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Then She Was Gone, Lisa Jewell



Then She Was Gone, Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone by [Jewell, Lisa]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) , Mystery & Thrillers

I love Lisa’s writing, have read a few of her novels now.
This is a typical LJ story, one that slowly unfolds with each reveal giving us more questions til really I had a few wild stabs about what happened but was way off course in the final denouement.

Laurel, mum, wife and like many of us, nothing more than typical family petty issues mar everyday relations,  life is good – til it isn’t.
Ellie, her youngest child, beautiful, golden Ellie disappears. The family are distraught, Lauren retreats, leaving her two older children and her husband to cope alone.
Its a huge problem, who knows how we’d deal. For the Mack family it means life fractures, Laurel and Paul separate, the kids grow apart from their mum, and the impact stays with all of them for many years.

The story is told partly from Laurel’s POV, partly from Ellie with a few other voices thrown in.
I like that format, it lets me see what people are thinking, what their motives are and a story is often very different according to who is telling it.

Its heartbreaking, I so felt for all of them, poor Ellie, the slightly spoiled teen, to have that happen, so tragic.
The family, on course for normal average family where kids grow up, parenst become grandparents and life is full of happy family occasions – then all that is lost.
Like ripples in a pond the repercussions spread outwards.

Then there’s Floyd, we know he has a bigger part than he’s telling but how and why? And Poppy, 9 going on 49, a precocious child, so grown up in many ways but the child she should be is there deeply hidden. Why does she look so much like Ellie, how did she come into Laurel’s life, how do the puzzle pieces fit together?

Some secrets get revealed along the way but the finale brings out parts I’d never imagined and made me so so sad for all of them and what they’d been through.
A real tear jerker emotional read, and a story that could so easily be real.
When I was a teen one of my dad’s workmate’s daughter disappeared. She was my age, 12-13 maybe back in early 70’s, taking a short 1/2 mile bike ride to another family member in the middle of  a summers day. Her loss never left her family, tore through them, had such a massive impact on what was a standard family with standard expectations. She never was found, and the mystery has always stayed with me.
As a parent I think I grew to understand even more about the impact her loss had on them, and while reading this novel I recalled so much of the shock and horror of April’s disappearance.

Stars: Five, a gripping read, emotionally gutting at times, ripping through me as secrets upon secrets came out. Sadly very realistic, which makes for a terrific read of course.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Reckoning, Shana Figueroa

Reckoning, Shana Figueroa

Reckoning (Valentine Shepherd Book 3) by [Figueroa, Shana]

Genre:  Romance

I missed book one, but loved book two, a supernatural romance/suspense novel thats not the oh-so-popular dumbed down type.
I like a book that makes me work, not too hard, I want the story to flow, but not the sort that spoon feeds the reader every little bit of info.
I want to see the clues and try to work out for myself where the stoy is going, who’s good and loyal, who’s doing the dirty, and ultimately how its all going to meld togeher into an ending.

This trilogy does all that and more, fab characters, not flawless impering types, but gritty and real, prone to bias, to making mistakes and yet at the heart Love plays such a strong part.
Its definately a re-reading trilgoy for me and then I really must get book one so I can see the beginning of how it all started, maybe understand a bit more of some of the characters. Sten especially is one who I didn’t like at first, but have come to love, and wonder if maybe book one has more about him there.

Its another great adventure, with murders stacking up quickly and Valentine on the warpath. How dare Northwalk threaten her family? She adores Max and their twins, but has always felt the threat of Northwalk is near, and yet now she thinks they’re on the track of them again she can’t seem to convince Max.

I love Val, she’s not an easy person to get along with but she’d give her life in a heartbeat for the small circle she considers family and freinds.
She’s not one to run from danger, Max seems to think she’s over-reacting to her suspicions but willing to pick up and move if that will help her, but she knows moving = running and Northwalk will still follow. She wants to stand up to them, take preemptive action, Max isn’t so convinced.
In a way that’s understandable, he’s been through so much and just wants to enjoy his life now, with his adored Val and their twins.

