Saturday 14 December 2013

Review: The Naturals

Title: The Naturals
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Quercus
Released: 7th November 2013
Rating: 3 stars

Cassie Hobbs doesn't think anything of her ability to read people.  It's just always been something she does, without even having to really think about it.  That's until she gets hired by the FBI to train as a profiler and help solve cold cases.  Nor is she the only one - this is a programme that consists of Naturals, people - teens - particularly adept at a certain skill.  At first this brings a sense of achievement and purpose, but that soon changes to simple danger.  Somewhere out there is a new serial killer who's getting uncomfortably close to home...and Cassie in particular.  The Naturals aren't simply solving cases anymore.  They have to survive this one.

The Naturals was generally an enjoyable read.  Jennifer Lynn Barnes has written a novel both easy to read and engaging, seeming to move effortlessly from humour to downright creepiness.  Such a compelling mix couldn't fail to keep me glued to the pages.  Though I knew this to be a thriller, there have been very few books that have truly disturbed me, even those claiming to be horror, making the darker parts of the book even easier to appreciate.  Those laugh-out-loud moments, too, were a delightful aspect, perhaps not something you'd expect with murder as a key theme.  Speaking of murder...Did anyone else see that ending coming?  I didn't.  All my theories, all my guesses...every one of them were wrong.  This author really does know how to write a thriller.  What does bother me, however, is that I still don't know whether this is meant to be a thriller pure and simple, or whether this has an element of the paranormal.  Are the Naturals' gifts otherworldly, or simply stronger versions of otherwise perfectly regular abilities?

My thoughts on the characters are mixed.  On the one hand, they're likeable - or at least, the one who you're supposed to like are - and somewhat interesting, especially in terms of their abilities.  On the other, I'm not sure how memorable they are.  Abilities aside, there's nothing in particular that makes them stand out.  Then, of course, there's the love triangle.  Immediately I felt exasperated.  Having said that, I do think there is potential for this one.  I like Cassie and I like Michael, and I think I may favour him as a love interest.   The relationship between Cassie and Dean I feel could be something more complex.  I'm hoping that Barnes will pull this out of a triangle and make something more interesting out of it, but we shall have to see.

Despite its flaws, I did like The Naturals, and I suspect it's a book easier to enjoy in the moment.  Looking back on it now and thinking of other books I've read it may perhaps not be amazing, but nevertheless it has very appealing qualities, and I look forward to entering this world again.

Friday 6 December 2013

Book Blitz: Tell Me When

By Stina Lindenblatt and Carina Press
Coming 20th January, 2014
New Adult Contemporary Romance
Amber Scott should be enjoying life as a college freshman. She should be pursuing her dream of becoming a veterinarian. She should be working hard to make sense of her precalculus math class. She shouldn’t be waking up her college roommate with screaming nightmares. She shouldn’t be flashing back, reliving the three weeks of hell she barely survived last year. And she definitely shouldn’t be spending time with sexy player Marcus Reid.   But engineering student Marcus is the only one keeping Amber from failing her math course, so she grudgingly lets him into her life. She never expects the king of hookups will share his painful past. Or that she’ll tell him her secrets in return, opening up and trusting him in a way she thought she’d never be able to again. When their fragile future together is threatened by a stalker Amber thought was locked away for good, Marcus is determined to protect her. And Amber is determined to protect Marcus…even if that means pushing him away.
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Amber (Chapter 1)
I'm inspecting a delicate fairy with wings like autumn leaves when the chimes above the store door ring.  Two guys, maybe twenty-one or twenty-two, enter.  Both are good-looking and have the tall muscular bodies of basketball players.  That's where the similarities between them end.
The dark-haired guy has that bad-boy vibe some girls find appealing, with his military boots, jeans and black leather jacket.  His blond-haired friend is the kind of guy most girls feel safe with.  He's wearing sneakers, jeans and a blood donor T-shirt.  The clothes and his friendly expression make him look trustworthy.  Like he won't break your heart or your body or your soul.
But I've long since learned appearances are never what they seem.  Either man could be sweet or he could be dangerous.  The trick is to never let them get close enough for you to find out the truth the hard way.
Blond guy walks to the counter and chats with the storeowner, a man not much older than us, with tattoos covering his arms.  Neither pays attention to me.  I go back to studying the wall.
From the corner of my eye, I notice the black-haired guy walking toward me.  Instead of checking out the designs on the wall, his gaze roams over my body, taking in the view.  Jerk.
A one-sided smile slides onto his face.  He's the kind of guy who uses his good looks to his advantage, the kind of guy whose sole mission in life is getting laid.
My hand tap-tap-taps against my right thigh, keeping pace with my heart, which has picked up speed as the jerk continues staring at me.  I narrow my eyes at him, silently telling him to find another girl.  He's wasting his time with me.
The men at the counter laugh.
"Dude, that's the first I've seen you got shot down by a female," blond guy says, still chuckling.
Dark-haired guy flips him the finger and points to the fairy.  "This would look hot on you right" - he strokes his finger against my lower back - "here."  His voice is low, the words slow and practiced.
I jerk away and stride to the back of the store.  The other two men laugh even louder.
"Give up, Marcus," blond guy says.  "She's a lot smarter than your usual girls.  I like her already."

