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Pivotal Decisions, (Moonlight and Murder 2), Reily Garrett

Pivotal Decisions, (Moonlight and Murder 2), Reily Garrett

Pivotal Decisions: A suspenseful mystery thriller (Moonlight and Murder Book 2) by [Garrett, Reily]

Genre: Romantic suspense

Murder and bodies, swamps and alligators, guns and bang sticks ( never heard of them – I want one !!), drones and tech, none of which I know much about but it didn’t matter for the story as it was kept loose enough for me to keep up and enjoy. Some suspense novels get very heavy on the detail and I end up skipping pages, this had just enough to interest me and let me follow how the story fit together.
I loved Sabine – and Heath. That dog was the real star of the book 😉 Coyote too was great, it was hard seeing little Sabine all grown up, and he was struggling to keep his hands to himself. Of course Sabine had always been attracted to him so she wasn’t worried when he didn’t…. The secondary characters too, Augie, Sabine’s bestie and Coyote’s work partner and GF and sister were fabulous. Poor Nolan, Keiki was one determined lady.
The girls together brought some much needed humour among the seriousness of the story. The guys were all macho protection, Augie warning Coyote not to hurt Sabine, Coyote determined to keep her back from the danger, Nolan all het up in defence of his little sister and his girlfriend, and the girls all running rings around them equally determined to not be kept out of the action. Lucky they did, it needed all of them.

I understood the potential financially of what poor Jinx had been working on, and could see so easily for many the murders to get their hands on it would be nothing. Sadly that’s the way of the world, dominated by money and the desire for more of it.
I wasn’t entirely convinced over the capture and rescue of Augie’s lady, it seemed a bit too simple and why leave the VR goggles? Maybe its just me missed some essential connection but I really struggled with the relevance of that bit.

Where the story fell down a bit for me was the last section, the end, and the reasons for all the murders seemed to just almost fizzle off. Somewhere I even missed what happened to one of the bad guys, one moment there was still one accounted for, and then it was the end and clearly I missed how he got caught. There were times when the actions stretched credulity but not too much and after all this is fictionland 😉

Stars: Four, a fun read, humour to offset the murders and a great bunch of characters.

Arc via author

The Ninth Child, The new novel from the author of The Sealwoman’s Gift, Sally Magnusson

The Ninth Child, The new novel from the author of The Sealwoman’s Gift, Sally Magnusson

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult)

I was really intrigued by the description, bits of real history, interwoven with fantasy.

I loved Alistair, Isobel’s husband, he was such a caring man. And Isobel, all those miscarriages, how heartbreaking. In those times too it was just accepted, and I felt she didn’t really get a proper chance to grieve, and Alistair was expected to just be a man and not even acknowledge their losses. Kirsty too, was a great story teller, brought things alive.
I did find though that the story was very confusing at times. The narrative would change from one person to another, form one place to another without warning. That may be because I was reading an ARC though, but I found the story itself was so complex that things like that didn’t help my understanding.
Though the writing and descriptions were beautiful, and the explanations of the waterworks very in depth but understandable, I never really got into” the story. I didn’t feel more than an impassioned observer, and I was still confused by certain events even after the story ended. I cried at part of that, such a tragedy. 😦

Stars: Three, beautifully written but a story that mostly passed me by.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Red Hatchet Falls, (A Winston Radhauser Mystery 7), Susan Clayton-Goldner

Red Hatchet Falls, (A Winston Radhauser Mystery 7), Susan Clayton-Goldner

Red Hatchet Falls: A Winston Radhauser Mystery: #7 by [Clayton-Goldner, Susan]

Genre: Mystery and thrillers

Each time I finish a Radhauser novel I’m in awe of how Susan manages to pull together a story, including so many side plots full of interest, taking me on a journey to find who’s responsible for the awful things in that book. She makes me think its one person, then doubt myself, as Radhauser does so often.
This book is the perfect example of when there seems like a straightforward murderer, all the clues and evidence point to that person, and yet Radhauser feels its too easy. As usual his gut feeling should have been listened to, although hopefully here that mistake will lead to future good.
I really didn’t suspect who the person was, Susan hides them with only the most subtle of clues that only make sense when we reach the conclusion.