Northwalk play a long game though, and once more its a cracking paced drama, with me wondering who was on which side, and why, and how and looking at people and events trying to work out motives.
Max made me so cross at one point…and yet I understood where he was coming from. Likewise Val, she really does run headlong into danger at times.

Its a perfect wrap up….for now 😉 Ending works really well, and then…there’s that hint that Northwalk may be down but not dead, and that they aren’t the only players in the game. It finished off this section of Val and Max’ life perfectly, but leaves the way open for more.
I know its a trilogy I’ll want to re-read, and at some point when I’m ready to do that I’ll get book one and start in the proper place, get a better understanding of the characters and events.

Its a supernatural read with an unusual twist, and it was refreshing to read something so different to most books offered. The Seer part, the visions and predictions reminded me a little of the Seers in JC Andrijeski’s Allie’s War and Quentin Black series. Most supernatural reads follow the more usual vampire/shifter/fae structure while this is really humans with a supernatural extra – humans-plus maybe 😉 and it was interesting and easy to believe for me.

Stars: Five, perfect wrap up for this trilogy leaving the door ajar for more books later as the family grow.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Wraith Hunter, City of Crows 3, Clara Coulson

Wraith Hunter, City of Crows 3, Clara Coulson

Wraith Hunter (City of Crows Book 3) by [Coulson, Clara]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, sci-fi and Fantasy

This is turning out to be a cracking series, seems to be full of drama, action, puzzles, danger and each day seems to bring Cal and the crew into more of it. It’s not quite like that though, when this story opens its some months after that action of the last book, the gang have taken time to heal from the incredible injuries they incurred back then and that’s as it should be.
When a book is day after day of non stop action it makes me think” who dealt with all this before?” and “who will do xyz when this gang are gone?”
Spaced out over time feels much more fluid and natural than the one-drama-on-top-of-another story lines too many books have.


The last two books have proved to be openers for more action, and I love that the vampire who was the catalyst for Cal joining the DSI is in this book, and of course wonder about him and his actions. Are they as cut and dried as they seemed? Or is he just as much a victim of circumstance. Or maybe its just his job, that’s going to make him p iss off a lot of people, maybe it is all about the money for him. Who knows? He’s an intriguing character and I want to read more of him.

I love Cal, he’s a great lead, talented and yet flawed too, he knows he doesn’t have all the answers, knows his limitations but throws himself in wholeheartedly when he believes its needed regardless of the cost to himself.
Erica, oh I hated that bit, what she needed to do, and why she felt she had no alternative. fingers crossed that all works out well.
Cooper – a surprise there? Or not, maybe its another red herring – though book one made me wonder if that might happen. I love storylines that make me wonder what if, and how come, and maybe this will….you know the sort, where you get so involved with characters you think of them as real.
The rest of the gang are there, with a few new guys ( and ladies) joining in and it was great seeing them all again. Like meeting old friends, and making new ones.

Its a fabulous read once more, things to puzzle out, drama and action, dangers, and speaking of which, those elevating zombies – what fun they were. The sly humour that had them dressed up in long coats and carrying scythes.
Its little touches like that which lift this novel up, give some levity to the dark dramas surrounding some of the main plots. There are other little touches worked in too, moments of humour, things that make these characters feel real. We all crack jokes at inappropriate times, that’s the kind of human way of dealing with stress and fright and it works so well here. Thats what separate a good book from the crowd, the little extras that keep us reading.

The plots in this part wrap up well, but open up the wider one that’s been building, and I really want to read more right now!!

Stars: five, another rivetting instalment, whetting my appitite for more. I know when this series is ended its going to be one I reread right through, in a back-to-back reading fest. I love to read series like that, get fully immersed in another world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

My Husband the Stranger, Rebecca Done

My Husband the Stranger,  Rebecca Done

Genre:   Women’s fiction, mystery & thrillers

I really enjoyed Rebecca’s debut book, and was pleased to get this one for review. She’s got the same way of taking what I thought I’d think and feel, and turning it upside down in this story as in This Secret we’re Keeping, and the same type of ending, where its not cut and dried HEA but indications that everything will be OK in time. Secret was a little ambiguous in the ending, which I don’t really like, but this one is more distinct in which way the future looks set to fall.

