Tag Archive | adventure

The City of Brass,  S. A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass,  S. A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass by [Chakraborty, S. A.]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I was so excited to get this book, I’d read the amazon sample and it seemed a fun and unusual read. Thankfully there’s a glossary included because its full of new and curious people and creatures.
I loved the world the author has created, I could feel the heat, the hustle and bustle and that was really well done. I liked the different beings too, felt very magical, almost reminded me of the old Sinbad et al films my kids used to love.
I started off liking Nahri, but as the story grew she seemed to lose that spark of independence, that charisma that drew me to her, and by the second half just seemed a whiny girl. I loved Dara, honest in as far as a Daeva is honest, like so many of their type they often circumvent the truth and talk in riddles almost. It’s clear he doesn’t like Nahri, and they scratch up against one another, both full of distrust. Nahri has no choice though, you can’t go home as they say, so she has to go forward with him. She also wants to know more about her past, and hopefully a better future. When we first meet him Dara seems jaded, tired of his life, of all the things he’s done, many of which weigh heavily on him. He seems to view taking Nahri as a chore almost, something he has to do but doesn’t want to. Then we meet Ali, second son of the king. I wanted to like him but though he seemed to have a good heart he was very naive for his position and I didn’t see him as being a strong character when it was needed, in contrast to Dara who would do what was needed without hesitation. Ali didn’t like the way things were run, could have stopped up, could have tried to right things but seemed too apathetic really, content to fund small changes and quiet his conscience that way.
The story though seemed to meander, little interludes of drama breaking it, but I never really understood the point, didn’t see where it was going, what was the aim. It just seemed to drift, Dara, Nehru and Ali seemed to react only to events, never had any real plans, were never working towards a purpose, it felt like they were just drifting towards the city, fighting through minor mishaps and skirmishes but no actual plan other than to get there. I couldn’t help feeling “and then what will they do?”
Then the ending – and to be fair I skim read from about 40% as I was bored but wanted to see how it ended. I hate it when that happens, when someone major is lost, and I just have the horrible feeling that its going to be one of those rabbit out of the hat successes, where that character isn’t lost, returns despite all appearances, and I just don’t like that. (Think Dallas in the early 1980’s for those of you old enough to remember!) I didn’t want them to go, but hate that kind of comeback. I’m sort of talking in riddles here, but trying not to give anything away as of course there are many readers for whom this is the perfect novel. Sadly I’m not one of them. With a few changes I could have loved this, more direction and planning, some shaping of key characters, it’s so full of potential, such a unique and fascinating world, but as it is is a series I’ll pass.

Stars: Two and a half. So much I could have loved, but the story itself let it down.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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The Mercury Travel Club, Helen Bridgett

The Mercury Travel Club, Helen Bridgett

The Mercury Travel Club: Getting your life back on track has never been more funny! by [Bridgett, Helen]

Genre:  General Fiction (adult), Women’s Fiction.

Usual moan…Woman’s Fiction. Again….* sigh* Why do we have a category aimed at excluding those who might want to read this. Men read – and write- romance and I can think of many that would love this. Don’t do it authors and publishers.

Its a wonderful read, I wasn’t sure when I requested it and it languished on my kindle for a week or so while I read other novels, but once I did pick it up it was perfect. I’m a little older than Angie, not much, a few years, and reading it I empathised with her, shared her reminiscing and laughed so much. I could see me doing all the things she and Patty did!

I tagged a few parts that really made me smile – the Spanx…I always imagine The Great Seduction falling apart when the Spanx come off.
Picture it, soft music, sweet nothings being murmured, clothing being slipped off…all’s going well until it comes to the Spanx. Ping, heave, tug, roll them down, acres of confined flesh spill out, red and sweaty, full of compression lines and itching. Cos when you take tight clothes of skin always itches doesn’t it? Not really the scene you had in mind. And going to the loo? Yep, men have no idea.
Mothering Sunday, yep, I’ve had the toast that is bizarrely soggy white in places, black in others, and the egg box daffodils.
The red wine dilemma, how come TV characters never have those gruesome teeth when they smile and never, never get drunk?
Poor Angie’s sponge cake, which knocks over the bird table, falls like lead. My cakes are like that, she mentions putting jam and custard on them a serving for dessert, and when my kids were little it was one they loved, the failed cake dessert. “Mum, mum, make a microwave cake today.”
Getting mistaken for a hooker, well, that’s one which has missed me but made me snigger.

Its a great read, uplifting for those of us a bit older, reminding us we Have Value, we have lots to give, and Angie and Pattie had a wonderful year.
There so much to smile at and yet its not just humour but some fabulous ideas encouraging us to continue having fun, its not a prerogative of the young. When she was going off for a bike ride with Ed and his Chapter I was so envious, never been on a bike and it sounded wonderful. Hmnn, wonder if someone has a bike and would take me for a spin…. 😉

I wanted Alan and Amanda to get theirs, so unfair cheating – its one thing I really, really hate, so cruel, so devastating. Sort your marriage/relationship out before straying. I wanted them to see Angie was doing so well, and they did but not quite as I hoped. I guess I’m the vengeful sort, I want the cheater to see what they’ve lost and regret it, for the third person to get the elbow and the cheatee to move on, to better and braver life, leaving the others regretful. There’s something of that in this book, but much more subtle!

Stars: Five, The characters were fabulous, from Angie and Patty, Angie’s mum and dad, her daughter, Charlie and Josie from the travel shop, Caroline, Peter, Ed, the Granny-Oks….so many fantastic people who all played a solid part in the novel

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Shadow Hunt ,(Disrupted Magic 3), Melissa F. Olson

Shadow Hunt ,(Disrupted Magic 3), Melissa F. Olson

Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic Book 3) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

Genre: general fiction(adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy.
I love this series, and the sister series set in the same world. It was that one, featuring Quinn and Lex that brought me the the Old World, and let me to buying more and being lucky enough to have some review ARCs too.

I love Scarlett, she’s in a tough and dangerous world, has to do things that her heart really isn’t in, but which are necessary to protect others. It means she’s alone though, having to keep family and human friends at a distance as they can and will be used to get to her.

One of her few human friends from the early days is Jesse, and he’s a human that’s been allowed to know about the Old world because of the way he learned about it via his police job, and because Dasheil, Vampire leader for the city, feels he could be useful. Jesse is retired from the police now, but still very much friends with Scarlett and helps her when she needs assistance.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Jesse, wanted him and Scarlett to be together but through the series its never been the right time for either and they have both been in other relationships, and just remained good, true friends.

Its another exciting adventure, bringing into play characters, enemies Scarlett thought had been neutralised – or at least a truce reached with them. The attack, when it comes, is very unexpected, and once more its Scarlett and Jesse in the thick of things, rescuing those they love, and trying hard to prevent a massive tragedy and loss of life. We meet a few new characters, catch up from some from past stories and Maven, we learn a bit more about her too!
I really enjoyed this, perfect pacing, perfectly balanced and “realistic” within fantasy realms 😉 situations. The why ad hows were the usual puzzle for me, with me thinking “ooohhh…riight” when all was revealed. And the ending, Sob, just perfect.

I’m glad the way is open for more Old World adventures, I’ve grown close to many of these characters, and would love to read more from them. Molly and Wyatt, Maven, Will and Sashi, there’s so much more to learn about all these guys, plus Jesse and Scarlett of course 😉

Stars: Five all the way, fabulous finish to the trilogy. More please Melissa!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Rufus Spy, A medieval mystical mystery, Alys Clare

The Rufus Spy, A medieval mystical mystery, Alys Clare

Rufus Spy, The: A medieval mystical mystery (An Aelf Fen Medieval Mystery) by [Clare, Alys]

Edit: I wrote my review some time back, just noticed kindle price. Over £12 for an eBook? My experience is that prices often come down after a couple of moths so though it was a great read, I’d wait a bit before buying. 

