Archive | May 2019

Happiness for Beginners, One broken family. Two hearts meeting. Dozens of naughty animals! Carole Matthews

Happiness for Beginners, One broken family. Two hearts meeting. Dozens of naughty animals! Carole Matthews

Happiness for Beginners: One broken family. Two hearts meeting. Dozens of naughty animals! by [Matthews, Carole]

Genre: romance
Hmnn, I liked the sound of this, could relate to Molly – I too love animals, often find them easier to get along with than people. I just found the MC, Shelby, to be shallow, putting himself way ahead of his son, supposedly grieving for his wife who died a year back and yet out on the town, deep in a romance with someone who his son dislikes, who’s really only interested in her own image. I found that hard to take, and it coloured my view of him. I didn’t really feel this was a romance, given most of the book little happens between the two MCs and he’s with Scarlett. I felt so, so sorry for his son, poor Lucas. I was so glad he ended up with Molly and crew.
I loved the animals, the idea of the students, though the way it was run was pretty ad hoc, I did feel that in real life it would need to be more formalised, look more at the actual safety of the students around the animals, and the actual education they were receiving.
I did get irritated at the constant harping of Ringo’s ( I think it was him) skin issues. We keep hearing he’s got sweet itch, an allergy to his own hair. I’ve had horses for many years, one was an Icelandic, a breed prevalent to sweet itch so I’ve read a lot about it. Its caused by a sensitivity to midge bites, not an allergy to own hair, and is best treated by rugs covering tender areas. Cutting his hair short would make it easier for them to bite, though easier to clean the broken skin caused by rubbing as it’s intensely itchy. If you’re going to use specifics like this authors, please check you have it right.
Its a story I enjoyed but it was incredibly slow to start and I kind of felt there was a lot going on but not much happening, if you understand that 😉 It meant I got bored and skim read the last third of the story.

Stars: three, an ok read. Its a pleasant story, but I guess feeling Shelby was arrogant and selfish kind of coloured it for me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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Smitten by the Brit, Melonie Johnson

Smitten by the Brit, Melonie Johnson

Smitten by the Brit: A Sometimes in Love Novel by [Johnson, Melonie]

Genre: Romance

I really thought this sounded perfect for me, but I feel conflicted, ambivalent about it. It was well written, just didn’t wow me, didn’t make me feel I couldn’t put it down.

I wasn’t really gripped by either character, they were Nice. That’s it. No real character to either of them. Bonnie was a sweet girl, but I’d have thought she’d be more upset over her breakup considering how long they’d been together. Years, years after being childhood friends. That’s not something you can move from even though he was an ar- se, even though it was clear they’d actually drifted apart some while back. Yet within days she’s got the hots for Theo.
I think she’s the sort of person who would grieve losing the idea of the relationship you thought she had even if she didn’t grieve the man.

Theo, he made me so cross, a real mummy’s boy. I could see the issue with his family, understand the problems but really? The solution his mother proposed wasn’t something you’d pull from a hat, the issues weren’t something that sudden;ly cropped up and the solution – if hers wasn’t what he wanted – should have been worked out years ago.

Its that lack of practicality, the reaching for quick and easy solutions combined with the blandness of the characters that let this story down for me. You may feel differently, I can see others love it so clearly the issues I struggle with don’t affect other readers. Melonie is a new to me author, I will try another book before deciding she’s not for me, I like her writing style, just not the plot and characters in this book. Could be a one off and I’ll love others. Won’t be the first time that’s happened, and I’m always looking for some well written romance.

