents, her work, herself.

So a great couple of lead characters, snippets of all the old gang, loved Psychic mum 🙂 and was great to see them all brought into the story.
Its a very different feel read from Liv’s story, and Mark and Boots are more off that on. They get together in Africa, and its a steamingly sensual couple of days, but then Boots isn’t sure if she’s time for romance with her residency coming up, Mark isn’t sure he wants more, they’re both really scared in a way, and manage to part as friends when its clear to reader they could have much more.

Mark seems to me to be kind of uncertain of what he wants, in a way he wants what Berkeley and Liv have, but though he thinks Boots could be his Liv he’s not sure he’s ready for that yet – well, that’s how he feels to me. Others may put a different interpretation on his actions.
Boots has been so set on being a doc since she was 13 she’s not letting anything stand in her way, and though inside she wants more with Mark she’s scared it’ll take up too much of her life, and she’ll fail at the doc thing she’s so focussed on. Her parents don’t help, her doctor father clearly puts pressure on her, reminds her constantly it seems, not to let anything affect her focus.
She’s also telling herself what would a big star like Mark want with her, a plain, ordinary person, when he could have anyone? She thinks the only thing that makes her interesting is being a doc, and she just can’t see how much more to her there is, how special she is. When she looks at pics of Mark in the past with all the gorgeous, stunningly attractive ladies she feels unworthy, and she feels that there are ladies like that who fit in to his life so much better.

I really enjoyed that almost-together-and-then-another-setback feel that the middle section had.
I so understood Boots and how she felt, loved the secondary characters that played a strong part in the story ( mama Rosie – great lady), loved Mark – even when I wanted to slop him! and of course the snippets we got of Liv and Berkeley.
Its another great read, and so often with this sort of connected novel the subsequent ones really just mirror the first, become a sort of pastel facsimile, but Katie’s given this a really fresh feel, very different to Liv and Berkeley’s stories, and yet still kept the characters and humour true to those books.

Stars: Five, a lovely feel-good read, full of emotion.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Through the Veil and Children of the Veil (Aisling Chronicles) Colleen Halverson

Through The Veil (Aisling Chronicles) by [Halverson, Colleen]
Through The Veil (Aisling Chronicles) …Colleen Halverson

A debut read and what a great story.
I love novels set around the Fae world and here its interwoven with not only Fae, but Pucas ( shapeshifters) . Druids, Vampires ( can’t recall the name for them here) and lots of people and places from Irish legends and myths.
The main characters are Elizabeth, a US Irish Literature student, and Finn..
.Finn, well he’s from the other side originally, a Fianna, charged with keeping the peace. The Irish have a rep for fighting, and in this book they certainly live up to it.
For centuries a fragile peace has been maintained keeping the mortal world safe and unknowing of what and who else exists, but as with all peace, its always at risk, with factions wanting more, more power, more freedom, and for some just more fighting!
Elizabeth gets dragged into this world, discovering to her shock that her mother, who left when she was a tiny baby, is the daughter of the Fae King and Queen. At first she and Finn fight, have no trust in each other but wow – the attraction!
Of course as ever all sides hold secrets and poor Elizabeth goes through a quick learning curve and some horrible events in the course of the book. And always the course of True Love does not run smooth.
A great 5 star read.
Children of the Veil, Colleen Halverson

Children of the Veil (Aisling Chronicles) by [Halverson, Colleen]

Genre: Fantasy & Paranormal, Romance

Well, wow, this is such a brilliant series.
I’d read the sample of book one before requesting this, and when I was accepted I bought book one and read that first. Don’t be tempted to read this without book one, you’ll miss so much and will find the storyline so difficult to follow I think. You can miss books in some sereis but not here, there’s so much going on and its hard to know who to trust, who’s telling the truth especially when we get another persons views of what actually happened – that can change the way we feel about events and it happens a few times here. Really keeps the reader on their toes!!

