Thursday, 29 December 2016

Review: The Blood Key

The Blood Key The Blood Key by Vaun Murphrey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I positively adore Vaun Murphrey’s Weaver series, and upon finding out she had a new book I jumped at the chance to read it. Of course, I was disappointed that it wasn’t the next Weaver book – I have so many questions I need answers to, so many events I’m excited to see play out – but I was intrigued to see what else she had to offer.
For me, whilst the first book in the Wander series was an interesting read, it didn’t quite have the charm of the Weaver series. It was an interesting first book, enough to leave me willing to read the rest of the series, but it failed to pull me in as much as the Weaver series.
In all honesty, you could say I was a little bit disappointed by this one. I’d expected something more of this, I’d expected a high like the Weaver series, and yet it failed to deliver quite what I had hoped it would give me. A fun read, but nowhere near what I know Vaun Murphrey is capable of giving.
The Blood Key has such an interesting premise – our main character is freed from an asylum after false imprisonment for the presumed murder of her brother, secrets and lies at home, and a past looking to catch up with her. You’re not entirely sure what you’re getting involved in, but it sounds like a lot of fun. Having read Vaun Murphrey’s Weaver series I knew there would be many twists and turns, but I still wasn’t quite sure what kinds of twists and turns I would be given. Was this to be another science fiction read or would it be a contemporary read? The name suggested the latter, but the synopsis I read didn’t quite give the alien feel I knew from the Weaver series. It turns out, it is a science fiction read, but not quite in the same league as the Weaver series.
I know, I keep referring to the Weaver series, and I do apologise for this. I only do this because the Weaver series is such a strong series, and works to show just how much Vaun Murphrey is truly capable of giving us. As I’m about the explain, The Blood Key failed to hit a few marks for me, and having read her other work I know she is capable of giving us so much more – leaving me with the hope that the rest of the series will fill in the gaps apparent throughout this one.
First off, I’ll start with the story telling. Whilst enjoyable, certain parts of the book felt rather disjointed. There were many entertaining scenes – all kind of emotions were pulled at throughout the book – and yet there were times when things were not quite as clear as they could have been. I attribute this to the number of things that occurred throughout the book. So much happened in such a short space of time, that we bounced from one thing to the next at a rapid enough pace to leave you confused as to what was going on. Scenes would shift when we were still trying to wrap our heads around things, and whilst this does tie in with the main character’s lack of understanding, it made it hard to keep up with what was going on. More than once, I found myself going back to double check what was happening within a scene.
Additionally, we didn’t find out quite as much about the alien worlds as I’d expected. We know about the big evil that will be present throughout the series. We know about the history, to a degree. We know a little about the different types of aliens. Yet, despite how much we came to see, I feel as though I know nothing at all about the alien worlds. I have more questions than answers. This is all good to leave me curious, it leaves me eager to read the next books, yet I would have liked to have a little bit more understanding. I would have liked to be able to form a better picture than what I currently have, as at the moment there are more blank spaces than I usually like to have.
My final complaint is in relation to the relationships in the series. Whilst some were really enjoyable to watch, others felt too forced. The romantic element in particular, failed to do anything for me. I know Vaun Murphrey is capable of writing a wonderful romantic subplot, but for me it felt as though it was thrown in just to ensure certain scenes played out. There was potential for the romantic element, but in this first book it just felt a bit forced.
As I’ve said, though, it was an interesting read. It opened up a lot of possibilities of where the series could go and has left me curious as to what is to come next – the ending in particular leaves you on the edge of the seat regarding where the story is to head next. I’m curious to see where things go from here, and my fingers are crossed that the next book lives up to the standard of the Weaver series rather than merely showing glimpses of what Vaun Murphrey is capable of delivering (honestly, there were some four star moments, there simply wasn’t enough for me to give a solid four star rating, hence this rounded down three stars).
As a final note, I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me the chance to read this one.

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Review: Dawn Study

Dawn Study Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dawn Study was all I could have hoped for from the ninth, and final, Chronicles of Ixia novel. I admit that it wasn’t perfect, but it was a brilliant ending to a truly wonderful series.
I’ve read all of the Ixia books – the Study series, the Glass series, the Soulfinders series, and the short stories – excluding Shattered Glass. I planned to pick that one up before reading this, yet when NetGalley approved my request, I was too excited. I couldn’t hold back – I had to read this one. Fear not, all those who have yet to read Shattered Glass. The short story is not a necessity to understand this book. It’s linked in with the Glass series, with characters and events in Dawn Study, but it is not the end of the world if you have yet to read it. I now plan to go back and read it, if only to ensure I have read every single Ixia story – both full-length novel and short story – yet my lack of prior reading failed to lessen my enjoyment of Dawn Study.
Now comes the really hard part – trying to form a coherent review about the actual book.
Since Poison Study, I have been in love with this series. The world of Ixia ensured Maria V. Snyder’s place on my favourite author list. I devoured the first six books across a handful of days, and since then I’ve been jumping whenever there was news about the last three books. Without a doubt, the Study/Soulfinders characters are my favourite, but I’ve enjoyed every book in the series. Everyone has something to offer, all of the events come together in a wonderful way. With Dawn Study, I was expecting something big. I had ideas of what would come, but I wasn’t sure about anything.
Fortunately, Dawn Study has enough twists and turns to ensure you’re pulled in throughout. Every time I put the book down, I found myself impatient to carry on reading. You never knew exactly what would come next. Old and new characters come together, events from the past come back to influence how things play out, and the entire series is brought together in this one. Answers are given; conclusions are reached; scenes we’ve been waiting for finally play out.
It truly is a fabulous ending to the series.
I know, I know, I’m saying very little about what exactly happens. This, of course, is intentional. We’ve all been waiting so long to see all these things come together, that to give spoilers would be a truly horrible thing to do. I’ve been fortunate enough to advance read this novel, and I really do not wish to be blamed for secrets escaping. Just know that you’ll be given so many things in this one.
Despite how wonderful this ending was, even though so much was brought together, I wasn’t completely satisfied. The book tries to give every character some kind of ending. We get to see how events play out for everyone. Some of these endings, though, fell short for me. I’d expected more from some of the storylines. Some characters played such vital roles throughout the entire Ixia series, only to be given an ending that was less than they deserved. Yes, these endings make for great twists… However, I felt a bit cheated by some of the endings. The main characters had great endings, but some of the characters didn’t end the way I expected and hoped. It just seemed to me as though more effort was put into some endings than other endings.
Was this done intentionally? In some cases I can but hope, almost as though we’re going to be given more stories of these characters in the future. I cannot imagine they would be full-length novels, but I have my fingers crossed for some short stories. If only to tie up the few questions I have pertaining to how things played out for certain characters.
Overall, though, this was a great read. The Chronicles of Ixia series has been a real ride, and I’m so sad to see it end. All good things must come to an end, though, and I cannot wait to see what Maria V. Snyder brings us next.
As a final note, I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to advance read this – such a thing made me a very happy fan.

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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Review: Carnal Beginnings

