Review

Over the Teacups – Short Reviews #2

Short Reviews Over a Cuppa
I read a number of books I don’t fully review, so I have decided to start acknowledging them here in short reviews – which lets face it – are the best!
Why? It’s part of a series I am addicted to. When I met this series I read the first five I think straight one after the other. Then I had to wait like the rest of the fans for each one. This is #11. Published July 2017. Auto-buy and auto-read.

Plot  Lt Sam Holland and her extended family are picked up from wherever they are and put into lockdown. Somebody is threatening them, especially the children.  Needless to say Sam is grumpy about that as she is in the middle of a case involving an unknown body floating in the river. Then there is an even more significant dead body and let the ride begin!  Set in Washington DC.

What Appeals to me? Every time there is usually the mystery of a dead body for Sam and her team. I love the team dynamics and the various characters, many of whom have had a book with some focus on them. Then there is Sam’s family and the people who work for her and her husband Nick. And… Nick and Sam – what a dynamic, romantic couple.

Each book leads into the next, I couldn’t imagine not reading the previous ones first in order, but I guess it could be done but I wouldn’t advise it.

And so…. I sat up and read this book one evening and then the short story that followed and then… the first chapter of Fatal Chaos which comes out early next year.  I never, I repeat never, read a first chapter in a coming book. I broke my rule this time!!  Fatal Chaos – February 2018, you are in my calendar.

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Why? This is the third book in a trilogy. A contemporary fiction book by J. R. Ward. I like all her books but love her contemporaries best. I have been waiting a whole year for this book!  As soon as it arrived on my doorstep I started reading.

Plot The Bradford family have money, or they did until their father embezzled all of it and left them in big trouble. Now he is dead and big brother Edward is saying he ‘did it’. All four of the Bradfords are traumatised by their upbringing at the hands of a sadistic father. They’ve mucked around but now with new responsibilities and their beloved momma Aurelia dying it is time to front up.

What Appeals to me?
I came to love these very flawed characters and the bonds that still hold them together. I liked their bid to overcome the challenge before them and their ability to look at their lives and see what they really value. It is a little mystery and lots of soap drama. I did think it was a little rushed at the end – but still – so worth the wait. I felt perhaps there was untold things about Max’s story, maybe…

And so… I think this is it, no more! It all kind of was sorted with no big cliff hangers at the end. However I can hope for more contemporary work from J. R. Ward.  Also these three books are certainly on my keeper shelf and will be a reread for sure at some point.

Review

My Top Books of 2016

Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created and is  hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  
It is rather difficult to chose the top books of 2016 for me. So many good reads, although not necessarily outstanding reads. Some haven’t made the list but could easily have. I haven’t included audiobooks although some were fabulous. Thank you to all the authors who entertained me in 2016. I apologise that your book is not here, mainly because the post would just be far too long!
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This was my first book of the year and it turns out to be one of my top reads for 2016. It was fantasy and a real saga.  I was reluctant to leave these people. I held my breath, I wondered, I wept, I smiled. I’ll be reading Foxmask in 2017, the follow up of this book. First time reading author Judith Marillier – New Zealand born and educated now living in Australia.

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I was impressed by this one and it was my first book by USA author Kristina McMorris. Historical fiction. The climax was tense and I wanted to close my eyes and jump a few pages! Perhaps it ended a little too tidily some might say, however I  found it very satisfying, and loved how the story circled around itself and even with one element having a bittersweet mirror image.

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Rachael Johns – Australian author produced two books in 2016 I loved, this was one of them.  Outback Sisters –  all that I love in a good romance novel. Add to that a good dose of rural Australia. There were plenty of little twists and turns, much drama and heartache, and of course love. If that wasn’t enough, I was also reminded of good times, when Rachael Johns mentioned The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton) which took me off in a little indulgent reminiscence. And she also has two characters who love reading and love to discuss the books they read.

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Another Australian author I enjoyed. Historical fiction and debut novel. Set in the USA in the 1920’s. I loved the whole historical background and what it was like for women in those days. It was rather horrifying to read of some of the childbirth practices and attitudes prevalent in that time. A woman’s touch was certainly needed. penned an absorbing, clever book, with characters that came alive off the page. I enjoyed the drama, the humour, the sadness, the romance and the time period. Fantastic read. And totally adore the cover.

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I have come to love the romance books of UK author Sarah Morgan. Loved the #3 in the Puffin Island series. To my mind Sarah Morgan is tops at writing today’s romance stories. This one was charming and enchanting. Set in the winter wonderland of snow and Christmas – a wonderful backdrop. At first I was disappointed it wasn’t all on Puffin Island, but the English countryside was magical too. Loved the tension between the two main characters, the humour and the growing love. There was plenty of wisdom in the story and loved that too. Love her writing and the similes were often spot on. Perfection.

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Allegiance of Honour is #15 in this wonderful urban fantasy/paranormal series. I have loved every book in the series and this was another winner for me. As Nalini Singh (NZ author)  says it has an ensemble cast. Many of the characters from previous books are given updates on how life is going for them. As I love each and every one of these characters that was a delight for me. I took my time reading it. No skipping lines, I just wanted to savour it. Delicious!

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USA author J. R. Ward does it again. This soap drama series has intrigued me and the second one – this one – just left me wanting more of this dysfunctional family. I couldn’t wait to find out all the scandal that has gone on since last year’s book The Bourbon Kings. Of course I had to wait! A whole year, but it has passed and I eagerly began this book. I might even have peeked at the end – although it didn’t tell me that much. This is a book that you have to read every line because you just might miss something of one of the characters evolving story.

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I always love a new book from USA author Cathy Lamb. Toni is the narrator, one of three sisters who have a very special bond. They began their lives in Russia in the 80’s where it was dangerous for them. They were under the eye of the KGB and their large extended family were quietly escaping to the USA. While the story begins in America, every so often we go back to that time in Russia until every little horrific detail of that time is revealed. One of the mysteries that Toni holds a little part – how did their brother arrive to them one bloody night?

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Archangel’s Heartis #9 in the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh. In this book the focus is back on Elena and Raphael and their ever maturing relationship. This time they are off to Morocco where the Luminata have called all the Cadre (the group of archangels who rule the world), because one of the Cadre – Lijuan ruler of China is missing. Is she dead? Hiding out? Or gone into a deep Sleep that lasts for centuries?
This book made me want to reread and reacquaint myself again with the whole series. It was an absorbing and emotional read. Every detail needs to be read, you can’t afford to skip a line, everything counts. Fabulous writing, satisfying reading, the very best!

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This was my first introduction to USA author Karen Rose and her romantic suspense. Every Dark Corner introduces Kate Coppola – an agent I just loved. Despite stress and a personal history that might have levelled another, Kate dedicates herself to helping others, working to save those caught in the nets of depravity.  I highly recommend you get to know her.  She sits within a 5 star read.
I have since gone on to read the first one in the series and have the next one as well. Then I will be all caught up and waiting for the next one in the Cinncinnati series.

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Ah…USA author Mary Alice Monroe. Another in her Lowcountry series. It was everything I love in a story and it was just so good to go back in Taylor’s life to when he first was discharged from the Marines, after experiencing a terrible explosion that left him shattered and suffering from PTSD. He can’t cope with returning to his family for Christmas, finds crowds threatening, and his family are bewildered and find it difficult to understand.
This is a beautifully written story, it sucked me in right from the beginning and I loved every word and minute of it. It is a perfect Christmas story and is linked with little quotes and references to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Review

Blood Vow. J. R. Ward

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Published: Hachette NZ
Date: 6th December 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages:459
Genre:Paranormal
Source: Thanks to Hachette NZ
Rating:
4.5 stars                   Add to Goodreads

Trainees at the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training centre continue to prepare for the fight against the Lessening Society, but fighting is the last thing on Axe’s mind. Still plagued with guilt of his father’s death, the brooding loner finds himself battling an unlikely attraction to Peyton’s bright, aristocratic cousin, Eise.

Elise feels it too- and when the two are thrown together in unusual circumstances Elise must decide whether she can trust Axe to help her uncover the mystery surrounding her cousin’s death.

Meanwhile Mary and Rhage are in the process of adopting Bitty, a young pretrans orphan, until the appearance of a young male claiming to be Bitty’s blooded uncle threatens to tear the new family apart.

