Friday, 29 June 2012

Tiger's Curse - Book Review

Tiger’s Curse – Book Review
 (Book #1 of the Tiger Saga)
Written by Colleen Houck
YA Fantasy


Passion. Fate. Loyalty.

Would you risk it all to change your destiny?

The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.

Tiger’s Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.

I had heard a lot of hype about this book on the blogsphere and although it’s taken me awhile – I finally got around to checking it out. All I can say is, I wish I’d done it sooner. It really was a great read and quite different to other fantasy’s that I’ve read, plus the cover is simply divine and looks fantastic on my shelf J 
The story starts with eighteen year old Kelsey who, fresh out of high school is on the hunt for employment. She expects to get a normal job in either an office or shop but instead, finds herself the newest employee of the local circus. Charged with looking after the animals, it is here she meets Ren, the beautiful white Indian Tiger and star act of the show.
Instantly Kelsey finds herself captivated by the Tiger but when Ren is suddenly sold to an animal reservation in India, she knows she’s not yet ready to say goodbye and seizes upon the opportunity to travel to India with him. But as Kelsey is to discover, there is much more to Ren than meets the eye. And so begins an epic journey that brings to life the myths and histories of India, taking the reader of a whirlwind adventure as Kelsey fights to break a 300 year old curse that keeps a noble Prince a hunted Tiger…
I have to be honest; I didn’t click with this book right away and thought the beginning rather slow with too much back story. It wasn’t until a third of the way through, when Kelsey reaches India that I truly found myself engrossed in the book but from that point on I was completely captivated. So if anyone else finds the same problem, I promise your perseverance will be worth it.
I thought the concept of the story was very original and the plot was full of Indian culture and mythology which I loved. You can tell the author has done her research and it really helped make the book a memorable read. However, I know from other reviews that some people had problems with the plot and felt that everything worked out a little too easy. I admit I did notice that some parts (such as Kelsey’s foster parents allowing her to go to India) did seem rather convenient but ultimately none of these things took away my enjoyment of the story.
As for the characters, they were brilliant. Kelsey is very much a typical teenage girl and with the story told from her narrative, her emotions and raging hormones made her very fun to read. Ren is very well written and like most male leads, he sounds very suave and swoon-worthy, if a little bit arrogant but hey, he is a prince. However my favourite character has to be Mr Kadam who is just so polite and adorable - a real fatherly figure.
Naturally romance also plays a huge part in this book and I really enjoyed how the relationship between Kelsey and Ren developed. It was slow paced, humorous and full of those ‘almost moments’ where you wanted them to just kiss and get together.
So overall a really great read and recommend to lovers of romantic fantasies. Intriguing, mystical and adventurous, Tigers Curse is definitely one to check out. 4Stars!
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Dark Parties - Book Review

Dark Parties– Book Review
Sara Grant
YA Dystopian
Sixteen-year-old Neva has been trapped since birth. She was born and raised under the Protectosphere, in an isolated nation ruled by fear, lies, and xenophobia. A shield "protects" them from the outside world, but also locks the citizens inside. But there's nothing left on the outside, ever since the world collapsed from violent warfare. Or so the government says...
Neva and her best friend Sanna believe the government is lying and stage a "dark party" to recruit members for their underground rebellion. But as Neva begins to uncover the truth, she realizes she must question everything she's ever known, including the people she loves the most…