Its hard to believe that Through the Veil was Colleen’s debut novel, it’s so well written, so polished, and flows seamlessly despite covering some serious issues, and of course travelling back and forth from world to world.
That can make books really confusing to read but its done so well here I could feel myself wherever Elizabeth was. It felt Real to me and that’s my line, my marker for a good read. A five star one, even if its fantasy etc has to feel that if that ( whatever the fantasy/paranormal part is) were possible these events could happen.
Of course its published under the Entangled banner, I’ve bought many books and had lots of ARCs from them and I know they’ll deliver a story I can get lost in, without getting confused over bad editing and missing/disappearing story/plot lines. You know – when some parts that feel major are brought in lots of times then fizzle out to nothing. Or a plot gets so convoluted it no longer makes sense. Gah! None of that here thankfully 🙂

After the  end of the last book I was gutted for Elizabeth, the connection between her and Finn was so solid I thought, so fated it was like they were twin souls, and yet he really let her down. Heart breaking.
Now they’re apart she’s not dealing with it well, left uni, out drinking and trying to lose herself in others every night. When the whole story came out I sort of understood why he did what he did but….for Elizabeth I was so upset, and I could feel her pain, feel how let down, betrayed she felt. Finn though has got hundreds of years of Fianna behind him, of obeying orders, toeing the line so he was in a hard place.
We like to think love wins but sometimes the barriers are just too much. Or are they? Can Finn find a way forward?

He’s desperate to be near her again, in whatever way he can, and when his task is to find her mother, it allies with what she’s decided to do anyway, so they team up, somewhat reluctantly on her part. Its a journey fraught with terror, betrayals, unwelcome surprises, that jumps from world to world, that uncovers secrets held at the highest levels in both worlds and that bring Finn and Elizabeth into danger again and again.

I loved it, loved the way Elizabeth did what was right – well, what felt right to her morally, regardless of the dangers. Finn needed that, needed to remember how to think for himself after so many years of being told what to do by Amergin ( Ah – I Hate that guy!). I can see why things were set up that way but its centuries on now, its not fair to only a few people, and time is ripe for change. Elizabeth’s actions seem to be paving the way even though she’s only acting according to her conscience.

I love the way she’s growing into her powers, love the way she’s so loyal, won’t let people be hurt if she can help it even if they are on the “opposing” side ( though if she stabs Amergin with a rusty fork – spelled with a death curse of course I won’t hold it against her – That Man Has To Go. )
She veers from one danger to the next, escaping by the skin of her teeth only, and each time moves her a little further forward to her mother, and reinforces just how much Finn loves her. She can’t stand out for that too long thankfully, and its Carpe Diem and worry about tomorrow when it happens.
Finn. Well, I was so so angry with him, even though I understood his motives in the last book. I really felt betrayed on the part of Elizabeth, to not even tell her any of this…he comes from a different time though, and he’s picked up current ways but when it comes to love he wants her tucked safely away and he reasons she doesn’t need to know everything, its a kind of throwback to his human time.
Elizabeth isn’t a tuck away person though, won’t sit back when there’s wrongs to right, and she feels she can make a difference. Together they move forward in their quest and learn some incredible things along the way.
Its a fine line who to trust, and looking back at the past with new eyes, with different information means reassessing where the dangers lie.

I am really keen to read book three. I’m not sure if this is a series or a trilogy, but it feels like a three book read, everything in this seems to be leading up to a huge final battle and lots of change.
I’m really interested to see where Colleen takes them next, what surprises she has in store, and I’m still trying to get my mind around that fourth dimension/Tesseract stuff. It made sense – in an odd sort of way – and was perfect for that part of the story, and its something to have some fun with on Google.
I spend a lot of time looking up things I’ve found in books that interest me….Google is a great time waster but I prefer to call it educational research!

Stars: Four, a great escapist read, felt so real and when this is finished it’ll be a sereis to re-read back to back in the way I really enjoy books most, getting the whole story in one good, long session.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

In the Spotlight, Shona Husk

In the Spotlight,  Shona Husk

In The Spotlight by [Husk, Shona]

Genre: M/M Romance,

Liked the sound of this and it was a read I enjoyed, but…just didn’t love it.

I so felt for Pierce, religious parents who don’t recognise anything other than heterosexuality, and in a profession where men are all supposed to be rabidly conventional when it comes to sex.
We might be able to change the Law, sadly we can’t change peoples perceptions, and the Services are one of those where being different isn’t good, standing out from the crowd, in any way isn’t easy, but to be gay, nope, Peirce is pretty convinced it’ll not go down well. After the experience with his family he’s keeping his sexuality to himself and sticking to anonymous hook-ups every now and then.