So to begin, even though I felt so sorry for Alex, after his terrible brain injury I still thought he was a jerk. That’s tough judgement on my part, but it seemed as though he didn’t want to help himself, was content with who he was now.
At times he was so awful to Molly, didn’t seem to see her as his wife, someone he loved, his equal, but treated her as though she was simply there to be at his beck and call. Then moments of the old Alex flashed through, and I could see the man he was, the man Molly fell in love with.
Things were so hard for her, she’d memories of the man she married, and yet though he’s there with her, wears his face and body, he’s not the same man inside. That must be so hard to deal with, especially when after three years its unlikely he’ll go back to who he was before.
Molly was wonderful, but at the point we join the story she’s at the end of her tether, struggling to keep a job, where the boss is clearly out to get rid of her. She doesn’t like what she does but its an income, and with Alex not working they need it.
The cottage too, his old family home which they’d planned to renovate, is falling apart, not just the fabric of the building but all their appliances, and that adds to her stress.
Alex is in his own little world where everything revolves around his wants and needs, just thinks Molly is nagging, and is awful to her. He spends his days doing nothing really, going to pub, playing golf, and what really upsets Molly too is when his ex keeps flirting with him.
When they moved back to Norfolk from London he was irritated at Nicola’s attempts to text him, to be friends, running past their house in her daily jog, bumping into him wherever they went, but now he seems to revel in it and poor Molly is so hurt.
It doesn’t matter that she understands why he’s like this, she’s just struggling, hurt, upset and I wondered just how long she could carry on.
It wasn’t Alex’ fault, but how he is now isn’t how he was when they married. Molly’s hanging on hard but her parents and friends keep indicating that maybe its time she looked out for herself.
They want her to go back to London, back to the job she had, which she loved, where they could help share the burden of Alex.
She thinks he wouldn’t cope though with how life is there, far faster and more dangerous for him than Norfolk. ( I live in Norfolk, yes life is much slower here, I’d hate to live in London, fine for a visit but to live? )

Then there’s Graeme, Alex’ twin. He seems a nice man, but in the past and present format the novel is delivered there are hints that actually the man we see now isn’t exactly the truth, we see the resentment he has for Alex .
Their dad Keith always favoured Alex, and its clear that Keith resented Graeme, even though he’s the one that stayed in Norfolk to look after him. I wondered why there was such bias, but we do get the details well into the novel and I so felt for Graeme then, it was really unfair. It wasn’t Alex’ fault though, he didn’t play any part in their dad’s bias, couldn’t change it, yet Graeme resented him for it.

Its a great story, slowly bringing us deeper into the lives of the three main characters. I so felt for Molly, she’s in a situation that happens to many people in reality, and she’s doing her best.
Alex – well, even though I felt for him, for what he’d lost, he didn’t know what he’d lost. To him this life and how he feels is normal, though he does know what happened and how he’s changed, he just doesn’t seem to see the effect it has on others.
I wanted the miracle cure, something to bring back the lovely man we knew from the past sections of the book, the man who couldn’t do enough for Molly, who adored her and was always planning little treats and surprises.
You just keep wondering as you read, Is this how their future is? Can they move forward like this? Will he ever get back some of the man he was, become at least the loving man that adored his wife?
There are little flashes when  we see he’s in there somewhere, and then he does or says something really hurtful and poor Molly is crushed. It made me think – how would I react? I’d like to think in the same way as Molly, but who knows? She’s currently married to a very different person, and may never get the old Alex back. Can she live the rest of her life on this teetering knife edge?

Its a solid read, slowly drawing the reader in until we just don’t know what’s going to happen, how things will pan out, and of course there’s some trails laid that may or may not change the future, depending on choices made.