Dark Parties was certainly an intriguing read. There were times when I really liked the story but… there were also times when I really didn’t. Although one thing I did enjoy was that in no way was this book predictable. The plot constantly twisted and changed directions so that as a reader, it was impossible to predict what would happen next. 
Written from the point of view of sixteen year old Neva, a girl who has lived her entire life within the rigid order of the Protectosphere (a dome like structure that encompasses the country to keep people safe from disease and destruction), the story is set in a dystopian world where the government rules & controls the people through a suppressing system of fear and deceit.  Yet her whole life, Neva has kept a written record of all the people around her who after run-ins with the government, seem to have mysteriously disappeared, including her beloved grandmother.
Sick and tired of the government laws and their constant propaganda to have the younger generations marry and procreate, Neva along with her best friend Sanna decide that enough is enough. Together they plot a way to rebel against the government’s tyrannical rule but when they stumble upon a truth that the government are prepared to kill to keep hidden, Neva finds herself fighting for more than just freedom, but her life as well
Ultimately I think this book got off to a really good start. Quite literally opening with a dark party, I thought it began on an interesting premise and was written in a way that had me highly anticipating the events to come. However I have to admit, about halfway through the book I started to lose interest as nothing happened the way I wanted it to and I got a little… bored.
However that’s not to say that the story wasn’t interesting because there was honestly a lot about it that I really liked.  I just expected the book to me more about Neva’s rebellion than it actually was. Also again, with the romance not turning out as I expected and the ending left fairly open - I was left feeling a little disappointed.
Basically this book just wasn’t my thing. Yet the drama, action and intrigue of story were enough to have me read all the way through to the end. Also the characters themselves were really  interesting.
Neva was a reserved and hesitant protagonist but I enjoyed watching her confidence grow as she became more actively assertive in her choice to rebel. Her friendship with Sanna was moving and their loyalty to each other was very touching – despite Neva’s forbidden romance with Sanna’s boyfriend Braydon – who was typically handsome, mysterious and naturally a bit of a bad boy. Also I couldn’t but feel sorry for Neva’s boyfriend Ethan who I felt kind of got the short straw in this story.
Also I’ve read a quite a few dystopian books now and while some of the concepts were new, I felt that much of it had already been done before. Therefore I think readers who are new to the dystopian genre will probably enjoy this book more because Dark Parties was good. It was dramatic and full of plot twists but I it did leave quite a few questions unanswered. However I would still be interested to read other books by Sara Grant as I did like her writing style and as I said, I thought the book got off to a fantastic beginning. Sadly on this occasion though I just didn’t gel with story so my rating is only 3 stars!

Monday, 25 June 2012

All These Things I've Done - Book Review

All These Things I’ve Done – Book Review
Gabrielle Zevin
(Book #1 of Birthright)
YA Dystopian  
In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.
I really enjoyed this book but I have to admit that I felt it got off to a slow start. The pace didn’t pick up until around a third of the way through but I really liked the premise of the novel being a dystopian mafia mixed with romance kind of story. However thanks to the book’s combination of great characters, plot twists and drama - I know I will definitely be reading the sequel.
Set in a futuristic New York where chocolate has become a banned substance, sixteen year old Anya is the daughter of a deceased but highly renowned crime boss whose family specialise in the illegal production and distribution of chocolate.  Although Anya does her best to shun the family business and provide a safe and secure life for her brother and sister, inevitably she soon finds herself pulled into the darkness and danger of the mafia world. Especially when her ex-boyfriend is poisoned and Anya is named the number one suspect in the investigation of his potential murder. 
However Anya turns out to have more allies than she thinks, but common sense tells her that getting romantically involved with the chief of polices’ son may not be one of her best idea. Especially when she learns that this new relationship threatens to destroy everything and everyone she’s worked so hard to protect. Her friends, her family, her future and even her hard won freedom. Is the love of one man really worth the risk of losing it all…?
I really did enjoy this story and although it was labelled a dystopian novel, to me it read more like a futuristic contemporary. However this made the story a uniquely refreshing read and with romantic, moral and often thrilling elements the book really grips a reader’s attention.
Told from Anya’s point of view, the author Gabrielle Zevin has created a character with a relatable voice and a unique narration. Anya is a strong and really admirable protagonist who due to the horrors of her past has a cynical but very practical way of looking at the world. She doesn’t believe in love at first sight and due to her family criminal connections, accepts the fact that people automatically assume she’s bad news. However what few people know is that (mostly) she tries to be a devout catholic, is very protective of her family and tries her best to stay out of trouble.
The other characters were also intriguing and well thought out. Leo, Anya’s disabled older brother, I found particularly sweet and I liked the warm and caring relationship Anya had with her all immediate family. The love interest Win was also a great character, charming and flirty, he had his quirks but most of all I loved how naive and sheltered he was compared to Anya – who was normally the voice of reason in their relationship.
This of course brings me on to the romance within the story which I thought had a very Romeo and Juliet feel to it. With their families divided and standing on to very different sides of the law, Anya and Win had to overcome many obstacles in order to be together and it was sweet watching how their relationship developed. Her dark past against his light-hearted dreams of the future formed a nice balance in their relationship and I’m looking forward to seeing how things between these characters will further progress.
So overall I found All These Things I’ve Done to be a thrilling and somewhat different read to what I was expecting.  It isn’t written like most dystopian novels so I think readers will find it distinctly refreshing. 3 1/2 stars!
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Letterbox Love #6

Letterbox Love - a new weekly meme for UK book Bloggers to share their weekly book hauls, hosted by the lovely Lynsey over at Narratively Speaking.
Hey guys, here is my book haul for the last two weeks!

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
Dreamless by Josephine Angelini
Soul Beach by Kate Harrison
Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent
How to Save a life by Sara Zarr

Random House Blogger Brunch
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
Now Is Good by Jenny Downham
Muddle and Win by John Dickinson
Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
 Well that’s it for another week! What came through your letterbox?
Happy Reading!

Friday, 22 June 2012

FrostFire Book Trailer!

Frostfire Book Trailer - Released 5th July 2012
by Zoe Marriott
YA Fantasy

Frost is cursed - possessed by a wolf demon that brings death everywhere she goes. Desperate to find a cure, she flees her home, only to be captured by the Ruan Hill Guard. Trapped until she can prove she is not an enemy, Frost grows increasingly close to the Guard’s charismatic leader Luca and his second in command, the tortured Arian. Torn between two very different men, Frost fears that she may not be able to protect either of them ... from herself.

Can't tell you guys how much I'm looking forward to this book! Counting down the days...

Friday, 15 June 2012

Forgotten - Book Review

Forgotten – Book Review
Cat Patrick
YA Paranormal (?)
Each night at precisely 4:33 am, while sixteen-year-old London Lane is asleep, her memory of that day is erased. In the morning, all she can "remember" are events from her future. London is used to relying on reminder notes and a trusted friend to get through the day, but things get complicated when a new boy at school enters the picture. Luke Henry is not someone you'd easily forget, yet try as she might, London can't find him in her memories of things to come.

When London starts experiencing disturbing flashbacks, or flash-forwards, as the case may be, she realizes it's time to learn about the past she keeps forgetting—before it destroys her future.
I wasn’t really sure what to label this book. Mystery? Contemporary? Maybe even romance? However what I do know is that although it was odd, I did enjoy it and am certainly looking forward to reading more books by Cat Patrick.
In many ways London Lane is an ordinary teenage girl. Her only peculiarity is that when she wakes up in the morning she can’t recall a single think about her past. Instead what memories she does have are of the future, of things she will see and do, the people she will know and meet and the events that will cause her pain or joy.
However to help herself along, every night London leaves a note for herself with small reminders such as what she wore that day, homework due and any important conversations she needs to know about (However I really loved that she needs a note to remember that she has a hot boyfriend called Luke who she is very much in love with). J
Yet life for London gets harder still when she starts ‘remembering’ a funeral that has yet to take place and haunted by these terrible visions, London sets out on a mission to change the future only along the way, she ends up unearthing a past that may have been better left forgotten…
The premise of this book was really fascinating and truthfully, I expected it to be a complicated read. Therefore I was surprised by how easily the story unfolded and loved how the reader was literally put in London’s mind frame, especially with each chapter beginning with a note and references of what will be today’s ‘memories’.
The characters were all interesting. London, obviously, was unique and watching her cope with her backwards memory could be humorous at times but more often I was left feeling sad and frustrated for her.  However I liked that her love interest Luke was such a sweet and understanding guy. He stood by her no matter what and he was a character you couldn’t help but like. London’s best friend Jamie on the other hand I found foolish and annoying and was glad that her part in the story was kept to a minimum.
As for the plot, I can only describe it mind blowing. Despite London’s future memories, it is past events that play the biggest role in the story and usually when some major event happened, as reader you just don’t see it coming. It certainly kept me thinking and I believe that’s what makes this book such an intriguing read.
Therefore I have to admit, while I didn’t fall in love with the book there was just something about it that makes me want to recommend it to everyone. I can literally only describe Forgotten as a unique and distinctive read and for reasons unknown, I feel compelled to rate it highly. 4 stars!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Seraphina - Book Review

Seraphina– Book Review
Rachel Hartman
YA Fantasy
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
Fantasy is by far by far my favourite genre, so when I read the press release of Seraphina that explained it was story with dragons that take on human form; I just knew I had to get my hands on a copy. Therefore it came as no surprise that I ended up loving the book. It proved to be the kind of YA fantasy novel that I could put on par with works by authors such as Garth Nix, Tamora Pierce and Maria V Snyder. A truly fantastical read!
The story is set in a world where for the last forty years, a tenuous peace has been kept between humans and dragons. Yet the bloodshed between the two species has not been forgotten – leaving the protagonist Seraphina literally caught between two warring worlds. Born from the forbidden love of her parents, Seraphina is a half dragon half human, a creature that divine law states should not exist.
Hiding her true identify away from everyone, Seraphina does her best to fit in among humans. Then she stumbles upon a plot to destroy the fragile peace of the treaty and bring back the days of war – leaving her morally obliged to investigate further. Only now, working side by side with the Prince whose speciality is in uncovering the truth, Seraphina must work doubly hard to keep her heritage a secret – otherwise her family, her life and even her heart, she stands to lose them all…
I truly did love this book. However I have to say that the first chapter is confusing and pretty hard to get through – I don’t know if this was just first chapter jitters from the author but I really do recommend you persevere, the writing style really relaxes after that first chapter and you’ll find yourself truly locked into the story.
The world that the author Rachel Hartman creates is simply amazing. Very intricate and descriptive - it is full of philosophy, religion, music, mystery and of course dragons.  It is all extremely well developed and simply sets the imagination soaring.
The plot contains many twists and turns and there is always much more to each character than first meets the eye. Seraphina for instance makes a remarkable heroine, she has a quick mind and a kind heart which more often than not leads to trouble. Her love interest Prince Kiggs is also very endearing and I really liked the slow burn of their romance.
However every character in the story is equally unique and interesting, Orma, Fruit Bat, Vivirdius, Princess Glisselda (just to name a few) play such fantastic parts and are so refreshingly individual! The dragons themselves also bring a dry humour to the book as they fail to understand human emotions and customs. Generally they ignore social etiquette and unintentionally, are often quite rude.
Overall I loved it. However this is a high fantasy book so I know it won’t be for everyone but for those of you who do love fantasy, Seraphina is a must read! 5 stars!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Until I Die - Book Review

Until I Die – Book Review
Amy Plum
YA Paranormal
(Book #2 of the Revenants Trilogy)
Kate and Vincent have overcome the odds and at last they are together in Paris, the city of lights and love.

