Tag Archive | General Fiction (adult)

Play For Me, The Balefire Series Book One, Tam DeRudder Jackson

Play For Me, The Balefire Series Book One,
Tam DeRudder Jackson

Play For Me: The Balefire Series by [Tam DeRudder Jackson]
Genre: romance, general fiction

Well, rock/film star romance is my catnip – but there’s an awful lots of it around and much is just No, No, No for me so I’m cautious. However this was a fun read and I enjoyed it, but sadly it lacked the magic spark to make it into a great read for me.

I liked Clio and her friends, they were very clearly written, I could feel the bond between them.
Jack and the band though? They should have been such a big part of the story but I felt they were lacking, too one dimensional in the case of Jack, and the band barely featured and yet it was such an important part of Jack’s life. Without the band its just another romance with a guy who puts his career first it feels.
I enjoyed her parents role, felt very real – until the end. That didn’t fit for me.

I would have liked more about the actual pregnancy, her struggles to decide what to do. More about Jack as a father, more about his heritage, otherwise why mention it?
I was really confused that Clio didn’t get more upset about the events towards the end of the novel when Jack’s away, I’d have been far less forgiving that he just seemed to drop everything. Who can’t find time for at least a daily text? I felt Clio had been so strong til then and she just rolled over. “ Oh, you were away doing important manly stuff of course, its fine, I’ll just mind the baby, sort out finances, deal with work on my own” – that’s how I felt her reaction was, like a caricature of a 50’s housewife. Or maybe I’m just too judgmental 😉

The novel had so much potential, a good story line with the separation of her and Jack and the angst that caused, the support of her friends and her struggles to cope, her parents and the pregnancy issues, but I just felt that it needed a bit more edge for me. But of course others don’t need that, will love it as is. Horses for courses.

Stars: Three and a half, its a fun read but I wanted more edge from it.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Threadneedle, Cari Thomas

Threadneedle, Cari Thomas

Threadneedle: SUNDAY TIMES bestseller and most anticipated debut fantasy release of the year by [Cari Thomas]

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult),

I struggled with this. Its classed as Adult yet it feels very YA. I’ve read YA books I’ve loved, some transcend age, but this feels so YA that I struggled with it. The story dragged, and sadly by 40% in I started skim reading to see what happened. There was a lot going on but it seemed very confusing, very muddled and some events seemed to have no real purpose. It could well be my skimming though, that missed the events they led to. I wanted to know what would happen, wanted to see how it would play out but just couldn’t get through the whole story to get to the end.
Would I read next part? I don’t know. Maybe as the characters are aging it’ll feel less YA, Towards the last quarter it began to lose that feeling for me, with the characters facing some very hard situations and decisions.
Of course first books in a series or trilogy also have a hard time delivering a good story while creating a new world, and this one has a different kind of magic, and different magical groups too, so there was a lot to introduce to the reader.

Its a shame I didn’t get along with it better, I was so looking forward to it. It could be that book two lures me in and I love it and read this with different eyes. Who knows, I’ve had that happen before, in the same way as I’ve loved the first couple of books in a series but then it lost interest for me.

Stars: Three, its a good story, just didn’t quite click for me. Like I said, maybe when there’s more to tell, more to understand I’ll feel differently about this one. It has left me wondering “what next” so in that sense it delivers.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Forgotten Creek, A Winston Radhauser Mystery 10, Susan Clayton-Goldner

Currently just 77p on kindle!!

Forgotten Creek, A Winston Radhauser Mystery 10, Susan Clayton-GoldnerCurrently just 77p on kindle!

Forgotten Creek: A Winston Radhauser Mystery: #10 by [Susan Clayton-Goldner]

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Another winner from Susan. It kind of feels automatic now to me that I’m going to be thoroughly engrossed in one of her books. As a reviewer though I do take reading seriously, and even though I’ve loved past books I still rate each on their own merits. If I don’t enjoy one I will say so. Fortunately that doesn’t happen here 😉

So once more Radhauser is hunting for a killer, a race against time as it seems an open and shut case, and of course as always the media and the local bigwigs are pressing for a resolution. It helps them too that the alleged killer is one of the homeless….
We have that same kind of pressure here in UK, where the news media are baying for blood, casting blame everywhere if there’s not a suspect found asap. I’ve always worried about that, about whether the real killer could get away due to that pressure, and the wrong person be convicted.
Radhauser is determined Corndog is innocent, but his partner MacBride isn’t. His boss Murphy is being leaned on by the Mayor, who no doubt is being led by press and of course votes…its easy to see how things get muddled, how its simple to take the obvious solution and not look harder. Thankfully Radhauser goes with his gut, bends the lines to the fullest, even puts his job on the line in his search for the real killer.

Along the way we learn a lot about homeless folk, and here in UK we have same issues sadly. Its awful, horrible, to think of people living in tents in freezing weather, sleeping on benches, in doorways. What do we do? Make rules to force them elsewhere rather than try to solve the problem. It’s a good job there are folk like Radhauser and sister Elizabeth who see the person, not just the tag of “homeless”. Its a fate that could happen to any of us.
Radhauser’s search takes him cross country, digging out old files, asking hard questions. We meet folk connected to suspects and victims, and learn more backstories. Some of them are heartbreaking, and for parents dealing with the loss of a child, well, I just can’t imagine that kind of grief. He has to be really careful in how he approaches them.