Stars: Two and a half, I enjoyed Melonie’s style of writing but sadly not this book.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Some insights into reviewing

The fabulous Mary Ann Marlowe asked me if I wanted to take part in a blog post she was doing about reviewers. She had some great questions and it made me think about what I’d been doing as a reviewer. Its something I fell into by accident but have gained great satisfaction from ( and a lot of wonderful books to read). I still buy books, still am a KU member and borrow books that way. I just love to read.
Maryann’s books:  http://www.maryannmarlowe.com/?cat=7

Some Kind of Magic (Flirting with Fame Book 1) by [Marlowe, Mary Ann]

 

 

 

My review of Some Kind of Magic https://jeanniezelos.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/caraval-stephanie-garber-some-kind-of-magic-mary-ann-marlowe/

 

A Crazy Kind of Love (Flirting with Fame Book 2) by [Marlowe, Mary Ann]

 

 

 

 

My review of A Crazy Kind of Love https://jeanniezelos.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/a-crazy-kind-of-love-mary-ann-marlowe-van-a-cold-fury-hockey-novel-sawyer-bennett/

Dating by the Book by [Marlowe, Mary Ann]

 

 

 

 

Coming 25th June 2019

How long have you been reviewing books? Why did you start?

Seems like ages, but its about six/seven years I think. I love reading, saw an ad on amazon forums for a reviewer for a blog reviewing supernatural reads. That lasted about a year before closing down, and in the meantime I’d found Netgalley ( Egalley ARC site) and started my own blog.

What’s your favourite thing about reviewing books?

I love to read, getting review books lets me indulge in my hobby. as a quick reader I couldn’t afford to buy all these books, although I still love to reread favourites.

How many books do you read in a year generally? How do you usually find books to read?

I read more than I review, with personal purchases, free books and KU reads. I don’t always review those, depends on time commitment but if I’ve received a book for review I always write review for that. I see it as my part of the bargain. Reviewing takes time, I do a first rough draft, then run through and correct it, adding more, taking bits out and correcting spellings, ( I can spell, I can’t hits keys in the right order!!) then save a copy and add to online sites. Although I often intend to review the other books life sometimes gets in the way.
I keep a spreadsheet with all review books listed and publication dates so I know when to post and where I’ve posted. I’m approaching 2,500 on the spreadsheet so as I only started this a year or so in to reviewing when I began getting more books, that sounds about right for the 2-300 a year reviewed.
I guess I read maybe 4-500 a year and review around 2-300. I’ve not done so many recently as I’m in temporary accommodation while my home is being renovated and its hard finding the right mindset to review.

What is your typical process for deciding which books to review? For instance, do you go by what strikes your mood or make lists to tackle like homework? Do you accept requests to review from authors directly (and if so, how)?
What I read day to day is very mood dependent, and being in temporary accommodation has meant i don’t read so many of the intense reads, the complex ones as its hard to concentrate, and I’ve not felt in the mood for those.
I write reviews in the mornings, so if I’ve just finished a review book I won’t read another in that genre until I’ve written my review – found out the hard way that its easy to confuse two similar books when writing reviews, so now i keep only one of each genre in my head until review finished.
When choosing books I have quite eclectic tastes but romance figures heavily, whether its contemporary, suspense or fantasy. I try to research titles when i can, looking to see if I’ve enjoyed past books by an author, trying to find a sample to read or to see if other reviewers whose tastes I share have read it. I hate writing low star reviews, just means a book isn’t right for me, not that its a bad book, and that’s not always easy to get across. By researching first hopefully I avoid most of those. I spend anything from a couple of mins to twenty mins or so looking at each book request. Sometimes its clear pretty quick that I’ll love or loathe it but often its a case of thinking, does this sound right? Do I feel a connection/am I interested to see what happens. Existing books are easier, I can download samples, but many review books are months ahead of release, so unless I’ve read from that author before its a tough decision. Do I risk having to write a two star if I don’t like it, or conversely refuse it and miss a gem of a read….
I mostly get books via Netgalley now, but do have several authors who’ve contacted me over the years and I review their new reads – if they sound right for me. I used to open my blog for reviews but got so many requests that I simply couldn’t read them all, and the pre-choice research takes time too, so I now have a message that I don’t accept requests. I still get a few offers that way, and each gets looked at to see if its one for me.
What I hate is when I get requests such as one recently ” I see you reviewed xyz title, and wondered if you’d review my book?” Very often, authors haven’t really looked at what I review, nor is their book comparable to the one they quoted. In one case, about a month ago, the book offered for review was a contemporary romance, a short story of just 12 pages. I never read those, they just don’t work for me, ditto novellas unless they’re part of a series, and the book the author compared hers to was a full length fantasy suspense.
I do get constant requests to review “how to make a fortune with bitcoin/forex/day trading/how to lose a stone in ten days/how to write a bestseller/how to xxx” Those just go straight to junk. If an author can’t be bothered to see if their book fits what I read I’m not going to waste time on it, and these scam books are a particular hot button for me.

Do you review every book you intend to? If not, why might you choose not to review?
Occasionally I’ve chosen one that sounds perfect for me but I just can’t get through it, I’ve one like that right now. I’m at 20% and struggling to like the characters, the story, just can’t get into the book. Its one where its me not the book though, so rather than slog through and regret the time I’ve wasted I’ll return it to netgalley with a note that i couldn’t finish. I think over the years I’ve been with Netgalley ( 2012 joined, I just looked it up) I’ve returned maybe 15 books that way. I’ve also had a handful with formatting errors, where text too faint to read, too small, or has weird gaps and words that run into one. Reference books too, cookery, and gardening are ones I love, but don’t really work well as e-Books and I don’t really read on my pc or tablet.

If you give numeric ratings, what is your strategy for determining values? Are you stingy with 5 stars? Will you give a book 1 star?

A good book is 3-4, a great book 4-5, one I don’t really like overall but enjoyed parts will be 2-3. I rarely write one star, only if the book is really error ridden ( not formatting, but basic spelling and grammar, what I think of lazy editing), or in the case of two I one starred, they were complete rip offs of another popular book. Both of those had the exact same story outline in detail. They’d renamed characters and made some tiny changes but presented the book as something original when it wasn’t.
As an artist copyright really is important to me and I hate seeing folk trying to profit from someone else hard work.

What’s your opinion on authors reading reviews of their own books? When writing a review, are you concerned the author may read it? Does that ever influence your review?
When I’ve been contacted direct I always send a copy of review to author, I’m happy for them to read what I’ve written, its my honest opinion. Its hard when I thought I’d like a book and didn’t, but I try to stress in my summing up that book tastes are subjective, and though I didn’t enjoy it others will. It doesn’t influence my review – at least not consciously – as otherwise review ratings would become meaningless. I do find sending an author a copy of a two star review hard…but hopefully my initial weeding out and research prevents that happening often.

What’s your philosophy about interacting with authors? Do you tag them on reviews? Follow authors? Chat with them?
I follow a few of my favourites who write series so I know when next due out. I chat with a handful via email, I probably ought to add tags to reviews but my non tech brain hasn’t quite got that fixed yet. I know how, its just more time though, looking up who to tag and adding it. Its something I need to work on…one day! I used to be FB friends with several authors until Amazon decided that friendship and reviewing were incompatible. Amazon can be pretty draconian about removing reviews. In the last year I’ve had that happen twice. 3,000+ reviews gone overnight. Both times I appealed, said I was open, honest about reviews, use my own name, don’t accept money or any free products except a copy of the book. They even regard things like author competitions where not just a book but a voucher is a prize, so I don’t do those now.
I’m really wary of falling foul of their rules, but as I’ve experienced, it happens really easily. there’s no communication, the first time I noticed when I went to add a book review and found I couldn’t, and that everything was gone, second time an author contacted me to say my review was missing although it had been there a few days prior. I was lucky getting them reinstated but I’ve no idea why they went in the first place?
Sadly their review rules now mean people still get products( free books are allowed, free products are not) free for review, but as its harder to find folk willing to take the risk producers now offer payment as well as free products. I know because I get maybe 100-150 requests to review products each week. The way they bend Amazon rules is reviewer purchases as normal, sellers then refund cost plus a small fee via paypal once review is up. Of course they want five stars and are unlikely to pay unless that’s what they get. So Amazon efforts to tighten up fake reviews have led to less reviews overall, but even more fake ones. IMO
I add my reviews to Amazon com and uk, goodreads and my blog, but of course its Amazon that’s what authors really want, so I’m very careful to stay within guidelines. I used to do B&N but their site is so temperamental I gave up some months back.

