Monday, 3 August 2015

{Review} My Little World I Spy on the Farm

Posted by Donna
Release Date: July 6th, 2015
Finished Date: July 5th, 2015
Publishers: Little Tiger Press
Genre: Children's Picture Book 
Ages: 3 - 5 years old
Source: For Review
Format: Paperback
Pages: 24
How do bears survive in the winter and what are baby owls called? 

Find the answers to these questions and many more under the flaps and through the peek-through holes of the forest! 

Explore the forest and search for all your favourite woodland animals in this fact-packed bite-size animal safari!

The Review: My Little World I Spy on the Farm is a fantastic wipe clean sticker book that your little one is bound to love. My 4 year old is obsessed with this book right because it’s providing endless hours of fun for her while learning too. She’s a huge fan of stickers any way but she loves when it comes in an activity book because she knows she’s in for a treat. 

The great thing about this book is the fact that it’s not just a one-time activity. Because the book can be wiped clean and you can remove the stickers, it can be used as a many times as your child likes. My daughter loves to arrange all the animals in all the right places but then after she likes to mix things up and place the animals in the wrong positions and creates little play scenes. She really uses her imagination and as a parent, I love nothing more than watching my child have fun. And this activity book really provides that. 

It’s not just about having fun though. It is a learning book so my daughter learns as she plays. There are counting pages, colouring pages and writing pages. There’s also pages dedicated to different shapes, learning colours and different objects. And most pages are themed, In the Hay Barn, In the Dairy to name a few and have a scenes to relate to that theme which is most enjoyable especially with the vibrant illustrations that pop from the pages. 

The only thing I would say about this activity book that could possibly make it better is, if it came with an erasable marker. We had to order one from the internet as we didn’t have one – which wasn’t a problem – but for a 4 year old who is very impatient, she felt like she waited a life time before she got to use this activity book.  But in all, My Little World I Spy on the Farm is definitely an activity book I’ll be recommending to my family and friends. 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

{Blog Tour} I Knew You Were Trouble (Jessie Jefferson #2) by Paige Toon

24321005I Knew You Were Trouble 
by Paige Toon
Release Date: July 30th, 2014
Publishers: Simon & Schuster UK 
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US / The Book Depo

Life as the undercover daughter of a rock god isn't going to be easy. 

How will Jessie adjust to her old boring life again after spending her summer living it up with her dad in LA? 


With tough decisions ahead (and not just choosing between two hot boys), can she cope juggling her two very different lives? 


Summer may be over, but Jessie's story is just beginning…

Paige Toon playlist: Jessie Jefferson series. 

Ever since writing my debut novel Lucy in the Sky back in 2006, I have loved working to music. The song that really sums up Lucy in the Sky for me is ‘When You Were Young’ by The Killers. For Johnny Be Good, it’s Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex on Fire’. Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ kicked off the whole plot idea for One Perfect Summer (my male character Joe is the Adele in that story, the actor who can’t stop thinking about the girl – Alice – who he fell for before he became famous). 

Sometimes I love listening to a song so much that it makes an appearance in the book. In the case of The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson, I was so into ‘This Modern Glitch’, an album by The Wombats, that the band and their songs got several mentions. 

Jack is wearing a Wombats band T-shirt when Jessie first meets him. He even talks about going to see them in concert in LA. In fact, when I wrote that part of the story, The Wombats hadn’t planned a European tour, so I admit I was actually feeling a little envious towards a fictional character! I saw them in Amsterdam in March in the end – the best gig I’ve ever been to. 

Read on for my Jessie Jefferson playlist – featuring songs from both books in the series so far: The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson and I Knew You Were Trouble. I hope you get a chance to listen to some of them while you’re reading. No surprises for who’s at the top. 

Lots of love, Paige x 

Jump into the Fog and Tokyo by The Wombats Jessie thinks of ‘Jump into The Fog’ when she’s flying through the smog cloud into LA to meet her dad for the first time, and she hands Jack the record when he’s DJ-ing at his sister Agnes’s birthday party in The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson. In I Knew You Were Trouble, Jessie requests ‘Tokyo’ at Natalie’s crush’s party because it reminds her of Jack. 

I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You by Black Kids Jack impresses Jessie with his mixing skills with this song when he first DJs at Agnes’s party in Accidental Life. It also gets a mention in Trouble because it’s just so incredibly catchy and always on my go-to writing playlist. 

Running Up That Hill ¬– the Placebo version This dark and sexy song was Jack’s choice of music when he takes Jessie up to his bedroom for the first time in Accidental Life. They make out to it on his bed… 

I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift This song was played over the sound system at the Hollywood Hills party that Jessie goes to with Johnny and Meg in Accidental Life. Jessie had just been warned by a bitchy girl that Jack is ‘trouble’, so she laughs when the song comes on. Needless to say, it also inspired the title for the second book. 

Live While We’re Young and Kiss You by One Direction Jack has a tattoo that is similar to Zayn Malik’s from One Direction. Jessie teases him about it, but he bets her that he got his done first. Later he jokily sings her some lyrics from these songs, but forgets most of the words. 

All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix Jessie hears this super cool song blaring out of Jack’s stereo in his bedroom when she goes to visit his sister Agnes in Trouble. It sort of sums up his taste in music. 

People Are Strange by The Doors This is played at teen actress Lottie’s Halloween party in Trouble. The song was on the soundtrack for classic vampire movie The Lost Boys, and when Jack and his band members come dressed to the party as blood-suckers, their mate on the DJ decks whacks on this song. 

Never Tear Us Apart by INXS This song was played at Jessie’s mum’s funeral, and when it comes on during a drunken game of SingStar in Accidental Life, Jessie gets very upset. She flees and Tom comes to find her – it’s the first time they properly talk. 

A few more… 
Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs Hang Me Up To Dry by Cold War Kids (Rock) 
Superstar by Cypress Hill Live Forever by Oasis (Jack mashes these last two songs together) I Bet You Look Good on The Dancefloor by Arctic Monkeys 
Katy Perry’s California Girls 
The Temper Trap’s Sweet Disposition 

I’m sure I’ve missed out loads, so if you spy any more while you’re reading, please tweet me @PaigeToonAuthor!

AUTHOR BIO: 
I was born in 1975 and my dad’s career as a racing driver meant that I grew up between Australia, England and America. I worked at heat magazine for eight years as Reviews Editor, but left to have a baby. I’m now a full-time author and freelance journalist. I live in North London with my husband Greg, son Indy and daughter Idha.

Friday, 31 July 2015

{Review} Fireborn (Souls of Fire #1) by Keri Arthur

19486426Posted by Melanie
Release Date: July 4th, 2014
Finished Date: July 24th, 2015
Publishers: Piatkus
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: For Review
Format: Paperback
Pages: 400
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US / The Book Depo

From New York Times bestselling author Keri Arthur comes a brand-new series featuring heroine Emberly Pearson—a phoenix capable of taking on human form and cursed with the ability to foresee death....

Emberly has spent a good number of her many lives trying to save humans. So when her prophetic dreams reveal the death of Sam, a man she once loved, she does everything in her power to prevent it from happening. But in saving his life, she gets more than she bargained for.

Sam is working undercover for the Paranormal Investigations Team, and those who are trying to murder him are actually humans infected by a plaguelike virus, the Crimson Death—a by-product of a failed government experiment intended to identify the enzymes that make vampires immortal. Now all those infected must be eliminated.

But when Emberly’s boss is murdered and his irreplaceable research stolen, she needs to find the guilty party before she goes down in flames....

The Review: Fireborn is the first book in the Souls of Fire series and broaches the subject of the Phoenix.
Emberly Pearson is a Phoenix in human form. She has lived many lives, always resurrected with her phoenix spirit time and time again. Each phoenix has a soul mate, another phoenix who sustains them with their energy and without them, they would die but they can never love each other. Each lifetime brings them one true love, one person who will always break their heart and stop their love once again….. it’s a never ending cycle and Emberly has had her share – this lifetime included. Phoenix also have extra powers and Emberly’s is that she can foresee death and where it will strike…. And that is how we meet her, as she saves her ex-lover Sam from death. Sam is a cop with a couple of secrets up his sleeve and when Emberly crashes back into his life he is forced to let her in on his investigation – especially seeing as they are chasing them to kill them. He lets her in on the fact that there is a plague-like virus turning people into vampire like creatures with less vulnerability than normal vampires. Thinking she has done her good deed and having saved Sam, she heads off only to discover that her Boss has been killed and his research has been stolen. She then becomes the target when the enemy discovers that she has more research in her possession….. and they want it… at all costs.
I really enjoyed Fireborn, I’ve read about the Phoenix before but never with a female as the phoenix and I have to say…it was a nice change. I liked Emberly’s character, she seemed very wise but slightly jaded and accepting of her situation. I really like how she evolved throughout the book and got her groove back. Now, there’s always a love interest in a book like this and this had more than one which is a pet peeve of mine but I’ll explain. As a phoenix, she has a soul mate in another phoenix that she can’t fall in love with but is essential to her life because she would die without exchanging energy with him…. So he is her room-mate/f-buddy when she so chooses - because of how they exchange energy. She has an ex who was the love of THIS lifetime that is fated to break her heart; which he has done. This is Sam and he is very present in the story but so is another person who she decides to scratch an itch with on a casual basis but also work with. Don’t let this put you off, yes, it irked me – I hate love triangles/quadrangles….whatever but… she is only sexually involved with one person in the book but the soul mate thing was weird because he was like a husband waiting at home whilst she was out and about doing the nasty. Argh, I don’t know how I felt about it…. Let’s just say it’s the only part I didn’t like about the book.
The storyline was great! I love UF books and this has a great scenario with a virus mutating people and supernaturals alike. It is bringing something new to the characters and something new to the reader. I always like an investigative angle to what happens in books and on one side we have Sam in an official capacity and the other side we have Emberly and a PI whom ends up being a major character who drags a willing Emberly into his investigation. As I mentioned, romance comes from an unexpected source and whilst there was chemistry, there was no feeling and I didn’t get any butterflies from their connection. There is plenty of action from the beginning – whether they’re being chased by the hard to kill Red Coats, Vampires, Werewolves etc. and having to fight for their lives using every trick they know, or being kidnapped and given ultimatums – they aren’t going down without a fight. Emberly has a few tricks up her sleeve, especially considering most don’t know exactly what she is or what she is capable of – so that definitely gives her the element of surprise in quite a few situations. I did like the way they worked together, I liked the way she had Sam on edge, always seemingly a step behind her which makes him take some pretty harsh risks that could put her in danger. She does have chemistry with Sam, there is something still there and of course that will come to a head eventually – which I look forward to! For a first book in a series it was a great introduction with some even better potential, plenty of drama and action, interesting world and characters and never a dull moment… I will be reading more.

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

Thursday, 30 July 2015

{Review} The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engel

20640755Posted by Donna
Release Date: November 4th, 2014
Finished Date: June 7th, 2015
Publishers: Entangled Teen
Genre: YA, Dystopia
Source: Gifted
Format: Paperback
Pages: 282
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US / The Book Depo

After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual. 

This year, it is my turn. 

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power. 

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

The Review: It’s been a long while since I’ve read and dystopian book and enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed The Book of Ivy. Saying the word enjoyed is putting it mildly because this book completely blew me away and left me desperately wanting more!

Ever since the nuclear war happened fifty year ago it left everything destroyed but a group of the survivors joined together and have now created some kind of peace. But even though everything appears peaceful, in secret a revolution is brewing and Ivy Westfall in stuck in the middle of it. Ivy is forced to marry Bishop Lattimer who is the son of the president and the person who her family are trying to overthrow. Ivy’s task is simple. She must kill Bishop in order to weaken the President. But the more time Ivy spends with Bishop the harder things become because he isn’t the boy that he has been portrayed to be and soon her feelings towards her new husband become very muddled. Can Ivy do what is asked of her or will she betray the only family she’s ever had?

I’m so glad I finally made time to read this fantastic book. Ever since it first released I’ve heard such positive reviews from it so I did go into the book with a few expectations and I’m pleased to say that Amy Engel delivered them all.

What I enjoyed about The Book of Ivy is the love story. And no, it’s not just about a romance. There are plenty of other aspects that I really enjoyed as well but, what kept me completely captivated from start to finish was the relationship between Ivy and Bishop. It was just so sweet. They’re two people that have never met until the moment they are due to be married and then have to act as married couples do like live together. At first they’re both nervous and unsure of the other but slowly they start to build this relationship and it’s beautiful to watch. They’re both patient with each other and take the time to get to know one another. The turned a bad situation into a good one and by the time I made it to the half way point of the story, I was completely rooting for these too. Ivy and Bishop were great characters. And of course I have a soft spot for Bishop because he is a true gentleman. It was simply impossible not to love him.
I really liked Ivy too. She’s torn between what she’s been brought up to believe in and now she’s with the enemy (as her family would call them) she really starts to see things for how they truly are. But she still feels this sense of loyalty to her family. She was torn. It would be the same for anyone I would think. But I feel as though she was mature enough to sort things out herself.

The story itself is full of political events that are important to the story and as a reader its’s really hard to see who is on the right or wrong side. Because for me, both sides had valid points. But I had a clear cut vision on who I would run the country and that would be Ivy & Bishop. I think they’d do right by the people while creating a fair system. I guess time will tell when the sequel is released which I’m waiting impatiently for. I’m so glad I’ve already pre-ordered my copy because I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

{Feature} Waiting on Wednesday (#121)

 
"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

Donna's WoW
25293695 The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood #14)
by J.R. Ward
Release Date: April, 2016

His name is Rhage—the deadliest fighter and most voracious lover of all the Brotherhood, whose inner beast could never be tamed. 

But Rhage found his eternal love in Mary Luce, a woman who once bore a life-threatening curse, while dreaming of eternity with her vampire warrior and protector.

They’ve made it to hell and back. Now their story continues in a new novel sure to draw fans back into the “frighteningly addictive” (Publishers Weekly) world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

Donna's thoughts: I need this book! There simply aren't enough Black Dagger Brotherhood books released since year. I need more. I'm dying to see what comes next for Rhage. And I want more John in this book! 

Melanie's WoW
20640268 Nightbloom (Nightwing #3)
by Juliette Cross 
Release Date: September 1st, 2015

The love between a human and a Morgon, the dragon-hybrid race, tempts fate once more…

All her life, Ella Barrow has allowed others to make her decisions. Forced to stifle her artistic talents and stay in a loveless relationship with Clayton Kerrington, the man her mother believes to be her perfect match, Ella’s life may be safe—but it’s not her own. Paxon Nightwing, on the other hand, is anything but the safe choice. 

A charming and alluring Morgon, Paxon sees Ella for the woman she truly is. His bold confidence and protective nature ignites a passion she’s never felt before. But a dark family tragedy forces their secrecy—until Clayton makes it impossible to hide their clandestine affair. Will Ella be strong enough to fight for herself at last? Or will she succumb once more and risk losing the only man she’s ever loved?

Melanie's thoughts: 
I love this series! It's a shame they arent full length books but they are awesome.

<What's your "waiting on" pick this week?
Want to participate? 
Grab the logo, post your own WoW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine. 
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

{Review} Maxon (Angelbound Offspring #1) by Christina Bauer

22732140Posted by Melanie
Release Date: May 12th, 2015
Finished Date: July 17th, 2015
Publishers: Ink Monster 
Genre: YA, Paranormal 
Source: For Review
Format: eBook
Pages: 400
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US 

Prince Maxon may be twenty-two years old now, but he’s still haunted by his boyhood abduction and torture in Hell. To deal with his past, Maxon limits his present-day activities to killing demons and seducing women. No long-term relationships. No combat too dangerous. No problem, right? 

Wrong.

Maxon’s life has stalled out. The old thrills aren't there anymore, either on the battlefield or in the bedroom. While staking out his next fight, Maxon meets what seems like just another girl after a good time. What he gets is a close encounter with Lianna, a lady warrior with ties to the mysterious elemental rulers called the monarkki. It’s love at first fight. Trouble is, Lianna’s running from a dark history of her own, and her elemental enemies are closing in. When Lianna gets taken, Maxon realizes that after years of wrong choices and dead ends, the right woman is worth risking it all.

Book contains adult language and sexuality. Can be read as a standalone or after the Angelbound Origins series.

The Review: Maxon is the first book in the ‘Angelbound Offsprings’ series and is a spin off from the Angelbound series.
At the end of the Angelbound series we have already been introduced to Maxon because as the series title suggests, he is the offspring of the H/h of that series and played quite a starring role in that final book. That gives us a connection to him already because I loved his parents story and knew I would like this too. We fast forward nearly two decades to find Prince Maxon is as powerful as everyone assumed he would be and the only thing stopping him from becoming the Scala Heir is that he hasn’t yet fell in love and become Angelbound. Maxon is rather bored with his life of late, he can have any woman he wants, he wins any battle he goes into and at the moment that is all he does but he wants more, he wants some excitement in his life that doesn’t involve staking out demon hotspots…..but it is there that he will find the excitement he so desires.
Lianna is from the elemental world, she is apprentice to a water Monarkki and has been training for some time. The elemental world is in trouble and a lethal enemy is killing off the Monarkki for their power which leads Lianna into serious trouble and straight into the hands of Prince Maxon. After a turbulent first meeting, Maxon is quite taken with Lianna and takes her back to his home to keep her safe but when trouble comes to the door of the Thrax, Maxon has some decisions to make.
I really enjoyed this book, as I said – we already know Maxon and who he is so it was great to see a more mature version of him and see how his life has turned out. I liked that he referenced what happened to him when he was younger, how he still fought the trauma of what was done to him and what he had to do in return – it showed him to be very level headed and aware of consequences, it also endeared him more to me because I know what he had been through too but also gave a new angle as he shared some things we didn’t know that make you understand why this still bothers him. Even though he had a ‘play boy’ image and that of a privileged Prince, I don’t think he came across as arrogant – he actually seemed well grounded for his status. I loved when he and Lianna met, she makes a great impact straight away and I knew I was going to like her. Even though we know from the get go that she is very capable of handling herself, there are times when she comes across as a bit of a doormat and someone who has been or could be manipulated by people of power – thankfully Maxon did not treat her like this, in fact her attitude is one of the things that drew him to her. Obviously they will fall for each other but it’s not instalove, there is a connection, they feel instantly different but that just amps up the tension between them and it took both of them a little while to realise what they were feeling.
The storyline was great and definitely of the same quality of the other series. I really appreciated that the author opened up the world a bit more and introduced more magical people that we hadn’t heard of in the other series, it gave something new to the book with familiar faces so we weren’t starting from scratch. I like the idea of the elementals, they have leaders of the elements - Monarkki – and they give power to their apprentices, teach them in the ways of that element and make warriors out of them. When passing power to others, it goes through a special stone that stores the energy to be taken by others and that is how the enemy is introduced to us. We see straight away just what he is up to and how he will go about doing it but he didn’t bank on Lianna being as adept as she was, then when you factor in Maxon as well…. he has a serios battle on his hands. Lianna doesn’t just have to deal with the guy chasing her, she also has to deal with other issues involving other water users, an ex and being thrust into a position of power. She is constantly trying to evade the man after her power, keep her people well, keep alive and of course… see what her bond with Maxon will bring. There are some great action scenes throughout this, some great use of the elements and magic and I really got into it. I was thankful for a good few cameo appearances from some of our favourite characters from Angelbound but I really missed Myla’s humour. There are a couple of surprises by the end of this that sets up the next book which I will definitely be looking out for. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

{Review} The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2) by Mary E. Pearson

21569527Posted by Donna
Release Date: July 7th, 2015
Finished Date: July 11th, 2015
Publishers: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: Bought
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 470
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo

Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.

The Review: YA fantasy has fast became a favourite genre of mine over the last two years and the more fantasy books I read, the more I want to discover new books. It was only last year when I discovered The Kiss of Deception and it was an instant hit and so, I’ve impatiently been waiting for the release of the sequel, The Heart of Betrayal and even though the wait was torture the book was so worth the wait! 

After Lia was kidnapped by Kaden and taken to his home land in Venda she is now being held captive by the Vendan Komizar who looks at using her for his own game. But when Rafe followed Lia he is also being held captive and so Lia must do everything in her power to not only keep herself safe but also Rafe’s. But while Lia is in Venda she realizes that not everyone is as brutal as the Venda warriors or the Komizar. It’s there that she makes friends who open her eyes to the Venda way of life. But as Lia’s life is ruled by the Komizar and she is trying to understand her gift she knows one thing, she must escape Venda and the only person who can help her is the one she’s trying to protect the most. 

I love this series and I was so pleased that The Heart of Betrayal is a worthy sequel to The Kiss of Deception. It has a slow start just like its predecessor but it’s one that held my attention all the way through because of how invested I am in the characters stories. I loved that there were still chapters from the three main leads and this time we also had Pauline’s chapter – small as it was – but it’s a welcomed addition to the series. 

I love how much Lia grows through-out this book but overall, she’s still the same strong and feisty girl. Being in Venda helps her see things from a different perspective but she still knows deep down what’s right and wrong. I’m glad Rafe and Kaden were still a part of the story. The love triangle in my eyes is none existent. Lia has time and time again stated her choice throughout this book – I’m just hoping she doesn’t change her mind! 

There so much going on in this book with Lia trying to figure out her gift, to trying to escape while trying to keep everyone she loves safe. But most importantly because this book is set in Venda we are introduced to a new country and a new way life including it’s people that live there. It was a nice change from Terravin. And I enjoyed getting to know it’s culture but, if I had to choose, I’d choose Terravin over Venda. See that this book took place in Venda and seems we’ve already saw Terravin, does this mean that we will see Dalbreak next? I hope so! I’m intrigued to know more about this country. 

It’s easy to say The Heart of Betrayal is a great read. It’s rich in detail and well written with a fantastic set of characters and love story to root for. Me personally, I would love to see Lia come into her gift more in the next book. But otherwise I have no qualms with this book whatsoever. 

Amazing! And I can’t wait for more. #TEAMRAFE