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Hidden Hearts, An Alpha Project Psychic Romance, Eva Chase

Hidden Hearts, An Alpha Project Psychic Romance,  Eva Chase

Hidden Hearts (Alpha Project Psychic Romance Book 2) by [Chase, Eva]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy

I really liked the sound of this and saw that if I went to Eva’s website I could get the prequel novella Burning Hearts, free. Its also on amazon. That gave me an insight into alpha Project and Nicks family. Stupidly I missed there was another book before this one, but I was still able to follow this story easily and have borrowed the first book via KU.

Its a fabulous story, scary in that its all too believable, that some wealthy organisation is trapping and experimenting on those with psychic talents. The prequel sets pout the parents story and escape and this series seems to be about the brothers meeting people for themselves. Poor Nick has the misfortune to get feelings for Carina, who’s working for AP, using her talents to help track down Nicks family, having been told lies about how dangerous and murderous they are.
I really enjoyed the story, but what stops it being five stars is its brevity, just under 200 pages. That means even though I felt the plots and characters were excellent there wasn’t space to fully develop them, let the dangers and suspense really play out and for me that was a real shame. Other love shorter books, and this will be what makes it a five star for them. Horses for courses and all that…
Even though the story was short for me I still want to continue with what is going to be an excellent series, and as I said I’ve now borrowed book one so can catch up with whats gone before.

Stars: Four, a really interesting series, just wish it was a bit ;longer and I could see characters and plots in more depth.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

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Bright Ruin, Vic James

Bright Ruin, Vic James

Bright Ruin (The Dark Gifts Trilogy Book 3) by [James, Vic]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I loved books one and two and was desperate to read this. These characters, this strange UK feels so real. My heart was breaking for those caught up in the Equals power struggle, their determination to keep unSkilled commoners where they feel they belong, serving Equals as slaves for ten years of their lives. There’s a section on Abi’s thoughts that’s so relevant to today’s Real Britain, not just Vic’s fantasy one. It was very resonating to me and I have to quote it.
“ Abi knew many would approve of such expulsions. This narrative fitted into the bigger lie Wittam Jardine was telling the British people. If folk felt poor, it was because of these sponging refugees, not the greed of the Equals. In the same way, those that protested against the slavedays were being cast as the lawbreakers, when it was the days themselves that were unjust.”
We have that same kind of thinking now, and I guess that’s why I was so easy to suck into Vic’s alternative Britain, and why it felt real. I could see events playing out this way, the careful manipulation of facts, the scapegoating, the laying of blame in certain quarters, and the behind the scenes atrocities that the Equals claimed were necessary to keep the peace. Or at least the status quo where the one per cent of the population flourished supported by the 99 per cent unSkilled….
We learned things about a certain character that explained why others had acted in a way that felt unusual, not what they would do willingly. I certainly hadn’t seen that as being the cause!

Jenner, I so liked him in book one, was astonished and heartbroken at his actions in book two, and here we can see his motives.
Gavar, in book one I found him cold to everyone but his daughter Libby, and finally I understood him a little better. I was so sad about Libby’s mum and wondered why he did what he did, finally there’s an explanation for his actions.
Silyen, the enigmatic character, you never really know what he’s thinking, he does things that seem heroic but for completely different reasons than ones we’d think essential, and he treats life and death very lightly. He’s extraordinarily skilled though, incredibly complex and half the time his mind is on other worlds, such as when he was with his aunt in her world while she was comatose.
That other worlds bit comes quite prominent here, and reminded me of another book I read. Annoyingly I can’t recall the title but it involved parallel worlds or dimensions, kind of like a fold in fabric reveals different layers. I got to reading about the whole real theory they could exist, that one centred around tesseract principles but there is a whole scientific ream of thinking that these could exist in many different ways.
We see much more of Abi, Luke and Dog here too and I can’t help having a soft spot for Dog. He’s done some awful things, but had atrocities perpetrated on him.

