The Return of Norah Wells, Virginia Macgregor
Genre: general Fiction
An amazing story full of the most wonderful and captivating characters, not just the immediate family, but Ella’s boyfriend Sai and his mum, The Mr Manns, the incredible twin sisters Miss Rose and Liss Lily Pegg, and their love of all things purple and their three Chihuahuas, lovely, slobbery, affectionate Louis and of course Mrs Fox. Its one of those stories where every page has something to take your attention.
Its a great premise, mother walks out leaving two small kids with deadbeat, drunken dad. The kids godmother, the capable Fay, Norah’s long time best friend, steps in. She takes leave from her work as a surgeon, sorts the family out, and they all become a new family.
She and Adam fall in love, Willa who was less than a year old when Norah left calls her mummy and doesn’t remember Norah, Ella though, she’s always seen her as an interloper and has a twitter campaign going to find her mum. She’s convinced she’s been kidnapped and is just waiting for her to escape and return.
The day Norah does come back though things are very very different to how they all imagined. What happens next? Well, its an amazing few days with some huge changes in store, facing them to look at what they have, what they lose, what could be lost now if they don’t get it right.
It could be a very grey, gloomy, sad story but its lightened by the wonderful Willa, 6 going on 60 in many ways, she’s so open and friendly, so accepting of everything and everyone, that somehow what seems impossible at the start of the story happens, these characters find a way through the morass of issues weighing them down and come out better, more rounded people, a united family, instead of the scarcely holding together one the were.
I thought I’d hate Norah, what she did seems so cruel, so cold and though I never got as far as liking her I did understand her more by the end. Fay I just loved, one of those rare people who always want to do what’s right for others regardless of the potential for her own heartbreak. I so wanted everything to end well for her.
An amazing story to get lost into.
Stars: Five, a lovely read
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
Christmas Under a Starlit Sky (A Town Called Christmas Book 2)
Genre: Women’s fiction, Romance
Though this is book two, each is a stand alone story so if like me you haven’t read Cranberry it doesn’t matter, you can still enjoy this read. The series is connected via the town of Christmas and its inhabitants.
I love Holly’s books, ( just wrote Live there instead of Love and both are apt, I do get so into these stories that I live them) I’ve enjoyed several of them now and this was another gem. 100 Proposals is still my all time favourite but this had some real emotional moments and came close.
Neve is lovely, working with her family, she’s got lots of friends and if she’s not doing the job that was her dream, after her ex put paid to that – well, she still loves and gets satisfaction from what she’s doing.
She’s trying hard to cover how broken hearted she is. Over the summer while she was working at the London hotel she fell in love with Oakley, an actor a little younger whose just found his career soaring. she feels she’s in the wrong position for him, too far away, not up to the Hollywood standard, just not good enough and she broke things off with him when he had to return to the US for filming.
Oakley was shocked, devastated at the break but couldn’t do anything, he had to return to Hollywood, but now its Xmas break and he’s chasing her out, determined to make her see that she’s It for him.
I adored him, so wonderfully in love and determined to win over Neve, cast aside all her fears.
When That line comes up though he’s thrown, and his reaction is bad. Put yourself in his shoes though and I could understand why, and of course fence sitting I could feel for Neve and why she did what she did. I know – very mysterious but without giving things away its hard to write what I want to say. I understood both reactions, empathised with them even though they are totally opposite.
Its not just Neve and Oakley here though, but Piper and Gabe from Cranberry, Adam and Ivy and a host of supporting cast.
Its a great read, satisfying, light enough to relax with but with enough depth and emotion to really get lost in the story. Perfect holiday reading and Cranberry is going on my TBR pile so I can get the earlier story too…
Stars: Four and a half, a lovely satisfying read.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
Beast of All, (Carus 5), J.C. McKenzie.
Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy
I got a bit puzzled when I started this, thought I’d missed something from the end of the last book, but went back and checked and no, this really does leap forward over a massive event that changes Andy’s life.
Something huge happened, she got caught by the SRD, and now she’s down with the others, supes always rumoured to be kept by the SRD for experiments. Andy heard the rumours, but like others was unable to find out if they’re real. Now she knows they are, in the worst way and its her favourite(!) ATF man who’s taunting her from outside the shifter proof bars.
