Tag Archive | adventure

A Marriage of Lions, An auspicious match. An invitation to war., Elizabeth Chadwick

A Marriage of Lions, An auspicious match. An invitation to war., Elizabeth Chadwick

A Marriage of Lions: An auspicious match. An invitation to war. by [Elizabeth Chadwick]

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance.

Tastes change as you age, but Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels have been favourites of mine for a very long time, a good 25 years or so.
I don’t read historical novels often, but love ones like these, set on a personal level, taking real events and people and weaving what could have happened from the research available. I love that I feel taken back in time, that I’m living events with the characters.
True to history there are hard times, casual violence, starvation and the ever present battles and loss of life. As always women are chattels to be disposed of in political alliances, and do as bidden by their male relatives….Tough times indeed.

I loved Joanna and her feelings and staunch loyalty to William. That was sorely tested at times. We can see when they first marry how William loves her, but is still very much a boy, where Joanna has always been ahead of her age and is the far more responsible of them. William and his brothers are at times careless, heedless of their position, and it brings him into some dangerous areas. Joanna has deep waters to smooth.
Still, life then was very turbulent, things could change day to day, those at the top brought down by a carefully worded whisper to the King. He has strong feelings for his half brothers – but their being French means there is a lot of jealousy from the English, even though William is very careful to be even handed and treat everyone equally.

As usual this story covers several years, and we see the main characters grow, see rivalries and dislikes become out and out hatreds, leading to some dangerous times. Its a fantastic read, one to treasure and reread.

Stars: five, another dip into history for me, losing myself for hours in times and ways long gone.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Love you to Death, Reily Garrett.

Love you to Death, Reily Garrett.

Love You To Death: FBI Romantic Thriller (Moonlight and Murder Book 6) by [Reily Garrett, RE Hargrave]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romantic Suspense

I really enjoyed this. I think much of that comes from having read some of the earlier books, I’m familiar with the characters and how the team works. The only issue I had was that Dylan was a major romance lead when its only been months since his love was killed. I find it difficult to believe someone can fall in love again so quickly – but that’s just me, its not an issue for everyone of course, and didn’t spoil the story.
I loved Dylan in the last book, Deadly Interception so was pleased he’s the male focus of this one.
Taylor is ambitious, fresh out of probation and working along with her dog Magnum, she’s been given the job of looking into cold cases of missing girls. Out in the woods she gets a terrific break ( and OK its fiction right, so go with it. Strange things happen even in real life) when the latest would be abduction goes wrong and the victim escapes. She meets Dylan with Amelia, the victim, and another man, both helping but also very suspicious of the other, especially Dylan. We know his background but Taylor doesn’t so she’s immediately wary of both.
Gradually the team become involved, Taylor is wary but can’t deny the results, and her supervisor Trenton seems to know and approve of them all so goes along with it. It beings her right into danger several times, and I enjoyed trying to work out along with her so was behind this. There are some interesting clues, some I missed at first of course, that always seems to happen….I’ll get better one day at finding them. I’m in awe of how authors think of all these thinks, think of how to set up little signs that aren’t obvious until it all comes together. Reading I love, writing had never been my forte though! I just don’t have that kind of imagination.
I was still puzzled by the motives though, even when the person behind the abductions was revealed, and then there’s a lead in to the next book which shows that its actually not all over yet. They have one of the major players captured but it looks very much like there is another, so of course the motive is yet to come 😉
Trenton seems to be involved in the next story, I hope he’s the male lead. He’s kind of on the fringe of the group right now, but has some good talents and connections and could give much to them.
As always the dogs ( and Keiki’s drones) play a major part, and I love that they’re brought in that way. Dogs in real and fictional crimes don’t get the recognition they deserve very often!

Stars: Five for this one, a really gripping and entertaining read. I look forward to more on this story.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Six Crimson Cranes, Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes, Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes by [Elizabeth Lim]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, teens and YA.

Well, re-tellings are a bit hit and miss for me, some I’ve adored and others…well, lets just say I didn’t. This story though, based on the old Grimms fairy tale, pulled at me. I adored Grimms as a kid, any fairy stories but especially those, and I’d read them over and over.( Mum used to say “Jeannie, you’re too old for fairy tales.” I’d have been maybe 9 or 10….) I’m much, much older now – frankly, you’re Never too old for fairy tales 😉
I remember this one so well, the poor sister spinning and knitting sweaters out of nettles…

Elizabeth makes the sister a princess, and the brothers princes. Sets them in a beautiful Eastern setting, with woods that stretch for miles, huge snow covered mountains, harsh dusty roads. There’s a very pronounced master/servant divide that works so well for the story.
The closeness of Shiori and her brothers grows, she’s always been loyal to them, loves them, but they’ve grown apart over the years. Now though, forced into each others company, depending on each other to break the curse, they grow back as one unit.

I loved this book, loved the addition of dragons, loved the fantasy elements that were still true to the original story but changed to fit this new one. I enjoyed the way Eastern beliefs and myths were woven into an essentially European fairy tale. It all added to that overall roundness of the story, made it feel believable.
I really liked seeing the day to day life, the little things like Shiori struggling to work for the lady she tried to steal the boat from. There were some great characters, harsh ones, kind ones, and of course my favourite, the cruel but clever, wicked ones.
Shiori grew so much in this book, from a sweet but selfish princess, into a much more rounded and understanding character. I enjoyed the gentle romance that grew towards the end, loved the way poor Shiori and her brothers seemed to take one step forward and two back. Those setbacks all added to the story, pushed her and her brothers into devising even more ways to try to break the curse. Kiki though, Kiki really was the star for me. I loved her, and can’t wait to see where Elizabeth takes her and Shiori on the next adventure.
This story is complete but…there are seeds sown for a follow-up that I’d love to read.

Stars: Five, a fun read for all ages, not just teens and YA.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

How to Talk to a Goddess, (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic 2), Emily Croy Barker 

 

How to Talk to a Goddess, (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic 2),
Emily Croy Barker 

How to Talk to a Goddess and Other Lessons in Real Magic by [Emily Croy Barker]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Sci-fi and fantasy

Its so long since I read book one that I decided to reread it. I remembered parts but discovered there was much I’d forgotten, and found that it was still as much fun as first time round.
Then I went straight on to read this and I think having refreshed my thoughts via first book made it easier to get into Nora’s mind, to follow why she chose certain actions. I was a bit sad for her parents who would once more get plunged into a mysterious disappearance, but really, how could she explain it? I think at least leaving them a note would have been kind, even if they don’t believe it.
I liked that Nora’s return was not seamlessly easy, and very believable. I wondered how after accidentally slipping into that world she’d be able to repeat it, and it was done in a way that felt natural.

I loved this book, the first is still my favourite by a small margin, but this has some great parts. I did like the things that happened, good and bad, to Nora and Aruendiel, the separation, the jealousies ( I love a good jealous issue!) I wasn’t so keen on the Goddess parts, and of course that’s a huge part of the story. It wasn’t that I disliked that part, I just felt Nora became someone else at times, and I wasn’t convinced she’d have acted in the way she did.
I’m glad the Faitoren were brought in and a resolution found, that tied up any lose parts from earlier and allowed the story to move forward.
I enjoyed meeting Aruendiel’s friends, and how they pulled together in dangerous times. The magic, I love that, loved the workings of the spells, loved the whole idea but then at heart I can’t help wishing there was magic in the world…..
Its a fun read, a worthy follow up and I would still like more from this world. I think Nora, Aruendiel and their friends could still have lots of adventures.

Stars: Five, A fabulous read, worthy follow up. And please Emily, more??

ARC supplied by author

The Getaway, A holiday romance for 2021 – perfect summer escapism!, Isabelle Broom

The Getaway, A holiday romance for 2021 – perfect summer escapism!, Isabelle Broom

The Getaway: A holiday romance for 2021 - perfect summer escapism! by [Isabelle Broom]
Genre: Romance, women’s fiction ( adult)

Bah humbug, women’s romance again. I hate reading that in categories, so outdated.
|Anyway, this was fun. Poor deluded Kate, after a disastrous 30th birthday she’s going through a break up of epic proportions. She’s been with her ex for 8 years and the end blindsided her. Her friends, parents don’t know how to help get her out of the mire she’s in, depressed, in tears. She’d just lost her job too, not that it was something she liked but it was a job. Big brother Toby comes to the rescue, takes her off to Croatia to help him and his husband Filippo with the new hostel, and they seriously need that help!
I loved Toby and Filippo, loved the island of Hvar and the people. Kate finds that she’s not the disaster she thought, she does have talent and discovers a field she enjoys and is good at. I loved her personal growth, her build up of self belief, the way she was able to look back and see she wasn’t the person her ex portrayed.
Of course she meets someone new. The gorgeous Alex, who’s not without his own problems. I did find the coincidence of their meeting and what she knew a tiny bit hard to believe….but its book-land! I also found that once there she was able to let go of the past 8 years with her ex pretty quickly. I didn’t want her to wallow but I did feel she moved on faster than I expected. Maybe that’s just book timing, its set over a short period but for me I was a little surprised.
There’s fabulous descriptions of life on the island, great characters, and lots of twists in the story, some of which had me cheering and yet tearful too. I enjoyed reading this story, it didn’t keep me gripped to the page, I did read over a few periods, but that’s me not the book.

Stars: Three, great holiday read, sweet romance, and great portrayal of personal growth

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

A Grimoire for Gamblers, (The Trove Arbitrations Book 1), Amanda Creiglow

A Grimoire for Gamblers, (The Trove Arbitrations Book 1), Amanda Creiglow


Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Sci-fi and Fantasy

This sounded unusual, and that’s good in a market saturated with so many fantasy reads that are almost copies…so I dived in.
The magic here is different, very different to the usual, and I liked that, it was good to read a protagonist that wasn’t instantly transformed into someone more skilled than others hundreds of years older. Magic here – for humans at least – relies on skill, practice, accuracy- and intention. I really felt that part was one of the things that sets this novel above so many others.

I liked Elizabeth, and understood her grief for her father even though he’d been trying to end his life for some time. Her curiosity – that would be me, I couldn’t leave such interesting papers and items alone either….The grief provides a convenient excuse for her not being at work too, which gives her time to sort out this mess she’s inadvertently involved in. I didn’t see the point of the boyfriend, Faisal, he’s away for most of the novel and doesn’t add anything. Their relationship doesn’t feel like a very solid one, there’s no real pull between them, they feel more like flatmates than lovers.

I did get a little confused by all the different magical creatures, and I’m still not entirely sure what/where the Gravelings come from. That kind of brings up the weakness in the story for me, I have several unanswered questions. I didn’t understand the relevance of some incidents, felt others were too slickly glossed over. Max seems almost manic at times, yet terrified of his masters – why? What was the significance of the train, other than to begin events? The solutions occasionally seemed a bit slick, though the end result, the big problem, worked excellently for me. Complex enough to make me think, yet with a logic that I could understand.

Overall this was a fun read, and the issues I had could easily be put down to first in series syndrome. Those books have a tough ask, delivering a story interesting enough to hook the reader, but a world wide enough to carry future books. I think its successful here, I’d certainly like to read more.

Stars: Three and a half, its a fun fantasy, but with some darker edges. Holds promise for an interesting series.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Deadly Interception, (Moonlight and Murder 5), Reily Garrett

Deadly Interception, (Moonlight and Murder 5), Reily Garrett

Deadly Interception (Moonlight and Murder Book 5) by [Reily Garrett, R E Hargrave]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers.

Well, book five in the series and the gang is growing. Hands up here, I’ve only read book three before, but each book can be read as a stand alone. TBH though, I think if you’re a thriller reader I’d say start at the beginning, part of the fun in this story was being back with characters I felt I knew from book three, so if you know ALL of them 😉

Reily’s wring is fun, lots of snarky humour, not that artificial forced stuff, but almost throwaway lines that really hit the point. And the dogs, I adore animals and the dogs here are perfect, fit the story so well. ( and why do I feel the bore of four eyes on me, my girls mentally saying to me “ but we’re perfect too!” Dogs are good at the guilt trip)

Each person in the gang has their own talents and connections that are integral to the plots, and for me Keiki’s drones are amazing, but the dogs win out….again! The teamwork and camaraderie is what makes these reads such fun. I’m not a huge thriller reader, and I’m sure there’s bits I missed here, clues that passed over me but its a satisfying read. As an occasional thriller reader I don’t want to get bogged down in detail or read stomach churning gore scenes. Reilly gets it right, adventure, fun, scares, just the right amount of dangers, the dogs and a bit of tech to help get the bad guys…. and a background of romance. Perfect for me.

Stars: Four, an absorbing read, just the right amount of danger for me, lightened with some terrific snarky lines.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Summer Job, The hottest new debut of 2021 – WARNING: this is not your typical rom com, Lizzy Dent

The Summer Job, The hottest new debut of 2021 – WARNING: this is not your typical rom com, Lizzy Dent

The Summer Job: The most feel-good romcom of 2021 soon to be a TV series by [Lizzy Dent]

Genre: Romance, General Fiction

I’ve read a few like this and found them great fun, and hey, with Covid dominating our thoughts fun and fluff is much needed.

I really didn’t like Birdy at first, she seemed careless, selfish, and ready to possibly drop her best friend in it, to “borrow” the job for which she knows Heather has worked incredibly hard. Sommelier – Heather has spent years working at it, studying, building a steadfast reputation, and yet her supposed best friend is ready to risk her career, risk her losing all that?
Yes., Birdie is in a hole, but thinking she could just step into Heather’s shoes was naïve to say the least, selfish in my eyes.

As the story moved on I did come to understand Birdie a little better, and see that she had a good heart, though I still felt she did a horrible thing to Heather.
There were funny moments, serious problems, heartbreaking sadness, and the food…..wow, that was some of the best part, visualising that. One of the best parts, one that showcased Birdie’s talents, was the big food/wine event she presided over. That was just perfect.

The romance. I expected more, and TBH its really just a potential romance for the most part of the book. I’m not sure I was wholly convinced either.

Its a fun read if you can get past the issues of betrayal of her friend, and of course risking the whole hotel’s renovation that hinges like all businesses, on getting the money in.

Stars: Three, an OK read, made me laugh at times but I was irritated by Birdie’s actions too much, with her lack of concern for others.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman, Julietta Henderson

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman, Julietta Henderson

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman: The most uplifting book you’ll read in 2021 by [Julietta Henderson]

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult),

Wow, a book to make you laugh and cry in the same moment, its a real bittersweet read.

I loved it, for a debut book its a real cracker, something that kept me fully engrossed. There was so much detail, and at times it was so emotional that I read it in breaks. Its not a book to race to the end to see what happens, but one of those where you need to savour the journey, to enjoy each moment, each even as they happen.

Jax, poor, poor Jax. The kid everyone but Norman and Sadie see as a problem. The naughty kid, the one who’s always in trouble. Sadie tells Norman ( and I’m sure she told Jax too) that he makes it hard for people to like him, and yet when it comes to Norman he’s so full of patience, so full of help, ideas, of ways to bolster up Norman.
Lets face it, most kids are cruel and when like Norman you have a very obvious skin condition you can just imagine how hard it is for him. Actually adults can be cruel too, I’m sure Jax deflected as many comments off them too.
Even though Jax dies very early in the book, he’s still there, alive in Normans head, giving him confidence, reminding him all the work they’ve done “ Timing Normie, Timing”.

