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Catching a Witch: Heidi Eljarbo, Touch of Night, Carin Rafferty

 

Catching a Witch: A Novel of Loyalty, Deception, and Superstition, Heidi Eljarbo

Catching a Witch: A Novel of Loyalty, Deception, and Superstition by [Eljarbo, Heidi]

Genre: Historical

I take a dip into historical novels every now and then and this one, covering the period when Witch-hunters were very active caught my eye. I’m very intrigued by the way the mass hysteria took hold so easily. seems weird to us now but I guess superstition abounded then when people had so little control over their lives, when animals sickened and died, crops failed, people were dogged by what seems like bad luck – and of course they wanted someone to blame. It was a way too of seeking vengeance for imagines or petty insults. Throw in the misogynistic men and its a recipe for disaster.
Disaster is just what happens when a student of the famed Matther Hopkin arrives in the sleepy little village¬†where Clara lives. We see at first hand just how easy it is to whip up hatred, for innocent gestures to take on insidious meanings, for those who used herbs to heal others to be accuses of using witchcraft. Over it all is the witch-hunter and his self important acolytes in the village men. Not all of them, some stay fast but of course no-one dare speak out for fear of being the next accused. All except Clara, who does her best to stop the awful “trials” where in reality ladies stood no chance, once accused it was like a death sentence.
Its a scary thought but I could see people acting in a very similar way if this were to take place now. some people seem so full of bitterness, jealousy, a need to blame everyone but themselves and I’ve no doubt they would happily convince themsleves they were doing the right thing. we see so much hatred every day to anyone the slightest bit different from their peers and that would easily translate into a story like this today. ūüė¶
I felt the historical aspect of the novel was well done, it was very realistic and genuine. I did feel the pacing was very slow for me though. some books need that but with this one I found it dragged in parts. I expected Clara’s friend to be accused sooner, but its almost halfway through before that happens. I didn’t feel “in” the story much of the time, but an observer, and found myself losing interest in sections. Overall I enjoyed it but it’s not a story I’d re-read.
Stars: three and a half. I enjoyed parts of it a lot, but other sections seemed very slow paced.

Touch of Night, The Sanctuary Series Book 1, Carin Rafferty

Touch of Night (The Sanctuary Series Book 1) by [Rafferty, Carin]

Genre: sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

Well, the description sounded interesting, but sadly this wasn’t one for me.

Lucien isn’t anyone to aspire to IMO, he cares about the coven, even though he’s been cast out, but his attitudes to mortals…well, he’s pretty scathing and rude.
Ariel wants to find her twin, the police won’t help and Lucien at first won’t either. Then he will…and that sets the tone for the book.

Both characters constantly change their minds, decide one thing and do another, don’t talk, focus on irrelevant issues, and disrespect the other. The same things are explained over and over, in case the reader just can’t quite grasp it.

I think the biggest issue for me though was the sex.
No matter what the problem sex in some form was the answer, even though Ariel says she doesn’t like Lucien, doesn’t trust him, just wants to find her brother. Lucien would never take a mortal for a mate, doesn’t like her, doesn’t find her attractive yet wants/has to have sex with her all the while. Reading minds, yep he needs to read her mind but they have to connect with sex, connecting with Armand, more sex, finding out who the strange warlock is, yep sex again….you’ve got it, sex is the answer to everything.

I like sex in a story, but it needs to fit, the story and reasons need to be strong enough and for me this just didn’t feel right.
Even the end I still felt they didn’t like each other and suddenly – bam- everything is perfect.

I won’t be continuing with the series, but as ever this is just my opinion, you may feel very differently. Others have 5 star loved it, so you chose.

Stars: Two, a miss for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Some you win, some you don’t. KU reads mainly

Of course not all books suit all readers, so my thoughts and feeling about these recent reads could differ wildly from yours, and do differ from many review(er)s. Book reading and enjoyment is very subjective, and this is just how I feel about these as always. I don’t like many of the current Best Sellers, and ones that dominate Amazon top 100 lists.
BF/Shade of …. – loved by thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, but is not for me is all I’m saying ūüėČ


Didn’t like.

