Archive | November 2019

The Light in the Hallway, Amanda Prowse

The Light in the Hallway, Amanda Prowse

The Light in the Hallway by [Prowse, Amanda]

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

Gah, I hate Women’s Fiction as a genre heading, so outdated. Men and women can read the same books….its 2019, not 1919.

Anyway, that’s just my personal gripe so…the book. Wonderful. One more Amanda delivers a story that’s thought provoking, gripping, realistic and with gentle touches of humour when parts get too dark.
Nick, oh poor Nick. I’ve been there, had those days when you look around at the empty house and wonder “is it really worth carrying on? What’s the point of it without your love beside you?” Yet he finds the strength to continue, mostly for his beloved son Oliver, who’s also struggling, not just from having lost his mum to cancer, but with his first few weeks at university.
Nick talks to Kerry in his mind, seeking her advice, and I still do that with my husband nearly four years later. He pretends she’s just in another room, and that’s so real, I know I did that too, taking comfort from the fact that maybe, just maybe, they really could be there. Even now some nights I reach out in bed and pretend my arm is resting on his body. Logic tells you they aren’t there of course, but comfort lets you believe the lie for a bit longer.

Its seems like it would be a heavy, sad story but its not. As in real life things happen that tug at the heartstrings whilst making you smile. The three boys, Nick, Eric and Alex and of course Half Bike. That’s was such fun to read even while I shared their struggles. The story veers between Nick, Eric and Alex now and as young lads, when everything can be an adventure. I adored Eric, as a lad and a man. He had such a wonderful sense of humour, his constantly calling the others female names “ You OK Shirley?” stuff like that, he managed to make me smile even when I veered on tears.

Its not just a snippet of time, a vignette of life story, but one where the characters go through the tragedy of Kerry’s death, and try to move forward. Such is the way of life that it moves on whether we are ready or not, so we see Olly’s struggles at uni in his first days, Nick’s return to work, trying to pick up his life, and of course his sister in law who’s determined no-one will replace her sister.
Nick going to the shop the day after her death to be told by his mum he couldn’t, it Wasn’t Done. He’s so right when he says its like wading through a minefield of unwritten rules, never knowing when you’re about to break one. When he’s talking about it only being x months since Kerry died, and yet for him he’d been grieving ever since they knew she wasn’t going to recover, more than a year ealier. That’s so true, that last year they went through she was alive, but not really living, and I can see how Nick’s grieving started much earlier than people would suppose.

Slowly Nick starts to pick up his life and move forward, helped by his childhood friends, mostly the wonderful Eric. I adore that man, he made me laugh so many times with his phrases, and also made me tearful at what happened to him as a young lad.
Amanda really can write characters well, both as adults and as kids. I really believed in those boys, was there alongside them shouting sh it-sticks on the camping trips, searching for bits for the bike, heartbroken at the idea of Eric moving away. I keep thinking of little bits that made me laugh, other than Eric’s wonderful name calling, and one that just sprung in my mind was the baby, when the boys wonder how long are women pregnant. “ They take at least a year to bake” says Eric knowledgeably, shocking Nick and Alex. I could just imagine the three of them mulling over the weird ways of adults.

Its a wonderful story, and one I really enjoyed once more. Amanda delivers the kind of story I love to read, real people, real scenes, stories that I can easily imagine happening, and of course always with an ending that neatly wraps things up. This time she really did bring things full circle, showing a path of happiness for these characters that had been through so much.

Stars: Five, another wonderful read. full of heartbreak and happiness, tears and triumphs.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Moonlight Kisses at Willow Tree Hall, Alison Sherlock

Moonlight Kisses at Willow Tree Hall, Alison Sherlock

Moonlight Kisses at Willow Tree Hall (The Willow Tree Hall Series Book 4) by [Sherlock, Alison]

Genre: Women’s fiction, Romance

Gah, I hate Women’s Fiction as a genre heading, so outdated. Men and women can read the same books….its 2019, not 1919.

