Tag Archive | suspense

Cottage on a Cornish Cliff, Kate Ryder

Cottage on a Cornish Cliff,  Kate Ryder

Cottage on a Cornish Cliff: Don't miss this heartwarming and emotional page-turning story by [Ryder, Kate]

Genre: women’s Fiction, Romance

Gah, women’s fiction…men write romance, they read it too, so I hate this category. Sexist and outdated.

I hadn’t read book one so borrowed it via KU.
I enjoyed it though I had a few reservations, especially the way Oliver is so – well – spineless. He lets Sylvie walk all over him, he lets Deanna run their lives and when he meets Cara he finally takes something for himself but he still hasn’t sorted out his marriage and the ending I thought was so sad.

I was so hoping in book two he’d finally step up, man up, be responsible. When he was with Cara he seemed a different man, and I loved him, then he’d get depressed again and just let events happen. I know depression is hard, but its not just him suffering, its his family, children, and of course Cara and her family. He knows he has an issue – I just wanted him to try to take steps to deal with it. He seems to use it as an excuse…. “the Grey Mist descended” and he just lets it.
So I was really hoping for good things for Cara in book two, wanting her and Oliver to be together. When he was with her he really seemed a better man. I didn’t like Deanna, his wife, felt that she wanted the celebrity aspect, the wealth and benefits more than she really wanted Oliver. He seems almost like an afterthought in their marriage. Maybe it started differently but now they’ve become two separate people held together by the children.
Cara’s art career is blooming, helped along by Greg. I did not like that man, he just seemed so sleazy, being overly touchy with Cara even when his publicly beloved wife was dying. Inevitably Cara gets swept along by the changes he says she needs to make to reach the top in her art, but I kept thinking did she want that or was it Greg? She was happy painting, selling online and in her gallery, and now the pressures built was she still happy. Had her art become more burden than pleasure? It certainly appeared that way.

There’s the same mix of secondary characters as in book one but somehow I didn’t enjoy this as much as that one, even though I didn’t like the way book one ended 🙂
Its kind of a sad story here, no-one seems really happy, Oliver is back with the family but its clear things aren’t right there, Deanna is stretching out picking up her career, but doesn’t want full independence, doesn’t want to lose Oliver – or at least I felt she didn’t want to lose the lifestyle, Greg is carefully grooming Cara but I felt it was more for the career prestige of discovering a new top artist than for herself, and Cara misses Oliver badly, and seems to be taken in by Greg and his advice for her art even though its not making her happy.
I found most of the story a bit hard going, even though its perfectly written. I was so convinced Oliver was leaving it too late, that Cara was going to move forward with Grey. Deanna? Well, TBH I never liked her so I wasn’t bothered what she did as long as she let Oliver move on. In both books there are odd snippets of precognition, or the supernatural and I felt it jarred rather than added to the story.

Stars:Three, a well written book, but a story that just didn’t connect closely with me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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The Turn of Midnight, Minette Walters

The Turn of Midnight,  Minette Walters

The Turn of Midnight: The much anticipated second instalment to the bestselling novel The Last Hours by [Walters, Minette]

Genre: Historical Fiction, General Fiction (adult)

I adored The Last Hours, such a realistic read, I felt I was there with the characters. I’ve been looking froward to this. Its a very detail dense read, and I did put it aside a couple of time to fully absorb what had been written and think about what transpired.

In this next book we can see how some of the characters have changed, matured in the case of certain younger ones, some of the older ones having the reservations about Lady Anne and what she was doing reassured with her successes.
Develish has come through the plague thanks to Lady Anne’s early closing them off to the rest of the country. A hard decision, as was the exclusion period for those that had been out to see what was happening in the rest of the country. One too, of which the priest was certainly not in favour of, the line of the day from Pope Clement was that constant prayers and repentance for sins would stave off the disease. Those who died were not devout enough, full of wickedness, the plague was God’s punishment.

Once more Thaddeus is the hero of the hour, and the lads that went out with him in book one returned as men, banding together and seeing Thaddeus as their leader, honouring and respecting his decisions. He listens to them first though before deciding a course of action and they feel as if they’ve had some input. Its clear to see Lady Anne’s influence on him here, its similar to the way she rolls up her sleeves and gets on with jobs alongside her people, not just sits lazily, expecting them t do the work.