As their romance deepens there’s one question they can’t ignore: How are they supposed to be together if Vincent can’t resist sacrificing himself to save others? Although Vincent promises that he’ll do whatever it takes to lead a normal life with Kate, will that mean letting innocent people die? When a new and surprising enemy reveals itself, Kate realizes that even more may be at stake—and that Vincent’s immortality is in jeopardy…
I must admit that after reading ‘Die for me’ I totally fell in love with the revenants series and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this sequel – which like its prequel has a stunningly gorgeous cover! And with the romance continued and the stakes raised that much higher, I’m pleased to announce that ‘Until I Die’ did in no way disappoint.
Back in the first book Kate and her sister find themselves suddenly orphaned and are made to move to Paris to live with their grandparents. While Kate’s sister Georgia is a social butterfly and quickly adapts to her new life, Kate is quiet and melancholy, preferring to spend her days hidden in a café reading. Only when she meets Vincent does she find meaning in life again, however Vincent himself isn’t technically alive.
He is a revenant, an immortal soul whose duty is to guard the lives of the humans around him. However this second book sees Kate and Vincent trying to find a way in which they can be together. For Vincent, this means not dying for the next 80 or so years of Kate’s life which as he learns, is easier said than done. However not happy with the sacrifices this plan demands of Vincent, Kate sets out to find another solution. Yet what neither of them knows is that someone else has other plans for them – plans that could cost Kate her life and lose Vincent his soul…
Packed full of action, mystery and intrigue, this story gives a broader view of revenant lore and history. We also get closer to the characters who are all just as equally as amazing as they were in the first novel. Jules in particular seems to play a bigger part and I can’t help but wonder if a love triangle is forming up between him, Kate and Vincent?
Kate’s sister, Georgia also has a larger presence in this second book – especially as she now knows about Vincent and the revenants - she is a source of comfort and advice for Kate. There sisterly bond is sweet to read and I really love how Kate and her family interact in general. None of this disinterested parents/guardian stuff that is so commonly found in YA books these days. This element alone makes Amy Plums books a refreshing read.
This book also sees a couple of new characters added to cast – each with their own distinct personalities, and their own hidden agendas. They help bring intrigue and mystery to the story, as well as throwing in a few unexpected plot twists which all combined together to make this book one stunning read.
My only flaw with this second book was that it had a very serious tone to it. This I felt impacted a little on Kate and Vincent’s romance as although their scenes together were still sweet and moving, they all held a tortured, slightly desperate undertone. Which I suppose is quite understandable, given that their future together is problem riddled and very uncertain. However I did miss their dates and playful banter.
Overall though I really loved this book and thought it made a fantastic sequel. The shocking, cliff hanger ending having paved the way for what will clearly be an emotional, heartfelt and explosive finale in book 3 – “If I should Die” coming May 2013. 4 stars!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Letterbox Love #5

Letterbox Love - a new weekly meme for UK book Bloggers to share their weekly book hauls, hosted by the lovely Lynsey over at Narratively Speaking.
Hades by Alexandra Adornetto
172 hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
City of Swords by Mary Hoffman
Velvet by Mary Hooper
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
 Thank you to every publisher who sent me a review book this week, but special thanks to Random House for the beautiful, hardback copy of Seraphina. I read it all in one night and just fell in love with it so look out for my review next week!
 Well that’s it for another week! What came through your letterbox?
Happy Reading!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Fated - Book Review

The soul seekers: Fated – Book Review
 (Book #1 of the Soul Seekers series)
Alyson Noel
YA Paranormal
Lately strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her, and glowing people appear out of nowhere. Worried that Daire is having a nervous breakdown, her mother packs her off to stay in the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico with a grandmother she’s never met.
There she crosses paths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes who she’s encountered before...but only in her dreams. And she’ll get to know her grandmother—a woman who recognizes Daire’s bizarre episodes for what they are. A call to her true destiny as a Soul Seeker, one who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead. Her grandmother immediately begins teaching her to harness her powers—but it’s an art that must be mastered quickly. Because Dace’s brother is an evil shape-shifter who’s out to steal her powers. Now Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and find out if Dace is one guy she’s meant to be with...or if he’s allied with the enemy she’s destined to destroy.
I’ll admit now that while I have read Alyson Noels Immortal series, I wasn’t really a huge fan of the books. Therefore I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this new soul seeker series but I have to say, despite quite a few nit-picks, I did enjoy it and will most certainly be reading the next book.
The story begins with Daire, a young girl who has spent her life travelling around the world from movie set to movie set with her mother, a make-up artist for Hollywood’s elite. However on the day of Daire’s sixteenth birthday, that life comes to end when Daire starts having freaky visions of ravens and dismembered heads that drive her to a hysterical breakdown.
Not wanting to spend the rest of her life on medication on in the confines of a mental institution, Daire takes the only other option available and moves in with her old, long lost grandmother who claims she can cure Daire of these horrifying visions. However Daire soon learns that these visions are no mental defect, but are part of her inherited powers. As the last descendant of a long line of powerful Shamans, the fate of the world now rests on her shoulders and Daire must learn to harness and use her abilities before evil can break free, and destroy everything good in this world…
One of my favourite things about this book was the mysticism. Stemming from the traditional Native American culture, this story was full animal spirit guides, vision quests and the universal idea that everything has its own mystical life force and energy. It was particularly interesting to read how Daire, a very modern teenage, adapts to her new found heritage by taking on the diet and mind frame required for her new shamanic way of life.
Unfortunately though, I found the romance aspect of this novel a huge letdown. While the love interest Dace was totally gorgeous and swoon worthy, the romance itself didn’t really develop so much as it was instant love. Instant kiss. Instant I guess we are now boyfriend and girlfriend… So yeah. I’m going to hope the romance expands a bit more in the next book.
As for the other characters, I really liked Daire. With her less than normal upbringing her reactions to regular things such as high school are quite amusing, and I liked watching the relationship between her and her (slightly quirky) grandmother develop. The bad guy Cade, however, I found mostly arrogant and annoying. Daire’s mother Jennika though – I just didn’t like at all. She was bossy, childish and quite frankly came across as uncaring, not very good traits for a mother character. Otherwise I really liked the rest of the cast, Paloma and Shay being particular favourites of mine.
My last and final fault was the drama. The plot was interesting and the stakes were high, but I felt like everything was resolved rather quickly and perhaps just a little too easily. For that reason I think that this book would be enjoyed more by a younger YA audience, or anyone who wants less conflict in their books and are guaranteed the reassurance of a happy ending.
So overall I found ‘Fated’ to be a very enjoyable story but with a few definite flaws. Hopefully the next book will bring with it more and romance and drama but regardless, I shall definitely be reading the sequel ‘Echo’ which is to be published in September 2012. 3 ½ Stars!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Saving June Blog Tour - Book Review and Interview

