‘Inspiration Takes A Vacation’ by Annette Mori is a charming romance with a twist. Abby Prentice has writer’s block – and she’s not the only one. All across the Pacific Northwest creative people from all areas of the arts have lost inspiration. A coincidence? Maybe not. When she bumps into a beautiful, but strange, woman on the beach it takes her mind off her troubles for a while. She can’t quite work her out at all. Musetta is on a much needed break and has come to a point in her life where doing what’s expected is not enough for her. She has a lot of thinking to do. In the meantime she feels drawn to the accident-prone Abby, and there’s no harm in exploring that, is there?
The mixture of old and new turned this romance into something quite unexpected. Ms Mori likes to do things just that little bit differently and it works for me. I love the humour and the honesty in her writing. Abby was goofy and clumsy, but also loyal and endearing. Muse had an innocence paired with wisdom – a wonderful combination. They were a wonderful couple and I wanted it to work for them. This is the kind of book to snuggle on the couch with, for a few hours of love, romance and passion. I loved it.
I’ve read a few books in this series before and really enjoyed them. Catriona McPherson’s writing is so wonderfully evocative of a bygone era and never fails to draw me in. ‘The Mirror Dance’ is another excellent story, this time set amongst the publishing houses of Dundee. Dandy Gilver is once again on the case, and with her sidekick Alex Osbourne and razor-sharp maid, Grant, she becomes embroiled in a puzzling mystery.
I loved that the story was set in the publishing industry and that we got to imagine what it may have been like in the heyday of Dundee’s famous newspapers and magazines. Dandy’s dogged investigation threw up some red herrings and twists and turns that I did not see coming. The ambience was perfectly done, the descriptions exquisite. The story was inventive and fascinating and the perfect cosy mystery. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Shivers ran down my spine reading this book. The author, Christina Sweeney-Baird, could never have known just how prophetic she was being when she wrote it, but it is astounding how much she has predicted. The world is in the grip of a viral pandemic that only affects men. Dr Amanda MacLean tried to warn the authorities, but no-one was willing to listen. Men soon realise the folly of ignoring her warnings as they begin to die. What follows are first-person accounts by women from all over the world, documenting the fall of the male-dominated patriarchal society we knew, and the rise of a female-led one. The storytelling is wonderful – perfectly paced, with an immediacy and emotional intensity that made me gasp. She amps up the tension, opening out the story as the virus spreads, and lets us see how society could be if women were in charge. If I had read this last year, before the pandemic, it would still have been a great story, but this year makes it even more so. I could not put it down. ‘The End Of Men’ deserves to be the hit book of the year.
We’ve all relied on distractions this year. I know I have. Books have been a lifeline and have taken us to other places, far away from the world we’ve had to live in.
I have read so many wonderful books over the past twelve months, so choosing a Top Ten has been extremely difficult. Only three have been pure romance and each of the three were exceptional. Two were mystery and crime stories and among the best I’ve ever read in that genre. The remaining books on my list veered into other genres – science fiction, fantasy and the supernatural. I needed some escapism it seems.
I recommend each and every one and hope that you will have a look at my reviews and maybe try them for yourselves. Here are my Top Ten, in alphabetical order
Finding Jessica Lambert by Clare Ashton
The Lost Templeof Psiere by K Aten
The Thing About Tilly by G Benson
Never Too Late for Heroes by A.L. Brooks
Spirited by Julie Cohen
Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star by Fletcher Delancey
‘Without A Trace’ is the best Kate Daniels book yet. It’s an emotionally intense, perfectly plotted story, that doesn’t let up for a second. When a plane goes missing over the Atlantic, with Kate’s soulmate on board, she stops at nothing, and is willing to break all the rules to find out what happened. Mari Hannah’s pacing ramps up the tension bit by bit, and takes the reader with Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels as she struggles to cope with the prospect of losing Jo. This is the book in which we see more of Kate than ever before. We see her vulnerabilities and her pain. I could feel that pain with her and like her, I held onto hope. The combination of personal and professional and the pull of her heart over the job was powerful. It’s something Daniels has always struggled with, but not to this extent before. Mari Hannah is an astounding talent in the field of crime writing, and here she is at the top of her game.
‘The Lost Temple of Psiere’ is the second in the Mystery of the Makers series by K Aten, and although I didn’t think it possible, it’s even better than the first. K Aten has imagined a world both familiar and foreign and her world-building is exquisite. Olivienne, Royal Connate and heir to the throne of Psiere, is on a mission to find out more about the Makers. Where did they come from, who were they – and what role did they have to play in the history of Psiere? Now getting closer to her goal, she plans another trip with her Shield team and her lover, Castellan Tosh. But threats to their mission and to the future stability of Psiere bring danger and peril.