Princely Passions: A Royal Romance by Alexis Angel.
Didn’t get past 10%, obnoxious, foul mouth lead, with no redeeming features. He might have got better after a while, but was such a selfish, arrogant, misogynistic jerk that I couldn’t bring myslef to continue.
Kings Series Boxed Set
Books 1 – 3: Mated To The Werewolf King, The Warlock’s Nemesis, Heartless¬†by Alena Des
Pretty much as above, less swearing but throw in paranormal. Like a YA trying to be grown up.
Anaconda (Irresistible Bachelors Book 1)by Lauren Landish I thought I’d read others by this author but must have been another Lauren, as after checking I don’t recognise any of her books. This one has another jerk MC as above, plus the addition of a simpering, feeble minded heroine who can’t keep her eyes off his cock. Really people, accidently walk in on someone naked and keep on staring at his dick, not just a peek, but a full fledged stare and cue all the “mouth watering” etc comments that follow…its kind of sexism in reverse, when ladies see men as nothing more than a walking dick. we don’t like it when men talk to our breasts, so why the heck are books were women talk to men’s cocks so popular?
Take Me (Vampire Billionaire Romance Series): The Untouchables 1  T. A. Grey
Read the first half, skimmed the second hoping it would improve. It didn’t ;-(
Out of the Shadows (A Werewolf Wars Novel Book 1) Bethany Shaw
Sounded interesting but just felt too YA for me. I don’t mind a well written YA, some transcend ages, but this felt very aimed at the late teen end of the market.
Obsidian (Mystic Stones Series 1) Kayla Curry
I wanted to like this but…just couldn’t get into it, neither the story or the characters appealed.

Did like/were OK:
Wolfsong,  TJ Klune
This is seriously one of the best reads this year, in fact possibly the last couple of years. a beautiful story, terrific pacing and incredibly emotional. a very unusual read. I’d love to read more by this author.
Idol (VIP Book 1)  Managed (VIP book 2)  Kristen Callihan
I Bought these two, not ARCs not KU, but paid for!! Two great fun reads, I really enjoyed. I’d bought Managed first, (it was cheaper!) and its still my favourite of the two. It reminds me very much of Kylie Scott’s Dive Bar book with Jimmy and Lydia, same strong humour, great lines. Jimmy and Gabriel are very similar types. I’ll look forward to more of this series.¬†
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander Book 8),¬†Diana Gabaldon
I loved the first books in this series, and my tattered paper backs were read over and over. Charles would say “not Diana Gabaldon again….” and then came Echo in the bone¬†¬†which was so war orientated, so full of characters and different plots and times it felt messy. and what I really didn’t like about that was it left several plots hanging, first time DG had done that, and given she writes Very Slowly I knew i’d have lost the impetus by the time the next book came out. ¬†I was right, I’m wading slowly through Written IMOHB and having to keep looking up exactly what happened, where we left certain characters. Echo was published Jan 2010 and Written in June 2014 so you can see what a long gap. In fact book one I read in hospital in 1995…..
I’m finding its war heavy, that there are whole chapters covering a half hour or so and the minutiae which i so love about her writing has become details on speed, even too much info for me, a details lover. I’m really tired or reading peach fuzz of Jamie’s balls, musky smell/male musk of ( insert character here ) etc.
Its taken me three years to actually get on and buy this when I ordered echo from US in hardback as it was out a month sooner than in UK. Part of that was waiting for price drop but I was so disappointed by echo that I thought long and hard before continuing with the series. I’m halfway through this one and already skipping parts to get to the action.
Absinthe, by Winter Rens An ok/good read, I loved Winters Country Nights  and was hoping for more like that
Bucking Wild, by Maggie Monroe Enjoyed the first book about Ben and Chelsea, but not enough to continue with their next books. Kind of OK but slowish for me.

 

 

Masked Possession, Alana Delacroix

Masked Possession, Alana Delacroix

Masked Possession (The Masked Arcana Series) by [Delacroix, Alana]

Genre:Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

I found this pretty hard going to start, I’d been so intrigued by the “differentness” of the Masquerada but found it very difficult to graps what they actually were/could do. Did they become another person, or were they still “them” inside.
Fortunaly much of the things I struggled with Caro did too and I learned along with her ūüėČ

I really felt for Caro, alone, running and hiding from her past and so scared after what had happened to her. She just trying to lead a quiet life, head down, get on with her life when Eric drops in to it.
She’s attracted to him and he to her right from that first meeting. As she’s told her boss Julian though, never trust a Masquerada, and she’s not about to start. events are against that though, along with Eric who’s determined to get to know this mysterious lady who brings out feelings in him he thought were long gone.

Eric was facing a difficult time too though, a challenge for his position from someone they thought was neutralised. For a clever group they were pretty stupid about that, and the enemy comes at them hard and fast, catching Caro along the way.

Its a fun read, decent amount of drama, though some was a little predictable. Sometimes it seems authors are so keen to enforce a characters position they light up the way with imaginary “bad guy here” signs, “don’t trust this one” etc.
You know, we’ve all read at least one book where instead of working it out from the subtle clues the author has whacked in some really obvious signposts to ones in case we missed it!
It’s not a huge thing but I prefer the less obvious approach, even of it means getting to the end and being totally surprised. I like to then¬†look back and see “ah, here’s where I missed it,” instead of having the plot and characters spoon fed to me.
That’s a small crit though, and it was a fun read, once I got to grips with this different group.
There were a few times too when I thought people acted out of character, and that didn’t sit easily with me. Things where I’d be thinking “but why? why not tell/do/explain” about some incident or bit from the past. Secrets are fine, but when everyone is in crisis mode and dangers is lurking everywhere, its not time to decide you don’t want to talk about something or get precious about the past.

I think as the series continues and the world gets more familiar to readers and to the author, the novels will improve. There’s some good bones here and I’m glad I chose this story.

Stars: three and a half. A good intro to a new world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Wolfsong, TJ Klune A story I bought!!

Wolfsong, TJ Klune

Wolfsong by [Klune, TJ]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I’ve been seeing recommendations for this story for a while now but you know what its like, there’s ARCs and KU, free books so actually buying one by an author whose work you don’t know if you like….well, for me it rarely happens even though I was very intrigued.
Then a few weeks back it was on sale at £1.49 so I bought it. Only got round to reading it last week and wow Рwhat a book. Its kind of hard to review, one of those that defies categories.

It is Romance, but its a very slow burn and TBH though we know the two are going to get together they’re kids when we first meet them and have such a lot of growing to do, meeting others, just maturing. someone wrote criticising the sex, but I’m wracking my mind and all I can recall is one scene right at the very end.
Its M/M but the characters are so good that you don’t think of any of them specifally in terms of what sex they are, just that they are right for each other.
Its werewolf/Supernatural but again so much more. The werewolf/witch angle is just a part of who they are it doesn’t define any of them.

I adored Joe, been through so much and what a wonderful family. I got so angry at him at one point though I understood what he did but my heart broke for Ox.
And Ox, what a star he is, so truly good, loyal, despite the things that had happened to him, despite his awful father.
There’s lots more characters here, who fit the story so well, and I’d really like to read more about them ‚Äď but seems they don’t have books. Yet ‚Äď TJ Klune ūüėČ

Its one of those books that are bittersweet when they end, where part of you is glad things worked out finally, and the other part just isn’t ready t leave the characters. Its a slow paced book, not an all action racey sex fest, but one where things develop over several years, where the story slowly expands, brings in more and more people and where Ox really grows into himself, becomes confident, where others see the strength and goodness that’s in him.

A wonderful story, one I’ll definitely re-read and I’ll be trying more from this author.

Stars: five, a fabulous, slow sensual read, with a great story building theme.

Blood Gamble, Disrupted Magic Book 2, Melissa F. Olson

Blood Gamble, Disrupted Magic Book 2, Melissa F. Olson

Blood Gamble (Disrupted Magic Book 2) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, General Fiction.

I love this extended series, first got into it via Lex’ book, and then found the Scarlett novels and have eagerly devoured them ever since. Its got for me the perfect blend of story, paranormal issues and drama. It feels real, so very real.

Scarlett’s in Las Vegas, Dashiell having used his usual devious means to get his way. She hates¬†it, had a bad experience there in the past and didn’t want to return ever. Vampires are disappearing though, and the new show, run by two vampire celebrities seems to be at the¬†centre¬†of it.
As usual Scarlett gets right in the heart of danger, scrambling from one danger straight into the next. It would be easier to just do the bare bones of what she was tasked with, and in fact she has done what Dashiell asked so could leave.
This is Scarlett though, she can’t leave when those she’s come to care for are in dangers, when there could be something she can do to stop more disappearances, more murders.

Its a great story, fast paced, very real and cleverly done. I didn’t see how it was going to play out and certain revelations really caught me by surprise.
Its a great follow on from the last novel and given the ending ( what!!) I’m keen to crack on with the next novel.
What I didn’t feel so much was the relationship between her and Jameson. I can’t really recall them back in NY, so maybe if I had this would feel more organic, more a natural development. as it was I could have believed in insta-lust but Love? Err…nope, wasn’t feeling that. and maybe I just didn’t want to, I’ve always hoped Jesse would¬†prove to be the one for Scarlett…maybe one day?

I missed the regulars too, Dashiell, Kirsty, Will, Molly, and of course Jesse and Shadow. Though I enjoyed this story I would have enjoyed reading about them even more.
Not sure how the whole crew could have been in Las Vegas though, in fact they couldn’t. Paranormal constraints against most of them, supernaturals having fairly rigid rules and protocols for many events. And that would have made for a totally different story.

I do hope Scarlett’s back on home turf next time, with the characters we’re used to meeting.

Stars: five, another drama ridden suspenseful story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
 

Spellbinder, A Moonshadow Novel, Thea Harrison

Spellbinder, A Moonshadow Novel, Thea Harrison

Spellbinder (Moonshadow Book 2) by [Harrison, Thea]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

I loved Moonshadow, the first novel in this trilogy. Thea is one of those authors who can make fantasy and magic feel real, who has me completely wrapped in the story. This time round we see the other side to Morgan, Queen Isabeau’s magician enforcer, leader of her Hounds.

We met him mainly by reputation in the last book, knew him as a conscienceless killer, and now we see that its not him, he has to act as the Queen commands, has no free will. She took control of him centuries ago by magical means, and he is forced to obey her every command. He hates it, hates her, she killed his beloved Arthur, and he’s been waiting for her to slip, make a mistake all these long years, and then he’s going all out for freedom, even if it means his death.
Then she does, she makes this tiny error in what she says and he takes advantage.
He’s not free, not yet but her words allow him freedom for a short time to research the magical knife at the heart of her control over him. He has to stay away from any of the Light Court, they can tell him her wishes, and it acts like a command. While he’s researching and avoiding everyone he hears Sidonie play, is entranced and that leads to a string of events ending with her the Queen’s prisoner.
If we didn’t know Robin, the Puck, and all he suffered from the last book, I’d think he was an awful person. He knows full well what will happen to Sid when the Queen gets her claws in, but he hates Morgan, hates that he was the instrument of his centuries of torture, as commanded by the Queen. He doesn’t know the full circumstances, thinks¬†Morgan¬†betrayed the Dark court he was part of, thinks he is the Queen’s lover and had a free hand in the atrocities he does.
He sees Morgan is enjoying Sid’s music, and thinks to use her as a trap for¬†him, use her to break up his relationship with the Queen.
Its kind of a long logic thinking that because he’s following her tour, enraptured by her music that he will seek revenge on Isabeau for the atrocities she will inflict on Sid, but I guess Robin’s kind of flawed in his thinking anyhow. He doesn’t see Sid as a person, only a tool, and doesn’t care what happens to her. His plan will work – or it won’t. Either way he loses nothing by trying. I have to think of it the way he would, the way the Fae see humans, disregard them mostly as people, don’t really care what befalls them unless, as with Sophie from Moonshine, there’s some kind of personal¬†connection. He’s devoted to¬†Sophie, determined to protect her despite the fact she’s (mostly) human. He doesn’t know Sid so he’s not concerned about her. That changes though when he gets to know her.
Poor Sidonie, she’s horrified, powerless, distraught at what’s happened and feels so alone. She does what anyone would do, demands she be released, give the queen the sharp side of her tongue and…suffers the results.
As Robin planned Morgan soon gets to know of what’s happened but of course Robin doesn’t know of the restrictions surrounding Morgan, so his plans from there go wrong.
Its another fabulous magical read, making me really feel for Morgan despite the awful things he’s done.
In Moonshadow¬†I hated him, here I see him as another of the Queens victim’s now I know the whole story, and likewise I felt so sad for Robin in Moonshadow, and had to keep reminding myself of what he’d been through when he was so casual about Sidonie’s welfare.
Its like we’ve two sides to the story now, the Dark Fae and the Light Fae, centuries of history, of Isabeau’s horrific reign now look to come to a head, with the key players having a change of situation. I can’t wait for the final novel bringing everything together.
Stars:¬†Five, great second book, roll on the final one ūüėČ

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Bedlam Stacks, Natasha Pulley

The Bedlam Stacks, Natasha Pulley

The Bedlam Stacks by [Pulley, Natasha]

Genre:  General fiction (adult)

I’m finding this a really hard book to review. Its so very different, very slow paced, very packed with detail, right down to minutiae of some things and yet bigger ones just glossed over. Parts I felt just kept the slow pacing and irritated me, and then I’d read something and want to know more.

I loved the historical feel, felt very real. I was There with Merrick and Co, back in the 1800’s, deep in the magical forests, filled with pollen lamps powered by clocks, pollen forests, whitewood that exploded, was light, filled with honeycomb holes and yet strong enough for the amazing homes they constructed, stories high. And of course later in the novel the fabulous place where the monks live which used so much of it. That was perfect.
There’s the phoenix ducks, the glass formed from ancient eruptions on the mountain, and they way it created a kind of huge greenhouse. Oh there was so much almost whimsical magic here, not spells and sorcery but magic of a different kind.
Then of course the big ones, the Markayuq….such incredible, unusual, fantastical ideas everywhere in this book, which gave it a kind of steampunk whimsy married with very real time in UK/South American history.

I liked Merrick, hated his awful brother, felt so sad that Merrick’s future was dire when he worked so hard, and¬†becameinjured in the course of his work.
I didn’t like Clem, just found him arrogant posing as a friend to use Merrick. I didn’t really know Minna, but she seemed a pleasant lady, and then there’s Raphael….
I kind of wanted there to be more between him and Merrick, could feel something but it was vague and tenuous, slippery as silk, and nothing except a few minute strands at a possible connection slid through the story.
I guess its the romance lover in me, I do so love to find that in a story and missed it.

I enjoyed meeting and knowing the other characters in the village, liked the accepting way they took in Merrick, their confidence in Raphael, their respect for the Markayuqs, the way some recalled his father and grandfather from so long before.

I put it aside a few times, found it too intense one moment and then too slow to continue the next. I know, I know, that’s a real oxymoron, but its how I felt, and how I feel now looking back. I loved it – and then again I didn’t. I felt vaguely unsatisfied at the ending, though it does bring things into a kind of closure I just kept wondering “what happens now?”¬†¬†I can’t see how it could have ended any other way though that would have made me happy.

Its one of those stories I’m glad I read, where parts will stay with me for ages, engraved into my memory and yet I know its not a story I’d reread.

Stars:¬†Five, a story I’m glad I read, full of fantastical themes but one which I won’t re-read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dream Snatcher, Clara Coulson

Dream Snatcher, Clara Coulson

Dream Snatcher (Tales from the City of Crows Book 1) by [Coulson, Clara]

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Sci-fi and Fantasy

City of Crows is an amazing series, one for readers who want more than most of the paranormal offerings around, don’t want¬†the thin story wrapped around a¬†“he-of-some-type meets she-of-some-type” plot.
I’ve loved the books out so far, and I love when authors do this, give us a novel centred around one ( or two in this case!) characters, so we see their¬†backstory and understand them better.

Ella in the series is dedicated, clever, talented and its clear she’s been with the team a long time. Just how young she was when she joined we can now find out.
Its was great seeing teen Ella, seeing her on the track of a dangerous man, and especially as its set back in time and kept to the low tech, no mobiles, and fledgling DSI, when they’re first set up. Well, they exist when Ella gets caught up, but they are clearly new-ish, and the bottom end of financial priorities.

Ella is an ordinary kid, albeit one devoted to her music, when tragedy strikes, rips her mum away and sets her on a very different course.
I loved the way the story played out, the way it felt so real, especially as I look back to my teens, no mobiles, tech stuff etc and she does things the way I would back then. disposable camera and 24 hr photo shops, no mobiles and digital pics back then, and its trains and buses for transport, with the odd taxi.
Its not just Young Ella but a real story too, a typical exciting, well planned suspense, and I enjoyed it very much.

The other person we meet at a younger age is terrific too and it spread a new light on what I’d read. I really hope Clara writes more of these how-they-joined-DSI stories.

Stars:¬†Five, terrific read whether you’re new to city of Crows, or like me already a fan.¬†A great¬†intro to a new world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Drakon’s Plunder, N.J. Walters

Drakon’s Plunder, N.J. Walters

Drakon's Plunder (Blood of the Drakon) by [Walters, N.J.]

Genre:  Romance,

First thing to say is that I didn’t realise this was the third book in a series.
I was still able to follow the story, and the characters from the earlier books are referred to here, but not having read them didn’t mean I lost the plot so to speak! They look interesting though so maybe a future read?

Anyway, Sam. I liked her. She’d had a tough time as an only child losing both parenst and regarded her mentor highly. He was killed, and having discovered it was a group called Knights of the Dragon, she wants vengeance.
They think she’s a simple archaeologist, don’t know of her talent for sensing powerful objects and she’s keeping it that way. She’s under no illusions about what type of people they are and what they plan for her, but she’s out to stop them getting their hands on whatever is on the wreck. If they want it then its too powerful for them to have it is her thought, and she’s out to stop them any way she can.
She’s a great lead, strong and determined with a definite sense of whats morally right.

Then things go wrong, and she finds herself with a strange man, in a place that’s unfamiliar. Slowly what happened comes back to her, but she doesn’t know if she can trust him or if he belongs to the Knights group.
He’s being very cagey which doesn’t help, but that’s because he doesn’t know whether he can trust her. He’s got a lot to hide, and a lot to lose if he gets it wrong.
I liked Ezra, hiding in plain sight, very close to his brothers and their mates, he’s surprised at the possessiveness he feels for Sam. The Drakon’s Tears…I loved that tough.
Between all that there’s this sensual thread of arousal spinning between them….

Its a good read, a step up from the Human meets Shifter/Vampire/Supernatural of some sort that dominates the best sellers. Clearly readers love them, but I need a bit more story to my romance and this book delivers.
Its not as solid a story as a Mercy Thompson or Kate Daniels read, but it’s an entertaining novel, in a series that sounds to build on each book with a stronger overall story. I do like those.

Stars: four, interesting and absorbing read with an unusual shifter type. Lots of sensual heat and spice too.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Ashes of the Phoenix, Jess Haines

Ashes of the Phoenix, Jess Haines

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I’ve enjoyed a few of Jess’ novels so I know I like her writing style, so was pleased to see a new book out.

I didn’t realise it was so short, just 109 pages, and it feels like a novella prequel type read, where author sets out what’s to come.
We’ve vampires (air, water, fire,earth, the good, the bad and the ugly – every version you can imagine, and weres’ of all types, a few ghosts, zombies ( though I avoid them) but I can only rememeber reading one novel set around a phoenix. Seen them as secondary characters before but here Lyra is the lead, and she’s also the phoenix. This is the tale of how she became that way.

Its a fun read, kind of plot light, its really just an intro to characters we’ll hopefully meet later. I can’t find anything for definite but it feels like the opening to a sereis and I do hope I’m right.

Stars: four, a good intro to a new world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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