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Indelible, Adelia Saunders

Indelible, Adelia Saunders

Indelible by [Saunders, Adelia]

Genre:  General fiction

I really wanted to like this book, it sounded so deliciously different, and reminded me a bit of Elizabeth Hunter’s Irin chronicles with the skin marking references, though of course instead of a few people having visible marking to others, only Magdalena sees what’s marked, no-one else.

Once I started reading though..well, I just felt it was a disjointed rambling tale. Nothing seemed to really relate to anything else, we seemed to veer from one persons POV to the next, and I just felt lost, didn’t understand what was the point of what we were told. It felt like a story that led nowhere.

The three main characters had a very tenuous connection, and I felt them to be kind of flat, I didn’t understand them, didn’t like them and just wasn’t interested in their spry or what would happen to them.
I started flipping through at about 30% hoping it would get more interesting, looking for something that would hook me in to the story. I didn’t find it and DNF the novel. There’s too many books I will like to waste time on one I know I’m not going to.

For me it was a story that had so much fantastical potential but which turned out very different to what I expected from the description. I can see though that many others love it, clearly it resonated with many people but for me its just a fail.

Stars: two, just one of those I didn’t like, didn’t understand but others love. Che sera…

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo

Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo

Stay With Me by [Adebayo, Ayobami]
Genre: Literary Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

This isn’t a book I’d re-read, that being said it was heart breaking at times. A really sad story where it was difficult to see who was really acting in the wrong.

Yejide was so in love with Akim, having been brought up in a typical Nigerian family where her father had four wives, and respect for parents is huge. Sadly her mother died in childbirth, and there are so many religious superstitions over any event connected with death that she’s always on the outside of the family, always being reminded of the awful thing her mother did in dying. When she meets Akin she’s ripe for love. When he sees her he’s entranced and very soon they are married.

That’s seems fine doesn’t it? Sadly though family is everything in this culture and Yejide is soon inundated with advice from Akim’s and her own family about how to get pregnant.
At first they seem like an independent couple, they know much of this “advice” is spurious superstition but slowly the blame weighs heavily on Yejide.
She’s still shocked though when Akim takes a second wife….my heart broke for her here. I was so angry at Akim and yet in that culture, with the constant pressure of parents, not just two but all his fathers wives who want to see their son or daughter as the favoured, its harder to blame him.
I really didn’t like Funmi, wife number two, and yet if I’m honest she was just doing what their culture taught, marry and have children, seek to ensure your children are in the favoured position of their father.

There’s such sadness here, and I so felt for both of them. Some really strange things too, when with a Western eye and education I’m thinking “oh come on, they wouldn’t do/would have known/ought to have”…and yet events carry on playing out, binding them all deeper and deeper, potentially losing that precious love they had.

Later in the story I really was cross at Yejide and her behaviour, didn’t understand how she could act like that to an innocent child, and yet I also understood her too. My first child was stillborn and I spent hours watching over the three that followed, prodding them awake when I was sure that they weren’t breathing.
Heartbreak, death, despair all does strange things and in a way she was just trying to protect herself.

I could have been angry too at the interfering parents, their intervention caused such tragedy, and yet once more its a culture thing, they weren’t intentionally cruel, just wanted what they’d been taught was best for their children, for their happiness, for their fulfilment.

Its a really sad story, but with an ending that hints at a positive future.
I really enjoyed it, it makes for a terrific debut read but its not one I’d re-read now I know how it plays out. I did like seeing things from both Yejide and Akim’s view points. Gave me a real insight into their feelings.

Stars: Five, a fabulous debut, full of the way a different culture sees parenthood, and the problems it brings when a wife fails to get pregnant.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Witchfinder’s Sister, Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder’s Sister,  Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder's  Sister by [Underdown, Beth]

Genre:  General Fiction, Mystery and Thrillers

I can’t find any info about previous books so I think this must be Beth’s debut novel – and what an intense and complex read for a first story!

Its so well written I was pulled back into that time, back to the seventeenth century. I’m a UK reader, living in Norfolk, so reading about Matthew and Alice living in the Eastern region of UK, I had a mental image of places I know now as they would have been back then. My house was build in 1682 – strange to think of it still standing ( and for a long while yet I hope!!) when it was built such a short time after these events. Mix of the old and the current…

So, Matthew Hopkins- I recall learning about him at school, along with the US Salem witch trials. The Crucible was one of our set text English reads.
He’s cropped up as a side character in a few books since then, but I’ve never really thought much more about him. Here Beth’s given him a fictional sister, though he may have had a real one Alice is purely invented for this story. It works well, she’s a foil to him, shared upbringing, and a way to let us see his actions from someone who loved him as a child but grew scared and confused of the man he became.

He’s a strange person, and as we learn about his upbringing there are elements slowly revealed that could have impacted upon his actions now. Others have had far worse happen though, and don’t turn into people like him, so its part explanation but not as simple as the whole cause.
He really was a enigmatic character, phlegmatic about what he needed to do, unemotional, even when it means tearing apart, condemning to death, people he’s known since childhood. I can’t decide whether he’s just cruel, vindictive, out for revenge, totally mad or whether he really believes in what he’s doing.
From a small start his witch hunt takes on a life of its own and snowballs, and maybe the power pushed him to go further and further, made him feel righteous, invincible? Who knows, and after finishing the story I still don’t know.
Beth offers lots to speculate about but the reality? He was real, he did what we now see as horrific things, but which at the time were backed by other important people, landowners, local politicians – well, what passed for them in those days, the Church even. It was as if nothing could stop him from this path he’s set on, and the longer he was “successful” the more righteous he got. Success bred more of the same methods, even when the causes of it were wrong.
Its a bit like that sink or swim test, he was pushing people to their limits physically and mentally and when they “confessed” through exhaustion, pain, thirst, would say anything to get some tiny relief he seized upon it as evidence his path was right, and went even further.

Alice, poor Alice. Her mother died when she was very young, father remarried and had Matthew, but his birth left his mother frail and Alice really took over his upbringing, loving and looking after him.
Even then the public face, showing the happy family outside, the father who was a priest, a good man, the mother who simply tired easily, was hiding things, secrets that kept slipping quietly out, and building background to the current events.
I so felt for Alice, she’s a good woman, widowed from her beloved Joseph, a servant’s son, whom Matthew did not approve of, she’s still young, in her twenties I think, and forced to come back and live off Matthews charity.
She can see events unfolding, sees at first hand what’s going on but is powerless to stop anything. She tries though, tries to do what she can but Matthew is an unmovable force. Her small brother has grown into a confident and powerful man.
He takes little note of her, and at times seems to really dislike her. she becomes just another tool for him to use in his never ending quest for witches. Too much pressure or intervention and she risks her own place in his home at best, risks getting caught up in the hunt at worst.
Its a tough line, being brought up to help people and then forced to stand aside as those you’ve known since childhood are tested for what seems like petty grievances, revenges, spurious accusations…

Witch hunts, back then not knowing the cause of events, accidents, tragedies, people looked for someone to blame, and it was easy to pick on one person a little on the outside of society, and call witchcraft and the intervention of the Devil the cause.
Now we look back and think how could they really believe that, but its a poor, uneducated society, and its human to want to blame someone or something.
Not every thing has an explanation though, and there are a couple of events here that gave me the shivers, defied rational thinking.

Sometimes I think we haven’t moved on that much, we still look to blame others, though not as witches but in some 21st century way.
In the UK we’ve just voted to leave Europe, mainly because of the hype and untruths certain media factions told about immigration, and it brought up the same kind of feelings as in this book, where people want to blame someone for misfortune. In the UK lack of money for NHS and other public services was blamed on immigration – scaremongering, but a spark that when fanned turned into a fire.
Hitler did that back in the 1940’s with his attempts to stamp out minority groups, terrible things happened as those who could have stopped it turned a blind eye, much as those in power when Matthew Hopkins let him get away with his crimes.
Then there’s the US and the political system there, where another modern witch hunt has let a racist, sexist, xenophobic bigot race to the top place for power. Scary stuff but proves that witch hunts aren’t just confined to history – but have their own modern day version 😦 “The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing” Edmund Burke et al.

A fabulous book, uncomfortable reading at times, which felt so very real, took me back in time, made me understand a little more about the awful events that took place back then.
The characters were wonderful, felt so real, I was scared for and of them, depending on which ones of course.
I loved the way secrets were teased before the reader, parts revealed slowly, hints of what may have been relevant or may be just superstition taunted through, making me second guess my thoughts. In fact its not until writing this that I’ve connected a couple of major points that could have been the catalyst for Matthew’s quest.
Its a fascinating first book, well researched, marrying real events and people with fictional ones to create an amazing story. I’m not sure its one I’d reread but its certainly one I’m glad to have read.

Stars: Five, incredible book, uncomfortable at times but so very, very real feeling.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and publisher

The Girl on the Beach Morton S. Gray

The Girl on the Beach  Morton S. Gray

The Girl on the Beach by [Gray, Morton S]

I’ve read lots of books from Choclit, and really enjoyed them. Usually there’s a strong romantic theme running through, but with this one the romance is much more subtle, almost taking a back seat to the suspense part of the story.

I enjoyed this story, its a debut book and very well written.
Its not a story I’d re-read though. I didn’t get totally sucked in to it, you know how with some stories there’s that “can’t put it down” feel, and the characters seem as if they’re people you really know. Maybe with  time that will come, certainly its a great start to a writing career.
I liked the characters but I felt they needed a bit more personalisation, more to make them special. Harry was a nice guy, but that’s it, just an ordinary bloke, and Ellie was a good mum,  a talented artist but I never felt they had more of a connection than as just people living in the same village. I didn’t feel much real attraction, no sensuality, no sexual attraction.
There were some nice touches, the school art competition and mentoring scheme which brought in some of the side characters in a good way.
The suspense side was good though the final wrap seemed a bit simplistic given all that had gone on in the past.
I think possibly that’s my main criticism, that there was lots of build up and then that final part just felt too easy, too simple, I found it hard to believe a seasoned criminal would use that place.

I would happily read more from this author, its a great start even though I felt there were weak parts.

Stars: Three and a half, a good debut story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Curse Mandate, (The Dark Choir 3), Book THREE of The Dark Choir, J.P. Sloan

The Curse Mandate, (The Dark Choir 3), Book THREE of The Dark Choir,  J.P. Sloan

The Curse Mandate (The Dark Choir Book 3) by [Sloan, J.P.]

Genre:  Horror, Sci-fi and fantasy

Currently on KU

I NEVER read horror, and if I’d seen that I wouldn’t have come to this series. Its not a gory, blood-fest read though, and for me the horror is more of the “could this happen” type and I can deal with that. I really enjoyed books one and two, and was keen to get on to this.

Poor Dorian, you really can’t help but like him. He’s a very moral person in so many ways, just wants to live his life, earn a living and have fun, but he’s a magnet for trouble and sometimes his sense of morality leads him to tread very close to the permitted lines in magic.
He’s still searching for his soul, lost in book one, well – more he was tricked out of it than he lost it. Once more his need to help others got him into danger.
Alongside that though he’s got other problems, he’s got a new pupil, her brother needs help as he’s been cursed, there’s some wierd Chaos magic targeting people and places, and he’s trying to get to the root of that, trying to stop more people being hurt, and on top of that he’s a bar to run as part owner! Just another day for Dorian then..He feels like he’s always trying to catch up, and the next huge crisis is just aroubnd the corner.

As before the story is packed with magical terms, spells, curses, hexes and explanations of how different historic (genuine – they did/do exist) factions fit into this story. He’s an amazing man with incredible knowledge of his craft and its history, and I found myself constantly flicking the paperwhite Look-up function 🙂
The fact there is so much of this book based on genuine societies gives it a very realistic feel.
I love the detective (Hunter?), assigned to help him, a sceptic who by the end had changed his tune and looks to become a future ally.
One issue I did have is the cast of characters has grown huge, and I found it hard to recall who connected where, why, to which group, which section of magic they practiced or whether they were of the innocent of magic group, normal humans who’ve no idea what really goes on in their world. Lots of backtracking for me, and I’d have appreciated an index to keep them straight.

As always the plots are fast and furious, Dorian is racing against time, chasing clues and help, trying to sort out who are the good guys and what the others are up to, and still trying to help his friends and track down his soul.
There some really sad parts here too, both in his personal life and for me having grown fond of a certain person 😦 but sometimes that just makes it all the more real, when the unexpected happens, when the good guys don’t always come out on top.

Its a great read once more and the reason its four and not five is that I spent so long looking back at who did what, and how they fitted in to the story, plus checking out the many different terms and groups that it affected the flow of the story.
Actually that’s a bit unfair to drop a whole star, maybe just a half, as the idea and plots are excellent.
I loved the way the little side issues ended connected to the larger picture, and the detailed explanations of what the curses and spells could do, how they were constructed and at what cost. I enjoyed being completely off course in who was behind things, I like the unpredictable!

Stars: Four and a half, another action packed adventure, spell binding (!) saga, full of  power filled plots.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Soul Breaker and Shade Chaser, City of Crows Books 1 & 2, Clara Coulson

Soul Breaker, City of Crows Book 1,  Clara Coulson 

Soul Breaker (City of Crows Book 1) by [Coulson, Clara]

Genre:  Mystery & Thrillers, Sci Fi & Fantasy
Now, Cal is a newly minted detective at the often mocked Department of Supernatural Investigations. By day, the agents of DSI are called “Kooks” by local law enforcement. By night, they’re known as “Crows,” reviled by the supernatural underworld. After my review request on Netgalley was granted for book two in this series ( hurrah and thanks ) I looked up book one for background info, and found its on KU so I read that first.
Its a fabulous read and sets out the scene for the events of the whole sereis, how and why Cal joined the team, what its aims are.

This series centres around one of the DSI teams, of which Cal is a rookie member, and brings in people from other supernatural groups; witches and warlocks, werewolves, vampires and of course the dangers of the Eververse, a kind of parallel universe full of baddies 😉
I loved Cal, didn’t expect to as he’s just 22, and one of my pet hates is when the new member of a team has all the skills and fun and does stuff the long time members can’t, despite their skills and knowledge.
It works here though, it’s fun with Cal, he kind of bumbles accidently into danger, scrapes out by the skin of his teeth, luck and much wit ( I adore his irreverent humour), and even though he knows he’s in well over his head his morals, the reason he joined the DSI, won’t let him sit back in safety.

As well as Cal ( Hot Crow as Witch Erica calls him), there are some great characters here. Erica is a very skilled witch who’s currently sleeping with Cal, a kind of friends with benefits relationship. Its a fine line as officially none of the groups share info, and help out only when it affects their group, or the public might get involved. The DSI (Crows) are looked down on by the rest of the police, as they don’t really know what they do, just see their cases taken over, and there’s a lot of resentment about that. So far the public don’t know about the other creatures that live in their world, but for how long I wonder? Its certainly getting harder to hide events. As well as Cal and Erica, main characters are DSI team leader Nicholas Ryder, team members Ella and Amy, along with others, Cooper the archivist, Marcus the leader of the Witches, and this time we meet some werewolves too.

Its a race a minute action, though not in the dull, heavy, battle weary style that I hate. Things don’t go to plan, clues are found by accident,  or by someone unknown pushing them in the right direction. There’s a smattering of sex with Erica, lots of action, some of it pretty gruesome! We really got to see Cal and understand him as a person, as well as going along with him on an incredible journey in search of Eververse creatures and trying to prevent catastrophe to the human world.
You could read this as a stand alone, but book two is on KU, or only £2.99 to buy and well worth it. Its the best supernatural fun read I’ve enjoyed for a while, and I’m really looking forward to more.
I’m not sure if this is a trilogy, it looks like it might wrap up in a third book, or an on-going series – I’m hoping for that of course.

Its a fun read, lots of magic and spells, lots of action, lots of humour from Cal, a good plotline with a great group of characters, that promises to be entertaining for several books ( please Ms Coulson!).
Its a story I quickly raced through, and will definitely join my re-readers file.

Stars: five, a cracking, fun read.

 

Shade Chaser, City of Crows Book 2,  Clara Coulson 
 
Shade Chaser (City of Crows Book 2) by [Coulson, Clara]

Genre:  Mystery & Thrillers, Sci Fi & Fantasy

After my review request was granted ( hurrah and thanks ) I looked up book one for background info, and found its on KU so I read that first.
Its a fabulous read and sets out the scene for the events of this book, how and why Cal joined the team, what its aims are.

This series centres around one of the DSI teams, of which Cal is a rookie member, and brings in people from other supernatural groups; witches and warlocks, werewolves, vampires and of course the dangers of the Eververse, a kind of parallel universe full of baddies 😉
I loved Cal, didn’t expect to as he’s just 22, and one of my pet hates is when the new member of a team has all the skills and fun and does stuff the long time members can’t, despite their skills and knowledge.
It works here though, it’s fun with Cal, he kind of bumbles accidently into danger, scrapes out by the skin of his teeth, luck and much wit ( I adore his irreverent humour), and even though he knows he’s in well over his head his morals, the reason he joined the DSI, won’t let him sit back in safety.

As well as Cal ( Hot Crow as Witch Erica calls him), there are some great characters here. Erica is a very skilled witch who’s currently sleeping with Cal, a kind of friends with benefits relationship. Its a fine line as officially none of the groups share info, and help out only when it affects their group, or the public might get involved. The DSI (Crows) are looked down on by the rest of the police, as they don’t really know what they do, just see their cases taken over, and there’s a lot of resentment about that. So far the public don’t know about the other creatures that live in their world, but for how long I wonder? Its certainly getting harder to hide events. As well as Cal and Erica, main characters are DSI team leader Nicholas Ryder, team members Ella and Amy, along with others, Cooper the archivist we met in book one, Marcus the leader of the Witches, and this time we meet some werewolves too.

Its a race a minute action, though not in the dull, heavy, battle weary style that I hate. Things don’t go to plan, clues are found by accident,  or by someone unknown pushing them in the right direction. There’s a smattering of sex with Erica, but also there seems to be a bit of a man crush on Cal by Cooper, the archivist who Cal saved in book one from dying in the Eververse, risking his own life. Though it’s not billed as a romance read, I do enjoy a side of romance with my reading, and here it’s a perfect balance, lots of story with just a hint of maybe possibilities- even if its just in my head, so that works well for me.

You could read this as a stand alone, but book one is on KU, or only 99p to buy and well worth it. Its the best supernatural fun read I’ve enjoyed for a while, and I’m really looking forward to more.
I’m not sure if this is a trilogy, it looks like it might wrap up in a third book, or an on-going series – I’m hoping for that of course.

Its a fun read, lots of magic and spells, lots of action, lots of humour from Cal, a good plotline with a great group of characters, that promises to be entertaining for several books ( please Ms Coulson!).
Its a story I quickly raced through, and will definitely join my re-readers file.

Stars: five, a cracking, fun read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Husband Who Refused to Die, Andrea Darby

The Husband Who Refused to Die,  Andrea Darby

The Husband Who Refused to Die by [Darby, Andrea]

Genre:   General Fiction

Its a strange book in many ways but it covers so much ground; the science of Cryogenics, the ethics of rich people and what they do with their money  v charities and the need for funds, the stress of a bereavement on families, the way upbringing impacts on adults, and of course learning to live again and try romance after the death of a loved one.
Its not a story I’d reread, but it was one I really enjoyed reading.

I so felt for Carrie, Dan having chosen to be frozen left her feeling weird, he was dead, but then was he really? Can you be considered dead when you’re frozen?
It all makes the grieving process so much harder for her, and having lost my own lovely husband of 40 years this year I so felt for her.
Then there’s their daughter too, just at the age when teen years strike and life is hard to deal with anyway, she’s got something more difficult to contend with. Its inevitable that some of the kids will tease and taunt, and that was awful for her.
Carrie’s sister in law, Sunny, is a strange lady, full of natural remedies, healing stones and crystals, oils and potions, massages and positive thoughts.
Sunny and Dan were brought up by sixties hippy parents and that’s come out in a big way in Sunny and her life.
Sometimes Carrie feels she’s blaming her for not being into Cryogenics as Dan was, not being open minded enough.
Eleanor, the daughter, poor kid. Its hard to lose a parent, but she’s also got the issues Carrie has, is Dan really dead? And of course the taunts from her school friends every now and then when the press dig up the story to link with something else.

Carrie and Eleanor are kind of drifting along when the story hits the press yet again, and brings up all the old grudges.
This time someone has leaked that Dan “donated” £200,000 to be frozen, and there’s angry letter about the ethics, about living people needing that money, about how wrong and selfish it is to choose that when others are starving…all the stuff that comes up every now and then. Odd how these characters ( in reality ) never want to cut their own lifestyles, donate their own money, but are happy to condemn others choices.
Carrie starts getting hate mail, dropped and silent calls and more threatening incidences. Its so unfair – its not as if it was her choice and yet she’s copping the blame, while still struggling to cope with the decision herself.

When she picks up with an old boyfriend – well, I just didn’t like him. We knew their relationship had ended suddenly, badly, but not what has happened, and then Ashley comes up with – well to me a feeble excuse, but it seemed credible to Carrie.

The issue I had with the book was that several parts dragged, felt prolonged and not really adding to the story. Then the ending was a complete turnaround, so quick I felt whiplashed… and I didn’t really know how we got there. One page she’s…and the next it’s months on and all different.
I’d have liked more flow, more story there and less in other places, but of course that’s me and yet again I can see others love this book as it is.
Its an interesting read, full of things to ponder, question our own thoughts on what we’d do ( for example: would I want to wake up years on when everyone I knew and loved was dead? No, a definite no )  and one I enjoyed but as a one off only.

Stars: Four, an interesting read that posed many questions, made me think about what I would have done.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Mosaic, Reliquary Series Book 3, Sarah Fine

Mosaic, Reliquary Series Book 3, Sarah Fine

Mosaic (Reliquary Series Book 3) by [Fine, Sarah]

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

Well, books one and two have had me riveted, glued to the page, and I was desperate to read how things work out for Mattie and Asa. They’ve both been through so much, and in this book we learn even more shocking things about Asa’s background.

Its a fabulous world, feels so real, so scary and its easy to believe that if magic was real ( ? it may well be…!) but hidden from most of the population as here, that these events could/would happen.
We know how power hungry people will do anything to get to the top, to hold the most power, strongest position, and its scary just how it brings innocent people into such danger along the way, how “choices” are forced on those who the top people need.

Mattie has become entangled in this world firstly through rescuing her ex fiancé Ben, and then discovering she had her own magical attributes, inherited from her grandfather. It makes her wanted by some dangerous people.
She’s teamed up with Asa and they’ve been working together as colleagues, keeping things professional at her request. She thinks she can guard her emotions from Asa, he’s so troubled, so affected by his past that his demons mean he’s dangerous to her heart, he’s already made it clear he and Gracie, his dog, are the only duo in his life.
Mattie can’t help falling in love though, its obvious from way back, and it feels too as if Asa is in love with her, he’s so careful, so responsible for her, and goes out of his way to do little things that make her happy.

They’re on another mission when things go wrong and they get parted….Mattie won’t give up though, knows she has to rescue Asa, that he can’t survive being some ones property. He’s always stayed out of the top players clutches, working only for himself, not wanting to be caught in the trap, cage, control they will keep him in. Its been a hard job keeping out of their clutches.
Mattie does her best to help him now, but she’s not sure where he is, who has him, who she can get to help. Its tough to know who she can even minimally trust though, no-one is what they say, so many people are double agents, others have hidden agendas, and she’s so new to all this.
She gets an unexpected ally and its a race against time, full of illusions glamours, dangers and trickery all through the story.

I really enjoyed it BUT I’d made the mistake when I began thins of thinking it was a romance – and its not, there’s romance in it, but is not an actual romance read. My bad! That led to me HATING the ending, I was gutted, distraught.
I really wished I’d not read the last chapter, just stopped at the one before and assumed that was the end.
Like I said this book is so very real, and I need that air of genuineness for me to enjoy a read but I wanted a different ending, found this one really upsetting. real life is very like this, its not neat and tidy with everyone getting what they want, but when I’m reading that’s not necessarily what I want 😦 even if its very true to life.
To be honest I’m really hoping Sarah has a rethink and writes another book, its been left open so that is possible, as I think very many people are going to feel similar to me about that ending.

Stars: Five, even hating that ending its still a fabulous read, a story that’s gripping and gut wrenchingly real, even though its full of magic and fantasy!

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

The Bourbon Kings, J. R. Ward

The Bourbon Kings,  J. R. Ward

The Bourbon Kings by [Ward, J. R.]

Genre:  Romance,

 

OK, Confession time *blush* I have never read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series….I know, I know,  I love fantasy/paranormal romance, but those names, I simply couldn’t bring myself to go there 😉

Now though, when I’ve seen how J.R.Ward can weave a tale of magic that keeps me gripped to the page I’m going to have to try to overcome my name prejudice!

I loved the sound of this series, it reminded me of Dallas and Dynasty of the 70’s, of those long, intense, escapist  reads written by Joanna Trollope, Jilly Cooper etc. It reminded me of how they covered multiple family members and friends, and really dug out the dirt in people’s lives, that brought together romantically  the most unlikely of characters.

The Bradford family are a strange mix, typical of that type of patriarchal family where appearance is all, where there are all sorts of cover ups going on, back biting and double dealing are normal family practices, infidelity is usual, and the only mantra for anything seems to be “don’t get caught”

I loved Miss Aurora, Lizzie and her German colleague who’s name I’ve forgotten ( maybe there’s something in those other names – at least they don’t get forgotten!!) Tulane, former playboy, married to the awful Chantal – I love characters like hers. Every good series needs a a few b itches IMO, they add such fun and I love to wonder just what awful things are coming out next.

I so felt for Lizzie,she tried so hard to get past her romance with Lane, and yet just setting eyes on him two years later she’s transported back into his sphere, while he tries to persuade her to listen to him.

Then there’s the parents, his mum seems to spent her days in bed, doped up on whatever gets prescribed to get her through, his father, the awful William, Edward, his brother who we hear of but don’t meet until well into the story. He’s been through his own high drama and its left him a different man, bowed and almost broken.  What’s going to happen between him and Sutton, heir to a rival distillery? Anything – or will Shelby intervene?

What about Max, the brother we’ve not yet met? Then there’s Lane’s friends locally and from away. Seems they’ve all got parts to play in this multi layered, constantly moving novel about the Rich and the not so rich, and the life of the Bourbon heirs.

Its full of Americanisms, some of which I could guess from context, but others I had to use the kindle wiki/dictionary function to learn what was meant, or because I was curious. Still, that’s easy to do and its broadening my education 🙂

Its a great fun read – its not Anna Karenina, War and Peace, not Kafka, Dickens or any of the Classics, or prize winning coffee table reads, but a solid, long ( hurrah – when 100 pages is a novel how great to get one this length), drama filled, fantastical novel that keeps the reader guessing just what is going to be revealed next. At the same time we learn that appearances are deceiving and I was rooting for Lizzie and Lane, they were perfect together and I wanted them to have a chance to make it through.

It stops at a good point, lots has come out, lots to continue into further books, but a natural ending place and then – sneaky woman, she included a peak at the next read, which brings in yet more high drama, more problems for Lane and Lizzie to pile onto the things Lane already has to deal with.

Stars: Five, a good, solid read, long when so many so called novels are 100 pages or less, which is filled with larger than life characters, multiple plots,  drama and non stop action.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Vinegar Girl, The Taming of the Shrew Retold, (Hogarth Shakespeare), Anne Tyler

Vinegar Girl, The Taming of the Shrew Retold, (Hogarth Shakespeare), Anne Tyler

Vinegar Girl: The Taming of the Shrew Retold (Hogarth Shakespeare) by [Tyler, Anne]

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Genre:  Literary Fiction

 

I remember reading some Shakespeare plays at school – but that’s a long time ago….and of course with Him Indoors being a TV and Film fanatic I’ve seen bits of McClintock many, many times. I’m usually reading but it kind of seeps into you after the 4th or 5th time…a kind of TV by Osmosis practice!

Anne Tyler is an author whose works I’ve never read either, so I went in to this blind, not really knowing what to expect. How would a Pulitzer Prize winning author take on Shakespeare? Actually this  whole Hogarth series sounds intriguing, different authors retelling different plays.

Its a slow starting novel, Waspish Kate looking after her family, working at a job which I don’t really feel she loves, or even really likes, it’s just one that’s a way of passing time, earning money to her. She ruins the home according to her scientist fathers strange rules, everything worked out for optimum efficiency – the meat mash – eurghh – sounds awful. There’s no real joy in her life, younger sister Bunny has fun but for Kate this just feels like a hamster wheel day-after-day with nothing changing. Then her father drops his bombshell plan!

It was an interesting read, but for me just too slow, too bland and not really an engaging one. I kept reading as I wanted to see how Anne would make things work, but I can’t say I was gripped, didn’t have that must keep reading feel for me.

Its well written, and is an easy book to read but I was left feeling a bit empty by it, as though I really wanted something more to happen, more emotion, more angst, more anything but the eternal plodding life poor Kate lead. She didn’t really help herself either though and at 29 I felt she would have put her foot down by now over at least some of the things that irritated her.

Stars: Three, well written, gentle humour but overall one that didn’t spark anything special in me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

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