Tag Archive | mystery

The Secret Lives of Royals, Shalini Dua

The Secret Lives of Royals,  Shalini Dua

The Secret Lives of Royals by [Dua, Shalini]

Genre: General fiction (adult), New Adult.

I was intrigued by this, and really wanted to like it. It seems to be a debut book, at least I can’t find any others by this author so I wanted to be able to write a positive review. Writing is darn hard work, so I admire those who go on to actually publish. Sadly for me this book just didn’t work though 😦 I’m sure others will love it but for me its a fail.
I didn’t really like Olivia much, she veered from over confident to cautious, all about the wrong (IMO) things. She dropped her long time friends like a hot brick and seemed to just accept this strange job, one she dreamed of but was totally unqualified for without any worries of why it just fell into her lap. Tells her long time friends she’s too tired to go out, but jumps up and happily goes off with her new friends when they call.

The story itself was so intriguing, a society within society that’s really running the world, calling the shots. If that were so though they would never let some un-briefed, unsigned new girl be party to all the facts.
I felt when they were having meetings, especially with the King that there were lots of heavy words put together to make what they were doing sound good, but in fact there was little or no detail about what they were actually doing and how. “Beets need promoting Olivia, trundle off and talk to Gordon Ramsey, push it in the top mags, get it talked about on TV”. “OK then, super, jolly good sir”. Well, it wasn’t quite like that but it ran along those lines. I couldn’t really believe that this society with few rules, very lax on details was capable of running the world, and that was a disappointment because I really wanted to be convinced. I needed to know how things were arranged, how all this lush lifestyle was financed, how they got and kept control of information, checked fats, actually did things. I’m not convinced the royal tags were correct either, we in the UK have some strange ways about titles and they don’t always run as simple as it seemed here. TBH I felt that the Royal stuff, the details of how the Society ran were too thin, too poorly researched and it showed. It could be a great novel, its a terrific idea, secret bloodlines, people behind the scenes forcing changed, and running things for the greater good, but in my view it needed a lot more work on the details.

I think maybe the New Adult tag is correct and the General fiction (Adult) is over optimistic, and maybe teens will take this as its meanr, while older readers like me are too much a cynic to believe in this without more detail of the how, why, when stuff.

Stars: Two, a story with lots of potential but which I struggled to believe, didn’t feel real to me. Maybe will have greater appeal for younger readers.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

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Hunt the Moon, (Mated by Fate 1), Kari Cole

Hunt the Moon, (Mated by Fate 1), Kari Cole

Hunt the Moon (Mated by Fate) by [Cole, Kari]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I enjoy paranormal romances, so this appealed. I did feel at first as if I’d made a mistake as it seemed to be rather cliché ridden and I thought it was going to be one of those where frankly the romances are more or less the same and only the characters and settings change. As the story continued though I found I was wrong, it took its own path, and was a decent read.

I did find Izzy’s conversion to meat eating a little weird, and also the fact that she’d managed to control her wolf and sustain herself ( though not healthily) on a vegetarian diet. Its find for humans but wolves?? The thread that usually goes through all shapeshifter books is a hungry wold is a dangerous one, and Izzy’s career choice took her into stressful, dangerous and blood filled areas.
Still, an interesting read, even if I did want to smack Luke a few times for his alpha posturing in front of Izzy. He just about stopped short of calling her Little Woman, but somehow I got the impression barefoot and pregnant in his kitchen was how he saw her ideal future with him, when she’s go so much more to offer. He did grow to see just how strong she was and respect it but those early scenes were irritating for me.
I did struggle with how was who and where they fitted in the story. For a long while it felt as if I was reading a spin off series and should know who all these folk where and how the pack arrived at the position it was in. I can’t find any other books though so I guess I’m wrong there.

Stars: Three, slow start, a bit confusing at times but overall a decent read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Perfect Husband, Buffy Andrews

The Perfect Husband,  Buffy Andrews

The Perfect Husband by [Andrews, Buffy]

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Writer K.J. Charles wrote a blog post recently about what is and isn’t a romance novel. She says romance needs to have that happy ending, a HEA or at least a HFN between the two (or more) main characters and that’s exactly how I feel. This ISN’T romance, its a great read, I really enjoyed it but romance it is not. I’ll skip my usual moan about women’s fiction 🙂 For me this book is better categorised as General Fiction, Drama/Dark fiction.

