Category: Books

Book Review #11: Christmas at the Gin Shack by Catherine Miller

Posted 18th October 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 10 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #11: Christmas at the Gin Shack by Catherine MillerChristmas at the Gin Shack by Catherine Miller
Published by HQ Digital on October 13th 2017
Genres: Adult, Christmas, Holiday
Pages: 384
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: two-half-stars

Welcome in the festive season with love, laughter and the perfect G&T in Christmas at the Gin Shack – the most uplifting holiday read of 2017!

Gingle bells, gingle bells, gingle all the way…

Olive Turner might have lived through eighty-four Christmases, but she’ll never get bored of her favourite time of year. And this one’s set to be extra-special. It’s the Gin Shack’s first Christmas – and there’s a gin-themed weekend and a cocktail competition on the cards!

But, beneath the dazzle of fairy lights and the delicious scent of mince-pies, Olive smells a rat. From trespassers in her beloved beach hut to a very unfunny joke played on her friends, it seems that someone is missing a dose of good cheer.

Olive knows she’s getting on a bit – but is she really imagining that someone in the little seaside town is out to steal Christmas? More importantly, can she create the perfect gin cocktail before Christmas Eve – in time to save the day?

I wasn’t aware at the time of requesting this book, but it’s a sequel to The Gin Shack on the Beach, which I have not read. And I think my experience suffered because of this.

After reading a couple of chapters I figured out something must have come before, so ended up googling and getting a brief rundown of the first book. Because we dived right into Olive’s life, without any recap at all, I had no idea who was who, who I was meant to like or who was relevant to the plot. There were so many side-plots and so many characters I really strugged to connect with anyone, and therefore didn’t really care about the distracting drama.

This would have been a cute, Christmassy read; but there was apparently evil forces at work, trying to take down the Gin Shack. A health scare for another character. A blossoming romance between another pair. A family drama. And uncertainty about a couple of characters motives.

It was just too much! The first 40% of the book I was mostly bored as it was all plodding along, then the next 20% was pretty good, and then everything just became so dramatic and a bit silly.

There were some humerous moments scattered throughout, Olive’s idea of a mobility scooter really made me laugh. But it just wasn’t enough to keep me interested for the whole novel.

If this had just focused on Christmas at the Gin Shack, with the Christmassy cocktail competition (which sounded fun!) and the sub-plot of someone trying to undo all their hard work with their bar; this would have been great. Alas, everything but the kitchen sink was thrown in, so it came across as rushed and it didn’t really feel like things were resolved properly at all.

The writing was okay, but the pacing was all over the place (due to everything that was going on), and it did get a little repetitive at times; though I assume that is just the nature of it being an ARC.

I’m afraid it’s just a 2.5/5 read for me, it had so much potential, but there was simply too much going on and not enough actual plot to sink your teeth into.

Rating Report
Plot
two-stars
Characters
three-stars
Writing
three-stars
Pacing
two-stars
Overall: 2.5

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Book Review #9: Here Comes The Witch by Ani Gonzalez

Posted 11th October 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #9: Here Comes The Witch by Ani GonzalezHere Comes The Witch by Ani Gonzalez
Series: Main Street Witches #1
Published by FAC Publishing LLC on September 5th 2016
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 178
Format: E-Book
Source: Lola's Blog Tours
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars
Heat Level: 0.5 Flames

Jewelry designer Kat Ramos has come to Banshee Creek to break the famous Hagen House curse and, in order to do that, she must marry Liam Hagen. A vengeful ghost with a deadly history isn’t part of the deal, and neither is love. Will Kat be able to handle both? Or will the mystery of the cursed Hagen House remain unsolved?

 

This is apparently a cozy mystery (I think?) but it didn’t really read like one, it’s more a lighthearted paranormal. Cozy paranormal? That should be a thing!

It is a spinoff of another series, Banshee Creek, which I haven’t read. I don’t think I missed out on anything though – and indeed, it made me curious about that series itself, which I will have to check out at some point.

Our main character is Kat Ramos, she’s in town for an unusual business arrangement. To marry Liam Hagen, in the hopes of breaking a long held family curse on Hagen House. Then it can be sold and everyone can move on (one of Kat’s ancestors put a curse on the place). She’s doing this to make her dreams of owning a jewellery shop become a reality, as they will split the proceeds when the property sells.

There’s some quirky characters in this. The PRoVE team (Paranormal Research of Virginia Enterprises) were a delight, as was Amy from the Chinese restaurant (I hope there’s more about her in future instalments!) I liked Kat well enough, although her and Liam both made me roll my eyes. For a couple of people who had researched this place very well, they were both pretty dumb about it. Also, it was established that the house only had a grudge against Hagens, but then it seemed like it was against both families. Perhaps I interpreted it incorrectly to begin with?

Anyway. The writing was engaging, but the pacing was a bit slow at first, but then it ramped up and was a bit too fast. Things happened and suddenly it was over! I would have liked to seen the mystery of the house drawn out a bit more. We weren’t privy to Kat’s ‘solving’ of the ghostly mystery, which was disappointing. She was also one of those characters that just gets everything right first go, there wasn’t much tension at the climax. And the romance was…okay. It was just there, I didn’t feel strongly about it either way.

All in all it was a cute, fun read; if a bit short. I am curious enough to read more though!

I read this book thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours 🙂

Rating Report
Plot
three-stars
Characters
three-half-stars
Writing
three-half-stars
Pacing
two-half-stars
Overall: 3.1

About Ani Gonzalez

I write paranormal romantic comedy and cozy mystery (whew, that's a mouthful!) set in Banshee Creek, Virginia, The Most Haunted Town in the USA. My books feature feisty funny heroines dealing with a host of paranormal critters (ghosts, cryptids, pagan gods...the sky's the limit) and mysteries. They find magic, love and laughter and readers get to follow them every step of the way.

I love quirky towns with spooky stories, and, thanks to my books, I get to "live" in one year-around. In real life I live in a Minneapolis suburb (which is sadly lacking in ghosts) with my husband and three children and I'm still trying to adjust to the cold.

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My Favourite Genres

Posted 3rd September 2017 by Wattle in Books, Random Things / 10 Comments

I am struggling with motivation so much lately. Not just blog and reading related, but life related. Study is such a slog right now! I won’t talk about work, because that’s not great either. Roller derby training is good, aside from the fact I injured myself (outside of training) and haven’t been able to skate since my first session – my physiotherapist reckons I will be able to next week though, fingers crossed!

So I logged into my WordPress dashboard just now, and I was going to do a review, but I don’t want to do a review. Then I was going to do a general ‘this is what’s going on with me’ post, but I didn’t want to do that either (and I just covered that above, I suppose). And then I thought…I could talk about things I like, things book related…favourite things!

And here we are. A post about my favourite genres, and why they’re my favourite genres. Yay!(?) I’ve decided to do a top 3, to keep it simple.

1. Cozy Mystery

When cozy mystery was first offered to me, I was very, very confused by its existence. Was it mystery? Was it chick lit? Did it always involve baking and/or cats? It seemed a bit silly and I just didn’t want to read it. So I ignored it, and then…I can’t remember how this came about, read one by accident. That was the end of that! I read cozy when I want something light, something fun, and something predictable. There’s going to be a murder, the heroine is going to get in trouble for investigating, 95% of the time there WILL be baked goods. Sometimes I’m disappointed by cozies, but I’ve found a few reliable authors over the past few years (and I’m always willing to try more!) This is the genre I read when I’m in a rut.

Cozy mystery recommendation: You Can’t Get Blood Out of Shag Carpet by Juliette Harper. This book is a gem, I’m so sad there aren’t more in the series 🙁

2. Fantasy

Not high fantasy (well, not very often), but urban fantasy and ‘low’ fantasy (is that what it’s called?) I like it when fantasy is set in the recognisable world, when it seems possible that magic and monsters could exist. I guess it comes down to me feeling more connected when a setting is familiar?

Neil Gaiman is probably my favourite author – I like how absurd everything is, his work is a bit dark and there’s always some humour. Followed by Rick Riordan (I am a sucker for his YA stuff), J.K. Rowling (of course), Ilona Andrews, etc.

Fantasy recommendation: this is where I’d usually recommend Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman buuuuut let me shake things up, Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, also known as Midnight Riot in the USA which makes zero sense, but whatever (the audiobook is also REALLY GOOD!)

3. Holiday/Christmas

Confession: I don’t really dig Christmas. Sure. I like having time off and eating lots, but it’s summer at Christmastime here and it’s always hot and eating hot food on a hot day? Not pleasant. It’s a holiday I find exhausting and it’s always followed by nothing but cricket being on tv.

Christmas themed books though? Give them to me! I tend to read them during July and then again in December. They’re almost always romance or chick lit, but they also always involve winter and that shiny happy ‘this is what Christmas should feel like!’ feeling (well, mostly) *sigh* I’ve read plenty of duds, but there’s some warm and fuzzy ones out there that I really do enjoy!

Christmassy recommendation: Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles by Eli Easton. Sappy m/m romance is one of my things 🙂 added bonus if it involves Christmas!

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Book Review #7: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Posted 21st June 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 16 Comments

I’m back! Uni has finished for the semester, and it ended horribly. I’m 99% sure I failed my Chemistry exam, given I only answered half the paper. But that’s okay! I can do it again! I’m not sure what it was about the first half of 2017, but I’ve never been less motivated to study in my life. Onwards and upwards though!

So here goes, a book review *gasp* last time I looked at my Goodreads account I was 4 books ahead of my goal, now I’m 4 behind. Oops!

Book Review #7: Practical Magic by Alice HoffmanPractical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Published by Penguin on August 5th 2003 (first published 1995)
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 286
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: two-stars

The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman.

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic...

At 85 pages in, I knew how I was going to rate this book. I decided to read Practical Magic as I love the movie (and re-watching it made me go looking for the source material). Usually I prefer to read novels after seeing film adaptations, because they are much richer and add more to the world on the screen. Well. Most of the time.

This is not one of those.

The film is vastly different, the relationships are similar but the setting is not. On paper, those relationships that made the movie for me had absolutely no depth, and there isn’t much in the way of magic (I was really disappointed by this). Alice Hoffman’s writing is beautiful, but the characters felt so lifeless and flat.

I liked Sally until the focus of the story moved elsewhere; when it shifted back, she was lost to me. I didn’t connect with her, Gillian or Sally’s daughters. It was surprising to me how much it focused on the daughters actually, I quite disliked that element.

As for Gillian, she’s the beautiful one; but she’s so weak and spineless! Running away, getting into one relationship after another until she ends up with an abuser she knows she should leave, but won’t. Then he dies and she runs to Sally for help. She’s irresponsible, supposedly a ‘free spirit’, but she just came across as sad and pathetic (whereas in the film, she was rather charming).

And Sally always helps. ALWAYS. Ugh.

The point of view seemed to change from one character to another halfway through a paragraph, which was super disorienting. Unless I read it wrong (which is possible) but it was bizarre, I never usually have a problem with POV changes.

I almost DNF at 206 pages, and then thought that would be a waste, so finished it ASAP just to move on.

I simply cannot recommend this novel, it was lifeless and bland. The movie on the other hand, A+.

Rating Report
Plot
one-star
Characters
one-star
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
one-star
Overall: 1.8

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Book Review #6: Size Matters by Alison Bliss

Posted 12th February 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

Book Review #6: Size Matters by Alison BlissSize Matters by Alison Bliss
Series: A Perfect Fit #1
Published by Forever on November 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 337
Format: E-Book
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: two-stars
Series Rating: two-stars
Heat Level: 2.5 Flames

The rules of (fake) engagement . . .
Leah Martin has spent her life trying to avoid temptation. But she's sick of low-fat snacks, counting calories, and her hyper-critical mom. Fortunately, her popular new bakery keeps her good and distracted. But there aren't enough éclairs in the world to distract Leah from the hotness that is Sam Cooper - or the fact that he just told her mother that they're engaged . . . which is a big, fat lie.

Sam sometime speaks before he thinks. So what started out as defending Leah's date-ability to her judgmental mother soon turned into having a fiancee! Now the plan is to keep up the fake engagement, stay "just friends," and make Leah's family loathe him enough to just call the whole thing off . But Sam has an insatiable sweet tooth, not only for Leah's decadent desserts but her decadent curves. Her full lips. Her bright green eyes. Yep, things aren't going quite according to plan. Now Sam has to convince Leah that he's for real . . . before their little lie turns into one big, sweet disaster.

I’m not entirely sure how to review this book. I absolutely hated parts of it, and other parts were really funny? And it was a bit…frustrating. There’s a few spoiler cuts in this review:

Let’s start at the beginning. Size Matters starts out badly – Leah is so focused on her size it made me uncomfortable, and her drowning her self pity in alcohol made me angry. I know it happens, we all have our insecurities, but her self esteem issues are very triggery and generally unpleasant to read.

My main issue with the book were the characters (ALL OF THEM). Sam’s inner monologue (where every sentence starts with “Hell…” I don’t care about the word itself, but it was so repetitive! “Damn” was used a lot too) did not help, going on about how he liked a woman with something to hang on to – I became worried this would slide into the ‘fetish’ zone (it didn’t, thankfully).

And then there was the fact that View Spoiler »

Leah’s mother View Spoiler » *shudders* if my mother was like that, I would disown her or at the very least spend as little time in her presence as possible. Leah herself just sucks it up and goes along with it (self esteem issues) which was endlessly frustrating. View Spoiler »

There were some laugh out loud funny moments, and then the negativity ramps up all over again. Sam is such a dick (and in a weird type of denial) and Leah isn’t any better. All this really boils down to is that neither of them can communicate, they are both stubborn and they’re not really likeable apart or together.

Leah needs to grow a backbone, and Sam needs to use his words. And her mother needs to butt out. The plot was completely ridiculous, I feel like it could have been executed much better (a fake fiancé story could be so fun!) but the mass of misunderstandings that took place just drew it out to the point of disbelief.

The one upside of this book is that it was written really, really well, and some of it was hilarious, but overall it just wasn’t for me because of the characters and their choices.

Rating Report
Plot
two-stars
Characters
half-star
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
two-stars
Overall: 2.1

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Book Review #5: Good Omens (BBC 4 Radio Dramatisation) by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Posted 6th February 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

Book Review #5: Good Omens (BBC 4 Radio Dramatisation) by Terry Pratchett and Neil GaimanGood Omens (BBC 4 Radio Dramatisation) by Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
Narrator: Peter Serafinowicz, Mark Heap, Full Cast
Published by BBC Worldwide on December 22nd 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Humour
Length: 4 hours, 20 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: five-stars

A full-cast BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman’s apocalyptic comic novel.

According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday in fact. Just after Any Answers on Radio 4….

Events have been set in motion to bring about the End of Days. The armies of Good and Evil are gathering and making their way towards the sleepy English village of Lower Tadfield. The Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse - War, Famine, Pollution and Death - are assembling.

Witchfinder Shadwell and his assistant Newton Pulsifier are also en route to Tadfield to investigate unusual phenomena in the area, while Anathema Device, descendent of prophetess Agnes Nutter, tries to decipher her ancestor’s cryptic predictions.

Atlantis is rising; fish are falling from the sky; everything seems to be going to the Divine Plan.

Everything, that is, but for an unlikely angel and demon duo, who have been living on Earth for several millennia and have become rather fond of the place. If they are to prevent Armageddon they’ve got to find and kill the one who will bring it about: the Antichrist himself. There’s just one small problem: someone seems to have mislaid him…

Adapted, sound designed and co-directed by Dirk Maggs (Neverwhere, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) this first ever dramatisation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s novel features a large cast including Peter Serafinowicz, Mark Heap, Josie Lawrence and Paterson Joseph.

I was at work a couple of Fridays ago, and as the Thursday beforehand was a public holiday there was next to no one in. I decided it was the perfect opportunity to pop my headphones in and listen to something, but I didn’t want to start a long audiobook. Then I came across this version of Good Omens (which I’m counting as a book, because it’s pretty much an abridged version) and thought ‘yes! That will do!’

It’s only 4 hours and 20 minutes long, I had to take a couple of breaks when I needed to concentrate on something important but I listened to it all that day 🙂

I giggled a fair bit during this: “Earth is a Libra”, I mean…come on!
 
The radio adaptation is a condensed version of the story and it just works so well. The sound effects and different voice actors are just so great. I wish actual audiobooks were done like this (I think some do exist?) it would make it easier for me to listen to – I’m struggling with audio at the moment.

As always, it’s all about Crowley for me. He’s my standout character, a demon who doesn’t really want the apocalypse to happen as he’s quite fond of Earth. He and Aziraphale (an angel with a similar outlook) do have a lot in common, even if they are on opposite ‘sides’. What their superiors don’t know, won’t hurt them 😉 There’s a mix-up with the antichrist, witches, witchfinders (hunters, if you will), and the four horsemen (or…persons). What’s not to like?
 
A great, though also very short listen, it was absolutely worth the time and energy spent. It actually made me fire up the proper audiobook of Good Omens, which is my favourite book of all time. When I’m done with that, I’ll probably re-read it again.

Seriously. Favourite. Book. Ever.

AND a tv show (written by Mr Gaiman) has been announced. Woohoo!

Rating Report
Plot
five-stars
Characters
five-stars
Pacing
five-stars
Performance
five-stars
Quality
five-stars
Enjoyability
five-stars
Overall: 5

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Book Review #4: Dirty Deeds by A.J. Nuest

Posted 31st January 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 6 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #4: Dirty Deeds by A.J. NuestDirty Deeds by A.J. Nuest
Series: Likely Story #1
Published by Lyrical Underground on January 31st 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 285
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars
Heat Level: 3.5 Flames

An Eye for an Eye
As owner of Dirty Deeds, a tech-savvy company specializing in the age-old art of revenge, Eden Smith knows first-hand that secrecy is critical. But when a dead body washes up on the shores of Lake Michigan clutching her business card, Eden’s well-constructed world begins to fall apart. Apparently, she’s not the only one with a passion for payback, and staying alive to outsmart a killer has become her most important job of all.

A Game for a Game
Hardened homicide detective Kelly Riordan is convinced Eden Smith is hiding more than she’s willing to admit. Years on the force have taught him that nothing is what it seems, and that couldn’t be truer than when it comes to investigating the alluring owner of a revenge-for-hire business. But revealing her past could put everything Eden has worked for in jeopardy. And trusting a man like Riordan goes against the very instincts that have kept her alive this long.

Today is my stop during the blog tour for Dirty Deeds by A.J. Nuest. This tour is being run by Love Reading Romance Tours, check out the tour page for more reviews!

I had one significant issue with this book. I’m going to get the bad stuff out of the way first – because really, I don’t want to be a downer, but…

I don’t like it when characters immediately objectify each other, like their looks are the only thing of interest about them. I can understand thinking someone is hot, but to imagine sexual activity within 5 seconds? Nope (or is this just me?) This book has instalust, that turns into instalove.

Turns out I don’t dig it; I just cannot buy it as part of reality *sigh*

Now on to the good stuff.

The premise? Super interesting. The thing I liked best about this was the plot. Also, I loved Eden as a character (and Kelly wasn’t so bad either, but Eden is where it’s at), she was independent and didn’t often do as she was told – I like a rebel. I felt the other characters were a bit hit or miss, and they definitely faded into the background (I couldn’t tell you most of their names) but since this story isn’t about them, that’s okay.

I did have a bit of a lull around 60%, to 65%. The pacing sort of fell away, everything was rushing at breakneck speed and then I hit a bump. But the last 35% of the book was great and really held my interest, it was a bit stressy, although that ending – I’m not sure if what happened is possible, I guess maybe? I’m not keen to conduct an experiment to find out haha.

The writing was excellent, even if the pacing was a bit much for me. I would have liked a bit more background on Kelly and Eden to be honest, we did get bits and pieces about them but I didn’t feel like I knew them very well (although in the case of Eden, that is probably the point).

All in all it was a fun read, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of Nuest’s work in the future!

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Characters
three-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
two-stars
Cover
four-stars
Overall: 3.5

About A.J. Nuest

Multi-published, award-winning author and editor AJ Nuest resides in Northwest Indiana with her loving husband, two beautiful children, and a bevy of spoiled pets. Her four-part serial fantasy romance, The Golden Key Chronicles, was awarded the RONE Time Travel Romance of 2015 by InD’tale Magazine, and her spin-off series, The Golden Key Legacy, was chosen as a Must Read Romance by USA Today’s Happy Ever After. Her contemporary romantic comedy, She’s Got Dibs, won First Place in the Heartland Romance Author’s Show Me the Spark! Contest, 2013. For more please visit her at ajnuest.com

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Book Review #3: Entwined by J.C. Harroway

Posted 28th January 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 8 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #3: Entwined by J.C. HarrowayEntwined by J.C. Harroway
Series: Recovery Series #2
Published by Escape Publishing on January 15th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 200
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars
Heat Level: 3 Flames

Your true family is the one you choose...

When nurse Jess Bellamy returns to her hometown for a cousin’s wedding, she hopes to completely avoid her ex and first love, Morgan Price. But Morgan is the best man, and the groom’s best friend, so try as she might, Jess can’t avoid him. Teenage Morgan, she got over. Grown up Morgan is infinitely hotter, infinitely more successful, and infinitely harder to ignore.

When they re-kindle the explosive physical connection between them, Jess hopes they've burned it out of their systems. She left everything behind five years ago after her father’s funeral, including Morgan, and she's leaving again in two days. She had good reasons for going, and good reasons for staying away.

But as Morgan and Jess explore their searing passion during that lost weekend, Jess is tempted by what might have been and haunted by the ghosts of what was. She has two days to decide whether to keep her secrets or keep the only man she's ever loved.

I read this on the afternoon that I downloaded it from NetGalley (it’s beside the point I have hundreds of other books to read, right?) it was very well written, and given it’s fairly short was a quick read. Perfect for a rainy day (or a hot afternoon, when moving is difficult).

Entwined by J.C. Harroway is a second chance romance, which, it turns out, I enjoy a whole lot more than instalove/lust. Phew! I liked the connection between Jess and Morgan, their past history was a bit messy and it was mostly believable to me (because humans are weird). They are both stubborn and unwilling to share their secrets after being apart for 5 years, which makes for some tension.

There’s some weird family dynamics going on which made the plot fall over a little bit. I just couldn’t wrap my head around Jess trusting someone during a stressful time (which is to do with why she was gone from her hometown for so long), a person she does not have a healthy relationship with. Nor did I get the blame that was shoved in her direction for past events that were not her fault. It gave an easy ‘villain’ though I suppose.

This book does use my least favourite trope EVER, and I saw it coming from a mile away. It was a bit of a downer and affected the ending for me, which was a pity; but I enjoyed it up until then. Although I must admit, Jess’s ‘wailing’ with pleasure made me giggle each time, because I associate wailing with grief/despair/crying, so the use of that word was a bit strange to me lol

All in all, this was a well written quick read, though the plot had a few faults. I’ll definitely be checking out more of J.C. Harroway’s work in the future – I have the first book of the series on my kindle to read since I opted to read them out of order; but as far as I can tell they work just fine as standalone novels 🙂

Rating Report
Plot
three-stars
Characters
three-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Overall: 3.6

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Book Review #2: Under the Paw – Confessions of a Cat Man by Tom Cox

Posted 6th January 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 15 Comments

Book Review #2: Under the Paw – Confessions of a Cat Man by Tom CoxUnder the Paw - Confessions of a Cat Man by Tom Cox
Published by Simon & Schuster on January 30th 2014 (first published January 1st 2008)
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Booktopia
Rating: four-stars

For years, Tom Cox might have seemed like a regular, hard-living sort of bloke -- a lover of late nights, rock music and beer -- but he had a dark furry secret. Tom was a cat lover. Always had been, in fact. For a while, he kept his passion in check, but there was only so long he could postpone his true dream, especially after he met Dee, his moggy-loving soulmate.

In 2001, Tom left London and his job as a rock critic behind, and he and Dee, replete with Dee's cat Janet and three new kittens, moved to a remote part of Norfolk, a county where they knew not one living human soul. They thought it would be easy. They thought their cat madness had reached its limit. They were very wrong on both counts.

In UNDER THE PAW, Tom records the chaos of owning seven of the most charismatic, idiotic and duplicitous cats in the country. How exactly does a person go from living a fancy-free young metropolitan life to suddenly thinking it is normal to be on 24-hour call for multiple sets of whiskers? What are the essential rules of disposing of a dead pheasant? How do you learn to love your wife's ex's favourite pet?

Tom addresses all these issues and much more, encountering death, depression, flying fur and the first human sentence spoken by a feline along the way. Running through all the maelstrom is the heartbreaking story of his long and chequered relationship with The Bear, his oldest cat: a "painfully sensitive" survivor moggy who may or may not be an evil genius.

I don’t read memoirs very often. In fact, I just learned the difference between a memoir (about one part of the author’s life) and an autobiography (a chronicle of the author’s entire life)! I do love reading them on occasion – and I’ve decided to make 2017 the year of the memoir in a way; as a personal challenge I want to read at least 5 of them (I read this one last year, so it doesn’t count).

Under The Paw is the first of Tom Cox’s books about his cats. He has a great writing style, when I do read memoirs or autobiographies some suffer from terrible writing (and I’m so glad many are ghost written, I’d hate to think what they’d be like without a ‘proper’ author!) But Cox has made his living from writing; and it reads really well. Like he’s telling you a story, it flows like a good conversation.

The cats are what this books is about, and The Bear is the star (sadly he passed away recently, at the grand age of 21). I have no doubt The Bear would very much go for world domination, and he’d be a mysterious and aloof leader.

The other felines – Janet, Shipley, Ralph, Pablo and Bootsy – all have their moments. Janet was probably my favourite, allegedly being the one with the least brains. As a cat person, I do enjoy reading about other cats and their antics; they are such little balls of personality!

The one thing I did not like was the pushing of an outdoors lifestyle for ALL cats. It felt a bit arrogant, like he was saying, ‘the way I treat my cats is better than yours’.

My cats are indoor cats, mainly for their safety (I don’t trust my neighbours). They also show zero to little interest in getting outdoors (they do like bird tv at the front window, and they have grass to munch on). We discussed it with our vet before deciding to restrict their environment; so outdoors isn’t for all cats and their human slaves.

However, I did love reading about the lives of these kitties and will definitely continue with the books that follow.

If you’re interested about Tom and/or his cats, you can check out his site here.

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Cover
four-half-stars
Overall: 4.1

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2017 Reading Challenges

Posted 1st January 2017 by Wattle in Books / 16 Comments

I’m so excited for my challenges this year! I didn’t want to sign up for too many, but I…might have added an extra couple I just couldn’t resist haha.

Over at Goodreads I’ve only committed to 52 books for the year (1 a week), but if I complete all my challenges, with any luck I should go beyond that.

2017 Paranormal Reading Challenge

2017 Paranormal Reading Challenge

Host: Whole Latte Books
My Summary Post
Progress: 0/12 (0%)
1 January, 2017 — 31 December, 2017
In Progress

Hosted by Whole Latte Books, a challenge for books that have supernatural beings or elements but are set in our world. This includes vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, ghosts, witches, wizards, psychic powers, magic, fairies, mermaids, angels, gods, etc.

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