Saturday, 31 December 2016

Book Review: Tempting Jo by Nancee Cain.

This was a great little book and takes the crown of  being the last book I have read and reviewed in 2016!

There is a strong tongue in cheek flavour to this story of Angel versus Devil , battling with their particular allures for the soul of an (almost) pure young woman. The  plot was fairly predictable, but as I have said several times, it is not the destination but the journey that counts and this was a satisfying little romance with enough spice to suit any fan of the genre.

The trick is to fall in love with both men so there is always just a tinge of regret that one wins and the other doesn't, due to the supernatural prowess of both adversaries we get satisfactory results for both handsome celestial beings.

This premise of Angels on Earth is perhaps not new but Ms Cain embues her characters with enough strengths and failings to make them likeable.God  himself is just delightfully eccentric in his omniscience!

If Jo is anything to go by, this series will not get stale. Looking forward to reading more.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The Amulet Thief - Fitheach trilogy Bk1. Luanne Bennett

The Amulet Thief by Luanne Bennett

This kind of book was my reading bread and butter for many moons, but I had erred away from them in the last year, but the premise here was just too tantalising.

As a TBConFB reader copy, I  have been privileged to read this magical romp  and did so with great glee. All the best elements are present, feisty young heroine, in this case it is Irish heritage that demands she be a Red Head. Part of a clan of witches, unbeknownst to her, her heritage means both she and a family heirloom are now integral to the survival of all that is good and great about humanity. Suddenly besieged  by unseen assailants with frightening powers, she is reluctantly taken in by people who claim to know her murdered mother.

We have handsome clansman Greer ( think Adonis rather than bearded bear), glamorous lady witches just to add a frisson of uncertainty to the immediate attraction both mysterious hero and heroine have for each other and a even more confusing satyr with a dangerous sexual allure who appears to be not an evil force, but just an irritating thorn in Greer’s shoe a distraction, he could do without but is not unmanageable.

The magic adversaries here , the almost faceless Wolves appears to more  about the sneak attack than all out battle of the powers, and the amassed “Ravens” do not seem more than shadowy figures in this first outing, but then this first book in the series appears to be a gradual revelatory journey for Alex as she realises just how embroiled she has been in this murky and quite frankly frightening world since birth  and how so many of the truths she held dear were as insubstantial as smoke from the incense on sale at the Magic shop where the story’s origin was really forged.

I enjoyed it as an introductory taster to this series. Now  that Alex’s power seems to be manifesting, I am certain that the breadth and scope of the mythology can be given full reign in the next instalment


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Book Review: A Year and a day by Isabelle Broom

A Year and a Day  by  Isabelle Broom.

Contemporary Romance.

“ A Year and a Day” is really a love letter to the wonderful city of Prague. It is a character in its own right within this narrative and acts as a counter point to the emotional turmoil being played out beneath  its turrets and upon the frosted cobbles. The traditional setting is wonderful against some very contemporary facets of love

 This is a perfect story for  the wintertime, you can almost taste the rich meaty goodness of the goulash and smell the spiced sweet scent of the mulled wines, ciders and deep creamy hot chocolate. In fact as a reader in the week approaching Christmas, this was a near perfect choice.

There is a surprisingly deep current of melancholy pervading the stories of each of the main six characters here, three couples all at differing points in their relationships, bound together by shared hotel accommodation and chance encounters  which lead them almost unwillingly to become spectators into the hidden depths of their fellow travellers complex feelings, turmoil and loves.

Each person is approaching their trip as a chance for change or renewal, hoping that magic will mend what is fractured. All are stymied by fear of some sort, all are hiding hurts and disappointments that they all seek to bury in the romance of the magical city. This is not a cosy romance, but it is all the better for the jagged edges of the emotions played out.

These are all good people with the most sincere of intentions, but to some degree all in denial. You warm to them all the more because of their frailties and so are more emotionally invested in their travails. My personal favourite is Ollie, the best friend who aches for more, but I liked all the characters and whilst I had realised pretty early on the curveball we would be presented with, as with any great story, the journey is as important as the destination.

There is a particular magic in the way Ms Bloom evokes the atmosphere of Prague in the winter and I sense that the Czech Republic will be boosted in their tourism  trade as this book hits the public consciousness, forget the trite tales of Parisian lovers , now comes the grittier, earthier story ,set in gothic splendour and olde world charm with a bite as strong as the frigid wind in the Wenceslas Square.

This is a treat of a book, so settle down with the spiced hot beverage of your choices and enjoy. Many Thanks to the great folks at Netgalley and to author Isabelle Broom for the chance to read this story, a solid Five star experience.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Book Review: Santa Claus, Lies and Murder by Sibel Hodge.

Santa Claus, Lies and Murder by Sibel Hodge.

Having never read a Amber Fox story before, I can confidently say that  this will not be my last. This Christmas themed Mystery was a perfect confection of  savvy Heroine, sexy boyfriend and eccentric team of sidekicks. I warmed to the characters quickly which is no mean feat taking into account the brevity of the tale. They have distinct personalities  and characteristics which is really refreshing in a book of this genre.

The crime itself  is lots of fun, the missing bones of St Nicholas and a group of potential suspects in a provincial Museum. Amber can handle herself and this is more mystery than thriller, but it is fast paced and a great taster for the other stories in the series which appear to follow Amber from her fall from  grace at the Police force to the cemented place amongst her peers at the insurance investigation firm with her Hunky Man Brad.

A very enjoyable read!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Claudes's Christmas Adventure by Sophie Pembroke

Claude's Christmas Adventure by Sophie Pembroke

This was a glorious piece of Yuletide Flotsam and Jetsam. 

Such a fun, light story about  a little French Bulldog called Claude with a voracious appetite and a penchant for gingerbread. It tells the tale of the frazzled family who leave him behind as they travel to be with the in-laws for a family Christmas that is doomed before it begins and the various Human Waifs and strays Claude  befriends in the street where he lives

As the family battle against the odds and French red tape to get home to their lost family member.

Drawn together through this common goal to reunite them, the delightfully fortuitously named Holly  and a besotted ex squaddie, now postman comrade,  Jack have a mounting task. Slowly this hapless trio enter the lives  of the lonely folk on the street who have almost completely  lost the Christmas Spirit!

Sprinkled liberally with Christmas crafts, bakes and lonely souls, this book lends itself to one of those Christmas Movie Channels and was the perfect romantic antidote to a dreary commute.

Highly recommended.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Book Review: The One by John Marrs

The One by John Marrs

This is one of those mythical books,  the ones on the lips of everyone; the book all the “right” people are talking about!  (I had heard so much about it from the hallowed halls of The Book Club on Facebook that it was impossible to ignore this opportunity to read it under it’s New Title from Publisher Del  Ray/ Ebury Publishing.)

It is  a premise so fresh, vibrant  and relevant and yet it also seems  strange that the simplicity of the idea of love truly  being determined by chemicals at a cellular level has not been used before! It is genius and it  gripped me by the throat and clung on  from the start.

“The One” maps the stories of Five souls whose soulmate has been  matched by DNA rather than the more hit and miss efforts of dating sites, speed dating or random meetings. That match is so accurate that traditional couples are being decimated as individuals discover their partners may not be those that biology dictates are their perfection and bliss.

It is really a collection of Five stories of connections unexplainable and yet utterly compelling and undeniable. From simple beginnings these relationships twist and turn as frequently as the Maze at Hampton Court Palace. Not a trace of trope or stereotype in the bunch.

The Characterisation is beautiful , each and every person has a unique set of flaws and strengths, some infinitely more likeable than others, but  even the most  inhuman is relatable if not easy to empathise with.

I liked the fact that despite what might seem the finality of scientific fact that it is human emotions and frailty that really sends the story ricocheting off into such satisfyingly unexpected directions.  Love ultimately is not linear or easily categorised even with the brightest minds trying to make it so.

I enjoyed “The One”  immensely,the blend of psychological thriller, honest to goodness Romance, and yearnings of other kinds was a  perfect concoction that was gripping from first page to last. As this was my first book by Mr Marrs I can make no comparisons, but on the strength of this experience I feel duty bound to seek out more.

Monday, 5 December 2016

An Ismael of Syria by Asaad Almohammad

Simply  one of the most stark and revealing books about Syria I have ever read.  More authentic than a myriad political correspondents and a gift to anyone interested in the region and it's current instability.

Written in the voice of Adam an angry, damaged Syrian Refugee in Malaysia. Adam can hold his own in a whole host of political discussion and debate.There is a acidity to the viewpoints here that indicates the story draws on true experience to inform this narrative.

It is upsetting and a clear unblemished mirror  being held  up to the West as many of the basic arguments bandied about in regards to the Middle East are represented, but it is refreshing to hear a Syrian Voice that is not so muddied by the immediate rigours of hunger and abuse but close enough to those ravages to be able to be a believable witness and a commentator of some  considerable deftness of political and social intelligence.

Deeply affecting and a extremely promising first novel from a writer whom I am quite sure is bound for huge things.