Sunday, 19 April 2015

{Review} The Bad Rescue of Devon Streeter (Riven, #1) by B.C. Johnson

24878790Posted by Melanie
Release Date: March 31st, 2015
Finished Date: April 9th, 2015
Publishers: Self Published
Genre: Sci-Fi, YA, 
Source: For Review
Format: eBook
Pages: 404
Devon's a teenage medic. Bloom's a wannabe gunslinger. Just two best friends hanging at the end of the world. 

When Earth and another world smashed together, everything went sideways. Some people survived, some inhumans too, and they all made for bad neighbors. Fighting for scraps on the face of a changed world, Devon and Bloom have to face alien magic, inhuman monsters, and the inescapable fact that the Merge is going to change them. Deviate them into . . . something else. 

But when circumstance flings Devon and Bloom apart, can they find each other across the wild wastelands? 

Will they recognize each other when they do?

The Review: The Bad Rescue of Devon Streeter is the first book in the Riven series and I’m giving it a solid 4*s!
As the synopsis tells us – Earth is no longer the earth we know, another world smashed into our and created a ‘merge’. With the new world came the strange….. and not all of them are friendly to humans…in fact they’d down right hostile and to be caught by one is surely to face death. The humans that survived formed communities where your childhood is filled with training and everyone has a place in the community to keep people alive. They survive by scavenging and trying not to be caught by the aliens that terrorise them. It’s on one of these scavenging missions that Devon and her best pal Bloom get ripped apart and their lives will never be the same.
I really enjoyed this story and found that the author has created an interesting new world filled with new species and dangers that put the humans lower on the food chain. It’s a dystopian world above all else but the changes have been drastic to what humans are used to, food is scarce, housing too and communities are created in the effort to survive giving them a very militarised feel where ranks are given and everyone has a designation and sort of a career path. Devon is a 16 yr old girl who is training to be a medic, that’s a lot for a 16yr old’s shoulders but it’s like a calling to her and exactly how she ends up getting herself into trouble. I found she was a cool character, she had a great sense of humour and was very focussed on doing what was expected of her. I liked the bond that she shared with Bloom, he was fun too, more laid back than Devon with a penchant for cowboy attire but a perfect partner in crime for her. They fit well, had a very relaxed relationship and you could really feel their closeness even though they spent most of the book apart.
When Devon dives head first into a really dangerous situation, her life is irrevocably changed which in turn opens up her world and shows the reader what she is really made of. We become aware of deviants, humans who have been affected by radiation from the nuclear plant and have some sort of powers because of this. Devon is taken to a sort of camp for these type of young adults, here they are trained how to use their powers, shown how to do missions, put into situations where they have to use anything at their disposal to win etc. is it a jail or a school though? Devon is definitely put through her paces as she faces shocks, danger, loss, acceptance and battles that seem hopeless but she also gets a little taste of first love too.
Meanwhile, Bloom is told that Devon is dead! But he knows she isn’t, he believes she is still out there so he leaves home to search for her and has a dangerous adventure of his own where he is forced to befriend the enemy, runs for his life, is faced with multiple threats and faces the biggest, baddest of all…… when all he wants to do is rescue Devon so things can go back to the way they were. He will not give up….not until he’s dead and gone. The story is told from the multiple point of views, mainly Devon and Bloom, they were really easy to read and amiable which helped in routing for them to find each other again. The first part of the book was quite slow, there was a lot of travelling and internal thinking from both characters but once new characters were brought into it, it got more interesting as the dialogue began to flow and their situations moved on. There ended up being a ton of action throughout the rest of the book which I loved, we meet varying enemies throughout and see just what they’re capable of and how little human life means to all ‘different’ species. I liked that we got to see both sides of hunters and hunted, I also liked the set up that Devon found herself in and look forward to more from that faction. All in all, this was a great read, a really good introduction to the series and I’d definitely read more. 

Thank you to B.C Johnson for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

{Review} Animals Jigsaw and Sticker Book (My Little World) by Jonathan Litton & Fhiona Galloway

Posted by Donna
Release Date:  April 6th, 2015
Finished Date: April 10, 2015
Publishers: Little Tiger Press
Genre: Children's Jigsaw and Sticker Book
Ages: 3 - 6 years old
Source: For Review
Format: Paperback
Pages: 16
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US 

Children will enjoy learning a variety of animal words as they assemble this colourful, durable jigsaw! 

Together with the wipe-clean sticker book, this activity set develops problem-solving skills while providing hours of animal-themed learning fun.

