Heart of Stone, (Alice Worth Book 4), Lisa Edmonds

Heart of Stone, (Alice Worth Book 4), Lisa Edmonds 

Heart of Stone (Alice Worth Book 4) by [Edmonds, Lisa]

Genre:Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance.

Another terrific installment to the series. Its my favourite sort, where there’s an overall story arc, but each episode is complete and wraps up this story neatly, not leaving great cliffhanger endings, but just hints of things to come.
Review of books one and three below
https://jeanniezelos.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/heart-of-malice-alice-worth-book-1-lisa-edmonds/

https://jeanniezelos.wordpress.com/2018/11/30/heart-of-ice-alice-worth-book-3-kindle-edition-by-lisa-edmond/

I love Alice, she’s come such a long way from the solitary woman we first met. She’s strongly independent and yet happy to make allies now, trusting in a few friends, Sean and Malcolm having the most trust. They’re’ two great characters too.
Malcolm works so well with Alice, his issues mean he’s a real asset to Alice, and she respects him, does everything she can to keep him safe.
Sean, Pack alpha whose Pack aren’t all happy about Alice, and in the past a couple of people have brought serious danger to them both with their actions to replace alice with someone they feel more suitable.
Then there’s the vampires, some of whom Alice has reluctantly accepted as allies, helped and accepted help. Charles seems to have some kind of feelings for Alice, that’s been clear since day one. Its not so much a kind of romantic interest, as he sees her as a challenge, a puzzle, and for a centuries old vampire things like that are important. Life must get a little bland after so many years, an intellectual challenge of working out who and what she is, keeps life interesting for him. Like all vampires though, that doesn’t mean he’s trustworthy. They’ve got a kind of understanding currently, where both have helped the other and feel…well…a sort of friendship even if on Alice’ side, that’s kind of guarded.

Once more we’ve a tightly woven adventure, bringing in issues from the past and setting up more for the future.
Alice is hired to find a missing child, an unregistered one, with rare talents that would make him a target for unscrupulous cabals. She can’t just abandon a child, even though finding and rescuing him once more puts her life in danger, and this time maybe her long hidden secrets too.
If they come out how will those around her react? What will it mean for her relationship with Sean? And will it make her an even bigger target to the supernatural world than she currently is?

Stars: Five, another cracking read, and i’m keen for more. Some series tire as they continue, I can see Alice has lots of adventures to go before that happens 😉 hurrah. If you like fantasy with a side of romance that doesn’t dominate, just supports the story this read is one for you.
Book via KU. The whole series is currently available on KU and its one worth reading

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Drawing: Horses, Walter Foster

Drawing: Horses, Walter Foster

Genre: , Arts & Photography, crafts and hobbies

This is a fabulous book BUT its not for beginners, whatever the blurb says. Each illustration has just 3-4 “steps” although the shading and rendering of individual parts of the horse is covered in more detail separately.
I know when I first started painting I needed the more detailed step by step books, those with about ten steps. I found with less my paintings would go from looking like the illustrations more or less in the early stage, to nothing like. I’d be thinking “but how did they do that bit?” and found it frustrating.
I could follow this book easily now but as a beginner I know I’d have struggled and been discouraged.

I think focusing on specific parts of the horse, and the tips on shaping and shading really useful. I liked that the book covers different breeds, as a horse lover and former owner I know just how different a Shetland is to a Shire or an Arab, and if you want your horses to look real, not a generic blend of horse shape this is essential.

Overall its a brilliant book IMO for those with some drawing skills and a little confidence but it is NOT one for beginners. If you do buy it and don’t have that experience I think you need to practice drawing the parts of the horse, hooves, muzzles etc before tackling the whole horse.

Stars: Four, its a fabulous book, full of tips to help draw realistic equines, but I’ve dropped a star because I just don’t feel this is suitable for beginners despite the description.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Horse Dancer, Jojo Moyes

The Horse Dancer, Jojo Moyes

The Horse Dancer: Discover the heart-warming Jojo Moyes you haven't read yet by [Moyes, Jojo]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult),Women’s Fiction

Ah no….usual moan 😦 Why, why do we have women’s fiction as a category? Why assume men won’t/don’t read romance – they do, they write it and read it.

