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.

Chants to Persephone – Jennifer Macaire

Welcome back everyone, I’m finally back into my series reviews so I hope you’ll forgive me for kicking it back off with The Time for Alexander series. I couldn’t help but come back to it!

Last year I read the first four books in the series and I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy the rest of the series coz I loved them!

After the ending of the last books I was desperate to see what Ashley would do next. Since I hadn’t read any of the blurbs for the remaining three books, I had no idea who was alive, who was dead and where the stories were set. Given how much travelling Ashley and Alexander did in the first four books I assumed that there’d be more travelling.

The overall feel of this book was that we needed context and background on the latest adventure to understand the future books. I know series need these, but it also makes me feel a little dejected when I do read them.

As we’ve seen in previous books the oracles prophecies tend to guide the actions of those in the past, but they are just plain weird! I honestly don’t know how people back then managed to decipher anything to be able to go about their lives. Yet they somehow manage to do it and find their way through horrible times.

The final thing that felt different to me was that we had a clear direction for the next book. The other books had a general direction, but nothing set in stone. This time we were left knowing exactly what we were working towards, who was going to be involved and a general idea of what the outcome is going to be.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I restart the Tamora Pierce reviews and in two weeks I’ll be reviewing Legend of Love by Lisa Kessler.

Brooklyn – book to movie comparison

Welcome back, today’s thoughts are on a different topic to Monday’s review of A Different Time, and I hope you enjoy them.

When I had a sick day off work, I took the time to give my body a rest from the stresses of study and blogging and watched like 3 movies and slept a whole heap. As part of my Netflix random scrolling until something caught my eye, I saw Brooklyn.

You may remember that I didn’t really enjoy this book towards the end so you’re probably wondering “why would you watch the movie of a book you didn’t really like?” Well as it turns out, in this case I think the movie is better than the book.

I know! I’m a book lover, I’m meant to say the book is ALWAYS better!

But in this case, I can’t say that. All the stuff I didn’t really like didn’t really come across in the movie. She didn’t feel like she was cheating on her husband. Just enjoying a trip back to her home country.

However, there were a few times in the movie where thing’s didn’t make sense. That was because they’d cut scenes out from the book as they always do. But that meant when she got pulled off the floor of work, why she got enrolled in a bookkeeping course, why her boyfriend kissed her on the doorstep and a few other things left me going “wait what? O that’s right! This happened in the book!”

For those people who haven’t read the book I bet they were pretty confused. Because it did feel like some gaping holes had been left open that probably should have been filled a bit better.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed what I think is my second TV/Movie to book comparison. I promise more will be coming! On Monday I’ll be doing a bit of a promo for a book that’s being re-released under a different name with some changes. You’ll need to come back to find out what it is!

Storms Over Babylon – Jennifer Macaire

Welcome back everyone, we’re back to Ashley and Alexander in the Time for Alexander series. I swear I become more and more obsessed with this series with every book I read. Please hurry up and let me read the next three!

I chose to stay up on my flight to Brisbane to read this one instead of sleeping. To put this into context, I normally go to bed about 9pm and my flight took off at 9.30pm. To say I was dead tired when we arrived in Brisbane a couple of hours later is an understatement.

But I did smash out like 90% of the book in that couple of hours on the plane. And man was it good! I actually checked how long I had left to finish the book because I didn’t want to have to stop to get off the plane. Luckily, I finished the book with 5 minutes of my flight to spare.

If you’re familiar with the previous books (not just my reviews of them) then you might remember that Plexis was told all his questions about Ashley would be answered on his death bed. Well, Ashley is faced with the knowledge of when he’s meant to die alongside Alexander being adamant, he doesn’t want her to save him.

Well in this book we get to discover how Plexis dies, along with Alexander a few months later. Knowing that there’s a fantasy element to this story and just loving Ashley’s relationships with Alexander and Plexis and that this is only the 4th of (currently) 7 books, I was left wondering when this book would end.

Well, spoiler alert! (not really) It ends When Alexander dies, and his kingdom begins to crumble with Ashley and her family fleeing the violence. As soon as I was finished, I was like “NOOOO!!!! I want more!” So rest assured, once the 5th book comes on tour I’ll be jumping for a spot to give you more deets!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, tomorrow (yes you read that right!) I will be reviewing The Determined Lord Hadleigh by Virginia Heath. 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.

Son of the Moon – Jennifer Macaire

Welcome back everyone, I hope you enjoyed my review of One?. I found it difficult at times as an Aussie but still enjoyed it, but time to get back to a series I’m really enjoying, the Time for Alexander series!

Writing Style

The first thing I want to say is that it seems Jennifer has either gotten over those overly direct sentences, or she got a new editor for this book that managed to get rid of almost all of those annoying, jarring sentences. YAY!

That left me being able to focus more on the story rather than feeling like I was thrown out of it because of a string of short sentences that just felt weird to read.

Overall, I feel like there’s a maturity to Jennifer’s writing that hasn’t quite been there with the first two books. And I’m loving it. It feels like the story is more cohesive and purposeful rather than a string of great ideas and plot points strung together.

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the first two books. It means that I found this book much easier to engage with which meant I could enjoy it much easier and quicker.

Initial Thoughts

I’m struggling to remember what exactly happened at the start, but I remember that I was a little on edge wondering if Ashley and Alexander would find their son. Given there are 7 books in the series I wasn’t sure if this quest was meant to span all those books or whether there’d be more to their story if they found him.

After a harsh climb up a mountain pass, they were met by an old man who welcomed them but seemed to be delaying and delaying them seeing their sun. Which of course made me wonder if their son was even still there or had yet again been stolen away from them.

What they discovered was certainly not what they, or me, were expecting which brought about another question. What were they going to do now?

And that’s what drove the rest of the books story.

Final Thoughts

As usual, I finished this book dying for the next book. Which makes me think, if anyone wants to know what they should ever gift me (in case you were wondering), get me this series with matching covers in paperback. Coz this is a series I will come back to again in the future (I can already tell) which mean’s I want it in my burgeoning library for proud display.

I’ve mentioned already that I really engaged with this book better than the first book. I loved the battles, I loved that Ashley sacrificed for love and I love that she’s willing to ask for what she really wants. A full life with Alexander where they can live in peace without the people from the future killing them and erasing them from history.

This really brought me back to the start of the first book which made me wonder if this was a clue as to what was happening then. Maybe, maybe not. I’ll have to wait to find out.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Probably the Best Kiss in the World by Pernille Hughes. 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.

Brooklyn – Colm Toibin

Welcome back everyone, I hope you enjoyed the latest instalment of the Shift series. The rest of my reviews for that series will be coming out over the coming month! This is my VERY FIRST book box ever! So I of course had to take some photo’s when it arrived. And I gotta say, the people who pick what to send me are GOOD.

Writing Style

I feel like I’ve been learning a lot about writing in the past week (thanks to an editor at work who keeps telling me to make changes to my work until it’s “good enough” lol) but at the same time learning nothing. (Case in point, that sentence started with a “so” and I just removed it coz I got told off for doing that too much!)

Anyway! Brooklyn feels like it was written in the style that people in the 1940s-1950s thought and behaved. It was very much formal, with properly structured sentences and thoughts throughout the story.

If I was reading this going to and from work, I’d probably find the writing style a bit dull. Since I was reading this to chill in the evenings with a glass of wine before going to bed, I found it perfect. There was nothing too complex going on, what I was reading was what was happening.

Perfect to just relax with when your brain and eyes are tired and just want to go to sleep. On that note, I did stay up late 2 nights in a row because I couldn’t put the book down.  

Initial Thoughts

Going into this after reading the blurb, I thought there’d be some serious drama, intrigue etc going on throughout the book.

What I got on the other hand was a story written like a journal of a very plain, boring girl in a quiet, country town of Ireland. Her sister Rose on the other hand sounded like quite the character, and the one I’d normally expect the story to be about.

As I read more and more about Eilis, I wondered how on earth she ended up along in Brooklyn. Turns out her sister secured her passage and a job there through an Irish priest.

Not so interesting, but I figured the interesting stuff would happen once she got to Brooklyn. So, I kept reading.

Final Thoughts

Up until Eilis went back home and ended up meeting Jim, I was really liking the book. When Jim was introduced and they struck up a friendship (progressing towards marriage), I was getting more and more confused.

Honestly, I didn’t like what Colm did with that relationship. I know when people are young, long distance relations can have the feelings diminish a little with distance. But that just felt weird.

Without spoiling the story for you I can’t explain exactly why this left such a bad taste in my mouth. Up until the last section of the book when Eilis extends her stay in Ireland, I quite liked the book. If I could re-write that last section or just end it just before it turned bad, I’d be much happier.

Since this book doesn’t even use chapters I can’t tell you where you might as well stop reading. Sorry guys.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing One? by Jennifer Cahill.

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.

The Road to Alexander – Jennifer Macaire

Welcome back everyone, this review is an extra sneaky special one for a couple of reasons. The first is that I lost track of how many Blog Tours I signed up for because there were so many books that sounded interesting on offer!

And secondly, I love ancient civilisations and I’m fascinated by how others see them and then convey them to others in their books.

Story overview

With this one we start of in the future, roughly 2300 (I don’t remember exactly), where time travel is possible to the point where they send one person once a year to go back in time to interview someone famous. Only problem with this is that you can’t do anything to change history in any way otherwise your time there will be erased.

So our main character Ashley is sitting in the chair preparing to travel back to interview Alexander the Great before he went and conquered all the way to India. As she’s sitting there waiting for the storm and for the time travel to occur, we learn a little bit about her life up until then. And boy does it not sound pretty!

After a not so successful interview of Alexander the Great, Ashley walks back to where she came in ready to be taken back to her own time. Only problem is, Alexander decided he liked her and wouldn’t let her go and inadvertently stopped her from returning to her own time. And this is where it starts to get really interesting!

Up until this point it’s been kinda standard kind of time travel going back in history kind of themes. But now we’re solidly back in Alexander’s time with no possibility of getting back to the future, but every possibility of being erased from history forever. From this point I really felt for Ashley. It’s one thing to keep a secret for 20 hours, quite another to do it for a lifetime. Especially when she doesn’t know the customs or languages.

My thoughts

As we progress through the book, we start to learn why Alexander was so determined to travel east and conquer everyone in his path. But remember this is a work of fiction, not fact! I found it easy to get wrapped up in the story and found myself wishing I could travel back in time to see the world as it was then. But the sad reality is if that technology does
get invented, it won’t be in my lifetime.

There were quite a few points in the book where Ashley’s relationship with Alexander made me wish she could tell him everything. To see how he’d react to that kind of news. I can’t even begin to image how hard it would have been keeping your entire history before you met someone a secret would be. I’m pretty sure my partner knows pretty much everything about me, including how much credit card debt I stupidly wrack up!

As I creeped towards the end of the book, I began to wonder how we could possibly get back to the point in time where the prologue was set. And I got my answer when I finished the book and it said, “End of Book 1”. So bad news was, I didn’t get all the answers I wanted. Especially to the driving force of the story. But the GOOD news is that there will be a second book! Yay! Hopefully I get to participate in that tour too!

Thank you for taking the time to read another review today and I hope you enjoyed it, on Monday I will be reviewing Love Heart Lane by Christie Barlow.

Author Bio

Jennifer Macaire is an American living in Paris. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of 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 modelled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

Sent as the Vikings Bride – Michelle Styles

Welcome back everyone, I hope you enjoyed last week’s “Three Nights with a Rock Star” and are looking forward to the big jump back to the 9th Century in this weeks book. This week’s book came to me from the author contacting me to see if I’d be interested in reading and reviewing her book. And I’m glad I said yes because I’m due for my fix of Vikings and this is right up that alley.

We start off this book with Gunnar and his best friend at Jul (I think this is kind of like our modern day New Years Eve for vikings?) where he’s just been given land. Fast forward almost a year and we are now with Ragnhild (Ragn) and her sister Svana. I was a little confused at this point who was who, I don’t know if that’s because I was tired when I started reading this book or whether the writing wasn’t very clear but it only took a couple of pages for me to figure out what was going on. Ragn and Svana are on a boat on their way to what I gathered to be either Iceland, Greenland or Scotland from their viking homeland, fleeing from Ragn’s brother in law who murdered her husband and destroyed her lands. Without even getting anywhere in the book there was already so much drama and so many possibilities for things to go wrong, go right, twist to happen for it all to sort itself out.

Some of the things I really enjoyed about this book was that even though Ragn and Gunnar obviously like each other they are both super scared to admit it, they are scared to relinquish control of their lives to anyone else and they are both burned by previous relationships making this all the harder. I feel like with most relationships if someone has been burned before it’s only one of them, not both. So this was a difference that I thought was really well written and made you really feel for the other character as the one who we’re following at the time struggles to figure out and accept their own feelings and history.

Svana on the other hand started the book with epileptic fits, a lazy eye, a limp and A LOT of fears that were driving her behaviours. To me it feels so stupid that people should fear her because of these unfortunate “defects” that she can’t help. In modern day epilepsy is treated with medication (I’ve known a few people with this and it’s managed), a lazy eye if caught early can be trained to be normal (I’ve experienced this myself), a limp that could have been caused by anything, including running for her life. And of course her fears. Who wouldn’t fear dogs when they’ve been hunted down by them? Who wouldn’t fear someone fearing them when it’s always resulted in being hit or punished in the past? To read how Gunnar and others worked together to cure her fears and slowly work on her other issues was amazing. The fact that her epilepsy slowly calmed down and went away speaks to the truth of them being caused by a head injury not her being a witch says it all for how ignorant people could be back then which makes me super happy to be in a world with less fear and judgement. I’m not saying that the world is without fear or judgement, but I think it’s largely better than it has been throughout history.

To wrap things up we got an epic display of political moves, outsmarting each other, planning ahead and counter-planning ahead. To have the trust of those around you to do what they can to protect each other, to live for each other and most of all to fight for each other is amazing. It was definitely hard won trust for a few people and grudging respect from others but they got there and ended up making the perfect team that achieved exactly what you set out to do. And of course there was a happy ending for the whole family that made me really happy and immediately made me want to jump into another Michelle Styles novel! Hopefully you’ll see another one of her books come up in the new year.

Thankyou for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing “Stygian” by Sherrilyn Kenyon, and don’t forget to read on down for a quick author bio.

Author Bio

Born and raised near San Francisco Califorinia, Michelle Styles currently lives a few miles south of Hadrian’s Wall with her husband, three children and menagerie of pets. An avid reader, she became hooked on historical romance when she discovered Georgette Heyer, Anya Seton and Victoria Holt in her school’s library. Michelle enjoys writing stories in a wide range of time periods including Roman, Viking, Regency and early Victorian.

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