Tag Archive | mystery

recent reading

I’ve been reading some non netgalley stories, a couple i was asked to review by authors, some I borrowed on KU, and a couple I bought.

The Ex Factor,  Debbie Viggiano 

The Ex Factor by [Viggiano, Debbie]

Genre: general fiction

I’ve read several of Debbie’s books, and this is a departure from the usual but still with her excellent solid writing style.

Its a hard subject, one that strikes close to home for many readers. When a marriage breaks up some fathers drift off, happy to abandon their family, others though are like Sam, desperately want to be a father, to have as much access as possible but get thwarted at every step by the mother. Sadly apart from expensive court proceedings, and not everyone has the thousands that can cost, there’s nothing else they can do. Even then having a court order doesn’t help when the mother say the child is ill, asleep, at a friends, doesn’t want to come and refuses access. The father can go back to court as Sam does, but that takes time and the months away from his daughter take a toll on him, on his new family and of course on Ruby. The only happy one is the mother, Annie, such a vindictive character. It would be nice to think parents always wanted the best for their child/children but like Annie many only want control, revenge for what they see as slights. Annie was the one to leave, yet tells Ruby Sam was at fault, forced her into an affair. Of course her poison is all lies but kids naturally believe what parents tell them and Annie has Ruby for the majority of the time, been drip feeding her malicious words into her ears. Its cruel, and yet it goes on day after day for many families. My lovely brother is going through the same process, so far he’s been unable to see his daughter for almost two years, despite spending several thousands on court fees. The court agreed he’d done nothing wrong, was a good father, but the mother was so vindictive she has kept his daughter away and all he can do it seek more legal proceedings. Meanwhile his little girl probably is being told daddy didn’t want her…..
Its an incredibly sad, very realistic story of what pressures a family breakdown can put on the absent parent, spilling over into other family members. Thankfully the end shows there is a glimmer of light, and I’m hoping that same thing happens for my brother in time.

A KU purchase

Royal Love, (Last Royals Book 1),  Cristiane Serruya 

Royal Love (Last Royals Book 1) by [Serruya, Cristiane]

a KU purchase
This was a fun read, though it took me some time to warm to Angus, he was alpha male but on the OTT side, and there were times when I wanted Siobhan to just tell him where to go. She veers between wanting him and wanting independence and I did feel the whole getting together part was a bit rushed. I felt both acted out of characters and one thing that really annoyed me was the lack of condoms. That’s just not a good message to send out in this day and age!
There’s a little suspense, I’d kind of worked out what had happened and who was behind it, but it was still a good addition to the story and gave it a little extra edge.
I loved Angus mum and aunt, perfect snobbish b itchy characters – they really add to a story for me, make a contrast to all the sweet stuff.
Its not a story I’d re-read, a little too light and sweet for me, I need a bit more drama but its a fun read for when you want something easy to relax with.
Stars: Three, a little light but a fun story.

Rockstar Daddy, (Wilder Rock 1), Taryn Quin

Rockstar Daddy (Wilder Rock Book 1) by [Quinn, Taryn]

Genre: Romance,
a side spin from the Oblivion series. I usually loved Taryn’s stories, especially when she writes with Cari Quinn but this one was a little simple. Its got plenty of heat, lots of erotic encounters but for me they became the story, and there was little else to it – just a series of very hot sex scenes tied in with a tin backstory. For many people that’s perfect, for me it needs to be story first.

Another KU purchase

Lifeline,  Amelia Lawrence 

Lifeline by [Lawrence, Amelia]

Genre: Romance, M/M
A good read, very real with scenes that happen far too often. Alex was heartbroken after his romance with Jack went badly wrong, and feeling rejected he’s a prime candidate for manipulative bully Cole.

Like so many of these characters Cole starts off well and then the crack drift in, by which time Alex had lost his self confidence and was constantly striving to be someone who wouldn’t anger Cole. Its easy to say “why not just leave?” but much harder for anyone to do it. Bullied sap at self confidence, convince people no-one else will want them and of course the threats that Leaving will have drastic Consequences is enough to put most folk off, and Alex is just working and returning home, all the joy has been sucked out of life.
Jack – well, Jack was wonderful, regretted the past very much and wanted a second chance with Alex. The way the story played out was really well done. Its not one I’d re-read but was a very enjoyable story, a realistic portrayal of an unpleasant subject.

One I bought, was only 99p

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The Taste of Air, Gail Cleare

The Taste of Air,  Gail Cleare

The Taste of Air by [Cleare, Gail]

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction.

Bah, my usual moan…Women’s fiction – why? Why assume men won’t want to read this, why cut off a group of customers.

Got that over with and this is a fabulous read. I wasn’t sure at first if I’d like it and it does have the potential to get confusing, told from POV of Nell, Bridget and Mary, and told in past and present. Yet somehow it all works and I wasn’t left feeling lost, wrapped up in the past and sharply brought up to present. This isn’t my preferred way of reading a story yet it worked so well, letting me see events as they unfolded naturally.
I liked that the characters had faults, weren’t just sweet and light, lovely and loving but displayed elements of reality, dissatisfaction with life, partners, family. That’s all of us at some points, we don’t live in a happy vacuum, real life has issues that affect us, problems that need to be sorted and we don’t always deal with things the way we should.
I did wonder why Nell’s husband wasn’t more questioning of what had happened, why Mary was so far from home, why Nell was staying. Mine would have wanted every little detail, David just seems to be “OK, see you sometime”. Maybe its part of why Nell is dissatisfied with her life, though it may look perfect to others, and I liked the way the author brought about changes to them.

I did find a few things a bit hard to believe, would it really be possible to hide that alternate life, and of course the Mary, Ginnie, Jake triangle. Its not a cheating story, per se, but does have some pretty strong deceptions going on and I wasn’t convinced that everything would have stayed secret for so long.

Stars: Four, an interesting and absorbing read, but I did feel it stretched credulity a little in parts.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The War Widow, Lorna Gray

The War Widow,  Lorna Gray

The War Widow by [Gray, Lorna]

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

WW2 isn’t my favourite time setting for reading, but the amazon sample of this intrigued me, very mysterious, had me wanting to know what happens next.
Sadly I carried on wanting to know what came next, as for most of the book it seemed to me to be hinting at various events and revelations that didn’t come out until the very end, and even then I’m still unsure of just how all the connections tied in.
Its – for me, not for everyone clearly – a novel that was well written, had a fabulous use of language and yet was incredibly confusing. For much of the novel we know that Kate has experienced so many bad things, its her voice telling the story, but then the hints are there that maybe its all in her head, trauma from the suicide of her ex husband, trauma from the accident she head, so what she tells us may just be what she believes and not what actually happened.
I didn’t really like her, but of course she’s very true to the time, recent history it maybe but still a period when Men Ruled, and the ladies were expected to defer always.
I did like Adam, though sometimes he appeared brusque.
The other hotel residents were a mixed bunch and I just loved the way Mary’s sister was so determined to see Mary in the running for Adam’s affections, and the way she tried to discredit Kate constantly.
Overall it was an OK read, I did keep putting it aside as I was so confused at what was happening and incredibly frustrated not to know what was the big secret, what the guys after her wanted, what the police were really doing etc. It works perfectly that way for many readers, thus the five stars of course, but we’re all different and it didn’t suit me.
It does all tie up neatly, though even then the bluffs and obfuscation and constantly in presence, and getting to the end I had to re-read some parts to see exactly what had happened. I still can’t say I fully followed all of it 🙂

Stars: Three, its not a story I’d reread, and one I did struggle with, but that’s more a case of me not the book. Not all books suit all readers, that doesn’t make them bad books, just ones that will be loved by some and disregarded by others.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Hard Line, (The Woodbury Boys 2), Sidney Bell

Hard Line, (The Woodbury Boys 2), Sidney Bell

Hard Line (Woodbury Boys) by [Bell, Sidney]

Genre: LBGTQIA, Romance

I hadn’t read book one, and maybe I’d have got more from this if I had. I liked it, but it wasn’t a book I loved.

