Tag Archive | adventure

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

 

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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

A Winter’s Tale, (Shakespeare Sisters), Carrie Elks

A Winter’s Tale, (Shakespeare Sisters), Carrie Elks

A Winter's Tale: the perfect feel good Christmas romance (Shakespeare Sisters) by [Elks, Carrie]

Genre:  General fiction

I love Carrie Elks writing, started with the wonderful Fix You, followed by Love in London and its sequel, and then the first book of the Shakespeare sisters – all were perfect reads for me.
I love the UK links, though the Shakespeare sisters one isn’t featured heavily in UK, but its still referenced. Sometimes I think authors forget there are countries outside the US 😉

Kitty struggles so hard, a perfect student, first class work but she needs an internship and interviews fluster her to the point she fails, always, despite her excellent record academically. By a roundabout route she ends up nannying over the xmas break for a top producer, hoping that this may give her a chance somehow to get the fabled intern position.

The family are staying with Everett’s parents over Xmas, with his brother Adam staying in a cabin close by. He and Everett had a major falling out the previous year and its something everyone is very tight lipped about, with Adam still doing his best to avoid Everett. Difficult though when they’re so close, staying with the parents.
Kitty and Adam don’t get on well at first, nor at second meeting, but when he looks at why he’s so antagonistic to her he can see the fault was all his. He tries to be friends with her as he wants to make amends, well that’s what he’s kidding himself, really he just finds it hard to stay away. Of course friendship isn’t going to work, not when he’s so attracted to Kitty and she to him….

Adam is gorgeous, and I understood why he and Everett fell out when the secret was revealed, and he and Kitty were perfect together.
Everett – I thought he was a jerk, but there’s things about him I didn’t know, and I ended up by – well – not exactly liking him but understanding him a bit more.His wife Mia was a typical self absorbed Hollywood type.
Jonas, Kitty’s 7 year old charge is wonderful, he’s such a friendly kid, so open and loving. considering how neglectful and selfish his parents appear that’s pretty much a miracle.
Annie the housekeeper was lovely, I felt sad though that she was so alone, she deserves her own story Carrie 😉

Of course just when all’s going well its not….you know, how at the peak of being happy disaster strikes and poor Kitty, poor Adam. I was so heartbroken for them.
As always though Carrie pulls the rabbit out of the hat, changes the way I feel about some people, turns what I thought was the story completely on his head to give a different meaning to it and everything works out well. I love a HEA.

Terrific read – and don’t forget about poor annie Carrie, languishing away there all on her own. She deserves a love life too.

Stars: five, classic Carrie read, humour, pathos, angst, drama, happiness, more humour – the subtle British kind that I loved, not the force fed type found in too many novels, and of course, a fabulous story

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

By the Currawong’s Call, Welton B. Marsland

By the Currawong’s Call, Welton B. Marsland

By The Currawong's Call by [Marsland, Welton B.]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I loved this book. Amazingly moving, so very realistic.
When I read a romance I want something different, not just a cookie cutter A loves B story but something that creates emotion in me. this book delivers that.

I love an occasional dip into a historical novel and it really suits this genre, with the draconian laws against homosexuality. ( Sadly in many areas laws like this still exist, and even when areas are more enlightened its still a battle against some people ).
The setting was perfect, had that small town feel, the way religion and priests were so respected. the snippet when one of the ladies mentions here suspicions about Jonah’s sexuality to Matthew, and then apologises for talking about such matters to a man of the faith…..In little towns back then, as now, everyone knows everybody and rumours and gossip are what keeps life flowing.

Jonah and Matthew are both such great characters, Matthew so very innocent, shamed of how he feels towards men so he’s subjugated it for so long, ignored anything he feels, wrapped himself up in his work and God. He really is a staunch Believer, not someone I felt was paying lip service to religion, but God totally shaped his life. I loved his naivety, it was part of the person he was.
Jonah too has a calling, he’s been a policeman for a long time, worked his way up from the bottom and is so well respected by all the locals. He’s a part of the community, not just the man who upholds the law.

For a small community they’ve had a few issues, Jonah was shot a few years back, and in this book he deals with a serious fire, assaults, runaway horse and a murder….a real Hero. And yet he can’t be openly with the man he wants, they have to hide so carefully. If caught they face loss of both jobs, loss of standing in the community and not just that but a long spell of imprisonment. The way homosexuals were treated then they’d probably both get killed. Serious stuff.
It amazes me how people can forget all the good others do in their judgmental views. Even if they didn’t do anything particularly good, so long as they’re not harming any one so what if they want to be together?

Its a book that made me so sad, so angry, but which was so tender in the way the romance grew out of the blue. Jonah had spent time with lots of ladies but never really considered men sexually, though he knew a few from his police work and had a view that he’d turn a blind eye where he could. He had a good argument about the Bible and how we understand what’s written. It IS very conflicting, it Is subjective and interpretive.
Meeting Matthew and how he felt towards him came as a shock, and the relationship grew at a very natural for the time rate.
Sometimes that’s more tender, more romantic, more erotic even, that the more contemporary reads where it’s lust at first sight, and they’re hot and heavy before even getting to know each others names. A tiny touch, a careful glance can be so very sensual written properly, and this book is full of that.

Stars: five, Its a story to savour, a book to re-read later and had an epilogue I loved.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

London, Can You Wait?, Jacquelyn Middleton

London, Can You Wait?, Jacquelyn Middleton

London, Can You Wait? by [Middleton, Jacquelyn]

Genre: New Adult, Romance

When I was approved for this ARC I bought book one, London belongs to me.
I love the fame trope, the rock star, film, theatre settings and personalities so wanted to read Alex and Marks early story. TBH though I was underwhelmed, it was OK but not great for me, a bit …err…average, mundane. If this hadn’t been an ARC I wouldn’t have read it.
What a shame that would be though, its a Fabulous read, packed with drama, emotion, heartbreak, betrayals, love, lust and some incredible characters, all the things I love about this genre. I’d hate to have missed it and its definitely one for my keepers/re-reader files!

So we begin with Alex and Mark living together, both striving to build their respective careers, and finding it hard to make time for each other.
Mark has been successful in getting a TV role and now has become a household name, and the little bit of time they do get together gets broken into by fans, by his agent, by last minute opportunities he can’t turn down.
Alex feels like she’s last down the list but doesn’t want to be That Girl. You know, the one that can’t cope, gets needy, ruins his career. she knows how much this means to him, he’s been so supportive of her career, even when she was thinking of giving up she just can’t complain now his is taking off. things have to improve surely?
But they don’t and the time spent apart gets longer and longer, visits get put off, holidays cancelled and Alex panic attacks which had been pretty stable get worse.

And then, just over a third of the way in crisis hits – I really didn’t see that coming, and its heartbreaking, shocking, unbelievable.
Getting that so early made the story for me, I adore drama and heartbreak – so long as I know there’s a HEA of course! So often its there and done with in just a few pages, so to have it covering a huge section of the book was perfect for me.  I was wondering, nail biting, could they survive this, get past it? How would things work out?
The surprises just keep coming too. We were there as both Alex and Mark grew as a result of what happened, how they needed to change, needed to sort out their lives and both became stronger people for it. We’re all a product of our pasts, what happens to us shapes us, and there are some big secrets from the past here to come out.

Its not all Alex and Mark though, but Harry,Tom, Lucy, Freddie, Si, a great supporting cast who’s stories played their own part in building this wonderful second part of the novel.
It had everything part one lacked for me, and more. I’m so glad I didn’t stop at LBTM, and read more from these guys, it had me laughing, crying, heartbroken, angry, furious, well…you name the emotion and this book brought it out.
A terrific read and clearly writing LBTM has helped Jacquelyn hone her writing skills for this genre. I look forward to what she does next.

Stars: five, a fantastic second half, a story so much more than part one.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Molten Dusk, The Norse Chronicles: Book 3, Karissa Laurel

Molten Dusk, The Norse Chronicles: Book 3, Karissa Laurel

Molten Dusk (The Norse Chronicles Book 3) by [Laurel, Karissa]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

A fabulous finish, with the tension and excitement ramped up right to the end.
This isn’t one of those reads where you can jump in part way through – you need to start at the beginning or you’ll have no idea whats happening. Its not a run-of-the-mill paranormal, but one which takes on Norse legends and weaves them and the characters into modern day life.
Its so different from most current paranormal offerings and a real treat to read. The romance part is very muted so if you don’t like romance in your reads don’t be put off, its a small part. Personally I love it so long as the story is strong, but I also like reads such as this where romance takes a back seat.
In fact although its clear how Solina and Thorin feel about each other she’s still fence sitting, worrying about that Immortal God v Human paradox. She’s a fiery Star though herself, literally, so not quite just a human….

Helen and Skoll are still a danger and threatening the second Ragnarok. Baldur now has Nina, but she’s struggling with trying to remember her previous incarnations and with his feelings.
He’s less of a wimp in this book – maybe unfair I titled him that in book two but he really did cop out of helping his freinds, saving the world stuff – then again seeing the person you love die time after time after time and trying to find them each re-incarnation must affect one’s mind and priorities.
Val and the Ravens are still a danger, with them knowing a Thought soon as it takes form and being on Helen’s side, but how can Solina and co plan anything without thinking – tough one but aid comes from an unexpected quarter. Can it be trusted though?
There’s still the doubts about the Valkyries Solina has too, she’s not sure if there’s loyalty there or whether they are playing some long game. She knows Skyla is true but doesn’t know about the others.
Helen seems to be one step ahead all the while and she’s making things pretty tough for them, trouble is they have to treat each threat as real even though they know that she’s possibly double bluffing them, and while they fight one threat she’s planning another.
Its real down to the wire stuff this time, and both sides are pretty equal.

I love the characters here, love that the women are all pretty strong. Thor – well, I adore him. I’ve a soft spot for the Ravens too. All these characters have been through so much over the long years, so many battles, so many tragedies.
When Thor talks about his life and family I found it very emotional, and I adore the way he is so in love with Solina, so protective and yet respects her and doesn’t try to stop her from venturing into danger when he knows she needs to do it.

It’s another fabulous read, and the ending is perfect.
Its a fantasy read for Thinking readers, those who want more than the weak story wrapped around a hot romance, that’s sadly so much of the current best sellers lists.
Its story you’ll want to re-read, certainly now I’m planning a back to back read of all three parts.

Stars: five, fantastic ending to an amazing trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Haunted Blade, J.C. Daniels

Haunted Blade, J.C. Daniels

Haunted Blade (Colbana Files Book 6) by [Daniels, J.C.]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

I love this series but somehow I missed the last book…don’t know how that happened? So many books, so little time…
Still, it didn’t affect this installment for me, I was able to keep up, even understood the references to what happened in that one because of the context. I might buy it and read when the series is finished. I love to do a whole back to back read of series, totally immerse myself.

Kit’s come a long way from book one, where she was so alone even though she had a very small group of trusted acquaintences. Now she has Damon, and through him the Cats, though many have become friends with her in her own right.
And she’s well respected and has gained friends and allies that way from different groups of non-humans. No longer the isolated person she was back then, she’s stronger both physically and mentally. That’s good because Fate – or perhaps not Fate but Smeone directing things – has much in store for her.

She’s still recovering from her last brush with death when weird events start stacking up. She’s not one to believe in co-incidences, and somehow all these supposed isolated events seem aimed at her.
Its a time when she really does need her friends and allies. Can she convince the others though that these events are connected, that its not just random crimes, mindless violence, but a concerted, orchestrated string of events with one aim in mind?
Trouble is she’s not certain of what that is, who exactly is the enemy apart from her family, and mostly how on earth she can defeat them, when she begins to understand exactly who and what is pushing the power struggle.

I love Kit, she’s very genuine, has moments when she’s bitchy, though with all the strain she’s under she’s very composed most of the time, a little letting out has to come.
She’s been through so much and her murderous family don’t seem to want to let her go. Its hard to understand who or what exactly they are, though as the books continue more comes out and I’m beginning to grasp it.

Damon, he’s perfect for her. Protective and yet he knows she doesn’t want wrapping in a blanket, tucked away from danger – it’s hard though as an Alpha and an alpha, to let her run into danger when he just wants to keep it from her.
He’s learned though from the past, is a terrific support when she needs it, cheerleader and motivator when she needs it, and of course the closeness they have, not just the erotic sexual connection but that melding of minds, that two becoming one connection they have is getting deeper all the while.
That’s important as she faces something she thought was years away, the release of some-one who she thought she wouldn’t need to see for a long, long while. Sadly all the murders have brought the vampire population into chaos, and to prevent even more bloodshed the powers that be have decided he needs to be released early…..

Its another great read, full of mayhem, murders, dangers, deceptions, plots, plans, it seems non stop at times and yet its inching closer to a kind of grand finale battle between her and her grandmother.
She’s going to need every ally, every favour, every connection she’s made these last few years if she’s to stop a catastrophe.
We catch up with characters from earlier books and meet a few more new ones. The ending is a kind of cliffhanger, but given we’ve been expecting things to move in this direction from an early stage its not totally unexpected.

Stars: Five, great read, fantastic series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

All That Makes Life Bright, Josi S. Kilpack

All That Makes Life Bright, Josi S. Kilpack

All That Makes Life Bright: The Life and Love of Harriet Beecher Stowe [A Historical Proper Romance] (Proper Romance Historical) by [Kilpack, Josi S.]

Genre:  Romance,

When I saw this for review the names seemed familiar to me but I passed that off as being typical historical names. Then I started it and found that Harriet was the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a book many believed to be the force for change, pushing up the agenda for the abolition of slavery.
I haven’t ever actually read that book…but its free on kindle so I read a few chapters last night.

I loved the way Harriet was so convinced everything would work out just as she and Calvin planned. What’s that saying “man proposes God disposes”?
Well, she soon found the truth of that. It wasn’t long before she and Calvin were struggling, she with trying to cope with home and housework, Calvin’s and others expectations of her now, the change in finance and finding time to write.
It seemed to her all the things Catherine had said that she rubbished were coming true. Calvin still adored her and she him, but they simply didn’t understand the others views, issues, problems. Then The Trip occurs just as she finds she’s pregnant….

Its a wonderful read if you want to see the struggles women of the time had to remain themsleves, to keep their sense of worth, not just become wife, mother, daughter and lose themsleves in the unending drudge of home making. Its a balance of expectations on all parts, leveled with realistic practicalities. Calvin and Harriet are both very stubborn, both convinced they are right and its a real head to head theme at times. He supported her wring in theory, she was convinced she’d continue, its so easy when its all abstracts and theory but throw in Real Life and its very different.

It takes something huge to force them to make the change, to respect each others views, to find a way forward that allows them to still share their love and respect the other person.
Its a snippet of the times when slavery was just becoming seen as abhorrent by the enlightened few, but accepted as natural but many. It was hard sometimes reading this book of almost 200 years past, and knowing that there are people who still hold that same bigoted view 😦

I enjoyed reading this, it wasn’t a heart stopping romance, more a gentle view from the sidelines on two peoples struggle to make their romance work.
In a way the categorisation of romance is misleading, its a book with romance in, it’s a story of how life in that time was in practical terms for the duo.
It’s more a novel of two very strong willed, intelligent people falling in love and learning to live together without one subjugating the other.
Its not a book I’d reread but one I did enjoy very much.

 

Stars: Four, an interesting look at the early life of a very famous woman, how here writings became a catalyst for change.
It made me wonder what would have happened if Calvin stuck to his original stance and Harriet gave up her writing.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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