Archive | January 2017

Dawn Study, Maria V. Snyder, Steam and Sensibility, A Steampunk Novel of Suspense, Kirsten Weiss

Dawn Study, Maria V. Snyder

Dawn Study (Study Series, Book 6) by [Snyder, Maria V.]

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy

The final Valek and Yelena story….I’ve been waiting for this so long it feels.
I first discovered Fantasy via the wonderful Poison Study, which I’d ordered with a batch of paperbacks in my prekindle days when the first three were already out. I’d somehow thought it was a historical read – dunno why * shrug* my bad, but when I finally got to it I learned Fantasy wasn’t all Star Trek, LotR and Terry Pratchett type reads and was hooked….Sometimes mistakes pay off 🙂

I felt the last book was slipping a little, still a worthy four star but that some of the magic ( hah!) had been lost for me, with the Commander being a very changed person from the one we first met, and looking back at my review I’d written this
“I am beginning to get a little tired of the issues of Null Shields, Theobroma and Curare though. It seems that they are becoming the catch all solution for both sides, and it means its very difficult to see what can happen when one of these “new” solutions keeps popping up. In some ways it evens the playing field, but I’m just not convinced when they seem to be the answers to every problem. I was happier when I knew it was down to the talents and skills ( good or bad) of certain individuals, whether magical or just well trained.”
That sums up much of how I feel about this book too, its very much plan goes wrong, someone gets caught, someone gets rescued, make more plans, but when there’s this null shields for magic, theobroma, curare, and now new versions of similar drugs then it gets a little tired, impossible to try to work out what can happen and that takes the fun out for me. There were so many times this format cropped up that it actually became repetitive, something I never thought I’d say, and I found myself rolling my eyes…
With the earlier books what I enjoyed was the magic v the skills learned and natural talents, so when they were fighting some would use magic but the skilled non magical people could still win with their natural talent for battle, and using the skills they had long trained for. Think of Ari and Janco training Yelena in that first book, and of her learning to use her bo staff with Mara, discovering that people without magic could still win if they were alert and clever enough. That seems to have got lost for much of this book, with even Valek’s famous plans going wrong, and his much vaunted skills in espionage and conflict definitely showing his age…

It was good to meet Ari and Janco again – that duo never change and I love them. Likewise Little Miss Assassin, and some of the up and coming newer youngsters that look set to move into place if there are more books planned. Fisk is now a leader of a fairly large group, a clever man grown up from that quicksilver lad we first met. I always love seeing him, and his clever way of finding out things, knowing who has what skill and putting people where they’re best utilised.

The storyline had become very complex with it being difficult to recall who was supposed to be on whose side, and why, and whether they were still with that group or had switched sides, or where playing a spy role. It made sense – in a way – but did become difficult to follow and dull at times.
I enjoyed the early reads when we knew who was for which side, when there were times a character – or a few characters – were duped, but not on the mass scale of this story.

I did enjoy the story, even with the repetitive bits and the other issue I mentioned, just that for me they stopped it from being a five star read, stopped me being glued to the book, having to read “just one more chapter” and finding out its 3am….all avid readers have been there!
I found myself actually putting it aside easily, and felt that when it did come to the final point it was almost a non event….

I can see the potential for the younger kids to move up into place for a new series, but unless its going to be like a return to those first books, more skills, more magic and less plant based improbable solutions to almost everything then I won’t be reading… I don’t think…. Depends I guess on what else is around at the time 😉

Its not a book you can read without earlier ones, even just reading the first two in this trilogy won’t let you understand the minute details from the past, the things that shaped events now, and there are a myriad of little quips and reminisces here that refer back to those early reads. You could possibly miss out the  glass trio, they weren’t my favourites anyway, but then you’ll still not really follow the storm-dance characters and what they do. Its one of those series where to get the best you need to start at the beginning and work through, though I haven’t read any of the side novellas, and they are extras rather than essential reading.

Stars: its difficult to rate, I loved meeting all the characters, seeing how they’d grown up and changed, but that constant capture and release and magic v plants got old quickly for me. I guess I’m going three and a half. I thought about four but those parts do make up a substantial part of the story
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers


Steam and Sensibility, A Steampunk Novel of Suspense,  Kirsten Weiss

Steam and Sensibility (Sensibility Grey Steampunk Novels of Suspense Book 1) by [Weiss, Kirsten]

Genre:  mystery and thrillers, sci-fi and fantasy

I haven’t read a lot of Steampunk, a couple that were really enjoyable and a few that were OK reads, but its good to read outside one’s comfort zone occasionally.

