Archive | April 2020

Where the Lost Wander, Amy Harmon

Where the Lost Wander, Amy Harmon

Where the Lost Wander: A Novel by [Amy Harmon]

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Gah, I hate Women’s Fiction as a genre heading, so outdated.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, what a fabulous book. Fiction, but with real roots. I usually read books in one fell swoop, but with this kind of story I like to read over 4 or 5 sessions, savouring the words and events, and there is so much going on its really for me the best way to get the most out of it. I mull over whats been happening, over how events are going and really enjoyed living John and Naomi’s lives with them.
The descriptions of the scenery, the way the john and Naomi met, the others on the wagon train, the harshness of the journey. Amy doesn’t shy away from the hard side of this life, the way people could be alive one moment and then a short illness, and injury, an encounter with Indians and they’d be gone. Although it charts Naomi and Johns journey it encompasses so many more families, the mix of whites and their incursions onto the land, and the lifestyle of the Indian tribes who lived off the land and could see their way of life declining.
I was heartbroken when some events happened, sometimes the loss of life seemed so sudden, so tragic after all the hard work they’d done. I loved reading the events from the day to day minutiae, that always appeals to me and I felt there with the wagon train as they made their harsh journey, and with the Indians, seeing how they lived their transient lives. It was fascinating reading about not just the physical side of Indian life, but the spiritual side, how much emphasis that had on what they did, how they chose to run their lives.

Stars: Five, a wonderful read.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Album, A Cruise Control Novel, Sian Ceinwen V2

The Album, A Cruise Control Novel, Sian Ceinwen V2

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

OK, start with my usual moan. Women’s Fiction – why? Men write romance, men read romance., ’nuff said…

So, this trope is a real favourite of mine and I really enjoyed Sian’s writing style. I had a few issues with the way the story was delivered in the first version. As Sian has continued the series, this book has been rewritten to make it fit the rest of the series better, and I’m pleased to say that past/present format that I struggled with has gone.
For me the new version reads SO much better, and I began to understand Ariana more. I think before all I could see was Gabriel’s heartache and it coloured me to Ariana’s feelings. Now I can see them clearer, with the heartbreak being kept to the later part of the book.
The ending now feels much more fitting to the book, not rushed or hurried but allowed to play out naturally. It was absolutely perfect, angst and heartbreak just as I love.

I didn’t notice in the first book, maybe I missed it or maybe its new but Ariana has taken steps while they are apart to deal with her issues. That was one of my complaints, that – and I see this over and over in romances – sadly Love Doesn’t Conquer All. If a couple have problems – and Ariana and Gabriel do – ones that separate them, they can’t get a HEA unless they take steps to address those issues. Just getting back together and proclaiming We’re In Love to the world doesn’t mean its all going to end well, chances are its not. I’m much happier when, as here, those issues have been addressed, and though Ariana is always going to feel scared of the fame I’m confident she can now deal with it.

Some great characters here, I haven’t mentioned the other band members but they are an interesting bunch, feel very real, and took Ariana to their hearts. Not only Gabriel was upset when she left, and its going to be interesting seeing how and if they accept her again. I Loved, Loved the mean girls, the b itchy groupies, I was hoping their manager would prove to be a bit difficult too- one of the reason I love this trope is the potential for jealousies, back stabbing and some real b itchy characters. I’m glad they stayed in the re-write.

Stars: Five, I rated this four when I read the original version, but now the issues I had have gone its five, five all the way.

Rewritten Arc via author

The Age of Witches, Louisa Morgan

The Age of Witches, Louisa Morgan

The Age of Witches by [Louisa Morgan]

Genre: Sci fi and Fantasy
I love books about witches and magic, and loved the connection with the salem witch trials here. Its true, what we don’t understand we fear, and I suspect there are those today who would act that way if they could.

Hands up – a little part of me still believes in the possibility of magic, and reading this, the two sides of it, good and evil, felt very real.
The spells, manikins, herbs, all were so well done I could visualise them. It wasn’t simple easy magic but one which required study and determination, and the knowledge of how to put that study into practice. Spells too had physical effects on the caster as well as those influenced, as if they had to pay a price for the magic.

The ladies were all very strong characters, Annis, Frances, Harriet and of course Lady Eleanor. In contrast the men were weak and fickle. Even James, so strongly disliking Annis at first, ( I could feel his shock – it made me smile) seemed to be quite a weak person. Once he finally stood up to his mother he did seem to be growing a bit of back bone, and was making some firm decisions of his own. I did like him and was glad things worked out in the end, but for a while I could see him knuckling under.
The story unfolds well, interesting female characters, Annis, tomboy, would be horse breeder ( a horse lover myself I understood her feelings), her step mother Frances, highly ambitious and happy to manipulate events to benefit her, Harriet, Annis great aunt but she doesn’t know it til deep in the story and of course Grace, Harriet’s …companion/help. The have more a friend relationship than that of servant and mistress. The asylum – horrific places, and of course a convenient place to stash unwanted female relatives. Note, in a society ruled by men its only ever the ladies that get committed.

Its quite a simple story, and that let the focus be on the witches, the craft and how they worked so differently. I loved the added bonus of the Strega, the lady who ran the supplies shop. She had a special insight into people that was interesting and which let Harriet have the things from her she would need to counteract Frances.

Stars: Four, Its an enjoyable read, not one I’d reread now I know how it plays out, but one which I did enjoy very much.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

What’s Left of Me is Yours, Stephanie Scott

What’s Left of Me is Yours, Stephanie Scott

What's Left of Me is Yours by [Stephanie Scott]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

What a haunting read, an uncomfortable subject, an unimaginable tragedy for all concerned. Its told in alternating time spans, and that allowed me to really get to know the characters. Of course the Japanese legal system is different too, and it was interesting seeing the whole culture and legal ramifications of the events as they happened.
I didn’t think I’d like this when it started, it felt slightly stilted by I was soon pulled into the story and it felt so incredibly real. Who was to blame for what happened? Everyone I guess except for Sumiko. Its hard to read a story where love has such tragic actions, and greed can be manipulated in that way. I was desperately hoping that maybe, just maybe, there’d been a mistake, that events weren’t as they seemed by no, sadly there was no happy ending, just a beautiful and tragic love story, that ended hurting so many.

Its not a story I would reread I don’t think. At least not for some time, but beautifully written and one I’m glad I chose. The sorrow from the events will stay with me for a long time I think, showing what flawed characters we humans are. Things could have been so different if only…..

Stars: 5. An amazing, tragic read, so full of emotion but where there’s no happy ending, just shadows of an unimaginable love.

Arc via Netgalley

Born of Mist and Legend, Kat Bastion

Born of Mist and Legend, Kat Bastion

Born of Mist and Legend (Highland Legends Book 3) by [Kat Bastion]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance.

I’ve been waiting for this book for years. Literally. I read the first two books back in 2013, some seven years ago! So before starting this one I reread those and loved them just as much now as I did then. That doesn’t always happen, sometimes your tastes have changed but I was quickly absorbed back into the Brodie clan.
Sadly though I really struggled with this, its very focused on Skorpius and Brigid and there’s so much mental and verbal communication between the two, lots of what ifs, why, how and saying what felt like the same thing six different ways. It just didn’t feel for me as if it was connected to the other two, just the barest thread. I missed seeing the others, seeing life at Clan Brodie, much as I’ve been waiting and hoping for Skorpius top play a bigger role.
I found myself putting it aside, then restarting as I’d forgotten what was happening. I did read through to half way then TBH I just skim read through to the end, as it wasn’t doing it for me. Its possible its timing, like others this pandemic is affecting me mentally and I find it hard to settle into some stories. Possibly on a later read I might feel differently, but for now it was a let down for me. Still, as always , this is just my opinion, others will and do love it. Reading and tastes are s subjective, its just a disappointment to me as I loved the first two, love Kat and Stone’s writing style from other books I’ve read – No weddings series, a real cracker, and I love fantasy as well as contemporary romance, so it came a s a shock to me that this book wasn’t working.

Stars: Two, Sorry, this one didn’t do it for me. Love the first two, and others from the duo, this was a fail.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Wives, Tarryn Fisher

The Wives, Tarryn Fisher

The Wives: The sexiest thriller of 2020. Now an international bestseller. by [Tarryn Fisher]

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Women’s Fiction

Moan: women’s fiction – why alienate potential readers? Men write books enjoyed by women and men alike, and they read the same.

