Tuesday, 6 February 2018

The Bastard's Bargain by Katee Roberts

Synopsis:

Married to the enemy

When Keira O'Malley was a child, she used to picture her perfect wedding. The flowers. The dress. Her husband. But nothing could have prepared her for saying "I do" to Dmitri Romanov-cold, domineering, and always one step ahead of everyone else in the ever-shifting power plays of New York City. She agreed to his bargain to secure peace for her family, and she may want the bastard more than she'd ever admit, but she'll be damned if she'll make this marriage easy for him.

Dmitri knows better than to underestimate Keira for one second. Molten desire smolders between them, a dangerous addiction neither can resist. But his enemies are already on the move, and he needs every ounce of his legendary focus and control to keep them alive. Keira could just be his secret weapon-if she doesn't bring him to his knees first.

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Review:

I have such mixed feelings about this book. As the final book in the series, featuring two previously-introduced characters, I wanted to love it.

For a romance, it was great! Dark, steamy, fast-paced, and both Dmitri and Keira learn and grow from being around each other. I adored Keira’s character growth as she took ownership of her life and choices for possibly the first time. Dmitri is just as dangerous and sexy as you would expect, with hidden depths that make him even more alluring. I was a bit let down by some unexplained plot twists at the end – they felt rushed, but didn’t detract from the overall experience. However, it wasn’t just a romance, it was an ending.

For the last book in the O’Malley series, I was disappointed. There was surprisingly little O’Malley presence, save Keira herself, and no closure. Keira’s downward spiral started with Devlin’s death – and no one talks about this. This omission felt glaring given how much it affected Keira. Would it have been too much to ask for some real family interaction?

If you’re looking for a dark romance with criminal characters, don’t miss this. If you have been waiting for the youngest O’Malley sibling to wrap up her family’s story, lower your expectations.

Three unsatisfied stars

I received an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Kissing Strangers by Alethea Spiridon

Synopsis:

So many frogs. So few princes. 

Every single (and soon-to-be-single) woman knows the Dating Horror Stories. The guy who charms your panties off before he bolts. The funeral planner with a foot fetish. The Early Ejaculator. Or that filmmaker looking for a soul mate—provided you don't mind he lied about his height, his weight, his wife, and... oh look, a micropenis. How nice. 

The bad news is that these guys exist. The good news? There are ways to find them, avoid them, and concentrate your energies on non-fuckwits. Who, as it turns out, also exist. Hurrah! 

From deciphering Man Speak to the sexy perks of 30-year-old men, Catfishing 101, navigating hookup culture, and the safety precautions every woman should take, author Alethea Spiridon taps into her own hilarious—and occasionally heart-crushing—experiences in the dating world. Funny, forthright, and hopeful, Kissing Strangers is a survival-based how-to guide about looking for love online ... and how to separate the men from the frogs. 

Review:


First up, I have not done online dating. Despite some good friends finding their significant others online, I found it intimidating and kinda weird. Alethea Spiridon lifts the veil on online dating in this sometimes hilarious, sometimes sobering book about her experiences. I found it a really good primer on how to go about online dating and things to look out for. It covers ‘rules’ to follow, the right attitude to take, and is peppered with personal experiences both good and bad. If this is a pool you’re thinking of dipping your foot into – or one you’re already in, this is a fantastic resource.

Unfortunately, it’s also put me off the experience myself. I know that 1 in 3 people find their partner online, but I think I want to be one of the other 2. It all sounds exhausting and I’m not ready to start kissing a lot of frogs to meet my prince. Maybe I’ll change my mind in the future – in which case this will be my go-to book. Until then, this will stay an entertaining but unused cover on my eReader.

Three Tinder'ing Stars

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. 
Find out more at: Goodreads | Amazon

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Starlings by Jo Walton

Synopsis:

An intimate first flight of short fiction from award-winning novelist Jo Walton (Among Others, The King’s Peace).

A strange Eritrean coin travels from lovers to thieves, gathering stories before meeting its match. Google becomes sentient and proceeds toward an existential crisis. An idealistic dancer on a generation ship makes an impassioned plea for creativity and survival. Three Irish siblings embark on an unlikely quest, stealing enchanted items via bad poetry, trickery, and an assist from the Queen of Cats. 
With these captivating initial glimpses into her storytelling psyche, Jo Walton shines through subtle myths and wholly reinvented realities. Through eclectic stories, subtle vignettes, inspired poetry, and more, Walton soars with humans, machines, and magic—rising from the everyday into the universe itself.


Review:

Starlings is a collection of short fiction – short stories, poetry, and everything in between. They are mostly scifi with a sprinkling of fantasy and a side of religion and mythology. There are literary allusions, historical snippets, some alternate history. Some of it's confusing and some of it's disturbing and some of it's funny and some of it's inspired, and I suspect every reader will find different ones tickles their fancy.

Personally, my favourites were Jane Austen to Cassandra, Turnover, Tradition, and A Burden Shared. It shows great talent that these four are such different stories; I never felt like this collection got dull or repetitive. If you’re looking for some entertaining light reading, pick up Starlings.

Four fragmentary stars

I received a copy of this story from the author through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Synopsis:

With the help of pivotal figures from her past, Cat begins to understand the root of her exceptional magic, her fated union with Griffin Sinta, and Griffin's role in shaping her destiny.

Only Cat holds the key to unlocking her own power, and that means finally accepting herself, her past, and her future in order to protect her loved ones, confront her murderous mother, and taking a final, terrifying step--reuniting all three realms and taking her place as the Queen of Thalyria.
What doesn't kill her will only make her stronger...we hope.

Review:

Wow.

What. A. Ride.

Heart of Fire starts with a heart-breaking family confrontation and ends with one that puts it back together. It’s a stunning inferno of a book, a fitting conclusion to a fantastic trilogy.

 The plot bursts breathlessly from confrontation to confrontation so quickly, you barely notice Cat’s bouts of navel-gazing. She had a terrible childhood and only in this book is it clear how badly it scarred her. Most of the book is her learning to accept herself and control her considerable powers, a journey that takes her back to the Ice Plains, down into Tartarus, and all the way back to her homeland of Fisa.

I enjoyed the foundation of Greek mythology, which becomes even more apparent in this instalment. It limited the world-building the author had to do without forgoing richness and it was also interesting to wonder if this is some offshoot of our own world.

This can’t be read as a standalone, as it refers to past events throughout. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if the previous events had happened on page, which caused some confusion but not enough to push me out of the story.

It’s not a perfect book, but it was such fun to read and (mostly) ended Cat and Griffin’s story on a satisfying note. I could see side-characters being paired off, which I really like in an ending. There is some mystery on the fate of one character, but I’m hoping that’s a sequel hook, or at least short story fodder. All in all, a worthy end to a wonderful debut and I eagerly await what the author writes next.

Four fiery stars


I received a copy of this story from the author through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 1 January 2018

The Liar in the Library by Simon Brett

Synopsis:

When an author event at the local library ends in murder, Jude finds herself a suspect in the waspishly witty new Fethering mystery.

Having been booked to give a talk at Fethering Library, successful author Burton St Clair invites his old friend Jude to come along. Although they haven't met for twenty years, Jude is not surprised to find that St Clair hasn't changed, with his towering ego and somewhat shaky relationship with the truth. What Jude hadn't been suspecting however was that the evening would end in sudden, violent death.


More worrying, from Jude's point of view, is the fact that the investigating police officers seem to be convinced that she herself was responsible for the crime. With the evidence stacking up against her, Jude enlists the help of her neighbour Carole not just to solve the murder but to prevent herself from being arrested for committing it.


Review:

This was a solid mystery, if not particularly suspenseful. There were some fun references to Golden Age Detective Fiction which made the murderer obvious, so the rat race from suspect to suspect seemed a little contrived, as did the evidence that pointed to Jude (the POV character).

 I have not read any of Burton’s other works but it still works okay as a standalone, though I had no connection with the characters, which made it harder for me to care about them. All in all it was a good book but not a great one.

Three solid stars

I received a copy of this story from the author through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert

Romance, murder, and a small town librarian

Can I start off by saying that Amy will resonate with anyone who has worked in a library in the last twenty years? If you have any experience with that, any fond (or exasperating memories), then this book is worth a look for that alone.

Once we are introduced to Amy’s work at the library, we are quickly introduced to the twin mysteries at the heart of the book: the murder of an elderly resident in the library archives and a decades-old murder that brings Amy in close contact with her handsome new neighbour. There’s a nice layering of the two (of course it all ends up connected) and while it starts out confusing it does tie together nicely at the end.

I enjoyed reading this book – it’s a solid cosy mystery with an interesting theme that actually helps solve the murder.

Four archived stars


I received a copy of this story from the author through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Undercover Attraction by Katee Robert

Dangerously sexy and addictive

Two years ago, I read the first in this series, then completely missed the next three until this one came up for review (it is Book 5). I’m now eager to fill in the gaps because I forgot how good these were. Book 1 (the Marriage Contract) detailed the start of the splintering of the O’Malley siblings but in Undercover Attraction, we get to see the family start to rebuild bridges that were burnt when I wasn’t watching.

I don’t know how much of the back story came up in other books but I found it easy enough to follow along. Charlie is an ex-cop who was framed for accepting bribes then abandoned by everyone she knew. Aidan O’Malley is the head of the O’Malley crime family, willing to do whatever it takes to protect his family – even faking an engagement with the daughter of a fed.

I loved how Charlie built relationships with the O’Malley siblings and her utter fearlessness in calling Aidan out in a way no-one else can or would. Her relationship with Keira is particularly lovely to see unfold. Aidan was a bit more of a puzzle, but his determination to do what was best for the family as nicely tempered by his love for his siblings.

Katee Roberts successfully manages to make crime lords sympathetic and blurs the lines between right and wrong for both Charlie and the reader. Her characters are flawed but vibrant, their conflicts often deadly. Undercover Attraction can be read as a standalone but I now want to read all the others in the series, especially the upcoming Book 6.

Five criminal stars


I received a copy of this story from the author through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.