Tag Archive | adventure

The Love Scam, MaryJanice Davidson

The Love Scam, MaryJanice Davidson

The Love Scam (Danger, Sweetheart) by [MaryJanice Davidson]

Genre: Romance

I really wanted to like this, sounded like a fun and quirky read but sadly I just couldn’t get on with it, gave up eventually and DNF.
Rake is a barely functioning alcoholic, what Delaney saw in him I’ve no idea. When thwarted he acted like a petulant spoiled child, he rambled incessantly about unimportant things, and seemed to feel the answer to everything was to throw money at it. Not a nice man, and that was a real disappointment for me. Maybe he gets better as the book progresses, I struggled to 30% and gave up.
I’ve no idea what was going on with Delaney other than she had the patience of a saint with Rake, I’d have pushed him back in the lake…and Lilith is 11 ( I think) going on 111 in her speech and actions. Its clear she’s been through a lot and to have this self obsessed, spoilt man child as her possible father gave me shivers, heaven knows how she really felt.
I felt everything was so pushed, so full on, so more, more, more that it became confusing, the more I read the less I understood. I’ve enjoyed MaryJanice books before but this one just didn’t work for me. As always though it’ll be perfect for others, we all want different things and though I don’t like this you may love it.

Stars: Two, an OTT manic read, with a dislikable lead that just didn’t work for me

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Feathertide,  Beth Cartwright

Feathertide,  Beth Cartwright

Feathertide by [Beth Cartwright]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I love quirky, unusual reads and this book promised that.
It is both those things but…somehow I felt the story it told was a little flat.
The writing was beautiful, the world unusual and the characters wonderful but for me it just didn’t add up to a great story.
I wasn’t convinced by the romances, didn’t feel there was any real depth to the plots. It was just things that happened to Marea on the route of her journey to find her father, and to discover herself, a kind of coming of age read. A lot of words, lots of things going on but nothing of any gripping interest to me.
I’m sure others will love it but for me it needed more depth, more emotion, more feeling. I felt the end was kind of ambiguous too, and in general that doesn’t work for me, though it does let me imagine my own HEA ending…

Stars: Three, it had the potential for five stars from the beautiful writing, but the lack of depth let it down for me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

White Swan, Lono Waiwaiole

White Swan, Lono Waiwaiole

White Swan by [Lono Waiwaiole]

Genre: | General Fiction (Adult), Literary Fiction

I wasn’t sure about requesting this, but am so glad I did. Its more of a journey read, one to savour each sentence, every event, more than a story where you race through to get to the end.

Eddie is a wonderful character but losing his parents, and killing his much loved cousin in a tragic accident really impacted on him, and that carried through to adulthood. In some ways he destroys his own happiness, its as if he feels he doesn’t deserve any. Yet he does, I so wanted that happy ending for him, for things to work out between him and his girlfriend. He faces such a barrier through life, his own circumstances, and of course the prejudice that always follows anyone in a minority group.

He loved Evelyn as soon as he saw her, still a child, and I feel that love never really left him, even though she married another, and he had other relationships. I was so angry with her even as I understood what she was doing, that she couldn’t continue to be the only one working at their relationship. It almost feels like Eddie is unconsciously sabotaging his own happiness through that guilt.
That makes it sound as if its a doom and gloom read, and its not. There’s so much going on, so much to see, a snapshot of life back in the sixties.
There are some interesting friendships, heartbreaking times when Eddie talks to his mum at her grave, when his father dips briefly back into his life, and of course his much loved grandfather who sees in Eddie a replica of his son, Eddie’s dad. He worries for him knowing how hard his dad found life, and how much Eddie misses having parents.
Eventually it feels like life turns full circle and that lost little boy is a dad and granddad himself, and those childhood relationships become family.
It didn’t have the ending I wanted for Eddie 😦 but it was still a good ending, a content one if not the one I wanted. I felt Eddie finally found peace and a way to live.

Stars: Five, a fabulous slow read novel, one to enjoy each chapter, to soak in the life that’s revealed and the way it affects Eddie.

Arc via netgalley and publishers

One To Watch, Kate Stayman-London

One To Watch, Kate Stayman-London

One To Watch: real love . . . as seen on TV by [Kate Stayman-London]

Genre: Women’s fiction, Romance,

Arghhh, Women’s fiction again. Why? Why assume men won’t read this? Men write romance, men read romance.

This was a real treat to read. Somehow Kate brings in so many minority groups, plus size, black/coloured/LGBT/even asexual, and that rarely crops up. You missed my group though Kate ;-( Disabled. Wheelchair users very rarely crop up in romance, yet we want love too.
Still, it was wonderful to see so many groups here and brought in as part of the story, everyday stuff, not a triumphal “ wow!! look! A minority person!” I so hate the token folk – usually LGBT – that are the stereotyped lip service to inclusion in so many novels.

Anyway, the writing was sharp and funny, very on-point, I loved it. I really felt for Bea. She’s the odd one out in a happily married family, and knows her parents love her but inside she misses what the rest of the family have. She’s successful, loves her work, has good friends and yet still there’s that tiny bit that you can feel she misses, will she get love? Is she doomed to forever reminisce about her lost love?
Why don’t programmes like so many people’s secret addiction reality shows have people like her, minority groups, she wonders. So after her diatribe on exactly that, when the programme wants her to be their next star, she stipulates she does not want 25 of the usual, white, well muscled males but a group that represents reality.

There were some fabulously funny moments, and some emotional ones that made me almost tearful. Surprises? They are there in spades, this was a totally unpredictable novel and I loved that I just didn’t know what would happen next. The clothes she got – I know nothing really about fashion, so the names went over my head but the descriptions sounded so perfect. I want a clock like that first one!
I loved the mix of men, guessing who really meant what they said, who was just there for publicity, who was secretly thinking about Bea’s weight in an unpleasant way. ( Way to go Tim! Bea’s brothers certainly teach an excellent lesson in respecting their sister! )
Then there’s the wonderful dates, so enjoyed reading about them. Balloon trips, museums and art, Marrakesh and camel rides, just wonderful.

The ending? TBH I’m not wholly convinced by how it played out. I want to be, but after all the things she’s been through I’m not entirely certain its a HEA, but its certainly HFN.
I’ve seen some criticism of the way its laid out, tech style, and that made me cautious. I’ve tried – and failed – to enjoy books written in film script style, and was concerned this might be. Its not. There are a lot of email/twitter posts but that was fine. I use those everyday so embraced it, and it gave a way of the story connecting to the outside ( of the tv prog) world easily. I’m 62, its not a book just for the young, tech savvy people.

Stars: Difficult, I’d say five but I’m not entirely happy about the ending. So four and a half, the rest is just perfect and well done for all that inclusivity but fitting the characters in so naturally. Real world.

Arc via netgalley and publishers

Something Like Perfect, S.C. Stephens

Something Like Perfect, S.C. Stephens

Something Like Perfect by [S.C. Stephens]

Genre: | General Fiction (Adult), Romance

Well, Thoughtless, S.C.Stephens debut book was one of my earliest kindle reads, and I loved it. Even then though the cheating aspect made me a little uncomfortable, I know its fiction, but I’m pretty strong on cheating – don’t do it. In real life that is 😉 In a novel I can excuse it if the characters at least try to avoid it, make some real effort. So, seeing this book included it made me pause, but I decided she’s such a great writer it was worth trying. After all I loved Thoughtless and the other stories that followed.
Its a quick easy read, sweeping the reader along with a host of emotions. I could feel the connection between Valerie and Jake from that first coffee shop meeting, and could imagine her shock at that family dinner. What a nightmare.
It puts them both in a difficult position but wisely they both decide to do the right thing and really do make a solid effort. And then….something huge happens that changes things. I wasn’t expecting that, and I can see that its got its lovers and haters. Yes, it is a little far fetched, but things like this do happen in reality, life can be far fetched at times and I just went with the flow and enjoyed it. I understood what happened and why, I think in those circumstances most folk would have acted the same.
Then of course comes the later part of the story where they’re both struggling in their lives, Val loves her sister, Jake feels guilty and doesn’t want to hurt his girlfriend and it looks like a story where no-one will be happy. I feel this was one of the best parts of the novel, drama abounds, emotions and tensions are high and I felt for all three of them. They were all heartbroken, and it looked like none would get a happy ending. I liked that this took some time to resolve, I hate reads where characters are heartbroken one page and all over it by the next page. I want the characters to hit bottom, I want to wallow in their pain….and then when it comes right I am so happy.

Stars: Five, its a quick, light read, a wash of emotion. Its not one I’m likely to re-read but I really enjoyed it.

Arc via netgalley and publishers

The Little Teashop in Tokyo, Julie Caplin

The Little Teashop in Tokyo, Julie Caplin

The Little Teashop in Tokyo: A feel-good, romantic comedy to make you smile and fall in love! (Romantic Escapes, Book 6) by [Julie Caplin]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Romance.

Well, wow, I adored this story. I didn’t realise it was one of those complete stories, but connected books series, so I’m off to find the rest when I’ve time. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the others, but I can see for those who have, getting snippets of the characters in their updated lives will be fun.

Fiona, what a lovely lady. Lives with her widowed mum, its been just the two of them for so long, her dad dying when she was small. Her mum is clearly a bit of a hypochondriac, and even though Fiona is 28 still treats her as if she’s 8 much of the time. Fiona understands, chafes at it sometimes, but has found a way to manage her mum’s anxieties. Of course now she’s off to Japan for two weeks her mum is terrified for her. Fiona is determined not to be put off though and bravely marches in. this could be the makings of a whole new career for her, and will work well with her travel blog.

What she doesn’t expect though is Gabe. The man who’d been booked has had to cancel and Gabe is taking his place. He’s a well known man, top photographer, and certainly no second rate substitute but……Fiona has a history with him, from when she was 18 and he was taking a half term class at her school. Its didn’t go well, she’s been affected by the events ever since, and this throws her. Gabe doesn’t recognise her, and she’s not sure how she feels. That incident affected her ever since, changed her whole way of life and yet he seems t have forgotten it….how, she thinks, can something that was so big for her be nothing, forgettable to him.
,
Gabe was such an obnoxious man to begin, clearly not happy about mentoring her and it shows. Slowly though he changes and became a man I fell in love with a bit too.
The ladies she’s staying with are amazing, and teach her so much, taking her in as part of them, showing her some of the traditional Japanese way of life. I loved those parts, could taste the food, smell the teas, see the beautiful kimonos, and the wonderful relaxing garden. It sounded magical, and Fiona really grew in her confidence with their help. She was like a different person at the end, more confident but still with her amazing fascination and enthusiasm for life.

I hated a Certain Person but was so glad she was in the book, I love that sort of character.
I loved that when things fell apart it wasn’t a quick solution, that it lasted for some time. I hate when its all off one page, and all on again the next.
I guess my only minor criticism would be the time span, its just two weeks and for the first couple of days they really don’t like each other, but then if I take into account the history and how things were then, it makes up for it. A bit. I just have trouble with insta love. Lust I can believe in, love takes a bit longer IMO

Stars: Five. A wonderful, engaging read, transporting me to a country I’ve always wanted to visit.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Night Girl by James Bow

The Night Girl by James Bow

The Night Girl by [James Bow]

Genre: New Adult, Sci Fi & Fantasy

I love quirky, unusual reads and this book promised that. I’m not the target demographic, but I often enjoy YA reads, good ones appeal to all ages. While I enjoyed this I found it wasn’t one of those IMA, its one that’s a great read for YA/NA I think, but for we folk past that age its a little too simplistic.
Its got some fun characters, a bit of mystery, a lot of whimsy, and a kind of moral theme about acceptance and rights of minority groups. That’s particularly interesting given I’m writing this while the world is seeing the impact of BLM. Being in a minority group myself I understood some of the fears the supernatural folk had, and of course the frustration. I found the Amnesia Reset particularly sad, to have life wiped away like that, all knowledge of your past gone.
Its a quirky read, some fun moments and subtle humour, and though I don’t know Toronto it was easy to visualise from the descriptions given. Overall I felt it was a great reader for the target age group, but just a little too YA simplistic for me to really enjoy.

Stars: Three, its a strange read at times, some quirky events and good but weird characters, and a theme of acceptance that’s particularly poignant right now.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Only You, Kate Eberlen

Only You, Kate Eberlen

Only You: The feel-good summer love story by [Kate Eberlen]

Genre: Romance, General fiction

I wanted to like this story, it sounded perfect for me.
I liked it – but its not one I’d re-read, and I did skim read parts because I wanted to get back to Alf and Letty together.
I loved Alf and Letty, who couldn’t, and really enjoyed the scenes around Rome. I liked reading about their pasts and the effect it had on them, but I just didn’t make that solid connection I need in a romance though, for me too much time was spent with other characters.
That’s just me, others love this, its beautifully written, I just needed more Alf and Letty.

Stars: Three, one I liked but didn’t love.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Where the Lost Wander, Amy Harmon

Where the Lost Wander, Amy Harmon

Where the Lost Wander: A Novel by [Amy Harmon]

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

Gah, I hate Women’s Fiction as a genre heading, so outdated. Men and women can read the same books….its 2019, not 1919.

Anyway, what a fabulous book. Fiction, but with real roots. I usually read books in one fell swoop, but with this kind of story I like to read over 4 or 5 sessions, savouring the words and events, and there is so much going on its really for me the best way to get the most out of it. I mull over whats been happening, over how events are going and really enjoyed living John and Naomi’s lives with them.
The descriptions of the scenery, the way the john and Naomi met, the others on the wagon train, the harshness of the journey. Amy doesn’t shy away from the hard side of this life, the way people could be alive one moment and then a short illness, and injury, an encounter with Indians and they’d be gone. Although it charts Naomi and Johns journey it encompasses so many more families, the mix of whites and their incursions onto the land, and the lifestyle of the Indian tribes who lived off the land and could see their way of life declining.
I was heartbroken when some events happened, sometimes the loss of life seemed so sudden, so tragic after all the hard work they’d done. I loved reading the events from the day to day minutiae, that always appeals to me and I felt there with the wagon train as they made their harsh journey, and with the Indians, seeing how they lived their transient lives. It was fascinating reading about not just the physical side of Indian life, but the spiritual side, how much emphasis that had on what they did, how they chose to run their lives.

Stars: Five, a wonderful read.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

My Greek Island Summer, a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy, Mandy Baggot

My Greek Island Summer, a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy, Mandy Baggot

My Greek Island Summer: a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy by [Mandy Baggot]

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction

Bah, humbug. Women’s fiction. Why? Men write romance, men read romance. ’nuff said…

I wanted to like this story, it sounded perfect for me, and I’ve enjoyed many books from Mandy Baggot before. However I found the first quarter largely irrelevant IMO, I even went back to check I was reading the right book, it seemed so far removed from the description.
I really wasn’t feeling it, didn’t like Megan, thought Becky was a pushover and the other two workers a bit of a trope. Still, it got better slowly to first half, and then finally, finally, I fell into the story. That second half had the Greece I wanted, the romance I needed, although I still felt a bit underwhelmed by the other characters and the rest of the story. Somehow it felt like there was too much going on, Becky, her sister and the issues with the business, Greece and Elias’ family issues and of course Petra and her problems. I’m usually complaining if there’s not enough other parts than just the couple and the romance, but this went a bit too far. IMO. Towards the end it finally all tied up but it felt a little rushed, there was so much to deal with.
For me Elias and Becky needed to be the main story and the others supporting that. I love side plots, they can add so much depth to a story but this time I felt they detracted and took over the romance. I wasn’t entirely convinced Elias could change his very entrenched views about romance so easily. As usual though that’s just my opinion, reading is subjective and others will feel differently.
I liked it – but its not one I’d re-read, and I did skim read parts because I wanted to get back to the romance.

Stars: Three, one I liked but didn’t love.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

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