Archive | May 2018

Legendary,  Stephanie Garber

Legendary,  Stephanie Garber

Legendary (Caraval 2) by [Garber, Stephanie]

Genre:  Sci fi and fantasy

I was so looking forward to this, I adored Caraval, and amazingly I think Legendary is even better. It’s another magical book, full of secrets, of things that are not as they seem, of twists and turns that predicting who is who and what will happen just isn’t possible. And the “is it a game or are things real this time “ conundrum. Poor Tella, she has a series of really difficult choices to make and she doesn’t know, and the consequences are so very different if its real this time.

As with Caraval its has that YA feel to it, and yet its one that will appeal to all ages, there’s nothing childish about the story, and its so full of changing consequences, riddles, pure magic or possibly illusion – how can Tella know whats real. As an adult I certainly couldn’t!
This story is told from Tella’s POV, I liked seeing Scarlett and the mysterious Julian again, along with of course Dante and some of the other minor characters. There’s some fabulous new people too, and as before knowing if what they say is true or not is important but incredibly hard to tell. Tella has struck a bargain with Jacks, but as she gets closer the consequences become more clear and she doesn’t know whats the best thing to do, whichever way she jumps people will be hurt but doing nothing isn’t an option either.

I’m still full of questions, who, how, why and what about….I could go on for ages, it seems like when one question gets answered there’s always the chance that it may not be the Correct Answer, just An Answer 😉 and trying to work it out is like herding cats, simply impossible. Just let it flow and enjoy the magic.

Stars: Five, a read to take you away for a few hours, though That ending was incredibly frustrating for me. I understand more of Caraval having read this, and would up my rate for that to a five now

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Making Up, Lucy Parker

Making Up,  Lucy Parker

Making Up (London Celebrities) by [Parker, Lucy]

Genre: Romance

I loved the previous book, Pretty Face, and have just put the first one on my kindle. Somehow despite my intentions I missed it….In this book the characters from the earlier reads are here but the books are each stand alone stories, so its not necessary to have read the others, but is fun to catch up with them if you have.

Leo and Trix are the best of enemies, have been since they were teens and in the small theatrical world they inhabit their paths cross now and then. Each time the wit gets sharper and more caustic and to outward appearances they hate each other. Love and Hate though – two sides of the same coin the saying says…

Trix and Leo are now part of the same production, and as if that’s not enough Leo is her new housemate. ( and yes, Lucy described the aroma of a house of males perfectly!) Thrown so close together they see that the other is not quite the person their imaginations have constructed. To add to their confusion that spark that’s always made them snark and b itch at each other now has them in the grip of a sensual attraction, and they find that actually the person in their imaginations isn’t actually the real character, that the grudges they’ve been bearing are based on a flawed premise, misunderstandings, teen issues and angst.

Now they’re together that attraction is visceral, tantalising, a sensual searing that has them making out at every opportunity as if to make up for those lost years, unable to keep their hands off each other. There are some well done, heated scenes that aren’t OTT but fit perfectly the characters they are.

Its not a route to HEA though, both of them have some serious issues from past and present to contend with, and of course though their career fields match up sometimes, at others they could be not just hundreds of miles apart but whole countries. Can they work things out or are they doomed to fail?

Well, its a great fun journey finding out, full of love and angst, real issues that we have, fears and families, all the things that make life so real made these characters and their problems feel alive to me.

Stars: Five, a great fun read, and a terrific follow up books. It was good to catch up with characters from the last book, and finally book one is on my kindle waiting for time to be read…..

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Hedging His Bets, Laura Carter

Hedging His Bets,  Laura Carter

Hedging His Bets (Brits in Manhattan) by [Carter, Laura]

Genre: Romance

My first Laura Carter read. I enjoyed her writing style, characters that felt real, that I could believe in but…I didn’t Love this story. Liked it but there were a few things that just seemed weird to me. One time early in the book Jake and Jess are laughing about when Jake bought Emily a toilet roll as a present as – in her words – “there were a few times I sh it the bed” WTF? That’s supposed to be funny? Maybe we Brits have a different sense of humour…Then later he’s reminiscing “last time Emily kissed me like that I was making love to her. It was seven years ago” but they only split up three years ago, so does that mean for four years they didn’t kiss deeply?
I kind of felt a bit ambivalent too about Jess reasons for not wanting commitment, didn’t feel a really good reason, though I understood it was upsetting for her. Still, that could be just me.
I really wanted Emily to be a b itch, to try to cause problems, to provide some real angst, jealousy, that kind of thing but she’s not, she actually a sweet girl. It all works out well for everyone with a little drama at the end but I would have loved Emily to have been other than she was – again, a personal preference. I love romances that have some really nasty characters, makes the good one and the success of them over the nasties so much sweeter.
There was lots I did enjoy, the banter between the characters, the descriptions of their BBQs and how they all spent time together. I liked Marty too, one of the nasties… 🙂 if only Emily was too….It was an easy read, with events flowing well into one another and the sex between Jake and Jess was seriously hot, balanced well with the story. Sometimes the sex overtakes the story in some reads and that never works for me. Here it was just perfect though.

Stars: Three and a half, a decent read but not one that kept me gripped to the page, not one I’d re-read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Away, Book 1 of the Folk Trilogy, Meg Benjamin

Away, Book 1 of the Folk Trilogy,  Meg Benjamin

Away (The Folk Trilogy Book 1) by [Benjamin, Meg]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy.

I’ve never read any of Meg’s books before so I didn’t know what to expect. I really enjoyed this story, and look forward to reading more in the series.
I did get a little confused in the beginning by who was who and how they fitted into the story, there are a lot of different supernatural groups, and they integrate differently. It took me a while to work out just how they all fit together. Maybe a glossary of characters would be helpful? Explaining things like the difference between the Ward and the Guard when at first they both seemed to me to be doing the same thing. I certainly didn’t guess who was behind things, and I love a story that catches me out like that.
I found the characters pretty realistic, even fantasy folk have to feel real to me. I liked Grim, liked his determination to do what was right, when it was needed, to find out the truth, not just do a supernatural cover-up from the humans thing. Annie was great too, and her story very plausible.
First books in a series have a difficult task, introducing a new world and characters while delivering an interesting story. This book does that pretty well I feel, could have had a little more depth and drama but that’s me…I love drama. Its not heart stopping romance, nor edge of seat scariness, but a fun read, and a world I want to read more from.

Stars: Four, an excellent start and I’ll look out for book two.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen, (Six Tudor Queens 3), Alison Weir

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen, (Six Tudor Queens 3),  Alison Weir

Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen: Six Tudor Queens 3 by [Weir, Alison]

Genre: Historical Fiction

About fifteen years ago I was into reading a lot of historical fiction, and devoured books by Phillipa Gregory, Elizabeth Chadwick, Ariana Franklin and others, and found several of Alison’s books that appealed to me.
I hated history at school, and yet through reading historical fiction I’ve learned the appeal of past times. What I really love is the personal touch, not the dry reams of dates and facts History lessons at school consisted of. Fiction lets authors play with those facts, put a personal spin on them and brings the characters to life, and Alison does that perfectly.

I’ve read many books about Katherine, Henry’s first wife, and of course Anne Boleyn. She’s someone that existed for a short few years yet changed the course of history, changed England’s future and religion. I knew, as all schoolkids were taught, that Henry had six wives, and I have read a couple of books about Kitty Howard and Ann Parr, but the middle two, especially Jane, seem to get forgotten when it comes to fiction.

I’ve always thought of Henry as a spoiled child who became a spoiled adult, demanding everything goes his way…or else. In reality it was difficult for Royals of the day, they never knew who was planning to take their place, treason might have carried an awful death but it didn’t stop plotting. Then of course he was never really given his advisers true thoughts, afraid of his reactions they told him what they thought he wanted to hear, so when for example he wanted to divorce Katherine, or get rid of Anne they needed to make it happen, or they paid the price.
He did a difficult job, and he was very clear how he felt about his position as King, that he had a responsibility to the country. He may have played with that a bit in his reasoning at times, when he wanted, for example, to marry Anne, but on the whole he comes over as someone who held his position as one of duty as much as privilege.
When it cam to Jane I found myself almost sympathetic to Henry at times here, he really did seem to have feelings for her, which marries with the little I’ve read about her in other books, when she has come in as a secondary character. The end section was very emotional.