About the Author
Born in England, Stina loves to travel, and has lived in England, the US, Canada, and Finland. She spent a semester in graduate school living in central Finland, and a summer during her undergrad degree working in Helsinki. She has a Master’s of Science degree in exercise physiology and has worked with elite athletes. In her free time, Stina is a photographer, mother of three adorable kids, and devoted wife. She currently lives in Calgary, Canada.
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Monday 18 November 2013

Cover Reveal: Seeking Her


Title: Seeking Her (Losing It #3.5)
Author: Cora Carmack
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse
Released: 28th January 2014

A few months after being honourably discharged from the military, Jackson Hunt is still struggling to adjust back to the real world. He needs to get a job and find a sense of normalcy if he’s going to keep his own demons at bay. The job that falls into his lap, though, is anything but normal.

Bodyguard (and baby-sitter) to spoiled-rich-girl Kelsey Summers isn’t exactly what he’d been looking for, but it’s a chance to travel, to get away from the home that has felt stifling ever since his return. It would be a pretty sweet gig if it weren’t for the fact that Kelsey’s father doesn’t want Kelsey to know she’s being followed. Hunt feels guilty (and a little bit creepy) as he watches her from afar. She’s vibrant and infuriating, exciting and reckless, mysterious and familiar. When he sees her falling into the same patterns that he suffered years ago, he decides it’s time to stop watching and help her instead. But getting to know her is more difficult than he thought, especially because the more he knows her, the more he wants her.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

November Release Day Blitz & Giveaway

Today we're celebrating the release of Entangled Teen's November books! Read about them and enter to win the giveaway below! 

Infinity (The Chronicles of Nerissette, #3)

Infinity (The Chronicles of Nerissette #3)
by Andria Buchanan 
Publication: November 5th, 2013 by Entangled Teen

Although she’s still stuck in the magical world of Nerissette, Queen Allie is finally ready to build a relationship with the half hottie, half dragon next door, Winston. But all isn’t really fair in love and war.

Unrest is quickly forming at the borders and soon Allie realizes that the Fate Maker wasn’t the only one who wanted her crown. When her trusted aunt Bavasama sends her troops into Nerissette on a campaign of murder and mass destruction, Allie has a tough decision to make.

She can’t take the chance of letting more people die or letting those she’s lost disappear from memory, but there is more at stake than even she knows. Still, Allie has to do something. And in the process she’ll discover what she’s truly made of when faced with a series of options…each more horrible than the last.

In the Blood

In the Blood 
by Sara Hantz
Publication: November 5th, 2013 by Entangled Teen

For seventeen years Jed Franklin’s life was normal. Then his father was charged with the abuse and murder of four young boys and normal became a nightmare.

His mom’s practically a walking zombie, he’s lost most of his friends, and the press camps out on his lawn. The only things that keep him sane are his little sis; his best friend and dream girl, Summer; and the alcohol he stashes in his room. But after Jed wakes up from a total blackout to discover a local kid has gone missing—a kid he was last seen talking to—he’s forced to face his greatest fear: that he could somehow be responsible.

In a life that’s spiraled out of control, Jed must decide if he chooses his own destiny with Summer by his side or if the violent urges that plagued his father are truly in the blood…

Spring Moon (Indiana Teller)
by HRH Princess Sophie Audouin-Mamikonian
Publication: November 5th, 2013 by Entangled Teen 

Amid the expansive plains of Montana, the Lykos Ranch stretches for miles. The inhabitants who live in near isolation from the outside world are members of the most powerful clan of werewolves in North America. Among them lives just one human: Indiana Teller.

