Moonstruck by Nikki Rae

Published: 30 November 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Self Published
Pages: 315
Format: ebook
Genre: Paranormal
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Myles Lott left this town ten years ago. He never wanted to come back unless he had to. Now he has to. Sophie Jean, the girl he was supposed to protect from monsters of his world, has finally grown up. She’s familiar with monsters, just not vampires like him. Hers are harder to defeat; they’re in her own mind. Myles has returned to protect her and nothing more, but his feelings for Sophie develop quicker than he ever could have imagined. Torn between their worlds, Myles must fight for the girl he’s loved all along without causing any more damage. Unfortunately, a past enemy has other plans.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author

I read Sunshine year ago when Rae first released it, so reading Moonstruck it was easy to see elements of Sunshine in there. But having said that, it isn’t the same story. Retelling Sunshine from the perspective of Myles has opened up the story to have new insight and allow readers to see the characters they know in a new light. With this rewrite Rae opens us up to Myles’ life, away from Sophie’s, but also his thoughts and emotions surrounding her to be told too.

Even when he is with Sophie, being shown his intentions and justifications adds another element. It was interesting reading the story from a new perspective; even the scenes that were familiar had a different feel about them because we were inside Myles’ head and not Sophie’s. Seeing Sophie’s life from the outside changes her character a lot. Having gotten to know her from Sunshine, it was interesting not having the full emotional thought and feelings from her, instead only seeing what Myles’ sees and what she allows him to see. Who she is alters slightly as we are shown her through new eyes. I think I would see her differently if I didn’t already know her story. It would be interesting if you read this without having read Sophie’s POV how it would read differently.

It didn’t feel like I was rereading the original story, and yet it was comfortable and familiar at the same time, with a few new surprises as we saw more of Myles’ life. What I also loved, even though it was brief, was seeing Jade and Stevie again. Since this wasn’t Sophie’s POV we don’t see the awesome sibling relationship between her and Jade, but just having them there reminded me of how much I love them. Even when the story isn’t about them I will latch onto them.

Rae has done a great job in keeping the same story structure while adding new and interesting scenes, filling in the gaps as it were when Myles is away from Sophie. Moonstruck is a story that can easily stand alone, it isn’t just a switch of POV of Sunshine, Rae makes it its own story and she does so very well.

You can purchase Moonstruck via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Copper Veins (#3) by Jennifer Allis Provost

Published: 26th July 2016
Goodreads badgePublisher: Spence City
Pages: 264
Format: ebook via Netgalley
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Sara’s pretty sure her life is perfect.

Not only are she and Micah finally married, her father, who’d been missing since the Magic Wars, has been found. Actually, he just strode up to the manor’s front door, but whatever. Sara knows better than to look a gift horse in the mouth.

But Baudoin Corbeau isn’t content to return to family life. He’s decided that he will be the force of change in the Mundane world, and lead the Elemental resistance to victory with his children at his side. What’s worse, Baudoin doesn’t approve of Sara’s marriage, and makes every attempt to separate her from Micah.

After a visit to the Mundane realm leaves Sara, Max and Sadie imprisoned by the Peacekeepers, Sara’s doubts creep to the surface. Is her father right? Does she belong in the Mundane realm, not the Otherworld? Is Micah really the right man—make that elf—for her?
Was marrying him a mistake?

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book for review.

 This is the third book in the Copper Legacy series and it’s still such a delight to read about Sara and Micah and this fascinating world with Elementals and Mundanes.

Though only a few months have passed since the first story, a lot has happened. Micah and Sara’s relationship have gotten more serious and there are consequences and aftermaths of the previous book to deal with. Provost draws on past events and brings together existing ones wonderfully and previous books aren’t treated as separate things entirely. Conversations, situations, and scenes of past novels are still referred to and are important; they are treated like living memories rather than events of a different book. Provost does a wonderful job of filling in the previous book events without making it clunky or tedious, and aside from the Prologue that brings you up to speed, there are still numerous references blended throughout to fill in additional details.

Not all the story is tied up with past books, with the return of Sara’s father there is a new direction taken and a whole new set of things to explore. There is a different kind of drama this time. Not that there isn’t excitement or suspense, but it has a family focus that ties in with bigger things. Provost threads these all together naturally and the seamless transition of events really feels like real life, interruptions and best laid plans falling to the wayside, family drama and serious problems colliding and tangled together.

I have to admit it was slightly predictable at times, but also with a few surprises. We learn even more about the Elementals and their abilities and seeing Sara and Micah settle into their new life was great. Their relationship isn’t overdone, nor is it bland. Provost balances their affection and love for one another without making it cheesy or unbelievable. Both Sara and Micah have responsibilities and the contrast and conflict between their love and their duty makes for great reading.

Whether this is your first read of the Legacy series or you’ve been in it from the start, this is still a good read. From the beginning I was engaged and knowing the stories already I was instantly back in the world of Elementals and Mundanes with the magic, politics, and war. If I didn’t know the story I think Provost does an excellent job of introducing it while still moving the story forward. You could easily pick up this book and start reading without having read the previous two. The writing is descriptive and draws you in, and though the story isn’t action filled or intense all the time, you still find yourself eager to see what happens. Provost brings drama without making it seem dramatic.

With another book yet to come, Provost directs us towards the next one well, without making it too obvious in the lead up. The story is allowed to conclude naturally while still feeling like there is somewhere to go. I think book four is going to bring even more excitement and surprises and I can’t wait to read it. I’ve enjoyed this series and loved these characters from the start and I’m eager to see where it goes.

You can purchase Copper Veins via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Angus and Robertson | Booktopia

Riot: A 1960’s Love Story by Charles S. Isaacs

Published: 8th September 2015 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Harpers Ferry Press
Pages: 458
Format: ebook
Genre: Historical fiction
★   ★  – 2 Stars

It’s September 1967. As the Vietnam War and a militant Antiwar Movement hurtle toward explosive confrontation, Steve Harris – white, idealistic, and naïve — begins his freshman year. During that year, he will fight to end the war, fall in love, confront painful truths about his family, and be jailed and beaten by police. Through this crucible, he emerges with a transformed consciousness, of the world and of himself.

The change begins with a rousing antiwar speech delivered by Emma Gold, a Depression-era radical. When Emma introduces him to young Cat Crawford — inter-racial, brilliant and exotically beautiful – his bewitching is complete. The two students’ instant friendship blossoms before long into a passionate love affair. Their bond is tested, though, by the mounting demands of the Antiwar and Black Power Movements, and by their own deep-seated psychological issues.

1968 is marked by campus unrest, urban rebellion, assassinations, and political violence that leads the two into clashes with the Chicago Police and the National Guard. The story builds to a heartrending climax during the street battles surrounding the Democratic National Convention.

This is a complex, fast-paced journey on an emotional roller coaster, punctuated by flashes of self-discovery, and bursting with political and sexual passions. 

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book by the author for review.

I have mixed feelings about this story. The content was interesting; I learnt a few things and felt I was reading through history, but at the same time I didn’t really connect with the characters or their story. I am fully prepared to accept it may have been me so don’t let that deter you, there is no denying the effort and creativity Isaacs has gone to to bring this story to life and pack it with so much history.

Described as a 1960s love story there is a blossoming love but romance isn’t the sole focus of the novel. Steve is a college student who finds love and friendship during a critical time in late 1960s America; the Vietnam War has begun and the civil rights movement is underway. These important moments of history get embroiled with his life and Isaacs tells a story about the life of students and regular Americans who are trying to stop a war no one wanted and survive the tensions between black and white America.

After being fairly oblivious and uninterested in politics and racial conflicts, Steve has his eyes opened when he befriends bookshop owner Emma and fellow student Cat and soon he discovers the world of anti-war protests, boycotts, and the civil rights movement. In doing so you see Steve find his feet and a sense of purpose, he jumps at the chance to become involved.

Steve, Emma, and Cat are the three central characters, detailed and complicated enough which makes them well rounded. Steve is naive but willing to learn, and his eagerness to contribute is admirable. When he meets Emma and Cat you begin to see him grow and become more aware, which in turn affects other aspects of his life and the decisions he makes. Emma is a fiery, strong willed woman who is passionate and willing to fight for what she believes in, she goes out of her way to help people and her generosity and good nature compliments her fierceness really well. Cat is similar in her own way, though her past holds her back and she wavers between fighting for what’s right and holding back. Throughout the story you see the stress of fighting a war affect everyone, especially Steve and Cat, and the strain adds drama to their relationship.

Isaacs mentions at the end that only a very small part of the book is fiction, many names, events, books, and songs mentioned are real and historically accurate, something which helps to bring the late 1960s to life. As you read you recognise key moments in history like protest marches, Martin Luther King Jr’s speech, flowers in rifles, and the fight for civil rights. If you love history then this would probably be a fascinating account of American history to dive into. At almost 500 pages there is a lot of detail and Isaacs paces it accordingly. Things follow at a realistic pace, day by day almost rather than large jumps and in doing so it shows how much actually happened in such a short period of time and the ongoing effort people did behind the scenes before grand demonstrations. This does make it a slow read when nothing seems to happen for a long time, but this  is where the romance and personal relationship elements balance with historical events.

There are a lot of positives about this book, the research is incredible, the detailed exploration of key historical moments, and the subject is interesting, but despite that I found that I couldn’t get into the story. It wasn’t the length, being an ebook I didn’t actually notice it until much later, I just found I wasn’t connecting with the characters or their lives and the writing style was hard to get into. I say this of course contrasted with the fact that it was interesting to read about all the protests and the effort students and people went to show their disapproval of the war, and the campaigns they ran to boycott products. I did enjoy reading about the civil rights, the reactions to King’s speech and the fight for equality. But aside from recognising these moments and learning the details I still couldn’t connect.

There are surprises and a few unexpected moments that add emotion and drama as Isaacs links history with the romance and the fiction, and seeing the everyday person react and interact with history offers great insight away from it being simply a past event. I’m disappointed I didn’t love this book more, but there is no denying that it was an interesting read.

You can purchase Riot via the following

Amazon

Amazon Aust

Wish List (#4) by Belinda Williams

Published: 26th May 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Momentum
Pages: 280
Format: ebook via the publisher and NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Could the wrong man on paper be the perfect man in real life?

Cate Harmon likes lists. While this may serve her well as a financial planner, her girlfriends think that creating a checklist for her ideal man is going a step too far. But she has one, and she’s sticking to it.

Cate has always dreamed of starting a family and settling down and yet she’s the only one of her close-knit friendship group still unattached. But that doesn’t mean she’s going to lower her standards.

Enter Dave, a reformed bad boy with gorgeous hair and eyes the wrong colour. Dave doesn’t tick any of the boxes on Cate’s list. It’s unthinkable that she would develop feelings for him, and yet … Cate finds herself being drawn to Dave in a way she’s never felt before.

Will Cate confront the reasons behind her list? Or will she risk losing a man who could be better than any list she could ever dream up?

I legit had a massive smile on my while reading this book, even in the rocky parts. I think I said something corny when I started reading it saying it was like coming back home but it was true; I love these women so much and I love Williams’ stories about their lives and as soon as I started reading Cate’s story I was back in their world with Maddy and Scarlett and Christa. It was like I hadn’t left.

It’s not all big smiles and excitement though, Williams did bring a few tears to the surface in some part, but just for a moment. I’m not saying the book is 90% happiness and frivolity, but it was just so wonderful to read that every little thing made me happy, the conflict, drama, Cate’s frustration and denial, the SURPRISES! It was the perfect package and balance.

I’ve realised through this series that there’s a little bit of me in each of these women, possibly all the wrong bits to identify with but all the same there’s something in each of them I adore. I adore because despite them feeling insecure, having a duty of care, a desire to do the right thing, and having hidden secrets, they still get up and have a great life with beautiful friends. They don’t let themselves or their past stop them (well, eventually anyway).

Wish List is the final in the City Love series and after seeing Christa’s, Maddy’s, and Scarlett’s stories we finally get to explore Cate’s. Williams has been great at dropping snippets of information through all her books about each woman, and with Scarlett’s story Cate was given a closer look, just enough to tease you and build anticipation. Justified too because the Cate we discover is totally unexpected from the Cate we’ve gotten to know. Delving into her mind and life is wonderful and finding out more about her secretive past and seeing that she isn’t always the cautious and structured girl she seems to be is fantastic, like all the girls we see her grow.

Williams’ starts off the story slowly, almost as you’d expect, meeting a guy who isn’t the guy you expect to fall for, but even if you think you know what may happen, that it will follow some clear set of events, it won’t. Williams brings a whole new story to the table and brings complexity and depth and drama that doesn’t feel over the top or too messy, it feels real and justified and intense.

That isn’t even the biggest twist as Williams has five or six more up her sleeve that continually surprise you when you least expect it. She lulls you into feeling safe before pouncing and makes you remember all the little details you’d forgotten about because you were caught up and recovering from the last surprise. It’s easy to think this story is one big issue but it’s a bigger, deeper, more complicated situation that twists and turns and shocks and delights you. By the end you can’t believe you ever thought it was just going to be that simple. It’s not even close to being that simple.

For me this is the best and most wonderful ending to a series and a book I’ve read. Williams has always treated these women well and given them stories that suit them and that they deserve, this is no exception, and being the final book it also manages to be a farewell and big finale for the four of them. The continual surprises and little bits of joy and intensity are an emotional ride but I wouldn’t change a thing. As I read my heart was pounding, I had knots in my stomach, a smile on my face, continually holding in gasps and squeals as my eyes fled across the page trying to read faster and possibly physically immerse myself in the story.

One thing I admire about William’s writing is she makes wonderful romantic stories that are heart-warming, heartbreaking, and satisfying without making them overly sweet and mushy, or too innocent or risqué either. Getting inside the heads of these women helps balance that out because you see their reservations, their developing feelings and their reasoning behind what they do. You also fall in love with new characters and reacquaint yourself with the old ones. Dave is my favourite of all the boys in this series, even for his faults. With Cate’s narration we can see how he causes her so must frustration and angst, how his few words annoy her and confuse her. But through Dave’s actions we see a bit more of Cate as well, they balance each other out.

I could go on forever and talk about every little thing in this book but I won’t, I’ve gone on enough already, but I will say that there’s 101 things to adore in this story, it’s got everything, love, drama, friendship, excitement, the works. William’s has done a truly marvellous job and had wrapped up the City Love series spectacularly.

You can pre-order Wish List via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble

Google Play | iBooks Store

Kobo

AWW16

The Recipient by Dean Mayes

Published: 1st May 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Central Avenue Publishing
Pages: 416
Format: ebook
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Casey Schillinge is a vivacious young woman on the verge of making her mark on the world. While backpacking, she is struck down by a tropical disease and suffers cardiac failure. But at the eleventh hour, Casey receives a life-saving heart transplant – and a rare second chance to begin again.

Three years later, Casey has become a withdrawn shell of her former self: she is estranged from her loved ones, afraid of open spaces and rides the line between legitimate and criminal work. The worst of her troubles come in the form of violent night terrors; so frightening that she resorts to extreme measures to keep herself from sleeping. When she can take no more, she embarks on a desperate search for the source of her dreams. In so doing, she makes a shocking discovery surrounding the tragic fate of the donor whose heart now beats inside her chest. As she delves deeper into the mystery of her donor, she realises her dreams are not a figment of her imagination, but a real life nightmare.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book by the author for review.

I was engaged with this story from the beginning; Mayes’ narration pulls you in slowly and nicely into Casey’s life and the life of those around her. He tells the story with a great varying style and intensity based on what’s happening which really helps to enhance what’s going on.

Set in Melbourne it was great to read about trams and St Kilda and all these familiar locations, reading stories set in Oz is never tiring. Maye’s makes it feel like any other place though, and if you aren’t familiar with Melbourne or even Australia it doesn’t affect the story because Mayes creates a vivid picture in your mind.

Each character is interesting and defined, while not everyone needed a full back story their placement in the story and Casey’s life felt natural and solid. You easily accept the people around her and take them on their face value about who they are as a person. Seeing their patience tested and their love and support for Casey fracture  brings them to life and seeing them try to cope with her demons tells you a lot about them and their different relationships. This is also added to by the occasional perspectives we’re given of people other than Casey.

These point of view changes are seamless and mostly brief. Mayes doesn’t dedicate chapters to different characters; instead he weaves tiny snippets and thoughts around Casey’s. These small brief moments of insight into other characters offer so much and offer a nice outside perspective to what she is experiencing. I really loved this because if was so cleverly done, it suited the story so well, but also because it was interesting to see the world outside of Casey’s viewpoint. Seeing Casey’s struggle, seeing her trying to cope was captivating on its own, but having it offset with thoughts and observations of those around her made it something greater, especially with her reluctance to divulge any information. Casey doesn’t know what she is dealing with, but she also doesn’t share what she’s dealing with either which adds another layer of complexity to the story. Even though we know about the nightmares in part, it’s fascinating to see it from the other side, with parents and doctors trying to break through to her and find out what’s haunting her.

I loved Casey in this, as terrible as it sounds I loved seeing her struggle and her anguish, I think Mayes tells her story so well you can’t help but admire even the bad stuff. Her isolation and her fears come across so well on the page and when she reaches breaking point it feels real and you totally get why she shuts herself down from the world. I loved so many of the characters, even with their flaws, I loved Scott’s devotion and Lionel’s patience, I loved her parents who try their best but can only do so much. It was wonderful seeing everyone grow and change together, for better and for worse.

Mayes has created a great story, it’s engaging and compelling, and there’s a strange mysteriousness about it without it straying too far from the contemporary fiction side, just the hint of the unknown. This is a great story because there’s so much filling it but not all of it’s important detail; it’s just everyday life filled with bobble head sasquatches and tense relationships with parents, but sometimes seemingly unimportant conversations can take on new meaning and it plays with what you think you know. I liked that not everything that happened was supposed to have meaning; it brings it down to earth and makes you remember not everything has an ulterior motive.

Having said that, while it doesn’t read like a mystery there is a mysterious element that needs solving. It’s a story of a woman who is trying to stop her nightmares any way she can and this is the only way she knows how. It’s easy to criticise Casey’s choices in this, especially once she starts following the clues, but when you realise that while those around her only have been dealing with this for a few weeks, she’s been tormented with this for three years so you understand why she wants to solve this, and for that you can forgive a lot of her actions.

There are surprises and twists in this that you really don’t expect and the thrill only heightens the closer you get to the end. Mayes takes us on Casey’s journey, through the before and the after and from start to finish it helps you understand her, sympathise with her, and want to help her. It’s a wonderful read and one that keeps you entertained and guessing all the way through.

You can purchase The Recipient via the following

Amazon

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