The Idea Of You by Robinne Lee

The Idea of You

Description

Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. But since her divorce, she’s more eager than ever to be close to Isabelle. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate and genuine relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways in Paris and Miami. For Solène, it is a reclaiming of self, as well as a rediscovery of happiness and love. When Solène and Hayes’ romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her romantic life has impacted the lives of those she cares about most.

My thoughts

I did enjoy this steamy little number as a change from my usual genres, but it came across strongly like fan fiction about an affair with Harry Styles a lot of the time. I found that to be quite distracting.

The main character of Solène was written well. Her insecurities and fears around aging and whether she would be able to compete with younger women in a few years time if the affair was allowed to develop into something more lasting was the part of her that I felt was most authentic and human. Hayes was almost too good to be true. I know he needed to be mature otherwise it wouldn’t be plausible for him to attract an older woman, but he was more like the mature one in the relationship.

So yes. I enjoyed it but still have some mixed feelings about it.

Waiting Since Forever by Kiltie Jackson

Waiting Since Forever

Description

Does running away from your problems lead you right back to them?

Clarissa Walton, her mother Essie, and Gerald Wainwright are living miserable lives.

Clarissa and Essie are dominated by their father and husband, Gerald is bullied both at work and at home.

That is until the day Clarissa and Gerald find themselves unwilling participants in a hypnotic stage show and after that, things begin to change.

Clarissa and Essie decide to go on a mother/daughter bonding road trip. When fate throws Gerald across their path, he ends up joining them. After all, he’s just found the woman he’s loved for over twenty-five years, he’d be a fool not to.

As the three travellers drive their way around the country, new secrets are shared and old secrets begin to come out, changing everything they thought they knew.


Will being out of the shadow of their abusers help them to grow and move on?

Or will the open road bring them right back to where they started?

My thoughts

I love stories where characters undergo growth and transformation. I also love stories set in tiny homes or mobile homes, so there was a lot for me to enjoy here!

When Clarissa and Gerald become the subjects of a stage hypnotist they walk out changed people. Clarissa has courage to stand up to her tyrannical father, which in turn emboldens her mother, Essie, to rebel. Once their paths cross with Gerald’s it sets in motion huge life changes for them all as they embark on a road trip together. Essie and Clarissa’s mother-daughter bond blossoms, and Gerald and Essie rekindle a long lost friendship from before her disastrous marriage.

Essie, Clarissa, Gerald, and not to mention dreamy Ross, are lovely characters who I would want to be my best friends and neighbours in real life. Their individual personal growth away from the bullying they left behind was heart-warming. I really enjoyed their travels, but especially the part set in Scotland. I didn’t want them to leave! It is a safe read in that I knew everything would turn out well in the end and come-uppances would be, but the story still held plenty of different elements to hold my attention. I liked that the ending was satisfying without being generic.

Now I’m wondering who will be featured in the next book in this new series!

Gideon The Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1)

Description

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

My thoughts

I love books where I don’t know what’s going on for the first half and then the story begins to coalesce in the second half. It’s only 448 pages but felt longer, not because I wasn’t enjoying it, but because there is just so much to unpack. There are lots of characters, many of who drift in and out of the story as and when they are needed – but you need to remember them because they do re-emerge. The settings are complex and creepy, and the story itself is complex and with several strands to it. I keep seeing references to “lesbian necromancers in space” and honestly, if that’s all those people are getting out of this book then I feel sorry for them. The character development is well done and there are some very poignant moments – made even more poignant because the author doesn’t labour them. This book has a bit of everything – humour, drama, valour, fight scenes, enigmatic characters, incredible settings, and more. The character of Gideon seems to be polarising reviewers but I loved her, flaws and all.

I couldn’t put this book down and will be moving onto the next book in the series, Harrow The Ninth.

A Million Things by Emily Spurr

A Million Things

Description

Rae is ten years old, and she’s tough. She’s had to be: life with her mother has taught her the world is not her friend. Now suddenly her mum is gone and Rae is alone, except for her dog Splinter.

Rae can do a lot of things pretty well for a kid. She can shop and cook a little and take care of Splints and keep the front yard neat enough that the neighbours won’t get curious. But she is gnawed at by fear and sadness; haunted by the shadow of a terrible secret.

Lettie, the old woman who lives next door, might know more about Rae than she lets on—but she has her own reasons for keeping the world at arm’s length. When Rae finds out what they are, it seems like she and Lettie could help each other.

But how long can a friendship based on secrets last?

A Million Things is a tender, funny, and heartbreaking story of how we cope with grief.

