Friday, 27 February 2015

Those ghosts can make any house unquiet

Mire House is dreary, dark, cold and infested with midges.  But when Emma Dean inherits it from a distant relation, she immediately feels a sense of belonging.

It isn’t long before Charlie Mitchell, a grandson of the original owner, appears claiming that he wants to seek out his family.  But Emma suspects he’s more interested in the house than his long-lost relations.

And when she starts seeing ghostly figures, Emma begins to wonder: is Charlie trying to scare her away, or are there darker secrets lurking in the corners of Mire House?

This is a gothic novel in the vein of Northanger Abbey about a creepy house and its occupants.  Not my typical pick and this is why Netgalley is so good; it allows you to try genres and books that you would normally try.

I mean who in their right mind would see a remote house once and then remove themselves from their former life (even if that new house was inherited) but that said if she had acted like a normal person there would not be a story!

The prose of this novel was, at times poetic and the story had many fresh original elements that kept the familiar plot original enough to keep this reader entertained, although the pace did stumble to a crawl towards the end. 

The mixing of the different times was intriguing with many twists and turns on the way, and ratchets up the unquiet of this novel to an amazing level of tension, dread, foreboding, and ambiguity to keep the reader guessing, right up to the final reveal or twit which was unexpected to say the least

This book is creepy in every sense of the word and that feeling stayed with me for quite a while after the ending. 

Full Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rated this 3 stars on Netgalley and 'it was ok' on Amazon (3 stars) and Goodreads (2 stars)

That bittersweet lemon cake is to die for

Faye Dobson has lost her sparke.  Living on file star fantasies and vague memories of a marriage that once was, she can't help feeling that life is passing her by.  She dreams of being whisked to Paris for dinner, making three wishes at the Trevi fountain and having sex under the stars.  But the wrinkles are mitiplying, her husband's passion is for plumbing, and the nearest she'll get to Rome is a take-away pizza.

So when Faye meets Dan the gorgeous Australian surfer guy working in the local deli he can't help but wonder what it would be like to see the world.  He is blond, tanned, ten years younger and bakes the most amazing lemon cake.  Unlike her husband Dan actually listens to Faye, his smile makes her feel fizzy inside, and when he smiles ... Oh. My. God.

But is Faye being silly? what would Dan see in someone like her? Even if he did have feelings for her, could she give up everything to be with him?

This is a delicious yet bittersweet novel, as the title suggests.  Faye is a women in her middle years (just like this reader) and so I can identify with her wholeheartedly.

Where those characters that are critical to the plot are well developed and the lesser characters are developed to a lesser degree (as it should be).

This novel is laugh out loud funny in so many moments, and there were equally heartfelt moments which this reader identified with.  There were also some moments when the humour was catered more for the adult audience, so be warned if this is not your cup of tea.  Essentially this book can stir emotions like a wooden spoon stirring that lemon cake.

Written at a good pace and the author deals with something what most women have been through yet keep behind closed doors with a light engaging touch.  It is also a reminder that we should not be so complacent with life that we just sit back and let it happen to us.  Rather we need to grab life by the hands and become an active participant.

The ending is excellent.  In short a wonderful read that I found myself lost in.  I will definitely be on the lookout for her other books.

Full Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley for an honest review.

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

Bluestockings and Captains Oh My

Captain Xavier Grey's body is back amongst the beau monde, but his mind cannot break free from the horrors of war.  His friends try to help him find peace.  He knows he doesn't deserve it.  Just like he doesn't deserve the attentions of the sultry bluestocking intent on seducing him into bed ...

Spinster Jane Downing wants off the shelf and into the arms of a hot-blooded man.  Specifically, the dark and dangerous Captain Grey.  She may not be destined to be his wife, but nothing will stop her from being his mistress.  She could quote classical Greek by the age of four.  How hard can it be to learn the language of love?

This is the second (or rather the third) book in the series.  Yet again, can be read as a standalone novel but is a much better read if you have managed to read the other novels first.

I found this particular much more entertaining than the previous one.  This novel is written with great intelligence and the characters have a fantastic wit and humour about them.  The characters are believable and really life-like; and this reader can certainly identify with both.