Wow, this book taught be a lot about myself. Am I just gullible? Or are the story lines that good? I like to think its option two 😉

I never realised how easily I accept what I’m told, and as the story expanded, as Thursday discovered more about the other wives, I finally began to question all the things I’d accepted as fact. It wasn’t until then I realised I had just believed every word I’d been told. When the cracks in the story appear it was hard to know who was telling the truth, and it devolves into quite a dark and twisted story. It made me think of that phrase “its only paranoia if they’re not out to get you”

Its hard to say much without spoilers so I’ll try to keep it simple. I don’t understand that multiple marriage thing, the way Thursday is so blindly accepting of crumbs of Seth’s time, and when the reason for the third wife came out, given their own past I was so angry. And then of course the story gets more complex and I’m wondering, was it really like that, did things really happen that way.
Even when the story gets to the point where you’re wondering just who is telling the truth, there are still more revelations and secrets to come out, things get ever more complex right up to the end. I kept thinking – its getting late, I’ll just read a bit more, and a little more, and finding myself getting closer to the end, so then it was – may as well finish now 😉 That’s a hallmark of a good story for me, when I’m so absorbed by the characters and actions I just don’t want to put it down until I know whats going to happen.

Its a gripping read, had me totally hooked into the story. Its also incredibly sad in a way, with innocent people getting caught up in the actions of (imo) a selfish person. Was the family situation to blame? I tend to say no, lots of folk have difficult childhoods, but who really knows.
I found the ending sad in a way for all of them and yet curiously satisfying in what happened. My two least liked people got a form of punishment for their actions – IMO – of course. Karma.

Stars: five, a cracking read, had me hooked, but in a way also incredibly sad that peoples lives could get changed by the actions of another person.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

My Husband’s Lie, Emma Davies

My Husband’s Lie, Emma Davies

My Husband's Lie: A page turning and emotional family drama by [Emma Davies]

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

I thought this sounded interesting, I like to have a range of different genre books on the go, so I can dip as suits my mood. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the deep suspense, drama, thrill I was expecting.

I enjoyed the first half, meeting the family, being with them on their exciting move and new work venture, and of course meeting the other book characters. Anna and Rob, and Tilly, what a wonderful family, I’d love to live near them. I’m glad Anna wasn’t as full of Faith as Rob, but had her doubts, was unsure, it made her more real. We expect curate’s wives to follow their husbands beliefs even now, and that Anna was her own person was wonderful.
It was when The Secret came to light that things actually went downhill for me. I felt Thea’s reactions at first were as expected but the way she fell apart, blamed poor Drew, her mother, her friends….it all just felt to OTT for me. Nothing has changed, just her knowledge. Yes, I could see that others knowing, especially those close to you with who you think you share everything, hurts. However the motivations, it wasn’t done to escape blame, but to try to save her being hurt.
What came over far better for me was the bullying, both adults and children, and the way it was handled. We’ve all known people like the girl’s headmistress, like Leo’s mum Stacey, like the shop gossips. Small towns and villages can be a gem but when a rumour takes roots it spreads rapidly and folk quickly take sides. That part felt incredibly real.

I guess for me I just felt the story wasn’t what I expected, it was good, but not what the title and blurb suggested. I also had the problem of Thea, I just felt like she over-reacted, and when she took to her bed, left the girls to Drew, went on a giant sulk I just wanted to say Get Over Yourself, Grow up. Her kids needed her, she knew her actions would hurt them. She knew Drew acted in what he thought was her best interest, he got it wrong ( IMO) but he was trying to help. She irritated me, even though she’s not real, because there are people who would act exactly as she did. Real First world Problems 😉

I thought the ending was great, the little drama that happened was good but superfluous for me, it didn’t actually need that, the ending worked out well even without that.

Stars: Four, a story that started well for me, right up to the revelations that sent Thea off into a kind of madness, throwing blame around and acting like a child. Her poor mum had lived through it, protected her and now Thea is throwing blame out for everything to everyone it seems.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Warrior, The Talisman Series Book Two, Tam DeRudder Jackson

Warrior, The Talisman Series Book Two, Tam DeRudder Jackson

Warrior (Talisman Series) by [Jackson, Tam DeRudder]

Genre: General Fiction ( adult) ,Romance.