Carnal Beginnings Carnal Beginnings by Reily Garrett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Carnal Beginnings is the first book in the Carnal series, although it was not the first one I read. Whilst this influenced my knowledge somewhat, it failed to lessen my enjoyment of the story. As with the two other books in the series that I have read, this one was a brilliant read.
This first book is a brilliant introduction to the brothers we follow throughout the series. We get to know them, we get to know their world, and yet we’re still left with enough curiosities to ensure we will want to continue to find out more about them. Whilst it’s not the strongest book in the series, it’s a very strong first book. Such a thing is expected though, with the first book being where the author finds their footing. In this one, Reily Garrett finds her footing and gives us an exceptionally strong read. The future books only get stronger and stronger, with their being a very clear development of the strength of her stories. I really do wish I’d read the books in order, though, simply so I could watch the author going from strength to strength. It’s not the first time I’ve done such a thing, and as always I regret it. One day I will learn my lesson, but until then – well, I’ve still had a wonderful time with these books.
As I’ve said, this is the first book in the Carnal series. It’s an entire story, with a complete start and ending, meaning you do not need to commit yourself to the entire series. You probably will, though. I’ve certainly committed myself to the series, and the author’s other work. Reily Garrett has a wonderful way of telling a story, pulling you in from the very start, ensuring you have no wish to put the book down until you know how things played out. You quickly fall in love with the characters, you’re pulled into their world, and everything is vividly brought to life.
I should probably stop here, and give a little warning.
This book is not for the faint of heart. It comes with a trigger warning – and for a very good reason. Very sensitive topics are touched throughout this book – not just on one occasion, but on multiple occasions. If any of the trigger warnings mentioned in the synopsis leave you questioning whether this is the book for you, I suggest you read one of the other books in the series. Each is an individual story, each stands alone. Each is wonderful, and you shouldn’t miss out on the author’s work due to the topics touched upon in the book.
Back to my review, now.
What I say next is linked, somewhat, to my mention of the trigger warnings. Whilst I really enjoyed the story, I found it somewhat hard to believe. Mainly, it was because of the time frame. I understand why things happened so quickly – the way things were linked together and the events that unfolded required things to occur at a rapid pace – yet I found it difficult to believe such a large change could happen to our female main character in such a time frame. Thus, I suggest you suspend your belief somewhat when reading this. It’s a wonderfully gripping story, it really pulls you in and leaves you wanting more, but – if, like me, you find yourself questioning the timeframe of changes – you may need to detach yourself from believing the story to be completely realistic.
Other than that, however, it was wonderful. As with all of the author’s work, so many aspects are brought together to ensure the story is more than just the sum of its parts. The romance is wonderful; the suspense is gripping; the erotica is tasteful. Each thing brought into the story has a purpose, ensuring you’re on the edge of your seat for the entire read.
Whilst it wasn’t my favourite of the Carnal series, it was certainly a wonderful read. With wonderful characters and a gripping storyline, it’s guaranteed to leave you wanting more of the author’s work.
I believe, up next for me, is the one book I’m missing from the series – Carnal Innocence. It’s time for me to complete this wonderful collection of stories, allowing me to come to a firm decision of which of the brothers I favour (I think I already know, but a girl can never have too many book boyfriends).

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Review: Dime Store Magic

Dime Store Magic Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dime Store Magic is the third book in the Women of the Otherworld series, and as with the prior two books it’s a great read.
With this one, we see a change in perspective and at first I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to enjoy it. Through the first two books I was really pulled into the werewolf world and knowing a change was coming had left me tentative. Yes, I’d enjoyed the introduction to the other supernatural parts of the world we got to see in Stolen but I wasn’t sure where things would go. Fortunately, I very quickly found myself pulled into the story.
Paige turned out to be a very interesting character, giving us a very different viewpoint to that given in the first two books. The way the story was told from her perspective really pulled you in, leaving you entertained throughout, giving you a much wider view of the supernatural world. Looking at the witching world, it was a very different kind of story to that in the first two books. Yes, there was links, but at the same time it was a completely unique story.
Honestly, the development of the witching world was my favourite aspect of the story. We only got a glimpse of it in the prior book, but in this one we got a much better understanding of the witching world. Learning the rules and watching the interactions was so much fun, especially as we found out more regarding the divide between witches and warlocks.
That brings me nicely to my next point. Whilst the romantic element in this one was rather predictable, I really enjoyed watching it unfold. The romance in this was completely different to that seen in the prior book, ensuring the story was as far away from the prior books as possible in as many was as could be. We have a completely different personality with our main character; we have a completely different romance story; we have a completely different plotline. All in all, it works well to make this books stand on its own whilst remaining linked to the main series.
Honestly, this book is very different to the prior two books and I loved this change. It moves the entire series forward through introducing us to many new aspects of the world, allowing us to see things from another perspective, all whilst having a unique feel about it.
I really do need to get my hands on book four and continue on with this wonderful series.

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Review: In Their Footsteps

In Their Footsteps In Their Footsteps by Tess Gerritsen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve read many Tess Gerritsen books – both her older romantic suspense books and her newer mystery books – and I can safely say she is one of my favourite authors. However, In Their Footsteps failed to entertain me in the way I had hoped. Truthfully, it is my least favourite of all the Gerritsen books I have read.
In Their Footsteps had the promise of being a wonderful read. Spies and murder – what’s not to love? Unfortunately, it didn’t give me the suspense filled book I had been hoping for. There were a mere handful of pages where events took place, the rest of the time… well, it felt as though the book was trying to force its way through a bog and wasn’t really getting anywhere.
To me, it felt as though the spies and murder were a backdrop to a very boring story. It’s as though those aspects were thrown in as a means to make the story more entertaining, only it was too little too late. We’re told about government agents, we’re told about past events, and yet we spend most of our time focusing upon drama I didn’t really care about. Yes, the drama plays in to the overall story… but it didn’t hold my attention at all. Usually when Tess Gerritsen does drama she creates something wonderful, but with this one there wasn’t really anything there at all. Events were taking place and yet I found my mind drifting because there wasn’t the usual things you find in a Gerritsen book. There was no real action; the characters were rather boring; the romance was lacking. If I’d read this book without knowing the author, I would never have guessed it to be a Gerritsen book.
If you’ve yet to read a Gerritsen book, I certainly recommend starting somewhere else. She really can do – and has repeatedly done – better than this. Were it not for the fact I brought the omnibus, I wouldn’t be reading the second story about this family. In fact, I’m only doing so in the hope Gerritsen can salvage the family.
Overall, a disappointing read from one of my favourite authors. You’re always going to find them – the books where your favourite authors didn’t quite reach their usual high – I’m just disappointed a book with so much promised turned out to be the Gerritsen book I didn’t enjoy.

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Monday, 19 December 2016

Review: Skunks Dance

Skunks Dance Skunks Dance by St. John Karp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Skunks Dance turned out to be so much more than I expected it to be. Yes, I was interested in this book from the get-go, but I wasn’t doing a crazy dance as I sometimes do after reading a synopsis. After all, whilst it sounded like a lot of fun I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into.

It turns out I was getting myself into a truly addicting story. In alternating chapters, we follow two stories. One is that of Spivey Spillane and the trouble he finds himself mixed up in due to Alabama Sam in the time of the Gold Rush era. The other story is that of Jet and Amanda and their rivalry in the modern day world. I cannot say which of the two stories I found to be more addicting, as both really pulled me in. Both stories were made up of strong characters, drastic events, and highly entertaining moments. Throughout it all, the two stories were intricately connected, the link between the two making for one highly entertaining read.

The story of Spivey Spillane is a fun look at the Old West, offering us more than what the usual books in the genre do. Usually when we’re given books of the Old West, it is simple shootouts that make up most of the story telling. Whilst we are chasing down a bad guy, trying to bring justice to the world, the main focus is upon the events that comes about through this. A lot of entertainment comes about from Spivey Spillane finding himself in far from ideal situations – accused of robbing a bank, forced into the only role of a play, and generally finding himself drawing the attention of the sheriff and townsfolk. Throughout it all, we have a number of questions, and whilst some answers are obvious, it’s a lot of fun as we slowly come to understand the situation better.

The story of Jet and Amanda is vastly different. It’s a look at teenage life, mixed in with the mystery of the past. Our two characters are butting heads for most of the story, yet they come to work together to try and find the gold of Spivey Spillane. As with the story of Spivey, our present day story is filled with entertaining moments. Mostly, these entertaining moments come from the crazy that is Jet’s family. Mixed in with all of the amusement, the mystery of the past slowly grows to larger proportions before coming together in an unexpected manner.

I will say, however, that the modern side of the story falls prey to the usual young adult slip. It is very much a representation of this moment in time, the current trends and hypes. It’s always wonderful to see references to popular culture, but in a couple of years the references won’t mean the same thing that they do today. Such a thing always saddens me when a book is really fun, as I feel as though it is giving the book an expiration date. Nevertheless, the story telling was wonderful.

I had so much fun with this one. Honestly, I cannot begin to explain how enjoyable this one was, not without giving away spoilers – something I refuse to do. Thus, the only thing you can do is give this one a read yourself.

As a final note, I would like to thank the publisher for contacting me for a review: I really enjoyed this one, and cannot wait to see what else the author has to offer.

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Sunday, 18 December 2016

Review: Unraveling the Earl

Unraveling the Earl Unraveling the Earl by Lynne Barron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unraveling the Earl is the third book in the Idyllwild series, yet it works perfectly fine as a standalone novel.

As a standalone novel is how I read it. It’s my second Lynne Barron book – my first being Taming Beauty – and I found no troubles suggesting I would do well to read the prior books in the series. That is not to say I have no wish to read them – having finished this book, I’m certainly interested in the prior books in the series – merely that you do not need to read them to understand this one.

