The style of this story is very out of the norm. It’s one that’s very raw and to the point while still somehow managing...moreFull review can be found here.
The style of this story is very out of the norm. It’s one that’s very raw and to the point while still somehow managing to only skirt around certain subjects. I admit that it took me a while to actually get into the style. I read the book in parts, at first because the style failed to really lure me in and then because I had other reading obligations that were more urgent. The synopsis was one that caught my attention immediately, but I was quite a way into the book before it had really sucked me in. On top of this the jumpy narration occasionally made it quite hard to follow events and I would find myself having to go back and reread passages in order to really understand what was going on. This was frustrating.
Eventually I came to realise that this was written more like the style of Skyosa’s thought flow. I’m not so keen on that style (“je buvais des grenouilles” – I drank frogs – the sentence that put me off this style), but I do see the appeal for it, especially for a story such as this where everything is very dependent on Skykosa’s innermost thoughts and secrets, and her preference to skirt around a certain event in her past rather than tackling the event head on. This event in her past is very important to the evolution of her character. She often alludes to it but never quite manages to tackle it head on.
I think that it is important to note that while the story may be considered aimed at the YA market, it’s more aimed at mature YA or adult readers. There are a number of subjects tackled that I wouldn’t consider entirely appropriate for younger readers. There is a huge focus on sex in particular. And when I say that it focuses on sex, I mean it seems like all of the characters focus on sex almost all of the time. I don’t remember being that sex-mad as a teen but then I did grow up in a very different environment.
In fact, I’m not sure that this environment could have been any farther from the one I experienced myself. I liked that they were Asian characters, in a very religious environment and yet many of the parental figures take a backseat to the action, seeming to take little interest in their teenage children’s antics. It made for an original setting. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read something quite like this.
There is a darkness that overshadows the whole of this story. It’s not a feel good book. It’s a grim look at a potential reality that a teen could face. There’s a cast of broken individuals who are all struggling to come to terms with events they’ve faced and how their lives have been impacted. It’s not a book that I would normally pick up but it’s one that made me stop and think. And it’s got me intrigued – I’m very interested in seeing where things will go next!(less)
As soon as I read the synopsis for this one I was sold. Voodoo and Greek gods? Cool! Totally sounds like my sort of thin...moreFull review can be found here.
As soon as I read the synopsis for this one I was sold. Voodoo and Greek gods? Cool! Totally sounds like my sort of thing... Then I stopped and thought about it for a bit and I started to have a few reservations about whether or not the author would be able to successfully pull off a believable scenario that mixes voodoo and the myths and legends on Ancient Greece. So I went into the book in a state that was somewhere between excitement and trepidation.
I read the book in two sittings. One that was about 1-25% (I only stopped because it was late and I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore!) and the second was the other 75% of the book. The fact that I sat down and read 75% of a book with no breaks says everything. I could finish the review right here… but I’m not going to.
I’m not going to spoil how the author manages to merge the two very different cultures of voodoo and the Greek myths and legends, but I thought the way she did it was rather ingenious. It allowed them both to stay true to themselves without forcing either into an uncomfortable situation. I was so glad that they were mixed together in such a way rather than trying to shove two pantheons together and require them to work.
The story itself turned out to be addictive. I was in one of those “just one more chapter…” phases. You know, the ones you never slip out of until you’ve turned the last page and then you have an oops moment as you realise just how much of the day you’ve lost. Oops. But it was worth it! I’ve never seen Marie Laveau portrayed in a positive light before so this was an interesting experience for me from that point of view. I was also captivated by the Louisiana bayou setting. For someone who grew up in the Pennines and the Alps, the bayou is a far cry from any environment I’ve known. That could be part of its mysticism and the charm it weaves on me. I loved how the author managed to really bring it to life for me, despite the huge distance separating me from it.
Joan, the main character, was also very interesting. Chosen to be the next great voodoo priestess, she’s still in the phase where she resists her calling despite her grandmere’s consistent intervening. Of course, events line up just so and she can no longer ignore the destiny that is before her. I did occasionally get the feeling that she was a little too blind to things around her. For example, at one point she thinks she’s talking to her best friend and just blurts out her whole plan when he’s practically interrogating her. Only later does she realise that her best friend might not actually have been the one controlling the body she was interacting with.
There was also a fair amount of exposition through dreams. This is not something that I’m usually fond of, preferring other means to be used to uncover secrets, but I have to say that it did work fairly well in this particular novel.
I wasn’t aware that this is actually the first of a series. In a way, I’m slightly bummed out because I want to have the answers to my questions already – in the form of the next novel of course! Things are not really rounded off at the end of the story and a lot of threads are left dangling to be picked up come book two. I really want to find out how Joan’s relationship with her best friend, Dave, will progress now that she’s finally uncovered the truth about the secrets he’s been keeping. I’ve got my fingers crossed for them as Dave turned out to be a very decent guy.
Possibly the very best thing about this novel is the role that the parents play. There are far too many YA novels out there where the parents either aren’t there or just don’t give a damn about what their teenage child is getting up to. In Bayou Myth the parents played a very positive role. They cared about Joan, gave her limits to what she could do (not that she always respected them) and helped her when the going got tough. There should be more YA books out there where the parents are portrayed in such a positive light.
Overall a fabulous book. When’s book 2 coming out?(less)
This story immediately caught my attention. The synopsis screams the sort of thing I used to read a lot of as a teen. It’s not the sort of book that I still read very often now that I’m a bit older, but occasionally I do enjoy a foray back in this sort of genre. I knew as of the get go that this book was going to be one of those forays.
I have to say I really enjoyed this blast from the past!
That isn’t to say that the book is without its problems. For example, I wasn’t sold on how much of a creep Max was. Maybe it would have been possible to paint him as such a character with ulterior motives, but Max’s never really rang true to me. I got that he was being an arse but his actions didn’t really fit for me. It might have helped to see more backstory of the rivalry between Max and Zack and why Max hates him so much.
That was my one major sticking point, though. For the rest of it, I enjoyed this fluffy, light romance. It consisted mostly of how stricken Chloe is about the unofficial Zack Warren fan club that she set up when she was young but soon abandoned after Zack stole the pink streamers from her bike, resulting in her deciding to hate him forever rather than love him. Unfortunately for her, under her best friend’s ministrations, the unofficial Zack Warren fan club became a living, breathing monster in its own right – a monster to be reckoned with. Even worse, she’s still considered the founder and everything about the group is attributed to her.
Zack meanwhile has been fighting his attraction to Chloe for years now. After losing his mother at a young age, he chose to protect himself from future heartache by not allowing anyone to get close enough for him to have feelings for them. Chloe gets past all his barriers, though, and with his father having just married her mother, he’s going to be forced to spend rather a lot of time around this very dangerous girl. (Dangerous to the barriers he’s erected around himself).
The story is very easy and slow-going. It’s not mile-a-minute or anything like that, but it never fails to keep your attention and even induces a few chuckles with some laugh out loud moments. It’s short and sweet but, apart from the Max weirdness, it really works well!
On a side note, poor any future half siblings! Can you imagine being a kid having to explain to the other kids at school that your brother and sister are dating? Owch.(less)
First of all, what a setting! I love the Scottish islands: they’re picturesque, they’re remote enough to each have a very distinct personality, and they’re the perfect getaway. I’ve been to several of the Scottish islands (Colonsay, Jura, Mull, and Islay) and my memories of them are all of a rural paradise, the kind that you don’t tend to find very often in Britain nowadays (though the beaches leave a lot to be desired). The author shows an obvious passion for her setting and managed to create that isolated island feeling that is just so important (in my opinion) in such a story. I felt that she did her setting justice. I hope that inhabitants of these islands would think so too.
Though perhaps not entirely original in subject matter, the story is definitely one of the more interesting paranormal romances that I’ve read so far this year. There was just the right balance of romance and action that I needed – one didn’t outweigh the other and there was no getting bogged down in the details to the point where I just lost interest in it all. Beyond this, as the character herself is not actually initiated into this supernatural world that she’s a part of, the reader was able to follow her baby steps. Isla is unaware of her heritage as a witch and so it never felt like she was taking the time to break away from her story in order to explain her world to me. I was able to discover everything alongside her and I felt that this gave the story a much smoother and more authentic feel.
There is one character, Marduk, who is quite the funny guy. I’m not as sure about the quotes he spews as you have to be aware of the general culture they come from in order for it to really work. This means that anyone not entirely familiar with Hollywood won’t connect with him as well. It really dates the story more than any other aspect of it. Some people like this but I’m one of those who are wary of it. Despite this, he was a great character and one of my favourites!
The romance did advance possibly a little on the fast side, but whirlwind romances do happen like that (my own included, so I can’t judge). I did have some issues with passing time on occasion – the narrative would tell me that X time had passed but I didn’t get the impression that it had been that long while reading.
The witches were fabulous. I’m particularly interested in witches right now (along with ghosts) so any book set on a Scottish island (part of my childhood) that adds witches (part of my paranormal preferences) is a definite hit for me before I’ve even cracked it open. There are other paranormal creatures also present and they're just the icing on the cake. I really enjoyed them all, even the ones that I'm usually not that big on in this genre.
What’s more, the characters caught my interest and they didn’t let go, each developing at a believable rate, allowing me to connect with them and really come to root for them in their fight against the evil demons. This is just what I look for in a book. Obviously this one turned up to be just my cup of tea.
I will definitely be tuning in for book two!(less)
I came up against some problems when getting into this book. The first and foremost was how utterly incapable I was of relating to the protagonist. She’s very materialistic, to say the least. Personally I have absolutely no interest in expensive clothes brands so reading about a character that is focused on such things is not always easy. She also felt very shallow, especially when at the very beginning her boyfriend is giving a speech and she’s thinking at him to hurry up and finish so they can go home and have sex. Maybe it’s just that I’m coming from a very different humour background, but that just didn’t work for me and it placed a wedge between me and the character.
When she loses her boyfriend and her job in one day, Leslee decides to move back to her hometown. Once there she mopes around on her best friend’s sofa for a couple of months before she’s forced to start pulling herself together. The story only actually focuses on her obsession with getting her romantic life back on track. There is no interest in her professional life. In fact, it gets completely ignored until towards the end she goes for one job and gets it immediately with no problems. There wasn’t enough balance here for me, especially as she admits that she only has $400 in her account when she arrives (and somehow manages to pay for endless taxi rides). I needed to see more of her worrying about her finances and her professional standing, and not just her attempts to secure herself a new man.
Her dating experiment was an original idea. I didn’t really feel that the basic idea was really worked on. The idea was to go on a series of dates, employing different techniques on each to try to find out what a man wants from a woman. Well, she did go on a series of dates and most of them led to some laugh out loud moments, but it didn’t feel like she was actually trying to do things differently each time. It was more like she reacted on instinct a lot of the time.
She roped in a friend to help her with this. Unfortunately I felt that this showed just how shallow she was. The only time she really showed any interest in this friend, Annie, was when she needed something from her to do with this BACHELORETTE project. As soon as she dropped the experiment, she dropped the friend as well and, at the end, admits to not having seen her in months. I did rather like Annie, though. She was more grounded in a group of other characters that were just weird at times (even if that weirdness did lead to laughs at times).
I also felt that Eric was not really given enough attention. I didn’t feel the relationship between them growing. There were some interactions between them and then a couple of hints at his interest in her, her potential interest in him… and then she got drunk and things get physical. This would have been a great opportunity to work on growing Eric’s character but instead he disappears and Leslee starts going on a few dates with someone else. I wanted to get to know Eric better. From the synopsis, I expected there to be more focus on him and her fighting her feelings for him.
The book wasn’t in anyway bad. It was a well-imagined plot that’s not really anything new in the chick lit genre but entertaining in its own right. I simply felt that the book focused on too much on certain things that were not as necessary and didn’t give enough time of day to other things that needed to be developed more.(less)
As soon as I read the synopsis for this one, I was intrigued. I wanted to know more and so when the promo tour also offe...moreFull review can be found here.
As soon as I read the synopsis for this one, I was intrigued. I wanted to know more and so when the promo tour also offered six review copies, I immediately signed up for one of the six. I didn’t actually receive my copy until after the promo post (here) and I had a couple of other blog tour books to read before I could crack this one open, but I had itchy-finger-syndrome when it came to this one.
I cracked it open for the first time after having just finished another book of a very different genre. In hindsight, that wasn’t the best idea ever. I should have given myself some time to unwind from the first book before I cracked open this one. I also only allowed myself the time to read the prologue and things might have been different had I been able to immediately continue on to the first couple of chapters. The consequence of not doing so was that the prologue left me thrown and not entirely enraptured. This is my own fault, of course, and I suspect that my experience of starting the book would have been very different had I approached it differently.
It doesn’t help that I’ve been very busy recently, which meant that for the first few chapters I was only managing to snatch a chapter or two at a time rather than sitting down and reading a large chunk all at once (which is my preference). As a result of this style of reading, the story felt very slow-burning to me. This is not at all a bad thing. The author took her time to present each part of the story just as she wanted it to be presented, taking the reader down a dark path of confusing twists and turns and more than a few dead ends rather than rushing in to things head on.
There were certain things that were certainly confusing. At times I could tell that the person Tandie, the main character, was interacting with was not of our time. In fact, it seemed odd that she herself didn’t stop to question why on earth these people would be wearing period dress rather than jeans and a t-shirt. At other times I couldn’t figure out whether she was interacting with someone living or with one of the dead. These sorts of scenes really leant to the spooky feel that was gradually being built up in the story.
Right now I have a thing about ghosts in my paranormal / urban fantasy stories. They’re not as used and abused as vampires and werewolves (yet) which gives the author a little more leeway to make their ghosts relatable characters who are still unique in their own way. I liked all of the characters but one of the ghosts in particular (not naming names so people can deduce which of the characters are ghosts on their own should they choose to read the book). She was a chilling but fabulous character, very complex.
Though I had some reservations to begin with, the story soon smashed them all apart and turned out to be a gripping thrill ride. Well, I say thrill ride but I want to stress that it is slow burning. Things come together very slowly, but once all of the pieces are in place, it is definitely worth it! I really enjoyed the book.(less)
Historical romance seems to be one of my weaknesses. It’s not a genre that’s usually particularly inspiring and often enough the books are set in England (or Scotland) but written in modern day American English, which bugs me to no end. I haven’t read very many historical anythings set in the Americas but I’ve been brought up around a grandmother who happens to be overly fond of westerns, so when I read the synopsis of this one I was intrigued. The American west in that period was still very much on the wild side and that sort of setting appeals to me, possibly because it’s such a far cry from anything to be found these days.
The author managed to really capture the feel of the period for me. I felt transported. I could just imagine this little western town they were living in! It was obvious that she did a lot of research and went to great lengths to make her period feel authentic – research and great lengths that definitely paid off for me as the reader.
It was also interesting to see the process of getting gold and silver from the ore and how the refineries (that might not be the correct word but it’s the only one coming to mind right now) were operated. There was a slight issue here, however, in that the information was too clumped for me. Wes gives Julie a tour of her uncle’s “refinery” and explains the processes to her, which is a good example of exposition through dialogue. My issue was that there was too much information too fast for me to really absorb it properly. It didn’t help that I was already tired and so a large amount of what is essentially nonfiction coming at me all at once felt more like a barrage of facts than part of the story. I understand what the author was doing, but my mind just couldn’t deal with it.
Thankfully these “info dumps” were few and far between and I was able to really appreciate the intricate story that the author was weaving. As a historical romance it does, of course, focus mainly on the budding relationship between Wes and Julie but there’s enough going on around it to keep it well balanced. I didn’t feel completely swamped by just the relationship and it wasn’t love at first sight (though it was lust, but I’m happy with lust. Lust is normal).
Wes being an undercover officer for Wells Fargo was also of particular interest. I have to admit that I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Wells Fargo; never mind what its role was. So I actually learnt bits of American history from reading this book! That’s something that always appeals to me in a book.(less)
The author weaves an interesting piece of historical fiction with many a nod to real people and events. Not being from t...moreFull review can be found here.
The author weaves an interesting piece of historical fiction with many a nod to real people and events. Not being from the USA – and having left school in the UK before we touched on anything relating to non-European history (except Ancient Egypt) (and French history lessons were only interested in their own colonies) – I am only vaguely aware of these parts of American history. In fact, most of my knowledge about this period comes from documentaries / films (and who knows how historically accurate those are!) that I’ve seen over the years.
With Kentucky Green, the author gives a glimpse of what life could have been like for the colonials when neither the Americans nor the British were at their moral best. The British because they were fairly double-crossing the Indians and the Americans because they were pretty much invaders stealing the land from the native inhabitants.
I particularly appreciated that the author didn’t shy away from some of the more historically accurate points, choosing political correctness over historical truth. She wasn’t afraid to include a racist side to this story. All too often these days you see authors who are pretty much walking on eggshells in order to avoid such controversial topics. But that’s not how it was back in those days. Racism was a part of the norm and this story embraces that, working with it rather than skirting around it. I think that the book is that much the better for it; it wouldn’t have felt as authentic without it.
This is the classic tale of boy meets girl, boy pisses off girl (and vice versa), boy is required to spend significant amount of time in girl’s company, boy ends up developing feelings for girl that he tries to ignore (and vice versa), boy can no longer ignore said feelings, some form of drama befalls boy and girl – can they come out on top? It’s a tried and true formula, and obviously it works.
My one… not qualm but thing I want to comment on I guess… is that April is a young widow. It soon emerges that she was merely given the position of wife in order to protect her after the deaths of both of her parents. She is never touched by her husband. This keeps the character “unspoiled” for the “love of her life” that is to come in the form of the hero of the story but I personally would have preferred a different approach here. I’ve never understood the appeal of having a window character with no sexual experience. As a widow she should be able to match the hero for his knowledge rather than still being cast in the role of swooning heroine. Maybe that’s just me?(less)
As of the very beginning things were not going to be easy for me with this book. Sod’s law and all that. For some reason the PDF wouldn’t covert to .mobi so I was stuck reading the book in PDF form, which is hard on my eyes. I ended up reading it on the Kindle as the boyfriend was using the tablet and I know from experience that reading from the PC screen no longer works for me. So I just had my nose smushed up against the screen and went from there!
The plot is fairly simple: Callie’s mother leaves a confession in a letter that, upon her death, was sent to the father she’d hidden Callie from all her life. Said father is Warren Sherbrooke, who happens to be running for president. The revelation comes as a shock to all parties involved but Warren is determined to meet this long-lost daughter and bring her into the family fold. His campaign manager, wife and step son, Dylan, aren’t convinced that she really is his daughter and not just some bawd with her own agenda trying to scam them / hurt Warren’s chances of winning the election. So Dylan offers to be the one to go and meet her in order to take her measure.
As soon as he sees her he can’t deny the family resemblance and knows that she is who the letter claims she is. Warren’s campaign manager is still wary though and Dylan agrees to keep an eye on her in order to make sure that she doesn’t do anything potentially disastrous, such as taking her story to the media.
Spending time together soon leads to initial attraction transforming into deep feelings taking root and it’s not long before their relationship turns physical. It can’t be that easy, though, and an overhead conversation leads to Callie feeling shattered and betrayed, and Dylan having to overcome old fears in order to ensure future happiness.
The vast majority of the book focuses on Callie and Dylan and what they get up to together. There are various activities and landmarks described, which the author certainly has a knack for, but I did occasionally find my interest waning as things took too long to get to the point. In fact, it isn’t until the 75% mark that the spanner actually gets thrown in the works. Although I did enjoy reading about their outings together and the author did a fantastic job of bringing Massachusetts to life for me, I would have preferred to see more interaction between Callie and the other Sherwoodes instead. She doesn’t get to spend very much time with her father at all, despite it being his desire to get to know her that pushes the narrative. The ending also felt a little rushed in comparison with how drawn out a lot of the rest of it was.
There are some minor continuation errors, such as Callie claims she’s only ever left Massachusetts once to go to Florida, but later in the book she talks about a school trip to New York. Now, admittedly I’m not all that familiar with US geographical layout, but I’m 99.99% sure that New York is not in Massachusetts, although I suppose it could be considered close enough that it’s not all that exciting (like how my home in France is close enough to Switzerland that a trip across the Swiss border is not all that out of the ordinary).
Generally speaking, I prefer my stories to have a little bit more conflict in them, but as an easy-read romance, this book succeeded in alleviating me of the headache my day had caused!(less)
I’m going to be honest here: I had a hard time even getting going with this story.
First of all, even as...moreFull review (and an excerpt) can be found here.
I’m going to be honest here: I had a hard time even getting going with this story.
First of all, even as it starts the two characters go against what the synopsis led me to expect of them, specifically Molly. For a woman abused in her youth, with trust issues and no time of day for men, it just didn’t feel natural to me when she immediately welcomed Carter’s physical advances. They were just little things, like laying his hand on her thigh, but it all felt as though it moved far, far too fast. I know it was supposed to be a whirlwind romance but the result of this is that I was not invested in the relationship between the two characters. I missed out on build up of feelings and consequently I wasn’t as interested in the outcome of their relationship as I would have preferred to be. I could have done with an additional 50 pages or so of Molly learning to be more open to the possibilities that Carter is offering her.
Second, the book is written in the third person but in a POV that has access to the characters’ innermost thoughts rather than just observing actions. The POV jumps between characters from one paragraph to the next with nothing to show that such a jump has taken place. Towards the beginning of the book I found it hard to keep up with the seemingly random jumps.
Once I’d actually got into the story, things started to improve for me. But as I eased into the style, I become more aware of the fact that there’s actually very little plot to it at all. Everything focuses on the relationship, but there’s never any doubt about the outcome there so you’re more reading to see their relationship than to watch them overcome the obstacles in their way. This said, there are an awful lot of romance books out there where you see this sort of thing. It’s just that I usually prefer mine with a more substantial plot around the romance itself.
Admittedly there is an attempt at an external threat when Molly starts receiving threatening letters. Unfortunately, this isn’t really explored to the full potential that it presented. All things considered, it resolved far too quickly and easily; the perpetrator’s reasoning isn’t really gone into beyond scratching the surface enough to establish a reason; and other characters’ involvement – however unwilling – isn’t even touched on.
This is balanced by Molly slowly learning to stand on her own two feet and make her own decisions outside of the supportive network that her adoptive family had set up for her when she came to them. She had to let go of the past in order to fully embrace her future. I vastly enjoyed this part of the story! Seeing her stand up to people who claim to have her best interests at heart (but are not listening to her when she tells them that this is what she wants) inspired a feel-good feeling that lasted throughout the rest of the novel.
Carter was possibly a little too on the perfect side, but again this is something you see a lot so I’m willing to overlook it.(less)
The decision to read this book was one of those spur of the moment things. It’s a very different sort of story to what I normally read but of course reading is all about expanding your horizons. I’m not the sort of person who really keeps to a limited reading sphere, so I figured I’d take a chance on the book!
When Elizabeth falls pregnant, Christian gives her an ultimatum: him or their unborn child. She chooses the child and walks out of his life. Six long years later, a chance meeting between Christian and a young girl draws him into the life that he’d turned his back on, the life that includes fatherhood. A small taste of what he had up until that moment never known is enough to make him crave it and he muscles his way into his daughter’s life, despite knowing that Elizabeth is less than comfortable with this change.
The story mostly focuses on the excursions that the three of them make as a family, showing the reader just how Christian is growing as a person in order to embrace the new role that he has taken on. He’s actually a very interesting character and I enjoyed observing his evolution from spoilt rich kid to doting father, even if I did often find the interactions between Christian and Lizzy (his daughter, not to be confused with Elizabeth, the mother). I suppose this reflects on my relationship with my parents. It’s a healthy relationship, but we tend to show our love through actions rather than endless direct proclamations.
Elizabeth was another matter entirely. She started off as a woman willing to make a difficult choice and ready to face the consequences of it. Unfortunately, while Christian evolved, I felt that Elizabeth devolved. Christian hurt her and she never got over the pain of his betrayal. I get it. Considering his actions, her reticence around him was taken too far and just ended up as a lot of repetition about how he’ll just hurt her again so she should keep her distance – but it’s so hard! I lose all respect for her when she held Christian accountable for her actions and made him responsible for them not having sex. When she then takes out all her fears on her daughter while claiming to be protecting her, she became a weak-willed character that was a shadow of the strong woman she’d been; a character I could not stand.
I understand why this is in the story but it just didn’t work for me personally. What’s more, once Elizabeth lost my respect, she failed to regain it before the story ended so I parted ways with her feeling dissatisfied with her character, and because of this ultimately with the story as a whole.
My copy of the book also had some formatting issues and I’d come across sentences like:
“He could wanted, but it would never change what he discarded us and he had no right in our likes. apologize all he did. He had”
Sometimes I could reconstruct these broken sentences but others I had no idea where the fragments were supposed to fit in. I couldn’t say for sure whether I missed anything important because of this.(less)
The book opens with “the pilot” taking off and soon realising that there’s something not right with his plane. He’s face...moreFull review can be found here.
The book opens with “the pilot” taking off and soon realising that there’s something not right with his plane. He’s faced with the choice of attempting to right the problem by continuing with his flight – and thus potentially endangering citizens – or returning to the runway in what can only be a crash landing. Following the pilots’ code of ethics, he chooses to put only himself at risk rather than innocent people who just happen to live close by the airport.
We then meet his sister, Kate, who is having to come to terms with the fact that her brother has almost died in an accident involving a flying machine for the second time in his life. The doctors inform her that despite the extent of his injuries he still has brain activity, which is a good sign, but there’s no telling when, or if, he’ll wake up. Kate basically puts her life on hold in order to tend to her brother, but she also wants to help keep his business, an airport, running while he’s unable to keep on top of it himself. As she starts to uncover the events in his life leading up to his accident, though, she also finds herself wondering whether she really knew her brother as well as she thought she did.
At the same time, we’re introduced to Everett Larsen, an army buddy of our beloved coma patient, Keith. Keith had contacted him prior to the accident about something fishy taking place. What’s more, it would appear that Keith’s accident might not have been an accident at all. Everett, now an undercover investigator, is determined to get to the bottom of what happened to his friend, which puts him in Kate’s path. She doesn’t recognise him, though, and he’s happy to present a false persona in order to keep her from learning the truth.
There’s a lot of truth being kept from others in this story, which is usually the way of things in mystery, but Kate and Everett do tend to take it to an extreme. They’re both damaged individuals with previous relationships that ended in emotional turmoil. As such, they’re still working past their demons, but in each other they find a way of coming to terms with what happened – the past is the past and both realise that they need to turn a new page and look to the future instead.
I enjoyed the budding relationship between these two characters as well as the glimpse into life around a small airport. With Schiphol being one of the busiest airports in Europe, my experience is obviously very different, though I have visited some smaller ones in passing (like the “field” in the photo above), which seem much more relaxed and very quaint! In fact, the little views into the life running an airport like this were the highlight of the story.
My only real gripe with the story was that the truth behind what happened to Keith was fairly transparent. As soon as any new information was imparted to the characters, even if it was misleading, it was possible for the reader to put the pieces together much faster than the story was keeping up with. It was just too easy to unravel the mystery and I could see most of the twists and turns coming from the moment they were introduced.
Murder on Spyglass Lane mixes cosy mystery with a touch of the paranormal (in Sarah MacDougall’s visions). The story ope...moreFull review can be found here.
Murder on Spyglass Lane mixes cosy mystery with a touch of the paranormal (in Sarah MacDougall’s visions). The story opens with Sarah suffering the effects on the onset of one of these visions and I’m afraid that for whatever reason most of it just went over my head to the point where I found myself put on my guard. I don’t know whether I wasn’t paying enough attention to what I was reading or whether I missed out on something important in the narrative or what but it actually took me a while to even realise that this was an onset of a vision and not just Sarah being really peculiar.
I warmed up to it all after a little while but I’m not sure I ever really got over that original guardedness regarding Sarah’s gift and how it’s used in the story. The gift itself, though she often bemoans it and its effect on her life in general, is actually very fortuitous as it hands Sarah and Raven (the requisite male with a background that permits him to help out the female amateur investigator present in all cosy mystery novel) several answers that they’d never have got without it. That said, I’m happy that it has a negative effect on her rather than just handing over all the answers with no outward consequences.
Sarah’s amateur sleuthing is joined by the professional sleuthing of her neighbour, Raven DeVille, an insurance investigator, when she comes across the body of a prominent member of local society buried in the sand dune of the golf course just behind her house. There was a slight romance subplot between these two characters throughout the novel – one that I have to say didn’t seem to be all that based on anything. It wasn’t explored enough for me to really be invested in it. The style of the narrative, despite it being in Sarah’s first person voice, didn’t really let us into her head when it came to her interactions with others, which obviously had an adverse effect (for me) on the portrayal of this burgeoning relationship. I often found myself wanting to know Sarah’s reactions to Raven’s actions /words but instead it usually went straight to Sarah’s own vocal response. In short, the narrative didn’t really give me an adequate basis to accept this relationship from either party. I wanted to be shown more, to be led to root for this potential romance.
A huge portion of the story seems to revolve around Sarah walking her dog, Sparky, or thinking about how she should be walking him. This turned out to be quite the culture shock for me as my dog (in France) gets walked once a day and the rest of the time she’s just permitted to wander at will. Then again, our property opens onto unused pasture land, not a golf course, and we have foxes, badgers, deer, and wild pigs hiding in the shadows rather than alligators. I did enjoy the descriptions of Sparky tapping his way around the house, though – my dog’s nickname is Click-Click for a reason!
The mystery itself was a tad on the too direct side. The characters had unravelled it well before the climax – it was more a case of proving the blame than uncovering the culprit. I tend to prefer uncovering the culprit personally, preferably via small hints throughout the story. I also prefer it when the culprit is operating in plain sight but the author has weaved their mystery so tightly that I’m not certain which of the characters it is. Neither of these is present in Murder on Spyglass Lane with the direct style soon leading the reader to a direct answer.
Nevertheless, it was an easy read for a lazy summer afternoon that kept me entertained and didn’t lose my interest at any point. My personal favourites of this book were Sarah’s three golfing buddies – they reminded me of the interactions between my gran and my great-aunt so they immediately appealed to me!(less)
Though I watch a fair few horror films, it’s actually fairly rare that I will read horror stories aimed at the adult mar...moreFull review can be found here.
Though I watch a fair few horror films, it’s actually fairly rare that I will read horror stories aimed at the adult market. I tried Stephen King’s Pet Sematary once and ended up having nightmares about dead things rising from the grave. Not fun. I stopped part way through and haven’t touched another King novel since (though I have watched most of the films based on his books and those never give me nightmares!). This experience taught me something very important: do not treat horror as bedtime reading. My overactive imagination does not appreciate it. I learnt my lesson and, thankfully, kept it in mind with this one.
Pavlov’s Dogs doesn’t quite get like Pet Sematary. It reads like the literary version of one of those horror movies from the 80s that were pretty much just making fun of themselves. Think those old movies with incredibly unrealistic zombies shuffling around groaning about brainssssss. Kind of like that in that there was certainly a lot of tension and the worry of how survival can be ensured, but it doesn't take itself too seriously. Trust me, this can definitely be a good thing!
The book is at times quite clearly a portrait of society. Then again, don’t most zombie tales draw lines between the good of the individual and the good of the group? Each time there’s the question of whether to help others at the potential expense of risking your own life. As humans, I think we’re often torn between the two as our morals tell us we should help but our survival instinct screams that it’s in our better interests not to.
So the zombies are the kind we all know already. There’s a bus crash and those who were dead start to stand up again and attack the living. It only takes a small flesh wound to turn a living person into the living dead and we follow a group of survivors desperately trying to do just that – survive. At the same time we also follow a group of scientists on an isolated. As such, they’re not at risk of being overrun by the zombie hordes. Even better, they have their own secret weapon: military men genetically engineered to be able to shift into dogs. These are the people who are faced with the choice of sending out their secret weapon to help save those they can, or better ensure their own survival by ignoring their plight. I found the Dogs to be original in a market where there are countless books about werewolves out there. Zombies versus werewolves? Oh yeah, fun in the making!
I did have a couple of problems as well, though. My main problem with the book was all the names. There are a lot of characters and they all get named. I just couldn’t hold on to that many names in my head and keep being able to associate that name with that character, especially when most of them are just secondary characters. It just resulted in me getting confused and having to stop every so often to try to figure out just who X was happening to.
Overall, though, I enjoyed the book a lot! It was outside of my normal comfort zone but just reading it you could tell that the authors had a great time collaborating on this novel. It always shows when the authors really enjoyed writing and it’s very obvious that this is the case here.(less)
This book left me feeling torn on two very important levels. I say very important because that’s what the story focused...moreFull review can be found here.
This book left me feeling torn on two very important levels. I say very important because that’s what the story focused on. The main idea behind the plot was fabulous. Books about witches have not really stormed the market yet so it’s still possible to come up with an idea and have it be very original. I found that to be the case here and I loved how witchcraft was presented. I especially loved how red herrings were put in place to lead you on a wild goose chase about the internal structure of the convent that features as a driving force behind events here. On the other hand, the romance was far too in-your-face for my tastes. I’m going to start by addressing why the romance was not for me.
The best kind of romance, to my mind, is one that evolves slowly. The two characters get to know each other, a kindling attraction becomes something more, and when it is finally acted upon you feel fulfilled as the reader. That was not the case in this book. In fact, here it was completely the other way around. When Jewel first laid eyes on Chase, it was so transparent as to be laughable. Of a group of youths, he is the only one to be described. The next day she catches sight of some other guy and again it’s lust at first sight. I’m not a fan of insta-love at the best of times but for it to be used in tangent with a love triangle already means that the romance aspect won’t appeal to me. This was reinforced by the fact that both attractions were based on nothing more than how “hot” each guy looked. Trust me when I say that each and every time that either of these two boys comes into the story, the word “hot” will be in there too. Sometimes it’s even about how “totally hot” they look. At the best of times, “hot” used as a term to describe someone’s physical attractiveness does not appeal to me, but when overused as it was here it got to the point where I wanted to remove it from the author’s vocabulary.
Beyond this, both romances never get anywhere beyond shallow. Jewel manages to witter on about them to some length, but Chase always seemed like a third wheel to me, and never really seemed to serve a purpose other than that of being “the other man”. He did play a small role in things in the second half, but that could easily have been filled by a different character who wasn’t a romantic interest. Roman had absolutely nothing substantial backing his supposed love for Jewel. Sure, I remember being a teen and living on attraction pushed upon me by my hormones, but this took things to a whole new level.
Balancing this out was my interest in the actual plot. I really liked the basis for this story and how Jewel managed to go from a character knowing nothing about anything to one who was strong in her own right and managed to uncover the answers using her own unconventional means. Occasionally she did border on being a bit too stupid for it to really sell me – like jumping into a car with a stranger while being stalked by some other stranger – but I was able to look past these small moments.
The witchcraft was what really sold me. I’ve always preferred witches to vampires and the lore behind the story did not disappoint here. The author started out with a good idea and she wove a strong plot from it that was kept going at a fast pace as Jewel uncovered more secrets about her identity, heritage and role in wiccan society. The witchcraft was not too far-fetched as to make it unbelievable and my initial reaction to how certain abilities were obviously far inferior to others was proven completely wrong when the author completely blind-sided me with how powerful these seemingly boring abilities could be.
Jewel, if you overlook her occasional moments of stupidity and the lack of vocabulary to be able to describe a man’s attractiveness beyond “hot”, was a good character who didn’t rely on others to get her where she needed to be. She discovered a fount of independence within herself and though she was in a sticky situation, she never gave in. What’s more, her pure and tender love for her little brother was so endearing that it made the character just that much more realistic and endearing to me in turn. Jayden was quite possibly the best character in the whole book!(less)
This is a case of a book that lies outside my comfort zone. It is fairly rare that I will read books about every day tee...moreFull review can be found here.
This is a case of a book that lies outside my comfort zone. It is fairly rare that I will read books about every day teen issues nowadays (though I did enjoy them when I was a teen myself), and it would seem that this is for a reason. Last month I read a similar book and had a similar experience. In both cases I found myself faced with a book that I recognised as being a good read with a good message, but one that just didn’t really fit my own personal tastes.
I guess that this is really a coming of age story. It was a very interesting decision to choose to write it from a male point of view. There are too few stories of this genre out there with male narrators, though I suppose that this could in part be due to a very restricted male audience for such books. This said, it was a different experience to see a boy tackling issues such as how and when to go forward – when to take that next step in a relationship, when it’s the right time to take things to the physical level for the first time.
It has to be said that, for me, the synopsis was a little misleading. When I read “the disaster of his senior year”, I expected Jameson to be tackling issues in school as well as outside school. I never really felt that his school year was threatened, or that there was ever a point where his high school career was under threat. That said, I am not American so I have no idea just how devastating it would be to be told you will potentially not be allowed to walk at your graduation. I doubt it’s such a big deal that it could be considered that your school life is falling apart, though.
Really, everything goes well for Jameson in school. He’s pretty much on a high as he’s a very strong swimmer competing for the school team with no small modicum of success. Sometimes things spill over from his home life and he seems to spend a day or two moping about, but I seem to remember that being pretty much normal!
Other than the school thing, I quite liked Jameson as a character as he grew and realised that things are not always black and white and there’s a whole range of shades of grey in-between. Sky brought out the best in him when he just comes across her on a street corner (she’s walking home, not ‘working’) and she insists that if they are to be friends then he needs to be honest about absolutely everything. It is through his relationship with her and the honesty that she demands on him that he realises just how dishonest things have been up until this point.
Take Sarah for example, the girl Jameson is “in love with”. The two of them have been best friends for three years. In all that time, he’s secretly liked her but never plucked up the nerve to tell her about it. Now, Sarah’s got a boyfriend – the school’s resident jerk who likes to check out all the ladies. It takes a while but eventually Jameson realises that Sarah’s made her choice: it wasn’t him and he needs to let her make her own mistakes even if it means that their friendship won’t survive. He was never brutally honest with her and now that he’s decided that honesty is the road to take, she doesn’t want to hear his opinions. It’s ironic really, isn’t it? Ignorance (or turning a blind eye as the case may be) really is bliss.
Sky herself is a wonderful character. True, she keeps secrets from Jameson when she demands honesty from him so she’s rather hypocritical in that respect, but she has her reasons. Though I don’t necessarily agree with those reasons, I do understand where she’s coming from and when her secret is revealed my heart broke for her. I can’t even begin to imagine the mental trials and tribulations that such a situation would incur. I liked how open Sky seemed to be; how she was willing to take a chance on a boy who obviously still harboured feelings for another girl; how she forced herself to swallow her fears and face life with a positive outlook.
The events with Jameson’s father also lead to some very powerful scenes. Personally, I wouldn’t have reacted in the same way – while Jameson gives way to his anger, I’m one of those people who swallow everything, simmer in the anger and close a door that it takes a lot to get me to reopen. Consequently, I did find myself frustrated with his actions at times but only because this is written in the first person – I – and “I” would never react in such a manner.
It was also an interesting decision to mix up cultures. Jameson is pretty much American through and through despite his Mexican heritage, but Sky is Native American and she comes from a community in Alaska. I liked the little hints about how things work in her community, their beliefs and how they go about their daily life. It’s fairly rare that I will ever read a book that contains such titbits about Native American life (but only because they’re not featured in the genres that I prefer) so this was a nice change for me.
At the end of the day, this book was a really good, very well told story that will end up with many fans. But it wasn’t the story for me. I prefer what I read to have some form of threat throughout while this story was more the idea of coming to terms with life and growing up. It was a well-crafted piece and conveys a good message about being honest with not only the world around you, but also yourself.(less)
The first thing that struck me about this book upon completion of it is that the prologue and the epilogue are separate...moreFull review can be found here.
The first thing that struck me about this book upon completion of it is that the prologue and the epilogue are separate from the story itself. For one, they’re narrated in the first person by Emily herself at some unknown time in her life and they’re in the present tense. Well, most of the prologue is anyway. Part way through it slips into the past tense for a while for no discernible reason before going back to the present tense. They also don’t really make sense with what information we glean from the story. In both, Amy is disillusioned with her life as an angel but we encounter nothing in the book that would explain why she has become so disillusioned. As such, I felt that they stuck out: they didn’t make sense in the context of this story and though there are hints that we may come to understand her feelings better after the next book, there could potentially be an infinite number of books, or ‘lives’, before Emily gets to this present.
The main body of the story is presented as Emily reading about herself – one of her human lives. As an angel, she gets sent to live out a human life that ended before its time but there’s a catch: once she’s sent to live a new life, she doesn’t remember the old one. So the stories of the angels' human lives are recorded in books for them to read. Until Next Time is about Emily’s first mission to live among the humans.
On Earth, she is forced to come to terms with human emotions and she has no memories of her angelic self. For all intents and purposes, she is Liz – a young Irish woman at the turn of the 19th century. The other half of her angelic team, Matt the warrior, is also there but because their memories have been wipes, they don’t remember each other.
Liz runs the local pub with her friend, Faith. When two strangers beg for shelter during a storm, both of their lives are turned upside down. The strangers turn out to be two young men, Charles and Jason, who very conveniently turn out to be romantic interests for Faith and Liz. This is where the book doesn’t just touch on one of my personal pet peeves but really chucks it in the reader’s face. I’m not fond of love at first sight at the best of times but in this case it happens to four characters at once and I just didn’t buy it at all.
What’s more, Matt was also presented as a romantic interest. Of course, he’d grown up with Emily and they’d spent all their time together in training. I can understand where feelings came from in this case even if I’m not shown the evolution of them – not that I’m shown the evolution of them with Jason either; they just suddenly sprouted there.
I never really knew which of the two men in Emily/Liz’s life I was supposed to be rooting for. I still don’t. Honestly, I didn’t really like either of them all that much. I found Matt to be hypocritical when he gets high and mighty because Emily went and fell in love with a human but he did exactly the same thing. And Jason never grew as a character beyond his love for Liz and his willingness to take things at her pace even though he wants more from her (because he fell in love with her the moment he met her and wanted to marry her, as Charles and Faith did, but she held back).
Another thing that left me unable to appreciate Jason as a romantic interest was the whole thing with Angela. (view spoiler)[It was far from romantic. Especially as Jason admits that he never stopped loving his angel. It’s… I don’t know, I feel like Angela deserved more. Every woman deserves to be loved completely by her partner and Jason couldn’t possibly love Angela completely because he still loved Liz. (hide spoiler)]
All in all, neither of the males really appealed to me and I didn’t buy the relationship between Liz and Jason, so the romance aspect of the book didn’t work for me.
I liked the ideas behind the angels, though, and how they worked by taking on a life that was destined for more but the human soul left the shell too soon. It seemed a little weird to me that they didn’t really meet any other angels while they were rushing around Heaven. Other than the well-known saints, that is. Maybe in future books, hey? The saints and archangels that were around were all fun characters very different from how I tend to picture them myself. I thought it was a great twist to give them a sense of humour!
The portrayal of Heaven was original as well, if a little confusing at times. Ok, so it was the wands in the lightning room that confused me. I don’t know what happened, whether I zoned out as their explanation was given (very possible) or what. Despite this, I did like how Heaven worked and the scenes where the angels were brought back to Heaven were a good breather from the scenes down on Earth.
Obviously, this being a book about angels, it has a significant religious aspect. My only problem with this is that it sometimes becomes so Christian that it ostracises readers of other religious beliefs. There are some parts that are particularly preachy and I’d find myself zoning out each time. It could just be the Christian fiction I’ve read but I’ve found that each time there’s a passage that could be construed as insinuating that I, as a non-Christian, should be pitied because I don’t happen to believe in the Christian God. I realise that the author is American and that society’s view of religion is very different there, but I find it insulting when it is implied that I should need to turn to someone else’s deity to live my life right.
Other than this, I enjoyed the book well enough and the epilogue has piqued my interest enough for me to want to read the next book. Maybe then I’ll figure out whether I’m supposed to be rooting for the angel or the human!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)