I struggled a bit with the romance, I could feel the change from antagonistic dislike to lust, and after all you can feel lust while still actively disliking someone. I didn’t feel any real romance though and I wanted that.
I did like Sullivan, he seemed a very genuine guy, with just that right amount of quirk to make him intriguing. I really felt for him when his kink desires lost him his best friends and it such a nasty way. I understood why he was so careful with Tobias when he realised he was a natural sub and Sullivan felt his Dom instincts stir. Just needed to feel real romance developing and TBH I didn’t. That’s me though, doesn’t bother everyone but I need to feel that connection.
The kink part was intriguing, linking Tobias emotional/mental issues with sexual desires, and its something that always amazes me. I can’t imagine enjoying sex linking to having someone determining everything, even down to orgasm timing, and the wanting to be hurt, partly for himself, partly to please Sullivan is something I can’t imagine ever feeling. What I find intriguing is the whys, why do people need this, is it ingrained or is it a product of upbringing? In Tobias case it did seem to be linked with his need to please everyone, which was putting intense pressure on him.
I didn’t feel he acted 24, and his parents certainly didn’t treat him as an adult of several years – I’d have been equally furious at their actions.
It’s a story I liked parts of, but the connection to book one, the Russians, the murders, the kidnapping, all kind of overtook those parts and left me floundering a bit.
Again, maybe I’d have understood more if I’d read book one but as it was I found myself putting this aside, picking up a couple of days later, then dropping it again for something else.

Stars: Three, I liked parts but felt overall it was a bit of a muddled book for me. .

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The City of Brass,  S. A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass,  S. A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass by [Chakraborty, S. A.]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I was so excited to get this book, I’d read the amazon sample and it seemed a fun and unusual read. Thankfully there’s a glossary included because its full of new and curious people and creatures.
I loved the world the author has created, I could feel the heat, the hustle and bustle and that was really well done. I liked the different beings too, felt very magical, almost reminded me of the old Sinbad et al films my kids used to love.
I started off liking Nahri, but as the story grew she seemed to lose that spark of independence, that charisma that drew me to her, and by the second half just seemed a whiny girl. I loved Dara, honest in as far as a Daeva is honest, like so many of their type they often circumvent the truth and talk in riddles almost. It’s clear he doesn’t like Nahri, and they scratch up against one another, both full of distrust. Nahri has no choice though, you can’t go home as they say, so she has to go forward with him. She also wants to know more about her past, and hopefully a better future. When we first meet him Dara seems jaded, tired of his life, of all the things he’s done, many of which weigh heavily on him. He seems to view taking Nahri as a chore almost, something he has to do but doesn’t want to. Then we meet Ali, second son of the king. I wanted to like him but though he seemed to have a good heart he was very naive for his position and I didn’t see him as being a strong character when it was needed, in contrast to Dara who would do what was needed without hesitation. Ali didn’t like the way things were run, could have stopped up, could have tried to right things but seemed too apathetic really, content to fund small changes and quiet his conscience that way.
The story though seemed to meander, little interludes of drama breaking it, but I never really understood the point, didn’t see where it was going, what was the aim. It just seemed to drift, Dara, Nehru and Ali seemed to react only to events, never had any real plans, were never working towards a purpose, it felt like they were just drifting towards the city, fighting through minor mishaps and skirmishes but no actual plan other than to get there. I couldn’t help feeling “and then what will they do?”
Then the ending – and to be fair I skim read from about 40% as I was bored but wanted to see how it ended. I hate it when that happens, when someone major is lost, and I just have the horrible feeling that its going to be one of those rabbit out of the hat successes, where that character isn’t lost, returns despite all appearances, and I just don’t like that. (Think Dallas in the early 1980’s for those of you old enough to remember!) I didn’t want them to go, but hate that kind of comeback. I’m sort of talking in riddles here, but trying not to give anything away as of course there are many readers for whom this is the perfect novel. Sadly I’m not one of them. With a few changes I could have loved this, more direction and planning, some shaping of key characters, it’s so full of potential, such a unique and fascinating world, but as it is is a series I’ll pass.