Anyway, after having read the first three books this one was like meeting old friends again, with new ones in Jack and Lily. Although all the stories are connected you don’t have to have read them, each are stand alone romances, but if you have read them it adds a bit extra to the stories, seeing how couples are doing some time on from when we left them.

So many things about this book resonated with me, I share Lily’s List addiction, I have lists for everything. I don’t have Lily’s control issues though, I understand why she does but it makes things hard for those around her and in the early days at the Hall it makes it hard for the family and for Lily. She means well but its simply not working out.
I loved how all the characters pulled together, how the villagers rallied round, how Hazy Memory and the wonderful Alex were included in this story, not family but almost family by adoption.
Rose – I want to be here when I’m older! I adore her. When she’s talking about her Tinder dates and her sex life and grandnephew Sam makes an abrupt turn for fear of hearing more….Arthur, still the benevolent patient Earl, who sees beyond the obvious, who’s at much at home in Bert’s shed as he is in the stately grounds of the Hall.
Jack and Lily, a couple who are perfect but have past issues to get over first. Their backstory affected how they were today, the needed to look at that, understand it, before moving on.
Its a lovely story, full of little side plots and issues, of everyone pulling together for a common cause, of mishaps and mayhem, of the struggle to make the Hall profitable, or at least self supporting, of such wonderful characters, I felt as if I knew them personally.
Its chic-lit at its best, an easy read, some gentle romance, and a story to just sit and relax with. Of course normal things like Health and Safety, Food legislation, insurance etc have to be forgotten…. There’s no way today’s Red Tape would let half the things happen that do in this book. No selling cakes without inspections of kitchens, certificates, data sheets on every ingredient and traceability of it. No running a fete or launch without endless risk and safety assessments, signs everywhere warning of xyz, insurance to cover every possible event. I’m in favour of H&S, it has saved lives but somehow I feel we’ve gone too far the other way and where events like this were common when I was a kid everything get stacked against them now. The traditional British country fair is getting certificated out of existence, and as we see here it can benefit so many folk. It was wonderful to read things that I recall actually happening. I need to mention the apples though, 20-30 per tree is a pretty poor harvest. We used to get around 12-1500 from my four apple trees…
Lily’s family are struggling, all of them in a tiny cottage, her, mum, dad and granddad, and her dad has just given up on life, after his amputation. I found that a bit sad, life isn’t necessarily like that, most folk pick up and forge a new life as he is beginning to at the end of the book, but it was annoying to read at first, everyone mollycoddling round him, not expecting more. If that happens to you or yours don’t be like Lily’s family, don’t just assume for them life is over. I’ve been there, it isn’t!

Overall its a lovely relaxing read, full of country air ( I’m a country girl at heart), terrific characters, some slightly manic times, its a book perfect for a holiday read, or to escape real life for a few hours.

Stars: Four. Great relaxing read. Meeting the family again was like coming home.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Exquisitely Hidden, M. Jay Granberry

Exquisitely Hidden, M. Jay Granberry

Exquisitely Hidden: A Sin City Tale by [Granberry, M. Jay]

Genre: Romance

I enjoyed this read, liked catching up with the characters and seeing some of book one’s events from a different angle. There’s lots of drama for the band here at times, at others it just kind of plods along. I did find myself skipping a little then which is why its four, not five stars.
I love this kind of read where one person is out and proud and the other…well, not. That’s Seth and Adam, Seth had been out for ages and doesn’t like being kept hidden like a shameful secret, but Adam doesn’t want to be the Poster Boy for Gays.
I can understand that, somehow its typical that we see folk who are different from the average person in terms of what they are, rather than who they are. I’m an amputee, I also paint. I want to be remembered for my art, not my disability, but whenever there’s been any media publicity about art shows I’ve been involved in guess which gets the focus? 😦 yep, the missing leg, and I’m more than that, just as Adam is more too. Gay is a part of him, what he is, but not all he is.
He’s got lots of other issues too from his past, some of which Sin is aware, but even his best friend doesn’t know everything. They’ve an uphill task if ever they’re to find grounds for a relationship.
I enjoyed the will they won’t they, on and off nature of their connection. Its hard, I so understood how Seth felt, and at times I dd get irritated with Adam, but such is the course of love, and I do like the downsides in my reading to cover a decent part. None of this its all off and heart break, then two pages later its all good stuff for me!

I did get confused over how the foster carer he had could be in her eighties? A bit extreme, it would make her in sixties when she had the kids in her care, I can’t see that happening. Likewise the issues over Tori, one moment its all in the air, then next he’s off on tour and we don’t know where she is. There were quite a few typos and grammar errors too that niggled, but I’m hoping that’s because I had an ARC and they’ll have been corrected for final edition.

Stars: Four, a read I enjoyed, and I especially like Adam’s Big Gesture at the end. Seth deserved that, he’d put up with a lot from Adam.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Second novel by indie author E L Croucher. Horned Winged Blessed

 Indie authors need readers support, and if youre a lover of dystopian type fiction this may be for you. Its out now at £3.99 and also available on KU.

Horned Winged Blessed

Horned Winged Blessed by [Croucher, E L]

Horned Winged Blessed opens in a post-world war three world,with an all-female, all-wiccan government in charge. They are known as theSilver Party, and have led Broken Britain through the war. Now, they are pavingthe way to a utopia in which hate crime and sexual assault are things of thepast.

One of their biggest and most profound laws is the law of 3×3. Three genders,and three sexual orientations. Men are now called Horned ones. Women are called Winged ones. Lastly, every other gender is grouped together as the Blessed ones.
The story follows the protagonist Joan Wood’s journey tounderstand the issues within this society and eventually finds her taking itdown. She is the daughter of the founder that started the Silver Party, and shestarts the novel under the illusion that this is indeed a utopia. However,after various attacks on her home from the rebel party the Grounded, as well asvarious friends warning her that life isn’t a rose-tinted as she thinks, she becomes aware that the Silver Party, and her mother, have indeed taken things too far, and many of the non-binary folk in society feel oppressed and labelled.
In the later half of the book, Joan actually finds her way to the rebel faction, and joins them in their aim to take down her mother and bring a true version of gender equality and LGBT liberation – rather than the erroneous attempts at such by her mother.The book ends with a showdown between her and her mother, eventually with her prevailing to crack her way through the Silver Party, with the help of her Grounded comrades.

To the Stars and Back, A Glittering Romantic Comedy, Camilla Isley

To the Stars and Back, A Glittering Romantic Comedy, Camilla Isley

To the Stars and Back: A Glittering Romantic Comedy (First Comes Love Book 4) by [Isley, Camilla]

Genre: Romance

Well, this is book four in the First comes Love series, but each book is a stand alone although part of an interconnected series via the characters. I’d not read any of the others, but really enjoyed this as it was so don’t worry if like me you’ve just dived in and not realised there are earlier books.
I love this type of read and enjoyed this novel, but there wasn’t any gut wrenching emotion or drama from the nasty characters that I do love to find in this trope. Everybody is so nice, and while that’s good to read, I’m the sort of person who wants a few of the mean girls in. Not everyone does though, we all want different things.

I loved Christian, so unassuming, so genuine, and yet he’s been famous and wealthy for so long he has lost touch a bit with everyday life. ( The handbag, perfect example). Lana is a bit the other way, very in touch with day to day issues, a fervent environmentalist, she sees Christians spending as frivolous excess. At times that meant he’d tried to be thoughtful, but his actions were misunderstood, not always appreciated. There’s a balance, and though I agree with her on so much, at times she did come over a bit self righteous and judgmental.
I liked that she was unaware of who he was, so blasé about fame. Like her I don’t have a TV, I read, not watched TV for years now so fame and famous people only comes to my knowledge via online news, and TBH I don’t bother reading most of it.

I wasn’t entirely convinced they fell in love quite so quickly, she’s just come out of a long term relationship which had admittedly run its course, and he was decrying Love as a fantasy at the start of the book. Its a fun story, very real at times, with great characters, including the secondary ones, and I did enjoy it.

Stars: Four. Not heart-stopping drama but an entertaining afternoons read.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Dirty Letters, Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward

Dirty Letters, Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward

Dirty Letters by [Keeland, Vi, Ward, Penelope]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) , Romance

I love the ***** trope, but was wary as I’ve only read one other from this duo and it wasn’t a great fit for me but…. I loved this! So now I need to check more of their works. ( stars because I found this bit out from another review but its not in the description, don’t want to spoil it for those who’d rather not know)

What can I say about this? Well, it made me laugh so much ( Furbys! Happy meals! You’ll never see them in the same way again..) the characters were terrific.
Griffin, he’s just wonderful. Sensitive and caring, but life has changed him and he’s always been resentful of how Luca just stopped writing to him out of the blue, didn’t answer his letters, just dropped him like a brick. In a drunken rant he writes once more, eight years after his last letter, and what he gets back guts him.
Luca didn’t just drop him like a hot potato but went through a really bad trauma. He feels bad now about his drunken rant, writes back apologising, and the letters start again. But they are older now, each are curious about the other and the letters become decidedly sexy – and funny – see Furbys!!

Luca is curious about what Griffin looks like now, wants to exchange photos but he wants to keep the secrecy for a bit longer. Knowing more about Luca and her issues now he knows them, he’s scared she’ll find it hard to accept him as he is now….but curiosity eh? Gets them both…..

The there’s Doc, Luca’s friend-therapist-honorary granddad. He’s retired but sees Luca and has really helped her. Now its taking all of his skills and knowledge to push her that bit further, he knows she’s ready, she needs this if she’s to really get the most from her life. Its tough though, her fears are very real, the panic attacks crippling, and the journey through them to her future takes in the countryside, birds (Doc is a real bird-watching fan) and Griffin. He needs to adapt too, his life and Luca’s are at opposite ends, not just of the country but of life, and they both need to compromise.

Its a wonderful story, in tears one moment from laughing and the next from sadness. Luca’s issues were handled with sensitivity and explained really well, and Griffin, I understood exactly why he was tired of the life he was leading. I loved the story and will happily reread sometime.

Stars: Five, fabulous read full of emotion

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

 

Summary

 
She had yet to meet him but had never forgotten the British boy who’d warmed her heart.

As childhood pen pals, Griffin Quinn and Luca Vinetti couldn’t have been more different. Over the years, through hundreds of letters, they became best friends, sharing their deepest, darkest secrets.

Until one day it ended.

Griffin never understood why Luca disappeared. She was special. She knew the real him like no one else. He writes her a drunken letter, an angry one, never expecting her to write back.

Before they know it, they’re right where they left off. This time with heat.

But as playing catch-up goes from fun to flirty to downright dirty, Luca wants more. She wants Griffin in the flesh. That’s where it gets risky. Because when they meet, the mystery will be over. And once they really get to know each other, there’ll be no going back.

EXCERPT: Dirty Letters by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

The small dining room table had a pile of mail. I’d had Dad’s mail forwarded to my house, so mostly it was just catalogs and junk. Once a month, Mrs. Cascio sent me everything that arrived, even though I’d told her it wasn’t necessary. I mindlessly fingered through the pile, not expecting to see anything worth keeping. But I stopped at an envelope addressed to me—well, not me, but Luca Ryan. That was a name I hadn’t heard in a long time. In second grade, my teacher, Mrs. Ryan, started a pen pal writing program with a small town in England. We weren’t allowed to use our real last names for safety reasons, so the entire class used her last name—hence I was Luca Ryan. I checked out the return address for the sender’s name.

G. Quinn

Wow, really? It couldn’t be.

I squinted at the postmark. It was from a PO box in California, not England, but I didn’t know any other Quinn other than Griffin. And the handwriting did look pretty familiar. But it had been close to eight years since we’d exchanged letters. Why would he write now? Curious, I ripped it open and scanned right to the bottom of the letter for the name. Sure enough, it was from Griffin. I started at the beginning.

Dear Luca,

Do you like scotch? I remember you said you didn’t like the taste of beer. But we never did get around to comparing our taste in hard liquor. Why is that, you might ask? Let me remind you—because you stopped answering my letters eight damn years ago. I wanted to let you know, I’m still pissed off about that. My mum used to say I hold grudges. But I prefer to think of it as I remember the facts. And the fact of the matter is, you suck. There, I’ve said it. I’ve been holding that shit in for a long time. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not obsessive or anything. I don’t sit in my house thinking about you all day long. In fact, there have been months that go by when thoughts of you don’t even enter my brain. But then some random thing will pop into my head out of the blue. Like I’ll see some kid in a pram eating black licorice, and I’ll think of you. Side note—I’ve tried it again as an adult, and I still think it tastes like the bottom of my shoe, so perhaps it’s that you just have no taste. You probably don’t even like scotch. Anyway, I’m sure this letter won’t find its way to you. Or if by some miracle it does, you won’t answer. But if you’re reading this, you should know two things.

1. The Macallan 1926 is worth the extra cash. Goes down smooth.

2. You SUCK.

Later, traitor, Griffin

What in the hell?

 
Author Biographies
 

Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared on more than one hundred bestseller lists and are currently translated into twenty-six languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children, where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

 

Penelope Ward is a New York TimesUSA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of more than twenty novels. A former television news anchor, Penelope has sold more than two million books and has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list twenty-one times. She resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.

 

Together, Vi and Penelope are the authors of Dirty LettersHate Notes, and the Rush Series. For more information about them, visit www.vikeeland.com and www.penelopewardauthor.com.

Social Media Links

Vi Keeland Website: https://www.vikeeland.com

Vi Keeland Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorViKeeland

Vi Keeland Twitter: https://twitter.com/vikeeland 

Penelope Ward Website: https://penelopewardauthor.com

Penelope Ward Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/penelopewardauthor

Penelope Ward Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/penelopewardauthor

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Ancient Egyptian Myths, Gods and Pharoahs, Creation and the Afterlife. Catherine Chambers

Ancient Egyptian Myths, Gods and Pharoahs, Creation and the Afterlife. Catherine Chambers

Genre: Non fiction (Adult), History

The pyramids….who hasn’t been fascinated in their creation, the how and why Egyptians came to create them. They were incredibly elaborate decoratively, but the construction uses mathematical calculations we thought were discovered in the 1600s. Clearly the Egyptians were centuries ahead of modern day man in that way.
The Gods and Goddesses, the myths and legends that grew up around them fascinated me as a child and reading this wonderful book brought back much of that magic. Its a very dense read, Catherine fully explores all elements surrounding the Gods, the changing names, how they came about and why. It’s illustrated too with wonderful photos of surviving artifacts. It amazes me that we can still have things thousands of years old, I like to imagine someone carving one of these little objects, putting their heart and beliefs into it, and that carries through to today even though the creator is long gone.

Its a wonderful read but I have it on PC as an epub read, and for me that’s hard going, and the reason its taken so long to read. Its very full of information that can’t jst be skimmed but needs time to absorb and appreciate, so I’ve been reading a little every now and then, mulling over the content when not reading. My youngest grandson has just being learning about Egyptian history and we’d recently talked over some of the things I found in this book. It was good to have a wider and more complete source than an 8 yr old primary school text 🙂
I think that as with most non-fiction books it would be better in physical form. I love my kindle but undoubtedly some books need to be “old school” print to get the best from them. If I had this book as a physical one I’m sure I’d be dipping in and out of it constantly.
Even though this society is thousands of years past its still a fascination for so many of us, and this book really fleshes out so many of the myths I know on the periphery, and goes into detailed information as to how and why they may have originated.

Stars: Five, a fabulous read, but would be best on physical book form.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Room to Breathe, Liz Talley

Room to Breathe, Liz Talley

Room to Breathe by [Talley, Liz]

Genre: General fiction (Adult), Romance

I really enjoyed this. Its good to read romance from someone older than twenties. Its just a few little niggles that let it down for me, stopped it being five star, things like Ellery pretending to be her mum in emails, Clay, the notorious man whore, wanting more, things that didn’t really feel true to character. Overall though its a great read.

I loved Daphne, pregnant at 16 she married Rex and made the best of things. They’re both devoted to their daughter but over the years Daphne and Rex grew apart, and then divorced. Daphne’s career has grown and daughter Ellery works as her PA, having failed to get the internship she’d set her heart on.
Its easy to see why Ellery is selfish, both Daphne and Rex have done everything for her since she was tiny, indulged her, let her think the world revolved around her and her wants. She’s now 23 and they’re still doing it, and Ellery just assumes they should, that they’ll continue to pay her rent, pay her credits cards…but of course outside mum and dad the world is harsh, Ellery isn’t central. I really disliked her, and understood why Gage saw her as spoiled princess type.
Ellery doesn’t have many true friends, maybe her selfishness bleeds through and that’s why. That may also be why she pretended to be her mother in that strange pen pal relationship. TBH I found that part of the story odd, didn’t really fit as I never really understood why she did it, why she continued. It was an integral part of how things developed though so I guess I’ll have to suck it up 😉 Ellery has a fiance though, Josh, who’s in med school, and whom she lives with. We don’t really see much of him though, he’s always studying and though I felt for Ellery when she tried to carve time for them as a couple and got rebuffed, I felt she still saw things only in terms of how they affect her.
When Ellery gets wind of the issue with Clay and her mother she goes berserk. She was a first class bitch, and I do so love it when characters are like that. It creates drama in spades and I love that. Its not like she wants Clay anymore, she’s still sore from him dropping her after just a couple of dates, and of course she has Josh. Its more that like so many spoiled kids she sees her mum as always being mum, doesn’t see her as a person in her own right. If mum has to date it should be someone age appropriate, someone Ellery can approve of.
Rex the Ex, ( nice term that!) was a typical jerk man of a certain type, happy when Daphne was running the business with him, so long as she kept in the background and let him take the success, he couldn’t deal when she got her own successful career. He was obnoxious – in the best way of course. Good books need someone like him as a foil, offsets all the good.
Then there’s Evan, he was just wonderful, and his nephew Gage was also. Loved those two, and the whole vineyard experience.

Stars: Four, Its a fun read, fabulous characters, some terrific drama, some great surprises, and a satisfying ending.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Ex-Girlfriend, Nicola Moriarty

The Ex-Girlfriend, Nicola Moriarty

The Ex-Girlfriend: The gripping and twisty psychological suspense by [Moriarty, Nicola]

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.

Anyway, I found this book kind of slow at the start, and felt it was a little predictable. I was pretty sure what was going on and almost gave up.
Glad I didn’t though, once things picked up they rocketed along, with surprises way beyond what I thought would happen. Its totally absorbing, and so much more than I first thought, so although I found that first 30% a bit meh, a little obvious as to what was going on, once past that and I was gobsmacked, the story went way beyond what I’d thought.
What seemed like a simple story turned into a deliciously complex one full of unexpected events and long planned motivations.
The events had me mentally screaming “nooo….don’t” and I was so astonished at how seemingly unconnected events finally came together.
Its a shortish review for me, but its impossible to say more without giving away important events, suffice to say its a story that had me gripped once past that slow start.

Stars: four, it would be five but for that slow start. Still, for others its a five as it is so its perfect for them.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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