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Daughter of Light and Shadows, Anna McKerrow

Daughter of Light and Shadows,  Anna McKerrow

Daughter of Light and Shadows: A gorgeous fantasy page turner of witchcraft and magic by [McKerrow, Anna]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

I’ve just finished a reread of the amazing Sarah J Maas Court of….and another favourite trilogy, Jeffe Kennedy’s Covenant of Thorns, and was expecting something along those lines. I love novels that have a fae story-line.
Sadly I was disappointed, this never really got going for me, I felt a disconnect between me and the characters, I didn’t really feel the sensuality between Faye and either of the two contenders, and didn’t really understand the whole plot. It seemed very light, very small to base a whole book around it and maybe if some of the side issues had been fleshed out, provided more drama it may have worked better for me. But, I did skim read from about the half way mark, it wasn’t working for me ad I wanted to finish, so possibly I missed something.
As always though the reminder reading is very subjective, and what suits one reader is awful for another and vice versa. This book could be exactly what you want, especially of you found the two trilogies I named and loved to be too intense for you.

Stars:Two, a book that just didn’t suit me, and for me is nothing like the Sarah Maas trilogy. Could be perfect for you though.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Fight or Flight, Samantha Young

Fight or Flight,  Samantha Young

Fight or Flight by [Young, Samantha]

Genre: Romance.

Well, I’ve read lots of Samantha’s stories now, On Dublin Street is still my favourite, she does the Scot guys so well. Usually. This one, Caleb, well, he’s a shallow jerk. I was infuriated at his arrogance, his lack of manners, his overall high handed, judgmental self. I almost stopped reading, he was so obnoxious.
Luckily Ava kept me going….I loved Ava, she seemed like a typical “blonde” stereotype, pretty, always well dressed, full make-up, perfect hair, and yet she’s so much more. Awful parents, betrayed by her two childhood best friends, yet she’s got herself a good job, her own home, and a few good friends. Harper, her best friend, is wonderful and I hope we see more of her in a later book. There seems to be an opening later in the book with someone….

So, I ploughed on and slowly began to understand Caleb, but though he has a past that made me understand why she initially judged Ava, he’s human, we all fail and make mistake, he seems to continue to judge her in little ways even when he knows her better.
I did warm to him but I can’t say he’s my favorite person in Sam’s writing. I enjoyed the story but again its not one to really tug at the heart, I felt sad about what had happened to Ava, was sad for Harp when things went wrong for her but it didn’t have the huge drama I’ve come to expect from Sam. Having said that when things did go wrong it was really well done, drawn out over a period of time, lots of angst and wondering, lots of will they make it through ( yes, I know they will but I still need to feel as if the possibility is there that they won’t). so many books wrap the break-up and getting back in just 2 or 3 pages and for me that just doesn’t cut it. I want my characters to really feel devastated, to really hit the bottom and here both Ava and Caleb do. Ava is so brave when she faces her fears and tells Caleb how she feels, and then gets That reaction, but by now I understood Caleb more and it made me angry but not as furious as it would when I started the book. Even Ava understands why he has that reaction, but she’s grown so much in confidence, she’s heartbroken but knows that its not her fault, compared to how guilty she felt over Nick and Gem.
Some reviews mention the Scots accent. I hate written dialects for just this reason, done badly they can ruin a novel. I’ve seen too many Doona, dinna, nay lassie, och the noo etc….and so often they use language that would have been common a couple of centuries back but now, no way. I’m from Norfolk (UK) and we know that when a TV series features folk from here they all speak in some kind of generic Summerzet accent.
If I’m reading a novel and I don’t notice the accent, except that it reinforces a characters background, then I know the author has it right. Sam’s a Scot, she does that accent well in her writing IMO, it adds to and not detracts from the story.

I’m finding it hard here to put a rating, it started badly for me, but the drama of the ending really was perfect.
I still think the actual story holding things together was a bit flimsy, I felt it wasn’t really strong enough to hold the whole novel. Maybe if we[‘d seen it a bit more in a past time-frame, from Ava’s POV it would have more impact, but I felt for her but with the “ horrible folk, awful thing to do but move on now Ava”, rather than being so upset I understood why it coloured her life so much. Sometimes it is tiny things from the past that impact on us, but we need to see just how awful an effect those words or actions were to understand properly.
Stars: Well, hmmnnn…tough one. I think its going to have to be a three, not my favourite of Sam’s books.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Lawbreaker,  Kat Bastion with Stone Bastion

Lawbreaker,  Kat Bastion with Stone Bastion

Lawbreaker (Unbreakable Book 3) by [Bastion, Kat, Bastion, Stone]

Genre:, New Adult , Romance

I got caught out by this book, I’ve loved every other one in both series, adore the characters and usually get quickly sucked into the story and settings. This time though it didn’t work like that.

It started well, that antagonistic confrontation, that stand off, battle of wills between Ben and Shay promised so much. After that though I just felt a bit lost, not really convinced by the story that was unfolding in front of me. Somehow it seemed to be more about what wasn’t said than what was, that I needed to read between the plot lines, and I just felt I was drifting through the story confused.

It was great to catch up with the earlier characters, and see how their lives were progressing. I loved Ben, full on but not afraid to say when he’s wrong. I wanted so much to like Shay, I felt so sad for her, so sorry that she had a childhood like that. I just didn’t feel her story was plausible though, to be a runaway at such a young age, and in truth I admired her but didn’t really like her.

Once we got on to the big con, well, I was lost, hadn’t a clue how they did it, even the why was a bit out of reach. Was it really a good thing, the right thing? How could they be sure they had the right people? I couldn’t really see that working out in real life, couldn’t see hacking skills getting into that kind of security, and along with Shay’s implausible teen years I felt this book was just a story that wasn’t right for me. I’m sure others will love it, I was shocked that I didn’t , given how much I’ve enjoyed the others in the series.

Stars: Three, parts I really enjoyed, but as a whole it wasn’t a book that worked for me.

ARC supplied by netgalley and publishers

Rock Star’s Heart, Kella Campbell

Rock Star’s Heart,  Kella Campbell

Rock Star's Heart by [Campbell, Kella]

Genre: Romance, New Adult

I wasn’t sure about this, I’m way past New Adult age, closer to Old Adult, and find many of these books are just too unbelievable, and for me the story has to feel a bit real. But I have a weakness for rock star reads so decided to try this.
I was a bit worried when it started with some of the weird, slightly cliché, sentences, and when I read a little later the lead singer is shouting out /2we are deee-lighted to be able….” all I could think of was “One hundred and eeeeiiigghty!” And you need to be Old Adult to understand that I guess 😉 Got past those first hiccups though and found a story that actually I really enjoyed. Great characters, loved the fact that there was touring and all that entails included, for me that really helps with band books. I did feel Blade’s addiction issues were treated a little lightly, we did see some real problems when he slipped and that felt very true but overall I can’t help feeling that for a new(ish) control over his addiction he got off pretty lightly.
I did get irritated too over a certain incident- when dealing with an addict or anyone likely to have been in unsafe sex practices condoms are essential even for oral sex, and as a new adult book I think that should have been made clear, been more responsible. Its not a subject to treat lightly, life altering for some and books should (IMO) take the chance of educating those who may not be aware of such things.
That’s a small crit though and overall I really enjoyed this read, felt very band orientated when so few actually do, and I look forward to reading more from Kella.

Stars: Four, a story that surprised me after a shaky start and had some very decent plots.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Maybe Someone Like You, Stacy Wise

Maybe Someone Like You,  Stacy Wise

Maybe Someone Like You by [Wise, Stacy]

Genre:  New adult

I loved Stacie’s Beyond the Stars, almost a five star read for me but this one? Well, Its sweet, cute, easy to read but I didn’t feel that magic of Beyond the Stars in it.
I liked Katie, liked Ryan but didn’t really feel much beyond friends with them and the set up of miscommunication was so tenuous to hang a full romance on that I just didn’t find the story believable.
The Jasmine issue was one of the best parts of the story, how it led to Katie volunteering with the pother group and yet it was a secondary part of the main novel.

Stars: Three, a story I had high hopes for but which ultimately was just an OK sweet read, not a solid romance for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Heart on Fire, Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire, Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Trilogy Book 3) by [Bouchet, Amanda]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

The final stretch, and what a fantastic trilogy this has been. A mesh of traditional legends, Gods, Goddesses, fantastical creatures and imagined kingdoms. Amanda has taken bits of stories we all grew up with and shaped them into an amazing story that had me gripped right from the start.

The characters, a real mix, and finding out some of the ones Cat has known for years were actually more then just magical humans came as a shock to her. Griffins family, she wishes she’d been brought up that way, secure in her parents love, but her upbringing was very far from that. Griffin and his siblings and parents support each other at every turn, Cat’s siblings were forced to fight each other and their mother for their lives, and killing her sister scarred Cat’s psyche in unimaginable ways.
When she ran, aided by Thanos, and found the circus they became her family for many years, but she kept secret inside her talents, her magical skills. Then Griffin came into her life.

Griffin has been incredible, he’s ambitious, but not for power, for peace. He wants to reunite the fractured kindoms and stop all the fighting, the abouse by those in power, the cruelty and murders, but he’s happy to stand behind Cat, to take second place as he knows she’s meant to be the figurehead.
Turns out much of what he feels is real, that he and Cat were shaped for each other, given the skills to get this done but that doesn’t mean its plain sailing. They’ve come so far but still have a big battle in store, Cat’s mother won’t give up her kingdom easily, and Cat knows just how powerful she is.

I love the way this plays out, as with the other two books there are battles, both on a large scale, and small with just Cat, Griffin and sometimes some of the others from Elpis team.
There’s a backstabbing betrayal that comes as a shock, there are multiple times they face death and scrape by aided by one of the Gods, or by a talent they’ve gifted them in the past – nothing was ever free though, they had to prove they had the skills, they were right to hold that gift.

I love the way Amanda has dealt with my pet hate, when characters are right on the edge of losing and one of them gets a new power and miraculously is skilled and wins the day. Mostly she has them use powers we already know they have, having worked hard to refine the use of them. There are times when they are almost in the situation I’ve described, but they have to really think about, understand the consequences of using what they have, and often it doesn’t go right first time, or even fourth time, and they need a quick Godly rescue 😉
I want my characters to have to work to win, to have to make tough choices, to really understand what it is their asking, doing, wanting.
I need them to practice to get the skills they need, not just whip them out of a hat at the tough moment, and Griffin ensures Cat and the rest of the team do all that.
There’s lots to understand to about him and Cat, why and how they are who they are, the consequences of their actions, their pasts and how that has affected them.

Of course it culminates in an amazing battle bringing in so much of whats gone down earlier in this book, and in the previous two.
I love stories that do that, build on events and characters, let them play a full role in how the story ends, not just a bit part along the way.

Way back when I read the first part of Charlie N. Holmberg’s  Magician trilogy, I wrote that I thought it would make a fantastic family film – and a couple of years later Disney picked it up.
I really think this trilogy would be a terrific film too, but more for new adults upwards. There are scenes between Cat and Griffin that are very sensual, which belong to the story, show their connection, but which would probably get toned down too much or disappear if this became a family film, and that would be a real loss IMO.

Stars: five, a fantastic trilogy, gripping, entertaining and one to keep.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Water Viper ,(Jesse Alexander 1), R.J. Blain

Water Viper ,(Jesse Alexander 1), R.J. Blain

Water Viper: A Jesse Alexander Novel by [Blain, RJ]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

My first novel by this author, got it as part of some free book offer, I’d read the amazon sample and wanted to read more. Sadly I didn’t note exactly how I came by this book, just found I’d filed it in the review collection….

Its a long book at almost 500 pages, and usually I love long books but TBH at times this felt a bit Padded, a little too much Filler and – heresy for me saying this – I think if it had been a little more succinct it would have been better for me.
There were story-lines which looking back the day after finishing I can’t recall what was their purpose, nor what the resolution was in some of them. I’m thinking here of who was behind the second bounty/kidnapping attempt, the one where Henry and Anatoly find her? There are other parts too which were funny the first and second times but after a while….they got old. Its frustrating reading plots and then finding they don’t actually add anything to the story.
I didn’t see how on earth, even cleverly disguised, she thought she was still getting away with fooling everyone about who she really is/was when she was day to day living with people who she classed as friends, who knew her very well.

Set against those moans though was some subtle humour, some terrific characters, and a really interesting new world post Starfall, with a good mix of paranormal creatures. Sometimes the shifter/magic types stories feel like I’m reading the same ones but with minor plot changes and new names. This was very unusual and I really liked it.
Overall, even with my caveats, I really enjoyed the story, and would be happy to read more Jesse Alexander stories, or other characters set in this world. I think it has a lot of potential, and is an interesting take on a genre that can get tired from all the stories set in it.

Stars: Four, an interesting read, one I really enjoyed but which dragged at times, losing it a star.

 

The Silenced Tale, Book 3 of the Accidental Turn Series, J.M. Frey

The Silenced Tale, Book 3 of the Accidental Turn Series, J.M. Frey

The Silenced Tale (The Accidental Turn Series Book 3) by [Frey, J.M.]

Genre: LGBTQIA , Sci Fi & Fantasy

I’ve loved this trilogy, fresh and unusual, it hinges round the characters in a series Elgar read wrote. By some quirk of fate he wrote magic so perfectly that it – and the actual characters, places and events, became real. As a Reader, Pip was pulled into the world and met Forsyth. Now they both live in the Overrealm, our world, with their daughter Alis.
They had issues with Hain and certain people in the last book, where events there were affecting the Overrealm, and now they fear that things weren’t as safe as they left them, that maybe, just maybe, someone else has come through to the Overrealm.

There’s another fantastic adventure, Syth being his spymaster self here in the real world, master of the PC and Internet. I love how he’s adapted to it, his careful turn of phrase, his planning, always looking ten steps ahead and of course his love for Pip and Alis.
Pip is wonderful, such an intelligent girl and I love how she breaks out the writing jargon, explaining to Syth ( and readers like me!) about tropes, genres, and how books are plotted. I read, I had no idea of the structure of a story but it makes sense, and makes my author admiration even greater! She’s having a bad time in this book, due to the events of the past that connect her to magic through the carvings.
To begin its just a series of odd events that could be explained away, but Syth being the cautious type he sets his programme up to look for anything that might be connected. I love when he says he thought Pip’s Poster “its not paranoia if they’re out to get you” was a warning not an irony. That sums him up in a way, written to protect, its in his very marrow to do just that.
Of course what he and Pip don’t know is that Elgar is having issues too, with what the police think is a stalker, but what Elgar fears is Hain stuff, and vengeance from there. He had no way of knowing what he wrote created a real world, and he feels so guilty for the casual way he wrote torture and death in his stories. There’s a top secret TV series based around his books being planned and the police agree its a good idea for him to go there for a couple of weeks. Syth’s programme tells him what Elgar didn’t though, so he’s beginning to piece together events and he now knows he, Pip and Elgar are facing real danger that the police can’t help with. How can they fight magic and fictional people that have become real. If they tried to tell them they’d be taken to the nearest Psych centre!

It all comes together in a nail biting, climatic finish, and I was gutted at some of the events and yet – it was the perfect way to end the trilogy.
I read the Magician trilogy when that was first out, back in Oct 2014, and thought it would make a great family film, Disney agreed some time later. I think this too would make a great film, has that magic (hah!) content that will appeal to kids and adults alike and is so very unusual.

Stars: Five, a perfect ending to a terrific, exciting and fresh trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

A Crazy Kind of Love, Mary Ann Marlowe. Van, A Cold Fury Hockey Novel, Sawyer Bennett

A Crazy Kind of Love, Mary Ann Marlowe

A Crazy Kind of Love (Flirting with Fame) by [Marlowe, Mary Ann]

Genre:  Romance, Women’s fiction.

I loved Mary Ann’s first book, and this one covers Eden’s brother Micah, who we met in book one.
That book was such a treat to read, humour that wasn’t forced, drama, real emotions and scenes I felt actually could play out in real life. I was really looking forward to this second book, and it was another terrific read.

Poor Jo, curious family background that’s left her feeling a little bit chip-on-the-shoulder about herself, and means she second guesses so much of what goes on around her. That comes over really well in this book where she’s wondering does Micah want her for herself, or just her publicity contacts.
Micah is also a great lead, funny, kind, caring and so very open. He appears to court publicity but is it because he wants fame at any price, or as he says, if he doesn’t hide anything there’s no story. He’s not sure if Jo wants to be with him for himself or to give her career a leg up…..poor confused couple, and as a reader its so easy to see how actions from both of them can be taken either way.
Throw in Jo’s best friend Zion ( loved him), her awful boss, Micah’s sister Eden, Adam her fiancee and Micah’s friend, and a few others and its a novel that’s a real treat to read. Its one I’ll definitely re-read and it may be time for a repeat look at Eden and Adam’s story 😉

Its chic lit – but with that bit extra, a little seriousness that grounds the story at times, doesn’t have the sheer silliness that has me eye rolling at so many of this genre.
Its a story for those of us who don’t need every facet of humour force fed to us, who want to read and work out where the story is going ourselves.
It seems to be well-researched too as regards Diabetes type 1. I only know a little of that, more about type 2, but it was good to see someone with this condition having to work it into their daily lives, good to see just how frightening hypos can be for others. My late husband had one at around 2a.m. once, I thought he’d had a stroke, he got up, collapsed flat out and could only speak in slurs. Very very frightening, and I can see how others may think someone is drunk…Mary Ann brought that part to life really well.
I love it when an author takes care over little details like this.

Stars: five, another fabulous read from a talented author. I look forward to more.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Van, A Cold Fury Hockey Novel, Sawyer Bennett

Van: A Cold Fury Hockey Novel (Carolina Cold Fury Hockey) by [Bennett, Sawyer]

Genre:  Romance, sports

I’ve read lots of Sawyers novels, and enjoyed most very much, but a few haven’t quite cut it for me, and this is one of them.

Poor Van, what a horrific past and no wonder he’s as emotionally fragile and seems an ar se. That’s his way of protecting himself from the world, of dealing with his anger. Hockey is a great outlet for that rage, lets him release his feelings on the ice, and he’s done well in the sport. women though….absoloutely no-one, male or female, except his aunt, gets close to him.
Simone, urgh. I just did not like her and its my main reason for disliking the story. there’s an attraction in a woman with self confidence, Simone though was simply arrogant, rude, uncaring of what anyone else wanted, her feelings were all that counted and I really disliked her.
I think what got me is we’re always saying “no means no” and that’s a great message, but it applies to both sexes and she just didn’t respect Van when he said no. There’s one scene that if it was the other way round people would be outraged, horrified, claiming it borders on rape/abuse and just because its a female doing the pushing doesn’t mean its right 😦

She really coloured my whole view of the book, my dislike of her meant I couldn’t enjoy the story, I wanted to shout at her to have respect for Van’s feelings, stop just steamrollering her way through because she wanted something.
Its a sex overtakes the story novel too – and for me that isn’t good.

Stars: 2.5/3. Sorry Sawyer, there were bits I liked but overall this one’s a fail for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Hooking Up, Helena Hunting

Hooking Up, Helena Hunting

Hooking Up by [Hunting, Helena]

Genre:  Romance

This was a fun, spicy read, but not my favourite of Helena’s books. I really enjoyed reading it, its a worthy 4 stars for me but not the spark that makes a five.

One of the reasons for that I guess is that its a very sensual read, and much of that spice covers a huge chunk of the story but only a couple of weeks in time, meaning the rest of the story tended to get a bit crammed. It’d be hot car encounter – very steamy and then…its several weeks later.
Though those gaps were covered it left me thinking did they really have no contact? what else went on? It just left me feeling a bit disconnected.

The characters were great, Amie, perfect girl, but her past has lead her to try to save her family any more embarrassment and take the safe route.
She thinks Armstrong loves her, they will be happy and if he doesn’t set her on fire, well, his respectability makes up for that.And then at the wedding reception all that goes so very wrong, and she faces what she knew in her heart, Armstrong isn’t the good guy, the one for her, she deserves better.
She knew it really but wanted to please her family, and ignored all the little clues, started moulding herself with Armstrong’s not so subtle hints into a stepford wife type lady.

Armstrong, he really was a prig, so self assured, so much belief that his way was the only way. He doesn’t regard blow jobs as cheating, tries to spin it that he was doing it for Amie, so that he could last longer with her later…WTF, the man’s incapable of seeing his actions are ever wrong.He even says in their sphere its accepted that a man have a couple of mistresses and they don’t count, that Amie is making a fuss over nothing, bringing bad publicity to the family. she’s had a lucky escape.

Hottie hook-up – I think that’s what Amie’s best friend Ruby calls him, ( as requested by author I’m avoiding naming him!!) – is gorgeous, a great man but there are things he’s keeping quiet about for reasons that are clear later . I loved him, so kind, genuinely so, and so sensual. He knows what he’s doing when it comes to sex, and he’s happy to explore further, to have fun. He was perfect for Amie, but she needed to get rid of Armstrong first and that guy’s not going easily….

There are some funny moments here, bits that made me smile, ( the luggage inspection) and some sad ones too.
The sex, wow, hot and steamy and fitted the story so well, its just that at times it took the place of possible plot expansion, filled the time when the story could have been moving forward.
Its not a hugely long book, 4373 kindle locations – and the sex does take up a disproportionate amount of time I feel, making that actual story a bit rushed. I would have liked parts to be more expanded. Still, that’s just me, others are happy to have less story and more sex…you can’t please everyone.

Stars: four, a fun and sensual read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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