Saturday, 4 April 2015

Watch out there is a new kid on the block, and he writes up a storm

Carl Logan was the perfect agent.  A lover, with no real friends or family, he was trained to deal with any situation with cold efficiency, devoid of emotion.  But Logan isn't the man he used to be, or the asset he once was.  Five months ago his life changed forever when he was captured, tortured and left for dead by Youssef Selim, one of the world's most violent terrorists.  When Selim mysteriously reappears in Paris, linked to the kidnapping of America's Attorney General, Logan smells his chance for revenge.  Pursuing his man relentlessly, oblivious to the growing trail of destruction that he leaves in his wake, Logan delves increasingly deep into the web of lies and deceit surrounding the kidnapping. Finally, he comes to learn just what it means to Dance with the Enemy.

I love reading books with an English accent and this one is simply stunning.  We have a flawed, battle hardened hero who is trying to prove himself after being out of action for five months.  I can’t really say much more without giving too much of the plot away.  The opening line hooks the reader in straight away and the pace never lets up until the enlist word on the last page.

This book is hard to put down and I have been taking my copy with me everywhere.  The hero, one Carl Logan is the central character of this novel together with his handler/boss Mackie and I love the toing and froing between these two; and other fascinating characters.  All these characters are written extremely, they are so lifelike and likeable in all their flawed glory.  And then there is the case that Logan is investigating intriguing and there are multiple layers of the story that are uncovered.  A lot of the book deals with the effects of the hero’s previous case and how this has affected him. 

This is an action mystery thriller with just enough violence to get the heart pumping.  Taken together with a hero the reader can sympathise with makes for a winning read.  There are twists and turns a plenty keeping the reader guessing but the final twist was amazing and this reader did not guess that or even have an inkling that something like that was on the cards.

This book is fantastic it is as if the words wanted to be on the page in that precise order.  Not a word is wasted, indeed this novel has just the right amount of words not a word more and nor a word less.  As Goldilocks would say ‘it’s just right’.  The story was flawless and flowed like a stream; my only bugbear was when the American female said ‘scarpered’ which is a truly English idiom.

I started my last dose of this book with my kindle stating that I had 1 hour and 25 minutes left (it lied), that was at 1.30 am but I was still reading at 6am; so close and yet so far.  I did finish at about 6.30 and luckily I did not have to wait for book two which I started immediately. 

A fantastic debut and an amazing start to a writing career (especially since the reason he wrote this book was as a bet with his wife).  Brava.  I am adding Rob Sinclair as a new favourite author and will constantly be on the lookout for his new books.  Let us hope they are all written to this standard.

At last we Brits have someone who can write the pants of the American writers in this genre.  If you like action thrillers with some mystery thrown in, if you like English novels and want a really good read then this book is a must.  Go out and get it today, you will be glad you did.

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

I rated this book 5 stars on Netgalley and 'It was amazing/I love it' on Good reads (5 stars) and Amazon (5 stars).

Friday, 3 April 2015

He wears a surprisingly resilient suit

Luke Stark, a Special Forces veteran, returns home from his second tour in Afghanistan to learn that his wife has been mysteriously murdered and his son has disappeared.  These tragedies, in addition to suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, push him over the edge.  He has also been diagnosed with an incipient form of cancer, but he foregoes treatment, a decision that is akin to a slow suicide. Although he languishes in a shelter, he wears an impeccable suit, an eccentric characteristic that sets him apart from his fellow down-and-outers and just about everybody else.  Hi is nicknamed, somewhat ironically, The Suited Hero.  Revenge and the search for his son spark a kind of rebirth in him that is as cathartic as it is brutal.  This leads him into a dangerous world of illegal prescription drug distribution, where nobody in this gripping mystery crime thriller - not even some family members - is who they appear to be.

The title of this novel is a bit of a misnomer as surely all life is terminal.  However, in this instance the protagonist has recently been diagnosed with cancer and is going without treatment whilst he searches for his wife’s killer.

This hero has PTSD and has been living in a shelter so he is really more an anti-hero than the typical hero hero.

There are many twists and turns, and lots of suspense.  If continuous fight sequences are your thing then this is the book for you.  Oh and there is the ubiquitous love interest and ensuing sexual encounters.

This novel is a slightly unrealistic fast moving fun novel that is wrapped up tightly before the HEA ending.  An enjoyable light read best suited for the ‘plane of the beach.

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

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

The room may contain dynamite but does this book?

July 1940.  Eleven-year-old Lydia walks through a village in rural Suffolk on a hot day.  The shops and houses are empty, windows boarded up and sandbags green with mildew, the village seemingly deserted. She strikes off down a country lane through the salt marshes to a large Edwardian house - the house she grew up in.  Lydia finds it empty too, the windows covered in black-out blinds.  Her family has gone.

Late that night he comes, a solider, gun in hand and heralding a full-blown German invasion,  There are, he explains to her, certain rules she must now abide by.  He won't hurt Lydia, but she cannot leave the house.

Is he telling the truth?  What is he looking for?  Why is he so familiar?  And how does he already know Lydia's name? Eerie, thrilling and heartbreaking, The Dynamite Room evokes the great tradition of war classics yet achieves a strikingly original and contemporary resonance.  Hypnotically compelling, it explores, in the most extreme of circumstances, the bonds we share that make us human.

My immediate reaction to this book was that I was unsure about it.  Now having taken time away from it I am still not sure how I feel about this book.

It starts of promisingly with Lydia returning home to a deserted town and over the course of a few days we are introduced to her backstory.  She then finds a solider (Heiden) in her home who knows her name.  As with Lydia, his back story is also told in flashback.  I think this is part of what troubles me about this book, we are mid conversation or mid action and then suddenly the action ceases and a bit of unrelated back story is revealed.

It was not until about 60% that the two stories converge and we learn how Heiden is connected to Lydia and the additional connection to the novel’s title.

There was one part of the novel that really did turn this reader off and that was the sexualisation of Lydia.  I sort of understand her motivations for it but why does have to be in there at all?  Is it just me that thinks children should be children for a long as possible.  Societal demands ensure that children become adults too soon.  Instead we should allow them to develop much needed skills in a loving caring environment, without these skills the world would turn into anarchy.

Much of the story is inferred rather than spelling the story out.  The novel is intense and compelling but the characters did not fully engage this reader and if I was not been a compulsive book finishers this would have ended up on my ‘did not finish’ pile.

There was too much of this novel that did not really work and many stands that needed fleshing out.  The suspense such as it was merely fizzled, and this reader thought the ending was a huge let down.  In short this reader was disappointed in this rather dull, overly long novel.

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).

Pre WWII Berlin

Berlin, 1937.  The city radiates glamour and ambition.  But danger lurks in every shadow.

Anna Hansen, a bride-to-be, is a pupil at one of Hitler's notorious Nazi Bride Schools, where young women are schooled on the art of being an SS officer's wife.  Then, one night, she is brutally murdered and left in the gardens of the school.  Her death will be hushed up and her life forgotten.

Clara Vine is an actress at Berlin's famous Ulfa studios by day and an undercover British Intelligence agent by night.  She knew Anna and is disturbed by news of her death.  She cannot understand why someone would want to cover it up, but she soon discovers that Anna's murder is linked to a far more ominous secret.

Although this is the second book in the series this reader read it as a stand-alone but will definitely be going back to read the first one.

The beginning was rather a surprise and the exactly right setting for this novel.  The idea of having the female lead (Clara Vine) as an undercover spy who is for all intense and purposes a German actress was inspired and shows some of the glamour of the time.  Throughout the course of the novel the author mixes real life people, or rather the Nazi elite, with the female lead and her world.  In her role as cinema star she is expected to attend some parties held by these elite and even encounters the two Mitford sisters and the honeymooning Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson.  These parties allow Clara to glean information for the British by listening in on the elite’s conversations.

The supposed main focus of the book took ages to come to the fore.  And Clara did very little of the investigating apart from being given the victims last possession.  It seemed to this reader that the author was more concerned with the historical aspects than the investigating aspects.  Even when we are suddenly introduced to Mary there is still little investigation done.

Who exactly is Mary and what is her relation to Clara?  She just suddenly appears.  It is highly possible that this character was introduced in the previous book as there was very little told about her in this particular novel.  Another person show suddenly appears without any formal introduction was Clara’s godson/son who she constantly tells us she loves.  I found that he had few redeeming qualities and was more a puppet showing the effects of the Hitler Youth movement more than anything else.

The author could write up a storm making the reader feel the desolation and despair of the people living in Berlin at the beginning of Hitler’s rule just before the outbreak of World War II.  They are trying to get on with their lives under the ever present scrutiny of the Nazis.  The descriptions are so real you feel as though you are there too.  Yet there were also occurrences where the writing was clunky with the same thoughts being expressed five times within five pages.  But this might be a proofing issue.

I loved the premise of this heroine but did we really need to have the romantic elements, especially when the British agent felt as though he was put in the pages at the last possible moment.  I personally fell for the German suitor who had more depth to him.  Suppose though the British agent was added so that the author had something to tie this book to the next one in the series.  But surely the strength of the female lead should be enough to do that.

This reader thought that the author spent too much time telling the reader what they should think and feel rather than allowing the reader to work things out for themselves.  Perhaps this reader’s experience of this book would have been enhanced having started with the first book where the background information obviously is not only for this character but also for some of the lesser characters.  That said, if you like factually based historical mystery novels this book may well be right up your alley.

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 Amazon (4 stars).

Simply stunning

A stunning novel set in the Edwardian era about a seamstress working at Buckingham Palace.  Full of drama, betrayal and addictive real-life detail - The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Ternow is perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Joanne Harris.

When Caroline Meadows discovers a beautiful quilt in her mother's attic, she sets out on a journey to discover who made it, and the meaning of the mysterious message embroidered into its lining.

Many years earlier, before the first world war has cast its shadow, Maria, a talented seamstress from the East End of London, is employed to work for the royal family.  A young and attractive girl, she soon catches the eye of the Prince of Wales and she in turn is captivated by his glamour and intensity.

But careless talk causes trouble and soon Maria's life takes a far darker turn.

Can Caroline piece together a secret history and reveal the truth behind what happened to Maria?

Historical fiction is not usually by forte but anything to do with sewing interests me (I am a quilter, embroiderer and cross-stitcher); this is another reason Netgalley is so great, you can read outside your comfort zone. 

The way the stories are melded together is rather original and keeps you hooked making the reader want to know what happens next.  I must confess that I thought the method of portraying the two stories was confusing but after a while I was completely hooked.  Although the maker of the quilt (the seamstress) is the central figure in this book you never meet her only learning about her piecemeal through tapes, letters and personal narratives/remembered histories.  This offers an exquisite juxtaposition to the forward story and is immensely enchanting.

I found what happened to Maria was awful but this reader was previously aware that such things happened to women like her, yet through the diligent efforts of one of her nurses she manages to escape her torment and live out the remainder of her life happily.

The characters were wonderfully written and I fell in love with both these women and the obstacles that they faced during their life journey (or at least the part of it what we were a party to).  The different points of view are intriguing laying story over story much like the quilt the main protagonist was making. 

Being a quilter myself, I was shocked at one occurrence in the book thought there might have been an ulterior motive to it.  I loved the fact that Maria used pieces of fabric that were historically significant and that they discovered something unusual.  You will need to find out what that was by reading the novel yourself.  The quilt was such an integral element to this novel it became a character in its own right.

Although I guessed the ending way beforehand this did not detract anything from this beautifully crafted piece of prose.  In short this was a moving tale of love and loss, faith and enduring hope even against the injustices that people face, through no fault of their own.  It also highlights that life is a journey and no one is sure where the road they are travelling will lead.

This novel has stayed with me for many weeks after reading.  Please can we have more works of fiction like this (especially ones that contain quilting).  In fact I hated the fact that this book ended, I wanted it to go on and on and on.  This is my first encounter of the work by Liz Trenow and it will not be my last.

If you want a compelling beautifully crafted read then this will be for you.

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

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

Not car traffic

BE CAREFUL WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE.  It's the dawn of social media:  Facebook s unknown and World of Warcraft is the world's biggest online game.  An unhinged internet magnate s trying to take over it all, using, a social network primed to have its stock market debut.  But nefarious adult content is invading the site, pointing to sex trafficking.  Enter Natalie Chevalier, glamorous ex-Head of Security at a large Seattle software company ... with a father she never knew, a disastrous track record with men and a scandal that forced her from her old job.  Part digital thriller, part dark fairy tale, The Woman Who Stopped Traffic will keep you on the edge of your seat - while revealing deeper truths of out times.

Not what I was expecting from the title; yet having read the first chapter and being a compulsive book finisher I continued and was glad that I did.  The traffic mentioned in the title was not the type of traffic that this was expecting.

This book took ages to get going with vast majority of the book concentrating on the world of computers, namely internet sites, search engines, multi-user online gaming, IPOs, and investment banking to name but a few.  There was loads of technical information, and maths (never my favourite subject) that did pass this reader by.

In amongst a world of men the lead character is female (the woman of the title).  There is far more to the cyber world than this cyber investigator was lead to believe.  It is part techno thriller and part intellectual thriller with the last few chapters concentrating on the action part.

The revelation of the bad guy was unexpected as was the ending.  An interesting read but a tad too long and not really this reader’s cup of tea.

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).

Those trials are meant to test fortitude amongst other things

As Edwyrd Eska approaches his two-hundredth year as Guardian of the Core, he must find an apprentice to train under him.  His title and role compel him to safeguard and govern his universe, Gladonus, as each Guardian before him has done and those after him shall continue to do until relieved of such duties by will of the Ancients.  Prince Hydro Paen, Eriek Mourse, and Zain Berrese - amongst other contestants - receive invitations to compete in a quest of Trials intended to determine who will become Eska's apprentice.  An old adage goes:  "The toughest trials test you truest" - and these events challenge their fortitude through tenuous partnerships, intellectual rivalries, and battles of weapons' mastery.  Along the way, each contestant must attempt to overcome personal demons that haunt them.  In this tale of ideal dreams and lucid aspirations, these competitors find their threatened by deceit, betrayal, sabotage - and even flesh - as all become vital to success.

I want to start this review by saying that the copy I had was an Advance Readers Copy (ARC) which had no chapter headings.  It was clunky and repetitive in places, which was possibly due to poor copy editing and or proofing.  It is this reader’s hope that these issues were rectified before final copy was passed for press.

That said the read was very compelling, and I was up until 6am a couple of night reading just to find out what happened next.  However, the use of names, especially the best friends, was confusing as they were so similar (why to authors have to do that?).

The novel is rather loquacious about a group of young flawed people and their trials and tribulations through an intensive course of trials that tests their character, perseverance, courage, friendships and ambitions.  Along with the trails these characters also have to deal with feuds and intrigues that test their integrity and morals.  Along with these main characters there is a plethora of secondary characters that help shape and move the story along, and each has their own agenda with regards to who they want to win.

There is obviously a great deal of action but there are also slower passages where the characters are developed following the trial recently experienced.  So as to not muddy the waters with all these characters, each is written with a distinctive voice so after a while it was quite easy to identify who was who.

There are some twists and turns along the way and two of the reveals were not too far a stretch and this reader managed to work them out.  We still really do not know the purpose of the Guardian and it is hoped this will be revealed in later books in the serial.

Although initially slow, due to the world building and the introduction to the numerous characters and their various points of view; this was a pleasant read with an interesting ending.  This reader was invested enough in these characters to want to know what happens next in this series.

Although initially slow, due to the world building and the introduction to the numerous characters and their various points of view; this was a pleasant read with an interesting ending.  This reader was invested enough in these characters to want to know what happens next in this series.

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 Amazon (4 stars).

Vikings, Romans and Greeks oh my

On the other side of death is destiny.

Callie Ingram is spending her senior year focused on one thing: swimming. Her skill as a competitive swimmer is going to secure a scholarship and her future, or so she hopes. She has big plans, and Liam Hale, her gorgeous new neighbor, isn't going to affect them. But when Callie sees Liam beheading someone, she learns his family has a secret that will change everything. The Hales are Vikings, demi-gods who've been charged by The Fates to find their new destined leader. 

Callie's caught in the middle of a budding Norse apocalypse, in love with Liam Hale and desperate to protect her best friend ... who the Hales believe is marked for transformation. Putting the clues together as fast as she can, can discovers she has the power to rewrite destiny, for herself and all humankind.

I love sci-fi/fantasy books and anything to do with the ancient gods.  This book, however, had them all which was a bit of a confusion, like the author was trying to get everything into just one book.  That said the explanation provided as to how all these different beings can co-exist was imaginative.

I did like the female lead Calypso (what a name) and her relationship with Justin and Allison but I did not like how she was constantly in fear of her life.  Also Calypso (what a name lol) was a bit dim and did not realise who she was and her importance to the story despite the extensive research she did and the information she gleaned from the mysterious, broody and gorgeous (aren’t they always) Liam.  I guessed what Calypso was way before the reveal.

The secondary characters could also have done with having more fleshed out and having more depth to their characters and back story.  I was actually rooting for Justin at one stage and hope he makes a re-appearance in the later books in the series.  I also lived Oliver and wish he had more page time and he is the perfect side kick to Liam.

There was, the ubiquitous love interest but Callie was true to her own self and explored/considered her options, she also considers the feelings of a third party before embarking on this love element.  The relationship she chose allowed her to blossom, she discovered herself in interesting ways. 

The story was a bit of a slow boil with back story being revealed only when it was pertinent to the plot.  Unfortunately, this reader felt that all in all it was just too little too late.  Through all the twists and turns the story lead the readers to a set action sequence which was really rather interesting and a good pay off.  Sadly, this reader felt the ending was so so and felt rushed.

In all this is a good book, not a great book, but a book that had enough ingredients to keep the reader engaged throughout and ensures that readers would vested enough to want to find out how this story pans out.  This reader will be looking forward to reading book 2 to see what develops in this fascinating world and between Justin, Callie, and Liam.

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

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

These billionaires are getting too easy ...

The virgin and the billionaire ...

Just because Jess Lockhart is a virgin in her late twenties doesn’t mean she isn’t interested in men. In fact, far from it: she fantasies about finding the perfect man who can fulfil her every desire.Her new boss, handsome billionaire Ellis McKenna, seems perfect for the job. It is clear he is as attracted to her, as she is to him. However, a tragic past has left Ellis vowing to never do ‘serious’ relationships again. Having allowed herself to be seduced by a billionaire can Jess teach him about love?

If you like Fifty Shades of Grey you’ll love this!

I usually love romantic novels and the cover and the back cover details showed great promise but as it turned out this was a bit naff.

This is definitely a case of insta-attraction and insta-love.  I so wanted to like these characters but their actions were rather strange for people who had never met before.  I know this is fiction but honestly these people’s action were a stretch by anyone’s imagination

I did like that some of the action was told through the inner monologues of the main characters,  These were initially, hilarious but quickly became stilted.  Hers was an ongoing internal argument with herself as to will she or won’t she.  In contrast his were a tad condescending and conceited.  There was some angst (again internal) which was equally repetitive and his is a bit too full on.

The male lead was a confusing person.  One minute he is being apologetic using archaic words like ‘martinet’ and the next he is being rather base especially when one takes into account the female lead’s history and the point in the relationship they were currently at.  It is as though the author is not sure what she wants her male lead to be.

The book is written to a tried and tested formula so there are no real surprises.  And there is some smut to enliven the proceedings along the way.  The dialogue at the end was very formal, stilted and urgh!.  Indeed the ending itself felt too rushed.

It appears to this reader that this was an attempt at a first draft that needs to be reworked into a tight gorgeous novel that is hinted at here.  The work of a good editor would have also corrected the time line errors.  It seems that the author could not remember when she got the couple together but it wasn’t the same day or even within 16 hours but in fact over four days later the first met.

Full Disclosure: ARC received 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).

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Who is trapping whom?

Headstrong Ariadne Fairfax is convinced she loves handsome Gabriel Fawcett, but her grandfather has other plans for her.  He decrees that she marry Ivor Chalfont, thus forging a powerful alliance between the two warring families who share ownership of their valley.  Given no time to plot an escape, Ari finds herself standing reluctantly at the alter, swearing to honour and obey a man who is not her choice ...

The setting of this historical novel was rather unusual being set at the time of Charles II when there was a problem between the Roman Catholics and the Church of England, but the remainder of the story (the first in a series) was very formulaic with the standard HEA ending.

The writing itself was rather verbose, as though the author had swallowed the book on how to write romantic friction in the manner of the late 17th century.  Writing complex descriptions with archaic words when modern English would suffice.  When author just throws in the historic elements apropos nothing, they don’t appear to relate to anything that has already happened or is about to happen.  It was as though the author wanted to add that historical element but could not figure out where to put it so put in anywhere.

The language applied to the characters was also flawed especially the use of metaphors that reference a modern card game.  There was also the epic failure of calling a female person on the stage an actor and not an actress.  Additionally the vast majority of the dialogue of these characters was too modern as were Ari’s general attitudes to life.

Whilst I am mentioning the characters, this reader thought they were fairly one dimensional and had no redeeming qualities that the reader could identify with even root for.  The main character of Ariadne (Ari) is really really unlikeable being spoiled beyond compare, immature, young and totally not in keeping with the time periodTo be honest, her intended Ivor is not much better, although he is perhaps the lesser of two evils.  These characters are not original having been written by many other authors in many other settings.

What could have been a novel full of court intrigue and the pull between the two religious factions fell short.  There was lots of repetition which this reader felt was merely padding.  A good editor would have significantly reduced the number of pages in this book making for a tighter read.

For all the writing, very little happened and the ending felt rushed and was VERY abrupt.  Things were hinted at but nothing developed.  It was as though the author got tired of this book and just wanted to finish it in the fastest way possible.

It may well be that things are resolved in a second book but unfortunately, this reader will not be reading that or any other novels by this author.

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

I rated this 1 star on Netgalley, and 'I did not like it' on Amazon (2 stars) and Goodreads (1 star)

What are Cheese Grits anyway?

This hilarious Southern retelling of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice "tells the story of two hard-headed Civil war historians who find that first impressions can be deceiving. Shelby Roswell, a Civil War historian and professor, is on the fast track to tenure--that is, until her new book is roasted by the famous historian Ransom Fielding in a national review. With her career stalled by a man she's never met, Shelby struggles to maintain her composure when she discovers that Fielding has taken a visiting professorship at her small Southern college. Ransom Fielding is still struggling with his role in his wife's accidental death six years ago and is hoping that a year at Shelby's small college near his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi, will be a respite from the pressures of Ivy League academia. He never bargained for falling in love with the one woman whose career--and pride--he injured, and who would do anything to make him leave. When these two hot-headed southerners find themselves fighting over the centuries-old history of local battles and antebellum mansions, their small college is about to become a battlefield of Civil War proportions. With familiar and relatable characters and wit to spare, "Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits "shows you that love can conquer all...especially when pride, prejudice, love, and cheese grits are involved!

This book is supposedly based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (but that could be just a marketing ploy).  In some places it has elements from P&P but it is nothing like the aforementioned book.  Equally there are quotes from P&P at the beginning of each chapter.  And that is where the similarities end.

Unfortunately unlike P&P these characters are very light weight lacking any real substance.  I did not really understand their actions or motivation.  The main female lead was constantly winging one particular incident throughout the entire book which got tedious very fast.  Likewise the minor characters were one dimensional.  The methods of contact between the two main characters did not ring true either.  It was all too simplistic and unbelievable. 

The hero eventually capitulated about the thing the heroine was winging about but this reader felt that she forgave him far too easily.  This reader felt that there was no tension between the hero and heroine and the author gave them little personality with nothing for the reader to hang on to.  In short this reader thought that the characters were nothing like wonderfully written characters in Pride and Prejudice.

This interesting element of the book, namely the university politics was briefly mentioned and squashed by the lackadaisical read.  This is a good clean book with some bawdy humour.  Unfortunately, this reader found it all a bit too cartoony for her liking.  It was her first novel by this author and unfortunately it will be their last.

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

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

It's an imperfect world

Haunted by memories of his massacred settlement, sixteen-year-old Weaver seeks cover in a hidden refuge among the remains of a ruined city.  In the midst of building a new life, Weaver discovers that he has the amazing power to case his dreams into reality.  Convinced it's just an anomaly, Weaver ignores it..  That is until he learns of a mysterious man who shares the ability, and used his power to bring nightmares into existence and wage war on the world.  The peaceful life Weaver hoped for begins to unravel as waves of chaos begin to break loose about him.  In a race against time, Weaver must learn to accept his role as a dream caster and master his new power, before his new home is destroyed and humanity is pushed to the brink of extinction.

The writing was very simplistic but possibly appropriate for the intended age range, it seems to this reader that this particular author does not have very much life experience.

The novel was verbose.  The characters did not converse like ordinary people of their age.  The characters were also very one dimensional with little to tell them apart.  The way these people make connections/friendships is a bit too instantaneous and not what happens in real life, even if that life is against a post-apocalyptic backdrop which surely would make you more cautious than anything else.  None of these characters stood out nor did they make this reader identify with any of them.  One refreshing thing though was that there was not the usual romance element to this book.

Unfortunately there is loads of repetition in this novel and for all its verboseness there is minimal backstory perhaps this is why the reader could not identify with any of these characters.  Equally the plot has about as much depth as the characters.

This book required loads of reading and yet very little happened – a better editor is required to tighten this up.  We don’t even find out who the villain(s) are so there is no payoff.

I think this is one of those books that you either love or hate and I didn’t love it.  Perhaps the reason it didn’t grab me was because I am considerably older than the intended audience but try it yourself and come to your own conclusions.

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

I rated this as 2 stars on Netgalley and 'I did not like it' on Amazon (2 stars) and Goodreads (1 star).

Kitchens - always the centre of the family

With The Glass Kitchen, Linda Francis Lee has served up a novel that is about the courage it takes to follow your heart and be yourself.

A true recipe for life.  Portia Cuthcart never intended to leave Texas.  Her dream was to run the Glass Kitchen restaurant her grandmother built decades ago.  But after a string of betrayals and the loss of her legacy, Portia is determined to start a new life with her sisters in Manhattan ... and never cook again.  But when she moved into a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side, she meets twelve-year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel, a man with his hands full trying to raise two daughters on his own.  Soon, a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back in to a world of magical food and swirling emotions, where she must confront everything she has been running from.  What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long-held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs to life like chocolate mixing with cream.  The Glass Kitchen is a delicious novel, a tempestuous story of a women washed up on the shores of Manhattan who discovers that a kitchen - like an island - can be a refuge, if only she has the courage to give in to the pull of love, the power of forgiveness, and accept the complications of what it means to be family.

A delightful story combining the ingredients of life namely betrayal, love, family, cooking, trust, and a little bit of magic to create a delight of a read.  Indeed it was everything this reader could ask for in a book.

I must admit that I did find the first two chapters confusing – the introduction and the start of the story proper.  There seemed to be little connection between them.  After that though the book took on a lovely pace and I was sad to finish this fantastic book.

The characters are wonderfully portrayed and allowed to grow throughout the course of the novel.  The same attention is paid to the lesser characters who all have a certain je ne sais quoi.  Even the lesser characters are interesting and written with a wry sense of humour.  There are some parallels between the older woman and the younger women of this book which are interesting.

Nothing is easy in this book, not for Portia nor for Gabriel.  As in life, they both experience many twists and turns throughout this book and for Portia it was also about her journey to regaining the pilot seat of her life.  Life is hard work but the results can be amazing if you only trust in it.  Follow your heart and live your dreams.

A feel good book with a bit more gumption than ordinary chic lit.  It was entertaining, light-hearted, cleaver, and quirky.  The love scenes are realistic and romantic.  The scenes between the sisters are equally realistic and show how sisterhood should really be.  The book cover is also rather gorgeous; and then there is the added bonus of the recipes at the end.  Do yourself a favour and rush out and get this one.

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 Amazon (5 stars).

Bitches or Besties - you need to decide

Are they really bitches?  That depends on who you ask ... Rachel, Clare, Tina and Jane are four friends awaiting the arrival of a fifth at a secluded Cape Cod bungalow where they spend an all-girls weekend every year since reconnecting at a reunion.  But the fifth woman doesn't show.  Instead she sends a note that reads - "I've run off with one of your men."

Has she?  Is it a prank?  Do they run for the phone or try to enjoy the weekend without her?  Fast, funny and filled with Harris' trademark snappy dialogue you'll recognise friends and maybe a little of yourself as the women are forced to reevaluate their friendships, their marriages and their memories.

Inspired by a classic Hollywood film, The Bitches of Brooklyn is for every woman who's ever had a best friend and wondered ... is she really??

I have just finished this book and don’t really know how to rate it.  It was alright but overall this reader was disappointed.  The premise was promising but the execution fell short for me.  Apparently this book was based on the 1949 film drama ‘A Letter to Three Wives’.

There were quite a few characters and after the initial introduction, the four friends told their story (both forward and back) in alternating chapters so it is feasible that some people may get confused by these multiple points of view.  The proofing errors did not help in this regard, as instead of starting a new line for a new speaker the text continued on.

I do think that in any group of friends you will find these characters and this reader identified mostly with Tina although my background was totally different to hers.  The insecurities of all these women seemed to be something that anyone could experience and it was nice that these women were over thirty.

After a while, though the whole thing got tedious, each of their insecurities was constantly repeated and there was honestly too little action.  There was little suspense and sometimes the writer digresses to things that are not pertinent to the story.  There are also certain plot lines that are brought up and nothing is really resolved, plus things happened without a previous introduction.  There appeared to be something missing though as the ending was sudden and rushed sweeping many of the plot holes under the carpet.  In short this novel left this reader non-plussed – there was definitely something missing here as though the author was not sure how the book should end.

This reader read an ARC which had numerous punctuation and typesetting errors.  Many times it was difficult to understand who was doing or saying what as they were all ‘speaking’ in the same voice.

As stated above this book had a lot of potential and fell short.  But, there is obviously an audience for a book like this but it was not my cup of tea.

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

I rated this one star on Netgalley and 'I did not like it' on Amazon (2 stars) and Goodreads (1 star).