Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Who is this mysterious

In the village of Lauscha in Germany, things have been done the same way for centuries.  The men blow the glass, and the women decorate and pack it.  But when Jost Steinmann passes away unexpectedly one September night, his three saughters must learn to fend for themselves. While feisty Johanna takes a practical approach to looking for work.  Ruth follows her heart, aming to catch gthe eye of a handsome young villagere.  But is is dreamy, quirt Marie who had always been the most capticated by the magic - and sparkling possibilities - of the craft of glassblowing.  As the spirited sisters work together to forge a brighter future fr themselves on their own terms, they learn not only how to thrive in a man's world, but how to remain true to themselves - and their hearts - in the process.

My previous experience of translated novels has not been good until recently and since then it has been blown away.  Perhaps it was the subject matter that affected my previous experience or that modern translators are not so literal but convey the essence of the novel.  Whatever it is I am glad that I have resumed my adventures into translated novels; otherwise this gem would have gone unread.

My initial reaction was how is this about the glassblower who dies in the first chapter leaving three daughters.  Each daughter has a particular trait which most of us can identify with.  The sisters relationships with each other is reasonably realistic and engaging; but at times annoying beyond belief (as it is with normal sisters).  As we experience their trials and tribulations we also learn who the glassblower actually is.
This is not an historical novel per se and even the glass blowing elements (albeit fascinating when they occur) are few and far between.  The characters are well written even though sometimes what they do or say is at odds with the setting of the novel; they are extremely interesting whilst they are extremely flawed.  Initially they are portrayed as innocent and annoying, having been cosseted by their father (and not knowing the ways of the world – be it good or ill) but when they experience ‘real life; they become hardened to it; and move forward, and take on untraditional roles in their village of glassblowers.  But the novel develops these characters and they become reasonably grounded women who have found their place in their world.

I cannot say that the action is constant or fast paced as they are periods of monotonous inactivity.  Indeed the story line does not have a definite time line and appears to jump in places.  Ultimately this is a novel of women overcoming adversity by becoming successful against all the odds.

This reader has becomes so involved with these women that she will be looking forward to reading the next novels in this series.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I rated this 4 stars on Netgalley and 'I really liked it' on Amazon (4 stars) and Goodreads (4 stars).

Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem in Elizabethan England

TWO QUESTIONS HAVE ALWAYS PLAGUED HISTORIANS:  HOW COULD Christopher Marlow, a known spy and England's foremost playwright, be suspiciously murdered and quickly buried in an unmarked grave - just days before he was to be tried for treason?  HOW COULD William Shakespeare replace Marlowe as England's greatest playwright virtually overnight - when Shakespeare had never written any thing before and was merely an unknown actor?  Historians have noted that the Bard of Stratford was better known at that time "for holding horses for the gentry while they watched plays".  The Shakespeare Conspiracy is a historical novel that intertwines the two mysteries and then puts the pieced together to offer the only plausible resolution.  The novel, a wild romp through gay 16th Century Elizabethan England, is a rapidly unfolding detective story filled with comedy, intrigue, murder and illicit love.  And most importantly, all recorded events, persons, dates and documents are historically accurate,  You will ... Get the scandalous view of the real William Shakespeare, with his sexual peccadilloes, illegitimate children and mistresses ... Wander through the gay world of Christopher Marlowe, when it was acceptable to be homosexual just so long as one stayed within one's own class - ad did Kings like James I, Edward II and others ...  Observe Inspector Henry Maunder matching wits with Christopher Marlowe's patron, Sir Thomas Walsingham - one cleverly hiding the facts and other cunningly discovering the truth ...  Watch the arguments unfold, showing the actual reasons tat many historians believe that it could only have been Christopher Marlowe writing tall those great works.  It's a tale of murder, mayhem and manhunts in the underbelly of London as the Back Plague scourges the country and the greatest conspiracy plot of all time is hatched.  It's ... The Shakespeare Conspiracy!

Elizabethan history has been a topic of great discussion, deliberation (and is one of this reader’s favourite historical periods).  It is often the topic of many mysteries not least those many novels based on the work of the astrologer John Dee.  This is a period of history that is extremely rich in more ways than one.  The Tudor era is a topic that this reader is particularly interested in the many works of John Dee but for many other reasons including the Witch Holocaust and the Shakespeare ‘who was he really’ question (previously dealt with to some extent in the excellent novel The Rose Labyrinth??).

This novel, in particular, proposes that Shakespeare was a member of the infamous ‘School of the Night’ which included Christopher Marlowe,George Chapman, Thomas Harriot, and Sir Walter Raleigh (and is mentioned in Love’s Labour Lost).

This novel is apparently the result of 10 years of extensive and meticulous research which is evident (not least in the many appendices that are added at the end of the novel which make least 20% of the total of the novel (according to my Kindle) but not having read it all this reader is not sure how much of this is repeated from the novel itself.

This novel proposed an alternative reason for Marlowe’s early death and the sudden resurgence of Shakespeare; and for this reader had a certain ring of truth to it.  What did rankle this reader is that there are just too may modernisms used in the narrative as whole to totally immerse this novel in the Elizabethan era; an era familiar to most historians and others.

All that said the characters, for me, felt rather one dimensional.  It seemed that that the author had spent so much time on finding the footing of this novel that he did not establish plausible and fascinating characters.  Another element that detracted from this novel were the numerous spelling and punctuation errors which this reader hopes are fund before final publication.

Even though this period of history is shrouded in mystery the novel is written in an easy manner and flows from one historical detail to the next be it in England, or Italy; Padua or Venice, Verona, Milan or Sicily.  Having not visited many of these places I cannot say whether their portrayal is accurate.

Although this is a well-researched novel, founded on fact, it is not necessary for the reader to know every miniscule detail that occurred during this historic period.  Yet despite this meticulous research there were still some historical errors such as people drinking tea some 100 or so years early.  Also there was the introduction of 21st century language with did not fit with the telling of the story at all.

Although overall the story is interesting the ‘history professor’ butts in very frequently giving us extraneous background material that would have been better left in the appendices (as detailed as they are).

If you want an alternative point of view of this period in English history you cannot go far wrong but be aware of the provisos in this review.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I rated this 4 stars on Netgalley and 'I liked it' on Goodreads (3 stars) and Amazon (4 stars).

Monday, 30 November 2015

I am sure this is the beauty saloon everyone wants to go to:

Stella's mama never should've put Stella on the church prayer list.  With Stella's twenty-seventh birthday coming up fast, Nancy desperately wants to see her daughter married and giving her grandbabies.  Petitioning heaved seems like a surefire way to get it done.  But in Cadillac, Texas, where the gossip's hotter than the city's famous jalapeño peppers, it isn't long before all hell breaks loose.

Heather, the bossy leader of the chruch's Prayer Angels, thinks a summer ball will get Stella and the town's other single gals paired off.  But nobody can tell redheaded spitfire Stella what to so - not her mama, not Heather, and not even the sexy beau Stella's been seeing in secret.   Together, Stella, her best friends Charlotte and Piper, and te loyal customers of the Yellow Rose Beauty Shop hatch a good old-fashioned scheme to sabotage the ball.  But will it wreck Stella's relationship with her mama forever?  And what will the church folk think when Stella reveals the identity of her mystery man?

When I started reading this novel I did not realise that it was the third in the series.  But having realised that it did explain why many of the relationships felt grounded so early (they had been begun two books earlier).  To be honest, it did not really matter, although this reader will be looking for the preceding novels as this one as such good fun.  I was captured by this novel from the get do and did it held my attention until the final page.

I am not one to reveal the plot of the novels I review but believe me when I say this one is a humdinger.  It seems to be a modern Steel Magnolias but in contrast it is laugh-out-loud funny.  For this reader it epitomises the ‘movie/vampire’ notion of what the Deep South is.

As with Steel Magnolias this is a novel about the relationship of strong minded and strong willed women who have interfering alpha mothers.  As in most life situations there is a mean girl and the one in this novel is a doozy.  Each character is unique (as I life) but the reader can identify with each and every one of these women.  There is a wonderful American usage of malapropisms courtesy of Agnes (I soo want to be her when I grow old) which is one of the many reasons that made this a laugh-out-loud novel.

The characters in this book are well rounded, rich, relatable, and leap off the page.  They are sassy, independent, loyal and full of heart.  This novel deals with relationships, new beginnings and ultimately gossip and its consequences.  Ultimately this novel epitomise small town America; and how everyone knows everybody else’s business. 

Although laugh-out-loud funny there are strong themes in this book, together with a powerful romance that makes the heart beat faster.  This is this reader’s first Carolyn Brown novel but I can categorically say it will not be her last.

If you miss this novel you will be missing a treat.

I rated this 4 stars at Netgalley and 'I liked it' at Amazon (4 stars) and Goodreads (3 stars).

Sunday, 29 November 2015

We are all awaiting

"Beneath a cloak of darkness and mystery, it has arrived ...

Palestine: 1948 - With the winds of war fast approaching an scrupulous archaeologist finally finds the remains of the man he's been shearing for ... unfittingly releasing an ancient evil on the world.

White River, Arkansas: 1980 - In a secret lab, top-level medical scientists work together to harness the power of previously unheard of DNA manipulation.  But when the project finally comes to fruition with the birth of a specially"designed" baby.  It just as abruptly comes to a bloody halt, with the facilities and nearly every member of the team wiped out, silenced forever ... almost.

White River, Arkansas: 2019 - The small town awakens one morning to find itself ground zero of a joint UN-US terrorist training exercise.  Residents face martial law, a cashless economy, and a host of ruthless leaders seemingly bent on making the maneuvers more than just a military operation.  Outraged citizens begin to rise up and fight back, but it soon become clear that something evil has arrived in White River ...

A darkness unleashed on an unsuspecting world."

As a fervent Matthew Riley, Raymond Khoury fan I thought this would suit my need for factual based mystery thrillers with a bit of sci-fi thrown in. 

I would not say that this was the easiest read ever but it was very thought provoking.  There were three distinct timelines in this novel 1948, 1980 and 2015.  Each time-line provided an interesting element to the story. 

The relationship between the two main characters of the 1948 part of the novel was not explained in enough detail and left this reader scratching their head later in the novel.  The 1980s DNA sections were interesting but gruesome; and it is this reader’s fervent hope that such things did not and do not continue to occur.  The way the three storylines merge is interesting to say the least.  Yet slightly fantastical!

This novel started really well and this reader’s initial assumption made concerning the ‘unnamed Jew’ was incorrect yet my second guess turned out to be correct.  But how one gets from a despot Jew to the antichrist is too much for this reader to comprehend.  There were quite a few places where the detailed dialogue not only did not ring true but affected the action and pace of the novel.  I am not sure if this is intended as part of the ‘preachy’ part of the novel or something that just happened but it did detract from the whole experience.

The story is told in the third party and therefore throughout the book the point of view (‘POV’) changes which can be rather confusing for the inattentive reader.  That said this reader followed the story easily.  The story itself was well paced with loads of action (it may have even left the way open for a sequel).  The book also dealt with many ‘taboo’ issues with a great deal of grace.

This reader felt that the ending was rushed, unless the author intends to produce another novel in the series and then the novel ended just right.

It is this reader’s fervent hope that this does not happen but then again would the antichrist use those people who are the dregs of society – somehow this reader does not think so.  This novel got me to question my faith to a degree and in so doing resulted in me deepening my faith (not too bad for a novel!).

I rated this 4 stars on Netgalley and 'I liked it' on Goodreads (3 stars) and Amazon (4 stars).

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Humans are the lessor species and now it's the

She wants security.  He wants freedom.  Together their love could destroy the world.

Ten years after the outbreak of the V2000 virus turns the majority of humans into a mutated Vampire sub-species, the last remaining true humans are the world's hottest commodity.  In this new world, it's The Society that rules.

Being the only female Vampire Lord in America isn't easy.  Being thrust into the role of CEO is even harder.  Danika Chekov refuses to let her father's legacy die.  She's resolved to keep everything under her tight control.  But after she's almost killed, she's forced to purchase a human guardian.

Mason s human, or so the Vampires think.  He's determined to protect his secret, but Lord Danika buys him before he can make his escape.  Their passion for each other threatens everything they want most.  And when Mason's true nature is exposed, the results could be devastating

I absolutely love books about vampires, especially modern books that have vampires living alongside humans.  So you would have thought that I would also love this book.  To be honest I am not sure how I feel about this book.  It had loads of potential but for me fell very short.

I personally did not think that the world building was complete.  We have three distinct types of vampire and the distinctions between them are not fully explained enough for my liking.  I can understand the uprising and the V2000 release but the vampire distinctions left me cold.

So in this new world, vampires were lording it over humans but whereas previously humans were able to live free lives; here they were slaves to the vampires.  Why I ask was this necessary?  Oh wait it was to make it so that vampires become the salvation of humankind.

Lord Danika (surely this should be Lady; but what the hay), seems to be a lady lost in a man’s world (so what’s new I hear you ask!) and as the youngest Lord she is trying too hard to fill her father’s shoes and for me with little success.  She was being pressured to find a mate (again so what is new!).

This novel fails on numerous counts, the lack of action between Lord Danika and her underlings and Lord Danika and her love interest.  Everything seems to be too cold and calculated.

For the majority of the book Lord Danika left me cold.  She spend too much time wishing she was her father’s son rather than getting on and dealing with the job in hand; ie being a big fearless leader: (or is it a case of the fact that she has to work twice as hard at everything in this modern world to equal one man?)  Bearing in mind the number of years you have been one earth you should know this is the case!  Wake up girl and smell the roses, oh sorry you can’t you are a vampire!

While this vampire is trying to rule her ‘nest’ there are humans who have not been captured and are doing anything they can to remain free.  One such human is Mason who becomes Danika’s love interest but the way the character is written you just know his is more!  (More I cannot say lest I spoil the plot for future readers.)

There were two big reveals in this book and only one of them caught me of guard.  The second reveal had left hints throughout the book so it was no big surprise.

As this is the first in a series one would expect to be grabbed in kicking and screaming wanting to read more, more, more.  Yet for this reader this novel was very lacking not least the weak vampire heroine (if one can even call her that).  This reader, for one, will not be continuing with this saga.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I rated this 2 stars on Netgalley and 'It was OK' on Goodreads (2 stars) and Amazon (3 stars).

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

This flawed legal system always starts with a

Twelve years ago, teenager Molly Singer was tried ad convicted for murdering her parents.  She was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison, torn away from her newborn daughter, and forsaken by those closest to her.  But now, a series of anonymous letters proclaim her innocence - and point a finger at a deadly conspiracy.

Attorney Dani Trumball specializes in defending the wrongfully imprisoned at the Help Innocent Prisoners Project.  But taking Molly's case means taking on a heard-hearted justice system that doesn't like do-overs ... and a merciless killer who will do anything to keep a secret history of dirty deals buried.  Only the truth will set Molly free and reunite her broken family.  And only Dani has any chance of finding it in a showdown that will push her legal talents - and her survival skills - to the very edge.

This started out very similar to another book that I have read for review.  However, as it progressed it was so much more complex and totally different to the story I thought it reminded me of.

I really enjoyed this novel and was fascinated as to how this would pan out.  As we are given all sides of the story we are well ahead of the solicitor in figuring out who did what, and way.  And this in no way detracts from the work of HIPP or the story itself and whether justice will ultimately prevail.

It must be good as I read this book in just one day.  I was riveted and kept turning the pages so I could find out what happened next.  I really want to follow this series and see how she develops her skills and to read about the story that was mentioned fleetingly at the end of this novel.  The writing enhanced the overall feel of this book; it is not too slow and not too fast paced so that the reader can assimilate all the information given; yet it is not too technical either.  In short it is uncluttered and engaging and does not let you go until the very end.

This is a judicial procedural novel that deals with a flawed legal system that allows innocent people to be incarcerated and the pains some lawyers will go to to rectify that situation.

The development of the characters was excellent.  They are developed and show what may really happens in small town America; and/or to someone you know; with all the associated feelings.  The characters are realistic and though provoking with lots of emotional baggage that makes them true to life.

This is my first novel by this author and it certainly will not be my last.  If you want a judicial procedural novel that fights an unjust system written by an author that knows that aforementioned system then this is one for you.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I rated this 4 stars on Netgalley and 'I really liked it' on Amazon (4 stars) and Goodreads (4 stars).

Where do you go if you are a witch in need?

Wes Rockville, a disgraced law enforcement agent, is given one last chance to prove himself and save his career when he's reassigned to a 232 year old secret government organization.  The Witches Protection Program.

His first assignment: uncover a billion-dollar Cosmetics company's diabolical plan of using witchcraft for global domination, while protecting its heiress Morgan Pendragon from her aunt's evil deeds.

Reluctantly paired with veteran witch protector, Alastair Verne, West must learn to believe in both witches and himself.

Filled with adventure, suspense and a rousing good time.  Michael Phillip Cash creates a tongue-in-cheek alternative reality where witches cast spells and wreak havoc in modern day New York City

This is a book about living up to expectations (of self, family and others) and deals with a son of a detective that doesn’t cut the grade yet ends up in a programme that in underground and finds his feet.

In this novel, set in modern day America there are good and bad witches.  The good witches are protected by a government organisation which also polices the bad witches.

This is a fairly short read as I managed to read this within 24 hours.  The story is original and witty (in a laugh out loud sense); and an interesting new take on witches and their associated powers.  The action was constant and the story line engaging with some ‘oooh what’s going to happen next’ seat of your pants action.  There is also a smudging of romance too (which no doubt will be further explored in a sequel novel, should there be one).  The final conclusion was satisfying and rounded out the story but then again left it open for a sequel (this reader lives in hope).

The characters are strong, yet flawed with elements that readers can identify with.  They are also varied, interesting, well rounded, and intriguing with elements that readers can easily spot eg; expounding one’s image of a typical desk cop in some and an active investigator in others.  Over the course of the novel you grow to love them and want to see their story even after the novel ends.

If you love witches that are historically based, but are able to see a joke then this book is for you.  Although this is my first read by this author it will not be my last and I will definitely be on the look-out for The Witches Protections Program book 2.

In short this is a MUST read.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I rated this 5 stars on Netgalley, Amazon and Goodreads.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Would you rather have to love a prince or woud you rather have

To keep the balance between god and evil at the court of Annwyn. Prince Felan ap Gwyn has two weeks to marry and take the crown.  But he wants more than just power - he wants love; a love he once had but was too stubborn to hold on to.

It took years for Jaqueline Ara to put her Life back together Felan abandoned her.  She's moved on, even is her heart still burns for him.  But with ear in Annwyn looming and death bleeding into the mortal world, Felan and Jacquie will need to heal old wounds and rekindle the passion that once welled between them ... or face losing everything. 

Starting this novel I did not realise that this was book 3 of a series and so I had no knowledge of that had gone on before.  I feel that I was not really missing much and from reading the blurb about the previous books it looks as though the main character of this novel only featured slightly previously.  As I have not read the previous novels I can only base my review on this book as a stand-alone.

This novel was character based; so much so that this reader would have loved to have had more time and attention paid to the details of the Court of Annwyn.  I would also have loved to learn more about how the castle was built and how their actions there were affecting the weather (perhaps these things were covered in the previous novels in the series).

As in a character based novel they are well developed with their pasts and futures colliding.  Felan a playboy at Fairy court has to take to the throne and many feel that he does not have what it takes.  He is strongly opposed and need to find a wife and produce an heir to ascend the throne and therein lays the rub!

Felan’s previous love (Jackie) has had to face many things in her sort life and regaining her ‘normal’ mental health is just one in a long line of things she has had to perform.  Suddenly her worst nightmares resurface and she had to make a choice.  Fae or normality?  What would you choose?  All the while the clock is ticking for Felan; and the weather in Fae is worsening.

I did find it rather difficult to accept how easily Jackie re-accepted Felan into her life after she struggled so hard to regain her sanity; and her own path.

The flow of the book was equally not very organic.  It was fairly stop start and I am not sure if this is used as a device to reflect the two different worlds.  Likewise the build up to the final battle between Felan and his major obstacle fell flat!  The build-up was such that one expected a great all-out war but this never materialised.  Indeed, the ending felt a bit rushed and a more detailed epilogue would have been nice

Perhaps the fact that I did not read the previous novels first affected my enjoyment of this novel.  It was always at the back of my mind that I was missing something that I could not quite put my finger on!

My final thoughts therefore are that although these books can be read as singular novels it is obviously one’s enjoyment would be greatly enhanced if they were read in order.  I may well go back and read the earlier novels.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rated this 3 stars on Netgalley and 'I liked it' on Amazon (4 stars) and Goodreads (3 stars).

A very sanitised version of

Former mean girl Dixie Davis is back in town and it's payback time.  Literally.  Dixie is flat broke and her est-mate that only-friend, Landon, is throwing her a lifeline from the Great Beyond.  Dixie stands to inherit his business ... if she meets a few conditions:
She's got to live in Landon's mansion.
Wither her gorgeous ex-fiance, Caine Donovan.
Who could also inherit the business.
Which is a phone sex empire.
Wait, what?
Landon's will lays it out:  whoever gets the most new clients becomes the owner of Call Girls.  Dixie has always been in it to win it, especially when it comes to Caine, who's made it clear he's nt going down easy. (Oh mercy.) Can Dixie really talk dirty and prove she's cleaned up her act?  Game on

I have not read this author before but would welcome the opportunity to read the remaining books in this series.  But I must confess that the title is slightly misleading.

I am grateful for the author stating that this was an ‘homage’ to the TV series ‘Hart of Dixie’ but with a twist.  The TV show’s influence is clearly evident in this novel.  Lou is definitely Lemon, and Dixie is definitely Dr Hart.  Although I am not sure who Caine is; unless he is the bar tender!

I live in a small village in North Africa and understand how difficult it could be to try to change people’s perceptions of oneself; even years later as one’s previous actions become set in stone.  The old adage that it takes a lifetime to gain a good reputation but only a minute to ruin it is never truer.

The main protagonist has his fingers in all the pies even from his grave as it was he who set the competition in his will.  From the forward story we learn that Caine is as lovely (as he is meant to be) so why on earth did she ever leave him?  If he was as lovely as he was meant to be and as much in love with Dixie as portrayed why did he fall at the first hurdle?  It just showed his lack of character. 

Initially I was not particularly drawn to Dixie, which is obviously the author’s intention.  Yet the antics between the fantastic duo left me laughing out loud and yet there wass still a certain amount of pain evident in Dixie’s actions.  It is lovely to see how the heroine grows throughout the course of the book yet (and I don’t want to give the game away) …  For this reader the BIG reveal was not so BIG as she worked it out at the initial telephone call.

Although this is a love story between Caine and Dixie (I will not spoil the outcome for future readers) it is also a story of how Dixie deals with historic assumptions about her.  And how she tries to chance these; and she tried really hard to do so for the future (however, the deep south of America has long (and I mean long) memories).

The one character I did love was Sanjeev who seemed to know exactly was going on at every moment and even dropped the odd ambiguous hint to the key characters when they were too far off track.  I loved his ‘isms’ as he was not a native English speaker and these were often golden highlights.

Even though most of the characters have inexplicable flaws to their character (see the history of Dixie and Caine), I would love to find out how this series develops.  The author’s style of writing is very readable and does not tax one’s grey matter.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rated this 4 stars on Netgalley and 'I really liked it' on Amazon (4 stars) and Goodreads (4 stars).

There is talking dirty and then there is

CEO Callum Malone has it all: power, Italian suits, a house on one of Sydney's stunning beaches and a new life without a woman in it.  Just the way he likes it, ever since his nasty divorce.

Landscaper Ava Gibson is in no position to turn town a job, even if it is for her despised ex-brother-in-law.  But when resentment gives way to underlying attraction, Ava is finally forced to confront her truth ....; she's falling for him.

Will Ava be able to keep her growing desire in check?  Because te irresistible Cal doesn't want her to ...

I was interested in this novel from the cover and the description of the novel.  It is not your normal romance story.  Yes, you have an alpha type male but you also have a woman who is not dependant on men.  Yes, she has had a secret crush on the CEO for years but has never voiced that until now.  The reason for that is because … you will have to read the novel.  Yet as with all romantic fiction that is, as ever there was, a HEA.

The characters are well written with a fantastic back story.  Each is rather independent.  Ava is a landscape artist and Callum a billionaire CEO (as they all are in such novels).  Initially her intense hated of the CEO is rather annoying.  Although one can understand that she does not want to have an effect on her sister’s happiness.

The way the two main characters change their stances towards the other is interesting and eventually they form a mutual ‘likeship’.  In fact, as is often the case in real life the female grows more than the male and overcomes her initial reservations and realises her HEA.

The majority of the secondary characters were likeable except for Ava’s sister.  There was enough of a hook to keep the reader interested in these relationships to not only read this but any possible future novels in the series

Interestingly this one is set in Australia, just to make a change from the US based romantic novels.  This is the second book in the series, with the first one presumably dealing with the older brother.  I would imagine there will be a further book dealing with the younger brother!  I would be interested in reading this, if it were ever to become available on Netgalley.

A lovely romance ideal for the short getaway when one needs something to read that is as happy as their holiday setting.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rates this 3 stars on Netgalley and 'It was OK' on Amazon (3 stars) and Goodreads (2 stars).

We all wear masks whether or not we are part of the

Everyone is hiding something.  But someone is hiding everything.

Lizzy Ward never meant to end up working the streets of Piccadilly.  So when a mysterious noble pursues her, it seems her luck is changing.  But though Lord Hays offers to grow Lizzy's fortunes, his price is unexpected.  She must masquerade in the sumptuous gowns and social mask of a true lady.

With the stakes so high, love is out of the question.  But as Lizzy navigates the fashion and faux-pas of the London elite, she finds her tough façade failing her.  Lord Hays wants to show her that nobility is more than skin deep ... and as the connection between them grows, it's no longer certain who's wearing the mask.

From a stunning new voice in Historical fiction, this is a love story of surpassing power and imagination.

While I love an historical romance as much as the next person this did not feel like that.  But this felt like a real rip off.  Apparently the author based it on her favourite movie and instead of weaving a rather interesting story maybe using characters with the names from said movie this story had been lifted from the 1990s and moved to the late 1800s.

Not only has she lifted the plot but also a couple of the names of the characters.  Where characters have been replaced, as necessary for the change of era, they are still clearly identifiable.  However, I did love the ending and would like to see what the future held for this couple.  Now that would be a lovely novel to read as her favourite film did not have a sequel and therefore she would be all alone in devising the plot line.

My plea is that if you are going to write fan fiction then please add a bit more oomph to your story than literally copying sad favourite film but change the setting.  We readers are a bit more intelligent that writers credit if for.

Close but not cigar.  I am afraid it was a big mistake ‘Big! Huge!’ to quote the film.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rated this 2 stars on Netgalley and 'It was OK' on Goodreads (2 stars) and Amazon (3 stars).

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Her past comes back and she becomes

Reeve LeClaire is not a victim.  Not any more.

It's been seven years since she escaped from evil psychopath, Daryl Wayne Flint.  he held her captive for four of her precious teenage years, and now she's finally getting her life back.

But Flint, imprisoned in a top psychiatric hospital, has been watching and waiting - meticulously planning his getaway.  And now his chance has finally come.

His escape is Reeve's worst nightmare.  As he persistently evades capture, baffling authorities and leaving a bloody trail through the forests of Washington State, Reeve is hit by a fearful realization:  She will have to face her kidnapper one last time.

His perfect crime.  His little cricket

When I realised this was book 2 in the series I did stop and start at the first book.  As we are mostly aware, the first book in a series is setting out the characters and the settings.  But that is not the case with these books.  In deed this book can be read as a stand-alone.

In contrast to the first book, this one deals with an evolution of Reeve’s story some many years after her initial abduction and just as she is coming to terms with her life.  She had an ongoing interest with psychotherapy and at her psychiatrist’s suggestion is now in college studying the subject officially.  Don’t get me wrong she is still flawed and had a hard time trusting people … but she is getting there.  The reason Reeve makes such a good advocate for kidnapped people are that she is not only attuned to their horror but also that of the abductor. 

Reeve, as well as the other characters, is believable and well crafted.  There are elements of Reeve’s character that make the reader want to root for her.  However, going forward having such black and white characters could be limiting; the author needs to investigate the grey areas that we all have.

The story of the abductor is faultlessly interwoven with that of Reeve.  This book started at a really good pace and did not let up until the end.  Not only does this book refer back to Reeve’s kidnapping but it also provides a forward story (both are inter related).   Suspense is an integral part of this story and hardly lets up until the final page.  And the cliff hanger keeps you rooting for Reeve and invested enough to read the forthcoming books. 

If you love psychological thrillers this novel will get you hooked from the first page.  There are enough twists and turns to keep you interested until the last page and badgering the author to release the next book sooner rather than later.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rated this ? stars on Netgalley and 'I liked it' on Goodreads (3 stars) and Amazon (4 stars).

Friday, 18 September 2015

Does anyone know what they really want?

Your date with ski champ Jett Casey is an either/or deal.  He'll take you off-pieste for the ultimate Montana ski adventure or he'll put his handyman skills at your disposal for a week.  Which one would you choose?

Singe mom Mardie Griffin has a run-down old house in need of fixing and a memory of Jett Casey as her savior in a time of great need.  So when her friends acquire Jett's services at a bachelor auction and send him to fix up her house, she sets aside her mistrust of men and lets him in.

Elite athlete Jett Casey has the world at his feet and no desire for stability.  But there's one woman he's never forgotten and if he can help make her safe this time, maybe she'll stop haunting him.

No strings, no sex, no commitment.  Just fix things.  Surely it can't be that difficult ...

Mantra to self:  I must stop requesting for books that are part way through a series.  I must stop requesting books that are part way through a series!

This book is my first read by this author and unfortunately it may well be my last.  As with such books like this it was very formulaic.  There was a broken woman to proud to ask for help, great wealthy friends wanting to help aforementioned female, an alpha male and a charity auction, insta-love and a HEA ending.  Enough said.

The alpha male is called Jett, a skier who has had an injury.  He is attractive (as they always are) capable and dependable as well as strong and drawn to Mardie who is a single mother recovering from a disastrous relationship (as most women in these types books are).  So she is rather reluctant to begin another relationship. 

Although there is the ubiquitous insta-attraction the discovery is deliciously slow.  And there is obviously a precious history between these two main characters.  In short this novel deals with an honest joining of minds.  There is no game playing or posturing (such things become irrelevant when there is a child in the mix!).

There are thrills a plenty but for this reader they were far from electrifying!  For this reader it was a let-down in more ways than one.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley for an honest review.

 rated this 1 star on Netgalley and 'I did not like it' on Goodreads (1 star) and Amazon (1 star).

I often think that I live on

Reeve LeClaire was abducted when she was twelve years old and help i captivity for four years. Now in her twenties, she has a fragile stability.  With the help of her psychiatrist, she had started to build a life of independence.  But she will never shake off the terror and memory of the monster she believes is behind bars.

When Tilly Cavanaugh is rescued from a basement having suffered a similar experience, her parents call Reeve and ask her to help their daughter rediscover a 'normal life'.  But when two more girls go missing, the police confirm that there is a serial abductor at large.

Reeve knows that she alone has the knowledge which will help to find the perpetrator - but can she overcome her demons to discover the truth?

I loved mystery thriller novels even before the advent of the rather lacklustre Gone Girl.  (Why that book got loads of attention was rather beyond this reader’s comprehension). 

Rather than focusing on the victim, as many novels of this genre does, this novel is different in that is deals which what happens to victims after then have been rescued from their ordeal and how they handle life afterwards with their ongoing issues.

This novel is told from two differing points of view – that of the killer and that of Reeve who, because of her experiences, has been called in to help another hostage victim (because of her unique experience).  Not only does she help but she also becomes embroiled in the investigation of the current killer.  Yet, unlike many females in these novels she calls the police in at the first opportunity, even if they dismiss her as a nutcase.

The characters drawn by this author are complex and fascinating enough for you to want to continue to read past this first novel.  This novel is a compelling and tense thriller with complex twists and turns that keep the reader turning the pages.  The plot is fast paced and stays with you long after reading.  Reeve so wants to be normal but the scars of her past experience are preventing her from being so.  Yet somehow she finds reserves of spirit and determination that help her catch the killer.  It also shows the close bond Reeve had formed with her psychiatrist Dr Lerner.

Although the subject matter of child sexual abuse, may put some readers off everything else is handled well and in particular the experiences of the kidnapped girls.  So please put your fears behind you and grab this book with both hands and don’t let it go until you are finished. 

I loved how she (Reeve LeClaire) got involved in the story I became so invested in her that I cannot wait to discover her forward journey.  No one can really comprehend what Reeve went through during her captive years but watching her forward journey will be extremely interesting.

This novel is this author’s debut and if she starts like this I am sure she will have a long a fruitful career.  I for one will be following this author’s journey.

I rated this as 'I liked it' on Amazon (4 stars) and Goodreads (3 stars).

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Not just any ordinary detective but ...

Phones, light typing ... and murder.

Think breaking into show business is hard?  Try landing a temp job without office skills.  That's the challenge facing aspiring actress Isobel Spice when she arrives in New York City, fresh out of college and deficient in PowerPoint.  After being rejected by seven temp agencies for her lack of experience, Isobel sweet-talks recruiter James Cooke into letting her cover a last-minute vacancy at a ban,  New to his own job, and recently sober, James takes a chance on Isobel, despite his suspicion that she's a trouble-magnet.  His misgivings are borne out by lunchtime, when she stumbles across a dead secretary in a bathroom stall.  With her finger prints on the murder weapon, Isobel sets out to prove her innocence by investigating the crime herself.  While learning to juggle phone lines and auditions, she discovers an untapped talent for detective work - a qualification few other office temps, let alone actresses, can claim.

To enjoy this book one does have to suspend belief to a certain degree.  But it is rather an interesting setting for this new series of crime dramas - if only all temp jobs were this interesting!

The prose is witty, charming and stylistic, as is Isobel Spice, an aspiring musical actress who is earning a crust while waiting for those all-important auditions hoping that one would lead to her ideal job.  The auditions add an interesting dimension to this whole reading experience.

I enjoyed the interplay between Isobel and James Cook, her temp agent.  Their exchanges are engaging and cleaver.  The characters are given great depth (even in this first book) and are interesting.  Isobel is innocent, likeable and vivacious; she is a recent New York plant.  In contrast, James is more cynical, and has more than a few demons; he is also harbouring a few feelings for his new temp.  When James eventually reveals his demons to Isobel, she accepts them without so much as an eyelid bat; in fact she even defends him in a certain situation.  (It is refreshing to find one of the key characters dealing with a real life problem an how this affects their life and other’s perceptions of them.)

The characters are engaging and it is nice to see that they are not perfect.  Isobel’s propensity to put her mouth into action before she puts her brain in to gear gets her into plenty of hot water but it is quite refreshing.  Even the secondary characters are given the same treatment as the main characters.  All of whom are imaginative and colourful and each has their own detailed background.  Too often authors do not spend enough time with the supporting cast of characters but here the author has paid attention to detail in every way.

I will not go into the story line itself but just rest assured that not everything is plain sailing and there are some cringe worthy and laugh out loud moments during the duration of this novel.  There were plenty of plot twists which were confounding and quirky (like our main character.

Unlike many crime mystery books which have become very formulaic, this series sees the author bring an exciting fresh take to the genre like a breath of fresh air and is very much welcomed by this reader.  I will certainly be looking for more books not only in this series but also by this author.  Not lease because I want to see how the relationship between Isobel and James pan out and whether Isobel eventually gets her dream job.

If you want to read a new, engaging, entertaining and highly delightful novel then you NEED to read this one.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rated this 4 stars on Netgalley and 'I liked it' on Goodreads (3 stars) and Amazon (4 stars).

Honestly, would one night be enough?

The Billionaire Boys Club is a secret society of six incredibly wealthy men who have vowed success in business - at any cost.  But success when it comes to love is a different matter.

Kylie may be a make-up artist to the stars, but she knows that it feels like to be overshadowed. Especially by her famous boss, the pop singer Daphne. That's why she's stunned - and delighted - when one night at a party, she attracts the attention of a gorgeous stranger.  But when Daphne decided she wants the handsome billionaire herself, Cade Archer is suddenly off-limits for Kylie ...

Cade has known Daphne for years, and always wondered if she might be the right woman for him - even though she never gave him the time of day.  But one sizzling night with Kylie has changed everything.  So why is she suddenly avoiding him?  Fortunately Cade is determined to get what he wants, and hell do anything to show Kylie she can get everything she wants to.

This is my first experience of reading this author and although this is book six in a series it can be read as a stand-alone novel (which is what this reader did).

It is nice to see that instead of a slim, powerful, wealthy, beautiful woman the subject of the male’s affection (in this case his name is Cade Archer) is none of these but a rather buxom, curvaceous, insecure female is the subject of this alpha male’s desires.  But do we constantly need to hear her commenting on the fact that she is overweight.  Honestly if she is that worried about it she should do something about it!  Honestly this sort of repetition is just padding and shows lack of creative writing.

Another fine detail is that although she is overshadowed in part by a female celebrity this does not detract the male from his infatuation.

In contrast to the wealthy male (he always has to be, for some reason), Kylie has much more to lose in this relationship.  Her previous relationship ended extremely badly for her and because she is cautious with regards to Cade’s advances and his previous history with the secondary female figure; he seems more determined to pursue her.  I could identify with her fears in engaging in this relationship but still found it hard to identify with the people in this novel.

As is inevitable in such novels there is insta-attraction, sizzling sex and the inevitable Happy Ever After ending!

It was lovely to see a novel that dealt with personality over looks but this reader felt that overall this novel was rather lacklustre.  Perhaps this is because I had not read any of the previous novels and had nothing invested in these characters.  So although this novel can be read as a stand-alone book I would suggest that you start and the beginning and work your way through the series to this one.  Then I am sure your experience of this book would be more rewarding than mine.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rated this 3 stars on Netgalley and 'It was OK' on Goodreads (2 stars) and Amazon (3 stars).