I struggled a bit with book one,m but they have a hard ask, setting the scene for the series and delivering a story so I thought I needed to try book two.
There’s lots going on but I still didn’t warm to the characters. I liked Ceri, but didn’t really understand her antagonism to Rio and vice versa, and then of course when he tries his sign on her ( and that feels weird to me each time I read it) and finds she’s his talisman its like forget all that sniping, that they hate each other and lets get in on. For me that just didn’t sit right, I couldn’t see it happening. I wasn’t keen on Rio either, from book one he’s very opinionated, and quick to judge, and that hasn’t changed.
The story follows the lines set out in the first book, the battle between Warriors, talisman, druids against the Goddesses. Hamish and his secrets annoyed me even as I understood they were needed to drive the story forward. Talanis, another God who seems to sit on the sidelines playing both sides, was really strange. I wasn’t sure just what purpose he played, apart from swaying the battle one way or the other. He was very Godlike, in that all which concerned him was himself, really not bothered about morals, fairness, or anything like that so long as he had an easy life. I wanted to like him. Sadly I didn’t.
Its a perfectly well written story, everything plays out properly, its just that the characters didn’t resonate with me, and I need that to enjoy a novel. Others love them and the story, so again it shows how subjective reading ( and reviewing) is.

Stars: Three, a well written story, good plot but I wasn’t really convinced by the characters
Arc via netgalley and publishers

Deadly Surrender, Katie Reus

Deadly Surrender, Katie Reus

Deadly Surrender (The Serafina: Sin City Series Book 5) by [Katie Reus]

Genre: Romance
I hadn’t read the earlier books, but each are stand alone and it wasn’t an issue.
I’ve read several of Katie’s stories now, and while this wasn’t my favourite it was a fun easy read.
Its a sexy romance, Logan is drop dead gorgeous, and unknown to each other they’ve felt more that either have admitted. Then they have one hot, sex fueled night after a few drinks and…well, Logan knows he wants more but doesn’t want to frighten her off, Grace wants more but thinks it was just alcohol, that Logan isn’t the settling type. Then the bullets start coming, and they don’t know if someone is after one or both of them. The suspects pile up too, and its hard trying to keep one step ahead, but it does throw them together where things move on.
Its a quick, easy tale, an enjoyable story but not one that I’d reread.

Stars: Three, a simple romance with bullets and danger.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Coffee Girl, (Coffee Book 1), Sophie Sinclair 

Coffee Girl, (Coffee Book 1), Sophie Sinclair 

Coffee Girl (Coffee Book Book 1) by [Sinclair, Sophie]

Genre: Romance
I saw this on netgalley, but its a debut read and stories like this can be real gems or really dire…and as a debut read I didn’t know which it would be for me. Its on KU though so I borrowed it and it proved to be a fun and easy read.
Kiki is cute, looking for a new job, and not wanting to be her sisters nanny. Don’t blame her, neither would I! It was really funny reading her impossible timetable lits of what to do and how to do it.
She ends up being an assistant dresser for Country star Tatum. Kiki isn’t a country fan so has no idea who he is but when she sees him there’s an instant attraction. He’s got a superstar girlfriend though, and Kiki isn’t in the market to mess her new job.
Of course its superstarland, where everything is not as it seems, there are secrets, distrust, backbiting and bitchiness. There’s also sweet relationships, good friendships and loyalty. Tatum is mistrustful though, having worked his way up the hard way and Kiki can’t believe he’s really interested in her….
I loved Kiki and Tatum, loved Lex, Sarah, even Jess. Of course I love the mean girls too and there were two great ones here, for me they add so much to a story. What I am getting tired of though is the obligatory stereotyped Gay Best Friend and TJ was all of that. Characters like his seem to crop up constantly, as best friends, love advice, dressing and styling maestros. I’m just getting tired of gays – well, gay men, getting pigeonholed like this. Sophie does the character well, its just I’m bored with seeing this character crop up in every other romance. Time to let those guys break out of the mould authors 😉

Stars: Four, a solid debut read, fun story, great characters and I’m looking forward to book two.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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