Archive | August 2018

Stripped,  Zoey Castile

Stripped,  Zoey Castile

Stripped (Happy Endings) by [Castile, Zoey]

Genre: Romance

Its one of those conundrums isn’t it? That ladies and gents love to go to stripper shows, love to look ( and touch!) and yet date one of those strippers? Reminds me of the old Fools and horses episode where Del finds out Raquel is a stripper….but its a job, they are people just like us.

Anyway poor Robyn gets a shock at her friends party when her new hot neighbour, who she’s just shared a meal with and hopes for more, is one of the stars in front of her. She doesn’t react well. Still, there’s something between them neither can deny.
Its a sensual read, some real steam between the two, problems to the romance, sub plots involving others, and side issues that rounded the story and made it more than just a boy meets girl standard tale. I like that, when stories have an extra interest to them. Life is like that, full of tangled threads that connect and knot us up.
I loved Zac, wasn’t so sure about Robyn at first, but as the story unfolded I got to really like her and understand her more. Its a fun read, some real humour, some genuine issues we all face, and a couple of characters I just knew were more than they seemed 😉 The secondary characters were interesting too, and added a lot to the story. The only thing I didn’t like was the short time span of the events, its barely a month from when they first meet to the Big Decisions at the end. I struggle a bit with characters that can make such huge changes when they barely know people. Had it been six months or so I’d have been more convinced.

Stars: Four, a fun story, some spicy steam and an unusual slant with the male stripper theme, which brought up some thoughts for me about how hypocritical we can be over jobs like that.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.

 

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The Necessary Marriage, Elisa Lodato

The Necessary Marriage,  Elisa Lodato

 

The Necessary Marriage by [Lodato, Elisa]

Genre:,General fiction (adult)

Its kind of hard to rate this book. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but it was gripping reading and I could see how easily the situations could have happened in real life.
I felt pretty uncomfortable over the relationship between Jane and Leonard, he is so much older, and I’d have though both parents and school would have put a stop to it. Still, they didn’t and it leads Jane into a situation that she later realises she may have been too young for.
Marion and Andrew, there are couples similar to this on every street and I could see how Jane got sucked into their lives and the problems that brought her.
I felt for her eldest daughter – can’t recall her name now, some kids so have issues that follow them into adulthood, and the situations she found herself in as an adult were very hard for her. I really was sad for her, could see how upset she was over the art exhibition, and think I’d have felt the same.
I didn’t expect the ending, that came as a bit of a surprise, but looking back was a culmination of events going back years.

Stars:three, a well written book, with some gripping situations but one I didn’t really enjoy, and won’t re-read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

One Thousand Stars and You, Isabelle Broom

One Thousand Stars and You, Isabelle Broom

Genre: Women’s fiction, Romance.

Usual moan, women’s fiction – why? Why alienate half a potential readership?

So, my first read by this author and what a fabulous story it was. A solid romance, though more in the building stage, that first breathless does (s)he or doesn’t (s)he….the gorgeous slow burn of attraction rather than full on sex fest. If you want that this isn’t your book, but for me it was perfect, fitted the story so well.
I loved the characters, flawed and so very real I felt I was with them, experiencing what they did, the descriptions of the places, the food, the history were so vivid.

Alice, poor Alice. We can see just how she’s subjugated herself to fit the mould that keeps everyone else happy, she’s squashed Real Alice down until she’s simply a pastiche of the girl she should be. That’s so sad, happens so often though, when we want to please others and in this case Alice feels guilt for the accident when she was a child. It wasn’t her fault though, she was a kid, and accidents do happen. Now her parents and her boyfriend want her safe, all day, every day, and she’s reduced to sneaking out every now and then to dive off the highest board at the local pool, just to let some of the repression out. If they knew she knows they’d be horrified so it stays another guilty secret. I wanted to dislike Richard, but he wasn’t dis-likable, just that he and Alice really weren’t a compatible couple, what they wanted from life were different things.

Then on holiday Alice and her two friends meet a couple of men also out for fun and adventure, and the spark between Alice and Max is there right from day one.
It isn’t a cheating book though, Alice is open about Richard but the attraction they both feel has them pulling together constantly and it does get noticed by their friends.

Max is an amputee, and as an amputee myself ( I have no left leg) it was a real treat to see Max’s issues, and I so understood what he was feeling. The sores, the sweaty skin issues, the fitting of the prosthesis, how hard it is to actually walk, the stress it puts on the body, I’ve had all of those issues. Even the dreaded sex gets a mention – and why not? It is important, and we do wonder what its going to be like, how we’ll manage.
I want to say a huge Hurrah to Isabelle for researching properly and making Max someone so real, too often disabled people in stories either are figures of sympathy – the Poor You, life is over type, or are portrayed in totally unrealistic ways. ( The horse whisperer – as a horse rider what happened there is not physically possible, I know, I tried ) You think its a matter of a missing leg, but in fact its so much more, the whole body becomes involved and for poor Max he had PTSD to contend with too.

It was a story that was a real treat, I adored the settings, the descriptions, the characters and the very real circumstances, From Alice’ issues awith her parents, boyfriend and brother, to Max and his problems. I love a story where I feel events could have happened, where its fiction but could be true and this one was just perfect. One I will re-read.

Stars: five, a real cracker of a story, so real, with great characters and settings.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Thorne Bay, Jeanine Croft

Thorne Bay, Jeanine Croft

Thorne Bay by [Croft, Jeanine]

Genre: Romance, paranormal and fantasy

I enjoyed this story, its a debut novel for Jeanine and a great start. However there were a couple of issues that hopefully will get fine tuned as later books come out. I can certainly see more books in this series, Dean’s story sounds promising, plus of course there are other pack members and the whole keeping the secret in modern times issue.

Its a fun read though I wanted to slap Evan at times for her stupid decisions. Especially when she decides to return home – that’s something we can all see isn’t a good idea, is very unsafe and yet….I did like the chemistry between her and Tristan, and the way he was hot and cold for her – she doesn’t know of course why he seems all over her one moment and giving her the brush off the next, nor why his family and friends are so strange. I liked Tristan, but wanted to know him ( and the others) in a bit more depth really. Nicole, I love characters like hers, and though she plays a big part in the later end of the novel I’d have like to see more of her early, more of her bitchyness and jealousy over Evan. I love the “bad” guys, they really add to a story for me.
I’d guessed what was going to happen, but not exactly how or how things would play out so that made for some fun reading. Its nicely paced, apart from the stupid decisions Evan makes. I did get tired of all the wolf references that kept cropping up at first, when even doesn’t know what they are, it felt a bit like ramming the point home. Yes they’re werewolves, no she doesn’t yet know that, I could do without references to wolf eyes, behaviours, claws etc, like the language issue it felt jarring, overdone. Hopefully as later books come out Jeanine will find the balance, although it irritated I’d still rather have over use than back to the grunting and two syllable words that predominate in so much paranormal romance.

Its not a deep plot but kept fairly simple, which means its easy to follow given its a whole new world setting, with unknown characters. Its hard in a paranormal story delivering all that with an interesting plot, and sometimes simple and well done is better than a poorly done and complex plot, that leaves the reader with too many unanswered questions. I would have liked to know a little more about the main players in the story, and of course how on earth they manage to keep secret what they are. Usually in books like this is by way of some form of Vampire style wipe or alteration of memories, and/or having witches who can wipe clean scenes when things go wrong. If Evan had died what would they have told her family? How would they have dealt with authorities and the inevitable investigations. I think for later books these questions need to be addressed, maybe bring in some other types, or some humans in the know in certain places, IT, local cops etc who can help keep that believable.

My biggest issue was the language that kept cropping up, overly descriptive, using four words when one would do. Its kind of odd because I’m always banging on about books that seem to use only words of three syllables or less, and repetitive language.