Thaddeus and the lads find out just how badly the rest of the country has suffered, especially among the labouring classes, and its clear there is going to be a huge shortfall in those with the knowledge to grow food, look after livestock, all the day to day jobs so essential in life. He and Lady Anne come up with a plan to secure independence for her folk, but its fraught with danger, and their worst fears come true.

They’ve changed some opinions by their example, Bourne has taken to heart what he learned in Develish, and with Thaddeus advice intends to implement much of it on his own estates. He can see their ideas for the future ring true, that workers more than scribes are needed now, that more profits produced when workers are treated with respect and fairly rather than the whip and fear. I feel much of his changing ideals come from the profit angle but that works and everyone benefits so….
Sadly when Thaddeus and the lads seek to bring about the plan he and Lady Anne have come up with to set their people free, they find they’ve been nurturing a viper.
Some have come round with kind words and deeds, and seen the example of what can be achieved that way, Bourne and Lady Eleanor for example, but someone else treated with the same kindness is still harbouring thoughts of vengeance, and it brings them into a very dangerous position.

Its a great read, transporting me back in time once more. The characters feel so vivid, and I feel I’ve got to know Thaddeus and the lads really well. Joshua’s dogs play a great part here, hard to think of what might have happened if Thaddeus had his way and they’d been killed. They’ve proved their worth and loyalty time and again. There were times when I struggled to see how Minette would brings these characters through, how would they slide through the murky waters of the deception they planned.

I’m sure much of the UK did look like this after the plague, it decimated the countryside, leaving orphans, ruined homes, fallow fields and a dearth of workers to rebuild. The few who survived in Blandeford were probably very typical of the time, they were so busy deciding who had more rights to what, to ensuring that everyone received a fair share that they didn’t actually achieve anything, didn’t work together, didn’t do what was needed, just struggled on day to day until Thaddeus and Lady Anne explained what happened at Develish, and set them to forming their own leaders and teams. Its pretty typical of what happens in any disaster, there are a few that get on with things while the majority bicker and decide they aren’t being treated equally. Its human nature I guess, but once Thaddeus spoke to them about leadership and what could be done they did seem as if they’d move forward. I’m sure there were many Lords though that didn’t share Lady Anne’s views who insisted their serfs still pay the full tithes even though there were few people to work the fields, mill the flour, spin the wool, butcher the livestock etc.

For those like the workers of Devilish its a time of opportunity, and I’m really keen to see how book three come about, how the events play out.

Stars: Five, another rich, enticing read, that had me fully absorbed in life after the plague.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.

 

The Last Relicuin, Hargus Montgomery

The Last Relicuin, Hargus Montgomery

The Last Relicuin by [Montgomery, Hargus]

Genre: General Fiction, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I was really intrigued by this book, a mix of future worlds and past one but sadly gave up at 30%. I found it too confusing and just wasn’t gelling with the story.

We’re in the 22nd century, where life for the vast majority of the population is lived in a secure and safe environment, behind glass, where everything is germ free. No touching another person, life is lived in a very solitary way so obsessed are they with germs and sterility. Its a strange existence but for them its the norm, the living museums, where they get glimpses of the past, seem an abhorrent way of life to them. Eating foods that’s been grown in dirt? Talking directly to, touching, standing near another person? Risking germs by breathing in unsterile air? Life for them is very safe, very regulated and they can’t imagine a world where people touch each other, breath ordinary air, grow food, gather in groups, and as for sex, horrible thought that, messy and unsanitary…..
Alex though, son of a prominent senator, isn’t so sure about this life, rebels in small ways and then decides he wants to be one of those studying the past, museum dwellers living life as it was in certain periods of history.

I was really intrigued by the idea of this story but in practice I found it confusing, and sadly it was just going over my head. I didn’t understand What was happening and Why, never mind the Who and How….
It soon became a story focused on a mystery, secrets and lies, a struggle for power where the protagonists are determined to keep the past hidden.
It’s a story with strong minded and power hungry characters, set against those who think we have a duty to keep the past alive. There were so many characters I found it difficult sorting out who was who, and how they fitted in. I did like the section dealing with the practicalities of the past, loved for example the bit where Alex smells spring for the first time, his puzzling over what it is, and where he and other students are entranced by falling leaves. I felt sorry for those doomed to live the “safe” life, but I wasn’t pulled into the story enough to continue with it.

Stars: Two, I’m sure for others its a terrific read, but the content just didn’t gel with my taste. One of those stories where its book v reader and we just don’t match.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Hunting Danger, Redemption Harbor Series, Katie Reus

Hunting Danger, Redemption Harbor Series,  Katie Reus

Hunting Danger (Redemption Harbor Series Book 5) by [Reus, Katie]

Genre: Romance

I’d only read book three in this series, each are advertised as stand alone and that one I loved, didn’t feel I’d missed anything by not reading first two books.
I haven’t read book four but when I saw this I expected to feel the same as I did with book three, that it would be complete on its own. It is….and yet I think I’d have got far more from it if I understood more about the whole group of characters, their dynamics and interaction. As it was, apart from Brooks and Darcy they were just names and I didn’t feel the connection between the characters that I know would be there.

Its billed as romance, and it is but for me the romance fell second place to the suspense. Its a tightly written novel, well paced, well set out, but the romance side takes a while to warm up – its very much each likes the other but hides it, and seems as though that’s been going on a long time. Now they’re thrown together, in danger, and emotions run hot at a time like this. Its a question of what happens once that cools down, when they’re thinking with clear heads once more.

Its an interesting story but I felt a bit disconnected from it, as I said I think even though its a stand alone it would work better if I’d read all of the others.

I do occasionally get tired of the “quick computer hack” that takes care of everything, tells where folk are, what they’re doing, spies on them remotely – even when there hasn’t been time to set up cameras…and of course knocks out those cameras who see what we don’t want them to.

Its not just in this book, but a growing trend in many suspense reads. PCs can do lots, are a huge asset but they are machines, not miracle cures and I felt here that it was something a little over-used.

Stars: Three, a good read but would have been a great one if perhaps I’d read all the earlier books.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

I Invited Her In, Adele Parks

I Invited Her In, Adele Parks

Genre:Mystery & Thrillers

I enjoy books like this, they challenge me to think “what would I do?” At first I was interested but I did get tired of the way the story was told, via inner thoughts, when for me dialogue based works better, where we have a slip back in time to see events as they happen. Well, see from that persons POV anyway 😉 Later in the story we do get some of these but the start nearly made me give up. Works for some readers that way though, but like me, not all.
I could see where Mel wanted to give a good impression to Abi, everyone is proud of their homes and family and want others to see them at their best, but couldn’t see why she didn’t simply ask her how long, set a time limit in the visit especially as Ben isn’t happy about an open ended stay. Its not like they’ve been close for the past 17 years, even if they were Bfs at uni. It seemed a bit strange, and then of course I started to put things together, though I wasn’t certain.
Its a fun read, very real characters, events that I could see easily working like that in real life. I didn’t like Abi, not one bit, but even so hadn’t guessed exactly what her angle was. I was shocked by events, thought I liked the ending and then, those last couple of pages….Nope, I didn’t want that even though they are not real characters. They felt real to me and I cared about them as if they were real.

Stars:three, I guessed a chunk of the plot, enjoyed the story and was surprised by other parts but I did get tired of some daily trivia that didn’t add to the story, felt repetitive.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
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River of Shame, (A Winston Radhauser Mystery 3), Susan Clayton-Goldner 

River of Shame, (A Winston Radhauser Mystery 3), Susan Clayton-Goldner 

River of Shame: A Winston Radhauser Mystery: #4 by [Clayton-Goldner, Susan]

Genre:, suspense, General fiction (adult)

My third book from Susan, and its as fabulous as the other two. I missed the first Radhauser mystery, but feel as if I know him now. He’s the kind of policeman all should aspire to be, won’t give up, seeks the truth, not the convenient answer and is such a genuine caring man.

