Archive | June 2019

All Summer With You, Beth Good

All Summer With You, Beth Good

All Summer With You by [Good, Beth]

Genre: romance

Well, I’m a sucker for fame romance trope, so of course this appealed. I loved the setting, the rural retreat, adored Nellie and the goats but the romance angle? Well, it didn’t really work for me.
I found it difficult to see that Alex, who valued privacy so much, would really welcome Jennifer in his home even if his reasons were valid. He just doesn’t know her, doesn’t know what sort of person she is, and given he thought he’d got a male tenant til he met her then clearly there wasn’t much in the way of background checks done. So I just couldn’t see how he would open himself up to that vulnerability, when the media pays thousands, hundreds of thousands some times, for info on celebrities.
I did like the way his backstory came out slowly, explained his surliness at times, things like that really do affect us, and it had made him look closely at his way of living, and at himself. That’s hard in a world where for those who are celebrities everyone around them tells them what they think they want to hear, not what they actually need to hear. His friend Brodie was one of the few who would talk to Alex the man, not Alex the star, and he needed that. I loved the way he was so close to his nan, so worried about her. She was a real character, so close to Alex and his sister.
I enjoyed this story but it felt a little too light and fluffy to be more than a three. I enjoyed the writing style, but though there were some interesting side plots ( the Cornish connection, the folklore, the tarot and witchcraft parts, I just felt it was lacking in a solid story for me. I would try another from Beth, she created some great characters, and hopefully its just this one story that’s a good read, a fun beach/holiday read, but not a great one for me

Stars: Three, I enjoyed reading about the characters and their lives, loved the setting, but as a romance it didn’t quite work for me. It’s a case of its me not the book. Reading tastes are so subjective.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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Once Upon a Bad Boy, Melonie Johnson

Once Upon a Bad Boy, Melonie Johnson

Once Upon a Bad Boy: A Sometimes in Love Novel by [Johnson, Melonie]

Genre: Romance

Melonie is a new-to-me author, I tried Smitten by the Brit and was ambivalent about it, but decided I’d try one more before deciding her writing style isn’t for me. Like Smitten, this was well written, but it just didn’t wow me, didn’t make me feel I couldn’t put it down. Not a bad book, just not to my taste. Others will, and do, love it.

I wasn’t really gripped by either character, they were pleasant but I didn’t feel particularly strongly about either of them.
Sadie seemed to just shut off any thoughts of Bo after their break-up, and I found it hard to believe after they’d been childhood friends, then teen lovers, and she could just not give in to temptation to take a peek at what he was doing? Or that she didn’t question him more when they broke up, things were fine and then within half an hour at Prom they’re over? Would someone in love accept that, however hurt they were? And Bo….the break-up reason. Really? It was hinted at throughout the novel, a big secret reason, hinted at constantly, but I’d pretty much guessed it from the clues, and was saddened to be proved right. I was underwhelmed by the reason 😦 I felt it just didn’t fit him. Likewise the secret Sadie holds was pretty easy to guess at, though I really felt for her the way things played out.

Similar to the other book for me the story just felt a little flat, unreal and yet already there are rave reviews. It really is a case of the book not being right for me, not that there’s anything wrong with the story. We all have different tastes, what makes it wrong for me could make it perfect for you.

Stars: Three, I enjoyed it a little more than smitten but I guess Melonie is an author who’s style doesn’t work for me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Dating by the Book, Mary Ann Marlowe

Dating by the Book, Mary Ann Marlowe

Dating by the Book by [Marlowe, Mary Ann]

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

I loved Mary Ann’s first two stories, but this one wasn’t as good for me. It could be my personal circumstances. I’m STILL in temp accommodation, seven months now, and that means my usual schedule is on hold. Finding time to get totally absorbed in a book when you’re alone is easy, but when you’re living with a busy family isn’t so simple. It may be that if I re-read this in a few months time I’ll feel differently.

Maddie is lovely, as are most of the cast here, and I adored the setting, book/cafe and book club. She really brings folk together through her work and the club and I enjoyed reading about them and the issues they faced.
Maddie is still struggling a bit I felt, and with her relationship ending like that who can be surprised? Suddenly though it seems would be suitors go from an ambiguous possibility at some time in the future, to a shed load of them on her doorstep – and at the other side of her PC. Add in that she’s got a fast approaching deadline for her next novel, another that’s just been released and then her beloved Mossy Stone, which despite her hard work is struggling financially. Of course only her close friend knows about her book, she’s written under a pen name and not told others.(Against her advice she just can’t help reading reviews- I’d be like that!)
That’s a lot to contend with but we see her ploughing through.