Ripley, he’s totally the opposite. He knew he’d be a dancer from very early on in the same way as he knew he was Gay, his family have grown up with it, and his colleagues all know he gay and don’t care.
Its a more liberal profession when it comes to sexuality, so long as you have talent and work all else seems to be fine.
His relationship with his brother isn’t good, but his parents have always been supportive. There’s a dark secret lurking there though, a shadow that hangs over the family and affects them all. When he’s injured it makes him take a harder look at himself and what he’s been running from these past few years.

You’d think they’re total opposites but as it happens they are fiercely attracted, and the one night leads to two, leads to staying over, meeting Ripley’s family and more.
Pierce needs to make a decision though, he can’t keep Ripley as a dark secret if they’re going to be more to each other, but can he bring himself to tell people he’s Gay, having let them think otherwise for so long.

Its a good story, bringing in the fear of how people react to anyone a bit different, how different professions regard homosexuality, what it means to have the support – or not – of family and of course that secret, how hard it is for families faced with issues like that, how it strains them.
Though its got a lot of things to interest me and I enjoyed musing about them, and how in the real world things work, I wasn’t really convinced by the romance between Ripley and Pierce, and I did feel that part didn’t really have the fireworks and drama I need from a romance read.
Its quiet a short book though, so with everything else its difficult to get too much in without overloading and detracting from the rest of the story.
For me if it was longer and the romance developed this would have been a five, as it is its a three and a half.

Stars: Three and a half, lots to think about but a bit lacking from the romance side for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

A Sacred Vow, Willa Thorne

A Sacred Vow,  Willa Thorne

Genre:  Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

I saw this had a slew of 4 and 5 star reviews on Goodreads, and its got Vampires 🙂 not had a good vampire read for a while now so I was really hoping I’d like this.

Sadly its perfect for others but not for me. I found that there was a lot of tell not show, we’d get the action, briefly, then pages of what Lia thought about, then pages of what Julian thought about it and…I was tired of it by then, especially as most of this was repeating how beautiful Julian was in Lia’s eyes, how perfect, etc. etc. and then we’d get the same from Julian, Lia’s wonderful, beautiful, such sweet smelling blood etc. etc.
I usually like to get some of the characters inner thoughts, it often shows things in a different light, but this was just too much, and began to get dull.

Then there’s his dilemma, his Vow, he knows he must kill her but…..yada yada. When Lia does find out what he is, in a particularly shocking way, her reaction to me felt very wrong, yes he’s a murderer, killed loads of people, is supposed to kill her – and her brother – but…he’s so beautiful, so kind to her…I’d have expected her to be screasming, traumatised, shocked, thinking about all the people he’s killed just because they are human, not least that many of those are her difrect relatives.

I got almost halfway through and just had to give up. If a book isn’t working for me by then its not going to. I was sad as I’d hoped I’d love this story but…reading tastes are very individual.

Stars: Two, one of those perfect for others but which didn’t suit me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Blood Bound, Blood Ravagers – Book 1, Traci Douglass

Blood Bound, Blood Ravagers – Book 1,  Traci Douglass

Blood Bound (Blood Ravagers Book 1) by [Douglass, Traci]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

I haven’t read any of Traci’s novels before so didn’t know what to expect.
Its a good read, a decent story, but feels too lightweight for me.
Its really based around lots of hot sex between Dante and Anna, with a bit of supernatural suspense thrown in.
It didn’t feel “real” enough for me to rate higher, I know there’s a massive market for romance reads just like this and I’m sure it’ll do well, but for me I need something with a bit more substance to the story.

Anna, searching for her sister, ends up at a Demon gang base. There’s all sorts of illegal things going on there as you’d expect, and Anna ends up central to all the dangers. Sounded a good start but I found it hard to believe a quiet, submissive teacher with just four days to find her sister, would let things ride as she did.
Granted Dante is sex-on-a-stick, but she falls into his arms, and bed without a backward glance to poor Liz. Sister – what sister? Oh yes, well just let me get a few more orgasms in first. Well, that’s how it felt to me 😉
I couldn’t believe that having got to where she knows Liz has been, to where people have seen her, she kind of sat back and threw herself into hot sex, rather than seek her out. Then when she should be sitting back and waiting she decides to intervene *roll eyes*
I’m not a fan of the “new powers” stuff either, where new talents and ones we just don’t otherwise know about come into play just in time to save the day….
Its me, not the book, its a story type that dominates the best sellers, and I’m sure will do well and be perfect for many readers – I’m just not one of them though.

Stars: two and a half – I liked the idea, but it didn’t work out for me. Its one that will appeal to many readers though judging by the top ones in bestsellers. If you like those, you’ll probably like this.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and publisher

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Joanna Bolouri

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Joanna Bolouri

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: A warm and wonderful Christmas comedy by [Bolouri, Joanna]

Genre:  women’s fiction, Romance

I was so looking forward to this, I Loved Joanna’s the List, but sadly this one wasn’t a great read for me.
The problem was Emily. When we first meet her she’s a moaner, no…not that way, she’s not like Evan’s ladies ;-). She moans about her life, her flatmates bad habits, her family, her boyfriend and most of all she moans about poor Evan, who’s only crime is noisy sex! Why can’t she just ask the guy to keep it down instead of alternately blanking and ranting at him?

From the description she didn’t sound at all like this, and as we got to know her better I kind of understood why she was this way, but still wanted to slap her at times and say “ don’t be so obnoxious.”
She’s pretty rude to many people – especially Evan, and he’s such a nice guy.
He was exactly as I’d imagined from the description, someone with a real joie de vivre, someone who loves life, is kind, happy, helpful. He and Emily are like oil and water at first, and she just rebuffs all and every approach with rudeness. No wonder he doesn’t like her, I didn’t either, and yet when she’s stuck without a boyfriend to fend off her family, and he can see it really troubles her, that she’s quite vulnerable and insecure under that brash front, he helps her. What’s that phrase? “You’re a better man than me Gunga Din”
The way she’s been he couldn’t be blamed if he said tough luck, you reap what you sow. He doesn’t though, the caring guy he is – with what seems to be a hidden crush on Emily – offers to play the part of Robert, the scumbag ex.

The book really gets going from the journey to Scotland onwards, and once they meet the family there’s some real laugh out loud moments, though there’s also many that feel very forced too – a trying too hard vibe, where I felt I was being spoon-fed tired lines and told “laugh, dammit”.
Underneath all that humour though, under the family’s bonhomie there’s some real issues that affect lots of families, and when it all explodes its – well, a real bombshell with so much coming out, so much to show Emily that she’s so wrong about all her thoughts, about how the family see her, how she sees them and their lives. It was pretty emotional.
Then its back home to London, and of course Emily needs to take on board all the events, rethink her life and lifestyle. What about Evan, he had some pretty stupendous news too, but that part of his life seemed to get flashed over.

Oddly apart from a few age jokes from the family, “friendly” taunts about Cougar etc the age gap really doesn’t mean much, and I kept forgetting there was that decade or so between them. As it should, age shouldn’t really come into love, no more than sex, race, religion etc – take love where you find it, its a rare commodity.

Back in London Emily was still kind of abrupt at times but she’d mellowed in Scotland, let Evan see another side to her, the side he’d thought was there,and a bit of that stuck.
She’s still feeling rejected by Robert, confused about her family, wondering whether London is really right for her and muddled about her feelings for Evan.
I did feel after the way the main 80% of the book covered the Christmas holiday that the end part got cut too short, that I wanted a bit more of it and TBH the actual ending felt really, really truncated.

Its a book I’m sure many will love, and if I’d liked Emily more earlier and the ending was a little expanded, it could have been a five star read for me too but its not, for me its a read but forget book, and proof that loving one story by an author doesn’t mean you’ll love everything they write – or conversely disliking one doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try more.
Books are as individual as reading tastes and each one has a different feel even when written by the same author.

Stars: two and a half – I liked the idea, enjoyed some of the humour but overall Emily’s character and that abrupt end made it a no go for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and publisher

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