The Review: If you were to ask my daughter what her two favourite things to do are she’d tell you straight away she loves jigsaws and stickers. She’s fascinated with them which I’m guessing most children are too, but it’s rare (for me at least) that I ever see children playing with these two things together. So this is Animals Jigsaw and Sticker Book is so perfect for children because it combines two of their favourites all together.

What we loved about this item is that it’s bright, colour and so fun to use. The illustrations in the sticker book are lovely and very realistic and help children learn new animals. It also helps them learn which animals come from which environment. Isabel is quite familiar with her animals but found a few a little tricky to place. She really enjoyed trying to work it out. And of course she can re-use the stickers because you can unstick them.

And the jigsaw comes in 36 big pieces so it’s not too fiddly for little hands. It also has lovely illustrations and a lovely black border making it easy for children to know which pieces are the outside pieces.

In all, Animals Jigsaw and Sticker Book was a great hit in our house and I’ll definitely be keeping eye out for more of these.

Thank you to Little Tiger Press for giving us the opportunity to review this in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 17 April 2015

{Review} Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

17926775Posted by Donna
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Finished Date: April 6th, 2015
Publishers: Strange Chemistry
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback
Pages: 469
For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy...

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

The Review: For the past year all I’ve heard about is Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen and being a big YA fantasy fan I knew this was something I wanted to read but when I started I don’t think I was prepared for the epicness that is this book! 

On her seventeenth birthday Cécile is kidnapped and taken into the depths of Trollus, a city beneath a ruined mountain which is the home to thousands of Trolls. It is there that Cécile learns that the Trolls have been trapped for centuries after a witch placed a curse on them and Cécile has a role to play – she’s to marry the trollus prince in order to fulfil a prophecy that will set the trolls free. 

The last thing Cécile wants is to be stuck beneath the mountain for the rest of her life and make a vow that she will do whatever it takes to get free. But the more time she spends in Trollus is the more she sees that there are many mysteries to uncover and the more time she spends with the troll prince the more finds she doesn’t hate him as she once thought. 

Wow. Talk about mind-blown. This book is amazing! One I started, I couldn’t put it down and thank god that it was bank holiday weekend because I managed to read it all within two days. It’s such a beautiful and magical read that it was impossible to put down. It’s written perfectly that gives you enough information to create a perfect world building that makes you feel as though you’re there with the characters too. The magic was a great added touch that added to the mystery and beauty of the story and more importantly this is such a unique and strong read. I’ve not read much on Trolls myself, so for me this was a more enjoyable story because it was so completely unknown to me. 

Not only does the author write a strong plot but she also writes strong characters too. Cécile has so much taken away from her but no matter what she remains strong and dedicated to her goals. But I loved that she was such an open minded character. She really makes this story. And Tristian, the prince of Trollus…..oh wow! I was expecting to like him like I did. He’s also a strong character but he has a role to play and sometimes that means not always being nice, but as the story progresses you end up loving him because he’s so lovable deep down. Cécile and his relationship is a slow burning one but one that makes you root for them from the start. 

And the ending, that ending! The only good thing about reading the book this month means I only have to wait 2 months for Hidden Huntress which I’ve already pre-ordered. I can’t wait! 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

{Review} Piercing the Darkness (Shadow Born #2.5) by Angela Dennis

24983578Posted by Melanie
Release Date: April 7th, 2014
Finished Date: March 30th, 2015
Publishers: Samhain Publishing
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Romance
Source: For Review
Format: eBook
Pages: 86
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US

Love knows no bounds.

Cursed by the dark mage who killed her, Hilda Janssen has wandered the Earthly plane as a ghost for fifty years, finally finding her place as an IRT hunter, policing supernatural misfits trapped on Earth after a brutal war.

When a demon attacks, putting her team in mortal danger, Hilda sacrifices herself to save her friends. She’s already died once; what difference will doing it again make? But instead of meeting a final death, Hilda is cast into the Void, a magical prison from which there is no escape.

Her only hope is Cade Kerrigan, the lover she left behind after her first death. Their bond and his magic are the only things strong enough to pull her through the Veil. But Cade has no idea his soulmate came back as a ghost, and he isn’t too happy to have been left in the dark.

They must put aside the baggage of the past to save Hilda from a fate worse than death.

Warning: Contains star-crossed lovers destined for a second chance, a whirlwind of powerful magic, and a love so strong it defies even death.

The Review: Piercing the Darkness was a great short story in the Shadow Born series and gives us a greater insight into the life of the resident ghost Hilda.