I enjoyed meeting the different characters, getting to know them, seeing them in the store, at the book club and watching for which one might prove right for Maddie. I found myself putting the book aside a few times though, having to remind myself who was whom, and how they connected. Usually with a book I love I can’t put it down, engrossed in the story to the point I feel I know the characters, and certainly that was my experience with Mary Ann’s first two novels.

Stars: Three and a half. A good story but I didn’t enjoy it in the same way as the first two of Mary Ann’s novels. As I said though, its likely me and circumstances, and perhaps a later read will change that.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Jasmine Wife, A sweeping epic historical romance novel for women, by Jane Coverdale

The Jasmine Wife, A sweeping epic historical romance novel for women, by Jane Coverdale

The Jasmine Wife: A sweeping epic historical romance novel for women by [Coverdale, Jane]

Genre: Romance

Well, this one doesn’t feature my usual bete noire, the “women’s fiction” category, but that runner just after the title? “Novel for women” – it means much the same and just makes me think, Why? Why alienate a potential swath of readers? Men write romance, men read romance, its time we stopped categorising stories as men/women reads.

Anyway, the story. I love books set in other countries, especially India/China/Japan, and especially set in a period of history where life was so very different not only between sexes but between races.
I loved this book, really made me feel there with Sara, feeling the heat, enjoying the rich aromatics, the colourful landscape, the busy markets and shops.

Its a good story too, what happens to Sara was what sadly happened so often then. Orphaned, brought up by relatives, and encouraged to marry rather than stay with the family. Didn’t really matter whether the match suited her, the fact that someone with a position in India chose her was enough. For those without connections there was the notorious “ fishing fleet” where desperate girls came on spec, hoping someone needed a wife.
Its hardly a romance a marriage like this, more a match of suitability. Perhaps, they don’t really know each other well after all. Sara thinks she loves Charles but barely knows him, and the man she meets in India, after a years absence is very different.
By her background, her childhood in India with very open minded, liberal parents though she sees the locals as people, while the British enclave here now are determined to treat them as lesser, as unfeeling, as beneath any decent treatment. What this books shows is just how it was in reality, and the sheer, breathtaking arrogance of people just because the are British is incredible. Its always amazed me how one tiny, little country became such a world power.
Of course Sara is lovely, way to good for Charles and the British Enclave in Madras. Charles is ambitious, and not above using Sara’s beauty to further his position, and insidiously bullies her into behaving with those who can influence his future. He sees her as a tool more than a wife, but then sadly he’s not alone. Women were regarded that way, possessions to be used, to be paraded out with, to show off, while they kept an Indian woman for what they saw as their baser needs. Wives weren’t allowed or expected to enjoy sex, but remain above such things, while men had “needs”…… Incredible how men who denigrate Indians in public still wanted them kept quietly somewhere for those needs. Sadly that was the norm, accepted even, and the poor ladies, Indian or British, had no say.

Sara gets a rapid eye opening about her husband, and of course the wonderful, attractive Ravi is a temptation she can’t resist. I loved the idea of their meeting being fated, that the signs, the gurus, Sara’s history, all meant it was inevitable according to Ravi. This idea of fate v personal choice always fascinates me, and there are times when things seem impossible but somehow work out, as if fate lent a helping hand.

Stars: Five. A gorgeous read, transporting me to India, desperate for things to work out for Sara, for her to be happy.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

A Life Without Living, (The STREGA Series Book 1) S.C. Alban

A Life Without Living, (The STREGA Series Book 1)

A Life Without Living (The STREGA Series Book 1) by [Alban, SC]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

I didn’t realise this wasn’t a stand- alone, but part of a series so was expecting it to end. And it didn’t, but ends on something of a cliffhanger. Still, its a great story and goodreads and amazon do make it clear its not a stand alone read.

I was intrigued, its a supernatural story but different to much of whats on offer, a love story passed down through the ages.
Gio, what a fabulous man and how harrowing, always searching and never quite making it in time. Then waiting for the next lifetime. Kate, I really liked her and her friend from work, Dave. Then there’s Alex, on the surface the perfect husband but when we see their relationship closer its not all that it seems, and yet despite his faults Kate is always so eager to please him. And of course there’s Claire and Willem, and the way there seems an instant attraction between them.
I enjoyed the story but there were a few sections that jarred, a few oddities such as when Gio meets Kate for coffee. They’re strangers, and he gets her an Americano. “ That’s amazing. Its my favourite. How did you know?” Well, I guess as most coffees are the basic, Americano, it wasn’t a difficult guess, but more a safe choice….

Its a story I enjoyed but didn’t have me riveted to the page, wasn’t one I couldn’t put aside for a while. I do want to read more though, want to see how things are going to work out.

