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Dark Moon Wolf, Calling the Moon, Sarah E. Stevens. Once Bitten, Heather McCorkle

Once Bitten, Heather McCorkle

Once Bitten (The Wolves of Hemlock Hollow) by [McCorkle, Heather]

Genre:  Romance,

My first read of Heather’s novels, but I love the werewolf genre and this sounded fun.
I found it a little – well – bland I guess? It was well written, the characters were all clearly set out and the take of the werewolf genre had some fresh additions. Sounds good doesn’t it?
However I just found the story dragged, with nothing much happening until the last 20% or so. Even then I found that for a group so set in rules and hierarchy the story-line went well off track.

I couldn’t see how all these things, all these anarchist actions wouldn’t have been seen coming, if those in charge had been taking note. Its hard to see a rigid, supposedly strong and well run system fall down so badly by the actions of such inept characters.
There didn’t seem to have been much thought or planning of what would happen,  and the ones creating the mayhem were strangely lacking in intelligence and strategy.
The story-line is sound, and things like this do happen but it needed to have characters that were capable of planning and executing such a strategy for me to believe it.

Its kind of a one plot book too, in that Sonya’s transforming was a part of that overall plot. I liked Ty, apart from his manner of speaking which proved irritating after a time, but he was so laid back he was almost horizontal, which didn’t fit so well with his thoughts on throwing everything, disregarding all the rules, because he was so attracted to Sonya. I anted to say “get a grip man, its only for a couple of weeks!!” The man I thought he was would have done just that, not been mulling constantly about giving in to temptation.
Its one of those reads that feels very simplistic, not complex drama but a quick easy read. Depends what you want – and its different for everyone, for me its more often the complex drama that does it.

First books in a series have a hard task and for me this one doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the description. I’m undecided as to whether I want to continue with it. I’ll see nearer the time I guess, how much other things I’ve got on and whether I’m pulled in by the description. I’m not saying I would read more, not saying its a no go for me but I am on the fence over it.

Stars: two and a half, a good premise but it needs a bit more action and drama, a little more speed for me. Maybe in the later books?

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dark Moon Wolf, Calling the Moon, Sarah E. Stevens

Dark Moon Wolf (Calling the Moon Book 1) by [Stevens, Sarah E.]

Genre:  General Fiction, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I love paranormal/Fantasy, and wolf shifters in particular appeal to me. I was keen to read this, a first in what hopefully would turn out to be a new and fun series.
I’d made the mistake of thinking this was romance, isn’t not classed as that, simply my error and not looking carefully enough. That’s not a game-changer though, I read books other than romance too 🙂 Just that it came as a surprise to find out some things early in the story.

Its an interesting read, Sarah has put a slightly different slant on shifter practicalities and categories which was good, kept that part fresh.
The story though didn’t really work totally for me. There was just so much in it, the search for Carson’s dad, meeting the new people, finding out about werewolves and witches…Julie was incredibly blase about all the new things she was learning.
Then the murders. there was a lot of action, lots going on and I just had a hard time believing things would play out as easily as they did.
Don’t get me wrong – there was struggle, lots of it but given Julie is human and new to all this supernatural stuff she did really well. the other werewolves too has a very hard task solving the murders, they’d been cleverly done by someone who was clever and had lots of backing, and I just couldn’t see things playing out quite the way they did without Huge, Massive repercussions.
I didn’t guess who was involved til quite far on when there’s a really – to the reader- obvious clue but Julie completely misses it.

It looks like a debut novel, I can’t find any more books. Its well written but I just felt there was a little too much packed tightly into a novel that was just a bit too short for it. If the story was a bit longer so the action could have been made more realistic, and not have “Clue, and wow – here’s the Perpetrator” plots that these shorter novels need I think its one I’d love.

A first in series has a hard ask too, setting the scene, introducing new characters, and in the case of fantasy/paranormal, other types of people, and all the while leading a story to keep the readers interest. This one does OK for me, but of course will be perfect for others. That’s how it goes, we don’t all want the same thing thankfully!

