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Ashakaan

Ashakaan - Natalie Debrabandere I liked this book. I didn't like the ending. Review to come.

The Fire-Eater's Daughter

The Fire-Eater's Daughter - Amy Stilgenbauer I only wanted more enthusiasm from Constance

Complementary and Acute

Complementary and Acute - Ella Lyons I'm not about to write much of a review. I thought it was well-written, well worth 99 cents, quite short and I loved it.

Requiem for Immortals

Requiem for Immortals - Lee  Winter *Note: I was provided and ARC by Ylva Publishing in exchange for a fair review. I can assure you I had no bias.

The story of an assassin and the detective bound by oath to capture her, is essentially a story of the meeting of two women from opposite ends of the personality spectrum who find common ground. Their meeting and growing relationship begins a healing process and even though the book slogs through some dark psychological issues it is ultimately a story of redemption for the two main characters.

Even though much of the subject matter seems dark the storyline is always headed toward some kind of light and understanding and is engaging throughout, with more than a few surprises and shifting power dynamics.

I cannot say about this book, as is likely in the U.S., "I love it!" because so much of the story is dark, bordering on depressing and painfully detailed, but the book is written so well I can say I liked it very much..

p.s. I enjoyed this niece, Hailey, at the beginning. She was funny and for once I wanted more kid in the story.

Heart Trouble

Heart Trouble - Jae ARC from Ylva
This is a very well written story with an unusual premise, almost science-fiction in separate moments, humorous in others but always always returning to the core emotional component and "connection" of a relationship. The relationship and emotions of the two main characters are fully fleshed out and gone over throughout the book and successfully walks a fictional tightrope of what could be overblown or unbelievable. Jae's idea for the story is original, really clever and quite enjoyable to read. I was fascinated by her concept for this. Unfortunately there is not much I can say about "this" which would not be a spoiler.

The book is written in such a way that it could've ended at three different points, but always trudges on to fully wrap up every loose end. I would sit back and think, "Oh, that was nice," only to realize I was at the halfway point of the book - or later at the 3/4 mark. The tension/deal breaker that was introduced felt overblown when it happened but then made sense to me later, so it was infinitely better than some ex returning to stir things up or some gross miscommunication between the main characters.

Likes: Jae has been at this for a while and she writes stories without spelling or grammatical errors. The story flows and reading the book is effortless and somewhat compelling - or I was in the mood for just this kind of story as I finished it in a day and a half, not wishing to put it down. The main characters were lovely and I enjoyed getting to know them throughout the book which is no mean feat. They had depth. They felt like real people. Usually in this romance genre a character does something irritating along the way but not here. The questions the author brings up about free will and destiny in life and what is the connection in a relationship were important and resolved. Lastly, A coming out of one of the characters was handled subtly, believable and was painful to read. Thankfully various characters revealed their own bravery.

Dislikes: Warning: This is purely personal and quite subjective. I did not enjoy the cameos from Jae's other books (Hollywood Series). I haven't read them in a while and the characters seemed like ghosts to me, introduced here and there with some of them not even having a speaking role.

Overall, 4.5 stars. Recommended.

Far from Home

Far from Home - Lorelie Brown Note* I am not very knowledgeable about Anorexia, India or the Hindu Religion
Vaguely spoilers below, barely a trace, read at your own peril

I loved this book and really enjoyed the author's style of writing and what she included and what was left out. The pain of Rachel, with this shroud of self-doubt, self-criticism, self-loathing - putting up a front and living with this self deprecation was just horrible to experience and i related to that in a personal way. She was so frail. Pari turned into this earth-mother of love and understanding, along with her family, and I enjoyed Pari as a realized, beautiful, strong person..

This is the first time in a long while that I had a "whoops, it's 3:00am" moment as I read a book. I have been paying for my lack of sleep all day today but it was so worth it.

Were there elements or events I would have changed a little? Maybe. But I very much enjoyed this 'as is.'
❤❤❤❤❤

Time It Right

Time It Right - Siera Maley The book was very well written from a technical standpoint but the main character does these things near the end that pushed me into not relating to her at all. This review is functioning just as a reminder for me not to forget the title.

Slow Burn in Tuscany

Slow Burn in Tuscany - Giselle Fox This is one of those stories with characters reconnecting after eighteen years on a charter tour in Italy. I thought the dialogue, the tease and the later feelings were nicely developed between the two mains and was well written.

It's bad enough reading about eighteen wasted years (well not entirely wasted but you know what I mean) and then the instant chaos/bad decision at the 4/5 mark that dragged this book seriously down a hill. I couldn't believe it really as I as thinking in my mind, "Oh, this is going to be a five star book" and then one WTF after the other.

3.5 stars and I'm rounding up. Why?? IDK - I might revisit that score later after some thought. There is an ex-husband who we do NOT see, which was considerate, but also a best friend I wanted to run over with a tractor.

Icing on the Cake

Icing on the Cake - Lisa Pattinson There are no reviews here on Goodreads and only one one-star rating on Amazon but I read this story anyway. It looks and reads like an author's first book and there is some quality I enjoyed about the story. Nothing really dramatic happens - it's more a day to day story of a group of women. If there were grammatical errors, I'm sure I skimmed over them.

I never had the sense of any physical intimacy (detailed or 'fade to black') between Winona and Heather or real emotional closeness, especially given the last tenth of the book.

Match Point

Match Point - R.L. Burgess story about a girl, a tennis superstar girl, who can't/couldn't say no to a past girlfriend or current predatory publicist, and who can't say 'yes' to her paid sparring partner/unter coach/love interest, Miranda, who evidently has a high threshold for being treated like sh*t.

Flinging It

Flinging It - G. Benson (I was given this book by Ylva publishing in an exchange for an honest review)

I would say this is a solid 3.5 stars for me.

There is an emotional tug of war in this book that can be taxing or refreshing depending on where the flag is, and which character is on each side of the rope. One woman is in the process of escaping emotional abuse of her husband and the other is a woman who learns to trust again. The view point in the book is shared between the two female leads and for once this was not jarring or off putting.

The two mains are greatly helped by secondary characters as the mains know what to do professionally but not personally, when it comes to their relationship.

Issues of morality, infidelity and emotional abuse are shown and discussed with these two Australian women of color, as well as the point of view of a transitioning boy/man who is pregnant. The main characters make very human mistakes in their own lives at the same time as they begin a project that will greatly aid unprivileged victims around them in the Perth, Australia area.

Shadow's Eyes

Shadow's Eyes - Sydney Canyon Well. I'm at the beach and I've read a "at the beach" kind of story here with Sydney Canyon's "Shadow's Eyes". This was a novella, and a fleshed out story would have been more entertaining than what I've just read. The main character is kind-of-almost described but her love interest is not. The love interest basically just mouths platitudes. Two star ratings on Goodreads seem harsh to me now, but really this book and the writing was "Just ok".

Welcome to the Wallops (The Wallops, #1)

Welcome to the Wallops (The Wallops, #1) - Gill McKnight I was provided this book by Ylva publishing in exchange for an honest review

This is my first Gill McKnight book and I have to say I enjoy her style of writing. I didn't always enjoy her story but I certainly appreciated the quality of her descriptions and written dialogue between major and minor characters set in this small British village south of London.

It's unfortunate that this work must compare to another author's story, Poppy Jenkins by Clare Ashton, dealing with similar themes of long lost loves and the return of prodigal daughters. Both books were released just ten days apart. Ashton's book had a Welsh country village as its setting almost engulfed by a larger, modern city to its north that also wished to gobble up the historical fun of their neighbor. There were more than a few similarities. I imply nothing but just felt bad for both authors.

There are two mysteries laid out in the beginning. Why on earth did the main characters split up so long ago and what is the historical significance of a small church that seems to be the center of different ley lines in the area. I love how I can now insert "ley lines" into my conversation as I had no idea what the author was initially on about when she referred to them in the story.

So. This is a small village and as always seems to be the fate of small villages, it is packed full of interesting, eccentric characters. We are introduced to Jane Swallow, who is one of the most unsympathetic main characters I've come across. Jane's dog is more interesting and much more humorous. Jane's ex-girlfriend from a "million years ago", Renata, is much more intriguing, actually possessing intellectual pursuits, a sharp wit and humor that she displays continually. It is no wonder that this Renate easily befriends all of Jane's friends as the story progresses, much to the ire of Jane.

As long as this book was not functioning as a romance I quite enjoyed the story and quality of language. As I said, McKnight can write well, capturing a mood or delving out the laughs. If the story was centered on Renate, the story was quite good. Renate's interactions with Jane's friends and the Bishop, Jane's boss, are sometimes hilarious. This Bishop is the funniest Bishop I've yet read about. Renate is a strong person and can easily deal with the idiotic 'villains' in the story. She is also capable of laughing at herself which is a terrific quality in a person.

When the story comes down to Renata's pursuit of Jane the story bogs down and becomes a bit of a drag, going on way too long. Jane being celibate for a decade and a rector in the local church was off putting, for me anyway, and she frequently just appeared to be sullen, probably from being a gay, celibate rector in a small British village. We are not privy to her sermons which could have fleshed out her personality, shown brilliance, wisdom or wit and been a much better introduction to the character. Her dog was more interesting regardless of Jane's Florence Nightingale past. 2.5 stars rounded up to 3

The Final Rose

The Final Rose - Eliza Lentzski This is a behind the scenes look at a reality show that is similar to "Marry a millionaire" or some such. With a lesbian romance as an element of the story I could not miss comparing the book to, [b:Reality Lesbian|18073805|Reality Lesbian|Q. Kelly|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1371215589s/18073805.jpg|25376127] by [a:Q. Kelly|1519558|Q. Kelly|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1314405498p2/1519558.jpg] which I enjoyed.

I am also reminded of Albert Brooks, "Real Life", a 1979 film about attempting to record the reality of a suburban American family consenting to have almost all of their lives and interactions filmed by people wearing camera helmets right next to their subjects. Now I am babbling about the nature of reality tv, sheesh.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_Life_(1979_film)

Anyway. In this book, I quite enjoyed the main character, Candace, as she seems psychically aware of what will happen in the show and even what is going in in the minds of the contestants. She speaks her mind, heedlessly insulting, praising or chatting without any care of the consequences. She's alive, funny and comfortable in her own skin.

But then, no. Candace is not the main character in this story, a Ojibwe woman named Nokomis is the main character. She is there only because her mother loves the TV program and pushed her into participating. She does so half-heartedly, as an outsider, which should have her appear more relatable to the reader because who would wish to invest themselves in a character giddy to be a success in such a superficial contest? At some point though one would think "Oh, c'mon then, let's get going with it." I mean, she's there, right?

Initially I thought this was going to be a toaster-oven story but Nokomis states she is bi-sexual at the 36% mark, complete with historical reference to Native American 'Two-Spirit' acceptance of gay individuals. If there hadn't been awkward moments of Aloe Vera application with Lee, I should have guessed Nokomis falling for Candace, the sex toy small business owner and roommate who takes Nokomis under her wing.

The relationship between Nokomis and Lee is not developed thoroughly in my mind. There is some sort of attraction between them and it seems like Lee is the one pursuing it. Every romantic step they take is so tentative, yet Nokomis cannot continue in good conscience with Jacob (the prize) at 72% because of her feelings for Lee. She is so hesitant to pursue anything with Lee when given the chances she has that I didn't get it and I lost interest in the story.

Also, the manner of Nokomis' speech is really stilted compared to the other characters and this becomes a problem. Candace and Jacob at least seem like human beings with unique personalities that they exacerbate the sense of how tentative, boring or uninvolved Nokomis is in the story.


A star for a native american character from Michigan.

Pitifully Ugly

Pitifully Ugly - Robin Alexander I really enjoyed this author's books, "Just Jorie" and especially "Dear Me", but I did not like the characters in this one and the book wasn't funny, except for the dog who enjoyed watching Grease.

When Dreams Take Flight

When Dreams Take Flight - Levia Ortega, Susanne M. Swolinski We are introduced at once to Christine and Valerie as they sit in their office, working together in their travel business in Hamburg, "The gateway to the world". This was instantly familiar to me, as so much of the storytelling reminded me of my German wife's speech patterns, or especially, those of her friends who are also German. Ideas and actions were sometimes described in an unusual manner, oddly stilted or overly simplistic. That sounds kind of mean, faulting the author or the translator or both. I don't "mean to be mean". My reaction is probably based on my connection to English/German as a second language.

Anyway the story begins with our narrator Christine in the present day describing her nervousness about meeting a woman she believes is "the one" at the local coffee shop. She has met her before but as of yet they have not spoken to each other. This is ironic because her friend Val has always been the silly romantic believing in true love and cosmic connections. Christine has always been quite earthbound on the matter.

She is earthbound and grounded until she spots this woman in her favorite nightclub and feels the lightning bolt of love, cupid's arrow or... the tractor beam from Star Trek. This mystery woman! She is the one! Christine can feel it, but she is robbed of making an introduction and spends most of the story trying to find this woman again. I wish there had been more teases, such as seeing the woman on the other escalator at the local Kaufhaus, behind a S-Bahn/tram's window leaving the city center stop, and/or just have more German stuff. Embrace the city. Have some eel soup.

It was kind of cute the way the chase was described, this pursuit, the angst, as this mystery woman also visits the same coffee shop on a set day, but some barrier is always in the way. When Christine finally does meet this mystery woman, it is anti-climactic. I wished there had been a heart wrenching moment, a depth of feeling when they finally meet, an affirmation of the supernatural attraction, as in the way this emotional dam breaking was depicted in the film "Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain"/"Amelie". Where the reader/viewer is drawn into the intensity of emotions and feels a part of them somehow.

Amelie



This was a pleasant read and perhaps I am overstepping my bounds, feeling like a literary critic this morning.