Tag Archive | deception

Killing Beauties, Pete Langman

Killing Beauties, Pete Langman

Killing Beauties by [Langman, Pete]

Genre: Historical Fiction

I liked the sound of this, fiction but about real people, and in a period that intrigues me, but which I know little of. Sadly the story just wasn’t a great fit for me.

I’m not sure why, perhaps its because I failed to really connect with the characters, perhaps its just that events seemed muddled at times. I need to empathise with someone in a story, but though the setting felt real the characters just didn’t ,and I wasn’t really concerned with what happened to them.
Kudos to Pete for taking on bringing female spies into the public eye, sadly historically women were treated badly, as secondary to men, and even now the word Spy evokes a man, rarely do we think of female spies. They existed, though, did a hard and dangerous job, even more dangerous because women then were really regarded as unimportant, disposable.
I might come back to this another time, its a well written book, and I’m guessing well researched, certain historically it feels accurate. We’re in the throes of Covid19 when I’m reading this, and it may well be my issues, the unsettledness we’re all feeling that have affected how I felt about this story. Possibly in a different time I’ll get more from it?

Stars: Two, a good story for others but I failed to connect with it.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Dear Enemy, Kristen Callihan

Dear Enemy, Kristen Callihan

Dear Enemy by [Callihan, Kristen]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

I love Kristen’s VIP series, have re read those several times and they still make me laugh – and cry….but her other books just don’t quite live up to those for me. This one was the same, it was good, great banter, Kristen excels at that, which had me giggling like a loon every now and then, but somehow it didn’t have the VIP magic.
I never like it when a guy dates a sister – or vice versa, and her its an integral part of the story but I just didn’t – even when everything came out – understand just why Macon ever dated the horrible Samantha.

Delilah coming to work for Macon was…a little contrived in terms of real life, but this is fiction so jut go with it. In reality would a chef/PA really be worth all that money? She might be the greatest chef- but is untried as a PA. Somehow though if you can suspend belief, and just accept it has happened it makes for a great story.
The characters are good, I love an evil, selfish character like Samantha, loved Macon in his early unpleasant days, that means when we learn his history it puts a different slant on what seemed like pure vicious nastiness.
I loved the way it finally came together, how Delilah was such an open, natural lady, always ready to help anyone, with a humorous quip at the ready for when its needed and yet also has a very serious side under that humour.
Its a great read, I’m just spoiled by VIP. Maybe its time for yet another re-read of those, Sunshine and Chatty-girl’s ( aka Gabriel and Sophie) story is the best IMO!

Stars: Four, a great read, just suspend belief in the reality of certain plots and go with it. Its worth it.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Follow Me To Ground, Sue Rainsford

Follow Me To Ground, Sue Rainsford

Follow Me To Ground by [Rainsford, Sue]

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

I finished this book three days ago and….usually I write my reviews the following day, but I just don’t know where to start with this, and keep putting it off.

Its….an odd, weird story, and yet I can see from early reviewers that some folks adore it. I guess its the book equivalent of Marmite, you either love it or hate it! And sadly I just didn’t like it, I can’t say I hate it as TBH most of it was just so confusing, and at the end I was left thinking “ what have I read?”

Oddly it shares a few similarities with You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce, which I absolutely loved. They both involve people/creatures who are different to the usual supernatural beings in books. I understood You Let Me In though, well, partly, but that confusion was a deliberate facet of the story. However with Follow Me To Ground I just found it totally confusing. One moment it would be one person telling the story, then it would switch, but without any indication, so I’d be thinking “ What? Whats happened that I missed” before realising it was someone else talking. I had to keep going back, rereading, backtracking to try to understand, follow what had been written. Nothing really seemed to add up, make any kind of sense and even in a supernatural read I do need that.
I read to 50% and skim read the rest, as I wanted to see what would happen and yet was so confused by events and characters that I couldn’t bring myself to waste time in a thorough read. I knew by then it wasn’t going to be a great read for me, but wondered of the second half would be any clearer. Nope, it wasn’t.

One big plot in the book oddly was very clear to me, right from early on – weird that the ordinary events were difficult for me to follow, and yet this big major mystery was so obvious to me. Maybe that’s the way the author intended – I don’t know?

Stars: Two, a weird book, I can’t say I hated it, but I didn’t understand it, or like the characters. By the end I felt strangely irritated that I still didn’t know what it was supposed to be telling me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Where We Belong, Shann McPherson

Where We Belong, Shann McPherson

Where We Belong: An unputdownable contemporary romance novel for 2020 by [McPherson, Shann]

Genre: Romance, General Fiction (adult)

Well, I love these small town America stories. I’ve no idea – being British – whether there really are towns like this, but I love the idea of everyone having friends, being there for each other. Of course its Always Sunshine and Warmth – and here in UK that’s often in short supply, so that’s a huge bonus. BBQ in the rain, summer dress for night out ruined by downpour, hair carefully coiffed and makeup done, then wrap up in warm hat that ruins the effect – that’s UK summers. I love the fake GF/BF trope too.

Poor Murph, all set for a proposal from long time boyfriend, on and off romance, and then…he hands her an invite to his wedding. Oh I could feel her heart breaking. When we learned more about their past my heart was sad for her over again, and I wondered why she saw Nash as her HEA, when to me he was selfish and unreliable.
Still, here he is with his new love, and she wants to put a brave face on and in the momentary instinct claims Harley is hers. Poor Harley – give the guy credit, he goes along with it, but as we learn he’s been picking her up for years, What’s one more time.
And it could have been a fun read for me if Murph hadn’t been so unpleasant to Anna. Its not her fault Nash loves her, and I really didn’t like Murph’s actions. Acting on the spur of the moment is one thing, but deliberate actions? Nope. Not in my playbook.
It may not bother you and you may laugh at parts, I did have a silent snigger at one even as I was annoyed at it….hey- I’m human, it set a funny visual. And I want to know why Harley writes his name on his clothes?

Overall it ends well, I’m not entirely sure I was convinced by it, but its a fun, easy read.

Stars: Three, I enjoyed parts, but a) didn’t understand why Murph was so set on Nash and b) didn’t like some of her actions.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Lie, Hilary Boyd

The Lie, Hilary Boyd

The Lie by [Boyd, Hilary]

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
Gah, I hate Women’s Fiction as a genre heading, so outdated. Men and women can read the same books….its 2019, not 1919.
anyway, that moan over, on to the book. Fabulous read, I loved it. I read Hillary’s Thurdays ion the Park years ago, and more recently The anniversary and loved both of those, and this sounded intriguing. It was, I was wondering all the way, should Romy just believe in Micheal? After all they’ve been married a long time, they would have had the boys when this event happened, and he’s never given any indication that he could have done something so awful, so horrific. I think most folk would be like Romy, feel their husband ( or wife) is telling the truth when they say they’ve no idea, that it never happened. Yet somehow Romy still has the tiniest, tiniest sliver of doubt. That little niggle keeps working at her, making her relive over and over Michael’s reactions when she told him about the letter. He’s clever, quick thinking, he has to be to do so well at his job, and something just didn’t feel quite right about his answers. Still, with no idea who wrote the letter how can she look further?
That little niggle though gradually affects their marriage, shows up just how things have been slowly changing between them, other tiny things come out and small, almost incidental lies emerge. Things build up until she decides she needs to step away, and goes to stay at their country cottage. She’s just picking up her life when – bam – she’s pulled back into her old life, where the past starts becoming the present.
I was a little eye rolling at the way the characters were interwoven until I got to that part of the story, when it was explained and I could see that actually, its pretty reasonable for events to unfold given the connections between people.
There are lots of surprises to come out, lots of events for Romy to deal with, and all the characters end up being hurt by past actions. Not just Romy, but her sons, her fledgling romance and of course the girl involved and her family.
Its one of those books where slowly what seem like unconnected events and people slowly gel, when the circles of distance start to close in and we can see how one out of character event ripples and widens, catching so many folk in the wake. I loved the book, and the way events were unfolded carefully, giving us just enough to satisfy at that time, but leaving the reader wondering what else happened, did it happen like that really? What would they do? I so felt for all involved who were hurt by the actions and was so angry at those who worked to hide things or just smooth them over. Its a story that really show how nothing happens in isolation, how one event can end up hurting so many people.

Stars: Five. Lots of surprises, heartbreak, angst, and shows how well one persons actions affect others.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Swimming in the Dark, Tomasz Jedrowski

Swimming in the Dark, Tomasz Jedrowski

Genre: Literary Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

I was kind of expecting romance from some of the early reviews and comments, although of course its not classed as romance under the genre headings.
Its not though, there is romance in it but its not a romance per se. Its written as a sort of autobiography style, and I guess for me a clue that it perhaps wouldn’t be the style of writing I enjoy is the Literary Fiction tag. Sometimes I find I enjoy this type of story telling, more often it seems to be more erudite, as if its aiming at style rather than substance and for me its more the story that’s important, not so much the way its told.

This is beautifully written, almost poetic at times and I felt the sheer drudgery of life in Poland in the 80s, the daily grind to just survive that was the lot of most of the population. I can remember well the timing of Solidarność and Lech Wałęsa. I was in my early twenties, had a ringside seat so to speak, seeing nightly on the news here in the UK the progression of the movement.
Its not until reading this novel though that I understand just how tough life was for folk there. How difficult daily life was, the struggle to get enough to eat, to get medicines, to survive, and how oppressing it could all be.
I guess that’s really what the issue is for me in enjoying the story, I read to be entertained and educated but I also feel there’s enough drear in daily life, and I want a HEA, or at least the possibility from my reading. Here though I got a heart breaking story of two lads in love, but its a romance that had no way of ending well without taking a huge risk. I was almost in tears at the end for poor Ludwik, even for Janusz, as they really were living in a time and place where what they shared had little chance of lasting. Such a waste of love and life, and yet still in the world this type of issue is far too widespread.

Stars: Three, its a beautifully written tale, but the content was just too depressing for me to actually enjoy the story. It remineded me a bit of the short story version of brokeback mountain.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Grown Ups, Marian Keyes

Grown Ups, Marian Keyes

Grown Ups by [Keyes, Marian]

Genre: Women’s fiction, General fiction (adult)
Sigh…..women’s fiction – just why? Why alienate potential readers, men read and write romance too.

Well. Marion Keyes, an author whose work I usually love. I went onto this expecting to be engrossed in a family saga. Well, family saga it is but there were so many characters, that it got confusing, I had to keep flipping back well into the story to see who was who and how they fitted in.
Its a well written story once you have it clear who is who and how they relate to the others but…. a huge failing for me was that the more I read the less I liked the characters. I did like Nell til further in when I just was rolling my eyes at her behaviour, and the more I read the less I liked everyone else. I guess Jessie, the one I probably liked least to begin became the only one I really liked. I felt she was trying, even if too hard and her actions were OTT, at least she meant well, whereas the rest seemed to display some horrible self centred traits. Sadly for me that made the story a fail – I can see its a five star perfect read for others, and that’s how it goes with stories, some you love and some…you just don’t. I’ll be back when the next MK book is out, I’m sure this is just a glitch for me with her work.

Stars: Two, I really struggled with this, well written but ultimately I just didn’t care about the characters enough to enjoy the story.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Glissando, A Story of Love, Lust and Jazz, Debbie Burke

Glissando, A Story of Love, Lust and Jazz, Debbie Burke

Glissando: A Story of Love, Lust and Jazz by [Burke, Debbie]

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction.

Bah! Women’s fiction. Its 2020, men write romance, men read romance. Outdated category.

So, I did see that Ellie was attracted to a married guy, but hoped there were going to be some mitigating circumstances…y’know, wife still, but divorce on the way, wife is a nasty woman, and there are reasons, valid reasons why they don’t part. Sadly though Ellie decides before knowing anything about the wife that she wants Vince, and what she wants she gets. Having been in that situation herself and devastated by it, I just could not understand how she could do it to someone else.
The story starts where Ellie is maybe late twenties/ early thirties perhaps, then suddenly it shoots forward to where she’s fifty-five, and meets Vince. I found that odd, not really knowing what happened in her life between then and now.
I also found that the writing style, very much an inner light into Ellie’s constant thoughts, rather than dialogue based didn’t work for me. I’m not a fan of stories told via inner monologues. That’s me though, as always you may feel very differently about this book.
I’m not sure whether this is meant to be a stand alone of part of a sereis, certainly the very last line hints at a series, or more to come anyway, but there isn’t any easy to find info. I won’t be continuing anyway.

Stars: Two, just not one for me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Truth Hurts, A captivating, breathless read, Rebecca Reid

Truth Hurts, A captivating, breathless read, Rebecca Reid

Truth Hurts: A captivating, breathless read by [Reid, Rebecca]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, Women’s Fiction

Moan: women’s fiction – why alienate potential readers? Men write books enjoyed by women and men alike, and they read the same.

Secrets, its a novel about secrets and of course they never stay hidden. I kept wondering: what was Poppy hiding, what was Drew’s secret? I was puzzled at first when we met Drew and Poppy, and then moved on to Agnes and Caroline….but it all comes together slowly, though the secrets don’t come out until almost the end.
Its told in past/present format for Poppy, but Drew remains an enigma, a man who adores Poppy, seems to be just too good to be true. Gina, Poppy’s friend certainly thinks so, but she’s guardedly cautious, after her first open enthusiasm about him.
I loved when Gina was staying with Poppy at Thursday house, and they do the makeover, transforming it in the few days Drew was away. Then Drew’s friends arrive for a weekend and that was fun, the old friends come to meet ( aka gossip and judge…) Drew’s surprise new, young wife….some great snark there.

It’s fun read, cleverly paced so you’re always wondering what did happen, what are they hiding. Was it so bad, was it what I suspect, why are the locals so unfriendly?
There are lots of little clues, but I was never quite sure where they were leading, or if I was down the wrong track.
Then all is revealed, very suddenly near the end, but that’s not all the surprises, there’s one last one that really caught me out, shocked me and changed how I’d begun to see everyone. I really didn’t like what happened, yet it was the perfect ending, really unexpected, and something that made me feel somewhat uncomfortable about it.

Stars: five, a cracking read, surprises all the way and an ending that caught me out. Its not one I’d reread, for a long while at least, knowing the secrets now but its still an amazing read.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

If I Never Met You, Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You, Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You: Deliciously romantic and utterly hilarious - the funniest romcom of 2020! by [McFarlane, Mhairi]

Genre: Romance

I loved this book, romance, humour, pathos and drama, loads of drama, the stuff of tears, long lasting not the two pages on all is well type. All the ingredients for a five star read from me.

Laurie, poor Laurie, she’s reached that age where the baby decision is looming, and thinks Dan, her partner since uni, is there with her. And then he drops the bombshell, its not just a baby he doesn’t want, but the whole life he and Laurie have created.
She’s heartbroken, gutted, and although he does the “its not you its me, of course there’s no-one else, I wouldn’t do that to you”, she’s nitpicking her way through their past interactions, trying to see where she went wrong. Because of course it must be something she did, or didn’t do in her eyes. Her friends tell her no, things happen, and she fast discovers that the mutual friends they have soon divide off into his and hers….
Its made worse by the fact they work together, Dan asks her to keep their breakup quiet and she does, sobbing silently in the loos when it gets too much. Only her best friend Emily knows the truth.

And then – Dan comes to see her, the man who wasn’t ready for a baby yada, yada, yada, to tell her his new GF is pregnant and of course Laurie starts counting just how long they’d been together, was it all lies he told her. She’s gutted, stricken, heartbroken just when she was getting on with life without him.
She gets stuck in the lift one evening with Jamie, a man from the office she only knows by rep, and that has him as a classic jack-the-lad Lothario, and sees he’s not quite as he’s portrayed. He’s a little younger than her and devastatingly good looking. He’s ambitious too, and wants to make partner despite his age, but has been given the hint that if he had a steady partner it would help. He proposes a fauxmance, he’ll impress the bosses, Laurie gets to keep her head high in the office, and stick it to Dan. Win win.
Of course it never works out that easy and along the way to happiness lies some real angst, tears, embarrassment and soul searching. Both Laurie and Jamie learn a lot about themselves.

The office politics was played perfectly, offices always seem to be hotbeds of gossip, taking every little hint and embellishing it “in confidence” of course, and there’s always an office gatekeeper who takes his/her role very seriously and has favourites. I loved that Bharat wasn’t put in that overworked, tired, bitch queen role, but was instead a loyal, funny and sharply intellectual man. He had wit but not the cruel type gays so often get tarred with. Laurie being mixed race is dealt with well, those questions “ where are you from”, “ Yorkshire”, “ no I mean where are you from…”.
Emily, her best friend, had her share of woes in the story, and we see just how friends support each other, and that’s one of the things that made this such a special read for me. It was about people, real folk we meet day in day out, not some book trope caricatures. The humour fell naturally, there were subtle little quips that had me sniggering, then the next line would be something that had me on the edge of tears. There one section towards the end, that being me had me really happy, a feeling of reap what you sow schadenfreude! Loved it.
We learned so much about what made the main characters the way they were, about why they were seen a certain way, and of course what their hopes for the future was. Its a wonderful read, I love Mhairi’s stories, had a little hiccup with Don’t you forget about me, but this one is anther solid five star keeper.

Stars: Five, fantastic read, great mix of life, people, drama and humour, and a wonderful HEA.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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