Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Fall of the Misanthrope

The Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch, therefore I am

By Louise Wise


5 out of 5

Synopsis
Valerie Anthrope is a cut-throat business woman and happy being alone.
She answers to no-one. She's The Boss.

But enter Ellen in the guise of her fairy godmother wanting to make the
world rosy and smelling of marshmallow. How can Valerie cope with this burst of
sunshine? It gets worse, Ellen has a nephew who's equally chirpy, but he thinks
it's Valerie taking advantage of Ellen and sets out to take her down a peg or
two!

Review
Valerie Anthrope is content with her life. It's logical, and ordered, and has no soft edges. She doesn't need her time wasted with friendships, she'd much rather spend it improving her business.
Long time do-gooder Ellen Semple has decided to be Val's self-appointed fairy godmother and make her life better; with a little help from Lex, Ellen's nephew, who just so happens to be the most eligible bachelor around.


Ok, so the prologue was a little unexpected. We get to meet Valerie as a young girl, get a glimpse of her family, and get a little psychological background. But then there's a rather scary lady, and all I could think was - you can't say that to a kid!
Then we get into the main section of the story, meeting Valerie in her mid-twenties, making her monthly visit to the graveyard where her parents and her brother are resting. Which quickly and efficiently sets the scene for Miss Anthrope.
We are treated to a quick review of her employees at work, the hard-working and faithful Tim; and the waste of office space Paul. They have worked for Valerie for a few years now, but she has always maintained a maximum distance from them, refusing to socialise, or allow any familiarities.
Which is a shame. Because as the story goes on, it's really sweet how Tim has long seen Valerie as a daughter, he understands her need for independence, but still cares for her.

Ellen may be getting closer to retirement age, but nothing slows her down. After years of travelling the world, helping the poorest people, she know wants to help people closer to home. She's quirky, confident, and full of a bubbly energy that is as irritating as it is lovable.
She thinks she has found an easy solution, as she assumes that Valerie's struggles are all financial; so she drags in Lex, who happens to run a large department store that's thriving, to make up a contract with Val's company.
But money isn't an issue. It turns out that Valerie is just on emotional lockdown.

This story held no surprises in way of romantic plot, it plays out exactly how you think it'll play out: emotionless bitch + lothario = rocky road leading to happy ending.
It was fun following Val and Lex, the flirtations and the magnetism between them.
I have to say I was a little disappointed how quickly Lex changed from keeping an emotional distance from the women he screwed, to suddenly proclaiming that he was in love with her. But he made up for it by his actions later in the book.

That was all ok.
What makes this better than ok was the supporting characters. Tim was a star throughout, and I was so glad for his own little happy ending. Then there was Paul and his wife, who are portrayed with casual disdain to begin with, but turn out to be really sweet.
I would have liked Gemerald to be in a little more, she seemed a pretty wise character.
And of course Boots, so tiny, yet played such a big part in making those first cracks in Valerie's tough fa├žade.

And then to make it great - when I picked this up, I thought it was going to be a fun, light read. And it was. And then you got caught up in the characters, caught up in Valerie's journey, and before you can back out, you are living the emotions along with her.
This book appealed to me because I will be the first to admit that I am an emotionless bitch; so I was shocked by exactly how much this hit a nerve with me, and I do admit to actual crying!
If that isn't worth 5 stars, I don't know what is.


Goodreads link
Amazon.co.uk

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Water

Water (Akasha #1)

By Terra Harmony


1 out of 5

Synopsis
*Mature Content*
Elemental powers in the palm of her hand...and it won't be enough to save her. When Kaitlyn Alder is involuntarily introduced to a life of magic, she becomes part of an organization hell-bent on saving the Earth. Just as her new-found life holds promises of purpose, romance, and friendship, the organization divides and a rogue member holds Kaitlyn hostage. Now one of the most terrifying men the human race has to offer stands between her and Earth's survival.

Review
*Spoilers*
Kaitlyn is just your average, troubled young woman. After losing her parents, she's never stayed put in one place, never felt the need to connect with people.
Then after an avalanche, she regains consciousness on an island where she is to learn the truth about all those little coincidences that niggle away at her. Like the fact that wherever she goes, natural disasters follow - could it really be here causing them?

I was sold on the synopsis, and many high reviews. A woman finding out she can control the elements? Sounds cool, and right up my street. I admit that I had a sudden flash back to "Captain Planet and the Planeteers" (I always wanted one of those rings as a kid), although I realise that this is a much more grown up version.

I normally start my reviews with a few good points... but this book pissed me off too much for me to remember any... Don't get me wrong, it's well written, and I would let others give it a try because they may love it. I just didn't.

It starts with a someone getting caught in an avalanche. With it being in first person, and that person being right in the thick of it in the very first sentence, we don't get to know much more than the fact that they were stupid enough to go snowboarding without telling anyone.
Chapter two has them waking up in a plain room, that they immediately want to escape. Why she wants to escape it, I have no idea. I would have assumed that the average someone who's just survived an avalanche and wakes up in an unknown room would hang around and wait for some answers, before deciding what to do. But no, with only a couple of flashback memories of her parents that do not explain any pathological need to be free, or fear of enclosed spaces, Kaitlyn makes a big effort to break a window and scrambles out, gaining a new collection of cuts and bruises.
Then suddenly she'd surrounded by half a dozen guards that have been ordered to detain her. At no point is there any attempt by the opponents to talk to her so no one gets hurt 
(because they are all on the same side). No, it's just straight into hand to hand combat. In which Kaitlyn wipes the floor with them all. *cough* I know that her strength is enhanced by the island, but seriously, a couple of sentences about where Kaitlyn did her martial arts previously, or how pleased her trainer would be if he could see her now, would make it easier to buy. We're still left in the frustrating place of her being just a somebody, with no experience to dictate why she would act like this.
Shawn is on the scene for a second, before he's marked as the bad guy that's going to betray them. He immediately wants to inflict pain on Kaitlyn. But you know what, the story does go on to give some of his background and why he is that way. So that is believable.
Then Micah pops up. Even though he's the one that subdues her, and takes her to a lab, and is still part of this suspicious place - he's ok because he's hot. By Chapter 6, they've already kissed and are sharing a bed. Kaitlyn still hasn't decided if she trusts the whole place yet, but Micah's ok. Blah.
The story drones on and on for a while. It's all interminable, really. Lots of training. Lots of Micah. Lots of scary looks from Shawn. Mild explanation. I was bored out of my skull with reading Kaitlyn's snarky opinion of everything. It was a relief when it switched to 3rd person every now and then, to get in those extra info dumps.
And then there was more Micah... for a girl that claims to be totally independent, she's sure gotten clingy quick, and doesn't seem to mind one bit. The rest of the story really just seemed to get in the way of the Micah adoration.

Anyway, action finally happens, and they get to go on their first mission!
They get to present leaflets to hotel owners on the benefits of using recyclable water bottles.
No, I didn't make that up. People with superpowers, and they're doing that? I would say that's a waste of time management, get some of the normal humans to do that stuff, assign something in their skill bracket.
Then they have to go experiment with releasing extra nutrients to phytoplankton in the sea. Ok, mildly more interesting.

Then we get onto the rape scene that seems to divide opinion so much in reviews. Personally, I sit on the fence. I'm not a fan, but I understand that sometimes it sets the scene and drives the plot.
But what does bug me is that Kaitlyn seemed to kick up more of a fuss over Micah's psuedo-rape during training, than actual rape from Shawn.

After that, I quit. I couldn't take any more. It's the first book that I could not finish this year. I got to 86%.

I just... don't get it. What is this book supposed to be? A romance, with the necessary plot movements thrown in? I definitely wouldn't class it as an adventure. It did often feel like a lecture on ecology, with a bit of voodoo thrown in to make it fiction.

Okay, I'm going to stop now.


Goodreads link
Amazon.co.uk

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Spell Struck

Spell Struck

By Nicole J. Fawcett


4 out of 5

Synopsis
Rhiannon Grey is a detective in a hectic police headquarters. She’s also a witch, in a society that’s learned not to think too highly of the supernatural, and her boss is a two thousand-year-old vampire. Rian has discovered the hard way that trouble is always just around the corner.

This time, trouble is called Griffin King, a fifteen year old runaway whose strangled corpse is found floating in the river. He’s not the first street-kid to vanish recently, or to turn up later, very dead. When Rian starts to suspect he was a witch, too, and that his magic led to his death, her investigation turns into a personal crusade. 

No one seems terribly concerned about the fate of a few disappeared urchins, though. And when a series of brutal murders starts panicked speculation about a nest of vampires, Rian’s boss has other things on his mind.

But Rian won’t be distracted. Not by bureaucracy, not by murder, and certainly not by her dysfunctional private life. Her family think she’s going to end up dead; her friends think she’s going to end up dead lonely; and her lovers are dead frustrated . . .

Review
This is set up in an alternative Britain where witches and vampires, and all manner of creatures are real, and openly live alongside normal people. I found it very easy to slip into this world, to accept all the rules and movements that were set up.
Witches are widely accepted, by law. But they can still cause tension, fear and apprehension in normal people on an individual scale. Some see magic as something to be praised, others see it as something to be hidden.
So add into that the SIST - the Supernatural Investigations Special Team, a branch of the police that employs witches. They have to work twice as hard to maintain a good reputation within the police force; and they have to fight to keep their cases, so Vice don't take the best ones...

I really enjoyed this book. After growing up watching Morse, Lewis, Midsommer Murders, and many others, I have an appreciation for detective stories; and this one trickled out just enough information and misleadings to keep me guessing the whole way along. I was so proud that I worked out who the big bad was as soon as they showed their face, but I have to admit that [spoiler]David Howarth had me fooled all along![/spoiler]
And of course it being set in Yorkshire, I loved the Britishness of it.

It only stopped being a 5 star for me, because I felt that it was a good detective story, then a good paranormal story, then had a romantic story. It all came together well at the end, but occasssionally in the build-up it felt a little disjointed.
Oh, and euros. Why euros?


Goodreads link
Amazon.co.uk