Grandson of the clan’s leader and offspring of a werewolf father and a mysterious yet human mother, Indiana is rejected by his peers and heads to the University of Montana to find a normal life. Despite warnings from his grandparents, he falls in love with a beautiful human, Katerina.

Before too long, he is the victim of an accident that would have killed him had he not miraculously vanished at the moment of impact. Are these strange occurrences just chance or the machinations of a hidden enemy out to destroy him? Facing his destiny, Indiana will have to choose who to believe, and who to love.

Olivia Twisted

Olivia Twisted
by Vivi Barnes
Publication: November 5th, 2013 by Entangled Teen 

He tilts my chin up so my eyes meet his, his thumb brushing lightly across my lips. I close my eyes. I know Z is trouble. I know that being with him is going to get me into trouble. I don’t care.
At least at this moment, I don’t care.

Tossed from foster home to foster home, Olivia’s seen a lot in her sixteen years. She’s hardened, sure, though mostly just wants to fly under the radar until graduation. But her natural ability with computers catches the eye of Z, a mysterious guy at her new school. Soon, Z has brought Liv into his team of hacker elite—break into a few bank accounts, and voila, he drives a motorcycle. Follow his lead, and Olivia might even be able to escape from her oppressive foster parents. As Olivia and Z grow closer, though, so does the watchful eye of Bill Sykes, Z’s boss. And he’s got bigger plans for Liv…

I can picture Liv’s face: wide-eyed, trusting. Her smooth lips that taste like strawberry Fanta.
It was just a kiss. That’s all. She’s just like any other girl.
Except that she’s not.
Thanks to Z, Olivia’s about to get twisted.

To celebrate the launch of these books, Entangled Teen is giving away three ebooks. Check out the Rafflecopter giveaway down below for more information!

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Sunday 20 October 2013

Review: The Woken Gods

Title: The Woken Gods
Author: Gwenda Bond
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Released: 3rd September 2013
Rating: 2 of 5 stars

With promises of Egyptian mythology and sudden disappearances, the wait for this book was a difficult one.  I find mythology in general to be a fascinating thing, and that combined with plot elements and characters would make this a wonderful read...Which was why, by the end of this, I was even more disappointed.

Gods, the Society of the Sun, relics...these are features of the new Washington, D.C.  Features that are a part of Kyra's world, but that she has no direct experience of until she's approached by two tricksters one day after school.  That one encounter marks the start of a new life, one that consists of searching for her father and the relic he stole, working with Society operatives and actively getting involved with the gods.  The consequences of not finding her father and getting that relic back don't bear thinking about.

My difficulties with this novel began almost as soon as I started.  To begin with, I wasn't sure if it was the book itself or simply me, but as I progressed further I realised these problems weren't going away.  That's not to say it still isn't me; I have been known to hold black sheep status on several occasions, after all.  But one of the big issues for me was the world-building.  For something so central to her plot, Bond's world-building was unfortunately lacking.  While there were numerous mythological gods, their presence for the most part felt static; I didn't get a sense of who they were individually, nor did I understand their relations with Kyra's society.  This confusion then fed into my reaction to the actual plotline.  That in itself was not particularly impressive, either.

Added to this was the fact that a lot of it seemed flat.  To give credit where credit is due, and aware as I am of how critical this review has become, there were scenes and sections that Bond wrote quite well, actually enabling me to connect with what I was reading; passages that stood out and had me sitting up with renewed interest.  Sadly, though, this wasn't enough for me to truly enjoy it.  My feelings toward Kyra were non-existent.  I didn't love her, hate her, or anything in between.  I thought Oz sweet enough, Ezra intriguing enough, but ultimately the line separating them from everyone else was very thin.  The interactions between the characters, too, felt flat and awkward, as did the different POVs.  It was just quite jumpy and ill-flowing, and it all left me feeling somewhat dissatisfied.

For all my criticisms, The Woken Gods wasn't unbearably bad.  There were parts well-written, and it was engaging to a point.  I can't deny, however, that I did not get on with this novel, and that I am disappointed given the amount of potential it has.  Other people have had better luck than I (including my awesome reading buddy and blogging friend, Rebekah at Reflections of a Bookworm), so do go and see what they have to say.  For my part, I won't be revisiting this world anytime soon, unfortunately.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Strange Chemistry Cover Reveals!

Guysguysguys!  Look at all the pretty that Strange Chem have released into the world! *drools*  I shared The Almost Girl with you before, and I'll put it up again because honestly, it looks awesome...And the cover for Shadowplay is finally out!  Eeeep!  I leave them, and others, here so you can also drool and stare and wish desperately you were holding them in your hands.

The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

For readers of Beth Revis and Patrick Ness this is an SF novel that can’t be missed.
17 year-old Riven comes from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, a parallel world to Earth. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory. Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier and in a race against time to bring Caden home, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?
(Pantomime #2)
For all fans of Robin Hobb and Tamora Pierce, this extraordinary crossover fantasy features a truly unique central character.
The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes. He and the White Clown, Drystan, have taken refuge in the decaying Kymri Theatre, home to the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. Though no longer a circus performer, Micah must still conduct a balancing act between his past and his future, while both avoiding the renewed and embittered rivalry of the magicians of Ellada, and the Policiers who are convinced Micah played a part in the death of his old Ringmaster.
A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand, and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s extraordinary journey.
(Emilie #2) 
A Girl’s Own Adventure in the spirit of Jules Verne 
When Emilie and Daniel arrive in Silk Harbor, Professor Abindon, an old colleague of the Marlendes, warns them that she's observed something strange and potentially deadly in the sky, a disruption in an upper air aether current.  But as the Marlendes investigate further, they realize it's a ship from another aetheric plane.  It may be just a friendly explorer, or something far more sinister, but they will have to take an airship into the dangerous air currents to find out.  Emilie joins the expedition and finds herself deep in personal entanglements, with an angry uncle, an interfering brother, and an estranged mother to worry about as well as a lost family of explorers, the strange landscapes of the upper air, and the deadly menace that inhabits the sky world.
(Zenn Scarlett #2)
Zenn Scarlett’s novice year of exoveterinarian training on Mars isn’t quite going to plan…
After facing a plot to destroy her school and its menagerie of alien patients, could things get worse? Yes, they could: her absent father has been kidnapped.

Desperate to find him, Zenn stows away aboard the Helen of Troy, a starliner powered by one of the immense, dimension-jumping beasts known as Indra. With her is Liam Tucker, a Martian boy who is either very fond of her, very dangerous to her, or both. On the verge of learning the truth about her father, Zenn’s quest suddenly catapults her and Liam thousands of light years beyond known space, and into the dark heart of a monstrous conspiracy.

Braving a gauntlet of lethal environments and unearthly life forms, Zenn’s courage is tested as never before. With the fate of entire worlds in the balance, she is racing headlong into trouble... again.
In contemporary New York, a swan girl must help her enemy destroy her best friend or risk being sold to the black market.
When Deanna’s missing friend Hyde turns up at his father’s funeral to claim his corporate empire and inheritance, she is swept into his glittering world of paparazzi and wealth.

But Deanna has a secret - and somebody knows. Someone who is out to get Hyde. And if she doesn’t play along, and help the enemy take Hyde down…she will be sold to the highest bidder in the black market for human swans.

Now Deanna is struggling to break free from the gilded cage that would trap her forever…

Saturday 5 October 2013

Review: The Bone Season

Title: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1)
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Released: 20th August 2013
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to my obnoxiously frustrating mood lately, it took me far longer than it should have done to read The Bone Season.  Through no fault of its own, three chapters in it was ungratefully cast aside so my restless mind could settle on other things - other books - until I actually forced myself to go back to it.  This time I pushed through; finally my mind calmed and I was able to lose myself in what is an undoubtedly exceptional read.

We find ourselves first in the heart of London, where the Seven Seals reside.  In a world where clairvoyance is illegal, this syndicate must ensure they keep their abilities secret.  Paige Mahoney in particular is a rare type of clairvoyant; she is a dreamwalker, with the ability to break into and explore the minds of others.  The last thing she needs is for the Scion to find out, the ruling force and the reason behind the sudden disappearance of so many clairvoyants.  But then she's caught, and she finds herself in the voyant prison in Oxford.  Except here there are creatures even worse than the Scion: the Rephaim.  To them, clairvoyants are good for something: fighting.  Unknown to the rest of the world, there is a war going on, and the Rephaim see the clairvoyants as soldiers.  Paige subsequently finds herself without any freedom.  She has a Master, Warden, and if she wants to survive she'll have to take care.  But at the same time she has no plans to stop fighting for her freedom, and doing so will meaning learning more about this man who seems to have many secrets of his own.

Of course one of the most significant achievements of Shannon here is the absolutely incredible world building.  I loved the alternative version of London she presented, the idea of Oxford being this ancient, barely acknowledged place and shrouded in mystery.  There is a lot of variety to be found here.  We have the term 'clairvoyant', yes, but there are so many kinds; this is a world truly thought out.  Unbeknownst to me, there was a glossary at the back (I was reading it on Kindle), so it was somewhat confusing at first.  Admittedly trying to take in everything is a bit of a task, since there's just so much.  After a while, though, I was used to it and everything was starting to make sense.  The mix of both old and new, familiar and unfamiliar, was done in a manner entirely appealing.  There is also a level of complexity and suspense that made this book all the more delicious.

Paige, our heroine, was a character easy to appreciate.  She's a strong, independent person, and realistically so.  Her voice is such that it doesn't just recede into a background hum with loads of other protagonists; it stands out and becomes something familiar, something welcoming, something you want to hear more of.  Warden, too, is someone I found impossible not to like - except there is an extra layer of complexity to him that leaves me eager to know even more.  My trust of him was a slow thing; naturally, I was intrigued from the start, but Shannon draws you in, pulls you along slowly so that you're as wary as Paige.  There are so many aspects to him, some of these simply hinted at, so that while the reader is offered a good impression of who he is, it is still too vague.  I mean this in an entirely positive sense.  The romance, which was gloriously slow, still allowed for two separate individuals, each with their own distinct personality.  The dynamics changed constantly, and each of the characters, and their relationship, were all written masterfully.

All in all, Samantha Shannon has come out with an excellent debut.  With her truly astonishing world building and vivid characters, this is an author you don't want to miss, and her book leaves me itching for more.

Friday 4 October 2013

Cover Reveal, Excerpt & Giveaway: The Almost Girl

Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. Coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.

Faced with hideous reanimated Vector soldiers from her own world with agendas of their own, as well as an unexpected reunion with a sister who despises her, it is a race against time to bring Caden back to Neospes. But things aren’t always as they seem, and Riven will have to search for truth. Family betrayals and royal coups are only the tip of the iceberg. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

Amazon † BN

We’re at an impasse, staring at each other with stubborn fury. I’m not above using force to get my way but Shae’s just taken out two Vectors. Alone. I’m not about to make any rash and stupid decisions about her combat skills or apparent exhaustion. The silence hangs between us like an impenetrable wall as we stare at each other across the five feet that could well be an abyss between us. After a few tense minutes, Shae clears her throat.

“Do you remember that day? When I left?” Shae asks and I give the barest of nods. It’s a day that etched into my memory so deeply that I couldn’t forget it if I tried. “I wanted to take you with me but you wouldn’t go,” she says. Her laugh is empty. “You remember what you called me?”


She doesn’t have to say it; we both know what I said.

“That was the day I realized that you were your father’s daughter. He robbed you of anything close to love,” Shae says. “You chose to stay with him out of fear for him than out of love for me. He owned you then, and he owns you now.”

“I am nothing like him,” I grit out. “No one owns me.”

“He used to say that I could never be a killer because I was too emotional. Said I loved too much. How can someone love too much? He said I was too much like mom. Soft. I proved him wrong even though I died a little bit inside every time I took a life.” At Shae’s words, my eyes feel like there’s sand behind them, and a boulder settles in the pit of my stomach. “But he was right about you, wasn’t he? The stone cold sister? The one who wouldn’t be torn by emotion, the one who kills without feeling a thing? Servant to the monarchy… obeying orders without question… He’s made you into their killing machine. So what? You’re going to kill me now, Riven?”

Enter for a chance to win the FIRST ARC GIVEAWAY of THE ALMOST GIRL by Amalie Howard!

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Seventeen Magazine Summer Club author Amalie Howard grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 22 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts. She currently resides in New York with her husband and three children.

She is the author of The Aquarathi series from Harlequin TEEN (Waterfell and Oceanborn), The Almost Girl from Strange Chemistry, Alpha Goddess from Sky Pony Press, and Bloodspell from Langdon Street Press. She is represented by the Liza Royce Agency. Visit her at www.amaliehoward.comor on Twitter (@AmalieHoward).

Website † Twitter † Facebook † GoodReads

Other books by Amalie Howard

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Cover Reveal: Defector

 Title: Defector (Variants #2)
Author: Susanne Winnacker
Publisher: Razorbill
Released: 26th June 2014
 Synopsis currently unavailable
Title: Impostor (Variants #1)
Author: Susanne Winnacker
Publisher: Razorbill
Released: 28th May 2013

Can Tessa pose as Madison . . . and stop a killer before it’s too late? 

Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she’s spent the last two years training with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again.

Tessa hates everything about being an impostor—the stress, the danger, the deceit—but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she’d do anything to keep. Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super-human comes to a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.

Susanne Winnacker studied law before she became a full-time writer. She lives with her husband, a dog and three bunnies in Germany. She loves coffee (in every shape and form), traveling and animals.  When she isn't writing, you can usually find her in the kitchen, experimenting with new vegan dishes.  Her YA thriller IMPOSTOR will be published on May 28, 2013. It has been optioned for TV by Warner Brothers!


Thursday 26 September 2013

Review: The Edge of Never

Title: The Edge of Never (The Edge of Never #1)
Author: J.A. Redmerski
Publisher: Harper
Released: 28th February 2013
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hype can be a dangerous thing - and, sometimes, for me at least, utterly baffling.  Perhaps on some level I can understand why this book got the attention it did.  I did like it enough to give it the midway rating.  But those things weren't enough for me to justify anything higher, and I did have some concerns while reading this that put a damper on my enjoyment.

An incident from the past and following the same routine every day leaves Camryn feeling confined by life.  Unwilling to follow the same path that society seems to live by, she impulsively grabs a few things and boards a bus, intending to get some answers and just see what's out there.  What Cam didn't expect was someone to help her figure out who she was and try things she'd never done before.  Namely, Andrew Parrish.  On his way to see his dad in hospital, Andrew has secrets of his own that he isn't willing to share, and in a relationship that grows closer by the day, that could be the thing that splits them apart.

I may as well tell you straight away, I did want to keep reading this.  Even as I had concerns and wished certain things had been done differently, there was something about this that did pull me in.  It was funny at times, and I liked getting to know Cam at the start.  It did feel like something of a guilty pleasure at times, but there were character insights that left me intrigued and wanting to see more and even deeper into their minds and personalities.  There was also an emotional element that occasionally rose to the surface, and when the ending came, the emotion I felt actually surprised me because it seemed I cared for more Andrew than I'd initially thought.  There was a dual POV that I wish had been more equally weighted because I wanted to see more from Andrew about certain events, but I think we get more of him in the sequel?  (That is actually a question.  Please tell me we do.)

Having said all of this, my issues with this book are not such that I can just dismiss them.  Even now I can still recall them, nearly a month after reading it, and I'm unhappy at the memory.  One of the problems was the way the author phrased certain things.  I'm actually surprised that I came across this.  It seems to me that there are some words that are so meaningful, or whose connotations are so strong, they can only be used within a certain context worthy of the meaning.  I felt uncomfortable with the way Redmerski was describing little things like goosebumps because the way she described it really seemed both irrelevant and unnecessary.  What I also didn't like was how jumpy it all seemed.  It felt like there were thought processes missing, things I wanted to see to know more about the characters and actually see them grow.  Instead it was like, one minute Cam is not in a million years going to do this; the next she was doing precisely that.  Things were left unexplained.  The speech and overall flow just didn't feel right.

Those are the more technical issues.  On a much more personal level, I was somewhat uncomfortable with the type of relationship Camryn and Andrew have.  It wasn't massively bad, but I'm not into the whole dominance thing.  Even if it's not completely full on, it's just not for me.  Which actually reminds me, this wasn't as deep a book as I was hoping it would be.  It was fine until Cam and Andrew were together, and then it just seemed like Cam's development in particular took a backseat.  Also, 'baby' as an endearment.  The more I see it in books, the more it irritates me.

With all of my qualms, then, why am I even considering the sequel?  I'm not entirely sure.  There is something about Redmerski's writing, something about Cam and Andrew, that leaves me wanting more.  I do want to see it through to the end of the story, find out what more is in store for them - and, by extension, me.  I'm hoping that I'll enjoy it more.  The Edge of Never drew an entirely mixed reaction from me which wasn't easy to pin down.  That does make it more memorable, even if not for wholly the right reasons, which might help to explain why I'm so reluctant to let go.  With my complicated relationship with this book, all I can say for certain is that it was not worthy of the hype, yet somehow left me wanting more.

Monday 23 September 2013

Review: Keeping Her

Title: Keeping Her (Losing It #1.5)
Author: Cora Carmack
Publisher: Ebury Digital
Released: 15th August 2013
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book came at exactly the right time for me.  I was feeling quite low, and what I really needed was a pick-me-up.  Then I remembered that I had been approved for this that very day, so I started...and I was laughing in minutes.

Keeping Her sees Bliss and Garrick head off to London for Bliss to meet her soon-to-be in-laws.  Of course, this wouldn't be a trademark Cora Carmack book without the mishaps and mayhem, and all its accompanying hilarity.  Bliss being her usual self, put her together with Garrick's parents and you really can't say it's ever boring.  I absolutely love Carmack's portrayal of Bliss.  She's as adorable as ever.  Her clumsiness and awkwardness are charming, but she's also quite intelligent and has a core of strength.  At the same time as retaining Bliss' personality, the author also allowed her some growth, which was wonderful to see.  She seemed to be coming into herself that much more, and helping Garrick keep himself along the way.

Garrick.  My wonderful Garrick.  I know I said I didn't love him in the first book, but I think I'm much closer to that feeling now.  (His POV might, possibly, may be the reason I enjoyed this one more than the other two.)  I could see how much he was worrying about seeing his parents and introducing Bliss.  His obvious love for her was completely endearing.  The relationship between the two of them really seemed to solidify and strengthen, and it was amazing to see.

I wanted something light and funny that would lift me out of my mood, and this did not disappoint.  Instead, it was even better than I expected.  Carmack's writing is such that it leaves a lasting impression - perhaps not the deeper kind that I might usually strive for, but this impression was special in its own right.  This novella is one you want to pick up as soon as possible.

Monday 16 September 2013

An Apology and an Update

Hey, guys!

As you might have noticed, I've been quite lax when it comes to the blog for the past few weeks.  My reading mood has been a bit (read: way) off, so I've been reading erratically, and as for reviews...yeah, they kind of went out the window.  And now I have to catch up.  And I am sorry about that, especially since I promised both you and myself that I'd try not to let that happen.

What this post is for, is to let you know that I will be scheduling things - review things - but I might not be commenting for a while longer.  Because...I'm starting university.

Yep.  I move in on Saturday, term starts the following Monday, and things are going to be crazy hectic for a while while I find my footing and unpack and go from meeting to lecture to event and try not to get lost.  I have no idea how much free time I'll have, how things are going to work.  This week itself is going to be full of packing.  It might be that I do actually have time and will find my way around your blogs.  If I do have the time, I will absolutely be making the rounds.  But this is to let you know just in case.

So that's all.  I hope everyone's okay and reading amazing books.  Hopefully I'll see you soon!  And if you want or need to contact me, you can catch me on Twitter or through email. :)

Happy reading,

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Cover Reveal: The Wicked We Have Done

Author: Sarah Harian
Publisher: Penguin/InterMix books
Released: 18th March 2014
Evalyn Ibarra never expected to be an accused killer and experimental prison test subject. A year ago, she was a normal college student. Now she’s been sentenced to a month in the compass room—an advanced prison obstacle course designed by the government to execute justice.

If she survives, the world will know she’s innocent.

Locked up with nine notorious and potentially psychotic criminals, Evalyn must fight the prison and dismantle her past to stay alive. But the system prized for accuracy appears to be killing at random.

She doesn’t plan on making friends.

She doesn’t plan on falling in love, either.

About the Author
Sarah Harian grew up in the foothills of Yosemite and received her B.A. and M.F.A. from Fresno State University. When not writing, she is usually hiking some mountain or another in the Sierras, playing video games with her fiancé, or rough-housing with her dog.
Author Links:

Thursday 15 August 2013

Blog Tour: Review: The Dirty Secrets of Markham Savoy

Hey, everyone!  Today I'm part of the tour for The Dirty Secrets of Markham Savoy.  You can check out the tour schedule here.

Title: The Dirty Secrets of Markham Savoy (Colebrook Academy #1)
Author: C.C. Dalton
Publisher: Twist Literary
Released: 6th August 2013
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Dirty Secrets of Markham Savoy was not what I was expecting, in more ways than one.  It's a quick, entertaining read that, while it may not have much going on, still manages to capture life at Colebrook Academy.  At the centre of this school is Markham Savoy.  Markham deals in secrets and favours, and through that effectively manages the school.  He is always in control and he never betrays anything about himself.  There's only one exception: Piper Harrington.  When he makes an arrangement that involves Piper, he unwittingly finds himself in a position he is unused to: he is in her debt.  Forced to give up one of his own secrets and repay a favour, Markham finds himself at the start of something new.

Despite the surprisingly short length, it is very easy to get a sense of how Colebrook Academy works and how Markham is able to keep everyone under his control - well, almost everyone, but I'll get to that in a minute.  Markham is an intriguing character.  I'm not sure I like how - to put it in Piper's terms - he micromanages everyone, but at the same time I can't help but wonder why he is the way he is.  He clearly has his own secrets, and feelings and thoughts that he disguises; even as a reader, I don't know much more about him than any given character he interacts with, and I'm curious to see what hides behind the exterior.  The one thing that is made abundantly clear is how much he cares for his younger sister; while he is overprotective by far, he does genuinely love her and want to look out for her.

Piper's character is the one that prevents it from being truly everyone under Markham's thumb.  I liked Piper simply for being immune to Markham's charms and being able to see through the pretences and pretty words.  It was good to see her stand up to him and actually turn the tables so he was on less sure footing.  Since this is in third person narrative but through Markham's perspective, we only see her through his eyes - and yet it's enough to know that she is a strong character.  Dalton doesn't make this into a romance despite the fact that our protagonist likes her, and I was glad of that.  Still, it's clear that Piper's effect on him is a positive one, which leaves me hopeful that we'll see more character growth as the series progresses, despite the fact that each narrative revolves around a different character.

The synopsis doesn't really prepare you for what lies in these pages, but don't let that put you off.  The Dirty Secrets of Markham Savoy was a decent read that I got through in no time at all, and is written in such a way that the reader can automatically understand both the world and the characters.  It sets a good basis for the rest of the series.

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Tuesday 13 August 2013

Mini-Reviews: Faking It & Double Clutch

Title: Faking It (Losing It #2)
Author: Cora Carmack
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Released: 4th June 2013
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Once again, Cora Carmack has provided a quick, humourous read with characters easy to root for.  This time we follow the story of Cade, who is in Philadelphia hoping that he can escape his problems and focus on his career.  Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be working for him at the moment.  Then he meets Max and suddenly finds himself pretending to be her boyfriend.  But a role only meant to last a few minutes somehow turns into something much more long-term.  And the longer they pretend, the less certain they are that it's fake.

I felt bad for Cade after the events of Losing It, so I was looking forward to seeing him have the chance for his own happy ending - even if the journey there was by no means easy.  I like that Carmack doesn't attempt to make her characters fit images or stereotypes; instead she makes them real, relatable, unpretending.  Max intrigued me from the moment I met her, and it wasn't long before we connected.  There was something refreshing about their relationship, making me appreciate it all the more easily.  It was wonderful to see them open with each other and help each other, especially with Cade encouraging Max to find that strength within herself.

Faking It made for a pleasant, uncomplicated read.  While I may not love this series as most people do, the merits of it are undeniable, and I certainly have no regrets.

Title: Double Clutch (Brenna Blixen #1)
Author: Liz Reinhardt
Publisher: RHCP Digital
Released: 20th December 2012
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I have to admit, I did regret snagging myself a copy before I started this, and if I could have rewound time and stopped myself from doing so, I would have done.  I know that doesn't really seem fair, but the synopsis doesn't hide the fact that this is all about a love triangle.  And for a while now, if I see signs of one that early on, I run the other way.  But Liz Reinhardt did something extraordinary.  She handled this triangle well, had me rooting for both guys and somehow kept Brenna from being an entirely ridiculous figure.  While there were moments of frustration, I did still like her.  Despite all the boy drama, she does still manage to keep her head straight, showing strength and maturity.  In addition to that we see other things about her that give us more of a feel for who she is as a person.

Jake and Saxon are our two love interests, and both have things going for them.  I won't tell you who she ends up with - that would be spoiling it, after all - but the relationship works; the two of them do fit together.  At the same time, however, there is a part of me that wishes she'd ended up with the other one.  Reinhardt's characters come with layers, and the further you read, the more you discover about each of them and, in the case of these two boys, it reaches the point where you're too attached to both of them.  One is particularly vulnerable, I think.  It's been some time since I was this ambivalent about the outcome of a love triangle, and this author has certainly performed a feat in making me care for both of her boys.

Aside from this, one thing of note is the parental presence in this book.  Parents seem to be becoming more of an issue in YA books, but there is no need to worry in the case of Double Clutch.  It was truly a pleasure to see the relationship Brenna shared with her mother and stepfather - because, not only is there is a parental presence, but it's also a loving presence.

Despite my apprehension, then, Double Clutch turned out to be a novel that I genuinely enjoyed, and it leaves me feeling glad that I did read it after all.