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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

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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

The Paper Magician trilogy snapped up by Disney.

 

Back in Oct 2014 I added a post about a terrific YA book I’d read called the Paper Magician, first in a trilogy. I really loved it, one of those rare YA reads that suit all ages. Clearly Disney agree as they’ve just bought the film ( I can’t bring myself to write Movie – its Film in UK!!) rights to all three books, it was announced in March this year and Charlie Holmberg, the author, has just announced the contracts have now been signed. well done to her, a great start considering this was her debut novel!!

Oddly looking at the critical reviews I’d usually agree, with US phrases in a UK setting that grate with UK readers, but I must have missed them. normally those stick out so it must have been such a good read I glossed over them. Perhaps Disney will sort that out but I doubt it, and sadly things like that really stand out in films 😦

https://jeanniezelos.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/the-paper-magician-charlie-n-holmberg/

 

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/disney-nabs-movie-rights-paper-877728

Rule Breaker, Kat Bastion with Stone Bastion

Rule Breaker, Kat Bastion with Stone Bastion

Rule Breaker (Unbreakable Book 2) by [Bastion, Kat, Bastion, Stone]

Genre:  New Adult, Romance

I love Kat and Stone’s stories. full of fabulous characters so real I could ( and in my mind do ) talk to them, they feel like friends. Mix them up with some very real tales, things that happen, snippets from real lives and they’re books I can’t resist. Oh – and the HEA, thats essential for me 😉 I’m a sap!

I couldn’t remember much about Mase at first, he’s in the others books but very much a secondary character. It took a while for me to mentally place him in the pic I have of all these folks.
He’s a gem, feels far more mature than his years, been through a lot, is very self reliant. I love his ethos on the environment, the phrase “leave nothing but footprints” was really made for him, and as someone who’s also concerned and at times angry about what we are doing to the planet I found myself nodding when he was talking about issues.
Its interesting, I know nothing of Hawaii, but felt after reading this that I’d absorbed a bit of their culture, the island and islanders and their history along with the story being told. Subtle education but something I love when it happens, and it feels very well researched unlike many novels where “facts” get thrown at the reader, pronouncements about morality and legality are made without searching for the truth or the wider picture.

He’s surfing, happy in his own little world when his peace is shattered by a gorgeous girl, but we can see from the way he reacts to her just how tired, how jaded by everything he’s become.
Leilani (Lani) brings him to life though. there’s something about her, they way she’s so uncompromising, doesn’t do the fan/adoration thing he’s used to, but makes it clear she really doesn’t want to be there…Mase is intrigued.
So starts a beautiful, slow burn romance, full of tensions, snippets of humour, some very real issues about race, culture, history and the environment, but done in such a perfect way that I didn’t feel Preached at, just made me think, and wonder at how thoughtless humans can be, how we take gifts of nature as our right. Aannd sorry, I’m almost off on another rant 🙂

Lani is a lovely girl but its clear from very early on she’s got secrets, that she’s very cautious, that she doesn’t want to be attracted to Mase.
Tough luck though as she’s no way to hold out from the gentle, thoughtful steamroller he is.
She’s the only girl as mum died young and only she’s her dad and four brothers left. I did feel the about face from them needed a bit more looking into – given how strong their feelings were I didn’t feel that events that occurred were enough to bring forward this sudden volte-face. Small niggle though and its the only one I can think of.
BTW I wish I’d looked at the back first, there’s a really handy glossary of not just the Hawaiian and Pidgin words but surfing terms too….I worked out most from the context but it would have been handy to refer to 😉

We catch up briefly with characters from the other books, and I really enjoyed seeing them, bringing together that peaceful, quiet, gentle island life with the fast moving, anything-goes, cutthroat, immoral and power hungry world of politics. Really does show two extremes.

Its a lovely story, not in-your-face- sex but a very sensual slow burn romance, where we can appreciate how thoughtful Mase is, how he’s taking his time not to scare off Lani, he knows she’s worth the effort.
I loved the bigotry ( well, loved in that it was so real, not loved for the sake of). Sometimes I think all the bars we put on love, gender, race, religions, class etc its a wonder anyone ever finds someone to suit.
Its very sensual but its not IMO an erotic read, just one that’s so perfectly balanced. For me its got a very different feel to the other stories, less intense on the romance/sex side, not but more complex on the personalities, on what they share and how they can be together. It got sex in it, just in a more subtle way that the other books, and it fits Mase and Lani, the characters they are.

Its a beautiful story that made me think: about our world and the environment, history and its impact on the planet, bias and bigotry, politics and morality – yeah, I know, that’s sounds like an oxymoron, but I have to believe at least Some politicians are there for what they believe, not what they can get. Am I an optimist or just gullible?

Mase says at one point “We can’t even begin to fix everything happening around us, let alone political issues happening globally. But we can be the best selves we were meant to be. We can be pure and good. Forgiving and relentless.”
That’s such a wonderful statement and is how I try to live my life, doing what feel right for me, pushing for change trying to lead by example and one tiny step at a time.

Stars: Five, lovely sensual story full of real romance.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and publisher

NB: A portion of the proceeds from all Kat and Stone’s stories go to charities who support victims of human trafficking. Horrible to think its still happens in this century but it does, too much. You can find out more on their website and blog

The Untold Tale, The Accidental Turn Series: Book 1, J.M. Frey

The Untold Tale, The Accidental Turn Series: Book 1,  J.M. Frey

The Untold Tale (The Accidental Turn Series Book 1) by [Frey, J.M.]

Genre:  LGBTQIA, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Sometimes a book comes along that transcends age criteria, and for me this is one. On the face of it its very much a YA type read with sex thrown in, but get into it and there’s so much more to it.

Its like there’s two stories, the top one where Pip gets pulled into Forsyth’s world, and then the underlying one where the flaws in conventional fantasy are pointed out, how Pip’s Quest can be worked out via a mock-up Excel, using formulas from classic fantasy reads. Where we see the “hero” is often just a misogynistic characters, where females are deemed as “girls” and sent off to cook and clean…and its all accepted because “its fiction”.
I have to say until I read this book much of that had escaped me, but I found myself looking back at other reads (especially those by male authors!!) and nodding my head, working out how they fit into this criteria Pip has worked out. Even Watership Down, a book I loved, had the males rabbits doing all the exiting bits, danger and rescues while the few does were there for nest building and breeding 😦 and at the time that totally escaped me…

The actual story is fabulous, full of surprises, full of mysteries and some wonderful secondary characters, from the Viceroy and his evil henchman Bootknife, to Mother Mouth, the silver Sheriff Pointe, Forsyth’s brother Kintyre Turn and his loyal knight Bevel, and of course Forsyth and Pip.

It takes a short while to work out what’s going on, and how and where Pip has sprung from, and I did find the way she was so accepting of it was hard to take – but she was living it, and unlike the reader who’s just begun the story Pip has had some weeks, possibly months, with which to accept where she is.

As well as the light and fun stuff there’s some really dark times, Pip’s experiences with Bootknife and the Viceroy, and that and the underlying themes bring this into much more than a light fantasy read.
I loved Forsyth, so intelligent, so commanding in his secret role as the King’s Shadow Hand, and yet to everyone else he’s bumbling, stuttering, good-natured, book-loving Forsyth – well, that’s how he sees himself. He doesn’t see what the locals do, the intelligent and kind man, the visionary who started schools for the children, who arranged a proper jail and protection for his people, the man who’s looked up to by the villagers and much respected. He just compares himself all the while to his swaggering, bullying, adventuring knight brother Kintyre. The man who joined his father in ridiculing Forsyth from when he was a young child, and who swanned off to go adventuring, leaving Forsyth to take up what should have been Kintyre’s role looking after Turn House, and the area and its inhabitants.
When Pip drops into his life Forsyth is instantly attracted by her mind, by her intelligence, but immediately thinks she’s meant for his brother, as the eldest its traditionally Kintyre’s Right to her. Pip had a few words to say about that 🙂 and loud and often, when she sees more sexism in action.

Its a quandary too – can she blame people for acting as they’ve been brought up? Is it right to assume this role of superiority she has, thinking she’s come from the “better” society without knowing more about this world? She shows a different way when she talks about Kintyre and they way he wades in with his sword (Foesmiter!!), rather than asking questions first and looking for another way to solve an issue. She makes us look closer and we see that what he does and gets applauded for, often leads to unfairness and more issues later.
I love the way its explained, loved the idea ( and was a little scared by it too) of what may lie beyond an authors words. I love the way she describes her world to Forsyth as having been created too, with the Bible being the book we’ve sprung from, God as the Writer.

Its a fabulous read, pure escapism, lots of dramas and some heart-breaking incidents that stop it being just some jolly Boys Own Adventures jaunt, and turn it into a gripping read that’s full of depth. It has lots of content that made me stop and think, about my reactions, about the characters reactions, and overall wondering just how on earth they were going to come out of this story without someone’s heart breaking.

Stars: Five, a fabulous escape that made me think and question what’s written and accepted so often in Fantasy, and yet wasn’t a hectoring tome but a story that let me get lost in another world. A perfect ending too.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and publisher

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