Tag Archive | adventure

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 I hate reading that in categories, so outdated.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

Witherward, Hannah Mathewson

Witherward, Hannah Mathewson

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

What a fantastic read this was. Its very unusual, and at times I was confused about the different factions and how they interacted. I think with any fantasy though that devolves from the norm that happens, and I’m happy to go along with it to read something new, something challenging.
I loved this read, I just wish parts two and three were out now!

Ilsa is a perfect lead, and at times when her age, and that of some of the other leads, was mentioned I found it hard to believe they were teens. They’ve had to grow up very quickly, even though they’ve grown up in different worlds. Ilsa felt so very real, she’s struggled to get by, using her wits, all her life, so although she’s out of her depth in some ways in this new world, her skills she’s honed over the years mean she is well placed to assess what needs doing, what is happening. For other things she’s on a fast track tuition process, learning the skills that the others have has years to acquire.

I really enjoyed the story, there’s lots of minor plots besides the main one, and they all gel over the course of the novel. It was fascinating reading about the different sorts of magics, the benefits and limitations, and the history of the Witherward. I did have characters I liked more than others of course, but there were surprises in store for me, and I love that. When things happen that I didn’t anticipate, it makes the story so much more compelling. Some of the events are hard to read, its a hard, harsh world, and death is never far away for anyone.

Goodreads describe it as YA, don’t let that put you off. The main characters are young, but the story is certainly not any kind of simplistic one, in fact I found myself doubling back a few times checking people, places and acts. I’d highly recommend this to fantasy lovers. Roll on the next book. I know once I have all three books its going to be one I read back to back in a total Witherward immersion!

Stars: Five. Fantastic new, unusual, gripping, compelling, fantasy adventure.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Echoes of Germania, H. B. Ashman

Echoes of Germania, H. B. Ashman

Echoes of Germania: A Historical Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel (Tales of Ancient Worlds Book 1) by [H. B.  Ashman]

Genre: Historical Fiction, Sci Fi & Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult)

Its always a gamble getting a book from a debut author, there’s no past stories to give you a flavour of the writing style, so I went in to this somewhat dubiously. In fact I didn’t start it til about three weeks after receiving it, not convinced from the blurb I was going to love it, and yet intrigued enough to request. And then….once I delved in I was gripped. What a fantastic read.
I really, really hope that H.B. sticks to the planned timetable of books two and three being out later this year. That would be fantastic!
From the authors website: Echoes of Germania I (2020), Songs of Rome II (2021), Drums of War III (2021)

I really liked Amalia, and as the story unfolded the relevance of her judo skills and engineering background became obvious, and were very important to the story and her place in it. I love that she’s young, around 19 I think from memory, but strong in mind as well as body. She needs that when she finds herself not in some cosplay scene, but 2000 years into the past.
At first there did seem to be battle after battle, but once Amalia was drawn in as more than a captive, once she began to make her place I was totally fixed on her, and what could/would happen.
I loved the other characters too Arminius, who couldn’t love him, Germanicus and of course Marius. I love when we have some not so nice characters too and of course here with Roman power plays they abound. Livia, Julia, Lucius, Gnaeus, all were deliciously manipulative.
I enjoyed reading the day to day stuff, and learned a lot as I was reading. Few books I’ve read cover this period and my knowledge of Rome, Romans and the soldiers are really limited to films my late husband was addicted to. Spartacus, 300 Spartans, Gladiator, Troy, The Robe ( seems that one was out every Easter…) I’m not a film watcher, preferring my books, but you kind of absorb elements when they’re constantly in front of you.
There are useful additions about the Roman structures at the front of the book, and a glossary of main characters at the end and I found both of those very helpful.

Its an interesting story, bringing in the harshness of life, the strangeness of living in the past for Amalia. And of course the mystery of Seers, the white owl, superstitions and whether Amalia being there is just bad luck, predestined, or part of a plan formed by the Seer when past events occurred.

Its a great story, easy to read and yet complex enough to entertain and keep me reading. Some books are so light I end up flipping through, bored with the story. There’s a romance here too, and I do love those, but its only a small part of the story, though becomes a strong core to later events.

Stars: Five, a gripping read, one that kept me reading “just that bit more” and up far too late into the early hours! I’m really eager for the next two parts, and know this will join my back to back reading fest favourites. I love to totally immerse myself in another world, reading stories like this right through when all parts are out.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Mask of Mirrors, Rook and Rose Book One, M. A. Carrick

The Mask of Mirrors, Rook and Rose Book One, M. A. Carrick

The Mask of Mirrors: Rook and Rose, Book One by [M. A. Carrick]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

Having been caught before by trilogies that I loved – and series – which never got any further I contacted the authors to see if there were plans for the next two books. Hurrah, there are. Book two, The Liar’s Knot, is out later this year in November, with book three scheduled for November 2022. Given how complex and detailed this story is that’s good going 😉 It must be a nightmare to write, having to constantly check things, unless the authors have become fully immersed in the world they’d created.

I loved this story but…I almost gave up, its so incredibly detailed it took me well into the book before I began to get a sense of this world and its characters. I think I didn’t really feel familiar with the place and characters until about the halfway mark. I’m so glad I stuck with it. The end section with the explanations of who and how people fit together, and some of the terms used was incredibly helpful, I found myself referring to that many, many times! Read it before you start, and then keep checking back, it really helps.
If you’re struggling with the beginning as I did, stick with it, it really is worth it. I already know this is going to be one of my re-reader series, where I indulge in a few days back to back reading of all the novels.

Its really hard to write a review. Its a new world, with, pretty much like here, two main classes, the rich and the not rich….but within that there are different heritages, religions, and those groups are further divided with the ruling classes having a complicated and rigid structure in place and the underclass being divided further into different groups and knots.
For the ruling classes life is about appearance, never showing your hand, never showing or admitting to feelings, and under that there are the deals, the money making, the backbiting, cheating, manoeuvering, but all done with smiles and unseen.

Then of course there’s the actual story, with Ren and Tess being in for a long con, persuading House Traementis that she’s a lost relative, with Grey Serrado of the Vigils, wanting to find out who killed his brother, and who is stealing children from the streets, Derossi Vargo, well, with Vargo who knows what he wants, he’s like spider with bits of web touching everything.
Its seems everyone is hiding something, planning something or doing something they shouldn’t. Ren gets deeper and deeper, constantly involved in deals for different people, all the while pushing her claim forward, but along the way finding there’s much more to this society than she imagined, and finding she hasn’t left her past as far behind as she thought.
I wasn’t sure about Ren at first, but her loyalty to Tess and the things she’s been through make her what she is, and I grew to really hope for her. I loved Tess, clever Tess with her nimble fingers and ways of chatting to staff and finding out what she and Ren needed to know. They work together so well.
Donaia Traementis I really felt for, trying to keep the house together, keep up appearances despite lacking finances. Leatro, her son, I loved him. He’s on the surface all light and fluff but there’s a lot more to him. Then Giuna, his sister. We didn’t really seem to get to know her well, both her mother and her brother seem to keep her incredibly sheltered and I’m not really sure why.
Grey Serrado, one of the Vigil, a kind of police force, though mainly a corrupt force, was an anomaly there. He’s there to do right, to protect people and I wondered why he joined, knowing its full of corruption.
Derossi Vargo – who couldn’t be intrigued by him. And Peabody! He’s from the streets, has a fearsome reputation and yet he can be smooth and cultured when it suits. He’s got a fount of secrets, one of them huge and I really want to know how that came about. Sedge, one of his henchmen was a great character too, we soon find out he’s got more connections than he knew.

I did find some of Ren’s/Renata’s deals went a little too easily, given that the others had been struggling to get things done, but there’s so much else going on that it didn’t really bother me, it was needed to push events forward. At times I just continued reading even when a bit lost, til I found my ground again, the story is so complex that if I tried to reason every event I’d never get through it 😉 The dreamworld events, night of hells, was one of those. Its all made sense later.
I’d got a good idea of who The Rook was and was pleased I was right – that doesn’t happen often, and tbh I just got lucky!
The practice of Pattern and Numinatra was fascinating, I’d love to know more of that.
I loved the ending, wrapping up parts neatly and yet opening up a whole deal more. Yay.
I guess its time to stop. Hopefully I’ve not given anything away, its a really fascinating read, despite my first fears. Stick with it, if you love complex fantasy this is a perfect trilogy.

Stars: Five. Fantastic, complicated story. I really enjoyed it and know its going to be a long time favourite trilogy.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Silk House, The thrilling new historical novel from the bestselling author of The Botanist’s Daughter, Kayte Nunn

The Silk House, The thrilling new historical novel from the bestselling author of The Botanist’s Daughter, Kayte Nunn

The Silk House: The thrilling new historical novel from the bestselling author of The Botanist's Daughter by [Kayte Nunn]

Genre: Women’s Fiction.

Gah, no, there are so many more genres this book fits and its gets dumped with that outdated, no-place-for-in-,,2020 women’s fiction. That category should not exist, why would some men not enjoy this? I can think of some that would – as I can equally think among my female friends of some who’d hate this.

Anyway – me? I loved it. My first read by Kayte Nunn, and I’m looking for more.
Its a fascinating story, I’m not a huge fan of past present format but some stories can’t be told any other way. I’m impatient and I hate stopping at a crucial moments so as usual did a bit of flipping forward, then back. I just had to know what would happen.

It took quite a while for the three threads to begin to connect, but when they did it was fabulous. I loved the historical descriptions of silk weaving and weavers, and that led me on to a wiki 15 mins reading about the famous lady silk weaver in London, from whom this character was formed. Fascinating to think how hard back then to be a success as a woman in a mans world and a mans tradition. Kayte describes very well the barriers facing women, practical ones, not just financial. Men who held the finances just wouldn’t believe women could do certain things.

I liked all three women, though I didn’t like the way Mary was with Rowan when she first met her. That class divide even got through to the lower end of the spectrum. Even now that still holds sadly. I enjoyed the descriptions of daily life, the issues each faced and how they overcame them.
I was worried at one point that this would turn into the kind of ghost story I avoid, I’m easily scared, get nightmares over nothing. I put it aside that night to finish in daylight 😉 but it was nothing, there is a slightly spooky element of the supernatural, but its not a scary spooky, more emotional spooky. It was actually incredibly interesting how the Church treats certain supernatural elements, described here in the story, and true in real life. I’m open to the idea of thoughts of strong emotions remaining behind after we’re gone etc.
There were moments when I was so sad for some of the characters, life tosses us around and sometimes there seems no way of leaving where it puts us. There were twists I didn’t expect, especially in the last quarter, and a huge one at the very end I really didn’t see coming. It led me to think back to see if I could have picked up on it but I couldn’t. I didn’t really see what the last sentence was about, keep casting my mind back to work out who. I think I’ve an idea but I’m terrible at remembering descriptions, have my own visuals of characters and they tend to overtake what the author writes !

One last thing. Termites….The book is set in UK, we don’t have termites. We’re lucky, a lot of the world does, but being an island has saved us so far I guess. I did check to see if I was mistaken, I’m not.

Stars: Five. Fab read, thoroughly recommend. Kept me engrossed with the detail and the events, just the right level of supernatural for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

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