This book sounded fun, but for the first half it really was a western type read more than steampunk, with very little to bring the story into that category.
I liked Sensibility, and her confidence in her abilities, and enjoyed the aether refs, they made for a bit of extra and Steampunk does need that touch of magic IMO.
I wasn’t really taken by any of the other characters though, and found the plot to be a little thin.
It seemed to be a who can be trusted and everyone is out to get the Journal, and rather too much bumbling around to fit my taste. It picked up after the halfway point, but never really hooked me fully into the story and the steampunk elements were very thin on the group.
The author mentions this was a book that has been reworked to fit the steampunk  category and to me it feels like that, doesn’t feel as if its fully immersed in the genre, but another story with added extras making it fit where the original story didn’t. There was the watch, and the little mechanical sweeper she made, but no traditional elements such as dirigibles, fantastic creatures etc until close to the end.
Maybe it will appeal to steampunk lovers more than those like me who tend to stay on the fringes, I don’t know, its not a bad book, just one that was only an OK read for me.

It’s a fun read, but definitely a one off for me.

Stars: Three, an OK read but steampunk is a bit thin.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Cowboy and the Kid, Anne McAllister, For Finlay, J. Nathan

The Cowboy and the Kid, The Tanner Brother – Book 4,  Anne McAllister

The Cowboy and the Kid (Tanner Brothers Book 4) by [McAllister, Anne]

Genre:   Romance, General Fiction

I’d not read any of Anne’s novels and as she’s got so many I was really, really hoping to like this. Nothings like finding a new-to-you author with loads of lovely novels you haven’t read 😉
Sadly though this was just an OK read for me, a sweet story but one that didn’t really do much for me.

Its a small town romance, and I like those but I do need some drama, some real feelings between the leads.
Though I liked them all, I wasn’t really feeling the attraction between them, and didn’t really understand what they saw in each other. they knew of the other via school of course, but dates? ? Nope, unless you count the one where Taggart is warning her about one of the parents. I just didn’t feel the connection.

I think the biggest problem for me was they were both nice people, sweet, cute and all that, the story was gentle, Becky was a smart but precocious kid, its was all just so Nice. What I want though is drama, jealousies, problems, barriers to things working out, maybe a couple of unpleasant characters for balance and here there wasn’t any.
I see this was originally published in 1996, and maybe its been updated and rereleased, but it doesn’t feel that way, to me it feels very dated, very “clean romance” type read, and that’s fine. Millions of readers love them, they just don’t cut it for me.

If you like a sweet, non-dramatic romance, with a gentle HEA then this could be perfect for you. It’s a good book, but not one that moved me emotionally, and really just not my sort of romance.

Stars: Three, depends on what you want from your romance.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers


For Finlay,  J. Nathan

For Finlay by [Nathan, J.]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult

I’ve enjoyed some terrific NA reads, despite being well past NA age….I’d read Until Alex and had mixed feelings, some of it felt really slow and very YA as opposed to NA, but there was a section that had me gripped, so I requested this book hoping the writing had evolved that way.
Sadly for me its not, well not with this book. That’s fine, everyone wants different stories, different types of writing styles and this already has lots of 5* reviews so clearly its perfect for other readers.
For me though it still felt very YA, with the protagonists being very immature in their actions and reactions.

I did feel for Finlay, what an awful thing to happen, and understood perfectly her feelings towards Caden, based on what she saw. Thats it though isn’t it – its what she thought she saw not what actually was happening, there’s always more to a story…and its a long while before she discovers that.
Meanwhile she’s so attracted to Caden despite her feelings and that was fun, seeing how the boy she thought he’d be matched up to the one in front of her…or rather didn’t. There was some snappy dialogue that was fun.

He was a typical football Jock except for his anti cheating stance, I was pleased to see that, and understood his reasons. He kind of stretches credulity though when it comes to how he breaks with the girlfreind and gets with Finlay, he’s sticking to the letter of his morality but not really the essence of it. Still, its a typical YA/NA reaction, do what you want and convince yourself you’re in the right 🙂
His girlfriend was a great b itch, I do so love characters like hers. I’d have liked to have seen more of her and the nastiness, perfectly drawn, rich b itch type wanting a rich and famous husband….there’s a lot of them around.

Overall, though the story was moving forward, for me it felt a bit too YA, the characters kind of immature in their actions, and I wasn’t hooked into what was happening, gripped with the story, didn’t have the can’t-put-it-down feeling.
And of course when Caden finds out what he thinks is the truth his reaction was just that, like  a thwarted schoolchild rather than an adult.
In some ways I was kind of having mixed feelings, the drama of it was perfect, the ex was wonderfully vindictive, but believing he’d really react like that? On the say so of someone who he knows a) doesn’t like Finlay b) wants him back c) got her knowledge in a strange way, its not as if Finlay was hiding it.
Somehow that reaction felt OTT even though it led to some perfect drama. I felt the Caden we’d been led to believe in wouldn’t have acted that way, would have looked a bit harder for the truth. Still then I guess we wouldn’t have this book….

So the drama of it was perfect even though the reasons for it fell down a bit. The storyline was ok, more or less believable, but for me the characters felt a little immature at times, backed up by Caden’s reaction.
Its me more than the book, its a perfectly decent read, and has lots of readers who love it, but for me its between a three and a four star not a five. If you love typical storm in a teacup YA romances this is perfect, I need a bit more maturity in my characters and their actions though.

Stars: 3.5, a good read, perfect for others, but a bit on the YA side for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers


Still In Love With You, Lexie Davis

Still In Love With You,  Lexie Davis

Still in Love With You by [Davis, Lexie]

Genre:  romance,

*Sigh…* I hate it when this happens. I liked the sound of this, it had some good reviews so I requested, started reading and…its just doesn’t work for me 😦

What was good was the humour, some snappy witty fun.
I liked Aubree’s work ethic, her love for her family and understood her need to get away after what transpired ten years back.
Parker I liked too, a good man, very caring about others and yet haunted by his past, by his PTSD. He had a very caring family too, though I didn’t understand why he wasn’t close to his step mum and step/half sisters – I’m not sure which they were, it wasn’t clear. He works hard at his job, knows everyone in the town and commands respect.

So far so good, but I didn’t find it plausible in the week they had together that so much could happen, that her clients could supply all that kitchen equipment to arrive the next day, and clearly done by phone or internet. It certainly can’t happen like that in UK, and I’m sure US can’t be that far off.
I didn’t think Parker would accept all that either, he seemed quite a proud man and the excuse of being best friends as well as lovers ten years and more past didn’t really mean for me he’d be happy about that.
Likewise how quickly they got the renovations done, having done some myself in the past it just isn’t possible – I know his home is small but it would need to be doll house size!!
Then his salary, are sheriffs really paid so little? It sounded as if he was on the minimum possible to just scrape by, yet with his forces training he ought to have been higher paid. Maybe its just that US/UK difference again, our policing works very differently and someone with his past and skills would be far better salaried.

I found the town gossips and the way Aubree let things run was a bit strange, funny at first but to keep playing along? Again for me that didn’t sit well, and especially knowing Parker has been in a relationship for a year and his girlfriend isn’t happy about it.
I was irritated at both Aubree and Parker about the way poor Sophie was treated, that left a bad taste 😦
I guess that’s it, didn’t feel a “real” story, didn’t like the way Sophie was treated, didn’t feel the gossips in the town would get quite that carried away…but as has happened before I’m in the minority, just proves how we all like different things from our reading, and that readers need to look at description and reviews when deciding if a story is or isn’t for them.
This isn’t a bad book, just that for me its not the right book, but its perfect for others. horses for courses as I’m always saying.

Stars: Sadly a two, just not the right book for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Gilded Cage, Vic James

Gilded Cage,  Vic James

Gilded Cage (The Dark Gifts Trilogy Book 1) by [James, Vic]

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I’ve had a fantastic year for debut books. I try to choose all reads carefully as I hate doing low star reviews but debut reads are a shot in the dark, with only a few words to decide wither its for me or no. No previous stories to tell me authors writing style, and the type of plots he/she writes so it really is a whole bran tub surprise, but I’ve unearthed some real gems for me this year. This is one of them.

I’m not really a YA reader, except for those few stories that really are suitable for any age, such as Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, and the Golden Lily spin off, Twilight ( of course), The Paper Magician trilogy, stories like these that appeal to anyone regardless of age.
A well written story does that, so though YA isn’t my preferred read I don’t rule anything out, especially in the Fantasy genre.