Stars: Five, a solid, very realistic read, that made me think how would I react.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Owl and the Electric Samurai, Kristi Charish

Owl and the Electric Samurai, Kristi Charish

Owl and the Electric Samurai (The Owl Series) by [Charish, Kristi]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I loved the first two novels but this one was, to be honest, a bit of a slog 😦
I’ve loved Owl, her kind of skewed world views, and yet underneath you know she cares deeply for her friends, that she’s moral, will always do the right thing, for people anyway even if artifacts are a bit of a grey area….but in this book she came over as a bit self centred, kind of blowing off issues that her best friend Nadya was dealing with, acting pretty cold towards Rynn at times.

I love Rynn, but in this book they felt more like two people working together who didn’t really like or respect each other, and though its clear Rynn cares deeply for Owl, would do almost anything to keep her safe she really wasn’t looking out for what was going on in his life, seeing his POV, seeing what he was worried about, didn’t really take Nadya’s issues seriously, only as far as they affected her.
This book seemed to be Only Worry About What Concerns Owl…and I didn’t like that, that wasn’t the person I knew from book one.
Then too there’s the whole Electric Samurai…its not Owl V the ES, its Owl searches for the ES. The Electric Samurai itself doesn’t really come into play til the end.

I had issues with Owl and Rynn jumping form one hot-spot to another, escaping by the skin of their teeth, jumping from country to country, and the non stop action that was hit, done and over just in time for the next issue got dull.
I wanted more in depth detail, to know exactly how they did things, how they escaped, not toss in a few whiz bangs and they’re out, but that’s how each drama began to feel to me. Just more of the same, another place where everyone wants a piece of Owl and she escape barely to fall into the next drama.
I’d have liked a bit more day to day details, more conversations that didn’t just involve “how are we getting out of this mess” type of thing. Less skin of teeth and bombs, less Carpe doing some amazing tech stuff, characters suddenly dropping in unexpectedly and a little more reality.
Back to one of my bugbears, the This just couldn’t happen problem. There’s an IT Acronym IFTTT (If this then that) where if one thing happens its the trigger for another action, and when I’m reading I want to believe that if this one thing/action/event is real it could trigger a defined reaction, but too often in this story I didn’t feel the first issue could be real, it lacked that believability factor, which meant that the action that followed felt wrong to me.

There were parts I enjoyed, and the whole story is so unique that it was really refreshing to read when the series started, but now its seems to have moved away from that and I just need a little less action a little more conversation….A bit more reality even though its fantasy.
How does Owl get from country to country without getting stopped at usual channels ect, without ever having any luggage? She never seems to eat or drink, need to shower, sleep, feed Captain, you know, all the everyday dross that makes a story feel real.
I don’t need loads, just a little to ground her, make things feel real.
She just flips from one country at the end of a chapter and on first page of next chapter she’s where she needs to be, and I’m thinking “but how??” Especially given Captain is with her. Travelling with a huge cat isn’t easy…and where does she keep getting cat carriers?
It is a very complex world blending real world with the fantasy game playing base Shangri-La, but it felt increasing detached to me from the characters and settings we started out with in book one.

Then the ending…no………How could Kristi leave us like that? I’d almost decided this was it for me, wondering whether I really wanted to continue with the series but I can’t stop at this point, I’ll have to see how it plays out and hope a return to the styles of books one and two are forthcoming.

Stars: Three, a bit hard going this installment. Hopefully book four will bring a return to the style of the first two.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Obsession, A shocking psychological thriller where love affairs turn deadly, Amanda Robson

Obsession, A shocking psychological thriller where love affairs turn deadly, Amanda Robson
Obsession: A shocking psychological thriller where love affairs turn deadly by [Robson, Amanda]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) , Mystery & Thrillers

This is an amazing debut book but a very, very uncomfortable read. The characters are not exactly likable, yet at the start they could be any of us, they’re fairly ordinary types, there’s nothing to suggest just what is going to unfold, how dark their lives are going to turn.
Its not a happy ever after read, so take note! It is a rivetting read though, I found myself saying internally “just one more chapter” as I just had to see how things would progress. And of course that led to one more and then one more chapter after that 🙂

We meet Carly and Rob on holiday, he’s a GP, she works on the practice part time and looks after their kids with her mother Heather’s help. They seem innocuous, though its clear Carly doesn’t feel motherhood particularly satisfying. there’s lots of parents like that though, its not all Johnson’s baby powder and sweet kisses in real life, and not everyone is cut out to be a full time parent.

She’s an odd woman is Carly, feels a bit…brittle and insecure though pushes this outward appearance of being very confident and capable. Then she asks Rob That Question, and the answer has repercussions you just can’t imagine. Would things have turned out differently if he’d answered another way? Would something else have been the catalyst, and events happen regardless?
There’s any number of points where looking back one of them could have said “if only I’d done/hadn’t done… ” Hindsight is a wonderful thing as the saying goes.

I didn’t really like Carly but I did feel for her unhappiness. Rob was just a typical busy parent and didn’t look far into what was going on underneath. Like most people he was satisfied by the surface appearance of everything and assumed they were all happy.

Then there’s the second couple, Jenni and Craig. Jenni, she seemed such a gentle, quiet soul and deeply adored her family. Is that love or smothering? Was she as she seemed, content, happy to be a parent, basking in husband Craig’s adoration?
They were two very different people – Jenni was quiet, shy, strongly religious, while Craig was handsome, outgoing and a real play -the-field guy. What brought them together? And could they have stayed in that same happy state they seemed to be when we first met them or were threads already unraveling?

Its a tough look at human nature and behaviours, depression, family life, how we’re all tightly knit in groups and one thread unwinding affects the whole group. Like I said its really uncomfortable reading. I kept thinking “no, she/he wouldn’t do that” and if we’d been plunged right into those dramas I could believe it, but we’re led carefully and slowly down a path of destruction, til almost without realising everything we thought we knew about the characters had changed, and I really couldn’t predict how things would pan out.
Stars: five, a fabulous debut, but its dark and definitely not a HEA! Its not one I’d reread, tending to only read again the lighter, happier ones. there’s enough dark in my life without reading it too often!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Curse Mandate, (The Dark Choir 3), Book THREE of The Dark Choir, J.P. Sloan

The Curse Mandate, (The Dark Choir 3), Book THREE of The Dark Choir,  J.P. Sloan

The Curse Mandate (The Dark Choir Book 3) by [Sloan, J.P.]

Genre:  Horror, Sci-fi and fantasy

Currently on KU

I NEVER read horror, and if I’d seen that I wouldn’t have come to this series. Its not a gory, blood-fest read though, and for me the horror is more of the “could this happen” type and I can deal with that. I really enjoyed books one and two, and was keen to get on to this.

Poor Dorian, you really can’t help but like him. He’s a very moral person in so many ways, just wants to live his life, earn a living and have fun, but he’s a magnet for trouble and sometimes his sense of morality leads him to tread very close to the permitted lines in magic.
He’s still searching for his soul, lost in book one, well – more he was tricked out of it than he lost it. Once more his need to help others got him into danger.
Alongside that though he’s got other problems, he’s got a new pupil, her brother needs help as he’s been cursed, there’s some wierd Chaos magic targeting people and places, and he’s trying to get to the root of that, trying to stop more people being hurt, and on top of that he’s a bar to run as part owner! Just another day for Dorian then..He feels like he’s always trying to catch up, and the next huge crisis is just aroubnd the corner.

As before the story is packed with magical terms, spells, curses, hexes and explanations of how different historic (genuine – they did/do exist) factions fit into this story. He’s an amazing man with incredible knowledge of his craft and its history, and I found myself constantly flicking the paperwhite Look-up function 🙂
The fact there is so much of this book based on genuine societies gives it a very realistic feel.
I love the detective (Hunter?), assigned to help him, a sceptic who by the end had changed his tune and looks to become a future ally.
One issue I did have is the cast of characters has grown huge, and I found it hard to recall who connected where, why, to which group, which section of magic they practiced or whether they were of the innocent of magic group, normal humans who’ve no idea what really goes on in their world. Lots of backtracking for me, and I’d have appreciated an index to keep them straight.