Without giving too much away, I loved the truth or dare banter in the drawing room.  And the inevitable love scene was delicious.

There was also a brief pause and angst as they realised how much they loved each other and could not live without them.  The proposal was rather unique and brought an out loud ‘awwwwwwww’ from this reader.  Although there is not marriage mentioned here there is an engagement which would inevitably lead to a HEA.  Hopefully the wedding will be featured in a later book.

The story line is not new and follows the formula used for the previous two books but there are elements that make this story vibrant and alive.  One particularly wonderful aspect of the book was the antics of the cat Egui.  These were hilarious as were the results of the repairs Jane had to perform on the Captain’s under shirts.  This reader hopes that Egui will see a welcome return in the later books in the series.

This reader hopes to be offered the opportunity to read the later stories in this series.

Full Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rated this 5 stars on netgalley and 'I really liked it' on Goodreads (4 stars).

What happens to the Tide at Night

Blast from the Past ...

Blake Sanders thought he left his Midwestern past behind when he went to UW on a basketball scholarship more than 20 years earlier.  But Keely Radcliffe drags it back into the present when she shows up on Blake's stoop one morning to ask for his help.

Back them, Keely's sister was killed in a lab explosion on a university campus in southern Illinois.  Blake's best friend Perry Langford was arrested and convicted of murder for setting the charge, but Langford always maintained his innocence, claiming someone else blew up the building.  Not even Blake knows what really happened, and he was there, a secret he's kept all this time.  Now Langford is out of prison, and he's gunning for all those he holds responsible for his 20-year stint in stir, including Blake.

A week later, Blake's cop friend Charlie invites him to a backyard barbecue at his folks' house. Masked gunmen burst in on the festivities before the two of them even open a beer.  Charlie and Blake manage to hold off the marauders, but Charlie is wounded, and when the smoke clears Charlie's parents have vanished.

Events begin to snowball, putting Blake on the run from both the shooters and Langford, his childhood friend, and Blake realises they're all related.  Soon the FBI and even naval intelligence officer Reyna Chase are on his tail, too..  whoever planted the bomb 20 years ago is cleaning up loose ends, and the prize they're still seeking after all this time - a revolutionary battery design-is with a fortune, even worth selling out one's own country ... and killing for.

This book is the second in the series and although it can be read as a stand-alone however, this reader felt as though I was missing something with the constant references to Cole.

Initially I found this book was confusing because the first chapter read like it related to a female where in fact the main character is in fact a male (confused you will be!).  What did make a change to other books was that the main character was the only one written in the first person and the remaining characters were rightfully written in the third person.

The main characters and their relationships are detailed and the back story is revealed piece by piece as the lengthy detailed plot calls for it … which is intriguing.  There are many twists and turns before the culprit is revealed.  Intrigue and danger are rife in this novel.

The principal character is not particularly likeable and he is complicated, certainly flawed ad making do working two menial jobs.  He suffers from ADHD which is only mentioned when it impacts on his and the story.

The author has a lovely turn of phrase but at other times was verbose, especially in the description department.  There are also a great many characters which makes this book difficult to follow.  So much so that at about half way through this reader felt as though there was very little happening and yet the story was still going strong.  It seemed to this reader that it was taking ages to get anywhere with this novel. 

Finally, answers to get answered but this reader found the ending rather a let-down after all that hard work.

Full Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley for an honest review.

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

That Decree was Fatal

When a serial killer shows up on Longboat Key, Florida after a 12 year absence, Matt Royal is stymied.  The first woman killed on Longboat Key has ties to a secretive government agency for which Matt's best friend Jock Algren works.  Was this a coincidence or was she a targeted kill? Matt's friend, Longboat Key detective Jennifer Dane (J.D) Duncan investigates the murders but also seems to be a target of the killer.  Why? And where has the killer been for the past 12 years? And why has he come to Longboat Key when his earlier kills were all in Miami?  The mystery deepens when Guatemalan gang-bangers try to kill Matt and J.D and suspicions grow that Mexican drug cartels are somehow involved.  The director of Jock's agency orders him to do whatever is necessary to find the killer because of the death of the woman with connections to the agency.  Will Jock simply take out the murderer or allow J.D and the law to arrest, try and convict the bad guys?  Matt's life is further complicated by J.D's growing dissatisfaction with island living and her thoughts of returning to Miami.

