Archive | September 2019

Fox Blood, (Moon Marked Book 3), Aimee Easterling

Fox Blood, (Moon Marked Book 3), Aimee Easterling

Fox Blood (Moon Marked Book 3) by [Easterling, Aimee]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

Well, adventures galore after the antics at the end of books two. Trouble in the pack for Gunner, Trouble for Mai with Kira excelling herself in brat mode here. Honestly, at times I wanted to shake her. She a kid though and gone through such a lot. And because she’s a kid then social services are always overlooking what the two do, and checking Mai is looking after Kira properly. Of course she can’t tell them whats going on “ ah well, you see, actually we’re fox shifters, Kitsunes…” – “ right, OK dear, now lets just give you a nice shot to clam you down….”
There are possible relatives for the girls who though they had none, Gunner has pack troubles, getting wolves to accept him having a fox mate. Kira’s mum is still throwing in unhelpful tips, and its really chaos all round. All Mai wanted was a quiet life for her and Kira, then she met Gunner and he convinced her they could make a life together. The pack has been through such a lot though and they are not happy.

Stars: four, its a fun finish, packed with action and suspense, but the actual ending did feel a little rushed. I’m not usually one for books following the ending of a story but I think a longer epilogue with a peek into the future would have finished this off well, just to let us know that after all the chaos and disasters things did work out, that the pair had not just a HFN but a HEA.

A bought book!

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Shadow Wolf (Moon Marked Book 2), Aimee Easterling 

Shadow Wolf (Moon Marked Book 2), Aimee Easterling 

Shadow Wolf (Moon Marked Book 2) by [Easterling, Aimee]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

So, after the last adventures Mai and Kira are hiding out with Gunner and the pack. Of course that doesn’t go down well with many of them, historically the two Do Not Mix….and Kira is fading fast. Trying to be helpful we saw in the last book things she did that are now affecting her badly. Kira is desperate to help her sister, but can see her sickening daily. Kira is still a brat though, in a nice way, she adores her sister but it seems the fox/kitsune playfulness and trickster genes came out in force in Kira. She means well, but somehow ends up doing the opposite, causing chaos. If she was a NI spirit she’s be Coyote!
Its a fun read, I loved the fact the Pack weren’t happy and the issues that brought. I did feel a bit confused at times, sort of lost the thread of where the story was going, and it took me a while to get back “into” the story. There was a patch where I lost it completely, got confused and just kind of switched off and skimmed a couple of chapters, and of course that didn’t help. “But I wanted to see what would happen” she explains plaintively…
There’s some more surprises for Mia and Kira here, mum’s voice is still throwing cryptic comments at Mia, and some of those made me smile and think “what on earth does THAT mean??”. Its good to have some lighter moments 😉 Gunner is doing his best to help but he’s Pack and his leader brother makes it clear he needs to choose where his loyalties lie. While Mia and Kira continue to help the pack in their search they’re there in sufferance but its a thin line he treads.
I enjoyed this installment even though like other reviewers there were parts where I got a bit lost, but I love to read a series back to back, and to reread good ones, and find that works well for me. I’m sure when I get to reread this one those foggy moments will be clearer, especially as I’ll know the ending and be able to resist skipping to there 😉
And, I’ve bought book three. It takes a lot to make me buy books with getting lots of lovely arcs ( thanks authors and publishers), free kindle reads and KU.

Stars: four, a fun read, some terrific characters – including Kira’s social worker! I doubt in real life that would swing but she’s a gem. I did find parts a little hard to follow but as I’ve said I’m sure re-reading will clear that up.

A bought book!

Let It Snow, Sue Moorcroft

Let It Snow, Sue Moorcroft

Let It Snow by [Moorcroft, Sue]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Women’s Fiction.

Quick usual moan about the genre Women’s Fiction – why? Why assume men won’t read this? Men write romance, men read romance….

Well, I was late to the Sue Moorcroft appreciation group 😉 but she’s the kind of author whose books are worth reading multiple times. They’re so packed with mini plots, secondary characters, fascinating dialogue that I know on subsequent readings I’ll pick up things I missed this time round.

As usual its not just one plot, one strand of story but lots. I love that in a story, keeps things exciting. Some books are single plot and I find that can mean the story becomes a bit dull, fixated on one event but here we flip between plots, many of which prove ultimately to be connected.
Fabulous charters too, that make the story feel so real. They’re the kind of folk you find in any village, with all life’s dramas, the everyday issues we all face at times. There’s Lily, Zinnia and the two mums, and the issues that’s brought for all of them, and then Lily discovering her two half brothers, and what she should do about that. They have no idea about her, the mums and Zinnia are feeling a bit rejected, even though Lily still adores them. I guess that’s natural, how most parents would feel when their child wants to search out other family members. Til now they’ve been a tight knit unit of four, what will happen when Lily finds them.
Of course its not straight forward, Lily finds Harrison Tubb ( known to all as Tubb), he’s a well liked genial landlord of a village local, and she gets a job with him, intending to tell him who she is when time is right. Its never that straightforward though, and that simple quest gets more complicated as she falls in love with Isaac, who’s minding the pub while Tubb recovers from a heart issue in Switzerland with his brother. By now Lily has been at the pub two years, part time, while building her own business. That brings in an opportunity to work at an event in Switzerland, via Tubb and his brother Garrick, who still don’t know who Lily is to them.
Then there’s the singing group, who are also on the Swiss trip, singing Christmas songs, the other villagers, Isaac and his ex Hayley, and of course their dog, Doggo. He’s a real star of the book, so typically Dalmatian, full of exuberance.
Everything comes to a head just before, and on, the Swiss trip, its multiple dramas pulling Lily from all sides. Perfect read for me, I adore that kind of drama that makes you think, how can they get through this, will they even, or are the odds so stacked against them they won’t?

Its a perfect read for me, full of people and issues that feel so real and one in particular is handled very well, an illness that touches many of us. I’ve read similar plots in other books where it feels like its been brought in to add drama but just isn’t handled well, with parts being very unrealistic. Having had an illness similar myself I appreciated that this was written sensitively but realistically.

Stars: Five, a fun read, full of drama and subtle romance

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Saturday Supper Club, Amy Miller

The Saturday Supper Club, Amy Miller

The Saturday Supper Club: An absolutely heartwarming romantic read by [Miller, Amy]

Romance, Women’s Fiction

Bah, Humbug. Women’s Fiction – that infuriates me. Why do we insist on having such an outdated category?
Anyway, the book. Well, I love a second chance romance, and when characters stories are unfinished like this I want to know how they will end when they meet, will that second chance take, will things work out or has too much changed.

Sadly it wasn’t a great read for me. I love the cafe and how that was being set up, liked the idea of the supper club. I somehow felt the execution was lacking though, given the title, it didn’t really take a major setting.
I found most of the characters strange, except for Eve’s dad and his girlfriend. Though even Dad’s actions were not right either over one event, he meant well but it was wrong. Eve was shilly-shallying between the two men, not really being fair to either. I don’t like that behaviour, even though I understood her need to know, her shock at meeting Ethan again.
Some odd events are disclosed when Ethan finally reveals why he left and his excuse – well, it gobsmacked me. Really? She was upset so you …?? and thought it wise to cuddle someone in those circumstances? What a berk, what a stupid man. I’d have never been able to trust him again.
There are times when things happen between couples that make me feel there is some exoneration, even though its wrong but this? Nope. Out Of Order Ethan. Then he took cowards way out.

I thought Joe was great at first but as we came to know him I found him a bit creepy, manipulative…and then of course things come out that confirm that for me.
Daisy – well, with friends like her who needs enemies is all I can say. Even when the story comes out she’s still “poor me” “ I loved him first” even though he never had anything other than friendship with her.

Overall there were some interesting parts but the characters let it down for me, I didn’t really like any of them, and that spoiled the story.

Stars: Three, I just felt with a bit of tweaking it could have been a great read for me but then I’m sure others will love it as it is. Horses for courses etc.

Arc via Netgalley

Unearthed, A Death Seeker Novel, Cecy Robson

Unearthed, A Death Seeker Novel, Cecy Robson

Unearthed: A Death Seeker Novel by [Robson, Cecy]

genre: General Fiction (Adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy

I love Cecy’s stories so was keen to read this but…I did find it confusing at times. Its got that “first novel in series” issue that often happens, where there’s so much to deliver, story, world building, type of character and what magics they have, that it can easily get confusing.
Everything here is so very different, for example Olivia is a pixie, but living among humans as so many of the Fae are, but undetected. She has magic that’s so far unknown but when it does come its kind of typical Olivia, she of the rainbow coloured hair has pink magic, deadly, dangerous magic, but pink.

I really liked Olivia’s spark, loved the humour in the book, the loyalty she inspires. I loved Jane, a fellow magic user, an Elder, but who communicates in somewhat different ways. Then there’s Ryker…swoon…who turns out to be more than just a heart throb top legal expert.
There’s a terrific cast overall, some much needed humour at times among all the death and destruction that lifted the tone just when I needed it. I had a hard time believing that all that devastation could go unnoticed by humans though, and it wasn’t really explained that well. A couple of times early in the book we get to hear what story has been put out, but later on when the destruction is massive, I didn’t find any explanations of how humans wouldn’t have noticed, or what they would have thought.

I did find the constant battles with the hell hounds a bit wearying, and too graphic for me. I know it wasn’t easy killing them, I know the deaths they caused weren’t pretty, but after the third time of reading just how they dismembered victims I got the picture, didn’t need a blow by blow account full of gore and detail every time. I ended up skipping those parts, and of course there lies the danger I may have skipped something that’s later a major part of the story.

I enjoyed this story but wasn’t riveted to it. I think its one I’ll come back to further on in the series when I understand more, and get much more from it. For now I just feel a bit overwhelmed by such complex events and characters. Its a three star now, but I suspect when I’m more into the series it’ll actually be a five star read. I’m just still a bit confused and bemused…
BTW thanks Cecy, no awful cliffhanger, my bête noire . This story ties up with indications for future books and that’s just how I like a book in a series to end.

Stars: Three, a story that’s complex, and I found a bit too packed with world setting, new events and characters. I feel when I understand more of this world I’d probably rate this a five but for now its a three.

Arc via Netgalley

Reveal, K. Bromberg, Wicked Ways book two

Reveal, K. Bromberg, Wicked Ways book two

Reveal (Wicked Ways Book 2) by [Bromberg, K.]

Genre: romance, general fiction (adult)

Confession time: I loved KB’s Driven trilogy, which I read years ago, and I’ve enjoyed several of her follow up novels, so when I saw she was the author of this book I dived in and hit request. Wasn’t til it was on my kindle I realised it was second part of a duet. Luckily book one was on KU so I borrowed that – loved it BTW – and went on to this.
What I love in a story is romance, but I want a novel that delivers more than just A meets B, and after a few struggles they live happily ever after. I want my characters to really get put through the mill and KB delivers all that in spades.

I loved Ryker, the type of guy you hate until you see beyond his surface, and when he meets Vaughn he’s hooked, though he doesn’t yet realise it. When we learn about his background its easy to see how that has influenced not just his career, but his whole way of living, and until he meets Vaughn he thinks he’s content. Now he’s seeing that he can have more – if he’s brave enough to try. Vaughn though, that girl has some real problems….
I adored Vaughn, been through so much with the loss of her sister, with the awful family situation they had, and now she’s determined to get custody of her niece Lucy, who has learning issues. Lucy is just adorable and loves Vaughn so much you just want things to work out for them, but life is stacked against them. Its hard already with Vaughn working two jobs to pay off the huge debts she ran up for her sisters medical care. Of course one of those jobs has to be kept quiet, hidden from social services, but that’s the one that’s bringing in the money.
Slowly the worlds she tries to keep apart start to collide, problems from her secret job start to create real issues to her custody application, and to her safety. She has secrets on all her clients, but some are bigger than others, and one in particular is bringing her into real danger. She can’t trust anyone, she thought she could trust Ryker but the events at the end of book one threw that into confusion, and left her distraught and feeling so alone.
This book is action packed, full of drama, of secrets, of issues that seem to come between her and Ryker, even though its clear they are totally in love ( and lust!!!) Can they make it through, will her adoption of Lucy work out or is it all doomed to fail?

I had anticipated a few events but there were some that really threw me out completely, and the action – bam, bam, bam, with scarcely a break before she gets hit with the next problem. I so felt for her, I don’t know what I’d have done in the same situation to determine what was the right for her, Lucy and Ryker, but I was so holding out for them.

Stars: Five, a cracking duet, full of scorching romance,and non-stop suspense

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Reach for a Star, Kathryn Freeman

Reach for a Star, Kathryn Freeman

Reach for a Star by [Freeman, Kathryn]

Genre: romance, humour

I loved Kathryn’s Before You, so when I saw this I was keen to read it. I have a weakness for the fame/ordinary person trope and this sounded perfect.
I really enjoyed it, but it didn’t quite have that five star magic for me. Michael was a wonderful man, and his loneliness, at the top of his career, his desire for something more, was clear. Until he met Jessie though he didn’t realise himself how he felt, and as he started to develop feelings for her he was also aware of his past where emotions were concerned. I so loved him, he was the perfect lead.
Jessie I really liked at first but I did get tired of her on/off/on feelings, doubts yes, but poor Michael really got put through the mill with her and he had the patience of a saint to put up with it all. I did understand her feelings about her family, but she was making decisions for Michael rather than talking through them.
Georgina – I had such high hopes for a really good B itch type and she started well but, well, I so love the chaos people like her bring to a romance but she didn’t. Works for others, left me a little disappointed though 😦
There is some great humour here, not in your face forced stuff, but subtle and funny. One bit got me though “damn it she was thirty six not sixty three. She didn’t want slippers. What she wanted was knock-em dead Louboutins” I’m not far off 63, I want Louboutins too, not slippers 😉
Her friend, her Ex and the boys were terrific side characters and added so much to the story, made it feel real. I like books that are rounded, not just single plot.
What if your dreams were so close you could reach out and touch them?
How could anyone resist Michael Tennant, with his hypnotic blue eyes and voice like molten chocolate? Jessie Simmons certainly can’t. But Jessie’s a single mum who can’t sing to save her life – there’s no way she’ll ever cross paths with the star tenor.

At least that’s what she thinks until she’s unexpectedly invited to take part in a new reality TV show. The premise? Professional singers teach hopeless amateurs how to sing. The surprise? Jessie’s partner is none other than Michael Tennant!

As she becomes better acquainted with the man behind the voice, will Jessie find out the hard way that you should never meet your idols? Or will she get more than she bargained for?
Stars: Four, a fascinating read, bring in life in a very personal way.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Nature Tonic, A Year in My Mindful Life, Jocelyn de Kwant

Nature Tonic, A Year in My Mindful Life, Jocelyn de Kwant

Nature Tonic by [Kwant, Jocelyn de]

Genre: Crafts & Hobbies , Outdoors & Nature

I’ve always loved Nature, loved to be outside, enjoying plants, trees and wildlife.
I was interested to read this book, as I think many of us have forgotten just how restorative nature can be. We live in a rushed world, dominated by clocks, timetables, schedules and maybe taking a step back and appreciating what Nature does for us, ruled by her own timetables of night and day, seasons, where each day is a fresh new start can really help us.
Studies have shown how depression is helped by natural light, and I think this book goes that step further, in encouraging us to look around, see whats surrounds us, how it works, how seasons change, even times of day bring variations in nature. Some plants open at night, others during day, and others only in full sun.

There are daily tips, suggestions on what to do each day to encourage the reader to focus on their surroundings. I think that’s great, sometimes we’re overloaded with advice, see the challenge of adding something new into life as just too much, haven’t the time, don’t know where to start. All those excuses, where in this little book all we need to do is just take one step, do one thing a day. There’s no pressure, its nothing more than simply looking, smelling, thinking.
For example there’s a section on trees, suggesting studying different leaves, pick one and identify it, look for baby trees around a mature one, look at bark patterns of different trees and perhaps draw some. Nothing that can’t be done in just five minutes if wished, but which can be expanded to take however much time we want to spend on the task.
I think for all of us this book is great at reminding us how nature goes on, year after year, without interference. It reminds us of our roots, our food, whats really important in life. (Tip: Its not just 9am at the office) work will be done and gone, what seems all important now and is causing so much grief and pressure will pass, but Nature is always there. Finding our place, fitting in to the world around us, feeling part of it is humbling but also uplifting, and its that uplift of spirits that so many of us need.

Take a few minutes out of your day to look around at nature for a week, see how much better you feel at the end of it. Then buy this book, and follow the suggestions, it’s really worth it, especially if you are depressed and maybe need that little help of the daily tips to get started. In keeping with the simplicity of the text there are numerous simple illustrations that fit perfectly.

Stars: Five, a really helpful book, whether you’re a nature lover or just looking for a way to get through the daily grind, and lighten your thoughts and stress.
Arc via Netgalley

One Christmas Star, Mandy Baggot

One Christmas Star, Mandy Baggot

One Christmas Star by [Baggot, Mandy]

Romance, Women’s Fiction

Bah, Humbug. Women’s Fiction – that infuriates me. Why do we insist on having such an outdated category?
Anyway, the book. I’ve enjoyed many of Mandy’s stories now, I know her writing style and my reading tastes generally mesh well so was keen to read this.

I loved Ray, in bad press and once more its media hype to get headlines, nothing like the truth. Its why I don’t buy newspapers any more, fed up of the lies and half truths they publish. Folk like poor him get their lives derailed in the pursuit of headlines. Rant over 😉
Ray has a lot going on in his personal life too, but somehow when he meets Emily, in the school shed, holding a hedgehog, overlooked by Emily’s year six pupils, he’s a goner. Life keeps on bringing them together somehow, and slowly more develops.
I loved Emily too, such a truly good person, adores her job teaching, and is a gem, one of those teachers who really tries to encourage her pupils, to set them on the right path, give them skills they need in life, and keep them doing the right thing. I just adored her class, a typical primary school mixed bunch, full of a mix of innocence and good ideas……and then of course there’s Jonah and Two LL’s 😉

Its a fun read, with some fairly deep emotion in parts, and a surprise in store over the allegations Ray faces from his ex. Its fiction, its entertainment, but this particular thread is true for many folk, and something too often glossed over. It was good to see it brought forward.
Can’t say more without spoiling, but you’ll know when you get to it, and maybe when you hear of something like this in real life you’ll be understanding, not do the usual reaction.

The play: well. Emily and Ray really knocked it out the park with that – it was fabulous, and I loved the songs, humming them to myself as I read.

Stars: Four, a great fun read, didn’t quite have the magic for me that some of Mandy’s books have had though, it took me a little while to appreciate the story, and warm to the characters.

Arc via Netgalley

A Single Thread, Tracy Chevalier

A Single Thread, Tracy Chevalier

Genre: General Fiction.

I enjoyed this, didn’t love it and skim read a few parts where it dragged but on the whole its a story I really liked.
I loved Violet, so typical of the time, with her fiance killed during the war, and like so many other ladies of her age, she’s become almost an outlier in a society where women are brought up to be wives and mothers. What can they do though, there’s a huge shortage of men due to the war, and yet these poor ladies don’t have a real place in society through no fault of their own?
Life was a struggle for Violet, she tried so hard to find her own place in the world, keep her independence, it was a constant balance trying to eke out enough money to survive.

The story was so typical of the time, at points such as when her employer is bemoaning the fact the he employs typists, mainly a female occupation, and yet too often they leave to get married or look after aging parents. Violet has to work hard to stay out of that trap, when her mother is ill, her brother expects her to leave her job, home, the life she’s carefully crafted as of course he has his family to look after, so naturally Violet should do the caring. Its how women were perceived then ( and very often still…). It was hard for her to stand against that but somehow she manages to work things so she can keep her little bit of independence.

The war and the losses it caused, the people who survived but with problems, the grieving parents, the ladies left single in a society geared up for couples, this book really brought all that forward. Then of course there’s the broderers, the ladies embroidering hassocks and cushions for the cathedral. I’ve never really thought much about that but it was interesting reading, about how the patterns were chosen, and the importance of the stitching in making something lasting. I found that part inspiring, how something so everyday can take on such an important part of life. I enjoyed the history we learned through it too.
Then of course the relationships, how as I said its all couples that are the norm, heterosexual ones, and how suspicious anyone outside that was treated. The difficulties of loving outside that narrow remit, the way at the end Violet’s actions caused even her own family to distance themselves from her.
She had a tough life, but found a way to work through it, to live and enjoy it, with the help of a few close friends, even though she went against the strictures of behaviours that were set at that time

Stars: Four, a fascinating read, bring in life in a very personal way.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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