….anyway, the book. Its my first Jojo Moyes read, I was put off after reading that Me before You had a sad ending – for me I like a happy ending. But as a lifelong horse addict I felt I needed to read this book. I’m a real dressage lover too and the Spanish Riding School and the Cadre Noir were my childhood dreams.
The horse parts were well done, very believable and I know there are little backyard stables such as the one where Sarah kept Boo. The legal stuff, I’ve seen some criticism of that but to back up Natasha’s character and actions we needed that in a certain amount of depth.

The issues I has were that for a long time we had three stories, the initial one of Henri and Florence, then Natasha and Mac, then Sarah, and it was well into the novel before the three converged and made sense to me. I didn’t really like the characters either, Natasha, I felt for her and what she’d been through but she was very closed off. Mac, I guess he also was affected and sometimes tragedy brings couples closer, sometimes they fall apart, I just found it hard to believe that such a strong attraction, how two such intelligent people could let themselves drift away. Sarah, I wanted to like her, she’s been through so much, but I guess that made her what she was, and I found it hard to warm to her.

Its a well written novel, not the dumbed down type that so often dominates, but I need to feel a connection to the characters and I just didn’t. The story seemed incredibly slow too, I like long novels but so much of this just felt like filler to me, made me lose attention. On top of that long, drawn out story I then felt the ending was way too brief, rushed almost, and I didn’t have time to mentally adapt to all the changes and accept the turnaround.

Stars: Two and a half. Loved the horse interactions, and Mac’s photography, but just felt the main part of the novel and the characters didn’t really connect with me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

All Summer With You, Beth Good

All Summer With You, Beth Good

All Summer With You by [Good, Beth]

Genre: romance

Well, I’m a sucker for fame romance trope, so of course this appealed. I loved the setting, the rural retreat, adored Nellie and the goats but the romance angle? Well, it didn’t really work for me.
I found it difficult to see that Alex, who valued privacy so much, would really welcome Jennifer in his home even if his reasons were valid. He just doesn’t know her, doesn’t know what sort of person she is, and given he thought he’d got a male tenant til he met her then clearly there wasn’t much in the way of background checks done. So I just couldn’t see how he would open himself up to that vulnerability, when the media pays thousands, hundreds of thousands some times, for info on celebrities.
I did like the way his backstory came out slowly, explained his surliness at times, things like that really do affect us, and it had made him look closely at his way of living, and at himself. That’s hard in a world where for those who are celebrities everyone around them tells them what they think they want to hear, not what they actually need to hear. His friend Brodie was one of the few who would talk to Alex the man, not Alex the star, and he needed that. I loved the way he was so close to his nan, so worried about her. She was a real character, so close to Alex and his sister.
I enjoyed this story but it felt a little too light and fluffy to be more than a three. I enjoyed the writing style, but though there were some interesting side plots ( the Cornish connection, the folklore, the tarot and witchcraft parts, I just felt it was lacking in a solid story for me. I would try another from Beth, she created some great characters, and hopefully its just this one story that’s a good read, a fun beach/holiday read, but not a great one for me

Stars: Three, I enjoyed reading about the characters and their lives, loved the setting, but as a romance it didn’t quite work for me. It’s a case of its me not the book. Reading tastes are so subjective.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Once Upon a Bad Boy, Melonie Johnson

Once Upon a Bad Boy, Melonie Johnson

Once Upon a Bad Boy: A Sometimes in Love Novel by [Johnson, Melonie]

Genre: Romance

Melonie is a new-to-me author, I tried Smitten by the Brit and was ambivalent about it, but decided I’d try one more before deciding her writing style isn’t for me. Like Smitten, this was well written, but it just didn’t wow me, didn’t make me feel I couldn’t put it down. Not a bad book, just not to my taste. Others will, and do, love it.

I wasn’t really gripped by either character, they were pleasant but I didn’t feel particularly strongly about either of them.
Sadie seemed to just shut off any thoughts of Bo after their break-up, and I found it hard to believe after they’d been childhood friends, then teen lovers, and she could just not give in to temptation to take a peek at what he was doing? Or that she didn’t question him more when they broke up, things were fine and then within half an hour at Prom they’re over? Would someone in love accept that, however hurt they were? And Bo….the break-up reason. Really? It was hinted at throughout the novel, a big secret reason, hinted at constantly, but I’d pretty much guessed it from the clues, and was saddened to be proved right. I was underwhelmed by the reason 😦 I felt it just didn’t fit him. Likewise the secret Sadie holds was pretty easy to guess at, though I really felt for her the way things played out.

