‘One True Loves’ – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Having read two more recent books by Taylor Jenkins Reid, I was surprised at how different this was. A love story, but not quite what I expected.

Emma Blair always fought against the expectations for her: to manage her parents’ book shop and to stay in her home town. When she ends up dating Jesse, the young man she had a crush on for years, he brings out a side to her that encourages her to do things differently. They are happy together. They travel and enjoy planning for their future. Then, a day before their first anniversary, Jesse takes a flight and we learn his helicopter crashed. He is presumed dead.

We learn that Emma fell apart after this revelation. She, slowly, learned to accept that Jesse was gone and found ways to think of him fondly but also to make changes to her life. She ends up moving back to her hometown, where she starts running the book store and becomes closer to her sister. She is about to marry Sam, a childhood friend who we know has always loved her. Then comes the revelation that Jesse has been found.

I cannot even begin to imagine how this kind of thing would turn your world upside down. How do you come to terms with learning that the love of your life is not dead…and that you have fallen in love with someone else and it’s okay?
The situation is unbelievably tough to imagine. The characters each have things about them that are not particularly appealing, but it was interesting to see how each of them reconciles their past thoughts of each other with the present reality.

Definitely not one to read if you’re feeling remotely wobbly, but it was a great read.


‘City of the Lost’ – Kelley Armstrong

A highly entertaining, if somewhat unusual, read.

Casey made some poor choices when she was younger. She suffered a brutal attack when her boyfriend was threatened for selling drugs on someone else’s turf. Abandoned by her boyfriend Casey endures an awful assault. Eventually she gets her own back and kills a man.

The guilt over her actions never goes away, even though she trains as a detective. Her best friend, Diane, has been with her throughout and has her own problems…an abusive ex. When things get too uncomfortable, plans are made to escape to a place few know about. A place where people can start afresh. A place where everyone is hiding something. Rockton.

Casey is there as a new detective. She’s not sure why she’s needed and then learns there’s been a number of unexplained deaths. Body parts found, and signs that someone dangerous is causing problems. Having thought she was finding a safe place, Casey starts to think Rockton is a lot more serious.

The story started quickly and there’s plenty of action. We get lots of characters who we dig into and learn about. There’s a mysterious group in charge who definitely know more about some disreputable situations than they ought to. And there’s a romance, of sorts, as Casey grows closer to someone who’s got their own reasons for wanting Rockton kept safe.


‘Rituals’ – Kelley Armstrong

A fitting finale to the series, which merges crime and the paranormal, but it keeps us hanging on right until the end to get some of our answers.

With Ricky stepping aside at the end of the previous book, there is a part of Liv that misses him though she remains focused on the work she has to do for Gabe. These two edge round each other, seeming destined to be together but reluctant to take that step. Getting insight into both characters’ views though, it is a rather inevitable moment that we’re waiting for.

This time round the trio realise they’re dealing with a darkness much bigger than that they feared. When Gabe’s mum reappears we know there’s something odd going on. So many characters seem to have made deals that bind them to another, and there is a clear sense that we are waiting to see how all these moments link.

There’s more fae stuff, a lot of relationship stuff, a few dangerous moments…and, just when it all starts to seem too much, a rather sneaky resolution. It wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but it fits with the way the characters have approached everything through the series.


‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

A very different story, yet one that feels like it will be played out time and time again.

On the surface it’s a story about a band forged and manipulated in a way we’re all too familiar with now, watching them rise to the giddy heights and then implode. It’s also a love story – played out with a number of characters – that everyone can identify with in some way.

While I spent the first part of the book trying desperately to work out if this was a real band or not, it felt as if it could have been. The passion for music shone through, and it was fascinating to see the way Reid chronicled the art of writing and producing music. However, it also had a seedier side – the chronicling of people at their very worst, driven by demons they have little to no control over and feeling it was a precarious tight-rope that could have gone either way.

I found the interview format rather disconcerting initially, but as I settled into the story it allowed us to see many facets to the characters and their interactions.
I’ve heard great things about the audio version of this, and definitely want to listen to it at some point. I’m also curious to see the TV adaptation of the story – and can’t wait to see who plays Daisy who was not always the most likeable character, but from the moment we’re introduced to the vulnerable child Daisy she was someone I was rooting for.


‘A Window Breaks’ – C.M. Ewan

How far would you go to protect your family? Hopefully, this is something you will never have to worry about.

Our main characters are a family who have suffered more than anyone should have to. Their eldest child, a sixteen year old boy, was killed recently when he took the car without permission, crashing and killing both himself and his girlfriend. Only a week before the start of the book, the surviving family members are attacked as they leave a work event. Daughter, Holly, is attacked and the family are struggling to pick up the pieces. When boss, Lionel, offers them the use of his Highland Lodge to get away for a while it sounds like a perfect opportunity.

The first night they are there, the adults are woken by the sound of breaking glass. Unsettling, and at first we put their reactions down to nerves following recent experiences. But then they hear more noises and see men downstairs. They’ve come prepared. But, for what?

Tom and Rachel then begin a tense cat-and-mouse hunt. They take their child and try to escape-but every attempt is thwarted.

While the initial set-up was great, from this point on it became exaggerated to the point of losing my interest. We wanted to know who these people were, and find out what secrets Rachel and Tom were keeping. We got no answers…just a repetitive cycle of hide, almost found, escape…

As we start to creep closer to answers things take a more gruesome turn. In light of the actual details, this seemed too much to believe. The snippets of son Michael’s last moments did make more sense. Certain characters seemed to grow into quite unbelievable caricatures…but perhaps this is a natural result of circumstance and having the opportunity to do something about it.

By the end I was relieved with certain events, but can’t help but feel this was all rather over-the-top.

Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this prior to publication.


‘Betrayals’ – Kelley Armstrong

When Olivia’s life exploded–after she found out she was not the adopted child of a privileged Chicago family but of a notorious pair of convicted serial killers–she found a refuge in the secluded but oddly welcoming town of Cainsville, Illinois. Working with Gabriel Walsh, a fiendishly successful criminal lawyer with links to the town, she discovered the truth about her parents’ crimes in an investigation that also revealed the darker forces at work in the place that had offered her a haven. As if that wasn’t enough, she also found out that she, Gabriel and her biker boyfriend Ricky were not caught in an ordinary sort of love triangle, but were hereditary actors in an ancient drama in which the elders of Cainsville and the mysterious Huntsmen who opposed them had a huge stake.

Now someone is killing street kids in the city, and the police have tied Ricky to the crimes. Setting out with Gabriel’s help to clear Ricky’s name, Olivia once again finds her own life at risk. Soon the three are tangled in a web of betrayals that threatens their uneasy equilibrium and is pushing them toward a hard choice: either they fulfill their destinies by trusting each other and staying true to their real bonds, or they succumb to the extraordinary forces trying to win an eternal war by tearing them apart.

The whole link between Gabe, Liv and Ricky isn’t going away, so we can safely say nothing will get resolved any time soon as they try to figure out the best way forward. Things are still good with Ricky and Liv, but there’s more than a few nods to Liv and Gabe being a potential relationship. So, until that point we keep muddling along with nothing satisfactorily sorted.

This time round Ricky is under suspicion for crimes we know he didn’t commit. Supernatural elements are required to help figure it out, and the backdrop of the two fae forces battles on.

A few dramatic moments and plenty of opportunities for each to come to the rescue of the other. We get a number of past visions thrown in and hints of ongoing plotting by the two fae groups.

This felt like business as usual, but I’m hoping we get some answers soon.


‘Calamity’ – Brandon Sanderson

While it’s always good to see how an author chooses to resolve a series, this one felt quite different to what I imagined.

This time around David and the Reckoners are following Prof to the city of salt. They know he has something planned, but can’t tell what. They do, however, know that they need to offer him the chance to face his fears and claim the darkness, as opposed to simply killing him now he is an Epic.

The story focuses on the planning and development of resources we aren’t expecting. We see Megan come into her own with her ability to use her powers, and we also see some characters that we wouldn’t expect to get involved playing their part in this battle.

