First Class Package By Jay Northcote Review!

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First Class Package (2014) by Jay Northcote is a wonderfully fun short read. It is set near Christmas but is a perfectly joyous read for all year around.

 

Set in the UK, the plot follows protagonist Jim who is an introverted, awkward science writer who works from home and has a difficult time getting into the dating world. But he does some online purchasing and into his life out of nowhere sweeps postman Patrick who is doing a temporary job delivering the Amazon packages. Instantly there is an attraction and Jim continues to make purchases just so that Patrick will keep coming around.

Northcote’s writing style is fantastic. There is so much humour in his writing and there is a natural and accessible style. This really helped the plot flow along with great ease and helps the reader get to know the characters well even in such a short read. He writes excellent character development which isn’t easy to do in shorter pieces so kudos to Northcote on that. My favourite character is Jim. I could relate to him quite a lot and was really rooting for him to get together with this hot postman! He is very likeable and then Patrick comes on the scene and he is equally adorable.

It is a very cute and sweet romance with brilliant chemistry between Jim and Patrick. The whole Christmas setting makes their love story even better as it’s just before the new year and the reader is put in the mindset that this might be the first year in the start of the rest of their life together. It is a wonderful lust at first sight story that turns to a love story. Their relationship is beautiful and builds in a very natural, non-contrived way. It was nice to read about two very ordinary, down-to-earth and very relatable lads falling in love.

A well-written seasonal write with a wonderful will-they-won’t-they? plot that had me on the edge of my seat, I loved it. Very light, fluffy and fun. A very enjoyable journey. I’d love a follow-up book to see where their romance goes next.

A brilliant read.

 

To get your free copy of First Class Package by Jay Northcote go to:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/501280

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To Catch a Bad Guy By Marie Astor Review!


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To Catch a Bad Guy (2012) by Marie Astor is a very interesting cozy mystery and is the first novel in the Janet Maple series.

We meet the protagonist Janet at a crossroads in her life. She has just lost her boyfriend and her job. But her mother has managed to get her a new job with her old friend from school Lisa at a major New York  investment firm. The company is Bostoff. Though Janet is not happy with the circumstances of how she got the job and the politics involved in her new workplace, soon she finds out that there is murky dealings going on in the new firm she works for. Her loyalties will soon be tested to Lisa who is engaged to Paul whose family own the firm. And love comes into the equation in the form of IT engineer Dean Snider who has secrets of his own. His real name is Dennis Walker and he is working undercover to unmask and expose the corruption at play.

The characters are very realistic to life. There is so many scenes that are just so honest and I have seen things like them happen in real life. For example the subtle jibes of Lisa’s mother about Janet’s skincare, the way Janet’s mother thinks Janet should be putting more effort into her appearance and the all-round corruption chats between the crooks. Very true portraits of life. There is very different characters who each help bring something to the plot. Janet is my favourite character. I could identify a lot with her idealistic nature and the struggles she faced in a world where playing the game and looking the other way were applauded. If you are idealistic in any way, it is very likely you have encountered the response of people believing you are being naïve and Astor writes the reactions to her idealism plus her reaction to having to conform at least to some degree in this murky firm perfectly. Through her backstory as well as her work, we really get to know Janet and hope it all works out for her.

The chemistry between Janet and Dennis works a treat. I was totally rooting for them. Both characters have wonderful depth and a lot in common. He is a bit of an idealist too. Dennis also has good humour in parts which I liked too.

Astor also deals brilliantly with important issues in this book of corruption and sexual harassment. Lisa’s cousin sexually harasses Janet in a car while she is out for a drive with him. The latter issue is written with great truthfulness and sensitivity.

The mystery element was great but sometimes it fell a little short for me. I think it was more a personal taste thing than anything else though. I can’t fault how the mystery was written but I kind of prefer mysteries with a twist and there wasn’t really much of a twist. However, if you aren’t so concerned about twists and turns this won’t be an issue for you at all. For the kind of mystery it is, it was very well done.

Oh and one last thing. I adore Janet’s dog Baxter!

A great read.

 

To get your free copy of To Catch a Bad Guy by Marie Astor go to:

And for more information about Marie Astor and her work go to:

http://marieastor.com/

Heir of Ashes By Jina S. Bazzar Review!

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Heir of Ashes (2018) by Jina S. Bazzar is a wonderfully crafted follow-up to the author’s prequel to the series The Curse. It is the first book in The Roxanne Fosch Files.

