New ink of life by Jennie Davids

‘New ink on life’ is indelible.

Review of ‘New ink on life’ by Jennie Davids.

3.75 Stars. I didn’t really have any expectations going into this book. I don’t have any tattoos but I’ve always been “the support friend” to go and help distract my friends from the pain of theirs. Personally, I’d love to geek out and get a big dragon tattoo going down my arm, but I’m not doing that at the local ‘buy one get one free’ tattoo shop. I would want to go to NYC or LA and get a real piece of art, so until then I’m inkless. But luckily, being inkless didn’t stop me one bit from really enjoying this book. I was hooked from the first few pages and I found the story had a nice flow that was really easy to read. This is not perfect, but this is a quality debut book.

We all have our own personal triggers, mine happens to be books about cancer. I’ve lost so many people in real life that I don’t like reading about cancer in a piece of fiction. While this book was about a character having cancer, it was about her being a warrior that is fighting the disease. Not only was she a warrior against the disease but she wants to take that approach in how she lives her life. It was really nice to see this different way to address such an awful disease and I thought it was really well done.Read More »

Review of ‘Secrets in a small town’ by Nicole Stiling.

3.75 Stars. I thought this was a fun debut. It’s not a perfect read, it had a few issues, but it was really entertaining and exactly the kind of book I needed. For the past week, I have had a house full of family company, including an eight-month-old baby. I love my extended family but they are loud and a bit messy so it has been a whirlwind with no quiet time for me to read. The reason I bring this up is a week without reading could be why I found this book so appealing. It was like finding a glass of water in the desert so your mileage may vary slightly.

While this is a crime/mystery romance the crime part is not too heavy. I actually don’t think you have to be a mystery fan to enjoy this. There is just enough excitement and mystery to keep you turning the pages, but it never gets too dark or heavy. I liked that I didn’t guess who the “bad guy/girl” was. I had an idea, but I ended up being way off, so I appreciate that Stiling didn’t make it too easy to figure out.

When it came to the main characters I had fun with them. You have a really likeable and sweet Chief of Police in Micki and you have an ice queen Town Manager named Savannah. Savannah is an ice queen, to say the least. I almost worried Stiling was going a little too far with her character, but it did give the characters this intense sexual love/hate chemistry in a few scenes. I did think the characters fell out of the “hate” into the “like” period a little quickly, but I think that is something that Stiling will get better at as she becomes a more seasoned author.

Overall, I thought this was a good, entertaining read. It has a few bumps, but it is a very readable and enjoyable debut. I would not hesitate to read Stiling again in the future.

An ARC was given to me for an honest review.

Review of ‘Thorn’ by Anna Burke.

Rowan is the daughter of a merchant who unknowingly gives her a cursed rose taken during an ill-fated hunting trip. The rose was in a land of eternal winter inhabited by a mysterious woman called the Huntress. Furious at the merchant for killing her wolves and stealing her rose, the Huntress irrupts into the merchant’s house and takes the rose back along with Rowan. Trapped in the Huntress’s realm of eternal winter and curse, Rowan will have to choose between her family loyalties and her growing feelings for the Huntress.

Following my new year resolution to read more books out of my comfort zone, I chose a genre that I seldom read: fantasy. ‘Thorn’ is a retelling of ‘Beauty and the Beast’. In this novel, according to the author, bravery and not beauty defines Beauty. As in her previous book ‘Compass Rose’ Ms. Burke is very poetic in her metaphors, this time changing naval comparisons for winter ones. Her depiction of the freezing landscape with its vast gamut of whites, menacing beasts and dimmed sunlight acts as an ideal backdrop to this beautiful story.

This novel is written in first person from the point of view of Rowan except for a few short sections written in third person point of view from the Huntress. Both main characters are well-rounded and believable and the reader cannot help but feel the pain of both: the Huntress as a victim of her own arrogance and Rowan as a casualty of her father’s weakness. Underneath lies a heavy criticism to the patriarchal system, in which women are traded as goods in the name of their fathers’ interests, and the confict between family loyalties and a woman’s search for true love.

‘A rose for a rose, a thorn for a thorn’. With each repetition of this mantra, the reader sees this phrase in a different light. The tone of this novel shifts back-and-forth from poetic and romantic as a rose, to hurting and heartbreaking as a thorn. Similarly, the pace changes from slow-burn romance to fast paced thriller. This book has been a pleasure to read and shows that Anna Burke is quickly becoming more than a promising writer.

Overall, a very good lesfic retelling of the classic ‘Beauty and the Beast’. A tale of suffering, bravery and love conquering all. 5 stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘The road ahead’ by A.E. Radley.

Two days before Christmas, all flights from the south of Portugal are grounded due to technical problems. Among the passengers stranded are Rebecca Edwards and Arabella Henley, two strangers that decide to share the last rental car and drive the 1,500 miles back to London. The women can’t be any different and even incompatible but they’ll soon discover that the journey is also of self discovery and mutual understanding.

This is book one of the ‘Around the World’ series by this author which is followed by ‘The Big Uneasy’. Much of this book is spent in the building up of the mains’ friendship so, I suggest that in order to appreciate this story fully, you commit to read both books in chronological order.

‘The road ahead’ follows the ‘opposites attract’ formula and indeed, these women couldn’t be any different. Rebecca is in her late twenties, middle class and a lesbian while Arabella is in her early forties, upper class and – allegedly – straight. They are profoundly different but the author excels in transforming their relationship from the awkwardness of two strangers sharing a small space to find a common ground and to establish a budding friendship. This is where the book earned my 4 stars.

Unfortunately I couldn’t feel their romantic chemistry as much as their friendship bond. Maybe because the author doesn’t get the reader enough into Arabella’s headspace to see her musings about her life’s choices and sexuality, her romantic decisions come through as a bit forced and rushed. It doesn’t help either that the book finishes before their romance develops fully. So I think that this book is better appreciated as a whole with the sequel or else as a friendship story. Either way, it’s entertaining, sometimes funny, others sad, sometimes road-trip, others an inner journey.

Overall, an entertaining age-gap, opposites attract romance better enjoyed with its sequel. 4 stars.

ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Bring Holly home’ by A.E. Radley.

Fashion magazine editor Victoria Hastings discovers while staying in Paris that her former assistant Holly Carter, who allegedly abandoned the job, is in hospital with amnesia. Victoria is adamant to bring Holly back home and help her recover but, in the process, both women will undergo a journey of mutual discovery of their feelings.

This is another novel based on the Devil wears Prada trope which normally features an age gap relationship and an ice queen against a more lively character. The peculiarity of this novel is that Holly suffers from amnesia which brings additional conflicts to the plot.

The novel is written in third person from the point of view of three characters: the leads Victoria and Holly and Victoria’s friend Gideon. While the main characters are well-rounded, I didn’t feel their chemistry until the very end maybe because the reader is told about the characters’ feelings more than shown by their actions. The secondary characters are a bit stereotyped and Victoria’s children sometimes act too mature for their ages.

All in all, the story is entertaining with some funny and humorous moments and a good twist at the end. Depite some situations feel a bit far-fetched, it’s a good read if you don’t take things too seriously.

Overall, an entertaining read based on the Devil wears Prada trope. 3.5 stars.

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Review of ‘Breaking character’ by Lee Winter.

When famous British actress Elizabeth Thornton shares the set with American former child prodigy Summer Hayes, a series of random accidents made the press portray them as girlfriends. The mistake escalates when a French director offers the pair a career changing role assuming that they can act on set the intimacy they share as a couple. How hard could it be to fake a relationship for a while?

Lee Winter knows how to write a story about older ice queens and inexperienced younger women who idolise them. For instance, icy political correspondent Catherine Ayers and entertainment journalist Lauren King in ‘The red files’; or ruthless assassin Natalya Tsvetnenko and her naive target Alison Ryan in ‘Requiem for immortals’; or media mogul boss Elena Bartell and crime reporter Maddie Grey in ‘The brutal truth’. In ‘Breaking character’, Ms. Winter explores a fake relationship of the celebrity variety between two actresses playing as a couple and how their relationship evolves as they share more than their professional lives.

This book is great on character building, from the mains and the secondary to the ‘real’ and the ‘fictional’. Winter does a great job at portraying each one. Some you’ll love, others you’ll despise, but every single one of them have their defined nuances. So much so that the reader is able to witness the transition from actress to film character, how they cope with the emotional strain of acting and how they bare themselves literally and metaphorically. The same happens with secondary characters. For example, each one of Elizabeth’s friends represent a different type of Hollywood celebrity: the self-centrered, the womaniser, the introvert, the eccentric genius, etc.

‘Breaking character’ gives a good insight about an actress’ profession: how they expose their feelings and bodies, how they get typecast by their looks or age, how high is the price of fame and how competitive and cut-throat Hollywood could be. The romance is very slow-burn but, in my opinion, it feels a bit rushed at the end. However, this is an entertaining and engaging read that won’t disappoint Lee Winter’s fans.

Overall, a very good read using the fake relationship, celebrity romance trope. Critical, entertaining and absorbing. 4.5 stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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