Archive | December 2019

Love Lettering, The Charming feel-good rom-com that will grab hold your heart and never let go, Kate Clayborn

Love Lettering, The Charming feel-good rom-com that will grab hold your heart and never let go, Kate Clayborn

Love Lettering: The charming feel-good rom-com that will grab hold your heart and never let go by [Clayborn, Kate]

Genre: Women’s fiction

Gah, I hate this genre heading, so outdated. Men and women can read the same books….its 2019, not 1919.

So, I started eagerly, as an artist I so admire those who can do wonderful lettering. I wish I could but alas, my lettering as abysmal 😦 Yet, for the first quarter maybe I was floundering, not really sure what was happening, where the thrust of the novel was going – and waiting for the romance to start. It seemed Meg and Reid were certainly not going to be together, they barely seemed able to look at each other. Then slowly it coalesced and I began to be gripped, by Meg’s ideas, by the way Reid seemed to slowly come round to understanding them and they way he pulled in to help. Yet they were still edgily polite to each other, ultra cautious, each expecting the other to say “ that’s enough now”. Neither was willing to put themselves forward in a big way, but they inched their way closer and it was wonderful to watch, with me desperate to know if they would take that magic step into couple-dom ( yep, I succumbed and took a peep at the end . For me it doesn’t spoil the story, just lets me enjoy it without that awful worry of It Might Not Happen)
I loved the way her and Reid’s walks took in parts of the city others wouldn’t notice, how she taught him to look beyond the obvious, to seek out hidden gems. I loved both of them, and yet Reid’s caginess about himself, his work, his moodiness spelled caution, for Meg and me. Then when it all comes out, well, instead of the gentle romance I’d been reading it was Drama, Drama, Drama all the way. I do so love that, so it was perfect for me even if possibly not overly true to how things would run as others seem to feel. I have no idea in real life so I just went with the story and looking back I could see, as could Meg, all the little hints where Reid was struggling.
Its a beautiful read and the way Meg’s writing and business was described was wonderful, seeing the way she got inspiration, seeing what got her down – not another Bloom where you are planted. I hate those overused, trite, twee expressions too…. Stick with it if like me you flounder a bit at the start. Its worth it.

Stars: Five, a lovely story. Slow burn romance with some beautiful moments.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Intended Victim, Alexandra Ivy

The Intended Victim (The Agency Book 4) by [Ivy, Alexandra]

Genre: Romance, Mystery and thrillers

I’ve read a few of Alexandra’s fantasy reads, couldn’t recall reading a romantic suspense by her before though. I really enjoy her writing style and the way she weaves a story together.
This starts in the classic detective story way with a body. However what results from investigation is that this body has had surgery, to make her resemble an escapee of the serial killer known as The Butcher. She’s the only one to have escaped, though her father died in the attack, and Remi has lost her memory of the events leading up to it. She was engaged to Ash, but in the aftermath they grew further apart and now its been five years. I found that a bit of a weak spot, I couldn’t see Ash just letting go like that. Still, he needed to for the story. Now he’s back, his detective brother working on the current murder. Ash is scared for Remi, and determined to protect her.
Its a good read, neat build up of suspense, classic red herrings thrown in to keep the reader guessing. Although its romance, its more a pick up of past romance, and from the off its pretty clear that neither have forgotten the other, got over the love, so the bulk of the story is the suspense, the murders, the tracing of a killer.
I’m not a huge mystery/suspense reader but do like to dip into the genre on occasion and I really enjoyed this. * confession time: I sneaked a look at the end about halfway through, I just couldn’t take guessing “who dunnit” any more. For me though that doesn’t spoil a story, I catch things reading that otherwise i’d have missed. I often re-read favourite books, even knowing how they end. Some folk can’t do that, I do, I love to get stuck into a favourite series.

Stars: Five, Its a great read, genuine characters and actions, and neatly building up the suspense and alternate possible murderers.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Wounded Martyr, Courtney Maguire

Wounded Martyr, Courtney Maguire

Wounded Martyr by [Maguire, Courtney]

Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA

I really thought I’d like this book, I love romance, love m/m romance and love the rock star trope. And yet I just feel confused about this story. I got to the end and it wasn’t with the satisfaction of a good read, but with the feeling of What did I just read? Was that really how it would end?

