Archive | October 2018

Christmas at the Lakeside Resort, (The Lakeside Resort Series), Susan Schild

Christmas at the Lakeside Resort, (The Lakeside Resort Series), Susan Schild

Christmas at the Lakeside Resort (The Lakeside Resort Series) by [Schild, Susan]

Genre: Romance.

I loved Susan’s Sweet Southern Hearts, so was eager to get stuck in to this. Sadly in the romance genre stories seem to interpret Romance as being only for the young.
Hurrah for authors like Susan, who show that the older generations want romance too. Not everyone gets their HEA when they are younger and accidents, divorces, just plain old Life means many folk past their thirties are still looking for that special someone.

Jenny thought she’d found that, and then the jerk calls everything off. She’s struggling through the aftermath of that when she gets another blow, her home has been sold and she’s a couple of weeks to find somewhere new. Sometimes things like this make us look at life and that’s what happens with jenny, she decides she’s just marking time, doesn’t love her job, her life, so takes the opportunity presented by her fathers legacy to make a huge change.
Of course it doesn’t all go smoothly, but that’s part of the magic, if it did it would be a dull read. I loved Luke and Alice, adored Benny and Bear, and as a horse lover how could I fail to be entranced by Levi. My old mare Muska thought she was a person, was always trying to get into the house, but being somewhat bigger than Levi it didn’t really work….
I loved reading about the renovation, about the jerk Douglas and his new lady ( hiss, boo….I really wanted him to see just what he’d lost. I hate guys – or ladies – who behave as he did )., about Alice her her dating issues and of course Lovely Luke. He was such a wonderful guy, quiet, strong, unflappable and his was a sad story.
I liked the slow burn of their romance, though maybe a little more action would have been nice 😉 Its not one of those where they get together after a couple of chapters, in fact it takes pretty much most of the book before they get to a first kiss. You can feel how they both are attracted and yet they both weigh up what they would lose, should they move forward, is the time right, are they ready? They’re all questions Real people have, most of us are cautious by nature and this book felt so very real in the romance side. The renovations? Well, in contrast to the romance a lot happens in a short time 😉 . I’m not so sure it would work like that in real life, but it made for a really enjoyable story, and the endings was just so perfect.
My only reservation is that for me it seemed a slow start, I felt like I was reading but not actually getting to the meat of the story for some time. Its all scene setting though, its easy to criticise and others will love that gentle, gradual progression.

Stars: Four, a really magical Christmas story.

ARC supplied by author

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By Virtue Fall, Carrie Elks

By Virtue Fall, Carrie Elks

By Virtue Fall: the perfect and heartwarming romance for Autumn 2018 (The Shakespeare Sisters Book 4) by [Elks, Carrie]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

I love Carrie Elks stories, have read almost all of them now, and she writes in a way that’s perfect for me.
In fact looking through the ones I’ve read I’ve just decided of a reread of Love in London 2, Broken Chords. Fix you is another favourite that’s been reread a few times…so I was eager to get into this.

I loved (five star loved) the first two in this series, somehow missed book three, and expected this to be another five star read. And yet…it wasn’t. Its got Carrie’s perfect pacing and story line, some great characters and some you love to hate. All things that make a book perfect for me and yet somehow it just didn’t pull me in, keep me gripped.

I’m not sure why, I loved Juliet (London!) and Ryan, the kids were perfect and brought some wonderful levity, the school mothers, oh haven’t we all met those types? There’s one scene with Ryan and Juliet and The Mothers that I just loved!
The way they both are attracted right from the start yet hold off, Juliet because she’s still dealing with divorce issues, the betrayal from her husbands affair, and doesn’t feel ready, and Ryan because he knows he’s only here a few months, that he’ll be off again soon, and he too isn’t looking for love. Yet it has a way of sneaking up on us slowly, catching us out.
Love never waits for the perfect time – life just isn’t that neat, rarely do Life events and Perfect Time meet up!

Its really well written, finishes off the series neatly, (Cesca, she’s still my favourite and I had a little lump in my throat picturing her in That Dress). For many readers I’m sure it will be exactly what they want, but for me it just didn’t have that magic of the first two, of almost all Carrie’s other stories I’ve loved. That happens, you can’t please all of the people all of the time and all that..

Stars: Three, a well written story that fits the series but didn’t quite hook me in as Carrie’s stories usually do.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

One Million followers, How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days, Brendan Kane.

One Million followers, How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days, Brendan Kane.

One Million Followers: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days by [Kane, Brendan]

Genre: Business and Investing,  Nonfiction (Adult)

Like many of the (cough) slightly older generation I’m not altogether au fait with how the internet works. I use social media, blog about art and books, but actual publicity? Nope, my growth is just something that happens, I’ve little idea on how to influence it, so the title of this book intrigued me. 30 days – I could do that…couldn’t I?

Well, the answer is no. I could if pushed spend 30 days promoting my site but without substantial financial input that wouldn’t get me too far. Its not really clear from the title but this book is aimed at growing followers by spending money. Admittedly there’s lots of info on how best to do that, where to place it for maximum use, but I suspect most folk like me just don’t have a spare few thousand lying around to use on promotion.

I was expecting advice on how to make sites more relevant, how to make them attractive to visitors, pull then in that way and thus followers would be ones to stick around, but most of this appears to be about Getting the followers, not keeping them. A kind of Blunderbuss effect, throw a site in front of millions of folk and hope some click Follow. TBH one million people who don’t read books or are not interested in art, wouldn’t help me even if I spend money I haven’t got on getting them.

Its interesting reading in parts, bogged down in others, and I found myself skipping fairly huge chunks of it. It didn’t really tell me much I didn’t already know, and wasn’t really relevant to me as a small blogger.
If you’ve a biggish company with a promotional budget, I suspect you’ll find lots of helpful information here, but my little blogs don’t really compare to the sites of Taylor Swift, Rhianna, MTV et al, and without substantial inputs of money most folk aren’t going to achieve anything like one million followers.

Stars: Three, some parts were interesting to read but most just not relevant to the average small site owner.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Fight or Flight, Samantha Young

Fight or Flight,  Samantha Young

Fight or Flight by [Young, Samantha]

Genre: Romance.

Well, I’ve read lots of Samantha’s stories now, On Dublin Street is still my favourite, she does the Scot guys so well. Usually. This one, Caleb, well, he’s a shallow jerk. I was infuriated at his arrogance, his lack of manners, his overall high handed, judgmental self. I almost stopped reading, he was so obnoxious.
Luckily Ava kept me going….I loved Ava, she seemed like a typical “blonde” stereotype, pretty, always well dressed, full make-up, perfect hair, and yet she’s so much more. Awful parents, betrayed by her two childhood best friends, yet she’s got herself a good job, her own home, and a few good friends. Harper, her best friend, is wonderful and I hope we see more of her in a later book. There seems to be an opening later in the book with someone….

So, I ploughed on and slowly began to understand Caleb, but though he has a past that made me understand why she initially judged Ava, he’s human, we all fail and make mistake, he seems to continue to judge her in little ways even when he knows her better.
I did warm to him but I can’t say he’s my favorite person in Sam’s writing. I enjoyed the story but again its not one to really tug at the heart, I felt sad about what had happened to Ava, was sad for Harp when things went wrong for her but it didn’t have the huge drama I’ve come to expect from Sam. Having said that when things did go wrong it was really well done, drawn out over a period of time, lots of angst and wondering, lots of will they make it through ( yes, I know they will but I still need to feel as if the possibility is there that they won’t). so many books wrap the break-up and getting back in just 2 or 3 pages and for me that just doesn’t cut it. I want my characters to really feel devastated, to really hit the bottom and here both Ava and Caleb do. Ava is so brave when she faces her fears and tells Caleb how she feels, and then gets That reaction, but by now I understood Caleb more and it made me angry but not as furious as it would when I started the book. Even Ava understands why he has that reaction, but she’s grown so much in confidence, she’s heartbroken but knows that its not her fault, compared to how guilty she felt over Nick and Gem.
Some reviews mention the Scots accent. I hate written dialects for just this reason, done badly they can ruin a novel. I’ve seen too many Doona, dinna, nay lassie, och the noo etc….and so often they use language that would have been common a couple of centuries back but now, no way. I’m from Norfolk (UK) and we know that when a TV series features folk from here they all speak in some kind of generic Summerzet accent.
If I’m reading a novel and I don’t notice the accent, except that it reinforces a characters background, then I know the author has it right. Sam’s a Scot, she does that accent well in her writing IMO, it adds to and not detracts from the story.

I’m finding it hard here to put a rating, it started badly for me, but the drama of the ending really was perfect.
I still think the actual story holding things together was a bit flimsy, I felt it wasn’t really strong enough to hold the whole novel. Maybe if we[‘d seen it a bit more in a past time-frame, from Ava’s POV it would have more impact, but I felt for her but with the “ horrible folk, awful thing to do but move on now Ava”, rather than being so upset I understood why it coloured her life so much. Sometimes it is tiny things from the past that impact on us, but we need to see just how awful an effect those words or actions were to understand properly.
Stars: Well, hmmnnn…tough one. I think its going to have to be a three, not my favourite of Sam’s books.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

The Turn of Midnight, Minette Walters

The Turn of Midnight,  Minette Walters

The Turn of Midnight: The much anticipated second instalment to the bestselling novel The Last Hours by [Walters, Minette]

Genre: Historical Fiction, General Fiction (adult)

I adored The Last Hours, such a realistic read, I felt I was there with the characters. I’ve been looking froward to this. Its a very detail dense read, and I did put it aside a couple of time to fully absorb what had been written and think about what transpired.

In this next book we can see how some of the characters have changed, matured in the case of certain younger ones, some of the older ones having the reservations about Lady Anne and what she was doing reassured with her successes.
Develish has come through the plague thanks to Lady Anne’s early closing them off to the rest of the country. A hard decision, as was the exclusion period for those that had been out to see what was happening in the rest of the country. One too, of which the priest was certainly not in favour of, the line of the day from Pope Clement was that constant prayers and repentance for sins would stave off the disease. Those who died were not devout enough, full of wickedness, the plague was God’s punishment.

Once more Thaddeus is the hero of the hour, and the lads that went out with him in book one returned as men, banding together and seeing Thaddeus as their leader, honouring and respecting his decisions. He listens to them first though before deciding a course of action and they feel as if they’ve had some input. Its clear to see Lady Anne’s influence on him here, its similar to the way she rolls up her sleeves and gets on with jobs alongside her people, not just sits lazily, expecting them t do the work.

Thaddeus and the lads find out just how badly the rest of the country has suffered, especially among the labouring classes, and its clear there is going to be a huge shortfall in those with the knowledge to grow food, look after livestock, all the day to day jobs so essential in life. He and Lady Anne come up with a plan to secure independence for her folk, but its fraught with danger, and their worst fears come true.

They’ve changed some opinions by their example, Bourne has taken to heart what he learned in Develish, and with Thaddeus advice intends to implement much of it on his own estates. He can see their ideas for the future ring true, that workers more than scribes are needed now, that more profits produced when workers are treated with respect and fairly rather than the whip and fear. I feel much of his changing ideals come from the profit angle but that works and everyone benefits so….
Sadly when Thaddeus and the lads seek to bring about the plan he and Lady Anne have come up with to set their people free, they find they’ve been nurturing a viper.
Some have come round with kind words and deeds, and seen the example of what can be achieved that way, Bourne and Lady Eleanor for example, but someone else treated with the same kindness is still harbouring thoughts of vengeance, and it brings them into a very dangerous position.

Its a great read, transporting me back in time once more. The characters feel so vivid, and I feel I’ve got to know Thaddeus and the lads really well. Joshua’s dogs play a great part here, hard to think of what might have happened if Thaddeus had his way and they’d been killed. They’ve proved their worth and loyalty time and again. There were times when I struggled to see how Minette would brings these characters through, how would they slide through the murky waters of the deception they planned.

I’m sure much of the UK did look like this after the plague, it decimated the countryside, leaving orphans, ruined homes, fallow fields and a dearth of workers to rebuild. The few who survived in Blandeford were probably very typical of the time, they were so busy deciding who had more rights to what, to ensuring that everyone received a fair share that they didn’t actually achieve anything, didn’t work together, didn’t do what was needed, just struggled on day to day until Thaddeus and Lady Anne explained what happened at Develish, and set them to forming their own leaders and teams. Its pretty typical of what happens in any disaster, there are a few that get on with things while the majority bicker and decide they aren’t being treated equally. Its human nature I guess, but once Thaddeus spoke to them about leadership and what could be done they did seem as if they’d move forward. I’m sure there were many Lords though that didn’t share Lady Anne’s views who insisted their serfs still pay the full tithes even though there were few people to work the fields, mill the flour, spin the wool, butcher the livestock etc.

For those like the workers of Devilish its a time of opportunity, and I’m really keen to see how book three come about, how the events play out.

Stars: Five, another rich, enticing read, that had me fully absorbed in life after the plague.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.

 

Hard Truths, Alex Whitehall

Hard Truths, Alex Whitehall

Hard Truths by [Whitehall, Alex]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I thought I’d read books by this author before – but I haven’t – so lots of new to me reads to enjoy 😉 I loved this read, heartbreaking at times and sadly, so very,very real.

I loved Isaac and his sister, Sue. They’re very close, which is good as his parents are…well, my age but I feel a million miles from them.
They’re old fashioned, with sadly outdated views. Mum is desperate for grandchildren to spoil, even though, as Isaac muses, she never wanted to spoil him or Sue. Dad is one of those I’m-head-of-family, my word is Law types, the sort where clear lines are drawn, he’s The Man, brings in the dosh, and housework, childcare etc is Not His Province, women’s work.
Despite the weird parents Sue and Isaac love them, just hate the way every family occasion leads into nagging about marriage and children.
Desperate one Thanksgiving Sue brings home a date, a fake one, just to shut mum up. He’s big, burly, tattooed and ….coloured, and she knows her parents will hate him. She’s asked him to be polite but play up the stereotype, so he is guarded about his job, hinting at freelance, letting them think the worst, and true to form they are reasonably polite but Not Happy and make it clear.
Isaac is shocked though when Logan discreetly makes a pass at him…til he finds out the truth. I loved that family meal!

Soon Logan and Isaac are together but each family meal means Logan stays away, and Isaac gets more lectures on finding The One and grandchildren. I felt so sorry for him, for too many families this is life. It shouldn’t matter who we love, so long as we’re not harming others, parents should just want their kids happy, not set conditions on happiness and love.
Of course the inevitable happens and Logan wants to be with Isaac all the time, not tucked away from his parents like a dirty secret. Its not hard to see the way things would go, although it was stronger than I expected, and once more I kept thinking “this is how life is for so many kids” Awful isn’t it? I can’t conceive of being that sort of parent, though I can see faint echoes in how my parents would have reacted.
In between Isaac and his family issues there’s the deal of Logan and his friends and Isaac and his, both close knit groups who react differently to new people, to pressures and events. I get the feeling Logan is more confident, outgoing, able to accept others where Isaac is a bit like me, diffident, cautious, careful of feelings. There are times when he isn’t sure if his friends are pushing him aside, when in fact they’re probably just busy, and I can empathise with that think the worst outlook.
When the big Fallout hit its dual pronged for Isaac and I so felt for him, and Logan of course. The way that drama played out, really let emotions flow, let Isaac’s thoughts run riot was just perfect for me. I love to wallow in the sad parts, and then feel uplifted when all ends well.

Stars:Five, a very real feeling drama with the perfect HEA.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.

#HardTruths #NetGalley

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