Similar to the other book for me the story just felt a little flat, unreal and yet already there are rave reviews. It really is a case of the book not being right for me, not that there’s anything wrong with the story. We all have different tastes, what makes it wrong for me could make it perfect for you.

Stars: Three, I enjoyed it a little more than smitten but I guess Melonie is an author who’s style doesn’t work for me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Dating by the Book, Mary Ann Marlowe

Dating by the Book, Mary Ann Marlowe

Dating by the Book by [Marlowe, Mary Ann]

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

I loved Mary Ann’s first two stories, but this one wasn’t as good for me. It could be my personal circumstances. I’m STILL in temp accommodation, seven months now, and that means my usual schedule is on hold. Finding time to get totally absorbed in a book when you’re alone is easy, but when you’re living with a busy family isn’t so simple. It may be that if I re-read this in a few months time I’ll feel differently.

Maddie is lovely, as are most of the cast here, and I adored the setting, book/cafe and book club. She really brings folk together through her work and the club and I enjoyed reading about them and the issues they faced.
Maddie is still struggling a bit I felt, and with her relationship ending like that who can be surprised? Suddenly though it seems would be suitors go from an ambiguous possibility at some time in the future, to a shed load of them on her doorstep – and at the other side of her PC. Add in that she’s got a fast approaching deadline for her next novel, another that’s just been released and then her beloved Mossy Stone, which despite her hard work is struggling financially. Of course only her close friend knows about her book, she’s written under a pen name and not told others.(Against her advice she just can’t help reading reviews- I’d be like that!)
That’s a lot to contend with but we see her ploughing through.

I enjoyed meeting the different characters, getting to know them, seeing them in the store, at the book club and watching for which one might prove right for Maddie. I found myself putting the book aside a few times though, having to remind myself who was whom, and how they connected. Usually with a book I love I can’t put it down, engrossed in the story to the point I feel I know the characters, and certainly that was my experience with Mary Ann’s first two novels.

Stars: Three and a half. A good story but I didn’t enjoy it in the same way as the first two of Mary Ann’s novels. As I said though, its likely me and circumstances, and perhaps a later read will change that.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Jasmine Wife, A sweeping epic historical romance novel for women, by Jane Coverdale

The Jasmine Wife, A sweeping epic historical romance novel for women, by Jane Coverdale

The Jasmine Wife: A sweeping epic historical romance novel for women by [Coverdale, Jane]

Genre: Romance

Well, this one doesn’t feature my usual bete noire, the “women’s fiction” category, but that runner just after the title? “Novel for women” – it means much the same and just makes me think, Why? Why alienate a potential swath of readers? Men write romance, men read romance, its time we stopped categorising stories as men/women reads.

Anyway, the story. I love books set in other countries, especially India/China/Japan, and especially set in a period of history where life was so very different not only between sexes but between races.
I loved this book, really made me feel there with Sara, feeling the heat, enjoying the rich aromatics, the colourful landscape, the busy markets and shops.

Its a good story too, what happens to Sara was what sadly happened so often then. Orphaned, brought up by relatives, and encouraged to marry rather than stay with the family. Didn’t really matter whether the match suited her, the fact that someone with a position in India chose her was enough. For those without connections there was the notorious “ fishing fleet” where desperate girls came on spec, hoping someone needed a wife.
Its hardly a romance a marriage like this, more a match of suitability. Perhaps, they don’t really know each other well after all. Sara thinks she loves Charles but barely knows him, and the man she meets in India, after a years absence is very different.
By her background, her childhood in India with very open minded, liberal parents though she sees the locals as people, while the British enclave here now are determined to treat them as lesser, as unfeeling, as beneath any decent treatment. What this books shows is just how it was in reality, and the sheer, breathtaking arrogance of people just because the are British is incredible. Its always amazed me how one tiny, little country became such a world power.
Of course Sara is lovely, way to good for Charles and the British Enclave in Madras. Charles is ambitious, and not above using Sara’s beauty to further his position, and insidiously bullies her into behaving with those who can influence his future. He sees her as a tool more than a wife, but then sadly he’s not alone. Women were regarded that way, possessions to be used, to be paraded out with, to show off, while they kept an Indian woman for what they saw as their baser needs. Wives weren’t allowed or expected to enjoy sex, but remain above such things, while men had “needs”…… Incredible how men who denigrate Indians in public still wanted them kept quietly somewhere for those needs. Sadly that was the norm, accepted even, and the poor ladies, Indian or British, had no say.

