Archive | September 2020

Her Lord of Death, A Mythic World Romance, Katherine Diane

Her Lord of Death: A Mythic World Romance by [Katherine Diane]

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I love quirky, unusual reads and this book promised that. A bit of ancient mythology, romance and a touch of the supernatural – I had such hopes for this. Sadly it wasn’t a great read for me. The writing is very good, but for me the story fell short.

I expected more of the supernatural, given we know Medea is a witch/sorcerer and Kora can see the dead. And of course its ancient Greece, with all the Gods that encompasses. Somehow though apart from the very end, the supernatural parts are very minor.

I felt for a long while I was reading the story but nothing was actually happening – apart from Acheron’s cock constantly twitching…the guy had a real problem, as that seemed to happen every few pages.
I know there are warnings about the sexual side of this novel, and given the time and subject matter the abuse was very well written, very believable but – I didn’t need to know every little detail of the sex scenes repeated and repeated. It just got boring, once or twice would have been enough, I found myself skipping those pages. It didn’t add anything to the story, we know what happened, reading it a couple of times is fine. Reading it for the Nth time gets old.
I wanted more of Queen Medea’s nasty side, I wanted to know how the King excused letting her do things, what he told himself to make it OK.
I liked the progression of respect to love that formed between Kora and Acheron.
I loved OZ, certainly one of the best characters and for a side one, he’s the one I felt I knew best by the end.

I felt so much of the story was bogged down, day to day stuff, conversations that led nowhere, another journey, Kora’s pregnant cousin – BTW what happened to her? One moment she’s there, playing a fairly major part of the tale, and Kora is worried for her, and then she’s dropped from the story.
While the first half dragged, at the end I felt things became rushed. I had so many questions. I wanted to know how the Minotaur got there, I loved the Hades connection but that was soon done with, I was confused at how Drogas could be himself when….well, I can’t say because that would spoil it, but I didn’t really feel that part fully worked. Of course I was also puzzled at what would happen next for Kora and Acheron, where would they go, how they could be beyond the reach of Medea given her talents? Would Acheron would feel bound to return, putting them both in danger. Too many lose ends for me there. I like things tucked away neatly.

Stars: Three. It had lots of promise, it was well written, the romance was well done, the abuse scenes realistic, but there were parts I wanted more and parts I could have been happy with a lot less. The lose ends too, I don’t like that in a book. But that’s me, not everyone is concerned with these things.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

A Place to Belong, Abbie Williams

A Place to Belong, Abbie Williams

A Place to Belong: A Novel by [Abbie Williams]

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

* sigh * women’s fiction, I seem to have been moaning about this genre for ages now. Its 2020, men write romance, men read romance, lets stop with the sexism.

Anyway, while reading this it had the feel of one in a series of connected books. The way the characters were intertwined, the places, and I checked – yes, Shore Leave Cafe series has many of these characters. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t read any of the books, this story was perfect and complete. I have downloaded the first book though, its on KU and I love Abbie’s writing style.
I adored Wy and Millie. They were so clearly in love with each other though neither were open about it until finally, they told each other how they felt. They had a few short days of happiness before the axe falls. I cold see that one coming, but it was so well done that I didn’t mind.
I so felt for Wy, he was trapped, stuck, didn’t want to disappoint his family, wanted to do what was right, but it brought him heartache all round. He finishes his studies, lives his life as best he can, but never forgets Millie, always wishes it was her in his life. Still, he tries, he tries so hard, but he doesn’t have a happy life. Hannah was a great character, sadly there are people just like her and I do love to see them crop up in a story,. Her actions were so very real, and show how easily lives can be spoiled by a thoughtless action. She wasn’t happy either, even though she had what she wanted.
Millie, she’s devastated when Wy leaves, understands why, but it leaves a hole in her heart. She tries to get past him but he’s always there in her head, won’t leave her.
Its heart breaking, you can feel how much they love each other, how good they would be together, and yet they’re stuck, hundreds of miles apart, and no hope of a future. Millie too tries to move forward but can’t.
Much of the book is about them being apart, always loving each other but with no contact for years, and yet the love in their hearts is so strong no-one else stands a chance. I was heartbroken for them both, this scene gets played out in real life too often, and its not happy for anyone. I so wanted something to happen for them to be together, was almost holding my breath at times, and gutted when they were still apart. I don’t usually like romances where the main characters spend much of the novel apart, but it works here, and I loved this story.
I loved the equine parts too, I’ve also studied Parelli and adore horses, so I understood Millie so well.

Stars: 5 A fabulous romance, with realistic characters and a heartbreaking story line.

Arc via Netgalley

Just Like You, Nick Hornby

Just Like You, Nick Hornby

Just Like You by [Nick Hornby]

Genre: Romance, General fiction|R

OK, confession time. I’ve never read Nick Hornby, and as I don’t have a TV I’ve never seen any film adaptations of his books. Yet his name is everywhere and when I saw this I thought maybe it was time….

So, what did I think? Well, sadly I guess Nick is one of those authors who many folk love but who’s work isn’t for me. I found this book really hard going, tedious, if it wasn’t a review I would have stopped at 30% when I was still struggling to get interested in the story. Sadly that first third I struggled with was the best part of the book too.

I liked Joseph, but he was a very typical 22 year old, not ready to settle with one person and apart form being attracted to Lucy I didn’t see why they were together. Likewise Lucy was a lady I felt for, failed marriage, elderly parents, mum of two young boys.
I loved her boys, at times they were the most honest out of all the folk in the novel.
There were times where Nick brought both Joseph and Lucy with others of their own age just to show they tried – that’s how it felt to me, but the people they were with just weren’t right for either regardless of the age issue.
Friends of both were predictable, Joseph’s friends denigrating him being with Lucy because she was white and older, likewise Lucy’s friends trying to be very middle-class polite about the fact Joseph was younger and black.

The book describes Lucy and Joseph’s other relationships as the perfect match, but we didn’t actually see any of that, they were just same age group, same colour, and had one shared interest. You could pull hundreds of perfect matches off a dating site if that’s the only criteria.

I hate that Joseph is portrayed as – well – not too bright. The Brexit issue, where he wavers, feeling he “ought” to vote one way or the other and then….his determination to make it as a DJ, but in fact though music and one song plays a big part I didn’t feel he was that invested in it. He didn’t know what were some common genres of music, when if he was serious he’s have been doing it not just talking about it. He wants to be a DJ but isn’t out there learning, helping another, finding out whats hot right now. The theatre where he doesn’t really know the story etc…it just felt he was a stereotypical black male, when the opportunity could have been to make him so much more.
He was a pleasant kid, and that was it really. He hadn’t grown much from teens, wasn’t ambitious, didn’t know what he wanted from life on a personal or professional level, he was just a typical new adult drifter, waiting to see which direction life takes him. Regardless of race that’s how things are for many early twenties kids.
Lucy, in contrast, was portrayed as very middle class, degree educated, English teacher, mum of kids, and a very “Boden family” type person, from her friends, her interests, her voting habits, everything apart from the divorce and her ex. She’s interminably living in her head, mulling over problems, worrying what her friends a family will think. She had friends she didn’t even like but was too polite to keep away from them. Her friends are very much the same mould – the start to that dinner party, “ oh, obviously you’re not Joseph!” The type who love to see themselves as open minded, liberalists and yet they’re inwardly horrified at Lucy being with a black younger man. Sadly had it been the other way round, older white guy with black younger lady they wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Sexism is still alive and thriving in some areas.

I suppose at the heart this novel didn’t ever give me the feeling there was anything more between Joseph and Lucy but hot sex. The interactions they had were mostly fraught with problems, prickly tensions over age and race. Lucy seems to endlessly mull on the age issue and Joseph having kids, thinking she’ll be gone by then, and Joseph thinks about the future in terms of someone, sometime, but who isn’t Lucy. I just can’t wee two people supposedly in love who would think that way without the demons of jealousy gripping them. The holiday – I found that really odd, there’s no way I could have done that. Invited, or gone, and it just reinforces to me that there was no grand passion, no real love between them.
The ending – well, I felt it was rushed and unsatisfactory. All the issues that plagued them through the book were still there, none were resolved, no action ever taken to deal with them, and yet somehow the last few pages magically make everything OK.

Stars: Two, I guess Nick is an author who’s writing others love but I don’t. I found the story had no real point, drifted along and relied on stereotypes that irritated me. It could have been so much more for me, but as ever its perfect for others.

Arc via netgalley and publishers

Chasing the Wild Sparks, Ren Alexander

Chasing the Wild Sparks by [Ren Alexander]

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction

* Sigh….women’s fiction…this is the 20th century, surely we’re beyond this kind of thing. Men write romance, men read romance, there’s no need for this category!

I was quite irritated as I got to middle of book and it became obvious this wasn’t a stand alone read. Please authors, tell us that upfront, its really irritating to get partway through a story and find out that way. At least with this the next four books are published. Yes, that’s right, this is book one of five. I’m fine with that if its known upfront, in fact I like these longer reads, they let the story and characters be fully explored.
So, Finn doesn’t want to marry but loves Hadley.
Hadley wants to marry and have a family. Tough one. Its clear they both adore each other and are deeply in love, but that’s two very opposite points, one is going to get upset. If Finn gives in will he resent Hadley later, if she accepts what Finn wants will she resent the lack of children later? I feel for them both, there isn’t an easy answer.
I understood Hadley’s distress at appearing to be hidden by Finn, he has reasons but doesn’t explain to her, and she’s beginning to feel like a dirty secret.
I didn’t like Hadley’s friends, Morgan seemed pushy while Rod….well, he’s crude and not funny IMO, and when he and Morgan are together its like listening to toddlers bicker, apart from the language being stronger. They really annoyed me.
I found the book slow to start, the story dragged, but now knowing there are four more books to fill I can see why. It feels like the story has been stretched to fit the size needed rather than the story itself dictating the length. Shorter and tighter would have suited me better. Still, I can see for many readers this is perfect as it is.
I’m undecided if I want to continue. If it was on KU I would…but I’m not sure that I’m intrigued enough to buy the next four books. I might try book tow and see from there, I would like to know what happens, how they resolve this dilemma but do I want it enough to buy four books? Can I stand reading more about Morgan and Rod. The bickering that for me isn’t funny, the language from Rod which is crude and juvenile, through more books? Its a shame that for me their issues overrode the story between Hadley and Finn, and that’s the one I really want to follow.

Stars: Three, a story I have mixed feelings over.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

An Enchantment of Ravens, Margaret Rogerson

An Enchantment of Ravens by [Margaret Rogerson]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I have a real weakness for books set in the Fae world. I spent my Xmas book tokens on fairy stories when I was about ten. Mum said then I was too old for all that, but the magic of a Fae setting has never left me, I still adore those stories. Sorry Mum 😉
So, even with free review books, even with KU I still buy the odd book, and I splashed out £5.99 on this one. Its one I loved, I know I’ll reread, so its well worth it to me.

Its a fascinating read, the Fae are beings to respect, to be afraid of. They may look a little like humans, with their glamour covering their true appearance, but their nature is very, very much darker, very different. Some of them see humans as mere playthings, they talk about fifty, a hundred years back as if it was last week.
True to many versions of Fae Margaret’s Fae cannot use Craft, they cannot create, and like anyone, what they can’t do, can’t have they crave. That keeps Isobel in work, they love her portraits, and in payment she bargains for protections and other things her family need.

Even though she’s only seventeen Isobel feels much older. She has a maturity beyond her years. This is one of those books that could be aimed at YA market, but which appeals to readers like me, far beyond that demographic. Well written books cross boundaries, IMO, to have universal appeal.
I loved Isobel, her aunt, and of course her two “sisters” March and May. Theirs is a story that illustrates the caprice of the Fae….

There’s a good build up, letting the reader understand the world, while still keeping interest in whats happening. I loved reading about how they managed daily life, how the village of Whimsy was set away from the World Beyond. We saw glimpses of other Fae as they came to buy craft, and of course see how carefully the villagers treat them. Isobel is content, as much as she can be, with her lot in life until it all gets turned upside down when her latest sitter, Rook, takes her back to his estate, the Autumn Lands in a fit of anger. That starts a journey where their lives are under constant threat, where they have to take care in every movement, and where they come to rely on each other to survive, and gradually trust and then love each other. Along the way I fell a bit in love with Rook too…That love between them brings its own dangers though, and there are some very real trials if they want a happy ending, or even if they just want to stay alive.
As the story reaches its conclusion there are many twists and turns, and some surprises I didn’t see coming.
I really enjoyed this story, great characters, interesting plots and just enough of the day to day stuff to be absorbing and not boring.

Stars: Five, a great read. A story that totally engrossed me, and in the midst of Covid19 I’ve found my usual escape in books very difficult. This story did it, took me away from today’s issues and stress into another world for a couple of hours.

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