It starts well, that careful meeting when adults are thrown back into the dating field, after death, divorce, break-ups. Shelley meets Eric and her best friend Jackie and her workmates all agree he’s the perfect man. Even at this early stage we can see one of two red flags but Shelley, blissfully immersed in Love Land misses them.
How easy that is, how we make excuses, tell ourselves “he/she didn’t mean it that way./its understandable, I shouldn’t have…/well he/she had past issues that make that reaction normal for them.

Eric’s like a whirlwind, and Shelley is so in love, feels so treasured, so taken care of, even though she is perfectly OK at taking care of herself. Everyone loves a bit of pampering, a little special treatment and I could see so much why Eric appealed, such a contrast to her ex.
And before she knows it they’re moving in together, and of course it doesn’t make sense to keep her stuff when Eric’s is so nice, and he says he’d rather not have things from her life with Scott. Some of the things were hers alone though, and he’s all “well, of course if you really want to keep them we can change things round, make room somewhere…” sounding like he’s doing her a favour almost. She knows he doesn’t really want anything of her past in their new home, and she loves him, she wants what he wants.
Suddenly she’s married, and the cracks start to appear. Sadly this is real life for so many people, men and women, and it’s so easy to say “just leave” but by the tome things are that bad all confidence in the victim, in Shelley, has been lost. Life becomes just a constant struggle to watch out for anything that might make Eric angry, and then after pretending she accepts his remorse, his words of “you need to try harder Shelley, I don’t like having to get angry at you” That’s a classic, turn the blame around, and something abusers are so good at.

The real kicker is can she escape, will she find the strength, will he let go? The drama parts of this novel were superb, so carefully done its easy to see how outgoing, attractive, confident Shelley becomes a shadow of that person, and yet all the while presenting a front of the perfect marriage. I was so rooting for her.

I moaned about genre classification, and if I was a solely romance reader I’d have been so disappointed. Happily though I’m an eclectic reader. Its a fabulous read, not romance by a long shot but an incredible dark, ( not as in horror dark thankfully) psychological suspense, mirroring what is real life for many people, sucking us in to Eric and Shelley’s world, wondering how it can all end.

Stars: Five, a wonderful read, breathtaking in places with superb pacing, slowly revealing the real Eric.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Legendary,  Stephanie Garber

Legendary,  Stephanie Garber

Legendary (Caraval 2) by [Garber, Stephanie]

Genre:  Sci fi and fantasy

I was so looking forward to this, I adored Caraval, and amazingly I think Legendary is even better. It’s another magical book, full of secrets, of things that are not as they seem, of twists and turns that predicting who is who and what will happen just isn’t possible. And the “is it a game or are things real this time “ conundrum. Poor Tella, she has a series of really difficult choices to make and she doesn’t know, and the consequences are so very different if its real this time.

As with Caraval its has that YA feel to it, and yet its one that will appeal to all ages, there’s nothing childish about the story, and its so full of changing consequences, riddles, pure magic or possibly illusion – how can Tella know whats real. As an adult I certainly couldn’t!
This story is told from Tella’s POV, I liked seeing Scarlett and the mysterious Julian again, along with of course Dante and some of the other minor characters. There’s some fabulous new people too, and as before knowing if what they say is true or not is important but incredibly hard to tell. Tella has struck a bargain with Jacks, but as she gets closer the consequences become more clear and she doesn’t know whats the best thing to do, whichever way she jumps people will be hurt but doing nothing isn’t an option either.

I’m still full of questions, who, how, why and what about….I could go on for ages, it seems like when one question gets answered there’s always the chance that it may not be the Correct Answer, just An Answer 😉 and trying to work it out is like herding cats, simply impossible. Just let it flow and enjoy the magic.

Stars: Five, a read to take you away for a few hours, though That ending was incredibly frustrating for me. I understand more of Caraval having read this, and would up my rate for that to a five now

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Away, Book 1 of the Folk Trilogy, Meg Benjamin

Away, Book 1 of the Folk Trilogy,  Meg Benjamin

Away (The Folk Trilogy Book 1) by [Benjamin, Meg]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy.