Prof remains a threat. He seems determined to vanquish anyone in a position to oppose him. David and his group come up with some very daring plans. They rescue Tia and even bring back Prof’s child from an alternate world to try and battle him. Nothing is seeming to work.

While I don’t want to give away exactly how this resolves itself, the presence of Calamity is instrumental – as is David’s willingness to confront his own weaknesses and fears.


‘Firewalker’ – Josephine Angelini

Having made it back to her own world it was hard to see what would happen to Lily next. She is with Rowan and her family, and the appearance of Rowan seems to have calmed Samantha down a little. Unfortunately, too many people want to know where Lily disappeared to for three months and how she is miraculously healed.

Initially, Lily is reluctant to provide answers. Eventually, under Rowan’s guidance and when a familiar terror from the past turns up in this world, Lily realises she has to trust her friends and create a new coven.

Initially, this doesn’t make much sense. The worlds don’t mix well, and I think a lot more people would have pursued this further in reality. That aside, it was good to see some more characters and definitely good to watch Lily battle with the fact she is still communicating with Lillian.

Before too long, a painful decision has to be made. Lily and her group have to get back to Rowan’s world.

In between the personal character stories, there was a real focus here on the alternative realities and trying to get us to understand Lillian’s actions. We also got to see some interesting developments with regard to the Woven and wha5 Lily’s presence in this world could signify.


‘Deceptions’ – Kelley Armstrong

Olivia Jones is desperate for the truth. The daughter of convicted serial killers, she has begun to suspect that her parents are innocent of their crimes. But who can she trust, in a world where betrayal and deception hide in every shadow?

Liv does have one secret weapon: a mysterious sixth sense that helps her to anticipate danger. The trouble is, this rare power comes with its own risks. There are dark forces that want to exploit Liv’s talents – and will stop at nothing to win her to their side.

Now Liv must decide, before it’s too late. Who does she love? Who is really on her side? And can she save herself without burning down everything that matters most?

Part of my issue with this was just as soon as we started to look as if we were getting somewhere, things changed tack and we were back on another new route.

Olivia is increasingly having visions. They seem to be memories of events she’s never lived, but their purpose is evident…to help her figure out the reality of her situation.

She and Ricky are still in a loved-up state, but there’s clearly more to this than we first thought. Her friendship with Gabe continues to be a difficult one. There’s plenty of suggestions that both might want more, but it’s never going to be so straightforward.

The love triangle went on and on and on. The developments with the fae and their feud make it pretty clear there’s no easy answer here. Some interesting developments with regard to Olivia’s birth parents – and not all of it is quite as we expect.

By the end of the book I was more than a little frustrated with the main characters, but also wondering how a group of otherworldly creatures can be so rubbish at sorting things out!


‘Firefight’ – Brandon Sanderson

Having now acquired the nickname of ‘Steelslayer’ David has got himself in position with the Reckoners and they are on the tail of another Epic. This time, they are heading to the former Manhattan – a hippy-like place that has been submerged by water – in order to fight the epic known as Regalia.

Unfortunately, David has to deal with the fact that he is in love with Megan, the epic known as Firefight, whom everybody else wants to kill because she murdered one of their own. His mentor, Prof, is also an epic and is clearly more than accustomed to using his powers when he needs to.

From the outset, it is evident that nobody is being entirely honest with anyone else. They do a bit of scouting and find another couple of lesser epics that they decide to try and take down in an attempt to draw out their primary target. David masters the art of using his jet-pack (for want of a better term) and the new characters lend a bit of an alternative view to events.

Throughout this I was intensely irritated – probably more than I should have been – by David’s repetitive comments about being bad at metaphors. The obvious error each time he did this really annoyed me and i was amazed that nobody had spotted it. Of course, we learn later, it was deliberate just to set up what is meant to be an endearing moment near the end. It wasn’t, but that’s just my opinion.

Once we got underway with the nitty-gritty of this it did get more interesting. It seemed unevenly paced though, although the final moments were definitely interesting. Not entirely sure what we’ll get to see of David in the next one – there’s more to this boy than we’ve been led to believe I’m sure of it – but it definitely looks like it’ll be worth checking out.