Saving June – Book Review
Hannah Harrington
YA Contemporary
‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’
Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going, California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.
As many of you will probably know, contemporary YA isn’t usually my thing but for some reason I felt compelled to give this book a go – and I’m so very pleased I did. Very quickly I found myself intrigued with the storyline and I’ll say now that ‘Saving June’ was an absolute page turner!
The story begins with the suicide of Harper’s older sister June who, with no note or any kind of goodbye, leaves Harper a mess of hurt, angry and confused emotions. Now as their divorced parents fight over splitting June’s ashes, Harper begins to form a plan, a plan to take June’s ashes to California (June’s dream destination) and scatter her ashes in the sea as a final tribute to her sister.
Enlisting the help of her best friend Laney, and rather begrudgingly accepting Jake’s offer to drive them, Harper successfully steals her sister’s ashes. And so begins the road trip of a lifetime…
Honestly it’s hard to describe how much this book moved me. What starts off as a story of grief and pain turns into a journey of friendship, self discovery and all the adventure that comes with being a teenager. Watching as Harper learns to trust and remake herself after being shattered by June’s death, her growing relationship with Jake and her realization of all the life and beauty this world has to offer was simply heart wrenching.
Each character was so deep and Hannah Harrington used them expertly to express such raw emotions that you could easily have believed that this story was true. Also music also plays a big part in this book. Not only are playlists from each scene listed at the end of the novel, but the songs themselves were chosen to help convey the feelings of each scene. Especially for Harper, who found the lyrics often triggered or released her suppressed feelings.
So overall I really enjoyed this book. Although I would probably recommend it more to older teens or mature readers as emotionally this story is very profound and heartfelt. Intense, expressive and deeply moving ‘Saving June’ is fantastic. 4 stars!

1)     What gave you the idea for Saving June and how long did it take you to write?

I fist had the idea for Saving June while I was in high school. When I was seventeen, I’d lost a relative of mine to suicide and the “splitting the ashes” thing was something that actually happened. The summer after I graduated, I was living out of my car and working as a pizza cook. The radio would always be on in the kitchen, so I was spending a lot of time listening to music and kicking the idea around in my head. A few years later I found some of the bits and pieces I’d written back then, and decided to sit down and write out a full first draft. So some of it comes from my personal experiences, and of course some of it is inspired by music I love. It all ended up tying together!

It took me about three months to write a first draft of Saving June. It kept evolving in newer drafts after that time, but for the first draft, it was three months.

2)    While writing, did your characters behave as you wanted them to or did they ever change the direction of the story?

For the most part my characters behaved! I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted each of them to go from start to finish.

3)    What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing Saving June?

I think the biggest challenge was trying to stay true to the emotion but also allow the story to have some more light-hearted elements. A lot of the story is about finding the beauty in life, in relationships with friends and possible love and just the world and nature in general. To have Harper learn to appreciate all of that, I had to make sure she wasn’t buried under her grief the entire time.

4)    Can you tell us anything about any new/future writing projects of yours?

My next book, SPEECHLESS, will be published by Harlequin Teen at the end of August. It’s the story of a girl named Chelsea Knot, who takes a voluntary oath of silence after her gossip-mongering ways get her in big trouble.

5)    And finally, what was the best piece of advice you received back when you were still an aspiring writer?

Keep writing! The more you write, the better you get. I also think a good idea is to look at the books you’ve read and loved and try to figure out what about them strikes you so much, and try to keep that in mind for your own writing.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Fifty shades of Grey - Book Review

Fifty Shades of Grey – Book Review
 (Book #1 of the fifty shades trilogy)
E.L. James
18+ Readers
When literature student Anastasia Steele is drafted to interview the successful young entrepreneur Christian Grey for her campus magazine, she finds him attractive, enigmatic and intimidating. Convinced their meeting went badly, she tries to put Grey out of her mind - until he happens to turn up at the out-of-town hardware store where she works part-time.

The unworldly, innocent Ana is shocked to realize she wants this man, and when he warns her to keep her distance it only makes her more desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her - but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey's singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success – his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving adoptive family – Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a passionate, physical and daring affair, Ana learns more about her own dark desires, as well as the Christian Grey hidden away from public scrutiny.

Can their relationship transcend physical passion? Will Ana find it in herself to submit to the self-indulgent Master? And if she does, will she still love what she finds?
For the last few months or so, I have heard the title ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ floating around the blogsphere followed by declarations of how amazing it is and how everyone should read it. After a bit more prompting from some friends I finally caved and got hold of a copy and I have to say… it was deliciously risqué and I loved it. I will however advise anyone who has yet to try it, to not read this book in the presence of either your mother or grandmother as the story will more than likely have you blushing, giggling and swooning embarrassingly – it also leads to awkward moments when they ask what the books about! J
The story begins with Anastasia Steele, who covering for a sick friend, is allocated the job of interviewing extremely rich and successful businessman Christian grey for her college newspaper. Not only is Christian surprisingly young but also amazing good looking and Ana’s attraction to him is instant, however she can’t help but find him intimidating and is relieved (and a little disappointed) when the interview ends. Thinking she will never see him again, Ana is then astonished when Christian shows up a few days later at her work place to ask her on a date. But Christian’s intentions are much darker, and Ana soon finds herself in a strange and controlling relationship with an emotionally broken man, who she hopes, her warm and tender heart can fix…
I have to say, the characters in the book are just fantastic! Christian is dark and sensual with his many shades of messed up contributing to his dominant nature and preference for sexual BDSM. However he is also very sweet and in many ways innocent, especially in matters of the heart. His need to take care of Ana is endearing and shows how deep his feelings for her go, especially as he learns to compromise on certain aspects of his sexual lifestyle – something that until now, he has refused to do for anyone.
Anastasia is also brilliant and the protagonist of this story. Until she met Christian she was a virgin and although often afraid and unsure, she trusts Christian and is willing to adapt and explore her sexuality to be with him. However she is not by any means a weak willed character, stranding strong to her beliefs she refuses to let Christian take over her life and stays true to who she is - which really, only seems to make Christian love her more.
Also obviously this is a book that contains graphic sex scenes of Bondage and Domination but, rather than just being an erotic story, it read more like a romance -especially as each sex scene was used to enhance the development of Christian and Ana’ relationship. Revealing their growing love and trust for one another, I thought everything in this book was very tastefully done.
The only problem I had with this story was its cliff hanger ending. I was so engrossed in the story that when the end eventually came, I was gutted – mostly because I didn’t have the next book! However due to the nature of its contents, it’s a hard book to recommend but I think anyone who enjoys authors such as Larissa Ione, Kresley Cole or Katie McCalister would definitely like this book. As for the rest of you all I can say is, don’t knock it until you try it!
Emotional, Sensual and breathtakingly good, for me ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is easily 5 stars!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Letterbox Love #4