Stars: Three, a good start to fiction writing, and a new series, but for me needed a little more reality and practicalities.

BTW Full/Lily: does she remind anyone else of Dolly Parton? For some reason she’s all I see each time Full comes into the story

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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

Caraval,  Stephanie Garber

Caraval by [Garber, Stephanie]

Genre:  Sci fi and fantasy

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers


Some Kind of Magic, Mary Ann Marlowe

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

Genre:  romance, women’s fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Gilded Cage, Vic James

Gilded Cage,  Vic James

Gilded Cage (The Dark Gifts Trilogy Book 1) by [James, Vic]

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I’ve had a fantastic year for debut books. I try to choose all reads carefully as I hate doing low star reviews but debut reads are a shot in the dark, with only a few words to decide wither its for me or no. No previous stories to tell me authors writing style, and the type of plots he/she writes so it really is a whole bran tub surprise, but I’ve unearthed some real gems for me this year. This is one of them.

I’m not really a YA reader, except for those few stories that really are suitable for any age, such as Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, and the Golden Lily spin off, Twilight ( of course), The Paper Magician trilogy, stories like these that appeal to anyone regardless of age.
A well written story does that, so though YA isn’t my preferred read I don’t rule anything out, especially in the Fantasy genre.

I did find this a little struggling to begin, I was intrigued but the to and fro of Millmoor and Kyneston settings took a while to adjust to, as did the fairly large cast of characters. Then throw in a world that is like the UK now and yet so not like it, that there’s a lot to take in. It works though, really well once I’d got that mentally mapped out.

I’ve read that the 1% v 99% dichotomy inspired this story, the haves and the have nots of money and power. Vic has replaced the money side with Skill, a magical talent. Those families who have it are called Equals, a very small proportion of the population, and they rule the rest.
The rest, the commoners, all have to do a ten year slave term at some point in their life, and families can do it together once the youngest child is 10. That’s what happens here, with eldest sister arranging – she thinks – for them all to do their 10 years at the large estate of Kyneston. That way they can all stay together, stay safe she hopes. But things go wrong, despite being only 16 Luke gets sent to Millmoor alone, separated from the family and against rules which say under 18’s stay with their parents.
Its like now though, a whole way of life ruled by red tape, and underscored by deceitful scheming and grasping for power – gosh you can tell which side I’m on in politics can’t you 😉

The story follows Luke and what happens to him, alternating to what’s going on with the rest of his family and the other inhabitants at Kyneston.
We don’t really see much about Luke’s parents but sisters Abi and Daisy figure largely. Daisy at 10 is a kind of nanny to the Heir’s illegitimate child Libby, and she adores her. Heir Gavar seems to be a strange character, a ball of anger, hates everyone it seems and yet plays the game, wants the power that will come when he succeeds his father and yet is a ball of mush when it comes to Libby and strangely gentle with Daisy.
Jenner, the middle son, is on the almost unique position of having no Skill despite coming from a strongly skilled family. Abi works with him on the admin side of running Kyneston, and we see a slow developing regard for each other growing. Forbidden of course, Equals never get involved with Commoners, its a disaster, as shown by what happened with Libby and her mum. Despite being the only grandchild her place is on sufferance only, and she’s mostly kept out of sight of the other Equals and not really spoken about.
Then there’s Silyen….he is seriously strange and yet – I can’t help feeling a soft spot for him. He’s very solitary, with the constant grasping for power no-one really seems happy, to have friends, to be close to family but he seems even more alone than the others. There’s an air of mystery about him and I feel there’s lots more to come from him.

So, in a society like this, with all its abuses there’s bound to be a revolt. So far the cruel and rigid ways have kept things controlled, but there’s a feeling of change brewing and this book heralds the start. It ends with a real – “I want the next book now, dammit” feeling for me, so I really hope books two and three are progressing well!!