How do you think authors should interact with bloggers ? Do you want authors to read your reviews? RT links to them? Ignore them?
I’m happy for authors to do what they want, quote from reviews, read them, link to them, tag them. I don’t mind what they do, I write honestly so I don’t mind anything that helps sell books.

Have you ever received a response from an author after giving a bad review? If so, can you vaguely share what happened?
I hate low starring reviews but its necessary if I’m to be honest about how a book affects me. I have had one lady write to me about a two star saying she understood her book wasn’t for me, and she was pleased I’d made the point that it was a personal interaction with the story, not that it was a bad book. I still felt awful though, I know how hard authors work, and it must feel uncomfortable when someone doesn’t like your story. I paint, and of course there are folk that just don’t connect with my style, hate it. That’s how it goes but it still feels personal. I guess the art of growing a thicker skin is needed whether its books, art, anything you’ve created that others may have an opinion on.
I did get a lady email me to remove my review once. It wasn’t a two or three star review, but a four. It was her first book, and she was concerned because my four star review was showing first and a couple of five star ones were below it ( and reading them I suspect they were from friends, didn’t write much about the book itself just gushed…) . I was pretty astonished, to me a four star book is good. I thought hard but eventually removed it from Amazon, because I feel four stars is positive, and removing wouldn’t really make much difference. It stayed on GR and my blog. I felt an undertone from her in that what she really wanted was for me to make it five star rather than remove it, but for me a four was the right rating. I did tell her I wouldn’t usually remove a review, its an opinion from one reader, and I take time over writing them. I value them when I’m selecting reads, and I write honestly about how I feel as regards a story.
I also told her I wouldn’t review for her a second time ( but have just realised I can’t remember her name so in reality I may!) I’m still astonished by her request. I’ve been reviewing for maybe 7 or 8 years now and that’s the only time I’ve ever been asked to remove my review.

What advice do you have for authors who might get a negative review from you (or any blogger)?
See it as positive, its a balance, an opinion from one person. It may be that what that person doesn’t like is what makes it perfect for someone else. I’ve bought books for exactly that reason. Reading tastes vary so much, so not all books suit all readers even if brilliantly written. I hate Terry Pratchett, David Eddings, Neil Gaimon books, eldest son and millions of other readers love them. Perfect example, we both love Fantasy but different types of fantasy.
I tend to read a couple of high star reviews and a couple of low ones before choosing, so low stars help balance. If a book has a clutch of five stars but none really say anything except how wonderful it is I tend to get suspicious, ditto those where the reader has only reviewed this or a couple of books. I’m more likely to take note of a review from someone who’s reviewed lots of books.

Do you ever get any positive feedback from authors?
Yes, and I love it when authors take the time to say they like my review. Especially if I’ve picked up on a point they were making…its kind of hard to write what I mean, but that sort of undercurrent, seeing that someone isn’t all bad, connecting with a book on a personal level and knowing that there’s been a lot or research to get details right. That sort of thing. ( Pet hate: The Horse Whisperer. I took that to read in hospital not knowing what it was about – I just love horses and that connection appealed. Of course I should have read more, I was in to have most of my left leg amputated! I can tell you from experience getting back to riding after amputation is nothing like it was portrayed in that book, there are things there that are simply not physically possible ( continuing with a cracked limb socket, been there and it won’t stay on, climbing a fence and mounting – tried that too when i fell off out in woods, can’t do it) and made me really annoyed to read.

Have you met or become friends with any of the authors you’ve reviewed? If so, how has that changed your relationship with reviewing in general?
Never met any, have become in a lose way, online friends with a few but I try to keep friendship and reviewing separate. Having said that I’d find it hard to do if any of my longtime real-life friends wrote a book….

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened as a direct result of your decision to review a book?
Nothing really specific. Getting such a variety of reads is a bonus, I simply couldn’t afford to buy all the books I want. I used to be an avid library user, but I’ve eyesight issues that make printed text difficult to read and a whole book is impossible, so ebooks came at the perfect time for me. I can alter text size, fond, boldness etc.

Summer at the Lakeside Resort,(Lakeside Resort Book 2), Susan Schild.

Summer at the Lakeside Resort,(Lakeside Resort Book 2), Susan Schild.

Genre: romance

I loved the previous book, and enjoyed this. I’ve had a couple of follow-on books recently, and I guess I’m coming round to the idea that actually what I want, what I enjoy best is the pre-romance, the story and struggles that gets folk together. Once they are together, sometimes I enjoy a sneak into what comes next but more often I just don’t seem to get so engaged in the story.
I enjoyed seeing The Boys, Jenny feels her boys are family, exactly the way I’ve always thought about my pets. ( My dog, Roxy, is now shrieking “A Pet!! You think I’m a pet??” I swear she thinks she’s human. ) The resort is progressing, not without problems of course, and that made it so lifelike. Things do go wrong, I know, I’m still in temp accommodation because the 8-10 week renovation is now into about week 14 with another three or four to go. Uncover one issue, and three more pop up. I so felt for Jenny in the first book when this seemed to happen to her all the time. Now she’s laid out all that money she needs to get the bookings in, but to do that she needs to spend more cash on attractions….cash she doesn’t have.
I didn’t really feel the Luke issue, he’s a good guy at heart and the commitment worry felt a bit forced, though of course there is his workaholic dad for history. People do often follow the role model set by parents rather than learn from it.
It was a fun read, a light one but cemented my opinion that for me follow on books aren’t really what I like best.

Stars: three, I enjoyed reading about Jenny and co, and seeing the resort progressing and for those who like reading follow on stories it will be a five, just a case of its me not the book. Reading tastes are so subjective.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Storm Cursed, A Mercy Thompson novel, Patricia Briggs

Storm Cursed, A Mercy Thompson novel, Patricia Briggs

Storm Cursed: A Mercy Thompson novel by [Briggs, Patricia]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

My all time favourite fantasy author, others come close but she’s still Queen of Fantasy for me, so when I saw this I just had to request it.
I’ve read and reread all the books multiple times and even now find things I’ve missed on previous readings. Its a fabulous series, and unlike some that go on to become long running but tired, its still as fresh as the first one.
Each story is complete but part of a long term story arc.

What I love about good authors is the way they bring in what I think of as story seeds, the little hints that are easy to miss, that become part of bigger plots further down the line, sometimes books later.
Sherwood Post is one of those, we met him a few books back, he’s grown in person as we meet him more and he plays a big part in this book. Being a fellow leg amputee I have a real soft spot for him, and it was great to slowly see more of him in this story.
He’s had a tangled history with witches, can’t recall his past but retains an awful lot of instinctive fear about witchcraft, so its probably a psychiatric issue more than physical one but who knows? The brain is a curious organ. Where usually werewolves can regrow body parts, his leg presumably was spelled in some way and hasn’t regrown. I feel for his struggles, and although he has a below knee amputation and mine is most of my leg his struggles are real. Patricia clearly either knows someone like this or has done research because unlike in so many books ( Horse Whisperer anyone?) Sherwood’s physical issues with his missing limb and prosthesis are genuine. I know, having struggled over the same things. In fact when he talks about his socket for his prosthetic I knew exactly what he meant, it was suggested as possibly suitable for me by a doctor in the early days, and though my prosthesist disagreed he made one anyway, so I could try and he was right. It was incredibly comfortable and perfect for those only missing below knee, but for people like me the weight of a whole limb was too much, and it just wouldn’t stay on 😦 I love that Patricia didn’t just give Sherwood a false limb, but made it the right sort for him. Small touches but those are what make her books so incredible to read for me. I can believe in them, can believe in the weird and wonderful types of folk she dreams up.

Once more its am amazing story, full of suspense and yet lightened with touches of humour ( nudge!!). I love that she brings in so many parts of past stories, and weaves them seamlessly with the current one. So here we’ve Mercy and the wolves still dealing with her perhaps rash proclamation, but the right thing to do, offering protection to the inhabitants of the Tri-cities. That brings in everyone in this story, the Pack, Elizaveta and her family, the vampires, and of course the Fae, including my much admired Zee and Tad. Zee’s actions here reminded me very much of his earth affinity that allowed Mercy and the others into Underhill several books back. I enjoy that kind of continuity.

Wulfe is in this story a lot towards the end and I’m kind of confused about how I feel over him. He’s a real mix, we’ve seen his seemingly uncaring, blase attitude to his menagerie, and to humans in general, his lack of loyalty to the seethe possibly in the Frost book, or maybe he was playing a long game, his strange abilities as the Wizard, and yet he seems to have a thread of doing the right thing running through. Is it because of morals ( unlikely) or just that it appeals to his sense of fun, his fondness for causing change, stirring things up? A bit like Coyote you never quite know whats behind their mechanisms. I guess its part of that long, hundreds- maybe thousands- of years of life, they like entertainment to relieve the ennui that affects some.

Mercy, well, I’ve loved her character right from the start, overlooked so, so often by Wolves, Witches, Fae and humans, yet she’s incredibly intelligent, with the strong sense of morals that guides her, and somehow gets others doing whats right. Adam ( swoon) has always seen her value though, and respects her even while he’s terrified for her as she veers into life changing difficulties. He knows that while he’s love to keep her wrapped up safely away from danger that’s not who she is, and their relationship would suffer so he respects her decisions and always has her back.
I hope she and the others have got lots more stories to come, this world Patricia has created and its evolution can take much more yet before the story gets old.

Stars: five of course. Another riveting read, taking me on a wonderful journey into another world. A book to get lost in, to leave reality for a few hours and immense myslef in the Tri-cities and its inhabitants.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Ever After With You, (Indigo Trilogy 3.5), Kate McBrien

Ever After With You, (Indigo Trilogy 3.5), Kate McBrien

Ever After With You (Indigo Book 4) by [McBrien, Kate]

Genre: Romance,

I rarely read novellas, only when as with this one they are part of a connected series. I find they just don’t have the length to get into the detail I need in a story, but when we already know the bones of it and the characters it works well. This was the perfect wrap up to the full trilogy, showing us a sneak into Justin and Lucy’s future, and just how its not always so easy to make the HEA come true. Life, real life, has a way of throwing up roadblocks, and they find jealousies in Lucy’s profession and for Justin that working solo isn’t the same as with the band. . Can they make it through them? Well, after all they’ve been through I certainly wanted them to. Fortunately Kate knows them well enough to help them through the trials, though they are quite eventful.

Stars: Four and a half. I enjoyed this wrap up, seeing how they coped with the practicalities of life, of the pettiness of others, of how working solo is so different, and of course how to integrate two separate people into one new couple successfully. Sometimes love isn’t enough, it takes hard work too!
Its not a five simply because though its a perfect ending to their story after the drama filled escapades of the other books it felt a bit too easy, but that’s just me. I know, I felt book three has a little too much drama and now this book hasn’t quite enough….some people are never pleased are they 😉 Of course that’s what will make it a perfect five for other readers.
Note: as Kate says this is NOT a standalone, you’ll need to read the first three to get the full enjoyment from this story.