My thoughts

The story covers 55 days in the life of 10 year old Rae after her mother leaves her alone to fend for herself. Rae knows what will happen if the authorities find out she is alone, so for 55 heart rending days she desperately conceals her mother’s absence from friends, teachers, and well-meaning neighbours while trying to cope with something no 10 year old should ever have to. The only company Rae has is her dog, Splinter. The only person she can rely on is herself. Until her path crosses that of her cantankerous old neighbour, Lettie, who has her own reasons for keeping authorities away. An odd uneasy alliance forms as they each cover for the other in order to protect themselves. Inevitably secrets start being uncovered and Rae feels the day of reckoning drawing ever closer and I found myself feeling her panic and fear right along with her. The suspense is palpable as her life starts to unspool. Rae and Lettie are fantastic characters and this story is utterly heartbreaking in places. I am going to include a bit of a spoiler right here because I was so upset at one point that I want to spare others – the dog survives! This was an emotionally draining read but well worth the tears I shed.

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic

Description

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

My thoughts

I started reading this expecting a nice, Gothic novel with an “is it paranormal or is someone being gaslighted” slant. Wrong! It’s certainly Gothic, but totally paranormal. Once I was in the supernatural zone I found myself on a wild unpredictable ride with a decent side of horror which makes this a perfect read for those who like to read horror for Halloween. The house alone is one of the creepiest house settings I’ve read in a book, and then there is the creepy and disturbing behaviour of the inhabitants. I’m not a horror fan, and knowing something falls into that genre is usually enough to put me off picking a book up in the first place, so it was a happy accident that I read Mexican Gothic because it was a very enjoyable and entertaining read.

Ellie Dwyer’s Great Escape by Diane Winger

Ellie Dwyer's Great Escape

Description

You’re never too old to run away from home

Ellie Dwyer, 61, is convinced bad luck comes in threes, and not just garden-variety, oh-well bad luck. How many people have to flee not one, but two natural disasters? And in between the wildfire and the hurricane, her husband of nearly forty years suddenly up and left her for no reason she could fathom, disappearing from her life without a clue to his whereabouts.

Determined to reinvent her life, Ellie sets out on a journey across the country – her own “great escape.” Along the way to nowhere in particular, she buys a camper, becomes friends with a remarkable older woman, and starts to believe that good luck might also come in threes.

Or does it? That depends on how she defines good luck.

My thoughts

I chose this because I needed a book with a character with my name for one of The Fiction Cafe Reading Challenge questions. I’m not sure I would have come across it otherwise and that would have been a pity because I loved it❣️

Ellie’s life has really come unstuck since her husband walked out after 40 years of marriage and completely disappeared from her life. A hurricane has destroyed her home and she is living out of the back of her car when she makes friends at a camping ground and discovers the joy of being a permanent RV nomad. Her journey of self discovery and recovery from the tragedies that befell her, with the help of the wonderful people she meets along the way, is authentic and triumphant. I loved reading about the RVing experience, the mistakes and learning curves, the beautiful places she visits, and her personal transformation from careworn to confident.There were some very poignant moments too, and one which left me in tears. But overall the book is uplifting and inspirational and I’m so glad I came across it.

The Girl She Was Before by Jess Kitching

May be an image of text that says "The Girl Before Was She JESS KITCHING"

Description

A crime thriller with a brilliant twist you won’t see coming!Powerful, packed full of grueling details that will linger with you long after the book has finished.Nat lives a picture-perfect life, but it wasn’t always this way. A victim of horrific bullying when she was a teenager, Nat will do anything to keep distance between the girl she was before and the woman she is now.But when her best friend is murdered and people begin to point their finger at her, Nat’s new life quickly unravels.To Nat, it’s no surprise the crime happened at the same time as the return of her biggest tormentor, Chrissy Summers. A woman with a violent streak who destroyed lives when she was younger and isn’t afraid to do it again.Face to face with the past she so firmly keeps behind her, Nat’s sanity wavers as her determination to reveal Chrissy as the monster she knows her as rises to dangerous heights.The question is, can Nat prove Chrissy is a killer, or will Chrissy get to Nat and her family before she has the chance?

My thoughts

First up, I am amazed that this is a debut novel as it is so well written. The constant aura of unease and suspense held my attention right to the end and I stayed up late to finish it. The downward spiral that Nat falls into is very sad to read, as only the reader knows and understands how damaged and fragile the bullying has left her. The bullying itself as well as people’s attitudes to it come across as very authentic too. I liked the use of dual time lines. The thing I loved the most was the way the characters evolved throughout the story and I’d love to expand on that at length because it was done so cleverly, but I can’t without risking spoilers. You’ll just have to read it for yourself to see what I mean. You won’t be disappointed!

Dead Mercy by Noelle Holten

Description

‘Hugely confident … harrowing, visceral … recommended’ Ian Rankin on Dead Inside A brutal murder…

When a burned body is found with its teeth missing, DC Maggie Jamieson discovers that the victim may be the husband of one of her probation colleagues.

A dark history…

As the body count rises, the team becomes increasingly baffled by how the victims could possibly be connected until a clue leads them to a historical case that was never prosecuted.

A terrible secret…

In order to catch the killer, Maggie must piece together what happened all those years ago before it’s too late.

My thoughts

One of my favourite police officers, DC Maggie Jamieson, returns in the 5th book in the series and I can see her character growing and maturing. She seems a little mellower and a lot more in control of herself in this book. She’s juggling the demands of trying to find a serial murderer while supporting her brother and figuring out her feelings for someone. It’s all done so well in this very tightly written crime mystery. I love police procedurals and seeing how the cases progress and open up as information new clues are revealed, and Dead Mercy is my favourite in this series so far. I can’t wait for Maggie’s next case and to see what develops in her personal life!

Call Of The Penguins by Hazel Prior

Call of the Penguins

Description

A delightfully feel-good new novel from the No. 1 bestselling author of Away With the Penguins – sure to become a firm favourite with readers!

Meet the heroine everyone’s talking about . . .

Fiercely resilient and impeccably dressed, Veronica McCreedy has lived an incredible 87 years. Most of them alone, in her huge house by the sea. But Veronica has recently discovered a late-life love for family and friendship, adventure and wildlife.

More specifically, a love for penguins!

And so when she’s invited to co-present a wildlife documentary, far away in the southern hemisphere, she jumps at the chance. Even though it will put her in the spotlight, just when she thought she would soon fade into the wings.

Perhaps it’s never too late to shine?

My thoughts

I loved Away With The Penguins and although I really wanted a follow up book, when it happened I worried I wouldn’t love it as much. However this is another absolutely charming read. It opens after Veronica’s exploits on Locket Island in the first book became a bit of an internet sensation. Her new relationship with grandson, Patrick, and his girlfriend, Terry, have opened her up to emotions that she thought were long gone. And young Daisy, now holidaying with Veronica to recover from a round of chemotherapy, is also bringing new perspectives to Veronica’s life.
Veronica gets the opportunity to feature in a television documentary and Daisy is included in the trip. The story alternates between Veronica’s, Patrick’s, and Terry’s POV so we get an inside look at where misunderstandings are happening and the consequences. A big part of the story involves Patrick being dispatched to the US to find out more about the man Veronica loved and lost and who was Patrick’s father.
There are some twists and turns in this book which I wasn’t expecting since the first book was so straight forward and charming and funny. They add an extra dimension, but there is still plenty of humour, along with some powerful ecological messages. These did come across as a bit preachy at times, but certainly got the point across.
Veronica is one of my favourite fictional characters. Long may she reign!

These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall

These Toxic Things

Description

A dead woman’s cherished trinkets become pieces to a terrifying puzzle.

Mickie Lambert creates “digital scrapbooks” for clients, ensuring that precious souvenirs aren’t forgotten or lost. When her latest client, Nadia Denham, a curio shop owner, dies from an apparent suicide, Mickie honors the old woman’s last wish and begins curating her peculiar objets d’art. A music box, a hair clip, a key chain—twelve mementos in all that must have meant so much to Nadia, who collected them on her flea market scavenges across the country.

But these tokens mean a lot to someone else, too. Mickie has been receiving threatening messages to leave Nadia’s past alone.

It’s becoming a mystery Mickie is driven to solve. Who once owned these odd treasures? How did Nadia really come to possess them? Discovering the truth means crossing paths with a long-dormant serial killer and navigating the secrets of a sinister past. One that might, Mickie fears, be inescapably entwined with her own.

My thoughts

I wasn’t sure about this book when I first started reading it. The story seemed to be jumping all over the place and without a clear focus on what the main thread was going to be. But it became more coherent quite quickly and I was absolutely engrossed to the last page. Mickie is a unique character with a really interesting back story that is revealed slowly. The suspense factor is well done as it’s just constantly there in the background. I ended up staying up late to finish it because I had to know how everything resolved and tied together.

And, as a side note, I learned that my impression of Los Angeles as a place of eternal sunshine was totally wrong!