The Long Way Home, Kate Sherwood.
Genre: LBGTQIA, Romance
I’ve enjoyed several of Kate’s novels and loved the prequel to this one, The Mark of Cain, so was delighted to be offered this for review.
Sean is an incredibly bitter individual after the accident, which caused him to lose both legs. He was pretty awful before the accident, homophobic, angry, racist and one of those folk most people try to avoid. His best friend Luke ( from Mark of Cain) is in a relationship with Mark, an ex priest, and Sean finds that difficult to accept, but he has respect for Luke, one of the few people he listens to, and Luke knows how to handle Sean.
Sadly for Paul, he’s gay, he’s coloured and he has Sean as a patient. Sean is full of anger, full of bile, he hates what his life has become, dependent on others for so much and as he sees it, no future, he’s got nothing to live for. I’m an amputee, though thankfully only one leg, and I wasn’t like Sean pre-amputation. Still, that change from being independent, working full time, looking after my family to losing a whole leg, losing my job, being so dependent came as a shock, and like Sean I felt at times death was a welcome way out.
I remember the first night after the op being in tears because I couldn’t even do a simple thing like turning over in bed anymore, had to be helped. So even though Sean seems irredeemably awful I have a little sympathy for him. He should have a future of possibilities stretched out as he’s in his early twenties, and yet he feels he has nothing left to live for. When he’s as horrible as he was to Paul though even my sympathy was stretched.
Of course Kate seems to excel at making the most unlikely people fall in love, but this seemed one that I thought even she couldn’t do successfully. I was wrong 😉 somehow she brings out the best in Sean, doesn’t turn him overnight into a saint, but with the help of Paul and Luke he finds life is still worth living, that he hasn’t lost everything, and whilst learning that he finds another side of himself that he likes better.
He’s still angry, still lashes out without thinking at times, still misses a fight, but the good things in his life balance it. I was glad she didn’t change his basic nature, that wouldn’t have felt real, the Sean we get to know through the end of the book is still the same guy, but re-balanced, the best in him was there all along but hidden, now its the worst bits that are still there but hidden.
Then there’s Paul, a dutiful son, very much in the family mould, his only rebellion was his career, he just couldn’t face life in the family business, successful though it is, and he wanted to choose his own future. He’s in what his family see as a good relationship with Bobby, seems to have life set out for a happy future, but is feeling as though Bobby doesn’t really understand him, but his family are so happy about his rich, successful boyfriend and their relationship he’s not sure what to do, is it easier to just go with the flow?
And then there’s the kittens…..who are the catalyst (that was unintentional!) for a host of changes.
I really enjoyed this story, seeing how Sean came to terms with his loss, how Paul learned to stand up for what was important to him, and of course meeting Luke and Mark again, knowing that they have made a life together successfully, meeting Elise again and seeing her sanctuary still going well. And the kittens, stars of the show, I fell in love with them.
At the start I was pretty convinced Kate wasn’t going t have me believing in this love story, it seemed a step too far, and yet by the end I was convinced, what seemed an impossible challenge wasn’t.
I felt too that the feelings Sean had and the struggles he faced with life after amputation were so very real. I’ve been down the road, albeit I am fortunate in still having one leg, and Sean’s emotions and physical problems were ones I’ve also faced.
I can’t really pin down why this isn’t a five star read for me, could be my subconscious feelings over mine and Sean’s shared issues – though it was all written perfectly, there are still days when life is a struggle for me, and I think unconsciously that bias has affected how I feel over this story. One of those Its me not the story issues others won’t face but I do.
Stars: Four and a half, not quite as gripping as Kate’s other stories but a solid, engrossing read once more.
ARC via author
Shadow Hunter, (Rosie O’Grady’s Paranormal Bar and Grill 1), B.R.Kingsolver
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy
Well, I’m always looking for fantasy reads I’ll enjoy, there are thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, on KU so its hard to fine a gem among the dross. There are good books that simply suit different readers, different tastes, and then there are books that TBH should never see the light of day. Some people seem to think throw a few words together, cull bits from bestsellers with minimal changes and a fortune awaits. It doesn’t, but the morass of these stories do make it hard to find ones that are worth reading sometimes.
Anyway, Shadow Hunter proved to be one of those Gems, characters that feel real ( as much as they can in a fantasy setting), a major plot that will run through future story arcs, and lots of smaller plots. First books in series have it hard, deliver a story to keep reader engaged while setting out new characters and world building. Shadow
Hunter does that really well, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and promptly borrowed book two in KU.