When we meet him at the start of this book I understood why his wife was angry, and yet like her I understood that he’s the kind of man he Had to go in to work, couldn’t just leave justice when he knew he was needed to help pursue it. Yet his wife has just given birth to their son, and is also undergoing chemotherapy. Such a hard decision, and he’s trying to do both, do what’s right for Grace and their family and also try to stop more crime and hatred being spread.
I love Radhauser, he’s a great man. He’s been through such a lot with the death of his first wife and son in a tragic accident, and been given another chance at happiness, which is is so pleased about, but Grace knows he wouldn’t be the man she loves if he just ignored something when he could help.
Of course what seems a simple case expands to include others, to include murder and to show up an evil thread of bigotry running through the locality.

Its at times a harrowing read, not because its overly graphic but because its so real. Sadly I could imagine this happening, not just in US but here in UK too. We too have our share of bigots and hatred 😦 I had to put it aside a couple of times because the characters feel so real that I was really upset when certain things happened. That’s a testament to good writing, not a book I put aside because I’d lost interest, I just needed to take time to read something lighter, give my mind a break.

Its a gripping, suspensful story, and so easy to believe in the reality of it. I so felt for the characters, was so angry at the bigots, felt for the kids, brought up by such narrow minded folk, they’re almost bound to follow their thinking and actions. It takes a brave child to break away from such strong minded parents.
Radhauser is his usual thorough self, and I love the way Susan explains his thinking, why he takes certain actions, that allowed me to come to my own conclusions. The ending though – that came as a shock, really didn’t expect that and yet looking back I can see how the threads were seeded out, but so carefully that I missed them.

Stars: five, a scarily real novel, written with very genuine feeling characters. Its a story I could very well see played out in real life.

ARC supplied by author

Wolf Unleashed, Jessica Meats

Wolf Unleashed, Jessica Meats

Wolf Unleashed by [Meats, Jessica]

Genre: General fiction (adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy.

I really wanted to love this book, it sounded so interesting, a unique take on the genre.

It has some excellent characters too, and an interesting plot-line that I can see developing further within future books.

And yet….it was interesting, it was well written, paced to keep the reader engaged and yet somehow I kept putting it to one side.

Possibly it was the sheer unpleasantness of the idea of keep werewolves as pets/slaves, and of breeding them for that purpose, taking away the children and selling them. Its all too reminiscent for me of the human trade in slaves where non whites were considered sub-humans and we used and abused them.

Although it made for a great main plot it did make me feel incredibly uncomfortable and guilty as a human for the past atrocities white people forced onto non-whites.

If you can set that aside and enjoy the story for what it is, fiction and well written, then this is a series you’ll enjoy. I might try later books as they come out, I know once the imbalance starts to get addressed I’ll be happier reading about these people.

Its an excellent look at human nature, how ready we are to believe what “the authorities” tell us, which of course is what benefits a few powerful people the most, but gets dressed as if its helping everyone. Cynic? Me? There’s a quote from Edmund Burke that suits this book really well, it goes something like this… “all that is needed for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing”. Here we’ve a handful of good people, starting with Crystal, doing something which hopefully will grow, but it isn’t going to be easy.

Even then if Crystal’s brother hadn’t been bitten she would still have gone along with the official line that this treatment of werewolves is essential for them and us.
It mirrors what happens so often, as humans we mostly ignore or turn a blind eye to distasteful practices and injustices until we’re forced to confront them personally.

Stars: Three, a really well written story, but which made me feel so guilty for similar human past practices it affected my enjoyment of the story

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.

 

The Artisan Heart, Dean Mayes

The Artisan Heart, Dean Mayes

The Artisan Heart by [Mayes, Dean]

Genre:Woman’s fiction, romance

First a quick rant – why “women’s” fiction? Why exclude 50% or readers….this categorisation makes me so cross. Who’s to say sex determines what we enjoy reading?

Its a great story, written so intelligently, not dumbed down as so many are now. No grunting heroes here, no page after page of repetitive sex, but a romance in the truest sense for me, where the characters really spend time getting to know each other. Having said all that there were times when I floundered a bit within the story, where I got a bit bored with the pacing – but that’s my issue, my problem not the book.
There are some terrific characters here, Hayden and Isabelle, and Isabelle’s little daughter whose a real star. Max and Annette, friends of Hayden’s parents, Chas, one of those characters that makes a village, eccentric,at times careless but so full of life, so joyful he brightens others day. I had hoped for a bit more unpleasantness from Bernadette, she’s pretty ambitious and will stop at nothing to get ahead, and her plans and Hayden’s don’t necessarily match. All the things I love from a “nasty” character but she really wasn’t in the story that much, enough to throw a few spanners but nothing more.
Its an interesting read, Hayden’s initial issues really felt so genuine, its something I could see playing out all too easily and as he says, that could end his career. All that hard work, years of study, gone in a moment. I loved Isabelle and her determination, adored little Genie, so irrepressible and entertaining, loved the way the village rallied round its inhabitants. I really wanted to give this book five stars and yet…I kept putting it aside, losing interest and I’m really not sure why. It had everything I love, intelligent writing, real characters, excellent plots, not just a sweet, simple romance but a more involved one but for whatever reason it didn’t pull me in to a cant-stop-reading mood.

Stars: Four, a good story, well written with terrific characters, but not quite the magic five for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Necessary Marriage, Elisa Lodato

The Necessary Marriage,  Elisa Lodato

 

The Necessary Marriage by [Lodato, Elisa]

Genre:,General fiction (adult)

Its kind of hard to rate this book. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but it was gripping reading and I could see how easily the situations could have happened in real life.
I felt pretty uncomfortable over the relationship between Jane and Leonard, he is so much older, and I’d have though both parents and school would have put a stop to it. Still, they didn’t and it leads Jane into a situation that she later realises she may have been too young for.
Marion and Andrew, there are couples similar to this on every street and I could see how Jane got sucked into their lives and the problems that brought her.
I felt for her eldest daughter – can’t recall her name now, some kids so have issues that follow them into adulthood, and the situations she found herself in as an adult were very hard for her. I really was sad for her, could see how upset she was over the art exhibition, and think I’d have felt the same.
I didn’t expect the ending, that came as a bit of a surprise, but looking back was a culmination of events going back years.

Stars:three, a well written book, with some gripping situations but one I didn’t really enjoy, and won’t re-read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Mira’s Path, William Schlegel

Mira’s Path, William Schlegel

Mira's Path (Forever in Murphy Book 1) by [Schlegel, W. F.]

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction

*Sigh…Women’s fiction again? Why troy to exclude a section of possible readers, men write fiction, this book proves it, they read it too…..

Anyway, sadly this book didn’t really work for me. It was well written, well paced but somehow the characters and events never really caught on for me.
I think part of that is I started off disliking Mira, she was a real bitch to Bowie. I had a hard time getting past the role reversal too, where her wealthy family lost everything and yet despite allegedly being close she knows nothing about it. Then Bowie, Lawn Boy, is now a multi millionaire? How’d that happen? I didn’t see any real reason for either of these massive changes and it rankled me.

As I said I disliked Mira, she seems to have changed but I couldn’t help feeling is all hadn’t gone wrong in the City for her, if she hadn’t effectively been chased out of her life would she be back? Or would she still be posing among the richest, living their life, rubbing shoulders the the people at the Top of society.
Bowie was perfect. A little too perfect maybe? He seems to have lived the live of a saint, just waiting for Mira’s return and is that real? Would he do that, and take her back without any kind of discussion about how much she hurt him?

I dunno, it was all a bit too cute and sweet for me.

Even the suspense didn’t really work for me, I wasn’t sure of the reasoning, a man doesn’t up and do something like that out of the blue, with no one having a clue. He’d not seemed like that kind of man, what made him flip? It wasn’t as if he was desperately in love with her….hands on action seemed out of character for him, hiring someone to do the dirty work I could understand but do it himself?

Stars: two and a half. There were parts I liked but overall it wasn’t one for me. As ever I can see others love it, maybe I’m in just too picky a mood and if I come back to it another time I may like it better. Who knows?

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher.

 

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