Its very well written, the words convey really clearly the downsides of addiction, of how staying sober seems the hard choice when everyone around you is drinking. How difficult it is to like the person you are now, when all you’ve known for years is the addict, how even though you know how awful you are when high or drunk you don’t really seem to be a better person sober. All that came over so very clearly, along with the difficulties of relationships when touring, when distance separates and opportunities come unasked for.
Yet somehow the sheer grimness of Ice’s life just got me down and coloured what I was reading. He didn’t know what he wanted, and Ricky paid the price, band mate Ash was equally ambiguous, and the band after twenty years together seemed to have no kind of camaraderie or affection left. It was just grim all the way, and for me it was too much.
I kept wondering, if they’d been together twenty years and were playing to thousands why were they sharing rooms when they didn’t want to and ought to have had the money to room alone – heck, have a suite alone. Does coke really only cost $50 a vial? Why did they still continue when the band really didn’t seem close, were they ever close, did any of them actually enjoy the life anymore?
Ash and Ice, friends since childhood, and yet apart from some moments of lust and jealousy I didn’t feel anything much between them. I guess I just needed more detail about the characters, their history, and something light to enliven the atmosphere of doom that seemed to live over the band.

The ending seemed a bit of a cop out, I didn’t really feel as if anything had changed, except for the one major point, and wasn’t convinced of long term happiness for any of them. Where was Sid gong to fit in with the Ricky/Ice/Ash grouping? And wasn’t that going to cause more issues? The root causes of the problems still hadn’t really been resolved I felt, and the way it seemed to finish held more problems in store IMO.

I find it hard to actually class this as romance, it didn’t have any of the love, intensity of emotion, the feel good factor that romance holds for me, and even when it got close to a good emotion it was coloured by jealous thoughts.

I
Stars: Two and a half. Writing quality is four star for making me feel whats happening, for sheer realism, but content for me was just scraping a two, and unfortunately content is the greater sway when I’m reviewing how I feel about a story.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Kind of Famous, Mary Ann Marlowe

Kind of Famous, Mary Ann Marlowe

I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this from the author, book is out next April. I loved the first two in the series, and this was a great addition.

Genre: Romance

Well, after finishing this I have to go back and read the first two again, I really enjoyed catching up with Adam and Eden, Jo and Micah. And I have to say what a name, Theatre of the Absurd. Its wonderful, wonderful 😉 Though the abbreviation TotA somehow always reminds me more of the British T and A abbreviation…….

I understood much of the web stuff, I too have a blog ( two actually, art and books) but mine are way, way into the minor league compared to Layla’s. No forum either, though in the pre-FB days I did have an active arts forum.
What kind of went over me was the fan stuff, I guess its me, I just cannot understand people who are obsessed by who they think a person is, and like Layla, I’m shocked at how people treat the objects of their obsession. Sometimes its as if they forget they are people, and we see that here so clearly, the thin line between a fan and a stalker, how the celeb has to balance between not upsetting fans, and letting them maul him/her…
I did feel for Layla when she first meets Adam, I guess having said all this stuff, if Brandon Flowers was to be in my view I’d have dropped jaw too!
I so felt for Shane though when she continued to get star struck, but she really couldn’t help it. For some folk its almost a Pavlovian reaction, and only continued proximity lets them see their obsession is just a real person like anyone else. I do think she could have tried a little harder as time went on.

Layla has a great opportunity with her new job, and the events that followed, the way she came to meet with the band felt very natural. Its a tough thing I think, to get your characters where you want them to be but making it feel genuine, not forced, and Mary Ann does that so well.
I like the mix of folk at the office, the way her job, new friends and internet presence all linked up. I kept thinking “what would I do?” and wondering why she didn’t just give up the fan site to someone else – but of course that’s me. Layla has needed that friendship that came from her internet friends in the past, and maybe she’s just not quite ready to leave them.
I’m socially a bit awkward too, find making friends difficult so I sympathised. Its easier to spill your thoughts out online. We differ though in that I’m me online, I don’t have a pseudonym, a user name hiding who I am. It means perhaps that I’m more cautious about what I write. As Layla knows to her cost, words on the net stay, even when deleted they’ll still be around somewhere, and what you may have felt five, ten years ago can be very different to now, and yet folk will pull it up regardless.

Shane, oh what an intense guy. I could feel that attraction between him and Layla right from the start. I so felt for his “no-one sees the drummer” and how so called fans would use one member of a band to get to another. That’s awful, but sadly happens all too often. Must be a big ego suck, and Shane didn’t seem to have a huge stack of self confidence anyway, it was almost as if he was waiting for something to go wrong between him and Layla. Being in a relationship with someone who has jealousy issues is hard, and that part, the tension it caused was perfect. Real people, real problems.
It brought in some devastating drama and for me I’m all about drama and angst….loved it. I did like Gabriel in the office, I love characters like his, adds some terrific “nasty” into a read 😉 and he was perfectly positioned for maximum effect.

If I have a criticism its that everything takes place over such a short time, a few weeks and Shane and Layla move at warp speed into a relationship, when she’s just started new job, needs to find new accommodation, and yet she just threw herself into it. The short time span made it a little harder to feel the depth of the drama, and didn’t really give time for all of those issues that caused problems to get permanently resolved, though I did like the decision Layla took, and how hard she found it. Understandable.

Stars: Four and a half, I would have liked events to have run over a longer time span. That’s a tiny crit though, very minor.

Arc via author

Brimstone, The Metals Trilogy: Volume I, Justine Rosenberg

Brimstone, The Metals Trilogy: Volume I, Justine Rosenberg

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I was intrigued by the description of this, and as its a debut read there wasn’t anything else by this author I could see to check whether her writing suits my reading. So I took a jump and requested.

Sadly though what I missed is its not even 100 pages, just 92 according to goodreads. That’s far to short for me and the reason I never read novellas is I just find too much crammed in too small a space.
That proved to be the issue here. We’re dropped straight in the world, not knowing anything about they people and creatures that inhabit it, or even the world itself, and its all so very different that it makes it hard to follow.
I wanted to know more about Ava, not just the bare minimum we get fed, but more details about her past with the Knights, and how she became to work in the Paper Houses. Then there’s Sariel, and his people, who are slaves, the necromancers, the geomancers, and more. There’s not just this world either, but others, and places in-between worlds. It became an info dump of places, people and events.

It has so much possibility, but was so complex without any info on who and what was/could happen, that I just couldn’t get to grips with the story. To be honest, that’s not a lot. We meet Ava and Sariel, the knights are after them, and they make a run for it with a couple of others….that’s it folks, more to follow.
That’s not enough for me to engage with the story or the characters, and its a shame because from the style of writing I think this is a series I could enjoy. To me its not so much a novel or a series itself, as a serialised novel, a story broken into small chunks and though others like that, I don’t.

Stars: Two, sadly too much info in too short a space for me. Expanded it could be a story/series I’d love but as it is it just lost me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Boundary Haunted, (Boundary Magic Book 5), Melissa F. Olson

Boundary Haunted (Boundary Magic Book 5)

Boundary Haunted (Boundary Magic Book 5) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

I love all Melisa’s stories about the Old World, and this one continues to engage my attention as much as the rest. Sometimes when a series continues a while the stories feel faded, same-ish but not with these. The Scarlett Bernard books follow the same lines as the Boundary ones, same Old World but different city, different issues. That means there’s always something new to bring to the story, and I love both series. I’ve recently done a reread of them all, so events were fairly fresh in my mind from the last book.

This time Lex has to travel to the South, where her talents have been requested. Maven says she doesn’t need to go, its outside the remit of their agreement, but she would like Lex to go, and hopefully persuade Beau, the Cardinal Vampire there, to join the parliament she is hoping to form. She needs strong allies like him, and Lex can see the value of helping him. She’s struggling though after the events of last time, not sleeping well, and hiding it from everyone as best she can. She’s worried about going back into a world that’s stuffed to the gills with Ghosts from the wars.
The first meeting doesn’t go well, dangers soon appear, and Lex has no allies except for a spy of Mavens who can’t be revealed of course. Quinn wanted to come, he and Lex usually work together, but its too close to his human life, where his wife ( widow) and daughter still live. The temptation to seek them out, or the possibility of accidentally meeting them, would be too much. He hates seeing Lex in danger though and boy, does she get into some here….

