Tag: Fiction

Christmas Spirit by Nicola May

 

Four Stars

 

Christmas SpiritThis is a lovely Christmas themed story, short enough to read in an afternoon. The characters are endearing and different from each other with just jilted Evie, funny man-mad Beatrice, and c and thought provoking Yves.

Evie has split up with her boyfriend just before Christmas and so she’s upset, penniless and not looking forward to Christmas at all. To keep her mind off her ex-boyfriend on Christmas Day, she agrees to work in a homeless shelter serving food. Here she meets enigmatic Yves and meets him at various places over the next few days.

A heart-warming Christmas story with a touch of magic and an unexpected twist.

 

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Indecent by Corinne Sullivan

3-and-half-star

I enjoy a good slow burner of a book but the burn has got to be really worth the slow. For the first half of this book, I was disappointingly waiting for something to happen, for the story to take off. We really got to know Imogene, our leading lady, during this time but she was such an insular, detached sort of person that nothing had really happened in her life to create a story about. We learn of her insecurities, lack of confidence, lack of experience with the opposite sex and the propensity to pick her face all the time.

Indecent

Imogene is an apprentice teacher at a prestigious boarding school for boys, and works under the supervision of other tutors. She knew and understood the rules of the school and what her relationship to the students should be, but her lack of experience or stupidity has her taking personally any interest from the boys.  This naivete sets her on a course of inappropriate behaviour and reckless abandon of school rules. and I could see a mile off that this was going to end badly.

What I couldn’t get out of my head while reading, was if the sexes were changed – Imogene was a male teacher at a girls boarding school – is that it would blatantly have been a very uncomfortable read about grooming and paedophilia.

The final third of the book did pick up in tension as we see the excruciating obviousness of Imogene’s demise. She can’t cope with work or indeed life, and her lack of relationship experience leads her away from all sensibility.

Very well written, and certainly worth reading if you like a slow burner.

 

Viking Wolf by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

4 and half 1

 

Viking Wolf

This is the second instalment of the Viking Warrior series, Viking Thunder being the first. Viking Wolf carries on where Viking Thunder left off and opens towards the end of the crossing by boat from England to Erik’s homeland. Elswyth and Faline took the decision to leave their village where both had bad memories and nothing to stay for, and joined the Vikings on their ship home.

Elswyth meets Erik’s brother and feels a shiver of danger, not wanting to be left alone with him. On Erik’s home turf, Elswyth feels that she is looked down on and not to be trusted by his kin folk. She slowly makes friendships when sickness sweeps the village but is mistrusted by some. There is plenty of Viking folklore, lust and eroticism to keep the reader entertained, with the story moving at a good pace and a touch of fantasy giving a very satisfactory ending.

As with each of Emmanuelle’s books, this is very well written and edited and I look forward to the next in this action-packed Viking series.

 

First in the series: Viking Thunder  Viking Thunder 2

Four by Andy Jones

4 and half 1

An intimate story of three friends when a new lady joins to make the foursome. We are first introduced to Sally, a GP, who is married to Alistair. Their marriage is taking a bit of a battering and they are attending marriage counselling in an effort to save their marriage. We then meet Mike who has recently divorced and has a little girl who has emigrated with her mother. He used to be at university with Sally and were a little more intimate than Alistair knows about, and also now works with Alistair. Faye is a young actress and is introduced by Mike to Sally and Alistair after she has just performed a part as a naked schoolgirl on stage. Faye is flirtatious and after an evening of drink, drugs and a dare game called ‘never have I ever’, the couples swap and end up sleeping together.

Four

The main theme of the book is the analysis of what that one reckless night has done to each of them individually and as couples. Then, about half way through the book, there is an unexpected twist which has further connotations.

I found the book to be well written and delved deeply into areas I’d not thought about. It felt realistic and the characters were all believable. There was tension throughout because of the embarrassment felt by each of them in the cold light of day. It was refreshing to read a male author’s viewpoint of some very intimate and emotional situations and I will certainly look out for more by Andy Jones.

The Bad Mother by Amanda Brooke

3-and-half-star

The Bad Mother

The Bad Mother is a rather chilling tale of expectations and realities of becoming a new mother. Lucy is expecting her first baby but rather than all the excitement of buying all the baby things and decorating its room, Lucy is worrying about lapses in her memory, a complete loss of confidence and her capabilities of looking after a new baby. Lucy’s mother puts it down to ‘baby brain’ and hormones but her husband isn’t so sure it’s as simple as hormones, he’s convinced it is a mental problem which she may have inherited from her father.

For a good way through the book I was trying to convince myself that all Lucy’s problems were down to her husband, Adam – well, the blurb on the cover tells us this – but thought that was too simple and that there must be a twist. I disliked Adam as a character from early on. He comes over as a whiny, spoilt, petulant person who likes to get his own way.

After Lucy and Adam’s little girl is born, things don’t get any better and Lucy is convinced that she is a danger to her baby and incapable of keeping her safe and cared for. The story moves at a reasonable pace and finally comes to a head in a breathtaking way.

This was a well written book touching on many issues but I didn’t find it a page-turner, it should have been shorter instead of reiterating the same things. I would have liked to have known what made Adam tick. His upbringing was similar to many children but they don’t all act like him, just what clicked in his brain to make him so selfish and duplicitous. Equally, why did Lucy so quickly and easily change from being a strong, confident, working woman with many friends into a whimpering wet lettuce.

 

 

The Rival by Charlotte Duckworth

4 and half 1

Helena is a confident and successful business woman heading her own department in an international make-up company. Then Ashley is interviewed and taken on and everything goes out of kilter.

The Rival

The story is told in a present day and back a year or so style, and although I felt that sometimes the timeline wasn’t quite clear (only realising we’d gone back/forward after a paragraph or two,) it worked well to show how quickly Ashley was taking over and Helena was spiralling down with pregnancy, childbirth and depression.

Both main female characters had their faults, pushy, deceptive, unfaithful etc., and the author making them both unlikeable at times made them feel realistic, more true to life, just a bad combination when they got together.

I thought the book was well written and well plotted, it had a couple of unexpected twists at the end and I enjoyed it very much.

 

Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany

4 and half 1

Best Kept SecretA powerful and impacting story of how Cadence struggles with work and bringing up a toddler after her marriage falls apart, and turns to the bottle to help her cope with life. Only it doesn’t, it devastates her life in the most sobering way possible when her husband finds her passed out from drinking with their son in the room, taking him away and filing for custody of four year old Charlie.

From sinking so low Cadence, with help from her sister and alcoholics’ meetings, lifts herself from the depths of despair to fight to gain the right to see her child.

A raw and emotionally charged story portraying the destructive effects of alcohol.

Amy Hatvany

 

 

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