Apples, possibly crabapples, spotted locally in November
I should perhaps point out that five stars usually go to things I would read again if I ever have time. That means crime stories and mysteries rarely figure at higher than four.
Unplanned Coda by Kaje Harper***** A lovely ending to the Hidden Wolves series. I’m sad to leave these guys and would happily read more adventures in the same ‘verse.
Dances Long Forgotten by Ruby Moone***** A gorgeous mm twist on a Heyer Regency trope with a 21st century romance framing the story with the hearing of the ghost music that pervades it.
The Lost Ship of the Tucker Rebellion by Marie Sexton***** Brilliant sci fi that ticked all my boxes. The focus is on identical twins Denver and Laramie who have a semi-telepathic connection. There is some romance (mm and mf), lots of world building, and a bit of space opera but not enough to overwhelm the story.
Wed to the Barbarian and The Barbarian’s Vow by Keira Andrews***** High fantasy romance in two volumes. Really gripping and I couldn’t stop reading. This has all the usual ‘tropes’ – huge rough strangers, pampered princes, arranged marriage, plots galore and some really exciting drama but it also manages to smile wryly at itself and ends up explaining that life is not a fairy tale and that people are complicated.
Fragile Magic by Sharon Ashwood***** A rare (for me) five star short story. Selena (half fey) rescues a gargoyle and then of course she needs a vet (enter werewolf Jake). Romance that sparkles and some terrific world building in a short piece. Will definitely look out for this author.
Unwrapping his heart by Vin George.**** At first I thought it was just a sweet and well written story of friends to lovers then the totally believable various family dramas lifted it into the four star class. Lovely.
Jack O’Lantern by Fiona Glass**** Suitably creepy Halloween story but I read it on Nov. 1st over coffee! Will bear re-reading next October!
The Left Hand of Dog by Si Clarke**** (also Dare vs the Doll) I wasn’t wild about the short but tried the novel and got hooked. Humour of the Pratchett/Adams kind and fascinating friendships with aliens. Plus, of course, the dog… I have since read the prequel, Stardust Wake, and that deserves four stars too. If you like quirky sci fi, these are for you.
Wolfy by Tia Fielding**** Delightful book about a shifter/human relationship. I wanted more. More about the other wolves and their partners, and how they met, etc. Meanwhile, it filled the gap left by Hidden Wolves.
Romantic Rescue by Blake Allwood**** Blake is an author who can always be trusted to provide three dimensional characters (including the minor ones) and locations. I thought at first that this was going to be merely a sweet romance but there was mystery and danger in plenty before the end. Exciting and satisfying.
Fox and Wolf by Julia Talbot**** (Apex Investigations 1) A group of varied shifters as a detective agency. A gorgeous quote that I have to share: What did you do when you shot a mean tiger and all the bears had crocodile goo on them? That about sums up the plot, too.
The very readable but not special.
The Dragon Next Door by Holly Day*** Sweet story about a guy who wants to get to know his new neighbour. Nicely written but I find I want more than romance from romance stories.
Every witch way by Dakota Chase*** Well written tale of a young witch forced into using her multiple powers. High school settings are not my thing, and even though Diva goes off to Salem to do research there is still a high school vibe. This is not a criticism of the book. It’s just my taste! I suspect older teens would really love it.
Innate Magic by Shannon Fay*** Well written and the magic was interesting, but there was a lot of gratuitous violence and the core romance between Paul and Tonya wasn’t particularly gripping.
Ship Whisperer by Valerie J Mikles*** Competent sci fi and recommended for anyone who likes space opera and lots of future tech. The main character was fascinating. You’ll note from my four and five star recommendations that I like sci fi but I prefer it to focus on people and places rather than battles.
Rewriting History by Alex Jane*** A pleasant story in the new Podlington Village Romance series in which various authors get to play in the Podlington sandpit. Well written but not terribly memorable though I will probably read others in the series. I was curious about the references to Ashington because I grew up just outside a town of that name but got the impression this was not it. Another example of romance that is just romance. Nothing wrong with that, but I want more.
Run for the roses by Elizabeth Noble*** Well written story set in the world of horse racing with a convoluted murder mystery at the centre of the plot. First in the Circles series and another couple look interesting.
Just like cats and dogs by BA Tortuga*** A lot of head hopping, sometimes mid-paragraph, had me confused. Nice concept (cat and dog shifters find romance) and an exciting story.
Elven Duty by Rhys Lawless*** Nice story – not sure whether to get sequel or not but as it’s on KU I probably will. (I also liked their Foxy Heart.)
And lastly, the definitely not recommended
Shift by Heather MacKinnon* I was furious because this was introduced as the first novel in a series but turned out to be just the first three chapters. Just as it was getting interesting (a young woman is mauled by a wolf on a hiking trail then rescued by a brother and sister who talk about their ‘pack’) it stopped and there was a suggestion about clicking to buy the next volume. Even if the volumes were free or in KU I would not be impressed and definitely won’t be following the series on principle. I don’t object to ‘tasters’ but the author/publisher should be upfront about what’s on offer.
Bump in the night by Meredith Spies * Book One of Medium at Large. Confusing and confused paranormal detective story. The characters are insufficiently differentiated so it’s hard to tell who’s narrating each chapter, and the crime that underpins the plot is not well explained. There is some poor writing, including overlong paragraphs with a spoken sentence at the end meaning the reader hasn’t a clue who’s talking or why. I won’t be reading any more and would suggest you don’t, either.
That’s enough for now and I’ll leave fanfic to a later post.