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Blood Vow by J. R. Ward is #2 in the The Black Dagger Legacy, an offshoot of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The first book introduced us to the new trainees and was very action oriented. It followed mostly Paradise and Craeg. For this one I predicted it could be all about Peyton another trainee, however while it did include him considerably the main focus was on Axe and a cousin of Peyton’s – Elise.
Whereas #1 was full of action this one is more of a relationships book and I really loved it. As well as Axe and Elise we also follow Rhage and Mary and their newly about to be adopted daughter Bitty. Including a good deal of the Brothers made my reading of the book so enjoyable. Rhage makes a fantastic daddy, Mary is a superb mother and Bitty is a young thirteen year old who adores them both. But it turns out the question is – will they get to keep her?
Axe has lost his parents, he doesn’t have a cent to his name, although he is fortunate enough to still have his parents’ house to live.  When we meet him he is still very angry and addicted to kinky sex. He is at loggerheads with Peyton, and there is constant tension between the two. His mother left himself and his father years back and Axe is cynical and not about to indulge in anything romantic or loving.
Elise is part of the glymera, (nobility) she is intelligent and strong, yet the family she lives in is dysfunctional and she has a father who is over protective and shows no signs of affection.  She is attracted to Axe and their relationship begins to develop from the first time they set eyes on each other. However while alike in some things they are different and it will take some time for them to iron out all those differences.
This book moved along at a great pace, the characters developed over time and I was totally engaged the whole time. I loved the dialogue, the action, and the introduction of a new character. 
Those Brothers are as we know badasses with such mushy centres that just melt for their loved ones, and they are out to make the world a better and safer  place. I loved Lassiter (fallen angel) in this one, he was wonderful and I loved his last scene. Gave me a big chuckle.
Actually this book is amongst some of the best Christmas stories I have read this year. Really looking forward to #3. J. R. Ward has me hooked.

Review

The Bourbon Kings J.R. Ward

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The Bourbon Kings
J. R. Ward
Published: Piatkus
Date: 28th July 2015
Format: ARC Paperback
Pages: 424
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Thanks to Hachette NZ.
Add to Goodreads
My thoughts banner
The Bourbon Kings is the start of a new series by J. R. Ward set in the southern state of Kentucky.  The Bradford family for generations have produced a fine number of bourbons that have given them wealth with all the privileges that go with it.

But the Bradfords are also a seriously dysfunctional family.  The mother lies in a drug induced stupor in her bedroom – we never really meet her as such. She is the Bradford side of the family. The father is as evil a character as you will meet anywhere.  He leaves a stench wherever he goes. He could very well be the downfall of this business.

Edward is the eldest of the children, and can he tell a story of how his father’s evil, corrupt and abusive ways have touched him.  Maxwell we only meet as a child, he is a shadowy figure yet to have his story revealed.  Lane when the book opens has just returned to the family home because his mother has been ill.  No, no, not the one in the room upstairs, but his chosen mother – Miss Aurora the cook. For all intents and purposes any humanity in this family can be traced back to her I am sure. Lane was in love with Lizzie the head gardener but things went south and he has never really recovered.  Now he meets up with her again.  Virginia or Gin is the only girl, she seems spoiled and indulged, but there is most likely more to her story that will give us greater understanding about her on down the track.  In the meantime I fear for her – she is about to sell her soul to the devil. They seem to be an alcoholic and promiscuous family on the whole.  So privileged they don’t even know how to pack a suitcase!

This is the story mostly of Lane, his development as a man going from nowhere to perhaps somewhere,  finally ready to stand up and be somebody.  It is the story of the reawakening of his relationship with Lizzie – who can pack a suitcase and a whole lot more!  She is intelligent, strong and independent and she is not prepared to be mucked around with. However she does know how to admit when she is wrong.

Edward is fascinating and out of all the family I want to know more about him, and I want to see him reclaiming who he must obviously have been once.  He has guts, but there is too much cynicism and reliance on alcohol. Not that I am judging! He’s been through hell.

While this first book has a conclusion of sorts, more like a deep breath pause, the story of this family is in no way finished.  We are left with a bit of a gory cliffhanger. I can live with that but I will be surely waiting for 2016 to swing round and hopefully it will bring the next episode in this family soap drama.

4 stars