Archive | September 2017

Reach for the Stars, Colleen Coleman

Reach for the Stars, Colleen Coleman

Reach for the Stars: A feel good, laugh out loud romantic comedy by [Coleman, Colleen]

Genre: women’s fiction, Romance

I almost didn’t request this, having read some negative reviews for Colleen’s earlier book, but it sounded fun so I took the plunge. I’m so glad I did, it was a really enjoyable romance.

Its not a romance dominated book, I love those but also like to read books about People, their habits, faults, good points. you know – all the things that make book characters feel real.
And yes, there is a lot of artistic licence taken here that critics of book one might find irritating. Life does fall neatly into Evelyn’s plans, the way the pub job pops up and turns into more, but it was such fun that I could very easily let go of that ” its a dam n sight harder than that to run a business, to take over a lease, to drum up trade” feeling etc. Go with the flow and enjoy the story as it unfolds, and let fiction take over from the realities of life.
I’m the worst sometimes for criticising that kind of set-up but here it works. Dunno why, but it does and I had fun reading about Evelyn’s journey.

I love the characters here, loved seeing how they grew, how they changed.
James, he seemed a real jerk and i was thinking why did they ever marry, but later when we see things from his view I could see that it wasn’t just him, that Evelyn too had changed such a lot.
She irritated me a bit in her intent to be such a martyr almost, she was such a “pleaser”, hated conflict, and I recognise so much in her that I do, and I annoy myself with it 😉 so I wanted her to take the stance I find so hard…

The story is fun, the people wonderful, and the romance a slow burn one that ends beautifully. Its a great read, not sure I’d reread but one I’m so glad I finally asked for.

Stars: four, a fun way to escape reality for a few hours.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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The Royal Wedding, A Crown Jewels Romantic Comedy, Melanie Summers and MJ Summers

The Royal Wedding, A Crown Jewels Romantic Comedy, Melanie Summers and MJ Summers

The Royal Wedding: A Crown Jewels Romantic Comedy, Book 2 by [Summers, Melanie, Summers, MJ]

Genre: women’s fiction, Romance

Well, much to my surprise I loved book one. I thought I’d like it but that it would be chic-lit fluff, fine for when i want something easy between heavier reads.
It actually had far deeper content than I expected along with some cracking characters and great humour and that’s carried across really well into book two.

When I see the words irresistibly funny, laugh out loud, you will love this book, I’m wary, its so often a cover for a story that to me is brash and in-your-face comedy, and I just don’t like that. I feel its a bit of a step up telling me I will laugh, find the story funny etc.
I can say I did find both these novels really good with some well placed humour that was perfect within the story arc, that doesn’t mean everyone will laugh though….
On that subject, cheese Overload.
It was funny the first couple of times, began to grate (unintended that, honest!!) after the sixth or so, and by the end of book one I was gritting my teeth every time that came up – sadly book two had even more cheese humour, but for me it was something that let the story down, overdone, felt forced 😦

Luckily that’s a minor point, and the story moves on quickly from engagement to wedding plans.
Poor Tessa, a foot in two world, her freinds and family feel she’s changing, the Royals who don’t like her don’t feel she can ever change enough to fit in.
She wants to do her best for Arthur, to make him proud, and yet she’s been brought up to be independent.
Whatever she does is wrong for someone.
Throw in those who feel she’s gone over to the Dark Side, the anti-monarchy crowd, who tear at her for what they see as abandoning her stance, those who feel she’s a gold digger v those who feel by keeping her job she’s wasting her time and taxpayers money, as she needs a bodyguard there, and of course the Twitter Campaign, from the #Brookeisbest guys.
They are vicious, pull down what she does, whats she wears, what she says – all that get’s done by the media too, and the poor girl isn’t feeling great. She’s really under Trial by Media, with everyone feeling they know whats best, whats wrong, what she should be doing and are telling her loudly via the Press and the Internet.
Its a huge stress on a couple in love. wedding planning is stressful anyway but on the scale of a Royal wedding??

Her friends; I kind of understood how they felt and yet couldn’t really see what else she could do. Ditto her parents involvement in the wedding – love how Reuben whips out his cheque book whenever money comes up and Arthur tactfully persuades him they need to share the bills….
I know her mum has dreams of her only daughter’s wedding, but really its Tessa and Arthur’s wedding, and she’s a bit of a steam roller over what Tessa actually wants. ( I’d hate the bridal shower games she has planned too – I was cringing just reading them – do people really do that?)
That taking over, conflict of what bride and groom want v what parents want happens so many times, not just royal weddings but everyday ones, where the day gets high-jacked by proud parents. Sadly in Tessa’s case its not just family and freinds who’ll see when it goes wrong, but the whole world. No pressure then.

I love the cast, Tessa’s brothers and wives, and the kids, Arthur of course, his Gran, wonderful lady, I want to be her when I’m that age. Then there’s those who don’t like Tessa, the King, Arthur’s sister, and Brooke, who seems to be wishing Tessa and Arthur well, offering help sweetly, but we know she’s likely only paying lip service and wants Arthur herself. She’s been his friend for a long time, and he can’t believe she wants to be anything more – men are like that aren’t they? Tessa can see through her though, but there’s nothing she can do, just try to prove herself a fit bride, future Queen, and sadly her past means she’s starting from a long way back.
The wedding planner, Sebastian ( Baz, everything gets shortened or Acronymed (?) as he hasn’t time for full words….he was a real star, and I’m sure there are many like him in real life.

It made for a fun read once more, a book I really enjoyed that was light and easy to read but which brought in some serious issues.

Stars: five, a fun finish to the story that had me smiling at times, furious at others and so pleased at the way it finally worked out.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Betrayals, The Richard & Judy Book Club thriller 2017, Fiona Neill,

The Betrayals, The Richard & Judy Book Club thriller 2017, Fiona Neill,

The Betrayals: The Richard & Judy Book Club Pick 2017 by [Neill, Fiona]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, women’s fiction

I loved the idea of this book, and the writing style was perfect but….as I read it somehow it felt a bit flat. It seemed everyone was playing the blame game – except the two who I felt were actually at fault.
The way we saw events from each persons POV was fascinating, I’d be seeing it from one persons eyes and yet the same events from another person had a very different outlook.

I didn’t really like any of the characters. No-one is ever perfect of course but it was hard to find things in these guys to actually like, and without that my empathy is a bit missing.
There’s lots of to and fro where we see events played out as if now were in the past, and then see how they’ve affected people and how they act in the present. What happens to us does shape us, and its easy to link some of the traits of certain characters on what happened, but is it ever the sole cause? I don’t think so, but its human nature I guess for wanting to find a cause for every ailment, everything wrong in our lives.

There’s a bit where Nick says from his studies people change their memories of what happened unconsciously to reflect themsleves in the best light, and I can see that as true. Each time we were in one persons head I was trying to keep that in mind, but its hard not to get pulled in to what they beleive.

I was waiting for some grand climax, for a big reveal as all the way through I thought I kept getting hints of something huge to come out, a secret or something, and yet when I got to the end I felt nothing, it all felt very flat, and anticlimatic.
I wasn’t even sure if what I thought happened at the end did.

Its one of those reads where I can admire the writing style, admire how much research has gone into it, but where the actual story content just passed me by, where I could happily have done without ever picking it up.
Still, others love it and so you may too. I’d try another of Fiona’s books happily, it could well be its just This book that didn’t suit my taste.

Stars: well, two seems harsh but I really can’t give it a three, good book so its two and a half from me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Something in the Way, Something in the Way 1, Jessica Hawkins

Something in the Way, Something in the Way 1, Jessica Hawkins

Something in the Way (Something in the Way Series Book 1) by [Hawkins, Jessica]

Genre: women’s fiction, Romance

Gosh, this is a hard book to review. I’m really not sure how I feel about it – and yet I desperately want to read more….
Its a slow burn romance, but with who? Lake – or Tiffany? Its full of barriers to him being with Lake, but not really with Tiffany, and she certainly goes all out for him. He’s has a shadowed past, that affects him, but he’s working hard, trying to better himself, and he so deserves to be happy. I just don’t feel that will come with Tiffany.
I don’t feel its best for her either, she must know how he feels about Lake, its very clear even though they’ve done nothing more than innocent talk. Sometimes words and actions aren’t even needed, that magic spark is Just there and can’t be snuffed out, and thats what I feel is between Lake and Manning. Maybe its me projecting what I want to see though….

I’m conflicted over issues like Lake’s age, 16 v Manning’s 23. Here in UK that’s not really an issue, I met my husband at 15, we started dating just after my 16th birthday when he was 21 and we were married (when I was 18 and 10 days) 40 years before he died. Yet in the US under 18s, under 21s even, seem to be treated and regarded as kids and to be that feels very strange.
There were times when Lake showed a maturity way above her years, and then she’d be like some silly 13 year old. She was very changeable about some things, and yet so very definite and secure over how she felt about Manning.
She’s clearly very intelligent and yet the way her dad pressures her about her future, it never seems to occur to her to say no, to say “I want to do….” She just falls in with his plans, even if its not what she wants.

Tiffany, her elder sister, I hated how her parents treated her and it made me wonder, was she living down to their expectations, or was she really as shallow as she appeared?
I didn’t really feel she wanted Manning for himself as much as the prestige of having an older boyfriend, and a way to irritate, infuriate her dad. They really didn’t get on well, and she seemed to know just how to poke him. Though he was horrible the way he put constant praise on Lake and treated Tiffany as a dilettante.
I felt sorry for Tiffany and yet…I just couldn’t like her.
She was cruel to Lake, always mocking her, always trying to show her in a bad light, she knows how Lake feels about Manning but she wants him for herself and that’s that. She knows she’s beautiful and assumes all men want her, takes that adoration as her due, and that she deserves what ever she wants regardless of how others feel.

And then there’s Manning. You can feel the connection between him and Lake from that first meeting but why – why- can’t he leave Tiffany alone?
I just wanted him to have more backbone, to be different, to see the truth in what’s between him and Lake, but of course that would be a different book, a dull one and sometimes heroes do have feet of clay.
I wondered, does he really have feelings for both Tiffany and Lake? Can he really leave that strong connection to Lake, forget about her, convince himself she’s better without him?

Arggh…so many issues, so many questions, and looking at book two I know I can’t buy it yet as I’ll need book three straight after.
I hate books that end this way, that leave me waiting for more, so I’m waiting til book three is out and then reading all the story. And if Lake and Manning don’t get their happy ever after There Will Be Strong Words happening!

Stars: four, a great start even if the ending is frustrating and I’m full of unanswered questions.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Hooked on a Witch, Zoe Forward

Hooked on a Witch, Zoe Forward

Hooked On A Witch (Keepers of the Veil) by [Forward, Zoe]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

I loved book one in this series, somehow missed books two and three, but saw this and wanted to read it, expecting I’d love it as much as book one.
I didn’t 😦 Its still a good story but for me didn’t feel genuine, the characters were a bit meh.
Maybe if I’d read the missing middle two? Who knows?

I was a bit confused at times over the Pleiades witches, who was dead, who was living which i think reading the missing books would have clarified. I seemed to be reading that Shannon was last in the line, but then reading others existed…not sure how that worked, clearly there’s more to them than i understand. My bad for missing those two middle ones.

Anyway Shannon and Merck, instant lust, but they have a tiny shared history. I don’t really get why her dad is so against him nor why she is so, well, obedient. I know she loves him, I know he’s grieving the lose of his wife, her mum, but she seems to have always done what daddy says and yet she’s not some teen, she’s a grown woman with skills of her own. that just irritated me.

The drama too is a bit wham, bam, bad guys killed, good guys injured and close to death but hey- a bit of magic sorts that out just in time.
I can take that once, maybe twice in a story but it seems to crop up every time here and I need a bit more of a solution than simply magic, whether potions or spells or healing waters etc.

Merck, yep he’s a witch hunter but…only the bad guys, not all witches. I found his history and the various Gods and Demi-Gods a bit confusing too.
I did read to the end but TBH much of the story just passed me by, I either didn’t like the way solutions were found, or didn’t really understand the connections.It just felt too muddled for me. Maybe if I read books 2 and 3 at some point I’ll come back to this one, but I doubt it because it contains too many insta-fix solutions and they’re one of my pet peeves.

Stars: hard to rate, it’s loved by others but for me it just didn’t work so I’m going two. As ever though this is just my view, you may love it.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Blood Guard, A Mission Novel, Megan Erickson

Blood Guard, A Mission Novel, Megan Erickson

Blood Guard: A Mission Novel by [Erickson, Megan]

Genre:  Romance,Sci-fi and Fantasy

Sounded a great start to a new series. It was OK, though, nothing exciting. I found it hard the way Tendra(Ten) accepted the whole vampires/Sanguinata thing so easily “oh, mum moved us around a lot, we never really had friends, that must have been why…” Plus – she left a note….I’d still have been a bit more shocked, stunned, doubting.
Then the insta-lust that turned to love – well its that sort of book but I still found it a little quick. The sex scenes were a little OTT for me, I love sex in a story if it fits, but this felt a bit put there just to spice things up rather than as an essential part of the story.
It also felt a little bit of a One Plot type of read  i.e. Athan and Tendra have to fight to get back to his home and the others, but then there was a turn about at the end that lifted it for me. Overall its was a bit underwhelming though. I did find it hard to believe no one else in the vampires guard or family had picked up what was happening, that something planned for years was hidden so well.
I might give book two a go, maybe there will be more overall story than just a sexy vampire romance read – I hope so but…

Stars: Two and a half to three. Its got potential for me if it picks up a bit but of course it’ll be perfect for others as it is.That’s reading, very subjective 😉

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

All That Makes Life Bright, Josi S. Kilpack

All That Makes Life Bright, Josi S. Kilpack

All That Makes Life Bright: The Life and Love of Harriet Beecher Stowe [A Historical Proper Romance] (Proper Romance Historical) by [Kilpack, Josi S.]

Genre:  Romance,

When I saw this for review the names seemed familiar to me but I passed that off as being typical historical names. Then I started it and found that Harriet was the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a book many believed to be the force for change, pushing up the agenda for the abolition of slavery.
I haven’t ever actually read that book…but its free on kindle so I read a few chapters last night.

I loved the way Harriet was so convinced everything would work out just as she and Calvin planned. What’s that saying “man proposes God disposes”?
Well, she soon found the truth of that. It wasn’t long before she and Calvin were struggling, she with trying to cope with home and housework, Calvin’s and others expectations of her now, the change in finance and finding time to write.
It seemed to her all the things Catherine had said that she rubbished were coming true. Calvin still adored her and she him, but they simply didn’t understand the others views, issues, problems. Then The Trip occurs just as she finds she’s pregnant….

Its a wonderful read if you want to see the struggles women of the time had to remain themsleves, to keep their sense of worth, not just become wife, mother, daughter and lose themsleves in the unending drudge of home making. Its a balance of expectations on all parts, leveled with realistic practicalities. Calvin and Harriet are both very stubborn, both convinced they are right and its a real head to head theme at times. He supported her wring in theory, she was convinced she’d continue, its so easy when its all abstracts and theory but throw in Real Life and its very different.

It takes something huge to force them to make the change, to respect each others views, to find a way forward that allows them to still share their love and respect the other person.
Its a snippet of the times when slavery was just becoming seen as abhorrent by the enlightened few, but accepted as natural but many. It was hard sometimes reading this book of almost 200 years past, and knowing that there are people who still hold that same bigoted view 😦

I enjoyed reading this, it wasn’t a heart stopping romance, more a gentle view from the sidelines on two peoples struggle to make their romance work.
In a way the categorisation of romance is misleading, its a book with romance in, it’s a story of how life in that time was in practical terms for the duo.
It’s more a novel of two very strong willed, intelligent people falling in love and learning to live together without one subjugating the other.
Its not a book I’d reread but one I did enjoy very much.

 

Stars: Four, an interesting look at the early life of a very famous woman, how here writings became a catalyst for change.
It made me wonder what would have happened if Calvin stuck to his original stance and Harriet gave up her writing.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Witch on Parole, Witch on Parole Book 1, Kay Latour

Witch on Parole, Witch on Parole Book 1, Kay Latour

Witch on Parole by [Latour, Kay]

Genre: sci-fi and fantasy

I love fantasy novels, and this sounded fun – and I did like it, just didn’t love it.
I like Bryn, love the idea of the Frithjof, in fact I love the whole world setting Kay has created but where the story fell short for me was in depth, it felt quite light, surface based kind of story.

There would be some pretty serious issues come up for Bryn, but the way of solving them seemed to me to be a bit too convenient. I love magic in books but it needs to be in balance, its too easy to have a spell or potion that fits a solution to what seems like an unsolvable issue and that just doesn’t work for me. I need my characters to have to struggle, to work for solutions and though Bryn does have to work hard here help too often comes this way, albeit from other sources and it just left me feeling a bit kind of cheated ;-).
But that’s just me, could be perfect for you, its certainly something I’ve read in other stories that didn’t work for me but have made best seller lists. We’re all different and want different things from out reading.

Its a fun story, and of course first books in  a new series have a tough task, delivering new characters, new world settings AND a new story. Sometimes the first in a series hasn’t always hit the spot for me, but I’ve gone on to love further books, so I’ll look for book two and read that before deciding this isn’t a series for me.

Stars: three, a good intro to a new world though a little light in parts.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

All Right Now, Black Halo 3, Madelynne Ellis. Falling For You, Charlotte Blake

All Right Now, Black Halo 3, Madelynne Ellis

All Right Now (Black Halo Book 3) by [Ellis, Madelynne]

Genre:  New Adult, Romance

I’ve been following Black Halo since the beginning, and loved all the books so far. I was so keen to read this one but….it lacked the magic the rest have for me.

I know Ash had been through so much but he was so angry, so whiny, so – well, downright unpleasant much of the time. It felt like everyone was pandering to him, and that isn’t the Ash I thought I knew.
I know serious illness/injury has some different effects on people but i just didn’t like this ash, he felt very selfish, self centred.

Then Ginny, always so happy-go-lucky but hiding That?? I kind of understand why she didn’t tell Ash at first, you don’t spill your guts to someone on first meeting after all, but they’ve gone way way beyond that. To not tell Dani either? Her best friend, when they’ve been through so much together. It just didn’t feel right.

Xane, Luther and Dani felt a bit off here too, I was unsettled that their relationship seems to be having issues, and though I’ve loved Xane in other books he seemed to be saying to both “I want you both, so tough if neither of you like it” and that didn’t match with the guy I thought he was either.

Its a good book of course, Madelynne excels at creating great characters and settings, but for me this one fell short of the others. It didn’t have that magic spark and it was a bit of a chore to get through. That’s something I never thought I’d write but it is how I felt. I can see though that others love it so each to their own.
I’ll still be keen to read more of Madelynne’s stories, this is just a blip for me.

Stars: Three, a sad hiccup in a five star series for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Falling For You, Charlotte Blake

Falling For You (Great Escapes Book 1) by [Blake, Charlotte]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Romance

I loved the synopsis, I really thought I’d enjoy this read but…while I didn’t dislike it, it just didn’t really appeal.

Its hard to say why this wasn’t a great read for me. Its a well written novel, the characters are like-able and the story was very genuine and sad, but it was just one where I found myself skipping ahead- even those steamy, sensual bits – to get to a part with some “meat” in, something for me to really get engrossed in. And sadly I just didn’t find it 😦

Its a perfect light romance with some serious heat, and the backstory is very sad, but somehow there was never that magic Must-Keep-Reading moment for me, nothing that made it a book I couldn’t put aside for something that held my interest more. It doesn’t/won’t put me off trying more from Charlotte, its a well written story – just that this story didn’t work for me.

It could be perfect for you, will be perfect for many readers. Horses for courses and all that….

 

Stars: 2.5/3. Its a well written story but one where the content just didn’t fit me and my taste.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Rising Star, A Shooting Stars Novel Book 1, Terri Osburn

Rising Star, A Shooting Stars Novel Book 1, Terri Osburn

Rising Star (A Shooting Stars Novel Book 1) by [Osburn, Terri]

Genre:  Romance, General Fiction (adult)

I have a real weak spot for romances where the men are stars….so this caught my eye. It proved to be a fun read, not a weepy, fast paced heart stopper but a good, solid, realistic romance.
I loved Charley and Dylan and the secondary characters, their freinds and the band were good too. that means so much to me, if i don’t like the characters the story’s a fail for me. I have to like them to care about them, worry about them, feel empathy for them, and here they caught and tucked into my emotions.

I could understand Charley’s hesitance about romance, once bitten and all that and her career meant so much to her.
Dylan understood it too, after all his career was very important to him too, especially after the past issues with it. He knew though that they had something special between them and was determined to wear Charley down.

I liked the way the story played out, it felt very genuine but the only thing stopping it being a five was that somehow the romance seemed very quick, Charley was hesitant, then they were together and then the issues hit.
I sort of missed any real build up to them, it was a very 180 turn and full speed ahead and I felt that left a bit of space that I needed filling, a gap between Charley’s determination not to get involved and suddenly there they were totally in love.
Its not a huge issue and won’t bother many/most readers but it left it feeling a little light, a bit short on angst and drama for me.

Stars: four, a fun and moving romance.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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