Saturday, 31 October 2015

Dollhouse by Anya Allyn

Title: Dollhouse
Series: Dark Carousel (#1)
Author: Anya Allyn
From: Netgalley
Genre: Horror, Gothic
Release Date: 20th May 2014
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, My TBR List (October)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Whilst hiking in the forest, Cassie's friend Aisha goes missing. Now Aisha's boyfriend, Ethan, is in the firing line, but he is determined to find him. Cassie and her friend Lacey don't want to leave him to it alone and go to join him. Soon Cassie and Ethan discover the truth; a living dollhouse beneath Fiveash House where kidnapped girls are made to dress as dolls and live on the whim of Jessamine, a teenage girl who runs the dollhouse.

Horror is not a genre that I normally read much of, so I was definitely interested to see what I would make of Dollhouse. I enjoyed it but I do think its safe to say that horror is still a genre that I'm not planning on reading much of. I also can't fully decide how much I want to read the sequel. The book was left on a major cliffhanger and I still want to know what happened, but again its not massively my genre.

The creep factor in Dollhouse was most definitely there. There were dual elements of the psychological torture of the characters as well as the slight paranormal elements. The two tied together well to create a story that really had me willing the characters on while being seriously scared for their welfare (in some cases I do think that this is totally justified).

At times it was difficult to remember how old some of the characters were, their experience had matured them as it probably would, and other than Philly (who was 5) they didn't seem to be any less mature than an adult character would be. Saying that there were times when characters did act their age, namely Ethan, Aisha and Cassie and the whole jealousy situation.

There was what I would refer to as a couple of major twists in the plot, and though most of them were surprising, the major major one revolving around who the betrayer was, took me completely by surprise. The character in question was one that I did wonder at the whereabouts of but I'd dismissed as it being someone completely different.

This was a good read, not convinced that horror is my genre but this definitely gave me the chills!

Thanks to the lovely Michelle @ Because Reading for hosting! Each month we pick 3 books and get blog readers to pick which book we read. Then on the last Saturday of the month (the 26th this month!) the review gets posted. 

Friday, 30 October 2015

Bookish Resolutions Progress Report (October)

OCTOBER?!?!?! What on earth happened to the rest of the year, its crazy how fast this year has gone! So here's my progress report as of the 30th October, don't forget to link up and let us know how you did!
  1. Listen to 4 audiobooks this year
    January: 0 Audiobooks
    February: 0 Audiobooks
    March: 1 Audiobook
    April: 1 Audiobook
    May: 3 Audiobooks
    June: 1 Audiobook
    July: 0 Audiobooks
    August: 1 Audiobook
    September: 0 Audiobooks
    October: 0 Audiobooks
  2. Read 1 'classic' book a month
  3. Read at least 6 Netgalley books a month
    January: 14 Netgalley Books
    February: 7 Netgalley Books
    March: 6 Netgalley Books
    April: 10 Netgalley Books
    May: 10 Netgalley Books
    June: 8 Netgalley Books
    July: 9 Netgalley Books
    August: 8 Netgalley Books
    September: 6 Netgalley Books
    October: 8 Netgalley Books
  4. Read 2 books a month that have been bought (which does include free amazon books) rather than given for a review
    January: 5 Bought Books
    February: 6 Bought Books
    March: 6 Bought Books
    April: 9 Bought Books
    May: 12 Bought Books
    June: 3 Bought Books
    July: 7 Bought Books
    August: 9 Bought Books
    September: 5 Bought Books
    October: 5 Bought Books
  5. To finish at least 1 of my writing projects 
    This week the Halloween Anthology in which two of my short stories was I think that counts! Maybe have to check with Michelle! You can check it out here

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

Title: Crown of Midnight
Series: Throne of Glass (#2)
Author: Sarah J Maas
From: Netgalley
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 27th August 2013
Challenges: 2015 Reading Assignment Challenge, 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Now that she is the King's Champion, Celeana Sardothein is used as an assassin and spy, though what she hasn't let on is that she doesn't always do things quite as she is supposed to. With her friendship with the Prince, Dorian, still on rocky ground, and her attraction towards the Captain of the Guard, Chaol, only growing, her ties to the castle only grow. Until one dreadful night where she loses something very dear to her.

I have no real words for how to quite deal with the ending of Crown of Midnight, and who Celeana really is. Did not see that one coming (though it does make the title of book 4 make so much sense) and I'm now in the zone where I need to know more.

I loved the burgeoning romance between Celeana and Chaol, it was sweet and moving and I was absolutely gutted when the major twist in the story came around and everything blew up for them. Part of me really wants everything to work out for them and yet I find it difficult to see how. Fingers crossed though.

There was plenty of action in Crown of Midnight, especially when Celeana 'snapped' and went into major assassin mode. There were moments where I was seriously scared of a fictional character. I like having such a strong female protagonist like Celeana though, especially because she has such a complex character. There were moments where she was really girly and then those where she really wasn't.

I loved reading Crown of Midnight, I'm looking forward to reading more in the series and finding out where this is going!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Rain by Amos Cassidy

Title: The Rain
Series: Pendragon Chronicles (#1)
Author: Amos Cassidy
From: Review Copy
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 29th October 2015 (Re-release)
Challenges: N/A
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

When Jake Winters' life falls apart he moves to a small seaside town. But not everything is as it seems. Soon Jake finds himself thrown into a world he didn't even know existed and along with his new friends, Greg, Ivy and Dean, he is destined to help rid the world of Beasts.

I have previously reviewed The Rain as The Rain: Rebirth (January 2014) and originally read as a beta reader.

I'm honestly at a bit of a loss as to where I want to begin with The Rain. To make matters worse I've read it before (twice I think!) and I still don't know which bit I want to start with. For me The Rain packed an emotional punch, and even though I knew the fate of one of the characters already, I still found myself tearing up when it was happening and hoping that it wouldn't. I'm pretty sure that happened in Aurora too, and therefore is just the authors trying to torture me!

I feel that I should mention that the main character, Jake, is gay. Honestly I don't think it really made a difference that that was the case, and there are no explicit sex scenes (though there is some implied sex in regards to various characters) so it really shouldn't make a difference, but I know some readers can be (unfortunately) funny about it.

I loved several of the side characters in the book, particularly Greg and Ivy. They had a slightly antagonistic (but friendly) relationship which worked well for me. I loved that they weren't romantically or physically attracted to each other but were just friends too, sometimes that's the best way for them to be.

There is still a bit of ambiguity about some of the lore surrounding the Rain and surrounding the Beasts, but I think that just adds to the anticipation of the next book, which I'm now really looking forward to! I enjoyed The Rain the first time around, but I think I enjoyed it even more this time!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Owned by the Alphas 3 by Faleena Hopkins

Title: Owned by the Alphas 3
Series: Werewolves of Yosemite (#3)
Author: Faleena Hopkins
From: Review Copy
Genre: Erotica, Romance, Paranormal
Release Date: 28th December 2014
Challenges: 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Having been taken from Calt's pack by Red, Ali knows that problems could be caused. But when they discover that Calt and his pack have come to challenge Red, things need sorting fast. With both the powerful alphas wanting to lay claim to her, Ali can hardly decide who she should be with; Red who knew her a human, or Calt who found her in the first place. When she proposes that they work it out in the bedroom things quickly move out of her control...

I do enjoy Hopkins writing, so even though Owned by the Alphas probably isn't a book that I would pick by myself (though admittedly there was a point in my reading past where I would have) I very much enjoy it. Her characters are real and have flaws, then as the story progresses there is still a good level of character development, even with the short length of the story.

There were some heavily erotic scenes in Owned by the Alphas and I don't think that this is necessarily to everyone's taste. I liked the idea that the wolf pack wasn't quite as monogamous as other books portray them. I think that these wolves were closer to their animal selves than most werewolves are. Definitely an interesting concept.

The love triangle in Owned by the Alphas is interesting and I'm honestly not too sure which of the two wolves I want Ali to end up with. Both of them have their own personalities and both of them are alpha men. I wouldn't like to say which way it would go and I'm interested to find out!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Billionaire's Forbidden Desire by Nadia Lee

Title: The Billionaire's Forbidden Desire
Series: The Pryce Family (#5)
Author: Nadia Lee
From: Review Copy
Genre: Romance
Release Date: 23rd October 2015
Challenges: 2015 New Release Challenge, 2015 Prequel & Sequel challenge (12 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Dane Pryce has a reputation for being cold and heartless, and yet after his grandmother died his first port of call was a bottle of whiskey and a trip to Mexico. While there Dane encounters Sophia, a retired figure skater whose career was destroyed by a car crash in Paris. Three years later, Dane still can't get Sophia out of his head and when she reappears in his life once more he does everything possible to gain her attention, even if it does uncover some uncomfortable home truths...

I was very intrigued going into Dane's book, particularly because it wasn't just outsiders who saw him as harsh and cold but his family as well. After four main characters wondering about his character it was hard to get rid of the stigma. That is until I started reading. It was actually really easy to warm up to Dane once I started to get to know him as a character and I found myself liking him just as much as the other Pryce siblings (though Vanessa is still my favourite!)

I liked that not everything for the couple was smooth sailing. There were misunderstandings and lies all over the place and they really had to work at it. But I also liked that neither of them took what other people were saying about the other one at face value and made up their own minds. This was particularly noticeable with Sophia hearing about how cold Dane was, and I liked that.

It was also interesting to learn more about the Pryce parents' past. While they were in the midst of an unamicable marriage for most of the series there wasn't much known other than what each of their children had seen. As the oldest, Dane had seen more, and so his memories added more to their story. There was also a moment where they each talked about their marriage to Dane & Sophia which shed more light on what went wrong.

I loved this series. Strong romances with interesting characters who have a good amount of depth!

Monday, 26 October 2015

Tragic by JA Huss

Title: Tragic
Series: Rook and Ronin (#1)
Author: JA Huss
From: Amazon
Genre: Romance
Release Date: 20th May 2013
Challenges: N/A
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Rook's life has never been easy, but she's finally got away only to find herself homeless and jobless with very little hope. That is until she finds herself an invitation to Antoine Chaput's studio for a photo shoot. As soon as Antoine sees her he knows that she's who he wants for his Tragic campaign, and male model Ronin just knows that he wants her. The attraction between Rook and Ronin only grows, but with misunderstandings and complications all over, being anything other than colleagues could be difficult...

I still feel that I was a little late to the JA Huss band wagon, especially with a lot of the bloggers I'd trust for recommendations loving her books. Everytime I read a Huss book I just get lost in the world and wish I'd discovered her sooner. The stories are so gritty and different that they really draw you in.

Rook and Ronin's story isn't all rainbows and love, but rather it is messy and complicated. Both the characters have pasts and I'm not convinced all of it has come out yet, but that makes them more real. Rook's desperation doesn't make her come across as cheap, in fact it made her come across as resourceful and strong, though I'm not sure that she would have agreed with that.

The chemistry between Rook and Ronin was off the page. No matter what they were doing they seemed to be unable to keep from touching each other and as soon as they did you could feel the sexual tension between them. I think that that is something that Huss can do amazingly. I couldn't fault that in the slightest.

I think there were a few touchy subjects in Tragic, namely Rook's previous abusive relationship, and the issues surrounding the modelling industry such as anorexia and drug use. I'm definitely interested in seeing where this story is going...not that I had any doubt that I would.

I really enjoyed Tragic, it was gritty and real with a real feeling relationship that I want to know more about.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Traitorous Tudor Tales by Diana Strenka

Title: Traitorous Tudor Tales
Author: Diana Strenka
From: Smashwords
Genre: Historical Fiction, Flash fiction
Release Date: 18th October 2015
Challenges: N/A
Links: Goodreads - Smashwords

Traitorous Tudor Tales is a collection of flash fiction tales spanning the War of the Roses and the reign of Henry VIII. From Margaret Beaufort to Thomas Cromwell and Catherine Howard, the dangers and intrigue of the Tudor Court are brought to life.

I haven't read flash fiction before, if ever, and so I was definitely intrigued and enjoying the Tudor era I thought I would try it with Traitorous Tudor Tales (plus it was free on Smashwords). Having now read it I'm not sure what I think of the genre. I wasn't a big fan of how quickly the stories moved on, nor on how there was no real break between character changes. It often took me the entirety of the next story to figure out who was speaking and I didn't really like that.

Because of the shortness of the stories I didn't feel that the characters got any character development, and I know that this is an aspect of the genre. But with such rich historical characters as Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth Woodville, Thomas Cromwell, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, I really didn't think that they were done justice in this case.

The writing itself was well done and I thought it was easy to read and flowed well (ignoring the problems I had with the genre) and I could see definite potential if the author was writing a longer piece of fiction.

There were also some interesting ideas touched upon, my favourite being the idea that Thomas Culpepper was blackmailing Catherine Howard for money rather than an affair. Again it wasn't really developed because of the length of the story, but I do think it sounded interesting.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Online Book Club (October Link Up)

trips down imagination road

Remember to keep up to date with the hashtag! #internetbookclub

This month's book was:

Halloween Magic & Mayhem by Stella Wilkinson (Goodreads)
This is a free book. 
Genre (according to the synopsis): Paranormal Comedy
Genre (according to Amazon): Horror > Occult
Release Date: 2nd January 2014

How on earth did I end up here? I was supposed to be at a party kissing the boy of my dreams, instead I’m dancing naked on the town common, on Halloween, with a Coven of strange women who might be witches, a bunch of zombies that I have to return to their graves, a talking crow, and my pet ghost thrown in for good measure. Just yesterday I was an ordinary teenager… 
On her sixteenth birthday Emily Rand discovers that she is a witch. Unable to control her spells she unwittingly raises zombies, and corporealizes the ghost haunting her house. She finds herself in a race against time to put everything right if she has any hope of getting to a certain Halloween party and seeing a certain boy again. 
Halloween Magic and Mayhem is a young-adult paranormal comedy romance. Magic & Mayhem Series, Book One 

Reviews are due the 24th-31st October! Link up here! 

An InLinkz Link-up

Also don't forget to vote for November's book!

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The Books: 

True Calling by Siobhan Davis (Goodreads)
Free Book
Genre: Science-Fiction/Dystopian (according to Amazon)
Released: October 2014


Planet Novo, nestled in space twelve hundred miles above the surface of the Earth, is the new home of 17-year-old Cadet Ariana Skyee. Confused by the government-sanctioned memory erase and distressed at her impending forced marriage and motherhood, Ariana’s plans for the future are thrown into complete disarray.

As the traumatic events within her family life enfold, Ariana grows increasingly alarmed at the authorities apparent pre-occupation with her and feels progressively more isolated and alone.

Her growing feelings for fellow Cadet Cal Remus intensify as the recently announced pageant, ‘The Calling’, gets underway. Struggling to comprehend the continuous, inexplicable dreams of the mysterious Zane, discovering the past helps shape her future, with devastating personal consequences.

Maelyn by Anita Valle (Goodreads) 
Free Book
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult 
Released: June 2012

Book 1: Maelyn was not born a princess. The king found her as a child, the lone survivor of a poor village slaughtered by the Red Fever. Suddenly she became a princess of Runa Realm, the first of nine orphans adopted by the king.

By her eighteenth year, Maelyn rules over Runa and a family of nine sisters. But some call the princesses frauds and imposters, a handful of urchins raised into royalty. Even Uncle Jarrod, the High King of Grunwold, seems determined to prove that Maelyn no longer deserves to be a princess. With a family losing faith in her, and a kingdom growing dangerously hostile, even Maelyn begins to wonder if she is truly a real princess. And if her riches will turn to rags once again….

The Fallen Queen by Emily Purdy (Goodreads) 
Not Free (£1.99) 
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Released: September 2013

Uncovering the secrets of Lady Jane Grey – who ruled England for nine days before her execution – and her two sisters Katherine and Mary – who both served Elizabeth I.

An unforgettable story of ambition, lust and jealousy.

Led by love into the jaws of fate….

Lady Jane Grey is crowned Queen at the behest of Edward VI. Her reign lasts only nine days before she is executed for treason and Elizabeth takes the throne.

Lady Jane’s two sisters, Katherine and Mary, live on into Elizabeth’s reign but in family misfortune they are bound, inspiring the Queen’s wrath against them.

In secret, Katherine and Mary risk everything and disobey the royal order by marrying the men they love. Will their treachery be discovered? And must they face imprisonment in the Tower of London, just as their sister did before them?Uncovering the secrets of Lady Jane Grey – who ruled England for nine days before her execution – and her two sisters Katherine and Mary – who both served Elizabeth I.

An unforgettable story of ambition, lust and jealousy.

Led by love into the jaws of fate….

Lady Jane Grey is crowned Queen at the behest of Edward VI. Her reign lasts only nine days before she is executed for treason and Elizabeth takes the throne.

Lady Jane’s two sisters, Katherine and Mary, live on into Elizabeth’s reign but in family misfortune they are bound, inspiring the Queen’s wrath against them.

In secret, Katherine and Mary risk everything and disobey the royal order by marrying the men they love. Will their treachery be discovered? And must they face imprisonment in the Tower of London, just as their sister did before them?

Friday, 23 October 2015

Halloween Magic & Mayhem by Stella Wilkinson

Title: Halloween Magic & Mayhem
Series: Magic & Mayhem (#1) 
Author: Stella Wilkinson
From: Amazon
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 2nd January 2014
Challenges: Online Book Club (Meme)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Emily is coming up 16 and is excited about the big Halloween party happening. Everyone is going to be there, including the boy she's had a crush on for ages and apparently he's been asking about her. But other things are afoot, and when Emily is told that she is a witch and is soon coming into her powers her first response is to deny it. That is until she discovers the ghost that's been haunting her room...

Halloween Magic & Mayhem is a short read, and as such its not a difficult or challenging read. It's definitely young adult and there was a fun factor to it that I'm not too sure would have worked in a longer book (though I could be wrong it might work!) As a short though it was brilliant.

I loved that Emily felt like a  16 year old girl. I find the fact that most YA heroines seem older than they are quite frustrating at times, so I liked having one that was 16 and focused mostly on boys and parties, it just seemed far more in line with what 16 year olds actually act.

The magic element was also done well. Emily had no real idea about what  she was doing (and as such made mistakes) and that worked for me, it meant that she had problems she needed fixing but she didn't automatically know the answer.

I also liked that Emily's family was a quite large part of her story,  mainly her aunt. Though I did feel that there was more to it than just what appeared in this novella.

I enjoyed this read, it was short and fun!

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Let Down Your Hair by Fiona Price

Title: Let Down Your Hair
Author: Fiona Price
From: Netgalley
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling
Release Date: 11th December 2014
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Raised by her strict feminist grandmother, Sage Rampion has been sheltered and kept from the world. That is until she sees a life model posing for a drawing class. As soon as Sage meets Ryan Prince she is drawn to him, and he starts to teach her about the world around her, including the popular culture she's missed out on by not owning a phone or watching a TV. But when Sage starts looking for the mother that walked out on her, things start to fall apart, and she finds herself in a completely new world.

I think that Let Down Your Hair could quite possibly be the best Rapunzel retelling I've read. (Though there does seem to be a fair bit of dislike for it on Goodreads). Personally I thought the author brought the fairy tale to life using the modern world in such a way that fit as well as making the story pretty much spot on.

At one point I found myself wondering if an event would happen because it did in the original fairy tale (the Grimm version, not Tangled!) and every time I was rewarded with something that stayed faithful, even things such as the Prince losing his sight (not a spoiler it's in the original fairy tale!) though that doesn't happen in quite the same way due to no magic in the story. There were also little nods all over the place, such as Sage's surname "Rampion". For me that really worked.

I loved Ryan, he was a great character. He was genuine and really seemed to care for Sage. But also he had a great sense of humour, and I loved what the author chose to do with his t-shirts (e.g. Severus Snape, an illustration from The Little Prince, Prince, a Frog...if you guess the common theme then go you cause I didn't until I was told!) I did get a little angry with Ryan for a while during the middle of the book and wondered how (or even if) he'd claw it back.

The Mother Gothel figure was actually split in two, one for each of the first two sections of the book (parts 1 & 2 were towers, the third the wilderness and the fourth the castle). On the one hand you had Andrea, Sage's grandmother, who was a staunch feminist and refused to cave on anything. Then there was Sage's model mother, Emmeline, who thought money could buy everything. Though it was possible to see that they had Sage's interests at heart, they didn't necessarily go about things in the right way.

The main focus of the story I thought was about Sage finding herself. Because of how she'd been brought up she was somewhat clueless about the real world and so about herself, and I enjoyed being along with her for the ride.

I really enjoyed this retelling, for me it worked.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Princesses Don't Become Engineers by Aya Ling

Title: Princesses Don't Become Engineers
Series: Princess Series (#3)
Author: Aya Ling
From: The Princess Series Box Set 
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Release Date: 5th August 2014
Challenges: 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (12 points)
Links: Goodreads- Amazon 

Elaine doesn't like being taught to be a proper Princess. At 12 years old she's already had 9 Governesses and they don't teach her anything important. When Elaine gets it into her head that she wants to study at the University, she does her best to catch up and prove that girls can be just as good as boys at academia. At 16, Elaine is even more determined than before to prove she is the best engineer around, and has grand plans to exhibit her inventions.

I think that Princesses Don't Become Engineers was my favourite of the 3 Princess books (though not quite as good as Ling's most recent book The Ugly Stepsister, though I think that could be to do with the age of the main protagonist).

Elaine had already been established as a character in the previous books, and as such had something to build on already. The book was split into three parts, for the first two she was only 12, something that I found hard to remember at times, and for the third she was 16 (which answered my question on how a potential romance could happen). I liked the clear splits for parts of her life, it worked well.

The romance was sweet and clean (like for the rest of the series). It was clear quite early on who she was going to have a thing for, and it started off as a very innocent crush (she was 12 after all!) then by 16 it had developed into a bit more. Though I thought that the romance was actually a minor part in the story really.

I liked the message of the series as a whole, that women and girls should be comfortable being who they are, even if it doesn't fit convention or if parts of themselves contradict other parts, though if I'm honest I was less comfortable with Valeria's story than with Ari and Elaine's, but overall it was a good message that got across in the stories.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Mermaid Inc. by Caroline Mickelson

Title: Mermaid Inc.
Author: Caroline Mickelson
From: Story Cartel
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: 19th April 2014
Challenges: N/A
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Miranda is excited to swap her tail for legs and embark on a mission to stop whaling. But when faced with posing as a maid for Justin Lockheed she finds herself in an unexpected situation. Aided by a friendly bird she has to learn the way that the human world works, all while faced with the charms of Justin. Justin hates the water, and does everything he can to avoid it, but when his latest contract gets him working with a company responsible for whaling everything changes...

Mermaid Inc was a quick read and an enjoyable one. It somehow managed to be light hearted and fun while still taking a stand point on a big issue like whaling (thought the author notes did reveal that as she finished writing one of the main issues was resolved). I thought that she did a great job of weaving everything together.

The romance between Miranda and Justin was cute, I don't think there's really any other word for it. It wasn't a long enough book to truly get a deep relationship between them, but it was still enough for me to want them together and believe that they worked together.

I loved Miranda discovering the human world. It was a little reminiscent of Ariel in The Little Mermaid, she's completely clueless, except in Miranda's case that extends to being unable to use technology and other modern conveniences (I think the best was her not realising that clothes were important!)

Goldie was a brilliant character! Though from some random passages you would assume that he was human and not a bird. I liked the idea that animals are just as intelligent as humans, and Goldie also provided comic relief at several points.

Mermaid Inc was lighthearted and fun at the same time as conveying a serious message, and I liked that. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid

Title: The Skeleton Road
Series: Inspector Karen Pirie (#3)
Author: Val McDermid
From: Netgalley
Genre: Crime
Release Date: 2nd December 2014
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

When a skeleton is found on top of a building scheduled for demolition, DCI Karen Pirie is called onto the case. Soon she begins to unravel the events that led to the man's death and discovers some true horrors relating to the Balklans conflicts. Meanwhile someone has been killing war criminals before they can come to trial and all fingers point in one direction...until that investigation crosses over with Karen's...

Before I get on with my review, one thing that needs to be said...that ending. I read it. Then I read it again. I didn't want to believe what I had read and found myself really feeling for the characters involved.

The Balklans conflict isn't one that I've ever really known about, and as such I was clueless going into The Skeleton Road, and actually I thought McDermid did a wonderful job of informing the reader while continuing her story at the same time. At times I did find myself horrified by the depths that human nature can fall to, and I thought that the balance was struck between the entertainment value of the story and the horror of what happened.

I liked Karen as a character. Even when things seemed impossible she didn't give up. Instead she worked through it logically and did what she had to do to better the cause around her. I also liked the relationship that she had with the people she worked with, they weren't all on great terms, but I thought it showed realism and at times (mainly with her DI and with River) she showed that she was more than willing to work as a team.

The mystery itself was intricate. It wasn't until very late in the day when what is a rather large hint was dropped that I figured out who had done it (though I had already linked some things together). I liked being kept on the edge of my seat, and having the mystery remaining worked really well for me.

Crime isn't a genre I've read a lot in recent years, despite the fact I'd read several of McDermid's books previously, but on rediscovering them I am finding that it's a genre I should never have abandoned!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Stranded with the Cajun by Michelle M Pillow

Title: Stranded with the Cajun
Series: Captured by a Dragon-Shifter
Author: Michelle M Pillow
From: Review Copy
Genre: Paranormal, fantasy, romance
Release Date: 1st October 2015
Challenges: 2015 New Release Challenge, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Stranded in the Bayou with a dead guide, photographer Lori has no idea what she's going to do only to be rescued by a Lizard Man. Drake was fed up with only the royals being able to go through the portal and win brides, and so he sneaks through hoping to find his fated mate. From the moment they meet there is something between the pair, but misunderstandings and cultural differences can cause problems...

It seems like ages since I've read one of the books centred on the Draig (dragon shifting aliens) and I'd forgotten quite how much I loved the society and the customs surrounding them. Captured by a Dragon-Shifter is set in the modern era, but is the past compared to the Dragon Lords series, and as such humans don't know of the existence of aliens (particularly not ones that shift into dragons).

I really liked the way that differences in culture were brought into play. This was both Drake not understanding things that Lori said, and Lori not quite understanding what Drake meant. Drake's accent was brought up, as was the fact that Lori didn't recognise some of the places he was talking about. It sounds like a really little thing to mention, but I think the attention to detail here is part of what makes the characters seem to have realistic reactions.

There was definite chemistry between Lori and Drake, of that there was no doubt. But there was more to their story than just the chemistry. They both had to learn to trust one another, though Drake's Draig beliefs did make it easier for him to accept Lori as his mate.

As always, Pillow writes an enjoyable story, and I was pleased to be back in the Draig's world!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Prince of Flight by Mandy M Roth

Title: Prince of Flight
Series: King of Prey (#6)
Author: Mandy M Roth
From: Review Copy
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: 13th October 2015
Challenges: 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Keanae has been living in the human world for years, ashamed of his scars and not wanting the reminder that his identical triplet brothers give him of his disfigurement. He never even settled in one place until now; until Lark. Lark has been on the run from the bird men for years, and she knows that it is probably time to move on, except that she can't bare the idea of leaving Kean behind, especially when he finally starts acting like he's interested in her...

First thing that I really liked about this was that the characters had known each other for a while. Though the events in the book took place in a short space of time, Lark and Kean had known each other for over a month before hand, and had got to know each other by having breakfast together on multiple occasions. I think that it gave meat to their relationship.

It took Kean a while to become possessive in more than thoughts with Lark, but as soon as he did the chemistry and connection between them was strong, and it felt as if they were already more established as a couple. Of course the other characters surrounding them (mostly from the previous books) had already noticed and these two were a little slow on the upkeep.

I still find the concept of bird shifters intriguing and I think that Roth does it well, not only in how the shifting works but also in how the different races of bird interact. It creates a truly three dimensional world that is completely different to anything I've read before.

I like this series, they provide short and exciting reads full of originality and chemistry.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Love at First Date by Susan Hatler

Title: Love At First Date
Series: Better Date Than Never (#1)
Author: Susan Hatler
From: Amazon
Genre: Romance
Release Date: 27th September 2014
Challenges: N/A
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Having watched her mother's failed relationships, Ellen thinks she knows what she wants; a man that's compatible with her, never mind all the instant connection and chemistry that people seem to go on about. When her friend needs her to puppy sit, Ellen reluctantly agrees and ends up taking Chester the miniature beagle to the vets when he chocks on a hair ball. There she meets Henry, a man that makes her pulse race and has her signing up for dog training lessons...

Susan Hatler really knows how to write a cute book. Love at First Date was short and sweet, and so long as you go into it expecting a quick romance and something a little short of insta-love, then it can be just what you need. For me this kind of book is a "filler" read, one when I don't want to get stuck into something heavy going or long, I just want a little bit of fun. And it serves it's purpose.

I liked that Ellen was using online dating, I don't think that that form of dating gets enough coverage in books. At the end of the day, this is a modern world and books should reflect that dating can happen online. I did also like that it didn't necessarily work and she actually found someone in a far more old fashioned way. It was definitely cute!

Something else that I liked is that Ellen never pretended to be someone else. She never pretended that Chester was her dog, or that she wasn't using online dating, or that she was worried about finding someone stable. Ellen was Ellen from the beginning of the book to the end, and I liked that.

This is definitely a quick light hearted read, but I enjoyed it for that purpose!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Ours to Save by Shona Husk

Title: Ours to Save
Series: ES Siren (#9)
Author: Shona Husk
From: Netgalley
Genre: Romance, Scifi, Space Opera
Release Date: 23rd July 2015
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Former Gaia activist Micah didn't want his family ripped apart, and by lying about his daughter's age, and a sizable donation, he managed to get both them and his convict partner and mother of his child, Felicity, on board. But when their daughter is threatened, both Michah and Felicity's loyalties are questioned and they have to do the unthinkable to save their family and the Siren.

That was a perfect end to the ES Siren's journey through space. Each book in the series has added a little more to the overall plot (though there have been three major plot arcs, one per each set of three books) and Ours to Save definitely hit the nail on the head with ending it.

There's been several different types of relationship coming out on board, not just between the various civilians, army staff and prisoners, but also in the way that they all interacted. But Ours to Save added a family dynamic into the mix.

Though Micah and Felicity's daughter herself didn't really play a central role as a character herself, she was central to the plot and provided the motivation for the story. It was an interesting position to be in and I liked how Husk managed to convey that people would do anything for their children. Due to her imprisonment, Felicity didn't actually know her daughter (and vice versa) which did add another level to that, and made the book quite emotional at times.

There was a real sense of suspense in the book, between the "standard" staff, citizens and prisoners of the Siren, and the "rebel" faction. It was made more interesting by the fact that some of the previous characters have sided on the rebel side, so I wasn't really all too sure how I wanted it to end. This of course helped make it not black and white.

One thing I really want to know now though is how the colony is going. I know that the journey through space is over, and the characters are approaching Solitaire at the beginning of the book, but I really still want to know more!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Hooker Heels by Ryan Ringbloom

Title: Hooker Heels
Author: Ryan Ringbloom
From: Review Copy (Blog Tour)
Genre: New Adult, Romance
Release Date: 1st October 2015
Challenges: 2015 New Release Challenge, 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Kenna doesn't know where she's going in life. The only thing that she really seems able to do is to get things out of men; and even that skill is fading since she was told she'd put on weight and been fired from Backsides. Zack is the son of a business tycoon and is constantly worried about being wanted for his money. With an upcoming restaurant opening he starts to question what he really wants to do with his life. But his father has other ideas and hires Kenna to be a distraction...

I picked up Hooker Heels knowing that I'd read something that was gritty and not completely perfect love. And it didn't fail. As with Fake Boobs (which told the story of one of the minor characters in Hooker Heels) I didn't find Hooker Heels quite as relatable as the Flaw and Fast series, but the realness of the characters really made up for that.

I like how Ringbloom brings together her various books, there are crossover characters making cameo appearances, and in Hooker Heels there was even a reference to one of her other books, Books, Blogs & Reality, being made into a film. To anyone who hadn't read her other books it wouldn't necessarily mean anything (and the story makes sense without knowing about it) but to someone who has it's like a little in joke.

Kenna and Zack's relationship was for the most part fun. Kenna has always been a high maintenance character, and she dressed the part. So having a romance that was laid back and happened so naturally really worked well for her. It meant the story was as much about Kenna discovering who she was as it was discovering their relationship.

Obviously there was the whole 'Pretty Woman' situation hanging over the characters' heads, and I did find myself worrying about when it came out. I think both of the characters dealt with it in a believable way, which made the ending all the more satisfying.

I do like Ringbloom's books, I think they're enjoyable and realistic.

  Hooker Heels Tour BannerHooker Heels by Ryan Ringbloom Publication Date: October 1, 2015 Genres: Adult, Contemporary, New Adult, Romance Hooker Heels Cover

Amazon USAmazon CAAmazon UKAmazon AU

Synopsis: Kenna Winston knows two things. Men and money. That's her game. But when she's offered a business contract, the game changes. Kenna has to decide if she is ready to up the ante or if the proposal being offered is crossing the line, even for her. And what happens if her heart gets involved?
Oh, that's right... she doesn't have one. Zackary Knight has always had things handed to him. That's not the life he wants. Can't anyone see that he is more than just a dollar sign? What about the beautiful woman who just showed up on his doorstep? Is she someone he can finally open his heart up to? Because his heart... it's a big one.
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About Ryan Ringbloom

Ryan Ringbloom
Ryan Ringbloom is a YA/NA author who lives for anything Romance. The passion, love, angst, awkwardness… she loves all of it. When Ryan needs a break from reality she sneaks off to read a romantic story or write one of her own. Drinking coffee, reading Tweets and hugs from her six year old are the best part of her day. You can follow her on Twitter: @RyanRingbloom or visit her website at . Feel free to contact her, she would love it!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

Title: A Whole New World
Series: Twisted Tales (#1)
Author: Liz Braswell
From: Netgalley
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 1st September 2015
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2015 New Release Challenge
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

What is Jafar got the lamp from Aladdin? When that happens, Princess Jasmine knows that her fate is even worse than being married to a man against her will, and is determined to do something about it. As soon as Aladdin saw Jasmine he was captivated, and having dug himself up from the dessert he decides that he'll do anything to save her and to save Agrabah from the evil sorcerer who is now Sultan.

Wow. I'm honestly not too sure where to start with this review. I know several other bloggers who have read this book and some have been on the side of not liking it and some have liked it. Which in itself made me curious. I'm not sure I'd have felt the same about this book if I hadn't known for sure that the first 20% or so would stick so closely to the Disney version, but I did.

For the first half of the book I couldn't help but imagine cartoon characters in the place of the characters, which isn't something that normally happens when I read. It was both intriguing and made the book stand out, though when something happened that wasn't quite in line with the film I found myself jarred a little. By the second half of the book I found that this had worn off and the characters had become their own. In my opinion the second half of the book was much more engaging and flowed better, though that could simply have been me getting used to the idea of the cartoon characters being there.

The twist was fantastic. I liked how Braswell took one key moment and changed it, and then showed how that would have an impact on the story. This even went as far as showing other key moments from the Disney version being played out by different characters, or by the characters thinking about what could have happened. That wasn't something that took up much time or seemed out of place, it actually worked really well.

I think I actually prefer this way of Aladdin and Jasmine's relationship progressing than the original. There was far more substance to both of them and they knew each other far better and far longer than they had in the film. This made their relationship more complex as well, particularly when they were faced with hard choices.

Everything was a little dark at times, and you could see where the morals of certain characters were being questioned. None of them had a completely clean sheet and none of them were black and white, even Jafar had moments where he wasn't quite as evil (though admittedly not many).

The ending also worked really well. There was no way that the original ending would have worked, and there were several points in the story where I was really concerned about the characters well being (and not just Jasmine and Aladdin's, I was also worried about Rajah and Abu, as well as several of the new characters like Morgiana and Duban). The way it worked out meant that everything was tied up but it was different from the happily ever after in the Disney version.

I actually really enjoyed A Whole New World, it was definitely different! I loved the new characters that were added and I liked the way that the characters interacted with each other and with the various plot points. For me this worked well, though I can also see why it wouldn't work for some people. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Demon by my Side by Victoria Davies

Title: Demon by my Side
Series: Netherworld (#2)
Author: Victoria Davies
From: Netgalley
Genre: Romance, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 17th February 2014
Challenges: 2015 Reading Assignment Challenge, 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Hunter Darcy Snow has one aim in life; to protect humanity from the demons and spirits that are trying to destroy it. When demon, Jaral, offers a partnership she wants to say no, but something is stopping her and making her want to partner with the sexy demon. Up until meeting Darcy, Jaral has wanted to take the power from his father, but after meeting her something has changed, and all he can picture is a life with her in it...

Demon by my Side is exactly the kind of book that it's synopsis suggests; a kind of Romeo and Juliet style story about opposing sides falling for each other and having to make choices about what they truely want. And you know what, for me that worked, because that was the sort of easy read I wanted for my Sunday afternoon (Sunday 27th September if you're interested, it was really sunny and I enjoyed reading in the garden!).

There was plenty of romance in Demon by my Side and the two characters, Darcy and Jaral, had great chemistry together while still managing to maintain a sense of them not actually trusting each other. I liked that they didn't automatically start with the trust, and it took them a while to build it up, so even if there was a bit of insta-love (true mate let out card here) it was far more tolerable than the normal kind.

There was also plenty of action to keep the reader busy, and not just from Jaral. Darcy was just as strong and lethal in her fighting and wasn't afraid to show it. I do like a good strong female character, and Darcy was no exception. When it came down to it she worked with her partner rather than being protected by him.

When I picked Demon by my Side as a 2015 Reading Assignment book I didn't realise that it was part of a series, just that I'd enjoyed Victoria Davies' books before. I enjoyed this, and didn't feel like I was left behind in the story, but I am definitely going to check out book 1 given the chance!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Empress of Hearts by E Barrington

Title: The Empress of Hearts
Author: E Barrington
From: Netgalley
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: 1928
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

The end of Marie Antoinette is well known, but how was it that she got there? When Con-woman, Jeanne, sees a chance to dismantle the famous Boehmer necklace for money, she sets off the chain of events leading to Marie Antoinette's downfall, bringing in players from the jeweler himself to a Cardinal. When her duplicity is uncovered it is already too late, and even if Marie Antoinette had nothing to do with the plot, there is nothing that will convince the French public of that.

I have no idea where to actually start with this review...the book left me severely disappointed on several fronts, and I think that one of those is probably on the false advertising. The cover, and the name (as well as the release date on Netgalley) led me to believe it would be a more lighthearted and romantic retelling of Marie Antoinette, whereas actually the book definitely reflects the writing style and demands of it's original publish date, 1928.

 I think that if I had known this then there is a chance that I wouldn't have picked up Empress of Hearts, but as it is I did and have finished it, though it took some convincing to make myself do at times. I do also have another book by Barrington, Anne Boleyn, and I am now a little wary of picking that up, despite being interested in the historical character, as I am with Marie Antoinette.

There was a lot of factual dropping in The Empress of Hearts. In fact at some points I thought it weighed down the text, again I do think this is something that was down to the original writing period, and even as someone who knows a fair bit about the French Revolution I found it hard going. Not because the facts were dull themselves, but in the way they were put across. At times this didn't seem like a work of fiction .

I think my main problem with The Empress of Hearts though was that there was very little character development. I didn't feel that any of the characters got enough consecutive page time to develop. Even Marie Antoinette, an already colourful character, and Jeanne, who could have been, didn't seem any more than two dimensional.

On the plus side, for the most part the facts surrounding the necklace con seemed to be at least fairly factual, and it was more in keeping with the time period it was set in than some historical fiction books.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Cape Cod Promises by Melissa Foster & Bella Andre

Title: Cape Cod Promises
Series: Love on Rockwell Island (#2)
Author: Bella Andre & Melissa Foster
From: Review Copy (Blog Tour)
Genre: Romance
Release Date: 30th September 2015
Challenges: 2015 New Release Challenge, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

It's been ten years since Reese and Trent's marriage fell apart, when she left him a Dear Trent letter and he worked too many hours to keep him. Now Trent has returned to the Island where they fell in love and they can no longer avoid each other. Or the feelings that they still have. Having been burned before the two of them move warily around each other, but there's no denying the chemistry or emotion that is between them.

Cape Cod Promises wasn't the classic 'meet and fall in love' romance, instead it was more about the characters who had truely never fallen out of love despite being divorced for 10 years. That meant that the story was less about discovering things about each other, but more about rediscovering and working on what went wrong the first time.

I really liked that Reese and Trent's relationship wasn't quite perfect, the fact it had cracks made it possible for them to work past it which was an integral part of the story. I also liked that there were parts where both of the characters admitted to making mistakes, there was definitely no pinning it on someone else.

One of the best things about Cape Cod Promises though was the air of family about it. Both characters were close to their parents, and in Trent's case to his siblings too (Reese is an only child, but did show a close bond with her best friend). Family was clearly important to them and that came through in the story.

I loved going on Reese and Trent's story, it had growth and serious issues, as well as a cuteness that is the envy of every woman really!

 Trent Rockwell has it all—a thriving legal practice, co-ownership of the Rockwell Resort, and a big, loving family. And yet his failed marriage to Reese Nicholson has haunted him for ten long years. Now that he has moved back to Cape Cod Bay to help run his family’s resort, he is surrounded by memories of Reese…and he can’t stop longing for the woman he’d always believed was his one true love.…
At nineteen, artist Reese Nicholson was swept off her feet by the handsome, charming, and incredibly sensual Trent Rockwell. After a whirlwind courtship, they married and moved to New York City, where they hoped all of their personal and professional dreams would come true. But six months later, Reese returned to Rockwell Island broken-hearted and disillusioned.
For a decade, Trent and Reese carefully kept their distance. But all it takes is one accidental late-night encounter to immediately stir the desires they have both tried to bury deep. Powerless to resist the heat between them, every passionate kiss, loving caress, and heartfelt apology draws them closer together. So close that they can’t help but wonder if the promises they once made to love each other forever are still true…


Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the  World Literary CafĂ© and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine. 

Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.
Visit Melissa on social media. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.
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Bella Andre is the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of “The Sullivans” and “The Morrisons” series.
Having sold more than 4 million books, Bella Andre’s novels have been #1 bestsellers around the world and have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists 23 times. She has been the #1 Ranked Author at Amazon (on a top 10 list that included Nora Roberts, JK Rowling, James Patterson and Steven King), and Publishers Weekly named Oak Press (the publishing company she created to publish her own books) the Fastest-Growing Independent Publisher in the US. After signing a ground-breaking 7-figure print-only deal with Harlequin MIRA, Bella’s “The Sullivans” series is being released in paperback in the US, Canada, and Australia.
Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly), her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into ten languages. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post called her “One of the top writers in America” and she has been featured by Entertainment Weekly, NPR, USA Today, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and  TIME Magazine. A graduate of Stanford University, she has given keynote speeches at publishing conferences from Copenhagen to Berlin to San Francisco, including a standing-room-only keynote at Book Expo America in New York City.
Bella also writes the New York Times bestselling Four Weddings and a Fiasco series as Lucy Kevin. Her “sweet” contemporary romances also include the new Walker Island series written as Lucy Kevin.
If not behind her computer, you can find her reading her favorite authors, hiking, swimming or laughing. Married with two children, Bella splits her time between the Northern California wine country and a 100 year old log cabin in the Adirondacks.

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