What at first glance is a simple murder mystery turns into something with many more sinister overtones.  What was one body becomes multiple bodies; anyone can be a potential target.  The story is cranked up from a single simple layer to multiple layers with the plot evolving at break neck speed wo much so that the tension is ratcheted up and resembles an elastic band about to break.

A well-paced, twister of a policed procedural thriller.  A very much a fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants story.  This novel is real easy to read and the short chapters further enhance the speed with which this novel travels.  The interest is kept right to the end and I defy you to guess who the killer is before then.

The two main characters were intriguing and well written but did we have to have the sexual tension and the ending was a big let-down for me but the rest was just WOW.  What I particularly like about Matt was that he was an avid reader and with what downtime he did have he was always reading a book (can we please have more characters like this).

Mostly written in the first person there are some chapters that are written in the third person so not only does the reader get matt's point of view but we also get the murder's point of view too (though without knowing who the murder is until the end).

This is a thinking reader's thriller with the psychological implications of each murder intact.  The her is not flash, but real and believable.  I whole heartedly recommend this book.

This can be read as a standalone novel but I will be going back to read the previous books in the series, possibly rereading this one in order and I will be on the lookout for future novels by this author; and this series in particular.

Full Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley for an honest review.

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

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Not my idea of one but Someone's obviously

The future has changed its course.

In the notorious Bermuda Triangle a private jet vanishes without trace, taking with it scientists working for word-famous philanthropist Joaquin Abell.

In Miami, Captain Kyle Sears is called to a murder scene,  A woman and her daughter have both been shot through the heat.  But within moments of arriving, Sears receives a phone call from the woman's husband, physicist Charles Purcell.

'I did not kill my wife and daughter.  In less than twenty-four hours I too will be murdered and I know the ma who will kill me.  My murderer does not et know that he will commit the act.'

With uncanny accuracy, Charles goes on to predict the immediate future just as it unfolds around Sears, and leaves clues for a man he's never met before:  Ethan Warner.

The hunt is on to find Purcell, and Ethan Warner is summoned by the Defence Intelligence Agency to head up the search.  But this is no ordinary case, as Warner and his partner Nicola Lopez are about to discover, and time is literally everything.

Although this is the third book in the series it is not necessary to have read the other novels before reading this one; that said, I think the reader would get more from this novel if they had.  This reader, however, had not read the other novels so will be reviewing this book as a stand-alone-novel.

The characters are well rounded, as one would expect from book three in the series; with some further development as the plot required.  There was probably more to the ‘hero’ than was fully revealed and had been the subject of previous books.  Once again the female was fiercely independent but soppy when it comes to love.  I did not really connect with her and feel that perhaps the book would have been better if she had been left out entirely.  Although Ethan’s wife was an equally under developed character this reader would like to read more of this back story which appears more interesting that the front story with Nicola.

Our attention is grabbed with a fantastic opening line which hooks you into the plot straight away.  The additional second story line does keep the reader’s attention right to the end.  There is plenty of science fiction (black holes and potential time travel), political intrigue, a fast paced plot and twists and turns to keep the reader interested from cover to cover.   Yet the story is a page turner it is clearly written to a tried and tested formula so for this reader the ending is interesting but did not come as any great surprise.

At times though the science fiction elements were a bit too deep and complicated for my non science mind; and caused the plot to slow to a crawl.  A further negative was that there were phrases repeated along with paragraphs and phrases as the author appears to get bogged-down with the science himself.  There were also instances where the author had too many ideas for a single sentence and seemed to lose the plot himself; veering off in one way and then blundering his way back leaving large question marks.

I do have a query though as to why the book is called ‘Apocolypse’ as there was nothing apocalyptic about this book.

Full Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley for an honest review.

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

Not everything is obvious

She clutches at control to cover her flaws.

He wants to strip her are because she's beautiful.

Selina Moss hides a secret beneath her controlled happy exterior.  Her body is covered in scars and she's never revealed them to anyone.  She's not beautiful and she doesn't want pity.

However, it's her wedding night ad husband, Benjamin Moss, is determined to strip down her barriers.

Benjamin is not playing fair, not when he's deploying breath-stealing seduction as well as mind-melting sex toys.  But will he still want her when she bares all?

Not sure of the point of this book.  That said I did read this book in its entirety.

This was a very short novella (at under 50 pages) surely a novella should be more than just 50 pages.  It would have been far better if the author had released all the books as just the one.  However, releasing these novellas as three pieces is a ploy by the publishers to ensure readers purchase all three novellas at a rather inflated price. 

There are so many questions left unanswered.  The characters were ill defined and lacked further development.  The back story was fleeting making it difficult to feel any empathy for either character and frankly the female was annoying beyond belief. 

The relationship of the two characters is not quite the normal, traditional relationship and whatever relationship they have was not the subject of this novella.  In short there is not really enough to keep the reader’s interest or to really tether the sexual encounters to. 

I am not against books with BDSM themes but this book did not really hold my interest enough and I will certainly NOT be reading any more of this series.  In fact I was annoyed that I had wasted precious time reading this one.

Full Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley for an honest review.

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

It appears that Only The Dead Can Talk

A fast-read action thriller, ONLY THE DEAD CAN TALK seems to float into view like a mirage of a World War II ghost ship.  Set largely in London, with an international background.  That same city where serial murder reached its world apogee in the days of Jack the Ripper,  Still not solved in 150 years.

Dr Rutt, the fray eminence of ONLY THE DEAD CAN TALK, escaped from the Nazi Doctors Trials.  here he experimented on humans,  He had lived in hiding for 50 years, mainly in Chile.  By no means a mad scientist, but a man without a soul.  Supported by his wealthy family and Nazi pension checks.  By accident, he is accidentally arrested in London, ad a new trial is set.  But his strange-looking twin bodyguards are set free.  A little apish and a lot athletic, they have soulless faces with little expression.  They get hold of the short witness list of Rutt's survivors and set about shortening it.

A Golden Boy from California and a female ex-solider sharpshooter from Israel - both adopted and living almost half a world apart - fly to London to become prime witnesses for the prosecution. Under British protection.  How could young love blossom in the receding climate of the Holocaust, still resonating in the modern-day air with those most affected?  Yet it does.  While the tabloids have a holiday with Rutt, and compare him and his experiments to Jack the Ripper.

ONLY TE DEAD CAN TALK tells how two lively sophomores, by purest chance, meet under dire circumstances and fall in love, in the very shadow of death.  Even as they step together a little blindly into serial murders and eep danger to themselves.  Ad how the young Californian, once called 'Silly Willy' in his childhood, rose to the occasion and swan the swim of a lifetime in the French part of the English Channel.

This novel's lone-escaped Nazi experimenter on humans comes in the end to be rejected by his family n a London telephone booth as he clutches his neo-Nazi electronic Catch Ann Frank game, as if it were among the last true remnants of Hitler's dream.  In this sense, ONLY THE DEAD CAN TALK is also a literary psychological novel.  Of Jack-the-Ripper's extreme compassion deficit. In true literary style, it not only describes the actions of the characters, but their thoughts.  Even to those of one of Rutts's two body guards, whom the tabloids have labelled 'Frankenmen' for their expressionless looks and the possibility that  Rutt had played a hand in tweaking their rNA.  In this sense, Rutt and his three 'adopted' children are in irreducible essence of a post-Holocaust reflection of the Holocaust.

There is not much that can be really said about this novel without divulging the plot.

Just suffice it to say that it is a twist on the old Nazi twin experiments and how the next generation deals with certain issues that arise in the novel.

The characters were well developed and what looked like a heart-warming reconnection turned into something more sinister.  The story progressed well but unfortunately there were instances when the discourse was not situation or age appropriate.

The question remains as to whether justice was truly served.

I personally enjoyed this book, but then I have a thing about what the Nazis did to the Jews during the World War II; and especially the experiments they conducted on these poor people.  I will be looking for other books by this author.

Full Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rated this novel 5 stars on Netgalley and 'I really liked it' on Goodreads (4 stars) and 'I liked it' on Amazon (4 stars).