Bearly Married – Zoe Ashwood

Welcome back everyone, I hope you enjoyed my latest author request. I read this one directly after Truth or Bear because I just needed more. More shifter stories, more of this world. And of course, knowing who the main characters are I was interested to see how they’d start.

So, I signed up to Zoe’s newsletter list so I could grab a free copy AND know when new books are coming out, in case she doesn’t want me reviewing them anymore… Let’s hope that doesn’t happen coz I really like this series!


Writing Style

Going into this one I thought it was a short story, not a novella. So, I was expecting the pace to be quicker than it was. I realised pretty quickly when the story wasn’t moving along quick enough and there was a layer of romantic build up, but also tension.

So, don’t be fooled like I was!

Silly me thought I would finish it on my way to work then smash out the 2 other reviews I needed to write and this one on my way home, and the following days commute. Needless to say, that was taken up by this one coz the story was gripping!

The sweetness of Christine really draws you in. Especially when it’s contrasted so nicely with Alexandre’s stern, serious and desperate disposition. The way Zoe had their personalities building and developing together was so sweet. And very reminiscent of a shorter story. So I’m glad to kept this one to a novella rather than a novel.


Initial Thoughts

I was a bit confused to begin with since I thought Alexandre and Christine’s marriage was arranged, as in their parents arranged it for them. Not arranged as in Alexandre sought heiresses and interviewed them until he found one, he was interested in. So, I was a little thrown by that.

I was also thrown a little bit by how much control/input Christine had to the organisation of the marriage. But the fact that she still had some spunk to her was awesome.

I’m not going to say anything more on this now, because otherwise I’ll ruin the book for you!


Final Thoughts

If you’re reading this one as a prequel (like you’re kinda meant to) it gives you a hint of what’s to come with the series. But on a much tamer level.

Whereas if you’ve read the series (or what’s out so far) like I have. You’ll probably find yourself wondering if a certain evil person will pop up in this book.

If that’s you. Give up. It’s not happening.

I was hoping it would coz I wanted to understand them better. But it proved futile so please don’t get your hopes up.

I also found that this story followed a romance kind of story plot, rather than a paranormal one. I don’t know if I can quite explain it. But all the paranormal books I read tend to have a slightly different feel to the straight romances I read. And this felt closer to a straight romance to me.


Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Son of the Moon by Jennifer Macaire.

One? – Jennifer Cahill

Welcome back everyone, I hope you enjoyed reading about my first book box last week. This week I’m back to an author requested review, and I never know what I’m going to get with these ones!

Writing Style

I really wasn’t a fan of the way Jennifer wrote this one. So much so, I wrote to her letting her know the issues I was having with her writing style. My main problem was that it was too stilted and formal for how people really talk.

Not to mention, having the characters thoughts written out word for word rather than summarised or hinted at kept interrupting the flow of the story. But what made the flow worse for me was that we’d change character perspectives with no break to signify there’s a change.

Most books that I read that change perspective will have say a line going between the paragraphs, or one of those cute little images (say, a leaf). Or at the very least, a much bigger gap between the paragraphs. This didn’t have that, so it was just suddenly, I was following someone else.

This one is probably very minor if you’re British. But being an Aussie I don’t know the postcode system over there and Jennifer was using the postcodes as a way to signify where we were landmark wise in the story. I was left going “what is SW4? What is EC1?” because to me they mean nothing. It feels like me saying to you “o you should totally check out the Ferris Wheel at 3008!”

Seriously, how many of you know what I’m talking about right there?

Minor problem if you’re British, bit of a waste of space if it’s not explained; which it’s not but Jennifer has said she’s open to feedback and will be writing the sequel slower so it’s less stream of thought and more structured so it’s not difficult to read which is awesome! Being her first book, I think she’s done a pretty good job if my only problems are things an editor can fix!

