Archive | June 2021

How to Talk to a Goddess, (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic 2), Emily Croy Barker 

 

How to Talk to a Goddess, (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic 2),
Emily Croy Barker 

How to Talk to a Goddess and Other Lessons in Real Magic by [Emily Croy Barker]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Sci-fi and fantasy

Its so long since I read book one that I decided to reread it. I remembered parts but discovered there was much I’d forgotten, and found that it was still as much fun as first time round.
Then I went straight on to read this and I think having refreshed my thoughts via first book made it easier to get into Nora’s mind, to follow why she chose certain actions. I was a bit sad for her parents who would once more get plunged into a mysterious disappearance, but really, how could she explain it? I think at least leaving them a note would have been kind, even if they don’t believe it.
I liked that Nora’s return was not seamlessly easy, and very believable. I wondered how after accidentally slipping into that world she’d be able to repeat it, and it was done in a way that felt natural.

I loved this book, the first is still my favourite by a small margin, but this has some great parts. I did like the things that happened, good and bad, to Nora and Aruendiel, the separation, the jealousies ( I love a good jealous issue!) I wasn’t so keen on the Goddess parts, and of course that’s a huge part of the story. It wasn’t that I disliked that part, I just felt Nora became someone else at times, and I wasn’t convinced she’d have acted in the way she did.
I’m glad the Faitoren were brought in and a resolution found, that tied up any lose parts from earlier and allowed the story to move forward.
I enjoyed meeting Aruendiel’s friends, and how they pulled together in dangerous times. The magic, I love that, loved the workings of the spells, loved the whole idea but then at heart I can’t help wishing there was magic in the world…..
Its a fun read, a worthy follow up and I would still like more from this world. I think Nora, Aruendiel and their friends could still have lots of adventures.

Stars: Five, A fabulous read, worthy follow up. And please Emily, more??

ARC supplied by author

Glitter, Abbi Glines

Glitter, Abbi Glines

Glitter by [Abbi Glines]

Genre: Romance,

Historical Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

Oh this was fun, I’ve enjoyed several of Abbi’s contemporary romances ( despite being way older than the characters…) so was keen to see how she’d handle this. And it was great, a fun read, little genteel drama, wonderful characters, and solidly set in the time period. Except for – biscuits. Abbi, we don’t ever eat those biscuits for breakfast, now or then. What you call biscuits is closer to what we would call a scone and eat with butter and jam for tea. High tea or when visitors call back then of course. Biscuits and gravy for breakfast is not British, its US and every time I read it ( and it comes up multiple times) I felt it jarred.
Anyway, other than that I really enjoyed this story, it had all the typical hallmarks of a historical romance. The traditions, the era, the shock when someone steps outside the norm. I think Miriam’s aunt would have found it way more difficult to be accepted in society being a) American and b) ignoring so many of society’s conventions. But for the book’s purpose it was fine, worked well and I adored her. She was exactly what Miriam needed.
Added to the romance was that issue of the brothers and their relationship. Then of course there’s the whole reason Ashington was looking for a wife now in the first place. That made the book into more than a simple romance, into a story with some added depth and drama.
I did feel the end was very abrupt, even with that lovely epilogue, and the brothers relationship seemed to have changed on a sixpence, went from one extreme to another in an instant. I’d have liked to understand more about Nathaniel’s thinking and change of heart.

Stars: Four, an enjoyable historical, an entertaining read with a couple of surprises.

ARC supplied by Netgally and publishers

An Endless Cornish Summer, Phillipa Ashley

 

An Endless Cornish Summer, Phillipa Ashley

An Endless Cornish Summer: Escape with the perfect, heartwarming and uplifting new summer book from the Sunday Times bestselling author by [Phillipa Ashley]

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

ah,ahh Women’s Fiction again….its 2021 people.

