Tuesday, 19 June 2018

His Wicked Secret - Lauren Smith

When a lady decides to become a spy, she must resist all temptation…especially love.

Audrey Sheridan is London’s sweetheart¾a position that allows her access to the ton and all its secrets. As the enigmatic writer, Lady Society, she is wild, reckless, and speaks her mind. She matchmakes wicked rogues with their perfect wives. But there’s one thing she’s failed to find since her debut. A husband for herself. And there’s only one man she’s ever wanted. There’s just one problem…he doesn’t want her. What’s a lady to do to mend her broken heart? Run off to become a spy…

Jonathan St. Laurent is anything but a saint and certainly not husband material. He spent nearly his entire life as a servant to his half-brother the Duke of Essex. He’s trying to play the gentleman now, but it’s damned hard when he’s tempted by the ton’s darling spitfire Audrey. There’s something about her that makes him want to abandon the rules of polite society and show her just how wicked he can be…which is why it’s better to avoid the minx altogether.

When Audrey’s plan to be a spy is discovered, Jonathan knows he must move heaven and earth to protect her while guarding his own secret…

His Wicked Secret (League of Rogues #8)His Wicked Secret by Lauren Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love the League of Rogues series by Lauren Smith and I've been (not so) patiently waiting for the next instalment in the series. We were teased with Her Wicked Longing last year, which was just a little taste of what was to come in His Wicked Secret.
Of all the League members, I have to admit that I was less interested in Jonathan's story. I think that is simply because we know less about him. While he is mentioned in the other books, we see less of his character than some of the other members. I do like Audrey though. She's headstrong, willful and a lot of fun. Fortunately, Jonathan proved himself to be her match.
This was a great read and I really enjoyed it, polishing it off quickly. I will admit though, I'm really hanging out for the last of the main league characters stories. Charles has always been an interesting chap and I have a few theories about who he's going to end up with. But, as I don't want to spoil anything, I'm not going to say what they are here.

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Sunday, 17 June 2018

The King's Justice - EM Powell

A murder that defies logic—and a killer still on the loose.

England, 1176. Aelred Barling, esteemed clerk to the justices of King Henry II, is dispatched from the royal court with his young assistant, Hugo Stanton, to investigate a brutal murder in a village outside York.

The case appears straightforward. A suspect is under lock and key in the local prison, and the angry villagers are demanding swift justice. But when more bodies are discovered, certainty turns to doubt—and amid the chaos it becomes clear that nobody is above suspicion.

Facing growing unrest in the village and the fury of the lord of the manor, Stanton and Barling find themselves drawn into a mystery that defies logic, pursuing a killer who evades capture at every turn.

Can they solve the riddle of who is preying upon the villagers? And can they do it without becoming prey themselves?

The King's Justice (Stanton & Barling, #1)The King's Justice by E.M. Powell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love historical murder mystery books, so when I spotted this on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read it. The opening setting of the book; a trial by ordeal in front of a crowd of baying spectators set the scene perfectly. Unfortunately, for me at least, the sense of time and place didn't quite continue to the same degree through the rest of the book. The bare bones were there, the characters were for the most part well written and complex, but for me, there was something not quite right.

I'm not sure if it was the two main investigating characters that did it. The two viewpoints making it difficult to get to know either character properly, or something else. There was also a very large body count, I did wonder if we would find out the murder by a process of elimination, with all other contenders being eliminated both from suspicious and life.

With the high body count I couldn't help but be reminded of a medieval Midsomer Murders and this wasn't the only place that there was a similarity. The book lacked the depth and sense of place that other books in the genre have. BUT it was an entertaining, fairly light read. I'm not sure if some of my issues with the book was just because I didn't 'know' Stanton and Barling and if with a bit more familiarity, they might not have been more enjoyable. I'd certainly be willing to read the next in the series to find out.

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Thursday, 14 June 2018

A Superior Spectre - Angela Meyer

Jeff is dying. Haunted by memories and grappling with the shame of his desires, he runs away to remote Scotland with a piece of experimental tech that allows him to enter the mind of someone in the past. Instructed to only use it three times, Jeff – self-indulgent, isolated and deteriorating – ignores this advice.

In the late 1860s, Leonora lives a contented life in the Scottish Highlands, surrounded by nature, her hands and mind kept busy. Contemplating her future and the social conventions that bind her, a secret romantic friendship with the local laird is interrupted when her father sends her to stay with her aunt in Edinburgh – an intimidating, sooty city; the place where her mother perished.