Having now read two Lynne Barron books, I believe I can easily recognise her exact style of storytelling. I do not mean this in a bad way, not at all. Rather, it’s a promise of what you will receive when you pick up one of her books. You’re guaranteed a great historical fiction; you’re guaranteed complex multidimensional characters; you’re guaranteed twists and turns. In short, you’re assured of a great read.

Unraveling the Earl is a very different kind of story to Taming Beauty, my only other Lynne Barron book, yet I found myself enjoying it just as much. Perhaps a bit more, if I’m honest. I’ll admit that it took me a while to get into the story – I was constantly looking for answers and explanations, curious as to the whys of events – but once everything fell into place and became clear, I found I could not put the book down. I was working my way through it at a rapid pace, needing to see how everything played out. I’ll admit that I saw a few things coming, but as a whole it was filled with wonderful surprises.

We have romance and revenge. We have passion and desire. We have drama and mystery. We have questionable motives and questionable characters. Basically, we have all we need to be pulled into the story, everything necessary to leave you well and truly engrossed in the events playing out.

As with Taming Beauty, though, I think my favourite aspect was the characters. Despite the story being wonderful, I found the characters were what really made it come alive. They were both wonderful, and I really enjoyed watching their interactions. Slowly, as the book progresses, we find out more and more about the characters. Information is drip fed to us, with bites and pieces being given at just the right moment to ensure shock. Both characters are complex, with a past, unique personalities, their own stories to tell, all coming together to make them very real characters. The way they complement each other, their personalities playing off each other, is wonderful. Honestly, the characters are so strong in this one.

Overall, it was another great Lynne Barron read. The storyline was gripping, the characters were wonderful, and the book came together so well.

As a final note, I would like to thank Aurora Publicity for allowing me to read this in exchange for a review: I had a lot of fun with this one, and will certainly be looking at more of the author’s work in the future.

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Friday, 16 December 2016

Review: All Jazzed Up

All Jazzed Up All Jazzed Up by Tracy Ellen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Truthfully, I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to feel about this book. At first I wasn’t really pulled in, but once the story gripped me I found myself unable to put it down.

It starts off with a bang, a scene that leaves us expecting a lot of mystery and suspense. A female gets a flat tire, followed by being attacked, before things can go too far the attacker is gone. It left me with questions. Who was the female? Who was the attacker? Who saved her? Why was she the victim? All of the questions that entered my mind in the prologue, however, were pretty much answered in the first chapter. It turns out we weren’t to have a book of tracking down who was to blame for the attack – we were going to have a book about revenge. Well, a plot line about revenge. I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about this, as it didn’t really pull me in the way I had expected it to. In fact, even as this aspect of the story progressed I was never really pulled into it as much as I had hoped to be.

Fortunately, the other side of the story pulled me in. A faked marriage between friends, with hidden emotions that they’re unwilling to act upon at first. It’s a bit of a clichéd story; however, if done correctly such a storyline is a lot of fun. With this, it’s done right. Yes, it’s clear from the start where things are going. You know from the get-go how things will end, who feels what, and where the truth can be found. However, watching the interactions play out is wonderful. Even though you know how things are going to end, you’re pulled in and left questioning how everything will come together.

Truthfully, my favourite part of this book was the dialogue. There’s so much entertainment to be had. There are so many amusing characters to be found in this book, with there being many wonderful lines. I often found myself giggling unexpectedly because of what characters were saying. Honestly, some of the lines were truly wonderful. Without a doubt, it left me enjoying the characters so much. The voices, the amusing conversations, made the occasional dull moments that little less boring. Not that there were many of these moments – it simply wasn’t the non-stop action I had been anticipating.

Overall, though, I had fun with this one. It’s left me hopeful of what the next book will give us, and I cannot wait to read more of the amusing conversations.

As a final note, I’d like to thank the author for allowing me to advance read this one.

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Review: Carnal Whispers: Mind Stalker

Carnal Whispers: Mind Stalker Carnal Whispers: Mind Stalker by Reily Garrett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Earlier this week I read Carnal Obsession: His Herat’s Prisoner. It’s the fourth book in the Carnal series, to be released in just over a month, but it works perfectly fine as a standalone novel. When I was done reading I was in a state of awe – the book was truly astounding. It was everything I’d hope it would be and then some, being a wonderful representation of the genre. Thus, I was super eager to read more of Reily Garrett’s work. In fact, I was happy to add her to my ‘instant read list’. What this amounts to is I want to read all her prior work and will jump at her future releases.

Due to this, I was more than happy to read and review Carnal Whispers: Mind Stalker, when Reily Garrett offered it to me.

Carnal Whispers: Mind Stalker is the story of Marc and Dani, and if I’m being completely honest they were the couple I was most interested in reading after I finished Carnal Obsession: His Heart’s Prisoner. I was interested in all of the brothers, I want to read all of their stories, but Marc was the one I enjoyed the most when I read Carnal Obsession. There was just something about him – his attitude, his easy way of being, his way of dealing with others – that left me intrigued to see how his story played out.

I can safely say that I really enjoyed his story. It was so much fun. I enjoyed Conner’s story a bit more, if I’m completely honest, but Marc’s story was wonderful as well. They were two very different stories, two very different situations, and I enjoyed them both in vastly different ways.

Whilst Carnal Whispers works well as a standalone novel, I will say that I think it will be easier to enjoy if you read Carnal Innocence. Carnal Innocence tells the story of Callie and Nate, with their story being linked in with the suspense elements surrounding Dani’s situation. It’s not necessary to have read Carnal Innocence to enjoy Carnal Whispers, but I believe it will help. I feel as though reading Carnal Innocence fills in some of the questions I have remaining in my mind relating to the paranormal element of the story, along with allowing me to better understand the situations referenced throughout this book. It is entirely your choice, though, as to whether or not you read Carnal Innocence. As I’ve said, this works just fine as a standalone novel. Reily Garrett explains the keys events in such a way that you know exactly what is going on, what happened in the past, and you’re never left in the dark.

Honestly, as I said above, the only blank spot in my knowledge is the details of the paranormal aspect. I wanted to know more, I wanted to understand that side of the story completely. Hence why I’m curious as to whether Carnal Innocence would work to fill in my blank spots. I understand how the paranormal aspect works, understanding how the powers work, but I’m curious as to how they came to be. I want to get to the bottom of the mystery, in other works, rather than simply knowing that side of the story exists.

That, really, is my only complaint. It took me slightly longer to get into the story of Marc and Dani than it did for me to be pulled into Conner’s story, but once I was pulled in I couldn’t put it down. As with the Carnal Obsession, this book is wonderfully written. Reily Garrett has a very unique style of writing, and I love the way her words flow. Her words bring the story to life, allowing the world to grow before your eyes. You feel a true connection to the characters in addition easily envisioning the scene and events, with her words moving the story forward at a wonderful pace.

Not only is her writing wonderful, but the story is so much fun. It’s so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s more than just a romantic suspense novel. It’s more than an erotic story. It’s more than a thriller. It’s more than a paranormal twist. It’s all of these things, and so much more. It’s about learning to love yourself, about trusting others, being true to who you are, accepting how things can be, and so much more. I could write so much, but it would ruin all the development that occurs for our characters throughout. Just know that the amount of growth shown by our characters reflects a much deeper meaning embedded into the story, if you’re willing to look. Even with all of this going on, you’re given so much for each of the individual parts. The romantic elements are both sweet and steamy. The suspense aspects will have you on the edge of your seat. The mystery will leave you second-guessing. It’s a wonderful combination of all these things.

Honestly, I loved this read. I cannot wait to read even more of Reily Garrett’s work. I’m debating whether I want to read Carnal Beginnings or Carnal Innocence next. I’m super intrigued by Julien’s character and yet Callie’s story has the potential to clear the fog regarding some of the paranormal questions I have in my mind. Whichever I read next, I’m positive I’ll have fun.

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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Review: Misaligned

Misaligned Misaligned by Elizabeth Burgess
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Earlier this year, I read Witch Dance by Elizabeth Burgess. It’s a young adult fantasy novel, completely different to the Counterplay series. In fact, the two couldn’t be more different if they had tried. Having enjoyed Witch Dance, I was interested to see what the Counterplay series was like. After all, the entire notion of the Counterplay series really pulled me in from the moment I set my eyes upon it.