This is a lovely, long book, and it started with Jane’s early years where we learned much about her family. All that lays the foundation for the person she became as she matured, and was interesting reading.
I felt the way Jane was very moral about Katherine and Henry’s position with Anne, was good and true to her beliefs. After much praying and thought, she decided she wasn’t doing the same as she felt Katherine was the True Queen. In her reasoning she thought therefore as Henry wasn’t married to Anne, and Katherine had now died he was free to make advances to her. I needed to feel that she had given much thought to her position, as in the early part of the book she was so devout in her religious beliefs.

Families were in a constant struggle for power, and we see how Jane’s ambitious brothers encouraged her, despite knowing how she felt, they wanted the rewards that came with being a favoured family of the king. To have their sister be the King’s mistress was a heady thought, but when she refused and it became likely she would be Queen their pleasure was unconstrained. That goes through all the historical fiction I’ve read, families always seem to be in the struggle for pole position, ready to use their females however it benefits the family, disregarding how they themselves may feel. The Seymours were a typical family in their actions, all of the “important” families would have done the same thing. The Boleyns pushed Mary forward, then her sister Anne, and later the Howards pushed Kitty, despite her young age, all for Family glory and favours.

I enjoyed the author’s notes, where Alison explains how she has used certain known facts, or drawn conclusions from available data and modern advice, to fit this book, but made clear that it may not be what actually happened. I want to read fiction, but feel its grounded in reality, and I am happy at the way this was done. I haven’t read the earlier books, will look out for them.

Stars: Five, a lovely long read ( almost 7000 kindle locations) that engrossed me, made me feel part of the story, took me back in time mentally for a few hours. Did what I though was impossible and made me feel sympathetic at times for Henry!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

One Summer in Italy, Sue Moorcroft

One Summer in Italy,  Sue Moorcroft

One Summer in Italy: The most uplifting summer romance you need to read in 2018 by [Moorcroft, Sue]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

A book set mainly in Italy and so well described I felt I was there, out in the sun, enjoying the countryside, having coffee in the gardens of the hotel.

Sofia has come there after her father dies. She’s been his carer for many years, he left Italy when he married her mum and never returned though he talked of home with such love, and she promised him she’d live her own life after he died, and delivering a family message gave her Italy as a start to that.

She’s spending time there, so takes a live in position as waitress and befriends Amy. She’s another young waitress, left home after a family fallout and Sofia feels protective of her. She’s concerned at the attention one of the guests, who is much older than Amy, is paying to her.
Its one of those stories that starts simply, Sophia going to Italy as her father wanted, but quickly involves others and their lives and actions become entwined in the story. There are lots of surprises, some deliciously heated romance, and some hard decisions for Sophia to make. It looks like a simple read, but like Sue’s other stories its far more complex than it appears, having multi-layered plots that spread and encompass many characters. I loved Sophia and Levi, though like her I wondered why he was so interested in Amy. Amy was a typical older teen, dramatic and thinks everything revolves around her, but she’s a naive girl, good hearted and hard working even if she has run away from home in a hissy fit. She did have some particularly shocking revelations thrown at her.
I enjoyed this story, its not heart stopping drama, a can’t-put-down read, but one that’s fun for a summer’s day in the hammock, or to take on holiday, to the beach, and get lost in Italy along with the characters. I don’t think its one I’d re-read, but it is one I really enjoyed.

Stars: Five, a great fun read, perfect to take on holiday or to lose yourself for a few hours.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Her Secret, Kelly Florentia

Her Secret, Kelly Florentia

Her Secret: The page-turning sequel to No Way Back by [Florentia, Kelly]

Genre: Romance, women’s fiction.

Well, usual pet hate- Women’s fiction – why? Why not general fiction – men read romance too!

Anyway, book one left me with mixed feelings, many because I hadn’t realised it was a two part read until the end. I wasn’t keen on any of the characters either, they had odd reactions to events IMO.
I still find that in book two, that they react strangely. For instance – and this isn’t from the book but more as an example – if one of your family was involved in an accident, wouldn’t you want to speak to them, find out exactly what happened, see they’re OK for yourself? Here though the characters would probably have a quick phone convo with someone else in family and trot off for coffee with a friend, telling themselves “they’ll be OK, I need to find out what A think of XX”. I did grow to like them better though in this book, or at least understand them.

I still feel Daniel is a bit too-good-to-be-true, and he seems to be treating Audrey as someone lesser, a “little lady” who can be bought off with new shoes each time he wants something he thinks she won’t like.
Connie still lives up to Miss Spoilt, and Daniel treats her as a kid, not a 29 yr old. There are times when she’s friendly to Audrey, when they almost seem to get along and then Connie will pull one of her stunts. I did feel for Audrey over the Jake issue, she really was in a hard place there.
Nick, he’s back and wow – that was a shock, I didn’t see that coming! That’s true of so much in this read, it really kept me on my toes.
All the major characters have things going on, secrets for some, life changes for others, and then there’s the couple I really like, Audrey’s brother George and his wife Vicky and the kids. They’re like so many families, struggling with sub standard living circumstances, with financial issues etc. A really true to life couple who I liked very much.
Audrey’s friends Tina and Louise. They’ve been through so much, the last book had some bombshells but somehow the trio have found a way through and they really are a strong support. And with the revelations coming out in the last quarter of this book, she really needs that.
The ending – perfect, I’ll say no more except I loved it!

Stars:five, a book that kept me glued to the end. Loved it.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Give Love a Chance, Darla Jones

Give Love a Chance,  Darla Jones

Give Love a Chance by [Jones, Darla]

Genre: Romance, Woman’s Fiction.

Gah, Woman’s Fiction – I hate when we dismiss a whole sector of readers. Why do that? Why shouldn’t men read this? Ah well, rant over.

Well, I saw this book had lots of five star reviews, but having finished it clearly I’m not on the same wavelength as those people as its a good read for me, could have been a really great one, but there were some irritating, hard to ignore niggles that for me really brought it down.

Evan, the man is gorgeous one moment, a true gent and then a real jerk. He reacted badly to the pregnancy news, but that could be passed off as shock, and sadly, family/friends experience. There are unfortunately women who will try those kind of tricks and he didn’t know Kim.
Once the background checks came in though, added to his experience of her at close quarters once she was living with him there was no reason for him to be so up and down, keep referring to the baby as “her baby” – the man admitted he’d had unprotected sex with her, the checks showed she hadn’t been dating others, c’mon on, own it your jerk! He was all over her one moment and then cold the next.
Kim, she let him get away with so much. Why didn’t she question about Amy, why did she just accept his cold times, why was she so grateful for the attention he gave her that she let the other times slide. I was kind of puzzled by money too, she’s skint and yet when not working, home and possessions gone, car wrecked, she still seems to have enough cash, “just pick me up a new phone Evan” – or words to that effect, and takes treats to a favourite patient and his family?
The way she and her daughter integrated so quickly with Evan and his son was weird, kids just aren’t like that, and though there was a little jealousy to begin they were soon just one unit. Real life is a bit more problematical .

I didn’t really relate to any of the characters, felt they were a little one dimensional. They were potentially great but just felt kind of stilted, unreal to me. There were things that had a lot of plot time that were not (IMO) worthy of it while others could have been expanded, gave flesh to the characters.
Evan’s pregnancy symptoms, amusing at first and second mention, by the Nth time I was rolling my eyes and irritated.
Likewise the suspense, it was such a great line, played out so well, and I really was shocked at who was behind events but somehow they way the story went it was very underdone in parts and overdone in others. It had the potential to be really breath catching the danger that was there but it got an almost lighthearted treatment until the climax.

I have to say this to finish -Evan and his undies….I cannot mentally envision the male lead wearing “fire engine red bikini briefs” and his underwear gets more mention when we read several times about his “scanty underwear”. Nope, that’s just wrong!! Back when I was reading Charlene Harris Sookie series I had a hard time getting past Alpha Hunk Eric wearing red bikini briefs…is it some US thing? Is it that UK readers simply don’t understand the attraction of skimpy red underwear on men?
I’d happily try another read by Darla, this one wasn’t great for me but it was a good read, and she clearly has great plot ideas, and maybe its just this book where the characters were a bit flat for me.

Stars: Three, a good read, but not up to that slew of five stars for me. But clearly its perfect for others. You choose 😉

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Melt for You, Slow Burn: Book 2,  J. T. Geissinger

Melt for You, Slow Burn: Book 2,  J. T. Geissinger

Melt for You (Slow Burn Book 2) by [Geissinger, J.T.]

Genre: General Fiction ( adult) , Romance

I loved the first book in this series, and looked forward to this one. I really liked it, just not quite as much as I loved book one.

Great characters once more, though to begin with I thought Cam was an obnoxious, arrogant ar se. Soon saw his softer side peek through and got a glimpse of that steely determination and fierce intelligence that has taken him to the top of his game despite his poor start.

I love characters like Joellen too, she’s a sweet girl, tries to please everyone and somehow her own personality and wants take a back seat. She’s got that loving family who just aren’t really supportive, she doesn’t fit the family beauty mould and feels inferior, too tubby, too dark, too unsocial, and that constant criticism from her childhood ( for her own good of course!) spills over into the rest of her life. She always feels the unwanted one, the one on the outside of a group. I know that feeling, I guess many of us do.

She’s had an unrequited love for her married boss for ten years now, and then he tells her he’s getting divorced and – wow – he really seems to see her, to be attracted to her. Somehow Cam catches on to her self improvements and along with fitting him into her life by way of meal bribes for keeping the music down, he’s now training her to make the best of herself. He’s not keen on her “air diet” so helps her to take up fitness training, and they end up spending more and more time together.

Its a read full of humour, some of it very subtle and some – Denny’s jokes – more overt and in your face.

There are some great secondary characters too, Joellen’s cat, Mrs Dinwiddy her neighbour, Portia and others from work. They all add to the “real” feel of the story.

There were some minor irritations though, small things but they niggled at me. Lassie – we know her well in UK, and Cam being a Scot he’d be well aware of the story. After all it takes place in Yorkshire and Scotland so Joellen wouldn’t have needed to explain that to him. You can’t just sweep up your cat, board a plane in an ordinary carrier with it, and the UK has pretty strict rabies Laws, and there’s a plethora of paperwork.
Set against those though was the fabulous humour, and this bit really made me snigger. Joellen is talking about a former date’s comment on her rather aggressive kissing “That was my lung you just licked” – loved it!

Great read, cleverly written and after the story ends the author has written a bit about negative body image and the harm it can do to some people. Very thought provoking and something I fully agree with, having always had that issue myself.

Stars: Four, a perfectly written transformation story, sensual and heated, but not Sex all the Way as so many stories are, and with some terrific characters.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Irresistible Royal,  Alyssa J. Montgomery

The Irresistible Royal,  Alyssa J. Montgomery

The Irresistible Royal (Royal Affairs) by [Montgomery, Alyssa J.]

Genre: Romance

I’m an eclectic reader and this sort of romance isn’t one I pick up often, but after a heavy fantasy read, erotic romance, intense suspense I love to get lost in a straightforward easy to read piece of fiction and this is perfect for those times. Often what looks like a great read for those occasions turns out to be a cut’n’paste dumbed down story and though I want an easy read I need need t to be a solid, realistic– ish story.

Marco is lovely, he’s got sound reasoning behind him for not believing Chloe, but of course I could understand her hurt. She’s a great character too, brought up by her father who she loves she’s strong, independent, and has worked hard at her career. She deserves her success. Her mother is a classic, selfish lady, and I do love finding characters like her in a read, deliciously amoral, always out for the angle that best suits themselves. Alyssa really made her a fabulous character, one we can all love to hate!
So Marco sees Chloe at a party, and they sizzle, right from that first glance. He doesn’t want romance, relationships etc. the love of his life died and he’s not looking to replace her. Chloe is the classic “good girl” doesn’t do one night stands, only has sex within relationships and she’s had precious few of them. The party though, meeting her mother and being so disappointed in her all lead her into an uncharacteristic decision that has serious consequences. Funny how fate works, how it doesn’t take any notice of what we want, what we plan…

It made for a fun read, an easy story but still with some solid emotion and drama packed in. Its not a books I’d reread I think, but was perfect for what I wanted at that time, an easy but genuine tale.

Stars: Four, fun and light but with some depth to it in parts, and very real feeling characters.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

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