As always the plots are fast and furious, Dorian is racing against time, chasing clues and help, trying to sort out who are the good guys and what the others are up to, and still trying to help his friends and track down his soul.
There some really sad parts here too, both in his personal life and for me having grown fond of a certain person 😦 but sometimes that just makes it all the more real, when the unexpected happens, when the good guys don’t always come out on top.

Its a great read once more and the reason its four and not five is that I spent so long looking back at who did what, and how they fitted in to the story, plus checking out the many different terms and groups that it affected the flow of the story.
Actually that’s a bit unfair to drop a whole star, maybe just a half, as the idea and plots are excellent.
I loved the way the little side issues ended connected to the larger picture, and the detailed explanations of what the curses and spells could do, how they were constructed and at what cost. I enjoyed being completely off course in who was behind things, I like the unpredictable!

Stars: Four and a half, another action packed adventure, spell binding (!) saga, full of  power filled plots.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Fearful Symmetry, The Secret of the Journal Series, C. F. Dunn

Fearful Symmetry, The Secret of the Journal Series,  C. F. Dunn
Fearful Symmetry (The Secret of the Journal) by [Dunn, C.F]

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, General Fiction (Adult)

Well, I almost missed out in what has been a fabulous five books! Thankfully I didn’t 🙂
When I started the first waaay back I just couldn’t get into it, kept stopping, putting it aside and finally gave up.
Fast forward about three months and I was looking for something new to read. I’d really liked the sound of this, felt a perfect fit for me and I was disappointed I hadn’t got into it so decided to try again – and became hooked.

There have been comparisons to the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, but I feel that does both books a disservice. To me they are both very great reads, have a paranormal/thriller aspect, a romance and they span several books with an ever growing cast, but the comparison stops there.
As a story they are so very, very different.

There a brief recap at the beginning, and as so much has been covered in the last four books I found that really useful. Its not a complete rehash, just a few pages reminding the reader of the important details.
What I would have liked to see in each book is a cast list. I did keep getting Matthew’s family confused, with who was who – son/daughter/granddaughter/niece/nephew etc. For practical reasons Matthew had to pretend to be other than the oldest, looking as he did.
I had wondered how on earth this was going to end, whether there would be a real conclusion, or if Ms Dunn would take the ambiguous route, where we never really know what happens in their future but have to make assumptions about Matthew and Emma’s future. I’m not keen on those, like a tidy ending, preferably the one I want:-)
Read the last in a trilogy recently where the romance didn’t end in a HEA or even a HFN and was so gutted. It was a great ending, just not the one I ( along with other readers) expected or wanted.

Ms Dunn does it though, and in such a perfect way, bringing the story full circle, and now the first and last titles make sense to me! I like endings that feel real, that feel as though if X was possible then Y is a natural conclusion.
Yep – even in fantasy and paranormal reads I have to feel that things could happen as we read, that if people like Matthew and his family existed then things could happen in the way its written.

Its a book that spans several years, with Matthew always searching for answers, Emma still pursuing her research and university work, but their family is always changing and extending. There’s the issue of Ellie and her pregnancy to deal with, Maggie’s very clear hatred of Emma, Emma’s family that have to be kept free of all the secrets, along with their freinds at uni too.
It’s a tough time, always watching what she says and does, and Emma finds it very hard.

Then it seems like the dangers they’ve always worried about, the fear of discovery and what will happen to the family is finally catching them up.
Its a scary time, Matthew doesn’t want to move them too soon, creating new identities and finding them homes and work, but also he has to not wait too long. They have to be ready to run at any time and that puts a huge strain on a family already bending under the burden of so many secrets.

Its another read full of discoveries and surprises, all the old characters we’ve met so far, Matthews ever growing family, and the story builds upon the previous books.
When I think of the Emma I first met in book one it seems she’s come such a long way, grown so much through her at times horrific experiences.
Matthew never really seems to change and I so feel for him, he’s full of guilt for the burden the secrets have put on his family, and he’s so full of love for them all.

The finish is perfect, doesn’t come racing up, but graduates all through the book, with little parts falling into place just at the right moment.
I am so in awe of somoene who can write a story like this, where tiny moments, throwaway remarks from parts of the story in earlier books suddenly turn out to have been leading up to major revelations. That takes immense plotting and must mean a wall full of notes and cross references!!
I have enough trouble keeping my normal life organised, and planning how to fit things in, doing a fictional one with much less restrictions would be a nightmare for me, but I’m so glad others can do it, and do it well, giving us these perfect, dense and complex stories.

Stars: Five, incredible finish, perfect ending and one to savour and reread right through all five books.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

The Curse of Tenth Grave, Darynda Jones

The Curse of Tenth Grave,  Darynda Jones

click image for amazon link

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, Fantasy, romance

Well, when I look back to book one what a long, long way Charley has come. I still love her kookie ways, love her big, big heart and then of course her irreverence, her snark, those endless one liners that have me sniggering. What a difference to how she was though, how she’s grown to accept her role as Grim Reaper and a God without losing the essential “Charley”. She’s still busy naming everything – I love that Reyes’ shower is called George. I’ve always named cars, but furniture? Never occurred to me.

There’s still that awful but necessary separation from Beep though, Charley knows it has to be done to keep her safe, but what heartbreak for her and Reyes.
Reyes *drool along with countless readers* he’s amazing, adores Charley, will do anything to keep her and Beep safe. His is an incredible story too, and again looking back to those early books, what changes this series has been through and yet it keeps the essential spark of fun, great characters and genuine plots which drew me in to the start.

We didn’t see so much of Strawberry Shortcake, Rocket, Osh and Angel this time. That boy makes me laugh, thirteen going on thirty, all his flirting with Charley. Osh – well, when he was introduced several books back I wasn’t sure about him, didn’t know if we could trust him – he’s a Daeva after all. He too has joined Beep’s Army though, and there’s a hint towards the end here of just how strong its become.

So as usual Charley’s running round like a headless chicken, but collecting needy people ( a 12 year old girl this time), and sorting everyone’s problems despite being under pressure from so many sources. She’s a huge worry here though, Reyes hasn’t touched her, seems to be avoiding anything sexual except a few heated kisses. Usually he can’t keep his hands off her *and don’t we just love that??* and they’re making love at every opportunity ( and making ones where there aren’t any!!) Is he tired of her she thinks, fed up of her and the issues that go with her, irritated at always having to gett her out of trouble, resentful because she forgot him when she lost her memory, found someone else maybe?
Poor Charley, she just doesn’t think she deserves him, doesn’t think she’s good enough – and the weird thing? Well, Reyes feels the same…You want to lock them both in a room to sort things out don’t you? Yep, well Cookie has the answer 😉

I really don’t know how Darynda comes up with all this – its something that amazes me about authors, how they pull stories out of nothing, create people and situations that feel so real. When Charley’s dad died in the last book I cried, finally she realised just how much he loved her despite his actions at times.
Once more this book too had me laughing and crying, its so emotive sometimes, so deep and then open the next chapter and there’s a heading that makes me smile and lightens things. I love those headings, look forward to each new chapter.
There’s secrets and revelations here, the future of the world, the dangers to Beep, whether Reyes really is one of the baddies now Charley knows his true origins, that he’s a God too….it just makes me wonder what else is going to come out.
I love what’s possibly lined up for Osh, want Beep home, but before that can happen there’s the Big Battle – Charley will do anything for her family, and we know Reyes will, severing spines seems to be his favourite hobby sometimes!

It could so easily descent into triteness with Charley’s practicality and need to work her day to day jobs, or maybe go the other way and turn all Sci-fi, Star Trek, interplanetary plots etc. but Darynda straddles the lines beautifully to bring out another fascinating read, one packed full of fun and humour, dangers and drama, and once more ties everything in this book neatly together,  but with yet more revelations and hints of what’s to come.
I don’t know how many more books are planned, I’ll be sad to leave Charley, Reyes and the gang, but the final war, the big battle seems to be on the way, the lines have been drawn and action is starting.