My Thoughts

I already mentioned that all my problems with this book stem from a lack of editing. Other than that, I had some fun reading a very Sex in the City style book set in the early 2000s rather than the 90s. Given I was born in the 90s, this made it much more relatable to me.

Something else I really liked was the way Jennifer openly discussed the pressures women feel to get married, have kids but still hold a highly successful full-time career. We might be getting to really seeing that part (possibly?) but she’s hinted at it and we see and hear it in all of Penelope’s thoughts.

I especially connected with this because I personally have started to feel the pressure because I don’t want kids, but I do want my career. And I hate that people do that. Getting married, having kids and having a career are all very personal choices that every individual should be able to make without feeling judged. So, I love that this theme is starting to come through, whether it was intentional or not I’m not sure.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing the third instalment of The Time for Alexander series, Son of the Moon by Jennifer Macaire.

Truth or Bear – Zoe Ashwood

Welcome back everyone, I hope you enjoyed last week’s dystopian review because we have another change of pace this week! This week I’ve gone back to Zoe’s Shifter series, this time with her latest release. So, if you like the sounds of it please go and support her by grabbing a copy.

Writing Style

This book felt more action packed than Trust the Wolf, and in a way it was. We started off with an action scene rather than a potentially romantic interlude scene.

Thinking back (I’m writing this review a week after reading the book, and after also reading Bearly Married, the prequel to the series) it feels like Zoe started off with what was safe and easy to write about. And with each book has explored something new.

Whether it be a new angle for love. A new level of intimacy and the build up of desire. And in this book, it feels like she’s exploring her ability to write about the action scenes.

There’s more detail in them, more focus on them and they feel like they belong more. From my knowledge, this series is Zoe’s first published books (sorry Zoe if I got that wrong!) so I’d say it’s normal to see that progression.

I just find it interesting coz I can’t say I’ve noticed it in other authors. It doesn’t mean it’s not there. I just haven’t noticed it like I have with Zoe’s writing.

Initial Thoughts

Initially I was a bit disappointed. But that probably has more to do with me not reading the blurb before asking for this book after finishing Trust the Wolf.

If I had have read the blurb, I wouldn’t have set myself up for disappointment, so that’s totally on me. Not Zoe.

Why was I disappointed?

Because this book doesn’t continue to follow Emilia and Jason. Instead it, follow’s Emilia’s cousin Claire and her love interest Nik from about 2 months into their relationship. And I wanted to know how Emilia went in her new job and how she was going adjusting to the Shifter world.

But I didn’t get my wish. Instead, I got two new characters that I wasn’t sure I’d like.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I actually ended up enjoying Claire and Nik’s story, which I really wasn’t sure I would.

It did get off to a rocky start, but over time I ended up enjoying their banter and their acceptance of their positions. I think it’s really mature of them and I’m glad Zoe brought up the issue of falling for someone when you weren’t meant to and struggling to figure out how it could possibly work.

Luckily, Claire’s father is really understanding which is something I can relate to. Reading about someone else facing these challenges reminded me of when I was experiencing the same issues.

The only difference is, I could at least turn to my mum which Claire couldn’t really do.

I’m not sure I love Claire and Nik as much as I love Emilia and Jason. But I don’t know how much of that is to do with the fact that I read their story first, or because their story was actually better. I’ll have to keep thinking on that one.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Brooklyn by Colm Toibin Continue to read further down to find out about the Zoe.

Author Bio

Zoe Ashwood is a romance writer with a passion for sweet stories with a sexy twist. While she’s always been a reader, Zoe’s writing used to be limited to diary scribbles and bad (really bad) teenage poetry. Then she participated in NaNoWriMo 2015 and never looked back.

Some 400,000 words later, she’s still in love with the art of making up stories—and making her characters fall in love. Trust the Wolf is her debut novel.

When she’s not writing, Zoe works as a literary translator. She’s happily married to her best friend and has two small boys who are as stubborn as they’re cute.

She’s active on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but her newsletter or Facebook Group are the best way of keeping in touch! She is also on Pintrest if you're interested.

Group

Legends of Persia – Jennifer Macaire

Welcome back everyone, last week I participated in a pretty epic book tour, so I hope you checked out some of the other’s involved in that one.

When Rachel put out that Jennifer had come back pretty much as soon as the tour for the first book was over to have the second book reviewed, I did not waste a second replying and pretty much begging for a spot on the tour schedule.

And lucky me got a place! Yay! If you haven’t read my review of The Road to Alexander, I suggest popping over there as well.


Writing Style

I really love the way Jennifer writes about Ashley and Alexander throughout the book. It’s done in a way that captures my attention, and better yet, HOLDS my attention. Whenever I have to put this series down I hate it, and I just keep thinking about what could be in store for them.

My one grumble about the writing was that a few descriptions felt a bit jarring. Like they were so to the point with no preamble that it felt a little off-putting. I don’t really remember if this happened in the first book or not. But after 2 or 3 chapters I stopped noticing it because I was so wrapped up in the story again.


Initial Thoughts

Jennifer recapped the previous book in the first chapter, which is great for newbies or those that haven’t read the first book in a while. And I think this is important to do, especially when you’re writing a longer series.

After we got past the recap we jumped straight back into where we left off last time. Maybe fast forward a week or two. Which is great for me because I didn’t want to miss a minute of the story! What I also loved was that Jennifer also referred to the modern-day names of many places which meant I could jump onto Google Maps and check out where they were.

Sometimes.

It’s not always easy to tell, and in a few cases I had to kind of guess roughly where they were. But that might just be me liking to know where people are when they are travelling. Does anyone else like following characters along on a map?


Final Thoughts

I love that Ashley seems to have grown bolder with Alexander in this book. In the first book she often deferred to him which I thought was a bit odd given how strong her voice was in her own time. An example of this is when Alexander is drugged and doesn’t notice Ashley being raped because he’s off with some other woman.

Boy did Ashley tell him where to stick it then! And the fact that she knew what was going to happen and essentially told him that she wouldn’t wait for him was pretty cool to read.

The one part of this section of the story line was that Ashley talked about her being from the future when others were in their tent. I thought no one could know this? And yet she’s blatantly telling Alex what his future is with like 3 other people in their tent who could hear them? That didn’t really make sense to me, and actually bugged me a little bit.

So please, I beg you Jennifer. Keep the rest of the series coming to Rach Random Resources so I can save my money to buy physical copies of the books!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Truth of Bear by Zoe Ashwood. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.


Author Bio

Jennifer Macaire lives with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves cooking, eating chocolate, growing herbs and flowering plants on her balcony, and playing golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Burden of Truth – Kristin Ward

Welcome back everyone, you’ll notice me jumping between two series for the next couple of weeks, so I hope you don’t mind. After finishing After the Green Withered, I lasted all of 22 hours before asking for the second book so I could start reading it immediately.


Writing Style

After the unique style of After the Green Withered, I was expecting this one to follow the same style. What I found was that although there were elements that were still there, there were also elements that felt very similar to some other dystopian YA novels.

I still want to know what happens next. But I’m almost afraid to know because it’s so close to tipping into the realm of what’s been done multiple times already. Which is one of the issues I have with the YA genre that Kristin has done SO WELL to keep clear of so far.

I know it’s really hard (if not impossible) to come up with 100% unique stories these days. But this one is getting perilously close to the point of no return for me. And I REALLY hope it doesn’t go that way because I really did love the first one.

Please Kristin, do not go the way of Hunger Games, Divergent and The 100! Your story is so different, and it doesn’t deserve to be tarnished with those generic story lines!

Note: I still enjoyed those stories, I just don’t want to read another one that follows almost the same skeleton for the story and character development as so many other YA books.


Initial Thoughts

I really felt like there was hope that Enora could be true to herself and what she believes in. Maybe she could be the driving force for change in a positive way.

At the same time, was I reading the vibes between Enora and Springer properly? Were they being set up to fall for each other and be a romance within the story? I kinda hope not.

I’m really loving the focus on the survival and the truth. So, I hope it isn’t ruined by an attempt to put some romance in there just coz it feels like there probably should be some romance to balance the sorrow that otherwise overpowers the story.


Final Thoughts

By the end of the book I was wishing Kristin took a different route for the story. Almost all my fears for the story and character development were realised.

Enora and Springer end up kinda being a couple, the rebel faction is possibly just as evil as the DMC so Enora and Springer decide to make their own way. Only to end up pretty much dead (but still alive) right at the end of the book and Enora doing something quite possibly, ridiculously stupid in an attempt to save their lives.

Sound familiar to anyone?

If you’re not sure, think about Katness almost shooting the rebel leader and at the last second shooting the evil president in Hunger Games. Not to mention her weird romance with Peeta. In Divergent, don’t Beatrice and Four leave the rebels and their home in the hope of finding something better when it turns out the rebels are as bad as their ruling council?

I don’t like drawing parallels between different stories. But every step this book took towards this feel I cringed. Kristin, it feels like you have so much creativity and some great ideas that are different to anything that’s happened before. Please bring this out in full force for Ander's story!

I still enjoyed the story as a whole, there were just moments when I felt like those parallels were glaringly obvious. While at other's it was still it's own story with no other similarities that made me mourn right alongside Enora and Springer.


Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Zoe Ashwood’s second Shifter novel Truth or Bear.

After the Green Withered – Kristin Ward

Welcome back everyone, last week we were enjoying the English countryside. And this week we are exploring a dystopian America sometime in the future as part of a MASSIVE book tour.

Writing Style

My favourite thing about the writing style and the story, is that it doesn’t remind me of Divergent too much. That is, past the whole the world has almost died/humanity has almost died and there’s only a few survivors and the main character is a teen.

Like, it’s a YA/NA novel so the whole teen as a main character thing makes sense. But I’m glad it’s not written in as soppy/teen-love kind of way as Divergent.

Anyway, Kristin really gets her hooks into your skin to make sure you want to keep reading.

Initial Thoughts

I honestly thought once I started reading this “OMG, not another Divergent. I read that one, and even though it’s OK I just REALLY don’t want to read another book about how some teens life is so difficult coz the world has practically ended.”

I’m not saying that it wasn’t a bad book. I did enjoy it. But that style of writing is one I enjoy reading while getting drunk on a tropical beach while on holiday. Coz it doesn’t take concentration, I can power through it and enjoy it and move on with enjoying the beach.

But I’m not on holiday. I’m suffering through a heat wave. And I want something more adult to take me away from the pains of treating an assignment like a child (because that’s honestly what they want me to do with it).

I stuck at it. Not only coz I had a feeling I should, but also coz I committed to reading this one as part of a Book Tour.

Final Thoughts

And I’m glad I did because, I found that once I got through the drag of the first 25-30% of the book (you know, that boring setting the scene kinda thing) I just flew through the book. I double checked the length, and it’s not a short book. So, I must’ve been really engrossed in it to read it in a matter of days purely in the 10-20 mins before falling asleep. And the 40-50-minute bus trip to and from work each day.

I will honestly tell you that when I finished this book, I felt a sense of relief, and regret, and a sinking “o no” feeling all at the same time. Relief, because maybe now I can focus on getting the studying I need to do done. Regret, because maybe I should’ve let this book last longer. And the sinking feeling because I immediately knew I would be fighting the urge to buy the next book and start reading it straight away.

And I was right! Obviously I needed to read the next one, so keep an eye out for that review in the coming days!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing the third instalment of the Time for Alexander series, Son of the Moon, by Jennifer Macaire. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Kristin Ward has loved writing since middle school but took thirty years to do something serious about it. The result is her Best Indie Book Award-winning novel, After the Green Withered, followed by the sequel, Burden of Truth. She lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, three sons, and many furry and feathered friends. A SciFi geek to the core, she is fueled by dark chocolate and coffee and can be heard quoting eighties movies on a regular basis.

    

Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle – Sarah Bennett

Welcome back everyone, we’re moving a bit out into the English countryside this week although we’re sticking to the romance genre. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but I have a bit of a thing for historical settings and a countryside castle fits into that. I just had to give it a read to see how a castle was described, used and managed in these modern days.

Writing Style

For some books I find this really hard to describe, and this is one of those books. It almost felt like at times it was character driven, while at others it was driven by the story or the location. I don’t know if there’s a technical description for it, but I found the balance of all those different approaches really relaxing.

This let me just absorb what was on the page and feel like I was there with them as much as possible. I did find myself wishing I could enjoy reading them in the bath, but by the time I realised I wanted that it was too late to run a bath. And unfortunately, I don’t own a portable bath to travel to and from work in (not that I’m sure that’s socially acceptable?) to get my extra level of relaxation that way.

And man, those bluebell descriptions reminded me of the park behind the house I grew up in. But for me it was a field of daisies not bluebells. Not quite as fancy. But you still get the whole running in a field of flowers feeling which is amazing. So those descriptions brought me back to those childhood summer days where I’d read in amongst the flowers and my dad would almost trip over me coz, he couldn’t see me coz the flowers were so tall.

Those were good times so it’s nice to remember them sometimes.

Initial Thoughts

I was a bit confused as to what was happening in the first 2-3 chapters because it didn’t label the time to show we were covering certain days across winter with months between them. Once I realised this, I was OK, especially since it was pretty much entirely based in spring/early summer after that.

Since I’d been held on tenterhooks waiting for this book to arrive, I was ready to dive straight in and get immersed in the story. And I found this super easy to do, especially with a glass of wine on hand late on a Saturday afternoon and throughout Saturday night.

This book felt like a really great reading companion for a weekend night, which I really haven’t felt like I’ve had for quite some time.

Final Thoughts

Throughout the whole book I found myself picturing the countryside, the types of stones used, the layout of the castle, all those dogs running around and how picturesque it must be. Living somewhere like this would be a dream for me. Minus the money issues of course.

To read about how the other half live was mesmerising for me. But what I really liked were the moments when Lucie and Arthur were able to recognise their own faults and do something about them. They may have needed help sometimes to see their own faults. But they didn’t run away, gloss over or hide from them in in fear of what others would think of them.

Except a small moment from Lucie. But I can understand that and respect her for making sure Arthur found out the truth from her regardless.

My only fault with this book was the ending. I wanted more than like the 2 pages of them meeting up and making up to know what happens to them. An epilogue would have been perfect to wrap it up nicely. Unless it’s a series? Is it a series?

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward on tour thanks to Write Reads. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Sarah Bennett has been reading for as long as she can remember. Raised in a family of bookworms, her love affair with books of all genres has culminated in the ultimate Happy Ever After – getting to write her own stories to share with others.

Born and raised in a military family, she is happily married to her own Officer (who is sometimes even A Gentleman). Home is wherever he lays his hat, and life has taught them both that the best family is the one you create from friends as well as relatives.

When not reading or writing, Sarah is a devotee of afternoon naps and sailing the high seas, but only on vessels large enough to accommodate a casino and a choice of restaurants.

Sarah is the author of the Butterfly Cove, Lavender Bay and the forthcoming Bluebell Castle trilogies, published by HQ Digital UK.

   

#4/1 – Briar’s Book – Tamora Pierce

Welcome back everyone, this week we have Briar’s book!

I found this book to be the saddest in the whole series across all three quartets (I know the last one isn’t finished yet).

Reading about Briar being forced to work in a civilian “hospital” managing a massive outbreak that is killing people, is highly contagious and resistant to all treatment is awful. Especially because they discovered it because his mate Flick caught it and was one of the first to die from it.

Map of Summersea Harbour during the outbreak

Reading about how oppressive that environment is gave me a whole new appreciation for our doctors and nurses who work tirelessly to help those in need. Poor Briar and Rosethorn worked from the moment they woke up to the moment they passed out caring for those around them and having their own life and energy sucked from them was almost heartbreaking.

I’m pretty sure if I was to read this now, I would end up in tears because of how sad the whole situation is.

And poor, sweet and considerate Briar was the one to realise that they needed their living plants around them to perk them back up. Unfortunately, it was too little too late and Rosethorn got sick.

Briar’s attachment to Rosethorn was so strong that he leaped after her into the world of death to bring her back because he wasn’t ready to lose her. To make sure they didn’t lose him, all three of the girls jumped after him to hold him secure to the world of the living.

Briar's Book

That whole ordeal was tragic. If it wasn’t for the fact that I knew The Circle Opens was out, I’d have wondered if all four of them and Rosethorn were going to die trying to save her. Luckily, they were able to bring Rosethorn back with them and save her life.

But her speech and mobility were impacted because she was technically dead for a few minutes and so parts of her brain died. But we don’t really see too much of this in this book.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Magic Steps, the first book in The Circle Opens quartet.

Mr One Night Stand – Rachael Stewart

Welcome back everyone, we’re moving from historically accurate Viking times all the way into present day London. I decided to give this book a go since Rachael addressed a sensitive topic so well last time that I was interested to see if she’d be doing something similar again.


Writing Style

Overall Rachael has an engaging style that I enjoy reading. The main difference between Unshackled and this one was that this one follows two character not just the one. I’m not sure if this is a new thing for Rachael or not, but there were a couple of times when it felt like we’d start off a section following Marcus. Yet somehow it switches to Jennifer when he’s thinking about her?

There were obvious breaks throughout the book to show when you switched point of view. But those unexpected ones threw me a little and made me go back and reread the start of the section to make sure I hadn’t just read it wrong.

Compared with the last book I read (I actually read No Place Like Home directly before this one) Rachael’s writing style is definitely character driver rather than location driven. There’s hardly any descriptions of the places, other than to set the scene (e.g. a penthouse with a view over London or a cosy, fancy restaurant) Rachael focuses her efforts on describing the characters thoughts, feelings and emotional turmoil.


Initial Thoughts

First jumping into this I thought the focus of the book was going to be on the sex, or erotica, of Marcus and Jennifer’s relationship. But it turned out it wasn’t. Like, yes, the book did start off with some heavy sex scenes. But it felt like the focus was on their emotional rather than their physical needs.

In all honesty, I didn’t have much else to think to begin with because I mostly read this book while half asleep on my way to work. And I kept getting distracted by the people around me because I’ve almost run out of data so can’t stream music to listen to while I read.


Final Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed reading this story. But I felt like there was an opportunity to explore the way our past haunts us more. Rachael touched on it, but it felt like it was only done to give the characters some depth rather than exploring and unpacking something most of us experience in one way or another.

Compared to Unshackled I felt really let down on this front. But then again, if Rachael never wanted to focus on a topic like it felt like she did in Unshackled then it makes sense. I guess it’d be hard to come up with new issues to explore and unpack for every book you write in a meaningful way.


Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Spring Skies Over Bluebell Castle by Sarah Bennet. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.


Author Bio

Rachael Stewart adores conjuring up stories for the readers of Harlequin Mills & Boon and Deep Desires Press, with tales varying from the heart-warmingly romantic to the wildly erotic.

Despite a degree in Business Studies and spending many years in the corporate world, the desire to become an author never waned and it's now her full-time pleasure, a dream come true. 

A Welsh lass at heart, she now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and three children, and if she's not glued to her laptop, she's wrapped up in them or enjoying the great outdoors seeking out inspiration.

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