Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Prince Lestat by Anne Rice

Prince LestatPrince Lestat, the latest book in Anne Rice’s epic The Vampire Chronicles series is one hell of a big read – especially in hardback format. But then, it’s telling one hell of a big story. Told from many, many points of view (so don’t rush reading it, or you risk getting lost or confused), Prince Lestat deals with a crisis in the vampire world. Young vampires are being slaughtered all over the world – nests being burned by ancient vampires. But why? It soon transpires that there is a bigger force at play, much bigger than the vampires that must come together and solve this problem before their race is completely wiped out.

I can’t say too much without giving the plot away, but this is a seriously ambitious book. It tells multiple stories from many different perspectives and time periods, then brings it all together in an epic climax. There were times when I did wonder where the narrative was going, what the relevance was to some of the chapters, but I shouldn’t have worried. Rice is a master (or should that be mistress?) storyteller, and she manages to lead the reader on a huge, huge journey, with many characters, twists and turns, yet still leave them having a light bulb moment at the end, where it all comes together. Really, I should have re-read the entire series of books again before coming to this one, but in a way, it didn’t matter. There were enough recaps of relevant parts that I didn’t feel I was missing too much. But it did make me want to refresh my memory, spend more time with characters that are only touched on in this book.

Another compelling addition to the series, I look forward to what comes next.

Available from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository

Book Review: Bad Angels by Rebecca Chance

Bad AngelsBad Angels was sent to me for review by the publisher, and I’m very glad they did. It’s not quite what you’d call erotica – I believe it’s classed as a bonkbuster. Basically, it contains sex scenes which are a little graphic, but not too full on.

The book tells the story of a luxury apartment building in London, which houses celebrities, oligarchs and other people who have the ridiculous amount of cash required to live there. There’s also a very high quality plastic surgery clinic next door, and it owns some of the apartments so those who wish to recuperate in extreme privacy may do so – and there are also nurses at hand to administer their after care. It’s Christmas time, and there’s an awful lot happening in Limehouse Wharf. Broken hearts, divorce, marriage, attempted assassinations, love, unexpected love… it’s all going on.

I really enjoyed Bad Angels. I haven’t read anything by Rebecca Chance before, but I’ll definitely seek out her work in the future. Her writing flows really well, it’s very engaging and the humour thrown in had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. It’s a long book, but it certainly didn’t feel that way – each chapter had me eager to read the next, to find out if the residents and staff of Limehouse Wharf had a happy Christmas and New Year. Definitely recommended if you like your books with sex, scandal and humour.

Available from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository
Waterstones

My Thoughts on Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of GreyFifty Shades of Grey by E L James. If you haven’t heard of it, you’ve probably been living under a rock for the past few months. It’s the erotic book that’s rocketed into the mainstream press and topped the New York Times bestseller list, amongst others. Its popularity is unquestionable, which is why I’m not writing a typical review. I don’t see the point – people will read it whatever reviewers say, just because they want to see what all the fuss is about. How do I know? Because that’s why myself and several of my friends read it. We just wanted to see what the hoohah was all about.

From what I’ve gleaned from conversations with people, and seeing things on Twitter, Facebook, etc, this book seems to be like Marmite. People either love it, or hate it. It’s been called the Twilight of erotica, and I can see why. It’s pulling in a whole new readership to erotica (just as Twilight did to young adult) and is provoking opinions left, right and centre. Some people adore the book and its characters. Others have said that the storyline is good, but the writing itself is very poor. Some just plain despise it.

So, for what it’s worth, here’s my two penneth worth (slight spoilers ahead).

I share the opinion of the person that said it’s a good story, but the writing isn’t very good. I did my best to read the book with no preconceptions about it and make up my own mind, but I still agreed. Why? Because the book had me rolling my eyes on a regular basis. The main character, Anastasia, whose point of view the story is told from, is pretty damn annoying. She’s twenty-one, but she comes across as a very immature girl with some kind of split personality disorder. She has her own thoughts, and on top of that, her inner goddess and her subconscious are always chipping in with their take on things. As well as that, she seems to start the book as a girl who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, but then when she starts seeing Christian who wants to dominate her, she suddenly grows a backbone and seems to delight in defying him.

There’s a lot of repetition. Christian Grey, who is the lead male, has grey eyes. We’re told this very early on in the book. And, just in case we forget, we’re told again on just about every other page. So if you don’t know by the end of the book that Christian has grey eyes, you should probably go and see a doctor about your memory loss.

Christian himself is quite the enigma. It seems the whole point of the novel is to show just how mysterious and domineering Christian Grey is. And sexy, and rich, of course. Unfortunately, I found him just as annoying as Anastasia. Throughout the book, we’re given the impression that something in Christian’s past has made him the way he is – a Dominant who doesn’t like to be touched. That’s fair enough, but I don’t like the way it’s portrayed that there has to be a reason. Why can’t people just be like that? I don’t have to have a reason for being a person who doesn’t like broccoli, do I? I just don’t like it. Worst of it, we’re never really told what that reason is. We’re given hints and we can probably guess, but the writer runs the risk of people getting to the end of this book and deciding they really don’t care.

Fortunately for the next book in the series, James has ended the story with enough of a mystery (I wouldn’t quite call it a cliffhanger) that people will likely want to read the next book. In spite of the fact that the writing and the characters annoyed me, the storyline had enough of a hint as to what happens next to make me buy the next book in the series, just to see if I’m right or not. So I have a strong suspicion that others will feel the same. Some of the sex scenes were pretty hot, too. Though there was some terminology that made me cringe.

In summary, Fifty Shades of Grey will not make it anywhere near my list of favourite books. But it won’t be in my list of horrendous books, either. In some ways it feels like a first draft, but the storyline is compelling enough to make people keep reading. And of course, people will buy the trilogy anyway, just so they can say they’ve read it.

Basically, James is laughing all the way to the bank, and regardless of what I think of the book, I say fair play to her. She’s obviously worked hard at writing these books and it’s always nice to see a fellow writer getting recognition. On a more selfish note, it’s great that the spotlight is now on erotica and erotic romance. Hopefully it means that the genre will slowly become more socially acceptable. I’m not saying that we’ll suddenly see droves of people reading dirty books in public, but they may well buy them for their Kindle, and maybe not care as much if someone peeks over their shoulder. I’m certainly not going to complain if someone buys my entire backlist because they’ve become a fan of erotica on the back of the Fifty Shades of Grey publicity, am I?!

Ian SomerhalderSo, do you want to see what all the fuss is about? Bag the book for your Kindle UK, Kindle US, or grab the paperback from Amazon UK or Amazon US, The Book Depository or even your local bookstore or supermarket. Yes, that’s right! Erotica is readily available in your local bookstore (even my local one that carries no other erotica!) or supermarket. Woohoo! Bring on the smut!

Also, if the rumour that Ian Somerhalder will play Christian Grey in the movie is true, I would totally go and see it. 😉

Book Review: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Article first published as Book Review: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton on Blogcritics.

The Distant HoursI’m a fan of Kate Morton’s work so I was happy to settle down and read The Distant Hours. At 670 pages, it isn’t a book you can whizz through, nor is it an easy read. But if you’re looking for an intriguing read with more threads than a spider’s web, then you should definitely check it out.

This is the story of Milderhurst Castle. It begins with a long lost letter, which results in Edie Burchill taking a trip from London to Kent in search of the grand old castle, and the three Blythe sisters that live within it. Edie is linked to the castle because her mother lived there when she was evacuated during World War II – and it was from here that the mysterious letter came.

Soon after her arrival in Milderhurst village, Edie finds herself fascinated by the story of the three sisters and the decaying castle. This fascination only increases when she starts to find out more about them and their lives – particularly the fact that none of them ever married, and that the two older sisters spent most of their lives looking after their younger sister, due to her taking a funny turn when her fiancé jilted her in 1941.

Edie’s own mother’s past is wrapped up in the castle, and as she sets about unravelling it, she discovers that there are more secrets than she could have ever imagined hidden within the old stones. Stories of love, loss, family, friendship… and some much more sinister tales, too.

Kate Morton has turned out another fabulous book here. With books this long, there’s a danger that it won’t hold the reader’s interest, or that there’s superfluous information. This is definitely not the case with The Distant Hours. It’s telling the story of a castle and its inhabitants across the span of many, many years and several generations of family. There’s a lot to tell and it’s all relevant to the plot. I, for one, was drawn in very quickly to the narrative, and found myself, just as Edie was, to find out more and more about the happenings at Milderhurst Castle. Morton has an enviable knack of telling a story in such a way that she gives you titbits of information that make you desperate to find out the full story. This happens throughout, giving you lots to think and wonder about, not least how it will all tie together at the end of the novel. But tie together it does, with a satisfactory if not tragic ending.

I really enjoyed The Distant Hours and think Kate Morton’s imagination and style of storytelling is incredible. I’ll be looking forward to more of her books.

Available from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository
Waterstones

eBook Review: Haste Ye Back by Wendy Burke

Article first published as eBook Review: Haste Ye Back by Wendy Burke on Blogcritics.

Haste Ye BackAs usual, I jumped at the chance to read another offering from Decadent Publishing’s 1Night Stand series. They never disappoint, and Haste Ye Back is no exception. It’s the story of Bryn Wallace, a woman who’s been dumped by her boyfriend,  just weeks before a trip to Edinburgh that she’s fantasised about all her life. It’s all booked and paid for, and there’s no way she’s going to waste the money, so she goes alone, determined to have a good time. However, she quickly discovers that exploring Scotland by herself is a little dull, so she signs up with the 1Night Stand service, hoping that Madame Eve will be able to hook her up – and quickly.

As luck would have it, divorcee Ian McCallum has also signed up to the service, on the suggestion of an old schoolfriend. Madame Eve’s expert intuition tells her that the pair would be perfect together, and so they’re matched. What neither of them realise, however, is that their pairing has actually been centuries in the making.

This was a really enjoyable story. It has a fascinating blend of contemporary and ancient elements, making for a fun read which was mysterious in places. I really liked each of the characters and found myself rooting for them, and boy was the sex hot! I don’t want to give anything else away, but I’ll just say this is a well-written, hot, fun story with parts that will really make you think – and hope there’s a sequel!

Available from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
All Romance eBooks
Decadent Publishing

eBook Review: Build a Man by Talli Roland

Article first published as eBook Review: Build a Man by Talli Roland on Blogcritics.

Build A ManBuild a Man is a chick lit novel from Talli Roland – it’s not her first release, but I’ll definitely be checking out her backlist having read this one!

It tells the story of cosmetic surgery receptionist Serenity Holland. Being a receptionist is about as far from her dream job as it gets – she wants to be a tabloid reporter, which is why she left Maine, America, and moved to London. She didn’t get the job she wanted, but she did get a pretty comfortable life living rent-free after bagging her cosmetic surgeon boss, Peter. Serenity thinks that successful, good-looking Peter will help her become the cool, professional version of herself that she wants to be. Her best friend Kirsty thinks she’s nuts for hooking up with such a bore.

So, a few months down the line and Serenity feels she’s stuck in a rut. She’s in a job she doesn’t really want, and her tabloid dreams are no closer to coming to fruition. Until Jeremy Ritchie walks into the surgery. He’s decided that to get the woman of his dreams, he needs a complete makeover, with the help of various cosmetic surgery procedures. Despite thinking that Jeremy looks just fine as he is, Serenity knows she’s now on to a story that no tabloid editor will be able to resist – and the Build a Man column is born! She’s working undercover and nobody but the paper and Kirsty know what’s really going on.

Serenity is excited about her new-found success, and is determined to take it all the way and land a job on the newspaper she’s writing for. Things seem to be on track, until Jeremy’s surgery goes very wrong, and suddenly Serenity’s conscience pricks, big style. The paper want her to continue with the column, warts and all, but is Serenity really that desperate to achieve her dreams?

Build a Man is a fab book. I was interested in the brilliant plot from the beginning, and I quickly found myself rooting for Serenity, despite her poor choices. This is a really fun, engaging read, and without giving too much away, let’s just say the ending left me feeling very glad that there’s a sequel in the works – I want more!

Available from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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eBook Review: Not Your Mother’s Publishing Model by Jill N. Noble

Article first published as eBook Review: Not Your Mother’s Publishing Model by Jill N. Noble on Blogcritics.

Not Your Mother's Publishing ModelAs I’m always on a quest for knowledge and information, I was happy to read and review this title. Not Your Mother’s Publishing Model is a step-by-step guide to becoming a successful e-published author. The writing part is up to you, of course, but the book covers everything else you need to know; building a brand, social media, editors, contracts, cover artists, networking, promotion, websites and much much more.

Although I have been into e-Publishing for a while now, and make a point of keeping on top of new things, and learning as much as I can, there were still some tips and tricks in this book that I hadn’t thought of, and I’ll definitely be utilising them.

Overall, this is a great little book. It’s well-written, easy to understand and has lots of examples to help you along the way. Naturally, it will be of more use to authors that are more recently published and aren’t sure where to start with getting themselves out there, but it’s also a useful tool to established authors, and a reminder of what we should be focussing on.

Available from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Noble Romance