Archive | May 2021

A Grimoire for Gamblers, (The Trove Arbitrations Book 1), Amanda Creiglow

A Grimoire for Gamblers, (The Trove Arbitrations Book 1), Amanda Creiglow


Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Sci-fi and Fantasy

This sounded unusual, and that’s good in a market saturated with so many fantasy reads that are almost copies…so I dived in.
The magic here is different, very different to the usual, and I liked that, it was good to read a protagonist that wasn’t instantly transformed into someone more skilled than others hundreds of years older. Magic here – for humans at least – relies on skill, practice, accuracy- and intention. I really felt that part was one of the things that sets this novel above so many others.

I liked Elizabeth, and understood her grief for her father even though he’d been trying to end his life for some time. Her curiosity – that would be me, I couldn’t leave such interesting papers and items alone either….The grief provides a convenient excuse for her not being at work too, which gives her time to sort out this mess she’s inadvertently involved in. I didn’t see the point of the boyfriend, Faisal, he’s away for most of the novel and doesn’t add anything. Their relationship doesn’t feel like a very solid one, there’s no real pull between them, they feel more like flatmates than lovers.

I did get a little confused by all the different magical creatures, and I’m still not entirely sure what/where the Gravelings come from. That kind of brings up the weakness in the story for me, I have several unanswered questions. I didn’t understand the relevance of some incidents, felt others were too slickly glossed over. Max seems almost manic at times, yet terrified of his masters – why? What was the significance of the train, other than to begin events? The solutions occasionally seemed a bit slick, though the end result, the big problem, worked excellently for me. Complex enough to make me think, yet with a logic that I could understand.

Overall this was a fun read, and the issues I had could easily be put down to first in series syndrome. Those books have a tough ask, delivering a story interesting enough to hook the reader, but a world wide enough to carry future books. I think its successful here, I’d certainly like to read more.

Stars: Three and a half, its a fun fantasy, but with some darker edges. Holds promise for an interesting series.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

A Secret Scottish Escape, Julie Shackman

A Secret Scottish Escape, Julie Shackman

A Secret Scottish Escape: The most heartwarming and feel good read for women of 2021! by [Julie Shackman]
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Arrgghhhh, women’s fiction Again! Why? Its an outdated category IMO.

Anyway, the book. Its billed as romance but in reality there’s very little. In fact for most of the book the male lead doesn’t even seem to like Layla.
Layla herself drives very close to the nosey and interfering, rather than concerned neighbour. Its needed for the story, but there were times when, like Mask, I would have been intensely irritated by her actions.
Mask was very rude to her, I was amazed she continued to try to help him. I did understand why when all was revealed of course, but until then he came over as some surly, rude guy.

The plot flows along nicely, there’s the tragic death of Layla’s fiance at the start, and the awful situation it happened, but it left her free to pursue setting up her dream, which of course involved her dad and his band-mates, and led to another story line with them.
I did feel she managed to set the club up incredibly easy, IRL of course there’s be endless council inspections, licenses to sort, building regs and appeals to get round….but book land is different thank goodness. Sometimes I wish real life was more like that, innovation gets stifled by the constant legal issues…..

As the story continues it gets more complex , with another story line popping up. I felt that was pretty real but they way it was resolved felt wrong, I just couldn’t see it happening that way after the long while the grudge had been held. Still, as ever others won’t bother about that – we all have different opinions.

The romance almost doesn’t happen until the end, but the story itself is fun. I would have liked a bit more romance, we get a nice epilogue but for me I needed more in the story itself.

Stars: Three, its a fun mystery but a bit thin as a romance read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Echoes of the Heart, L.A. Casey

Echoes of the Heart, L.A. Casey

Echoes of the Heart by [L.A. Casey]

Genre: Romance, general fiction ( adult)

I’ve enjoyed several of this authors books, and of course the rock star romance genre and second chance stuff always hooks me. I enjoyed this but not quite as much as I expected.
My heart broke for young Risk, and for how good Frankie was with him. Then when they were older I understood Frankie’s reasons for pushing Risk away, I agreed with them even, and yet somehow it irked me. I couldn’t understand how Risk didn’t see it, why he was so resentful.
He was all about everyone leaving him, very focused on that even years later. Still, you need to walk in someone’s shoes to truly understand their actions. Both Risk and Frankie were still clearly very much in love.

The big thing that breaks them was something I struggled with, I really didn’t see why it was such a problem. Though of course there has to be something doesn’t there or we’d get a very bland romance, and I’m all about the break up dramas….

Frankie’s mum, Michael, and the problems they had with her illness were heartbreaking. Its such a cruel disease, so hard on families more so than the person affected. Living bit not living, her mum, his wife and yet not that person. Tough and they were so good with her. For many its just too much to deal with, but they stuck by her no matter how hard.

I loved the other lads in the band, the band issues, the drug problems and the rabid fans. For me they all belong in a proper band read, and make the book stand out.

Its a fun read, just didn’t quite grip me as much as others I’ve read. I loved the setting, Southwold is about 50 miles from e, and a place I’ve holidayed at many times. It was fun to read it as the setting for fiction romance.

Stars: Four, a fun band read, great characters, brilliant setting!

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

A Portrait in Ash and Lace, Casket Girls Chronicles, Sofia Aves

A Portrait in Ash and Lace, Casket Girls Chronicles, Sofia Aves

A Portrait in Ash and Lace: The Casket Girl Chronicles: Book 4 by [Sofia Aves]

Genre: Romance, Sci Fi & Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult)

1) I spent ages looking for casket girls 1-3….Thought I was losing it 😉 but this is a series with each book written by a different author. Found that out from anther reviewer!
That’s why i couldn’t find casket girls 1-3…..i never though to look under different authors!
I felt the story had so much potential but it never quite got there. It is very short, another thing I hadn’t realised, shorts rarely work for me. I felt that everything became squashed into far too quickly over events, whereas the potential for making a longer read was there. Was there is worked well, if a little disjointed at times, confusing at others and that’s where more space would have helped, let the story come out fully instead of being pushed into brief, not always clear, sections.
The ending is very abrupt, in fact for me it doesn’t feel complete. I haven’t read this author before, but I would happily read more if the story was longer.

Stars: Three, its a bit muddled at times, and would benefit from extra length IMO as it has the potential to carry more.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Forgotten Creek, A Winston Radhauser Mystery 10, Susan Clayton-Goldner

Currently just 77p on kindle!!

Forgotten Creek, A Winston Radhauser Mystery 10, Susan Clayton-GoldnerCurrently just 77p on kindle!

Forgotten Creek: A Winston Radhauser Mystery: #10 by [Susan Clayton-Goldner]

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Another winner from Susan. It kind of feels automatic now to me that I’m going to be thoroughly engrossed in one of her books. As a reviewer though I do take reading seriously, and even though I’ve loved past books I still rate each on their own merits. If I don’t enjoy one I will say so. Fortunately that doesn’t happen here 😉

So once more Radhauser is hunting for a killer, a race against time as it seems an open and shut case, and of course as always the media and the local bigwigs are pressing for a resolution. It helps them too that the alleged killer is one of the homeless….
We have that same kind of pressure here in UK, where the news media are baying for blood, casting blame everywhere if there’s not a suspect found asap. I’ve always worried about that, about whether the real killer could get away due to that pressure, and the wrong person be convicted.
Radhauser is determined Corndog is innocent, but his partner MacBride isn’t. His boss Murphy is being leaned on by the Mayor, who no doubt is being led by press and of course votes…its easy to see how things get muddled, how its simple to take the obvious solution and not look harder. Thankfully Radhauser goes with his gut, bends the lines to the fullest, even puts his job on the line in his search for the real killer.

Along the way we learn a lot about homeless folk, and here in UK we have same issues sadly. Its awful, horrible, to think of people living in tents in freezing weather, sleeping on benches, in doorways. What do we do? Make rules to force them elsewhere rather than try to solve the problem. It’s a good job there are folk like Radhauser and sister Elizabeth who see the person, not just the tag of “homeless”. Its a fate that could happen to any of us.
Radhauser’s search takes him cross country, digging out old files, asking hard questions. We meet folk connected to suspects and victims, and learn more backstories. Some of them are heartbreaking, and for parents dealing with the loss of a child, well, I just can’t imagine that kind of grief. He has to be really careful in how he approaches them.

When the answers begin to show up Radhauser knows he’ll have to have an iron clad case. Its going to be a really tough sell to his boss to get the warrant to search for evidence, even if his boss wasn’t convinced they already have the killer. Radhauser needs to find every scrap of evidence he can, motive, opportunity, connections to what they already have, to make his case for that warrant.

I loved that we meet Kendra and Caleb again, I was so pleased for them. I can’t recall which book featured them, but it felt like meeting old friends and being pleased how their life worked out.

Stars: Five, another brilliant read, engrossing trying – and failing – to work out who was the real killer. That came as a huge surprise.

ARC supplied by author

Deadly Interception, (Moonlight and Murder 5), Reily Garrett

Deadly Interception, (Moonlight and Murder 5), Reily Garrett

Deadly Interception (Moonlight and Murder Book 5) by [Reily Garrett, R E Hargrave]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers.

Well, book five in the series and the gang is growing. Hands up here, I’ve only read book three before, but each book can be read as a stand alone. TBH though, I think if you’re a thriller reader I’d say start at the beginning, part of the fun in this story was being back with characters I felt I knew from book three, so if you know ALL of them 😉

Reily’s wring is fun, lots of snarky humour, not that artificial forced stuff, but almost throwaway lines that really hit the point. And the dogs, I adore animals and the dogs here are perfect, fit the story so well. ( and why do I feel the bore of four eyes on me, my girls mentally saying to me “ but we’re perfect too!” Dogs are good at the guilt trip)

Each person in the gang has their own talents and connections that are integral to the plots, and for me Keiki’s drones are amazing, but the dogs win out….again! The teamwork and camaraderie is what makes these reads such fun. I’m not a huge thriller reader, and I’m sure there’s bits I missed here, clues that passed over me but its a satisfying read. As an occasional thriller reader I don’t want to get bogged down in detail or read stomach churning gore scenes. Reilly gets it right, adventure, fun, scares, just the right amount of dangers, the dogs and a bit of tech to help get the bad guys…. and a background of romance. Perfect for me.

Stars: Four, an absorbing read, just the right amount of danger for me, lightened with some terrific snarky lines.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Under the Italian Sun, Sue Moorcroft

Under the Italian Sun, Sue Moorcroft

Under the Italian Sun by [Sue Moorcroft]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance, Women’s Fiction

Sigh… Usual moan, women’s fiction. 2021. not 1821. Men read and write romance. They probably did back then too!

Anyway, Sue Moorcroft, fantastic author, writes books with multi layered plots, realistic folk and situations and depth. I love all that and this story was a real treat.
I could feel poor Zia’s heartbreak and I was so angry at her ex. Sadly the way he looks at his cheating isn’t uncommon and I was glad Zia stuck to her guns. Cheating isn’t acceptable, and he needed to e sorry, not to make excuses.
So she and bff delve off to Italy on a quest to find out more about Zia’s past. She finds family there but her search isn’t without problems, and of course the people she’s staying with also have problems. Zia by now has made friends with them and helps out, and helping them helps her, gives her somewhere to stay and more time to decide what to do. Of course staying is also a factor in her fledgling relationship with the Delicious Piero, who also has issues with his family, and his fathers scheming girlfriend.
All these threads, problems make for such interesting reading, taking me down trails I didn’t image but thoroughly enjoyed. I was shocked at the initial Vicky/Tori revelations, but they were just the start, there was lots more surprises to come.
I loved Harry and the descriptions of his time with Vicky, a real 70’s feel about that, and I can imagine how Vicky’s somewhat staid and conservative parents felt. They were very much like my own parents – when I told them I was pregnant mum’s reaction was “ Oh no! What will the neighbours think?” and rushed to bed….Pretty average reaction for mid seventies. At one point in early 8-‘s my sister in law and I toyed with the idea of renting a large house between us and combining both families, very much as Harry and Vicky did.

Stars: Five, Another fabulous read from Sue, taking the reading out of this day to day dull and into sunny Italy with a delicious romance too

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Chaos in the Coven, (Witches of Raven’s Landing), Saskia Walker

Chaos in the Coven, (Witches of Raven’s Landing), Saskia Walker

Chaos in the Coven (Witches of Raven's Landing Book 3) by [Saskia Walker]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, this is probably my favourite or the trio. Maybe because I feel I know many of the characters. Its good to see how things are growing in the coven, though even with them being witches I’m still pretty sure it wouldn’t be as easy hiding things from the rest of the village as it seems. Still, that’s the beauty of fiction 😉
This book seems to have a bit of everything, the Coven witches of course and then we’ve Ghosts, Demons and Vampires…Vampires. First time they’ve been around in the village and at first the Coven members cant make it out. There’s more issues with Nathaniel Fox, a documentary crew poking into everything, looking for the paranormal, and an old acquaintance from Aveline’s past crops up, and he’s unwelcome. Sadly he’s also very persistent, very suspicious, and tagged into the film crew.
Its a fun read, not just the documentary crew but the Coven, the 1940’s party ( I had to look up Zoot suit – found from Wiki rabbit hole and the images I remember seeing a pic with my dad in that style trousers…See, even fiction teaches us things). Of course there;s Eben, who adores Aveline, and is such a source of strength. She needs it in this book, there are some hard things to deal with.
It ends with a big bang, literally, and some tear jerking moments too.

Stars: Four, a fun read, I enjoyed seeing how the coven and its memebers have grown over the books, and how Fox was finally dealt with.

ARC supplied by author

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