I did find this a little struggling to begin, I was intrigued but the to and fro of Millmoor and Kyneston settings took a while to adjust to, as did the fairly large cast of characters. Then throw in a world that is like the UK now and yet so not like it, that there’s a lot to take in. It works though, really well once I’d got that mentally mapped out.

I’ve read that the 1% v 99% dichotomy inspired this story, the haves and the have nots of money and power. Vic has replaced the money side with Skill, a magical talent. Those families who have it are called Equals, a very small proportion of the population, and they rule the rest.
The rest, the commoners, all have to do a ten year slave term at some point in their life, and families can do it together once the youngest child is 10. That’s what happens here, with eldest sister arranging – she thinks – for them all to do their 10 years at the large estate of Kyneston. That way they can all stay together, stay safe she hopes. But things go wrong, despite being only 16 Luke gets sent to Millmoor alone, separated from the family and against rules which say under 18’s stay with their parents.
Its like now though, a whole way of life ruled by red tape, and underscored by deceitful scheming and grasping for power – gosh you can tell which side I’m on in politics can’t you 😉

The story follows Luke and what happens to him, alternating to what’s going on with the rest of his family and the other inhabitants at Kyneston.
We don’t really see much about Luke’s parents but sisters Abi and Daisy figure largely. Daisy at 10 is a kind of nanny to the Heir’s illegitimate child Libby, and she adores her. Heir Gavar seems to be a strange character, a ball of anger, hates everyone it seems and yet plays the game, wants the power that will come when he succeeds his father and yet is a ball of mush when it comes to Libby and strangely gentle with Daisy.
Jenner, the middle son, is on the almost unique position of having no Skill despite coming from a strongly skilled family. Abi works with him on the admin side of running Kyneston, and we see a slow developing regard for each other growing. Forbidden of course, Equals never get involved with Commoners, its a disaster, as shown by what happened with Libby and her mum. Despite being the only grandchild her place is on sufferance only, and she’s mostly kept out of sight of the other Equals and not really spoken about.
Then there’s Silyen….he is seriously strange and yet – I can’t help feeling a soft spot for him. He’s very solitary, with the constant grasping for power no-one really seems happy, to have friends, to be close to family but he seems even more alone than the others. There’s an air of mystery about him and I feel there’s lots more to come from him.

So, in a society like this, with all its abuses there’s bound to be a revolt. So far the cruel and rigid ways have kept things controlled, but there’s a feeling of change brewing and this book heralds the start. It ends with a real – “I want the next book now, dammit” feeling for me, so I really hope books two and three are progressing well!!

Its an absorbing world, full of magic, full of cruelty, on both large and smnall scales, and the cruelty isn’t just confined to Equals, but also those commoners who’ve risen through the ranks, a -rse kissng their way into positions of power….and yet the characters are not one sided but multi faceted, so no-one is quite what they seem and the fun is working out who is really who, what place they will play in the future, and just how things are going to go, not just on the large scale but on the small one. I’m full of questions, what’s going to happen to Luke, what about Abi, will she and Jenner ever be together, will Gavar marry the fiercely ambitious Bouda as his father commands, or find a way out? What will happen to Libby, and Daisy? What about the dogman, what part is he playing, and the Doc, and Angel, Rennie and the rest of the gang…..and of course the big one. Silyen – what’s he plotting, and is it for good, for bad or just to pass the time? With him you never quite know 😉

Its a fabulous read, if Skill were real as in this book you could imagine that all these things could – and probably would 😦 – happen. A book destined to become a real Classic, a treat to read and I’m rooting for books two and three ASAP.

Stars: Five, a gem of a debut read

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

The Devil’s Russian Beauty, Book two of the Werewolves of Rebellion Series, Ana Lee Kennedy

The Devil’s Russian Beauty, Book two of the Werewolves of Rebellion Series,  Ana Lee Kennedy

The Devil's Russian Beauty: Book two  of the Werewolves of Rebellion Series by [Kennedy, Ana Lee]

Genre:  romance, sci-fi and fantasy

I really enjoyed the first in this series and was looking forward to this one. First books in a series have a tough job and I usually find I like succeeding ones better, as the setting is in place and the story can concentrate on events and characters and not just world building and intros.
I found this book to be a bit under-whelming though, and in fact didn’t enjoy it as much as the first.

