An Insomniac’s Dream – Complex Characters, A Tense Storyline, and Twists You Won’t See Coming

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With most books, it’s always the characters that grab me first, and Allison Cosgrove has created one of my favourite crime detectives of all time. Stan Brookshire is troubled, complex and has a dark edge to him that you can feel creeping along through the storyline. All of Cosgrove’s characters are well-developed and thought out; none of them are one-dimensional. Even the villain of the story – who often can become a caricature – is present here cleverly through POV switches as a man who feels wronged. While you don’t side with him (as he is the villain, after all), you can be inside his head and understand the way he thinks. These are characters you really feel along the way, seeing their innermost thoughts and hopes.

Cosgrove’s writing style reminds me very much of Cormac McCarthy’s style of writing, making the book very fast-paced and using only what’s necessary in terms of grammar. While some people might not like this style, I think it works well in a thriller, adding a steady pace that keeps your heart racing as you flick over the pages. There were a couple of instances where I would have liked a comma or two thrown in, but as with all books, there’s always a few bits missed. There were also a couple of places were there was a lot of information at times after dialogues where I felt perhaps it could have had more action, but again, that’s mostly personal choice.

The storyline was fantastic. I loved the idea of switching between Stan and Jane’s POV, and the villain’s POV. It really helped to create a tension that kept up throughout the whole novel as the reader is subjected to knowing something before the police, and hoping they can figure it all out in time. There were enough twists I didn’t see coming, or twists that I suspected but never knew when they would hit, to keep you on the edge of your seat, and just like a true crime novel, you’re trying to be armchair detective all the way through to put the pieces together. I hated having to put the book down to do other things! The dialogue is brilliant too, with a good dose of humour peppered through that really makes it feel like a real conversation between two people sat in front of you, rather than just ‘book characters’.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent book, and I loved the characters, setting and storyline. There were a few issues with telling rather showing, and the odd missing comma (which as I said, is easily missed even if several people look over something), but these are mostly my personal taste, and definitely do not detract from what is a dark, tense novel with some brilliant characters. I also like Cosgrove’s style of writing, which keeps it fast-paced and keeps the pages turning ever quicker. I give this book 4.5 stars, and I’m heading straight over to get the next one.

Get your copy here!

Five Star

Review of The First Night – A Wild, Romantic Surprise

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The Good: While I’m normally a little nervous of contemporary romances because it’s not my preferred genre, this book set all my nervousness aside. This isn’t a book full of stereotypes and the traditional ‘wispy woman must be saved by hunky man’. This book is full of flawed, well-rounded, strong characters who are their own people first, and a couple second – which only makes the ensuing romance that bit more delicious. It drives the storyline until the last page, which is full of engaging dialogue, twisting twists and don’t-touch-me-it’s-too-hot sex scenes. Also, um….PANCAKES. Yeah, you’ll want some pancakes after reading this. I’m just saying.

The Bad: For me, it was that the book was a little short; but that’s a personal opinion. I prefer a longer book that can go deeper into the characters and storyline, but I certainly wouldn’t hold this against the story. Also, as this is the first in a series, it may be that the storyline delves deeper in later novels. While I thought the dialogue was engaging, I also found a few parts a little less polished than other parts. I thought for some of these they could perhaps have been drawn out a bit more, but it doesn’t stilt the story.

Overall: This is a fast, engaging, romantic read that I would recommend to anyone who like sassy, strong heroines, heroes who are genuine gentlemen, and a fun, wild ride. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I’m glad Sidda Lee Tate has changed my mind on the idea of what a contemporary romance can be. I give this book 4.5 out of 5!

Grab your copy here!

Four Star

Review of The Seals of Abgal -A Story that Will Grip You

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Okay, first of all, I must mention the cover. Anyone who knows me on Facebook knows I found the cover through there, and waffled on about it forever. It’s gorgeous. But, does the story match that stunning cover? YES.

I was sucked in from the first page. I literally decided to read a few pages, to see how it was, and half an hour passed before I realised how far in I’d read! The imagery is lovely in this book, very poetic. It’s a richly described book that puts me in mind of books from another era. Which isn’t a bad thing, if you’re like me, and love that style. There were a few places where it could have been even better with more showing rather than telling, but it certainly doesn’t distract from the story itself.

The plotline itself was well-though out and researched. I felt as though the author was leading me slowly through this winding tapestry of a story, instead of info-dumping all in one go. The story unfolded naturally, rather than rushing to get to the action-filled parts. The mixture of dark fantasy and folklore was a fabulous mixture, and I love it when authors go a little rogue from a genre and just write the story. And the twist was AMAZING…but you’ll have to pick it up to find out what it was. I’m not telling here!

I cannot wait to read more from this author, and I seriously suggest you grab this book if you like richly-described, dark, fantastical plots, and well-imagined characters that will drag you into the basement with them. For a first book, this really is awesome. The only teeny weeny point is that it would be nice to have more ‘showing’ and less ‘telling’ in parts, but maybe that’s just me being over-critical. I would not hesitate to let everyone know about this book, and tell them to read it!

A resounding 4.5 Stars–and as I can only leave whole stars on here, I’m going to make it a full 5 Stars, as I just can’t mark this down to 4 Stars. 🙂

Grab your copy here!

Five Star

Review of The Shade – A Novella That Will Leave You Wanting A Full Novel

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I loved this story. The characters were vivid and crisp, and Cillian has to be one of my new favourite literary hotties. It gripped me from the first page, launching straight into a dialogue between Cillian and one of the creepiest villains. The story moved with pace, but no detail was left out, and there was clearly a lot of research put into it. This was such an original storyline, and a cool idea.

The descriptions were well-crafted, and the story flowed well, even though it flitted back and forth between real life, and the dream world. At some points, you began to wonder yourself just like Everly, and were not sure which was which! There were a few parts that made you jump with shock, and there is one scene towards the end that is drenched in drama. And then-the end! That was so powerful it was fantastic. Not to mention the sex scene was HAWT.

This book is perfect for a quick read that is full of drama, horror, and sexiness, all drenched with an unusual twist on the paranormal, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a great read.

Grab your copy here! (Plus there’s an audiobook!)

Five Star

 

Review of Welcome To The Family – A Fresh Take On Vampires

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The Good: The story is original and fresh in the tired world of vampires. The main character, unlike the usual sort, doesn’t start off as the ass-kicking, strong, smart-quip heroine you might expect….she’s more human than that. She’s vulnerable, she makes bad decisions, and she’s easily swayed – to start with. But as the story develops, Angela ‘wises up’ and starts to truly stand on her own two feet. It’s subtle, but it’s a change that’s definitely marked by the last page. I was engrossed by the many backstories of even the minor characters (but not so many that you feel it’s bogged down), as it definitely adds to the build-up of this strange midnight society.The romance in this book also isn’t your usual romance – it’s honest. Without giving anything away, Angela does what we all do at one point; thinks she’s fallen in love with someone who, really…she just wants to jump in bed with. I don’t see a problem with this, it’s just another reason that the book stays grounded firmly in what might really happen in real life.

The Bad: I felt there was a little more telling than showing, BUT….I would expect this from any writer’s first book, and it didn’t put me off enough to stop reading, because you can just tell that Caroline Levy’s third or fourth, or fifth book will just excel beyond this, and the storytelling voice will only grow stronger. There were some characters it might have been nice to see more fleshed out, but that’s my personal preference as I’m nosy and want to know about ALL of them! And I know there’s another book coming, so hopefully some of my questions are answered there.

Overall: I did love this book. Yes, it’s the author’s first book, and so we know it’s never going to be as good as her third, or many more, but already it’s a compelling, honest, vivid story – and that’s what I look for in a book. The main thing; did I enjoy it? A resounding yes. The main character is one of those who starts off almost unlikeable, but she grows in quiet strength throughout the book, and she’s a character where we can recognise so many flaws in ourselves. I would recommend this book to readers who liked Twilight, and enjoy a vivid telling of a story, and the heroine who changes just like we would.

Grab your copy here!

Five Star

Review of The Spice Bride – A Regency Romance With Style!

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Karen Aminadra has skillfully written a Regency romance that is much more than just a romance. This is a true historical novel, one which draws you in with drama, intrigue, emotions, even some fabulously well-crafted moments of shock. Rather than being a simple narration of what happens to two young people in an arranged marriage at this period of time, we are treated to the most intimate thoughts of both Grace Haywood and Richard Emberton as they prepare for marriage and their lives together, in a style that is both well-crafted and has flair.

Which leads to the characters themselves. They are charming, witty, likeable and well fleshed-out. You become so attached to them, that when they do something hasty or wrong you are quick to scream at them for being so stupid, and flip the pages ever faster until you discover how they can repair the damage they may have done. There are a few moments in which, to me, a character feels as though they have done something they wouldn’t normally do, but these points are scarce and don’t detract from the story. There is a wonderful edge of dramatic tension in Aminadra’s novel, that starts with the fragile thoughts and desires of the two main characters at the beginning, and doesn’t leave until the (very) happy ending. But the secondary characters are not left out – rather than being mere backdrops for the protagonists to play their story out against, they are brought vividly into the book with their own thoughts, ideas and problems. This makes the novel feel even more finely crafted as sub-plots weave themselves into the main plot, both moving it along and throwing some spanners in the works along the way. I also enjoyed the way in which the main characters deal with their relationship. In a period where the upper classes often arranged marriages to suit purpose, Aminadra manages to create a relationship between two likeable but opposed characters that feels natural and real. It doesn’t feel as though anything is rushed or should have the prefix ‘insta’ before it. Instead, as you are drawn into the story, you are drawn into the complex workings of the relationships with not only Grace and Richard, but all those around them as well.

Overall, I loved this book. While I enjoy historical fiction, the Regency period is not one I’ve read a lot of, not feeling that I would enjoy it as much as others – but Karen Aminadra has changed my mind completely! I can guarantee I will be picking up the next books in this series, because I cannot rest until I know exactly how everything turns out for the next two brothers. The book is well-written, with a smooth, cohesive plot that isn’t just perfectly constructed, but has style and flair about it. The characters really drive this story, but the settings and descriptions will leave a mouth-wateringly close taste of the early nineteenth-century, as will the references to the highly-charged political matters going on at the time. The Spice Bride is a book for anyone who enjoys reading about historical periods, drama with a hint of romance and humour, and surprising characters who you will quickly grow to love. I cannot give this book less than five stars, because it’s an absolute gem.

Grab your copy here!

Five Star

Review: Lavender Lane by Christina Jones

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Home is where the heart is…

Bob and Amy Phillips and their four grown-up children run Lavender Cabs in the small Berkshire market town of Appleford.
Everyone is involved.
The business has grown – through three generations – into a thriving taxi and garage business.
But when Bob is taken ill, he and Amy decide to retire to Devon but to do this they would have to sell the business which would throw the entire family’s lives into turmoil…

51cP-TWLOxL._UX250_Christina Jones is a much beloved and prolific British Contemporary Women’s author. I have meant to do a review on one of her books for simply ages, but never got round to it!

Lavender Lane is about the Phillips family…and its extended members. And therein lies my only complaint about Lavender Lane; there are so many characters in the book that it took me quite a while to get my head around who is who, I have to admit!
However, the book is a fabulous read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The sign of a good writer is that they can get you emotionally involved and caring about the characters. So, when Bob was taken ill, despite being warned in the blurb about it, I still cried. Yes, actual tears! She even managed to have me hating a couple of the characters — read it and you’ll know who I mean. I am so glad they had their own ‘happy ending’ to everyone’s satisfaction.
I particularly love the way Christina weaves all the different threads of the tale together, with misunderstandings and arguments galore, but brings them all neatly to a satisfying conclusion too. And that’s how the book ends; in total and utter satisfaction!
I would heartily recommend her novels and I look forward to getting to the next one nestled atop my reading list!

Check out Lavender Lane by Christina Jones HERE.

Four Star

IMG_20150512_175832bandwReview by Karen Aminadra