Well, its a sweet story, stretches credibility to think Rose could find her donor that easily, then just find the perfect place to stay, make new friends etc, but -its fiction. It makes for a sweet read, gentle romance, and of course the Cornish setting is beautiful. There’s a few bits of drama creep in but nothing very heavy, its very much a gentle beach read.
I really liked Rose, she’d been through so much. She still worked hard though, and got into her chosen field, and now she’s off exploring more of history. Nigel and the YouTube links – that made me laugh. There are people like him everywhere, convinced the answer to everything is on a conspiracy site, and that people who’ve studied a subject in depth are simply wrong, misguided, simply need showing the error of their beliefs. Primary source materials, peer reviewed papers, all pale into comparison against a website set up by someone’s cousin’s, friend’s, brother, who knows absolutely whats right because he went to evening classes in extra terrestrials…or math. Something like that 😉 Covid has brought loads out!
Characters are like-able, Cornwall is gorgeous and I want to go out on a boat. Preferably with a lovely handsome man of course!

Stars: three, Its a fun read, easy to follow but a little light for me.

ARC supplied by Netgally and publishers

Sleepless, Romy Hausmann

Sleepless, Romy Hausmann

Sleepless: the mind-bending new thriller from the bestselling author of DEAR CHILD by [Romy Hausmann]

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

I loved Dear Child, so was eager to get into this but….while the writing is excellent the story just failed for me. I did put aside a few times, restarted and managed to finish, purely because I’d got the the point where I had to know how it played out but I really didn’t enjoy this read.
I found the tale confusing, different time lines, characters that seemed to have two very different stories. Eventually they began to join but I found the co-incidences of how characters were connected too much to believe, and I do believe a lot in random chance but this just didn’t feel right. Then there’s Laura, supposed to be Nadja’s friend according to the description but actually they’ve not spoken for a couple of years at least.
I felt for Nadja, horrific childhood, but really didn’t understand her willingness to help Laura. All of the characters were selfish to some degree, Laura and her husband very much so. Nelly was probably the most likable, poor little deluded girl, seduced by a practiced man….even she put out of her mind what her head was telling her.
I finished it, but it was a struggle, and even now I’m still confused about certain aspects, why, how, when of certain characters and events…

Stars: Two, I didn’t hate this book, I was just disappointed in the story, but as usual others adore this read. We all look for different things, this just wasn’t a fit for me.

ARC supplied by Netgally and publishers

Unforgettable You, Marci Bolden

Unforgettable You, Marci Bolden

Unforgettable You by [Marci Bolden]
Genre: Romance, general fiction ( adult), women’s fiction

Sigh….women’s fiction yet again. Outdated, publishers, lets get rid of it.

Anyway, the book. This type is like catnip for me so I really expected to love it. Maybe my expectations were too high but I was underwhelmed. Its a good read, don’t get me wrong, just not the glued to the page story I expected.
The plot is neat, has a good mix of characters, though Carrie must be superhuman to do all that mostly alone AND look after her mother in law who has early dementia….having worked in B and B’s as a kid I know how much work is involved. Carrie needed more help!
I liked Carrie, she was so caring, and I understood how close she was to mama. Will was lovely too, and the attraction between the two was obvious. I did like that there was heat without the inevitable endless sex scenes often found. I like sex scenes as much as any other reader but sometimes they just overtake the story. It’s nicely balanced here. I loved that we had a couple of unpleasant characters too, they always add an edge to the story, though I’d have liked to see a bit more nastiness from them!
Its hard to say just why this wasn’t a five star for me, all the elements were there but it just didn’t grip me, didn’t keep me glued to the page. Then when things go wrong, well, I didn’t understand why either of the characters acted as they did. Will especially, head in the sand or what? It didn’t feel right after him having been so caring and supportive. I would have expected Carrie to phone too, not just afterwards, but before there was an issue. It just didn’t gel with the characters I thought I knew.