Letterbox Love - a new weekly meme for UK book Bloggers to share their weekly book hauls, hosted by the lovely Lynsey over at Narratively Speaking.
Hey guys, I’ve got quite a few books to share with you this week. Had a lot of surprise review books land through my letterbox J

Shattered Dreams by Ellie James
Taken by Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione
Blood Moon by Alyxandra Harvey
Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts
Darkness Devours by Keri Arthur
Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt
Rapture by Lauren Kate
Deception by Lee Nichols
InkHeart by Cornelia Funke
Heartstone by C.J. Sanson
Brilliance of the Moon by Lian Hearn
Legend by Marie Lu
A Million Suns
 Well that’s it for another week! What came through your letterbox?
Happy Reading!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Fins are Forever - Book Review

Fins are Forever – Book Review
Tera Lynn Childs
YA Paranormal
On Lily Sanderson’s eighteenth birthday she’ll become just a girl—still a mergirl, true, but signing the renunciation will ink Princess Waterlily of Thalassinia out of existence. That leaves plain old Lily living on land, dating the boy she loves, and trying to master this being-human thing once and for all.

Now that Lily and Quince are together, mer bond or not, she’s almost content to give up her place in the royal succession of Thalassinia. But just when she thinks she has everything figured out, the waves start to get rough. Lily’s father sends a certain whirlpool-stirring cousin to stay with her on land. What did Doe do to get herself exiled from Thalassinia and stuck in terraped form, when everyone knows how much she hates humans? And why why why is she batting her eyelashes at Lily’s former crush, Brody?

The seafoam on the raging surf comes when a merboy from Lily’s past shows up—Tellin asks Lily for something that clouds her view of the horizon. There’s a future with Quince on land, her loyalty to the kingdom in the sea, and Lily tossing on the waves in the middle. Will she find a way to reconcile her love, her duty, and her own dreams?
I really enjoyed the first book in this series ‘Forgive my Fins’ and I’m pleased to say that this sequel, ‘Fins are Forever’ was equally as fantastic. Still sweet and fun, this book was much more dramatic than the last, with higher stakes and greater romantic complications. It made for a quick, light-hearted read that was so cute; I could help but be left smiling.
The story starts a week after the events in book one. Lily and Quince are officially a couple (although an un-bonded one) and Lily is just beginning to come to terms with her decision to live life on land. But then, just when things are starting to go smoothly for the mermaid princess, her cousin Dosina turns up looking for a place to stay after an unknown incident leads to her being exiled from Thalassinia.
Dosina wastes no time in finding trouble and soon bonds herself to Lily’s former crush Brody. So now not only does Lily now have to find a way to un-bond the newly bonded couple, but when one of her old childhood friends turns up and offers Lily a way to keep her royal title, she is torn between the choice of following her heart or accepting her royal duty as future Queen of Thalassinia. The question she must ask herself is who does she care about more, her fellow mer-people? Or her true love Quince?
I must admit, that while this book still made me laugh out loud I don’t think it was quite as funny as the first one. I imagine this was mainly because now that Lily and Quince are couple, they don’t argue nearly as much and their scenes have gone from sweet and flirtatious to emotional and serious – which wasn’t a bad thing. It shows how much their relationship has progressed and it is clear to see their love for each other.  Their romance was certainly one of things I loved most about this book.
As for the characters, I found Lily still very much the same insecure, worry-over-everything mer-girl she was in the last book. Quince however I felt was little darker, still very hunkish and drool-worthy but I missed some of his witty humour and one liners.
As for Dosina and Brody, I was quite surprised to find that I liked them both immensely. Their characters were more developed in this book and they both more than made up for their past annoyances and grievances. There romance was also rather sweet and I’m looking forward to finding out what fate has in store for them all next.

So overall ‘Fins are Forever’ was yet another fun and quirky read by Tera Lynn Childs. While I think anyone of any age will appreciate the humour and sweetness this series brings, I would ultimately recommend it to a younger YA audience who would enjoy reading about the trials and embarrassments that come with first love and growing up – especially if you are a mermaid!
Sweet and light-hearted with a plot filled with fishy-fun – this is definitely a number one beach read. 4 stars!

Also you can click HERE to read my review of ‘Forgive my Fins.’