There’s a host of incredible characters here, some turning out to be not what they first seemed, events that could be so wrong but which turn out just right. Sadie thinks she’s a bad mum, and I guess when it comes to organisation, housework, the mundane stuff she’s not the best, but as a mum she’s perfect, just who Norman needs. He never once doubts her love, she’s always there for him, never says “ not now, I’m busy hoovering” She’d probably say “hoovering, ah well, that can wait til next month”
She adores Jax too, not just for the support and confidence he gives Norman, but for himself. She sees the boy behind the naughty facade.
When they come up with the trip I was thinking What? Seriously? And yet it works, with the help of the wonderful Leonard and his passion for learning via adult education classes.

Its a fabulous read, fun events and characters mixed with tragedy and sadness, and it felt so real, so vivid and true. Though real life probably wouldn’t pack quite so much in one go! The laughter about Norman and his scales dropping off on the hotel bed-sheets ( he’s the one laughing half the time), and that decamping at speed after the Chinese medicine stained towels, with the aid of Adam and the mobility scooter kind of sums up the story. Its sad, its funny, its real. The encounter with James was so funny, I could just visualise James and little Norman brazening it out – and it was the perfect set up for Norman and his confidence, to put him on the track of his future. Dave Allen, like Norman I adored his comedy, and slow burn stories was clearly Normans future.

Stars: Five, a fabulous read, full of a perfect sad/sweet/happy mix. I laughed even as I was feeling so sad for poor Norman, and he’d want me to stick with the laughing.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Home on Folly Farm, The perfect uplifting romantic comedy for 2021, Jane Lovering

Home on Folly Farm, The perfect uplifting romantic comedy for 2021, Jane Lovering

Home on Folly Farm: The perfect uplifting romantic comedy for 2021 by [Jane Lovering]

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

I love Jane’s books. On the surface they’re a cute, HEA story but when you get into them there is so much more. This one is set in rural Yorkshire, small sheep farm, and was so well described I felt I was there, alongside the characters. It covers so much, teen pregnancy, depression, drug taking, coping with the loss of children, so many interwoven subjects, and all handled sensitively, and in such a way that they don’t drag the story down, don’t depress the reader but made me want to know more about the characters. And it’s full of quiet, subtle humour like this “ a bit like being haunted by Reebok” in relation to Thor and his trainers….you have to look for some of it or you’ll miss is, its so cleverly done.

I loved Dora – but then we’re seeing her via her own voice, so of course events are skewed to her perspective. I hated Cass to begin, in fact for the greater part of the novel, but again as we see at the end I’m viewing her through Dora’s perspective, not exactly unbiased. Nat, lovely, lovely Nat, quiet but firm, brilliant tutor, and not just to Thor. And of course that brings me to Thor, who was a fabulous character. I loved seeing his transformation from sullen, bored, preteen to excitable, normal twelve year old boy.

The sheep rustling scene is one that will stay with me, Thor and his Vlog followers, gang of teens dragging their parents out of bed at 4am for an adventure, and to rescue web famous lambs Flick and Knife – yep, Thor named them. I had tears running down my face, had to keep rereading as the words blurred, it was hysterically funny.
I hate when a book promises “ you will laugh out loud” because I find that rarely delivers, but this scene, well, it was just what I needed in these grim Covid days. An unexpected bonus.

Its a fabulous story, with so much real life packed in, so much abut human psyche, how we react to others, become whats expected. By the end I felt I really understood the characters, and could see events with a different eye. The same things happened, the same results, but the characters weren’t the dislikable, selfish ones I thought, but had reasons for acting that way and when Dora understood that it really improved her life and relationships too. The months on the farm transformed all of them, they all ended in a better place.

Stars: Five, a gem of a read, Jane’s wonderful writing, delivering another perfect story, pathos and humour, love and disasters, all in one great novel.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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