But Leonora’s ability to embrace her new life is shadowed by a dark presence that begins to lurk behind her eyes, and strange visions that bear no resemblance to anything she has ever seen or known…

A Superior Spectre is a highly accomplished debut novel about our capacity for curiosity, and our dangerous entitlement to it, and reminds us the scariest ghosts aren’t those that go bump in the night, but those that are born and create a place for themselves in the human soul.

A Superior SpectreA Superior Spectre by Angela Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When books are sold as being like a well known or well-loved book that you've already read, I'm always a little sceptical. A Superior Spectre was described on the NetGalley email, encouraging me to request it, as being similar to A Handmaid's Tale. I have to say, that although this is set in a dystopian future, it isn't really like it in any way. If it were like any of Atwood's frightening glimpses of a possible future, then it reminded me of the world the Oryx and Crake trilogy or The Heart Goes Last. Really, comparisons are pointless, this is a great read in its own right.

The book is really two stories, that are linked by technology that allows the futuristic Jeff to see into the mind of Leonora, a young Scottish girl from the 1800's. Jeff is dying and uses these journeys into Leonora's mind as a form of escape. The more he joins with her though, the more that his thoughts begin to break into her conscious and life. While Jeff battles his own demons and illness, Leonora struggles to find her place in life and questions her sanity. More than once I couldn't help but wonder if Jeff was a figment of Leonora's imagination, or that perhaps Leonora was a figment of Jeffs.

This is an interesting and engaging read. I wanted to follow the paths of both of the main characters and find out what would happen to them. It is in some ways a book with a science fiction setting, but to describe it as such really sells it short. The tech that allows this all to happen, isn't really the point, but it is about the two main characters and how they deal with their lives and situations.

A Superior Spectre is a fantastic read and I found it gripping from the beginning. I found myself involved in the storyline and just couldn't put it down.

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Tuesday, 12 June 2018

India Whose country is it anyway? - Book Blitz

About the Book:
India's rich diversity, both in its physical and natural aspects, is widely known. India has had a great past with achievements in literature, the arts, medicine and mathematics.

Indians were sea-faring and they spread their influence through their philosophy, religion and military conquest too. But Like a cosmic phenomenon, decline is every civilization is inevitable. Indian civilization too declined.

When a civilization rises, people are driven by idealism; when people are possessed of greed, it declines and falls.

Indians today are possessed of excessive, abominable, putrefying greed.

The author tells it all in an honest, engaging manner. He holds a mirror unto ourselves.

Book Link:

About the Author:
I hail from a middle class family. Son of a soldier, I did my studies in Bengaluru obtaining a Bachelor’s degree (from St. Joseph’s College) in Science and then in Law from a different college. 

Though not very serious about studies, I took to books with keen interest in social sciences history in particular, literature and natural sciences (in general) and current affairs. I am drawn wittingly towards that abstract thinking – that is, philosophy.

Worked in a Government-owned Insurance Company - United India Insurance Co Ltd - as a Salesman (designated as Development Officer) and retired voluntarily a decade ago.
I spend time reading and writing, travelling both within the country and outside. I ardently believe in community work; I concentrate on education of children, obviously from poor background.  

Nationalism – i.e. love of fellow citizens - is my creed. I am passionate about friendships, am devoid of all other -isms.

Contact the author via eMail

Sunday, 10 June 2018

The Scars I Bare - J.L.Berg

The Scars I Bare (By the Bay, #2)The Scars I Bare by J.L. Berg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book in the By the Bay series and after meeting Dean in the first book (The Choices I've Made) While the book title seems to refer to the physical scars that Dean bears after the ferry accident that he was involved in, more importantly, are his mental scars. Since the accident, he hasn't worked, has been single and hasn't been able to move on. Cora is also mentally scarred. He marriage fell apart after her husband became abusive and now she is reluctant to trust.

Cora and Dean are both likeable characters and although they have problems to work through, it's clear that they belong together. I did like the way that they dealt with their problems. In too many similar books, the hero and heroine have something happen that throws them apart. This wasn't smooth sailing to a happily ever after, but it didn't feel forced or that the things that were stopping them from being happy were unnatural.

I really enjoyed this book and will be looking out for book 3 so that I can find out more about the characters that live on Ocracoke Island.

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Saturday, 9 June 2018

Mauri Book Blitz

~ New Release ~
Mauri by Saiswaroopa Iyer

About the Book:
She wanted to kill the man who others called a God.
Love is but an obstacle in her path

With her father’s death shattering her world, Mauri is torn away from everything she had once loved. Anger replacing every emotion within her, she seeks only one thing. To kill her father’s killer. Even if the man is none less than Krishna Vaasudeva, the man who people worshipped as a God! Someone stands in the way, reining in her bitterness when she is the least prepared for it. The Rakshasa Prince Ghatotkacha! But by the time love sprouts within her, Mauri has gone too far in her thirst for vengeance. 