I’ve never read any of Meg’s books before so I didn’t know what to expect. I really enjoyed this story, and look forward to reading more in the series.
I did get a little confused in the beginning by who was who and how they fitted into the story, there are a lot of different supernatural groups, and they integrate differently. It took me a while to work out just how they all fit together. Maybe a glossary of characters would be helpful? Explaining things like the difference between the Ward and the Guard when at first they both seemed to me to be doing the same thing. I certainly didn’t guess who was behind things, and I love a story that catches me out like that.
I found the characters pretty realistic, even fantasy folk have to feel real to me. I liked Grim, liked his determination to do what was right, when it was needed, to find out the truth, not just do a supernatural cover-up from the humans thing. Annie was great too, and her story very plausible.
First books in a series have a difficult task, introducing a new world and characters while delivering an interesting story. This book does that pretty well I feel, could have had a little more depth and drama but that’s me…I love drama. Its not heart stopping romance, nor edge of seat scariness, but a fun read, and a world I want to read more from.

Stars: Four, an excellent start and I’ll look out for book two.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen, (Six Tudor Queens 3), Alison Weir

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen, (Six Tudor Queens 3),  Alison Weir

Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen: Six Tudor Queens 3 by [Weir, Alison]

Genre: Historical Fiction

About fifteen years ago I was into reading a lot of historical fiction, and devoured books by Phillipa Gregory, Elizabeth Chadwick, Ariana Franklin and others, and found several of Alison’s books that appealed to me.
I hated history at school, and yet through reading historical fiction I’ve learned the appeal of past times. What I really love is the personal touch, not the dry reams of dates and facts History lessons at school consisted of. Fiction lets authors play with those facts, put a personal spin on them and brings the characters to life, and Alison does that perfectly.

I’ve read many books about Katherine, Henry’s first wife, and of course Anne Boleyn. She’s someone that existed for a short few years yet changed the course of history, changed England’s future and religion. I knew, as all schoolkids were taught, that Henry had six wives, and I have read a couple of books about Kitty Howard and Ann Parr, but the middle two, especially Jane, seem to get forgotten when it comes to fiction.

I’ve always thought of Henry as a spoiled child who became a spoiled adult, demanding everything goes his way…or else. In reality it was difficult for Royals of the day, they never knew who was planning to take their place, treason might have carried an awful death but it didn’t stop plotting. Then of course he was never really given his advisers true thoughts, afraid of his reactions they told him what they thought he wanted to hear, so when for example he wanted to divorce Katherine, or get rid of Anne they needed to make it happen, or they paid the price.
He did a difficult job, and he was very clear how he felt about his position as King, that he had a responsibility to the country. He may have played with that a bit in his reasoning at times, when he wanted, for example, to marry Anne, but on the whole he comes over as someone who held his position as one of duty as much as privilege.
When it cam to Jane I found myself almost sympathetic to Henry at times here, he really did seem to have feelings for her, which marries with the little I’ve read about her in other books, when she has come in as a secondary character. The end section was very emotional.

This is a lovely, long book, and it started with Jane’s early years where we learned much about her family. All that lays the foundation for the person she became as she matured, and was interesting reading.
I felt the way Jane was very moral about Katherine and Henry’s position with Anne, was good and true to her beliefs. After much praying and thought, she decided she wasn’t doing the same as she felt Katherine was the True Queen. In her reasoning she thought therefore as Henry wasn’t married to Anne, and Katherine had now died he was free to make advances to her. I needed to feel that she had given much thought to her position, as in the early part of the book she was so devout in her religious beliefs.

Families were in a constant struggle for power, and we see how Jane’s ambitious brothers encouraged her, despite knowing how she felt, they wanted the rewards that came with being a favoured family of the king. To have their sister be the King’s mistress was a heady thought, but when she refused and it became likely she would be Queen their pleasure was unconstrained. That goes through all the historical fiction I’ve read, families always seem to be in the struggle for pole position, ready to use their females however it benefits the family, disregarding how they themselves may feel. The Seymours were a typical family in their actions, all of the “important” families would have done the same thing. The Boleyns pushed Mary forward, then her sister Anne, and later the Howards pushed Kitty, despite her young age, all for Family glory and favours.

I enjoyed the author’s notes, where Alison explains how she has used certain known facts, or drawn conclusions from available data and modern advice, to fit this book, but made clear that it may not be what actually happened. I want to read fiction, but feel its grounded in reality, and I am happy at the way this was done. I haven’t read the earlier books, will look out for them.

Stars: Five, a lovely long read ( almost 7000 kindle locations) that engrossed me, made me feel part of the story, took me back in time mentally for a few hours. Did what I though was impossible and made me feel sympathetic at times for Henry!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

One Summer in Italy, Sue Moorcroft

One Summer in Italy,  Sue Moorcroft

One Summer in Italy: The most uplifting summer romance you need to read in 2018 by [Moorcroft, Sue]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

A book set mainly in Italy and so well described I felt I was there, out in the sun, enjoying the countryside, having coffee in the gardens of the hotel.

Sofia has come there after her father dies. She’s been his carer for many years, he left Italy when he married her mum and never returned though he talked of home with such love, and she promised him she’d live her own life after he died, and delivering a family message gave her Italy as a start to that.

She’s spending time there, so takes a live in position as waitress and befriends Amy. She’s another young waitress, left home after a family fallout and Sofia feels protective of her. She’s concerned at the attention one of the guests, who is much older than Amy, is paying to her.
Its one of those stories that starts simply, Sophia going to Italy as her father wanted, but quickly involves others and their lives and actions become entwined in the story. There are lots of surprises, some deliciously heated romance, and some hard decisions for Sophia to make. It looks like a simple read, but like Sue’s other stories its far more complex than it appears, having multi-layered plots that spread and encompass many characters. I loved Sophia and Levi, though like her I wondered why he was so interested in Amy. Amy was a typical older teen, dramatic and thinks everything revolves around her, but she’s a naive girl, good hearted and hard working even if she has run away from home in a hissy fit. She did have some particularly shocking revelations thrown at her.
I enjoyed this story, its not heart stopping drama, a can’t-put-down read, but one that’s fun for a summer’s day in the hammock, or to take on holiday, to the beach, and get lost in Italy along with the characters. I don’t think its one I’d re-read, but it is one I really enjoyed.

Stars: Five, a great fun read, perfect to take on holiday or to lose yourself for a few hours.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Her Secret, Kelly Florentia

Her Secret, Kelly Florentia

Her Secret: The page-turning sequel to No Way Back by [Florentia, Kelly]

Genre: Romance, women’s fiction.

Well, usual pet hate- Women’s fiction – why? Why not general fiction – men read romance too!

Anyway, book one left me with mixed feelings, many because I hadn’t realised it was a two part read until the end. I wasn’t keen on any of the characters either, they had odd reactions to events IMO.
I still find that in book two, that they react strangely. For instance – and this isn’t from the book but more as an example – if one of your family was involved in an accident, wouldn’t you want to speak to them, find out exactly what happened, see they’re OK for yourself? Here though the characters would probably have a quick phone convo with someone else in family and trot off for coffee with a friend, telling themselves “they’ll be OK, I need to find out what A think of XX”. I did grow to like them better though in this book, or at least understand them.

I still feel Daniel is a bit too-good-to-be-true, and he seems to be treating Audrey as someone lesser, a “little lady” who can be bought off with new shoes each time he wants something he thinks she won’t like.
Connie still lives up to Miss Spoilt, and Daniel treats her as a kid, not a 29 yr old. There are times when she’s friendly to Audrey, when they almost seem to get along and then Connie will pull one of her stunts. I did feel for Audrey over the Jake issue, she really was in a hard place there.
Nick, he’s back and wow – that was a shock, I didn’t see that coming! That’s true of so much in this read, it really kept me on my toes.
All the major characters have things going on, secrets for some, life changes for others, and then there’s the couple I really like, Audrey’s brother George and his wife Vicky and the kids. They’re like so many families, struggling with sub standard living circumstances, with financial issues etc. A really true to life couple who I liked very much.
Audrey’s friends Tina and Louise. They’ve been through so much, the last book had some bombshells but somehow the trio have found a way through and they really are a strong support. And with the revelations coming out in the last quarter of this book, she really needs that.
The ending – perfect, I’ll say no more except I loved it!

Stars:five, a book that kept me glued to the end. Loved it.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Give Love a Chance, Darla Jones

Give Love a Chance,  Darla Jones

Give Love a Chance by [Jones, Darla]

Genre: Romance, Woman’s Fiction.

Gah, Woman’s Fiction – I hate when we dismiss a whole sector of readers. Why do that? Why shouldn’t men read this? Ah well, rant over.

Well, I saw this book had lots of five star reviews, but having finished it clearly I’m not on the same wavelength as those people as its a good read for me, could have been a really great one, but there were some irritating, hard to ignore niggles that for me really brought it down.

Evan, the man is gorgeous one moment, a true gent and then a real jerk. He reacted badly to the pregnancy news, but that could be passed off as shock, and sadly, family/friends experience. There are unfortunately women who will try those kind of tricks and he didn’t know Kim.
Once the background checks came in though, added to his experience of her at close quarters once she was living with him there was no reason for him to be so up and down, keep referring to the baby as “her baby” – the man admitted he’d had unprotected sex with her, the checks showed she hadn’t been dating others, c’mon on, own it your jerk! He was all over her one moment and then cold the next.
Kim, she let him get away with so much. Why didn’t she question about Amy, why did she just accept his cold times, why was she so grateful for the attention he gave her that she let the other times slide. I was kind of puzzled by money too, she’s skint and yet when not working, home and possessions gone, car wrecked, she still seems to have enough cash, “just pick me up a new phone Evan” – or words to that effect, and takes treats to a favourite patient and his family?
The way she and her daughter integrated so quickly with Evan and his son was weird, kids just aren’t like that, and though there was a little jealousy to begin they were soon just one unit. Real life is a bit more problematical .

I didn’t really relate to any of the characters, felt they were a little one dimensional. They were potentially great but just felt kind of stilted, unreal to me. There were things that had a lot of plot time that were not (IMO) worthy of it while others could have been expanded, gave flesh to the characters.
Evan’s pregnancy symptoms, amusing at first and second mention, by the Nth time I was rolling my eyes and irritated.
Likewise the suspense, it was such a great line, played out so well, and I really was shocked at who was behind events but somehow they way the story went it was very underdone in parts and overdone in others. It had the potential to be really breath catching the danger that was there but it got an almost lighthearted treatment until the climax.

I have to say this to finish -Evan and his undies….I cannot mentally envision the male lead wearing “fire engine red bikini briefs” and his underwear gets more mention when we read several times about his “scanty underwear”. Nope, that’s just wrong!! Back when I was reading Charlene Harris Sookie series I had a hard time getting past Alpha Hunk Eric wearing red bikini briefs…is it some US thing? Is it that UK readers simply don’t understand the attraction of skimpy red underwear on men?
I’d happily try another read by Darla, this one wasn’t great for me but it was a good read, and she clearly has great plot ideas, and maybe its just this book where the characters were a bit flat for me.

Stars: Three, a good read, but not up to that slew of five stars for me. But clearly its perfect for others. You choose 😉

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Things We Need to Say, Rachel Burton

The Things We Need to Say, An emotional, uplifting story of grief and hope , Rachel Burton

The Things We Need to Say: An emotional, uplifting story of grief and hope from bestselling author Rachel Burton by [Burton, Rachel]

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Gah, there’s just one thing I didn’t like about this story – the category Women’s Fiction! Why do that? Why exclude men who could love this story? I Really Hate seeing books categorised in that genre. Rant over.

I wasn’t sure about this book, but reviews looked good and it is, its a perfect read for those who want a novel that will make them think “what would I do?” Make them wonder about the characters, the morality of events, how people react in different situations.

I loved both Will and Fran, and was desperately hoping they could find a way through the sticky morass they found themselves in. They’ve been through so much, look perfect from the outside but inside they are both a seething mass of grief, hurt, not knowing what to do, whether they could recover.
Just when Fran feels she does want to try again she gets another awful shock. Can they get past it?

Well, everyone reacts differently and for some that last hurt would be the one that breaks, but while away in Spain Fran gets a chance to think, to work out what went wrong, to wonder of they’ve just been papering over the cracks these last few years, desperate to do what others find effortless.
I so felt for them both, and the title is perfect -they do need to talk, to clear the air, discuss how they feel, what went wrong before they can decide if they want to go forward together or if things have gone too far.

Fran’s yoga group and the people she met in Spain helped her gain perspective, while for Will its his brother, and unexpectedly his father who help, along with a couple of Fran’s friends who know him.

I loved their story, was moved to tears at parts and heart-broken for each of them. I thought I’d be angry at Will and yet…he was so lost, and so in love still with Fran and she with him that I just couldn’t find it in me.
Its a perfect five star read for me, but not one I think I’d re-read.

Stars: five, a real solid story for readers who want more then the widely available fluff stories.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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