Darynda, you’re an amazing author, given us a fabulous story with characters that have stayed true to the ones we knew when the series began. So often in long running series the characters become ones we don’t recognise as time passes, and the main plots veer away into strange areas, just for the sake of stringing out the drama, turning out another book, but the plots and characters here feel as fresh and true as they did with that very first book. ( Anita Blake? A series I loved at first but abandoned about book 14 when she became someone I didn’t recognise, didn’t like)

I love this series, love the characters – even the bad ones 😉 they’re needed. I really want to know how its all going to go down, who will pull through and what the future looks like, but can’t imagine how on earth – or any other dimension! – its going to work out. Glad I’m a reader not a writer, I can just enjoy it, not worry about writing it!
Please Darynda – don’t kill off Reyes, we love him, love his panther like graceful way of moving,he doesn’t ever walk, nothing so mundane,simply glides through everywhere, sexuality just oozing from him, every female – and a few males – drooling at him, and yet he’s got eyes only for Charley. Give them a happy ending, and let us please have lots of Reyes before we get it 😉
Its a series that’s definitely on my re reader list for when all the books are out. I’ll have a week of so if indulging in nothing but Reyes and Charley, a real Grave-fest marathon.

Stars: Five, another riveting novel, another page turner full of action, humour, sensuality ( Reyes!!) that kept me glued to my kindle.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Last Kiss, Laurelin Paige

Last Kiss,  Laurelin Paige

Genre:  Romance,


I struggled with parts of the first book, wasn’t sure of either Emily or Reeve, but they grew on me slowly and I began to understand them.

In book two though there’s still that dichotomy for me of how they both enjoy sex. I know there are people for whom sex like this is what they both want – I just find it hard to understand why? And it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable that there’s such a thin line between giving and taking,.doing what each wants or becoming a manipulative bully. Its something that demands so much trust, and yet these two don’t trust each other. Even now after so much has happened between them there’s still a myriad of secrets and both are still uncertain of each other – and yet I can feel that they’ve both fallen in love. There’s a complication now though – Amber.

Its safe to say I really didn’t like her, saw her as someone who used Emily to back up her own demands and lifestyle.

I’m not really sure why I felt that way – there’s no real evidence, but then that’s true for so much of this story, lots of inferences, hints, trails leading to another secret, bits of stories revealed that turn out to be misleading – a lot of the time I’m lost, trying to understand the hidden messages, read between the lines, understand the subtext underlying what’s actually being said. It seems every conversation between Emily, Reeve and Amber has at least two meanings, and often more and I struggled to work out the truth. That’s clever writing at its best 😉

I did get the ending right, did guess some of what was happening, but not because the plot let the story out, just wishful thinking and a need for a HEA on my part, which led me to look for the parts that would back up my supposition. Lucky guess really!!

Its a drama filled read, full of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. Its a story that kept me reading, desperate to keep Reeve and Emily together even while I felt so uncomfortable about what they were doing sexually that spilled over into areas outside the bedroom.

I guess unless you’ve those tastes sexually it is hard to understand, and its not the first book which has left me wondering why on earth someone finds being treated so harshly, with words and actions is such a turn on – each to their own though and if it works for them that’s fine. I’d be gutted, devastated at some of the things Reeve says and yet he knows its what Emily wants to hear, what turns her on, and she in turn wants to please him.

The biggest issue I have with stories like this – and I’ve another very similar storyline part two read on review at the moment which gives me the same issue – is that the impetus that built up in first part has dissipated now, and its quite hard to pick up the story and feel the same as if I’d read it all as one book. Its been months and a few hundred books since I read First Touch, and all the drama and excitement I felt then has gone.

*sigh* I really, really wish these stories were just one read. I know that I’ll get so much more from it if I could read it in one go, now its finding time to do that when I’ve so many others waiting 😦

Great read, full of twists and turns, drama and danger, spicy, scorching sex and wonderful HEA.


Stars: Five, just need the time to read both parts in one go now.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

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