Can Mauri save herself and Ghatotkacha before the consequences of her own actions can destroy both their worlds?

Book Link:

Read an Excerpt:

“Good aim! But that sorry-looking insult to all weapons is not going to take you very far.”
Mauri jumped out of her skin. The man who had found her out was a complete stranger. A closer look at him told her he was a Rakshasa. Her first instinct was to make a run towards the exit. It would be only a matter of time before this Rakshasa would go and tell Ghatotkacha. Then it struck her that she had never seen this man in Ghatotkacha’s team! Who was he?
“Your secret is safe with me, little one!” He beamed. The broken canine on his upper jaw could not be missed. He took her arm but she shook him off. “Alright! Remember girl, I am your well-wisher.”
“I don’t even know who you are!” Mauri backed away.
“Someone who can protect you from…,” he smirked and pointed to the gap between the two ornate pillars close to where she was hiding, “them”
Mauri peered through the gap. She could count up to six guards furiously searching for the culprit who had dared strike Krishna Vaasudeva. The foolhardy nature of her attempt struck her now. How had she even dreamt of escaping the heavily guarded palace after doing what she’d done?
“Come with me.” He held her arm. “If you want to escape without being seen, that is.” His voice assumed a lower note. “And if you want to get another chance at your target.”
Unsure and still guided by her frustration, Mauri followed him towards a secluded section of the vast palace garden. When she left the place a good couple of hours later, her mind reeled at the task before her. It was too much, what the Rakshasa had asked of her. But she could not have afforded to be caught by the palace guards. Possibly she could have lied about her aim going wrong when she was trying to get some fruit. The news would still have travelled to Dhatri, though, and who knew how she would react? On the other hand, the prospects that this Rakshasa promised, though at great risk, seemed more welcome. Mauri continued to walk in a daze, aimless and unmindful of the maze of paths. A shrill cry calling out to her brought her back to this world.
“Mauri! Where on earth did you disappear?!” Nandini ran up to her, and not very far behind was Dhatri!
For the first time, Mauri found herself tongue-tied, at a loss for explanations. “I…I came with Ghatotkacha. I lost my way.”
“Any guard would have guided you out of this place.” Dhatri’s voice had traces of annoyance. “And why did you not even inform us before leaving?” She sighed as Mauri slipped back into silence again. “I found us a caravan headed eastward. Let us quickly take leave of our hosts and start this afternoon.”
Mauri followed her without a word. She needed to be in Dhatri’s good books. “Mahadevi…after going back to Kamarupa, can I live with you?”
She saw Dhatri halt in her steps and look visibly delighted. She heard Nandini squeal with joy. Neither had a clue of what was going on in her mind.
When they left Indraprastha later in the day, Mauri looked back at the glorious looking arch receding into the distance. She had not taken leave of Ghatotkacha. It would have been nice to see him just one more time!

About the Author:

Formerly an analyst with a Venture capital firm, Saiswaroopa currently writes Puranic fiction, with a focus on lesser known heroines of Ancient India. Mauri is her third work of fiction after Abhaya and Avishi. Her interests include Carnatic Music, Philosophy, History and Literature of India. She won a state level gold medal from TTD in rendering Annamacharya Kritis. She holds an MBA from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur.

Contact the Author:

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Overruled by Fate - Leila Snow

Overruled by FateOverruled by Fate by Leila Snow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book ticked all of the boxes for me from the very start. I love historically set novels especially when an effort is made to evoke the period. In Overruled by fate, this isn't achieved by the language that people use, but I felt the attitudes and ideas fit the time very well. On the whole, the book didn't try too hard, by throwing archaic phrases. Although there were a couple of times that modern expressions or language did creep in, it didn't detract from the whole read.

I was completely immersed in this book until around the halfway mark. Unfortunately, around then, something happened. I'm not sure if it was me, or the style of the writing, but it didn't seem to be flowing quite as well. There was a little too much telling rather than showing. It's a real shame because I think that aside, this would have been a solid five star read.

Overall, I loved the story. The author didn't pull any punches when it came to the characters behaving as they would have been expected to at the time. There were no convenient get-out clauses for awkward or unpleasant duty and I felt the read and storyline was much richer for it.

This is a fantastic story, well told and one that takes you on a very emotional journey of highs and lows. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to lovers of historical fiction and romance.

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