Fool Me Twice by Philippa Jane Keyworth

Summary

In the gaming hells of eighteenth century London, orphan Caro Worth is leading a double life. By day she plays a proper gentlewoman on the lookout for a wealthy husband. By night she plays the infamous Angelica, her fictional half-sister with a talent for cards and an ability to finance the life her respectable self has built. An introduction to a rich Marquis brings marriage and security within Caro’s grasp…until the arrival of the unpredictable and totally ineligible Mr. Tobias Felton.

Dismayed by Felton’s persistent appearances, shocking frankness, and enigmatic green eyes, Caro watches helplessly as he comes closer than anyone to guessing her secret, but when complete and utter ruin threatens, she finds that Felton’s suspicions just might become her salvation. As the walls she has built to protect herself crumble down around her, Caro learns that no matter how careful your plans, life and love have a habit of falling quite spectacularly out of control!

Characters

Caro is a feisty but desperate woman. She doesn’t want to abandon all home so instead she assumes the persona of another. Angelica has some freedoms that Caro does not – like speaking her mind. Tobias is a bloody mess. Being the youngest he hasn’t found anything worth while to invest his time or energy in so he just drifts. Rebecca is adorable – I loved her more than Caro most of the time.

Despite the fact that in the end and over all I like Caro, she could be down right wishy washy and irritating. Actually I didn’t like her very much for the second half of the book. Especially after her secret gets out. Instead of rising up – she had to be saved by the men around her. That was the most frustrating thing about this entire book. I thought it would be more about her saving herself but no. So fair warning there.

Plot

Caro’s double life as Angelica catches up with her. There wasn’t a lot of lead in to the bad guy being a bad guy but it was believable. Entitled and malicious. Surprisingly the romance is as important as the rest of the plot. I believe that even some men would enjoy this book due to its duel plot nature. The romantic aspect was really secondary for most of the book – only the last 25% really felt like a historical romance. Which was the worst part of the book in my opinion.

Overall

Absolutely gripping read. The writing flowed well and was at a fast paced tempo. It did a good job of sticking with the era and its colorful vernacular. At times the author overshadowed that something (mostly bad) was about to happen, which took me out of the book. There were a few POV shifts as well but also minimal. Not to mention that the grammatical errors were almost non-existent.

The characters were alright, Rebecca being my favorite and frankly Caro being my least favorite. At least the ‘bad guy’ (don’t want to give away who it is) is consistent – Caro isn’t throughout the book. She is all over the map. The only consistency is her inconsistency. The setting was well done, although more than once breaking the rules of proper society. Which may or may not be a good thing! The scenes between Caro and Tobias are very sweet though and by the end I went from not really liking to Tobias to loving him.

Rating

4 stars

The duel plot and fluid writing that is gripping and interesting is the reason for this rating. Fantastic read for any vacation!

I received a free copy in exchange of an honest review.

 

West Quarry Farm by James Stillwood

Summary

He’s still out there. Still doing the same thing. It’s not just the fact he kills them that’s shocking, but it’s the way he does it. Can you be certain it won’t be you next?

Working at a supermarket, living with her teenage daughter and caring for her elderly mother, on the surface, Mel William’s life appears to be ordinary. But Mel is on a quest. She is determined to find the man who harmed her daughter, and nothing will stop her from hunting him down.
With a loving husband, a young daughter and plans to expand her own business, to the outsider, Rebecca Stead would seem to have the perfect life. Then, one day, she is thrown off course by a chance meeting.
A horrifying event binds these two women together.

Characters

I thought the summary misrepresented who we would see the most of. I expected we’d spend most of the book with Mel Williams but there are twice as many chapters with Phil (Matteson) and Rebecca Stead. This is important because I wasn’t a fan of Rebecca at all. In fact most times I just wanted her chapters to end. Mel on the other hand I had a lot of respect for. Phil is one bad dude and the author did an amazing job making him creepy and calmly evil. Also Jenny (Rebecca’s friend) is a hoot.

Plot

The author had a lot of aspects running at once to keep the reader guessing. It was suspenseful in a slow and ‘not sure when this is going to get really bad’ sort of way. I felt the author spent too much time on Rebecca’s life but I get that it was to build her character and the suspense. I actually felt really bad for her husband and daughter. Rebecca made choices and was a freaking idiot and I couldn’t bring myself to like her for the duration of the book. The author added in a stalker which was great.

Overall

This was such a British psychological thriller. The setting was set to match this. It actually reminded me a big of Blood on the Wire. It was unnerving and suspenseful but took a long time to have something happen. It had weird moments that were meant to increase the intensify. Then the action spikes for the characters and is resolved a chapter later. Thankfully there is an epilogue which shows where all the characters are.

The writing was easy to follow, although there were some British terms I wasn’t sure on. There were limited errors, mostly punctuation errors, but I did note an overuse of colons. The characters were mostly consistent but Rebecca was all over the board emotionally. Honestly she was such a mess that it made the plot believable, but also took me out of the suspense of the book more than  once.

Rating

4 stars

The suspense in the books builds and builds. It was unpredictable and it took me awhile to figure out where it was going. I was pleasantly surprised by the ending even if I didn’t like all the characters.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sehmah’s Truth (Beneath the Willow Book 1) by A.J. Culey

DOES NOT STANDALONE. 

Summary

She created his world and made him the hero of her story. Now she’s living that story with him.

Samantha and her twin brother spent their childhood creating an imaginary world beneath the willow tree in their backyard. Two years after her brother’s death, Samantha is unexpectedly transported to their fantasy world, where she meets Takeem, the hero of every story she’s ever written.

With Takeem by her side, and danger at every turn, Samantha discovers the world she created is nothing like what she imagined. Having somehow landed in the middle of her own evolving story, she must now find the courage to live it.

Characters

There is a lot of jumping around of characters in the book. From Takeem/Samantha, to the history before Takeem, and back to Jennifer on Earth. I felt like a ping pong ball sometimes. The author could do with making these transitions a little clearer for eBook, but it wasn’t terrible, just disjointed at times.

That being said I had a hard time liking characters. They all had such flaws and such heartbreaks. However, the more I read the more I liked them. Many of their flaws fell away – particularly Takeem. Samantha was still depressing and grief stricken from time to time but she started to come alive more and more – making her a better character.

Plot

This plot is a slow burn. It takes a while to makes its point and for the full plot to form, but when it does it is quite enjoyable. By the time I was halfway through the book I raced through the last half. It took me 12 days to get through the first half of the book and three to get through the other half. The creativity of the world and the art in which the author portrays it really takes shape in the second half. This is likely due to character introduction and the flashbacks taking over much of the first part of the book.

The plot, like the character’s backstories and overall emotions, is dark. The world she created; Lutia. It is dreary and dark. She brings light but her own light is dimmed by recent tragedies. The world of Lutia is as broken and messed up as she is. I don’t want to ruin anything, but this plot as more depth than it first seems. It is important to give it time – at least 50%. This book does not standalone – the ending is clearly meant to go into a second book.

Overall

This book is bleak and I’m not sure it is suitable for most YA readers. It is SUPER dark starting out. No one seems to be happy in this book at the beginning…or for most of it. That is the first thing that hits me. I sighed like a billion times for the first 25% of this book because the characters are just so miserable. It dredges up deeper darker feelings; loss, betrayal, unhappy choices, death, and oppression. Not normally my cup of tea, and then the author hints at more going on – which a little more push than earlier. Once I figured that out it started to flow better.

The characters are interesting but some of the secondary characters seem a little generic at times. This improves as the book goes on but I didn’t get a good feel for them until much later. That being said, if you can get over the darker themes, this book is quite good. The reason comes down to the world building. I freaking love this world. The plot and characters can go hang next to the vivid imagery of this world. The plot was good, the characters were okay, but the WORLD was amazing. From the willow trees (Shrouded Ones) to Huk. Amazing imaginary.

Rating

4 Stars

I liked it. I couldn’t merry up the darker themes with the YA feel at times, but I still enjoyed it. I don’t know if I would recommend it to anyone under the age of 16. Honestly it wasn’t until after I finished it that I decided I liked it and it was more because of the world and the creativity of it than anything else.  If you like creative fantasy worlds – this book is for you.

I received a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

 

The Martian by Andy Weir

Summary

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.

But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

Characters

Mark Watney is a dick. I don’t know how many times I said that throughout the book, but I know it was enough that it felt like the truest theme of the book. A hilarious dick, I will give him that. You spend lots of time in Mark’s company throughout the book so you better like him at least a little. He is a great and vivid character. The supporting characters fell way behind on the spotlight time but were great supporting characters. Mitch is hilariously jerky as well. Commander Lewis is noble. Vogel is a conflicted leader. They all have a role to play.

Plot

Mark is stuck on Mars. The entire world gets behind one person, spends oodles of dollars and puts others at risk because that is the ‘good’ side of humanity. That every life matters. Even if the author didn’t intend this to be a theme, it shone through for me; right up there with the human will to live and the ingenuity to survive. It was an impressive book but you have to like the level of detail that the author goes into on what Mark does to survive. Also the jumping back and forth between Mark and the characters one earth and the rest of the crew on Hermes, is pretty easy to follow.

Overall

This is set up in two ways; a normal 3rd point of view and journal entries. It brings the fact that Mark is stuck on Mars all that more real. I thought it was an interesting dynamic to swing back and forth between. That being said I hated the ominous snippets before something ‘bad’ happened to Mark. They were weird narrations that felt unnecessary and were disruptive to me. I enjoyed most of the narrations by Mark but some of them made me sigh because they became repetitive and after a while the pattern of things that were going to happen became predictable. The ending could easily be disappointing to most – it felt abrupt to me but I was content with it.

Rating

4 stars

The overall predictability and sometimes repetitive nature of the book didn’t diminish my like of it too much. It is still a good science fiction and well worth the read. This book is hilarious and I agree that duct tape is truly the best invention ever!

I’m wondering now if the movie is better…I’ll update this later…