Thus, I went ahead and investigated the series. Through the author’s website, I came upon her short story: Monster. I downloaded it, enjoyed it, and went to write up a review. When I went to write up a review, I found it wasn’t online, there was nowhere for me to post said review. Thus, I contacted Elizabeth Burgess to see whether she would be adding the book to Goodreads. I mean, I needed to share the excitement the short story had built within me. I needed people to know that a very short story had me excited for what was to come.

It turns out Monster is to be part of a short story boxset that is to be released sometime next year. I was saddened that it wouldn’t be appearing alone anywhere, yet I was pleased to know there’d be a collection of short stories relating to this series. In addition to explaining this, Elizabeth Burgess offered to let me read Misaligned. It’s a short prequel story, giving us an insight into the soap opera that is to come.

Introducing us to the main characters and some of the dark deeds to come, Misaligned quickly pulls you into the Counterplay world. We don’t know everything there is to know – but we are introduced to some of the big players and events. We know who is out for revenge, we know who is involved in twisted forms of revenge, and we’re left wanting more. It’s a great introduction to the series, one that will leave you wanting to grab Misdirection, and the rest of the series, as soon as you can.

If deceit, backstabbing, and twisted characters are your thing, I’m positive you’ll love this story as it gives an insight into what promises to be a very powerful series.

As a final note, I would like to, once again, thank Elizabeth Burgess for allowing me to read this in exchange for a review. Whilst I cannot wait to see what comes next in Hopewell Coven series, I think a part of me is a bit more excited for this one.

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Review: This Kitten's Got Curves

This Kitten's Got Curves This Kitten's Got Curves by Alma Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This Kitten’s Got Curves is the third book in the Shifter Date series, and I found it to be just as delightful as the two prior books.

If the truth is to be known, I was rather shocked by this third book. Not because of the story – it was everything I had hoped for – but because it was released so soon. Three books in the space of a month – I was not expecting to be so lucky! I’d been of the belief that I would be waiting longer to see what would come next, meaning I was a very happy reader when I got my hands on this one. Despite telling myself to wait a short while, to finish other books, the little voice in my head telling me to start this instantly won out. As soon as This Kitten’s Got Curves was on my Kindle I started reading, completing it in one sitting.

In my opinion, book three is the steamiest book thus far. Book two was hot, but this one is much hotter. Personally, I’ve enjoyed the relationship in book two the most – but this one certainly holds the trophy for being the sexiest.

In the first book, we were introduced to the shifter world through a lion. In the second book, we got to see the world through a wolf. In this third book, we get to see the shifter world through the eyes of a bear. Throughout all three books the lions have been present, but this time we get an in-depth look at a different kind of pack. The way in which the bear pack works, the rules and regulations, is different to that shown to us in the prior books, and I really enjoyed watching the world come alive. Truthfully, I’m hopeful for more bear stories in the future (I’m looking at a particular female character here, not to name names) as I really enjoyed the glimpse of how the pack worked and would love to see more.

What I really enjoyed about this one was the extension of the non-romance drama. I certainly enjoyed the romance drama (which I will come back to in a minute), but the non-romance drama certainly pulled me in. From the very first book, we’ve known about Power Shift. Whilst we still don’t know that much about them, we get to see how Power Shift is expanding throughout time. As this book takes place a while after book two, we’ve reached a point where Power Shift is affecting more than just the lion pack. I have some theories about where the Power Shift story will go, some hopes for what I would like to see, but other than that we’re still in the dark for the most part. I’m certainly curious as to what comes next though, eager for something big to happen.

Back to the romance drama, though. It was such fun. We get to see two people looking for very different things come together, the tension from the start wonderful. There was chemistry from the get-go, and whilst I’m not a fan of instalove I couldn’t help but find myself pulled into the story. The way the two complement each other, the way their time together plays out – I couldn’t help but enjoy it. It was so damn hot. Even the sex free moments were hot, the tension and lust between the two screaming out at you.

Honestly, this was such a fun read. If you enjoyed the two prior books, I’m sure you’ll love this one.

As a final note, I would like to thank the author for allowing me to advance read this one. I’m one again eagerly awaiting the next instalment!

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Review: The Sainted

The Sainted: Book 2 of The Departed Series The Sainted by Kristy Cooper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Sainted is the second book in The Departed series, and I think it’s safe to say I enjoyed this one more than the first. Whilst I had a lot of fun with The Departed, there seemed to be that little bit more in The Sainted that left me truly hooked throughout.

The Sainted starts off where The Departed left off, instantly pulling us into the story. I’ll admit that a part of me was annoyed when the information of the last book was reiterated, although I think this is because I went from book one to book two in a very short period of time. Had there been more time between the two, such a thing would not have bothered me. In fact, I know I’m usually grateful for such a thing. Fortunately, this was all done quickly at the very start of the book. A quick recap, if you will.

In terms of the story, things developed quite a lot in this book – a lot more than I’d been expecting, actually. With two perspectives, we get to see two different things that are going on. With Gwen we get to follow the events that are happening inside of the compound, whereas with Mindy we get to see the events going on in the real world. Whilst I favoured Gwen’s perspective – I came to love her in the first book, thus I felt more of a connection to her – I found Mindy’s perspective to be a lot more enjoyable than I’d been expecting. It really was a great way to see the how events were unfolding, allowing us to understand the bigger picture.

I really don’t want to say too much about this one, but a lot does happen. We find out more about the compound, getting to spend time inside where we can watch how things play out. I wasn’t sure how events would unfold, but I was extremely happy with what occurred. I was constantly turning pages to see what would come next, curious as to how things would be resolved. Then there are the events outside of the compound – boy have they set things up for the next book. These events, coupled with the ending, ensure book three will take a very different but equally interesting path.

I cannot wait to see where the third book takes us – I’m super excited to see how things play out.

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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things

The Museum of Extraordinary Things The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about The Museum of Extraordinary Things.

Before I started reading the book, I knew it was a book of mixed reviews: some loved it, whereas others hated it. What seemed to divide people was how they felt about The Night Circus. Whilst I personally enjoyed The Night Circus, I’m not crazy about it in the way many other people are. I believe this I why I fall more on the ‘dislike’ than the ‘like’ end of the spectrum when it comes to The Museum of Extraordinary Things. I do not hate this book, yet it is not the extraordinary read I had been expecting it to be.

This book is part historical fiction, part mystery, part romance, and part magical realism. Excluding the first, historical fiction, I do not feel as though any of the other three components were all they were chalked up to be. I felt as though they were either lacking or forced, making it difficult for me to truly enjoy the story in the way I had hoped to. I was interested enough to see how things finished – in fact, that’s the reason this book earned a three star rating rather than a two star rating, as I found I had to finish the book to see how things came to an end – but I wasn’t engaged in the way I had hoped to be. I cared a little, but I did not have any emotional attachment to the story: I just wanted to know how everything played out.

In regards to the historical fiction aspect, it was really well done. The world was brought to life around us, and it was very easy to imagine the setting and the events going on. Truthfully, I found this to be the strongest aspect of the story. I cannot fault the historical fiction side – unless you want to take in the lack of emotional impact regarding events. Certain events that played out didn’t hit me in quite the way I had expected them to, failing to pull upon my emotions in how I had hoped they would. Nevertheless, the historical components were the strongest part of the book.

When it comes to the mystery aspect, it was okay. It was nothing amazing; it was just there. When a dead body was introduced I expected there to be a lot more drama than there was, a lot more amateur detective work, but things seemed to be glossed over. Events played to link things together and yet there wasn’t much by way of action: we were told this and that happened, we knew information was found out, and yet there wasn’t much in the way of heart stopping action that I like to see with mystery storylines.

The romance was just… well, there. I really didn’t care for it. I didn’t feel anything for either of the main characters, and bringing them together did nothing for me. Their relationship lead to a couple of interesting moments, but as a whole I could have done without the romantic storyline. There was no real depth to it, nothing that I cared for.

The magical realism didn’t seem to be there at all, in my opinion. We had a ‘freak show’ cast of sorts, but I wouldn’t label that to be in the realm of magical realism. I would view that as being a reflection of beliefs during the time the story is set in. Then we have a fish that… well, it didn’t really count as magical realism in so much as it seemed to be a reason to add more words to the story. I’m sure many will find some deep significance for the fish, but I really didn’t understand what it actually added to the story.

Basically, I wasn’t overly impressed with this one. There were a handful of interesting moments, but other than that it was merely an okay read.

