The Dream Daughter, Diane Chamberlain
Genre: General fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction,
Ah no, not another “women’s fiction” classification – why assume men won’t read this?
Anyway, that aside, what a fabulous read. Enthralling, making me wonder “what if” ? Make me think about the temptation to change things in situations like this. Really though, the act itself must have repercussions and certainly Hunter is knowingly breaking the Golden rule when he helps Caroline, but then, how could he not help?
I loved the way little things were included so that the puzzle of Hunter not talking to anyone in the hospital and then seeing Caroline and getting her to help me – thus setting in motion the whole chain of events – ties up later in the novel where we find out just why Hunter talked to her while refusing help from anyone else.
The whole novel is so full of emotion, and light spots I didn’t expect, but was so glad to find. Then there’s the angst over Vietnam in 1970 to how its almost a passing historical note later. Its full of “what if” questions, what should one do if one has the knowledge, is the risk worth the benefit, how far would you go for your child’s life? It gave me lots to think about.
I enjoyed the way it was formatted too, seeing both sides of the story concurrently. I’m old enough to recall the seventies as a teen and though I’m UK not US so much felt the same, life was so much simpler then even if it did mean that technology wasn’t there to save babies like Caroline’s. My grand-kids find it incredible we had no mobiles ( well apart from the ones hanging above cots!), no computers, games consoles, only three or four TV channels….it really is a different world now. I remember thinking my grandfather must see cars and aeroplanes as strange, growing up without them. Now I’m in the other side of progress.
I understood a bit why Patti ( Caroline’s sister and Hunter’s wife)was kept in the dark about the plans, but would have felt as she did, betrayed, devastated. Seeing how the decision affected their marriage and later, her relationship with Caroline was hard, I felt so much for both sides.
I’ve tried not to give too much away but it really is an incredible read, very believable and wraps up perfectly.
Stars: Five, a perfect read, full of terrific characters, real tough sacrifices and questions about how far we will go for loved ones.
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A Shadow Beyond, Emma-Nicole Lewis
Genre: Historical fiction, Contemporary Fiction,
I don’t read books like this often, but sometimes I want to just dip into a different genre, refresh my reading tastes, and this is in the mould of Susanna Kearsley, Barbara Erskine with its past and present, characters linked by history format. Its a lovely long read too, not one of those 150 pages where story is so crammed plots don’t have time to develop.
Its not one I couldn’t put aside, and in fact I did read it over three or four sessions, reading other stuff in between. Sometimes a story just can’t be put down, other times I like to stop and mull over what I’ve read.
I recall reading about a village that closed itself off during the plague, to stop the spread, there are any number who stayed closed to keep plague out, but few who did it, sacrificed themselves to keep plague contained. That takes a really strong group. They were very devout religious folk though, and believing this edict came from God helped, convinced them they were doing what god wanted. Of course the cynic in me notes the wealthy families decamped at first sign of plague, as always it was the common folk who made the sacrifice.
Still, cynicism apart, it was an incredible sacrifice, and one that bears remembrance.
I loved reading about the historical characters, how they lived, the connections between families, and of course just what was haunting Thornycroft. The suspense is very deftly written and it seemed to me most times we jumped from past to present or present to past each new chapter started where old one left off, so Rachel would be scared by something back in the past and at the crucial moment the book would jump forward and we’d see Kate discovering what has scared her. It gave a great feeling of continuity to the story.
I loved characters, past and present, didn’t see the twist in present times, though I’d guessed some of the past twist, and whichever time I was reading I became totally absorbed in what was happening. I have a small criticism in that though the book was deliciously long I felt the ending was rushed, crammed in too small a space, and it didn’t really bring out the incredible connections of past and present. I kind of felt I was looking at % bar and thinking “ so when will we? Will she tell us ?” and it all kind of fell into one complete few pages, or at least it appeared that way while reading.
There is romance here, both past and present but its very muted, very much a tertiary plot to the main suspense angle.
Stars: Four, I really enjoyed this, but wished there was a less rushed ending. It did all tie up properly, nothing was missed but it felt like each plot came to the crux at the same time and I didn’t feel that did the story justice.