Stars: Three, a good book, just not one that lit real sparks for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Chasing the Italian Dream, Jo Thomas

Chasing the Italian Dream, Jo Thomas

Chasing the Italian Dream: Escape and unwind with bestselling author Jo Thomas by [Jo Thomas]
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance, Women’s Fiction,

Sometimes a book ticks all the right boxes but for whatever reason just doesn’t fit. That happened here for me.
I went in expecting to love this story but wasn’t convinced by the romance, didn’t understand how they could let so long go between them when both felt so strongly. I didn’t really understand why the need for the competition, but that could be because the women’s place in this story felt as if it had come from the fifties.
Maybe Italy in the rural areas really is like that? It just jarred me though, in the same way as yet again that outdated category of Women’s Fiction does. Why? Why alienate a huge swathe of potential readers. Men read romance, men write romance…

I wasn’t really keen on either main character, Lucia annoyed me so much at times, she was high handed and seemed to see everything for how it affected her. In contrast some of the secondary characters ere really interesting and lifted the story for me. The food descriptions were mouth watering, and I could smell the pizzas, the sharpness of lemons, and the bittersweet Limoncello – I love that stuff. Those parts kept me reading, Lucia didn’t. I wasn’t convinced by the ending.

Stars: Three, a pleasant read, some good parts even if Lucia annoyed me 😉

ARC via Netgally

The Getaway, A holiday romance for 2021 – perfect summer escapism!, Isabelle Broom

The Getaway, A holiday romance for 2021 – perfect summer escapism!, Isabelle Broom

The Getaway: A holiday romance for 2021 - perfect summer escapism! by [Isabelle Broom]
Genre: Romance, women’s fiction ( adult)

Bah humbug, women’s romance again. I hate reading that in categories, so outdated.
|Anyway, this was fun. Poor deluded Kate, after a disastrous 30th birthday she’s going through a break up of epic proportions. She’s been with her ex for 8 years and the end blindsided her. Her friends, parents don’t know how to help get her out of the mire she’s in, depressed, in tears. She’d just lost her job too, not that it was something she liked but it was a job. Big brother Toby comes to the rescue, takes her off to Croatia to help him and his husband Filippo with the new hostel, and they seriously need that help!
I loved Toby and Filippo, loved the island of Hvar and the people. Kate finds that she’s not the disaster she thought, she does have talent and discovers a field she enjoys and is good at. I loved her personal growth, her build up of self belief, the way she was able to look back and see she wasn’t the person her ex portrayed.
Of course she meets someone new. The gorgeous Alex, who’s not without his own problems. I did find the coincidence of their meeting and what she knew a tiny bit hard to believe….but its book-land! I also found that once there she was able to let go of the past 8 years with her ex pretty quickly. I didn’t want her to wallow but I did feel she moved on faster than I expected. Maybe that’s just book timing, its set over a short period but for me I was a little surprised.
There’s fabulous descriptions of life on the island, great characters, and lots of twists in the story, some of which had me cheering and yet tearful too. I enjoyed reading this story, it didn’t keep me gripped to the page, I did read over a few periods, but that’s me not the book.

Stars: Three, great holiday read, sweet romance, and great portrayal of personal growth

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

For the Wolf, Hannah Whitten

For the Wolf, Hannah Whitten

For the Wolf (The Wilderwood Books Book 1) by [Hannah Whitten]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I was so looking forward to this but the beginning…well, I had to restart a few times because, honestly, it was a slog. Once past that though it was a fantastic read, I’m so glad I didn’t give up, and I really want the next book Now!

I loved the Wilderwood scenes, they really were the best part. The slow burn romance, the Fife and Lyra interactions, the other characters, descendants of those caught in the past, and of course, the Wilderwood. A wood like no other, sentient, but focused on survival at all costs, and that’s meant the deaths of second daughters in the past.
What I wasn’t keen on was the Neve, Kiri part of the story, at least in the early stages. When the end grew near the two parts melded and became one but until then it was as if I was reading two different stories, only tangentially connected. It was hard jumping from one story arc to the other.
There were some terrific characters here, some horrific moments in the Wilderwood, and lots of things to learn, superstitions and stories, some of which were true, others not. I hadn’t read the connection to Red riding Hood, thankfully, as I don’t like re-imaginings of traditional stories and would have not requested this. To me, the only connection really is superficial, Red’s name and cloak, the woods and Eammon being known as The Wolf.
Its a fantastic read, once past the beginning I was gripped. Its very intense at times, lots of gritty drama and details, and the fabulous slowly unfolding romance. I am so hoping its not long to wait for more!