We met Hilda in the previous two books as the ghost that wanders around the home of the IRT, she has been a ghost for fifty years following being cursed and killed by a dark mage. What we didn’t know was that she left behind her soul mate – Cade Kerrigan – who never moved on from her death. When she agrees to be a sacrifice in order to save everyone from the latest evil, she unexpectedly ends up in the ‘void’ an in between the veil place that has been used as a magical prison – with no way out. The only one who could possibly save her is her long lost love Cade, Cade doesn’t even know that she still exists so we’re left wondering if he will even try to save her…. Can he put aside the past? Will he save her? Or leave her to the energy sucking fiends that will take her every chance they get.

So, I loved this addition to the series and was quite surprised that it was Hilda that got her own story. She wasn’t one of my favourite characters from the series, she has a certain manner where you don’t quite know where she stands but this was a great way to really get to know her and really did make her more likable.

The storyline carried perfectly on from book two and gave us the planning phase where we see Hilda agreeing to sacrifice herself, she had no body with her being a ghost so was given one in order to be sacrificed. We witness the showdown from her point of view and then we find out that she isn’t dead, she was trapped in the Void by the demon with no way out. Brenna & Grey try and try to get her out but it’s not working so Seraph seeks out Cade and we find out that Cade didn’t even know she still existed. I really liked this scenario and I thought the way Cade was brought into the story was so natural and felt right. We got dual point of views which gave a well rounded story and gave us a great insight into how both characters felt and what they were going through. The bond they shared came across really well and you could tell that they both weren’t over each other which showed the soul mate angle to be true. Cade’s true character shone through when he decided to rescue Hilda even though she hadn’t come to him in fifty years and that again showed the strength of his love for her. I was definitely routing for the pair to end up back together but wondered if Hilda would still have her body if she was saved.

The threat came by way of the prisoners of the void, the reason there is no way out… but that’s not all Hilda finds there.

The Eversors are energy sucking fiends and Hilda is ripe to be fed from, what they do is a fate worse than death, a purgatory if you will because they take you to the brink of death, let you heal and do it all over again. She must keep one step ahead but they can sense energy and that makes it difficult to use her powers. There are a lot of close shaves and Cade definitely has a race against time on his hands but the ending is very satisfying and it also looks like Cade will become a regular in the series. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I can’t wait for more. 

Thank you to Angela Dennis for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

{Blog Tour} The Truth about Us by Janet Gurtler

21991195Posted by Donna
Release Date: April 7th, 2015
Finished Date: 
Publishers: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Source: For Review
Format: eARC
Pages: 304
A powerful and gripping contemporary YA from the author of I'm Not Her that's "Just right for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult."-Booklist

The truth is that Jess knows she screwed up.
She's made mistakes, betrayed her best friend, and now she's paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.

The truth is she wishes she was the care-free party-girl everyone thinks she is.
She pretends it's all fine. That her "perfect" family is fine. But it's not. And no one notices the lie...until she meets Flynn. He's the only one who really sees her. The only one who listens.

The truth is that Jess is falling apart – and no one seems to care. 
But Flynn is the definition of "the wrong side of the tracks." When Jess's parents look at him they only see the differences-not how much they need each other. They don't get that the person who shouldn't fit in your world... might just be the one to make you feel like you belong.

The Review: The Truth above Us is a story about Jess whose life seems to be crashing around her. Her mother stays in her room all day, her father is a controlling workaholic and her older sister spends more time at her boyfriend’s house than at home. The only person Jess has to rely on is her best friend who really isn’t that great of a friend. But now, after making too many mistakes, Jess’s father is making her volunteer in a soup kitchen and it is there that she means Flynn – the boy from the wrong side of town. As Jess and Flynn start a relationship, it seems there is more than one person who doesn’t want them together. So can they beat the odds? 

I’ve really enjoyed Janet Gurtler’s books so far. My favourite being Who I Kissed and so I’m always waiting impatiently for a new release from her. I enjoyed The Truth about Us but it wasn’t a favourite. The reason for that is because I’ve read a lot of these types of stories – ones about girls dating guys from the wrong side of the tracks. And while I enjoyed this one, it didn’t really stand out compared to the other stories I’ve read. I’m not saying this is a bad story because it’s not. It’s a quick and easy read, one that’s enjoyable but it’s one that didn’t wow but as much as I hoped because I didn’t find it very memorable. 

