Archive | general fiction RSS for this section

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen, (Six Tudor Queens 3), Alison Weir

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen, (Six Tudor Queens 3),  Alison Weir

Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen: Six Tudor Queens 3 by [Weir, Alison]

Genre: Historical Fiction

About fifteen years ago I was into reading a lot of historical fiction, and devoured books by Phillipa Gregory, Elizabeth Chadwick, Ariana Franklin and others, and found several of Alison’s books that appealed to me.
I hated history at school, and yet through reading historical fiction I’ve learned the appeal of past times. What I really love is the personal touch, not the dry reams of dates and facts History lessons at school consisted of. Fiction lets authors play with those facts, put a personal spin on them and brings the characters to life, and Alison does that perfectly.

I’ve read many books about Katherine, Henry’s first wife, and of course Anne Boleyn. She’s someone that existed for a short few years yet changed the course of history, changed England’s future and religion. I knew, as all schoolkids were taught, that Henry had six wives, and I have read a couple of books about Kitty Howard and Ann Parr, but the middle two, especially Jane, seem to get forgotten when it comes to fiction.

I’ve always thought of Henry as a spoiled child who became a spoiled adult, demanding everything goes his way…or else. In reality it was difficult for Royals of the day, they never knew who was planning to take their place, treason might have carried an awful death but it didn’t stop plotting. Then of course he was never really given his advisers true thoughts, afraid of his reactions they told him what they thought he wanted to hear, so when for example he wanted to divorce Katherine, or get rid of Anne they needed to make it happen, or they paid the price.
He did a difficult job, and he was very clear how he felt about his position as King, that he had a responsibility to the country. He may have played with that a bit in his reasoning at times, when he wanted, for example, to marry Anne, but on the whole he comes over as someone who held his position as one of duty as much as privilege.
When it cam to Jane I found myself almost sympathetic to Henry at times here, he really did seem to have feelings for her, which marries with the little I’ve read about her in other books, when she has come in as a secondary character. The end section was very emotional.

This is a lovely, long book, and it started with Jane’s early years where we learned much about her family. All that lays the foundation for the person she became as she matured, and was interesting reading.
I felt the way Jane was very moral about Katherine and Henry’s position with Anne, was good and true to her beliefs. After much praying and thought, she decided she wasn’t doing the same as she felt Katherine was the True Queen. In her reasoning she thought therefore as Henry wasn’t married to Anne, and Katherine had now died he was free to make advances to her. I needed to feel that she had given much thought to her position, as in the early part of the book she was so devout in her religious beliefs.

Families were in a constant struggle for power, and we see how Jane’s ambitious brothers encouraged her, despite knowing how she felt, they wanted the rewards that came with being a favoured family of the king. To have their sister be the King’s mistress was a heady thought, but when she refused and it became likely she would be Queen their pleasure was unconstrained. That goes through all the historical fiction I’ve read, families always seem to be in the struggle for pole position, ready to use their females however it benefits the family, disregarding how they themselves may feel. The Seymours were a typical family in their actions, all of the “important” families would have done the same thing. The Boleyns pushed Mary forward, then her sister Anne, and later the Howards pushed Kitty, despite her young age, all for Family glory and favours.

I enjoyed the author’s notes, where Alison explains how she has used certain known facts, or drawn conclusions from available data and modern advice, to fit this book, but made clear that it may not be what actually happened. I want to read fiction, but feel its grounded in reality, and I am happy at the way this was done. I haven’t read the earlier books, will look out for them.

Stars: Five, a lovely long read ( almost 7000 kindle locations) that engrossed me, made me feel part of the story, took me back in time mentally for a few hours. Did what I though was impossible and made me feel sympathetic at times for Henry!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Advertisements

One Summer in Italy, Sue Moorcroft

One Summer in Italy,  Sue Moorcroft

One Summer in Italy: The most uplifting summer romance you need to read in 2018 by [Moorcroft, Sue]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

A book set mainly in Italy and so well described I felt I was there, out in the sun, enjoying the countryside, having coffee in the gardens of the hotel.

Sofia has come there after her father dies. She’s been his carer for many years, he left Italy when he married her mum and never returned though he talked of home with such love, and she promised him she’d live her own life after he died, and delivering a family message gave her Italy as a start to that.