The story unfolds, opinions change, and the dangers stack up. Lex doesn’t really know where to look but slowly she starts to get a picture of events, although the culprit shocked her – and me. I Did Not see that coming!! I love to be caught out like that.
As usual there’s a mix of info we know and new things, new spells, types of witchcraft, types of ghost, and the world Lex is in seems to be ever expanding. I enjoyed meeting new characters, wasn’t sure about Beau at first, but came to really like and respect him in the end. Even though its mostly new folk we meet, we still are connected to the usual crew by way of Lex’ thoughts, talks with Sam, phone calls and other little means, so it all felt very much a part of the series, not just Lex in a new tale. I like that connection, like the the world is slowly expanding, bringing in more folk – and hopefully lots more stories!
Things happen here that throw light on some past events, and push the whole group further forward. If I’ve a criticism its just a personal one, I adore Quinn, I missed him, although I understood exactly why he had to stay away. Without him though Lex really will struggle.
I look forward to the next from Melissa.

Stars: Five, another cracking read. Roll on the next one.

Self purchase

My Best Friend’s Sister, The Masons Book 1, Hazel Kelly

My Best Friend’s Sister, The Masons Book 1, Hazel Kelly

My Best Friend's Sister: A Forbidden Romance (The Masons Book 1) by [Kelly, Hazel]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romantic comedy

I borrowed this on KU. Its a fun read, very light and easy to follow but it lacked the depth for me of a four/five star read. Its what is says, a fun rom-com.

Maddie is a sweet girl, ambitious and doing an unpaid intern position for three months . That really makes me cross so many folk have to do free work just to get a foot in the door, how are they supposed to live? Luckily for Maddie her brother is away for a while so she can stay in his flat. Unluckily for Maddie that also means staying with her brothers best friend Quinn, a guy she’s always had feelings for though they are confused, but who treats her as not really there, barely speaking to her.
Of course that changes when she moves in and his reasons become clear, its because he’s attracted to her but Big Brother has warned him off. Playboy Quinn is not who he wants his little sister dating….I have an elder brother and when I was in my teens he did the same, warned his mates to stay away 🙂
I enjoyed reading about Maddie’s intern issues, they felt very true to life, especially what happens to fellow work colleague Jin. I could see things playing out exactly like that. Quinn and his father, and the company and Quinn’s feeling about it were interesting. I wonder how many other family companies have similar issues? I did feel Quinn blew hot and cold with Maddie very
Overall it was a fun read, very easy to get along with but lacking in deep drama for me. It depends on what you’re in the mood for I guess, and your personal feelings. I’m a drama lover, others just want to relax with an easy read. If that’s you then this book is perfect for that.

Stars: three, perfect for those that want a simple, relaxing read.

KU read.

The Familiars: Stacey Halls

The Familiars: Stacey Halls

The Familiars: The spellbinding Sunday Times Bestseller and Richard & Judy Book Club Pick by [Halls, Stacey]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

I hovered over this, had requested via netgalley some time ago but didn’t get it 😦 , sometimes they only have limited copies for ARCs. It sounded so intriguing after reading the sample that I bought it anyway. Yep, paid real money for this one 😉

Its a fantastic read, based around the real Pendleton Witches saga, and showing how helpless women were once accused, and how easy to was for grudges, and power hungry individuals to wreck peoples lives. Literally. That magic mix ( for me ) of fiction and reality, which I love to read.

I loved Fleetwood, only 17 but on her fourth pregnancy, hoping against hope that this time her husband gets his much wanted heir. Then she finds That Letter, and is devastated. As was I reading it, I so felt for her.
Richard seems like a really nice guy, shocking to me that at just 17 his wife is on her fourth pregnancy, but in those times marriage at a young age wasn’t uncommon. He’s away a lot on business but seems to adore Fleetwood and certainly allows her a freedom many wives didn’t have at that time. Then we learn something that shocked me. Not so uncommon but I just didn’t expect it and it coloured how I felt about him after.
Alice, poor girl, just caught up in things after trying to innocently help someone, and her involvement brings others into the ever growing web of people seeking the kings favour are weaving, knowing his vendetta against witches. Looking at the accusations and the “proof” from today’s perspective its ludicrous, but back then men were Gods almost when it came to determining who was innocent – hint, virtually no one. They seemed to see accused as guilty the minute someone laid a charge, and knowing the more “witches” they found, the higher the king would regard them was a powerful motive for those with no conscience.

Poor Fleetwood learns some unpleasant lessons about trust in this book. Alice too, helping someone injured ended up risking her life. She’d such a hard life anyway, and then doing something so innocent cost her job and brought her to the witch hunters notice.
The supernatural, the familiars element of the title is kind of elusive, certain animals could perhaps be familiars, and yet it could just be supposition, superstitious imaginings about innocent pets. Who knows, its never really clear but there’s enough co-incidences to make me wonder.

Stars: Five, a fabulous read, that mix of fiction rooted in reality and with a possible supernatural link, made it a riveting read for me. One I know I’ll re-read.

Bought novel!

More Than Just Mum, Rebecca Smith

More Than Just Mum, Rebecca Smith

More Than Just Mum: A laugh out loud novel of family chaos and reinvention by [Smith, Rebecca]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

This is classic chic lit style, humour, pathos and a good dollop of real life. I so identified with Hannah at times. I too have been wife, mother, auntie, daughter and somewhere in the middle of that Jeannie, Me, was submerged. You have to fight to keep that, and Hannah’s trying hard, but life has the habit of throwing spanners just when you think you’re getting somewhere.

Having said that I struggled with this at times. The beginning almost had me giving up, it felt too much like forced humour and I just hate that. Certain parts had me thinking of a mental visual from the old TV game shows “Clap Now!!” It seemed to be written for the purpose of humour, rather than the humour falling naturally from the content. I stuck with it though and that side of things certainly improved for me, I had tears from laughing at some parts, having been through very similar. Bringing up teens is one of life’s Big Experiences, and its laugh or cry many days. Laughing is better….aided by wine of course.

What really brought this down though was for me it lacked focus. I felt there were lots of little side issues that cropped up but went nowhere, and there wasn’t really an overarching plot that ran the course of the novel. It seemed more a series of little ones that sometimes were completed, but more often just left hanging. I wasn’t really sure where the story was going, and TBH it just felt like I was reading a few months from a typical family life. Works for some of course, but for me I needed that main plot, needed to know what was the point of the novel, where was the story going. As it didn’t have that, the ending felt a little flat. Yes, one biggish plot gets wrapped up but so much was just left unfinished.

Stars: Three, a fun read, and some parts really made me smile, snigger, reminded me of my time with teen and preteen kids, but overall for me it felt a little lacking in direction.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

A Madness of Sunshine, Nalini Singh

A Madness of Sunshine, Nalini Singh

A Madness of Sunshine by [Singh, Nalini]

Genre: Romance

I love Nalini’s Guild Hunter series and her contemporary romances. I so wish I could enjoy the psy-changling series, so many books I haven’t read. Maybe I’ll give them another go 😉

This time the story is as much, maybe more, suspense as romance. Its a slow burn relationship, it’s more getting to know each other tentatively and maybe starting something, than a full on romance. I enjoyed it even though I was expecting more romance from the tag.

The background of Golden Cove, and the issues of past and present was excellent. When Nalini writes there’s always that extra touch, scenery is always so descriptive I can mentally see it, characters that I feel I know, understand, even things like the coffee, I can smell and taste it from her words.
The suspense was cleverly done, a couple of main possible suspects stand out, and yet there are things thrown in that made me wonder “ but what about? Could they? ”
Its cleverly wrapped up, proper ending. I hate it when I finish a story and am left wondering what happened after, wondering about certain characters.
The reason both Will and Anhara were in Golden Cove were believable, I really felt for them both. There were other characters already there too that had some nasty shocks, life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, sometimes its just damn windy and stormy. Life’s like that for us all sometimes, throws in unwelcome surprises, things happen beyond our control, someone does whats right yet still ends up poorer for it. It made the story feel very realistic for me.

Stars: Five. I was pleased at the way things worked out in the ending. I like that kind of finishing the story and giving a hint of what happens to them in the future.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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