Solo, Lauren E. Rico

Solo, Lauren E. Rico

Solo (Symphony Hall) by [Rico, Lauren E.]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult.

Well, I hesitated over reading this one. I read book one of Lauren’s music trilogy, and though there were parts I loved, such as the music, there were parts I found really hard to get along with, and haven’t yet decided if I’m going to read parts two and three. Eventually I took the plunge with Solo – and I’m So glad I did.

Its a wonderful story, perfectly written as far as my reading tastes go, mixing story, sex, drama and intrigue to make a tale I was gripped by. I’ve said often I hate when sex becomes the story, here its just right, sensual and erotic but fits within the book so very well.
I have to say though, that cover is just awful, really tacky and just doesn’t do the novel justice IMO. I’m one who rarely looks at covers, just reads the blurb, its only the brilliant or awful ones that catch my eye….

I loved Katherine, such a hard worker, so loyal to her father even when he’s acted so harshly, when she could make her life easier if she did things another way.
She doesn’t though, she’s strongly moral, and just keeps her head down, works hard, and struggles through whatever the personal cost.
I so felt for her all the awful things she had to endure. Drew’s hassling of her, he really picked on her, her advisor Tessa, wasn’t any help, she seemed to dislike Katherine so its no wonder she didn’t go to her for help, the other students were horrible to her.
She’s so alone, friendless, family less and just has learned the only person she can rely on is herself. Isn’t that horrible? When Drew asks her when was the last time someone gave her a present and its years, my heart cracked a bit, such a simple thing, a gift that shows someone cares about you and she’d had nothing from her father, had no freinds with whom she could exchange gifts, just this lonely, solitary life.

Drew, he was a real piece of work the way he singled her out, the way he picked on her for every imagined infraction. I did wonder how he got away with it, and I guess its only because Katherine avoided anything that might throw controversy on her father that she didn’t complain.
Then they get thrown together and he sees a different side to her, sees that he’s projected his anger at Cassie onto her. There are some really emotional moments when the penny drops as to just how awful he’s been to her over the last five years. We see a different side to him too.

Of course as student and professor anything between them is forbidden and they’re risking so much, and they do try to stay on the right side. Still, you know how it is, in the first throes of attraction we tend to think we’re being careful when it reality we’re anything but.

There’s drama here too with the press, in particular one sleazy guy, always sneaking round for a story, trailing her for months, asking everyone about her, trying to find dirt, especially now her father may announce his bid for presidency.
With their actions and they way they don’t see just how much they’re giving away its not long before it all goes wrong.

When it does,  well – boy – is Drew a first class jerk!
I kind of understood where he was coming from, understood that he hadn’t really let go of the past, and I’d guessed who was behind things and why – well, part of the why 😉
I loved the way it wasn’t all hate on one page all love again on the next. I like my drama dragged out, I like to wallow and poor Katherine really hit the depths.

I did find the way they fell headlong into romance despite the risks a little bit, teeny bit difficult to take, both had so much to lose, but I put that to one side as it made such a great read for me.
See, I like some realism in my novels, but this wasn’t too far off course, people do act in stupid ways when in love 😉

Stars:Five, a story I really enjoyed, Lauren’s love of music really comes through and gives a solid, realsitic background to the novel even to someone like me who knows little about orchestras, composing, conducting and the world of Classical music.

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 Shadow Queen, Anne O’Brien

The Shadow Queen,  Anne O’Brien

The Shadow Queen by [O'Brien, Anne]

Genre:  Historical fiction,

What a fabulous read, transported me back to the past.
Its a while since I’ve read any historical fiction, I used to read more, with Elizabeth Chadwick, Phillipa Gregory, Sharon Penryn and Alison Weir being my favourite authors for this type of novel.

Its told from the POV of Joan, and she’s just 12 when we meet her. Looking at many historical novels from today’s POV its horrifying that children were betrothed as babies, went into marriage ceremonies when very young, though often remained with their families until in their mid/late teens. They grew up quickly in those days though, especially in royal households where children were routinely sent off to others, in the pursuit of power for the Family.
When we meet Joan she’s about to be married to Will, another boy her age, from a close family to the royals. Its a match made by the families, and Joan likes Will, but there are reasons she can’t marry, reasons she hasn’t told anyone. When she does, well, both families ensure its swept under the carpet, assuming wrongly that they’ve put an end to any scandal.
Of course things don’t work that way, and it starts a chain of events that dog poor Joan’s life. She’s clever though, ambitious, and ensures she does her best to make things work out how she wants them.