When the answers begin to show up Radhauser knows he’ll have to have an iron clad case. Its going to be a really tough sell to his boss to get the warrant to search for evidence, even if his boss wasn’t convinced they already have the killer. Radhauser needs to find every scrap of evidence he can, motive, opportunity, connections to what they already have, to make his case for that warrant.

I loved that we meet Kendra and Caleb again, I was so pleased for them. I can’t recall which book featured them, but it felt like meeting old friends and being pleased how their life worked out.

Stars: Five, another brilliant read, engrossing trying – and failing – to work out who was the real killer. That came as a huge surprise.

ARC supplied by author

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

Under the Italian Sun, Sue Moorcroft

Under the Italian Sun, Sue Moorcroft

Under the Italian Sun by [Sue Moorcroft]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance, Women’s Fiction

Sigh… Usual moan, women’s fiction. 2021. not 1821. Men read and write romance. They probably did back then too!

Anyway, Sue Moorcroft, fantastic author, writes books with multi layered plots, realistic folk and situations and depth. I love all that and this story was a real treat.
I could feel poor Zia’s heartbreak and I was so angry at her ex. Sadly the way he looks at his cheating isn’t uncommon and I was glad Zia stuck to her guns. Cheating isn’t acceptable, and he needed to e sorry, not to make excuses.
So she and bff delve off to Italy on a quest to find out more about Zia’s past. She finds family there but her search isn’t without problems, and of course the people she’s staying with also have problems. Zia by now has made friends with them and helps out, and helping them helps her, gives her somewhere to stay and more time to decide what to do. Of course staying is also a factor in her fledgling relationship with the Delicious Piero, who also has issues with his family, and his fathers scheming girlfriend.
All these threads, problems make for such interesting reading, taking me down trails I didn’t image but thoroughly enjoyed. I was shocked at the initial Vicky/Tori revelations, but they were just the start, there was lots more surprises to come.
I loved Harry and the descriptions of his time with Vicky, a real 70’s feel about that, and I can imagine how Vicky’s somewhat staid and conservative parents felt. They were very much like my own parents – when I told them I was pregnant mum’s reaction was “ Oh no! What will the neighbours think?” and rushed to bed….Pretty average reaction for mid seventies. At one point in early 8-‘s my sister in law and I toyed with the idea of renting a large house between us and combining both families, very much as Harry and Vicky did.

Stars: Five, Another fabulous read from Sue, taking the reading out of this day to day dull and into sunny Italy with a delicious romance too

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Last Night, Mhairi McFarlane

Last Night, Mhairi McFarlane

Last Night: The best romcom of 2021: romantic, heart-breaking and laugh-out-loud funny by [Mhairi McFarlane]

Genre: General Fiction

I’ve really enjoyed some of Mhairi’s reads in the past, but its been a while and maybe that’s why I expected more romance in this, that’s what I recall from past books but maybe that’s just faulty memory 😉 It happens!

I enjoyed this, very real and relatable characters and issues, and it shows us just how fragile life is, how quickly it can change. I didn’t like Ed, or Hester, but maybe she had it tough with Ed, he wasn’t quite as nice a guy as he portrayed, in some ways.
I loved Eve’s revelations about herself at the end, and about Ed. Perfect.

The story itself was great, very real, very emotional. Life has this way of throwing things at us, and Eve’s life was totally turned around. She thought she knew her friend inside out but discovered she had secrets that had a huge impact.
I was waiting for more romance though, but it doesn’t really happen until near the end. That’s on me though, its not billed as romance, something I missed. I just saw authors name, remembered I’d enjoyed her books in the past and requested. My bad.

Stars: Three, It didn’t quite hit the spot for me, but due to my expectations not the book itself.

Arc via 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

The Shadow in the Glass, JJA Harwood

The Shadow in the Glass, JJA Harwood

The Shadow in the Glass: The Extraordinary Gothic Fairytale Debut of 2021 by [JJA Harwood]

Genre: General Fiction (adult).

I saw all the five star reviews and requested this. Sadly, it just didn’t work for me.

I just couldn’t get involved in the story, didn’t like the characters, although at first it seemed promising. I did feel for the girls, life was – and for many still is – hard if you’re female and in that kind of position. It soon lost me though, I wasn’t keen on any of the people, and the plot seemed just strange, rather than deliciously Gothic it just felt forced to me.
Still, that’s how it goes, some love a book and others hate it. I didn’t hate this, just didn’t find anything that made me want to keep reading, and I do not like ambiguous endings so that was a hard pass.

Stars: Two, a well written story that just didn’t suit my taste.

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

Silence is a Sense, Layla AlAmmar

Silence is a Sense, Layla AlAmmar

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

I was intrigued by the description, with so many displaced people across the world this is a scene that must play out over and over.
However, sadly the novel failed to engage my interest, I just didn’t connect with the narrator or the people she’s talking about. Maybe I’ll come back to it another time, and feel differently. After all I can see others have loved this book. For now though its a fail for me.

Stars: Two, a story others love but which didn’t connect with me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

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