She’s spending time there, so takes a live in position as waitress and befriends Amy. She’s another young waitress, left home after a family fallout and Sofia feels protective of her. She’s concerned at the attention one of the guests, who is much older than Amy, is paying to her.
Its one of those stories that starts simply, Sophia going to Italy as her father wanted, but quickly involves others and their lives and actions become entwined in the story. There are lots of surprises, some deliciously heated romance, and some hard decisions for Sophia to make. It looks like a simple read, but like Sue’s other stories its far more complex than it appears, having multi-layered plots that spread and encompass many characters. I loved Sophia and Levi, though like her I wondered why he was so interested in Amy. Amy was a typical older teen, dramatic and thinks everything revolves around her, but she’s a naive girl, good hearted and hard working even if she has run away from home in a hissy fit. She did have some particularly shocking revelations thrown at her.
I enjoyed this story, its not heart stopping drama, a can’t-put-down read, but one that’s fun for a summer’s day in the hammock, or to take on holiday, to the beach, and get lost in Italy along with the characters. I don’t think its one I’d re-read, but it is one I really enjoyed.

Stars: Five, a great fun read, perfect to take on holiday or to lose yourself for a few hours.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Her Secret, Kelly Florentia

Her Secret, Kelly Florentia

Her Secret: The page-turning sequel to No Way Back by [Florentia, Kelly]

Genre: Romance, women’s fiction.

Well, usual pet hate- Women’s fiction – why? Why not general fiction – men read romance too!

Anyway, book one left me with mixed feelings, many because I hadn’t realised it was a two part read until the end. I wasn’t keen on any of the characters either, they had odd reactions to events IMO.
I still find that in book two, that they react strangely. For instance – and this isn’t from the book but more as an example – if one of your family was involved in an accident, wouldn’t you want to speak to them, find out exactly what happened, see they’re OK for yourself? Here though the characters would probably have a quick phone convo with someone else in family and trot off for coffee with a friend, telling themselves “they’ll be OK, I need to find out what A think of XX”. I did grow to like them better though in this book, or at least understand them.

I still feel Daniel is a bit too-good-to-be-true, and he seems to be treating Audrey as someone lesser, a “little lady” who can be bought off with new shoes each time he wants something he thinks she won’t like.
Connie still lives up to Miss Spoilt, and Daniel treats her as a kid, not a 29 yr old. There are times when she’s friendly to Audrey, when they almost seem to get along and then Connie will pull one of her stunts. I did feel for Audrey over the Jake issue, she really was in a hard place there.
Nick, he’s back and wow – that was a shock, I didn’t see that coming! That’s true of so much in this read, it really kept me on my toes.
All the major characters have things going on, secrets for some, life changes for others, and then there’s the couple I really like, Audrey’s brother George and his wife Vicky and the kids. They’re like so many families, struggling with sub standard living circumstances, with financial issues etc. A really true to life couple who I liked very much.
Audrey’s friends Tina and Louise. They’ve been through so much, the last book had some bombshells but somehow the trio have found a way through and they really are a strong support. And with the revelations coming out in the last quarter of this book, she really needs that.
The ending – perfect, I’ll say no more except I loved it!

Stars:five, a book that kept me glued to the end. Loved it.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Melt for You, Slow Burn: Book 2,  J. T. Geissinger

Melt for You, Slow Burn: Book 2,  J. T. Geissinger

Melt for You (Slow Burn Book 2) by [Geissinger, J.T.]

Genre: General Fiction ( adult) , Romance

I loved the first book in this series, and looked forward to this one. I really liked it, just not quite as much as I loved book one.

Great characters once more, though to begin with I thought Cam was an obnoxious, arrogant ar se. Soon saw his softer side peek through and got a glimpse of that steely determination and fierce intelligence that has taken him to the top of his game despite his poor start.

I love characters like Joellen too, she’s a sweet girl, tries to please everyone and somehow her own personality and wants take a back seat. She’s got that loving family who just aren’t really supportive, she doesn’t fit the family beauty mould and feels inferior, too tubby, too dark, too unsocial, and that constant criticism from her childhood ( for her own good of course!) spills over into the rest of her life. She always feels the unwanted one, the one on the outside of a group. I know that feeling, I guess many of us do.

She’s had an unrequited love for her married boss for ten years now, and then he tells her he’s getting divorced and – wow – he really seems to see her, to be attracted to her. Somehow Cam catches on to her self improvements and along with fitting him into her life by way of meal bribes for keeping the music down, he’s now training her to make the best of herself. He’s not keen on her “air diet” so helps her to take up fitness training, and they end up spending more and more time together.

Its a read full of humour, some of it very subtle and some – Denny’s jokes – more overt and in your face.

There are some great secondary characters too, Joellen’s cat, Mrs Dinwiddy her neighbour, Portia and others from work. They all add to the “real” feel of the story.

There were some minor irritations though, small things but they niggled at me. Lassie – we know her well in UK, and Cam being a Scot he’d be well aware of the story. After all it takes place in Yorkshire and Scotland so Joellen wouldn’t have needed to explain that to him. You can’t just sweep up your cat, board a plane in an ordinary carrier with it, and the UK has pretty strict rabies Laws, and there’s a plethora of paperwork.
Set against those though was the fabulous humour, and this bit really made me snigger. Joellen is talking about a former date’s comment on her rather aggressive kissing “That was my lung you just licked” – loved it!

Great read, cleverly written and after the story ends the author has written a bit about negative body image and the harm it can do to some people. Very thought provoking and something I fully agree with, having always had that issue myself.

Stars: Four, a perfectly written transformation story, sensual and heated, but not Sex all the Way as so many stories are, and with some terrific characters.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Desperately Seeking Summer, Mandy Baggot

Desperately Seeking Summer, The perfect feel-good Greek romantic comedy to read on the beach this summer,  Mandy Baggot

Genre: Romance, women’s Fiction

* sigh * one day we’ll stop trying to alienate male readers with this horrible, discriminating category. Why do publishers think men don’t read romance – they do!

I love Mandy Baggot’s stories…usually. This one though was a hard slog to get through instead of the usual humorous fun romance. I wasn’t convinced by Desperately Seeking’s turnaround, from a total Barbie Pink disaster when Abby gets there to successful and flourishing agency a few weeks later. There’s no way I’d buy property from that agency – if I had the money of course. I liked the general Greek, sunny feeling to the book and enjoyed reading about the characters but again I didn’t feel “there” in the story, didn’t feel as if I was involved in events as I usually do with Mandy’s books.
I liked Abby, and could see how her hotel skills came in useful in seeing what was wrong with her mum and sister agency, but the way everything went wrong became old very fast. It was funny at first, then – much like her sisters overuse of “wanging” it began to irritate.
I loved Theo, loved his aunt, loved the guy who’s name I’ve forgotten – the man who did the olive wood carvings. They sounded just beautiful. Diana, what an awful person she was – but I like a few of those in a story, give a balance to the good guys 😉 there were lots of side characters, each with their own idiosyncrasies, and they added to the holiday feel of the read.
I guess it was just the overall story that fell a bit flat for me, didn’t feel real, as there were some fabulous characters here. Still, as usual that’s just my opinion and others will love this. As ever its very well written, flows well, just that I couldn’t wholly get along with the actual premise of the book.

Stars: Three, I was disappointed, usually Mandy’s reads are fives, or at least a four for me but this one didn’t really fit my taste.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Illumination of Ursula Flight, Anna-Marie Crowhurst

The Illumination of Ursula Flight,  Anna-Marie Crowhurst

The Illumination of Ursula Flight by [Crowhurst, Anna-Marie]

Genre: Historical Fiction , Literary Fiction

I really wanted to like this book, wonderful cover, beautifully written but somehow it was just an OK read for me. Its kind of whimsical, almost fantastical the way its told, but in effect its a story of one poor child married off unhappily, easily taken in by the stories of others.
She’s determined though, and doesn’t stay down but bounces back, full of optimism. Her story is one very familiar to the time where girls and women were almost a sub-class, seen as delicate when it came to learning and education, and the property of the nearest male relative.

I didn’t really like Ursula, even when we first meet her as a toddler, and my feelings didn’t change even as she aged. I did admire her determination though, the way she picked herself up again and again. Sadly hers was the lot that befell many women of the time, where men weren’t expected to be faithful, where silver tongued rakes whispered sweet nothings in ears that were too ready to believe them. As always its the woman that pays the price.

I do like a dip back in history from time to time, and I enjoyed that side of it, but I almost abandoned the book to begin with, as it just didn’t seem to be going anywhere, and I never really came to love the story. I’m glad I read it, the writing style is interesting and kept pulling me back even as I was mulling over whether to stop as the actual story wasn’t working for me.
That’s how it goes sometimes, a beautifully written tale, loved by other readers but which just doesn’t do it for me. Its not the book, its me, a matter where my taste in reading and the story within the novel just don’t meet.

Stars: Three, interesting setting, beautifully told, but the story wasn’t a great one for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans

The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans

The Wildflowers: the Richard and Judy Book Club summer read 2018 by [Evans, Harriet]

Genre: General fiction (adult), Romance

I really, really wanted to like this book but….I didn’t 😦

It sounded such fun, families, long summer days at the beach, actors and all the fun that gets shown so often in actor lives, stories from the theatre, rehearsals, excitements. Then of course poor Mads, the lost child.

Somehow though I didn’t like the characters – I need to feel for them but they seemed self indulgent, obsessive, people.

Althea giving in to Tony, letting him do and be whatever he wanted, while indulging in her own flirtations. Well, poor Tony had a bad childhood….so he seemed to be allowed to do whatever he wanted, never mind the consequences for those poor infatuated actresses and interns he dallied with.

Ben and Cord, two kids who on the surface had everything and were indulged, but really needed more stability, more boundaries, more definition in their lives. They needed parents who cared enough, were interested enough to say No to them more often, not just take the easy route 99% of the time then blow up on the 100th. At times I felt Tony and Althea were role playing at being parents. Cord and Ben weren’t particularly likable as kids, Mads was strange, not suprising given her background, and the whole just led to stories about people that I didn’t have any real empathy for.

It seemed a tale of excuses and self indulgence, betrayals and bitchiness, and was overall just a really sad story IMO, and not the fun romance and family history I was expecting. I read to be lifted out of dreariness and sadness, but even the final light moments of this didn’t make up for the way it pulled me down so much while reading.

Stars: Two and a half, will be perfect for others but just not the right story for me

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Burning Chambers, Kate Mosse

The Burning Chambers,  Kate Mosse

The Burning Chambers by [Mosse, Kate]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical fiction

I remember reading Kate’s Labyrinth years ago, but haven’t read any of her books since then but I enjoy historical fiction and was keen to read this.

I don’t know much about the religious divides of this time in France, I know more about UK history for this time and thought I’d enjoy reading about it. As in UK when there were religious controversies and changes, its a particularly gruesome time, where people were taken for spurious reasons and tortured at will. Its weird isn’t it how we think torturing someone for a confession will bring out the truth….
Sadly though I found the book incredibly slow starting, and though the pace did pick up I never got really engrossed in the story. I felt kind of bogged down by detail at times and had to put the book aside. That’s unusual for me, I love details, I love the little nitty-gritty intricacies of people’s lives, but in this book I felt that it just didn’t work for me.

If you’ve an interest in french/religious history this may appeal to you, I certainly expected I’d love it but…It’s well written and has all the elements for a good read for me but was one of those where the story and I just didn’t gel. I’m not really sure why, just that I found it a struggle to keep reading and eventually I was just pleased to have finished.
I won’t be reading further books in this series but would happily pick up another of Kate’s stories, even when you usually adore an authors work there’s always the chance some won’t suit.

Stars: Two and a half, I enjoyed parts but overall it wasn’t a hit with me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Taste of Air, Gail Cleare

The Taste of Air,  Gail Cleare

The Taste of Air by [Cleare, Gail]

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction.

Bah, my usual moan…Women’s fiction – why? Why assume men won’t want to read this, why cut off a group of customers.

Got that over with and this is a fabulous read. I wasn’t sure at first if I’d like it and it does have the potential to get confusing, told from POV of Nell, Bridget and Mary, and told in past and present. Yet somehow it all works and I wasn’t left feeling lost, wrapped up in the past and sharply brought up to present. This isn’t my preferred way of reading a story yet it worked so well, letting me see events as they unfolded naturally.
I liked that the characters had faults, weren’t just sweet and light, lovely and loving but displayed elements of reality, dissatisfaction with life, partners, family. That’s all of us at some points, we don’t live in a happy vacuum, real life has issues that affect us, problems that need to be sorted and we don’t always deal with things the way we should.
I did wonder why Nell’s husband wasn’t more questioning of what had happened, why Mary was so far from home, why Nell was staying. Mine would have wanted every little detail, David just seems to be “OK, see you sometime”. Maybe its part of why Nell is dissatisfied with her life, though it may look perfect to others, and I liked the way the author brought about changes to them.

I did find a few things a bit hard to believe, would it really be possible to hide that alternate life, and of course the Mary, Ginnie, Jake triangle. Its not a cheating story, per se, but does have some pretty strong deceptions going on and I wasn’t convinced that everything would have stayed secret for so long.

Stars: Four, an interesting and absorbing read, but I did feel it stretched credulity a little in parts.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The War Widow, Lorna Gray

The War Widow,  Lorna Gray

The War Widow by [Gray, Lorna]

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

WW2 isn’t my favourite time setting for reading, but the amazon sample of this intrigued me, very mysterious, had me wanting to know what happens next.
Sadly I carried on wanting to know what came next, as for most of the book it seemed to me to be hinting at various events and revelations that didn’t come out until the very end, and even then I’m still unsure of just how all the connections tied in.
Its – for me, not for everyone clearly – a novel that was well written, had a fabulous use of language and yet was incredibly confusing. For much of the novel we know that Kate has experienced so many bad things, its her voice telling the story, but then the hints are there that maybe its all in her head, trauma from the suicide of her ex husband, trauma from the accident she head, so what she tells us may just be what she believes and not what actually happened.
I didn’t really like her, but of course she’s very true to the time, recent history it maybe but still a period when Men Ruled, and the ladies were expected to defer always.
I did like Adam, though sometimes he appeared brusque.
The other hotel residents were a mixed bunch and I just loved the way Mary’s sister was so determined to see Mary in the running for Adam’s affections, and the way she tried to discredit Kate constantly.
Overall it was an OK read, I did keep putting it aside as I was so confused at what was happening and incredibly frustrated not to know what was the big secret, what the guys after her wanted, what the police were really doing etc. It works perfectly that way for many readers, thus the five stars of course, but we’re all different and it didn’t suit me.
It does all tie up neatly, though even then the bluffs and obfuscation and constantly in presence, and getting to the end I had to re-read some parts to see exactly what had happened. I still can’t say I fully followed all of it 🙂

Stars: Three, its not a story I’d reread, and one I did struggle with, but that’s more a case of me not the book. Not all books suit all readers, that doesn’t make them bad books, just ones that will be loved by some and disregarded by others.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

jeannie's art adventures

my adventure with acrylic pouring artworks

Danny Clark - Artist

Nothing you probably haven't already seen.

J.A. Hazel

Australian Indie Rock Star Romance Novels

barn conversion blog

Saving a piece of local history and creating our dream home

Emme Cross

Totally Addictive Romance Novels

Kelly's Book Blog

Romance book reviews! I'm a book lover, speed reader and reviewer!

Reads and Treats

Satisfying Books and Scrumptious Eats

jeannie zelos product reviews

Jeannie's honest thoughts on products bought or received for review purpose.

By Hook Or By Book

Book Reviews, News, and Other Stuff

So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

Book Junkiez

The place where book addicts go for their book fix!

Hit or Miss Books

Honest reviews for children's, middle grade, teen and adult books.

Lorna Soar

Feltmaker & Artist

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

A Writer's Life For Me.

Blog of Author Mishka Jenkins

Book Gossips

We are four cousins hailing from Australia. Love of books runs in our family and we have decided to share our exhilirating gossip sessions with you. Here you can find book reviews from multiple genres, bringing you the best of buzz worthy popular fiction.