Stars: Two and a half. So much I could have loved, but the story itself let it down.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Captive Lies, Victoria Paige

Captive Lies,  Victoria Paige

Captive Lies by [Paige, Victoria]

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Romance

I really liked the sound of this story, and to begin I was enjoying it but….the the Russian Mafia slant came into play, and though I know there are readers who love stories with a Mafia bent I’m not one. Fortunately the Mafia were the bad guys, I really can’t take it when they’re passed of as good guys really, just misunderstood…

I loved Blaire, she was in the situation she was through her birth, nothing she could have done about it, unless she was prepared to knuckle down and have her life run by the Russians. Liam, her friend and protector was a great guy too, and he gave her the training to protect herself. I so like that, when a main character doesn’t have to depend on a man to save her but can hold her own in a fight. Grant, alpha male in the extreme and for me he was at times too pushy, too overly controlling, bordering on abusive in his need to control. Blaire is a tough girl, she’s survived despite having some bad people out to get her and though he wants to protect her he shouldn’t expect her to hand over all control to him and sit back and …well, what? Shop? Watch daytime TV? That’s just not Blaire, she paints but can’t spend all day every day doing that.

I was doing OK with the story, Grant’s obsessive personality and tendency to act like a jerk aside, but it got slowly more overly complex, with distrust everywhere, and threats from all quarters. That can be fun, keeping readers on their toes but can also mean a story gets overly complex. I had guessed one person who was not who they seemed, I wasn’t totally sure but looking back all the clues were there, I just wasn’t sure I was reading them properly – that’s good, I like to be surprised. Then the mafia and political threats began to overlap, technology that seemed improbable crept in and was used to make scenes work that wouldn’t otherwise, and it seemed a little too far fetched for me. I do need to believe in a story, and though technology has advanced hugely, and of course this is fiction I felt that some parts were a little hard for me to believe in. It seemed if you’d got money – and Grant had – then anything could be had for a price.

I wasn’t convinced by Cal, I kind of thought something along those lines would happen, there’s hints thrown in all along but I was disappointed that it worked that way – more of that improbable technology for me. I want to believe things could happen that way if this were a true story and that…nope, I can’t fall for it.

It sounds like I hated the story, and that’s just not true, these were just niggles, big niggles, for me and overall I enjoyed reading this novel. It was my first read by this author and I think if I’d read the Guardians novels maybe I’d have got more from it and understood better what they were capable of.

Stars: Three and a half, a good suspense and romance but both had too many niggles for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Living in the Past, Jane Lovering

Living in the Past,  Jane Lovering

Living in the Past (Choc Lit) by [Lovering, Jane]

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Well, I’ll start with that genre category, women’s fiction. Why? I so hate that we alienate men from stories that they could well enjoy, splitting books into Women’s and Men’s is so dated, harks back to the fifties or so and has no place in literacy today. Well, that’s my take.

Anyway, to the book. I love Jane Lovering’s stories, find ChocLit delivers books I almost always love, and this one was another perfect read. A story that’s got that bit extra, not a cut and paste romance but one where there’s a fascinating story line running through.
I’m kind of open minded about time travel, just because we don’t understand it, if its possible, doesn’t mean it isn’t. After all years back what’s common place now was thought impossible, but science and technology brings leaping progress in what was thought impossible. I think of it as sort of parallel worlds, existing at the same time and maybe parts are thinner, maybe its some bloodlines, maybe time of year etc that allow people to pass through.