The story follows the protagonist Roxanne Fosch who has quite the rollercoaster of a past. Up until she was twelve she lived an existence like any other kid but by 21 her world is very different and that is where we meet her at the start. She is on the run, going under the name of Eliza Daniels, from the PSS who are a lot of quack scientists who have cruelly treated her in order to gleam information from experiments. In one experiment for instance they made her believe that her mother was dead. Roxanne has already killed in her quest for freedom and despite this readers can understand her reasons for doing so and are brought on the journey with her, hoping that she remains free. As well as her quest to remain free, she has another quest. She is looking for information about her past and where she comes from. However finding that information is often like trying to break into Fort Knox. It is a long read but it is worth it. Very well-crafted, packed with interest. You can tell that this series is something the author loves writing and is very invested in and when that jumps off the page for a reader, it creates a wonderful reading experience.

There is some romance in the book too. Roxanne soon falls for her companion on the road Logan. There is a very good emotional connection between the pair as well as speckles of subtle sexual encounters between them. This added romantic element works very well with the main sci-fi/fantasy and drama plots in the story. Logan is clearly the support Roxanne needs at this time in her life where she is going through much emotional turmoil and a fight for some sense of a normal existence. The will-they-won’t-they element of the plot really appealed to the romance reader in me and despite this being more of a subplot to the rest of the action, it was written amazingly well.

The writing style is great. Bazzar has great talent at painting vivid pictures of the scenes in the book. Readers can visualize all the scenes very easily in their mind which really helps immerse readers in the story. The character of Roxanne is also very likeable as is Logan and between them the two characters drive the plot and make readers care about how it will all end up for them. Roxanne has a lot to deal with. She is encountering true love for the first time while finding herself and tackling her enemies. This adds much drama and depth to the plot. There is a lot of action in this book. In a lot of action scenes in books or films, sometimes the action gets ridiculous. But not here. Bazzar creates very believable action scenes and how Roxanne gets out of these scenarios never feels contrived.

This book has a very important theme running through it. Roxanne is preternatural and is seen by society as different. This makes many feel that she is inferior, dangerous, a freak and an object to do experiments on. This can sometimes make even Roxanne who is an incredibly strong character start to doubt herself. While this book is set in a fantasy world, it is very true of our own real world where people who are deemed ‘different’ or ‘other’ are often subjected to behavior from a mild scale all the way up to a severe scale which other people aren’t subjected to. The author did a fantastic job of highlighting the issue of prejudice in the novel and of tying it so neatly into the plot as a central theme. It also helps readers relate more to Roxanne because most readers, most people in general, are deemed ‘different’ in one way or another.

In the area of the plot which deals with her family, there is a lot of intrigue and mystery. This thriller element was something as someone who loves mysteries I found very interesting. There is pieces from different genres flowing through the main fantasy genre which make for an interesting read for readers of various genres. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

A superb read.

 

To purchase Heir of Ashes by Jina S. Bazzar go to:

 

To read my review of the Prequel to Heir of Ashes go to:

https://culturevultureexpress.wordpress.com/2018/05/27/the-curse-by-jina-s-bazzar-review/

And for more information about Jina S. Bazzar and her work go to:

https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/

Because She Loves Me By Mark Edwards Review!


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Because She Loves Me (2014) by Mark Edwards is an enthralling mystery of both murder and obsessive control.

The protagonist Andrew Sumner is living with his girlfriend Charlie and feels in a very content place in his life. But things take a turn for the worse when mysterious things start to happen. He thinks somebody is following him and dangerous things start to happen to those he loves and cares for. Soon his love for Charlie turns to being suspicious of her. This novel is captivating with twists and turns galore. Each chapter pushes the plot further along inch by inch holding the reader’s attention throughout. Andrew is a very well-written character. He has great observation skills. This is a great quality as the book is told from his perspective. He is also an introvert with great introspective commentary. The reader only has his narrative to go upon which makes the mystery work even better.

Andrew meets Charlie at the hospital when he is there being treated and later while waiting for the tube. This sets up an intriguing plot of whether their love is destiny or if she had a sinister reason for possibly deliberately bumping into him not once but twice. Certainly everything has started to go rapidly downhill since they have met. The detail in the writing is excellent. Readers can really visualize the world which the author is describing. The plot is very clever with very well-written characters. Edwards writes a story here which feels very claustrophobic in the best possible sense for a thriller and readers are left wondering if Andrew can ever escape from this complex web of mystery and danger he has somehow got himself caught up in.