Stars: Four, an enjoyable read, good story and I’m keen to see what happens next.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Wanders Far-An Unlikely Hero’s Journey, Part of the Adirondack Spirit Series, David Fitz-Gerald

Wanders Far-An Unlikely Hero’s Journey, Part of the Adirondack Spirit Series, David Fitz-Gerald

Wanders Far-An Unlikely Hero's Journey: Part of the Adirondack Spirit Series by [Fitz-Gerald, David]

Genre: Historical Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

I love stories about other cultures, and was drawn to this one.
Its a wonderful, gentle story, showing snippets of how life was for the Native Indians.

I really enjoyed the day to day aspect, learning about the long houses, Bear Fat’s matriarchal group, and of course the journey Wanders Far’s life takes him on. There were a few harsh moments, life was tough then, some folk were cruel, it was part of their culture, though seems awful looking at it from modern perspectives, but back then it was simply accepted.
Wanders Far is a wonderful young man, and his story was beautiful, marrying practicality with spirituality, and showing just how important stories and the Great Spirit was to the people. I liked that we how others in his extended family and friends grew up too.

Stars: Five, a beautiful read, and I look forward to more in the series.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Echo Trilogy Collection: The Complete Series  Lindsey Fairleigh 

The Echo Trilogy Collection: The Complete Series  Lindsey Fairleigh 

The Echo Trilogy Collection: The Complete Series (Echo World Book 1) by [Fairleigh, Lindsey]

 

I read this series as individual books as they came out, but it’s now available as a complete set, a massive 1143 pages for just £9.99 or free on KU.
I’ve just borrowed this on KU and reread them ( easier than digging them out individually on my kindle, I’ve almost 7K books there…. ) Each book has been renamed, maybe has been updated, from memory i didn’t notice anything different but it is several years since I’ve read them. Knowing the backstory and some of what would happen meant i feel I got more from the story this time round – that’s something i often find with complex reads such as this.
It’s set in modern times, but also there are periods when the story reverts to the past, from Ancient Egypt to current day and between. It’s a great read, totally absorbing, great characters that felt real to me, and some unusual world building. I love it, definitely a five star read, thought I can’t recall how I originally rated the stories individually.

I’ve added links to past reviews.
https://wp.me/p3gAhS-rQ

https://wp.me/p3gAhS-Q9

https://wp.me/p3gAhS-VZ

I’m about to read the fabulous Ink Witch series next, same world, a few years on and with secondary characters from this book playing the leads. Kat Dubois Chronicles (6 Book Series) by  Lindsey Fairleigh

Exquisitely Broken, A Sin City Tale 1, M. Jay Granberry

Exquisitely Broken, A Sin City Tale 1, M. Jay Granberry

Exquisitely Broken (A Sin City Tale Book 1) by [Granberry, M. Jay ]

Genre: Romance, multi-cultural interest

The story is told in three parts; today, four years in the past and ten years in the past. At times that was irritating, frustrating, there’d be something climatic happen then next page we’d be in a different time period. I don’t really see another way of telling the story though, other than giving it all away at once, and that wouldn’t make good reading 😉

I wanted to know what happened to split them up, after all six years together is a long time. I know he cheated, Sin tells us that, but I wanted to know exactly what happened, why, how long etc. When I did find out what went down I was a bit confused. Why? Was it a one off or ongoing? Was that the only time? There had to be a reason, was Jake just getting cold feet? Was he just arrogant thinking he could do it just because? I feel that part of the book needed more work, more fleshing out.
It was such a huge part of them and the story but kind of glossed over. “oh, he cheated, right, on to next plot.” It wasn’t treated with the awfulness cheating is, and Jake didn’t seem to appreciate just how his actions affected Sin, it was as if he felt it was in the past, she should forget it. I’d always worry though, if he could do it once, he could do it a second time. It made Jake into a person I didn’t really like, and it took a while for that to change.
Sin is so loyal to her friends, has worked hard for her success but her heart is still with Jake, she hasn’t really got over their break-up, and now she’s within his sphere again he wants her back. I was a bit undecided though, was her really worthy of her? I guess without knowing what went wrong I wasn’t convinced it wouldn’t happen again. Sin though is stronger now, and not just going to roll over.

We meet Jake’s family too, his dad isn’t so bad but his mum, what a piece of work she is. That’s fine by me though, I just love a nasty character on a book, makes the story so much more interesting 😉 I did feel though that Jake needed to stand up to her more, to stand by Sin, to tackle his mum about her past actions and her current attitude.

