Friday, 27 March 2015

Leasing land requires presentations and this is

Publication date: 20 April 2015

Handsome tycoon James Putnam is acting CEO of his family's logging company, Putnam Industries. He needs to land a big deal to prove to the board he's capable of leading the company.  If not, his father's right hand man is more than willing to fill the role.  James hurries to Indigo Island alone, uncertain he has what it takes to win the bid, earn the CEO title and save the island from uncontrolled logging.

Aubrey Templeton, is a gorgeous magazine reporter facing a mountain of debt after her parents' tragic deaths.  The only asset she has to leverage is 2,500 acres of old growth forest on Indigo Island. She hired Dirk Cooley, a forester, to create a forest management plan for her family's land and to solicit multiple loggers bids to lease the land.  Aubrey insists James Putnam's company is included since she still hasn't forgotten the one night of incredible sex they shared over a year ago, and she's sure he'll be eager for a repeat performance.

What Aubrey doesn't know is that James is a changed man, who is determined to prove he didn't get his job as a birth right.  He is determined to never again mix business with pleasure, although keeping Aubrey at arms length during their negotiations tests James' discipline and will power, especially as he finds himself in the role of tour guide for the sexy landowner and later as her protector when an unscrupulous forester targets them both in a revenge plot hatched to destroy the Putnam family.

I have never read a book by this author and so can only review this book as a stand-alone although it is the fourth book in the series (which I did not realise at the time I requested it).

This book obviously runs along the formula established in the previous three books and may well even contain characters from those previous books and who may make a return in subsequent books in the series.

I did feel as though I had missed something coming into the series on this book and Aubrey’s constant mention of her previous encounter with James and her constant wittering on about wanting to have further relations with him to complete the circle.  Honestly how silly can you be – but then she obviously is not in her right mind (having recently lost her family).

I loved the backdrop story whereby the action was not just concentrated on the two main characters but also the preservation of a forested area.  That said there was a sort of insta-attraction/insta-love element to the story too and the inevitable HEA ending.

This is a light and fast paced story which is told from the point of view of each of the main characters, which added some insight into their motives.  It is a fast read too.  As already stated this was my first novella by this author but I may well be looking for more of her work.

The copy I received was an Advance Readers Copy which had a lot of typographical errors where words were split or joined together which I found rather distracting.  It is this reader’s fervent hope that these errors are eradicated before the novella goes to press.

Full Disclosure: ARC received 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).

Who was the master of the shadows - we have yet to find out

In a land riven with plague, in the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control - the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; and the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation.

And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power - one that forever seems a step ahead of all of the familial warring - plots and schemes, and bides its time, ready for the moment to attack ....

I am not really sure what to say about this novel even after pondering on it for quite a while.  I wanted to like it so much but there are just some things that troubled me.  (I won’t be going into the plot as I want this review to guide you but not influence you and doing that does not include repeating parts of the novel or revealing the plot.)

This is a steampunk version of Romeo and Juliet, with a little bit of Macbeth thrown in, set in an alternative Italy.  The story made wonderful use of ancient and modern machinery, and magic which would have occurred hand in hand during the period within which the story was set.

The main characters, ie the Romeo and Juliet roles are just part of an ensemble cast of main characters. I can understand the use of real historical characters but whey these particular characters who were never contemporaries of each other?  I found this confusing, and distracted me from the story proper – call me a traditionalist but I like things in their place and not messed with.  That said take an historic story or element as a base and add modern characters to it then you are golden,

Maybe it was because of their age but I didn’t really identify with either of these two characters who did not live up to expectations and unfortunately came across as 2-dimensional characters.  I wasn’t totally convinced of their love story either. I did love the Shadow master though.  He was an intriguing mysterious character just as the author wrote him.

There was a certain wit and humour in this novel that was often obscured and therefore not easily identified as fully.  The narrative was choppy in places and the whole story seemed to be bogged down by the superfluous characters that had little or no back story and added very little to the storyline.  Another element that slowed the whole story down were the numerous subplots and the additional levels of intrigue, treachery, deceit, power, and ambition especially in the second half of the book.

The beginning of the novel had real promise yet the second half appeared to have no idea where it wanted to go.  It seemed to me that the author was trying to throw so much of everything into this part of the book and made it a confusing muddle.  Although people have said that they liked the ending as it was a reflection of the authors humour; and that the author left some elements for the reader’s interpretation.  This particular reader found the ending was rather rushed, a bit confusing, and not really an ending at all but instead a nice set up for a sequel. That said the book held my interest enough so that I did finish it.

I am not sure whether I enjoyed this book but if steampunk, sci fi and alternative universes then this could well be the book for you.  Give it a try and find out for yourself.

I would like to add that I was given an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review but something happened and my kindle deleted it and the author was kind enough to send me a second copy.  So kudos to the author for that; and I am sorry my review could not be more flattering.

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).

Who really wants to be a fly on the wall now?

Starlet's Web, book one of The Starlet Series by Carla Hanna is a memoir of fictitious Hollywood teenage starlet Liana Marie. Seventeen-year-old Liana is on top of her game and has an Oscar to prove it.  However, her success, like several in Hollywood, has a big price tag.  It is not wasy balancing the life of being a teenager and being a big star.  She is trying to live her life the best way she can, hooking up with some cute boys along the way, and fighting off unwanted advances.  Then she realises that she is and always has been in love with her best friend, Manuel, a boy she has known since childhood.  Fortunately, Liana has her mum, who has been in the same business for a long time, to guide her; that is, until her mother's best intentions have catastrophic results.

I thought this book was a bit too adult to be classed as young adult; but then again these are the sorts of things that late teenagers are experiencing these days and it would be short-sighted of me to liken the experiences in this book to my experiences as a young adult.  But parents please be aware that there are sexual references, and explicit language in this book, together with drug abuse and normal teenage angst experienced through the eyes of the 17/18 year old main protagonist.

It is nice to see this side of the ‘lovies’ industry, and as you would expect, to some degree she is quite self-centred but wants out of the industry but keeps getting pulled back in by her mother and her dedication to her staff.  This novel shows both the up side and down side of fame and fortune.  It also shows that sometimes actions taken with best intentions can result in the worst outcomes.

The main protagonist is a fairly usual teenager despite the Hollywood bent but her character, and indeed the majority of the characters, need more development.  To be honest there are too many male characters treating the man protagonist list a piece of meat.  She needs to decide who she wants to be with and stick to it.  It appears that she is definitely a fly in the web of Hollywood.

There are also great monologues that occur in this novel which are equally unrealistic and overdramatic using language that is not age appropriate.

The sexual references make up a lot of the book and the man protagonist has to deal whether should she do it or whether she should she abstain and the pressures resulting from either of these choices.  I feel that these continued references were overboard and unnecessary. 

The story really just skimmed the surface of the story and although the medical twist was unrealistic this reader loved it, making me want to continue with the series to discover the consequences of this decision.  The secret was imaginative and very frightening, who in real life would go to those lengths … to find out what the reveal was you will need to read the book.  However, it does show the lengths to which some show business/pushy mothers will go to keep in the game.  I am sure these issues will be revised and revisited in later books in the series

Sadly there are some grammatical and editorial errors that occur frequently in this book.  The main one being that when some is mentioned you will see that name constantly and then pages later the author would introduce the character and explain who they were as if this was a totally new, unmentioned character. 

All in all this is a light fun read which some good elements but more attention needs to be paid to character development and plot cohesion.  It is written in a chatty descriptive style and is ideal for the beach.

Full Disclosure: 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).

Who is seducing who?

Investigator Tristan Bonnaud has one aim in life - to make sure that his half-brother, George, can't ever ruin his life again.  When Lady Zoe Keane, the twenty-one year old daughter of the Earl of Olivier, shows up demanding that the Duke's men find a gypsy woman.  Tristan seizes the chance to hunt for his gypsy horse trader friend, who might know secrets about George that he can use against him.  But along the way, Tristan discovers unexpected Keane family secrets, but will they stop him from falling for the woman who will risk all to discover the truth.

Although this is the third book in the series and there are references to related characters in the first two books this novel can be read as a stand-along book.  It may be that reading the previous books will enhance the enjoyment of the subsequent books.  I did however, read this as a stand-alone book and that is how my review has been written.

The backdrop of this particular novel was interesting and not expected.  The writing was alright but not great and this reader was not particularly drawn in by these characters.  Zoe was intelligent and strong despite the prejudices she faced due to her back story but Tristan was a bit flat.  As expected these two characters initially got on each other’s nerves which did produce some witty banter that felt genuine but eventually, well you know the formula.

The addition of the secondary characters provided additional mystery and colour; and, I am sure, will provide the subject of future books in the series.

This book has just the right amount of everything, romance, drama, intrigue, secrets; a hero, heroine and the ubiquitous villain.  All that said though some of the scenes in this book are just too contrived to be true, a definite case of cause and effect.

It is a quick, light, fast read so is therefore perfect to read on the beach.

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).