to the end authors, please!

The Fine Art of Deception: Undoing Time Alyssa Richards

Like, love, hate and then finally annoyance.  That’s was my relationship with this book.  Maybe tomorrow I will appreciate what Ms Richards was trying to do here – but today?  No way!

I found I was immersed in a world I knew nothing about – the art world.  Forgeries, art history, grand theft and master pieces.  If you like art history this will be a good read for you.

The two lead characters took a little time to warm up to (and too much looking backwards for her).  But once the story got going the book took on a great pace and turned into an unexpected thriller.  I just loved it.  There were so many interesting and developing strands to the story and it was hard to see where they would end up.  Likewise with the characters: Otto had to be all bad, right? And Ellen – what was going on with her? Was Alexa about to be kidnapped for Addie’s co-operation?  Not to mention the smouldering bodyguard (oooh!).

It was all going on and I could barely put the book down.  I’m a total scaredy cat but I suffered to know what was going to happen.

And then it happened – absolutely nothing.

That’s right, it just finished.  Nothing is resolved.

Clearly, the author is setting it up for a series.  But how cynical to treat your readers like that  -” if you want to know what happens buy my next book”.

Don’t get me wrong I love a series – especially a romantic one.  The likes of Nalini Singh, Kresley Cole, Sylvia Day and Lindsay Pryor have mastered the art of finishing a story but leaving the intrigue for the series going.

The Art of Deception is a debut novel, so for that reason I’m going to assume Alyssa Richards just didn’t realise her potential to annoy the reader.  Shame as it had so much going for it, the writing is easy and fun, the concept is innovative and its easy to connect to the characters.

So Alyssa at least let us know when this damn next book is out!!

Thank you netgalley for a copy of this book in return for an honest review!

Read the Amazon blurb

Vampires are people too

Serenity Box Series 1-3 books Marissa Farrar

Oooh! She’s good in fact she’s so good, she’s got to be bad.  Marissa Farrar has me hooked on her Serenity series.

I started on this series as I love vampires and romance.  But now I’m hooked I know its not really a paranormal romance series, in fact not at all.

Romance stories are all about the alpha male; finding his true love usually sends him all Tarzan.  He can’t be 100 metres from her and he’s happy to take on any challengers and win.  Yet, despite their connection and his feelings for her Sebastian leaves Serenity, when he comes back his choices don’t end well for her.  They both know he can’t defeat Dimitri, in fact he’s amazingly sanguine about it.

Vampires are usually all conquering all powerful – not so Sebastian and his kind.  They can’t kill each other for starters, and then there’s the absolute inconvenience of the dawn.  To make it even messier he feeds only on humans.  Sebastian might feel badly about it but he still eats and he has no way to tell the good from the bad humans, only those who won’t be missed straight away.  Hardly, the makings of a hero.

Each book isn’t formed around a “happy ever after” ending which defines the romance genre.  Marissa Farrar doesn’t play that game, that’s for sure.  The ending of Buried totally shocked me.  I thought my kindle had lost a chapter.  Unthinkable for a romance book.

In fact in parts Buried (the brilliant dark second book) is quite frightening, and Jackson is replusive.  As for the twist in third book, I didn’t see that one coming!

Sebastian said it best telling Serenity he might be a vampire but he wasn’t a super hero. Vampires have never seemed so human.  Even a witch seems stronger.  That’s the real cleverness – yep its a vampire book, but actually its all human – family, love, guilt, ego, betrayal,  jealousy, choices, weaknesses, anger, longing and so on…

Marissa Farrar’s series defies an easy description, which can’t make it easy to sell but to read – its fantastic.  Having just finished book three, there’s almost a hint of a happy ending – do I take it run?  Hell no – I’ve just downloaded book four – Dominion here I come!


Becks is no T-Rex

Rock Hard Nalini Singh (#2 Rock Kiss)

Having read the first book in the series I was keen but not desperate to read the next book in the series.  I hadn’t really “got” Molly and Fox.  But Nalini Singh had been posting some updates on this story for the past month which whetted my appetite a bit.

“Any problems with my goals?”

The hero is a former international rugby player, and a Kiwi national icon.  So, it’s tries not goals he scores.  At this point I must say hats off to Ms Singh.  Being a New York Times best-seller, she’s writing for a global audience.  Rugby is far from an international sport, so its a brave move to write about it.  Not only that but to base it somewhere rugby isn’t just a sport but a religion, she captures this perfectly.  The date at the rugby and the bbq in the park fizzle with authenticity.

I hope her legion of global fans, appreciate the difference in football codes.  After all, rugby heroes are physically different from your soccer global stars, they personify menace, grit and determination all at once.  David Beckham is no match for T-Rex.

Becks might not be a match for him, but Charlie mouse takes him down.  Interestingly she starts off with a stapler along the way roses, bracelets, black lace, muffins and pasta sauce play their part.  T-Rex’s advice that a hole punch was a better option will stay with me!

This is romance that sizzles on the page, its the kind of romance that the term “can’t put it down” was made for!  Nalini Singh is in stunning form with Rock Hard, kicking this series into touch (see what I did there!).

Being part of Charlotte’s metamorphosis, I was rooting for her to bring him down.  But as her story unveiled that wasn’t important I just wanted him to win her.  I could totally relate to the enormous task he faced.  And I loved the way he detailed his plans for her to veto (as if she would!).  Gorgeous just gorgeous!

Both Gabe and Charlie and far more complex and real characters than Molly or Fox, and that made for much better story.

Oh and Nalini if you’re looking for another Kiwi national sport – maybe try cricket with a Chris Gayle look a like?

The book is out on March 10th and I received an ARC in return for an honest review.

Beautiful, dull, slow

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats Jan-Philipp Sendker

Imagine this – you’re in a bar.  A guy walks in, from the rear you can see he fills his Levi’s very nicely.  He’s at the bar ordering, you go over to have a better look.  Classically handsome, strong jaw, glossy hair, sparkling eyes and clean white t-shirt most likely covering a decent six pack.  He has a thick paperback with him (so you know he’s intelligent right?).  He’s a beautiful man, oozing class and elegance.  You smile, he smiles back – nice smile and he even looks like he appreciates you. Can’t get much better right?!

And then you hear laughter, real laughter bit too loud.  You look over and there’s a guy laughing at something his mate said.   His hair’s a little tousled, its probably hat hair but maybe he just got out of bed – mid morning?  His eyes are just that little crinkled as he laughs and he’s totally focussed on what his mate’s saying.  When he talks he waves his hands around making a point, that is when he’s not attacking his food with relish.  Whilst he is good looking and his bright polo shirt is definitely hiding some nice muscle definition, its his enthusiasm, joy and connection to his friend that hits you.

If you want to go home with the first guy this book is for you.  Beautifully, beautifully crafted but at a snail’s pace and with so little real substance.

I’m off to get the laughing man’s number….

From taxi driver to…

50 Shades of Grey – dir. Sam Taylor-Johnson

Finally, it’s here!  I watched it with my lovely date on Saturday night (no, not the husband who couldn’t summon the enthusiasm but my gorgeous bestie) in a chocker cinema.

I’ll come to the film in a moment, but first I saw a connection with another exciting London happening – the introduction of the driverless car.  No, its not so Christian can tie Ana up in the car without embarrassing his chauffeur.  It’s because an objection to driverless cars was the loss of jobs for taxi drivers.  Well, that’s undoubtedly true, although just because you’re not driving for a living doesn’t mean that the activity of work itself has dried up.  Absolutely not – the film credits for 50 Shades mention a BDSM technical consultant.  I’m not sure how one qualifies for such a job but like window cleaners, taxi drivers see a lot of life, perhaps a few might be qualified?!

As for the input of said BDSM technical consultant?  Well, it has to be said I found the input somewhat lacking.  It would seem that Ms Taylor-Johnson was worried about taste and offending too many people.  So, we get just enough to be interesting – as much as one can, when its trying to show “singular” tastes but not enough to really shock or infuriate the average person.  Certainly not anyone who knows its 18 rated and has heard of the books.

So, what do we get?!  Well, Dakota is quite good in it.  Jamie Dornan is okay – bit too pretty to be Christian but he captured the intense and “bottled-upness” quite well.

Yes, I can hear you haters shouting about a young naive girl being intimidated and manipulated into things she didn’t want to do. Well, if I’m ever intimidated and manipulated by a billionaire then I hope I have half her oomph in handling him in the boardroom.  That was a lesson girls in how to do it!  Just hope I get the chance…

No doubt due to what’s often called mummy porn (how rude is that?!) EL James’ story is forgotten – given the anger or venom that sprouts about her writing skills maybe that’s not always deliberate?

Let’s remember that this is a coming of age story.  He is still the frightened four year old who sat by his mother’s corpse for days and who was sexually exploited by a feral cougar as a 15 year old.  Controlling everything has been his passport to success, feeding the world will he believes free him.  Clearly, it won’t, but he doesn’t know it, yet.  Ana is the nerdy English Lit graduate who loves romance but has never tried it herself, who’s only ever had a passing acquaintance with men who couldn’t see her passion.  How can that be anything but romance?  Might not be Mills & Boon but mostly love isn’t.

Keep that in mind, see the film and enjoy it for that.  The “shocking” BDSM scenes aren’t exactly tame but they’re not going to have you running for the hills.

From that perspective, maybe the on-set BDSM technical consultant didn’t really have to know that much, given how much the average London cabbie needs to know – perhaps it’s not too much of a leap?!

Calling Hollywood

The Miniaturist Jessie Burton

As much as I love movies, I’m usually horrified at the thought of Hollywood touching one of my book gems.  But this book needs Hollywood – in fact its crying out to be rescued so please Sam Mendes get on with it!

Jessie Burton’s story is an ambitious one for any author especially for a debut.  The descriptions of Amsterdam, the city and the society are wonderful – they sparkle.  The attention to detail around the clothes, fabrics, home decorations and especially the food is rich and in places moving.  As a piece of social commentary on an historical era its quite simply remarkable.

What’s also remarkable and perhaps unique is Burton’s concept of taking a wedding gift given to a young lady by her husband in the late 1600’s.  It should have been magical.  All the ingredients are there, but…

The rich storyline just never really develops, and the characterisation is weak, you just never really care about any of them.  Burton’s story touches on the element of magic, its possibility and role in a religious society.  This will be fascinating on film but in the book it never goes anywhere.  And then there’s Johannes’s story – Hollywood will do this tragedy justice (and rarely do I think that!) in a way Burton doesn’t manage.  Johannes’s tragedy is that he is a modern even entrepreneurial man facing a perennial issue in a world that simply doesn’t understand it.  Benedict Cumberbatch anyone?!

The story took ages to grow and then crashed into the last three chapters to what I can only say was an ending that resolved nothing.  Who on earth is this Miniaturist?

I now know more about Dutch history, the role of religion in the late 1600’s and the hypocrisy and  greed that drove the society.  But I know no more about Burton’s characters than when I started the Miniaturist.

Please Hollywood tell this story it needs it!

No not Chesney…

Could it be I’m falling in love? Eleanor Prescott

I do hate to tell an author she is wrong, after all she wrote the book, but she is.  End of!

As I imagined former popstar Woody up ladders cleaning windows all I could hear was “wake me up …”.  Clearly Woody’s character was based on the divine Andrew Ridgeley.  As he continued to clean windows, jog around the village and be charming to everyone he became even more Andrew.  I joined Roxy in both love and lust – just what I wanted.

All was going well, until I joined an online chat where author Eleanor Prescott explained that the book was inspired by a drunken encounter she’d had at a wedding with Chesney Hawkes (she being the drunk one not Chesney).   It bought back memories of unwrapping birthday presents and getting a generic doll when you wanted a Barbie.  Oh dear….

I wanted to dismiss this revelation as a simple mistake but that got harder as I read on.

Eleanor Prescott is London’s very own Marian Keyes – sparkling, mad characters who develop in unexpected ways and who slowly layer by layer become someone else.  Can I imagine Marian aka Eleanor bopping away and embarrassing Chesney – yes.  Wham’s Andrew – no.  She’d have been starstruck like the rest of us, surely?

So, to enjoy the remainder of the book I decided that she was simply wrong – Woody is Andrew Ridgely and that’s that.

What I loved about this book, was the ability to dip and dip out.  Sometimes you need a book that totally absorbs you and the family have to forage for food for themselves.  Sometimes you know that a book is to enjoy whilst you do have a life.  So, this is fun, zany book is for those times when you have a life and you want to be entertained.   Chic lit at its finest – if perhaps a little too long.  Of course, you can see the ending come a mile away – people that’s the whole point!  Enjoy the ride.

Oh and Eleanor if your next book is about a gorgeous former footballer – remember its David Beckham that I want not Wayne Rooney!  Thank you.

I found the tidy ninja….

Chore attack Appsforgood – Katie, Meghan & Caitlyn Wick High School Scotland

Well, I’ve been on the look out for a ninja to help with the house for quite a few years now. With zero luck.

Now, thanks to Chore Attack one of this year’s winning Appsforgood apps I’m making progress.  Like all good things the premise is simple. You record chores to be done and your motivated and enthusiastic little people rush to do them.

Sounds too too good to be true? Well, so far it’s working. And I can see why – the leaderboard keeps the competition going especially if you give the very willing dad chores to do! The idea of photos for the rewards is great and will help the non reading kids.

Its incredible that three school girls created this! Well done!  If you don’t know Appsforgood – its time you did – have a look.

Challenging the formula

Alone (Serenity No 1) Marissa Farrar

Paranormal romantic heroines frequently have some kind of violent/difficult background – often alluded to in comments about step or foster fathers.  But generally its referred to in the past tense and when they were younger.  This usually shows how they overcame and developed their spiky nature etc.

Given that most PNR books follow the successful formula (which truth be told I don’t mind at all!), having your heroine be the victim of domestic violence is a brave move.  Even more so when its so well described and the “heroine” actually has no intention of leaving even when the opportunity is laid out for her.

This is Marissa Farrar’s starting point for her Serenity series.  Serenity isn’t the most likeable character to start with, but she does grow on you.  As for Sebastian he has the usual vampire traits: gorgeous, physically imposing, lethal, sexy, rich, tragic blah blah.  So, in vampire terms very easy to like, in fact his moral approach may send him sky rocketing in my vampire stakes (get it?!).   Sebastian might just be my new vampire crush – yum!

I don’t want to ruin the ending but there’s more to it than you might expect.

As a break from the standard PNR fare I really enjoyed this. It’s challenging and surprising – nothing about Serenity is easy.  Perhaps it was a bit short, and the kick off with Serenity and her home situation was a bit detailed.  But I’ve already downloaded books 2 and 3 (right now you can get them as a set from Amazon UK for kindle at 99p for all three books – seriously!).

Now once this month’s bookclub read is done, I’ve got my next two choices lined up, thank you Marissa!