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Shazjera (Bournemouth)
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A Bargain Struck
A Bargain Struck
by Liz Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dynamite romance and the history comes alive, 12 Nov 2013
This review is from: A Bargain Struck (Paperback)
I was looking forward to A Bargain Struck having loved The Road Back. Although it didn't affect me in quite the same way (emotionally) it is beautifully written and takes the reader back to a time when life was totally different with a slower pace and life was hard.

Ellen O'Sullivan arrives in Baggs, Wyoming Territory in July 1887 to marry Connor Maguire. Having communicated with each via letter, this is the first time they've met. This is a marriage of convenience. Ellen needs a husband having lost her first husband in a stage coach accident and Connor's first wife has died. He needs a wife for his daughter Bridget and wants a son to take over the homestead in the future. Both needs are on a practical level.

It's obvious on meeting that Ellen hasn't been entirely honest and she is not sure whether Connor will go through with the deal. Man of honour, he takes her for his wife. Once back at the homestead, Bridget does not accept Ellen and is rude and disobedient.

The accident that killed Ellen's first husband has changed her spirit. Hiding away, Conn gets to see the real Ellen peek through now and again. As time goes on, they get to know each other better and he is protective when they go into Liberty. I enjoyed watching Conn's inner turmoil.

Peggy, their closest neighbour was great. She was good for Ellen, accepting her as she was. Not judging. We all need a Peggy in our lives ...

There is plenty of rivalry besides Bridget and her tantrums. Oonagh Quinn, school teacher, appears to be genuine and I couldn't quite make my mind up about her at first. The unexpected visitor brings conflict for the Maguires. He literally made my skin crawl!

I was fascinated by the historical aspect of A Bargain Struck. It is very obvious that Harris has researched (and spent time in Wyoming). Everything felt very authentic. I was reminded of Little House on the Prairie! and this brought back poignant memories.

If you like historical romances, I would recommend A Bargain Struck for your reading list. The romance is slow building (but dynamite nonetheless) and the history comes alive.

The Uprising
The Uprising
by Lisa Stasse
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous follow-through in this second book, 8 Nov 2013
This review is from: The Uprising (Paperback)
We begin where we last saw Alenna and Liam, living in Destiny Station with the rebel scientists.

She's still being interviewed each day. The scene in the room with the six scientists explains a great deal of the background to the `wheel' so new readers will be able to follow. (Highly recommend you read The Forsaken though!)

Alenna and Liam go out on top. The action begins ... and doesn't stop until we come to the last page.

The first of the journeys that have to be made to reach the wheel is fraught and full of anxieties. Here alliances are made, introducing us to new characters who are pivotal to the story. Leaving Southern Arc is peaceful but still fraught with tensions for Alenna as she doesn't know how Liam is faring with his task.

When they reach the wheel it is not what they were expecting at all! I was very disappointed with one character at this point ... and tried to work out who the new Monk was (but failed dismally).

Escaping, they come across a group they didn't know existed. I loved the way the travellers lived within the boundaries of the environment, adapting life to fit in with nature.

There are more obstacles in the way as they try to complete their task and a sacrifice that turned my suspicions upside down!

The growth we saw in The Forsaken of Alenna's character follows through. She is strong and a leader.

Liam and Alenna are still very close. The romance comes more from how willing they are to support each other and will do anything to stay together.

This world that Stasse has created is totally believable. From the transport used to life on the wheel, I felt myself there alongside our characters. The political zeal from the Monk and collaboration of teams is something you would expect from this dystopian world.

This has been a quest that has entered my dreams and when not reading, my thoughts have returned to The Uprising again and again. Living in this world feels as natural as breathing.

The Forsaken was a keeper for me and this second story in the series holds the same place on my bookshelf.

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a paperback copy in exchange for an honest review.

Beneath an Irish Sky
Beneath an Irish Sky
by Isabella Connor
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It will capture your thoughts and imagination, 3 Nov 2013
This review is from: Beneath an Irish Sky (Paperback)
Jack is in Dublin having a task to undertake as a direct result from the aftermath of the traffic accident in the blurb. He finds out something life-changing about a person's existence that he never knew. He needs to get back to his business but his task doesn't end in Dublin.

From the first page I had lots of questions ... What had Annie done to be the cause of so much emotion? Why didn't Jack know where it had gone wrong? I was compelled to read on to find out about Jack's life and why he was so beaten down.

I wish we could have met Annie. Having provoked such strong emotions in our characters and the descriptions of her make me think I would have liked her ... a lot!

Luke travels back to Manchester with Jack and their story unfolds amidst a community that hides secrets and jealousy - a community that is led in the majority by the head and not the heart. Business and appearances takes precedence over the personal, no matter the cost.

We learn about the influence Jack's parents still have on his life and the harshness of Luke's life with Annie and her brothers. Every time they take a step towards each other, something else happens or comes to light that affects their relationship. There is plenty of tenseness and anxiety between these two. Traveller customs have a large part to play and it was interesting to find out more about these.

Alongside their fragile relationship is the new women in their lives. Kate is drawn to Luke and fights his corner while Emer is very balanced and her skills are effective in getting Jack to look deeper into himself.

I think the following says a lot, not just about Kate's mother Sarah but also about where this community's focus lies:

"When she'd told Matt she was going to the funeral, he'd laughingly accused her of only doing it because she fancied Luke, but she really did want to support him. He was a stranger to the village and must surely feel overwhelmed. Kate didn't need to support her mother, that was for sure. Sarah was tough as nails and didn't need anybody's shoulder to cry on. Her head was bowed, but not in grief - she was discreetly looking at a valuable bracelet one of her men friends had given her. Rose-gold moonstone, she said it was."

Matt, son from Jack's first marriage, also fights in Luke's corner. I loved the way he tricked Sarah into telling the truth!

There was one shocking moment for me when another truth emerges - the reason that underpins the actions that leaves Jack on his own. It highlights how the upper class think of those lower down the ladder ...

The ending was just perfect and exactly how it should be :)

Beneath an Irish Sky is all about family (and snobbery!), traditions, secrets and misunderstandings. It will capture your thoughts and imagination and make you want to fight for the truth and a resolution for Jack and Luke.

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a paperback copy in exchange for an honest review.

Spirits of Christmas
Spirits of Christmas
Price: 1.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and atmospheric with sparkle, 30 Oct 2013
We begin with the arrogance of Jude towards The Blood Roses band members and move on to a scene at home. It is very clear that Jude is self-obsessed and losing his way.

During the night, he receives visitations from The Ghost of Forewarning, The Ghost of Christmas Past/Present/Future. Each scene is led by a music legend (or is all as it seems?). The physical sensations Jude feels at the start of each visitation is quite dark and scary. Wells spares no punches in Jude facing the reality of what has happened/is happening/might happen.

Love the way that Tuscq threads into the story and the place Dan has in the plot :) This gives me hope that we may see Sophie and Dan creep into other stories in the future!

Wells has written a festive novella that takes us to dark and atmospheric places (but I have to say with a sparkly ending)! Spirits of Christmas: A Rock'n'Roll Christmas Carol is a thoroughly enjoyable modernisation of A Christmas Carol. It will certainly get you into the spirit of Christmas!

I would like to thank the author for providing an ecopy in exchange for an honest review.

Cupcakes at Carrington's (Carrington's)
Cupcakes at Carrington's (Carrington's)
Price: 3.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easily caught up in the character's lives, 25 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I love stories in department stores and Cupcakes at Carrington's is no exception.

The story begins on the shop floor with Georgie and we get to know a bit about our characters. Eddie, MD Walter Davenport's `Boy Assistant' is fabulously portrayed. His mannerisms and actions are typically stereotyped and everyone will be able to identify with him. Sam, Georgie's best friend and managing the café on the 5th floor, is full of optimism and sparkle (and gets to hear all the gossip). Georgie herself is so anxious about her past and her financial difficulties that she is very vulnerable. She's often nave about the actions of others but is also very good at putting her foot down when it's needed.

With the store losing sales, Walter brings in Maxine which results in competition between James (Georgie's boss) and Tom (the newcomer). Maxine is the ultimate bitch boss who plays them off against each other. The character we all love to hate :)

Past employees are also involved with Mrs Grace still knowing all the gossip and giving Georgie some valuable information.

With sub-plots weaving in and out of the main plot, this is not only about Georgie, although the story is narrated from her perspective. I found my heart-pounding with Russian Kon (and not in a good way!) and tears later on for Sam. Tears even when Georgie visits her father. There are some hilarious scenes too. I just loved the girls out on Sam's birthday - the image is still very vivid in my mind! The teambuilding weekend ... Georgie finding herself in a compromising position was extremely funny. I was cackling when she was on the phone to Sam.

The flowing plot and writing style enabled me to be completely caught up in these character's lives. I felt quite sad when I finished so was excited to find out that a short story Me and Mr Carrington is available now AND Christmas at Carrington's is being published in Kindle format on 7th November and paperback 5th December. I don't have long to wait before I can get back into this world that Brown has created!

The Obsidian Mirror
The Obsidian Mirror
Price: 3.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kept me engaged ... TOTALLY, 19 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Straight off I have to say The Obsidian Mirror is AMAZING! I was so caught up in the story that my notes are minimal! Why haven't I heard of this author before?

The blurb is a good representation of the story.

Beginning with a scene of an angry student at Compton College in Switzerland, we follow Jake and his Humanities teacher, Wharton as they travel to Wintercombe Abbey in the search for his father.

Next we're introduced to Sarah. I had so many questions about her and the replicants. What is it? Who is it? Why is Sarah important? What impact will she have? Is she from the past? From the future? How does she know Wintercombe Abbey which has been in Venn's family for generations?

The scenes in London felt so real! I was with Jake as he climbed that rope and locked in the musty cellar.

The author captures the `Shee' (Sidhe) perfectly. Everything I've ever read about the mythology came to life on these pages.

With a great cast of characters (most of whom are not what they seem) and fast-paced action at every turn, The Obsidian Mirror is a story that will totally engage your imagination. There is not one place where I could put it down because I just HAD to keep reading.

The threads started to come together and I got some answers. I can't wait to see what happens in The Box of Red Brocade ...

Whether you're a YA reader or an adult! if you love fantasy, folklore/mythology, dystopian/sci-fi then I highly recommend you read this.

The Obsidian Mirror is awesome. Did I say I loved this?!?!?!

I bought The Obisidian Mirror a long time ago, and so glad I found it recently while browsing on my Kindle!

Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (Wars of the Roses 1)
Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (Wars of the Roses 1)
by Conn Iggulden
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars plenty of action to keep turning the pages, 14 Oct 2013
We start with a prologue. It's 1377 at the bedside of dying King Edward III.

66 years later and King Henry is praying while spymaster Derry Brewer and William the Duke of Suffolk are hatching a plan for Henry to marry Margaret of Anjou and keep England safe.

Over in France, Margaret of Anjou is at home in Saumur Castle. Her father is always away on campaigns and she's watched her mother sell everything of value and dismiss all the servants. However, now, King Charles is coming so life in the castle has changed to accommodate him.

We witness a scene at Reuben Moselle's home in France. Reuben is a Jewish moneylender. The English present, notably Lord of York and his wife, watch and do nothing as Reuben is taken away on false charges.

There is plenty of intrigue and tension as we spend time alternately in England and France - from the approach of the wedding and afterwards, with intrigue, plotting and riots in both places.

I enjoy historical fiction and find each author brings something different to the story in the way they portray the characters.

Conn Iggulden captures Margaret's voice perfectly and the growth of her character from a young and nave girl through to queen is excellent. We get to know her well and this makes the factual history feel very real.

Although Derry Brewster is fictional, he has to be the character who stands out the most for me. King's Spymaster, he gets himself into some stressful situations ...

Alongside the undercurrents between the houses of York and Lancaster, there's Jack Cade in England and the residents who join together in Maine, giving the reader plenty of action to keep turning the pages.

Weaving fiction with fact, Stormbird is an historical read that will transport you and engage you.

I read Stormbird as part of the Real Readers programme.

New England Rocks
New England Rocks
by Christina Courtenay
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.02

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best YA reads for me this year, 12 Oct 2013
This review is from: New England Rocks (Paperback)
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Christina Courtenay's historical romances, I was curious to see how her writing would adapt for the YA genre.

The prologue finds Rain in the comprising situation that leads to her being expelled.

Arriving at Northbrooke High, Rain bumps into Jesse at the entrance. The Principal is not the type of Head she's used to in her boarding schools which throws her a little. She still keeps up her defensive attitude.

Thrown together with Jesse in their lessons and after school soccer, a friendship grows alongside an intimacy that both try to deny.

Sassy and with lots of attitude, Rain is a fantastic character. She is so down-to-earth with her realism. I loved the relationship she had with her father.

Jesse's background subtly affects the decisions he made before Rain came onto the scene and through her, he comes to some realisations.

The attraction between them both is full of misunderstandings as they try to ignore it. This is a couple who are so good together as friends. The pull of sexual attraction felt real and at the right level for a YA read. I thought about them both when I wasn't reading the book - they both found their way into my heart!

Life at Northbrooke High with all the undertow of social circles and etiquette felt like a very real community. All the characters are fabulous. I felt the high tension from Escape from Hell performing - very emotive! I really enjoyed the team building day with all its conflicts, problems, friendships and relationships.

This is one of the best YA reads for me this year with plenty to engage the reader besides the YA romance. I was reminded of the TV series Saved by the Bell (which I used to LOVE).

I can't wait to see what happens in the next story in the trilogy, New England Crush!

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Kiera's Quest: Perceptions
Kiera's Quest: Perceptions
Price: 1.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Skilled world building and keeping the action moving, 11 Oct 2013
With Perceptions, we continue where we left off in Sacrifices.

Once again we spend exciting times in both worlds.

On earth, Kiera's best friend Maddy is puzzled by Kiera's behaviour but puts it down to the explosion.

Even with no power the Witch Queen still manages to do damage, especially when she pairs up with someone!

Back on Zantar, we learn more about the motives behind the Witch Queen's evil actions and there is lots of adventure.

I loved the quest in this book - in fact, this is my favourite. I thought the idea behind the vortex they're searching for was fabulous and it ties up with an event on earth.

I really felt as if I was in the Forest of Mattazaran. This quote describes it perfectly:

"No wonder she could hardly see before, the trees reached right into the sky's stomach and the branches shadowed over her, like the sky was spitting them back out."

We're introduced to new species on Zantar. The Capetorads and Hershans are imaginatively created and I adored them.

Back on earth, the Witch Queen works her evil and relationships start to change because of her meddling.

Once again, the characters reflect real life. Looking back from the start of the first book we can see how their relationships are changing and growing in a natural way.

Kiera is much stronger in Perceptions. She's starting to believe in herself and taking on the mantle of the one who will fulfil the prophecy.

We end on a cliffhanger ... and I'm very eager to see where Kiera's journey will take us next.

Brown is skilled at keeping the action moving and world building. There is so much to love about this series and if fantasy is one of your favourite genres (whether you are a YA reader or an adult), I can only recommend you buy the series for yourself.

I would like to thank the author for providing an ecopy in exchange for an honest review.

Falling: HarperImpulse Paranormal Romance (A Novella) (Angels Among Us, Book 1)
Falling: HarperImpulse Paranormal Romance (A Novella) (Angels Among Us, Book 1)
Price: 0.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally held me and left me wanting MORE, 4 Oct 2013
Falling begins with the reader being aware of Ceri and her twin Seb's bond. Her intuition is warning her there is a problem with his relationship and he's going to get hurt. Ceri just can't help her intuition getting in the way of allowing her to be close with his fiancée.

We witness an incident where Ceri uses her gift - the gift that sets her apart from others and affects her relationships.

Ceri keeps a journal which documents all the people she may have helped through using her ability. It's up to the people whether they take notice or not so Ceri can never be totally sure if the people's lives were changed by following her advice.

Through Ceri's work in an advertising agency we get to experience the great working relationship she has with Alex and the wariness with her boss.

I loved the friendship she has with Sheena. Having known each other since starting school, they can easily pick up their friendship despite Sheena's job as an interpreter taking her away for chunks of time. I think this quote says it all:

"... I love that; it's like I have a sister who comes back every now and again to rescue me from myself."

I also loved the Guyatri Mantra scene. Having been to Reiki training sessions, this is very authentic. How Ceri feels is a true representation. You can visualise her sitting there trying to plan an escape... and you can feel what happens.

Ceri's personal relationship with Alex becomes a lot clearer once we hear Alex's side. I loved that we got to hear his side of the story too! You think to yourself `but of course'! and it's a dilemma that has been argued about on a spiritual level through the ages. I think the twist that Halton puts on this is great.

Although Falling is a paranormal romance, at its foundation is a women who wants to be loved ... and accepted for who she is. I loved Ceri's character. Feet firmly planted on the ground and wary of her `gift' she is finding her way. At times strong and others vulnerable, she listens to her intuition and makes decisions.

In this novella we have romance, the reality, conflict, a shock and a cliff-hanger (really can't wait to see what happens next), Falling is a keeper for me because it totally held me and has left me wanting more.

I would like to thank the author for providing an ecopy in exchange for an honest review.

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