Its an absorbing world, full of magic, full of cruelty, on both large and smnall scales, and the cruelty isn’t just confined to Equals, but also those commoners who’ve risen through the ranks, a -rse kissng their way into positions of power….and yet the characters are not one sided but multi faceted, so no-one is quite what they seem and the fun is working out who is really who, what place they will play in the future, and just how things are going to go, not just on the large scale but on the small one. I’m full of questions, what’s going to happen to Luke, what about Abi, will she and Jenner ever be together, will Gavar marry the fiercely ambitious Bouda as his father commands, or find a way out? What will happen to Libby, and Daisy? What about the dogman, what part is he playing, and the Doc, and Angel, Rennie and the rest of the gang…..and of course the big one. Silyen – what’s he plotting, and is it for good, for bad or just to pass the time? With him you never quite know 😉

Its a fabulous read, if Skill were real as in this book you could imagine that all these things could – and probably would 😦 – happen. A book destined to become a real Classic, a treat to read and I’m rooting for books two and three ASAP.

Stars: Five, a gem of a debut read

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

A Promise of Fire, Amanda Bouchet

A Promise of Fire,  Amanda Bouchet

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

Genre:   Romance,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

How Not to Let Go, Emily Foster

How Not to Let Go,  Emily Foster

How Not to Let Go (The Belhaven Series) by [Foster, Emily]

Genre:   Romance, New Adult

I’d only reads the sample of How Not to Fall, and after reading this I really want to read that.
How Not to Let Go is an incredible read, full of emotions that really pulled at me, had me on the edge of tears. It is a romance read, very much so, but very, very different to the typical ones we see.

I think even though I loved this I’d have got more, understood more if I’d read the first story. Its very connected to this book, Charles family and background is so flawed, so integral to how he feels here, the problems he has, the way he just feels he’s just not good enough for her, can’t be what she deserves and needs. Yet he can’t seem to stay away, can’t quite let go of her.
Its clear to the reader he loves her as much as she loves him but he just can’t let himself love. And that’s the problem, letting go, feeling, trusting, giving oneself over to someone else, he just can’t take that step.

Annie- oh she’s wonderful, adored by her parents and yet she’s not spoiled, they have money but she’s not showered in material goods. What it has given her though, this precious background full of love, is so much self confidence, not in an OTT arrogant way, but just that she knows and acknowledges her strengths, and she’s always a glass half full person, always looking at the positives. I really enjoyed her.

The story picks up from their separation, to where they’re both moving on, but shattered, broken it feels.
At first I though Annie was the more distraught one, but as I came to know Charles ( and perhaps would have got this earlier if I’d read book one), I understood that actually he’s really struggling underneath that facade he puts forward. He’s a different man inside, but he’s so used to controlling himself, putting his needs last and looking after everyone else, that what we see is only a shadow of the actual man. Oh I was soooo in love with him, even when I wanted to scream “ just hug her Man, give her a chance”.

There were times when I felt the novel got a little too wordy, too literate and “clever”, that the continual metaphors and references were a bit much, and I had to keep stopping to work out what exactly the author meant by them, it took time to understand what she was getting at.
I didn’t really follow Charles’  family dynamics, didn’t know why no-one really stood up to his father, why his mum stayed with him – he really was an awful, obnoxious ranter. Again maybe that was in the first book, but it became clear by the end of this.
It didn’t spoil how I loved the story, but maybe would have helped me understand Charles a little more.

Their love seems destined, their Thing, their Something, is just meant to be, but somehow Charles keeps getting in his own way. Annie is so open, so ready to accept any and everything, to take Love as part of the natural progress of Annie and Charles but he can’t.
It took most of the book before I really understood why. I’d got early on he had some serious issues, but somehow each time they look like their being overcome something happens and more arise and I see they’re deeper than I thought.

I can’t end with mentioning Charles family, the good side – their mum and Abba – wonderful, Biz, I want to know more of her, and of course Simon.
Simon is even more of a genius that Charles, works in some super secret role for the UK Gov, and he’s got issues beside the ones he shares with Charles and Biz about their father. He’s an Albino, and has a really bad stutter. I loved the way he could quote and sing without stuttering.
Years ago one of our friends had a severe stroke which left him with impaired speech, and a really bad stutter and yet, like Simon, he could sing perfectly, never stumble on a word. The brain is an incredible thing isn’t it?
I do hope Emily has a book (or books) in store for Simon. He really deserves to find love, to feel that someone loves him for himself, not because he’s family, not because he’s a genius but just because he’s Simon.

I was so entranced by the connection between Charles and Annie, enjoyed reading about how he had to work through some serious mental issues caused by his awful father, the way they were described ( rage mountain etc), the way he talked things through with therapist Clarissa. That part led me to understanding more of him and how he struggled with expressing and understanding his feelings. On the face it seems simple, love someone and they love you and that’s it but this made me think of how many people are like Charles, deserving and wanting love but feeling they just can’t.
With PTSD and similar problems becoming more and more recognised, metal health issues are so important for people to move forward from them.

Of course what I haven’t mentioned is the sex, I can see from reviews that this was a big part of book one. Here its a more minor role but wow – when they do get together its incredible; sensual, erotic, steamy and also very much linking to the issues Charles has. It shows how pervasive childhood influences are, how they seep in and affect so much of our adult lives.

And I’ve rambled a bit, well – a lot, but its such a wonderful read, so focussed, so intense, so different from the myriad of fluffy Alpha heroes that dominate romance. I like those sometimes, there are some really well written ones, but there are far more that are just simplistic and formulaic. This book is romance at the very opposite end of the scale to that. I loved it, loved way the characters felt so real, the situations what many of us have been through, loved the British terms – as a UK reader I appreciated Ar se not Ass!!!

Stars: Five, one to keep, to savour rereading – preferably after reading the first book.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Paper Magician trilogy snapped up by Disney.


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

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

The Forgotten Tale, The Accidental Turn Series Book 2, J.M. Frey

The Forgotten Tale, The Accidental Turn Series Book 2,  J.M. Frey

The Forgotten Tale (The Accidental Turn Book 2) by [Frey, J.M.]

Genre:  LGBTQIA, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I loved book one and it had a proper ending – so how could there be a book two I wondered, and would it live up the the fantastic magics and world building of book one? Well, Book two is a complete one once again ( hurrah) and yes it does live up the the first one 😉

Once more we meet all the old favourite characters, but two years or so on, so baby Alis had been born to Forsyth and Pip.
They’re living in our world. I hesitate to say the Real world, because even though it came from stories the world Forsyth was born into is very real too.
Forsyth and Pip have settled into a routine, she’s teaching and loves it, Forsyth works from home and looks after baby Alis.
He’s an amazing man, made the best of an awful upbringing in the world of the Tales, forever under Kintyre’s shadow, yet he became a great man to those who lived in his district, set up so many schemes to better peoples daily lives, educate the children, ensure people had homes, and behind all that he worked as the King’s Shadow Hand, a kind of Turnshire MI5 leader….Now in Pip’s world he performing the same kind of role, having taught himself computer skills and working as a kind of super hacker……all very mysterious much like his last role. Then disaster strikes….

Forsyth notices that books are missing, not just from his home but from shops, libraries and the internet, and most importantly they’re gone from peoples memories! How come he’s the only one that recalls them – then Alis gives indications she can too and he’s so relived. He feared moving worlds had damaged him, or that he was going mad, becoming like his father.
What’s behind it though and how can he convince Pip its really happening, as she has no memory of the books? Before he really gets a chance to do more than make a few lists the three are whisked back to Turn Hall.

It was great to see old friends, to see the changes in Kintyre and Bevel, to meet Sheriff Pointe again.
There are references to many things that happened in book one, and you’d find it difficult I think to understand this without reading that one.
Kintyre now has a 15 year old son, Wyndham, living with them, his mother was a Pirate leader and dropped him off to live at Turn Hall for a while.
He’s a great lad, but as would happen if this were real, he’s confused, resentful, feels just wrong there.
Kintyre is shocked, didn’t know he was a father and Wyndham just wants the old adventuring person he’d heard about, not this new version, who’s too full of responsibilities to go adventuring. He resents Bevel too, even though the poor man is trying far more than Kintyre (IMO) to be a father to him.

Its another magic filled story, cleverly building on book one and the events that happened there, and pulling Forsyth, Pip, Alis, Kintyre and Bev into another Quest.
Not only do they want to return home, but strange things are happening in this world too, much like the missing books. Forsyth isn’t one to let things like that slide.

I really enjoyed it once more, loved the way Pip works out where they should be and what should happen, and “lazy world-building” she says of the author every now and then, when she feels he’s being predictable or not working hard enough for a solution.
I was a bit confused by Solina at first and how she played into what was happening, but that became clear once the story moved forward.

I think you have to be in the right mind-set to read these stories, and I had to wait a few days til I felt in the mood for a pure fantasy escape, as its so unrelated to reality, so full of magic, superpower swords, spells, talking dragons, red cap gnomes etc that its not good starting unless you’re feeling ready to believe in all these things, to suspend reality for a few hours and let the magic of the stories take you over.

To me both these books are those that are suitable for any age from good YA readers up to those like me far older. A good story appeals to all ages.

Stars: Five, another winning read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

The One Kiera Cass


The One  Kiera Cass
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre:  Teens and YA,
I was attracted to this trilogy by the fabulous covers, and on reading the sample of book one was hooked. I don’t read much YA, but sometimes books in that genre have an appeal to all ages and this is one of them. There’s romance here, but as befits the genre its very “clean” romance, no more than heated kisses. Its been a fun read, I’d had books one and two for review and though the request for this one was pending I actually bought it, wanting to know how the story ended and being too impatient to wait for request approval….that’s me, want everything yesterday. Anyway that was a few weeks back, now I’ve got it for review I’ve re read this one to have a fresh mind ready to write.
Well, the girls have thinned down to just four. There’s still some bitchiness, a lot of unease between them knowing that only one can be chosen, but they find ways to get along encouraged by the Queen. America knows Maxon likes her, she’s fallen in love with him but won’t come out and say it before he does, in case he doesn’t and choses someone else. Maxon loves her but won’t say so, wanting her to choose him first – real catch 22 situation. He’s still dating and kissing the other girls, keeping his options open in case America doesn’t want him, and she’s jealous of course. Its a dilemma that can only end if one of them makes the decision to speak first. Alongside that there’s still trouble from both rebel factions, and of course America still says and does things that upset the King. He Really doesn’t like her but her popularity with the public means he can’t just get rid of her. He tries therefore to make things very difficult and to show her in a bad light as much as he can, ensuring she gets the most difficult tasks, ones that go against her principles.
Its an action packed ending to the trilogy, lots going on, lots of secrets and discoveries. I kind of understand both America’s and Maxon’s views but feel he’s in the more difficult position – if he tells America he loves her and she doesn’t want him, the one he does then chose will always feel second best, and that’s not a good way to start a marriage, whereas all she need do is leave. She has a choice and really he doesn’t.
There’s some real drama here and at the end some heart-breaking things happen, and just when it looks like it’s finally worked out for them something comes out that throws it all up in the air. Its been an easy to read, fun story and I enjoyed it. Its not one I’d read over and over, but at some point I may well go through all of them again. Sometimes all I want is a light, fun read with a HEA.
Stars: Five, its not grand literature but a fun, easy to read story.

Day Shift, Charlaine Harris

Day Shift, Charlaine Harris
Genre:  Fantasy & Sci-fi.
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I loved Trublood ( until the last three books ) and the Lily Bard mysteries and have re read them repeatedly, so was keen to read this new series. After book one though I felt a little underwhelmed but sometimes first books in a series are like that – and of course its hard for an author to follow such a huge success as Trublood…
Well, on to book two and it was fun catching up with some of the characters from other series, but overall I was disappointed. The small town atmosphere is perfect, something Charlaine does so well, and as a UK reader I still felt as if I understood the town and it’s inhabitants. Somehow though there was a lack of real drama. I was disappointed that the Bobo/Fiji romance didn’t go any further – in fact it seemed to have gone backwards, and likewise poor Manfred’s fledgling romance with Creek has gone..well..up the Creek…( ok – groan now!) I didn’t really feel any of the characters progressed further, that I “knew” them any better than from the first book.
There’s always things happening in the town, and the renovation of the hotel is a big issue for them. No one knows why, there’s something odd about the old people who are living there temporarily, why were they chosen and who pays? We’re still wondering all that at the end BTW, the who, what and why.   Lemuel is out of town trying to find out more about the old books he got from Bobo, the Rev takes on a young lad while his father is away, and the boy has some oddities – he fits in well of course! Mr Snuggly is a star as always – I love that cat and his ways. The main part of the story focuses on poor Manfred, when a client dies unexpectedly in a consultation with him, and her son accuses Manfred of theft of her jewellery. Then it becomes a murder investigation and the town gets filled with lawyers, police and media reporters….and being full of people who do not need closer looks they are all very worried, and try to set things straight as best they can. Its kind of a Miss Marple with supernatural people feel about it, that small town gentility and politeness, where everyone knows so much but reveal little as they are all holding secrets too.
I enjoyed it but it didn’t grip me and make me feel I simply had to keep reading. Its an interesting story but to be honest for me it lacked any real depth, and its not one I’d reread. I’m not sure whether to read the final one – and usually in a trilogy I’d be desperate for answers by now but – well, I’m kind of curious what follows and how it ends but that’s all.
Stars: Four, but as a one off read not a keeper.
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers

Sachael Dreams, The Mine Series book 1, Melody Winter

Sachael Dreams, The Mine Series book 1, Melody Winter
Genre: Romance, Fantasy/Sci-fi, New Adult.
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
The prologue….so so emotional. I read it, but it didn’t really make sense until I was well into the story, and then everything fell into place. Its a hard book for me to review – its well written and a gripping story, but there’s so much that didn’t connect with me. Why was Estelle so accepting of what is something totally odd – “ so you’re really a guy from somewhere under the ocean, you don’t have females but mate with humans and steal the babies at birth” Oh yes! of course she believes and accepts all that…perfectly normal. Maybe its just that I’m not NA/YA that I felt Estelle’s reactions were a little strange, muted, kind of non reactive. I found it difficult to accept she just believed everything Azariah tells her, because of course, after just a couple of strange dreams and meeting him she’s in luurve….and he’s different to the others. Having just come out of an abusive relationship you’d think she’d be more cautious.
Still, if you can accept her reaction, and that she’s ok – ish – with stolen babies, then what follows is a great story. Romance, mysteries and danger – it’s all there. I just found her acceptance of the stolen babies a little weird. she doesn’t seem to spare a thought for them or their poor mothers. Most people would be horrified. It certainly coloured my view of the Sachaels, and even though Azariah says he’s different what about his father? His brothers? and the rest of them. Then later when the danger stacks up with the Sect, and their leader tells her what he’s got planned for her…somehow I just couldn’t see it going the way he thought.
So – overall a well written and really promising story, but for me one that had too many character reaction issues for me to get properly into it. I need to empathise, to engage with the main character, to feel what they feel as if I’m in the story but there’s no way I could just have the bland acceptance over the babies and the mothers that Estelle does. There’s a few too many unanswered questions too – I can’t say more without giving too much away, but it did affect how I viewed the story. Its promising and I think maybe its an age thing, that I’m asking too many questions instead of just accepting and enjoying the story as is.
Stars: Three, an enjoyable read but for me not one I want to read more of. Too many questions and disagreements on my part!
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers

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