It is super gripping. The author very masterfully gives nothing away and in mystery writing that is an extremely difficult thing to conquer. Excellently done here. I noticed that there was very conflicting views in reviews about the ending in this book. Having read the book before noticing the opinions in the reviews, I wasn’t influenced by the opinions in my reading of the book. For me, the ending worked like a dream. I loved the twist and for me, it didn’t feel contrived in the slightest. Everything that was difficult to piece together fell into place like a perfect puzzle. I also didn’t see the ending coming which is great for a thriller.

This novel centres on obsessional romantic feelings, control and infatuation of a dangerous variety. Andrew seems cursed and doomed to an awful fate and the fate for anyone close to him is also very treacherous. This is an important issue dealt with in this book and is very much a huge element in this plot. Edwards perfectly pulls readers into a novel of a man who is fighting for his life, the lives of those he cares about and his sanity without knowing how exactly to go about this and how long he has got left in order to pull these vital things off. This is a real page-turner for sure.

In short, I loved it.

To purchase Because She Loves Me by Mark Edwards go to:

 

And for more about Mark Edwards and his work go to:

https://www.markedwardsauthor.com/

Sixty Five Hours By N.R. Walker Review!

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Sixty Five Hours (2012) by N.R. Walker is a wonderful read with great characters who drive the plot along well.

I have to give kudos to the author on coming up with a plot to fit sixty five hours and pack so much emotion, love and fun into such a tight time frame. That’s an ambitious task but one the author fulfils with aplomb.

The book follows Lucas Hensley and Cameron Fletcher who have being infatuated with each other for ages (although they are slightly enemies too but that is short-lived) but now an opportunity presents itself for them to get to know each other better. They both work for Cameron’s father’s company Fletcher Advertising. They are put together to work on a new advertising campaign about condoms and sex aids for a lifestyle company. They have sixty five hours in which to put this all together and secure the $20 million contract from Lurex. And sixty five hours to get together together. I really like both of the protagonists and their chemistry works like a dream. Oh and those sock fetishes and crazy socks added great humour and personality to the plot!

Lucas is very sure he is gay and very happy and content with his sexuality. However Cameron is still trying to figure out his sexuality and dreads that he might be gay. The way Lucas helps him through his feelings and supports him in realizing that he is gay and that there is nothing to worry about is beautiful. This helps to strengthen their already blossoming relationship.

The book is romantic and sexy. There is also great humour and drama in it. The emotion, character development and plot are written very well. The author hits so many bases to perfection which combine together to make for a fantastic read. The way the love between Lucas and Cameron happens is very natural, not forced in the slightest. Their connection feels beautifully organic. The book is told mostly from the POV of Lucas but also from the POV occasionally of Cameron with a chapter also from the POV of Cameron’s father. When telling stories from the POV of characters, writers need to ensure that the right parts are told from the right POVs to ensure that all the relevant information gets across. Walker has did this very well here and with each chapter we learn more and more about this smashing couple.

I like the author’s writing style. There is a sweet, humour-fueled quality to it. She certainly knows how to create great and memorable characters. My favourite characters were both Lucas and Cameron equally but there is very well-written secondary characters too. Lucas and Cameron are very different. Lucas is definitely more outgoing while Cameron is more reserved. It is certainly an opposites attract situation. But they have things in common too. They are both smart, ambitious and caring characters. Their connection is gorgeous.

 

A fantastic office romance that ticks all the boxes.

 

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MUSKAAN: THE STORY OF HER SMILE By Sneha Ganesh Review!

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MUSKAAN: THE STORY OF HER SMILE (2018) by Sneha Ganesh is a beautiful, heartwarming story. It is a short read that proves that with determination and support from those who love you, it is extremely possible to overcome adversity and society’s perceptions.

At four, the protagonist Muskaan realizes she is not able to talk and has no way to go about explaining her inner feelings about this or anything else she wishes to convey to her Mum and Dad. She also struggles to make friends with children who aren’t understanding of Muskaan having aphonia. Time moves on and Muskaan faces tragedy and grief when her father is killed in a plane accident. This story is told from two perspectives in two parts. The first section is told from Muskaan’s mother’s POV while the second is told from Muskaan’s POV. This gives us excellent insight into the two POVs from very different angles which added a lot of depth to the story. The reader both understands easily the mother’s love and want to understand how her daughter is feeling and Muskaan’s feelings of wanting her mother to understand her feelings as well as the obstacles she faces in expressing her feelings.

 

The story is immensely moving. Readers watch as Muskaan finally gets accepted into a school after countless rejections. We find out that Muskaan is a budding writer with a lot of talent and that she wants to go for a writing competition in her school. But there is one obstacle standing in her way: the competition requires the story to be read out. But thankfully help is at hand when Muskaan eventually makes a friend in Sanaya who agrees to read out Muskaan’s story for the competition.

 

I think the plot of this book is brilliant and the author writes it stunningly. There is so much packed into this story. Sometimes with shorter reads, it is more difficult to get all the required information into a story to really bring the reader on the journeys of the main character and the other characters. But Ganesh has did an excellent job here.

 

There is many important themes covered here including bullying, grief and the prejudice of society and the writer writes each of these topics with great authenticity. She paints a brilliantly human story with great background and a character who has her insecurities but who is a fighter and by the end of the story, the reader knows she will do very well in life despite the fact that there is many who want to knock her down and make her feel like she won’t succeed. Muskaan is my favourite character in the book. She has moments of feeling like she can’t succeed and that the non-supporters are right but she always battles back with an inner strength. She is a character who is very easy to relate to. I just wish I had half Muskaan’s writing talent!

 

To purchase MUSKAAN: THE STORY OF HER SMILE by Sneha Ganesh go to:

 

And for more about Sneha Ganesh and her work go to:

https://thesnehaganeshblog.wordpress.com/

Winter Trials (Northern Witch #1) By K.S. Marsden Review!

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Winter Trials (Northern Witch #1) by K.S. Marsden is a wonderful short read.

The book follows Mark who is wondering whether or not to follow in his grandmother’s footsteps and become a witch. In the midst of this decision he meets Damian, the very attractive new lad at school who has come down to Yorkshire from London following the deaths of his mother and father to stay with his aunt.

I don’t want to give too much away but let’s just say Damian is having a hard time and has a lot of fears going on in his mind which he feels he is all alone in handling. So enter Mark (And Mark’s grandmother, mother, father, best friend and best friend’s girlfriend along with Damian’s aunt plus half the established witches in the county thanks to Mark’s grandmother’s contacts) and suddenly he ain’t as alone with his problems as he once thought he was. Again not giving too much away but there is a rescue and all the suspense and drama that goes with that and a meeting of the witches just prior to Christmas. The author packed a lot into a short book here so kudos to her on that as that is not an easy job.

This book deals with an important issue in mental health, depression and suicide. Often in a lot of fiction this is older people going through these issues so I think it was important to show that this is something which affects younger people too and to show to younger people that suicide isn’t the answer and that life can improve.

There is a great variety of characters present in this book. Mark and Damian are both very interesting and compliment each other perfectly as a couple. But they are very different. Mark is a nerd in many ways while Damian is a bit cooler but their personalities seem to meet in the middle somewhere and they get each other and where the other is coming from. Mark’s grandmother is in my mind a hippie and she doesn’t really care less about appearances or what people think of her. She has dedicated her life to witchcraft because it makes her happy and hasn’t cared one iota about what others may say. She doesn’t care less about how she is supposed to act for her age and that is refreshing to see for an older person in fiction. I actually think minus the witchcraft I can see into my future and see myself when I’m older in Mark’s grandmother. Other characters who play a big role in this story are Mark’s best friend Harry and his girlfriend Sarah. I think they help add very much to the non-magical side of Mark’s life as characters who have no connection to magic or anything connected to it. Their support to Mark and Damian in the trials they face throughout the book are very sweet. And like Mark and Damian, they seem very well suited to each other. Mark was my favourite character but I loved the other characters too. Each character added something to the plot that would have been missing if they wasn’t there.

There is perfect balance between Mark’s magic world and his school/non-magic world. Readers get a good understanding of both sides of his life and how sometimes they cross over such as when he is practicing aura reading in the middle of Religion class. The dialogue in this book is great. Very natural. Very everyday. Which is completely the type of dialogue I love to read in books. There is also superb humour which you miss in some books as well-written as they might be. But here you get great writing with great wit mixed together and I loved that about the novel. It was very off-the-cuff humour, natural and down-to-earth.

The book ended on a cliffhanger as you would expect from a series. But the reader does get the impression that Mark and Damian will have a long-lasting or maybe even a forever love story with bumps on the road sure but you feel they will get past these bumps in the road together and also with the help of those who care about them.

It’s a brilliant book. I loved it.

To get your free copy of Winter Trials (Northern Witch #1) by K.S. Marsden go to:

 

And for more about K.S. Marsden and her work go to:

https://www.ksmarsden.com/