I felt at times the story got a little battle heavy, not the breathtaking displays, the actual actions but in the endless battle planning, dealing, double dealing and for me that was a bit…dull. ( and I skim read those bits* blush *) Battle planning never is my favoured parts of stories. It didn’t detract from the whole though, and I’m sure there are readers who love all that minute detail.

Its a terrific conclusion, a battle royale, full of surprises at every turn, and an heroic ending. Made me think of just what happens next, how does Britain continue, and what life holds for those we’ve come to know and love ( and hate in the case of some of them!)
That last sentence though, that last tiny action made me so, so happy 😉 for certain characters, I like to think they got a HEA.

Stars:Five, fantastic read, excitement, drama, some breath stealing suspense, that left me floundering to work out just how it could all wrap up. How on earth was Vic going to sort this world out, how could things work out better for the unSkilled, when would all the atrocities end.
I loved the scenes with Luke, Silyen and the King. Oh, and That Kiss, it was a long time coming….

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Crossroads of Bones, A Katie Bishop Novel Book 1, Luanne Bennett

Crossroads of Bones, A Katie Bishop Novel Book 1,  Luanne Bennett

Crossroads of Bones (A Katie Bishop Novel Book 1) by [Bennett, Luanne]

Genre:, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, Luanne is a new-to-me author, but its a story I really enjoyed.

There are some terrific characters here, and that’s really important for me. I loved Katie, a strong and independent lady, not a whiny TSSL heroine. She’s got a mysterious past, is making a new life for herself in her tattoo shop. Her employees are a mixed bunch but really interesting, and as the story unfolds some of them have valuable info for her. I loved her friend Sugar too, a great secondary character who proved very important and was such a treat to read. I really enjoy reading about people who are different in some way, individuals in the fullest sense and Sugar was perfect.
The adventure, the story, the bit that’s the focus of the book was cleverly done, and kept me reading avidly and this book set me up to look forward for the next. I like that there are characters other than the usual vampire/shooters, I love those but I love stories which take things a bit further too. This one was very vivid in the way it played out and even though we’re talking about fiction, specifically fantasy, it all felt so very real to me. The touches of root/voodoo/voudun magic were good and added so much to the atmosphere, and blended perfectly with the setting.
That ending, not a cliffhanger but a terrific, tantalising glimpse of what’s in story for Katie next. I look forward to reading that.

Stars: Four and a half, almost the magic five, and a terrific series opener.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

 

 

Legendary,  Stephanie Garber

Legendary,  Stephanie Garber

Legendary (Caraval 2) by [Garber, Stephanie]

Genre:  Sci fi and fantasy

I was so looking forward to this, I adored Caraval, and amazingly I think Legendary is even better. It’s another magical book, 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. And the “is it a game or are things real this time “ conundrum. Poor Tella, she has a series of really difficult choices to make and she doesn’t know, and the consequences are so very different if its real this time.

As with Caraval its has that YA feel to it, and yet its one that will appeal to all ages, there’s nothing childish about the story, and its so full of changing consequences, riddles, pure magic or possibly illusion – how can Tella know whats real. As an adult I certainly couldn’t!
This story is told from Tella’s POV, I liked seeing Scarlett and the mysterious Julian again, along with of course Dante and some of the other minor characters. There’s some fabulous new people too, and as before knowing if what they say is true or not is important but incredibly hard to tell. Tella has struck a bargain with Jacks, but as she gets closer the consequences become more clear and she doesn’t know whats the best thing to do, whichever way she jumps people will be hurt but doing nothing isn’t an option either.

I’m still full of questions, who, how, why and what about….I could go on for ages, it seems like when one question gets answered there’s always the chance that it may not be the Correct Answer, just An Answer 😉 and trying to work it out is like herding cats, simply impossible. Just let it flow and enjoy the magic.

Stars: Five, a read to take you away for a few hours, though That ending was incredibly frustrating for me. I understand more of Caraval having read this, and would up my rate for that to a five now

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The City of Brass,  S. A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass,  S. A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass by [Chakraborty, S. A.]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I was so excited to get this book, I’d read the amazon sample and it seemed a fun and unusual read. Thankfully there’s a glossary included because its full of new and curious people and creatures.
I loved the world the author has created, I could feel the heat, the hustle and bustle and that was really well done. I liked the different beings too, felt very magical, almost reminded me of the old Sinbad et al films my kids used to love.
I started off liking Nahri, but as the story grew she seemed to lose that spark of independence, that charisma that drew me to her, and by the second half just seemed a whiny girl. I loved Dara, honest in as far as a Daeva is honest, like so many of their type they often circumvent the truth and talk in riddles almost. It’s clear he doesn’t like Nahri, and they scratch up against one another, both full of distrust. Nahri has no choice though, you can’t go home as they say, so she has to go forward with him. She also wants to know more about her past, and hopefully a better future. When we first meet him Dara seems jaded, tired of his life, of all the things he’s done, many of which weigh heavily on him. He seems to view taking Nahri as a chore almost, something he has to do but doesn’t want to. Then we meet Ali, second son of the king. I wanted to like him but though he seemed to have a good heart he was very naive for his position and I didn’t see him as being a strong character when it was needed, in contrast to Dara who would do what was needed without hesitation. Ali didn’t like the way things were run, could have stopped up, could have tried to right things but seemed too apathetic really, content to fund small changes and quiet his conscience that way.
The story though seemed to meander, little interludes of drama breaking it, but I never really understood the point, didn’t see where it was going, what was the aim. It just seemed to drift, Dara, Nehru and Ali seemed to react only to events, never had any real plans, were never working towards a purpose, it felt like they were just drifting towards the city, fighting through minor mishaps and skirmishes but no actual plan other than to get there. I couldn’t help feeling “and then what will they do?”
Then the ending – and to be fair I skim read from about 40% as I was bored but wanted to see how it ended. I hate it when that happens, when someone major is lost, and I just have the horrible feeling that its going to be one of those rabbit out of the hat successes, where that character isn’t lost, returns despite all appearances, and I just don’t like that. (Think Dallas in the early 1980’s for those of you old enough to remember!) I didn’t want them to go, but hate that kind of comeback. I’m sort of talking in riddles here, but trying not to give anything away as of course there are many readers for whom this is the perfect novel. Sadly I’m not one of them. With a few changes I could have loved this, more direction and planning, some shaping of key characters, it’s so full of potential, such a unique and fascinating world, but as it is is a series I’ll pass.

Stars: Two and a half. So much I could have loved, but the story itself let it down.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Drakon’s Past, N.J. Walters

Drakon’s Past, N.J. Walters

Drakon's Past (Blood of the Drakon Book 4) by [Walters, N.J.]

Genre: Romance

I missed the first two in this series, but each are stand-alone reads, though the stories are closely connected. I really enjoyed book three but this one felt a little too simplistic for me. I am intrigued by the idea of the Dragon Guard though, and hope that even though each brother now has their own lady that the series will continue. There’s much more to come out with the age old hunter enemies, and the ew found Dragon Guard organisation.

I liked constance, understood by she did what she did, families come first, amongst everyone would have done the same. I did find it hard that she pulled off what she was asked to do, and that Nic didn’t find it all all suspicious when she – well, – jumped him is the best way to describe it. Really? In the terror of threats, kidnapping, death of someone close this somewhat reserved lady wants to crawl all over him and lick him up and that doesn’t trigger suspicion?
I liked Nic, and his brothers of course, but holding a lifelong grudge against women because of betrayal was a bit hard to believe. He must have met some trustworthy ladies in that time.