Jess was a likable character. Even though she had her moments to start with as the story progresses she becomes more open and honest with herself and starts to really grow. The troubles she faces at home are troubling and I really felt for situation and could understand the reasons for why she acted out. But then I liked it when Jess started working at the soup kitchen because it’s there she changes. I really liked that the author added the issues because she’s famous for writing about real life issues. 

The romance of the story is a very strong aspect of the story and I didn’t really connect with it as much as I would have liked. The characters relationship develops too quickly, almost an insta-love connection and it just all felt too rushed. 

In all, while I enjoyed The Truth about Us it isn’t a favourite of mine but if you’re looking for an easy read that easy to fly through, then you’re in the right place. 

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Why it's important to tell the truth:
by Janet Gurtler

I believe in telling the truth. That’s not to say I’ve never lied to anyone, or never told a few white lies in my time.  I have however been accused of being the kind of person who “tells it like it is.” This is accurate to some degree, though I don’t go out of my way to say mean things or point out mean things about other people. Yes, your haircut looks great, no those pants don’t make your butt look big. I’d never have to be totally honest to hurt someone’s feelings.

I’m attracted to friends who are sarcastic and funny and direct.  It’s a quality I admire in other people and I think it stems from the fact that I’m a fan of telling the truth to yourself. I’m not the kind of person who likes pretending that everything is perfect when everything is not.  I don’t want to be the negative nelly all the time either, but I’m not faking things so that the surface looks shiny.

I hate sweeping things under the carpet. I’d rather talk about things. Real things. I don’t like pretenses. I don’t like beating around the bush. I don’t like it when people tell others something only because they think that’s what they think that person wants to hear. I’m not good at those kind of games and it irritates me when others play them.

I actually had a talk with my son recently about this exact topic. He struggles with a friend who is always boasting, making things up and outright lying. We talked about different family values. How maybe this friend has other good qualities, but might not turn out to be the kind of person my son wants to associate with long term.  I told him my view on honesty and how that filters to him and we talked about how different family’s value different things and it doesn’t necessarily make us right, but it shapes our behavior and what we value in others.

I think my attitude about truth telling comes out a lot in my writing. I am a big fan of giving my characters secrets and making them face those secrets one way or another. In The Truth About Us, most of the characters in the book have to look inward and face truths about themselves. Sometimes the truth isn’t pretty. None of us are perfect. I think in real life the key is to figure out how to make your own truth something you can live with.

AUTHOR BIO
A Rita Award Finalist and Crystal Kite Award Finalist, Janet Gurtler's young adult books have been chosen for the JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION and as BEST BOOKS FOR TEENS from the Canadian Children’s Book Center. Janet lives in Okotoks Alberta, Canada with her husband, son, and a chubby black Chihuahua named Bruce.

TWITTER: @janetgurtler

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

{Review} A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas

22839894Posted by Melanie
Release Date: May 7th, 2015
Finished Date: January 27th, 2015
Publishers: Bloomsbury Children's
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Source: For Review
Format: eARC
Pages: 432
The breathtaking start to a seductive high-fantasy from New York Times bestselling author of Throne of Glass series.

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price.