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Review: Taming Beauty

Taming Beauty Taming Beauty by Lynne Barron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Taming Beauty is the first Lynne Barron book I have read, and I feel as though it will not be the last. Whilst I wasn’t crazy obsessed about this one, I certainly enjoyed it a lot. In fact, I spent most of my time reading it with this stupid little smirk on my face.

I had the notion in my mind that Taming Beauty would be a Beauty and the Beast retelling, of sorts. We have the gorgeous female lead and the reclusive male lead, but this is not a typical Beauty and the Beast retelling. This is a wonderfully unique story that pulls you in from the start, with complex characters and a storyline that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Like any good historical romance, this story is full of drama. From the first page we’re introduced to scandal, with things growing more and more scandalous with every turn of the page. No character is free from scandal, each character has something to add to the story be it through truth or gossip. At times I found myself unable to keep up with what piece of gossip belonged to each character, but as a whole I was pulled in and curious as to what was true and what was false.

As much as I would have loved to delve into the drama of every character, the interaction of our main characters was plenty enough to keep me entertained throughout. Whilst I’m not a fan of the whole instalove thing, I did enjoy the chemistry between the two. Had the relationship bloomed over a longer time period I would have enjoyed it more, yet I understand why it was over such a short period. Such is just a personal view, however, and is something I quite often say. Despite constantly saying instalove annoys me, I never stop reading such books and I find it never really lessens my enjoyment as much as I think it does.

Back to our main characters, though, and their interaction. They were both so fun to read, and I really enjoyed the way information was slowly given to us regarding each of their lives. Rather than everything being thrown at us at once, bits and pieces were released at the right times to add the right amount of shock at just the right moments. Moreover, I found them both to be very complex real characters. They both had their own unique personalities, they both had their own story to tell, and watching them come together was wonderful. Honestly, they were such great main characters. I felt as though some of the side characters were more fleshed out than others – for some we knew all the scandal and we really got to know them, whereas for others they just seemed to be there – but with our main characters shining so brightly it was only on the occasional moments that I noticed some of the characters weren’t all I had hoped they would be.

I could go into the story and give details, but to do so would be to give spoilers. Just know it’s wonderfully woven together, with things coming out at just the right moments. At first it felt a little bit slow, but once things get moving they do not stop. You’re pulled in and you do not want to put the book down – and with it being such a quick read you won’t be putting the book down until you’re finished.

Overall, it was a great little read. I would like to thank Aurora Publicity for contacting me for a review: I had a lot of fun with this one, and cannot wait to see what else the authors brings to the table.

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Monday, 12 December 2016

Review: Carnal Obsession: His Heart's Prisoner

Carnal Obsession: His Heart's Prisoner Carnal Obsession: His Heart's Prisoner by Reily Garrett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, this book. This book is everything the genre should be. It was amazing in so many ways, so much so that I fear I’ll miss half of the things rolling around in my head as I write up a review.

I’ll start by saying I have never before read a book by the author. Carnal Obsession: His Heart’s Prisoner is part of the Carnal series, being book number four, but it works just fine as a standalone novel. Carnal Beginnings, Carnal Innocence, and Carnal Whispers are now on my want to read list, but they are not necessary to understand this story. I admit that they will aid in the understanding of characters seen in this book, as the stories are linked through the characters, but it’s not the end of the world if – like me – you have not read the prior books. I could very well retract that statement at a later date, once I have read the prior books, but at the moment I’m going to stand by my statement of how you do not need to read the prior books.

At first I was somewhat taken aback by this book. Quite often I find these romantic suspense books mixed with erotica can be rather… well, poorly written. If not poorly written, then there is no real feel of individual style. I’m not saying I dislike the genre – I love it, in fact – however I very rarely stumble upon a voice that really stands out. For me, the story telling really grabbed me from the start. I love prose that stand out, writing styles that are clearly individual, and such is the case here. The writing style really pulled me in, standing out beyond what I’m accustomed to reading. I mean no offence to other writers in the genre – I will always enjoy the genre, no matter what – but this book really did stand out in terms of writing style. At no point did the book feel like a chore, at no point was I groaning at analogies that erred towards being cringe worthy.

In addition to the writing being wonderful, the story was brilliant. It pulled me in from the very start, leaving me unable to put it down. It was one of those situations where I decided to forego sleep, spending the night up reading the book. This is why you do not start books between two and three in the morning: you’re signing up to sacrifice your sleep, especially when a book is as addictive as this one. From the very start the action pulls you in, refusing to let up as events slowly unfold before your eyes. You’re constantly questioning people and motives, unsure of what is the truth of the situation. You’ll come up with ideas but things are murky throughout, ensuring you’re never quite sure about who can and cannot be trusted.

Then there’s the characters. Oh boy did I love them. The interaction between the two main characters was wonderful – ensuring you were hooked to that part of the storyline as well. Truthfully, I think I was more addicted to seeing how their interactions would pan out than I was in seeing the suspense aspect come together – and I can tell you that the latter certainly had a tight grip on me. Honestly, it’s been so long since I found myself so engaged in characters. I shipped them hard; I can tell you that for a fact. The tension and build-up was wonderful, every moment leaving me wanting more.

It wasn’t simply the main characters I fell in love with, however. I adored all the brothers, hence why I’m so eager to get my hands on the prior books. The interaction between the brothers is so fun to watch, the banter being great fun to read. I cannot wait to get my hands on the prior books to see more of this kind of interaction, as my biggest disappointment from the book was that there was a surprisingly small amount of this banter. When it happened it was wonderful, but I constantly found myself wanting more of it.

The only other complaint I have, which is small, is regarding the action scenes. I felt as though the events at the end of the book were over much too quickly. It was a wonderful ending, I really enjoyed the way things played out, but I wanted to read more of it. It’s only a small thing, but it stopped me from giving this book a full five star rating (this is partly because I’m exceptionally harsh when it comes to giving out five stars and so very rarely do so) but it is a very strong four-point-five read.

Overall, as you can see, I adored this book. I would like to say the biggest thank you to the author for allowing me to advance read this one. It was brilliant, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the other Carnal books!

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Sunday, 11 December 2016

Review: A Space Between Worlds Vol.1: Conception

A Space Between Worlds Vol.1: Conception A Space Between Worlds Vol.1: Conception by J.D. Woodson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When J.D. Woodson contacted me regarding a review for his debut novel, I was more than aware that the book would not be like those I have read before. To quote J.D. Woodson “The novel is a bit of a difficult read; not because how it’s written but the subject matter is a bit abstract.” Having now finished the book, I can say I agree. The book isn’t like those I have read before, it was a bit difficult to get through at times, and the subject matter was rather abstract. Despite all of this, I found myself enjoying the book more than I’d expected when I was working through it.

From quite early on, I found the book rather difficult. There was an ebb and flow of my enjoyments: at some points I was really pulled into the story and at other points I was trudging through it. When I was enjoying it, I was really enjoyed it. When I wasn’t enjoying it, I felt as though it was dragging. Due to this, I’ll can label this book as a Marmite book: some will really love it, whereas others will hate it. I fall on the liking it end of the spectrum. I’m not crazy about it as some people will be, but I did enjoyed it. Thus, it’s earned a strong three star rating from me. It had the potential to be a four star read, but the ups and downs of my feelings meant I couldn’t quite give it that full four star rating I’d been hoping for. It was close, and I’m positive J.D. Woodson will manage it with future books, but this one didn’t quite make it all the way there.

The story follows two characters, Shanti and Reno, whose lives are interconnected in many ways. Both are suffering from curses, their pains vastly different, yet there is some kind of link between the two. At first, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around Shanti’s curse, I found it difficult to understand, but once things clicked together in my mind I found her side of the story really enjoyable. Reno, on the other hand, was a much easier curse to understand and from the moment he was introduced I found myself enjoying his story.

But to speak of this as though there are two different stories is wrong. It is the easiest way to speak of the story, but such is not what it is. The dual narratives come together, giving us a story of introspection and self-discovery. We deal with many aspects of the world: life and death, bonds, regret, and the way actions can reverberate through time. At times this almost philosophical work was hard to wrap my head around, but it was only because so much was being looked at through a fantasy world that I wasn’t quite sure I understood.

Don’t get me wrong, the fantasy world created was a lot of fun. However, it wasn’t until quite late in the story that I really understood what I was dealing with. A lot of this is intentional, due to the way the world plays into the story, yet my lack of real understanding meant I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to be imagining and the image kept changing in my mind.

The words were lyrical, they had depth, but they weren’t always the clearest. This relates to my above statement of the world not forming in my mind until quite late on. It also refers to the voices of the characters. The voice of the entire book was wonderful, and the characters all had an interesting manner of speaking. However, the characters all seemed to read the same. They all have the unique voice of the book that made them difficult to distinguish, and due to this I would find myself questioning how unique the characters actually were.

Overall, though, I enjoyed this one. Anyone who picks it up will be taking a step out of their comfort zone, but it’s a worthwhile journey. Therefore, I’d like to end this by thanking the author for allowing me to read this in exchange for a review – it was an interesting read, for sure.

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Saturday, 10 December 2016

Review: The Prophecy of Shadows

The Prophecy of Shadows The Prophecy of Shadows by Michelle Madow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Elementals series is one that called out to me for quite some time. It seemed right up my street, and yet I was tentative to start reading it. Such is so often the case with young adult fantasy novels – I’ve read so many that are much of the same, leaving me worried that I’ve read all the real ‘wow’ books.

The Prophecy of Shadows was a very fun read; however, it didn’t quite reach the ‘wow’ that earns young adult books four or five star ratings from me. Whilst there were some original aspects, there were far too many of those cliché moments for it to really stand out above the rest. Whilst I am interested in carrying on with the series, I won’t be rushing to read the future books.

I’ll start with the good, and then go on to why it felt so much like many other books.

The biggest hooray, for me, was the mixture of witches and Greek mythology. I love both kinds of stories, and mixing the two together earned the story so many points. Honestly, anything with mythology wins me over. There’s just something magical about mythology. With this story, we had more than just your simple demigod aspect. With this story, the deity blood is so diluted those linked back to the deities are merely witches. I loved this about the book. It took mythology without copying all the ‘this god had this child’ and ‘that god had that child’ aspect that you so often see in mythology books.

Then there was all the action. We’re thrown into things from the very start, pulling us straight into the supernatural world. It takes a couple more chapters for the pace to really pick up, but once it reaches a high point of the action starting it does not stop until the end. Things continue to build throughout, and putting the book down was impossible – resulting in me reading the book in one sitting.

I guess that brings me to my final positive points: the addition. Despite what I’ll go on to say shortly, the book was highly addictive. You’re pulled into the story, constantly questioning what is to come next. I love stories like that – it’s always great when you’re so absorbed into the world that putting the book down becomes difficult.

Now for the negative points, the points that stopped me from giving it a higher rating.

This book felt like so many others on the market. So many aspects were clichéd, felt as though they’d been taken from other books. I regularly had feelings of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, along with many other of the big names. Whilst the moments weren’t carbon copies, there was a distinct feel of many other big books. This is not necessarily a bad thing – I’m just someone who likes a book to be entirely unique. I enjoy references to other books – such as the Harry Potter references that were made – yet this felt too much like other books for me to be able to consider it a book that stands above the rest.

A larger issue, for me, however, was the main character. I enjoyed her, yes. I did not enjoy how she seems to be this all-powerful being. Even though she does not come across as being as overtly powerful as some other main characters, it is still very much there. By the end of the book, such is made very clear. In fact, I wasn’t at all surprised when the end revelation came about. It’ll play a big part in the future books, I’m sure, yet it links back to my prior statement of this book having a feel of other big names.

My final negative point is in regards to the romance. I really didn’t care for it at all. It felt too forced, too typical. It seemed to be shoved in simply because all young adult novels consider it a necessity. There was no real depth to it, with it existing mostly to create drama. In fact, it only fed into how some of the characters seemed to be overly clichéd. Our main female is adored by the male; the male is the hottest thing you have ever set your eyes on; there is a prior love interest to make everything messy. Truthfully, I could have done without the romantic element.

Overall, it was a decent read. I wasn’t crazy about it, but I did find myself pulled in. I just don’t think this first book in the series was for me, but I am hopeful of what else the author is going to give in the future.

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Friday, 9 December 2016

Review: The Prophecy

The Prophecy: A Young Adult Romantic Fantasy The Prophecy by C.J. Anaya
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.

I can assure you, The Prophecy does not disappoint. It’s wonderful in so many ways, making a coherent review difficult. All the things that occur, all the twists and turns – just wow. I’ve had so many feels about this series, and the final book simply works to bring them all back to the forefront of my mind.

Before I go into too much detail about this particular book, I wish to do a quick recap of the series. I do this because I want – no, need – you to understand the complex emotions it has brought about. This could be rather lengthy, and for that I apologise – but you cannot understand my emotional reaction to this book without understand my emotional reaction to the series as a whole.

I came across C.J. Anaya through a Goodreads giveaway for the first three books in this series. Unfortunately, I did not win the books, but I did sign up for her newsletter. Through doing so, I received the first book and a short story. I had intended to read it for quite some time – but my to-read list is ridiculously long. Despite having not read any of her work, though, I signed up to join her advance read team when I saw she was looking for people to join. This meant I got to read her Marry Your Billionaire at the start of the year – and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I knew right then that I would be reading more of her work. Still, I didn’t pick up this series right away. It had nothing to do with a lack of interest, rather I had so many advance reads to get through and there were so many new books I’d been waiting on, it just sort of fell to the bottom of my list. A bit later in the year, I noticed that C.J. Anaya was looking for people to review the series for her. Thus, I contacted her. I explained that I had the first book and would love to read the rest of the series. She was lovely enough to send me books two and three.

Then came the dreaded exam period that puts a dampener on bibliophiles. Despite wanting to read a book a day, such a thing isn’t really advised. Thus, it was put aside for a while. Finally, however, I got to work on the series. After finishing book one I knew I wanted more. However, what I did not expect was for me to find myself so crazy addicted to the second book. As soon as I was done reading it, I knew I needed to start book three. I did my usual trick when addicted to the series – I read it in one sitting. The ending left me on edge, counting down the days until I could get my hands on the conclusion. It has felt like years, waiting to know what happens next, when in reality it has been mere months. I’m lucky, compared to some fans, as I know others were waiting much longer than I have been.

Fear not, for the wait is over and it is more than worth it. All the emotions of the first three books are brought together in this one, leaving you more than happy to call the series a massive success.

The first book was a fun read, although I wasn’t crazy addicted to it. I enjoyed it a lot, as it pulled me into the series, and it more than left me wanting more. It wasn’t until the second book that I reached crazy fangirl level. It was at this point that I started recommending the series to everyone I could. If I knew someone to be interested in Japan, I would suggest the books to them; if I knew someone was interested in mythology, I would suggest the books to them; if I knew someone was interested in young adult romance or fantasy, I would suggest the books to them. Basically, any reason to suggest the books to a person and I was doing so. Throughout I’ve said this series needs more attention, and I stand by that statement. I would love to see this series become one that everyone is talking about, as it’s so worthy of the attention that many other books in this genre are given. In fact, I enjoyed this series more than I’ve enjoyed some of the series that have a lot of hype surrounding them.

Even though I adored both book three and now book four, I still believe book two is my favourite. All four books are amazing – but number two blew my mind in so many ways. Whilst book four has gone on to blow my mind, the mind blowing happened for completely different reasons in this book.

The third book ended on a big ‘what happens next’ moment, and book four picks up straight away. Events have been building throughout the prior books, and this one throws us into the action from the very start. I admit that it took me a couple of chapters to get back into the story – but that’s mostly because it’s been so long since I read the third book. Once my mind clicked back into the story, I was pulled in and refused to put the book down. I constantly wanted more; I was absorbing it better than the promises made by all those kitchen towel adverts.

There is so much action, with everything being brought together. In fact, there were new aspects brought to light that weren’t brought to a complete conclusion and it’s left me wanting a spinoff series. That is not to say we’re left unaware of things – everything related to the main story plays out. But side characters, those we have come to love throughout, had storylines I want to see more of. I’m not going to say who or what, but I know a lot of fans will be wanting a spinoff series to see how something plays out for a fan favourite.

