Archive | April 2017

Back Piece, L.A. Witt. Too Hard to Forget, Tessa Bailey. Making Waves, A Beach Lane Novel, Laura Moore

Back Piece, L.A. Witt

Back Piece (Skin Deep Inc.) by [Witt, L.A.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

Bit of a shock for me this one. L.A.Witt is one of my favourite m/m authors but I really struggled to finish this book. That came as a huge surprise!

The characters are good, the settings feel real, and the issues both of them have are more common that we think, and yet taken as a whole the book just didn’t work for me. It just didn’t seem to gel together into a tale that kept me reading.

Colin has issues, but they began to bog him down in the story, and we heard about them so much I was losing sympathy for him. That’s unfair I know, but too much of something like that just drags the readers spirit down and that’s how I felt.
I wanted to say to him, you’ve got all these loyal friends and family helping you, why are you doing this to yourself, and writing off the relationship before it gets a chance? And that was pretty unfair to him, but its human nature that we can only sympathise so much.
We’ve all got friends who have issues but tend to wallow in them, acting as if they’re the only one with problems, and that was how Colin began to feel for me, like the friend who when you see them coming your heart sinks a bit….

Same with Daniel, I get his awful homophobic upbringing, that’s too real for many but he’s not a kid anymore, he’s 25 now, and these’s a time when by not saying anything you’re tacitly letting people think their views are OK with you, that you agree. Its tough when its your parents, but was he going to spend all his life hiding, afraid of the fallout?
Gosh I sound horribly callous and I don’t mean to, I value family very much, but when they’re this blinkered they aren’t the wonderful family he’s telling himself.
So bits of the story worked, I loved the tale behind the tattoo for example, but as a whole for me this one just didn’t cut it, took me several attempts to finish and in the end i was just “Arrgh, I just want to be done with this story” and like I said that is So So unusual for me with a L.A.Witt read 😦

Won’t put me off of course, its inevitable that not all stories suit all readers, even when past ones from that author have done. It could be just this series doesn’t work for me, could be I love the rest in the series and its just this book. Who knows?

Stars: Two, an uncommon occurrence, an L.A.Witt read I struggled with.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Too Hard to Forget,  Tessa Bailey

Too Hard to Forget (Romancing the Clarksons Book 3) by [Bailey, Tessa]

Genre:  Romance,

I’ve loved some of Tessa’s books and thought this sounded perfect. My bad though, I knew it was third in a series and thought they were that stand alone but connected by characters and events sort, where they can be read individually. This one though is too interconnected, there’s too much the reader really needs to know about what happened in other books to enjoy properly without having read them.
My fault, I made an assumption and should have looked further.

Peggy, I just didn’t really understand her. Pining over Elliot OK, I understood that, but to have been engaged four times in three years?? That’s pretty harsh on those guys, and makes me think of her as shallow and uncaring of their feelings, rather than someone so in love or hankering for someone from her past.
She’s fun, bright and breezy but almost too much so, she feels quite shallow. Even when she does intervene, as with Alice, she gets the right result but by default, not intention. I just didn’t really understand her, but wanted to.

Elliot, if ever a guy to the cake for Mr Grumpy its him. He’s sour, rude, selfish (after all he was the adult and she a pupil/student even though she was 22), and seems to blame her for his feelings.
There’s certainly incredible lust between them still, sensuality that sears, but for me that didn’t really translate to any deeper feelings. I couldn’t see what connection other than lust they could have, they were really total opposites.
I didn’t like either how he was so happy to leave his 12 year old daughter home alone all the while. She’s a kid, you’re her dad, act like it.
As for his religious feelings, and the praying, rosary caressing, well he just didn’t feel that kind of guy, that just felt plain strange, odd.
Wouldn’t most 22/25 years olds get weirded out by a guy who starts praying aloud when having sex?

Which brings me to background, and the fact that maybe if I’d read the first two books I’d understand much more of this one, and that what feels weird to me would have a proper explanation that made it fit better. Don’t know, but after some of the great reads I’ve enjoyed of hers this one was a fail 😦 Sorry.

Stars: Two, perfectly well written but I really need to read books one and two first to understand the characters.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Making Waves, A Beach Lane Novel,  Laura Moore

Making Waves: A Beach Lane Novel by [Moore, Laura]

Genre:  romance,

I’ve enjoyed a couple of Laura’s novels but this one is by far the best, its hard to say why exactly but it’s just one of those that pulled me in quickly and kept me absorbed to the end.

I love Dakota, she’s had a horrible background, one of those where she’s tolerated -just- by her mother’s family, and really treated as if she should be grateful for every scrap of attention.
They’ve always let her know she’s not quite good enough, illegitimate, doesn’t know her father and a blot on the family name. You’d think her mother Piper would carry the blame but its not that way.
She’s grown up very self reliant, made her own way in life and set up her concierge company, building on what she knows, how to sooth and cater for every whim of the rich and pretentious that live/holiday in the Hamptons. She’s made some good friends there too, not all the rich are shallow and spoiled, and she values those who see her for what she is, and not just as the outcast Hale.

Max, what a man. Loved him, and the tension between them, the sizzle just burned off the page from their first meeting.
Dakota doesn’t get involved with clients though and tells him that. He’s not used to hearing no, and Dakota is someone he just can’t seem to let go. Usually he’d just move on, never short of someone to fall at his feet, well his wallet too…
I loved the way he carefully kept pursuing Dakota, knowing she really wanted him as much as he wanted her. Clever to use her love of surfing to spend time with her, and from there they moved into – well, hot and sensual sex but a bit more too.
Dakota wants a family of her own eventually, she knows Max isn’t interested in that, but still can’t seem to let go, telling herself its just a casual relationship with an expiry date at some point.
Max too finds he’s breaking his usual roles, letting her into his life, when usually the rules are clear, it’s a fling, casual, fine while its on and when times up he’s off.

Then there’s a hiccup, brought on by Dakota’s love of family and traditions and his steering away from anything resembling that – and that was a very emotional part, I so felt for Dakota, just trying to be nice.
They’re off, and though the parting seems OK they are both sad, regretful, but don’t know what else they can do. They want different things in life and that’s all there is to it. Oil and water don’t mix.

There’s more though, something happens that brings them together again, puts them right in the forefront of Society gossip, threatening Dakota’s hard won business and Max’s work position.
It doesn’t stop there, even more comes out, secrets on both sides that really pull at the heart, and things that could threaten the current fragile relationship between them. Its easy to see how their delicate new connection could easily get derailed.

Dakota had some great friends and I loved seeing them. They really valued her, saw her as a person, and got so angry at how Piper and Mimi treated her. There’s that saying about friends being people who’d help you hide a body, and Dakota’s would just say where is it, and come armed with a shovel. ( and probably champagne if it was Piper or Mimi!!)
I’m hoping that one of those friends, Lauren, is in for a book of her own, she’s got a very sad past, and deserves a shot at happiness for herself and her two children.
It would be great to stay with this group of characters and see more of how their lives develop.

I love the not so nice people too in a story, they add that sharp edge a good romance needs for me, the balance to the happy side.
Dakota’s mother, Piper was a classic rich b itch, brought up to assume the world revolves around her and her wants. She treats Dakota as though she should be grateful to have her as a parent, when in fact she’s a hopeless mother, no maternal instincts, and takes every opportunity to belittle her.
Throw in a bitter aunt who resents the success she’s made of her life, and an uncle who we don’t actually meet but know he regards her as a nonentity and its no wonder she’s learned to rely on herself, work her own way in the world. She could have been a horrible person – and yet she’s wonderful, a great friend, kind to those who need help, hard working and ethical.

I was so happy at the ending, and loved the drama that came up on the way to it. I would have liked those parts to be drawn out a teeny- teeny bit longer – but that’s just me, I like people to really hit rock bottom,love to wallow in the sad bits and that would have just been glitter on the icing of a fantastic cake.

Stars: Five, a fabulous read, full of emotion and drama.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Blade Bound, A Chicagoland Vampires Novel, Chloe Neill. Eternal Reign, Melody Johnson

Blade Bound, A Chicagoland Vampires Novel, Chloe Neill

Blade Bound: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel (Chicagoland Vampires Series) by [Neill, Chloe]

Genre:  Romance,

It seems aaages since i read the first in this series, pre-kindle when I could still read text. I loved it and reread it and the other very early ones several times. Then That happened, the Ethan Disaster which spoiled it for me, I didn’t think I’d continue but saw from reviews of a later book that he was back! So I picked it up once more and continued.

I’ve always had an issue though with this and similar books where the main character is a new supernatural of some sort and yet manages to do all the things that the old, hundreds of years old, others can’t. How? Why are they so different? How come they never have all the stumbling blocks new vampires, werewolves, dragons et al do?
And that’s what got me a bit irritated, that it seemed like each story was Merit Saves The Day Yet Again * Sigh * and I stopped. Then saw this on netgalley, wondered how the series would end, got approved and needed to play catch up and buy the previous four books I’d not read #slappedwrist

Reading the last five back to back it felt very much as if I was reading the same story, just tinkered with…and that brought back memories of Sookie S when I felt the same 😦 that perhaps the series would have been better cut back a few books. There’s only so many new discoveries two new supernaturals like Merit and Mallory can make. I guess its down to two sides, group A wants more about Ethan Merit and the crew whatever the issues, they just want to read more and don’t care about the feeling of repetition. That’s lots of readers, I know from other series some just don’t want to let go of a group and will read anything connected to them. then there’s group B, where I fall, that wants stories that are believable and different, even though its fantasy it has to feel that if a happened B could result. the early books were exactly that for me, and maybe f there’d been a longer story timeline rather than the just over a year between book one and the last things may have felt that way for me.

So here we are, full circle in a way with Gabriel’s prophecy still hanging in Ethan and Merit’s minds. Actually the way that got explained/came about was well done IMO, something that made sense in the way that magic and fantasy can make a kind of sense. That bit of fantasy-reality that has you thinking “oh yes, so that happened, and therefore this was able to come about”.

We start this book with pre wedding celebrations, and from there its yet again another magical puzzle to solve, Chicago under threat, calls for supernaturals to take all the blame, humans decrying it’s Not Their Fault, let the supes take the blame. They’ve short memories when it comes to recalling that many of the past problems came about through human greed, and the supernaturals risked much to save human lives.
So much felt like I’d read it all before in those last few books. It was well written, tightly plotted and made sense in the way it played out but….it didn’t feel fresh, unique, the way those first ones did.

There’s lots of drama once more, some of Mallory’s on-the-fly magic combined with lots of theory and Catcher’s voice of reason – I love his character.
We haven’t seen much of Gabriel these last few books, he’s here but in very minor position, and I’d really have liked all the supernaturals to have pulled together for the Big Battle.
Finally the RG get more involved but once more looking back to the beginning I always thought they’d play a greater part.
I guess I’d just have a better chance of believing things will work in the future for everyone if they’d all been working on the solution, rather than Cadogan house, Mallory, Catcher and the Ombuddies.
A year of manic mayhem, scary deaths, tragedies, violence, disaster and suddenly everyone will live peacefully? What happens when the next issue arises? Will Ethan and Merit pick up their Katanas once more and wade in or claim other responsibilities, let someone else sort it?
If all forces had joined in this last book and been part of the solution I’d have believed they’d have a better chance of peace. Still, its fiction, the series has ended and it’ll be perfect for many readers 🙂

Overall the series starts off a five for me, with later books dropping drastically and I guess comes out a 3 to 4. This final book assessed alone though is a four for me, maybe a four and a half, pretty good but could have been better.

Stars: Four, pretty good but at times felt a little repetitive, and the final solution could have been better IMO.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Eternal Reign,  Melody Johnson

Eternal Reign (The Night Blood Series) by [Johnson, Melody]

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy

Cassidy has come such a long way since the first book, yet its only been a few weeks. From knowing nothing about Vampires, she’s now gained so much first hand knowledge and yet still I get the sense she’s far more to learn.
Dominic is facing his levelling, a vulnerable time when usually his second would be there for him but Gillian isn’t, she betrayed him recently and she’s looking set to take over from him.
She’s amassing an army of Damned vampires, fierce, blood thirsty creatures that have little reasoning, just an instinct to kill and feed.
People are dying each night, the police have no idea what they are facing, Cassidy can’t reveal all through her reporter job, much though she’d love to, and if it continues the city will face an onslaught of deaths that makes the current ones look like nothing.
Dominic is losing his powers fast, but having to hide it from the coven, vampires gravitate to the strongest and he needs as much support as he can against Gillian, Cassidy isn’t a night blood anymore after her last injuries, and the battle is looming up.

