Catching a Witch: A Novel of Loyalty, Deception, and Superstition, Heidi Eljarbo
I take a dip into historical novels every now and then and this one, covering the period when Witch-hunters were very active caught my eye. I’m very intrigued by the way the mass hysteria took hold so easily. seems weird to us now but I guess superstition abounded then when people had so little control over their lives, when animals sickened and died, crops failed, people were dogged by what seems like bad luck – and of course they wanted someone to blame. It was a way too of seeking vengeance for imagines or petty insults. Throw in the misogynistic men and its a recipe for disaster.
Disaster is just what happens when a student of the famed Matther Hopkin arrives in the sleepy little village where Clara lives. We see at first hand just how easy it is to whip up hatred, for innocent gestures to take on insidious meanings, for those who used herbs to heal others to be accuses of using witchcraft. Over it all is the witch-hunter and his self important acolytes in the village men. Not all of them, some stay fast but of course no-one dare speak out for fear of being the next accused. All except Clara, who does her best to stop the awful “trials” where in reality ladies stood no chance, once accused it was like a death sentence.
Its a scary thought but I could see people acting in a very similar way if this were to take place now. some people seem so full of bitterness, jealousy, a need to blame everyone but themselves and I’ve no doubt they would happily convince themsleves they were doing the right thing. we see so much hatred every day to anyone the slightest bit different from their peers and that would easily translate into a story like this today. 😦
I felt the historical aspect of the novel was well done, it was very realistic and genuine. I did feel the pacing was very slow for me though. some books need that but with this one I found it dragged in parts. I expected Clara’s friend to be accused sooner, but its almost halfway through before that happens. I didn’t feel “in” the story much of the time, but an observer, and found myself losing interest in sections. Overall I enjoyed it but it’s not a story I’d re-read.
Stars: three and a half. I enjoyed parts of it a lot, but other sections seemed very slow paced.
Touch of Night, The Sanctuary Series Book 1, Carin Rafferty
Genre: sci-fi and fantasy, Romance
Well, the description sounded interesting, but sadly this wasn’t one for me.
Lucien isn’t anyone to aspire to IMO, he cares about the coven, even though he’s been cast out, but his attitudes to mortals…well, he’s pretty scathing and rude.
Ariel wants to find her twin, the police won’t help and Lucien at first won’t either. Then he will…and that sets the tone for the book.
Both characters constantly change their minds, decide one thing and do another, don’t talk, focus on irrelevant issues, and disrespect the other. The same things are explained over and over, in case the reader just can’t quite grasp it.
I think the biggest issue for me though was the sex.
No matter what the problem sex in some form was the answer, even though Ariel says she doesn’t like Lucien, doesn’t trust him, just wants to find her brother. Lucien would never take a mortal for a mate, doesn’t like her, doesn’t find her attractive yet wants/has to have sex with her all the while. Reading minds, yep he needs to read her mind but they have to connect with sex, connecting with Armand, more sex, finding out who the strange warlock is, yep sex again….you’ve got it, sex is the answer to everything.
I like sex in a story, but it needs to fit, the story and reasons need to be strong enough and for me this just didn’t feel right.
Even the end I still felt they didn’t like each other and suddenly – bam- everything is perfect.
I won’t be continuing with the series, but as ever this is just my opinion, you may feel very differently. Others have 5 star loved it, so you chose.
Stars: Two, a miss for me.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
Paris Lights This was free a few weeks back when i got it, its £1.49 now, still a bargain. Its a fun read, with much of the action taking place in Paris of course and I felt a real sense of the city. Claire and Louie make a great couple and the story has something extra from the A meets B and they live happily ever after format. It does have a HEA, but its a fun journey to reach it. I hadn’t realsied but I’d also bought the next book as it was on offer at 99p ( now £2.49) and I haven’t read it – so that’s todays book sorted, after I finish the current review one! New York Nights the third book I also loved, London bound was on KU, its now £1.49. I love this authors style, a fresh slant on romance with the two I’ve read and I’m looking forward to the one I didn’t realise I had!
Under Locke One of the fabulous Mariana Zapata reads. I’m not usually into MC reads but this one worked for me. I’ve had several of hers now on KU and enjoyed most of them. Wait for it was the first I read, about a lady bringing up her two nephews. That got me hooked on MZ’s stories, though of course I haven’t loved all of them. One that didn’t work for me is below even though others love it. That’s how it works, some you love and others hate and vice versa. The Wall of Winnipeg and me was a great read, as was Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin a rare-for-me purchase!!
I loved Poppy Dunne’s Extra Credit, made me laugh and was a fab story full of emotion but another of hers I read yesterday was just a kind of OK/mundane story (see below)
Shape-shifter series that begins with Trigger was a fun read, and I thought it was the start of a good sereis with that something extra, but the next book (below) was just the usual simplistic para romance and disappointing aftet that start
Fails (for me – may not be for you!)
Dear Aaron A Mariana Zapata read. This just didn’t work for me, couldn’t get into it at all, but it was (and still is ) a KU book so nothing lost! another of hers that didn’t fit is Lingus Tried it, didn’t like it.
Dating the billionaire ( OK I’m a sucker for these reads) Though I loved Poppy’s Extra Credit this was just bland and dull for me
Transcend Second in paranormal series after Trigger (above) but was for me a huge disappointment. the promise of the extra arc, the story line that lifted the first book above bog standard shifter romance was more or less gone, sucked under the heavy romance theme. I love romance but I really want reads that offer that bit extra too. I might continue with the next as its on KU, but was very disappointed and have seen others that feel the same way.
Of course not all books suit all readers, so my thoughts and feeling about these recent reads could differ wildly from yours, and do differ from many review(er)s. Book reading and enjoyment is very subjective, and this is just how I feel about these as always. I don’t like many of the current Best Sellers, and ones that dominate Amazon top 100 lists.
BF/Shade of …. – loved by thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, but is not for me is all I’m saying 😉
Princely Passions: A Royal Romance by Alexis Angel.
Didn’t get past 10%, obnoxious, foul mouth lead, with no redeeming features. He might have got better after a while, but was such a selfish, arrogant, misogynistic jerk that I couldn’t bring myslef to continue.
Kings Series Boxed Set
Books 1 – 3: Mated To The Werewolf King, The Warlock’s Nemesis, Heartless by Alena Des
Pretty much as above, less swearing but throw in paranormal. Like a YA trying to be grown up.
Anaconda (Irresistible Bachelors Book 1)by Lauren Landish I thought I’d read others by this author but must have been another Lauren, as after checking I don’t recognise any of her books. This one has another jerk MC as above, plus the addition of a simpering, feeble minded heroine who can’t keep her eyes off his cock. Really people, accidently walk in on someone naked and keep on staring at his dick, not just a peek, but a full fledged stare and cue all the “mouth watering” etc comments that follow…its kind of sexism in reverse, when ladies see men as nothing more than a walking dick. we don’t like it when men talk to our breasts, so why the heck are books were women talk to men’s cocks so popular?
Take Me (Vampire Billionaire Romance Series): The Untouchables 1 T. A. Grey
Read the first half, skimmed the second hoping it would improve. It didn’t ;-(
Out of the Shadows (A Werewolf Wars Novel Book 1) Bethany Shaw
Sounded interesting but just felt too YA for me. I don’t mind a well written YA, some transcend ages, but this felt very aimed at the late teen end of the market.
Obsidian (Mystic Stones Series 1) Kayla Curry
I wanted to like this but…just couldn’t get into it, neither the story or the characters appealed.
Did like/were OK:
Wolfsong, TJ Klune
This is seriously one of the best reads this year, in fact possibly the last couple of years. a beautiful story, terrific pacing and incredibly emotional. a very unusual read. I’d love to read more by this author.
Idol (VIP Book 1) Managed (VIP book 2) Kristen Callihan
I Bought these two, not ARCs not KU, but paid for!! Two great fun reads, I really enjoyed. I’d bought Managed first, (it was cheaper!) and its still my favourite of the two. It reminds me very much of Kylie Scott’s Dive Bar book with Jimmy and Lydia, same strong humour, great lines. Jimmy and Gabriel are very similar types. I’ll look forward to more of this series.
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander Book 8), Diana Gabaldon
I loved the first books in this series, and my tattered paper backs were read over and over. Charles would say “not Diana Gabaldon again….” and then came Echo in the bone which was so war orientated, so full of characters and different plots and times it felt messy. and what I really didn’t like about that was it left several plots hanging, first time DG had done that, and given she writes Very Slowly I knew i’d have lost the impetus by the time the next book came out. I was right, I’m wading slowly through Written IMOHB and having to keep looking up exactly what happened, where we left certain characters. Echo was published Jan 2010 and Written in June 2014 so you can see what a long gap. In fact book one I read in hospital in 1995…..
I’m finding its war heavy, that there are whole chapters covering a half hour or so and the minutiae which i so love about her writing has become details on speed, even too much info for me, a details lover. I’m really tired or reading peach fuzz of Jamie’s balls, musky smell/male musk of ( insert character here ) etc.
Its taken me three years to actually get on and buy this when I ordered echo from US in hardback as it was out a month sooner than in UK. Part of that was waiting for price drop but I was so disappointed by echo that I thought long and hard before continuing with the series. I’m halfway through this one and already skipping parts to get to the action.
Absinthe, by Winter Rens An ok/good read, I loved Winters Country Nights and was hoping for more like that
Bucking Wild, by Maggie Monroe Enjoyed the first book about Ben and Chelsea, but not enough to continue with their next books. Kind of OK but slowish for me.
Masked Possession, Alana Delacroix
Genre:Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance
I found this pretty hard going to start, I’d been so intrigued by the “differentness” of the Masquerada but found it very difficult to graps what they actually were/could do. Did they become another person, or were they still “them” inside.
Fortunaly much of the things I struggled with Caro did too and I learned along with her 😉
I really felt for Caro, alone, running and hiding from her past and so scared after what had happened to her. She just trying to lead a quiet life, head down, get on with her life when Eric drops in to it.
She’s attracted to him and he to her right from that first meeting. As she’s told her boss Julian though, never trust a Masquerada, and she’s not about to start. events are against that though, along with Eric who’s determined to get to know this mysterious lady who brings out feelings in him he thought were long gone.
Eric was facing a difficult time too though, a challenge for his position from someone they thought was neutralised. For a clever group they were pretty stupid about that, and the enemy comes at them hard and fast, catching Caro along the way.
Its a fun read, decent amount of drama, though some was a little predictable. Sometimes it seems authors are so keen to enforce a characters position they light up the way with imaginary “bad guy here” signs, “don’t trust this one” etc.
You know, we’ve all read at least one book where instead of working it out from the subtle clues the author has whacked in some really obvious signposts to ones in case we missed it!
It’s not a huge thing but I prefer the less obvious approach, even of it means getting to the end and being totally surprised. I like to then look back and see “ah, here’s where I missed it,” instead of having the plot and characters spoon fed to me.
That’s a small crit though, and it was a fun read, once I got to grips with this different group.
There were a few times too when I thought people acted out of character, and that didn’t sit easily with me. Things where I’d be thinking “but why? why not tell/do/explain” about some incident or bit from the past. Secrets are fine, but when everyone is in crisis mode and dangers is lurking everywhere, its not time to decide you don’t want to talk about something or get precious about the past.
I think as the series continues and the world gets more familiar to readers and to the author, the novels will improve. There’s some good bones here and I’m glad I chose this story.
Stars: three and a half. A good intro to a new world.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
Hunger, The Energy Vampires Book Two, Jacquelyn Frank
Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy.
I really wanted to like this, I love the vampire romance genre but…it wasn’t to be.
I found it really dragged, with the first half covering Halo and Felice in captivity. Just the two of them talking, arguing, bickering with occasional voice overs from the captors, that’s all it was. Halo wants to know why he and Felice were taken, thinks he can guess at who’s behind it but has no idea where Felice fits in.
Frankly by the time I’d got to halfway and they’d finally managed to escape ( I think its about 55% they make it out) I didn’t care who took them and why, I was tired of the plot, tired of the characters and just wanted it to go somewhere. At 25% I was amazed they were still improisoned and started flicking forward to see if that was going to be the whole story or if they would ever breakout…
When they finally escaped and met back with the others I still didn’t really feel the story was going anywhere. I wasn’t convinced of the love between him and Felice, and had lost heart for the whole story.
It felt unreal to me, I know its fantasy but for me the plots and characters have to feel as if they could happen if the setting was real life. It didn’t.
I just didn’t feel anything for either Halo or Felice, we knew so little about them really, and what did come out didn’t make me like them. I think that first half with all its eternal talking everything to death, bickering and Felice’s constant changing her mind spoiled it for me. Then would anyone really get the hots for a total stranger when you’ve been captured, stripped and imprisoned with him? Surely panic and anger would be more likely, not steamy make out sessions knowing the cameras are watching…
Ah well, you win some you lose some, and this was in the lose column for me. Doesn’t mean you wont like it, I’ve loved stories others have 1 and 2 starred, we all want different things to read, have different triggers and things we enjoy in a story.
Stars: Two, novel that just didn’t work for me, that I felt was going nowhere for far too long.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
The Fine Art of Deception Series, Boxed Set- A Time Travel Romance Book Series,
I loved this trilogy, have reviewed the three books individually, and now there’s the chance for readers to get all three at once. That’s always my preferred way of reading trilogies and series, where I can indulge in a reading fest, immerse myself in another world for ages, and really “feel” the story, be there with the characters. Sometimes its a shame to come back to the real world!
I love romance that has something extra, and though the genre selection didn’t suggest anything other than straight romance, it’s far more IMO, a beautiful romance with elements of paranormal and suspense.
Adeline comes from a family with extra talents, her sister can mentally “push” people to do what she wants, and Adeline has an ability to see the history from touching an object, and find out more about the people connected with it. Its not a gift that’s brought her family happiness though,family, friends and her job have all been affected and not in a good way.
She’s decided that she’s going to ignore her gift, and look for something normal, a straightforward job, and try to live as everyone else does.
I loved Addie, felt for her when the job she enjoys turns out to bring her into real danger. Then there’s Blake and what a guy he is. The connection between them sizzles, steams and feels intense, but of course Addie knows he’s hiding things, not least because she suspects he has abilities similar to her sister, and the things of his she touches are blank. That just doesn’t happen, has been done deliberately to hide things….so she tries to avoid him but he keeps on asking, and somehow she finds herself wrapped up in a relationship with him.
Though they’re the main two characters there are many others, each with their own important place in the story, and adding to the cohesivness and reality of the novels.
It’s a fabulous read, something so very different in the Fantasy/Paranormal genre which is dominated by stories that are just a couple of hundred pages or less, too often of a Vampire or Were hundreds of years old finding his Mate, in a simplistic, sickly thin story * roll eyes * so its a real treat to get a book I can really get stuck into, lost in the magic (!) of the story.
Wolfsong, TJ Klune
Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance
I’ve been seeing recommendations for this story for a while now but you know what its like, there’s ARCs and KU, free books so actually buying one by an author whose work you don’t know if you like….well, for me it rarely happens even though I was very intrigued.
Then a few weeks back it was on sale at £1.49 so I bought it. Only got round to reading it last week and wow – what a book. Its kind of hard to review, one of those that defies categories.
It is Romance, but its a very slow burn and TBH though we know the two are going to get together they’re kids when we first meet them and have such a lot of growing to do, meeting others, just maturing. someone wrote criticising the sex, but I’m wracking my mind and all I can recall is one scene right at the very end.
Its M/M but the characters are so good that you don’t think of any of them specifally in terms of what sex they are, just that they are right for each other.
Its werewolf/Supernatural but again so much more. The werewolf/witch angle is just a part of who they are it doesn’t define any of them.
I adored Joe, been through so much and what a wonderful family. I got so angry at him at one point though I understood what he did but my heart broke for Ox.
And Ox, what a star he is, so truly good, loyal, despite the things that had happened to him, despite his awful father.
There’s lots more characters here, who fit the story so well, and I’d really like to read more about them – but seems they don’t have books. Yet – TJ Klune 😉
Its one of those books that are bittersweet when they end, where part of you is glad things worked out finally, and the other part just isn’t ready t leave the characters. Its a slow paced book, not an all action racey sex fest, but one where things develop over several years, where the story slowly expands, brings in more and more people and where Ox really grows into himself, becomes confident, where others see the strength and goodness that’s in him.
A wonderful story, one I’ll definitely re-read and I’ll be trying more from this author.
Stars: five, a fabulous, slow sensual read, with a great story building theme.
For the Winner, Emily Hauser
Genre: Historical Fiction
As a child I adored fairy-tales, but mum frowned on me reading them as I approached high school, telling me I should have outgrown them.
Then joy, high school and a library full of myths and legends from all over the world to replace my beloved fairies.
Those from Rome and Greece were my favourite and I noticed many parallels in the stories.
So when I saw this it took me mentally back those happy days getting lost in stories of times past, different cultures and the vagaries of the different Gods and Goddesses.
Then came children, a film addict husband and my stories took form once more with fabulous Classic films for the kids, and Jason and the Argonauts was one of their favourites.
This book doesn’t really dwell on the Argonauts perilous journey so much as Atalanta’s part in it. We do go with them for long stretches but its more the interaction of the characters than the perils of the journey.
Atalanta was abandoned as a baby even though she was the first born and a princess, and she’s brought up by loving foster parents. When she hears the tale, when her parents feel she’s old enough for the story of how she came to them, found in a torrential storm, she sets off to find her family, and then finding out the truth she sets out to prove her worth to the king.
She’s a fearsome warrior, the equal and better of many men, and in disguise as a Lord she gets her place on the Argonaut, intending to steal the fleece and prove herself to the king, and thwart Jason’s cruel plans for the places he wants to rule.
That’s the plan but of course its never that simple, and Atlanta has to constantly revise her plans according to circumstances.
Its not hard enough being a woman in a time when they were definitely subservient to men, being a princess in disguise, having to fight every step of her way against her peers, but the Gods and Goddesses have their own plans and are constantly interfering in mortal affairs.
Luckily there’s Iris, ostensibly a messenger for Hera, but in reality a Goddess in her own right, using her messenger persona as a way to keep things as she feels they should be.
Its a fabulous read, transporting me back in time, waiting to see what would happen to Atalanta and her plans with each new chapter, inwardly ranting at the bigoted and short sighted men, railing at the Gods and Goddesses for their careless interference, their disregard for human life.
I kept telling myself “just one more chapter” and then “well, just til I see if/til I find out what…” until I was so tired i wasn’t appreciating the story as it deserves.
Its a fabulous read, feeling very real, letting me rail at the unfairness of how women were treated, and then thinking, how come we still don’t get equal treatment thousands of years later.
I loved the characters we met, loved the scenes of everyday life, loved seeing a different side to Jason than the usual one, and his cruelty was all too believable.
And the ending, just so right, took the story to the perfect finale.
Stars: A very worthy Five, a wonderful tale to escape from everyday life into another time and place.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
The Haunting of Alcott Manor, Alyssa Richards
Genre: Fantasy and paranormal, Romance
I loved Alyssa’s trilogy The Fine Art of Deception, and this book is another paranormal read but very different to the trilogy.
When I first started reading I was taken back to my teens/early twenties when I read many mysteries, especially those by Victoria Holt, and this book gave me that same kind of feeling, though I don’t remember the romance being a major part of those reads 🙂
So, Gemma loves her parents, but has had some strange childhood experiences that are suggested through the book, seem to have given her kind of PTSD/OCD issues. Its clear she struggled with things of the supernatural world, but equally clear she shares her mum’s talent for solving issues of that sort.
Sadly her mum has died, and now her dad needs her help. She really doesn’t want to get involved, but loves her dad and knows if he’s asking for her help, knowing her problems with the supernatural he really does need it.
She agrees to meet him and do what she can for the land, but isn’t intending to step into the house. She thinks using her gift by clearing the land of spirits will help.
Tragedy isn’t finished with her though, and her dad is involved in an accident that leaves her to take over the restoration, against her wishes but she owes him much, and can’t see him lose everything.
From there on it a race to finish the first stage of the renovation before the court deadline, or lose the house to those who want it demolished and new homes put up.
Its a beautiful old building and when she meets Henry she can see its special to him. He’s on a mission though, knowing that the past owner Benjamin Alcott was convicted of killing his wife, he wants to free him from haunting the property, as Benjamin is destroying much of it in his search for something that would prove his assertion he was innocent.
Its a great read, I loved hearing about the house, sharing the memories that played out and wondering if Benjamin really was innocent as Henry thinks, and if so what really happened that night. Was he really responsible for the deaths of people involved with the house since then?
Henry is really worried that past people have become trapped in the house memories, and cautions Gemma to take absolute care not to interact with any scenes she sees, however lifelike they feel. That sounded weird at first, but its soon clear the house really does have a life of its own.
It’s a gently paced novel, not a race through to the finish, with events playing out slowly, scenes from past and present there, and clues that could mean very different things happened. The evidence for the full story is still missing and seems to be the key to Benjamin’s destructive actions, and there are some fun twists to the story in the search.
It all wraps up neatly, the loose ends tidied away, all the answers given, which was great as I hate to be left wondering “but what about??What happened to??” I was totally surprised by the ending, I simply didn’t see it coming, and that’s good – I love a novel that does that 😉
I’m still a romance reader more than a mystery one but this was a nice bridge between the two, and an enjoyable read. Sometimes its good to step away from a favoured genre and dip into something different.
Stars: four, an escapist read, full of secrets and suprises that caught me out completely!
ARC supplied for review purposes by author
Lightning Only Strikes Twice, Stanalei Fletcher
I liked the sound of this, but found it a little…dull 😦
I didn’t really feel any chemistry between Luke and Annie, either in the past or the present. I did enjoy their time in the past, meeting the other characters, but found it odd how accepting the townsfolk were of two strangers arriving out of the blue. Also given they arrived with nothing except their clothes how on earth did Luke get to be in the position he did, he seemed to be pretty much what he was in the present, some kind of wealthy building contractor.
I quite enjoyed the double twist at the end, but the shaman was a bit of an oddity – came in, did a couple of mysterious things and disappeared. I felt his presence very weird, as if he was brought in for a sole purpose and I hate that kind of ploy in a story. I did wonder too, where did Luke disappear to when he went to search for him and was missing? No-one, not even Annie, seemed to wonder where he’d been.
Its an interesting premise but lack of real emotion, and too many oddities for me to rate higher than a three, OK read but not one to keep.
Stars: Three, barely. An interesting idea but one that didn’t hold me for long.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers