Wolf’s Bane (Moon Marked Book 1) Aimee Easterling
Genre:Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance.
I love fantasy/romance reads, but so may of these seem to be all grunting, monosyllabic alphas, reverse harems or ones where the romance is all the book, no side/sub plots, no overall story line. Still, it means when I do find a read I enjoy then its like a sweet victory!
I added this one last week, it was free at the time, so nothing to lose and I’d enjoyed the sample. I’ve just bought books two and three, as it was an intriguing read, and I’ll be looking at what else Aimee has written.
Mai is great, she’s a Kitsune, Japanese fox shifter. I’ve come across these occasionally – I think the last one was in a Hailey Edwards read as a secondary character, and the Kitsune premise fascinates me. They’re not just shape shifters, but have a kind of fox nature in the way they think and behave, and usually they have some form of magic. Aimee has added a touch here where that magic is connected closely to Mai, and allows her to create real items, her sword for example, within a split second, but it needs to stay physically connected to her or she weakens. I’m still getting my head around the star ball that Kitsunes in this book have, that allows the magic.
Mai is guardian to her younger sister, and struggling. She doesn’t know any other Kitsunes, they live in a city controlled by werewolves, and she needs to tread carefully, as they see Kitsunes as something to be killed.
Its an interesting story, full of some very real characters, sub plots that add up to the whole, the star ball connection to magic, and of course poor Mai doesn’t have anyone she can ask for help to learn more about what they are. She’s never met another Kitsune. Her dead mother offers some cryptic comments at times in Mai’s head, but they’re beyond my understanding, and mostly Mai doesn’t see the logic til too late either. I do like that connection though, and trying to puzzle out what the heck she means by her strange phrases.
There’s a developing romance but its still early days, and apart from a couple of stolen kisses hasn’t gone further. So many fantasy romance reads make the romance all the story, held up by the tiniest of plots, and for me I want all the mystery, the magic, the struggles, with the romance being there but as part of the story, not all of it.
Stars: Four, a fun read, and a good start to the trilogy.
Book purchase – I do buy books in addition to receiving ARCs and having KU!
Always With You, Indigo: Book 3, Kate McBrien
Well, a very climatic, drama filled finish to the trilogy. TBH it felt – cough- a little too drama filled. I love action, intensity and drama but there was so much here that I felt it became almost wearying to the senses, took away from the actual events. Having said that its still and amazing read, and a fabulous trilogy for a debut writer. Very well written, full of excellent plots and very polished overall.
Lucy; at times I want to say to her “what are you doing!!” when she dithers. She’s grown in confidence though, and there’s a lot less of that in this final part. Justin, well, he’s just fabulous, so very solid in his love, so very protective and I enjoyed how the past events affected him in this life. I loved Lucy and Justin together, but did feel they got a little lost in the other events that filled this story. Sometimes Less is More, and for me less additional plots ( the Russian connection) and more of Lucy and Justin would have worked better. That’s just me though, others will love it as it is.
Edward…Gah, I hate that guy, but I love characters like his. He played a terrific part in the story, very believable. I wasn’t so convinced on the Rachel story-line, especially with how things ended. I disliked her intensely, didn’t want to change my stance on that and though events could have proved otherwise I’m holding fast to my dislike 😉
I would have liked to have seen a bit more connection between Justin and Lucy’s nightmares and the past, maybe snippets of what they were dreaming or something? The past in each book is really kept to just beginning and end, which makes for a wonderful ending, where we see just what did play out, but I’d have enjoyed a bit more linking through the story.
I love the way the Cross links past and present Justin and Lucy, and how its creation from Love held fast, and meant so much to them when they touched in in the present. I enjoyed the history, past and present story of Lapis Lazuli and the issues behind it. Everyone has heard of Blood diamonds, but I’d never connected this stone with terrorism financing.
From the book blurb, and important. Note to readers: This book contains scenes which may be triggering to survivors of sexual violence
Stars: Four and a half, a great trilogy, but I wasn’t quite as gripped by this part as by parts one and two, especially part one, which I loved.
ARC via Netgalley and publishers
Waiting for You, Indigo: Book 2, Kate McBrien
Well, at the end of book one Justin and Lucy were apart, the fame/media aspect scaring Lucy. Its one of those things that’s so hard, if she wants to be with Justin she has to accept that the fame and publicity are part of the package. Even if he gave up his music, he’d still be hounded by media for a significant time – and anyway, its part of him, part of the man she loves.
He understands her fears, blames himself for the awful events that separated him even though they aren’t really his fault and were done without his permission or knowledge. He’s left it up to Lucy to contact him, says he’ll be waiting.
Her parents though, they really don’t like him, and are determined to push Edward in her way. He’s got himself highly placed at her work too, so she’s really no way of escaping him. He is such a horrible sleaze and in this book we see more of that. I loved it, someone appearing so genuine, caring, respected outwardly, and yet behind the scenes, in the pursuit of what he wants he’s a horrible, manipulative bar- stard. That’s reality – we often see friends and family of people who’ve committed some awful crime saying it can’t be true, the person simply wouldn’t do that. But they can and do, manipulators are expert at presenting one face to the world while doing the opposite.
He arranges for Lucy to travel to London, with him of course, to deliver the Cross to its new buyer. As usual he’s moving events to suit his purpose but Justin is in London too, and Lucy is thinking its a chance, fate maybe, to reconnect. Once more though Justin’s fame comes between them with yet more horrific allegations against him. Its a time that’s testing Lucy to the fullest, and she needs to decide, trust her heart, her instincts or believe the media and of course the person behind things. I really wanted to shake her a couple of times, shout at her “c’mon Lucy, give the guy a break, he loves you, you love him” but she was so cautious.
I’ve seen criticism about the attack, that it wasn’t reported. In reality something like over 80% of attacks go unreported and given that only a small percent of those that are reported lead to conviction, its almost understandable why some women choose not to put themselves through the trauma of reporting and all it brings. I don’t agree with it, that’s what lets predators continue, but it’s reality and I can see why it went unreported.
In the same way the false allegations against Justin, that happens too, folk wanting revenge, wanting to cause harm, just making allegations for malicious purposes or attention. Sadly, things like that lead to the non reporting data, because people are afraid they won’t be believed.
The connection to the past, the supernatural element is very muted, only appears on a peripheral basis, it’s clear how events are linked re Justin and Lucy, but I’m not entirely sure if Edward is who I think he was, or if there’s some kind of turnabout coming….
Its another great installment, though I did get a bit cross at Lucy’s dithering. I adore Justin and none of what happened was his fault, sure he has a past, but he can’t change that, only change how he is in the future and Lucy needs to accept who is was, and who he is now. I did find it not quite as gripping to read as the first book, a bit slower paced, didn’t quite have me lost in the story the same way but its still a cracking read, especially from a new author.
Luckily I’ve book three on my kindle as an arc, but its out very soon, later this month, and the whole trilogy has been released within six months. I love that, hate waiting a year, eighteen months or more between episodes, its why when I’m buying I wait til story is complete before buying, so I can read all in one go, I find I enjoy the story best that way.
Stars: Four and a half, not quite as good as book one, the story lagged a little at times, but I really did like the reality of the attacks and how they were dealt with.
Arc via author and Netgally
Discovering You, Indigo Book 1, Kate McBrien
Genre: erotica, romance
I loved this book, and am looking forward to books two and three. Book two is actually out now and three due soon. It amazed me that this is a debut novel, its very easy to read where debuts can feel disjointed and run out of steam at times. Everyone has to begin somewhere and writing is like any other skill, improves with practice. Reading this though, I would have believed Kate has been writing for years.
I love and hate trilogies, love that they really allow the reader to get to know the characters, that the length allows for plots to be fully explored. Hate because here I am engrossed in a story and it ends….and I’ve ages to wait for more. Some authors take 12-18 months between episodes and I’ve lost that impetus, that enjoyment by the time I pick up the story again. I usually wait til all three parts are out so I can read right through and avoid that, but fortunately book two in this trilogy is out now and book three should be along very soon.
I loved Lucy, hated her mum and thought her dad was weak. I love characters I can feel strongly about, really love/hate and there’s lots in this book. Sleazy Edward, I can see he’s got a big part to come- well, feels that way to me. I think Justin’s manager has something suspicious about him too, and of course there’s Rachel, Justin’s ex-without-dating, kind of fling when it suits them relationship, hot sex and nothing more. On his side anyway, though I think Rachel was looking for more. Not love, but the fame attached to being with him. All those promise some great fireworks to come.
When I saw the past present connection I thought maybe it was going to be along the lines of Susanna Kearsely’s stories. I’ve read loads of those, but so far the past is kept to a few small snippets at the beginning and end, and of course odd feelings and dreams both the leads have. I have the feeling the next book might show us more of the past, so far the connection is quite tenuous, but that doesn’t detract from a great story.
If you#’re not an erotica fan don’t be put off by the genre classification, there is plenty of heat, of steam here but its perfect within the story, nothing off-putting. So many “erotica” reads are just pages and pages of repetitive sex held together by a thin plot. This book is very far from that so I’d class it as a steamy romance rather than erotica.
Stars: five, a cracking debut read and I look forward to next two books.
Arc via netgalley and publishers
Lionheart, Thea Harrison
I was wondering what to read next recently, I love to re-read good novels and this trilogy flicked in my mind as one I’d really enjoyed, and then only a couple of days later the final book appeared on Netgalley 😉 Yay!
Sadly though I loved the first two books in this series this one, well, not so much 😦 and just have to say here, I hate that cover. That guy just doesn’t do it for me. I get that Oberon is tough and growly, not a slight, pretty boy type, but that guy just looks hairy and – dare I say it – a little chubby rather than muscly……and that ‘tache!! Still, I’m sure he’s a hit for others 😉
Where books one and two were very people orientated and we had lots of action, drawing in so many different characters, it felt like the bulk of this book was just Oberon and Katherine, and I didn’t really enjoy that part. I’m glad he wasn’t a sap when he saw Katherine, that he was his own abrupt, arrogant, imperious self, even when they did fall for each other. Equally I love that Thea has strong women as heroines, no simpering misses, no-one that can be described as “his little….” that always infuriates me. Just strong, confident ladies. They often have issues, but that’s a world away from being weak and easily impressed. I did enjoy their battles, where neither backed down.
I love Puck, and I’m glad we saw more of him, he’s a strange character, I so feel for his past and the effects it had on him, and that makes him very unpredictable. His heart is for Oberon ( and Sophie) and he’s ultra protective, giving nothing for convention, politeness, politics, just takes the course of action that feels right to him. That gives Thea a freedom to introduce all sorts of events….
I missed seeing the characters we’d met in the earlier books, they were there but so briefly considering the size of the book, and that affected how I enjoyed it. It just didn’t feel properly connected to those earlier ones. I do like the link with the elder Races but you don’t need to have read them to enjoy this trilogy.
The battle with Isabeau, when it finally came, felt anti-climatic, there had been so much build up through previous books and then it seemed to be over in a trice. It made it feel a bit of a non event for me. I’d guessed a way back what was going to happen, not quite how but the seeds for the event were pretty generously sown.
Stars:Three and a half, fabulously written as always with Thea – that parts a solid five stars, but the rest just didn’t live up to books one and two for me. I really missed meeting all the others, missed the actual world connections, Lyonesse v the world we know, the magic that connects it, and they way Oberon’s people have been fighting so hard for Lyonesse and him on both sides of the divide. I felt so much of this book was just Katherine and Oberon and they took over too much of the story for me. I also felt the ending was a little anti-climatic somehow, all that build up and then…..
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
Love You S’more, Beth Merlin
Genre:Woman’s fiction, romance
First a quick rant – why “women’s” fiction? Why exclude 50% or readers….men write romance and read it.
I hadn’t read book one or two, two was on KU so I read that and the synopsis of book one. I think I’d have enjoyed this even more if I knew the full backstory from book one, but even without its a story I loved.
Some fabulous characters, and lots to ponder. For me the big one was Why? Why did Perry just ghost her when he moved, when they were so close, so in love? I really needed those answers.
I loved Gigi and Jamie, though occasionally I do feel the Gay Best Friend is becoming a little overused in romance. Still, he fitted in perfectly here and did add much to the story. I adored all the dress designing info, a world I know nothing of. Fashion for me means finding some clothes that are not paint stained…I’m an artist and invariably everything gets an addition of unintentional colour. Last seasons clothes are fine for me, tomorrow I’m attending a christening in an outfit that’s probably 20 years old. It suits me so shy not is my reasoning. Still, I adore reading about the world of fashion, the creation of beautiful outfits ( all that beading, fabrics and beading are a real weakness of mine – tomorrows outfit is an Indian silk printed shalwar kameez, with a lovely glittery copper running through). I love the way something as simple as clothing can become so important, so much depending on it and I was completely sucked into Gigi’s experiences designing Victoria’s outfits.
Alongside that is another world almost foreign to me, Theatre. I was entranced by the whole set design, setting music to scenes, creating a story from history. I could see why Perry was so hooked on the world, why it was so important to him. I still just kept having the thoughts though “why Perry, Why?” He seemed such a great guy, just didn’t seem the callous type. Then there’s Gideon, and he was wonderful too. So very down to earth, so hard working, determined to make his ancestral home pay its way and stay in the family. We’ve a few like that in the region I live, some owned by NT but others where the families work hard to keep everything in the family, even when it means letting the public into your home. I’d find that hard, but when the alternative is losing it? Knowing a few people of his type I felt the scenes with Gigi and his friends and family were very real. The top echelons of UK society can be very insular, do reject those not quite whom they regard as Like Us. U and non U is still very much alive.
So there were Gigi and Gideon, so in love but could the US career girl fit into
UK Society, was love enough? What about Gigi’s career?
And then into all that drops the scandal and poor Gigi once more goes from cream of the top, Lady of the day into Most Despised Person.
I so felt for her, she’d done nothing, it was Perry who really should have copped the blame but as usual the woman gets it ;-( The British press are merciless, and I so hate their desperation to cook up a story, parade lies as truth when it comes to celebrities. There’s a saying they never let the truth get in the way of a good story and its so true, and why I’ve not bought a newspaper for years.
Its a fabulous, engrossing read, transporting the reader into the world of fashion married with High society, and showing just what an impact simple decisions can have on careers and lives. The ending – well, I loved it, perfect for me. I may well go back and read book one sometime, and two and three once more.
A quick point, well a couple of them.
We don’t say Fall, its Autumn. Certainly coming from a landed and titled family Gideon would Never use a US term like that when talking about how booked up Badgely Hall was becoming.
Victoria, future Queen of UK, supposedly lets her husband know of his impending fatherhood by asking for sparkling cider instead of champagne. Here in the UK there is both Still and Sparkling cider, each very alcoholic. There’s no way a future Queen, UK born and bred would request cider, meaning a non alcoholic drink, she’d be asking for water or fruit juice most likely. Sparkling cider is a US/Canadian term only.
They’re small points and usually I could ignore things like that – it happens when writing about other cultures and countries, but these two points are very major ones IMO.
Stars: Five, a fabulous read, engrossing story, real characters and plenty of drama.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
#fireflyhillpress, #Love You S’more, #Beth Merlin, @fireflyhillpress, @Love You S’more, @Beth Merlin
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
The King’s Witch, Tracy Borman
Genre: Historical Fiction
I have an occasional foray into this genre, Tracy Borman is an author new to me but I’ll look out for more of her novels. When I’m reading an historical work I want the personalisation, the feeling I understand the characters, to see them in day to day action, and Tracy did that perfectly here for me. I don’t work a work of fiction that reads like a text book, but I do want the events and maybe some of the characters surrounding them to be presented as they happened more or less.
Its pretty horrific how we treated people in history ( and sadly in current times too). It never ceases to amaze me how inhumane man can be, how inventive with torture. Reading a reminder of the penalty for treason gave me the usual sick feeling, that people would do all that and expect the result to be genuine, threaten and expect to get the truth. Though really I guess it wasn’t truth they wanted, just a list of names to prosecute/persecute. Seeing what happened to Frances and how she came through shows how the system was so skewed against truth.
As well as charting the end of Elizabeth the first and the succession of James 1st (of England & NI) this story covers the persecution of witches, and the still difficult question of religion. No such thing as live and let live then, it was each man out for themselves mostly, with political figures changing stances on everything according to the current climate. A very insecure time to live, especially of someone powerful in court held a grudge.
I loved Frances and her family, her love of healing and helping, her compassion but when witchcraft was being pursued so heavily, with people taking the chance to play out old grudges it was a very dangerous time to have knowledge of simple healing. I’ve always been attracted to natural remedies and how we discovered them, how people found what worked, how they did things that we would see as plain idiotic and yet they derived strength from them. Sometimes I think we have an innate need to believe in Something, Anything to help with pain, illness, things out of our control.
When it came to making a decision over Tom and his compatriots, whether to do one thing or another, I so felt for her. Each course of action held danger, each held things that went against her nature and it was a very hard decision to take.
It was a fascinating read, felt very true to time period but with that personal touch that makes a story easy to read for me.
I hadn’t realised it was a trilogy so look forward to what next for Frances and for England.
Stars:Five, a great read, very real characters, a writing of real events in a way that well could have played out.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
The Burning Chambers, Kate Mosse
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical fiction
I remember reading Kate’s Labyrinth years ago, but haven’t read any of her books since then but I enjoy historical fiction and was keen to read this.
I don’t know much about the religious divides of this time in France, I know more about UK history for this time and thought I’d enjoy reading about it. As in UK when there were religious controversies and changes, its a particularly gruesome time, where people were taken for spurious reasons and tortured at will. Its weird isn’t it how we think torturing someone for a confession will bring out the truth….
Sadly though I found the book incredibly slow starting, and though the pace did pick up I never got really engrossed in the story. I felt kind of bogged down by detail at times and had to put the book aside. That’s unusual for me, I love details, I love the little nitty-gritty intricacies of people’s lives, but in this book I felt that it just didn’t work for me.
If you’ve an interest in french/religious history this may appeal to you, I certainly expected I’d love it but…It’s well written and has all the elements for a good read for me but was one of those where the story and I just didn’t gel. I’m not really sure why, just that I found it a struggle to keep reading and eventually I was just pleased to have finished.
I won’t be reading further books in this series but would happily pick up another of Kate’s stories, even when you usually adore an authors work there’s always the chance some won’t suit.
Stars: Two and a half, I enjoyed parts but overall it wasn’t a hit with me.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
Resolve, Carla Susan Smith (Corsets and Carriages 2)
Genre: Romance, Historical.
I love Susan’s Vampire’s Promise series, and when I saw the first one in this historical series I thought I’d like to read these books. A historical trilogy its a very big departure from the supernatural world!
I loved book one, have just finished book two (read the day I got it!!) and am keen to see how things wrap up. Luckily there’s not too long to wait, book one is Jan 9th, book two Jan 31st and book three is scheduled for Feb 18, so not one of those where by the time the end part is released you’ve forgotten how it started.
Rian is the archetypical, dark, swoon-making hero, and a true gentleman. Someone who had vowed never to remarry after the death of his wife, but who was known for his affairs, though each lady knew that they would never mean more to him.
Then he found – literally – Catherine and his thinking has undergone a huge change even if he’s not quite ready to admit it to himself.
Lady Isabel though is determined to be the next Mrs Connor, regardless of what Rian wants or feels, and she isn’t going to let him having feelings for someone else stand in her way. She’s a rich widow and has the money to “persuade” others to do what she wants, and removing Catherine is her current desire. She really is a wonderful character, one of those who are totally selfish, manipulative and have no care for others.
As I was reading part of me was thinking “c’mon, surely they can see through this” while hoping Carla let things run to the full extent and drag out the drama and theatrics. Its characters like hers, so deliciously avid and amoral that can make a book. Romance without drama or controversy, without some nasty, grasping selfish types can be very bland. Lady Isobel is one of the finest anti-heroines 😉
Of course there’s Catherine, recovering well, developing strong feelings for Rian, becoming part of the Connor family and loved by them and the staff, but who still has no memories other than her name. Slowly things happen that are bringing back little parts, and her confidence is growing. Isobel doesn’t like that she’s still there and there’s a fabulous private confrontation between the two fairly early in the book, that shows Isobel she’s not the pushover she hoped. Ultimately I think Catherine will be in real danger from her, though Isobel has everyone else ( apart from the staff of course) hoodwinked about her motives and machinations.
Its another wonderful read and though its part two of a trilogy Carla avoids the awful, hated cliffhanger employed by so many authors – I hate them with a vengeance, and TBH they spoil a book for me. Carla finishes this on a natural break point, setting up book three and delivering a tantalising description of what’s to come.
I’m not a great historical reader but I do love to occasionally dip into the genre, and this trilogy is proving a perfect read for me.
Stars: Five, some fabulous characters, what looks like an awful betrayal, and the promise of lots more drama to come. I adore books with lots of jealousy and dramatics.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers