Saturday, 21 March 2015

Where else could you be safe

For as long as she could remember, Becca dreamed of a dominant man to take her in hand, and Zac, the handsome Marine she met at her sister's wedding, filled the role with aplomb ... for a weekend. Then the fling cane to an end, Zac went off to war and died for his country, and Becca learned she carried a child who would be born without a father.

Seven years later, the now thirty-two year old Becca has done her best to move on and forget about Zac ... until the day she walks into her kitchen to find the man she believed she would never see again locked in mortal combat with her son's nanny, and realises everything she thought she knew about Zac was a lie.

Like all Black Ops agents, Zac doesn't exist in any government record.  His life is a series of deadly missions, and relationships of any kind are unsanctioned.  But he keeps one secret.  He watches over Becca, the beautiful daughter of a rogue agent, and Parker, the six-year-old boy he fathered that fateful weekend.  When he spots a known assassin in their apartment posing as a nanny, he's forecd to reveal himself and take them to safety ... whether Becca like it or not.

A fairly decent story with a black-ops operative.  There is a paranormal element which creates the father-son relationship but it's a bit too over the top.

The whole essence of the story was really a miss for me as yet again the woman is someone with little or no morals you would probably do what the female lead did in this book.  However, any girl with a moral compass wouldn’t but hay this is fiction, after all.  Plus for being an educated woman (she is a teacher after all of which we are constantly reminded) she does do some pretty stupid things which left me thinking ‘what were you thinking!'

There is no real back and forth between the couple, or the usual getting to know each other.  All the drama in this novel comes from outside influences, some of which are seriously far-fetched.  Plus she forgives him for his misdemeanour way too quickly for my liking.

The main kink in this book is spanking which rather surprised me to be honest.  There was also a touch of domestic discipline.  Some of the scenes were hot and steamy but there was one part of the novel that could have been oh so much more instead of what it was (quite a let-down really).  In short this novel seemed all too contrived and quick.  And with such formulaic books there is as always the typical HEA ending.

This book is different from normal erotic romances and not what I was expecting.  Given what I said above it did keep me reading to the end.  Will I read another on Mss Rose’s books?  That I am not sure about but why not give it a go and decide for yourself.

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

I rated this 3 stars on Netgalley and 'it was OK' on Good reads (2 stars) and Amazon (3 stars).

What you have to go through to clear your name


Only one thing matters to Caleb O'Malley: his daughter. Framed for his wife's murder, Caleb's only wish is to see his little girl. But Noelle Whitman, his daughter's foster mother, isn't buying his plea of innocence until bullets start flying and they're running for their lives. Staying one step ahead of the real killer proves nearly impossible, but former SWAT cop Caleb will risk everything to keep them safe. Because now there is nothing more important than Noelle and his daughter—not his freedom, not even his life.

SWAT: Top Cops—Love in the line of duty.

I am not against a Christian themed book (being a Christian myself) but there is a time and a place for it and this novel was not it.  I know some Christians pray at a drop of a hat but the ones included here did not read as sincere prayers and did nothing to the plot at all.  Other than the prayers there was no other mention that Noelle was a Christian apart from visiting church there does not seem to be much else religious about the way she runs her life.  These two elements do not a Christian make.

A flat novel with dim characters whose motivation lies flat.  If Noelle had had a terrible experience at the hands of a male before; she is way too trusting of this strange male (recently released from prison) that she does not know.  He is the same too.

The female lead is very mercurial (even at 8% of the book read) and is not a very likeable character.  The child is really annoying too.  The saving grace is Caleb and even he is a bit hollow.

There were elements that felt rushed such as Noelle’s previous experience and the first murder.  It would have made such a better story if we had more details of these incidents and then perhaps the reader could more readily identify with the characters.

The addition of prayers etc is not realistic and seems false.  The way he converts so easily also feels false.

I did keep going until the end just to find out who the killer was because it was sussed by the male hero.

A quick easy read with little thought required.  If you want more than a surface friendly read this book is not for you but ideal for a holiday.

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

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

Now and That Night

Eighteen-year-old Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were wrongly convicted of the murder of her younger sister.

Seventeen years later, she's out on parole and back in her hometown, but she's struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Ryan is convinced he can uncover the truth; her mother still doesn't believe Toni's innocent; and the former high school girls who made Toni's life miserable may have darker secrets than anyone can imagine. Before Toni can move forward, she must take a terrifying step back to her past to find out the truth and clear her name, before it's too late.

Fast-paced, gripping and thought-provoking, That Night is a breathtaking thriller that you'll never forget.

Initially this book felt more like a Young Adult book than a Mystery & Thrillers book.   I think that this is because there was no maturity to the main character, who I took a bit of a disliking to.  Even after spending an amount of time in prison she still seems to act the same age as when she went in.  I did not really connect with her even when she was being bullied at any of the three locations which seemed a bit too much to be honest.  Having been bullied myself, in middle school, it does not stand to reason that you will be bullied in all stages of life like this character.  I understand that the author is trying to bring bullying into focus but these scenarios ring false.  I did like Ryan however.

To start with I found this book a tad confusing – constantly sliding from the present to the past and back again.  Then all of a sudden it a falls into place and finally the pace increased.  So much so that I was still reading when it became light and as I was over tired I had to put the book down to get some sleep.  Yet on waking with a headache through lack of sleep I immediately reached for the book again to see what happen.

The plot was so obvious and predictable that we all knew that the main culprit did the deed but not the surprising reveal!.  To find this out you will have to read the book.

However, there just seems to be too much padding.  The writing is not great but I said earlier this is probably a reflection of the youth of today; their stamina and education level as the sentence structure is poor in places.  That said there are some nice flourishes and some instances that make the reader sit up and pay more attention.

I have already said that I did not like the female lead and the other characters were also dislikeable (but that is what the author intended) though did she intend for her characters to be two dimensional with only a few nice elements.

This book is OK it is not great as there is just something missing but I can’t place my finger on what.  So this is an easy read, ideal for the beach where you want something entertaining but nothing that you need to think about.  So save if for then or a rainy day and when you do read it enjoy.

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

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

The traditional symbol of Japan

Alexander Rada doesn't want to be called Alexander, or Ale for that matter - Rada will do just fine.  It's the summer of 1945, ad army Lieutenant Rada has just arrived in Tokyo to witness the official surrender of Japan to the Allied Forces on the deck of the battleship Missouri.

Rada has a history.  He was a cop in LA before the war.  A disgraced cop.  Along the way, he learned to speak Japanese, and now he's working at GHQ as a translator for General MacArthur.  To almost everyone's surprise, Rada is transferred to the military police to stop an assassination of a top communist.  And the ting is, Rada just hates communists.  he finds himself attached to a Japanese partner working for the Occupation forces - and even more attached to a unique, beautiful Japanese woman.  Love is in the air, and Rada is bound to mess it up.

Henry Mazel has brought Occupied Japan vividly to life n RED CHRYSANTHEMUM.  It is both a humorous novel and a dead-on history lesson of the period.  Through the pristine snowy mountain tops of Northern Japan, to the collapsed smokestacks, charred factories, and twisted metal presiding over the moribund Tokyo, get ready for a thrilling adventure where nothing is what it seems and no one is to be trusted - maybe not even Rada himself.

I am not really sure about this book.  I am not sure if it’s the subject matter which I know little to none about, or whether it’s the main character/narrator who is a really unlikeable character; or whether it’s the authors loquacious writing style.

As already stated the main character is really unlikeable, unintelligent, imaginable, and mostly every other ‘un’; plus he is not good at his job, yet he is asked to investigate a mystery by his superiors probably in the hope that he would fail to resolve it.   And yet again there is a love element, although not central to the main plot.  (Why do authors feel that readers cannot read a male centred novel without having a love element?  Guess what – we can!)

Very little is made of the setting which did not really do the books any favours and therefore the book lacked the atmosphere that such scene setting could provide.  Instead it felt as though the main characters were running around in a vacuum.

The author writes loads but says very little and there is not much action and very little back story.  What back story there is revealed slowly and painfully.  In short this story that goes nowhere fast what ending there was, was a foregone conclusion.  The narrator also talks to the reader, which I personally don’t like, but then again I dislike ‘Sam Spade’ type novels and films.  I would rather have things left ambiguous than spelt out so that I can come to my own conclusions.  For this reason I am unable to recommend this book as this reader thinks that, in short, it lacks readability.

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

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

Some talk is nice and clean and yet some is ....

When words are not enough ...

Amy can’t believe she’s let herself be bullied into a write off with the odious Dave. Now she needs to produce twenty pages of a story by next Friday – the content is to be of a very particular nature!

Fortunately Amy has an advantage: she’s a secret – and voracious – reader of erotica and she knows just what turns her on! But when it comes to putting her own words down on paper embarrassment and nerves have left her with a severe case of writers block ...

Enter her good friend Phil. While she’s always thought him too sexy to be true her crippling shyness has held her back. But with Phil as her willing muse, Amy’s reality is suddenly more erotic than any fantasy ...

Instead of a leggy self-confident woman the female lead is rather bookish and rather introverted who has a secret.  This woman embarks onto a journey by means of a challenge, which is a really unique premise for this book; however, she needs a muse and so begins this little erotic literary marvel.

The characters are well written in this novella and I can truly identify with Amy.  I don’t want to give too much away but there are a couple of twists on the way, one of which makes the reader go ‘Ohhhhhh’.

This book has all the right ingredients in the right places.  It’s a quick, hot read that I can heartedly recommend.

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

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

Everything is not all that it seems

In a beguiling tale of deception and murder, desire and theft, seduction and betrayal—where nothing is what it appears to be—a man is murdered and an iconic musical instrument is stolen during a gathering at Eliot Sexton’s Park Avenue apartment. The stolen item—an object of desire worshipped by millions—is the key to solving the crime, or so the detective brought in to investigate believes. The murder, however, is not nearly as straightforward as it seems—nor is the theft.

Though the island of Manhattan presents no shortage of suspects—many of them capable of killing to satisfy their appetites—Eliot, a young economic historian and writer, soon becomes the prime suspect. As he draws closer to the truth behind the theft and murder, he also becomes the killer’s next target.

Irreverent, provocative, and utterly unpredictable, Dangerous Illusions is a weeklong polyrhythmic journey into contemporary New York that will keep readers guessing right up to its thrilling conclusion

I can honestly say that I don’t like the noir genre and although this book is listed as a mystery & thriller it has noir elements – incompetent and corrupt cops, femme fetales, high society, a dark underbelly just below the surface, and the ubiquitous hero who in this case is also a victim and the narrator who reveals the plot oh so gradually.

For a first time novelist this author had produced a fairly gripping book.  The characters are well formed and unique.  The writing is also good but on the whole the novel is let down by the fact that the murder is not investigated to its fullest being mentioned briefly and then returned to at the end of the novel in a rather rushed ending leaving too many unanswered questions and loose ends.

Plus the author does tend to stop the action for pages long descriptions of rooms and musical instruments, reminiscent of HG Wells.  Yes I can understand scene setting but the depth to which this author went describing a drum shop was excruciating and then the music room – we all get that you know your drums, the protagonist is writing a book about it, that should be enough said.  We don’t need to know the ins and outs of which symbol was how old or which drum had which cover and in what colour!  (The author clearly knows about drums (and music) but does he have to prove it to the reader?) These lengthy descriptions add nothing to the plot, take up the readers’ time and detract from any suspense that has already been established.

That said I continued with this novel as I am a compulsive book finisher but I did start skimming some of these descriptions.  There were many twists and turns in this novel but something felt off – possibly the fact that I didn’t like the noir genre.

This debut book had loads of potential but for this reader fell short of the expectation having read the back cover blurb.  This reader felt that the time spent reading this book was wasted and never able to be recouped.

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).

Push or Retract but if you do both well ...


Reality is only an illusion.

Except for those who can control it ...

Worst.  Birthday.  Ever.

My first boyfriend dumped me--happy birthday, Josie!--my dad is who knows where, I have some weird virus that makes me want to hurl, and now my ex is licking another girl's tonsils. Oh, and I'm officially the same age as my brother was when he died.  Yeah, today is about as fun-filled as the swamps of Dagobah.  But then weird things start happening ...

Like I make something materialize just by thinking about it.

When hottily-hot badass Reid Wentworth shows up on a motorcycle, everything changes. Like, everything. Who I am. My family. What really happened to my brother.  Existence.  I am Oculi, and I have the ability to change reality with my thoughts. Now Reid, in all his hotness, is charged with guiding and protecting me as I begin learning how to bend reality. And he's the only thing standing between me and the secret organization that wants me dead ...

I seem to have been reading more than my fair share of Young Adult books what with my choices from Netgalley and the book club I belong to.  And to be honest the latest one was so superficial it was not true.  Is it like that because teenagers of today have very short attention spans and low IQs?  I like depth, something that you can get your teeth in to, that you have to pay attention to, and that has great characters like the books I read as a teenager such as Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Mr Kipps, and many other classics.  So it was therefore a delight that there was humour in this book and this reader in particular enjoyed the funny dialogue (both external and internal) which contained references to Star Wars, Star Trek, the Big Band Theory, and the Marvel Comic heroes.

Although Josie is a smart, strong character I did not particularly like her.  However, Reid was more interesting in an ethereal, secretive yet protective way, and someone I wanted to know more about.  Sadly, some of the interaction between these two characters felt stilted and even forced. I did, however, love Josie’s best friend, Hannah, who was a breath of fresh normal air in all this; and Santos was also refreshing.

The book was written from alternating points of view which some readers may find confusing but this allows for some character development.  However, writing was good but not fabulous.  I suppose it is at the correct standard to the intended audience.  However, in places the book was repetitive and there was an instance when one sentence was repeated at least twice “her hand playing with the air?”

The premise of the book is not totally original or for that matter even memorable.  I did not rush back to it to find out what was happening next.  There is also room for growth and improvement which I suppose one would expect of the first book in a series.  Although the majority of the book was set at an even, steady pace the ending felt rushed.

I am not certain whether I will continue with the rest of the series (seems a bit too much like Divergent for me).

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

I reviewed this as 3 stars on Netgalley and 'It was OK' on Good reads (2 stars) and Amazon (3 stars).

Monday, 16 March 2015

A long time when it's only you and your whits

Perfect isolation. No phones. No neighbors. No help...

Ex-cop turned criminal lawyer Tim Fontaine and his wife Amy are heading for their weekender - a restored farmhouse in remote bushland known as Black Pig Bend.

But even before they've eaten dinner, three outlaw bikers arrive on the scene. Suddenly Tim's house becomes a fortress. Who are these people? Why have they come? Who sent them?

As the lights go out and darkness descends, their idyllic world is transformed into a nightmare from which there is no waking up. Tim must grapple not just with formidable adversaries, but with unsettling questions relating to his own past, both as cop and lawyer, and even to his marriage.

But even if they survive this night against appalling odds, the ordeal is far from over. For when the past comes knocking, it will not be denied ...

I thought the description of this book was interesting which is why I requested it from Netgalley.  However, the start is very confusing as there are just too many characters and too much time is spent on their back story to the detriment of the development and progression of the front story.  We zig-zag backwards and forwards in time as each member of the gang is introduced.  I know the author is using this device as a means to ratchet up the tension in a story which, in reality has little to none.

Given the time spent on each person's back story these characters have the characters lack substance and indeed the main characters were less fleshed out as they are meant to be the victims.  And we never get to know about Tim's wife at all.

The plot is not new either and the characters lack substance and depth (even given the amount of time the author spends on each characters back story.  Throughout the novel these character make silly mistakes which made we scream at my Kindle.

We also know the person behind the event so despite the twists and turns of the novel, the ending was no surprise.  To be honest it was a bit of a let-down and easy to forget.  But I don’t want to make up your mind for you … read the novel and come to your own conclusion.

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

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

More Middle Eastern Temptation

Celestina and the Sultan
In the palace harem, the beautiful Celestina eagerly awaits instruction on the erotic arts so she may learn to please the Sultan.  Taught by one of the palace's most gifted instructors, Celestina explores her insatiable appetite for pleasure.  But with every lesson, Celestina's hunger for her deliciously strict instructor grows stronger.  All too soon she will lose him when she is summoned to the Sultan's bed ...

Celestina Warrior Queen:
With the Sultan at her side—and in her bed, and anywhere else he chooses to take his thorough pleasure of her—Celestina has learned that life offers delights and exquisite punishments. But she not only faces the erotic challenges made by her very potent Sultan, but those of being married to the land's fiercest warrior. She will be tested—by her people, her enemies and even herself. And Celestina will have to choose between accepting her destiny … or being destroyed by it.

There are two books in this collection but I will be reviewing them as one because that is what I felt they should be.

They basically did what they said in the tin but I didn't particularly like Celestina who was too naïve and gullible to be true with regards a certain person.  These novels are historical romances in a lovely setting 

These books were written to a tried and tested formula so there were no real surprises at all in the novella.  The balance of the story and the erotica is just so which means the reader connects with the characters in more ways than one.  

This book does what it says in the tin.

ARC received 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).