I will say, however, that I was surprised by how little the prophecy played into this book. It was constantly being mentioned, it was always the end goal, and yet when they had the answers and things played out… well, it took up very little of the book. That is not to say I disliked the story – I enjoyed the way the story came about, the way we got to see so much, and I really enjoyed the actual prophecy and the events that unfolded – yet I felt as though it wasn’t given quite as much attention as I’d been expecting. By the time we get to know the truth of the prophecy, we’re so caught up in so many other events that the mind sort of goes ‘oh, so that is what it was all about’. I loved the prophecy, I loved the way everything came together – I’m simply surprised it was held off for so long. I appreciate the suspense, I get that there was to be a lot of mystery, and I understand it needed to be held off until near the end – I simply wanted more time focused upon it and the events that played out after. The post-prophecy revelation events merely felt too little compared to the action that occurred throughout the rest of the book. There were so many twists and turns throughout that I feel as though the actual prophecy wasn’t the biggest shock of the book.

Nevertheless, the ending was wonderful. Was it what I had been expecting? No. Was I happy with the way it ended? Yes. Did we get a happily ever after? I’m not going to give you spoilers. Just know that I was super happy with how things ended. Endings are always bittersweet, and this one was more sweet than bitter. But there’s plenty of bitter to be had, too. Seriously, be ready for emotional events. If you’re the emotional sort, have a tissue ready because the ending will play with your emotions big time.

Okay, I realise this is becoming a rambling mess of feelings. In short, this is a magnificent ending to the series. You will not be disappointed. C.J. Anaya has written a wonderful ending to a beautiful series, and I recommend you get to reading this series right now.

As a final note, I would like to send the biggest thanks possible to C.J. Anaya for allowing me to advance read The Prophecy. Such made me a very happy fan, and I cannot wait to see what comes next!

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Thursday, 8 December 2016

Review: Halcyon

Halcyon Halcyon by Demelza Carlton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lone planet filled with chaos – I’m in. Add in the mermaid aspect and you know I’ll eat that book up.

I was excited about this one from the get go. It called out to me, the siren song luring me in. Despite my excitement, I experienced so many mixed emotions towards this book. I was worried it wouldn’t give me what I wanted. It felt like one of those science fiction and fantasy hybrids that are too good to be true. It belonged to a part of a much larger collection, and I feared I wouldn’t be able to understand this story without reading the others. These feelings, however, were unfounded. It was a great mix of science fiction and fantasy, and this book works perfectly as a standalone. In fact, all it ensured was that I want to read the other books that belong to The Complex series. It seems like such a fun world, and I’d love to see what is offered by the other authors.

With this book, we have a typical ‘enemies to lovers’ romance buried under all the drama. From the very start, even though you’re not given all of the details, you know such is what you’re in for. When given a human with such a strong hatred for mermaids, when given a human set out for revenge, in such stories you know how it’s going to end. Such a thing, however, does not prevent you from enjoying the story. Watching as the world slowly comes to life, watching as the characters interact and develop, is so much fun. Honestly, I was pulled into the story and refused put it down.

Admittedly, at first, I wasn’t completely pulled into the story. There were a handful of awkward sentences that distracted me at first, but once the characters started to come to life before me I was really pulled in. Told from two perspectives, we get to see so much of the world, watching as our characters deal with the chaos of the two different species coming together in an enclosed space.

Honestly, it’s such a simple story but it’s so well done. It’s addictive on so many levels, and I certainly recommend you give it a read. It’s a super quick read, something you can complete in no time at all, and it will certainly leave you wanting to read more of this world.

I really could say a lot, but I’m going to stop before I give any spoilers. Just know it’s a lot of fun, and certainly worth the read.

As a final note, I’d like to thank the author for allowing me to advance read this great story.

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Review: To Die To Live

To Die To Live To Die To Live by Jason Hershey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I would like to start this review by thanking Jason Hershey. He contacted me through my blog to see whether I would be interested in reading To Die To Live, and after sending me a copy he was lovely when life threw some curveballs our way. First my Kindle decided to give up life, then when my Kindle was working the mobi file of this story errored on me. Through it all Jason Hershey was patient and understanding, something I’m really grateful for. Top marks right there, for being a great human being.

Of course, you care about the actual story. It’s always great to know there is a wonderful human being behind a story, but what you’re reading this for is what I thought of the story.

It’s a very quick read, one you can easily complete in under an hour. Despite the length, it comes with a very deep message and touches upon a very real topic. It really is a very simple book, yet there is so much depth in so few pages. It’s about friendship, about connecting with others, about finding yourself, about doing what is right for you. So much is touched upon in so few pages, so many things important to teens, and it’s truly wonderful.

I now hear you asking why I just gave it three stars. Truthful, it’s a three-point-five read, but I rounded down. The reason I gave it such a rating is because the story was very much a case of telling instead of showing. We were told how things were, rather than being shown. Instead of being able to gauge the reactions, we were told what reactions were. I admit that it works well in such short stories, yet I never find myself fully immersed in stories when such is the type of storytelling. I’m sure many others will enjoy this style of storytelling, but such is not for me.

Overall, a great little read. It’s well worth reading if you’re a fan of young adult stories with real depth.

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Wednesday, 7 December 2016


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Enemy Within by Scott Burn is such a delightful read, one that is deserving of so much attention. If you’re a fan of young adult science fiction, or even light science fiction, then I certainly recommend you get your hands on this book. It’s a super quick read, one that is a lot of fun, and I promise you will enjoy it.

It’s a very simple premise, one that sounds like a few others out there, but I can assure you this read is not a replication of any of the books that are liable to pop into your head when you read the synopsis.

I admit that, like many teen stories, we have a main character that feels as though they do not belong – but this plays into the story. We do not spend countless pages listening to teenage angst of how he does not fit in; rather we’re shown how his life has been influenced by this. We know the why, we get to see what causes this, and very quickly Max becomes a very solid main character.

The visions were a lot of fun, too. We’re not given much, but what we are given quickly pulls you in. You’re left wanting more and so many theories enter your mind. I promise you, the explanation is not what you’ll first assume. It’s such a great twist, adding so much depth to the story.

The three other main characters, those who share the same thoughts and are something more than human, were also enjoyable. I didn’t enjoy them as much as I’d been hoping to, but they made the story great in its own way. They’re somewhat clichéd, and you can guess where certain things are going, but they are really enjoyable. Each character is their own and the interaction between the group is a lot of fun to watch play out.

Honestly, I could say so much, but I fear I will give spoilers. This is one of those stories that slowly comes together, with things being exceptionally well connected. Whilst you see some of the twists and turns coming, other aspects will leave you shocked. The ending in particular – oh boy. That ending was not at all what I had expected. It was such a pleasant surprise; I really enjoyed the way things turned out. As the ending was closing in I felt as though events were lacking in the emotional impact they could have had – and then my world was knocked all skewed as the very ending hit me hard.

I really did have so much fun with it. I would have liked it even more had the story been longer, had things been developed even more. Whilst there was plenty given within this story, I simply wanted even more.

Overall, I loved it. I want to thank Scott Burn for contacting me for a review, as he has left me excited to see what else is to come from his mind.

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Saturday, 3 December 2016

Review: Shifter Date: Hungry as a Wolf

Shifter Date: Hungry Like a Wolf Shifter Date: Hungry as a Wolf by Alma Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A little over a week ago I read Alma Black’s Shifter Date: Must Love Lions. I had a lot of fun with it and I was super curious to see what happened next. Thus, when I was offered the second book I jumped at the chance. How could I say no to such a thing? This kind of paranormal romance is right up my street, with the first book leaving me wanting more – of course, I wanted to read the second book.

Having now finished the second book, the wolf shifter book, I can safely say this one delivered just as much as the first book.

In the first book, we were introduced to the shifter world through a lion. There’s a lion in book two, but we also expand our knowledge through welcoming a wolf into our world. If the truth is to be known, I think I enjoyed our wolf alpha more than I enjoyed our lion alpha. Max was lots of fun, but Luke had something more about him.

In the first book, we had a shifter and human forbidden romance. This time the romance is forbidden for another reason. Both of our characters are shifters – albeit different kinds of shifters – but their romance has a forbidden feel because of whom they are to teach other. You are not supposed to fall in love with your best friend’s younger sister; you are not supposed to fall for your older brother’s best friend. It’s a no-no in the dating world, and yet it happens for our two main characters. Feelings have existed for a long time, this has been a long time coming, and yet it’s only now that they act upon their desires.