Its another fast paced story, death, blood and gore, but with enough strength in the characters to lift it for me from a horror to something I enjoyed. I can’t take blood and gore if there’s not some way of lightening the story, some romance to balance all the hate.
Dominic clearly has feelings for Cassidy but she’s not admitting hers to him, or even to herself.
Now in this novel she needs to make some hard choices, about her job, her friends, her feelings for Dominic. I love the way Dominic treats her with respect even when he must find her incredibly frustrating – I know I would, with her insistence on “the people’s right to know”….knowing what faces his people if knowledge comes out.
Historically humans have sought to destroy any one, any group they feel aren’t human, looking at what we’ve done to witches in the past, and of course even those of a different religious persuasion and yet she seems to think that nothing bad will happen if vampires are exposed. I can’t decide if she’s deluded, naive or just plain stupid 🙂

Dominic has a typical vampire regard for humans, they’re just not important compared to his coven, he’s out to protect them at any cost even if it means killing people.
He doesn’t kill indiscriminately, doesn’t kill to feed for example, but thinks nothing of killing to protect his people if he feels there’s no other option.

There’s so much going on here, the story of the Levelling, the quest for Master of the city, the Damned vampires and now the Daywalker involvement, and among all that there’s the romance that’s slowly developing between Cassidy and Dominic.
Its another story I was glued to, really enjoyed and damn it, that ending…arrgghh…I hate when authors do that. #nocliffhangers

Stars: Five, another terrific read and c’mon, after that ending, I really hope the next book is soon!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

You’re the One That I Want, Giovanna Fletcher. The Theatre, Marsha R. West

You’re the One That I Want, Giovanna Fletcher.

You're the One That I Want by [Fletcher, Giovanna]

Genre:  RomanceRomance, Sci Fi & Fantasy

Ah, I so wanted to love this, but was sadly disappointed.
I’d actually BOUGHT Billy and Me. Yep, it wasn’t a review book, wasn’t a KU but one I bought – and I loved it, so when I saw this up for review I was hoping for more of that angsty, heartfelt drama and fabulous characters I found in Billy. Sadly they aren’t here IMO 😦

The whole format is very, very differently written. Amost diarised from mainly Maddiy and Ben. Little from Rob though.
It starts very briefly with almost the end of the story, and then goes right back to the three lead characters age 5.
Then probably the next third to half of the book covers them up to about 16, told in Maddy and Ben’s POV, with other little flashbacks. That didn’t work for me, I don’t want huge chunks of the story to be what they did as kids, even if it is giving me an insight into how they acted as adults.
Even when we do get to them as older kids, 16+, it felt just too repetitive, and it just didn’t work for me. There was so much indescision, second guessing, wondering what if etc.
I think the main issue for me is the whole format wasn’t what I expected, I wanted to read of three adults in a who-will-get-the-girl saga ( yeah – both of them!! I wish …) with maybe some dating with both or something.
I felt what I got was lots of seeing them as kids, a bit of Ben’s hankering after her from a distance as they left school, and we didn’t really hear anything from Rob. That felt odd as he’s such a major character.
I did get so bored I was flipping forward, skim reading especially when it covered them as kids.
Then there’s a short epilogue five years or so on, and  😮 I just felt it didn’t really fit with any of the novel except for the fact all three characters were in it. Odd.

Just not what I want in a romance but as always that’s just me, and I can see there are others that love this story. Horses for courses once more.
If it had been my first read of Joanna’s work I’d have probably never tried a second, but Billy was written so very differently and I loved it so I’m hoping this one is the blip and she’ll write/have written more like Billy….

Stars: Two, just not my kind of read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

The Theatre, Marsha R. West

The Theatre by [West, Marsha R]

Genre:  Romance, General Fiction

Sometimes you get a book that’s potentially a great story for others, but just doesn’t resonate for you, and that’s what happened here.
I did finish the story, but it was a bit of a slog. I can’t really put my finger on reasons, there’s nothing obvious, its more a fusion of many tiny issues.

Kelly, talented, gorgeous, barely eats, actress come choreographer is back in her home town for the summer. Everyone knows her and most love her. Her parents are kind of throwing her in the path of Josh, divorced son of their friends.
He’s the local Police Chief, tall, blonde and handsome, and though they don’t start off on the right foot they’re very attracted to each other, and soon sleeping together. Or not sleeping 😉

Both hers and Josh’s father have dementia, Kelly has a stalker, the gays in the theatre have bigoted haters, and that spills over to the theatre itself.
Somehow there seemed lots going on but it felt very stereotyped, very cliched. The good guys were very good, the gay guys were very “gay” and the bad guys stood out clearly.
I didn’t really like the way Kelly faffed about with Josh, didn’t really feel anything towards Josh and overall its a story that just didn’t work for me.
That’s just my opinion though, I can see for others it was perfect, and that’s how it should be, everyone wants something different.

Stars: Two and a half, there were a few parts I enjoyed and I didn’t dislike the book, just didn’t feel pulled into the story as I am when its one I love.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dark Moon Wolf, Calling the Moon, Sarah E. Stevens. Once Bitten, Heather McCorkle

Once Bitten, Heather McCorkle

Once Bitten (The Wolves of Hemlock Hollow) by [McCorkle, Heather]

Genre:  Romance,

My first read of Heather’s novels, but I love the werewolf genre and this sounded fun.
I found it a little – well – bland I guess? It was well written, the characters were all clearly set out and the take of the werewolf genre had some fresh additions. Sounds good doesn’t it?
However I just found the story dragged, with nothing much happening until the last 20% or so. Even then I found that for a group so set in rules and hierarchy the story-line went well off track.

I couldn’t see how all these things, all these anarchist actions wouldn’t have been seen coming, if those in charge had been taking note. Its hard to see a rigid, supposedly strong and well run system fall down so badly by the actions of such inept characters.
There didn’t seem to have been much thought or planning of what would happen,  and the ones creating the mayhem were strangely lacking in intelligence and strategy.
The story-line is sound, and things like this do happen but it needed to have characters that were capable of planning and executing such a strategy for me to believe it.

Its kind of a one plot book too, in that Sonya’s transforming was a part of that overall plot. I liked Ty, apart from his manner of speaking which proved irritating after a time, but he was so laid back he was almost horizontal, which didn’t fit so well with his thoughts on throwing everything, disregarding all the rules, because he was so attracted to Sonya. I anted to say “get a grip man, its only for a couple of weeks!!” The man I thought he was would have done just that, not been mulling constantly about giving in to temptation.
Its one of those reads that feels very simplistic, not complex drama but a quick easy read. Depends what you want – and its different for everyone, for me its more often the complex drama that does it.

First books in a series have a hard task and for me this one doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the description. I’m undecided as to whether I want to continue with it. I’ll see nearer the time I guess, how much other things I’ve got on and whether I’m pulled in by the description. I’m not saying I would read more, not saying its a no go for me but I am on the fence over it.

Stars: two and a half, a good premise but it needs a bit more action and drama, a little more speed for me. Maybe in the later books?

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dark Moon Wolf, Calling the Moon, Sarah E. Stevens

Dark Moon Wolf (Calling the Moon Book 1) by [Stevens, Sarah E.]

Genre:  General Fiction, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I love paranormal/Fantasy, and wolf shifters in particular appeal to me. I was keen to read this, a first in what hopefully would turn out to be a new and fun series.
I’d made the mistake of thinking this was romance, isn’t not classed as that, simply my error and not looking carefully enough. That’s not a game-changer though, I read books other than romance too 🙂 Just that it came as a surprise to find out some things early in the story.

Its an interesting read, Sarah has put a slightly different slant on shifter practicalities and categories which was good, kept that part fresh.
The story though didn’t really work totally for me. There was just so much in it, the search for Carson’s dad, meeting the new people, finding out about werewolves and witches…Julie was incredibly blase about all the new things she was learning.
Then the murders. there was a lot of action, lots going on and I just had a hard time believing things would play out as easily as they did.
Don’t get me wrong – there was struggle, lots of it but given Julie is human and new to all this supernatural stuff she did really well. the other werewolves too has a very hard task solving the murders, they’d been cleverly done by someone who was clever and had lots of backing, and I just couldn’t see things playing out quite the way they did without Huge, Massive repercussions.
I didn’t guess who was involved til quite far on when there’s a really – to the reader- obvious clue but Julie completely misses it.

It looks like a debut novel, I can’t find any more books. Its well written but I just felt there was a little too much packed tightly into a novel that was just a bit too short for it. If the story was a bit longer so the action could have been made more realistic, and not have “Clue, and wow – here’s the Perpetrator” plots that these shorter novels need I think its one I’d love.

A first in series has a hard ask too, setting the scene, introducing new characters, and in the case of fantasy/paranormal, other types of people, and all the while leading a story to keep the readers interest. This one does OK for me, but of course will be perfect for others. That’s how it goes, we don’t all want the same thing thankfully!

Stars: Three, a good start to fiction writing, and a new series, but for me needed a little more reality and practicalities.

BTW Full/Lily: does she remind anyone else of Dolly Parton? For some reason she’s all I see each time Full comes into the story

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

His Family of Convenience, Amy Ayers

His Family of Convenience, Amy Ayers

His Family of Convenience (The Medina Legacy) by [Ayers, Amy]

Genre:  Romance,

Sometimes I just want to read a simple love story, the alpha male type, with a bit of angst but always a HEA. Entangled are my go-to publishers for that. I’ve been reading a few heavy romances, and in-depth paranormal and I wanted something light so chose this one for last nights bedtime reading 🙂

I loved the blurb, loved the secret baby idea ( but the failure rate for condoms in romances must be about 75%!!) The dilemma of Marco being ultra traditional, having an arranged marriage but now finding he’s got a son too was intriguing. I was really hoping that would lead to some delicious scenes between senna and his wife to be.

Sadly though for me this stayed in the mundane end of romance, a barely adequate story, nothing special.
The line I was hoping between Senna and Marco’s fiancee didn’t come, she was at one moment icy and unapproachable and the next she was all freinds with Senna. There were things about Max that Marco discussed with her, promised he’d put to Senna and which would have provided some awesome fireworks, but instead they never happened? Why raise that topic anyway then? Not just once but twice -maybe three times it came up.
I also had her pegged as responsible for something else that came out but…nope. TBH I felt she was an odd character and I was unsure of exactly how she was supposed to be, what kind of person she was, if she was going ahead with the wedding through duty, wantied to marry Marco for power and prestige, name etc, or in love with him and determined to keep him for herself….then at other times she seems to not be looking forward to the wedding.
Very mixed person, and she could – IMO – have made such a difference to the story. Still, its perfect for other readers of course.

I didn’t buy Marco’s excuses for not knowing about the pregnancy, he might have not got a few messages passed on, and of course he was concerned for his sick father but all of them?
Why didn’t his brother say something – Senna says she met him on one visit to the company to try to see Marco and he must have known she was pregnant. Not saying anything didn’t really gel with the guy he seems to be later, though maybe he didn’t know she’d been with Marco…I’ll let him off, though you’d think it would have come up in just general conversation. ” BTW Marco, did you know your former assistant is pregnant? I met her at the office recently” Y’know, how people just chat about stuff…
Senna, she’s come so far with just the help of her flatmate, and she stands up to Marco at first. I’d have been outraged too at the heavy handed way he did things, been so angry at his bulldozer ways. She realises though that he didn’t know, that her messages weren’t passed on and gives him a pass. Well….her choice, I’d have hung on a bit more.
He could have made the effort to see she was OK after their night of passion, he’s the sort of guy who’s always doing six things at once. It would only take a phone call to one of his team to check on her.
Then when they’re back at his family home and she’s being treated appallingly by his mother he says nothing, walks off and leaves her at the family dinners and functions. If it wasn’t for his sister Mila poor Senna would have been totally isolated.
After all that she just rolls over and says yes when he’s in her bed, knowing he’s to marry someone else in a few weeks. Senna, where’s your self respect!!

Stars: 2.5/3 A shocker for me from Entangled, just about makes it into a 3 star novel, when I was expecting so much more.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Heartfelt, Carol Owen

Heartfelt, Carol Owen

Heartfelt by [Owen, Carol]

Genre:  Romance,

The cover: I don’t often look at these unless they catch my eye and this one did but for the wrong reasons. I don’t like the font colour, and the whole faded appearance look just doesn’t do it justice IMO. With that and the pinkish swirly script it looks like an old 60’s/70’s M&B read and its far more intense than one of those….I don’t feel this cover suits the story at all.