Andy’s determined to get free but they’ve somehow managed to detach her feras and Beast and she needs them. She’s lost without them, furious at being captured, grieving, worried about her witch friends, the lads taken by the Elders for breaking the rules. She’d promised to fetch them if they weren’t returned within a reasonable time. Now she’s trapped, no-one knows where she is, she can’t help anyone, and with the Pharaoh jousting for domination of not only the vampires, but all Supernaturals her help is needed badly.
It seems like rock and hard place doesn’t it – but its Andy, we know somehow she’ll get out, and she does, and gets help from a most unexpected source. Look out bad guys – Andy’s out for vengeance and justice.
She needs help though, its too big to do alone and this dilemma, the need to stop the Pharaoh from his evil plans takes all supes working together. That’s not easy, they don’t trust each other, there are past issues between some of them and of course with more people involved the chance for leaks is high.
It’s really hard to say too much about this book without giving anything major away. I loved it – I can say that, am really happy at the way it ended, and loved being along with Andy and co for this final battle. I enjoyed the usual banter, the snark, the jealousies, all the things that make these characters seem so real. I care about them, want things to work out, and was gripped all the way through by the way this one played out.
Its a really climatic finish, things sorted so that they make sense, no loose ends, just a really satisfying finish to Andy’s struggle to find out more about herself, to the puzzle of her being a Carus, and to the plots and machinations that have dogged her for so long.
Stars: Five, a cracking finale, a really satisfying finish. Now I need the time to read it all the way through – books 1-5, back to back to really get the full Andy experience.
ARC supplied by publisher
The Untold Tale, The Accidental Turn Series: Book 1, J.M. Frey
Genre: LGBTQIA, Sci-fi and Fantasy
Sometimes a book comes along that transcends age criteria, and for me this is one. On the face of it its very much a YA type read with sex thrown in, but get into it and there’s so much more to it.
Its like there’s two stories, the top one where Pip gets pulled into Forsyth’s world, and then the underlying one where the flaws in conventional fantasy are pointed out, how Pip’s Quest can be worked out via a mock-up Excel, using formulas from classic fantasy reads. Where we see the “hero” is often just a misogynistic characters, where females are deemed as “girls” and sent off to cook and clean…and its all accepted because “its fiction”.
I have to say until I read this book much of that had escaped me, but I found myself looking back at other reads (especially those by male authors!!) and nodding my head, working out how they fit into this criteria Pip has worked out. Even Watership Down, a book I loved, had the males rabbits doing all the exiting bits, danger and rescues while the few does were there for nest building and breeding 😦 and at the time that totally escaped me…
The actual story is fabulous, full of surprises, full of mysteries and some wonderful secondary characters, from the Viceroy and his evil henchman Bootknife, to Mother Mouth, the silver Sheriff Pointe, Forsyth’s brother Kintyre Turn and his loyal knight Bevel, and of course Forsyth and Pip.
It takes a short while to work out what’s going on, and how and where Pip has sprung from, and I did find the way she was so accepting of it was hard to take – but she was living it, and unlike the reader who’s just begun the story Pip has had some weeks, possibly months, with which to accept where she is.
As well as the light and fun stuff there’s some really dark times, Pip’s experiences with Bootknife and the Viceroy, and that and the underlying themes bring this into much more than a light fantasy read.
I loved Forsyth, so intelligent, so commanding in his secret role as the King’s Shadow Hand, and yet to everyone else he’s bumbling, stuttering, good-natured, book-loving Forsyth – well, that’s how he sees himself. He doesn’t see what the locals do, the intelligent and kind man, the visionary who started schools for the children, who arranged a proper jail and protection for his people, the man who’s looked up to by the villagers and much respected. He just compares himself all the while to his swaggering, bullying, adventuring knight brother Kintyre. The man who joined his father in ridiculing Forsyth from when he was a young child, and who swanned off to go adventuring, leaving Forsyth to take up what should have been Kintyre’s role looking after Turn House, and the area and its inhabitants.
