The Secret Letters – Taryn Leigh

Welcome back everyone, South Africa is a country I feel a bit of an affinity for. I’ve dated a South African, I love their accent (especially the Afrikaans one!) and in some ways, their country is SO SIMILAR to my own but at the same time, SO DIFFERENT!

My major grievance with this book was how little a part the letters played. I don’t think we even heard about a letter until almost halfway through the book. Given the blurb almost entirely revolved around the letters I really expected them to play a much bigger part.

I think when we learn about the first incident and her healing process, the letters should have been mentioned. Even if not too many details were given, just enough to know that they’d played a part in her healing process would’ve been good.

I also had some concerns with was the editing. There were a few moments where I stumbled a bit because of typo’s, or other minor grammar errors. I’m by no means perfect myself. But these were noticeable enough to frustrate me a little bit.

The story was interesting enough, characters complex and grey enough that these minor errors felt glaring. I really enjoyed the depth to this story, making those errors feel like a bit of a let down even though they really are quite small.

With some more writing experience and a good editor to work with, I really do think Taryn can write some amazing books. This is one of the few books where I actually read the author’s acknowledgment and I’m so glad I did. So many parts felt too real and like they were coming from a little while back that it felt like it had to be real. And it was.

This book is inspired by true events, although it’s still a work of fiction. And that just reinforces the security and lifestyle aspect of South Africa that I’m highly conscious of.

In terms of being a book worth reading. I do feel like it is! Reading about the impact of rape and a country with a strong rape culture is important. It’s also the second book in a row where I’ve read an attempted rape scene. What’s going on?!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Thursday (or maybe Friday) I’ll be reviewing Pirates Persuasion by Lisa Kessler.

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Dead Time – D.L. Orton

Welcome back everyone, it’s double trouble today! I bet you weren’t expecting a second review today!

Well I jumped into this as soon as I finished the second book, Lost Time so figured I could bring it to you at the same time as well since I technically forgot to set up Lost Time for you last week. Whoops!

We get another book where we don’t see Isabel at all. So I feel like my theory is holding true, don’t worry, I won’t ruin it for you! And some things are consistent with the previous books which really intrigues me!

Since you’ve figured out by now from the blurbs that we’re time travelling, we’re also universe travelling! Making the similarities and differences a really interesting point to consider and track. Which points are so key to the whole problem that they’re the same regardless, and which are the points that change whether they survive or not?

D.L. Orton suggested I’d be unhappy with the ending because of a cliffhanger, and yet this felt like it had a really smooth ending. The last book felt like it ended mid-paragraph. Whereas this had a natural ending and I can picture in my mind how the next book will pick up.

Am I going to be right? Who knows!

Am I looking forward to the next book? You bet cha! Can’t wait for her to finish writing it so I can bring you a review for it!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing The Secret Letters by Taryn Leigh.

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Lost Time – D.L. Orton

Welcome back everyone, I’m finally back with the second book in the Between Two Evils series. I’d hoped I could bring you books 2, 3 and 4 in 3 consecutive weeks but it looks like book 4 will need to wait since it’s still a work in progress.

The first thing I need to say is, I HATE CLIFF HANGERS!

Like, I love them, coz it means the author has well and truly hooked me in their story. But I hate them because I need to get the next book to find out what happens. In this case I was lucky enough to have the next book ready to go. But we’re not always that lucky.

Moving onto the story and why you should read this series (because yes, I think you really should read this series). In a way I was expecting to start off with Isabel, or maybe go to Diego then back to Isabel like the first book.

Nope.

The whole book followed Diego. And what a story it was! I saw some glimpses of some things that explained a few things from the end of the first book. No solid answers, but little hints that suggest at something interesting. And I’m looking forward to reading all the in-between bits!

I’m not sure how I feel about one of the romances, but we can’t love everything every time. Even then, Orton did it so well that it was more of a suggested romance and more of a friendship than a true romance. That made it ok for me because it didn’t take away from the wider story, even when it felt like for a bit there it might.

And then all hell broke loose, drama began, everything that could go wrong was suddenly going wrong. Only for Orton to end on a line that normally doesn’t even end a chapter! Let alone a book!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing The Secret Letters by Taryn Leigh.

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Circle-A Killings – Sean Heary

Welcome back everyone, the last few reviews I’ve done on Monday’s have been fantasy or sci-fi. Now it’s time to go back to Sean Heary and his suspense books!

Some sequels pick up exactly where the previous book left of. Generally speaking, the one’s I’ve read tend to have a bit of a gap. Sean’s created a little bit of a gap, but not much in the grand scheme of things. Yet emotionally, we’re way past where we left The Concordat.

The thing that intrigued me the most about this story was the motivation behind them. In The Concordat, it felt very religious. Looking back, I realise it’s more political than religious so I’m not sure how I missed that. Or maybe I forgot?

Either way, this suspense is stemmed from someone’s wealth. The richer you are, the more likely you are to die. O! And that’s the other thing! This is about a serial killer not a single object!

I think at the end of every chapter I had a suspect in mind. At several points I was partially correct in my theory for the who, why and how. Yet I never nailed it. Sean’s writing sucks you in, gives you all the clues you need (in hindsight I can see this) and yet doesn’t give you quite enough to figure it out.

The information you have to make your theories is exactly what Lorenzo and Cathy have. In several spots I had a brainwave SECONDS before I read one of the characters having the same brainwave. It keeps you involved without ever being obvious which is amazing!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Friday I’ll continue The Boys of Jackson Harbour series with Wrapped in love by Lexi Ryan.

Author Bio

Sean Heary is a former business executive who lived for many years a stone’s throw from the Kremlin. No wonder he writes political thrillers. He also spent several years in Tashkent, Uzbekistan where he met his wife. Born and raised in Australia, Sean now makes Germany his home.

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The Summoned Ones – Darryl A. Woods

Welcome back everyone, I’m continuing the fantasy/sci-fi feel this week with a young adult fantasy novel by debut author Darryl A. Woods.

My first thought once I got far enough in to form an opinion of the book was that it was a great story, engaging and interesting. For a debut author this is impressive and needed! How else do they get fans to come back for more?

After I got involved in the story and the fantasy element kicked in, I started to notice a few flaws in the writing. Not enough to say the writing was bad, or the story suffered enough to dislike it. Just little things I’ve picked up on over time being a writer for online learning and an avid reader.

The first was the way the story was written, the technical writing element. I found myself needing to read a sentence multiple times to understand what it was meant to say because it wasn’t succinct. I’m not saying I’m any better, but it’s something that takes practice, distance and often an editor or second set of eyes to pick up and fine tune.

The second was the distribution of the story, how long we focused on a group of characters. This might be a personal feeling, but it felt like each chapter spent on a group of characters should have been shorter, with more changes between the groups. That way you don’t get so involved in one group you forget about the rest and what’s happened to them.

With shorter chapters and more frequent changes between the groups, I think I would’ve spent less time trying to remember what had happened and more time being actively involved in the story. By actively involved I mean me wondering what was happening with the others and wanting to read more.

By the end I still wanted more. I still want to know what happens. I just think improvements in those areas could have made it even more engaging for me.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Dirty, Reckless Love by Lexi Ryan. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Darryl Woods has a passion for telling stories, an appetite for reading fantasy, and a love of old movies. He remembers things in scenes, picturing the background, the clothing of the characters, small details like, wrist bands, jewelry, dogs crossing the street, but most of all the emotions and actions of the each participant in the scene. He would spend time, usually as he waited for sleep, thinking through those scenes, fleshing out details the book didn’t add, or recreating the scenes with differing outcomes. So, as the story of The Flight to Bericea developed the scenes that make up the story easily flowed from his vivid imagination.

Darryl’s favorite authors include Raymond Feist, Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, Brian Jacques, David Eddings, Christopher Paolini, Terry Goodkind, and Piers Anthony. With this collection of epic fantasy authors, Darryl’s chosen genre had to include epic adventures, swordplay and magic.

Darryl’s childhood in rural Ohio, three miles from a small town, gave him plenty material for stories. Tales of his father’s many contraptions, fabricated from old parts, angle iron, and square tubing. These were lawnmowers powered by car engines, minibikes, and various types of cobbled together go-carts, including one with a bicycle front end, a car’s steering wheel and seat, and the backend of a cousin’s wrecked go-cart. His stories also included rural life; gardening, playing in the creek, helping neighbors with livestock, numerous family pets, and farm animals, or playing high school football.

As an adult Darryl graduated college with a degree in Systems Analysis, while at school he met his wife who he married shortly after graduation. Inspired by his father who never once used a repairman, and who built his own house, Darryl developed a passion for remodeling houses. He and his wife have remodeled four houses to date, after each one swearing to never start another.  While working as a computer consultant designing database, Darryl spent his evenings, weekends, and days off helping his father-in-law with his family business cutting timber, sawing lumber in his mill, and making pallets. All these activities gave Darryl an endless supply of stories. Telling and re-telling these stories over the years honed Darryl’s skills as a storyteller.

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Of Night and Dark Obscurity – Nicola Italia

Welcome back everyone, we went from a regency romance to an erotica and today it’s a Victorian romance with a murder mystery!

It was quite some time ago when Nicola contacted me asking if I’d like to review this book. At the time it was still a work in progress, and she wasn’t sure when it was going to be released. Other than a really brief idea on what the novel was going to be about I didn’t know anything about it when I agreed to read it.

I mean. I’ve read and reviewed two of her other books, The Sheik’s Son and Sea of Revenge and loved both of them. Surely I’d like this book that I hadn’t been told much about. Right?

It took me ages to get to reading this book but I got there! I don’t know what book I was thinking of when I started reading it, but the cover made me think it was something other than it was. But that’s totally on me coz it was ages between getting it and reading the blurb and reading it!

Unlike most romances that I read this one primarily followed Valentine, our male protagonist. While alternating to Caroline for a short stint once a chapter (roughly) to add context and her voice to the story. Given that this book focused around a murder investigation this makes a lot of sense.

Having Caroline drive the story from the victim’s perspective while Valentine drove it from the investigation perspective felt well done. While Caroline’s character was consistently concerned for others, charitable and interested in Valentine, I had a couple of moments of confusion with Valentine’s behaviour. He was always so considerate of Caroline and her safety, yet s couple of times felt aggressively possessive and jealous. It didn’t feel like it fit with his personality.

A few times sporadically throughout the book Nicola included snippets of what was happening with the criminals responsible. I loved this. Not only were no names or details included in these, as Valentine came across a new bit of evidence we were kept in the dark until the last possible moment. I loved this because it allowed me to try and guess who the culprit was right until the very end.

Even when they are caught, we aren’t told who they are. Until literally the last chapter. It made for a bit of a nail biter that I enjoyed every second of.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Wednesday I’ll be reviewing New Beginnings at Glendale Hall by Victoria Hall.

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Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley – Kelly Miller

Welcome back everyone, I’m continuing this week with another regency novel. This one is less of a romance than the Miss Amelia’s Mistletoe Marquis and more of a reflection on what’s important in life.

At the beginning of the book Kelly gives a brief introduction to the language she’s chosen to use for the book, great idea! By setting me up with the expectation that the language is going to be different to what I’m used to hearing every day I wasn’t shocked and the transition to comfortably reading it wasn’t too long.

Based on my limited knowledge of the original Pride and Prejudice, which this is meant to be a continuation of, I’m assuming the choice of language was deliberate to ensure it remained as true to the original story as possible.

Given the blurb I was expecting Darcy to have a kind of three ghosts of Christmas experience. Yet Kelly surprised me by having the angel of death be surprisingly human and compassionate. By bringing more characters than just Darcy and Elizabeth into the fold Kelly was able to weave a story that reminded me of so many life lessons. The type that most people can only learn through experience.

By incorporating a raft of characters into this story Kelly was able to include more life lessons and considerations than would’ve been possible with just Darcy and Elizabeth. It felt so well done without being over the top that it really worked.

The key themes I felt expressed throughout were those of love, acceptance, forgiveness, thinking before acting and their impacts on others when either displayed, or not displayed. The little twist at the end was such a sweet touch that left me feeling really happy with how everything was left.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing The Cake Fairies by Isabella May. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Historical fiction author Kelly Miller discovered writing late in life, but it has quickly become a favorite pastime. When not pondering a plot point or a turn of phrase, she may be found playing the piano, singing, reading, or walking. Kelly Miller resides in Silicon Valley with her husband, daughter, and their many pets.

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Miss Amelia’s Mistletoe Marquess – Jenni Fletcher

Welcome back everyone, I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year break. I know I’ve released a few posts, but this is my first review in TWO WEEKS!

You might have seen that I read this as part of the Reindeer Readathon, that’s because I like to try and read books at least 4 weeks in advance of the review date so I don’t have to stress. Because we all have too much stress in our lives to begin with.

I read this entirely at home (except for the day I finished it, I will admit I took it to work with me that day) because it was a physical ARC (thank you Jenni Fletcher for shipping this to me!) and I hate bringing books to work with me because I inevitably damage them. Yet when I got to the last portion of the book (and I’d just finished another book on my Kindle) I knew I had to bring it in with me.

Whenever I was away from this book, I was thinking about what was happening between Amelia and Cassius. How were they reacting to each other, what were they going to do next, what could happen now since they’re married, and I’ve got a good portion of the book to go? Etc etc etc.

Given it was set at Christmas time I was obviously going to love that aspect of the book. Yet there were some very modern issues of depression and self-worth that were openly discussed and explored. Not only did the characters discuss these issues (maybe not in those terms, but they did) they also coloured all their actions and interactions.

It was fascinating to me seeing such a “modern” thing as mental health be addressed headfirst in a setting where I wasn’t expecting it. Because of this I got the sense that Jenni was trying to say that mental health has always been an issue. Just maybe not talked about in the same was that we talk about it now.

I read this as a standalone, and it can be read as a standalone, but I’ve just (as I’m writing this review) discovered that it’s part of a trilogy that’s been written by 3 different authors! I know I keep coming back to Jenni’s work, but I might consider getting the others to see how their stories play out!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, on Friday I’m reviewing Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley by Kelly Miller.

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A Deal With Her Rebel Viking – Michelle Styles

Welcome back everyone, I’m back into the historical romances (thank you Michelle Styles for asking me to review this for you!) and this one I do need to say is the last one for the year.

You could probably tell by my rating, but I really loved this one!

Although I don’t know how accurate the interactions were between characters for the time it’s set in, I still loved the banter between Ansithe and Moir. It had me chuckling quite a few times, especially when the other characters got involved.

With both Ansithe’s sisters, some of Moir’s felag and the extras, that joined the story a little later on, worked and schemed to get them together it seemed pretty obvious that everything would work out. Yet, without the trust that Moir worked hard to earn the end would never have happened as it did.

In terms of character development, we had Ansithe gain some self-confidence, both her sisters seemed to grow emotionally, Moir learnt how to plan for and enjoy the future and Bajtr grew in maturity from an adolescent into a man. Ansithe and Moir were the central focus of the book, yet Michelle still had time to let us experience the development of other characters while still adding value to the story.

Throughout the book there was a good balance of drama, romance, strategy, espionage and action that it felt like there was almost always something to pay attention to. By changing up what that focus was, Michelle was able to give me a break, so I didn’t get bored without losing my attention.

When I got to the last chapter (or was it second last chapter?) I hated having to put the book down to have to go to work. While also practically jumping up and down in nervous excitement to see how Ansithe’s and Moir’s relationship had developed over the course of the book. To say I loved the Moir’s final actions is an understatement.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing my last book for the year, Against All Odds by Craig Challen and Dr Richard Harris.

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