It was good to catch up with not only Radhauser and his family, but also his work colleagues, characters from other books ( yay for Rodney!) and meet new ones.
In among the main crime there are plots about bullying, racism, domestic violence, and of course we see just how pervasive racism is, how easy it is to prejudge someone purely on looks. That happens here to an Islamic family, who have made America their home. Of course even now the fall out from 9-11 hits them, they are hated by some people, feared by others, simply because of their religion, which a few extremists used as an excuse for horrific actions. Y’know, Christians have done that too, in history and probably recent times too.
Poor Ahmeed, Daria, and their little son Kareem go through things no family should have to, and I have the feeling that this happens in real life too, from those supposed to protect them. Racism reaches all occupations, being in a “responsible” profession doesn’t stop bigots from using that position for their own ends and I could see the results of Ahmeed’s shooting ending just as Radhauser suspected it would. And that made me sad – no-one ever learns when actions get hidden.
I think In the same way as Radhauser is learning from Heron, the ME, I’m learning the way Radhauser’s mind works ( or Susan’s!). I start looking for evidence, mulling over actions, wondering what comes next. Of course its not all crime all the way, there’s Radhauser taking Lizzie to sports, talking to Gracie ( I love her), fussing his beloved horses.
I felt so sad for the kids in this book, some bullied by adults, some by kids following adults examples, but they were hurt by those actions, and of course that impacts on the adults they become. Its well known that abusers were often abused themselves. That doesn’t excuse it but does sometimes explain it, the anger comes out in odd ways, they don’t have that loving family role model. Its something I get so angry about, children missing out on the fun, secure, loving childhood they should all have. Sadly a percentage never get it and others only part of it. Horrible reflection on us as adults. I remember my own son at five being told by his then best friend he couldn’t play with him any more because he was “ a black’un”. Jay had dark skin, dark hair and big brown eyes, and clearly his friends parents had looked at him, looked at the name Zelos and decided we were foreign. We’re not, but it gave me an insight into how cruel adults can be, how easily they influence children. He was five, didn’t understand what his friend meant, and it was tough explaining bigotry in a way he’d understand.
And as usual I’ve rambled here, but the gist it, once more Susan has knocked out a five star read. Meticulously researched, everything makes sense, there are no lose ends, no stretching of credulity but a story that could so easily be real. Sometimes as series continue they get tired, feel stale but Radhauser has a long way to go yet. Each story feels fresh even though the characters feel like old friends. I was looking back after finishing this at the early books, I started with book two, maybe its time I read book one, see how it all started.

Stars: five, long may Radhauser continue his investigations. Each book feels like the best yet, and then along comes the next which is even better.

Arc via author

The Album, A Cruise Control Novel, Sian Ceinwen

The Album, A Cruise Control Novel, Sian Ceinwen

The Album: A Cruise Control Novel by [Ceinwen, Sian]

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. What didn’t work, and stopped this being a five was the past present format that lasted the majority of the book. We know right from the start they’ve been broken up for two years, and I was hoping all the way through that this chapter we’d finally leave the past and get to Now. That didn’t happen until the every end though and though that was absolutely perfect, angst and heartbreak just as I love it did mean it felt rushed.
I’d have liked to read more of how the band felt about them being together, what they said etc. we get a sneak preview of this for book two but I wanted more.
I did feel Arianna was a bit pigheaded, stubborn in the extreme although her fears were real. Gabriel showed no signs of being like her uncle and I think she could have recognised her issues and maybe sought therapy for them. She’d learned what she lost when they were apart but I felt unless she’d actually dealt with her fame/limelight issues they cold be headed for heartbreak again. Time helps, it doesn’t heal automatically though.
An excellent debut novel, good things to come from Sian I’m certain, it was just the story format that let this down for me. If we’d left the past about a third or even halfway through, it would have worked better for me.
BTW I Loved, Loved the mean girls, the bitchy 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.

Stars: four, a great read, excellent story and I’m looking forward to book two.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Kika & Me, How One Guide Dog Changed My Life, Amit Patel

Kika & Me, How One Guide Dog Changed My Life, Amit Patel

Kika & Me: How one extraordinary guide dog changed my world by [Patel, Amit]

Genre: Non Fiction, Biography and memoirs

Well, most of us know about assistance dogs now, but when I was a kid Guide dogs were quite new, and there was lots of fundraising to train them. They really are a life line for people and in this book we can see just how important they are for visually impaired people.
Kika really did give Amit a new life. I remember a lady mum worked for as a cleaner, her ex policeman husband was blind. This would be mid 60’s, he spent all day every day in his bed in their living room. The house was a typical mid terrace, and from what I recall there was no support for him. What an awful life he must have had, they didn’t have TV, he couldn’t read, there was no such thing as audio books. Once every couple of weeks a friend would take him out for a short walk. Horrendous life, and yet apart from his blindness he was well. Dogs like Kika allow folk to keep their independence.

I have very bad eyesight, rely on some pretty strong lenses, and possibly may lose my sight as I get older. I treasure being able to see, to be able to do what I want, be independent still. I loved reading about Kika, her training, her individualism, her fierce protectiveness for Amit. When he gives examples of times when she refused to move and help that came told him she was right, to move was dangerous, it showed me just how much trust he needed to put in her. To regain his Independence it was necessary, but its not easy.

It was an inspirational read, Amit could so easily have lapsed into depression, as he did in those first days, and that would have ruined not only his life, but his wife and parents too. It must have been so hard to pick life up again – he was so young, but his wife and parents were determined being blind would just become part of his life, not the defining characteristic. I really enjoyed his journey from emergency doctor, to blindness ( not that I enjoyed that bit of course) and how he managed to get out of the depression, how hard he worked, how first the long cane, and then Kika helped him become what he wanted, a functioning, useful part of society, a god husband and son, and ultimately a good father too. All that took so much work, its not an easy journey and I am so in awe of his strength and support from family. May he have a long and happy life ahead of him.

Stars: Five, a fantastic, inspirational read of a real life experience.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Follow Me To Ground, Sue Rainsford

Follow Me To Ground, Sue Rainsford

Follow Me To Ground by [Rainsford, Sue]

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

I finished this book three days ago and….usually I write my reviews the following day, but I just don’t know where to start with this, and keep putting it off.

Its….an odd, weird story, and yet I can see from early reviewers that some folks adore it. I guess its the book equivalent of Marmite, you either love it or hate it! And sadly I just didn’t like it, I can’t say I hate it as TBH most of it was just so confusing, and at the end I was left thinking “ what have I read?”

Oddly it shares a few similarities with You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce, which I absolutely loved. They both involve people/creatures who are different to the usual supernatural beings in books. I understood You Let Me In though, well, partly, but that confusion was a deliberate facet of the story. However with Follow Me To Ground I just found it totally confusing. One moment it would be one person telling the story, then it would switch, but without any indication, so I’d be thinking “ What? Whats happened that I missed” before realising it was someone else talking. I had to keep going back, rereading, backtracking to try to understand, follow what had been written. Nothing really seemed to add up, make any kind of sense and even in a supernatural read I do need that.
I read to 50% and skim read the rest, as I wanted to see what would happen and yet was so confused by events and characters that I couldn’t bring myself to waste time in a thorough read. I knew by then it wasn’t going to be a great read for me, but wondered of the second half would be any clearer. Nope, it wasn’t.

One big plot in the book oddly was very clear to me, right from early on – weird that the ordinary events were difficult for me to follow, and yet this big major mystery was so obvious to me. Maybe that’s the way the author intended – I don’t know?

Stars: Two, a weird book, I can’t say I hated it, but I didn’t understand it, or like the characters. By the end I felt strangely irritated that I still didn’t know what it was supposed to be telling me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

You Let Me In, Camilla Bruce

You Let Me In, Camilla Bruce

You Let Me In by [Bruce, Camilla]

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

I loved this book, was blown away by it, transported to the magic world of good stories. It’s fairies, but not as we know them Jim, to misquote Mr Spock 😉 These fairies are very different, made of nature, some are centuries old and have lost what humanity they ever had. They live off energy, human, animal, nature such as trees and rivers and take on those characteristics. That’s if you believe they are real of course….

I guess that’s what made it so great for me, there’s a part of me that is convinced that just maybe there’s more to this world than we know, that maybe we aren’t the only inhabitants…after all think back to history, pre car, trains, electricity, mobile phones, PCs and TV. Talk to someone the other side of the world, see them? Listen to people who’ve now died? Travel faster than the fastest horse? That would have been scoffed at as impossible back then, but really it was always potential, always there, just not yet discovered.
You need that kind of openness to fully enjoy this I think, to believe that maybe, just maybe Cassie was telling the truth.

We start a year after she’s disappeared at 74, no trace of her and before her nephew and niece can claim her considerable estate she insists they read her story, her memoir if you like. Tucked away in it is the password they’ll need to claim. Like many gifts though this one may just have a hidden side.
I so felt for young Cassie, where her mum dotes on her golden sister and seems to dislike Cassie. It made me wonder, what was she like before she met Pepperman, did her mum dislike her even then, or was it the result of Cassie interaction with him? Were he and the others real or were they, as the doctor her mother insists she sees, products of a trauma induced psychosis?
What happened to Tommy Tipp if her story about him isn’t true? The same holds for her father and brother, she gives us an explanation, her mother and sister as always blame her, but how could she have physically done those things without help, and she had no friends, no-one who would have helped her?
Its perfectly paced. I can remember thinking “ who IS Mara?” as she kept cropping up in conversation, and then just as I was about to flip through book to find more the next chapter opens with something like “You may be wondering about Mara”. If I’d known earlier it wouldn’t have fitted as well, it needed that build up.

Its a complete story, but much like the book there’s possibilities in the ending, its not neat and tidily wrapped up but leaves readers wondering. Its one of those stories where it seems impossible to believe what she’s saying, and yet there are so many things that just don’t add up it feels like maybe, just maybe the impossible is possible. Then at the end, where is she if not in the mound?
I like to think she’s there, living happily with Pepperman and her friends, hard life though it may be. She had a tough enough “real” life, disliked by family, no human friends, always in trouble for things Pepperman did ( or was it her all along?). Mocked and ridiculed at school, dragged to doctors in the hope of making her “normal”. Did she just have a vivid imagination that took her way from the horrors she was living through, or was it all real? She deserves to be content now whichever.

Its one of those stories that stay with you, make you wonder, and I’ll be looking out for Camilla’s next work.

Stars: Five, amazing read, full of questions and possibilities, very realsitically written.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Captain and the Prime Minister Catherine Curzon , Eleanor Harkstead

The Captain and the Prime Minister. Catherine Curzon , Eleanor Harkstead 

The Captain and the Prime Minister (Captivating Captains) by [Curzon, Catherine, Harkstead, Eleanor]

Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA

I really enjoyed this. I’m not convinced by insta-love stories but in this one, although when they do take that step and go from 0-60, they have known each other a long time, and Tom has been part of the family for years so it wasn’t an issue.
I loved them both, Tom, strong ex soldier, but a softie with the twins, and Alex who’s been through so much while in the public eye, misses his late wife still, but discovers his feelings for Tom are more than just friendly. That part was handled so well, it wasn’t a “turning a straight guy” story, but one where Love was the focus, not the gender of either of them. I always think in those Straight guys stories, that there must have been some leanings, you can’t “turn” a straight guy any more than you can turn a gay person straight.
Publicity – it doesn’t get much more public than being PM, with the press focusing on every move. I’ve written before how I hate the way the media just love to dig out anything they can make sound salacious – the TV interview was so very well done. I could see those questions being asked by someone very like the presenter portrayed in the book. Its all “in the public interest” excuses when in fact unless the PM was heavily against gay rights it wasn’t anyone’s business.
Given how many folk are LBGTQIA its a wonder there aren’t more in the Gov, maybe, as in football and some other celebrity occupations, they just hide what they are. Justin Fashanu, the first openly gay UK footballer, had a really tough time, being adopted, and black also. Brave kid, sadly died too young, but it amazes me that out of over 800 premier league footballers currently not one is openly gay. I suspect the media furore people in the public eye face when they come out is what prevents them. That’s pretty damning in 2020 that some still feel they have to hide who they are 😦 It made the press scenes, the way events and texts were twisted, in this book feel very real, though sadly I think in real life the endings would have gone down differently.

I understood how Alex’ in laws felt, understandable, and was so glad that worked out. I loved the way the twins were told, and that’s how it should be, no big deal, just everyday life. Kids are accepting, its adults who have issues.
Alex and Tom both had some tough decisions to take, a big risk for them both if they got it wrong.
Its a lovely story, touches on reality, but with a happy ending, which I need, not the sadly unhappy one I think reality would bring 😦 we have a long way to go, but at least are going in the right direction.

Stars: Five, a lovely read, one I wish real life was more like.

Arc via Authors

Marry Him, Marina Ford

Marry Him, Marina Ford

Marry Him by [Ford, Marina]

Genre: Romance, Humour
I’ve had a slew of books recently that were perhaps bad choices on my part and I really hate writing low star reviews. I always try to point out though that although I didn’t gel with the story others will, that reading is very subjective. This book illustrates that perfectly. Already I can see a few two star reviews, even a couple of ones and yet I loved it. Absolutely loved it.

It made me snigger with the scatty humour, and for anyone ( a few reviews mention it) who thinks life isn’t like that – it is. I don’t have Joe’s exuberance but do have his problems with everything going t$ts up, with my careful plans descending into chaos, although mostly I just go with the flow and don’t make strict plans. Everything goes wrong when I do so why bother? The nurses were sniggering when I broke my hip falling out of my wheelchair, moving the electric fence for my horses, then recently my scooter suddenly ran out of charge just before home and a big slope. I had to accept a push from a poor man who was using a stick to walk…then there’s the time I super-glued my hand to the kitchen worktop. I was putting it away safely so the grand-kids didn’t get it.
Frank is so like my late husband, that full on persona, always talking to strangers like long lost friends, always full of weird and wonderful ideas.
I enjoyed the very different personalities of Harry and Joe, again my late husband and I were very different, and yet it worked, we were together over 40 years, so there’s no reason why Harry and Joe couldn’t make it work too.

I wasn’t so keen on the timing, the way it was five years past, six months past and then present, it worked to tell the story but I found it frustrating jumping back and forth. That’s a small crit though and as I’m not a writer maybe that’s the only way the story would work?
I did like the different people, the prejudice, the way Joe was casually called “ the Gay “ from folk who’d be astonished at the suggestion that wasn’t really polite. Casual sexism, prejudice, bigotry like this is insidious, people only see the open hatred as being prejudiced whereas actually its far more and something people face daily but shouldn’t have to. Being a wheelchair user I get that kind of thing when folk talk to whoever is pushing the chair, offer them the change even though I’ve paid, ruffle my hair like I’m a pet. One day….

The story itself has some great dram that unfolds to a real climax at the end. I couldn’t believe it would really unravel, and yet the clues Marina set up for it all going wrong were incredibly real and believable.
Looking on goodreads Marina is a new to me author, I’ll certainly look out for her books in future.

Stars: five, a cracking read that had me sniggering at several points at poor Joe, and empathising with him having done the same kind of thing.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Where We Belong, Shann McPherson

Where We Belong, Shann McPherson

Where We Belong: An unputdownable contemporary romance novel for 2020 by [McPherson, Shann]

Genre: Romance, General Fiction (adult)

Well, I love these small town America stories. I’ve no idea – being British – whether there really are towns like this, but I love the idea of everyone having friends, being there for each other. Of course its Always Sunshine and Warmth – and here in UK that’s often in short supply, so that’s a huge bonus. BBQ in the rain, summer dress for night out ruined by downpour, hair carefully coiffed and makeup done, then wrap up in warm hat that ruins the effect – that’s UK summers. I love the fake GF/BF trope too.

Poor Murph, all set for a proposal from long time boyfriend, on and off romance, and then…he hands her an invite to his wedding. Oh I could feel her heart breaking. When we learned more about their past my heart was sad for her over again, and I wondered why she saw Nash as her HEA, when to me he was selfish and unreliable.
Still, here he is with his new love, and she wants to put a brave face on and in the momentary instinct claims Harley is hers. Poor Harley – give the guy credit, he goes along with it, but as we learn he’s been picking her up for years, What’s one more time.
And it could have been a fun read for me if Murph hadn’t been so unpleasant to Anna. Its not her fault Nash loves her, and I really didn’t like Murph’s actions. Acting on the spur of the moment is one thing, but deliberate actions? Nope. Not in my playbook.
It may not bother you and you may laugh at parts, I did have a silent snigger at one even as I was annoyed at it….hey- I’m human, it set a funny visual. And I want to know why Harley writes his name on his clothes?

Overall it ends well, I’m not entirely sure I was convinced by it, but its a fun, easy read.

Stars: Three, I enjoyed parts, but a) didn’t understand why Murph was so set on Nash and b) didn’t like some of her actions.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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