I didn’t feel the chemistry that Bernadette and Frank had, that I loved, between Phil and Daffi, they felt like good friends more than potenital mates/lovers. Apart from the werewolf pheromones making them sexually attracted I didn’t feel there was a real relationship in the making here. I liked them both, just didn’t feel that magic connection with them.
In book one I commented on Scary Mary and mentioned my pet hate of where people have some unused/unknown supernatural talent which comes in just at the right moment. Sadly that crops up once more here, and it just doesn’t work for me, I want them to use skills I know about, and that have been learned solidly. Its a quick fix solution I really dislike, and I felt it let the story down. We had all that build up, then its done and dusted quickly, and I don’t really know how it happened except “its magic”.
I never did go for the non explanation, whether real life or in my fiction reads….

I love this idea of a werewolf MC, that succeeds through hard work, friendship and trust. I’m not a great MC reader, usually as the heroes seem to think speaking in words of not more than two syllables is conversation, and sex is two or three thrusts, an orgasm for him and the female should be happy he chose her. Oh and a few obligatory beatings…
Yeah, I know, they’re not all quite like that but the few I read gave me that impression and I avoid them.
Here though Anna has created a club I love, one where everyone deserves and gets respect, where they all work together, and its a great setting, especially with the werewolf connection.
If only the magic side could be sorted, no more quick fixes, and a bit more connection between characters so the chemistry steams, as it did with Frank and Bernadette, then I’d love it.
Sadly this book was more of an OK read than one I couldn’t put down, though I’d still be happy to give the next book a chance.
Could just be this story, this couple that didn’t fit so well with me, there’s such potential in the world Anna has created IMO.

Stars: Three, less quick fixes and more long term skills for me please.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

From Rome with Love, Jules Wake

From Rome with Love, Jules Wake

From Rome with Love: Escape the winter blues with the perfect feel-good romance! by [Wake, Jules]

Escape the January blues with the perfect feel-good romance!

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

I’m new into this series, but each book is a standalone one so that was fine.
I enjoyed this story, but didn’t love it. Its a fun read, something to relax with when you don’t want to have to concentrate too hard. A typical chic-lit read, perfect for holdays etc.

I loved Rome, the food, my mouth was watering at the descriptions, and Will’s enthusiasm about it, and the descriptions of the places they visited.
Will is a lovely man, I really could visualise him, and he’s clearly liked by his staff, a kind of tough but fair guy. That meant his actions with Lisa in the past, after that one special night just didn’t feel right.
Lisa was a sweet girl, but I never really felt her, never thought I properly understood her somehow. She and Will were clearly attracted, but I needed a bit more of that simmering sensuality that they both felt.
Those parts really brought the romance alive but I didn’t feel there were enough of them…and the bit where it all goes wrong, well I saw that coming from, the first hint.

Knowing what’s going to happen doesn’t spoil a book for me, I often reread favourites and if course know the ending, but somehow this was just too obvious, and Lisa reaction just didn’t feel right. felt very out of character for her.

Stars: Three and a half, a fun chic-lit light read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Girl on the Beach Morton S. Gray

The Girl on the Beach  Morton S. Gray

The Girl on the Beach by [Gray, Morton S]

I’ve read lots of books from Choclit, and really enjoyed them. Usually there’s a strong romantic theme running through, but with this one the romance is much more subtle, almost taking a back seat to the suspense part of the story.

I enjoyed this story, its a debut book and very well written.
Its not a story I’d re-read though. I didn’t get totally sucked in to it, you know how with some stories there’s that “can’t put it down” feel, and the characters seem as if they’re people you really know. Maybe with  time that will come, certainly its a great start to a writing career.
I liked the characters but I felt they needed a bit more personalisation, more to make them special. Harry was a nice guy, but that’s it, just an ordinary bloke, and Ellie was a good mum,  a talented artist but I never felt they had more of a connection than as just people living in the same village. I didn’t feel much real attraction, no sensuality, no sexual attraction.
There were some nice touches, the school art competition and mentoring scheme which brought in some of the side characters in a good way.
The suspense side was good though the final wrap seemed a bit simplistic given all that had gone on in the past.
I think possibly that’s my main criticism, that there was lots of build up and then that final part just felt too easy, too simple, I found it hard to believe a seasoned criminal would use that place.

I would happily read more from this author, its a great start even though I felt there were weak parts.