I love Grace, she’s been a widow for two years, and talks still to Jamie. I talk daily to my late husband to, so her feelings resonated with me. She has some great friends and they have been a solid support and as part of that Grace gets dragged off on an archaeology dig.
Duncan, the dig leader is a terrific character. He appears abrupt, abrasive and grumpy, yet his colleagues and students follow him avidly, knowing he’s very skilled at his career. This dig is personal for him though, and through it Grace discovers some of why he appears so unapproachable. I so felt for him, what an awful thing to happen, and the repercussions have shadowed his whole life.

Its kind of not hard to see where the story goes, but that didn’t matter, its delivered in such a fascinating way. I really felt there with Grace, out in the mud of the 21st century with the dig, and then back with Lady Hen. I love the way the two stories worked seamlessly, how they fitted together, and how we gained insights of the characters, saw how events can shape us. Life happens and we react to it, and what happens to us affects us as people.

Stars:Five, another great read from Jane, one I was really absorbed in and enjoyed thoroughly.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Watching You, (Hollywood Heat 1),  Leslie A. Kelly

Watching You, (Hollywood Heat 1),  Leslie A. Kelly

Watching You (Hollywood Heat Book 1) by [Kelly, Leslie A.]

Genre: Romance

My first read by this author, so I didn’t know her writing style. It proved to be a fun read and one I enjoyed but…there were a few things that made it fall short of a five star read for me.

The way Reece obsesses about Jessica after only viewing her from a security camera and then sets up their meeting, weird. Then when he gets her alone knowing what he does about the room…well, it made me feel uncomfortable about him and full marks for Jessica for being strong enough to stand up to him, to call him out on his actions. It made him look again at what has become almost an unnoticed habit, viewing real life and acting as though he’s filming all the while and he does apologise. It was a bit weird though.

I wasn’t convinced of the romance between them, they didn’t really have enough interactions in the book for me to feel it developing, she was interning and working with him, but most of that was related “off book” so to speak and meant I didn’t get that build up from initial attraction and lust to real feelings and love.

Then there’s the mystery….s. It was hard working out was was connected and what wasn’t, whether there was one person doing multiple things or multiple people doing one or more events. Confusing and given the length of the book ( fairly average at 4500 kindle locations) it meant there was a lot of characters and detailed that didn’t really get explained properly. I did wonder as I approached the end whether all the incidences would tie up or if they would carry over into the next book, because time was running out. As it happens they did all tie up but in a way that was far to brief, lacked real detail for me. It felt a bit rushed.

It’s billed as romantic suspense, but for me the romance side fell a bit short, though I did love the Hollywood B itches – I love characters like that, and the suspense angle was overly complicated. I felt like people were put in place purely to throw in another possible suspect when the story didn’t need it and the time and words would have been better spent on fleshing out more the romance and the story-line as it was without them. ( Johnny, Alan, Steve for example, who all had stories that gave them plausible reasons to be connected to events, but which I felt were just muddying the waters rather than adding to the story overall)

Its a good start though to a trilogy and as we now know the brothers back story the next books will at least not need to repeat that, and be able to concentrate on more current events.

Stars: Three, I liked parts but felt others made things feel overdone.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Darkest Night, (Sons of Broad 1), Tara Thomas

Darkest Night, (Sons of Broad 1), Tara Thomas

Genre: Romance

I didn’t realise Tara Thomas was also writer Tara Sue Me, I’ve enjoyed some of her early Submissive series. Its a good idea to have two names for different genres because this ( these) feel a very different sort of read, and readers who auto buy when they see a name could be disappointed.
Having said that I like all sorts of genres, but no author is auto buy for me, I have to see book description first, unless its an essential series I’m reading.
So – This book….well, the romance was OK, but I did feel it went from 0 to 100 very quickly given the way they parted and the length of time since they seen each other, but then again the situations, the dangers, kind of pushed that forward. Tilly was in a tough place, had been for so long but…it always amazes me how in books these rich people go from having everything to having nothing. I know her dad was framed but surely they had money put aside. Do these people always spend every penny they have? Because they always end up as almost trailer trash, having lived as kings for so long, and I can’t help thinking, what happened to all that money they had? It crops up so often in novels…still, it left Tilly in the place she needed to be for this story.
I liked Keaton, didn’t really understand the family dynamics though. Maybe if I’d read the prequel novellas that would have been clearer although from descriptions I’m not sure how they fit this story.
I love a character like Elise, self entitled, indulged princess, but I did think the brothers let her get away with far too much, and I’d like to know just why she was so fixated on Keaton, other than family expectations. Her actions didn’t really add up to the person she seemed to me.
Then there’s the suspense angle with The Gentleman, and Jade/Kada. Its pretty clear – I think – who Jade is, though that could just be a clever red herring, but I’ve no idea who the Gentleman is. I have no idea what his motives are either, money seems to be coming from his illegal enterprises but he’s fixated on the Benedicts, and seems to want revenge on them for something.
Somehow for me this mix of romance and suspense didn’t work very well, didn’t fit together properly. It felt like two separate stories which had a tenuous connection, and intersected occasionally. Then throw in Elise and its like – how many things can happen to one family within a few weeks….In a way for me it would have been better to have left Elise out and concentrate on the Gentleman/Jade or leave them out and concentrate on Elise. It just didn’t seem believable to have both in one story.
Maybe as the series progresses they’ll connect more or possibly if I’d read the prequels but I’m not really a fan of books which have an indefinite number of parts and which can end up being very expensive to get to the end of the story. Its a personal thing, others don’t mind it, and devour ever extending series like this so it depends on how you personally feel about it. It works for Lisa Renee Jones, her fans seem to adore books written this way so maybe its just me out of step 😉

Stars: Two and a half, will be perfect for others but just not right for me

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Shadow Hunt ,(Disrupted Magic 3), Melissa F. Olson

Shadow Hunt ,(Disrupted Magic 3), Melissa F. Olson

Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic Book 3) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

Genre: general fiction(adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy.
I love this series, and the sister series set in the same world. It was that one, featuring Quinn and Lex that brought me the the Old World, and let me to buying more and being lucky enough to have some review ARCs too.

I love Scarlett, she’s in a tough and dangerous world, has to do things that her heart really isn’t in, but which are necessary to protect others. It means she’s alone though, having to keep family and human friends at a distance as they can and will be used to get to her.

One of her few human friends from the early days is Jesse, and he’s a human that’s been allowed to know about the Old world because of the way he learned about it via his police job, and because Dasheil, Vampire leader for the city, feels he could be useful. Jesse is retired from the police now, but still very much friends with Scarlett and helps her when she needs assistance.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Jesse, wanted him and Scarlett to be together but through the series its never been the right time for either and they have both been in other relationships, and just remained good, true friends.

Its another exciting adventure, bringing into play characters, enemies Scarlett thought had been neutralised – or at least a truce reached with them. The attack, when it comes, is very unexpected, and once more its Scarlett and Jesse in the thick of things, rescuing those they love, and trying hard to prevent a massive tragedy and loss of life. We meet a few new characters, catch up from some from past stories and Maven, we learn a bit more about her too!
I really enjoyed this, perfect pacing, perfectly balanced and “realistic” within fantasy realms 😉 situations. The why ad hows were the usual puzzle for me, with me thinking “ooohhh…riight” when all was revealed. And the ending, Sob, just perfect.

I’m glad the way is open for more Old World adventures, I’ve grown close to many of these characters, and would love to read more from them. Molly and Wyatt, Maven, Will and Sashi, there’s so much more to learn about all these guys, plus Jesse and Scarlett of course 😉

Stars: Five all the way, fabulous finish to the trilogy. More please Melissa!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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