1 Oct 2015

Book Review / Has to be Love by Jolene Perry

Years ago, Clara survived a vicious bear attack. She's used to getting sympathetic looks around town, but meeting strangers is a different story. 

Yet her dreams go far beyond Knik, Alaska, and now she's got a secret that's both thrilling and terrifying--an acceptance letter from Columbia University. But it turns out her scars aren't as fixable as she hoped, and when her boyfriend begins to press for a forever commitment, she has second thoughts about New York. 

Then Rhodes, a student teacher in her English class, forces her to acknowledge her writing talent, and everything becomes even more confusing--especially with the feelings she's starting to have about him. 

Now all Clara wants to do is hide from the tough choices she has to make. When her world comes crashing down around her, Clara has to confront her problems and find her way to a decision. 

Will she choose the life of her dreams or the life that someone she loves has chosen? Which choice is scarier?

Published:     1st September 2015
Publisher:  AW Teen
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

What I liked about this story...    The story of Clara was what made me want to read this book.  You have a character that has been hurt (bothy physically by the bear attack and mentally from the aftermath) and I was very interested to follow her story, rooting for her to get better and start her life.  After she got the university acceptance it was interesting to see her reaction to that. 

What I didn't like with this story...    I am afraid to say that for me this book was one of those that I was intrigued enough by the story and the characters to want to finish but there were many moments where I nearly did not finish this at all.  I found Clara to be very weak and although that was expected at the beginning I had hoped that she would become a lot stronger as the story went on but the story really concentrated on a love triangle between Clara, Rhodes and her boyfriend and I just couldn't form any attachments to the characters which I wished I could have done.


30 Sep 2015

Book Review / The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne

Stunningly original and wildly inventive, The Girl in the Road melds the influences of Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, and Erin Morgenstern for a dazzling debut.

Meena, a young woman living in a futuristic Mumbai, wakes up with five snake bites on her chest. She doesn't know how or why, but she must flee India and return to Ethiopia, the place of her birth. Having long heard about The Trail -- an energy-harvesting bridge that spans the Arabian Sea -- she embarks on foot on this forbidden bridge, with its own subculture and rules. What awaits her in Ethiopia is unclear; she's hoping the journey will illuminate it for her.

Mariama, a girl from a different time, is on a quest of her own. After witnessing her mother's rape, she joins up with a caravan of strangers heading across Saharan Africa. She meets Yemaya, a beautiful and enigmatic woman who becomes her protector and confidante. Yemaya tells Mariama of Ethiopia, where revolution is brewing and life will be better. Mariama hopes against hope that it offers much more than Yemaya ever promised.

As one heads east and the other west, Meena and Mariama's fates will entwine in ways that are profoundly moving and shocking to the core. Vividly imagined and artfully told, written with stunning clarity and deep emotion, The Girl in the Road is a true tour de force.

Published:    2015
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

OK so let's just take a minute to check out the cover of this book.  It is so gorgeous!  Honestly speaking, along with the description of this story the cover was one of the things that drew me into wanting to read this!   In the spirit of branching out and trying new things, I wanted to give this story a go.  Honestly speaking this is probably one of those stories that I would normally avoid in a book shop just becasue of the 'futuristic Mumbai' description.

I was so glad I gave this a go.  Although it did take me a while to get into the story, I was glad that I stuck with it.  There are a lot of twists and turns in this story which at some parts made me confused and the other part the twists were surprising to me I just had to find out what happened next!  I think maybe if the story was a little less complicated I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

Definately worth a try if the blurb intrgues you to want to pick it up.  As I mentioned above it is not something that I would normally pick up but I am glad that I did.  I will flag that this story does contain issues that some people may be senstive to.

29 Sep 2015

Author Interview / Brock Lance Richardson

Discover the spiritual warrior in you! Based on the belief that every soul has a spiritual warrior within, author Brock Lance Richardson interviews ten men he met through BYU football. 

Each reveals what it takes to become physically and spiritually strong, while their wives describe what it means to be a “warrior” for young women. 

Perfect for youth and young adults, this entertaining and spiritually uplifting read will teach you how to build spiritual stamina and to use your inner warrior for good.

To find out more about Latter-day Warriors, or to pre-order, please visit brocklancerichardson.com.  Release date into bookstores is December 8.

1.       If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
I actually believe that I DO get to work with the one author I would most want to work with.  My father, Lance Richardson, wrote a book about a near-death experience he had (“The Message” by Lance Richardson).  He has since passed, but I do believe that he works with me, and that we have actually written this book (Latter-day Warriors) together!  I’m so proud to say that I do believe my father has worked with me on this book!

2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I am a Seminary teacher living in Springville, Utah, and I used to teach up in South Jordan, Utah.  The train was the cheapest mode of transportation, and I wrote the majority of this book during that time, for an hour on the way up to work, and an hour on the way home from work.  This was a special time for me, because I did indeed feel the presence of my father with me quite often on that train.

3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
This book is my first, and it involved interviews with ten men who I consider some of my greatest spiritual heroes.  Truly, the hardest part of writing was making sure I was doing justice to each of their unique and amazing stories.  So many times, I read a draft of a chapter and knew I hadn’t given an adequate amount of the Spirit to the relative person’s story.  I knew that I would have to pray like crazy, ask for the Spirit, and revise!

4. When and why did you first start writing?
My uncle, Matt Davis, was very close with my father during my father’s lifetime.  One day he approached me and said, “Your father wants you to write a book.”  This shocked me at first, but he shared spiritual experiences with me that helped me know that my father was still with me, and wanted me to carry on his “legacy” of writing.

5. How did you come up with the idea for the book?
As a Seminary teacher, I’ve noticed so many youth who’s countenances communicate their own greatness within.  This has been apparent for both youth who are active in the Gospel, and youth who are rebellious; I believe we can sense the “warrior spirit” within both types of youth.  I thought of what I could write in order to connect with Latter-day youth and their inner “warrior souls.”  It was then that I thought of Bronco Mendenhall, who was one of the greatest “spiritual warriors” I’ve ever known, and with him, we made a list of some of the spiritual leaders from the BYU football team.  This book consists of interviews with these men, their wives, and the resulting stories.  While I believe that my former teammates’ stories will really connect with the young men, I also believe that their wives’ stories about their high-school experiences will connect with the “inner warrior” in young women.

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I love to read with my wife.  We sometimes cuddle and read together when the kids are asleep.  The most recent book we read parts of together was Cleon Skousen’s “Days of the Living Christ.”

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Pray, pray, pray J.  The Spirit not only helps with spiritual things, but also with temporal, in my experience J.

28 Sep 2015

Book Review / Ape House by Sara Gruen

Sam, Bonzi, Lola, Mbongo, Jelani, and Makena are no ordinary apes. These bonobos, like others of their species, are capable of reason and carrying on deep relationships - but unlike most bonobos, they also know American Sign Language.

Isabel Duncan, a scientist at the Great Ape Language Lab, doesn’t understand people, but animals she gets - especially the bonobos. Isabel feels more comfortable in their world than she’s ever felt among humans... until she meets John Thigpen, a very married reporter who braves the ever-present animal rights protesters outside the lab to see what’s really going on inside.

When an explosion rocks the lab, severely injuring Isabel and “liberating” the apes, John’s human interest piece turns into the story of a lifetime, one he’ll risk his career and his marriage to follow. Then a reality TV show featuring the missing apes debuts under mysterious circumstances, and it immediately becomes the biggest - and unlikeliest - phenomenon in the history of modern media. Millions of fans are glued to their screens watching the apes order greasy take-out, have generous amounts of sex, and sign for Isabel to come get them. Now, to save her family of apes from this parody of human life, Isabel must connect with her own kind, including John; a green-haired vegan; and a retired porn star with her own agenda.

Published:     1st September 2011
Publisher:  Two Roads
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned Copy

What I loved about this story...
I can't believe that this has been on my shelf for so long and equally I can't believe that it has taken me so long to read it!  I loved how even though the story is called Ape House, it wasn't all about the Apes.  Certainly a lot of the story is about the bonobos.  It starts off seeing them at a very well kept facility where they have been taught (and also picked up alot of other things along the way) sign language communication.  After the explosion happens there is a chunk of story that focuses on other characters such as Isobel who worked at the facility looking after bononos and was there when the explosion happened.  She is trying to find a way to save the apes from where ended up being.  The story also focus's on John who is a reporter who initially visited the facility to interview Isobel and meet the apes.  John is still a reporter, although for a different company for one reason or another and is still adamant to stick to his ape story.  I am glad that this story concentrated on more than the apes as although it was well written and the apes were very interesting to read about but wouldn't stretch to a whole story all about them.

What I didn't like about this story...

There wasn't anything in particular that I thought yes I don't like that but the story was pretty slow for me so it was harder and harder to pick this up again.  I started reading this when I was on holiday at the beginning of August when I went to the beach and manged to read about half of it by the time it was time to come home.  I have actually read one or two books in between finishing this one so it has taken me just over two months to read it but not because it wasn't good it was just a slow story.

(From Goodreads)  Sara Gruen is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, APE HOUSE, RIDING LESSONS, and FLYING CHANGES. Her works have been translated into forty-three languages, and have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS was adapted into a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon, Rob Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz in 2011.

She lives in Western North Carolina with her husband and three sons, along with their dogs, cats, horses, birds, and the world’s fussiest goat.

27 Sep 2015

Month in Review / September 2015

September has been such an interesting reading month.  I read six books this month which I am really happy with.  Since starting this year with the view of taking a more relaxed approach with reading.  That has made a very big change from how I have read in the past.  Although I am now reading less than I used to (I used to read 10ish books) I am enjoying my reading a lot more.  Looking at the books that I have read if I had to choose a favourite it would have to be a tie between The Moment of Letting Go and Ransom Canyon.  I have been on a real romance kick lately and those two books hit the right spot.

Tremarnock by Emma Burstall
Tremarnock is a classic Cornish seaside village. Houses cluster around the fishing harbour. It has a pub and a sought-after little restaurant. It is here that Liz has found sanctuary for herself and her young daughter, Rosie - far away from Rosie's cheating father.

Liz works all the hours God sends. First thing in the morning she's out, cleaning offices. At night she is waitressing in the village restaurant, while friends and neighbours rally round and mind Rosie. But trouble is waiting just round the corner.

As with all villages, there are tensions, secrets - and ambitions. Emma Burstall's wonderfully engaging first novel about Tremarnock is the story of what happens when one shocking turn of events sweeps a small community.

Yours Tonight by Joya Ryan

For fans of J Lynn, Jodi Ellen Malpas and Sylvia Day comes the Reign trilogy, an all-consuming, raw and powerful love story...
He will give her everything she's ever wanted . . .
Jack Powell's confidence is matched only by his intensity. The darkness in him comes from years of secrets and memories he'd rather forget. Lana has an exotic innocence that draws him in and Jack wants a taste of her. She's a light in the darkness of his world - and she needs help, which he agrees to give her.

The only rule? He makes the rules.
Lana gives up her control, letting Jack take her body however he needs, while she works her way into his heart. But Jack's past catches up to them and Lana finds herself wrapped up in a scheme that will expose every secret she's worked so hard to keep. She clung to Jack once when her world was crashing down, but this time, she loves him. She'll continue to reach for him - her only fear is if he'll reach back, or go on his way, taking her soul with him . . .

Power Play by Tiffany Snow

Sage Reese lives for her job. More precisely, she lives for her debonair boss, Parker Andersen. Sage handles everything for Parker, even as she fantasizes about the one thing that isn't in her job description: him. But when a high-stakes account crosses the line from shady to deadly, a tough cop starts giving Sage the attention she wishes Parker would . . .

Detective Dean Ryker couldn't be more different from Parker. While Parker wears expensive suits like a second skin and drives a BMW, Ryker's uniform is leather jackets and jeans . . . and his ride of choice is a Harley. While Parker's sexiness is a reserved, slow burn, Ryker is completely upfront about what-and who-he's after. And Sage tops his list.

Now, as Ryker digs deeper into the dark side of Parker's business, Sage finds herself caught between two men: the one she's always wanted-and the one who makes her feel wanted like never before . . .

23 Sep 2015

Author Interview / Hannah Fielding

A young writer becomes entangled in an illicit gypsy love affair, pulling her into a world of secrets, deception and dark desire.

Summer, 1976. Luz de Rueda returns to her beloved Spain and takes a job as the biographer of a famous artist. On her first day back in Cádiz, she encounters a bewitching, passionate young gypsy, Leandro, who immediately captures her heart, even though relationships with his kind are taboo. Haunted by this forbidden love, she meets her new employer, the sophisticated Andrés de Calderón. Reserved yet darkly compelling, he is totally different to Leandro but almost the gypsy’s double. Both men stir unfamiliar and exciting feelings in Luz, although mystery and danger surround them in ways she has still to discover.

Luz must decide what she truly desires as glistening Cádiz, with its enigmatic moon and whispering turquoise shores, seeps back into her blood. Why is she so drawn to the wild and magical sea gypsies? What is behind the old fortune-teller’s sinister warnings about ‘Gemini’? Through this maze of secrets and lies, will Luz finally find her happiness… or her ruin?

Masquerade is a story of forbidden love, truth and trust. Are appearances always deceptive?

Hannah Fielding is an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: writing full time at her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breath-taking views of the Mediterranean.
To date, Hannah has published four novels: Burning Embers, ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya; the award-winning Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’ set in Italy; and Indiscretion and Masquerade (from the Andalusian Nights Trilogy), her fieriest novels yet. She is currently working on her forthcoming book, Legacy, the final title in the trilogy, which is due to be published in spring 2016.
1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
I think I would choose Lawrence Durell: not only a wonderful writer and poet, but also a great traveller who, like myself, considered himself a cosmopolitan person rather than belonging to one country. He had a great sense of humour and a good, although rather cynical, knowledge of human nature.

2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I write every day. Writing is my life and also a job – a very enjoyable job.
I wake up very early, and do my chores first thing. After a cup of passion-fruit tea, in the morning I start off by looking at my online marketing on Twitter and Facebook for an hour or so. Then most days I sit at my desk and work through the day, with an hour for lunch and errands. I take some time in the afternoon for a long walk when I’m dreaming up a plot.
In my home in Kent, I write in a wood-panelled room, surrounded by books – we call it the library. In France, I write overlooking the most fabulous view of the Mediterranean from a large picture window in my bedroom, or if it is not too hot, outside in our gazebo. I really can’t complain!

3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
The most challenging parts for me when I write are the opening paragraph and the closing paragraph. The first must encourage the reader to continue his or her journey into the novel, to want to get to know the characters and their story; and the second must leave the reader with a feeling of contentment and maybe a tinge of melancholy because the voyage has come to an end and it is as if he or she is saying farewell to a friend. I write and rewrite those two paragraphs many times!

4. When and why did you first start writing?
Stories and writing have always been part of my life. My father was a great raconteur and my governess used to tell the most fabulous fairy stories – I could listen to them for hours. When I was seven she and I came to an agreement: for every story she’d tell me, I would invent one in return. That is how my passion for storytelling began.

At school I consistently received first prize for my essays and my teachers often read them aloud in class. As a teenager I used to write short romantic stories during lessons and circulate them in class, which made me very popular with my peers (but less so with the nuns!). In addition, since a young age I have kept some sort of a diary where I note my feelings, ideas and things that take my fancy (or not).

My grandmother was a published author of poetry and my father published a book about the history of our family, so writing runs in my veins. I guess I always knew that one day I would follow in those footsteps and forge my own path in that field – a subconscious dream which finally came true.

5. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
The hero Leandro was a face in a crowd of gypsies on a beach in France that triggered my imagination and was the muse for this story. He was in my mind throughout the writing; if only he knew how he had haunted and inspired me!

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
Yes, I am never without a book. I read an eclectic mix of genres, but of course romance is my favourite. I am currently reading – and very much enjoying – The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig, which is a historical romance full of passion and revenge. In due course I will write a review of the book for my blog, www.hannahfielding.net.

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
First and foremost, write from the heart.  Be true to yourself and don’t compromise to please the market. Markets change, fads come and go; your work will remain.

Read, reread and reread. Edit, edit, edit.  Go through your manuscript again and again and edit it. I know that it will break your heart to delete a phrase or even one word you have spent time agonising over, but sometimes less is better than more. Not easy advice to follow, but in the long run it does work. If you can leave the manuscript alone for a few weeks and revisit it at a later date, reading it as if it were someone else’s, then that’s even better.

Do not get discouraged. Continue to write whether you think your work is good or bad. There is no bad writing. There are good days and bad days. The more you write, the better at it you get.


Luz set eyes on him for the first time from her seat on Zeyna’s back as the fine white Arab mare stepped down the narrow path from the cliff that led to the beach. He was sitting on the edge of the track, leaning nonchalantly against a wild carob tree,watching her while chewing on a sprig of heather. As she drew nearer, she met his steady gaze, spirited and wild. At that moment she had no idea this man would have the power to change her world and create such havoc in her heart, that she would emerge from the experience a different person. Fate had not yet lit up the winding pathway of her life nor the echoes of history along it, but now, in front of this stranger, a disturbing awareness leapt into flame deep inside her and began to flicker intensely. Without thinking, she tugged on Zeyna’s reins to slow the mare down.
For a moment they stared at each other. He was clearly a gitano, one of those people that Luz’s family had always warned her to steer clear of. The frayed, cut-down denims sat low on his hips, revealing deeply tanned, muscular long legs, and his feet were bare as though he had just walked straight from the beach. Unruly chestnut hair, bleached golden in parts by the sun, tumbled to his shoulders; his smooth copper skin glowed more than that of any gypsy she had ever seen. As she allowed her gaze to flick back to his face, Luz caught the flash of amused, provocative arrogance in those bright, burning eyes, mixed with something deeper that she didn’t understand. She swallowed. The overwhelming masculinity of the gitano unsettled her. Luz lifted her chin resolutely, but felt the pull of his magnetism reaching out and gripping her, beguiling and dangerous, so that instinctively she nudged her mount and they broke into a smooth canter. The thumping of her heart sounded loud in her ears. She could sense his eyes on her, as a palpable touch, even as she rode away, trembling, and the feeling remained with her until she knew she was out of sight.

Had Zeyna picked up her mistress’s inner turmoil? Luz was pulling on her bridle as the mare tossed her head this way and that, snorting. Surprised by the horse’s unusual behaviour, Luz looked down at her hands and realized that she was clutching the reins much too tightly. She relaxed her hold. ‘I’m sorry, old girl. My fault,’ she whispered, leaning forward to pat the mare’s neck. Feeling free, the handsome creature surged forth without hesitation. The wind blew warm and salty; it touched Luz’s long black hair like a caress, threatening and tantalizing, wrapping a few silky wisps around her face. An unusual heat coursed through her, even though she was dressed only in a T-shirt, jeans tucked into riding boots. She raised her head against the breeze, letting the briny air course over her body, willing it to drive away this unfamiliar disquiet from her mind.

Gradually her sense of foreboding subsided and the awesome setting regained its hold. She felt an exhilaration and breadth of freedom in the vast solitude of the deserted beach and the wide horizons of the sea. The intense blue of the bay lay before her in the late afternoon sun. The lines of the land were so recognizable to her: no trees, no shrubs, no delicate tinting nor soft beauty, but a pure, distinct outline of form, almost terrifying in its austerity. Then, from time to time, there were the shadows of great clouds moving overhead, staining this infinite expanse of dunes that stretched before her like a vast tapestry, in shades of cream, greys and silver. Galloping in the wind on the back of her beautiful white mare, Luz felt in harmony with the Andalucían landscape and with herself. She had left her flat in Chelsea, finished her job in Scotland, and now she was back in Spain, a newly born post-Franco Spain, ruled by an energetic young king, and teetering on the edge of new possibilities. She was back at last in her beloved country, this time to stay.

Luz María Cervantes de Rueda was the only child to Count Salvador Cervantes de Rueda and his beautiful half-English, half-Spanish wife, Alexandra. At the time, their love story had made newspaper headlines and had been a favoured subject for wagging tongues in the drawing rooms of Spanish society. There had been a scandal involving Count Salvador, a young gypsy girl and her ne’er-do-well brothers. To add to the gossip, Alexandra de Falla was not from a pure Spanish background. Her foreign ways had caused suspicion and disapproval among the cloistered circles, their traditions still so deeply rooted in 1950s Andalucía. The fact that she was a romantic novelist, too, had caused many raised eyebrows. Some predicted doom when the couple’s fairy-tale marriage was announced, but as in all fairy tales, the pair had surprised everyone and were still living happily ever after.

For the first eleven years of her life Luz had lived in Spain, spending July and August in Kent with her Great-Aunt Geraldine. Later, when she was sent to boarding school in Gloucestershire, she would return three times a year to El Pavón, the ancestral home of her father outside the city of Jerez: at Christmas, Easter and for part of the summer holidays.
Luz had just arrived in Cádiz that morning, straight from England. She intended to spend at least a week at L’Estrella, the family’s summer house, before going on to see her parents at El Pavón. She was excited, pulsing with life, feeling as though she was on the verge of embarking on a great adventure.

It had been a long haul that had started with Cheltenham Ladies’ College when she was eleven, through a master’s degree in history and modern languages at Cambridge, and finally two years spent in the Highlands of Scotland penning the biography of an ancestor for one of the great families of Britain. Now that book was delivered, she could feel that Spain was where she was meant to be, where she was always meant to be. Here, she could breathe, feel her body come alive under the Spanish sun, and let all the pent-up, reckless instincts she had tried so hard to tame all through boarding school in England run wild and free. Luz had never thought that those compulsive feelings she had were the secret machinations of ‘destiny’; there was a sceptical, no-nonsense side to her inherited from her mother, along with a talent for writing, but she knew that the fiery Spanish nature that was her father’s – and always got the better of her – had finally pulled her back to Andalucía.

Only that morning, when Luz had arrived at L’Estrella laden with suitcases, Carmela handed her a letter that had come the day before. Ever since she had replied to an advertisement in the local paper for a biographer, she’d been praying for an interview. And here it was: a letter inviting her for a first meeting that week. Luz had barely been able to contain her relief and joy as she pulled the housekeeper into a delighted hug. She had really set her heart on this job, not only because she would be writing about Count Eduardo Raphael Ruiz de Salazar, one of the great painters of modern Spain, but also because the artist was from this part of the world and a large portion of the research would be done locally in Cádiz and its neighbouring towns. It seemed that now Luz had been given her reason to stay.

She brought Zeyna to a halt at the edge of the shore. The wild salty air seemed to be sweeping up from the beach as it brushed her cheek. She closed her eyes to savour its breath, delicious odours laden with iodine and fruits of the deep. The sun was setting in the late afternoon and the sky, gloriously mottled with apricot-pink and lilac, was broken here and there by shafts of light reflecting on the surface of the water, turning the calm ocean into a spectrum of peacock colours.

Now she could make out the fishing boats in the distance returning after a day’s work: black toy insects, the antennae of their masts bristling against the flamingo-tinted sky. Gulls and terns mingled overhead, screeching, impatient for the laden fleet’s arrival. Luz did not care much for birds. She found them – even the beautiful ones – eerie and menacing. It was time to be starting back.

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22 Sep 2015

Book Review / Every Thing Every Thing by Nicola Yoon

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. 

The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. 

He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Published:     1st September 2015
Publisher:  Delacourte
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher 

After hearing a lot about this book from practically everywhere, I just had to pick this up to find out what all the buzz was about.  This was an ok read for me, I think this was more based to younger adult rather than the older young adult that I am used to.  Although I did enjoy it and found it refreshing to read about this particular type of illness it is not one that I will personally pick up again. 

 PLOT:   You have the main character who has basically allergic to everything and is unable to go outside.  She is trapped in her own house, breathing synthetic cleaner air.  Every day is pretty much the same.  That is until new neighbours move in next door and she meets Olly.  For me, this is where the story truly begins.  With Olly, a new world is now opened up and new possibilities are seen.  I enjoyed following the interactions with Olly, honestly, up until nearer the end of the story.  There is a twist in this story near the end that I really wasn't expecting and was disappointed with.  I felt that this whole story had been built up to a certain point and with this twist it left me feeling disappointed.  

CHARACTERS:  By far my favourite character in this story is Olly.  OK so he is not the main character but I liked him and the way that he tried to change situations to make it better.  

SUMMARY:  A easy to read contemporary with a great 'easy romance' weaved into it.  I did enjoy reading this story and watching the main character work through her issues and become friends with Olly but unfortunately it was the ending of the story that I didn't like.  The twist at the end was definitely a surprise and this book is definitely worth the read just to get to that point.


17 Sep 2015

Book Review / Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

A teen is forced to make a fresh start after witnessing a violent crime—but love and danger find her anyway in this novel from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.

Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.

After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.

But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.

As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…

Published:     10th November 2015
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

PLOT/STORYLINE:   I have to admit that this story got me hooked from the beginning and it certainly didn't take me long to finish this one.  This had one of those storylines that just kept me hooked throughout and not for the reason you might be expecting.  The main story is the story of Seller Gordon who goes into witness protection as she witnesses a lethal crime.  She is sent to Thunder Basin, without her mother who is undergoing drug rehabilitation but will join Stella when she is done so, initially, Stella is on her own in a strange town.  I thought when starting this book that this would be the plot line that I would concentrate on but surprisingly it wasn't.  It was the potential romance between her and Chet Falconer that kept me reading.  Even thought she has a lot of secrets, which we know about, Chet has his own which Stella has to find out.  There is also another small plot line that I enjoyed and that is with a character called Trigger who is an 'up and coming sports star' who has definitely let it go to his head and ends up being really nasty.  Even though I disliked the character for his personality it did add a bit of fire to the story.

CHARACTERS:  Chet and Stella by far were my favourite characters in this story.  You have Stella who has her guard up, as she should be given the situation she has found herself to be in, and you have Chet who has been left with being the sole guardian to his teenager brother.  We don't know much about his past to start with but is something you find out more of as the story goes in.  

SUMMARY:  A really great suspense/drama that definitely had me guessing what was going on throughout the book for various reasons.  Just when I thought I had the story sussed there is a really great twist at the end that really surprised me!

(From Goodreads) 
Becca Fitzpatrick grew up reading Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden with a flashlight under the covers. 

She graduated college with a degree in health, which she promptly abandoned for storytelling. 

When not writing, she's most likely prowling sale racks for reject shoes, running, or watching crime dramas on TV. 

She is the author of the bestselling HUSH, HUSH Saga. Her new book BLACK ICE arrives in bookstores everywhere October 7, 2014.

16 Sep 2015

Molly Lee by Andrew Joyce

Out now!!!  £0.99 at Amazon.co.uk now
(until 21st September 2015)

From the author of the best-selling novel, REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer comes MOLLY LEE.

Molly is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes.

It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them—a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn—ends up saving her virtue, if not her life.

Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice.

We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her.

14 Sep 2015

Blog Tour / Author Interview - EC Ayres

Red Tide Goodreads Link

(Click on the picture above to visit the Goodreads page)
An abandoned research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. Five dead marine scientists who were tracking a furtive tanker for offshore dumping. While Government agencies squabble over jurisdiction for the killings no one is taking responsibility for the tanker. That unwanted task falls at last to Tony Lowell: a pot-smoking environmentalist and private investigator who knows the Gulf and knows how to sail.

Lowell is laid back as only a former Navy SEAL-turned hippy can be: a nonconformist who refuses to carry a gun. But he is now the last man left with skills and knowledge of the Gulf who is willing to face an unknown terror at sea and prevent a global environmental catastrophe.

An award-winning International best-selling novelist, journalist, columnist, critic, film and television writer/producer E. C. Ayres is a graduate of Syracuse University and has lived and worked in New York, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, Harbin, China and Seattle. He has been involved in environmental issues since the first Earth Day and divides his time between Florida, where the Tony Lowell series is set, and the Pacific Northwest. For more information about E.C. Ayres and his books visit his website at www.ecayres.com.

1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
John Grisham: he writes about important socio-political issues and works them into tight, effective suspense novels. 

2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I am a morning person. I write in the morning. I have a den in my house and that is where I write.

3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Staying focused, and not being distracted. It is all too easy to feel I have to do this errand, or pay that bill. Staying focused is essential.

4. When and why did you first start writing?
I first started writing mysteries was when I was a staff writer at Hanna Barbera Productions in Los Angeles, writing for a show called Scooby Doo. Those were all little mysteries, and I learned the basic structure: an event; consequences; a need to investigate; the arrival of the investigator(s); the first clue; further clues; the first suspect; more suspects; the McGuffin (a misleading suspect); a red herring (a misleading clue); the chase; defeat; another chase; another defeat, trapping the suspect only for him to escape; and finally a climactic scene leading to apprehension.

Eventually I left Hollywood and started writing full-length mysteries, starting with Hour of the Manatee, which won the Best First P.I. Novel competition for St. Martin's Press and the Private Eye Writers of America.

5. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I am an environmentalist, and have written about environmental crime in the past (Eye of the Gator). In the wake of Katrina I was concerned about offshore dumping in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly from the chemical factories south of New Orleans, and used that as my plot basis.

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I am a moderate reader, currently reading To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris.

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Regardless of the odds you have to believe in what you are doing. You cannot write thinking, 'Oh, this will be a good way to make some extra money,' or anything like that. You have to believe that what you are writing has a place in the market, and that it is worthwhile pursuing.

Website: www.ecayres.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorecayres
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GeneECAyres @GeneECAyres

Book Review / Ransom Canyon by Jodi Thomas

From New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas comes the first book in a compelling, emotionally resonant series set in a remote west Texas town—where family can be made by blood or by choice…

Rancher Staten Kirkland, the last descendent of Ransom Canyon's founding father, is rugged and practical to the last. No one knows that when his troubling memories threaten to overwhelm him, he runs to lovely, reclusive Quinn O'Grady… or that she has her own secret that no one living knows.

Young Lucas Reyes has his eye on the prize—college, and the chance to become something more than a ranch hand's son. But one night, one wrong decision, will set his life on a course even he hadn't imagined.

Yancy Grey is running hard from his troubled past. He doesn't plan to stick around Ransom Canyon, just long enough to learn the town's weaknesses and how to use them for personal gain. Only Yancy, a common criminal since he was old enough to reach a car's pedals, isn't prepared for what he encounters.

In this dramatic new series, the lives, loves and ambitions of four families will converge, set against a landscape that can be as unforgiving as it is beautiful, where passion, property and pride are worth fighting—and even dying—for.

Published:     25th August 2015
Publisher:  HWN Books
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Ransom Canyon
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

PLOT/STORYLINE:  Oh I love a good romance and this one definitely ticked all the boxes for me.  This is one of those stories that doesn't necessarily concentrate on a single storyline but has a few at the same time.  The great thing about this book was that it wasn't difficult to keep on top of who is who and what is happening with what character (I have had a lot of trouble with that in the past with other books).  You have the story of Staten Kirkland who is a rancher, has had a very difficult and painful past but things may be looking up with Quinn O'Grady who he has known for a very long time.  You then have Lucas Reyes who is down on his luck and has to work hard to prove himself.  You then have Yancy who arrives in town having left a troubled past and settles in Ransom Canyon and makes friends there.  He has to make some very difficult decisions throughout the story.  Even though these may seem like very separate stories based in one place, Ransom Canyon, They are weaved together in certain places as well, but not in a confusing way. 

CHARACTER(S):  The best part of the story were the characters Staten Kirkland and Quinn O'Grady.  I did find myself in this story reading other parts (such as following Yancy and his story but wanting to get back to Staten and Quinn.  Staten is such a broken man who seeks comfort in his friend of many years and the prospect of romance was something I was hoping for.  I have to admit that out of the two characters my favourite was Quinn.  At the beginning of the story we don't know that much about her and as the story goes on we find out more and more, especially a shocking secret that I was not expecting...

SUMMARY:  What a great dramatic romance.  If you like reading realistic romance style books this is definitely one to check out. Imagine my surprise when I discovered when writing this review that this was book 1 in a series!  I cannot wait to pick up the next one and see what happens next!  I love it when that happens... 

9 Sep 2015

Waiting on Wednesday / Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly memo that is hosted by Breaking the Spine Blog.

Expected Release Date: 6th October 2015

(Release date obtained from Goodreads)

Goodreads link is here.

Rainbow Rowell continues to break boundaries with Carry On, an epic fantasy following the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from her beloved bestseller Fangirl.

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

7 Sep 2015

Book Review / At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

In her stunning new novel, Gruen returns to the kind of 
storytelling she excelled at in Water for Elephants: a historical timeframe in an unusual setting with a moving love story. Think Scottish Downton Abbey.

After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind. To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook). 

Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war. Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants. The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love.

Published:     31st March 2015
Publisher:  Spiegel & Grau
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


PLOT/STORYLINE:  A very compelling read.  This is a slow paced story with not too many twists and turns, which usually I don't get on well with but I loved this.   First off is the era, 1940s.  It is not a place in time I tend to visit much in books so don't have too much experience with it but after reading this I am definately wanting to see if there are any more stories out there from a similar time period.  At the start you have a 'threesome' type dynamic (but without the sexyness).  You have Maddie and Ellis who are a couple and you have Hank who is their friend.  The story starts in Philadelphia and continues in Scotland.  In Philadelphia, you see a life of 'High Class Living' in the 1940s, very much a man's world and as you travel through the story and end up in Scotland you see a very different style of living.  Honestly, for me this was very much a story about character development rather than plot and suspense etc. and the part of the story about the Loch Ness Monster was really a very small side line story that, to be honest, I didn't really focus that much on in the story.  Admittedly this is why they went to Scotland in the first place so it does need to be in the story but its definitely more about what the characters do and how they react before and after they get there. 

CHARACTERS:  Now this was the best part of the story for me.  By a long shot, my favourite character is Maddie in this story.  We see her at the beginning in this very 1940s high class man's world just towing the line and going along with what she thinks she should do.  As the story goes on we see her having to make a lot of decisions that she probably wouldn't have done if she hadn't made that journey to Scotland.  She is a character that is far more stronger than you expect her to be and I was definitely rooting for her!

SUMMARY:  I really enjoyed this story by Sara Gruen.  I had hoped that I would have since I loved Water for Elephants.  A great drama.  Even if you are not sure you like 1940s fiction, give this one a go it might surprise you...

(from Goodreads)

Sara Gruen is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, APE HOUSE, RIDING LESSONS, and FLYING CHANGES. Her works have been translated into forty-three languages, and have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS was adapted into a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon, Rob Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz in 2011.

She lives in Western North Carolina with her husband and three sons, along with their dogs, cats, horses, birds, and the world’s fussiest goat.


Author Interview / Carissa Ann Lynch

Wendi Wise is a troubled young woman who snorts her breakfast through a straw and spends more time in rehab than in the real world…

Her life is seemingly out of control.

But now she has a plan.

That plan involves a sharp set of butcher knives.

She's going back to where all of her troubles began…


Wendi was lured away from a local skating rink, at the age of thirteen, and held captive in a place she calls 'The House of Horrors.' Dumped off blindfolded on the side of a dirt road, Wendi soon discovered that she was addicted to the drugs they fed her while she was captive.

Too scared to go home, and having a new habit to deal with, she hopped on a bus, vanishing from the family she loved.

Vanishing from Flocksdale…

The town of Flocksdale is littered with fliers with a grainy image of young Wendi, and the words 'Have You Seen This Girl?' written below.

Now, eight years later, she's on a mission—a mission to find the mysterious house from her youth and the monsters who dwell inside it.

This is the end, beautiful friend, the end…”

1. IF YOU COULD WORK WITH ANY OTHER AUTHOR, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? I'll be honest – I was a little worried you'd ask me this question! My writing habits tend to mirror my reading habits: I love to read and write everything! And I do mean everything. Horror, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, historical romance, women's fiction, steampunk...you name it, I love it. So, picking one author I'd like to work with is tough. As a kid, I was obsessed with mystery. I loved Carolyn Keene and Agatha Christie. As I got older, I fixated on horror writers. I started with R.L. Stine, and graduated to Stephen King and Dean Koontz. As an adult, I started reading everything – from cheesy young adult stories to classics from Plato, to hard fantasy and off-the-wall steampunk. These days, I'm big on reading indie authors. I love trying out a new author I've never read before. Okay, so now to answer your question: if I had to choose one author – at this moment – I’d go with Chuck Palahniuk. I admire his minimalist, post-modern style, and I want to write like that. That man is a genius. He can make you laugh, cry, cringe, and feel terrified all within a few sentences. Now, if you ask me that question tomorrow, I'll give you a different answer…
2. WHAT WOULD BE A TYPICAL WORKING DAY FOR YOU? WHEN AND WHERE DO YOU WRITE? I know they say writers should write every day, but I don't. It's not my style. I tend to be all or nothing, and I usually write in long, compulsive spurts. I write every free chance I get for three months straight, and then I take a month off to clear the brain fog. Sometimes I just need time in between to think, read, plot out ideas, rest, and experience life. A typical day...I have three kids, so during the daytime and early evening hours, I'm writing on the go. I write on my iPhone, notebooks, and the back of receipts. Sometimes my writing gets colored over with crayons by my kids...
 My set writing time is 9pm-1am. I copy and paste or type up what I've already written on notes throughout the day, and then I work on my laptop at the kitchen table. I often write past 1 a.m., I must admit.
3. WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF THE WRITING FOR YOU? The hardest part for me is when I write too short or too long, and I have to meet certain word count guidelines. I'll be honest – I tend to write short, and then I'm stuck trying to "fluff" the story, which I despise. I often find myself rewriting whole sections instead, which can be time consuming. Also, once the book is done, there is so much to do as far as promotion. I'm pretty shy in real life, so I struggle with the self-promoting aspect of being an indie author.

4. WHEN AND WHY DID YOU FIRST START WRITING? I've always loved to read and write, but I wrote my first novel-length book only a few years ago. It was one o'clock in the morning; I couldn't sleep and I'd just finished the book I was reading. So, I decided on a whim to write my own book. I didn't realize how hard it was going to be, or how much I'd fall in love with doing it. I was standing in the kitchen making pancakes, and I wrote the first line to my first book on a napkin: "Making pancakes at one in the morning made Violet Cromwell feel like a single woman again..." The rest is history, as they say…

5. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THE BOOK? With all of my books, I tend to mix what I know and what I'm interested in at the time. My current book coming out Sept 8th, Have You Seen This Girl?, is about a girl who's addicted to heroin and decides to hunt down the monsters from her youth after enduring a great deal of trauma and hardship. I have a lot of personal and professional experience with drug use, and I'm interested in many of the women's issues I address in the book: rape, PTSD, self-esteem issues, addiction, etc. I currently live in Indiana, which is suffering from a huge heroin and HIV epidemic. Overall, I tend to write about what I care about. Writing Have You Seen This Girl? was very emotional for me, more so than with my other books.

6. ARE YOU A BIG READER? IF SO, WHAT ARE YOU READING NOW? Yes! I spend more time reading than writing. I always have a book with me everywhere I go, whether I'm cooking in the kitchen, riding in the car, or going outside...I'm obsessed with reading. The other day, I nearly left the house without a book and my two-year-old ran back inside and grabbed it for me without me asking. My family knows: I have to have a book at all times! For birthdays and Mother's Day, they almost always give me books. I recently finished The Ghost Files by Apryl Baker and From Afar by Frank Scozzari, both of which were EXCELLENT. Today I'm starting the Game of Thrones series.

7. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OTHER ASPIRING WRITERS? I know everyone says this, but it's so true: never give up. If you want to get your book published, you can. Be persistent! You might have to rewrite it ten times, but you just have to work for it. Don't be afraid to put a book aside and start a new one, because you can always use material from that book later or rewrite it when some time has passed. Also, as much as negative feedback hurts, make it your friend. Take that criticism and use it to make your writing and your story better. Some of my best writing has been done after getting my work ripped apart. And my last piece of advice: READ!!! Reading is the best way to improve your writing and vocab skills, and it's also good to know what's hot in the market, what's been overdone, and what styles you like, etc...

Carissa's first book in the Flocksdale Files series: Have You Seen This Girl? comes out Sept 8th! It will be available for preorder August 29th. Other titles are: This Is Not About Love and Grayson's Ridge. Follow her @carissaannlynch or at facebook.com/carissaannlynchauthorfor updates!