It sounds like she’s an unpleasant manipulative girl, but she’s not, not to me. She’s in love even though Thomas is so much older, she does her best to be a good wife to her husbands, to ensure she does what she can to help them, to make them happy, to get the recognition due to them. She adores her children and is a fierce, protective mother for their futures.
In a time when men ruled all, and women were simply chattels, to be moved around to forge alliances regardless of what they wanted, where they could be cast out easily, where the Royal Family and Parliament were in an uneasy power struggle, she did what she could for her family. I so felt for her, events had me really tearful at times. I didn’t see how blame could attach to her for what she did, but as always women seem to catch more than their fair share.

She was lucky in her friends from childhood, Will, her long time friend, sometime husband, and of course Ned, heir to the throne who’s another childhood friend, Isabella, a cousin I think or maybe second cousin…. Edward, the young king, is her cousin, and his wife Phillipa is a strong but gentle lady, and has brought up Joan since very young as part of the family, as was common in those days. The love between her and Edward has a great impact on Joan’s life.

Its a story of political machinations, the vicious scramble for power, backbiting, double dealing.
No-one could ever be quite certain the bargains they made, the allies they forged would really hold out when needed.
For Joan to have forged a path through that, a woman up against powerful men, at a time when they scarcely had a voice she was a remarkable person.

Its a story I really enjoyed, an author new to me but whose books I’ll certainly look out for in future.

Stars: five, a fabulous dive back into a time when women were almost voiceless so had to use clever ways of getting what they needed.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Distance Home, Orly Konig. Dating the Undead, Juliet Lyons

The Distance Home, Orly Konig

The Distance Home: A Novel by [Konig, Orly]

Genre:  Women’s fiction,

What a terrific debut book, absorbing story, well told and one I enjoyed reading.

Emma is the consummate career woman, successful, polished, and never really switches off from working. Her boss wasn’t keen to let her have the week off to attend to affairs after her fathers death, and she almost agrees with him, that could wait, work is more pressing. HR insists though so Emma makes the journey home ( great title , fits perfectly BTW), somewhere she’s not been for 16 years.  She’s no other realtives now so its a lonely journey.

The story is told from Emma’s POV, and in present/past flashbacks. That works well to slowly let the reader see what happened, how she grew up, why she is the person she is now. We think we know who she is and what happened, but it’s a very slow reveal to the full truth, and along the way Emma learns that her view of events is just that – her view, and things weren’t necessarily as simple as a child sees them. There were reasons she either didn’t understand or simply didn’t see.
As her stay gets extended she gets more drawn into the reactions of people around her about that one catastrophic event, the things that were a catalyst for it, with her recall set against why things happened.

I loved Emma, she was such a lonely child I felt for her. The horses had become her world and being a horse mad child and adult I could see how she got strength from them. My last horse died this year, 25 years of horse-owning, a childhood dream that took much effort and sacrifice but horse lovers will understand it was all worthwhile.

Of course while she’s being slowly drawn back, increasingly entrenched in that past life her current one is blowing up the internet. Frantic emails pass back and forth, demands to know how soon she can go back etc.
I did find it hard to see why she accepted there was something huge going on and yet happy to wait til she was back on the following Monday, some days away, to find out what. I wasn’t a quarter the workaholic Emma is and yet I couldn’t have waited, would have to have answers now, and that bit didn’t sit right with me.
Its a small crit though in a fabulous book I really enjoyed. Not sure its one I’d re-read now I know the story, favourite romances and some other books I love to read over and over but I don’t think this will join them.

Stars: four, great characters, including the animals, and a terrific debut read

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

** Pricing. £16.82/$20.98 for a debut read!! Wow, not sure I’d risk that – in fact I know I wouldn’t when there are top authors and best sellers in the £5-10 range

Dating the Undead,  Juliet Lyons

Dating the Undead (Undead Dating Service) by [Lyons, Juliet]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

First book in a new series and writing this I’m still undecided exactly how I feel. I didn’t Not like it but I wasn’t grabbed by it either…
The premise is good, sounded fun, a vampire dating site. No risk of relationships there you’d think, not with the potential age differences 😉 That’s just what Silver is looking for, sex and spice without the other guy wanting a HEA for them.

Well, I liked Silver – and then there were parts of her I didn’t. When it comes to her mum and how she died she feels a bit shallow almost, especially at the end when she learns more. “Oh, that’s how she died. OK then, what shall we do now?” that’s sort of how her reaction feels to me. Given all her former questions it just felt underwhelming somehow.
She gets on with her dad but isn’t really very nice to her step-mum, and I didn’t know why except that she’s acting like a teen and she’s not, she’s an adult. I think this shallowness about her is what I didn’t like.
I did like her independence and confidence, but she was just that bit too unfeeling. She has a great kiss with Logan, so joins V Date in search of more, and she’s happy to let a total stranger, one who could kill her easily, bite her.
The police interaction was just weird, that’s all I can say about that!

Logan, a great guy, loyal to his vampire lord/boss and yet the whole Anastasia saga make him look weak and feeble to me.
Somehow after all those years vampires have been around, most of them hidden from humans, you’d think they’d come up with a way round these rules that constrain them, even when keeping them risks so much.
Then that ending, rounds off the story neatly but too slick for me, a bit too convenient…I’m not a quick fix girl, I like solutions to come from things we know, to be worked hard for.

It sounds like there’s a lot I didn’t like here and that’s not true, it was a fun read, some good humour, and its a well written story, with potential for more. I did like the sound of Cop Vincent, subject of the next book.

Maybe its just first-book-in-series syndrome, where it has such a lot to achieve, setting out story for this book and future ones and introducing different characters. Its a hard ask for any book, and maybe for ones like this that also have a humorous side its more difficult.

Its was an ok read for me, I didn’t not like it, and bits made me smile, but its not one I’d read again. If you want a fun and light supernatural read with a gentle HEA this is for you. I just need a bit more depth and angst.

Stars: Three, an ok read, fun in parts but a bit light for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The First Year, Genevieve Gannon

The First Year, Genevieve Gannon

The First Year by [Gannon, Genevieve]

Genre:  General fiction (adult), women’s fiction

I really enjoyed this read. Marriage is hard work to make it successfully, just being “in love” isn’t always enough to overcome all the issues thrown at couples. And when they’re from such diverse backgrounds as Saskia and Andy its even harder. Both have baggage too in the way if Exes that are still around….

Its clear they adore each other, came together very suddenly after each had split from a serious relationship. Its been a whirlwind meeting, engaged and married within months of meeting, they vow on their honeymoon to show each other how much they love them every day- in an ingenuous way. They “contract” to make love each day, to carve out time to remind themsleves how precious their relationship is.
Well, on honeymoon that’s perfect, but back home the work pressures are high, families aren’t as supportive as they could be and slowly cracks appear.

Its kind of bittersweet, seeing it from both POV, and knowing how much they love and respect each other. Or do they? Does Andy really understand how important her art is to Saskia? Does she really follow how important this job is to him? There are rippling undercurrents of resentment, when first Andy and then Saskia spend time on work that they think should be relationship time, Andy-and-Saskia time.
Of course we can see it from outside, whereas they only have their own view, don’t know what else is going on, and as we all do, seethe resentfully when we feel we’re in the right….be honest, we’ve all done it. Justified a stance where maybe, just maybe we aren’t quite as right as we want to be.

Then there’s some huge pressures hit the couple and …they need to pull together quickly or fall apart. Its wonderfully played out, letting me understand both of them, see how easily one day becomes a week, becomes several weeks…so realistic when each struggles to make a move.

The copyright issue that affected Saskia and was a big part of the latter half of the book was so very true to life. As an artist I know people who’ve had work copied, not just by firms printing tea towels, mugs, place-mats of artworks etc but from factory style foreign artist companies who see a popular image, and copy it faithfully, using inferior materials and paying the artists next to nothing. Thus they can knock out an exact copy of a work at a fraction of the price. And the artist is pretty much helpless, all that time spent planning, painting, altering, studying before finally deciding this is the perfect work, all that is lost. Authors have the same issue when others try to copy their books, or – horrors- put them online on free-to-download sites. Makes me furious, and some series I’ve been following authors have stopped writing as there are more free downloads than sales.
Yes we do own copyright to our works but enforcing it takes time and money and sucess isn’t ensured.  As we see in this book, its very difficult to prove even when it looks on the surface very obvious, and for most its a risk to time and money they just don’t have. Bills need to be paid, people need to work, so finding time to deal with court legalities isn’t easy. I loved the way Saskia and co did it here, and the end result was very realistic, and perfect for the story.
Copying original work of any sort, evading paying an artist/author for their time is wrong, just plain wrong! Hurts everyone eventually when there’s no original stuff left. Why should people bother when all their time is wasted, when Ikea or some such store sell copies at a fraction, when their books aren’t selling because of free copies….We’ll get the bland, high street, chain store stuff we deserve if not careful. And that’s my rant over, promise 😉

Like I said its a very real look at life, marriage and how two individuals need to adapt to make a successful marriage. Its not one bending to the other, but both working equally, trusting each other, sharing problems as well as sucess. Looking at Saskia and Andy you can’t pinpoint where issues actually started, when  tiny problems became a huge ones and that’s what its like for most of us, its the tiny things that left untended grow to have the potential to destroy.