I love the innovative use of language in the Psiere stories. It immerses the reader in the world and I’d forgotten just how must I enjoyed being there. The story is full of adventure, tension, wonder and passion. It is stunning. There were some amazing revelations and so much more I wanted to know. I must admit to gasping in surprise a few times. I can’t wait for the next in the series!
Lesfic Eclectic Volume 2 is a wonderful collection of short stories from some new and some well-known authors. The variety of genres and styles make this a must-have book and I’ve had a delightful time reading each and every one. There’s something for all tastes and inclinations, from the scorching hot, to the sweet and romantic. But there’s also something for lovers of historical, fantasy, science fiction and humorous stories.
Although I enjoyed them all, I have a few favourites. ‘Nothing Ever Changes’ by AJ Mason is a very well written story with a twist I definitely didn’t see coming. I really liked the characters and could see their story working well in a full-length novel.
‘Back To School Night’ by Serena J Bishop is an engaging story, with compelling, fully fleshed-out main characters – not an easy feat in a short story. But she has nailed it.
‘For Her Love’ by Anna Shade is a historical western tale that had me hooked from the start. It would make a fascinating novel, if the author was minded to expand the story.
‘The Elephant Trees’ by Valden Bush was a beautifully poetic story and deeply emotional. I loved it.
But my absolute favourite was ‘Into The Light’ by Brey Willows. This sci-fi story was thrilling, full of hope and love, and if you’re a Brey Willows fan you will not want to miss it.
Be sure to get your FREE copy of this collection using the following link:
Do you know how difficult it is to write a review with happy tears streaming down your face? Well, I found out today. ‘The Thing About Tilly’ by G Benson is hands-down my favourite book of the year. Tilly runs away – a lot. Throughout their friendship, Ellie has had to accept that she would. But she’s never known why. Finding herself unexpectedly pregnant, Ellie needs to be able to rely on her friends. She can rely on the third member of the triumvirate, Sean, but Tilly’s another matter. There are so many secrets between them, secrets that stop them living their lives to the full. Will they find a way to be honest, to say what needs to be said?
I loved the relationship dynamics, the longing and the angst. There were so many layers and stories to be told and I couldn’t put it down. It was wonderful. G Benson certainly knows how to make her readers feel. It was heartbreaking at times, and joyful at others. And being a G Benson novel, it was also very funny. The intensity of the emotions was breathtaking and so beautifully written. I adored ever last word.
Karen Klyne knows how to write an Ice Queen. And this time she has given us an unconventional twist. Amelia Steele is, at first glance, stand-offish and very anti-social, and I was prepared to dislike her. But that didn’t last long. To me she wasn’t at all unlikeable, because I knew who she was and why she acted the way she did. Her behaviour was perfectly normal for her and I really liked her. Who says we all have to be the same?
When out walking her neighbours dog, Amelia finds herself somewhat beholden to the woman who rescues the adorable mutt, when Karma slips the lead. As someone unused to small talk or even any attempt at the social niceties, it’s hard for Amelia to know what to do. Juno Costello was warm and vivacious and full of chatter. So unlike Amelia. But opposites attract, don’t they? For some reason she sees past the social awkwardness and wants to know more about Amelia. Will Amelia let her see the woman behind the mask? I really liked Juno. She was sweet and thoughtful and the fact that she was interested enough to take time with Amelia, getting to know her, appealed to me. But it was Amelia that drew me into the story. I loved her vulnerability and her bluntness. What you see is what you get with her. I enjoyed this book and the intelligent and emotional storytelling.
‘Wendy of the Wallops’ by Gill McKnight is an absolute delight. PC Wendy seems to be permanently awkward and embarrassed, especially around attractive women. She has recently come out to her friend and local vicar, Jane and her partner Renata from the first book in the series. She hasn’t quite worked up the courage to tell her family or her work colleagues. When she is asked to keep an eye out on young Lexi, whose father has gone on the run from his witness protection programme, she comes into contact with local artist and Guide Leader Keira. Between being constantly annoyed by Keira, her hot new boss from the Met and her cute doctor, Wendy is surrounded by women who confuse and arouse her. This is a story about a totally adorable character following her path towards accepting and being happy with her sexuality. It is also hilarious and sweet and I highly recommend it.
I was given this ARC in return for an honest review.