The Lost Letters, Sarah Mitchell
Genre: historical fiction, Women’s fiction
*..sigh…* women’s fiction again, I so hate that category. Why rule out men, why decide they won’t like this story. Its so short sighted.
Anyway, the story…well, I expected to love it, it sounded perfect but somehow it didn’t quite sparkle, didn’t have the magic that I anticipated.
I found myself putting it aside and reading something else several times when with a book that really interests me I’m glued from start to finish.
I’m not really sure what the issue is/was. The characters were great, the time lines felt very real but I did feel the book was very slow to start.
I enjoyed the past sections more than present day, somehow I was so gripped in the story of Connie and Sylvia. Reading about the wartime experiences too, seems so unreal and yet it was life for so many. Houses and workplaces bombed, nights in air-raid shelters, kids evacuated. An awful time, so desperate in many ways. Could I evacuate my kids? I don’t know, all loving parents want their kids safe but would they be?
My mum was evacuated from Norfolk to Wales for a year, her mum went with her, they stayed with the family of someone granddad met in Army. Imagine just packing up for a year or more with total strangers, must have been hard but at least she had her mum, so many kids didn’t.
That harsh time spun the beginnings of some huge and complex secrets that spilled forward to the present day, and when they came out I had to do quite a bit of mental back tracking working out who was who and how they connected.
It was well done, and I could see just how that could have worked out, everything was so muddled and chaotic back then. Tough choices, and how heartbreaking for the people involved.
I did enjoy this story, but wouldn’t re-read it, and its one of those hard to rate books. Its perfect for those who like slowly unfolding stories but at times the pacing was just too slow for me.
Stars: three. A good read but a little flat in parts for me. I enjoyed the past more than the present which surprised me.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.
Lightning Boy, (A Taboo Love Story 2), Amy J. Heart
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance
So I’d read the prequel and really enjoyed that, an brief insight into L’s background, and heartbreaking in that what happens to him happens to so many kids. I was keen to read this story and see what transpired for him and Eden.
Eden, Eden, what an amazing girl. She’s young in years yet through her life experiences she old too. Yet not jaded, still believes there’s a way out, still believes she can get her happy. Then she meets L. Its not an auspicious meeting, she’s on one her her awful jobs for dirty ex cop Coop, being watched, voyeur style by three creepy guys and L, well he’s Angry, Seriously Angry. Its clear he doesn’t want to be there, doesn’t want to be with her, and I kept wondering why he was there, it clearly wasn’t money motivation him.
Eden was tasked with what seemed impossible, make L want her, the wrong sex to turn him on so Coop and the others think, convinced he’s gay. It takes a turn none of them expect when she tries gentling L, and he, shocked that its the girl he saw years before, lets him.
In short-story-land that would be it, but here its like real life, forward one step and back two. There’s a long way for them both to go yet.
L is confused, he’d convinced himself sex could only be via pain and hurt with men, keeping his emotions back, just going with strong control, giving pain and abuse, and getting that brief physical release. I so felt for him, he’s still young and yet been through so much. I love how he got his nickname, its so perfect, he owns what he’s doing by that, sticks it to his abusers by his actions.
Could he make things work with Eden? Would he try?
For a while its back and forth with him being a complete jerk in between torrid, sensual encounters with her.
Coop, dirty ex cop Cop. How many lost kids are caught by guys like him, how many guys a( and ladies) are like him too I wonder – too many I guess. I really wanted to know what he held over them both.
I was a little bewildered by Eden’s reasons, wanting her farm back didn’t really seem strong enough to do what she was to me. But then the farm held a special significance to her, a memory of happier times and maybe getting it back was a kind of lifeline to her.
Sex: yep, there’s a lot here, and some of it is violent, abusive, what was done to him and by him by other men, and yet the tender moments with Eden balance it , keep the book firmly in Romance Land.