There’s lots going on in this story, some terrific characters and its a great debut read, but for me it needed a bit more – I needed to feel that Jake really regretted what he’d done. I felt he was sorry for it only in that he lost Sin because of it, not that he actually saw anything wrong in his cheating. There’s an important difference there, and its the one that makes me certain it won’t happen again.
I needed him to stand up to his mum too, to tell her to not interfere in his life, for him to stand up for Sin, rather than just let things play out and – kind of – apologise foe his mum after she’s been her usual unpleasant self.
Stars: Four, a great debut read. A few parts that didn’t work so well for me but I’ll be looking out for M Jay’s next book.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

More Than Anything, The Broken Pieces Book 1, Natasha Anders

More Than Anything, The Broken Pieces Book 1, Natasha Anders

More Than Anything (The Broken Pieces Book 1) by [Anders, Natasha]

Genre: Romance, General Fiction (Adult)

I’ve enjoyed a few of Natasha’s stories now. Sometimes I just want an easy, non taxing romance with a HEA and her books usually fit the bill. I didn’t enjoy this one much though, it wasn’t a bad book, I just found I couldn’t really relate to the characters or their problems.

I love an under-dog, and Tina seemed just that. She had an awful experience at 18, but unless she was incredibly naive I find part of that plot hard to believe. Likewise staying celibate for next ten years? Why? Still hating Harris for what happened even though as a close family friend they seem to be in constant contact some way? Then there’s the crux of that issue, her weight, but she doesn’t seem to be anything more than an attractive, curvy lady.
Though I like the underdog character I want them to have some spirit and Tina just came over as whiny at times, no backbone, just constantly blaming everything on Harris, when they guy didn’t know half the story.
Harris, I didn’t understand why he didn’t ask why Tina was so cold to him after The Event. He knows what happened, its not hard to guess why Tina was friends before and blanked him after. Why didn’t he just apologise, ask her why she was so different? I just found the idea of adults holding a ten year grudge hard. I’d just move totally away if I felt that strongly, but Tina seems to have had contact via family but kept on silently with the recriminations.
Then after a ten years of holding in that grudge its over quickly, and that didn’t feel right. Her friend Libby and Greyson too, their issues being the secondary plot-line, was kind of over and done without any real justification of the resolution. If I was Libby I’d have been gutted at what happened, it would take a lot of hard work to forgive and I’m not sure that kind of accusation could be got past.
I didn’t understand why her family were so harsh on her, it seems to have been almost since birth, and the failed businesses were just an anomaly in the book IMO. They didn’t add anything to the story, just filled pages and gave her supposed close family something to beat her with.

There’s another part of the story that did make me feel really sad for her, and having experienced something very similar I could understand a bit of her reaction. Again though, she has the money, she’s been to counseling, and when its affecting her friendship with Libby it needs dealing with.

Stars: Two and a half. I liked the premise, usually enjoy Natasha’s stories but this one just didn’t cut it.

Arc via Netgalley

The Things I Know, Amanda Prowse

The Things I Know, Amanda Prowse

The Things I Know by [Prowse, Amanda]

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. I’ve read several by Amanda now and she creates characters that feel incredibly real, and scenes that are like snippets for everyday life. That means the plots too feel genuine, and that’s what I want in a story. Something I can believe in.

I adored Hitch, hated that name that epitomizes her disability. She’s adored by her parents, but as often happens when children have disabilities, they are so scared for her they restrict her, smother her almost, and treat her like a child, always soothing and not really listening to what she wants now she’s older. It must be hard seeing your child upset and the natural temptation is to keep them close, keep them away from harm. Hitch though is feeling a bit lost by life, its a wash, rinse, repeat kind of time for her and she wants a future of her own, a family, her own cake tins. That looks like its not on for her until Grayson Potts comes to stay, and he and Hitch see something in each other that completes them, makes them feel whole. Grayson too has issues, ones that make it difficult for him to relate to others but give him a talent in the finance industry.

They become close, even though its just a couple of days, and gradually both spread their wings a bit and look to a future. I loved when hitch became Thomasina. Its not without traumas though, problems, pitfalls and unpleasant people.
I loved that Amanda showed that disabled folk want – and should have – more than just a safe life, that its OK to want more, that they are the same as anyone else and should be treated that way. The older I get the more I see “normal” as mythical, really we’re all someone along a sliding scale of normal, not one fixed point that denotes it and anyone away from that magic mark is not normal, and shouldn’t expect to have the same rights, realities, life expectations as those who fit that narrow criteria.

Stars: Five, another great read from Amanda, and one to keep for re-reading. Such a wonderful story, no deep dark dramas, but a gentle spreading of wings from two wonderful characters.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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