Arc via author

The Talon & the Blade, Grace Bloods: Book 3, Jasmine Silvera

The Talon & the Blade, Grace Bloods: Book 3, Jasmine Silvera

The Talon & the Blade (Grace Bloods Book 3) by [Silvera, Jasmine]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy

I loved the first book in this series, but found it a little harder to connect with the second, and again with this one. That’s not to say its not an excellent read though, just one of those where I think I’ll get more from it on second ( or more ) readings. I love to go back to back through a series when all books are complete, really immerse myself and this series is one that will work well for that.
Gregor, he’s been an enigma since the first book, and I really enjoyed seeing his backstory, and seeing the attraction between him and Ana. It was interesting too being in another necromancers realm, Raymond is very different to Azreal, seems very distant from his Aegis, where Azreal and his people feel like there are respectful but friends, that he supports them in their actions. Raymond sends Ana off to deal with issues in this book with the minimum of information, which brings her into great danger. Gregor knows Azreal would never do that, and its interesting comparing two such distinct styles of rule.
I love that Jasmine has created such a fabulously different world, but it does take a bit of understanding. Fortunately the books have been released fairly close so the stories, settings and characters are still pretty fresh in my head.

Stars: Four. I enjoyed this story very much, just not as much as the first tow books. At times I was a little lost about what was actually happening, the story behind the story so to speak. I think re-reading will sort that though.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Six Tudor Queens: Anna of Kleve – Queen of Secrets, Six Tudor Queens 4, Alison Weir

Six Tudor Queens: Anna of Kleve – Queen of Secrets, Six Tudor Queens 4,  Alison Weir

Genre: Historical Fiction

I’ve only read the previous novel, from this series, and adored that. Alison did what I thought was impossible and made me feel sorry for Henry, a man I’d previously though of as simply arrogant and selfish. Sadly in this book we’re back to the man I really don’t like. He’s older, in ill health and yet still sees himself as he was in his prime, and ensures everything revolves around him and what he wants. People, places, church, state, all have to bow to the whims of Henry.

I know little of Anna, except that famous Flanders Mare quote, something Alison says actually appears to have no basis in fact, yet has endured through school teachings.
I really felt for Anna, typical of the time, women had little say in their future, and those with Royal blood were subject to the whims and needs of their families and country. Whether the line Alison has spun for her was true or not ,its very believable, and its easy to see how it could have happened.
I empathised so much with Anna, wanted to do right by her family, by her country, a lady in her prime married off to an ill tempered King,. He’s far older, overweight, poor hygiene, and yet who saw himself as almost Godlike, beyond any reproach, and who expected her to be thankful he’d chosen her. Even doing that he really did her a disservice, with all his exacting demands of which sister to choose.
It meant leaving her family and country for a man who’s already divorced one wife and had another beheaded before being widowed from wife number three. She must have feared, been terrified of getting on his wrong side and yet she accepts her fate, and does her best in every way to please him. She is a genuine Lady, treated her people well, was kind and loving to Henry’s three children, and would have made such a wonderful Queen.
Yet within a short time his wandering eye had lead to him seeking ways of getting rid of her. She’s stuck, accept what he wants, and live, but possibly be killed by her brother if she returns, or stand up to him knowing from past wives experiences he will get his way, whether by divorce anyway and shaming her if she objects, or possibly finding ways of getting rid of her the same way as he did Anne Boleyn.

Its a story that moved me, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as Jane Seymour’s story. I found it dragged in parts, and the huge cast of characters, most of which were unknown to me, became very confusing. Though I loved Anna, and admired the careful path she trod, trying to do right by Kleves and her family, even what was right for England, she had no real hope of success, and that’s clear almost from their first meeting. Its so sad, she just wanted a husband she loved and family of her own, yet was prevented from that very thing by her place in society. Henry, he was horrible here, and the man I felt empathy for in Jane’s story has degenerated into a bitter, surly and lascivious old man.
Much of this story is pure speculation, maybe because she is such a hidden figure in history, barely getting a mention in most places, but it does feel very possible. Sadly apart from that one big thing the rest of the story didn’t really resonate with me, and I felt the story was lost in the morass of characters.

