Archive | May 2018

The Things We Need to Say, Rachel Burton

The Things We Need to Say, An emotional, uplifting story of grief and hope , Rachel Burton

The Things We Need to Say: An emotional, uplifting story of grief and hope from bestselling author Rachel Burton by [Burton, Rachel]

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Gah, there’s just one thing I didn’t like about this story – the category Women’s Fiction! Why do that? Why exclude men who could love this story? I Really Hate seeing books categorised in that genre. Rant over.

I wasn’t sure about this book, but reviews looked good and it is, its a perfect read for those who want a novel that will make them think “what would I do?” Make them wonder about the characters, the morality of events, how people react in different situations.

I loved both Will and Fran, and was desperately hoping they could find a way through the sticky morass they found themselves in. They’ve been through so much, look perfect from the outside but inside they are both a seething mass of grief, hurt, not knowing what to do, whether they could recover.
Just when Fran feels she does want to try again she gets another awful shock. Can they get past it?

Well, everyone reacts differently and for some that last hurt would be the one that breaks, but while away in Spain Fran gets a chance to think, to work out what went wrong, to wonder of they’ve just been papering over the cracks these last few years, desperate to do what others find effortless.
I so felt for them both, and the title is perfect -they do need to talk, to clear the air, discuss how they feel, what went wrong before they can decide if they want to go forward together or if things have gone too far.

Fran’s yoga group and the people she met in Spain helped her gain perspective, while for Will its his brother, and unexpectedly his father who help, along with a couple of Fran’s friends who know him.

I loved their story, was moved to tears at parts and heart-broken for each of them. I thought I’d be angry at Will and yet…he was so lost, and so in love still with Fran and she with him that I just couldn’t find it in me.
Its a perfect five star read for me, but not one I think I’d re-read.

Stars: five, a real solid story for readers who want more then the widely available fluff stories.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Desperately Seeking Summer, Mandy Baggot

Desperately Seeking Summer, The perfect feel-good Greek romantic comedy to read on the beach this summer,  Mandy Baggot

Genre: Romance, women’s Fiction

* sigh * one day we’ll stop trying to alienate male readers with this horrible, discriminating category. Why do publishers think men don’t read romance – they do!

I love Mandy Baggot’s stories…usually. This one though was a hard slog to get through instead of the usual humorous fun romance. I wasn’t convinced by Desperately Seeking’s turnaround, from a total Barbie Pink disaster when Abby gets there to successful and flourishing agency a few weeks later. There’s no way I’d buy property from that agency – if I had the money of course. I liked the general Greek, sunny feeling to the book and enjoyed reading about the characters but again I didn’t feel “there” in the story, didn’t feel as if I was involved in events as I usually do with Mandy’s books.
I liked Abby, and could see how her hotel skills came in useful in seeing what was wrong with her mum and sister agency, but the way everything went wrong became old very fast. It was funny at first, then – much like her sisters overuse of “wanging” it began to irritate.
I loved Theo, loved his aunt, loved the guy who’s name I’ve forgotten – the man who did the olive wood carvings. They sounded just beautiful. Diana, what an awful person she was – but I like a few of those in a story, give a balance to the good guys 😉 there were lots of side characters, each with their own idiosyncrasies, and they added to the holiday feel of the read.
I guess it was just the overall story that fell a bit flat for me, didn’t feel real, as there were some fabulous characters here. Still, as usual that’s just my opinion and others will love this. As ever its very well written, flows well, just that I couldn’t wholly get along with the actual premise of the book.

Stars: Three, I was disappointed, usually Mandy’s reads are fives, or at least a four for me but this one didn’t really fit my taste.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Day Reaper, Melody Johnson

Day Reaper,  Melody Johnson

Day Reaper (The Night Blood Series) by [Johnson, Melody]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I loved the first three in this series, but this final novel was a real disappointment for me.

Its a complex cast of characters, not just the usual Humans and Vampires, but Night Bloods, Day Walkers and The Damned too. At times they overlap a lot, and I had to keep reminding myself of the differences between the groups. Its not always a s clear as it seems with Walker being a Night Blood who is out to kill Vampires ( and The Damned and Day Walkers), Ronnie who’s a Vampire but can’t seem to thrive on blood, and Cassidy’s brother Nathan transformed to one of The Damned back to Something Else….he still has the same characteristics of The damned, but not the murderous impulses and rages.

The friendships that were such an integral part of the early stories take a battering, with Cassidy fighting her friends to convince them she, Dominic and co can work with them, that they are on the side of good despite being vampires. At times its hard seeing which way either side will go. Harsh too that bonds of friendship were stretched, that Cassidy’s friends were so ready to just dismiss her, write her off a Vampire=Bad. It’s difficult too, to know who is going to help and who is just going to take advantage of the situation and change sides, or revert back to their history of preservation at all costs, or killing non humans, believing they are all evil.

The thing that really got me from this book was the credibility. Dominic has been so strong throughout, loyal to his coven, a great leader ( though I’m not sure why when the Levelling is a regular event he wasn’t more prepared…) but in this book I felt he became emasculated and that Cassidy became what I hate in fantasy reads, one of those recently transformed characters who have endless new powers popping up to save the day. It just doesn’t feel real that someone who only weeks earlier learned about vampires, gets transformed and becomes The Great Savior, so to speak, not struggling with her days only transformation but able to think clearly, adapt and do what Dominic and the others with their combined thousands of years experience can’t. I know part of it is the friendship she has with the humans but its just a step too far for me. A per hate, one that I guess won’t bother many readers, but for me which always spoils novels when it happens. 😦
I felt much of this story was dragged out just to fill pages, and perhaps the books would have been better condensed into three. Dominic could have been left as the strong, intelligent character he’s been for hundreds of years, with his quick, strategic thinking, The focus could have stayed on the Levelling, which as a huge part of the early books seemed to fizzle out into a non event really, and less attention put on Cassidy as the Saviour of Everyone! No New Girl saves the Day, keep my pet peeve out.

Stars: Three, a really disappointing ending for me, still a good read but this final book lacks the special qualities that the earlier ones had, the thing that made it such a perfect read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Illumination of Ursula Flight, Anna-Marie Crowhurst

The Illumination of Ursula Flight,  Anna-Marie Crowhurst

The Illumination of Ursula Flight by [Crowhurst, Anna-Marie]

Genre: Historical Fiction , Literary Fiction

I really wanted to like this book, wonderful cover, beautifully written but somehow it was just an OK read for me. Its kind of whimsical, almost fantastical the way its told, but in effect its a story of one poor child married off unhappily, easily taken in by the stories of others.
She’s determined though, and doesn’t stay down but bounces back, full of optimism. Her story is one very familiar to the time where girls and women were almost a sub-class, seen as delicate when it came to learning and education, and the property of the nearest male relative.

I didn’t really like Ursula, even when we first meet her as a toddler, and my feelings didn’t change even as she aged. I did admire her determination though, the way she picked herself up again and again. Sadly hers was the lot that befell many women of the time, where men weren’t expected to be faithful, where silver tongued rakes whispered sweet nothings in ears that were too ready to believe them. As always its the woman that pays the price.

I do like a dip back in history from time to time, and I enjoyed that side of it, but I almost abandoned the book to begin with, as it just didn’t seem to be going anywhere, and I never really came to love the story. I’m glad I read it, the writing style is interesting and kept pulling me back even as I was mulling over whether to stop as the actual story wasn’t working for me.
That’s how it goes sometimes, a beautifully written tale, loved by other readers but which just doesn’t do it for me. Its not the book, its me, a matter where my taste in reading and the story within the novel just don’t meet.

Stars: Three, interesting setting, beautifully told, but the story wasn’t a great one for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans

The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans

The Wildflowers: the Richard and Judy Book Club summer read 2018 by [Evans, Harriet]

Genre: General fiction (adult), Romance

I really, really wanted to like this book but….I didn’t 😦

It sounded such fun, families, long summer days at the beach, actors and all the fun that gets shown so often in actor lives, stories from the theatre, rehearsals, excitements. Then of course poor Mads, the lost child.

Somehow though I didn’t like the characters – I need to feel for them but they seemed self indulgent, obsessive, people.

Althea giving in to Tony, letting him do and be whatever he wanted, while indulging in her own flirtations. Well, poor Tony had a bad childhood….so he seemed to be allowed to do whatever he wanted, never mind the consequences for those poor infatuated actresses and interns he dallied with.

Ben and Cord, two kids who on the surface had everything and were indulged, but really needed more stability, more boundaries, more definition in their lives. They needed parents who cared enough, were interested enough to say No to them more often, not just take the easy route 99% of the time then blow up on the 100th. At times I felt Tony and Althea were role playing at being parents. Cord and Ben weren’t particularly likable as kids, Mads was strange, not suprising given her background, and the whole just led to stories about people that I didn’t have any real empathy for.

It seemed a tale of excuses and self indulgence, betrayals and bitchiness, and was overall just a really sad story IMO, and not the fun romance and family history I was expecting. I read to be lifted out of dreariness and sadness, but even the final light moments of this didn’t make up for the way it pulled me down so much while reading.

Stars: Two and a half, will be perfect for others but just not the right story for me

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Burning Chambers, Kate Mosse

The Burning Chambers,  Kate Mosse

The Burning Chambers by [Mosse, Kate]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical fiction

I remember reading Kate’s Labyrinth years ago, but haven’t read any of her books since then but I enjoy historical fiction and was keen to read this.

I don’t know much about the religious divides of this time in France, I know more about UK history for this time and thought I’d enjoy reading about it. As in UK when there were religious controversies and changes, its a particularly gruesome time, where people were taken for spurious reasons and tortured at will. Its weird isn’t it how we think torturing someone for a confession will bring out the truth….
Sadly though I found the book incredibly slow starting, and though the pace did pick up I never got really engrossed in the story. I felt kind of bogged down by detail at times and had to put the book aside. That’s unusual for me, I love details, I love the little nitty-gritty intricacies of people’s lives, but in this book I felt that it just didn’t work for me.

If you’ve an interest in french/religious history this may appeal to you, I certainly expected I’d love it but…It’s well written and has all the elements for a good read for me but was one of those where the story and I just didn’t gel. I’m not really sure why, just that I found it a struggle to keep reading and eventually I was just pleased to have finished.
I won’t be reading further books in this series but would happily pick up another of Kate’s stories, even when you usually adore an authors work there’s always the chance some won’t suit.

Stars: Two and a half, I enjoyed parts but overall it wasn’t a hit with me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Escape to the Country, A perfect feel-good read to escape with, Alison Sherlock

Escape to the Country, A perfect feel-good read to escape with, Alison Sherlock

Escape to the Country: A perfect feel-good read to escape with... (Welcome to Willow Tree Hall) by [Sherlock, Alison]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

well, if you’re looking for a light and happy holiday read this fits the bill. As always the celebrity aspect caught my eye – I do love the drama that comes in celebrity stories.It was pretty muted here though, Tom is very understated as a singer/songwriter, not a fame chaser but one of those guys who loves the music and songs, and who fame found him, he didn’t seek it.

He’s just finished a grueling tour and is at his managers home, in a typical quiet English village. I really liked Tom, felt for him as a child, he’d had it tough and as always what happens to us does shape us. He sees manager Sam, happily settled, with his family around him and can’t help but feel he’d love that. Its just him though, the only family who ever cared for him, his lovely Nan, has died recently and he feels her loss keenly.

Along comes Eleanor, Celeb journalist who’s career has hit a bad patch. Actually its been an eight year patch, this isn’t what she envisaged, seeking stories out of dross and other peoples unhappiness. It was supposed to be a stepping stone to more but..,.and now even that’s gone so she’s home, helping her mum, licking her wounds and realising just what a bad friend she’s been to her two long time besties.

You can see that Tom plus Eleanor at some point is going to explode but it did in a way I really didn’t expect, and that was fun. I like to be caught out, like plots to take an unusual, unseen line.

Its got some great characters, and I’m off to seek out book one where it all started. It made for a fun read, not deep dark drama but some lighthearted smiles, and some sad parts that made me feel for the characters.

Stars: Four, 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

 

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