This is a gentle romance, so very real, with characters that go through events that shape their lives and feelings just as happens in reality. We are products of what happens to us in life, and when I’m reading, even though its fictional lives I want to feel the characters could have lived through events, acted like the way they do in the book.

Shay is going through something that affects many of us, the big C. Been there, done that and like Shay found its a scary time, treatment is hard and picking up life again while still wondering of every twinge is a recurrence is very difficult, balancing fear and over reaction with the need to be observant and vigilant.

Drew, what a gorgeous man. Talented artist and teacher of art, he’s in Shay’s town while his house is renovated, hoping to get on with some work for his next show.
He’s had a tough spell too, with his estranged wife dying in a car crash while they were picking up daughter Patti from school.
Patti was badly injured, has spent months recovering and still can’t recall everything about the accident. It makes her frustrated and angry at Drew much of the time.
I think its strange how often in US reads that 18 year olds, as Patti is, are treated and act as if they are much younger. Reading about her I’d have thought she was about 14. Is there really such disparity between US and UK teens? Something to ponder…

Anyway Drew meets Shay and they’re both shocked at the attraction. Neither was looking for or expected that, and the path forward is fraught with bumps, one of them a real big bump!
I did think Shay was a bit OTT in her (re)actions, I know cancer affects us all differently, but somehow what she did didn’t fit too well with the person I thought I’d come to know – but then again it made for some perfect angst and I do love that 😉

Its not just Shay, Drew and Patti though. There’s his brother and sister in law, expecting their first child, his Gallery agent and his students, Shay’s son Luke and his girlfriend, her friends in the village and her online cancer support group.

It made for a very rounded read, with lots of emotion at times, and felt so very real.  Its a story I really enjoyed, not a heart stopping mile-a-minute read but a more sedate meander through all these different folk.

Stars: four, a very real, beautiful, gentle romance.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Beyond the Wild River, Sarah Maine

Beyond the Wild River, Sarah Maine

Beyond the Wild River by [Maine, Sarah]

Genre:  Historical fiction

I was intrigued by this tale, a young lady didn’t often get the chance for adventure that Evelyn has with the Canada journey.

I really enjoyed the story, its beautifully written, felt very evocative of the time period and the wilderness of the lands. The philosophy that creeps in too, the unfairness of UK laws, where Ballantyre gets taken to task by a poacher of “his” salmon, the dichotomy of whether people can actually own salmon and other creatures just because they’re passing through their land. that could be taken further – who says land belongs to them….interesting points and fitted very well within the story as it unfolds.

I liked the mix of people included, and the descriptions of the journey and the camps.
I felt for James, from a child he’d been placed in an unfair situation, and life then was very much dependent on who you were when you were born.
Corruption, bribery, turning a blind eye all played a part if the perpetrators of a crime were wealthy, titled whereas everyone else caught the full throw of the law for tiny offences.

I loved Evelyn, and poor Clemmy, caught up in a journey she really wasn’t suited for. Evelyn has a spirit of adventure, Clemmy really belongs in a place where she can be indulged, surrounded by luxuries and cosseted hand and foot!
Evelyn chafed against the restrictions placed on a young lady of the time and fell into the adventure whole-heartedly, happy to rough it and live so very differently.

What I did find hard to take though was that the story was very slow, lacked any real drama in the first 2/3 rds.
We’re gradually learning about the mystery of Jacko’s death and the repercussions but the story itself, though so beautifully written didn’t keep me engaged and i did put it aside several times which is unusual for me. I like to read a book in two or preferably one sitting(s).

Stars: four, a lovely read for the time and descriptions of the wilderness but the story itself lacked pace at times for me

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Fallen, P.J. Fox

Fallen, P.J. Fox

Fallen by [Fox, P.J.]

Genre:  Romance, General Fiction

I wasn’t really sure what this book would be about. Seemed to be some kind of dystopian/futuristic romance read, and as I’d not read any of PJ Fox’ work before I decided to try it.

I’ve finished now and TBH I’m still not really sure what it was about….A very strange romance between Dane and Ani, a weird society who have one might a year when everyone is free to kill who they want without reprisal, and some very odd behaving characters.

That’s about it for me. I didn’t really understand the story, didn’t get a sense of who and what the characters were and what the whole thing was about.
The idea that the free-for-all Purge kept society working better than imprisonment was just plain weird and of course open to all sorts of abuse. Some of the characters didn’t want justice, just wanted a chance to kill someone, anyone, just for “fun”.
I hold my hands up and admit I skim read the last third as frankly I was floundering and just wanted to get the book finished.

This is probably one of the shortest reviews I’ve ever done but even though I read the whole book I still can’t understand what it was about, what the point of it all was and whether or not I actually wanted Dane and Ani to end up together.

Stars: Two, a book that just didn’t work for me. Might be one you love – who knows? for me though it was a fail.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Walk of Shame, Lauren Layne

Walk of Shame, Lauren Layne

Walk of Shame: Love Unexpectedly 4 by [Layne, Lauren]

Genre:  Romance,

I loved Lauren’s Oxford sereis, so really looked forward to this one. For me though it was a disappointment. Looking at early reviews I see lots of readers love it yet quite a few like me didn’t.

Georgie, she’s not the usual type of heroine. I liked her cheery outlook, her friendliness and her general kindness to others. This character in books is usually the opposite to all that, though I’m not complaining, its what makes many books special 😉
I think for me Georgie lacked any real character though, she seemed all light and fluffy, no real depth to her, just partying along, spending time shopping, lunching, gossiping, its all so vapid and hard to make a character with any depth of of one like that.

Then there’s Andrew, totally her opposite, and again we could see why he was that rigid persona, but it made it very hard to see what the connection was between the two, how they could make a relationship work. The colour red is a very tenuous connection…
I liked Andrew in the same way as I liked Georgie, but didn’t see how either of them would work in a relationship, they have little in common, don’t really know anything about the other, and I didn’t feel that magic crackle of attraction.
I love the slow build up, the gradual dawning that each likes the other, then slowly they meet more and more and that deepens. None of that here. just some snark and lust and that doesn’t make a relationship.

I didn’t dislike the book, just found it a hard read, didn’t get properly engrossed in it and kept putting to one side.
I know its not one I’ve really enjoyed when I find myself glad I’ve reached the end…One of those reads that’s well written but where the actual story just doesn’t cut it for me.

Stars: Two. 😦 Sorry Lauren, loved other books of yours but not this one. Still, there’s lots of other  readers for whom its perfect.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Candy Is Magic, Real Ingredients – Modern Recipes, Jami Curl

Candy Is Magic, Real Ingredients – Modern Recipes,  Jami Curl

Candy Is Magic: Real Ingredients, Modern Recipes by [Curl, Jami]

Genre:   food and wine, cooking.

I love my kindle but there are some books, non fiction mostly, that I feel are better in print and this is one of them.
I read it on my kindle fire, at least there I can appreciate the stunning colour photos. and drool at the wonderful confects created.

When my kids were young I used to make toffee, mainly for toffee apples and millionaire’s shortbread, something they all loved. ( And probably with a million calories in, though very delicious…)
Of course I burned it a few times, soon learned that soaking burned pans lifted off the burnt sugar in time, but the results of my experiments were always a bit hit and miss.
I didn’t have kitchen scales or a thermometer, used to use the cold water cracking method of timing, which isn’t accurate…somehow having several bad batches put me off and I stopped.
Reading this book though gives me the enthusiasm to restart, make some for Xmas gifts and birthdays, and just for fun.

The recipes are clearly set out and very well devised, so that the amateur cook can follow using the recommended tools.
There isn’t a need to buy too much, scales and thermometer seem to be the basic must haves, with other things recommended but not essential. The recipes don’t have 101 hard-to-find ingredients. That is so off putting when something you want to make has ingredients you just can’t find, or have to buy a huge pack to get the few grams needed for a few lollies or toffees.
The combinations used for flavouring sound delicious, and will also spur the reader on to their own ideas.
The sky really is the limit when it comes to flavours, some you’ll like and some will get a pass…but all will be perfect if you follow the easy steps laid out here.

I want to get back into toffee making, know now why my attempts at fudge went wrong, and the lollipops, those clear ones with little seeds etc in for decoration, I really want to try those. Maybe some candy canes for the tree at xmas too. I love all things glitter and metallic so I thought I could add some edible gold leaf or some gold dust to the clear lollies and have a bit of edible glitz for xmas.

Stars: Five, an inspiring book, to create sweets to satisfy cravings without filling your body with preservatives and artificial flavours.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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