This action comes through the dating app we were introduced to in the first book. Whilst it is not necessary to read the first book, as this will work fine as a standalone read, it will help your understanding some if you read it first. In fact, I actively encourage you to do such a thing. It’s such a great little read, introducing you to the world, and it’s great to have a feel for things that are mentioned in this book. It’s entirely your choice, but I certainly recommend you give the first book a read if you want to appreciate this book as much as it deserves to be appreciated.

In terms of the actual story, it was a really quick read and yet it was a nice slow burner. What I mean, is the story does not take long to read – it’s one you can easily complete in a single sitting due to length – but the romance takes a while to come together. It builds slowly, and I loved watching things change between the two main characters. I love watching tension build and walls crumble, thus this was perfect in my eyes. Plus, I really came to love the characters. They were both so much fun, and the chemistry between them was wonderful.

The one thing I did want more of was the non-romance drama, the danger in the shifter world. In the first book we were introduced to the bad guys, to Power Shift, and they make a reappearance here. When danger was lurking within the first couple of chapters of the book, I expected a lot of Power Shift drama, and yet I wasn’t quite given what I had hoped for throughout the entirety of the book. Yes, there was some drama to be seen in regards to Power Shift – one chapter in particular was a lot of fun – but I still wanted something more. That’s just me, though, wanting to know more about the bad guys of the world. As this is the second book in the series, as they’re such short reads, I understand that we’re not going to know too much about them – but I am left wanting more about that aspect of the world. I want some serious drama in the future books, and my fingers are crossed.

Another thing I want, on an unrelated note, is a Theo story. Whilst it does not link in directly with the feel of the series, I feel as though I would thoroughly enjoy his backstory. My fingers are crossed that we may one day receive it. Or, perhaps, one of the future Power Shift drama stories will be told from the perspective of Theo and his wife? I’d just love to see something from his point of view. Wherever the series goes, though, I’m so ready for what comes next. I have very high hopes for this series and cannot wait to get my hands on more!

As a final note, I would like to thank the author for allowing me to advance read this fun shifter romance.

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Review: Wise Phuul

Wise Phuul Wise Phuul by Daniel Stride
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Necromancy and black-market liquor: this fantasy debut seemed right up my street.

Somehow, despite all I’d hoped for, the story didn’t quite reach the expectations I had of it. It was a fun read, I cannot deny that, and yet I was left wanting something a bit more than I was given. A part of me believes this is my own fault, though. I always have extremely high expectations of fantasy novels, especially with the start of a series that has such promise, and yet more often than not I’m not as in love with the first book as I would like to be. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, but mostly I feel a general feeling of ‘okay’ with the first book in such series. As is the case with this one, though, it is enough to leave me interested in reading more.

Mostly, I feel towards this one the way I felt towards The Blade Itself. The first book in Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy left me with a general feeling of ‘meh’. I loved the world, I was interested in the characters, and yet the story didn’t quite give me all that I had wanted of it. However, I went on to really enjoy the series. Such is how I feel towards this book, and how I imagine I will feel towards any future Phuul books.

At first, I found the story a little bit difficult to get into. With fantasy novels, I like to know the world we’re thrown into before the story gets going. That is not to say I want it all set out at the start without any development throughout, but I do like some knowledge before the story gets going. With this one, the story is moving from the very start. Building an image of the world took a bit of time, and I felt as though events were progressing at a real rate before I truly understood the world. For me, personally, I would have liked to know a little bit more about the world before the story really started to move.

When the world finally came together in my mind, however, I really enjoyed it. The world is really complex, and there is a lot of fun to be had. It has the feel of many fantasy novels that you see on the market – the whole north-south divide – with plenty enough to make it unique. Honestly, it’s such a refreshing world. Enter expecting more than the classic dragons and sword fighting, as this one gives us something else entirely. We have a magical system that’s entirely unique; we have religions that make for a lot of fun; we have political movements that will leave you questioning everyone and everything. Overall, there is so much fun to be had.

My favourite aspect, however, has to be our main character. He was so refreshing. I loved watching Teltö Phuul navigate the world. He felt like so few main characters that we see today, giving us a real breath of fresh air. His actions and reactions, his views of the world, even his likes and dislikes worked to make him a very real character, one you will quickly grow to enjoy.

Overall, I did have fun with this one. The three star rating reflects how I wasn’t pulled in as much as I had hoped to be. It was one of those stories that whenever I put it down I would find it difficult to get back into the story. When I was able to sit and read a good chunk at once I had a lot of fun, it was just the getting into it that I found hard. Now that I’ve been pulled into the world, now that I have an understanding of characters and events, I feel as though I will quickly be pulled into future books. Without a doubt, I’m interested to see where this series will head.

As a final note, I would like to thank the publisher for contacting me regarding a review. I had fun with this one, and I’m excited to see where things go from here!

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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Review: Romancing the Holidays: 7 Enchanting Christmas Reads

Romancing the Holidays: 7 Enchanting Christmas Reads Romancing the Holidays: 7 Enchanting Christmas Reads by Jolene Cazzola
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Romancing the Holidays is a collection of seven super cute Christmas romance stories. Some were better than others, but for the most part I enjoyed them all. Because it’s easier, I will deal with each individual story before addressing the collection as a whole.

The first story, Serendipity by Jolene Cazzola, sets off the tone brilliantly. It was an adorable story, one you’re quickly pulled into. I gave it a four star rating, as I had a lot of fun with it. It was my first story by the author and it left me willing to have a look at her other work. The title pretty much tells you what to expect with this one – serendipity, chance, fate, destiny; the whole shebang. I could explain it in detail, but it would be spoilers. Whilst some of the things failed to surprise me, I still found the story super adorable.

The second story, A Magic Christmas in Jerusalem by Joanne Dannon, wasn’t quite as good as the first but I still enjoyed it. Truthfully, I rounded this one up. It was more a three-point-five rating, but I gave it a four. This is Christmas without the snow, but it’s still as sweet. I enjoyed the characters and story, but I wasn’t as crazy about the romance as I’d been in the first story. The passion and tension wasn’t quite the same. Fun, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I enjoyed the first story.

The third story, Home for Christmas by Mel Hammond, was my least favourite of the stories. Sadly, I gave it a two star rating. It could have possibly managed a mental two-point five-but it just missed out on it. I felt as though this story had very little to it. Oh, there was a story. However, by the end of the story I was left feeling as though I hadn’t experienced anything. I had more questions than answers. I didn’t feel as though I knew the characters. Sadly, this one wasn’t for me.

The fourth story, Lost in Christmas by Cherie Marks, was one of my favourite stories in the collection. It earned a solid four star rating from me. There are two romantic tales being told from the perspectives we follow, with all kinds of drama going on within the story that keeps you entertained throughout. Whilst it was fun to see the two different kinds of romances – a couple that is already together, and then the coming together of a romance – I must admit that I didn’t particularly care for the couple who were already together. There were some entertaining moments, but I was constantly left wanting to find out more about the other couple. Without a doubt, I’ll be reading more of this author.

The fifth story, Hollywood Snowfall by Heather C. Myers, was another fun read. There wasn’t much by way of festivity – it was more winter than Christmas – but it was still enjoyable. I’ve read a number of books by this author, and as always she delivers a great little story. It’s short and sweet, taking a pairing that has been done many times before – famous and non-famous – and making it her own. Whilst not my favourite Heather C. Myers story, it’s a four star read.

The sixth story, Dance Me a Dream by Kait Nolan, may well be my favourite of the collection. I thought my favourite would be Lost in Christmas until this one blew me away. Wow, just wow. The highest four star rating of the collection. I just wanted more of it. The story was so sweet, and the couple were adorable. I’ve already hit download on a couple of the authors other books. I could fangirl for a while about this one – just know the story is super wow.

The seventh story, All About Us by Tracey Pedersen, was a nice way to end the collection. It received a three star rating from me. This is mainly because I feel as though I needed to read the other books in the series. The story explains everything that has happened to the characters in the past, yet I felt as though I didn’t know them as well as those who have read the series would understand them. Whilst I’m interested in reading the series, it does feel a bit pointless based upon how I know the ending. I will probably read it, but I won’t go out of my way to read them right now.

Overall the collection earned a three-point-five-seven rating, rounded to four. They were great stories, really putting you in the mood for Christmas on a worldwide scale (we get both white Christmas stories and summer Christmas stories in this collection). Some of the stories needed a bit of editing, but that seemed to be an author-by-author thing, rather than the collection as a whole. Nevertheless, it was super enjoyable.

Certainly recommend to lovers of seasonal romance.

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