Stars: Three and a half, a good debut story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight. Darynda Jones

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight.  Darynda Jones

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight: A Novel (Charley Davidson Series) by [Jones, Darynda]

Genre:  mystery and thrillers, paranormal and fantasy

I’ve loved this series, it has it all, romance, suspense, humour, and all wrapped up in a great adventure.
Its kind of hard to pick out which characters you like best, Charley and the sex-on-a-stick Reyes of course, but then there’s BFF cookie and her daughter amber, and Ubie, Charley’s detective uncle, and some of Charley’s other friends. And Osh, Angel, and others from the supernatural side.

Once more we’re bang into a story. I’d expected it to pick up from the end of the last book where Charley was berating Jehovah and Michael….y’know, telling Gods and Archangels off as you do, bringing out the threats….but it doesn’t.
Instead she gets a new job for her PI business, from a strange source, Reyes’ foster brother…and as always Charley storms in without really thinking too far ahead, other than getting Cookie on more research.
I love the way those two chat, its almost deranged and yet they know what they mean and it makes sense. Sort of.
While chasing that down they have to deal with an issue Amber has, and of course still work out how to get back the people trapped in the God glass, who’ve been stuck there since the 1400’s thanks to a vengeful, twisted priest, work out how to stop Charley from destroying the world, learn just what she can and can’t do, find some way of dealing with Eidolon and protect Beep. Business as usual then, no pressure.

It turns out that some of the things that seemed to be separate issues are actuallyconnected – doesn’t it always?
I love the way Darynda does that, the way she takes issues from past books, things that almost passed unnoticed, and weaves them in carefully and letting Charley loose on the problem, and of course the way Charley seems to plan on the fly, the way everyone gets involved.
Its all serious drama, heart stopping stuff, mixed in with some trademark Charley snark and humour. And sexiness…Reyes…hmmnnn – the way he adores Charley and yet doesn’t pander to her, puts his foot down sometimes – not that she takes any notice. Its good to see he doesn’t just roll over, but is such a strong character, that his love for her, his Dutch, strengthens him, makes them into a formidable duo.
The Sahara scene with him and Charley was terrific, and her learning experiences take a decidedly sensual turn, reminded me of that shower scene in one of the very early books.

Its interesting to look back at the start of this series and see just how far its come, how the characters have evolved and yet still keep the essential essence of what makes them personally so special, so integral to the story.

A fabulous mystery once more, plays out well, ties up some past loose ends, but opens up more as usual, but that ending. Noooooooo…..Darynda how could you? I hate, hate cliff-hangers, hate them with a vengeance 😦 and this one is a real doozy.

Stars: Five, another cracking book, still fresh after all the past ones, where some longer series get stale. This one though, you never quite know what’s coming next.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Whiteout, Elyse Springer

Whiteout,  Elyse Springer

Genre:   LGBTQIA

I really enjoyed this novel. I was a little worried that it would be one of those where everything takes place over just a few days – sometimes those work for me but more often they don’t. It wasn’t though, the initial scenes, the amnesia, Noah waking with no memory and his flashbacks, are all in the cabin, but then it moves on and in fact covers several months.

What I loved: I could really feel Jason’s love for Noah, his worry about the injury, his concern for him, and add in his grieving for his former partner who’d died he was a man I loved.
And yet – the flashbacks Noah was having pointed to a very different guy, so which was right, which one was the real Jason? It was cleverly done, I really wasn’t sure.

Then there’s the revelations and boy what a shock they were. Gobsmacked – a total hit to the heart.
What I loved was that this happened just after halfway through the story, so we’ve loads of time to really explore the heartbreak side, to flesh out those flashbacks, to understand how both Noah and Jason are feeling, gutted, heartbroken and the story was so momentous the betrayal so great, so cleverly planned that I couldn’t see a way forward for them.
I love it when a book does that, really gets in deep on the heartbreak side, really digs in to how people are feeling, to what it means to them, to how they can either move on or try to pick up and see if there’s a path back to the love they had. Noah’s idea of how to do that was so so perfect, very subtle yet on point.
I hate when we get a big reveal, a terrible heart-breaking story and then two pages later its kiss and make-up. Done as it is here,fully explored, time to let emotions sink in,it’s just perfect for me.

I loved the characters, Jason and Noah, and the side ones, Sara, Abby, Tony….they all were strong cast and fitted perfectly.
The Rent connection – I’ve never read the book/seen the musical but followed along fine, I would like to read the book if I knew what it was called 😉
There are some steamy sex scenes but they don’t dominate the story, I so hate that, when its more sex than story, when the plots get lost behind the sex, but it fit perfectly and feel right here.

