Tag Archive | adventure

Bright Ruin, Vic James

Bright Ruin, Vic James

Bright Ruin (The Dark Gifts Trilogy Book 3) by [James, Vic]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I loved books one and two and was desperate to read this. These characters, this strange UK feels so real. My heart was breaking for those caught up in the Equals power struggle, their determination to keep unSkilled commoners where they feel they belong, serving Equals as slaves for ten years of their lives. There’s a section on Abi’s thoughts that’s so relevant to today’s Real Britain, not just Vic’s fantasy one. It was very resonating to me and I have to quote it.
“ Abi knew many would approve of such expulsions. This narrative fitted into the bigger lie Wittam Jardine was telling the British people. If folk felt poor, it was because of these sponging refugees, not the greed of the Equals. In the same way, those that protested against the slavedays were being cast as the lawbreakers, when it was the days themselves that were unjust.”
We have that same kind of thinking now, and I guess that’s why I was so easy to suck into Vic’s alternative Britain, and why it felt real. I could see events playing out this way, the careful manipulation of facts, the scapegoating, the laying of blame in certain quarters, and the behind the scenes atrocities that the Equals claimed were necessary to keep the peace. Or at least the status quo where the one per cent of the population flourished supported by the 99 per cent unSkilled….
We learned things about a certain character that explained why others had acted in a way that felt unusual, not what they would do willingly. I certainly hadn’t seen that as being the cause!

Jenner, I so liked him in book one, was astonished and heartbroken at his actions in book two, and here we can see his motives.
Gavar, in book one I found him cold to everyone but his daughter Libby, and finally I understood him a little better. I was so sad about Libby’s mum and wondered why he did what he did, finally there’s an explanation for his actions.
Silyen, the enigmatic character, you never really know what he’s thinking, he does things that seem heroic but for completely different reasons than ones we’d think essential, and he treats life and death very lightly. He’s extraordinarily skilled though, incredibly complex and half the time his mind is on other worlds, such as when he was with his aunt in her world while she was comatose.
That other worlds bit comes quite prominent here, and reminded me of another book I read. Annoyingly I can’t recall the title but it involved parallel worlds or dimensions, kind of like a fold in fabric reveals different layers. I got to reading about the whole real theory they could exist, that one centred around tesseract principles but there is a whole scientific ream of thinking that these could exist in many different ways.
We see much more of Abi, Luke and Dog here too and I can’t help having a soft spot for Dog. He’s done some awful things, but had atrocities perpetrated on him.

I felt at times the story got a little battle heavy, not the breathtaking displays, the actual actions but in the endless battle planning, dealing, double dealing and for me that was a bit…dull. ( and I skim read those bits* blush *) Battle planning never is my favoured parts of stories. It didn’t detract from the whole though, and I’m sure there are readers who love all that minute detail.

Its a terrific conclusion, a battle royale, full of surprises at every turn, and an heroic ending. Made me think of just what happens next, how does Britain continue, and what life holds for those we’ve come to know and love ( and hate in the case of some of them!)
That last sentence though, that last tiny action made me so, so happy 😉 for certain characters, I like to think they got a HEA.

Stars:Five, fantastic read, excitement, drama, some breath stealing suspense, that left me floundering to work out just how it could all wrap up. How on earth was Vic going to sort this world out, how could things work out better for the unSkilled, when would all the atrocities end.
I loved the scenes with Luke, Silyen and the King. Oh, and That Kiss, it was a long time coming….

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

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The Backpacking Housewife, Janice Horton

The Backpacking Housewife,  Janice Horton

The Backpacking Housewife: Escape around the world with this feel good novel about second chances! by [Horton, Janice]

Genre: general Fiction (Adult)

A mixed read for me, there were parts I really loved, but others that didn’t sit quite right for me.

Its a read that starts off with a bang, poor Lori making a horrible discovery when returning home earlier than expected. She grabs her passport and bag and ….she’s off, to the destination furthest that’s available Right Now.

I would have liked to know a bit more about her home life, kids, mum etc, so I could see how much Lori had changed. I loved the traveling, loved the scenery, the people she met, the places she went and especially her time with the turtles. It made me feel part of her trip, as if I was there with her it was so well written.
It was quite hard though to separate it out into an actual fiction novel rather than a kind of travelogue….and it was fiction I wanted. I wanted Charles to get his comeuppance, to see what he’d thrown away in his arrogance, wanted the best friend to see what she’d lost in Lori, and I did find it a bit hard to believe that someone like Lori, devoted to her family could just up and leave them, with so little contact, so little worry. She seems to tell herself, boys grown up – they’ll be fine, mum’s got her friends…and doesn’t really worry about them or let them know where she is. It just didn’t feel quite real there, if it was just her and Charles yes, but she has her two (grown) boys who she loves, has her mum who she’s on good terms with and I didn’t feel she would have been happy to have just left them like that.
I loved Ethan, a true gentleman, loved how he was with Lori, loved his enthusiasm for life and everything in it. I was supposed though how abrupt the ending was, it seemed to be a little rushed, a bit brief when I expected more. Maybe that’s just me though and my romance/HEA addiction. There’s certainly promise of a HFN here.

Stars: Four, a wonderful read and escape, made me wish I was there with her, but which felt a little unreal in parts.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Nothing Girl, (Frogmorton Farm 1), Jodi Taylor. Honourable Lies, Fran Connor

The Nothing Girl, (Frogmorton Farm 1), Jodi Taylor

The Nothing Girl (The Frogmorton Farm Series Book 1) by [Taylor, Jodi]

Genre:, Romance, paranormal

Well, an innocuous title for what proved to be an incredible read for me.
I wasn’t sure about this book, but its free, so if I didn’t like it I didn’t need to read/review it. I’ve not read any of Jodi’s other stories, having taken a quick look I’m not sure they’re my kind of read but then this one surprised me so maybe someday..
There is a follow up but this book feels like it ends well enough for me and I’m not keen on sequels when I don’t need them to feel story is complete.

Poor Jenny, brought up by her aunt and uncle after her parents die she’s quiet, hidden away, “Jenny can’t cope with/Jenny needs to be protected/Jenny will be upset and unable to speak”…. Its as if her relatives want the best for her, as if they’re over protective and yet from the inside they don’t really make her welcome, and seem to be happiest when she’s tucked away in her room.
She’s 13 ( I think) when we first meet her and decided to end her life. No one will miss her she thinks, and she’s mulling over the tidiest way to do it, to leave the least mess when along comes Thomas.

Thomas is wonderful, and he feels so real, I adored him. I love all things equestrian anyway and Thomas just felt so very unique, and I had no problem believing in him. I loved when he referred to her as a foal, when he interpreted her snorts of laughter as swear works!
Only Jenny can see him, he’s always with her, speaks and advises her and really helps her to cope with life. She’s still quietly tucked away but with Thomas help has persuaded her aunt to let her have the whole of the attic where she and Thomas can make hot chocolate, watch TV and relax in their own private, happy space.
That’s enough for many years then Thomas seems to decide its time for her to see more people, get more of a life. She doesn’t need to work, has money from her parents and he seems to see that she’s just becoming totally introverted. She’s 29 now and still has to ask her aunt and uncle for permission for things, still believes them when they say she’s “special” and can’t be allowed freedoms others have, and allude that if she doesn’t live quietly with them then she could end up somewhere with far more restrictions…..
And into this quiet, sombre life falls Russell, totally opposite, outwardly chaotic, charms everyone, a golden boy, talented artist whose fallen when he lost his muse. Said muse just happens to be Jenny’s cousin Francesca, spoiled, rude, thinks life revolves around her and who had a fling with Russell where he painted her continuously, was at the top of the art tree, and she adored the adulation he gave her, along with his fame of course. Then the next victim comes along and she leaves him for someone who can further her ambitions. You can tell I don’t like her 😉 and I was so angry at Russell’s fixation, infatuation even when he’s trying to help Jenny. And himself, of course, but he has good in him and sees Jenny for who she is, not who her relatives want everyone to think she is.
Jenny and Russell marry, and her life changes so much. She grows fast away from all the restrictions. Of course her relatives aren’t happy and make many concerted attempts to bring her back, but Russell is determined, even when he’s being a total ass over Francesca. He’s truthful with Jenny, tells her how he feels but its an escape for her, the best chance of a life of her own and Thomas encourages her to take the risk.

Its a madcap book in many ways, chaotic at times and yet quietly poignant too, and we see Jenny growing slowly in confidence, finding she can live a life of her own, that there’s no reason she needed to be hidden away.
And I kept thinking why did they do it? Were they just ultra protective, was there some reason I’m missing, did they just want their daughter Francesca to shine away from Jenny’s light, maybe it was just easier to be a dutiful relative if they didn’t have to actually interact much with Jenny.
There are some surprises and twists in store for Russell and Jenny, and some serious drama towards the end..

I went into this thinking it might be a YA, twee kind of read, but soon found myself immersed in Russell and Jenny’s world, getting so cross that Russell couldn’t see through the b itch Francesca, mentally shouting at his actions, feeling for Jenny and encouraging her to carry on, make plans, and hoping they’d both soon see what was obvious to everyone else.

Stars:Five, a fabulous, escapist read and one I know I’ll return to.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Honourable Lies,  Fran Connor

Honourable Lies by [Connor, Fran]

Genre:, Romance

Edit: 14/7/18
This novel is set in the 1860’s, so my comments about divorce are not strictly correct, what I had read was in the process of changing at the time this novel was set, and it wouldn’t have been as difficult as before to obtain a divorce, so please read my original comments with that in mind. Apologies for my incorrect facts, and I’d like to add the following info to correct things.
Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 divorce was taken away from the Ecclesiastical Court and parliament jurisdiction. Under the Act it was possible for a man to divorce his wife for adultery, but a wife could not divorce her husband for adultery ‘only’. She had to have ‘aggravated’ cause to go with it such as serious assault or being abandoned. The civil court could then grant the divorce without recourse to parliament or the Church.
********************************************************

So, sometimes I just want to dip back into history, with a simple romance. Sadly though this was too sweet and simple for me. Victoria is a historical Pollyanna…. whatever happens to her she’s something good around every corner. Ditto for anyone that crosses her path.
She gets thrown out of the orphanage at 16, gets attacked while out and her little money stolen, but she’s well read and educated, and gets a job living in, with no references, no belongings, and probably looking pretty grubby, as companion/tutor to a 14 yr old. That quickly falls through but no worries, she just happens to meet and do Queen Victoria a favour….and the whole book feels like that, any mishap brings good things Every Time. She really is a charmed girl and everyone in her orbit benefits, everyone loves her. Its little things that were so unreal for me, she starts growing carrots, cabbages and potatoes with no knowledge of how, and within a couple of years has graduated to a huge flock of sheep, employing people to help her.

Then of course there’s Richard and his wife – who’s name I can’t recall. She loves another and so – hey, they get divorced. Now even I with my scant historical knowledge know it wasn’t that easy, so had a quick look on google “A couple could only be divorced by the passage of a private act through Parliament–remedy available only to the very wealthy.  According to Feminism, Marriage and the Law in Victorian England, 1850-1895, about ten private acts for divorce were passed in Parliament each year.” It certainly wasn’t the easy option.
So, I know I’m reading fiction, I’m happy for authors to bend the facts and use them to their advantage but this was just too unreal for me. Life doesn’t work like that, I can accept one good thing happening, people do get lucky breaks, but for Victoria every cloud had a silver lining. There’s no way she’d have been taken on in her first job, no way she’d have met the queen, got that position, grown enough veg to buy sheep in such a short space of time…it was all too slick for me. I have to say here that from about 40 to 80 % I just skim read, bored with the story but wanting to see the end.
If you can suspend any semblance of reality and like a sweet and cute read you’ll love this, but sadly I want more real life, more angst, more blocks to happiness, though I need a HEA and was glad that came through.

Stars:Two, too far from reality for me 😦

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Crossroads of Bones, A Katie Bishop Novel Book 1, Luanne Bennett

Crossroads of Bones, A Katie Bishop Novel Book 1,  Luanne Bennett

Crossroads of Bones (A Katie Bishop Novel Book 1) by [Bennett, Luanne]

Genre:, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, Luanne is a new-to-me author, but its a story I really enjoyed.

There are some terrific characters here, and that’s really important for me. I loved Katie, a strong and independent lady, not a whiny TSSL heroine. She’s got a mysterious past, is making a new life for herself in her tattoo shop. Her employees are a mixed bunch but really interesting, and as the story unfolds some of them have valuable info for her. I loved her friend Sugar too, a great secondary character who proved very important and was such a treat to read. I really enjoy reading about people who are different in some way, individuals in the fullest sense and Sugar was perfect.
The adventure, the story, the bit that’s the focus of the book was cleverly done, and kept me reading avidly and this book set me up to look forward for the next. I like that there are characters other than the usual vampire/shooters, I love those but I love stories which take things a bit further too. This one was very vivid in the way it played out and even though we’re talking about fiction, specifically fantasy, it all felt so very real to me. The touches of root/voodoo/voudun magic were good and added so much to the atmosphere, and blended perfectly with the setting.
That ending, not a cliffhanger but a terrific, tantalising glimpse of what’s in story for Katie next. I look forward to reading that.

Stars: Four and a half, almost the magic five, and a terrific series opener.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

 

 

Islands in the East, Jenny Ashcroft

Island in the East, Jenny Ashcroft
Island in the East: Two great loves. One shattering betrayal. A war that changes everything. by [Ashcroft, Jenny]

Genre: historical, Romance

I loved Jenny’s previous book, and this one is even more special for me.
I really felt I was there with the characters, I could see the colours, feel the heat, smell the exotic and the not so pleasant scents.
So much felt real that I actually skipped some of the wartime scenes, as I’m a little squeamish. There wasn’t anything particularly graphic but being the wimp I am I found it hard to imagine characters I’d come to love in that situation. I don’t really enjoy reading about the reality of war anyway, so I skimmed just looking for mention of the characters to get an overview of what was happening.

It set back in the late 1800’s and the 1940’s and reads as two stories with connected characters but its how they connect that’s the puzzle. Slowly as each story continues in alternating chapters we see them begin to join, see how they relate to each other and it made for a wonderful, escapist read.
From the early chapters I had an idea of what might have happened, but not why, or who was responsible, I an idea of how it played out but as it happened I was way off track.
Its a vivid story, the closeness of twins brought up with a sense of shame at being illegitimate – how harsh and judgemental humans can be on others. Some delight in others misfortunes, and the Mems certainly found fodder for their gossip in Mae and Harriet.
I so felt for the girls when things started to go wrong, they didn’t really stand a chance in the mans world they lived in.
Then the later section of the story with Ivy, Kit, Alex and those from the past and the present I wasn’t sure how it all fit together. Again I had ideas about some characters but how they got there, what actually happened eluded me. And when the truth came out it was incredibly moving.

Stars: five, A tear-jerker read, full of angst and emotion, and with an amazingly realistic setting.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

The Chateau, An Erotic Thriller, Tiffany Reisz

The Chateau, An Erotic Thriller,  Tiffany Reisz

The Chateau: An Erotic Thriller (The Original Sinners) by [Reisz, Tiffany]

Genre:  Mystery and Thrillers, Romance

I love the Sinners series ( and the side stories), adore Kingsley so was expecting to love this. Sadly though I didn’t.

Its the same hot and sensual writing, King is a gorgeous young man here and we see echoes of the man he will grow into. There’s lots of memories of Soren here, him and King, that weird but very symbiotic relationship they have and I thought I’d love the way how some of the gaps in the stories were filled. I just didn’t connect with the book though, felt it was just stretching the series too far for me. As ever though I can see others love it and that’s how it goes. Not all books suit all readers.
I really enjoyed the way the sensual and erotic sex was blended so perfectly with the stories in the Sinners series, up to this one. Here it seemed as though the sex took the place of the story, that lovely balance that’s been so perfect for me was lost with Story taking a back-seat. That never works for me, I need a solid story to hang the sex on, or it just becomes meaningless.
I think its time for me to part with this series, stick to re-reading the first eight books and enjoying the shorter side stories as they come out.

.

Stars: Two, sadly a fail for me but of course others feel very differently. Subjective taste books…we’ll never all agree.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

Queen of the North, Anne O’Brien

Queen of the North,  Anne O’Brien

Queen of the North by [O'Brien, Anne]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Historical

I love historical novels such as this which take real events, real people and weave a story of how things may have unfolded. History was a tough time for females, regarded as first fathers property, then belonging to husband, and for those like Elizabeth, with Royal blood, and connected to the current monarch they were his property too.
Politics back then was ever changing, those who supported the king could be traitor soon as the next contender the the throne wins through. It was a time when ambition ruled, when the house name was all and Elizabeth has been brought up strong in the sense of the Mortimer claim to the throne, and genuinely believes her nephew(s) has the right to be king now that Richard is dead. Henry is her cousin, and she believed his claim that he just wanted to reclaim his lands, taken by Richard, and is shocked when he breaks his sworn vows and deposes Richard. For a while the Percy star is high with Harry and his father being supporters of Henry. Slowly though the usual cracks break through, Henry admires what Harry has done, commands him into battles, and yet the financing…well, the royal coffers have other calls.
I adored Harry ( Hotspur as he’s fervently known) – he inspired such love and loyalty in his people, was very honest in what he believed, didn’t thrown in his lot and change with the wind as so many did back then. He and Elizabeth were a great couple, both strong headed, both ready to put their views forward, both brought up since babies with a certain destiny in mind, and supporting the family names. They clashed, heatedly, repeatedly, but the making up showed how truly they were in love, how much they respected each other even when they didn’t agree. When Hotspur finally fell in battle I cried, even knowing it was coming, even though he died centuries ago. These characters felt so real to me, and their stories played out making me feel as if I was there with them, wondering what course of action was best next, what they could do to move things towards the destiny they believed was right.

Stars: Five, a wonderful read, transporting me back in time. Its my second Anne O’Brien novel, and I’m looking forward to catching up on some of the others.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Legendary,  Stephanie Garber

Legendary,  Stephanie Garber

Legendary (Caraval 2) by [Garber, Stephanie]

Genre:  Sci fi and fantasy

I was so looking forward to this, I adored Caraval, and amazingly I think Legendary is even better. It’s another magical book, full of secrets, of things that are not as they seem, of twists and turns that predicting who is who and what will happen just isn’t possible. And the “is it a game or are things real this time “ conundrum. Poor Tella, she has a series of really difficult choices to make and she doesn’t know, and the consequences are so very different if its real this time.

As with Caraval its has that YA feel to it, and yet its one that will appeal to all ages, there’s nothing childish about the story, and its so full of changing consequences, riddles, pure magic or possibly illusion – how can Tella know whats real. As an adult I certainly couldn’t!
This story is told from Tella’s POV, I liked seeing Scarlett and the mysterious Julian again, along with of course Dante and some of the other minor characters. There’s some fabulous new people too, and as before knowing if what they say is true or not is important but incredibly hard to tell. Tella has struck a bargain with Jacks, but as she gets closer the consequences become more clear and she doesn’t know whats the best thing to do, whichever way she jumps people will be hurt but doing nothing isn’t an option either.

I’m still full of questions, who, how, why and what about….I could go on for ages, it seems like when one question gets answered there’s always the chance that it may not be the Correct Answer, just An Answer 😉 and trying to work it out is like herding cats, simply impossible. Just let it flow and enjoy the magic.

Stars: Five, a read to take you away for a few hours, though That ending was incredibly frustrating for me. I understand more of Caraval having read this, and would up my rate for that to a five now

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Away, Book 1 of the Folk Trilogy, Meg Benjamin

Away, Book 1 of the Folk Trilogy,  Meg Benjamin

Away (The Folk Trilogy Book 1) by [Benjamin, Meg]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy.

I’ve never read any of Meg’s books before so I didn’t know what to expect. I really enjoyed this story, and look forward to reading more in the series.
I did get a little confused in the beginning by who was who and how they fitted into the story, there are a lot of different supernatural groups, and they integrate differently. It took me a while to work out just how they all fit together. Maybe a glossary of characters would be helpful? Explaining things like the difference between the Ward and the Guard when at first they both seemed to me to be doing the same thing. I certainly didn’t guess who was behind things, and I love a story that catches me out like that.
I found the characters pretty realistic, even fantasy folk have to feel real to me. I liked Grim, liked his determination to do what was right, when it was needed, to find out the truth, not just do a supernatural cover-up from the humans thing. Annie was great too, and her story very plausible.
First books in a series have a difficult task, introducing a new world and characters while delivering an interesting story. This book does that pretty well I feel, could have had a little more depth and drama but that’s me…I love drama. Its not heart stopping romance, nor edge of seat scariness, but a fun read, and a world I want to read more from.

Stars: Four, an excellent start and I’ll look out for book two.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

One Summer in Italy, Sue Moorcroft

One Summer in Italy,  Sue Moorcroft

One Summer in Italy: The most uplifting summer romance you need to read in 2018 by [Moorcroft, Sue]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

A book set mainly in Italy and so well described I felt I was there, out in the sun, enjoying the countryside, having coffee in the gardens of the hotel.

Sofia has come there after her father dies. She’s been his carer for many years, he left Italy when he married her mum and never returned though he talked of home with such love, and she promised him she’d live her own life after he died, and delivering a family message gave her Italy as a start to that.

She’s spending time there, so takes a live in position as waitress and befriends Amy. She’s another young waitress, left home after a family fallout and Sofia feels protective of her. She’s concerned at the attention one of the guests, who is much older than Amy, is paying to her.
Its one of those stories that starts simply, Sophia going to Italy as her father wanted, but quickly involves others and their lives and actions become entwined in the story. There are lots of surprises, some deliciously heated romance, and some hard decisions for Sophia to make. It looks like a simple read, but like Sue’s other stories its far more complex than it appears, having multi-layered plots that spread and encompass many characters. I loved Sophia and Levi, though like her I wondered why he was so interested in Amy. Amy was a typical older teen, dramatic and thinks everything revolves around her, but she’s a naive girl, good hearted and hard working even if she has run away from home in a hissy fit. She did have some particularly shocking revelations thrown at her.
I enjoyed this story, its not heart stopping drama, a can’t-put-down read, but one that’s fun for a summer’s day in the hammock, or to take on holiday, to the beach, and get lost in Italy along with the characters. I don’t think its one I’d re-read, but it is one I really enjoyed.

Stars: Five, a great fun read, perfect to take on holiday or to lose yourself for a few hours.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

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