The story is pretty simplistic compared to the last one and felt a little too light for me to rate higher. The solutions followed the problems so quickly that there wasn’t time to worry about things going wrong. It was a decent read, but not a great one for me, and I found myself skimming just to get to the end and finish it.

Stars: Three

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Soulweaver, Heidi Catherine

The Soulweaver, Heidi Catherine

The Soulweaver (The Soulweaver Series Book 1) by [Catherine, Heidi]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I love stories that are a little “different” and was intrigued by this one. I really wanted to love it but….like was the best I could describe the way I felt.

I’ve always been intrigued by “what comes next” and as a child was fiercely convinced in reincarnation. I thought this book would be interesting, and wanted to see how the Hannah/Matthew/Lin/Reiner conundrum would work out. Somehow though when I think of reincarnated souls I see them as lovers, not parent and child, sister and brother, and that part just made it difficult for me to understand, hard for me to feel the love.

Love for a parent/child to me is very different to love for a soulmate.
It did all go full circle, did all work out but for me it was just an OK read, not one I loved. As usual though that’s subjective and I can see that others love it so you chose if its likely to be one for you.

Stars: Three, its a well written book, its just that the story wasn’t great for me in the way it played out.

Arc supplied for review by Netgalley and publishers

 

Heart on Fire, Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire, Amanda Bouchet

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

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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

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

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

Genre: LGBTQIA , Sci Fi & Fantasy

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Haunted, Shari Nichols

Haunted,  Shari Nichols

Haunted by [Nichols, Shari]

Genre: Romance, Sci Fi & Fantasy

A stand alone story, which sounded fun. I enjoyed it, didn’t love it but was a quick escape from the real world.

I felt for Karly, and her sister after the recent issues they face. Their shop is struggling after a recent reading led to lots of bad publicity….I could see that happening exactly as it went down!
Then on a night out she meets Thayne. Nothing happens except for some very heated kisses and an offer to go back to his room. Karly says yes, but ducks out so when she goes to a new job next day, one arranged very quickly they’re both shocked to see each other.

Thayne is a bit of a skeptic but the events that have frightened his staff can’t easily be explained away, and when Karly and her sister get to work he cant deny the Inn is being haunted by a young lady called Emily – and She Is Angry. That’s the last thing he needs with the opening just a few weeks away.
The sizzle between Karly and Thayne can be felt, its scorching and they have some incredibly heated, erotic encounters. Nether seem able to leave the other alone.
She made me so cross though, blaming Thayne for his past, letting hers dictate her actions. She was all over him one moment and pushing him away the next. Over and over again, no wonder he was getting whiplash.
He can’t change his past, its the now and the future that count, and he shouldn’t be blamed for things others in Karly’s past have done. She was too ready to believe the worst of him even when he’d done nothing or had a good explanation.

I was really hoping more would be made of the Jennifer angle, it was good, but for me could have been deeper,better, more satifying. I love a “good” bad person, a jealous man or woman, they really make a story sometimes.

The suspense, the haunting angle was interesting but like the romance I felt that the issues raised, the problems caused by Emily treated almost lightly , sort of “wow, she’s created a heck of a storm. Look at that tree, look at that damage…Ah well, who’s for coffee?” Well, it wasn’t quite like that 😉 but that’s how it felt to me.
Then there’s the problems Thayne has with his family, his father, his angst over his brother, not to mention someone else with a grudge against him playing a part in the story.
There was so much going on, so many different story lines that I felt none of them really got treated with the respect they deserved, didn’t get the expansion they needed, just a light fluffy kind of treatment.
That’s a shame as they were some terrific ideas. If the book had been twice the length ( its just over 3500 kindle locations so pretty short) then those plots could really have been made the most of, and this would have been a five star read for me, but as it is I felt I liked it but nothing really stood out about the book, nothing special.

Stars: three and a half, so much potential if either less plots used, with a deeper treatment for them, or longer book that let them really get made the most of.
Still, others will love it as it is, that’s the nature of reading, everyone wants something different.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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