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The House at Greenacres, Darcie Boleyn
Genre: general fiction (adult), women’s fiction
Once more, women’s fiction. Why, why alienate men? They read books like this too.
Well, I wanted to love this book, it sounded perfect for me but….it wasn’t a bad read, but it wasn’t one that filled me with excitement, one that kept me reading.
Somehow when everything came out I felt sorry for Rich, but I didn’t feel that it was a valid reason for what he did. Likewise I found it hard to believe Holly would leave her loving family, even her grandfather who she adored, simply because he may disapprove.
It all just added up to a tale I found hard to credit, and so I didn’t really get pulled in to the story. That’s me though, as always others will and do feel very different. Reading and enjoyment of stories is very subjective.
Stars: Three, a story that fell a bit short for me but which may be perfect for you.
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Mona Lisas and Little White Lies, John Herrick
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction.
Well, this is written by a man and Still classified as Women’s Fiction – I just don’t understand why we try to exclude men we should be encouraging readers not discouraging them 😦
Anyway, my first read by this author. It was well written, and the story flowed well but…..maybe In was just over-expecting. I love the fame/non fame romance trope and with the famous lead being an artist, ( such a change from the usual rock/film star leads), and being an artist myself I was hooked. Throw in that Lily isn’t a primped and pampered lady but one that works as a mechanic and I thought I’d love this.
So what went wrong? Well. Its not the writing but the story-line. I didn’t understand why the first 30% Lily and Ryder had barely met, and she was involved with Evan. Unless maybe it was to showcase her insecurity in her looks? Lily is lovely but not bursting with confidence, even though her friends tell her she is beautiful, she just can’t see it. And of course her job isn’t one that springs to mind as feminine even though she’s good at it and loves it.
I loved that Ryder inserted himself and Lily into so many paintings after only meeting her once, though I’m dubious that he could paint her so exactly without and reference pics ;-). still, artistic licence all round! Once his paintings start becoming famous and seen everywhere though the hunt is on, who is the mysterious lady in his work. They meet after Lily sees one of these works….and it doesn’t go too well. Ryder isn’t letting her go though, six years he’s been thinking of her and now he’s found her he’s not letting her disappear again. I guess this is where my expectations and the book parted ways. I expected more of the fame aspect, more of the hounding the media do to people.
The breakup was a shock, it just didn’t seem real even though I suspected it would happen that way. I felt they needed more of a reason to part, and that Ryder was wrong. I did like that it wasn’t one of those break up and two pages later make up books. I like my drama to wallow, to really feel “will they get back, or has too long passed?” A side effect of the break up was a revelation about someone that caught me out, and yet looking back all the clues were there but I missed them. I love that kind of surprise, clever planning.
I’m not sure why its billed as comedy though? That has me mystified, and I had to go back and check the description but yes, comedy is there in the blurb. I didn’t find it though…..
Stars: three a half, a fun read but a one off only for me.
ARC via Netgalley and publishers
Boundary Broken, Boundary Magic Book 4, Melissa F. Olson
Genre: General Fiction (adult) Sci-fi and Fantasy
I found the first book involving Lex and Quinn a couple of years back, and avidly devoured that trilogy, then went on to read everything else Melissa has written about the Old World.
This series and the sister one overlap with characters from each making cameos and being referenced in both. Its one of those series I love to reread, and in fact have recently just done that, working my way through all the books and novellas. I’m not certain if this is the start of a new trilogy, it certainly lays the seeds of a bigger story but this tale is complete in itself.
Its that same gripping writing as all the earlier reads, convincing me that witches and magic could be real, vampires and werewolves could exist.
Even in fantasy I have to be convinced that IF the supernatural world was real this scenario could happen, and Melissa does that for me every time.
There are no magical shortcuts, no solutions pulled from thin air but ones that are hard worn, take their toll on the characters and take me time to work out how things can be resolved. I’m usually struggling to find that answer until I reach it in the story – nothing her is predictable!
I love the mix of characters, Lex and Quin, Lex sister’s voice, chiming in on occasion, silent – constrained by rules – on others. There’s her brother in law John, father to Charlie, who’s had to be brought in to the Old World secrets because of Charlie’s abilities which make her a target.
Maven, vampire leader extraordinaire, she’s an amazing character, I like her even if she is incredibly pragmatic at times. She’s old, she hasn’t got to that age without some hard decisions. In common with many vampires and werewolves she sees humans as unimportant, and Lex balances that and reminds her of how there are better ways than just killing ones who threaten Old World secrecy.
Then of course there’s Simon, Lily and the other witches. They’re the mainstay of this story but there are others from past stories and new ones to meet.
I really enjoyed meeting Tobias again, and seeing how he’d progressed from the sad life Lex – or maybe Scarlet – rescued him. I can remember him clearly, just not which book it was…. 😉
Once more the story races along, events building to an incredible conclusion with little side plots happening and seeds being sown for what I hope are more books, further developments between the witches, werewolves and vampires. This and Melissa’s other books aren’t the usual supernatural light, fluff read, but more fully developed, real stories, events that feel genuine, and solutions that are at times hard to take. I love them.
Stars: five, another cracking read, another for the keeper files and I so hope there’s more to come 😉
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Faithful Traitor, Samantha J Wilcoxson
Genre: Historical Fiction
I love this kind of historical fiction, with roots based in what happened, in events of the time, but taken so that the author fills in missing details. Its speculative, its fiction but well researched and very plausible. I loved the first book, featuring Elizabeth of York, mother to Henry VIII, and this book sees Henry as King, and Margaret Pole as lady in waiting and friend to Catherine, his Queen.
I know little of Margaret other than her Plantagenet connection, and its that faint thread of blood that gives her position in society as cousin to the King, yet also makes life for her and her family so dangerous.
I really felt for her, she had a tumultuous childhood, losing her father and other family suddenly due to twisting alliances, and the tenuous hold the Tudors think they have on the throne.
Its always like that in history, Kings rule by fear, ridding themselves of possible threats by harsh means. It difficult to understand from a modern viewpoint, but harsh though it was I can see that there was little else they could do sometimes. Kind of reminds me of lions, when the males win over an opponent and takeover the herd, first action is to kill all male cubs, so that only their blood flows through the herd. There’s no politics there, just instinctive action, but the parallels to royal history is there, where ascendants promptly dispose of threats however they can. Even the females weren’t exempt.
Margaret wants little more than to live her live in peace, to have her family and ensure their lives successful, but the Plantagenet blood keeps her always in the royal eye and under a threat of suspicion. Of course as Henry ages, discards Catherine and creates his new church fortunes and lives fall on his whims, and Margaret needs to tread a fine line. Play it safe on the earthly life and embrace Henry’s new church, or keep her faith with God, her religion, the one she has known all her life and risk her and her families life? What must she do? She tries so hard to keep her faith and yet keep her family safe too.
It makes me think, what would I do? I’m just glad I didn’t live in those times… Throw in Henry’s lack of a male heir and you can see just how dangerous life was for Margaret and those like her.
I really enjoyed this story, bringing history to live in a readable way through fiction. I really felt there with the families, could mentally see what was happening, and the little things, clothing, buildings, plants even, really brought the period to life. Its those tiny touches that work for me, make the story feel real, I want to feel as if I’m there, a silent onlooker back in time, alongside the characters.
Stars: Five, liked the reminder of how Margaret is connected t the last book, I’d forgotten but when events were mentioned it all came back and it really embraced the sense of continuity in history between the two books. I’m keen to read book three now.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Bad Moon, (Bad Duology Book 2), Shyla Colt
Genre: general fiction (Adult), Sci-fi and fantasy
Well, where to start? I guess with the fact that I persevered and got to 30% but simply couldn’t finish this book. I hadn’t a clue what was happening, didn’t really like or empathise with any of the characters. I missed that it was book two so in an attempt to understand I read the sample of book one when I finally tracked it down but that doesn’t seem to relate at all to this one? Confused? I was….
It wasn’t helped by the bad grammar and spelling issues that made it hard to understand what was happening, or the swapping of characters speaking without telling the reader, and the verging from third view to first which was weird. No book is perfect, we’re human, we make mistakes but there were so many here that combined with a story that confused me I just gave up. Its surprising as Shyla is a very prolific author so I’d have expected proofreading to be more accurate. Errors such as “soil yielded monster talks yearly” “The silky a lot of her best friend Kennedy” Chapter two starts with “….stepped into the masculine space.” Then talks about vampires, so I assume its a vampires room but next paragraph she’s walking into her own bathroom…talking about hair colour, her father apparently has bright right locks ( red?) then there were words and phrases added that just felt wrong or overdone. “small pumpkin Spice shaped latte purse” “she sensed an ellipsis behind the sentence, letting her know that could change” “the danger within lied him” these and more were within the first 15% and added to the fact I just didn’t like the characters or really feel any story development I pushed myself to 30% and then gave up.
As I said Shyla is a prolific writer and I’m sure has many fans who will love this book but for me her writing style and my reading tastes just don’t mesh. Make your own judgment, it could be a story you love if you can get past the issues I had.
Stars: Two, one to pass for me. I just didn’t ever really understand what it was about but I DNF it.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
The Wrong Kind of Love, The Boys of Jackson Harbor, Lexi Ryan
I’ve read a couple of books from Lexi, one I loved, the other not so much but I really liked the sound of this one…
I love the writing style, love the way the story unfolded, and of course the Jackson family and the folk of the town…there’s something about small town romances that calls to me. Sadly though I didn’t like either of the main protagonists and that coloured the book for me.
Nic, how much more of a wimp could she be? I understood why, felt for her past but at some point you have to make changes, but she just keeps on making the same mistake over and over, letting useless men walk all over her while she gives up everything. It seems she’s been like this since school, falling in love with men who let her down, and of course having given up all dreams of education she’s kind of lost. She thinks she’s found love once more with Marcus, who asked her to marry him after two months, and six months on its her wedding day…and then THAT happens. How can your twin DO that? Seems Ronnie has done that all her life though, Nic gives and Ronnie takes.
She doesn’t stop being like that though when she meets Ethan, lets him take from her, and then when she discovers he’s her boss she still lets him take. Ethan was a real jerk to her, I kind of understood his reactions but he needed to suck it up, take responsibility for his actions. Instead he’s laying blame with Nic.
Given she’s supposedly heartbroken from Marcus I found it hard that she fell in love with Ethan so quickly, and that he fell for her. If there had been more time, say several months I might have believed in it but this all happens in a few short weeks, about a month I think, and it was just too insta-love for me, given Nic’s past inst-loves and Ethan’s determination not to get into a relationship, certainly not with his daughter’s nanny.
The denouement is pretty much expected, and I understood the anger, but once more its over so quickly. And Ronnie…really? Nic’s still playing sucker?
The story is good, the characters great, but its the timing that’s the big struggle for me, I find it hard to believe Nic is really in love given her history of falling in love at the drop of a hat. Ethan, part of me loved him, part of me hated him, he really was an obnoxious jerk to Nic and she just took it….
I do want to read more in the series, I’m hoping its just this book, these characters and the whole time issue that’s not worked for me. I’m keen to read Teague’s story ( hopefully?) and some of the Jackson family’s futures, but not Ronnie. I don’t want to read a story that will make me like her 😉 She’s just done too much to Nic for me to get past.
Stars: Three, potentially great read for me IF the timing had changed, events took longer, and if I could be certain Nic had developed some self respect.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
A Guarded Heart, Heidi Kimball
Genre: Romance, Historical fiction.
This is a gentle read, veering from present to three years past, no great surprises, and the plot lines are a little cliched. The characters were OK, the way Society and the attitude to scandal works was spot on, but I wasn’t really invested in the couple enough.
I’d guessed pretty quickly what had happened, and as usual in stories instead of talking, Edmund goes off in a righteous huff. Stuff like this happens, but it makes me question just how strong feeling are if you believe someone could do that- and equally, how is it possible to just put it behind you once the truth is revealed.
I liked Eleanor and Edmund, hoped for a little more nastiness from the woman he’s currently courting, the claws came out occasionally but were pretty much sheathed. The story line involving Eleanor’s brother added a little extra to the last half of the story.
Overall though it was one I enjoyed but wouldn’t read again.
Stars: Three, a story that was a gentle read, but I wasn’t convinced of their True Passion, anyone that can drop someone that easily doesn’t deserve forgiveness so quickly.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers