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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

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 Land Beyond the Sea, Sharon Penman

The Land Beyond the Sea, Sharon Penman

The Land Beyond the Sea by [Penman, Sharon]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

Its years since I read a Sharon Penman novel, so I was really looking forward to this one. Sadly though, it didn’t grip me the way some of her earlier novels did. Its possible that my tastes have changed, but I think its more likely that this book, with its focus on Outremer, just didn’t draw me in as much as the books set around the UK, with figures from history I’m already familiar with.

There are so many characters here to absorb, people from different countries, differing loyalties and of course the anomaly of Jerusalem/Outremer being out of the Saracens control. It must have been difficult to keep when surrounded by enemies, and much of it seems to have come from constant negotiations, allies and truces rather than never ending battles. Its not all war, and even centuries ago politics were very important and played a huge part in running countries successfully.

I know everyone called Baldwin’s mother Agnes a cruel woman but I felt for her. Not allowed to marry the man she wanted, she was forced to marry another for family glory. Then having two kids by her husband, he puts her aside for a new bride simply because he wants to be king and the lords won’t accept her. . She doesn’t even have the children as solace, Sybilla being brought up in a nunnery and Baldwin staying with his father. No wonder she was so bitter.
I felt for Baldwin, such a potentially wonderful king, intelligent and fair, but struck down with an awful disease. The parts of the novel I enjoyed most where when it focused on particular people, and I felt I was getting to know them personally. There are just so many folk here though, such a mass of detail that I felt overwhelmed by it.
Its a well written novel, in Sharon’s usual intense and thorough style, but I just felt I couldn’t seem to get that personal angle that makes a story flow for me. I found there were so many folk, so much intensity that I had to keep putting it aside for a while. Then because I knew so few of the characters I had to recap who they were, how they fit.

Stars: Three, a well written and very intense novel, but I felt bogged down at times by the sheer numbers of new to me historical characters

Arc via netgalley and publishers

The Mystery of Love, Andrew Meehan

The Mystery of Love, Andrew Meehan

The Mystery of Love by [Meehan, Andrew]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) , Historical Fiction

Well, I’ve always been interested in Oscar Wilde, flamboyant, scandalous character that flouted Victorian conventions, and sadly paid for it. His legacy of words lives on, but the man himself, what was he really like?What about his home, his family?

I was interested to see his story from another perspective, but Constance seems as confused and lost-in-the-world as Oscar. She seems to live in her on head most of the time. Loyal to Oscar outwardly, and yet happy enough to live away from him. I got the impression here that she was more interested in her ideals and thoughts of Oscar than she was in the man himself. He can’t have been an easy man to live with though.
I did feel sorry for the kids, their two boys, who surely paid the greatest price. No stable family home life for them.
I wasn’t really a fan of the way the story was delivered, from Constance’s point of view, and her inner musings. I did like the Oscar footnotes though, they brought much needed levity to the story. Written in his typical understated dry wit they were the best part for me.

Stars: Two and a half, I didn’t like the main story, but Oscar’s footnotes made me smile.

Arc via netgalley and publishers

The Lie, Hilary Boyd

The Lie, Hilary Boyd

The Lie by [Boyd, Hilary]

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
Gah, I hate Women’s Fiction as a genre heading, so outdated. Men and women can read the same books….its 2019, not 1919.
anyway, that moan over, on to the book. Fabulous read, I loved it. I read Hillary’s Thurdays ion the Park years ago, and more recently The anniversary and loved both of those, and this sounded intriguing. It was, I was wondering all the way, should Romy just believe in Micheal? After all they’ve been married a long time, they would have had the boys when this event happened, and he’s never given any indication that he could have done something so awful, so horrific. I think most folk would be like Romy, feel their husband ( or wife) is telling the truth when they say they’ve no idea, that it never happened. Yet somehow Romy still has the tiniest, tiniest sliver of doubt. That little niggle keeps working at her, making her relive over and over Michael’s reactions when she told him about the letter. He’s clever, quick thinking, he has to be to do so well at his job, and something just didn’t feel quite right about his answers. Still, with no idea who wrote the letter how can she look further?
That little niggle though gradually affects their marriage, shows up just how things have been slowly changing between them, other tiny things come out and small, almost incidental lies emerge. Things build up until she decides she needs to step away, and goes to stay at their country cottage. She’s just picking up her life when – bam – she’s pulled back into her old life, where the past starts becoming the present.
I was a little eye rolling at the way the characters were interwoven until I got to that part of the story, when it was explained and I could see that actually, its pretty reasonable for events to unfold given the connections between people.
There are lots of surprises to come out, lots of events for Romy to deal with, and all the characters end up being hurt by past actions. Not just Romy, but her sons, her fledgling romance and of course the girl involved and her family.
Its one of those books where slowly what seem like unconnected events and people slowly gel, when the circles of distance start to close in and we can see how one out of character event ripples and widens, catching so many folk in the wake. I loved the book, and the way events were unfolded carefully, giving us just enough to satisfy at that time, but leaving the reader wondering what else happened, did it happen like that really? What would they do? I so felt for all involved who were hurt by the actions and was so angry at those who worked to hide things or just smooth them over. Its a story that really show how nothing happens in isolation, how one event can end up hurting so many people.

Stars: Five. Lots of surprises, heartbreak, angst, and shows how well one persons actions affect others.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Undone, Kelly Rimmer

Undone, Kelly Rimmer

Undone (Start Up in the City) by [Rimmer, Kelly]

Genre: Romance

I’ve enjoyed a few of Kelly’s stories, but hadn’t read the first two in this series, I didn’t realise there were earlier books. The story is stand alone, though if you’ve read the other two I’m sure you’ll enjoy catching up with the characters here.

Jess, I didn’t dislike her, but just didn’t understand her and found her actions confusing. When part of her background came out I felt for her, I had the exact same thing happen at the same tender age, and I understood how you never get past that, it colours your whole life. For her though the tragedy went further and that impacted upon her relationship with Jake. TBH I couldn’t really understand why she took the position she did, what she came to realise by the end was blindingly obvious from the start, and I hated how her actions hurt both of them so badly, and yet she continued even knowing how she would hurt Jake again.
Jake – well, he was just wonderful, so clearly in love still with Jess, and so confused about her reactions. I felt the poor guy was treading on eggshells, bending over backwards, and still getting blamed for things he couldn’t possibly understand. I was happy when finally Jess took a look at herself, at Jake, and saw what everyone else did, but so frustrated it took so long. But then we wouldn’t have a story if she saw it straight away….
I just feel that for me her actions didn’t quite fit how I could see she felt, that she was forcing herself, and that brought the story down a bit for me. I hovered between empathising with her, wanting to hug her at certain points, and – more often – wanting to shout at her to stop thinking only of herself. There’s two in a relationship, I just felt rather than being equal as she wanted, she was putting Jake way way behind her needs.

Stars: Three, parts I loved, parts I was really sad, but too often I just wanted to shout at Jess, tell her to think of Jake as a person not a stereotype.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

A Southern Girl Re-Belles, Sharon Brown Keith

A Southern Girl Re-Belles, Sharon Brown Keith

Genre: Romance, General Fiction ( adult)

I was intrigued by this one but it was a fail for me.
I didn’t like Abby right from the start when she gets her very pregnant friend to say she was driving as Abby had been drinking. I hate stuff like that, and it put me off her. I could understand why her best friends husband doesn’t like her. As the story continued, more came out about Abby and she felt to me like one of those folk who blame everything on to others, and never look at themselves.
I was looking forward to seeing Bo too, but I’ve read to 25% and he still hasn’t appeared ( I checked, its at 38% he first comes in). I just don’t like Abby enough to continue with the story, I can’t bring myself to wait to see what happens to her. What I know of her grandmother didn’t endear her to me either, I found her antics annoying rather than humorous. Maybe I’ll pick this up another time and try again, maybe I’m just not in the right mood but for now this is a DNF.

Stars: Two, just not one for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

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