Stars: Five, a clever book, one I really enjoyed, that let me wallow in the sad parts 😉

Arc supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Relativity, Antonia Hayes

Relativity,  Antonia Hayes

Relativity by [Hayes, Antonia]

Genre:  General Fiction(adult)

This is a really hard review to write – I really enjoyed most of the novel, it had some excellent moments, but its so hard to say why I liked parts and not others without giving the story away….
It reminds me of many Jodi Piccoult novels, where I see what’s happened and how people feel from both sides, and she puts things in a way that makes me feel even though my head is saying You can’t possibly like someone who…..

I loved Ethan, he’s the real star of this book. He’s way ahead of his peers, and most adults too, when it comes to all things math and physics, and yet he’s also a typical 12 year old boy.
Having had my own kids and grandkids I recognise his traits, and really felt for him. At school he’s the odd man out and kids can be incredibly cruel.
I felt when the docs were looking at him “seeing” physics and getting excited it was more for the fact that it would get their name attached to a new discovery, rather than anything to Ethan’s advantage.
I think that’s something that does happen in the medical profession – that patients become cases rather than people, and docs forget that they have real views, needs and emotions, that they are people first and conditions second. The doc was keen to write about Ethan to his peers, to write papers, maybe a book and yet he didn’t seem to think about the impact this kind of fame would have on Ethan, a 12 year old boy who’s already got some serious issues to deal with.

Claire – his mum – I wasn’t so keen on, she adored him and had given up so much of her life to look after him, but she seemed very unemotional, and when it came to Mark, the man she had loved, she was incredibly judgemental. I can see why when we know more about her background, she’s a perfectionist, always been striving since a toddler to please her mum. One strike and you’re out.
I did think though that any parent knows that feeling of desperation, and she could have been more understanding, looked more at the Mark she knew, had been with for years, and not the Mark of a seconds action.
That’s where the Jodi Piccoult comparison comes in, she does this to me too, makes me feel sad for people who’ve done awful things, makes me look at things from both sides and see the grey. For Claire its all black and white, there is no grey, you’re in or out and Mark is decidedly out.

Mark, I thought I’d hate him but when we got to know him, learn about his background and the pressures he was under then maybe, just maybe, there’s leniency.
Most parents if they are honest have had times when they are desperate, tired, emotional, irrational and don’t know what to do next when in his situation. There’s a real difference between that and a continuing one. A spilt second can change lives as we see.

They’ve been apart now, no contact for 12 years. Then Mark’s dad is dying and he comes back to the city where they live. He writes to Claire and the letter gets intercepted by Ethan, and that’s the catalyst for a whole string of events.
Ethan had been asking about his dad, and although he hasn’t let Claire see its easy to understand how he feels different already at school, and not having a dad just reinforces that. The fathers day cards were heart-breaking.

There’s lots of physics, maths and astronomy in this book, and as I am pretty useless at that side of academia so much passed me by, and yet I was able to follow the intentions without needing to know how it worked.
Much of that part made for some beautiful moments, added so much to how I understood Mark and Ethan, its something they both shared, a very special ability to be curious about the world and how it works.

I loved Quark the rabbit too….poor Quark. And Alison, the girl Ethan met in hospital, he really needed a friend like her, they had a typical early teen friendship, where they both had differences from other kids and desperately needed an understanding friend.
She was a terrific addition and let us see yet another side of Ethan, the child side, and understand his fears and thinking, when he talks to her in a very different way to which he can talk to Claire.

Its a book I really enjoyed reading, moved me to tears sometimes, and I was surprised at how sad I felt for Mark, overall he lost so much for something that many of us have come close to doing if we are honest. That doesn’t excuse it but does make me understand him a little better and feel for him.
Although Claire didn’t do anything, in the context of events and how they played out she wasn’t blameless, she could have seen that things would have been difficult, it was clear they were all struggling,  though of course never predicted what would happen.

I really, really, really wanted a HEA, I’m a romanticist, and for a long while I hoped I might get it, but its more of a better understanding all round, forgiveness and acceptance.
I really felt for Mark, wanted him and Claire to find a way forward – maybe in the future, in my head 😉
It’s not billed as a romance read of course, but I’ve found sometimes that even then sometimes books do have romance, so I was hoping.

Stars: Four, its a book I really enjoyed though not one I would re-read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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