The story is believable and has potential to stay that way through future books. I was hooked on it after the first few pages, and was keen to see just where it would take us. We’re learning more about Erin, she’s strange in some ways, a magical assaisin but incredibly naive when it comes to everyday life. She’s been brought up simply typ be a killer for the Illuminati, and at that time believes she’s working – and killing – for the greater good, but very quickly in this book she – and we- learn its all been a lie. As part of her training she’s bale to mix with the escelons of socierty so put her in designer clothes and heels, take her to top restaurants and opera houses and she copes fine, but ordering a pizza, making friends, coping with everyday life and she’s having to learn as she goes, watching others to see how they do it.
I really enjoyed meeting the main characters that seem set to lead future stories, and there’s a couple of faintly possible romantic prospects – they may come to nothing, though I’m hoping something with gel for Erin. I do love a romance within a story. Its a treat though to find a story where romance doesn’t dominate, in fact its not in this book more than a couple of hints, and when the supernatural fiction genre seems dominated by stories that are simply dross romances, but with supernatural creatures and no decent world building I was so happy to finally find this gem of a read. It makes trawling through endless samples of dull novels worth it.
Stars: Four and a half, not quite the magic five for me but a great read, and once I finish this series I’ll be looking at others BB Kingsolver has written.
Novel via KU
To Pet a Rose, Marie Penn
Well, I read it. All of it. Yet TBH I still don’t really know what its about, or where the story is going and won’t be continuing with it.
The characters feel a little odd, a bit flat, one dimensional, and I’m not sure I like any of them. The writing throws in a lot of vocabulary that was overdone and felt weird I had to look up, I’m pretty well read and its usually only historical words or specialist ones that have me stumped, but here they were not just used within the fencing/festival setting but thrown into everyday speech, and it just felt odd and a bit out of place.
What I did think I wouldn’t be so keen on, the fencing and the world of Faires and Festivals ended up being one of the best parts of the book for me. I found that really interesting but not enough to actually enjoy this story.
It could well be just me, this is my view and that doesn’t mean others won’t love it. Its not a bad book, a few oddities in the language, but just not one for me. It seems to be a first novel, and ?I hate writing low stars for any book, but especially debut ones but honesty is important and this story isn’t for me.
Stars: Two, one of those where the story and I just don’t gel.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
The Perfect Wife, JP Delaney
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
This was outside my usual comfort zone, but so intriguing. I found it scarily disturbing, the way IT is growing in leaps and bounds its not quite outside the realms of possibility at some future date. Well, the IT side anyway, though the physical reality of creating something so lifelike isn’t so close, intelligent IT is, with developers and programmers getting ever closer to machines that can think ahead of simple programming and learn responses.
The thriller side of it too, is Tim the adoring husband he appears to be, recreating his much loved wife, or are the things Abbie uncovers signals that perhaps theirs wasn’t the wonderful marriage everyone seems to think they had. And how did she actually die? Is Tim not telling her to save her the trauma as he says ,or was there more to the story.
I love this kind of thriller where there’s lots to work out, where each side of the story seemed plausible. What I didn’t like though was that neither Tim not Abbie were particularly likable people. It was interesting reading about Danny and the therapies they tried, but other than to perhaps add a side of kindness to Abbie and provide a vehicle for the events at the end I’m not really sure why it was such a strong part of the novel. It did feel very real, I enjoyed seeing Danny and the issues he faced. Given the authors knowledge of this disability, I feel the problems and various therapies promoted were close to what happens in the real world. What works for some doesn’t for others and its finding the one that makes each person more comfortable with the world around them that is so difficult. I do believe strongly in the ethic that disabilities are not something to be “cured”, that its not a case of making people more “normal” but one of helping them fit in, be comfortable and cope with the world around them.
The ending puzzled me. I’ve gone back and reread it but TBH I’m still not really sure what happened, and that’s why I’ve dropped a star. Its a book I really enjoyed but not one I’d read again.
Stars: Four, An interesting read but ultimately a very disquieting book when thinking of the way technology is advancing, a route I hope it never goes.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Flawless, Fearsome Series Book 4, S.A. Wolfe
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
Gah, women’s fiction: c’mon publishers, this category has no place in 2019. Men read romance, men write romance, stop trying to alienate a potential reader base.
So, the story appealed to me and I really admired Talia. Peyton was sex on legs too, and I should have been glued to the page but….I just wasn’t.
Its a long read, usually I’m all over that, really lets me get lost in a novel, gives time to get to know the characters but here, well, I just didn’t connect with the story.
I put it aside in case it was just my mood – that happens, but on second read it still wasn’t great for me. After the halfway mark I skim read the rest, just wanting to see how it finished rather than enjoying the journey through the story.
There are some terrific characters, I hadn’t read earlier stories but each are stand alone and I don’t think that had anything to do with me not really gelling with this book.
Its well written, has lots of detail, side plots, and characters feel very real. Somehow though for me it just lacked intensity, I’m all about the nasty characters, the angst, the drama, and though there were suggestions of it here for me it just wasn’t enough.
Stars: three, it was fun in parts, had some great characters but overall it wasn’t a great read for me.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Discretion, The Dumonts Book 1, Karina Halle
Genre: romance, general fiction (adult)
Karina is one of my must-read authors, ever since I stumbled upon the wonderful experiment in terror series, and then of course her contemporary romances. Lately though, I seem to be on a different wavelength, I started but abandoned Maverick, and if this hadn’t been a review book I’d have done the same.
I wasn’t convinced in the insta-love Olivier had for Sadie, though its the kind of start I usually love. Then there’s the way she throws all caution to the wind and stays with him. Would you? I know some folk would, I just didn’t get that vibe from Sadie though, that she’d risk all on a stranger. Gorgeous, seems kind and filthy rich but a stranger non-the-less.
Throw in Olivier’s family, the sort of nasty characters I usually adore, and this should have been perfect for me. I just didn’t really understand why his mistake, his big secret, still affected him so much. Its played that letting it out would hurt his father and his sister, but his actions in abandoning that side of the family business seem to be hurting them more. Plus, he’s rolling in cash, folk like that are usually rolling in lawyers too 😉 and I’m sure one of them could have found a way out of the Big Secret. Frankly, I didn’t think it was something that would particularly shock his family anyway….Throw in that towards the end the drama, the secrets, the whole story line goes a bit OTT, and this just wasn’t a book for me.
The romance between Olivier and Sadie does wrap up, sort of, though it takes til nearly the end. However I still didn’t really think the dangers had gone, it was a bit call-my-bluff, OK bluff-called, but the threats and risks were still there IMO, folk like his family don’t just give up.
I guess that’s for the later books, I’m not sure if the next book(s) detail more of their story, or go on to another family member. I don’t like the kind of ambiguous ending of this one, so think there’s more to come from them, but I could be wrong and their story finished.
Stars: Two and a half, there were bits I enjoyed, Karina’s writing style works well for me but this book seemed a little OTT and choppy somehow. Much depends I guess on the next book, that may make me feel differently about this one, depending on what it contains.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Wolf’s Bane (Moon Marked Book 1) Aimee Easterling
Genre:Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance.
I love fantasy/romance reads, but so may of these seem to be all grunting, monosyllabic alphas, reverse harems or ones where the romance is all the book, no side/sub plots, no overall story line. Still, it means when I do find a read I enjoy then its like a sweet victory!
I added this one last week, it was free at the time, so nothing to lose and I’d enjoyed the sample. I’ve just bought books two and three, as it was an intriguing read, and I’ll be looking at what else Aimee has written.
Mai is great, she’s a Kitsune, Japanese fox shifter. I’ve come across these occasionally – I think the last one was in a Hailey Edwards read as a secondary character, and the Kitsune premise fascinates me. They’re not just shape shifters, but have a kind of fox nature in the way they think and behave, and usually they have some form of magic. Aimee has added a touch here where that magic is connected closely to Mai, and allows her to create real items, her sword for example, within a split second, but it needs to stay physically connected to her or she weakens. I’m still getting my head around the star ball that Kitsunes in this book have, that allows the magic.
Mai is guardian to her younger sister, and struggling. She doesn’t know any other Kitsunes, they live in a city controlled by werewolves, and she needs to tread carefully, as they see Kitsunes as something to be killed.
Its an interesting story, full of some very real characters, sub plots that add up to the whole, the star ball connection to magic, and of course poor Mai doesn’t have anyone she can ask for help to learn more about what they are. She’s never met another Kitsune. Her dead mother offers some cryptic comments at times in Mai’s head, but they’re beyond my understanding, and mostly Mai doesn’t see the logic til too late either. I do like that connection though, and trying to puzzle out what the heck she means by her strange phrases.
There’s a developing romance but its still early days, and apart from a couple of stolen kisses hasn’t gone further. So many fantasy romance reads make the romance all the story, held up by the tiniest of plots, and for me I want all the mystery, the magic, the struggles, with the romance being there but as part of the story, not all of it.
Stars: Four, a fun read, and a good start to the trilogy.
Book purchase – I do buy books in addition to receiving ARCs and having KU!