When I’m reading a historical story I love to find words I don’t know, that fit the period I’m reading about but in this book words kept cropping up that I had to look up. I’m an avid reader and it rarely happens, I’m pretty literate as far as knowing language ( using it is something else!) but here I found words that I didn’t know, or was uncertain about it they didn’t really feel right in the context used.

I rarely make notes when I’m reading, but after about the 5th or 6th time I started to note the words, “a momentary pulse of igneous green, like St Elmo’s fire, suddenly flickered in his eyes.” In fact St Elmo’s fire is blue or violet, not green, igneous or otherwise….and

igneous refers to rocks and fire rather than colours. You can get green igneous rock but it doesn’t solely mean green. Using language like this its easy to make errors and for me it detracts from the actual story.

A few more examples, canid, sylvan, attestation, “whatever the myriad of secret thoughts quickening behind those unfathomable variegated eyes” that one is easy to understand but feels clumsy. Asseverated, limbal rings ( in an eye), gibbous moon, “mantled the ripples with bands of silver…an otherworldly moon with its strange halo of diaphanous cloud” cilice, syzygy, abnegate, senescence, declivitous, stygian.

I know many of those words, though not all, and not well but they felt out of place, as if the author was trying a little too hard. Sometimes Less really is More. The story is good enough without this, in facts IMO they bring it down. I did notice that past the halfway mark this issue became far less evident and for me that really made a difference.

Stars: three and a half. The basic story-line was a good start to what I hope will be a series, introducing some promising characters, a pack structure within other packs in the US.

KU read, suggested by author.

Mira’s Path, William Schlegel

Mira’s Path, William Schlegel

Mira's Path (Forever in Murphy Book 1) by [Schlegel, W. F.]

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction

*Sigh…Women’s fiction again? Why troy to exclude a section of possible readers, men write fiction, this book proves it, they read it too…..

Anyway, sadly this book didn’t really work for me. It was well written, well paced but somehow the characters and events never really caught on for me.
I think part of that is I started off disliking Mira, she was a real bitch to Bowie. I had a hard time getting past the role reversal too, where her wealthy family lost everything and yet despite allegedly being close she knows nothing about it. Then Bowie, Lawn Boy, is now a multi millionaire? How’d that happen? I didn’t see any real reason for either of these massive changes and it rankled me.

As I said I disliked Mira, she seems to have changed but I couldn’t help feeling is all hadn’t gone wrong in the City for her, if she hadn’t effectively been chased out of her life would she be back? Or would she still be posing among the richest, living their life, rubbing shoulders the the people at the Top of society.
Bowie was perfect. A little too perfect maybe? He seems to have lived the live of a saint, just waiting for Mira’s return and is that real? Would he do that, and take her back without any kind of discussion about how much she hurt him?

I dunno, it was all a bit too cute and sweet for me.

Even the suspense didn’t really work for me, I wasn’t sure of the reasoning, a man doesn’t up and do something like that out of the blue, with no one having a clue. He’d not seemed like that kind of man, what made him flip? It wasn’t as if he was desperately in love with her….hands on action seemed out of character for him, hiring someone to do the dirty work I could understand but do it himself?

Stars: two and a half. There were parts I liked but overall it wasn’t one for me. As ever I can see others love it, maybe I’m in just too picky a mood and if I come back to it another time I may like it better. Who knows?

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher.

 

Cold, Hard & Heartless, M.V. Ellis

Cold, Hard & Heartless, M.V. Ellis

Cold, Hard, & Heartless: A Rock Star Romance (Heartless Few Book 2) by [Ellis, MV]

Genre: Romance,

well, in book one it was London’s looonng metal monologues that I found off-putting and now its Arlo’s….that’s just me though, its a niggle that I find irritating, but that others may be indifferent to or even enjoy. I do enjoy a bit of introspection, it lets me feel and understand a characters actions, work out why they do things a certain way. From the outside Arlo could look like a man-whore jerk, but from his thoughts I can see he’s more. I loved him in book one, and I’m glad I read that first as he doesn’t seem quite a likable here, somehow his actions come across as very selfish here, certainly his past with Marnie, even when Luke warns him he’s being a jerk and unfair, whereas I don’t remember feeling that way in book one.
This story really just covers the ground of book one, but from Arlo’s POV, there’s nothing I noticed that was new there, and I think if the two books had been combined into one it would have worked better for me. Maybe one of those alternating POV stories? So that though I’d be reading stuff I knew already it would still be fresh, and I could meld each POV and see the actions from both sides as it happens.
I love the way he realised he was in love with London, though somehow although the period was covering several weeks/months somehow that didn’t translate as well as in book one. It felt they went from meeting and the chaos of that to a kiss, then nothing until suddenly its weeks later and he’s planning how to continue with her in his life. It feels like there’s a gap in the middle were she keeps house but they don’t seem to interact much, and then he’s In Love…..
Book three should be interesting, hopefully they’ll be a bit more action as they’re on tour. I hope 😉 I love Tour books, with all the mayhem, bustle, music, traveling, groupies and chaos they bring. It would be good to get to know the other band members too.

Stars: Three and a half, didn’t quite like it as much as book one but it is a good read, though quite short. Melded together, so I got both sides at the same time they would have made a perfect five star, single book for me.

ARC supplied by Author

 

Last of the Summer Moët, Wendy Holden

Last of the Summer Moët, Wendy Holden

Last of the Summer Moët: A sparkling rom-com that will make you laugh out loud (A Laura Lake Novel) by [Holden, Wendy]

Genre:, Women’s fiction, General fiction (adult)

Women’s Fiction? Once more – why? Why alienate a good section of possible readers.

My bad, I missed that this was a part two, and that I’d read the previous book about Laura. That was a three star for me, and I noted that though I enjoyed Wendy’s stories years ago either her writing or my tastes have changed.
This story is if possible even more OTT, frenetic and at times plain silly. There’s a point when poking fun at a selection of folk in humorous, and then there’s trying to ram fun down readers throats( you Will laugh!! Everyone else has… ) that’s the vibe which came across here, I like subtle humour, what this book delivers is a thin story peppered with not just oddball eccentrics, but totally off the wall unreal characters, and situations that are so extreme as to be impossible to believe. If that’s what you like in a story good for you, you’ll love this book. I don’t. I gave up at about 40%, skimming through to see if there was any change but not finding enough to hold my interest and continue.

Stars: Two, a DNF for me. If you like overdone humour and situations that are really OTT you may love this story, I can see others already do. My taste doesn’t run that way though so it was a fail for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Hollywood Heir, Westerly Billionaire Book 4, Ruth Cardello

Hollywood Heir, Westerly Billionaire Book 4,  Ruth Cardello

Hollywood Heir (Westerly Billionaire Book 4) by [Cardello, Ruth]

Genre:, Romance, General fiction (adult)

I didn’t notice til about to write my review that the blurb classes this as comedy – and I can’t recall finding any of it comedic, unless you count things like Sage being a plant psychobiologist and Eric being a huge film star but slap on a fake scar and he can go unknown….

sadly this book was a fail for me. I did finish it but it was a hard slog. That’s not the book’s fault, its just not to my taste. I found the plots sounded good but in practice were thin, and the characters were frankly dislikeable. Sage is a bit of a doormat, Eric is a bit self obsessed, distrusts everyone and came over as pretty cold and big headed. As for Delinda, his grandmother, she’s a rich, manipulative awful woman. I know she appears to have the best interests of the family at heart, but its what She feels is best, not necessarily what actually IS best.
I got so annoyed at Sage, got away from shallow parents and creates her own way, and yet lets Eric walk all over her. This idea too that she’s walked away from serious money, has an ad hoc income where she can barely meet rent and yet lives as if she’s got money was strange. If you’re short on rent, short on cash its something that you’re aware off constantly, everything you do has an eye to can you afford it, and yet Sage came over as never really considering her cash situation, a rich girl playing at poverty.
Eric and the disguise, wouldn’t work. Then he tells her the names of his four siblings, and given they are worldwide famous that should have been a giveaway.
I loved Reggie though, he was the comedy element I guess, but for me he was the star of the book! The bat-cave, I want one!

Stars:Two, sadly a slog to finish, maybe if I’d liked the characters it would have been different. As always that’s just my view, I can see others love it, and you may too.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Martinis and Memories, A.L. Michael

Martinis and Memories, A.L. Michael

Martinis and Memories: A fun, feisty novel of love and chasing your dreams (Martini Club Book 3) by [Michael, A. L.]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Women’s Fiction

I didn’t realise this was part of a series of connected books, though each are stand alone. I think maybe if I’d read the first two maybe I’d have got more from this. As it was its a sweet story, made me wonder a bit about life, coincidences, the six degrees of separation thing, and what I would do in the same situation.
Its got some great characters, I loved how we see Bel’s mum from her thoughts and memories and then seeing her differently, passage of time, through Sam’s eyes etc its like two sides of the same person. I loved Bel, slightly brittle with all her “darlings” and insistence on sweetness and light and sparkle and glitter ( I’m with her on the sparkle and glitter – always makes life brighter). I was heartbroken for her when it looked like everything was going to fail….and yet Practical Me was saying “ where’d she get the money for all this revamp when she was wondering if she had enough to even continue as it was?” I don’t like things like that, even if we knew she was getting a loan or something, but to believe that someone struggling with a business can just revamp like that without telling me where funding comes from feels somewhat unreal. And it was the Realness of the book that I loved so that let it down.
On that Realness, that was what gave the book an edge for me, those characters with their problems were like friends to me, we all have issues, have to struggle with life and I enjoy reading how people make it through those struggles. Apart from the financing, the rest of the changes were perfect, where Bel let the others put forward ideas, and the way they were a little cautious at first, as if past Bel would have just dismissed their ideas as not on-brand or something.
There was lots to like in this story, but it wasn’t a tale that grabbed me, made me devour the book. More one of those where I read a few chapters, put aside, and come back to when I want something real but light to read.

Stars: Three, a good book, and enjoyable story but not one I’d re-read

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

The Plus One, Sophia Money-Coutts

The Plus One,  Sophia Money-Coutts

The Plus One: escape with the hottest, laugh-out-loud debut of summer 2018! by [Money-Coutts, Sophia]

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Romance

Gah! Once more “women’s fiction”, and as usual I have to have a quick moan – why do we do this – cut off potential readers? Who says men won’t/don’t read romance, they certainly write it, so why exclude them this way?

So, the book. A debut novel and one that’s really well written, and I loved the dry humour, and the realness of it.
Loved Polly and her friends, her job at the magazine, very typically British Tatler style 😉 Poor Polly is approaching 30 though and feels that her time is running out, she wants a husband and family, but fears she’s destined to be the mothball scented, elderly, maiden aunt…especially now her bestie is getting married and she’s Matron of Honour and doesn’t have a Plus One.
I loved her relationship with her mum, and her support when her mum gets ill, the fears they both have that anyone who’s been ill can understand.

Its a fun read, made me smile in parts, sad in others and very very typically British. As a Brit I love that, we seem to have a slightly different sense of humour and the more subtle approach as here worked so well for me.

Sadly the about turn at the end didn’t work for me, I didn’t feel it was real, hadn’t got a sense of it coming throughout the novel, and TBH really let it down for me. With a different ending, the one that I kind of felt had been building I’d have given this a five, but as it is that change really let the story down IMO. Not the resolution I wanted 😦 I felt kind of unsatisfied, and cheated of what I’d expected it to be. Surprises are good, this one was just too much of a shock, IMO, and didn’t gel with the rest of the story.

Stars: Three and a half, a terrific book right up to that turnaround at the end!

ARC by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

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