Great characters, and hurray, a bit more of the wonderful Ariana, oh I want to be her! I was gripped by the story, alternated between feeling so sad for L and then berating him for being a jerk to Eden. She was so patient, so incredibly careful of him, so forgiving, I really felt their connection was meant to be, transcended ordinary love. L too, I so felt for him, that sad kid, taken from happy to horror to nightmare. No wonder he was such a jerk, only way to protect himself.
And Coop, a man I loved to hate. Oh I love it when authors create characters like that, bad through and through, pulling the strings of others, such a contrast from all the sweet and cute, strong but lovable people. We need these bad characters too to keep things interesting!
Its all put together so well, drawing the reader in, bringing us down, lifting up and then crashing again. I went through so many cycles reading it. Will things work out for them? How? What about Coop? How will they get away from him? What about the hold he has on L? I had so many metal questions while reading and at times felt I was racing through to find answers….I’m not known for patience.
I’d have liked it to be just a little longer, there’s an awful lot happens in a short space at the end of the book. A perfect wrap up but could have done with being spread out just a little more IMO. Its intense and a lot to take in, but of course that’s just my feelings. I need a HEA in romance, and this was perfect.
I’ve read too many “romance” novels recently where the only romance is in the last tow chapters and the HEA doesn’t exist expect in some future with maybe someone else. That’s not what I want, I need these characters I’ve come to love to get what I think they deserve.
Stars: Five, A great read, and now my occasional misunderstandings and confusion in the first book don’t mean so much, I can understand more the reasons its written the way it was.
This story, especially when both books read together, really pulls at heartstrings, and is incredibly emotional.
ARC supplied by author
Hidden Hearts, An Alpha Project Psychic Romance, Eva Chase
Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy
I really liked the sound of this and saw that if I went to Eva’s website I could get the prequel novella Burning Hearts, free. Its also on amazon. That gave me an insight into alpha Project and Nicks family. Stupidly I missed there was another book before this one, but I was still able to follow this story easily and have borrowed the first book via KU.
Its a fabulous story, scary in that its all too believable, that some wealthy organisation is trapping and experimenting on those with psychic talents. The prequel sets pout the parents story and escape and this series seems to be about the brothers meeting people for themselves. Poor Nick has the misfortune to get feelings for Carina, who’s working for AP, using her talents to help track down Nicks family, having been told lies about how dangerous and murderous they are.
I really enjoyed the story, but what stops it being five stars is its brevity, just under 200 pages. That means even though I felt the plots and characters were excellent there wasn’t space to fully develop them, let the dangers and suspense really play out and for me that was a real shame. Other love shorter books, and this will be what makes it a five star for them. Horses for courses and all that…
Even though the story was short for me I still want to continue with what is going to be an excellent series, and as I said I’ve now borrowed book one so can catch up with whats gone before.
Stars: Four, a really interesting series, just wish it was a bit ;longer and I could see characters and plots in more depth.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Bright Ruin, Vic James
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy
Well, I loved books one and two and was desperate to read this. These characters, this strange UK feels so real. My heart was breaking for those caught up in the Equals power struggle, their determination to keep unSkilled commoners where they feel they belong, serving Equals as slaves for ten years of their lives. There’s a section on Abi’s thoughts that’s so relevant to today’s Real Britain, not just Vic’s fantasy one. It was very resonating to me and I have to quote it.
“ Abi knew many would approve of such expulsions. This narrative fitted into the bigger lie Wittam Jardine was telling the British people. If folk felt poor, it was because of these sponging refugees, not the greed of the Equals. In the same way, those that protested against the slavedays were being cast as the lawbreakers, when it was the days themselves that were unjust.”
We have that same kind of thinking now, and I guess that’s why I was so easy to suck into Vic’s alternative Britain, and why it felt real. I could see events playing out this way, the careful manipulation of facts, the scapegoating, the laying of blame in certain quarters, and the behind the scenes atrocities that the Equals claimed were necessary to keep the peace. Or at least the status quo where the one per cent of the population flourished supported by the 99 per cent unSkilled….
We learned things about a certain character that explained why others had acted in a way that felt unusual, not what they would do willingly. I certainly hadn’t seen that as being the cause!
Jenner, I so liked him in book one, was astonished and heartbroken at his actions in book two, and here we can see his motives.
Gavar, in book one I found him cold to everyone but his daughter Libby, and finally I understood him a little better. I was so sad about Libby’s mum and wondered why he did what he did, finally there’s an explanation for his actions.
Silyen, the enigmatic character, you never really know what he’s thinking, he does things that seem heroic but for completely different reasons than ones we’d think essential, and he treats life and death very lightly. He’s extraordinarily skilled though, incredibly complex and half the time his mind is on other worlds, such as when he was with his aunt in her world while she was comatose.
That other worlds bit comes quite prominent here, and reminded me of another book I read. Annoyingly I can’t recall the title but it involved parallel worlds or dimensions, kind of like a fold in fabric reveals different layers. I got to reading about the whole real theory they could exist, that one centred around tesseract principles but there is a whole scientific ream of thinking that these could exist in many different ways.
We see much more of Abi, Luke and Dog here too and I can’t help having a soft spot for Dog. He’s done some awful things, but had atrocities perpetrated on him.
I felt at times the story got a little battle heavy, not the breathtaking displays, the actual actions but in the endless battle planning, dealing, double dealing and for me that was a bit…dull. ( and I skim read those bits* blush *) Battle planning never is my favoured parts of stories. It didn’t detract from the whole though, and I’m sure there are readers who love all that minute detail.
Its a terrific conclusion, a battle royale, full of surprises at every turn, and an heroic ending. Made me think of just what happens next, how does Britain continue, and what life holds for those we’ve come to know and love ( and hate in the case of some of them!)
That last sentence though, that last tiny action made me so, so happy 😉 for certain characters, I like to think they got a HEA.
Stars:Five, fantastic read, excitement, drama, some breath stealing suspense, that left me floundering to work out just how it could all wrap up. How on earth was Vic going to sort this world out, how could things work out better for the unSkilled, when would all the atrocities end.
I loved the scenes with Luke, Silyen and the King. Oh, and That Kiss, it was a long time coming….
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Faithless, Elle Charles
I hadn’t read the first three books, saw this was a stand alone and thought I could read it without the others. That was a mistake, there are so many references to events from first three books, and so many different characters that I was lost for a good part of the beginning. I did work out whop connected where and how but it took much of the joy out of the story for me and I think I’d have got along much better with this if I’d read those earlier books. My fault for misunderstanding the description.
Its a packed book, and a good length. Usually I’m all for that but maybe because I didn’t know all the backstories at times it was a slog for me to get through and thinking of all those pages to come was so daunting that I nearly DNF it.
I did stick with it though, and its an interesting story, packed with the kind of drama I’d usually adore but which felt a bit OTT here, probably again because I just didn’t know the whole story.
I did like the characters, they felt very realistic even if I did want to slap them a time or too…..
Stars: Three, an interesting read and I think IF I’d read those earlier books I’d have got far more from it.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
The Nothing Girl, (Frogmorton Farm 1), Jodi Taylor
Genre:, Romance, paranormal
Well, an innocuous title for what proved to be an incredible read for me.
I wasn’t sure about this book, but its free, so if I didn’t like it I didn’t need to read/review it. I’ve not read any of Jodi’s other stories, having taken a quick look I’m not sure they’re my kind of read but then this one surprised me so maybe someday..
There is a follow up but this book feels like it ends well enough for me and I’m not keen on sequels when I don’t need them to feel story is complete.
Poor Jenny, brought up by her aunt and uncle after her parents die she’s quiet, hidden away, “Jenny can’t cope with/Jenny needs to be protected/Jenny will be upset and unable to speak”…. Its as if her relatives want the best for her, as if they’re over protective and yet from the inside they don’t really make her welcome, and seem to be happiest when she’s tucked away in her room.
She’s 13 ( I think) when we first meet her and decided to end her life. No one will miss her she thinks, and she’s mulling over the tidiest way to do it, to leave the least mess when along comes Thomas.
Thomas is wonderful, and he feels so real, I adored him. I love all things equestrian anyway and Thomas just felt so very unique, and I had no problem believing in him. I loved when he referred to her as a foal, when he interpreted her snorts of laughter as swear works!
Only Jenny can see him, he’s always with her, speaks and advises her and really helps her to cope with life. She’s still quietly tucked away but with Thomas help has persuaded her aunt to let her have the whole of the attic where she and Thomas can make hot chocolate, watch TV and relax in their own private, happy space.
That’s enough for many years then Thomas seems to decide its time for her to see more people, get more of a life. She doesn’t need to work, has money from her parents and he seems to see that she’s just becoming totally introverted. She’s 29 now and still has to ask her aunt and uncle for permission for things, still believes them when they say she’s “special” and can’t be allowed freedoms others have, and allude that if she doesn’t live quietly with them then she could end up somewhere with far more restrictions…..
And into this quiet, sombre life falls Russell, totally opposite, outwardly chaotic, charms everyone, a golden boy, talented artist whose fallen when he lost his muse. Said muse just happens to be Jenny’s cousin Francesca, spoiled, rude, thinks life revolves around her and who had a fling with Russell where he painted her continuously, was at the top of the art tree, and she adored the adulation he gave her, along with his fame of course. Then the next victim comes along and she leaves him for someone who can further her ambitions. You can tell I don’t like her 😉 and I was so angry at Russell’s fixation, infatuation even when he’s trying to help Jenny. And himself, of course, but he has good in him and sees Jenny for who she is, not who her relatives want everyone to think she is.
Jenny and Russell marry, and her life changes so much. She grows fast away from all the restrictions. Of course her relatives aren’t happy and make many concerted attempts to bring her back, but Russell is determined, even when he’s being a total ass over Francesca. He’s truthful with Jenny, tells her how he feels but its an escape for her, the best chance of a life of her own and Thomas encourages her to take the risk.
Its a madcap book in many ways, chaotic at times and yet quietly poignant too, and we see Jenny growing slowly in confidence, finding she can live a life of her own, that there’s no reason she needed to be hidden away.
And I kept thinking why did they do it? Were they just ultra protective, was there some reason I’m missing, did they just want their daughter Francesca to shine away from Jenny’s light, maybe it was just easier to be a dutiful relative if they didn’t have to actually interact much with Jenny.
There are some surprises and twists in store for Russell and Jenny, and some serious drama towards the end..
I went into this thinking it might be a YA, twee kind of read, but soon found myself immersed in Russell and Jenny’s world, getting so cross that Russell couldn’t see through the b itch Francesca, mentally shouting at his actions, feeling for Jenny and encouraging her to carry on, make plans, and hoping they’d both soon see what was obvious to everyone else.
Stars:Five, a fabulous, escapist read and one I know I’ll return to.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
Honourable Lies, Fran Connor
This novel is set in the 1860’s, so my comments about divorce are not strictly correct, what I had read was in the process of changing at the time this novel was set, and it wouldn’t have been as difficult as before to obtain a divorce, so please read my original comments with that in mind. Apologies for my incorrect facts, and I’d like to add the following info to correct things.
Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 divorce was taken away from the Ecclesiastical Court and parliament jurisdiction. Under the Act it was possible for a man to divorce his wife for adultery, but a wife could not divorce her husband for adultery ‘only’. She had to have ‘aggravated’ cause to go with it such as serious assault or being abandoned. The civil court could then grant the divorce without recourse to parliament or the Church.
So, sometimes I just want to dip back into history, with a simple romance. Sadly though this was too sweet and simple for me. Victoria is a historical Pollyanna…. whatever happens to her she’s something good around every corner. Ditto for anyone that crosses her path.
She gets thrown out of the orphanage at 16, gets attacked while out and her little money stolen, but she’s well read and educated, and gets a job living in, with no references, no belongings, and probably looking pretty grubby, as companion/tutor to a 14 yr old. That quickly falls through but no worries, she just happens to meet and do Queen Victoria a favour….and the whole book feels like that, any mishap brings good things Every Time. She really is a charmed girl and everyone in her orbit benefits, everyone loves her. Its little things that were so unreal for me, she starts growing carrots, cabbages and potatoes with no knowledge of how, and within a couple of years has graduated to a huge flock of sheep, employing people to help her.
Then of course there’s Richard and his wife – who’s name I can’t recall. She loves another and so – hey, they get divorced. Now even I with my scant historical knowledge know it wasn’t that easy, so had a quick look on google “A couple could only be divorced by the passage of a private act through Parliament–remedy available only to the very wealthy. According to Feminism, Marriage and the Law in Victorian England, 1850-1895, about ten private acts for divorce were passed in Parliament each year.” It certainly wasn’t the easy option.
So, I know I’m reading fiction, I’m happy for authors to bend the facts and use them to their advantage but this was just too unreal for me. Life doesn’t work like that, I can accept one good thing happening, people do get lucky breaks, but for Victoria every cloud had a silver lining. There’s no way she’d have been taken on in her first job, no way she’d have met the queen, got that position, grown enough veg to buy sheep in such a short space of time…it was all too slick for me. I have to say here that from about 40 to 80 % I just skim read, bored with the story but wanting to see the end.
If you can suspend any semblance of reality and like a sweet and cute read you’ll love this, but sadly I want more real life, more angst, more blocks to happiness, though I need a HEA and was glad that came through.
Stars:Two, too far from reality for me 😦
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
Crossroads of Bones, A Katie Bishop Novel Book 1, Luanne Bennett
Genre:, Sci-fi and Fantasy
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, Luanne is a new-to-me author, but its a story I really enjoyed.
There are some terrific characters here, and that’s really important for me. I loved Katie, a strong and independent lady, not a whiny TSSL heroine. She’s got a mysterious past, is making a new life for herself in her tattoo shop. Her employees are a mixed bunch but really interesting, and as the story unfolds some of them have valuable info for her. I loved her friend Sugar too, a great secondary character who proved very important and was such a treat to read. I really enjoy reading about people who are different in some way, individuals in the fullest sense and Sugar was perfect.
The adventure, the story, the bit that’s the focus of the book was cleverly done, and kept me reading avidly and this book set me up to look forward for the next. I like that there are characters other than the usual vampire/shooters, I love those but I love stories which take things a bit further too. This one was very vivid in the way it played out and even though we’re talking about fiction, specifically fantasy, it all felt so very real to me. The touches of root/voodoo/voudun magic were good and added so much to the atmosphere, and blended perfectly with the setting.
That ending, not a cliffhanger but a terrific, tantalising glimpse of what’s in story for Katie next. I look forward to reading that.
Stars: Four and a half, almost the magic five, and a terrific series opener.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
A Boy Called L, (A Taboo Love Story 1), Amy J. Heart
Genre: Erotic Fiction, Romance
this is a novella prequel, around 14K words. I’m not a novella fan usually as I find they’re just too short for me to deliver a story, but of course as a prequel or a side to a main series its something entirely different. It doesn’t need to give the whole story, just the background.
So this starts of with a bang, or rather a BJ! L avoids the bangs if he can….
It alternates from L’s POV to Eden’s POV. It does feel a bit disjointed at times but I think that’s because of what it is, trying to deliver background without giving away the full story. I loved the restaurant scene and – I’ve forgotten her name – but the lady who opens his way out of the awful position he’s in, she is just wonderful! Really drawn well as a character, I could just see her, all smart, out with friends at top restaurant when in walks L, bedraggled, dirty, and yet she sees under that to his striking looks, the potential for big money in him – for both of them.
Eden, she’s in a bad situation, though I’m not wholly sure of just why Coop holds her strings, and I really really want to know what the connection is between L and Coop too.
There are some pretty graphic scenes here, they fit the story perfectly, but if you don’t like things like that then stay away. Personally I was really moved at one scene towards the end which could have gone disastrously wrong for the characters, could have been written in a sleazy way but which was really well handled IMO.
My only criticism is that slightly disjointed feeling, where its L then Eden, now then a couple of years in the future, and I couldn’t really get a clear sense of what was happening and how. All very mysterious and I’m the impatient sort! Book two should sort all that out though, and I’m really looking forward to that.
Stars: Four, an interesting and tantalising preview of what’s coming for Lightening Boy
ARC supplied by author
Genre: historical, Romance
I loved Jenny’s previous book, and this one is even more special for me.
I really felt I was there with the characters, I could see the colours, feel the heat, smell the exotic and the not so pleasant scents.
So much felt real that I actually skipped some of the wartime scenes, as I’m a little squeamish. There wasn’t anything particularly graphic but being the wimp I am I found it hard to imagine characters I’d come to love in that situation. I don’t really enjoy reading about the reality of war anyway, so I skimmed just looking for mention of the characters to get an overview of what was happening.
It set back in the late 1800’s and the 1940’s and reads as two stories with connected characters but its how they connect that’s the puzzle. Slowly as each story continues in alternating chapters we see them begin to join, see how they relate to each other and it made for a wonderful, escapist read.
From the early chapters I had an idea of what might have happened, but not why, or who was responsible, I an idea of how it played out but as it happened I was way off track.
Its a vivid story, the closeness of twins brought up with a sense of shame at being illegitimate – how harsh and judgemental humans can be on others. Some delight in others misfortunes, and the Mems certainly found fodder for their gossip in Mae and Harriet.
I so felt for the girls when things started to go wrong, they didn’t really stand a chance in the mans world they lived in.
Then the later section of the story with Ivy, Kit, Alex and those from the past and the present I wasn’t sure how it all fit together. Again I had ideas about some characters but how they got there, what actually happened eluded me. And when the truth came out it was incredibly moving.
Stars: five, A tear-jerker read, full of angst and emotion, and with an amazingly realistic setting.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
The Howling, Erin McCarthy
Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance
This is a really short read, novella length barely at just under 1000 kindle locations ( typical books run at 3-5K ) and I rarely enjoy short reads. If I’d known before I wouldn’t have chosen it as all the reasons shorts don’t work for me were here.
I read quickly, but I’ve a friend who reads just a few pages a night. She loves novellas as she can finish them while still remembering how they started. She’d probably like this book.
I found the story a little confusing at times, so much seemed to have already happened with Sebastian and Scarborough and the pack, and we just get a quick recap of events through memories, dreams and dialogue. There simply isn’t the length in the story to let that play out. I hadn’t realised at first that it was so short and spent time looking for earlier books as it felt like I’d jumped into a series and should know what had already happened.
I didn’t really like any of the characters, Scarborough was just two faced and an ambitious, amoral schemer, Sebastian had what felt like weird reasons for not asking Liv to marry – why not just Talk to her? And Liv, she was a bit of a mix, so in love with Sebastian, allegedly, but when he disappears with her money she doesn’t think “oh, this is out of character. I wonder if everything is OK, where he’s gone, why he did this?” Nope, she just falls into Scarborough’s waiting arms and is about to marry him six months later. Some Love she held!
As for that sex scene, where she thinks she’s dreaming – hey, would that all dreams were that lifelike. I don’t think so…..
So a book that was a fail for me, in part because its just too short to allow the story to play out properly, which is why I avoid novellas. Having got to the end I still wasn’t really sure just what it was all about, the dreams/premonitions just felt too slick and weren’t really treated as a plot properly IMO, Liv fell into accepting werewolves – and that she was one – with just an “OK then, werewolves are real. Cool beans” well, along those lines ;-). The big fight was soon over and all was happy…. full length it could have been a story I enjoyed, this length it was a fail.
Stars: Two, if you like shorts and novellas you may love this, I don’t and didn’t 😦
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers