Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Bookish Resolutions Link Up (August)

2016 Bookish Resolutions

Bookish Resolutions is a challenge I co-host with Michelle @! Yet another month has passed! So let us know how you did this August! 

My Bookish Resolutions Progress (which is way behind where I should be!)

Blogging Goals 
  1. Schedule posts before the day they are 'due' (especially for challenge updates!)
    I'm not quite a month ahead review wise, and so far I haven't had to scramble this month for memes and challenge updates (though I also haven't put the finishing touches to it!) 
  2. Post a detailed update on everything on the first Sunday of each month (previously Reintroduce non-review content)
    I changed this one before I went back to posting weekend reviews when my reading picked up again, but my End of the Month round up is still on track, just for the 1st of the month!
  3. Cross post Blog Posts regularly, preferably in under a week since post date
    I let this one slip a little while I was in Germany, but appear to have picked it back up!
  4. Tidy up the Trips Down Imagination Road Facebook & Twitter Pages
    This one is going, mostly because I decided I was pretty happy with where I'm at with it. 
  5. Visit other blogs regularly (I used to but this dropped off the radar a bit)
    I may have been guilty of lurking a bit but I need to get back on top of this one! 
Reading Goals 
  1. COMPLETED: Improve Netgalley ratio by at least 10% (if this is achieved by the half way mark then it will be upped to 20%). I did succeed in improving my ratio in 2015 and was actually quite surprised to find I'd improved it by 7% (at the time of writing).
    Not going to lie this one surprised me when I just checked my ratio! Of course I have only just hit 10% so I could still lose this one! 
  2. COMPLETED: Finish 10 series this year. (I get distracted a little easy! I can have already started the series previously)
    So far I've finished 18 series this year;
    The Reckoners by Brandon Sanderson, Circle of Evil by Kylie Brant, Trevor's Harem by Aubrey Parker, Rook & Ronin
     by JA Huss, The Seduction by Roxy Sloane, City of Legends by Cheyanne Young, The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski, Galaxy Playmates by Michelle M Pillow, Dark Dirty & Deadly by JA Huss, The Dukes of War by Erica Ridley, Everealm by JD Wright, I Am Just Junco by JA Huss, Things to Do Before you Die by Nina Croft, Sisters of the Moon by Nina Croft, Coded for Love by Lynne Silver, Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter by Nikki Jefford, Midnight Masquerade by Kate Harper, Scoundrels & Secrets by Erica Ridley
  3. COMPLETED: Complete 3 year long challenges (may change the number depending on how many I sign up for). Bookish Resolutions does not count for this sub-goal.
    I've completed 4 so far!
    2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge, 2016 New Release Challenge, 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 Blogger Shame
    My others are all on track too!
  4. Read 3 books a month that were already on my kindle at the start of 2016 (can be from Netgalley, Amazon etc.)
    I think I've read 9!
Personal Goal

  1. COMPLETED: Finish Cloaked (the sequel to my published Novella)
    Cloaked is not only finished, but it is now Published! (Here's the link to prove it!) 


Portia by Christina Bauer

Title: Portia
Series: Angelbound Offspring (#2)
Author: Christina Bauer
From: Amazon 
Genre: Fantasy 
Release Date: 3rd November 2015
Challenges: 2016 Read the Books You BuySummer COYER 2016, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points) 
Links: Goodreads Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads)Unlike her famous older brother Maxon, Princess Portia isn't known for killing demons or attracting admirers. The reason why is simple: a spell was cast on Portia, and the magic has marked her to one day transform into a dreaded Void demon. To fight this horrible fate, Portia’s spent her life hiding in libraries and learning magic. But when the Void demons threaten to destroy all the after-realms—and the handsome dragon Emperor Tempest offers his help—then Portia suspects that her future holds more than just a demonic metamorphosis. Fate is calling the bookworm princess onto the battlefield, and it’s a fight against both deadly enemies and her heart’s desires. 

Portia can be read as a standalone, but reading the previous Angelbound books (Angelbound Origins & Angelbound Offspring) definitely adds to the experience, not only in knowing how the world and magic work but also in knowing some of the characters. My review may contain spoilers for the previous Angelbound books. 

I loved Portia! Not that that is in anyway a surprise as I've loved every Angelbound book that I've read. I think I may even prefer Portia to her older brother Maxon. Her voice was reminiscent of her Myla's (her mother who narrated the Angelbound Origins books) but had its own spin to it. While Portia herself may not have been confident in her abilities, she had a strength in her that shone through, and her confidence grew as the book progressed. 

I liked Tempest as well. He's been a character in previous books but more of a sideline one. There was a bit more of him in Maxon's book (which led to some interesting moments between the two men in Portia) but I found him very likable. He was sweet and supportive, letting Portia make decisions that were only hers to make even when other people weren't allowing her to. 

There was plenty of action and magic in Portia, and the two blended well. The magic built upon the previous lore from the series and became its own, which was added into learning more about the Furour (dragons). 

This was a great read, and I know there's more coming from the Angelbound universe and I definitely can't wait!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Evil Red by Nikki Jefford

Title: Evil Red
Series: Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter (#2.6) 
Author: Nikki Jefford 
From: Amazon 
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Release Date: February 2014
Challenges: 2016 Read the Books You Buy, Summer COYER 2016, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point) 
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads)L.A. is one tough city, especially while sharing a trailer with four thieving sisters. Valerie’s plans for a better life and Hollywood grandeur are interrupted after a fateful stabbing lands her in Anchorage, Alaska where government agents expect her to play the role of a vampire hunting La Femme Nikita. The redheaded vixen is back in her own novelette.

Evil Red shouldn't be read as a standalone. Though the events happen before those in Aurora Sky (book 1), Valarie is a key character and Evil Red adds to her backstory. There may be minor spoilers in my review, but I will endeaver to keep it spoiler free!

In the interest of context, before Evil Red, I'd read up to book 3 in the series, Bad Blood, including Noel's novella, Stakeout. Evil Red is suggested to being read after book 2, Northern Bites, or Stakeout

Valerie is a complicated character for me, while I didn't like her at the beginning of the series, I have found myself warming to her in more recent books. What Evil Red does though is humanise her. It gives her the complications that she hasn't really had up until now. 

It was weird reading about her relationship with Fane. On the one hand it did reveal how she really felt, but on the other hand there was something weird about reading about a relationship between Valarie and the series' main character's love interest! 

This was a good addition, and I'm interested to see where Valarie will go next as a character!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Sworn to War by Terah Edun

Title: Sworn to War
Series: Courtlight (#9)
Author: Terah Edun
From: Amazon
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 29th July 2016
Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge, 2016 Read the Books You Buy, Summer COYER 2016, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Ciardis Weathervane is facing a war on two fronts. One with the dragons. One with the deities. She is ready to face the god that they’ve known was coming for months, but the people that she thought would coalesce around her are faltering under the pressure, the lies, and the deceit. She knows that the very foundation between ruler, nobility, and commoner had fractured down to its core. Now the capital city and its people need to be reforged, bound in fire before they’re consumed by brimstone. But the citizens of the empire need more than a speech to believe in the rulers that betrayed them just days before. With their empire on the line, Sebastian lays out his first ruling edict which may be more than even he bargained for. As Sandrin comes together once more before the final struggle, the daemoni prince is struck down and the princess heir-in-waiting has doubts as to whether they can forge a more perfect union without the one that completes their souls. With Thanar trapped in purgatory while they fight to resurrect the city that gave them life—Ciardis and Sebastian are in a battle to the death against a god bent on living forever.

Sworn to War can not be read as a standalone as it relies heavily on events and relationships established in the previous books. In particular it relies on the events of Sworn to Sovereignty from which it continues. This review may contain spoilers for the previous books in the Courtlight series. 

I definitely had a moment while reading Sworn to War when I thought about just how far Ciardis has come as a character. It was probably spurred on by both Ciardis and other characters, that I don't want to name to avoid spoilers, were thinking about and mentioning the girl she was when she first came to Court. 

The events of Sworn to War take place in a very short amount of time, but there was so much information and build up going on that I was glad that Edun decided to make this book about that and not squish the scenes down and put them in with another book. I felt like each moment was important, both for Ciardis and for the plot in general. 

I do still have questions though! And some theories about motivations and who unknown characters are. This book did answer a few of the lingering questions I had though, including a hint about Sebastian's father. 

As with the other Courtlight books the romancantic elements were subtle. Sebastian, Thanar and Ciardis now seem to have fit more comfortably into their bond, and there even seems to be a warming relationship between the two men. Though Sworn to War did significantly warm me towards Thanar, who I was a little wary of before. 

This was a great addition t the series and answered some burning questions, I just can't wait for more!

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Series: Harry Potter (#8)
Authors/Playwrights: JK Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
From: Amazon (Hardback edition)
Genre: Fantasy, Play Script
Release Date: 31st July 2016
Challenges: Summer COYER 2016, 2016 New Release Challenge, 2016 Read the Books You Buy, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new play by Jack Thorne, is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. It will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on 30th July 2016  It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child can't really be read as a standalone, especially if you're a Harry Potter fan. It works as an 8th book but I do think that it relies quite heavily on the plots of the previous canon to be truly standalone. However, on stage it may work as more of a standalone (but I am yet to book tickets for that!) As per JK Rowling's instructions, this shall be a spoiler free review, though with everything going round my head after reading that may be a tricky thing for me to pull off.

I'd forgotten the excitement of waiting for the delivery on a Harry Potter release day until today! (FYI it's 31st July as I'm writing this and the book arrived a couple of hours ago, at which point I dropped what I was reading for this!) As someone who grew up with Harry Potter release days in their childhood the wait was almost as exciting as the story itself!

It's been 6 years since I had to read anything in script form (since my A2 English Lit plays!) so it took me a little bit to get back into the swing of it, but because we know the characters and the settings so well (for the most part!) it was easy to sink back into the story and completely forget the way in which it was written.

The old characters were true to form, and there were a few more surprising ones in there that I hadn't expected, and the new characters added something different. I liked the additions and thought some of the more minor plotlines were genius, they fleshed out the characters and made them as real as those in the original books. I do have a serious question about one of them though, but I can't ask anyone yet!

There was one thing in the entire story that I expected, and it was actually very important, but the rest of it took me completely by surprise. There was no point where I thought I knew what was going to happen and I found myself completely entranced, just like with the previous 7 books.

This was undoubtably magical and a fantastic edition to such a loved series. I hope I get to see it on stage soon!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Stitching Snow by RC Lewis

Title: Stitching Snow
Author: R C Lewis
From: Netgalley
Genre: Sci-fi, Fairy tale retelling
Release Date: 14th October 2014
Challenges: 2016 Blogger Shame, 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, My TBR List Meme, Summer COYER 2016
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Princess Snow is missing. Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all. Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

So Stitching Snow  is one of those books that's been sat on my kindle for ages. In fact this is the second time I've actually started it, though the first time I think I must of become distracted because there is no way that I wouldn't have continued reading, especially after the book really picks up its pace. 

Stitching Snow is a real mix of genres. While the setting has a sci-fi/space opera feel to it, with space travel, advanced technology and multiple planets, there were also some elements of the dystopian genre coming through, and of course the retelling aspect in the form of Snow White. 

The retelling itself was incrediably clever. While maintaining classic elements of the fairy tale, Lewis made the story her own. The moments of the story were interwoven with the setting and the fast moving plot in a way that left it recognisable but with an original twist. 

I liked Essie as a character and she is definitely not a pampered Princess by any stretch of the imagination. This story was really about her finding herself though, and how she could become the person she needed to be alongside the person she wanted to be. 

The romance in Stitching Snow was very subtle, and in contrast to the original tale, the Prince figure is there for the majority of the story. However Dane and Essie spend most of the book getting to know each other without actually rushing anything, it was a cute relationship and I loved it. 

This was a great read, I'm disappointed in myself for leaving this book so long to read!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Bad Blood by Nikki Jefford

Title: Bad Blood
Series: Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter (#3)
Author: Nikki Jefford
From: Amazon (Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter Box Set)
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Release Date: 12th June 2014
Challenges: 2016 Read the Books You Buy, Summer COYER 2016, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Aurora returns from boot camp to a new assignment, an unwelcome roommate, and the increasingly amorous attentions of a certain vampire hunter. College is starting, and so is Aurora’s undercover work at a network of swanky parties known as “Tastings” for high rolling vampires who like their blood laced with fine wine. But Aurora’s not the only one on the prowl. An underground investigation is under way to find out who killed one of Anchorage’s most prominent vampires… and Aurora is a prime suspect.

Bad Blood shouldn't be read as a standalone. It's the third book in the Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter series, and ideally should be read after book 2.5, Stakeout. This review may contain minor spoilers for the previous books in the series. 

I love this series! Each book is cementing it more and more in my head. It was good to get back to Aurora's POV too, though Noel's POV in Stakeout did reveal a lot of very interesting information (as well as clearing Noel of some potential crimes!)  and that made Bad Blood an even better read. 

It's safe to say that Aurora's love life isn't the only thing that got complicated in this book, though I wasn't too sure about some of the developments love life wise in the first half of the book, though I think even Aurora knew that. 

I liked the ups and downs that came with friends as well. I remember how complicated it was in my late teens friend wise and Bad Blood captures that so well. While things weren't perfect at the end of the book you could see them righting and I can already tell that the next book is going to be super interesting! 

There were several more reveals in this book, and a lot of connections to previous books. There's a lot going on for Aurora and she realises some things before others can actually tell her (sorry that has to be cryptic!) it all makes a fascinating story. 

I am really excited to continue with the Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter series, especially as I'm not 100% sure of where its going next. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Werewolves of New York: Eli by Faleena Hopkins

Title: Werewolves of New York: Eli)
Series: Werewolves of New York (#2)
Author: Faleena Hopkins
From: Amazon
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Release Date: 30th April 2015
Challenges: Summer COYER 2016, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Eli Jackson’s dimple and those always laughing eyes of his would melt the panties off a woman even when she's still wearing her pants. But his knack for finding abused women who need his help is no laughing matter. He and his packmates vowed to use their abilities to take down evil when they find it, and Eli's got a new 'case.' Helping Diana brings him face to face with Rose Hendricks who needs no man’s help, and she’s certainly not why does he want to take her down in ways he knows he shouldn’t? He made a pact with Darik to stay why can't he control his wolf whenever Rose is around? Rose Hendricks is a funny, All-American attorney smartass who doesn’t like to lose. In the courtroom, she rarely does. But in life? She just lost her best friend to love. Another one bites the dust, as the single girls say. But Rose won’t let her friend go without a fight, and when another unanswered call goes to voicemail, she hightails it to Michelle’s apartment only to find Eli there, wearing only a blanket, telling her Chelle doesn’t live there anymore. Say what? Sparks fly like crazy and soon Rose is looking at glowing eyes from a man who supposed to be human. What is he, really? And what’s everybody hiding?

Werewolves of New York: Eli can be read as a standalone, though it does mention events of the previous book (Werewolves of New York: Nathaniel) and includes some of the same characters. I liked having the continuity but as it's been a while since I read the previous book anyway I did need some memory jogging first! 

Though there is a little bit of instalove going on, this is paranormal and linked to werewolf mates which makes it acceptable in my eyes, plus the characters were a little more subtle about it.  They actually more acted on an attraction between them first and even then there were issues that stopped things happening. 

As a result there was some great chemistry between Rose and Eli, which built up over the course of the book and made the reader truly believe that theere was something between them. It was undeniable and moved things along well. 

There was also the underlying theme of the characters helping other people, both Eli's more rough form of justice, and Rose's determination in the courtroom. This made both of them strong and highly likeable characters and also added that something extra to the story.

This was a highly enjoyable read, not that I expected any less!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Stakeout by Nikki Jefford

Title: Stakeout
Series: Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter (#2.5)
Author: Nikki Jefford
From: Amazon (Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter Omnibus)
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Release Date: 4th February 2014
Challenges: 2016  Read the Books You Buy, Summer COYER 2016, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Noel Harper got a second chance at life when the government recruited her as an undercover vampire informant. Since the day they brought her back from the good-as-dead, she has wanted to prove herself worthy. When a member of her investigative unit is murdered, Noel is paired up with a vampire hunter named Dante to spy on a suspect in Fairbanks. The problem? They're not the only ones on stakeout. Taking down murderous vampires is one thing. Dealing with the past is another. But this time, Noel isn't letting fear win. She's calling in help from the other side and discovers a shocking secret along the way.

Stakeout happens concurrently with the events of Northern Bites, book 2 in the series, and can't be read as a standalone. There may be minor spoilers for previous books in the series within my review. 

It took me a little longer to warm up to Noel than it did to Aurora as a narrator, but actually I even thought that Aurora herself came across a little cold at some points, though she wasn't in the story much and knowing what she went through in the previous book it does kind of make sense. 

I really liked the banter and growing friendship between Noel and Dante! It was different from how Dante is with Aurora and it made me feel like he was a more real character. It also painted Noel in a very different light, much less dark and gothic than her appearance previously suggested. 

There were a couple of big reveals in Stakeout, one being what happened to Noel to make her into an Informant in the first place, and the other I think will have a major impact on the future story and I'd kind of started suspecting it at the end of Northern Bites and definitely by the beginning of Stakeout

This was a good addition to the series and I'm looking forward to how the information in this book will impact the story! 

Monday, 22 August 2016

On a Rogue Planet by Anna Hackett

Title: On a Rogue Planet
Series: The Phoenix Adventures (#3)
Author: Anna Hackett
From: Netgalley
Genre: Sci-fi, Space Opera, Romance
Release Date: 16th November 2014
Challenges: 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge2016 Blogger ShameSummer COYER 2016, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Unlucky-in-love salvage mechanic, Malin Phoenix, didn’t intend to get caught up in a coup and kidnapped by a sexy cyborg. But she finds herself swept into an adventure to help the deadly, emotionless CenSec, Xander Saros, retrieve an ancient Terran artifact and save his planet. Soon she’s racing across uncharted space and is magnetically drawn to the cyborg whose strong arms and muscled body ignite a desire that burns brighter than a supernova. But Mal can never let herself forget that she can’t fall in love with a cyborg who can never love her back. The crowning glory of the Centax Security program, Xander is heavily enhanced, his emotions dampened to nothing to allow him to be the most efficient, lethal killer in the galaxy. As he and Malin hunt for the remnant of the galaxy’s first computer, the Antikythera Mechanism, their quest leads them into the lair of a dangerous technomancer. But Xander can’t identify his greatest threat—the enemy or the fascinating woman who’s making him feel.

On a Rogue Planet can be read as a standalone, however it does reference the events and characters from the previous two books and as such is better read as a part of a series. This review may contain minor spoilers for the previous books in the series, At Star's End and In the Devil's Nebula

I think that On a Rogue Planet is quite possibly my favourite book from this series so far! There was so much about it to like. It was action packed as well as being a break from the traditional romance roles that so many books end up falling back on (and don't get me wrong, I love a well written trope as much as the next reader, but sometimes shaking it up is good!) 

Mal isn't a typical girly girl, though there were a couple of moments where she did put effort into dressing nice and doing make-up, so basically she came across as normal. She was a mechanic and it's been clear since the reader first met her that she loves it. As such she was no weakling and fought not only for herself but for those she cared about too. 

Xander was a big strong fighting machine, and definately futuristic. As a combination of man and robot his character was an interesting one, and his main character progression was learning to deal with emotions. As such, he was the naive one in the relationship, both physically and emotionally, and it was an interesting dynamic to read between the two leads. 

There was some great world building in On a Rogue Planet too. There was the introduction of Rogue Planets themselves, which was interesting and nothing like I would have expected, as well as some new races and planets. On top of that there was also some relationship building for Nik and Nera which has been going on for all the books! (And I'm guessing they'll get their own at some point!) 

I really enjoyed On a Rogue Planet and hope to read more from Hackett!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand

Title: Imitation
Series: Imitation (#1)
Author: Heather Hildenbrand
From: Netgalley
Genre: Dystopia, Sci-Fi, YA
Release Date: 12th March 2013
Challenges: 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 Blogger Shame, Summer COYER 2016
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Everyone is exactly like me. There is no one like me. Ven wrestles with these contradicting truths every day. A clone of wealthy eighteen-year-old Raven Rogen, Ven knows everything about the girl she was created to serve: the clothes she wears, the boys she loves, the friends she loves to hate. Yet she’s never met the Authentic Raven face-to-face.  Imitations like Ven only get to leave the lab when they’re needed—to replace a dead Authentic, donate an organ, or complete a specific mission. And Raven has never needed Ven . . . until now. When there is an attack on Raven’s life, Ven is thrust into the real world, posing as Raven to draw out the people who tried to harm her. But as Ven dives deeper into Raven’s world, she begins to question everything she was ever told. She exists for Raven, but is she prepared to sacrifice herself for a girl she’s never met?

I need to start my review with a sort of disclaimer, because inadvertantly it affected my reading experience. However I would also like to reiterate that it is completely my own fault. When I started reading Imitation, it was the copy on my Kindle which came from Netgalley, I then however switched to using my phone where the copy of Imitation came from Amazon. This led to a very confused 10 minutes until I figured out that they were different versions of the same book. I back tracked 5% or so then began reading the version from Amazon from where it differed to what I'd already read. However one of the big reveals later in the book had already been revealed in the other version which kind of detracted from the shock value. 

Ven was an interesting character. As a clone she was created to mimic her Authentic, Raven, in everyway. She studied her life and the things she was involved in but Ven didn't seem to like Raven very much (and yet she never actually met her). I actually ended up feeling a little sorry for the absent Raven, mainly because I didn't want to believe she was anywhere near as bad a person as Ven seemed to think, especially given how controlling her father came across. Also, where is the real Raven? Its a question I really want an answer for. 

I found the growing relationship between Linc and Ven good. It went at a fairly slow pace and on his side seemed to come from spotting discrepencies in Ven's behaviour while pretending to be Raven (she really wasn't very good at it!) It took a while for them to act on what they were feeling and there were several moments where trust became an issue between them. 

Most of the book was centred around Ven trying to fit into Raven's old life (and failing) but there were snippets of what the world as a whole was like. There seem to be three distinct "classes" of people, the Rich, the Poor and the Imitations. The latter seemed to basically be an exaggeration of modern day celebraties, whereas the poor were basically everyone from the middle class down (the world became too damaged for the middle class to exist), and the Imitations weren't counted as people (or well known about). In future books I hope that these are explored more. 

While my reading experience was hindered by my switching copies, I was still entertained and do plan on reading book 2 at some point!

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Too Sinful to Deny by Erica Ridley

Title: Too Sinful to Deny
Series: Scoundrels & Secrets (#2)
Author: Erica Ridley
From: Netgalley
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: 19th July 2016
Challenges: 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 New Release Challenge, Summer COYER 2016, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): TOO TEMPTING TO OBJECT...One look at the towering ocean-side manor that is to be her new home, and exiled socialite Susan Stanton knows: This is a place haunted by secrets and riddled with menace. For Susan, there is no escaping it. At best she can stay clear of the most dangerous element of all--dark-haired smuggler Evan Bothwick, a man whose shaded countenance cannot hide his wicked intent. But Susan has a secret of her own--a special gift that renders her privy to the darkest mysteries lurking within the walls of the manor and in the labyrinthine cellars beneath. And the only man who can help her make sense of it all is Evan, the very scoundrel and rogue she would do anything to be able to resist...

I was really looking forward to reading Too Sinful to Deny after really enjoying Too Wicked to Kiss and while I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I enjoyed the first book, it was still a fantastic read. Too Sinful to Deny had some minor paranormal elements like the first book and had the same gothic feel to it. I love the Gothic genre anyway, so having that paired with a modern writer that I really like has worked well for me. 

Susan was a returning character from the first book, though there was definitely more to her in this one. That was probably since there was more from her own point of view in this rather than from the characters who found her a little bit in the way. She grew on me a lot throughout the book and by the end I definitely liked her as much as I liked Evangeline in Too Wicked to Kiss

Evan was clearly a more decent man than even he thought he was, but through the book he did manage to continually convince the reader of that...even if he made other characters work to get to that realisation. 

The chemistry between the two leads was incrediable and I found myself truly believing it. They didn't try and outright deny it to themselves either, though they did try to convince themselves that it would pass. It felt like there was a bit more substance to their relationship than a lot of book couples get. 

The mystery, which was introduced almost straight away, was complex and kept me guessing. I don't think I'd ever have managed to guess the culprit before things started slotting together and I like it when books keep me guessing, it adds to the experience for me. 

I'm loving this series from Erica Ridley, definitely different from her other stuff I've read!

Friday, 19 August 2016

New Vampire Online by Annie Carroll

Title: New Vampire Online
Author: Annie Carroll
From: Story Cartel
Genre: Paranormal
Release Date: 13th January 2014
Challenges: 2016 Blogger Shame, Summer COYER 2016
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Cate the vampire, or as she thinks of herself, a ‘night person’, has launched a new online business with the help of Conrad, that sexy Cuban-American vampire. And her website is as hot as he is! Everything seems almost perfect until Evgeny the Zombie Vampire and his girlfriend, Tatiana the Liar, leap over the wall and land on the terrace beside her. Then her old boyfriend, Jack the Surfer, turns up again. Before long, cops show up asking questions. And more cops. Then there is that little adventure at the Chateau Montaigne near the Sunset Strip and the disappearance of her RV. Maybe Conrad is right: Cate seems to run into trouble everywhere.

I really wanted to like New Vampire Online, I thought it'd maybe be a little bit quirky with a comedy element and maybe a little bit of romance. And all I could think all the way through is how much I wanted to llike it and just couldn't seem able to. In fact the only thing that kept me going after I hit 50% (and had given up on it turning into the book I wanted to be) was that I'd already got that far, I may as well percevere to the end. 

I think my number one problem with New Vampire Online was the characters. There just wasn't anything there for me to relate to. Cate's main thoughts were of her business (which is fair enough) but seemed to be focused more on just how much money she made than on the intricacies of the other aspects which often got brushed off as "see I can fix this without Conrad".

I also just didn't get Cate and Conrad's relationship. He just seemed a little bit cardboard cut out and there for when Cate wanted sex. She told the reader that he was protective, but he never showed it, it was just talked about. Also if he's protective then what on earth was going on where Jack was concerned because that just seemed a bit weird. 

Most of the book just seemed to be about the vampires daily lives, and the somewhat boring tasks that they were doing. There was an overall plot arc and it did have potential but actually it seemed to get forgotten about for large sections at a time. On top of that it brought out one of the issues I had with this book; Cate's concience. 

When it came to killing other vampires Cate felt that it was wrong, and said that it was wrong. But when it came to killing humans it was fine so long as they hid the bodies well. I'm fine with reformed vampires, I'm fine with vampires killing only criminals, I'm fine with vampires falling off the wagon, but Cate & co,'s blantant disregard for human life of any kind made it very difficult to like them. 

However, I did like the chatty style that the author chose to write in, that was what I was expecting and I just wish that the content had lived up to that. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Mr Corporate by JA Huss

Title: Mr Corporate
Series: Mister (#3)
Author: JA Huss
From: ARC
Genre: Romance, Suspense
Release Date: 17th August 2016
Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge, Summer COYER 2016, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Weston Conrad is the best headhunter in the business. That handsome smile goes a long way towards convincing most people to trust him with their future. I’m not most people. I’m his direct competition. And it doesn’t hurt to be just the kind of woman he’s been looking for. I’m gonna flash you these legs, Weston Conrad. I’m gonna wear low-cut shirts and micro-mini skirts. I’m gonna dazzle you with wit and conversation and kiss those lips like they’re exactly what I’ve been waiting for. So don’t hate me when you figure out my secret. You understand, right? You’re Mr. Corporate and this is just business. 

While the events of Mr Corporate, and the romance, are standalone, there is an overall story arc in the Mister series that involves all the main characters therefore I would suggest reading the series as a whole, especially because its awesome. This review should be free of spoilers for the other books. 

I went into Mr Corporate with no expectations on what would happen, mostly because you can never second guess Huss when it comes to plot! So the only thing I was expecting was that the book would be amazing, and I was right on that count! However there was a tidbit dropped for Mr Mysterious which is simultatneously exciting and an "OH" moment! 

The two main characters, Victoria and Weston, had history together, which made the first part of the book mostly about how much they loved and hated one another. Their relationship was certainly turbulant but it was clear to the reader how much they cared, even if they did have secrets. 

There were plenty of secrets in Mr Corporate and them being revealed caused a lot of twists and turns. A lot of them revealed things about the main characters themselves, but there was also some information about "that night" itself. In true Huss style the secrets and revelations went places no one expected and made the plot entertaining and intrigueing on so many levels. 

In the later parts of the book there was a lot of suspense that came from the mysteries being revealed and it was glued to the book level of suspense. I didn't want to put Mr Corporate down anyway because I've been excited to read it, but also because of everything that was going on. 

There were several side characters that were fleshed out a bit in Mr Corporate too, including Mr Mysterious, who I am now super intrigued about! We also got to see a couple of characters that were a bit younger in another Huss series, and naturally that is super exciting! (Though you don't need to have read the other series to read this one, but it is equally awesome!) 

This was a great read, not that I ever thought it wouldn't be! Each of the Mister books is so different from the others that this series will just keep being surprising!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Chased by Love by Melissa Foster

Title: Chased by Love
Series: The Ryders (#3) (Love in Bloom)
Author: Melissa Foster
Genre: Romance
Release Date: 17th August 2016
Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge, Summer COYER 2016, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Actress Trish Ryder takes her job seriously and has no time for those who don’t. When she’s awarded a major role in a new movie featuring America’s hottest rock star, Boone Stryker, she’s beyond excited. The six-two, tattooed hunk of burning desire is known for his dedication to his craft—but when he ditches their first meeting, she begins to wonder if he’s just another rocker with a great PR team. Sex, booze, women, and music pretty much sum up Boone Stryker’s private world. He’s coasted through life playing by his own rules with plenty of people willing to cover his tracks, and he’s not likely to change—until he meets a woman who refuses to give him the time of day, much less anything more. Sparks fly from the first moment Trish and Boone meet—Tensions run hot and desire runs hotter when they’re trapped together on a remote location with no place to hide. Will sparks ignite, or will a hurricane douse the flames?

Chased by Love can be read as a standalone books though some events of previous books in The Ryders subseries and other Love in Bloom books. There may be minor spoilers for other Love in Bloom books but as each is a standalone they should definitely be minor! 

Chased by Love had a different feel from the other Love in Bloom books I've read simply because both the main characters were famous (whereas in the books I've read only one of the couple has) and Boone and Trish had such polar PR representations that it added another level to their relationship. 

Neither of the main characters had direct problems, and it was more about them opening up to each other, particularly relating to Boone's past. Though Boone himself was actually pretty clean cut in himself, but he was incrediably protective of his family, friends and where he came from. This also translated into his relationship with Trish too. 

Trish and Boone had plenty of chemistry and I loved that it was all wrapped up in their film as well as in real life. The movie set and real events linked together well and the film's plot worked well as a way to help the two of them move their relationship forward. 

Family was an important theme in Chased by Love, not just in the support Trish and Boone gave towards their families, but also the support their family gave to them. It felt natural to have the families act like that. 

Once again a great read from Foster and I look forward to reading more from this fantastic author!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Monstress Vol 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda

Title: Monstress Vol 1: Awakening
Series: Monstress (#1)
Author: Marjorie Liu
Illustrator: Sana Takeda
From: Netgalley (individual issues)
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Release Date: 19th July 2016
Challenges: 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 New Release Challenge, Summer COYER 2016
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steampunk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both. 

While my review is for the collection (issues 1-6) I did read them individually and not all together. I really liked the individual covers though, they are definitely worth checking out! The only reason I picked up Monstress is because I enjoyed White Sand (Brandon Sanderson) more than I thought I would earlier this year. However it is definitely worth noting that this is only the second ever graphic novel I've read. 

I really liked the artwork, I thought it was absolutely beautiful and captured the culture (Asian 1900s) that it was meant to perfectly. The characters' clothing in particular was incrediably detailed and it made reading this a pleasure. There was also a lot of detail went into the characters themselves, mainly the Arcanics (hope I spelt that right!) which included parts of their bodies as those of animals. 

While Maika was the main character, and a suitably tortured one at that, I couldn't help but love one of her sidekicks (for want of a better word!), Kippa. Not only was she important to the story, mainly to show Maika's more humane side, but she was adorable as both a child and a part fox. 

I loved that the majority of the characters were female. That also included the antagonists, and I liked that women were shown as being just as ruthless as their male counterparts. Saying that there were still a few mysteries that need solving! (That is unless I missed something) and I found myself forming theories as I read.

I'm slowly getting into Graphic Novels, and I know that I'll definitely be reading more of this series!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Bound to Secrets by Nina Croft

Title: Bound to Secrets
Series: Sisters of the Moon (#3)
Author: Nina Croft
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Release Date: 8th December 2012
Challenges: 2016 Blogger Shame, Summer COYER 2016, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Six years ago, an attack by a rogue werewolf plunged Doctor Connor McNair’s perfect life into nightmare. Now the mere scent of blood awakens the beast within him. He’s teetering on the brink of self-destruction when an intriguing rumor leads him to the desolation of Rannoch Moor and the one woman who might call him back from the darkness. Part of a telepathic experiment that went dangerously wrong, Keira’s mind will destroy anyone who gets too close. Unable to control her powers, she has cut herself off from all human contact and found a measure of peace hiding on the moors with only the wild animals for company. Until Connor arrives, awakening hopes and desires buried deep inside her. Connor is determined to save her, but some wounds are beyond the powers of a doctor to heal and time is running out, because Keira’s mind holds secrets that certain people would kill to keep hidden…

I think Bound to Secrets is my favourite of the series, and I felt that I saw a lot more of the action that is present in other of Croft's books in this one as opposed to the other two. However I also couldn't help but feel (or maybe hope is more accurate!) that there will be more to this series! I know I still have questions! 

While the events in Bound to Secrets are stand alone for the most part, the full affect is better if you've read the previous books Bound to Night (Tasha's story) and Bound to Moonlight (Anya's story). There may be minor spoilers within my review.

Keira certainly came with her own set of baggage. All three of the sisters had their own troubles stemming from the Agency, but Keira seemed to be the most enlightened about their activities. She also seemed to be the one most affected by what had been done to her. 

Connor was a minor character in the first two books, and as such I had a vague sense of him going into Bound to Secrets. He seemed llike a decent guy but the broody kind of wolf as opposed to one that owned who he was (like Sebastian in the previous books). This one really brought him into his own though and it felt like his story as much as Keira's. 

The relationship between Keira and Connor did grow through the book, even if it was an almost instant trust between the two of them. As this was a novella you do expect the love side of things to go faster anyway though! 

This was a good read, and I do hope there is more to come from the series!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

The Dom Tames Rapunzel by Sydney St Claire

Title: The Dom Tames Rapunzel
Series: Once Upon a Dom (#5)
Author: Sydney St Claire
From: Netgalley
Genre: Erotica, Romance, BDSM
Release Date: 24th June 2016
Challenges: 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 New Release Challenge, Summer COYER 2016
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Jessica Lowe is bored with the endless round of parties her life has become. When she’s invited to Pleasure Manor to attend a coveted Fairy Tale role-play event, she’s ecstatic, even if the Dom sponsoring her is an old high school classmate. But he’s not the nerd he once was, and she can’t help but ache for the bossy, domineering man he’s become. Jasen remembers Jessica as the spoiled little rich girl who used her status and beauty to get what she wanted. From what he’s seen and heard lately, not much has changed. She has a reputation topping the Doms in his BDSM club. But he plans to tame this sub once and for all. For three days, she’ll be his Rapunzel. But to Jasen’s surprise, there is much more to Jessica than the pampered princess who demanded he do her homework, and he’s just the man to help her discover exactly who she is. 

So reasons I figured I'd start with reasons why I picked up this book. Firstly I have a complete weakness for fairy tale retellings (might have given that one away with the fact I wrote one!) Secondly I enjoy reading books with BDSM elements, probably because its something I won't experience in the "real world". In the past I've read some terrible books combining the two of them, but I gave this one a go and I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed it. 

While the events of the book are mostly set at a BDSM event, the BDSM itself wasn't overly hardcore (think spankings and a bit of voyeurism rather than anything extreme) and it certainly made for some great sex scenes between Jasen and Jessica. The two of them had great chemistry and that showed on the page. 

Jessica and Jasen had a past before the book, but that allowed them to grow as a couple. The past made things a little more complicated feelings wise, but that complexity helped make their characters that bit more believable. The author also allowed the two of them time to talk to each other (and not about sex) which made them normal. 

The parallels between this story and Rapunzel were definitely there, without the darker aspects of the story, and the HEA tied everything up perfectly. This was a good read!