 

Genre:  Historical fiction

I’m an occasional historical fiction reader, and this novel appealed to me from the description.
I didn’t realise it was so far into an established series though, but the book is so contained that it was easy to follow the story despite not reading the other books.
I have to be honest here – I thought this was part of another series where I’d read many of the earlier books several years back. And – its not…though both involve the same early medieval time period, a single, independent female healer, and set in the Fens in the UK ( I know the area living in the next county)
The other series is Mistress of the Art of Death, Ariana Franklin and if you like that you’ll love this.

Its an excellent read, felt very real and I enjoyed the feeling of living back in historical times.
I felt I was there with Lassair, and she has some heavy events to content with in this book. I loved Jack, understood his frustration with his sheriff boss, a crooked man, out for himself not justice. Something not uncommon in that time sadly…
I’d like to read earlier books and see where Lassair became involved with him, and earlier with Rollo. I really didn’t like Rollo, found him quite selfish but had I read earlier books maybe I’d have liked him more – who knows?

I loved the slant of magic introduced, it’s very subdued but comes up at appropriate times, and was a fascinating addition that allowed the story to go further than it would otherwise, while still retaining credibility.
There’s something about those old beliefs in magic that appeals to me, and I have no trouble believing when its placed as it is here.

Lassair has a number of changes to her life here, a troubled and dangerous journey to undertake, and I get the sense her life is taking a big change.
The story kept me reading, interested to see what would happen, who was behind the murders, whether they were connected and if so how? I was wrong – actually I love being wrong, love a book that’s not a predictable read.
I was sad when a certain event happened, didn’t expect that and very unhappy for certain people at the ending. I’m hoping the next book brings a positive change.

I haven’t read any other of Alys Clare’s novels but I’d certainly like to, she can write exactly they type of story I want to read. One that feels real, is true to the time period and has me guessing who is behind events and why…

Stars: five, a great read, felt very real and I look forward to the next book.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Wildwood, Elinor Florence

Wildwood, Elinor Florence

Wildwood by [Florence, Elinor]

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

Well this was one of those reads which was a real treasure. It merges past and present beautifully with present day Molly, reading the diaries of her great aunt, first owner of wildwood, and the story of their struggles to live in such an inhospitable environment.

Molly and Bridget are wonderful, Molly, having had a hard life and been disappointed one too many times in love, is determined its just her and Bridget now. Bridget has elective mutism, and was having treatment, as she can speak but will only talk to Molly.
Then things change, Molly loses her job, they can’t afford Bridget’s therapy, can’t afford the apartment and are facing homelessness when she gets contacted by a solicitor about her great aunts will.

Its the first Molly knows about her family, and comes as a shock. She will inherit Wildwood and can do with it as she pleases but first she has to live there for a year. Or she can take a lump sum which would give them a few months reprieve. $50,000 or $1.5 million…There’s a $400 a month rental from land contracted out if she chooses to stay there which will provide the basics.
Of course she opts to stay but the house has been closed up for many years and is filthy, and Molly and Bridget seem to have a bit of a germ mania….frantic cleaning restores it to its glory, a beautiful home but with no plumbing, no electricity. They’re going to be living much as the ancestors did. Molly finds the diary of her great aunts first year, when she was just 18, along with other books, and they help her so much. She a city girl, can’t cook, knows nothing of country life, how to live in a place where the answer to everything is Google.

I loved seeing the story from the present, Bridget and Molly having great days, having bad days, having scary days. I loved Winona, young girl from the local reservation who came to be such a friend and help to the family.
She had a tough life and the diary talks about Annie Bearspaw, who was her great grandmother ( I think) and a famous healer.
I loved how they changed over the course of the year, grew in confidence, how Bridget became a different child from the scared, timid one she was, Molly learned practical skills, and Winona opened out from the quiet ,slightly sullen girl we first met. .
There’s a hint of romance and that made the book perfect for me, Colin was a great guy, it was clear how he felt about Molly, Bridget and Winona, and how they felt for him. The gentle way the romance played out, taking a very back role in the story was perfect.
Of course its not all sweet and light, there are reminders of how harsh the land is, how unforgiving of mistakes, how people have to take care at all times not to get lost to the vagaries of nature.
Lisette, reader of bodice ripper romance, with her vivid clothes and tortured hairstyles, secretary to Mr Jones ( Franklin) the solicitor who handles everything. I adored her, and felt so sad for her when she realised just how things were going, that she was another victim of the “wife doesn’t understand me” justification. I looked forward to seeing what she was wearing, what she was reading each month. She had a perfect end too – and I hope she went on to go far, she was such a kind, sunny person.

I made a couple of notes while reading..the rhubarb pie Molly so proudly makes but doesn’t add enough sugar, reminded me of a time when I made two perfect rhubarb crumbles for my husband and my friend. I don’t like rhubarb but they did, and the crumbles looked perfect. Only issue was I forgot the sugar, not added too little but forgot it altogether! Yeach…really sour.
The second note, not humorous at all was the reference to Winona’s ancestors, victims of the Residential School system. The whites of the time were so obnoxious we decided Native Indians needed education in our ways, and removed whole families of their children, taking them far away to residential schools. No chance to object, no thought for the kids or the families who lost them, it was just done. Of course they weren’t going to be accepted by the whites even if well educated, and taken away from their support system they lost their place, their role in the Native Indian group too, turned into people with no real place in the world.
How arrogant we can be at times. I’d read about this a couple of years back and had no knowledge of it before, but it was quite widespread, no doubt all the “do-good” types patting themselves on the back for a job well done, when in reality they ruined lives of the kids taken away and the families left behind.
Ah well, that’s today’s rant over 😉 read this book if you love history brought to life, to see the past through the eyes of people living it.

Stars: Five, great read, real situation, past and present both felt very real, its not a one plot story but one with some real substance to it. One I will reread.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Marry in Haste,  Jane Aiken Hodge

Marry in Haste,  Jane Aiken Hodge

Marry in Haste by [Aiken Hodge, Jane]

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Romance

Quick moan as usual about Woman’s fiction – why? Just why do we exclude a whole segment of readers? Men can and do enjoy writing and reading romances….

Republished from a 1969 story, but doesn’t feel dated, the advantages of a historical novel I guess.

Its a fun read, I don’t review many historical works, but like to take a dip back in time for a change from whatever else I’ve been reading, especially if its been a heavy suspense or intense fantasy work. Kind of recharges/refreshes my brain.
Camilla was a lovely girl, lucky too, but a book where she ended up on the streets and died wouldn’t be much fun would it 😉 Or long…I liked her willingness to try and make her way, her determination to make the best of every situation, and of course her loyalty.

Lord Leominster seems quite a cold guy when we first meet him, but he has his reasons, and he’s kind to Camilla, and to his wayward younger sister.
Much of the story takes place in Europe at the height of the French/English/Spanish wars and Leominster is heavily involved uncover in some dangerous work. Camilla once again needs to pull together all her resources and do her best to keep them all safe.

There’s some drama here, quite intense at times, and of course some romance, but which is very muted, more a slow kindling of love coming from mutual respect. Its how things often were back then though, with so many arranged marriages, so where it would have irked me in a contemporary romance it felt perfect here. I did like the way things got bad before they became better, I do love that lost love potential dramatics in a romance and here it worked well for me.

Stars: Five, a fun and interesting read, felt very period appropriate and with some terrific characters.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Start of Something Wonderful, Jane Lambert

The Start of Something Wonderful,  Jane Lambert

The Start of Something Wonderful by [Lambert, Jane]

Genre: romance, women’s fiction

Gah! Women’s fiction – how I hate that we have a whole genre for women, why dismiss books as being of interest to men….what price equality when we segregate ourselves. Rant over ;-0

So, I really wanted to like this book, its got a lead character who’s older, and as someone older myself that’s always interesting to find. Choosing a huge career change too was going to be interesting to read I thought.
Sadly though I felt sorry for Emily I just didn’t like her, found her friends gossipy, the humour felt forced and trying a little too hard and her trials on the way to acting were just plain hard going. What should have been fun to read became a chore for me and I didn’t finish. Sorry. I can see from Goodreads that others love this, and that’s great, but for me it wasn’t one that worked.

Stars: Two, DNF, some stories I love and others just don’t fit my taste, sadly this was one of those. Perfect for many readers, the story was fine it just wasn’t one that suited me.
Arc supplied for review by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Heart on Fire, Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire, Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Trilogy Book 3) by [Bouchet, Amanda]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

The final stretch, and what a fantastic trilogy this has been. A mesh of traditional legends, Gods, Goddesses, fantastical creatures and imagined kingdoms. Amanda has taken bits of stories we all grew up with and shaped them into an amazing story that had me gripped right from the start.

The characters, a real mix, and finding out some of the ones Cat has known for years were actually more then just magical humans came as a shock to her. Griffins family, she wishes she’d been brought up that way, secure in her parents love, but her upbringing was very far from that. Griffin and his siblings and parents support each other at every turn, Cat’s siblings were forced to fight each other and their mother for their lives, and killing her sister scarred Cat’s psyche in unimaginable ways.
When she ran, aided by Thanos, and found the circus they became her family for many years, but she kept secret inside her talents, her magical skills. Then Griffin came into her life.

Griffin has been incredible, he’s ambitious, but not for power, for peace. He wants to reunite the fractured kindoms and stop all the fighting, the abouse by those in power, the cruelty and murders, but he’s happy to stand behind Cat, to take second place as he knows she’s meant to be the figurehead.
Turns out much of what he feels is real, that he and Cat were shaped for each other, given the skills to get this done but that doesn’t mean its plain sailing. They’ve come so far but still have a big battle in store, Cat’s mother won’t give up her kingdom easily, and Cat knows just how powerful she is.

I love the way this plays out, as with the other two books there are battles, both on a large scale, and small with just Cat, Griffin and sometimes some of the others from Elpis team.
There’s a backstabbing betrayal that comes as a shock, there are multiple times they face death and scrape by aided by one of the Gods, or by a talent they’ve gifted them in the past – nothing was ever free though, they had to prove they had the skills, they were right to hold that gift.

I love the way Amanda has dealt with my pet hate, when characters are right on the edge of losing and one of them gets a new power and miraculously is skilled and wins the day. Mostly she has them use powers we already know they have, having worked hard to refine the use of them. There are times when they are almost in the situation I’ve described, but they have to really think about, understand the consequences of using what they have, and often it doesn’t go right first time, or even fourth time, and they need a quick Godly rescue 😉
I want my characters to have to work to win, to have to make tough choices, to really understand what it is their asking, doing, wanting.
I need them to practice to get the skills they need, not just whip them out of a hat at the tough moment, and Griffin ensures Cat and the rest of the team do all that.
There’s lots to understand to about him and Cat, why and how they are who they are, the consequences of their actions, their pasts and how that has affected them.

Of course it culminates in an amazing battle bringing in so much of whats gone down earlier in this book, and in the previous two.
I love stories that do that, build on events and characters, let them play a full role in how the story ends, not just a bit part along the way.

Way back when I read the first part of Charlie N. Holmberg’s  Magician trilogy, I wrote that I thought it would make a fantastic family film – and a couple of years later Disney picked it up.
I really think this trilogy would be a terrific film too, but more for new adults upwards. There are scenes between Cat and Griffin that are very sensual, which belong to the story, show their connection, but which would probably get toned down too much or disappear if this became a family film, and that would be a real loss IMO.

Stars: five, a fantastic trilogy, gripping, entertaining and one to keep.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Water Viper ,(Jesse Alexander 1), R.J. Blain

Water Viper ,(Jesse Alexander 1), R.J. Blain

Water Viper: A Jesse Alexander Novel by [Blain, RJ]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

My first novel by this author, got it as part of some free book offer, I’d read the amazon sample and wanted to read more. Sadly I didn’t note exactly how I came by this book, just found I’d filed it in the review collection….