Sara gets a rapid eye opening about her husband, and of course the wonderful, attractive Ravi is a temptation she can’t resist. I loved the idea of their meeting being fated, that the signs, the gurus, Sara’s history, all meant it was inevitable according to Ravi. This idea of fate v personal choice always fascinates me, and there are times when things seem impossible but somehow work out, as if fate lent a helping hand.

Stars: Five. A gorgeous read, transporting me to India, desperate for things to work out for Sara, for her to be happy.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

A Life Without Living, (The STREGA Series Book 1) S.C. Alban

A Life Without Living, (The STREGA Series Book 1)

A Life Without Living (The STREGA Series Book 1) by [Alban, SC]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

I didn’t realise this wasn’t a stand- alone, but part of a series so was expecting it to end. And it didn’t, but ends on something of a cliffhanger. Still, its a great story and goodreads and amazon do make it clear its not a stand alone read.

I was intrigued, its a supernatural story but different to much of whats on offer, a love story passed down through the ages.
Gio, what a fabulous man and how harrowing, always searching and never quite making it in time. Then waiting for the next lifetime. Kate, I really liked her and her friend from work, Dave. Then there’s Alex, on the surface the perfect husband but when we see their relationship closer its not all that it seems, and yet despite his faults Kate is always so eager to please him. And of course there’s Claire and Willem, and the way there seems an instant attraction between them.
I enjoyed the story but there were a few sections that jarred, a few oddities such as when Gio meets Kate for coffee. They’re strangers, and he gets her an Americano. “ That’s amazing. Its my favourite. How did you know?” Well, I guess as most coffees are the basic, Americano, it wasn’t a difficult guess, but more a safe choice….

Its a story I enjoyed but didn’t have me riveted to the page, wasn’t one I couldn’t put aside for a while. I do want to read more though, want to see how things are going to work out.

Stars: Four, an enjoyable read, good story and I’m keen to see what happens next.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Wanders Far-An Unlikely Hero’s Journey, Part of the Adirondack Spirit Series, David Fitz-Gerald

Wanders Far-An Unlikely Hero’s Journey, Part of the Adirondack Spirit Series, David Fitz-Gerald

Wanders Far-An Unlikely Hero's Journey: Part of the Adirondack Spirit Series by [Fitz-Gerald, David]

Genre: Historical Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

I love stories about other cultures, and was drawn to this one.
Its a wonderful, gentle story, showing snippets of how life was for the Native Indians.

I really enjoyed the day to day aspect, learning about the long houses, Bear Fat’s matriarchal group, and of course the journey Wanders Far’s life takes him on. There were a few harsh moments, life was tough then, some folk were cruel, it was part of their culture, though seems awful looking at it from modern perspectives, but back then it was simply accepted.
Wanders Far is a wonderful young man, and his story was beautiful, marrying practicality with spirituality, and showing just how important stories and the Great Spirit was to the people. I liked that we how others in his extended family and friends grew up too.

Stars: Five, a beautiful read, and I look forward to more in the series.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Echo Trilogy Collection: The Complete Series  Lindsey Fairleigh 

The Echo Trilogy Collection: The Complete Series  Lindsey Fairleigh 

The Echo Trilogy Collection: The Complete Series (Echo World Book 1) by [Fairleigh, Lindsey]

 

I read this series as individual books as they came out, but it’s now available as a complete set, a massive 1143 pages for just £9.99 or free on KU.
I’ve just borrowed this on KU and reread them ( easier than digging them out individually on my kindle, I’ve almost 7K books there…. ) Each book has been renamed, maybe has been updated, from memory i didn’t notice anything different but it is several years since I’ve read them. Knowing the backstory and some of what would happen meant i feel I got more from the story this time round – that’s something i often find with complex reads such as this.
It’s set in modern times, but also there are periods when the story reverts to the past, from Ancient Egypt to current day and between. It’s a great read, totally absorbing, great characters that felt real to me, and some unusual world building. I love it, definitely a five star read, thought I can’t recall how I originally rated the stories individually.

I’ve added links to past reviews.
https://wp.me/p3gAhS-rQ

https://wp.me/p3gAhS-Q9

https://wp.me/p3gAhS-VZ

I’m about to read the fabulous Ink Witch series next, same world, a few years on and with secondary characters from this book playing the leads. Kat Dubois Chronicles (6 Book Series) by  Lindsey Fairleigh

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