Stars: five, a fabulous look at life, realities of two individuals living as one while retaining separate identities. Looking at the pitfalls facing those couples who want to stay together, showing how love isn’t enough, successful co-habitation and respect takes a bit more.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Sex in the Sticks, A Love Hurts Novel, Sawyer Bennett. A Bride for a Day, Matchmaker Cafe Series Book 2, Pam Binder

Sex in the Sticks, A Love Hurts Novel, Sawyer Bennett
Sex in the Sticks: A Love Hurts Novel by [Bennett, Sawyer]

Genre:  Romance,

I’m a great fan of SB’s novels, and I think the only one so far that wasn’t a hit for me was Uncivilised. Now its been joined by this one. a good-ish book, well written of course but content? Romance? well, for me it was kind of meh…I can see others love it – well, I’m glad but it didn’t hit the expected spot for me.

I guess Valentine had a lot to do with that. I just didn’t really like her, found her shallow and almost vacuous, kidding herself her blog was “work”.
She’s a trust fund lady, has never know life without riches, luxuries there for the taking, spending – as she says $10,000 dollars on a weekend isn’t that unusual for her. She wasn’t unkind to those who didn’t have her kind of money but there’s no way she could understand them or their lifestyles.

The blog: Well, as a blogger and blog reader I know that for many blogs are Big Business, a full time job and very important.
Valentines a bit more like me, a hobby blogger. I do it to get ARCs as I could never afford to indulge my love of stories without them, Valentine does it for ? Well, I’m not really sure. Seems to be she thinks of it as a job, but a non paying one.
Some of her comments verged on cruel, and that kind of thing can be funny, but needs care and when she’s identifying who the other people are, but they don’t know about it I feel its kind of nasty.
It felt as if she was somehow looking down on them, that she was hinting they didn’t live up to what dating Valentine French was all about. It just made me think, what exactly does she feel is so attractive about her, why does she think she’s such a catch.

Logan, a great guy, loved him and the way the locals respected him.
When things went wrong between him and Valentine the first time he overreacted, IMO. Acted like a thwarted teen. Just ASK man, that’s all you have to do. He of all people should know about that kind of situation and how the truth gets twisted.
The second time I had more sympathy for him, but somehow by then I’d got a bit bored with the whole thing.
You may love it, lots of others do but for me, well, it was just between 2 and 3 stars.

Stars: two and a half, I did like a few bits but most of it I just didn’t enjoy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

A Bride for a Day, Matchmaker Cafe Series Book 2, Pam Binder

A Bride for a Day (Matchmaker Cafe Series Book 2) by [Binder, Pam]

Genre:  Romance, Women’s fiction

My first book by this author so I didn’t know what to expect. Sadly its one that didn’t work. I think that though this author’s work is perfect for many readers I’m looking for something different. That’s life.
I was intrigued by the synopsis but in practice the story has so much more. Unfortunately it wasn’t what I look for in a novel, and unfolded in a way that left me with more questions than answers.

Everything happened so fast, one morning she’s at work as usual, then later that day she’s marrying Michael!
I understood – just- the issues around the marriage, but in practical terms I just don’t believe they would work. Arranging a wedding in such a short time too isn’t possible, Scotland might be the land of elopement but even then there were/are time restrictions. You cannot simply get married on the day you think of it…Legalities just don’t allow it and without some kind of explanation of how they got round them I can’t put that aside.

Then there’s the reasons: I thought Tatiana’s issues felt contrived, I didn’t see that the marriage would affect that, and I didn’t like her or her mum.
Michael’s film and image problems too, well, they may be real but marrying one day, filing for divorce the next isn’t going to change them. Studio heads don’t make decisions this way, they wouldn’t have given him the role so quickly just because he got married on a whim. That doesn’t scream stable and settled even if he could convince them he’d known CC a while. Especially when his involvement in Tatiana’s life is well known..the practicalities just wouldn’t work.

And then there’s the second thread, the description makes no mention of this, the sisters and the magical matchmaking. I was pretty confused when that all started, I love fantasy novels but this was just…odd…and I found it hard to believe in.
I hadn’t read the first book, thinking it wouldn’t matter as these are connected but stand alone reads, so maybe that would have helped me understand what was going on there. Perhaps? I don’t know.
As it was I felt it was a book that had maybe just too much packed into too short a space, as it’s just 133 pages long.

I didn’t ever feel I knew the characters more than just a surface gloss of them, and I wasn’t really invested in them or their issues. Either a longer book so more detail, or less complex story might possibly have made a difference for me, but of course not all books suit all readers, and for very many readers this book will be perfect as it is.

If you like light and fluffy, don’t bother about practicality and reality and are happy to accept the story as its presented then you’ll love this.
If like me you need reasons for decisions, ones that feel real and are practical/legal, and want to get to know your characters well then probably you won’t.

Stars: Two, too unbelievable for me – and I don’t mean the fantasy side, but the practicalities.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Asher Black, Parker S. Huntington

Asher Black, Parker S. Huntington

Asher Black: (Book 1 of The Five Syndicates Series) by [Huntington, Parker S.]

Genre:  Romance,

After reading this I was looking for more info on author, and astonished to read that its her first book and…she’s only 21! That came as a real shock as IMO its a very well written, polished novel, and I can only imagine what Parker is going to produce with a bit more experience! An author to watch.

So…I rarely read Mafia/biker/MC type novels. I just find usually they’re a combination of pet hates, grunting, monosyllabic alpha males and improbable story-lines.
I don’t mind a bit of artistic licence, a small leeway in what’s credible, but find these tend to stretch my beliefs too far.
Then there’s the Mafia type ones, where the MC kills indiscriminately all the way through but – hey he’s very good looking so we’ll just ignore all those dead bodies…that really annoys me.

Parker contacted me though and offered an ARC.
As I have KU I chose to read it that way, feeling as its a genre I wouldn’t usually choose that was fairer than accepting an ARC and writing a low review if I didn’t like it, when I know that its very likely it won’t be a read that suits me.

And I was wrong, very wrong.
Yes Asher is Alpha male, but very literate, very intelligent and not prone to the grunting commands I so hate. His decisions are thought through thoroughly, he works hard at his business, has built it up from nothing and is careful about his position.
There are rumours about his Mafia background, it suits him to say nothing. He’s killed in the past, had Mafia connections but as he explains to Lucy, that’s not who he is now. Even the murders when explained I could understand. I don’t need to agree always with a characters actions, but I do need to understand the motivation, the reason why, before I can say – OK that’s in the past and get behind him or her.

The plots in this book are pretty well set out, easy to follow and felt credible, maybe stretched what’s acceptable a bit much at times ( the way he can sort Anything, literally anything it seems, whether its a parking ticket, ticket for something sold out, Lucy’s school issues or just having the cops help him cover up or gloss over an event) but somehow it all worked out and felt good.
So yes, the reason he’s needs a fiancee isn’t that original, but it works, and with so many stories around there’s always an overlap of some plots.
For me Parker made this story work, caught me up in the tale, anticipating events that played out, getting caught out by ones I didn’t see.
I love drama, its the one thing that Mafia/MC reads do well and I enjoy. Its just the rest of the plots that usually have me avoiding them. Maybe I need to take a closer look at some in future 😉 Here Parker got plenty of it in – and I loved it. I would have liked a bit more downs towards the end, I do love sad parts too so long as I get a HEA!

There’s a great group of characters here, and I love that Parker includes some nasties, some real bi tch ladies. They always add to the fun for me, I do love to see them built up then brought down 😉
There’s some great heat in this, some serious sensuality that’s well done. I hate when sex overtakes a story, here Parker has the balance just right.

Overall its a book I loved, totally against what I expected. The Mafia connection is mainly in the past and really only a small part of the story, and there’s so very much more to this read than Mafia murders…

Stars: five, a really fun and sensual read, a romance I thoroughly enjoyed. Perfect drama for me 😉

Read via KU at authors request.

The A-List Diet, Fred Pescatore. Tom, Ann Voss Peterson

The A-List Diet, Lose up to 15 Pounds and Look and Feel Younger in Just 2 Weeks, Fred Pescatore

The A-List Diet: Lose up to 15 Pounds and Look and Feel Younger in Just 2 Weeks by [Pescatore, Fred]

Genre: Health, Mind & Body

Hmnnn, if like me you’ve been in a lifelong weight battle that headline Lose up to 15 Pounds and Look and Feel Younger in Just 2 Weeks will appeal. So I eagerly dived into this book and….
Well, if you’ve a Science degree maybe you’ll follow it better. My degree is Law, and some of those papers were pretty dull, but they had nothing on this.
It felt like my poor word selection lookup on my paperwhite was in use several times on far too many pages with all the fancy/complex terms he uses.
I’ll pick a page totally at random and quote a few lines just so you can see what I mean about words. Ok, its loc 1194: “…of the cell to the mitochrondria, where it is used to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the fuel that powers all cellular activity”. Further down that page he talks about Aspartic acid being good for the mind, increasing NADH which boosts production of neurotransmitters, and removes excess toxins from cells especially ammonia, which is damaging to the brain.
You thought this was a diet book didn’t you? A magic fix to help you lose that stone quickly. Well, there are recipes and ordinary-ish advice, but they come quite a way into the book after you battled through all the science stuff first, and read about recommended tablets etc. And of course there’s lots of them, but it’s OK, Fred sells them.
So he starts off with a week long detox, assuring us we will not get hungry, and citing a patient who had persistent and so far untreatable pain and fatigue issues. She was one of the first to try his detox, and after looked like a whole new person! She lost 8 lbs, regained colour to her face, and talked about going back to work after she’d thought she wouldn’t ever be able to. Sounds a little miraculous to me.
Of course there’s also the proviso found in all diet books, the one we never pay attention to, that says check with your GP before starting and you may not lose as much weight as suggested.

So what is the detox? Well, basically nothing for first two days except water and herbal teas, then a little broth after that. Later in the week we get to add…eggs, then avocado and finally a few nuts and fish. And the pills of course: a good multi-vitamin, which he sells at 2 three times a day, a detox supplement formula ( again he makes one) at 2 three times a day, and one Reg’Active ( that’s what’s written,not sure what it is) twice per day. Its not hard to see how a week of this will result in weight loss, but a lot harder for me to believe I won’t be hungry, especially the first two days!
After that it depends on what sort of person you are as to what you eat, he breaks people down into six different types and treats each differently, which I found interesting. There’s some pretty comprehensive lists of foods according to what type of person you are, but they seem to be mainly along the lines of lean protein and vegetables, avoiding carbs and starchy veg and including only a little fruit.
It kind of makes sense as these foods are good for the body and do increase metabolism, but I’m not yet convinced.
One issue I have as a UK reader is that I know many of these foods by a different name, but there are also many that I haven’t a clue what they are, and they’re certainly not available in the rural part of the country where I live.
I know the internet is great for sourcing most stuff, but not fresh food. I’m thinking of creme fraiche qurut, coconut butter soy milk ( unless maybe that’s two things and a misprint?), queso fresco Gervais, chaource, eposses, harz, livarot ( that doesn’t sound good for liver 😉 ) caprini, abondance….you see what I mean here? This is just a fraction of the list. Once past week one and the supplements needed there, we need more for the next parts of the diet, specially formulated by Fred.

What I like about the diet is no calorie counting, no fat gram counting and long lists of foods that can be eaten ( even if I don’t know what many of them are). I enjoy reading about why and how certain things work, it helps me to stick to a diet when i know, for example, that lean protein boots metabolism which in turn helps fat burning.
There’s a useful section of recipes included in the second half of the book, but they are once more pretty complex. For example breakfast of fried egg and gruyere on a bed of avocado has nine ingredients and mexican fried eggs has thirteen..vegetable soup has seventeen, stuffed chicken and squash ribbons has fifteen. I find the more ingredients, the less likely I am to make a recipe for every day use. Too long in the kitchen and I want to nibble.
I do like that Fred sells the specific tablets needed.

What I don’t like about this book though is that Fred sells tha tablets. Yep, that’s ight, I do and don’t lie it. Do in that its easy to get them ( in US anyway), and don’t in that the cynic in me is thinking do we really need them? Is this just a way to get more money out of people?
Then IMO he goes too far in the explainations, blinding the reader with scientific terms and stats and words we’ve never heard of. That makes me a bit suspicious, maybe I’m just a cynic, but I like simple transparency. Not everyone is like me though, some like the fuller texts.
Back at work some 20 years ago I was talking to a head teacher about one of the floors we cleaned. I told him I’d brought a new product for the cleaner to use, no machine polishing needed, as it was a new trial of a self shining, floor sheen emulsion. Or something like that… It was a tiny school, very little profit and the company wouldn’t spring for the expense of a floor polisher. If I’d said no need for a machine I’ve got a different polish, he wouldn’t have been happy. Suggest its something new and fancy and he was. Some people need the complexity more than they want the transparency. I guess its like needing scientific terms to let you be able to believe, rather than just understand how it works.
I think in theory this is a good weight loss book – if you can stick to it and don’t mind spending lots on supplements.
I think the headline 15 lbs in 2 weeks is something most people will focus on and few will achieve. Celebrity diets are fine, they tend to have chefs to source, weight, measure and cook everything, but for the ordinary person I can’t see this book being really helpful.
For me its not a diet that appeals, I’d rather get my vitamins and nutrients from real food than a pill.

Stars: Three, for me its not tempting but I guess it might appeal to others who are dedicated to what they eat, and have patience to follow this. It does have some useful advice, even if its all locked up in jargon and soundbites.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Tom, Ann Voss Peterson

Tom (Renegade Magic) by [Ann Voss Peterson]

Genre:  Romance, Mystery and thrillers

I knew this was a trilogy, written by three different authors, but didn’t realise each section would be so short, this part of the story is only just over 1000 kindle locations, around 80 pages I’d guess.

I have issues with shorts, novellas, I find they just don’t let me explore the characters and the story in the depth I need to enjoy it. That’s not so for everybody, many readers love the brevity of stories like this, especially those with little free time.

It did mean that though I found the story interesting, intriguing even, although I hadn’t read part one, but that I felt it was just too slick, cut and dried, easy answers.

Hardly had an event happened that the solution was found, everything was very quick with no time for the characters to mull over, make mistakes. It felt like problem, solution, sorted, within a few pages.

There’s such a lot going on here that it means nothing really gets explained, contains any great mysteries or needs deep thinking to ponder whats going to happen, because turn a few pages and it does 😉

Its well written, intriguing and has characters and a storyline I think I’d like if I could know them in more detail, but for me its all just too quick, too short.

If that’s what you want though, a quick, sensual read with a side of mystery and puzzles that get solved promptly, then this is a read you may love.

Stars: Three, its a good read, just too short for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Lost Rider, Harper Sloan and The Actor, Savannah Addison

Lost Rider,  Harper Sloan

Lost Rider: Coming Home Book 1 by [Sloan, Harper]

Genre:  romance,

I’m just about to do my review, having finished this yesterday and it’s a difficult one to write. I liked it but….I just didn’t love it as I thought I would from the description, felt it was a little underwhelming, slow paced.
Its a well written tale, great characters and I loved the description. In practice though I just didn’t really feel much was happening, felt it was very slow going.

I’ve just read another story where the backgrounds are very similar, H has father who hates him, there are secrets in his background, abandoned by mother, and the h hasn’t seen him for 11 years, since she was 16. Familiar? Yep, they even shared one, toe curling, ecstatic kiss before hearts were broken. In contrast that story was a five for me, I loved it.
Same premise, just very differently executed and where that was perfect for me and this one less so I know that others will have the reverse reaction. Horses for courses…

I liked Maverick, even if at first he was a total jerk. I wasn’t convinced though that he’d return if it wasn’t forced on him, even though he is supposedly in love with Leigh.
I liked her character too, strong and resolute, but she’s never forgotten Maverick and That Kiss, and seems to have put her love life on hold, never letting anyone match up to the perfect image she has of Maverick. I’m not so keen on that side of her, it wasn’t like they dated or anything, she just has a teen crush on him and of course now they are two very different people.
She’s holding to a man that isn’t real, and as they didn’t have a close connection may only ever have existed in her mind. That’s a lot to base your life around.
She’s got on with her life otherwise and I liked her enterprising spirit and loyalty to her best friend and her brother, Mavericks siblings.

I usually like day to day details as they bring the characters thoughts and actions to life, but somehow it just didn’t grab me here.
My favourite part of the book was when they were in the restaurant and the two “ladies” come up and blatantly run down Leigh, and offer their services in her place. Maverick gives them the perfect reply!! I adore that kind of scene where the b itches get what’s coming to them.
Sadly the rest of the book didn’t have anywhere near that character for me, though of course for others its perfect. Its one of those where its not the book, it’s a good, well written story, its just me 😦

Stars: Three, a good story, just a bit low key for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Actor, Savannah Addison

The Actor by [Addison, Savannah]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult

Usually I read review novels more or less in the order I get them, but this one had one of my hooks, actors/Hollywood so it got an early read….sadly though it was an OK read, it wasn’t one of the best for me.

I know this is a NA read, but didn’t realise they key characters would be Quite that Young! I found given the ages of Colton and Haven (22 and 17) it was hard for me to believe in them. I just couldn’t see a 17 yr old running a farm worth millions of dollars alone. There’s mention of contractors in for the harvest but the rest, the chickens, horses and cattle, she does alone. Nope, animals need a lot of care and the amount they must have to make up this value would need a dedicated team of workers.
Then there’s Colton, failed at rehab, multiple times, yet doesn’t get any health issues giving up? Would you really throw someone like that to your young cousin who’s already got far more to cope with that she needs?
Later we get all the issues with the farm, her mother and brother and like the problems I have believing in Colton and Haven and what they can/can’t do these problems also lacked credibility. Things just don’t happen like that in the real world.

I think this is Savanaah’s debut novel, and its clear she’s got a way with words, can create fictional settings well, but for me it needs a bit more fine tuning, a little closer look at what can really happen as opposed to what she wants to happen to move the story along.
The story is potentially good, the psynopsis certainly drew me in, the writing is good but the plots just lacked badly, very badly in the believability factor for me.
That meant I found it really hard to get behind the issues thrown up, to see the characters as real, to sympathise when things went wrong.
There’s the stuff I’ve covered, but also things like legalities of what happens between her mother and brother, what could happen to the far, etc. I feel the practicalities and legalities don’t work for someone like me who needs them to feel genuine, to give a story I feel is real. I know its fiction but its not fantasy…..
Having given us a day to day start of the book the last few pages covered a time span and events that last months. That kind of glossed over me as unreal and felt a bit jarring, as though the author wanted to wrap the story up quickly, without going into too much detail.

I did like the start and there were some snappy lines that were fun, and I’m sure others who don’t need to believe in characters and feel plots could be real will love this. For me it was just over Didn’t Like, just under Good.

Stars: 2.5, a good idea but lacking reality for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Other People’s Business , HJ Moat

Other People’s Business , HJ Moat

Other People's Business by [Moat, HJ]

Genre:  Romance

So, blush time here, I’m a book lover who’s never read Much Ado About Nothing.
In my defence we were force fed Shakespeare at school, never allowed to just enjoy a book but had to dissect it, analyse the life out of it, and for me that just spoiled it. Not just Shakespeare but other fiction too…..didn’t affect my love of books and stories but did put me off some Classics. So I can’t tell you how it stands up the the original, just how this appealed to me as a contemporary story.

Great characters here from Lawrence – who I hated as a supercilious rich boy, Will and Imogen who were both so sweet it almost hurt my teeth, and my favourites Ben and Bee. I loved those two, they had such perfect lines, such acid humour and though I understood why Bee was so hurt, I didn’t really understand Ben til we learned more of him towards the end.

Of course there’s also nasty John, Lawrence’s brother, who’s malicious through and through, Daniel and Barnaby who work for Lawrence and who he’s insisted are invited to the wedding. In his typical steamroller way Lawrence has commandeered the wedding as a kind of team building exercise, and Imogen is so in love with Will that she goes along with everything. I’d like to see him try that with Bee 🙂
Then there’s Len, Imogen’s father who’s such a great guy. He’s worked hard for his wealth but hasn’t forgotten his roots, and adores his daughters and Bee.
One more star, Frank ( I think was his name), the guy who looks after the grounds and pigs for Len. He was just perfect with his two cohorts when  things went awry!

So, the wedding of the century is on, or at least that’s how it feel to Bee, and she’s going to come face to face with Ben. And its not going to be pleasant.
True to form there are some acidly sharp, but very funny exchanges, but each leash their claws a little as its a wedding of their best freinds.
I loved the snappy humour, the way it was clear that love and hate are really two sides of the same coin. these two were perfect for each other. If only they could get past their pasts….

Everything’s going well, and then cracks seep in. Ben seems to get excluded from some secret mystery meetings between Will, Lawrence and John, and the three are acting very strangely.
When the bombshell hits Ben really comes into his own. I Hated the smugness of Will and Lawrence, hated their actions and poor Immy. what an awful thing.
From then its all about change, with relationships on and off, on and off before they all finally settle.

Its a fun read, a good romance, ( though I still feel Immy was too good for Will. His actions really were horrific, whatever he believed – but she loved him!)
Like I said, how it stands up to Shakespeare I can’t tell you, but I enjoyed it as a story in its own right.
I’ve read books based on other stories and films, and seen films of books and for me they work best when they take the ethos and run with it, but create a fresh new story rather than following step for step the original.
From reading synopsis of Shakespeare’s MAAN I think this one is one of those, the fresh story based on an original line.

If you’re looking for a romance read with lots of drama, some great humour and fabulous characters then give this a try, its a fun story.

Stars: Five, a book that made me smile, made me sad and at times made me angry. For me a great read.
ARC supplied for review purposes by author

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