Stars: Five, If you struggle at first, stick with it, its so worth it. Fabulous, dramatic, intense story. And a gorgeous slow burn romance.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Play For Me, The Balefire Series Book One, Tam DeRudder Jackson

Play For Me, The Balefire Series Book One,
Tam DeRudder Jackson

Play For Me: The Balefire Series by [Tam DeRudder Jackson]
Romance
Genre: romance, general fiction

Well, rock/film star romance is my catnip – but there’s an awful lots of it around and much is just No, No, No for me so I’m cautious. However this was a fun read and I enjoyed it, but sadly it lacked the magic spark to make it into a great read for me.

I liked Clio and her friends, they were very clearly written, I could feel the bond between them.
Jack and the band though? They should have been such a big part of the story but I felt they were lacking, too one dimensional in the case of Jack, and the band barely featured and yet it was such an important part of Jack’s life. Without the band its just another romance with a guy who puts his career first it feels.
I enjoyed her parents role, felt very real – until the end. That didn’t fit for me.

I would have liked more about the actual pregnancy, her struggles to decide what to do. More about Jack as a father, more about his heritage, otherwise why mention it?
I was really confused that Clio didn’t get more upset about the events towards the end of the novel when Jack’s away, I’d have been far less forgiving that he just seemed to drop everything. Who can’t find time for at least a daily text? I felt Clio had been so strong til then and she just rolled over. “ Oh, you were away doing important manly stuff of course, its fine, I’ll just mind the baby, sort out finances, deal with work on my own” – that’s how I felt her reaction was, like a caricature of a 50’s housewife. Or maybe I’m just too judgmental 😉

The novel had so much potential, a good story line with the separation of her and Jack and the angst that caused, the support of her friends and her struggles to cope, her parents and the pregnancy issues, but I just felt that it needed a bit more edge for me. But of course others don’t need that, will love it as is. Horses for courses.

Stars: Three and a half, its a fun read but I wanted more edge from it.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Threadneedle, Cari Thomas

Threadneedle, Cari Thomas

Threadneedle: SUNDAY TIMES bestseller and most anticipated debut fantasy release of the year by [Cari Thomas]

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult),

I struggled with this. Its classed as Adult yet it feels very YA. I’ve read YA books I’ve loved, some transcend age, but this feels so YA that I struggled with it. The story dragged, and sadly by 40% in I started skim reading to see what happened. There was a lot going on but it seemed very confusing, very muddled and some events seemed to have no real purpose. It could well be my skimming though, that missed the events they led to. I wanted to know what would happen, wanted to see how it would play out but just couldn’t get through the whole story to get to the end.
Would I read next part? I don’t know. Maybe as the characters are aging it’ll feel less YA, Towards the last quarter it began to lose that feeling for me, with the characters facing some very hard situations and decisions.
Of course first books in a series or trilogy also have a hard time delivering a good story while creating a new world, and this one has a different kind of magic, and different magical groups too, so there was a lot to introduce to the reader.

Its a shame I didn’t get along with it better, I was so looking forward to it. It could be that book two lures me in and I love it and read this with different eyes. Who knows, I’ve had that happen before, in the same way as I’ve loved the first couple of books in a series but then it lost interest for me.

Stars: Three, its a good story, just didn’t quite click for me. Like I said, maybe when there’s more to tell, more to understand I’ll feel differently about this one. It has left me wondering “what next” so in that sense it delivers.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

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