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

The Review: WOW! I totally loved this! It had everything I could look for in a fantasy book. Feyre was the sort of character that can be admired, she was versatile and became who she had to be - depending on her circumstances. In the beginning she is the survivor, the hunter and the bread winner – she had to be, her family would not have survived without her and she came across as cold hearted but again - she had to be. Her world was based on survival, day to day just trying to get by and survive, love never entered her world, it never entered her heart until she killed the wolf and her world became something else. When Tamlin and Lucien enter her life we get to see a new side to her, of course when she is first taken she is full of hostility, she doesn’t want to be there and isn’t afraid to let them know it. She can feel the resentment of them both but Tamlin makes the effort with her and slowly she rises to the surface, who she would have been without needing to ensure her family is safe. As she begins to relax in their company and they in turn make the effort with her – she blossoms. When love is given to her, when she loves in return….. she becomes something she never thought she would be and that is a warrior, someone who would stop at nothing to save those who she loved. It was extremely satisfying to see her bloom into a woman, one who allowed love into her cold heart and someone who hated those who had enslaved the humans but came to see them as family. The relationship that developed between Feyre and Tamlin was so sweet and tentative, it took time and wasn’t insta love. I craved the moments between them, could feel every patter of her heart when he did something sweet for her and routed for them right up until the very end. I was glad that this was NA so that we got some steamier sexytime between them, it definitely added to the emotion of the book. The storyline was fab, it had a dystopian feel to it in the beginning with Feyre hunting and trying to keep her family fed, it’s a very bleak world that they live in and you can feel it through Feyre. When she is taken by Tamlin it becomes more fantasy as we enter the world of fairie. The world inhabited by Tamlin was beautiful, some of the descriptions of places and fae were lovely and like Feyre wanted to paint them, I wanted to see them. The first half of the book is very much devoted to getting to know the characters and the world and also seeing the relationship develop between Feyre & Tamlin. There are also threats that happen to her from more dangerous fae when she is shown just how scary they can be but we also get to see her changing opinion of them through these encounters. Tamlin’s estate becomes safe for her but we are always reminded of the dangers that can happen. We are aware that Tamlin’s court has a curse placed upon it but everyone is tight lipped about it and it’s up to Feyre to work things out, we are given hints but no one is ever forthcoming with information until Feyre’s existence and meaning to Tamlin is revealed – then it really hits the fan and Tamlin makes the ultimate sacrifice to keep her safe. Once we start to get information about what is truly going on in their world, the plot really quickens and becomes more action driven. We finally find out who is running the show and what that means for Tamlin. Feyre really comes into her own and realises just what he means to her, what she is willing to fight for and what she plans to do about it. She is put through her paces in quests that are designed to kill her, she must win to release Tamlin’s court and any hopes of a happy ever after. The action, plotting, fights…everything was brilliant here, the story had been so subdued to a certain point and then everything is flung on its head and it all rests on Feyre’s shoulders showing us just what she has become and creating a thrilling conclusion that had my heart beating so fast and breaking at the same time – it was just wonderful and I loved it! The world was beautiful, filled with fantastical beasts, fairies and the likes, there is a curse to be broken, love to be found and above all hope – hope that there was a better life to be had. I can’t fault this in anyway and I will be definitely waiting for the sequel. 

Thank you to Bloomsbury for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

{Review} Some Kind of Normal by Juliana Stone

24385453Posted by Donna
Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Finished Date: April 5th, 2015
Publishers: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Source: For Review
Format: eARC
Pages: 304
What is Normal?

For Trevor normal was fast guitar licks, catching game-winning passes and partying all night. Until a car accident leaves Trevor with no band, no teammates and no chance of graduating. It's kinda hard to ace your finals when you've been in a coma. The last thing he needs is stuck-up Everly Jenkins as his new tutor those beautiful blue eyes catching every last flaw.

For Everly normal was a perfect family around the dinner table, playing piano at Sunday service and sunning by the pool. Until she discovers her whole life is a lie. Now the perfect pastor's daughter is hiding a life-changing secret, one that is slowly tearing her family apart. And spending the summer with notorious flirt Trevor Lewis means her darkest secret could be exposed.

This achingly beautiful story about two damaged teens struggling through pain and loss to redefine who they are--to their family, to themselves, and to each other--is sure to melt your heart.

The Review: Some Kind of Normal follows Trevor who as of last year was a guitar player, a football player and loved to party, that is until he involved in a car accident that leaves him in pretty bad shape after being in a coma. Now, a year later, Trevor’s fallen behind that much he’s probably not going to graduate unless he gets help. And help is in the form of Everly who seems to hate Trevor. 

Everly has always had the perfect family until something changes and now it only appears that everything is normal. Her home life pretty much sucks because of the secrets her father is keeping and it’s killing everything she loved about her family. She’ll do anything to get out of the house even if that means helping Trevor. 

Can these two lost characters repair the damage that is done in their lives and start looking forward to new things or will their current situations keep dragging them down? 

I loved Juliana Stone’s Boys Like You when I read it last year. I can remember flying through the book because I simply couldn’t put it down. And so when I heard she was writing more but this time from Trevor who was a secondary character in Boys Like You, I was immediately excited. But I’m not sure what happened this time around, I really enjoyed Some Kind of Normal but I didn’t feel as though I connected to Trevor and Everly’s story as much as I did Nathan and Monroe’s. I just didn’t enjoy it as much. 

Trevor was a good lead and I felt sorry for him with the issues he was dealing with from the accident. It’s left his dreams uncertain if he will ever get to fulfil them and I really did sympathise with him, but, I wish he took more action rather than feeling sorry for himself. It’s only when he’s with Everly that I really saw him start to change. But even near the end, he didn’t go after what he wanted until the very last minute. And Everly, I liked her and I enjoyed getting to know her seems as she was a new character to the series all together. 

In all, I may not have enjoyed Some Kind of Normal as much as I did Boys Like You but I still believe this is a series worth reading and I will be looking out for more YA books by this author.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review.