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Marked, Sue Tingey

Marked, Sue Tingey

Marked: The Soulseer Chronicles Book 1 by [Tingey, Sue]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

This novel turned out to be far from what I’d expected. I really enjoyed the beginning of this but….it changed dramatically and once the Underlands were brought in I really wasn’t enjoying it.

Parts were interesting, the court intrigue but with all the different daemon descriptions, the twee names of two of her guards, the jealousy between Jamie and Jinx, and then the drakon, who can change size as needed it all began to feel like a YA novel to me, with some pretty urghh torture scenes that seemed to be added for keeping in in the adult genre…

I felt there was a lot going on but not much actually happening, that kind of odd thing when none of the events actually have any real conclusion, where threats are everywhere but none happen, where everyone is urging Lucky to be quiet, go unseen and of course New Girl knows best and does the opposite, but despite the dire predictions its rare anything much results.

The emphasis on sex and her virginity, her shock at the daemon guards of her friend Kayla actually undressing at night, her shock at the inference Kayla is sleeping with her main guard, her constant speculation of the attractiveness or not of the daemons, all began to  feel to me too much like later Laurell Hamilton Anita Blake reads 😦

Lucky becomes very judgmental and Kayla a totally different person to the one we knew, and TBH I’m unsure I like either of them or this world enough to continue.
Sometimes first books try too hard, and a series settles down into a winner for me, but I think this one isn’t going to do that.

Stars: Two, just not a series for me I think

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Royal Treatment, A Crown Jewels Romance Book 1, MJ Summers

The Royal Treatment, A Crown Jewels Romance Book 1, MJ Summers

The Royal Treatment: A Crown Jewels Romance, Book 1 by [MJ Summers]

Genre:  Romance, Women’s fiction

I’d read some of MJ’s Hearts series with mixed results, so I wasn’t sure about this but…fame, the film, rock-star, royal trope has a hook in me and I decided to go for it. and I’m so glad, its a great fun read.
Its not deep dark drama but modern day chick-lit but with a serious side. There’s some terrific humour tucked in too, which had me sniggering loudly. Lucky it’s just me n the dog here…..

Tessa is a lovely girl but as the only girl with four brothers, all in very important positions job wise she struggles. She tried hard, loved her journalism, but fell for the wrong guy, her ex boss and now she’s found he’s managed to ensure all doors in that field are closed to her.
B astard!! It happens though, out in the real world, and Tessa is trying to move on, and has discovered the world of blogging.
Its hard work to get enough income to live from it though, so after some research and a bit of trial and error she found posts about the royal family, especially contentious ones, were really popular. So she becomes scathing in her criticism, the blog stats soar, and at a time of massive unpopularity for the Monarchy she’s well known as the most fierce critic.

Prince Arthur knows how deep the crisis runs, thanks to his father, a cold man, cares little for anything or anybody, who embodies the lack of principles their fiercest critics use against them. He knows things have to change, that they need to change their image very quickly and asks Tessa to stay for two months, arrogantly convinced he can easily wrap her round his finger, convince her of the good the Royals do and change public perception.
I love the way things played out, the way he saw himself through her eyes, the way she saw her blog from the moral point of her young niece ( why is it OK to write bad things about people when adults tell kids to be polite? Good Point!)
The heat between the two, the conversations that take an increasingly personal slant, the lust that’s turning to more, all makes great reading.
Then there’s how Tessa discovers actually lots of what she criticises isn’t necessarily the whole story, just media perceptions and assumptions. Likewise Arthur sees that the image the royals put out needs adapting to modern times, that the duty he and his family feel, the job he was born and raised for is in real peril. 800 years of looking after the country could be lost if they don’t deal with it right now.

We didn’t see much of his sister but his grandmother – what a great lady. I want to be like her!

Growing up in a socialist household with a dad who was fiercely anti monarchy, much of Tessa’s arguments are very familiar.
They’re sentiments often trotted out by the media, how the Royals cost £xxx millions etc without actually showing the other side, how much is actually their own money, how they provide jobs, increase tourism, bring in staggering amounts of cash to the country, how they work very hard even if it looks like lunches and balls all the while.
Underneath the surface there’s a lot going on that they have no control over, they can’t have  bad day, take a sickie and binge watch serials on TV.
For them the Show Must Go On. I wouldn’t swap places with them.

Its a great fun read, light but with some serious points, and some cracking humour. The Shock Jogger. I’ll say no more (snigger…) and on the serious side for instance there’s Tessa’s blog, is it really fair to pronounce such scathing comments on personalities, is it OK just because they’re in the public eye or is it wrong, especially when the arguments are based on public supposition, not necessarily facts.
Then there the issue of looking at both sides to the royal arguments, and wondering quite where I stand. With dad as a kid as most kids are, but very much changed views now I’m an adult and can look beyond shock stats. Then of course there’s the humour that provided some great moments, and a lighter side each time the story got a little intense. .
There are follow up stories but this one is complete in its own right.