Its a long book at almost 500 pages, and usually I love long books but TBH at times this felt a bit Padded, a little too much Filler and – heresy for me saying this – I think if it had been a little more succinct it would have been better for me.
There were story-lines which looking back the day after finishing I can’t recall what was their purpose, nor what the resolution was in some of them. I’m thinking here of who was behind the second bounty/kidnapping attempt, the one where Henry and Anatoly find her? There are other parts too which were funny the first and second times but after a while….they got old. Its frustrating reading plots and then finding they don’t actually add anything to the story.
I didn’t see how on earth, even cleverly disguised, she thought she was still getting away with fooling everyone about who she really is/was when she was day to day living with people who she classed as friends, who knew her very well.

Set against those moans though was some subtle humour, some terrific characters, and a really interesting new world post Starfall, with a good mix of paranormal creatures. Sometimes the shifter/magic types stories feel like I’m reading the same ones but with minor plot changes and new names. This was very unusual and I really liked it.
Overall, even with my caveats, I really enjoyed the story, and would be happy to read more Jesse Alexander stories, or other characters set in this world. I think it has a lot of potential, and is an interesting take on a genre that can get tired from all the stories set in it.

Stars: Four, an interesting read, one I really enjoyed but which dragged at times, losing it a star.

 

The Silenced Tale, Book 3 of the Accidental Turn Series, J.M. Frey

The Silenced Tale, Book 3 of the Accidental Turn Series, J.M. Frey

The Silenced Tale (The Accidental Turn Series Book 3) by [Frey, J.M.]

Genre: LGBTQIA , Sci Fi & Fantasy

I’ve loved this trilogy, fresh and unusual, it hinges round the characters in a series Elgar read wrote. By some quirk of fate he wrote magic so perfectly that it – and the actual characters, places and events, became real. As a Reader, Pip was pulled into the world and met Forsyth. Now they both live in the Overrealm, our world, with their daughter Alis.
They had issues with Hain and certain people in the last book, where events there were affecting the Overrealm, and now they fear that things weren’t as safe as they left them, that maybe, just maybe, someone else has come through to the Overrealm.

There’s another fantastic adventure, Syth being his spymaster self here in the real world, master of the PC and Internet. I love how he’s adapted to it, his careful turn of phrase, his planning, always looking ten steps ahead and of course his love for Pip and Alis.
Pip is wonderful, such an intelligent girl and I love how she breaks out the writing jargon, explaining to Syth ( and readers like me!) about tropes, genres, and how books are plotted. I read, I had no idea of the structure of a story but it makes sense, and makes my author admiration even greater! She’s having a bad time in this book, due to the events of the past that connect her to magic through the carvings.
To begin its just a series of odd events that could be explained away, but Syth being the cautious type he sets his programme up to look for anything that might be connected. I love when he says he thought Pip’s Poster “its not paranoia if they’re out to get you” was a warning not an irony. That sums him up in a way, written to protect, its in his very marrow to do just that.
Of course what he and Pip don’t know is that Elgar is having issues too, with what the police think is a stalker, but what Elgar fears is Hain stuff, and vengeance from there. He had no way of knowing what he wrote created a real world, and he feels so guilty for the casual way he wrote torture and death in his stories. There’s a top secret TV series based around his books being planned and the police agree its a good idea for him to go there for a couple of weeks. Syth’s programme tells him what Elgar didn’t though, so he’s beginning to piece together events and he now knows he, Pip and Elgar are facing real danger that the police can’t help with. How can they fight magic and fictional people that have become real. If they tried to tell them they’d be taken to the nearest Psych centre!

It all comes together in a nail biting, climatic finish, and I was gutted at some of the events and yet – it was the perfect way to end the trilogy.
I read the Magician trilogy when that was first out, back in Oct 2014, and thought it would make a great family film, Disney agreed some time later. I think this too would make a great film, has that magic (hah!) content that will appeal to kids and adults alike and is so very unusual.

Stars: Five, a perfect ending to a terrific, exciting and fresh trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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