Book reviews to date

Prince of Wolves by Quinn Loftis

3* – Saved by the sidekicks

I downloaded this book for free and to a certain extent I enjoyed it, but I won’t be buying the rest of the series for several reasons.

Firstly it’s littered with typos, just enough to be irritating. I don’t mind the odd one or two, but these are consistently noticeable and should have been picked up on the most basic of copy edits.

Secondly, it was just too unbelievable. I could just about wrap my head around the overly saccharine insta-love, as another reviewer so aptly called it, but Jacque’s reactions to everything were too much of a stretch. She just accepts the voice in her head. She just accepts the whole bond thing. She tells her friends what’s going on and they’re just totally cool with it. I can accept that fiction has to wildly bend the rules in this genre, but readers still have to be able to relate to it.

Thirdly, a lot of the characters had really irritating habits. If Sorin bared his neck to Fane one more time, I’d have slapped him upside the head if I was Jacque. As it was, I was gritting my teeth.

The only thing(s) saving this book from the 1* pile for me was/were the sidekicks, Jen and Sally. They’re hilarious. They’re the kind of wisecracking, uninhibited, kickass friends that every girl needs in her life and on several occasions they had me laughing out loud. Most notable is Jen’s habit of saying whatever is running through her mind without filtering it first. They rescue what would otherwise be a sappy mush-fest of a story. That said, I found a lot of what they said funny because I got the references. If you are new to this genre and/or don’t watch many films, you probably wouldn’t find them half as funny.

The sidekicks take it to a solid 3* from me.

The Mighty Storm – Samantha Towle

2* –  Needs some serious editing

I liked the idea of this book – that two old friends meet up twelve years later when one of them is famous and one has lived a ‘normal’ life. Can friendships transcend money, fame and time?

I started off liking the characters a lot. I liked Jake, the cocky but charming rock star. I also liked Tru, the self-deprecating music journalist. Unfortunately, by about halfway through the book, I was fed up with both of them. Tru keeps making stupid and unbelievable choices and Jake is frighteningly controlling. There’s being a commanding person and then there’s domestic abuse. Frankly, there were several occasions in the book where he stepped over the line when it comes to controlling her and I found it disturbing.

Then there was the editing. It’s appalling. There are spelling mistakes and grammatical errors all through it. The odd mistake here and there I don’t mind, but the constant misuse of apostrophes in plurals and the wrong words being used etc are basic errors that would have been picked up by any copy editor. The book is littered with them. Structurally it could have done with serious editing too. There are large and unnecessary chunks of description and a couple of scenes that are totally superfluous to the story line.

The sad thing is that Ms Towle clearly has talent. It’s a good idea and there are parts of it that are enjoyable. With some decent editing it would probably be a really good book. It’s a shame it’s been let down by errors.

Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne

5* – refreshing and original

I loved this book. I loved the concept, the characters, the writing style…it was just so different from a lot of the crime thrillers I’ve read recently.

The pace was fast and relentless, the technology was clever but well explained and the characters were just fascinating. First we have Jessica, the FBI agent who used to be a magician. Right from the start you can’t help but warm to her. She’s just so…human. She makes mistakes, beats herself up over them, resigns herself to the things she can’t fix and cries over things that would make regular nonfictional women upset. All too often lately I’ve been reading books where the main agent is an emotionless, unstoppable machine so this was refreshing.

Then you have Ailes, the misunderstood geek. Everyone’s afraid of him because he spots the discrepancies in the system and isn’t afraid to toast people over them. You get the impression reading about him that actually he’s just so in love with his mathematics that he’s painfully socially inept. It makes him kind of endearing in some peculiar way. I felt at first that Jessica was an experiment to him, an interesting one at that.

And then there’s Damian. What can I say about him? He reminds me a lot of the insane brother from the J A Kerley novels…the psychopath with a twistedly right set of morals. He does things that normal people wouldn’t and steps over the line more than once but you can’t be angry with him for doing it because his reasoning is right. He won’t accept any threat to those he loves and while his obsession with Jessica is creepy on some levels, its also clear that he cares deeply about her.

I read this whole book in one sitting. I just couldn’t put it down. I was a bit confused by the sections between chapters and didn’t see the need for them but other than that it was well edited. It’s probably the first independently published book I’ve read in the last 6 months that I didn’t spot a single spelling mistake in.

I’m not sure if this is a series but if, as I hope, it is, I will most certainly be downloading the rest of them. 5* Mr Mayne. Loved it.

Gray Justice by Alan McDermott

3* –  Not great writing but thought-provoking

I purchased this book because I found the idea fascinating and when I started to read it I found it very difficult to put down. Having finished it, it’s not the best book I’ve ever read and it’s far from being the most well written, but the concept has been crossing my mind frequently in the week or so since I read the last page.

Tom Gray’s child was killed by a uninsured, unlicensed driver with a string of convictions and who shows no remorse for his actions. He walks free from court in a scenario that is all too easily believable in this day and age where I know a lot of people have lost faith in the ‘justice’ system. I think that’s where the magic of the book lies – it’s hard not to imagine what you would do in that scenario. All of us know someone that’s been let down in one way or another by what we consider to be a lenient sentence handed down from a court of law. I can’t have been the only person reading this that was secretly cheering inside for Mr Gray.

I also found the social aspect of it very thought-provoking. It reminded me of that series of films that were on TV last year. I can’t remember what they were called but they disturbed me in the same way – that pressure from social media and free speech that forced characters into often grotesque and inhumane situations (prime minister and pig?). This book disturbed me because it skimmed the surface of topics such as whether or not the public would vote for corporal punishment if we were given such a voice and how those voices can be manipulated by the government/media so easily.

I was sorely tempted to give this book 4* but in all honesty, as some other reviewers have mentioned, I found the terrorist aspect of it very contrived. I appreciate that the author needed some way to (quite literally) blow the story wide open, but there must have been some more realistic way of doing it.

The ending is absolute sterling though – I totally didn’t expect the twist, even after all the discussions with the Home Secretary. Very clever.

Across a moonlit sea – Marsha Canham

5* – Much Buckling of Swashes!

I REALLY enjoyed this book. I read the vast majority of it on an extremely long train journey and I’m sure the people opposite me thought I was crazy because I kept bursting into laughter at the antics of Beau.

And there I think is the crux of what makes this book so good – the main female character Beau is just brilliant. She has just the right amount of humour, wit, intelligence and fire to be easily lovable and to make the reader care about her. I also thought Dante was great – just that kind of cocky, demanding but loyal and fierce man that makes you wish he was a real person. The clashes they have are hilarious and (on some notable occasions) pretty steamy! (Yeah, that was a little awkward on the train lol).

Another thing that really impressed me about this book was that the author had clearly done her research exceptionally well. The knowledge of shipping terms and sailing manouevres was impressive. It was also great to see so many historical figures appearing in the book such as Francis Drake. That era of history was always fascinating to me and gave this novel an instant backdrop for my imagination.

Thoroughly enjoyed and would buy more from this author.

City of Blaze – H O Charles

3* – Slow starter but improves

I must confess, I find myself a little horrified to be giving this book 3* as I genuinely was enjoying it by the time I got two thirds of the way through. I liked the characters, particularly Artemi. She made me laugh out loud several times with her impertinence. I also liked Morghaid. There was a peculiar sort of wisdom to his character when it comes to suppressing emotions and yet when it crumbled around him it made him seem so much more human.

I like the twists in the book and I admit to being upset at the end. I will certainly be getting the next book in the series to find out what happened.

So why the 3* and not 4 or 5? Because it took me most of the book to figure out the meaning of several of the terms. I got to the end of the book without really understanding what “nalka” is. I don’t know if this is part of a wider series of books by this author or if s/he just made the mistake of assuming that nothing needed to be explained, but it was incredibly off-putting. I didn’t have a clue who anyone was or what was going on until I’d persisted with a substantial chunk of the book. It was very confusing, not really understanding who anyone was, where they were coming from, or what the relationships between them were. Benay-gosa are mentioned quite early on and yet I didn’t have a clue what they were until about halfway through. There are also several references to the length of time it takes to produce children which also aren’t explained until most of the way through which make the early parts of the book a little odd. There is a glossary of terms but it’s at the end of the book. As I downloaded it as an e-book, I didn’t know about it until I’d already finished.

I was also a thrown several times by the passage of time in the narration. One minute there’s a detailed description of events surrounding a day or so and suddenly the next chapter starts a year later with little explanation. I can understand why the story needed to span such a wide length of time, it just could have been dealt with in a slightly less ‘clumsy’ way.

Overall I did enjoy it and will be purchasing the others in the series.

The Forgotten Land – Keith McArdle

2* – Did not finish

Let me start by saying I love action and adventure books. I’ve been collecting Cussler, Reilly, Mariani etc for years so this book should have been right up my street. Unfortunately I just couldn’t get past the massive information dump that appears to make up the beginning of the book. I’m 12% in and the story doesn’t actually appear to have started yet.

I’m all for big guns and modified vehicles. I’m a fan of deep characters. What I’m not into is a detailed description of every item, process and person that appears with a full military history and accompanying anecdotes. The main character seems to do nothing except say goodbye to his wife (3 times at last count?).

I apologise if the above sounds harsh, but when I’m already skipping pages at only 8% in, it’s fairly obvious that this book is not for me.

I’ve given it 2* instead of 1* because the author has clearly done his research and I feel that should be respected. I also feel that he should be given the benefit of the doubt — the story may indeed improve once it actually starts. I’m sorry that I’m not interested enough to find out.

Stolen Fury – Elisabeth Naughton

4* – Thoroughly Enjoyable

I really enjoyed this book. I thought the characters were great, with a depth that brought them right off the page. I liked that Lisa and Rafe were so strong and independent on the outside but had so much vulnerability underneath. Made them easier to relate to.

I also enjoyed the storyline. Loved the idea of a set of three pieces with several collectors out to get them. I’m a sucker for a good treasure hunting story! The exotic locations and adventures were a bonus.

Totally didn’t expect the twist in the last few chapters either.

So why not give it 5*? Two reasons – one is that the discoveries of the furies just seemed a little too easy. If people had been searching for them for a couple of hundred years, they’re going to be harder to find than described in the book. The second is that for some reason I just didn’t get absorbed in the book. I kept putting it down and then coming back to it. It’s weird because I enjoyed the story and it was well written. I can’t put my finger on it. I would recommend it to others though and will no doubt read it again myself.

Job from Hell – Jayde Scott

2* – Needs better editing

I downloaded this because it was set where I live in Scotland and because it had so many good reviews. I was really disappointed.

It’s hard not to be irritated by someone clearly not British trying to write British people in a story set in the UK and consistently getting things wrong. We don’t eat jelly on croissants. It’s jam. It’s not mom, it’s mum. Even Londoners don’t say ‘mate’ every five words. I found myself gritting my teeth every time Cass opened her mouth. There are so many colloquialisms that just don’t sit right. There were also other editing issues, such as the wrong word frequently being used. Kneel over instead of keel over. I can’t remember the exact sentence, but there’s a time that Amber says something ‘consolidated’ her instead of consoled. It was pretty funny for all the wrong reasons.

As for the story, there were some sections that totally left my head spinning. One minute Amber and Aidan have spent five minutes together and think the other is pretty weird, the next minute they’re declaring undying love. Amber is supposed to be this normal girl but she’s happy to become a jewel thief with minimal persuasion from her brother? The humour falls totally flat. The characters are, for the most part, totally shallow and their behavioural patterns and thought processes are totally unbelievable. The plot could have done with a serious rework to make it more believable. It just seemed to gloss over the holes in the storyline, but they’re too glaring to miss.

Sorry to say that I just don’t care enough about the characters or what happens to them to bother downloading the rest of the series.

All that Mullarkey – Sue Moorcroft

4* – A lovely book

I really enjoyed this book. I liked the characters (well…the ones I was supposed to like!) and found the story, for the most part, to be refreshingly realistic. We’ve all been there – relationships where the honesty has been abused, the situations where you so desperately don’t want to hurt someone that you end up stringing out an unpleasant decision to the detriment of everyone. Moorcroft makes it easy to identify with her characters and so the story sucks you in.

I did twig who was causing Justin all the hassle fairly early on but it didn’t detract from the story in any way.

All in all, a good read. I’ll look out for other books by this author.

Prisoner of Desire – Jennifer Blake

4* –  Charming and enjoyable

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked the characters, I liked the setting, I thought the historical aspects of it were really interesting and I found the whole thing entirely charming.

I felt I had to say that first, because this book is a long way from perfect. There are a few spelling mistakes and the author often strays into long, flowery descriptive passages. As I was reading I couldn’t help but feel that large chunks of the story could have been more thoroughly edited.

The thing is, it was such a good story I didn’t really care about the above. The descriptive passages that weren’t too overloaded with adjectives were so vivid and vibrant that they really brought the story to life. The times when I didn’t like the characters and wanted to knock their heads together for being so stupid were tinted with an affectionate frustration rather than a general dislike.

There were sections of the story where the reader has to totally suspend their disbelief. It’s really very unlikely(in my humble opinion) that a lone woman in that day and age could have got up to half of what Anya did, but if you accept it for what it is – a jolly good romance – you’ll come away with a smile.

Haunting Grace – Elizabeth Marshall

4* – Reflections of Self

Firstly I’d like to say how beautiful I think the cover art for this series is. It’s very striking.

I have to be honest, I downloaded this series because it’s set in my favourite city and because I liked the cover. I certainly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. It’s a charming little story and, while you have to suspend your disbelief slightly, it’s well written and engaging.

The reason I have titled this review as I have is that I saw so much of myself in Grace and it was easy to imagine myself talking to a portrait and then wondering if I was losing my marbles! It made her instantly likeable.

I enjoyed the mini, thought-provoking essay at the end too. I get the feeling that I’d love to sit and have a cuppa with the author and discuss the paranormal 🙂

I was tempted to award 5 stars but I’m a bit confused as to why it is broken down into 3 books when it is clearly 1 story. Off to read part 2 now!

Judgement of Souls – Margarita Felices

2* – Jarring

I should probably start this review by saying I didn’t finish this book. I got approximately 60% of the way through though, so I gave it a good chance.

There appear to be some serious formatting issues with this book. It didn’t bother me that the text was small because I just reset my font size, but I found it a little weird that some paragraphs had single line spacing and others had double. It was also very jarring that there was no space between paragraphs where a different thread of the story was being picked up. A couple of times I got confused, thinking that someone was in the room when it turned out the author was switching to a different point of view. On one occasion, I actually couldn’t figure out who the ‘she’ in the sentence was referring to.

Regardless of formatting issues, I just couldn’t connect with the story in any way. The characters were shallow and weren’t likeable enough for me to invest in them emotionally. The plot jumped around all over the place with very little explanation. It would have been nice to have some sort of backdrop to Elysium or the group of vampire elders. It would also have been nice to have more information about the Sakara scroll. I just couldn’t get the sense of danger because the whole thing was a little bewildering. The author hinted at some sort of connection between Max and Rachel but instead of using it to add an interesting frisson into the story, it was mentioned twice and then ignored.

In fairness to the book, I can’t speak to the ending. It may have improved. Sadly I just wasn’t enjoying it enough to put up with the formatting issues long enough to find out.

Trouble in Mudbug – Jana DeLeon

4* – Fun and a little different

I enjoyed this book. I liked that the characters were a little different. It’s not often that you get a main character who is a botanist! I found her mostly believable and liked her attitude.

I thought the ghost angle was quirky and found myself laughing out loud picturing some of the costume changes.

The reason I have awarded 4* instead of 5* is that I was a little disappointed with how shallow the back story was. There was a lot made of the secretive calls about tests, but when it came to an actual explanation of the whys and wherefores, the emotion of it was lacking. There wasn’t any real sense of the relationship with her father. I also felt the relationship with Luc was a little rushed. It seemed as though they transitioned from mild attraction to full on intercourse quite abruptly.

It was fairly predictable but that didn’t bother me. I wanted something light, fun and easy to read and this certainly ticked those boxes.

All in all, a quirky summer read that’s a pleasant way to while away a few hours.

When Pigs Fly – Bob Sanchez

3* – a little disappointing

Having read all the glowing reviews and thinking the storyline sounded interesting, I have to admit I was a little disappointed by this book. It took me a while to get into the story because there were so many threads of it. I didn’t particularly empathise with any of the characters. Sadly, my favourite character in the whole book was Poindexter, the little javelina. I say sadly because it was only in there for comedic value and it fell totally flat. Perhaps I had a sense of humour bypass when it came to this book. I just didn’t find it funny. That’s not to say that others won’t enjoy it. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.
On a positive note, the spelling and grammar were excellent and the cover art made me smile. I liked the idea of the book 🙂

Uprising – Justin Kemppainen

3*- Frustrating

When I finished this book, it made me want to weep with frustration. The concept is fabulous. It’s the kind of novel idea that many writers would give their back teeth for. The potential was enormous – it could have been in turns both sinister and compelling.

Sadly it was very much let down by the writing style. There were sections that weren’t descriptive enough, characters and plot tangents that seemed very one-dimensional, and it just never seemed to flesh out any direction it ran in. Sometimes I liked Kaylee and sometimes I didn’t. There were parts of her relationships with other characters that didn’t seem to fit but there was no explanation of them.

I was torn between giving it 1 star or giving it 3. In the end I went with three because the idea is so compelling. The cities on two levels, the concept of rebels hidden within the order of society, the reconditioning of the lower classes, the man symbiotically built into the city’s defences…all of these are ingredients for an excellent story. It’s such a terrible shame that, in my personal and humble opinion, it wasn’t done justice by its author.

Bound Unleashed – Lee Taylor

1* – disappointed, did not finish

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t finish this book. I got about 40% in and then gave up. I suspect this may be an issue of personal choice more than anything else – I really struggled with the writer’s voice. I just couldn’t seem to get into the flow of it. I think he struggled with trying to write as a teenager and I freely confess that the typos irritated me. I don’t mind a few here and there, but there were enough to be noticeable. After the third or fourth “must of” instead of “must have” I realised I was being a bit of a snob, but it still irritated me!!

I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likeable, especially the main character Ursine, who comes across as arrogant, selfish and whiny. The plot (as far as I got to) was totally confusing and I didn’t understand what was going on at all. Some of these issues may have been resolved later in the book, but I ran out of patience before I got there.

I’m all for books that start by throwing you into the deep end of the story. I just felt, in this case, that a little more background and a little more character introduction would have helped.

Covet: A Novel of the Fallen Angels – JR Ward

5* – I was always going to love it

I’m going to start this review by saying that I’m a massive J R Ward fan and have been ever since discovering the BDB books, so I was always going to love this series. If you’re not a fan of hers then chances are you probably won’t enjoy this series, because it’s more of her same winning formula: strong damaged men needing to protect and serve weaker yet strong and equally damaged women with the accompanying language, clothing and music references. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

I think one of the things I liked most about this was the fact that it involves characters from the BDB series. That said, if you’ve never read the BDB series there are a lot of inside jokes that you probably won’t understand.

Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed it and will add it to my list of her series to collect.

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