Stars: five,a fabulous read, light and easy, with some solid points to mull over.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
 

Every Little Thing, Samantha Young. Souljacker, Yasmine Galenorn

Today I’m planning to read the latest Mercy Thompson novel,  Silence Fallen, Patricia Briggshttp://amzn.to/2mkqZJd That’s my all time favourite series, and author, and I’ve got another great book to read from a couple of days back, Jeanine Frost’s Into the fire, the final Night Prince novel

http://amzn.to/2mWvZoW I loved this series when it started, but unlike the Briggs one its an ongoing story rather than each book having one main theme that’s part of an ongoing story. TBH its taken so long I’ve kind of lost the impetus that made me love it. Maybe I’ll start from first book and pick it up that way. Then I log in to netgalley and see I’ve been approved for three more reads, among them one from the Queen of rock band reads, Kylie Scott for Twist, the latest Dive Bar novel, a spin off from the wonderful Stage Dive books

http://amzn.to/2m10cin So, housework? Tidying ready for selling house? Gardening – well that’s an easy out, its raining….

And a couple of reviews today

Every Little Thing,  Samantha Young

Every Little Thing (Hart's Boardwalk Book 2) by [Young, Samantha]

Genre:  romance, erotica

Like thousands of readers I got sucked in to the magic of Samantha’s romances by way of the wonderful Joss and Braden, in On Dublin street, and their book is still one of my all time favourites.
I’ve read several from that series and enjoyed them and have been looking forward to this new series. Tjis one is tagged Erotica, but to me its more eotic romance, a great romance but withsome hot and steamy sex rather than just erotica,

I enjoyed the first book, The One real Thing, but wasn’t blown away by it. First books do have  a hard job though, and few achieve the great start that Dublin Street did.
The couple that intrigued me the most in book one were Bailey and Vaughn – the ST between those two jumps of the page! They had sparks jumping between them at every meeting, and the caustic wit the two share had me smiling widely.

Bailey is so bright and bubbly, always out to help others, see that everyone is happy, so running her Inn is perfect for her. Still, the awful Devlin family are trying to find a way to oust her, they want to own as much of the town as they can and have used some very dirty tricks in the past. I love the way Bailey not only stands up to them but uses her sharp wit against them.
She’s been with boyfriend Tom now for ten years, hoping that they will marry and have a family soon. She’s in for a big shock though….and it changes things between her and Vaughn.
They’ve always hate a hate hate relationship, but underneath that everyone feels that its defensive on both sides, and it really seems to have started with Vaughn rebuffing the open friendship Bailey offered him when he arrived, the same as she does to everyone. He wasn’t impressed at her initial opposition to his plans for his new hotel, and things went downhill from there.

Its clear Vaughn is attracted to her, and just as clear he doesn’t want to be. He’s always been Mr No Commitment and it suits him, but he knows that Bailey spells danger to that, and seems to use his acerbic wit as a defence even as he cringes inside at what he’s saying. Bailey responds likewise, they both bring out the worst in each other, but that gives some terrific scenes for the reader.

Its a real romance here, but a long time coming, with many forward and back journeys that had me inwardly screaming at them! Of course that’s perfect for me as it brings bucket loads of angst and emotion.

As with all Samantha’s romances its not just a two person story, but brings in many others, some from book one, some who look set to become future books. Story seeds, those hints of what/who might be next. Its always fun to try to spot them, and I think I’ve got a couple here, there are some individuals who really intrigue me. Quiet, shy Emory, what’s her story? Why is she so reserved, so closed off? Dahlia, she seems to have lots of things to reveal, and we’ve only seen her as a very secondary character. Jack Devlin, met him in book one, and he’s here too, and still as much a puzzle as ever. I can’t believe he’s really such a bad guy, and yet the things he’s done, and does here too seem to point in that direction, then he does a couple that point the other way. Even Vaughn’s dad has potential, not as a main character IMO, but maybe a secondary romance thread in a book? He’s certainly got the heart and character for it.

Its a great read, I loved it, was entranced by Bailey and Vaughn, loved the puzzle of their relationship. I did wonder about a few characters in here, Vanessa, will she make a return later, Jack, how can Cooper’s former best friend change so much, do what he does, and of course Vaughn’s awful friend Oliver. What on earth did those two ever have in common?
There’s a couple of surprises towards the end that I didn’t see coming ( and one I did!) and it makes me wonder if they’re future plots in later books?
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Stars: Five, a great read, perfect blend of sensual romance and solid story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Souljacker, A Lily Bound Novel,  Yasmine Galenorn

Souljacker: A Lily Bound Novel by [Galenorn, Yasmine]

Genre:  paranormal and fantasy

Hmnnn, succubus – they’re not characters that really feel empathetic are they? I put off reading Richelle Mead’s wonderful Georgia Kinkaid series for ages simply because I could not see how an author could make a succubus into a person I’d understand, feel I want them to be happy, and yet I was so, so wrong. Add in Jill Myles terrific Succubus reads and you can see just how very wrong my first thoughts were.
So if you’re like me, take a deep breath and prepare to be surprised.
I’ve enjoyed some of Yasmine’s other reads, so I was familiar with her writing style. the story jumps right in with a death at Lily’s house, one of her top clients has been murdered. Not good for business, nor is the fact her clients wife is on the warpath and as a powerful and influential were she can – and does – do immense damage to Lily’s business. So far its worked giving her an income, keeping her alive through sex with Supernaturals, she’s found in the past humans are just far too fragile, and wants to avoid killing people.

In this society Vampires aren’t the Romance kind, but irrational, dangerous killers. Once turned little of the human remains, and they simply lust for blood, sex and power, and have become so dangerous that vampire kills aren’t even investigated by the police any more. That leaves Lily and her friends on their own, as a Vampire Execution the police simple pass on the murder, but she does get given the name of a chaos demon who might help. And Lily and her friends need that help when they learn the killer wants them dead too….

I like Lily, she’s just trying to live, trying to keep her friends safe, enjoy life and she’s found a way that avoids killing humans, something that happened in the past to her and hurts her conscience.
She has some good friends, witch Dani, human Nate, Marsh the…Ghost? spirit? whatever, he’s someone from Lily’s past who’s returned out of the blue, and of course Whiskas the cat – who’s more than a cat, though decidedly not a shifter.
Lily herself belong to the dark Fae court, and we meet the Queen, Wynter in this book. Scary woman, and she’s very powerful. You don’t live for thousands of years without learning a few things.
Archer the chaos demon turns out to be not the type Lily feared, Demons don’t get great press, but in fact he’s a true gentleman, luckily attracted to Lily, and they’re in the throes of him helping her with sex feeding, and maybe they’re developing something more. I didn’t get a great feeling of romance here, its pretty clear one is meant to be starting but I wasn’t really convinced of anything more than a bit of lust between them. Maybe that just takes time, sometimes its better that way.

Its a fun read, a story with elements of many types of creatures thrown in, Vampires, demons, ghosts,witches,  Fae and of course Lily and Whiskas.
In a way that kind of affected the story for me, there were so many different types of character, so much going on that the murders almost took second place. When the climax (Hah!!) came it was almost missing for me, they’d had so many scrapes already that it seemed like it was just one more.

I enjoyed this but I’m waiting for book two to see how the series develops, it didn’t keep me gripped as I’d expected. At times it just felt a little muddled as there was so much happening in a relatively short space of time and pages (GR has it at 292 pages) or 3552 kindle locations.

Stars: Three. Maybe as this continues I’ll feel more for it, its tough for first books in a new series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Breath of Fire, by Amanda Bouchet

Breath of Fire, by Amanda Bouchet

Breath of Fire (The Kingmaker Trilogy Book 2) by [Bouchet, Amanda]

Genre:  romance, paranormal and fantasy

Back when reviewing book one I wrote “This is one of those fantasy reads that can cross age limits, being suitable for teens and YAs, as well as those like me long, long past that. Its a fascinating story with enough romance to keep me hooked, for me that gives a story something special, and some cracking magic.
Its not a historical LotR type fantasy, but one that brings in Olympus and the Greek Gods and Goddesses.”
Book two has all that and more.

The story continues with the main characters facing death and disaster from humans and magical creatures alike, in their Quest to bring peace and end the reign or terror and raise up the standard of living for all the citizens, not just a favoured few living off the backs of the rest.
Its easy when faced with the kind of destiny they’re looking at and the sucess they’ve had so far to let the power go to their heads.
Cat, Griffin and friends aren’t like that though, Cat’s background gets revealed and we know already just how much she’s been through in her short life.
Griffin comes from the other side, the non-magical folk, ones that do the hard manual work and are always subject to the whims of their rulers. He has a vision though and its aligned with that of higher powers who seem to favour his ideas. Cat is central to his and their quest for a new regime, for peace, for fairness for all. They want a world with a hopeful, peaceful future for all the citizens, a world free of torture, slavery, all the things imposed on the non magical folk that currently provide enjoyment for a favoured few.

I love the relationship progression, Griffin is so protective of Cat and yet doesn’t try to stop her from doing what she needs, encouraging her when she faces her very natural fears.
Once more they face Gods and Goddesses, (and Kato gets to find that you can have too much of a good thing!) fierce, deadly magical creatures, as they take the next step in their journey.

Its a fabulous book, that touch of romance lifts in from just a fantasy read and beings in the personal side, and yet sensual though it is it never overtakes the story, never overshadows the magic that’s happening around them.
They’re learning a lot about each other too, becoming a tight knit team, learning to trust each other fully. Griffin has had their trust and pledge for a long while but now Cat’s in the team and they look to her as a leader too. She and Griffin both have their own specialities, and when needed they’re happy to let the other take point, lead, make the tough decisions.

Back in 2014 I read a YA story that I felt would be perfect for film. The Paper Magician trilogy has since been snapped up by Disney, and I think this trilogy too would be perfect for the big screen. Its got so much in it, the romance thread  which I love is just enough for those like me who enjoy that angle, but won’t put those off who profess not to enjoy “romance”, the magic is fabulous, gripping, exciting, almost bloodthirsty at times but without too much horrific descriptions  ( they made me queasy, I’m a wimp, I know) and welded throughout is the message of fairness, of taking into account the effects of things all all members of society, of morality, kindness, and there’s a very clear Right and Wrong barrier in behaviour.

This read follows book one quite closely in release time, which is great, the story is still fresh, sadly though part three isn’t due out til Jan 18 😦 Still, it’s definitely one for my keepers file for re-reading right through all three books.

Stars: Five, terrific read, more magic and mayhem, with romance and Right on Cat and Griffin’s side.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Caraval, Stephanie Garber. Some Kind of Magic, Mary Ann Marlowe

Caraval,  Stephanie Garber

Caraval by [Garber, Stephanie]

Genre:  Sci fi and fantasy

Well, this really is a magical book, and that part I adored. Its so full of secrets, of things that are not as they seem, of twists and turns that predicting who is who and what will happen just isn’t possible.

Its got a YA feel to it, and yet if you like reads that are pure fantasy, full of magic, colour and impossibilities this will appeal whatever your age. For me the magic was the best part,
I liked Scarlett and the mysterious Julian, enjoyed meeting the weird and wonderful characters of Caraval, was entranced by the danger disguised as fun feel of Caraval, the way we never quite know if the dangers are real. There were plenty of unexpected events, things that totally came out of the blue and the ending…well, didn’t see that coming.

I did feel a little confused at the finish, had to go back a reread parts to fit it all together, and TBH it was a little ambiguous for me, I like things to be more defined, but then again leaving parts open mean that the reader can kind of put their own ending in 😉 if they want.
I didn’t realise there was a second book until I came to write my review, and that makes more sense of the ending, but as Caraval is over what will it be? Will it be what we’ve seen but from another perspective, or will the main players, Scarlett, Tella and Julian be part of some kind of follow up and consequences of the decisions in Caraval, and the events behind them? Will we ever know the real story about their grandmother and Legend, and who is their mother and what happened to her?
Of course the big question they’re all asking (and me) is who is Legend, what and what are his motives?

It kind of ends leaving me with more questions that I started. I want to read book two of course and I think it’ll be one of those duos where book two will make more sense of book one for me, and I’ll read both together and enjoy the story fully knowing the whole picture.

Stars: Four, a fabulous magical read, that might become a five when I’ve read book two 🙂

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Some Kind of Magic, Mary Ann Marlowe

Some Kind of Magic (Flirting with Fame) by [Marlowe, Mary Ann]

Genre:  romance, women’s fiction

So, a debut book- its always a gamble not knowing what writing style you’ll get in a debut book, could be perfect for you or could be something you hate – I got lucky here, I love it. Actually I’ve had several really good, well written and fun debut reads this year.

I had several on my TBR list for review as usual, and like to read what I’m in the mood for. I passed over this a couple of times for some reason thinking that a) it was a flirty chic lit lite – I like those sometimes, when I want a bit of mind numbing, easy reading.. b) that it was some kind of fantasy read. I’d got the cover in my head which let to the chic lit connotation but all I can say was it was the work Magic in the title that caught me out.
It is a magical read, but as in wonderful, not the fantasy paranormal kind!

Having decided it was time to start this one I was soon pulled in.
There’s some great but subtle humour, I adored Eden and loved her friend who was later so star struck. I could just see that happening, when Eden and Adam are eating and Stella gets out her phone. Eden’s gentle “Stella, what did we talk about?” or words to that effect was perfect.
Eden is a “good” girl, always striving for parental praise, works hard but is cautious, ultra cautious. She has a list of “suitable”  men and tattooed musicians don’t make the grade. She’s 28 though and her mum is always setting her up with dates, dentists, doctors etc leading Eden’s list to get longer on the No column.
She loves her brother Micah, is a fervent supporter of his music and meets Adam one evening when Micah is playing. She gets chatting to him, thinking he’s interviewing for her brothers band…she’s wrong though, so very wrong 🙂

Adam, he’s an international rock god, but though she supports her brother she’s not one of those rabid followers of bands, so she knows what music she likes, but she doesn’t always know the people and stories behind it. Adam loves that about her, that she treats him as someone “normal”, isn’t fazed by him, and they have a great time, ending up to the surprise of both in a hot and steamy night.
Thus begins a torrid and erotic romance. All seems well until Eden learns about the scent she wore before meeting him….to tell or not to tell, that is the question?

