Review: Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough

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This is the first novel I’ve read by Colleen McCullough, and I am quite impressed with the breadth of information she is able to weave into Bittersweet. It’s a family drama, but it’s also social and political commentary… It’s where romance and feminism meet, and where the power of money makes a difference (for once) in local and regional healthcare.

The history McCullough wrote in — not just dates and places, but people and culture and anthropology – was wonderful. I gleaned as much about Australian politics, economics and society as I did about people’s need for love and acceptance. And McCullough didn’t just stick in facts where she could; she made them part and parcel of the dramatic story.

And dramatic it was. Four sisters, each with wants and needs and quirks… grating on, supporting, loving, misunderstanding, and even betraying one another.

The women rise to meet their fates, and two sisters face life with acceptance… after a few tweaks. The other sisters slap fate in the face, turn around and walk the other direction until they find something better, something real, something they are proud to own.

I really loved the family part of this story. Though no one was perfect, they did love each other immensely, and the author was able to make me feel it and believe it. I liked the Latimer family – flaws and all – because their flaws made them real to me.

The men in the story were less relatable to me, but they had a purpose. Each character, male or female, was more than just him or herself; they represented “Everyman” in their realm. Think of a stereotype, and McCullough represented it via a flawed but likeable character. A widow, a clergyman, a politician, a salesman, a smart (oooooh!) woman, a shrew, a rich man… and so many more. Though it took a bit for me to get through the political descriptions, the cleverly written characters sold me on this solid 4-star read.

-Calliope
buy BITTERSWEET

Review: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

18920446Okay, so this is soooo not a typical Stephen King book. Reading this novel I suddenly understand why authors use pseudonyms. I mean, I loved this story from page one….but the entire time I was reading it, I kept thinking, “this isn’t like any Stephen King book I’ve ever read”….

This actually distracted me a great deal…I mean, I would have entire conversations inside my head…..

“Why does it matter if this is different, you like it, right?”

“How can it not be a SK book when SK wrote it, Idget!”

“Who are you to say what A SK book should be written like?”

“Of course he didn’t use a pseudonym AGAIN….been there….done that….got the grief for it tee-shirt”

I mean, it would go on for 20 minutes at a time…..

Yes….my life is indeed this sad….

This is a novel WRITTEN BY STEPHEN KING about a retired detective…..The detective is contacted after his retirement by a killer he was never able to capture whilst on the job…..The contact wakes up the detective from his numb numbing simply existence….Suddenly the retired detective has a reason to live again……along the way he recruits a few unlikely heroes to help him….

Stephen King has said that this will be a trilogy and I have to say that although I’m not 100% keen on the detective, that I absolutely love his recruits! I can’t wait to see them in the future books.

The one complaint I have over this novel is I can’t believe how far the retired detective pushed the limits. I found it hard to believe that he went so far out on his own without involving the current *real* police. I found it hard to believe that he didn’t turn over information when so many lives were at stake. Especially since the Detective was so highly decorated whilst he was on the force. He wasn’t known as someone who worked outside the law. He didn’t seem like the type of officer that had such little confidence in fellow officers or the system. He worked 40 years at a job and yet, didn’t involve them or seek their help. He even outright lied and withheld information AFTER an innocent victim was killed…..It didn’t make sense to me….

Having said all of that, even with those bits gnawing at me, making me almost feel like I needed to suspend reality for a bit….well, I still loved the secondary characters enough to forgive SK this….ESPECIALLY since this isn’t his normal type of novel…..bwhahahhaahahahahaha

Highly recommend…and I’m not even really bothered about having to wait for the other books…..these characters were worthy of remembering well past the closing of the last page…..

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Review: Dark Hunter series, by Sherrilyn Kenyon

01ni I am sooooo very late to the night hunter party!! Seriously. It’s partly good and partly bad. One of the good things is that I don’t have to wait long to read the next book. I totally just bought the main 22 books of the complete Dark-Hunterverse series.(Curse you, Amazon price drops!) I will be able to just keep going, without worry of cliffies or anything. It is kinda nice. However, the bad part is WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO READ THESE?!?!? As I type this, I just completed book 2 and I’m dying to read book 3!! I love the tortured souls. And I have a feeling book 3 Dance with the Devil, will be the epitome of tortured.

This series sorta reminds me of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and yet not. Good vs. evil, with a touch of sauciness mixed it. These are the types of paranormal books I like. I like that each book is about a different character, so, if you happen to need a break for a bit, you won’t have to reread all of them. Although I have no idea how to pronounce half the names, it’s still a fun series.

Here is the Goodreads link to the entire series order. I have it bookmarked, so I know which one comes next.

~Melpomene

Buy book 1 Night Pleasures (Dark-Hunter Novels)

Book 2 Night Embrace (Dark-Hunter Novels)

Review: Ghosting by Edith Pattou

20140629-124617-45977646.jpgWhere to begin with this review? First off, it was everything I expected while not being what I expected at the same time. Make sense? When I requested an ARC of this book, I had never heard of Edith Pattou so I wasn’t familiar with her work. The title of the book didn’t mesh with the description, so of course that made me curious enough to give it a try.

So exactly what is the story about? Think “butterfly effect” for the young adult audience. It’s a story about how quickly the world can go wrong, even if you’re young and have your whole life in front of you. Classmates, some friends and some not, thrown together because of a set of circumstances that all come together in one horrible moment. A night of partying, some drinking and drugs thrown in, guns where they shouldn’t be, a teenage prank gone horribly wrong, and nobody is brave enough to stand up for what is right.

My thoughts? In one word, wow. I was a bit thrown off at first because the story is written in free verse, which I wasn’t familiar with in narrative form. But once I got past that initial hurdle, I saw that this style of writing is part of what makes this story so engaging and easy to read. We hear from all of the main characters, almost as if we’ve been invited into their heads to hear their internal conversation. They’re not all likable. In fact, some of them are just plain horrible people. Still, we come to feel their pain and to see them as human as this tragic story unfolds. And this isn’t one of those books that leaves the reader wondering what happens, although those have their place on my bookshelf as well. We end the story with a good feeling of where everyone is, and where everyone is going after that final page. And we’re left thinking if only….

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Ghosting

Review: It’s In His Kiss (Lucky Harbor #10) by Jill Shalvis

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I love Lucky Harbor. The women are tough cookies even though they cry and glare and let a good kiss redeem bad behavior (well, not SO bad). Shalvis writes the best alpha men ever, EVER, and they are all different. How can there be so many smart, cocky, sensitive, charming, muscled men in one town? And all with distinct personalities and quirks and talents? I do not know, but I like it.

It’s in His Kiss is WONDERFUL. Becca moves to Lucky Harbor to get away from her wacky family, and she meets Sam. They ogle each other and work together at Sam’s boat chartering business for a while, until Becca realizes Lucky Harbor has avenues for her to use her musical talents. Meanwhile, they fall a little bit in love. And of course there’s a misunderstanding and a happily ever after.

That’s my kind of book: Relatable, likable characters; quick, smart dialogue; a forward-moving plot; characters who display authentic humor and poignant friendships; and a satisfying romance. And Shalvis further proves her writing talent by writing a series where each book can be read standing alone, yet if you read them together you enjoy nuggets of recognition and common threads. Just perfect.

I stayed up late to read this. I stayed up late to read #11. And I’ll stay up late to read #12. I can’t get enough of Lucky Harbor. 🌊☀️☔️😎💏

The subsequent books in the series will be released in September and October.

-Calliope
buy IT’S IN HIS KISS

Review: The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

Dead in their valted archesOkay, so I know this is book 6 in a series, but alas, it’s where I started. I know I need to go back and read the earlier books in this series. Regardless of all of that, there is no doubt that Flavia is a delightful character! So lovely! Spunky! Quirky! Clever! I adored her! Are you looking for a new mystery series? Well look no further! She’s only 11, but this is a book that can entertain you no matter how young at heart you are! This is the type of book that will appeal to a vast audience. Teens, as well as adults of all ages. I imagine my grandmother would have loved Flavia. I think my 16 year old daughter would love Flavia…and yes, I love Flavia too!

In this novel we have Flavia finally reunited with a mother she no longer remembers. We have plenty of opportunities to see just how clever and industrious little Flavia is. There’s lots of interactions with family members to keep you entertained. And lest we forget…there is a mystery that Flavia is determined to solve.

Once again, I am reminded just how many great series of books are out there and I can’t help but wishing there were more hours in each day to read. This type of book just goes to prove that there are tons of great books out there that are clean wholesome fun….but more than that, they are entertaining as well!

I can’t wait to see where Bradley takes this series…there are definitely big changes in store for Flavia and her family after this book….

Until next time….

Urania xx

Review reading copy provided by NetGalley

Buy it now The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

Review: One of Us by Tawni O’Dell

9781476755878I was intrigued by this new one from Tawni O’Dell based on one of her previous books I enjoyed, Back Roads. And I must say, as much as I liked Back Roads many years ago, this latest venture was even better for me.

Danny Doyle is a famous forensic psychologist who’s been involved in some very well-known cases. When he returns to his home town to check up on his elderly grandfather, he unwittingly becomes caught up in another mystery, this one seemingly spanning several generations. Deep in the heart of Pennsylvania coal country lies the mystery of not only the latest murder but also unsolved murders from Danny’s past.

This was an intriguing story for the mystery aspect alone. It’s very much a police procedural story but so much more. The author tells a great story, and her descriptions of backwoods Pennsylvania are hauntingly beautiful. It was dark and mysterious enough to keep me interested and will appeal to anyone who likes a good mystery.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: One of Us

Review: Mrs. McKeiver’s Solutions by Margaret Morgan

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This story set in 18th century England was such a treat! Mrs. McKeiver is the local midwife and general mother figure for the villagers. Her son doesn’t have the use of his legs and vacillates between depression and moving forward with his life.

The plot seemed secondary to the characters and setting. Basically, Mrs. McKeiver was remarrying, and her son had to figure out where to go when his mother moved. Other characters had babies, were forced to move to a different home, changed their religious inclinations, and were punished for their crimes.

I’m not big on non-fiction, so this fictional account was the perfect way for me to learn about English villages in the 1700s. The filth stands out in my mind, especially. People stank of sweat, urine, vomit, and disease. Animals stank, period. Food rotted and clothes deteriorated. Author Margaret Morgan employs Chaucer’s manner of slipping in crude bodily remarks in a matter-of-fact way… and always elicited from me a delayed but genuine laugh!

Besides the daily living outlined in the story, I was intrigued by the power that “the church” had on the villagers. Bishops, supposedly representing the Church, were totally in charge of everything, from disbursement of food and jobs to determining where people would live! Of course this autonomy led to corruption, another thread in this novel.

My only complaint is that I was rendered impatient by the rambly writing. I sometimes found myself not wanting to pick up at the next chapter because I knew it require some effort to work through all the words to get to the meat of the story. And so, Mrs. McKeiver’s Solutions was a long-winded but eye-opening, educational, amusing glimpse of a pretend village in a very real period in history.

-Calliope

buy MRS.MCKEIVER’S SOLUTIONS

Review: Seducing Lauren, by Kristen Proby

01sed After Lauren divorced her hubby, she thought her troubles were over, but she was so wrong. Now her ex is trying to get half of an inheritance that he thinks he deserves. He’s willing to cause her all kinds of trouble, physical and psychological.

Ty has had feelings for Lauren for a while now, but wanted to give her time to get her life back together after leaving her scum husband. So now that she appears to be moving on, he is making his move. But he has no idea that keeping her safe was on the docket. But he has no problem doing that. In fact, without him there, I’m pretty sure she would’ve backed down from her ex.

Lauren wasn’t used to being cherished by a man. So being with Ty was very new to her. They was he loved on her and took care of her, was so refreshing. He brought her into his life and his circle of friends. She has been alone for so long, she needed that.

Every time we saw her ex, I wanted to reach inside and beat him with a bat. He caused so much trouble for her and gave her so much heartache. At one scene, my stomach dropped and I had to step away. I wasn’t prepared for that.

But I did enjoy the romance. They were very sweet together. They were also very hot. The perfect combination, in my eyes.

I’m also glad we got to see Josh and Cara again. I like when characters intermingle within series. And I know that Ty’s sister will be in the next book, so I can’t wait to read it. I’m sure it’s going to be another winner.

~Melpomene

I received this ARC for an honest review.
Buy Seducing Lauren (Love Under the Big Sky Book 2)

Catch up with Loving Cara (Love Under the Big Sky Book 1)

Pre-order Falling for Jillian