Christine Feehan; Shadow Riders

Shadow Rider (Shadow, #1)Shadow Rider by Christine Feehan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started Shadow Riders tentatively. While I enjoy some of Ms Feehan’s work, I don’t like all of it. Shadow Riders fits in the middle. I didn’t fan girl crazy love it, but I definitely enjoyed the story and finished the book quickly.

What I loved was the new world. One of the things I find Ms Feehan is amazing at is building a new world, a new mythology. This one is no different. The world is small but rich, with many interesting characters and bit players who you can see will have their own books soon enough. Just as all the other Feehan books.

The romance between Stefano and Francesca was standard, love at first sight, no will they-wont they moments. Fans of Ms Feehan’s know in advance that the focal couple are fated to be together and their is never any doubt about that fact from the perspective of the characters. Stefano was the typical hyperalpha male, with Francesca being the submissive female, again relatively standard fare for Ms Feehan’s work.

What I didn’t love was the reliance on F words to make the Stefano character seem dangerous and tough. I also didn’t really enjoy the sex scenes because of the crudity of the language. While Stefano admits to all and sundry, he loves Francesca, the descriptions aren’t of love as far as I’m concerned. Soft core porn with an attempt at the 50 shades market, not the work I’m wanting to see from her.

To me, the dynamics of the Ferraro family was much more interesting than the dynamics between the two central characters. Watching how this family splinters and comes back together again over the rest of the series will pull me back, rather than watching how the main characters come together in the next books. The family connectedness of the main family is very reminiscent of all the other Feehan books.

All in all, a solid work by a prolific writer. A predictable but enjoyable read but one I’m glad I got from the library, not one I would purchase for myself.

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Ashwood Wins Nomination

CJ Malarsky has just announced her debut book Ashwood has been selected as a nominee for the Summer Indie Book Award nominee in the horror category.

While CJ may have been surprised by this nomination, I know I wasn’t. Ashwood is a great read and it was an absolute joy working with CJ during the editing process.

Voting opens on the 1st September.

Review Policy

As I’m doing more and more reviews on the site I have decided that I will open reviews up to anyone with a book. Self published, traditionally published, smoke signal published, I don’t mind.

I will review:
Crime and thriller novels.
True Crime.
Romance, but NOT erotica.
Some young adult.
Fantasy and High Fantasy.

If you have a novel that doesn’t meet fit into these genres I will consider reviewing it based on back cover blurb.

All reviews will be honest, based on my personal reaction to reading the work. I don’t guarantee a favourable review for anyone, and if the work really offends me, I may choose to not review it at all. I do not guarantee a timeframe for review but will attempt to ensure a review is posted within 14 days (depending upon the number of books I am reading). Reviews will be posted here, at Goodreads, Amazone and NetGallery (if applicable).

Submission of novels or links to novels can be submitted to the contact us link or through query at nicole-matthews.com

Denny Day: The Life and Times of Australia’s Greatest Lawman – the Forgotten Hero of the Myall Creek Massacre

Denny Day: The Life and Times of Australia's Greatest Lawman – the Forgotten Hero of the Myall Creek MassacreDenny Day: The Life and Times of Australia’s Greatest Lawman – the Forgotten Hero of the Myall Creek Massacre by Terry Smyth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As an Australian school student, I studied a little bit about the Myall Creek Massacre, but this book bought the incident to life for me.

It’s very well researched with fantastically supported, trackable quotes (which the historian in me loved) yet still brings not just the main characters to life but the entire colony. It shows both sides of the conflict with sympathy and facts, not just rhetoric. This isn’t a revisionist version of history, it’s a balanced view of history fully documented and supported by attributed primary source information, something that is often missing in these types of historical accounts.

As a reader, I came away feeling awestruck by the writing and history talents of Terry Smyth, and sorrowful for all involved in the events. As a result of reading this book, I will be searching out any other work by Terry Smyth and would definately recommend all Australian students read this. Any lovers of Australian history should go buy this book immediately. Any writers who which to write history should study this book to learn how well researched, documented and balanced history can still be fascinating, engaging and show character development.

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The Obsession

The ObsessionThe Obsession by Nora Roberts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Obsession is the latest of Nora Roberts stand alone novels and one that I enjoyed very much. It follows the standard Nora Roberts process of well developed characters who are both scared and courageous, facing something from their past that haunts their future. In this way, these books are like comfort food. You know exactly what you are getting and can slip into comfortable pjs, snuggle down in your favourite chair and slip away from reality for a few hours. Personally, I believe this is one of the biggest factors that keeps me coming back to Nora Roberts work. After a long, hard day, I can slip into her world and just relax.

Naomi is a character who I connected to and I enjoyed watching as she grew to trust the people around her. Personally, I would love to see a story where her younger brother Mason is the main character but as a fan of Nora’s I am well aware that she doesn’t revisit characters in her stand alone books.

The ‘bad guy’ in this book was easily spotted if you’ve read many of Nora Roberts books but still the read was pleasurable and continued to be pleasurable on subsequent reads.

The developing relationships that Naomi makes, both with the love interest Zander, and with the community at large makes this one of my favourite Nora books.

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The Bourbon Kings

The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings, #1)The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Bourbon Kings by JR Ward is a book I desperately wanted to enjoy. I loved the premise. I loved the setting and I really loved the descriptions and the flow of the story, but for me, this book isn’t on of JR Ward’s best.

It’s the characters that let the story down. I like characters who have flaws but when all the characters have the same fundamental flaw, (they don’t/can’t/won’t communicate) then at best the characters are annoying. And that is the biggest problem with the characters in The Bourbon Kings. They will not communicate with each other. Most of the problems and issues that are faced in this book come down to the inability of any of the characters to act like real people. For the most part, they act like toddlers requiring a nap.

The descriptions of the scenery are lyrical and bring the setting to life but unfortunately that wasn’t enough to sway me as a reader.

I so very much wanted this book to be the best thing JR had ever written, and that emotion on my behalf could have skewed my view of the story but I can’t give this story a rating higher than 2/3 stars.

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The Tide Watchers

The Tide WatchersThe Tide Watchers by Lisa Chaplin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The premise of this book was intriguing with the time period used in the book one that is underrepresented in fiction. Unfortunately, the entire time I was reading I felt like this was book 4 or 5 in a series and I was coming into the story too late to catch up.

I found the character of Duncan to be annoyingly insipid and Lisbeth to be too earnest. The number of characters within the story and the lack of any clear, identifiable back story with some of them led me to being confused for a lot of the story. While I appreciate a writer who doesn’t slow down the story with too much backstory or history, some is essential when you have so many characters littering the scene.

The pace is fast but because of the fastness of the pace, there is little time taken to develop the characters and allow this reader to form an attachment. I would have liked to love this book, but I just couldn’t catch up.

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Dragonbane

For me, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s latest foray into the Dark Hunter world was uninspiring. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the snarky dialogue. I enjoyed getting to see how old characters were getting on in their lives but Maxis and Seraphina story was underbaked.

It felt and read like it was a bridging book, moving from one story arc to another, but without an internal reason for Dragonbane to be written. The world building is incredibly complex and this book is one of the more confusing of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s books. Without a solid understanding of the mythology of this world, (and a working knowledge of real Mythology) it would be easy for a reader get lost. The world of the Hunters has been so very deeply developed that to keep up with this story a reader will need to be committed to the entire work of Kenyon. While I enjoy the books, I’m not an avid devotee of the world.

Maxis as a character is standard, cookie cutter male Kenyon character. Abused, stoic, on the edge of society (and honestly there are so many people on the ‘edge of society’ in Kenyon’s books they can create their own society) and feeling completely anti-social.

Seraphina is atypical of Kenyon’s heroines because she is unlikeable at the beginning. I feel that the character of Seraphina is actually where this book falls down. While the transition from unlikeable to likeable character can and does happen (hey Styxx) this book is too short to make the change believable.

Overall, the book is exactly what you’d expect from Sherrilyn Kenyon. Snarky conversations, twisted abused hero and a heroine that kisses it makes it all better. But to me, it is not the best of Kenyon’s work and seems to have been written more to set up the next story arc rather than because Maxis and Sera needed their own story.

Review – Alone in the Dark

Alone in the Dark is Karen Rose’s latest romantic suspense thriller, released in Australia in November. Alone in the Dark follows Scarlett Bishop as she works with Marcus O’Bannion to solve a murder and crack a human trafficking ring.

Fans of Karen Rose are already familiar with Scarlett and Marcus as we met them in the previous book, Closer Than You Think.
I love Karen Rose. I eagerly look for her book each year and pre-order it as soon as it’s available. As soon as Alone in the Dark arrived, I dived into the story, hoping to be transported for a weekend.

Was I disappointed? A little bit. I enjoyed the crime/thriller component of this story much more than the romance. While there wasn’t anything overtly wrong with the romance component of the story, it seemed underdeveloped. Which was a tad disappointing. The relationship between Marcus and Scarlett was pre-ordained in the previous book, which was fine, but the path for them to move from unrequited longing to committed partners was just too smooth. Too simple. I understand the romance component of the books is just a sub plot but normally with Karen Rose books, the relationship angle is developed a bit more.

The crime component of the book was twisty, complex and involved, just as I expected. I was surprised by some of the turns which was wonderful. The complex back history of Marcus was more fully explained but I was astounded by the lack of identifying the serial killer who had wounded Marcus and killed his brother in Closer than You Think. For those of us who read each of the novels, it was understood how the killer was able to impact Marcus, but for those who didn’t read the previous novel, I think the regular references to the incident would have been annoying.

At over 600 pages this is one of the longest Karen Rose novels and could have been edited down a tad, but overall, this is a solid read with amazingly good character development. Not a single character is one dimensional or underdeveloped. Highly recommend this book, if you enjoy taking the time to really get to know the characters.