I love band stories, but lately its been hard to find one that actually feels like a proper band book, that has the music and how it happens, the touring, the venues, the pressures of fame, the media intrusions and the way everything is turned into something, regardless of the truth.
This book does all that and more – it was totally unexpected. Its not a heavy dense read, but also not the chic lit lite I expected from the cover.
Its for me a perfect balance, an easy to read story, solid romance but with some real issues here, how we perceive people that are famous, the way the press warp the truth, how difficult it is to trust someone when there are huge barriers waiting to trip one up.
I loved all that, loved the romance and the way it unfolded, understood Eden and Adam, and when it all went wrong I could see both points, but of course I “know” their reasons, they don’t.
They need to trust each other. I loved the way the drama played out, was dragged along to really extend the misery of them both at the break up.
I kept wondering how – how would they get past this? What would they do? Who would make the first move?
That Was Perfect, as it covers a good part of the book, not just a couple of pages as we get so often. I love to wallow in the sad parts, to really feel that maybe they can’t work things out, even though I know of course they will.

There’s a short excerpt at the end of the beginning of book two, featuring  Eden’s brother Micah and his romance with a paparazzi …that looks to be another well written fun read and will be on my TBR list.

Stars: Five, a fabulous debut novel, perfect rock band read

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dawn Study, Maria V. Snyder, Steam and Sensibility, A Steampunk Novel of Suspense, Kirsten Weiss

Dawn Study, Maria V. Snyder

Dawn Study (Study Series, Book 6) by [Snyder, Maria V.]

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy

The final Valek and Yelena story….I’ve been waiting for this so long it feels.
I first discovered Fantasy via the wonderful Poison Study, which I’d ordered with a batch of paperbacks in my prekindle days when the first three were already out. I’d somehow thought it was a historical read – dunno why * shrug* my bad, but when I finally got to it I learned Fantasy wasn’t all Star Trek, LotR and Terry Pratchett type reads and was hooked….Sometimes mistakes pay off 🙂

I felt the last book was slipping a little, still a worthy four star but that some of the magic ( hah!) had been lost for me, with the Commander being a very changed person from the one we first met, and looking back at my review I’d written this
“I am beginning to get a little tired of the issues of Null Shields, Theobroma and Curare though. It seems that they are becoming the catch all solution for both sides, and it means its very difficult to see what can happen when one of these “new” solutions keeps popping up. In some ways it evens the playing field, but I’m just not convinced when they seem to be the answers to every problem. I was happier when I knew it was down to the talents and skills ( good or bad) of certain individuals, whether magical or just well trained.”
That sums up much of how I feel about this book too, its very much plan goes wrong, someone gets caught, someone gets rescued, make more plans, but when there’s this null shields for magic, theobroma, curare, and now new versions of similar drugs then it gets a little tired, impossible to try to work out what can happen and that takes the fun out for me. There were so many times this format cropped up that it actually became repetitive, something I never thought I’d say, and I found myself rolling my eyes…
With the earlier books what I enjoyed was the magic v the skills learned and natural talents, so when they were fighting some would use magic but the skilled non magical people could still win with their natural talent for battle, and using the skills they had long trained for. Think of Ari and Janco training Yelena in that first book, and of her learning to use her bo staff with Mara, discovering that people without magic could still win if they were alert and clever enough. That seems to have got lost for much of this book, with even Valek’s famous plans going wrong, and his much vaunted skills in espionage and conflict definitely showing his age…

It was good to meet Ari and Janco again – that duo never change and I love them. Likewise Little Miss Assassin, and some of the up and coming newer youngsters that look set to move into place if there are more books planned. Fisk is now a leader of a fairly large group, a clever man grown up from that quicksilver lad we first met. I always love seeing him, and his clever way of finding out things, knowing who has what skill and putting people where they’re best utilised.

The storyline had become very complex with it being difficult to recall who was supposed to be on whose side, and why, and whether they were still with that group or had switched sides, or where playing a spy role. It made sense – in a way – but did become difficult to follow and dull at times.
I enjoyed the early reads when we knew who was for which side, when there were times a character – or a few characters – were duped, but not on the mass scale of this story.

I did enjoy the story, even with the repetitive bits and the other issue I mentioned, just that for me they stopped it from being a five star read, stopped me being glued to the book, having to read “just one more chapter” and finding out its 3am….all avid readers have been there!
I found myself actually putting it aside easily, and felt that when it did come to the final point it was almost a non event….

I can see the potential for the younger kids to move up into place for a new series, but unless its going to be like a return to those first books, more skills, more magic and less plant based improbable solutions to almost everything then I won’t be reading… I don’t think…. Depends I guess on what else is around at the time 😉

Its not a book you can read without earlier ones, even just reading the first two in this trilogy won’t let you understand the minute details from the past, the things that shaped events now, and there are a myriad of little quips and reminisces here that refer back to those early reads. You could possibly miss out the  glass trio, they weren’t my favourites anyway, but then you’ll still not really follow the storm-dance characters and what they do. Its one of those series where to get the best you need to start at the beginning and work through, though I haven’t read any of the side novellas, and they are extras rather than essential reading.

.
Stars: its difficult to rate, I loved meeting all the characters, seeing how they’d grown up and changed, but that constant capture and release and magic v plants got old quickly for me. I guess I’m going three and a half. I thought about four but those parts do make up a substantial part of the story
.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Steam and Sensibility, A Steampunk Novel of Suspense,  Kirsten Weiss

Steam and Sensibility (Sensibility Grey Steampunk Novels of Suspense Book 1) by [Weiss, Kirsten]

Genre:  mystery and thrillers, sci-fi and fantasy

I haven’t read a lot of Steampunk, a couple that were really enjoyable and a few that were OK reads, but its good to read outside one’s comfort zone occasionally.

This book sounded fun, but for the first half it really was a western type read more than steampunk, with very little to bring the story into that category.
I liked Sensibility, and her confidence in her abilities, and enjoyed the aether refs, they made for a bit of extra and Steampunk does need that touch of magic IMO.
I wasn’t really taken by any of the other characters though, and found the plot to be a little thin.
It seemed to be a who can be trusted and everyone is out to get the Journal, and rather too much bumbling around to fit my taste. It picked up after the halfway point, but never really hooked me fully into the story and the steampunk elements were very thin on the group.
The author mentions this was a book that has been reworked to fit the steampunk  category and to me it feels like that, doesn’t feel as if its fully immersed in the genre, but another story with added extras making it fit where the original story didn’t. There was the watch, and the little mechanical sweeper she made, but no traditional elements such as dirigibles, fantastic creatures etc until close to the end.
Maybe it will appeal to steampunk lovers more than those like me who tend to stay on the fringes, I don’t know, its not a bad book, just one that was only an OK read for me.

It’s a fun read, but definitely a one off for me.

Stars: Three, an OK read but steampunk is a bit thin.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Cowboy and the Kid, Anne McAllister, For Finlay, J. Nathan

The Cowboy and the Kid, The Tanner Brother – Book 4,  Anne McAllister

The Cowboy and the Kid (Tanner Brothers Book 4) by [McAllister, Anne]

Genre:   Romance, General Fiction

I’d not read any of Anne’s novels and as she’s got so many I was really, really hoping to like this. Nothings like finding a new-to-you author with loads of lovely novels you haven’t read 😉
Sadly though this was just an OK read for me, a sweet story but one that didn’t really do much for me.

Its a small town romance, and I like those but I do need some drama, some real feelings between the leads.
Though I liked them all, I wasn’t really feeling the attraction between them, and didn’t really understand what they saw in each other. they knew of the other via school of course, but dates? ? Nope, unless you count the one where Taggart is warning her about one of the parents. I just didn’t feel the connection.

I think the biggest problem for me was they were both nice people, sweet, cute and all that, the story was gentle, Becky was a smart but precocious kid, its was all just so Nice. What I want though is drama, jealousies, problems, barriers to things working out, maybe a couple of unpleasant characters for balance and here there wasn’t any.
I see this was originally published in 1996, and maybe its been updated and rereleased, but it doesn’t feel that way, to me it feels very dated, very “clean romance” type read, and that’s fine. Millions of readers love them, they just don’t cut it for me.

If you like a sweet, non-dramatic romance, with a gentle HEA then this could be perfect for you. It’s a good book, but not one that moved me emotionally, and really just not my sort of romance.

Stars: Three, depends on what you want from your romance.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

**************************************************************************

For Finlay,  J. Nathan

For Finlay by [Nathan, J.]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult

I’ve enjoyed some terrific NA reads, despite being well past NA age….I’d read Until Alex and had mixed feelings, some of it felt really slow and very YA as opposed to NA, but there was a section that had me gripped, so I requested this book hoping the writing had evolved that way.
Sadly for me its not, well not with this book. That’s fine, everyone wants different stories, different types of writing styles and this already has lots of 5* reviews so clearly its perfect for other readers.
For me though it still felt very YA, with the protagonists being very immature in their actions and reactions.

I did feel for Finlay, what an awful thing to happen, and understood perfectly her feelings towards Caden, based on what she saw. Thats it though isn’t it – its what she thought she saw not what actually was happening, there’s always more to a story…and its a long while before she discovers that.
Meanwhile she’s so attracted to Caden despite her feelings and that was fun, seeing how the boy she thought he’d be matched up to the one in front of her…or rather didn’t. There was some snappy dialogue that was fun.

He was a typical football Jock except for his anti cheating stance, I was pleased to see that, and understood his reasons. He kind of stretches credulity though when it comes to how he breaks with the girlfreind and gets with Finlay, he’s sticking to the letter of his morality but not really the essence of it. Still, its a typical YA/NA reaction, do what you want and convince yourself you’re in the right 🙂
His girlfriend was a great b itch, I do so love characters like hers. I’d have liked to have seen more of her and the nastiness, perfectly drawn, rich b itch type wanting a rich and famous husband….there’s a lot of them around.

Overall, though the story was moving forward, for me it felt a bit too YA, the characters kind of immature in their actions, and I wasn’t hooked into what was happening, gripped with the story, didn’t have the can’t-put-it-down feeling.
And of course when Caden finds out what he thinks is the truth his reaction was just that, like  a thwarted schoolchild rather than an adult.
In some ways I was kind of having mixed feelings, the drama of it was perfect, the ex was wonderfully vindictive, but believing he’d really react like that? On the say so of someone who he knows a) doesn’t like Finlay b) wants him back c) got her knowledge in a strange way, its not as if Finlay was hiding it.
Somehow that reaction felt OTT even though it led to some perfect drama. I felt the Caden we’d been led to believe in wouldn’t have acted that way, would have looked a bit harder for the truth. Still then I guess we wouldn’t have this book….

So the drama of it was perfect even though the reasons for it fell down a bit. The storyline was ok, more or less believable, but for me the characters felt a little immature at times, backed up by Caden’s reaction.
Its me more than the book, its a perfectly decent read, and has lots of readers who love it, but for me its between a three and a four star not a five. If you love typical storm in a teacup YA romances this is perfect, I need a bit more maturity in my characters and their actions though.

Stars: 3.5, a good read, perfect for others, but a bit on the YA side for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Fire and Flame, Anya Breton. Thunder Moon, Joanne Mallory

Fire and Flame,  Anya Breton

Fire and Flame by [Breton, Anya]

Genre:  romance, Sci-fi and fantasy

I loved the sound of this, and it started well, but then for me went downhill pretty quickly.

I found the two main characters hard to like, Sara even more so than Brent.
The misunderstandings went on too long, it was believable at first but soon felt tired and they annoyed me.
I didn’t understand why Sara seemed to be an only child, when as the High Priest her father would have been expected to breed with several women. Maybe they were there but just not mentioned, but given the emphasis on Sara “doing her duty” and having a full blood witch child it seemed a bit odd.
That phrase too “doing her duty” was repeated time and time again, and I soon got irritated by it.

The whole novel has to me a very YA feel but with some added sex. It felt as if the author had tried to make it appeal to a wider audience by adding some spicy sex scenes in, but for me the writing style still very very Teen and YA.
There were some phrases I simply couldn’t understand, or that just felt odd – “clean shaven skin of his cheeks no longer de-emphasized the bubbled scars beneath his chin” I think she means without his beard his scars were showing, but it seems a torturous way of writing it.
Then “Did you do your duty with someone else to avoid doing it with me?” again, a long winded way of saying have you had sex with someone else 😉
This one had me totally amazed, just can’t get that scene out of my head 😉 “her breasts bounced for his attention and her legs scissored opened and closed at regular intervals signally that though the massaging was becoming too much for her, she didn’t want him to stop.” ( That’s exactly as its written BTW – not my typos for once!) I have to say that sounds like very active but odd sex, kind of sex semaphore!!
Later when she’s describing his penis(or rod as its referred to quite often,) she says though he’s above average size when erect, when its not it’s smaller in length and girth than even human men. I felt a bit sorry for poor Brent there!

There’s lots of action, it’s an interesting idea but TBH it just felt too YA for me. I’ve read some great YA novels where the stories appeal to all ages, but for me this wasn’t one. If I was a teen I expect I’d love it but I’m not and sadly I didn’t take to the characters and it was just too unbelievable for me.

Stars: Two and a half, a fun idea that for me just didn’t work out. Others love it though, so that’s fine.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Thunder Moon, Joanne Mallory

Thunder Moon - a beautiful tale of magic and love by [Mallory, Joanne]

Genre:  Sci Fi & Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult)

Reading ARCs means that often there’s little information available – and when choosing this I didn’t know this was a novella, just 100 pages, 1970 kindle locations. Novellas rarely work for me as they just don’t let me get to know the characters or plots in any detail and that’s what happened here.

Its a good story, part romance, part looking back to times past, part supernatural.
Its just that I never really felt I knew the characters more than just superficially. There just wasn’t the space – it works for many readers and that’s great, but I want the nitty gritty, want to feel all the emotions, wallow in sadness when things are wrong, fill my heart with joy when things go right and in such a short read I can’t.

Its a good mix of people, a fun story, once I understood what was happening.
The beginning had me floundering a little as compressing a story into a novella means details are short, and I wasn’t always quite sure what was going on. It comes clearer though and turns into a pleasant light fantasy romance.
It was an OK read but just a bit on the short and light side for me.

Stars: Two and a half, an OK read that I’d have enjoyed more of it was longer.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

A Promise of Fire, Amanda Bouchet

A Promise of Fire,  Amanda Bouchet

A Promise of Fire (The Kingmaker Trilogy) by [Bouchet, Amanda]

Genre:   Romance,

I’ve been really lucky this year as regards debut books, and read some real crackers. Its always a leap into the unknown, will you like the authors writing style, the way the story is delivered, the type of character? So when it goes well for me I’m happy 😉
Nothings worse that writing a low star review on a debut book. Authors work so hard, but not all stories will suit all readers, it doesn’t mean a book is good or bad, just for that person its good or bad.

Anyway, this is one of those fantasy reads that can cross age limits, being suitable for teens and YAs, as well as those like me long, long past that. Its a fascinating story with enough romance to keep me hooked, for me that gives a story something special, and some cracking magic.

Its not a historical LotR type fantasy, but one that brings in Olympus and the Greek Gods and Goddesses.
I really enjoyed the crossover, the way snippets slide into the story, reminding me of things I’d read as a teen. I had a real kick then for Greek and Roman legends that’s never really left, they form the backbone for some incredible stories.

That framework backs up the story, with Cat being someone in hiding, with certain magical traits, most of which she hides.
There’s a mystery about who she really is, where she’s come from, and unlike some stories where its clear early on, there are clue, but things that also point a different way. I’m 99% certain I know now, but still have room for a little doubt. Its a story that brings things out of nowhere, so there’s still room for her to be someone other than who I think.

So, she’s hiding out in the circus, among people that are as close to family and friends as she’ll allow. They make you weak, that’s how she was brought up, and there’s some horrific stories about how she was taught that.
Its become instinct now and when Griffin finds her and abducts her she fights, hard and strong, but he’s very devious.
Its clear fairly early on just how single minded he is, and having determined his family who have just taken over a region ( a family without magic, something unheard of formerly) need her he’ll stop at nothing to bring her to them. He wants her to go willingly though and of course only knowing what she reluctantly reveals about herself he doesn’t understand just why she’s fighting so hard.

As the journey goes on feelings change, a mutual respect is earned between Cat, Griffin and the other three soldiers with him.
They go through some tough times, fight off magical creatures and human enemies. The ties with Olympus and the Gods are revealed, but no-one ever quite knows how they will respond. They can be fickle creatures these Gods, and catch them at the wrong moment and no help is forthcoming. They’re constrained by rules too, so you can never quiet predict how things are going to turn out.

Then when they reach the destination the story doesn’t stop, Griffin is still pursuing Cat romantically and she has come to have feelings for him she’s scared to reveal, partly from her people-make-you-weak upbringing, and partly because she fears making him a target. The new reining family have lots to learn, decisions to make and need to guard against being overthrown, either by their own people, or the other two districts.
I loved the family, loved their optimism, kindness, sense of justice and fairness, and the way they took Cat to their hearts so quickly.
I really liked getting to know the other soldiers along the journey and how things changed, and how they were all still close once back at the castle.
And of course Daphne, I love someone like her, a perfect nasty character, full of jealousy 😉

Its a great start to a series/trilogy, I’m not sure which, but I do know I want to read more from Amanda.
Though its part of more, the story has a “for now” ending, not a cliff-hanger, just hints that more is to come. For me that’s perfect – I HATE cliff-hangers, hate them. Nasty things, by the time the next book is out they’ve lost impetus, but when I’m reading the one they’re in its frustrating! So hurrah to Amanda for not doing that!!

Stars: Five, a fresh, fabulous, fantastical “realistic” read, with a good dose of romance that fits within the story, doesn’t overtake it.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Scattered Souls, (Flames of Time 2), by Erica Lucke Dean

Scattered Souls, (Flames of Time 2), by Erica Lucke Dean

Scattered Souls (Flames of Time Book 2) by [Dean, Erica Lucke]

Genre:  YA romance, paranormal and fantasy,

This book picks up straight after the end of book one, where Laith has swept Ava back to the 1920’s, and Maddox is franticly trying to track them down.

As with book one there’s a YA feel to this story, which comes through in the decisions Ava makes.
Where we saw more of Maddox in book one this time we learn more of Laith and get to know him better. We do see Maddox too, and TBH what I see I really don’t like.
I was surprised that Abercrombie only got a passing glance in this book, he was built up in book one at the start, so that I expected him to play some major role but so far…

This book is mostly set back in the past, and we see what Laith has been working towards all these years. There are trips too that take us back further, to meet others from back then, to see what effect they’d had on the future, how it played out.
We learn about the twins parents, the witch and her niece, Elizabeth and her granddaughter…that bit really did Maddox in for me. I’m firmly team Laith now. But then that’s happened to me before and the author then goes on to do things, show viewpoints that have me changing so I’m half expecting that in book three 😉

I enjoyed this story, though when Laith started taking Ava on outings, rather than trips that were absolutely necessary it did feel – well, just wrong to me, and TBH a bit of a filler of space rather than important to the story.
Meeting her dad…er, nope, didn’t like that. I did like seeing the past, and hearing what had happened from the source, but there were times when it was a bit too far fetched for me, maybe that’s where the YA bit comes in though, I’m looking for answers instead of just going with the flow and enjoying the story as I did when I was a teen…

Overall it was a fun read, and though I’m team Laith I still can’t see how on earth this is going to resolve, though I’m less likely to grieve if Maddox pegs it that I would have been in book one. How though? And what other effects will it have – nothing happens in isolation. then of course there’s the  will-Erica-change-my-mind-yet-again about which twin I like best. For now I’m finding Maddox selfish, obsessed more with the idea of love and getting one over on Laith than actually in love with Ava, whereas I feel Laith does love her and would sacrifice anything for her happiness, even of it means he doesn’t get to be with her.
That could all change with book three though heh-heh-heh!!

Stars: mmnn…three and a half I think, though suspect if i was target age it would be a five…

ARC supplied for review purposes by Publishers

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