When Pip drops into his life Forsyth is instantly attracted by her mind, by her intelligence, but immediately thinks she’s meant for his brother, as the eldest its traditionally Kintyre’s Right to her. Pip had a few words to say about that 🙂 and loud and often, when she sees more sexism in action.
Its a quandary too – can she blame people for acting as they’ve been brought up? Is it right to assume this role of superiority she has, thinking she’s come from the “better” society without knowing more about this world? She shows a different way when she talks about Kintyre and they way he wades in with his sword (Foesmiter!!), rather than asking questions first and looking for another way to solve an issue. She makes us look closer and we see that what he does and gets applauded for, often leads to unfairness and more issues later.
I love the way its explained, loved the idea ( and was a little scared by it too) of what may lie beyond an authors words. I love the way she describes her world to Forsyth as having been created too, with the Bible being the book we’ve sprung from, God as the Writer.
Its a fabulous read, pure escapism, lots of dramas and some heart-breaking incidents that stop it being just some jolly Boys Own Adventures jaunt, and turn it into a gripping read that’s full of depth. It has lots of content that made me stop and think, about my reactions, about the characters reactions, and overall wondering just how on earth they were going to come out of this story without someone’s heart breaking.
Stars: Five, a fabulous escape that made me think and question what’s written and accepted so often in Fantasy, and yet wasn’t a hectoring tome but a story that let me get lost in another world. A perfect ending too.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and publisher
Never Too Late (Appleby Series Book 1) Alyssia Leon
Genre: Romance, General Fiction (Adult)
I loved the start, where poor Molly expects her boyfriend to return home and he brings with him his new fiancée….I thought after that it would be a book full of fireworks , with the new fiancée being one of those love-to-hate ladies, and lots of b itchy interludes but…it wasn’t 😦
I did like Molly, but at times I wanted to shake her, tell her to get mad, she’s such a Nice girl, doesn’t want to upset anyone. Still, that’s the kind of person she was.
Her ex, Brian, was a real sleaze and it made me wonder what on earth she’d ever seen in him.
Then there’s Jake, and he was in insta-lust when he saw Molly. I got that attraction, and hers to him, very in the physical, but for me it never really felt more than that. I didn’t feel the actual romance, that they were more in love than just sensually attracted.
There’s some great secondary characters here, the current owner of Barrowdene Francine, Molly’s boss Martin and his awful wife, her Nan, a wonderful lady, and Nate the gardener cum caretaker.
Nate and I are in agreement about goats “ Barbed wire’s too good for them Satan spawns”. Dad used to keep goats, they’d eat and and everything they shouldn’t, and turn there nose up at goat food, and were like four legged Houdini’s. I was always haven’t to chase down the road after one escapee goat, trailing a stake and 12 ft chain. As for goats milk…the smell nauseates me still.
There were some oddities that spoiled the story for me, didn’t feel genuine, the speed at which Barrowdene was transformed, the way the Molly has self taught herself about old properties from magazines, and was then able to suggest and oversee all the renovations, and get more work in that field, all while holding down her job for Martin AND helping her nan look after the house. Superwoman!
On the subject of the house, how on earth did this elderly lady with a duff leg manage to keep everything looking good with only the aid of Nate for outdoors, and a couple of giggling girls for inside? A house and grounds that size would take a team of full time staff I’d have though.
Overall its a fun story, cutesy romance with a little spice but nothing really exiting, no dark dramas or secrets, just a few little things soon over. Sweet-n-light, easy read.
Stars: Three, a sweet romance, but not an emotional or exciting one for me.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
Wolf in League, A.F. Henley
Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA
I jumped in to this series having only read samples of books one and two, but that gave me enough info to follow this story and get engrossed in it. At some point I’d like to read those first two books, its always a balance of time and money. 🙂 They never seem to come both at the same time!
So I met Matthew and Gavin, posing as husbands in the home next to the O’Connell family. The Committee are worried as they’ve not heard from them.
Here of course I had to read between the lines as to what part the Committee played, as that was covered in earlier reads.
Matthew is new to the whole supernatural world, a bit scared of Gavin even as he’s attracted to him, and desperate to know more about the wolves. A few weeks back he knew nothing, was a simple research doctor and now he’s had his eyes opened he’s got the research devotee’s enthusiasm for all things new, for information about how and why, and if he’s not careful its going to lead him into danger.
Gavin is trying to keep him reined in and safe, but they don’t know each other, and while Matthew comes over as full of enthusiasm for Wolves he’s not so keen on Vampires, and doesn’t trust Gavin.
Gavin reacts by being a bit sneering, mixed in with doing things deliberately to scare Matthew. Despite that they soon embark on some steamy encounters – why not, says Gavin, they both want each other, want the sex and what’s stopping them? And they are seriously hot together.
When things go a bit further,and we meet the wolves it doesn’t quite go as planned, and soon he and Gavin are in real danger, things aren’t as they’d thought, information comes out that shocks Matthew even further, and an old adversary comes forward.
Its difficult to know who to trust, to know what’s really going on, why they are really placed to contact the O’Connells, and Matthew finds there’s much more going on that he realised, with everyone seeming to hold secrets. He’s got a crash course in the supernatural along with some tough decisions to make.
I really enjoyed this, its a good mix of characters, reasons, ideas and the reality that if this could happen, then things may well play out as in this novel. That makes a good read for me, that sense of possible reality, and I think if I’d read books one and two this would be a five star read.
I maybe missed some of the more subtle issues, didn’t fully understand how deep corruption could go, which part each character played and what it could lead to.
They are definaely on my want-to-read list and I look forward to the next book.
Stars: Four, a great fun read, with a great mix of characters and suspense.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
Bluewater Blues, A Bluewater Bay Novel, G.B. Gordon
Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA
I love this Bluewater series, books by different authors that are loosely connected by the town. The different writing styles keeps it fresh and intersting even though there are now so many books.
There’s a TV series being shot here so the town is full of all sorts of people connected with that, plus of course the usual inhabitants. It makes for somewhere a bit different and allows the stories to feel real, when the usual small town wouldn’t have anywhere near so many interesting characters.
One of the shops benefitting from the population of visitors, actors and those connected with filming is Jack Daley’s Your Daley Bread. Jack lives above the shop with his sister Margaret. Margaret is autistic, and when the two meet Mark, who is also autistic, we see how well the author has researched this condition.
Too many times people use Autism as some kind of sympathy pap, to get the reader to feel sorry for them or the carers, and the characters just don’t feel right. Here though Margaret and Mark are both autistic their issues are mostly very different. there are common threads of course, but as with most conditions there’s a huge variety and some people have problems that mean their daily loves are a struggle while others can sail through, despite sharing a diagnosis.
Sometimes I feel the older I get the more I think “normal” is just an overused term and we all have issues, some more so that others.
We’ve Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and ADD in our family, and though I’ve never thought I had any problems as I’ve got older I can see that where I just thought I was a bit out of step with others, didn’t quite follow their ways, that actually many of my issues are on that spectrum. How many of us are somewhere along that line without realising it. I’ve a friend diagnosed with Asperger’s when in their 40’s, another with dyscalculia at the same age…Normal is an overused term I reckon.
I love Jack, he reminds me so much of one of my favourite book characters in this genre, also called Jack, from the wonderful Whistling in the Dark. That’s one I’ve read several times and still love all the characters. The guy on the cover of this book is just how I imagine him in my head!!
Jack’s hiding a secret, and that means he’s always on the alert, always ready to protect his beloved sister, and just can’t allow anyone into his life so when he meets Mark and its clear the attraction is mutual he thinks he can allow himself a quick no-strings fling, but nothing more.
Mark has other ideas though, he really likes Jack, he treats him as though he understands him, lets his quirks just flow past instead of getting irritated as others do. To be fair to them often they just don’t know why he’s acting oddly, think he’s just being difficult as he hasn’t told anyone of his autism. He knows he’ll get treated differently, doesn’t want sympathy, just wants to be allowed to do his job properly, he’s found something he enjoys, that he’s good at and just wants to be left to do it. He recognises in Margaret things that he feels, and they seem to share a special link when they met.
Margaret is lovely, she knows Mark if what Jack needs, and does so much to encourage them to be together, To her its simple, Mark makes Jack smile, makes him happy so they should be together.
Then the past rears its ugly head, and the secrets have to come out. I’d guessed a bit but not the whole thing. Margaret is portrayed so fantastically here, I really felt I understood her, understood her reactions and could see why Jack had behaved as he did. What a great relationship those two have, and understanding Margaret is what makes Mark so easy to get along with for Jack.
I was desperate for the two to find a way forward but for a time it looked so impossible and I couldn’t see how it could come about.
A great story, sensitively handled and one I’ll reread.
Stars:Five, a fabulous read, one that has enough depth to make it a keeper/re-reader
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
Down Shift, K. Bromberg
Like hundreds of thousands – or more..of readers I loved Colton and Rilee’s story, and I’ve reread it a couple of times now so I was eager to read this one.
I’ve only read the first three, not any of the succeeding novels…time and money never seem to coincide 😉
Zander, that poor, silent little kid has grown up now. Followed in Colton’s footsteps and is a top racing driver. Then just as everything seems golden for him, just when he’s enjoying his career and having a fabulous life something from his past comes barrelling up and derails him.
Colton, tough love, he’s so perfect still. He hates having to be tough with Zander, but he and Rylee have been trying to wait, to let him deal, to see if he’ll ask for the help he so desperately needs but he doesn’t, just spirals down into despair until he risks losing everything he’s worked for.
They don’t know what the problem is, don’t know what’s wrong, why he’s so angry. After a huge blow-up, Zander leaves, he knows that he has to deal with his issues alone, away from his family, find his way through himself.
Getty, she’s another soul running away, for very different reasons to Zander, he’s running from his past, but for her the issues are very current, and bring real danger.
She thinks she’s alone in the beach house she’s staying at, belonging to a friend, but then finds that the friends other half has let Zander stay there too….
I loved both of these characters and the story as it unfolded but….the start felt a little slow, I wasn’t really pulled right in to the story. Its pretty complex and I don’t know how else it could have been done, and of course for many readers this will be perfect but I didn’t find it hard going for the first 20-25%. Maybe it was just over expectation after the fabulous Colton/Rylee reads.
Once I got “into” the story it became un-put-down-able! I was there with them, feeling happy when they got together, anguished when it went wrong, devastated at what Zander discovered, terrified when Getty’s past comes back to bring more danger to her, take away her growing, fragile independence. She was so so brave, her story is far too common, and I was so pleased she found her courage and tried to move forward, do what was right for her.
I so much didn’t want her to lose all that progress. I don’t think she’d have been able to do it a second time.
I loved the way they really didn’t get on at first, the way he saw her as a rich, trust fund girl, the way she resented him coming to break her fragile peace, wanted the gorgeous playboy type to go away. Some of that snarky dialogue felt very genuine, and the emotions – oh they were there in spades.
When things go wrong and the drama really gets deep I was so loving the story. I like the dark bits, the emotive times, in my reads to play out slowly, I hate those where its all off on page 264 and on again and HEA by 268…Not so here, these characters really had to work for their HEA and both Zander and Getty really grew, really found their place.
Stars: Four and a half, that slow start dropped it from a five but its still a fabulous addition to the series. Maybe, maybe time and cash will get together and I’ll read the others.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
Sugar Free, A Sugar Bowl Novel, Sawyer Bennett
At the end of the last book I wrote this: “I do want the last part now though – I really struggle with the whole trilogy and cliff-hanger novels issue, I want to read all of the story all at once, not months apart. Still, that’s clearly the market so….”
Now I’ve got book three in my hot little hands, or on my kindle at least 🙂
Sela’s actions just at the end of book two had me gobsmacked, absolutely floored. For an intelligent lady she does something that’s just plain stupid, and TBH that didn’t really fit for me.
We open up book three with her, Beck and Caroline in the apartment, and Sela revealing to them what happened. Beck’s reaction mirrored mine – a WTF moment!!
Still, he loves her and his first though is how to protect her, he goes into full on cover up. Of course they talk through what if she went to the police, but with her history and no witnesses who would believe her? JT was a bad man but covered it all well, and in the publics eye he’s just a wealthy, successful business owner – even if the Sugar Bowl is tinged with sleaze issues.
Of course after disposing of what he can Beck gets the police round for a visit. He knew they’d come, but needed to act surprised. He and Sela have worked out what they’ll say, but as always that depends on what questions come up, and the police are pretty vigorous. It soon becomes clear they want someone, anyone to blame, JT is a well known character, background of Old Money and of course his parents will stop at nothing for justice, and are leaning heavily on the cops. The usual US political issues come to the fore, where local elections for prime positions are coming, and they take money to win.
It always surprises me that US law holders are elected, v here in UK where its just another job, apply, get vetted and hopefully best person appointed, not ones with longest purse strings…of course I’m not naive enough to believe its without its faults, but it does seem to me to carry less tendencies to corruption.
Its a story that’s hard to tell without spoilers, but its full of twists and turns, where what I think I know isn’t always true, and what I didn’t expect turns out to be genuine, or perhaps not… 😉
I love the way we get insights into the legal side, Sawyers background here lends some real authenticity to this, and makes it feel very real. I read one recently set in UK where there was no way – even with artistic licence that what happened could have worked that way, and that spoils a story for me. I need to feel that if the circumstances were there this is what could have happened.
Sawyer makes the story feel real, I can see why the cops think X is the culprit, how they put 2=2 together but make 5, as on the surface everything points that way. I couldn’t see a way out, was shocked at the revelations, didn’t see those coming.
It ends very cleverly, just the right amount of believability with a combination of force, threats of publicity and evidence winning through.
Looking back I can see where this thread was seeded, the tiny signs put in place but I totally missed them when reading. I’m always trying to catch those, I love the way authors take a tiny comment, a little incident, an almost throwaway action, and it becomes something major, something of great importance later.
I’m in awe actually of the way authors weave a story full stop. I couldn’t do it!
Sometimes a side character really comes to the fore and here its Dennis – as others have said, what a great character. Sawyer, we need to know more about him in a future book please 😉
Stars: five, a terrific finish, full of surprises and very realistic.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
Eden’s Deliverance, Rhenna Morgan
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance
Ok, hands up I made a boob here. I thought that a) this was the third in a series, not the fourth and final one, and b) that its was one of those with a loosely connected story arc, but that each book was more or less a stand alone as with other on-going series I’m a fan of. My bad!
Well, it is and it isn’t a kind of b) book. Each book does feature one couple but the story that surrounds them and their actions is very much connected, not a simple story arc joining them but a vital part of each book. So going in blind to the last book meant I was a bit lost at first. I had read samples of books one and two and so had an idea of the worlds and the issues.
Its really interesting this idea of parallel worlds, one that crops up such a lot and that I really enjoy. I find it very believable – maybe I’m just gullible…
My late husband used to say to people “did you know the word Gullible isn’t in the Oxford English dictionary?” And loads would say “Really?” before cottoning on!! Gullible or not, it means I really enjoy those stories.
I enjoyed this book too, loved the way the story developed, the way each person had different skills. I picked up the main story easily enough, and could work out from the context what odd words and phrases meant, and so was able to follow the story pretty well.
I loved Brenna, she’d been through so much but wasn’t cowed, wasn’t deterred from still loving forward now she’s been rescued though of course what she’s been through has an affect on her.
I liked Ludan too but at times I wanted to give him a smack for being so obtuse 🙂
He thinks he’s punishing himself, that he’s the only one hurt by denying what he and Brenna are to each other, all this Duty to my …and I’m not good enough for her, she deserves etc etc . Gah! Typical male 🙂 Thankfully there’s others there to give him the smack that I can’t.
The overall story took a bit of working out for me, not having read earlier ones but I still got pulled into the flow, and was trying to work out solutions.
Though I followed the Ludan, Brenna and the others sub stories OK, I found Sienna and her gang more difficult to keep up with, as I didn’t really know the background.
Still it was clear what a threat she was and I was happy at the way things worked out, the way the drama was build and it made for a satisfying ending.
Stars: Three and a half. I’d have got more from this if I’d read earlier books but I hadn’t – if I had I think I’d be rating five stars.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher