Review of ‘Alone’ by E.J. Noyes.

Celeste Thorne is taking part in a scientific experiment that involves solitary confinement for four years with a final prize of half a million dollars. More than three years into the study, she finds a woman lurking in the border of her compound. Olivia Soldano is beautiful, caring and enigmatic but her sole presence in the house breaks the rules of the experiment and ultimately, can Celeste trust her?

Oh well… E.J. Noyes cannot stop surprising her readers, can she? ‘Alone’ is a book hard to categorise: it’s a game of contrasts. It’s dark but also optimistic, it’s about solitude but features a couple, it’s unsettling but, at the same time, hopeful. If you are acquainted with Ms. Noyes’s work, you will recognise the imprints of her style that readers have learned to love. Her books are always written in first person usually from the point of view of a broken woman with her co-lead presented as a flawed but righteous rescuer. What I consider outstanding is that, despite this apparent repetition, the stories have very different settings (war zone, corporate world, sports and now a psychological experiment) that make them all very distinctive, original and, at the same time, realistic.Read More »

Review of ‘Uninvited’ by Jane C. Esther.

This was a different read. I enjoyed Esther’s debut book, but I have to admit I didn’t care for this one as much. It’s sort of one of those “what the heck did I just read?” kind of books. I like weird and I love sci-fi, this just was not what I was expecting.

The story is about Aerin, who has some kind of sensory attack while at a lake in upstate New York. She has no idea what happened to her but she knows she is different now. Aerin doesn’t want to risk going to a hospital so she seeks out a doctor/scientist for help. The problem is the doctor is Olivia, Aerin’s ex-girlfriend and childhood best friend. Can they keep the memories of the past at bay to find out what is wrong with Aerin?

For the most part, this book is what I would consider sci-fi lite. It actually might not be a bad choice for someone who wants to stick their toe in sci-fi but is a little reluctant. However, that’s not to say that this book is not weird. And I did feel it became a little convoluted towards the end. It almost felt like Esther was trying to cram too much in and my head was spinning a bit. Which is odd considering this is a shorter book that could have been made longer and is the start to a series (‘The portal’).

This leads me to a complaint, I hated how the book just ended. It didn’t even feel like a cliffhanger (although it is) but more like part of the book’s end is just missing. I hate when books end like that, drives me nuts. I did not realize when I grabbed this book that it was a series with no current ending. Knowing what I know now, half of me wonders if I would have still read this, but then the other half says ‘hey its lesfic sci-fi’, of course, I still would have read it.

Besides the annoying ending my biggest issues were the characters. I really struggled. I thought that Aerin was sort of okay. It was hard to connect to her because I could not tell if she was who she normally was or if she changed because of what happened to her in the lake. Is this her real personality? It made me feel disconnected to her so I felt a little indifferent instead. Olivia, on the other hand, was, in my opinion, awful. She was just nasty to Aerin and was still nasty with only a few chapters left to go. There was no time for character redemption. She was stuck on something that happened when she was sixteen and put too much anger on another child, it just didn’t make sense. All of her feelings were not invalid, but they sure should not have taken a whole book to get over. Maybe her character will grow in the next book, but something big needs to change or I will never believe in a possible romantic connection between the two mains.

Even though this was a weird premise, it had potential. I’m just such a character-driven reader that the characters messed up too much of the book for me. This is one of those books I can’t recommend, but I won’t say stay away either. With as much as I struggled with this, I will still probably read the next book since I want an ending. I’m hoping Esther can really turn things around in the next installment. 3 stars.

An ARC was given to me for an honest review.

Review of ‘Alone’ by E.J. Noyes.

4.5 Stars. There are only a handful of authors that I will drop everything to read as soon as a new book comes out, and Noyes is at the top of that list. While I pride myself on being a fair reviewer, I know I can be a little picky at times. But every time Noyes puts a new book out she manages to blow my mind just a little more. While I do admit the storyline of this book is not my favorite by Noyes (it’s hard to compete with one of my all-time favorite books in ‘Ask, Tell’ or the sweeping romance of ‘Gold’) but this might actually be one of her best written books. It’s hard to show growth, as an author, when your debut is fanfreakingtastic, but it is clear to see Noyes’ writing just gets better and better with every book she writes.

This book is quite different than any Noyes has written before. Actually, if you look at her complete body of work no two books feel the same which I think is really impressive. It’s hard to pick categories to fit this book into. It is a romance, but again it’s different from the norm. It is also psychological but not a psychological thriller; there really aren’t other lesfic books out there like this. And while Ask Me Again was absolutely heartbreaking at times, I think this is the most emotional book Noyes has written. It sure took me on a ride and messed with my feelings. This is what a good first person story is supposed to do. It is supposed to draw you into the character and make you feel. Well I was feeling something alright. I cried, I smiled, I was angry and disgusted, and I was sad but also relieved. This book put my emotions through a wringer and it was exactly what I wanted.

When it came to the romance I thought it was well written. Again, it is very different but here’s that word again, emotional. With the way the two characters meet, the chemistry does build slowly, but when the characters are together it was almost powerful. It made you feel like you were reading about two people that were meant to be connected to each other. And the sex scenes… my gosh were they steamy. But it’s not just the steam factor, they were intimate and consuming. I’ve always been impressed by the sex scenes Noyes writes but these seemed like a noticeable step-up.

I do have to point out this is a slower paced book. The story is about someone living in isolation for years. So there is plenty of just everyday living and someone trying to keep sane in the face of complete loneliness. And there were even some parts you could see coming as a reader, but even with some parts being a little telegraphed, the outcome still almost wrecked me. Again, this is the testament to the excellent writing skills of Noyes.

If you are a Noyes fan, don’t hesitate to get this. If you are a romance fan but want to read something different, get this. It seems no matter what Noyes writes she doesn’t disappoint. I will eagerly be waiting for whatever she writes next.

An ARC was given to me for a honest review.

Review of ‘Year of the kiss’ by Giselle Fox.

In New Year’s Eve artist Sasha and PhD student Naomi meet by chance and they briefly enjoy an incredible kiss. But things get complicated fast and they both go separate ways without knowing anything about each other. Will they be able to meet again and find out if that initial chemistry has potential to develop into something more permanent?

‘Year of the kiss’ is a sweet romance novella set out in Boston in New Years’ Eve and the first weeks of 2019. All the characters are well rounded and credible, including the very charming Rob (Sasha’s brother in law) a huge Scottish guy with a tendency to drink buckets of whisky, engage in witchcraft and wear traditional kilts. The dialogues are funny and full of banter which gives this novella the perfect light and festive tone.

Despite that sparks fly the first time Sasha and Naomi meet, the author manages well the period they are apart. Their relationship is built slowly but when it reaches the peak it’s sizzling hot. To illustrate this, there’s a long intimate scene that considering its graphic nature seems more appropriate for an erotica book than a romance. However, it fits in the plot seamlessly and it doesn’t feel overdone.

This novel is written in third person from the point of view of both main characters, with each point of view shift marked with the character’s name. I’m not sure if this is necessary as, in my opinion, it interrupts the reading flow, but once the reader gets used to it it’s not too bad.

Overall, an entertaining, sweet and erotic novella with quirky secondary characters and funny banter. It’s my first book by this author but it won’t be my last. 4.5 stars.

With thanks to my Goodreads friend Tere for recommending this book.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Review of ‘Rising above’ by Genevieve Fortin.

Ana Bloom is an engineering geologist in a sabbatical leave researching the effects of climate change in rising sea levels in the small town of Sainte-Luce-Sur-Mer. She is convinced that people have to relocate away from the coastline as the consequences of climate change will eventually hit it with destruction and life loss. She settles in the White Sheep Inn and soon she befriends the innkeeper Yvonne and her dog Miller. But Yvonne’s granddaughter, Melodie, isn’t convinced by Ana’s theory and sees her as a threat to her life’s values. Melodie is cold towards Ana and downright rude. But when a storm hits the White Sheep Inn both women will have to learn to join forces to fight it it and in the process discover their own feelings.

This book is plot driven around the conflict between Ana, who is strongly convinced that the only solution to rising sea levels is to relocate away from the coast, and Melodie, whose livelihood means to live by the sea. The author states that despite she was always aware of the consequences of climate change, researching for this novel gave her a new level of consciousness.

As a native of the nearby town of Rimouski (Quebec, Canada), Ms. Fortin describes beautifully the charm of Sainte-Luce-Sur-Mer, along with the very real threat to its coast by human actions. The author makes a fantastic case for climate change awareness and what people can do about it. However, the romantic storyline didn’t work for me as the environmental one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t connect with the characters fully. Melodie is a hard to like character who at the beginning comes across as disrespectful and immature. This first impression is hard to reverse even by understanding her reasons behind her bad attitude, specially in her relationship with her mother. The opposite happens to the other main character. Ana is more likable and well rounded but her out of character reaction in the middle of the book is unappealing and feels more as a plot device rather than her normal actions. As a consequence, the conflict feels a bit forced and contrived.

The novel is written in third person from the point of view of both main characters set in the present with flashbacks from one year earlier. The secondary characters Yvonne and Miller the dog are, in my opinion, the best part of the novel. As in ‘Dingo’s recovery’, the dog acts as a facilitator in a human relationship, in this case, the friendship between Yvonne and Ana which feels warmer than the romance itself. Thomas, Melodie’s little son is well portrayed and he brings to light a much needed caring side of Melodie though, for me, it wasn’t enough to like her.

Overall, a good story to raise climate change awareness that falls a bit short in the romance department. 3.5 stars.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Review of ‘Autumn’s light’ by Aurora Rey.

This is book 4 of the ‘Cape End Romance’ series by this author featuring love stories for each season set in Provincetown, Massachusetts. As this novel presents characters from previous books in the series, especially book 3 ‘Spring’s Wake’, I recommend to read them in chronological order, or at least read book 3 first. The whole series features the beautiful landscape of Cape Cod and ‘Autumn’s light’ showcases the Portuguese heritage in Provincetown, particularly the fishermen who migrated to that area of Massachusetts a long time ago. The book captures the spirit of this tight community that keeps their traditions alive with Portuguese festivals and traditional food.

Mat Pero is a lobsterman (apparently, female lobster catchers are called like that) who comes from a established Portuguese family of fishermen. As her family is traditional Catholic and not completely supportive of her homosexuality, she prefers to keep her relationships casual and hidden from them. When she meets marine naturalist Graham Connor, her intention to keep things light don’t go according to plan. Will they have their happily ever after?

This is a butch-femme relationship that begins with insta-lust but is slow-burn in the romance department. Both main characters are well rounded and credible. Mat is the epitome of the dark and strong butch who, at the same time, wants to avoid family conflicts when dealing with her sexuality. Graham is a femme (paradoxically with such a masculine name) conflicted between her attraction for Mat, who offers her no commitment, and her desire to find a serious relationship. Their conflict is believable and makes the reader wonder how is in reality the coexistence between the traditional Catholic Portuguese and the liberal lesbian communities in Provincetown. Having said that, in my opinion, Mat’s family issues could have had a more developed resolution in the plot considering its importance.

The secondary characters are multi layered and complement the plot skillfully, kudos to the author for introducing a trans character and opening an interesting view into the world of fishing and marine habitat. However, there is an amount of paragraphs telling more than showing how the characters feel, which is a pet peeve of mine but it might not annoy other readers. My relatively low rating is because even though the story background was interesting, the romance didn’t appeal to me much.

Overall ‘Autumn’s light’ is an enjoyable read with the charming background of Provincetown. 3.5 stars.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com