Stars:Three, a well written story which I’m sure many will love, but for me it was a bit of a slog, and not one I’d re-read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

A Summer to Remember, Sue Moorcroft

A Summer to Remember, Sue Moorcroft

Genre: general fiction (Adult), women’s fiction

Ah no….usual moan 😦 Why, why do we have women’s fiction as a category? Why assume men won’t/don’t read romance – they do, they write it and read it.

With that off my chest, on to the book. I loved it, fabulous read full of incredible characters, I do like some that I can dislike, realistic scenes, I live in North Norfolk and it was easy to picture things playing out as they did. What I enjoy best in a story, a book with not just one main plot but some genuine and heartfelt subplots, and here they worked so well and kept me engrossed.

I loved Clancy, and understood why she was so devastated at what happened. What a blow, to lose your fiance, home and job all in one, and I’d have been just as…difficult isn’t really the right word, but her actions that tied up others, yes, I’d have done that – I feel they were incredibly unfair to her.
Aaron, I kind of understand why he’s the way he is, her cousin Alice caused such disaster by her actions to his brother, and the family are afraid for Lee and his mental stability. It took him a long time to recover, and they are very protective of him. Clancy isn’t Alice though, she’s had to pay for her ex’s mistakes, its not fair to punish her for Alice’s too.

Anyway, the story plays out well, plenty of events and action, lots of emotion, people who aren’t as they seem, family issues and jealousies, and a real touch of teen drama with Harry and Rory, and a very topical point there that was so well done. I like to read books to escape but I want them to be real, to reflect genuine issues and this one is perfect, and delivers my always needed HEA.

Stars: Five, another great read from Sue, and one to keep for re-reading. Perfect holiday read or one for when you want to escape into another world for a while.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Little Darlings, Melanie Golding.

Little Darlings, Melanie Golding.

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

A fabulous read, but if like me you’re easily spooked please don’t read at night! Its not scary per se, but scary for the possibilities. Chillingly unsettling in its supernatural potential rather than chillingly terrifying.

When we first start, I wasn’t enamored of Patrick, he says the right things but I didn’t feel he really believed them. I felt he was selfish, and the further into the novel we got the more I disliked him. That’s just a personal view, I’m not saying he was bad, irresponsible, or had anything to do at what had happened, but I just did not like him. Hearing events via Lauren made me feel sympathetic to her, and of course fully believe in what she is saying. Is she really seeing that though, it it really happening as she describes or is it some form of post natal depression or something similar?

All the way through the novel we get events through Lauren’s eyes and then via other folk, showing maybe what she is seeing is the truth, or maybe she is imagining seeing things, and I veered from one thought to another, wondering just which one is right. Were the twins singing at just five weeks or was it her imagination? Its so cleverly done that as a reader I just didn’t know.
Then there’s Jess, the police officer, the history of events in the area, Natalie, so many possible explanations and the easiest one for Patrick, the hospital and the police is that she’s imagining it brought on by stress, tiredness and possible health/child birth complications.

I tend to want definite answers and in this novel there isn’t one. How could there be though when no-one really knows what did happen? Its a very ambiguous ending, just as I was believing one thing once more the temptation of another version being correct raises its head. Its not the ending I like, but it is the perfect ending to this story.

Stars: Five, an amazing, brilliant debut novel, perfectly written, full of suspense and suggestions, leading reader one way then pulling them back the other. I really had no idea by the end which version of events was true. Chillingly suspenseful, and a thoroughly absorbing read.

ARC via Netgalley and Publishers

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