Archive for the ‘ Book Reviews ’ Category

Horny Ancestor Ghosts and Weird Romances of the Living – Ghost Lover – Liza O’Connor

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Here’s a book review for you all. It’s been a while since the last one. I obtained a free copy in exchange for an honest review. It’s an exciting book, if not often wholly realistic. I would recommend it for some fun holiday reading or for the young adult audience (if you’re happy for the detailed sex scenes to be read!)

Ghost Lover by Liza O’Connor
Publisher: Possibly self-published, though the publisher used to be Lyrical Press.
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: 229 pages
Heat Level: Pretty spicy – some play by play love scenes thrown in – even one where a ghost sleeps with a living human!
Rating: 3 stars/5

Synopsis according to Amazon:

Two sexy English brothers.

One irresistible ghost.

Who would you choose as your lover?

 

Completely broke and with a criminal record to boot, Senna Smith is one day from eviction from her apartment when Brendon, her promiscuous roommate from London, suggests she go to England, marry him, and manage his fortune. With few other options, she agrees to an open marriage. But she’ll never, ever, have sex with him, knowing if she falls in love with him, he’ll break her heart.

 

As trustee of Brendon’s family fortune, there is no way Brendon’s older brother, Garrison Durran, is going to let him marry a self-professed American gold-digger. As Senna tries to embrace castle life and English society for Brendon’s sake, Gar discovers Senna is the perfect woman for him–beautiful and intelligent, kind and caring. Now, if she wasn’t already engaged to his brother…

 

The ancestral ghost of Durran Castle has to intervene if the Durran brothers have any chance of an heir. He can’t leave them to fix matters on their own. They are useless buggers when it comes to love. As counselor to Gar, matchmaker for Brendon, and lover to Senna, a ghost’s work is never done.

Ghost Lover is not a novel for those who value realism, and that does not mean there’s a lack of realism because there are ghosts in the story; it is the characters and situations in this book which defy reality rather than the paranormal characters which, if anything, are more magical realist interlopers.

Brendon and Gar are brothers; rich, upper class men based in the United Kingdom, and yet they act like over the top, ridiculously selfish, pre-pubescent boys who’ve never been taught manners. There is some reasoning for this, as they’ve had a terrible upbringing, but it was shock to find a romance novel with such immature and rude male protagonists.

The setting is also exaggerated and surreal as these brothers live in a huge house in the country, basically a mansion. Few of these still survive today and even fewer with rich, attractive brothers attached rather than an architecture-loving charity or grey-haired old men.

The plot follows the same route as the setting: Senna is willingly whisked away to the UK when she passively lets Brendon steal her money and not pay her back, with the condition if she marries him, she can have some of his trust fund. Many questions hit me at this point. Why would she trust him? Has he proved this trust fund exists? No. Why would she go with him then? The questions remain. Even later in the book, etiquette becomes a major concern and a large ball is hosted where Senna fails to make a great impression. For a modern day, contemporary romance, this does not reflect even the upper class within the UK that I live in. Balls are a very rare, special occurrence rather than everyday and the upper class are much more in line with the rest of the population than in previous decades.

Having said this, I was enamoured with Mr Finch, the ghost cat, and Lassier, the promiscuous orgasm-inducing ghost, ancestor to our boys Brendon and Gar. Lassier is the brains and the schemer behind the love interests the brothers eventually find and works behind the scenes to ensure a future generation for his family line, even if it means literally taking over his descendents’ bodies to do so. Mr Finch is a much warmer, cuddlier, and seemingly harmless purring cat who sometimes gets ticked off and throws papers to the floor but otherwise doesn’t really impact on the plot.

What surprises me with Ghost Lover, is that, despite all the inconsistencies in “norms” for the contemporary UK, despite the over the top, lacking in believability character traits and despite the slightly too perfect ending, I enjoyed reading it. It isn’t realistic and doesn’t appear to pretend to be. It’s a bit of pure fun where logic can remain suspended just long enough for the weird boy to get the equally strange girl.

 

You can buy this book if you fancy it on Amazon UK or Amazon USA 

and here is her personal website: Liza O’Connor’s website and extra character info on Ghost Lover.

 

Until next time!

Holly Ice

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A Peephole into the Eastern War – Stormtrooper on the Eastern Front by Mintauts Blosfelds

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Stormtrooper on the Eastern Front: Fighting with Hitler’s Latvian SS

History is the realm of the victors and the losers lose to the winner’s propaganda but I’m interested in the truth behind what really happened rather than the reassuring lies countries often tell themselves.

I have a personal connection to this history story. My grandfather was conscripted into the ranks of the German army and torn away from his 6 month child. So, I know this history well and I feel the book needs some background as it covers a very controversial part of the war.

Blosfelds does a brilliant thing by playing his part in countering the propaganda still surrounding the Baltic state SS units with this publication. They were not a part of the holocaust and were only fighting units. They fought to save their own countries from Russian and German rule and they stood very little chance but they fought on anyway. They were brave men.

On to the book.

The diary entries show the life of a soldier in his unit. This provides an insight into what went on behind the lines as well as the culture of the German army. It is a personal account and, as such, feels more dramatic than a documentary or dry history dates. The boring acts are often brushed over in favour of the more dramatic.

However, the individual it follows did not see much front line action. He was injured a lot and spent a lot of time on trains through Latvia as well as training camps. This has some historical interest as well as the front lines as it shows where training took place and names areas “behind the lines” which are often not mentioned in mainstream history.

As a whole, there is very little documentation of the Latvian SS units from within/personal accounts so this book is very valuable in its existence.

This doesn’t mean I can’t be disappointed. The narrator had a very youthful and naive view of the war. He was easily influenced and seemed to be in it more for the fun and alcohol which jars with post war feeling. He did not fight for his country and looked down upon the older men who were conscripted and didn’t want to fight. Their reasons feel more honourable.

This blights his character for me and makes the read less enjoyable. It is not a fault of the narrator. He was only young and easily influenced but an older narrative could show so much more of the war from so many different viewpoints. It would allow more than the one narrator’s viewpoint to be explored as an older man would be able to see from another’s shoes.

But would I read this again or recommend it to people searching for family in Latvia or looking to find out more about the Eastern front? Despite its cost, yes.

This is a book which details the personal side of the Eastern War. It lives through procedures which can be lost or become boring in pages and pages of dry historical record. It highlights a regiment swept under the carpet or railed against after the war in a neutral, in the moment, light. I only wish there were more accounts like this, and expanding upon this, out there.

But more than anything else, this book gives me a vague idea of what my grandfather went through and why he never spoke about the war.

My rating? 4/5.

An Equal to Anne McCaffrey? (There be dragons ahead)

Temeraire, Naomi Novik, dragons, review, book, novel, holly ice, Holly Ice

A pretty little (big) dragon to illustrate

I recently read Temeraire by Naomi Novik, a chance find from the charity shop. I thought from the cover it would be too stereotypical fantasy for me but I was proved wrong, and quick too. I would recommend this for any lover of dragons, fantasy and especially Anne McCaffrey.

Temeraire is a dragon picked up by the British navy and impressed upon the ship’s captain. The captain then must join the “aviators” (the replacement for the RAF) – a troupe of dragon riders.

The action is tense and the battle looks like it cannot be won. It is the stuff of epics, with not a few allied quarrels along the way. After all, all emergency and battle groups have a bit of friction between them.

All the major characters have grit and appear real – they do not know everything and yet they are driven to find answers for solid reasons. They also get injured, and some die – all normal in close combat. There is also a chance at romance but this fizzles and for good reason: in reality, it wouldn’t have worked out.

This is what the novel is in simple terms: brilliantly executed magical realism with a fantasy adventure theme.

Pages blurred into a vision of the ocean and leather harnesses as I read and I’m not sorry for the time the book took up – not one bit. I finished and wanted the next one (this is part of the “Temeraire Series”).

I can see why this author has received such good feedback for her writing and I look forward to reading more from her, and this series. Here’s hoping a cheap version winds up in a charity shop near me soon because I’m skint!

I award this book: 5/5.

I’m not sure if this means I’m getting better at finding books I like, or the right books are finding me, but I have awarded a lot of high ratings recently. Not that that’s bad – there’s never enough amazing writers out there to keep me entertained. High five, Novik. Keep up the good work.

Holly Ice

The Sorrow of Putting a Good Book Down

Erin Hart Lake of Sorrows Holly Ice Blog Author Writer Review Reviews Story Stories Novel Novels

Still sitting on my desk and propping up my dinner plate

 

No, it’s not propping up my dinner plate because it is bad. Quite the opposite. It is being used as a temporary balancer because I’m not yet ready to put it back on the bookshelf to gather dust.

This book was a great read from start to finish. There are two murdered victims preserved in peat- a modern and an ancient one but the wounds appear similar. The suspects and suspicious characters mount to a degree I’ve never seen before in novels without reaching unrealistic proportions.

There are secrets within secrets, deceptions, mistruths and many examples of people being used for another’s gain. That’s life. That’s a small village/town.

Erin Hart captures the familiarity of the in club in a small town and extorts this atmosphere to create the environment in which there can be a series of murders and a list of suspects so long I did not guess the killer until the clues had mounted to a point of obvious realisation.

Many authors cannot achieve this and the plot is up within a few chapters. Not this one! It keeps the reader interested and reels them along for over 400 pages of fast paced murder mystery and stewing relationship problems and successes. 

And, above everything, the environment is what sticks with me most about this book. The swampy peat land with its ancient sacredness and old names and history has seeped into my soul in the reading of this novel. I know a lot more, now, about swamps, the celts, and bee keeping and, somehow, it has made me feel more complete.

Definitely a book to add to your memories and not to leave to dust on the bookshelf. 

I give this book a grand 5/5. If I could give it more, I could: not many books cling to the reader like this one. 

Debra Dunbar’s The Imp Series: Finally, a new author to bookmark

Debra Dunbar author Imp Series A Demon Bound Elven Blood Satan's Sword

Yesterday I finished reading the third book of the Imp series by Debra Dunbar. This woman happens to be a follower of mine and I reciprocate. Day before yesterday I tried reading one of her books, and they rock.

I have been looking for a long, long time for an author to come close to Laurell K Hamilton and Debra Dunbar does it. She has a strong female lead, a new, demonic world (within the modern human world) and some great characters – and plot. Plus it is realistic.

Realistic fantasy fiction is lacking in today’s world of fiction. Too many authors think they can slack on characterisation or realism or plot simply because the book takes place in a different reality. This is certainly not a failing here!

Other than the odd typo, I cannot find anything I dislike with these books and that is saying something – I am picky.

The lead character Samantha is a demon, an imp. She cuts tyres and causes mischief for the hell of it which is great but she is also involved in the demon underworld and is soon contacted by an angel. And this angel wants to kill her.

Not what you were expecting, right?

All these elements can sound a little overwhelming when thrown together but the world Dunbar creates works. It has rules, sense, and some great dialogue (not to mention humour).

A succubus house visit can be a little awkward when your boyfriend is over…

Which reminds me: there is sex in this and it is described but it is not too explicit (but then, I’m not squeamish).

I will be buying more of these books and I hope to any powers that be that more are coming (I’ll certainly be nagging her for more – she had me giggling in my chair and rooted to the screen). I have no doubt that Dunbar will go on to have a very successful career in fantasy fiction.

As you’ve probably guessed, I’ve found one of those gems I’ve been hankering after for a while. As a result of Debra’s accurate observation of human behaviour and the awkward situations that get me laughing, this series gets a big, round 5/5 from me.

It can be bought here…

Book 1 (US UK)

Book 2 (US UK)

Book 3 (US UK)

Have a great day everyone!

Slate Ahn and the Books of Knowledge: Part I, Graham M Irwin. A fantasy epic with pirates, wolves, shipwrecks AND political corruption

Graham M Irwin Holly Ice Review Slate Ahn Books of Knowledge Legend of Alm

I was gifted this book free of charge on a read for review policy.

Graham Irwin knows how to create a wondrous world full of raspberry coloured bumble bees and exotic plants or wolves which decide to bond to individuals of good merit. He creates habitats and environment as well as original culture.

Of course, world creation is a huge part of fantasy and his achievement here does a lot to ingratiate himself with a fantasy audience. I must also say that the illustrator for the cover did a beautiful job.

Holly Ice blogHowever there are still issues with his writing, particularly in the prologue.

There is a lot of unnecessary description of the Ahn family and their daily lives that adds nothing to the plot; this is things like what they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and how they act year round. This back story is not necessary to the novel.

In fact, I believe the prologue could be cut significantly. It could do with opening on page 8 with ‘The tradition bound people of the village observed in the workings of the universe an order…’ This chimes in with the ideology of the villagers and within a paragraph the narrative focuses on the Ahn family. It also gets all the major tradition issues in without the boring parts of what they eat for breakfast. Plus, it is a catchier first sentence (and the major tension of the opening is introduced within a few paragraphs!)

This would also get around the fact that Ahn, Alleste and Aelioanei are introduced close together at the original opening. 3 unfamiliar A words that close together just makes my head spin! In fact, place names beginning with any other letter would be a favour: even the world is called Alm! (I was glad that the western half of the island had place names beginning with other letters and wonder if there is a rational reason behind all the A names or it was just coincidental).

The poetic introduction before the prologue is beautiful. I would only change one like: substance bore distinction to nothingness. There are too many long words here which confuses the complex concept the poem is aiming for.

There is also a tendency towards the beginning of the novel for long, convoluted sentences. However this soon evens out as the narrative continues and the action becomes much more immediate.

Characters are mostly realistic, if a little wacky (but this is allowed in a different culture with different morals and values). I only noticed one seeming slip from the alternate world of Alm in the narrative. This is where a character said ‘such and such a city’ which hit me as a little gossipy in tone and too modern a phrase compared to the rest of the narrative. I also noticed one ‘YOUR wife’ which would be better expressed as ‘your wife’ even if it is bellowed.

However these are mostly small sentence-level problems. My major problem with the book was that it lost its direction. The protagonist began by needing to find his family and, about a third of the way into the book, he finds the reason for their disappearance. However, instead of immediately trying to find them he loses focus and goes to school for a year, seemingly for no reason.

From here, political corruption, mercenaries, imprisonment, pirates, shipwreck, fishing and many hikes through endless (and different coloured) forests ensues. I cannot fault the author on his world building here. In fact, I felt the fishing and boat details as well as the multitude of forest habitats were very well researched. Even the stimulants created seemed realistic and well-integrated into the society. My problem with this is that there is no focus.

Holly Ice blog Graham Irwin Slate Ahn

The core thread of the novel was the boy trying to find his family. This is lost and put on hold. At this point, there is no core reason for me to keep reading. I want to know about the boy and his family, not a random thread of events. I feel that the author has tried to fit too many fantasy adventures into the book without connecting them to the main thread of the novel. Even by the end of the novel, the boy has still not found one single member of his family!

So yes, I grew frustrated with this book plot-wise but this does not lessen Irwin’s world building prowess. If you like books that meander through a new, colourful world and are content to read on despite a long-winded approach to plot goals then this book will be a good read.

The sea is bubbling with new hollow jaws, the floors are writing with white grubs that crawl in the dark and the forests hide wolves that can be friends for life. It is, in essence, an open sandbox to a new, bright world.

I give ‘Slate Ahn and The Books of Knowledge Part I’ a robust 3/5.

If you would like to give it a go for yourself, The Legend of Alm, Slate Ahn and The Books of Knowledge Part I can be found on Amazon (UK link and US link)

As always, I can be found on twitter: Holly Ice

A Touch of Magic – M. Ruth Myers – Cards, Romance, Murder

A Touch of Magic, M. Ruth Myers, Holly Ice Review, author, book, romance, murder, cardsA dazzling sleight-of-hand artist is recruited by the State Department to pit her skills – and wits – against a master terrorist. He’s about to receive a piece of stolen film used to make US passports, film that could open the door to terrorists around the world. Although Channing Stuart is the fourth generation in a family of acclaimed magicians, she’s the first of them not to turn pro. Eye-to-eye with a killer, will she have the nerve and nimbleness to pull off a switch that finally proves her worthy of her bloodline? Special agent Bill Ellery is irritated to find himself suddenly teamed with this amateur whose passion to succeed is as great as his own, and whose penchant for the unpredictable unsettles him as much as the woman herself.

In an upscale resort where every enticement hides a trap, they play cat and mouse with enemies known and unknown as a time bomb ticks. Hundreds of lives depend on the deftness of one woman’s fingers and … A TOUCH OF MAGIC.

This was a good read. It had romance, intrigue, some cool magic tricks, family angst and some great characters. The plot was also good although I think the female villain could have done with a little more filling out.

There was nothing overall wrong with the story really and yet I still felt it was missing something. I was not left with much after reading it and I think I should have been. Some thought or feeling should have remained: it usually does with a great book.

Perhaps I wanted more of a conclusion on the romantic side, something cuter, or perhaps I wanted to know what happened with the terrorists – whether good triumphed once and for all.

Of course, this could well be the point. I myself am a lover of grey, where the realistic side of the world creeps into books: the villain doesn’t always lose and the good guy doesn’t win every battle; not everything is solved in one book.

There were some surprises and great twists as well as sleuth work, time-focused problems and murder, all trademarks of a good thriller.

Ultimately, the book kept me interested despite me wanting some undefinable more out of it. Since I can’t define this, despite trying, I’m giving the book a 4/5.

This seems to be a rather popular score for me at the moment!

The book can be found here

Here’s hoping I find a 5/5 soon. Suggestions welcome.

My twitter: Holly Ice

Off to read some more now 🙂

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