Review: Saving Wishes by G.J. Walker-Smith




My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published February 12th 2013 



Saving Wishes is about a girl, Charli, who lives in a small town called Piper's Cove in Tasmania. Tasmania is that small little island off Australia just to the south, isolated and extremely quiet. Not much happens there and for a seventeen year old Charli, who has lived with her brother there all her life, there's only one thing she dreams about. Getting off the island and seeing the world.

Her life is pretty simple. Best friend, Nicole, and Charli are taunted on a daily basis by the Beautifuls, a siblingship of girls who are extremely good looking, petty and often malicious. Charli has history with Mitchell, the brother, and she's never been able to live it down.

Along comes Adam, a french-american who has some secrets of his own. Once Charli and Adam get together their lives explode around them.

Saving Wishes was a sweet book. One I could empathize with as I know what being brought up in a small town is like. I disagree with many of the promotion blurbs depicting Charli as a troublemaker or too meek and mild. In my opinion Charli is fortunate to know who she is, and who she wants to be unlike many of the other characters in the story. She's smart, wise and knows her own limits. Yes, she lacks worldly experience but she's an old soul in a young body.

The chemistry with Adam was there from the start. Definitely not instalove but a fond connection pulled the two characters together. Twists, turns and lots of funny, witty moments kept them together. Not even the Beautifuls could penetrate our main characters armour!

The downside of this book and why I marked it to a 4* instead of a 5*? I couldn't help feeling a distance with the emotional side of Charli. Yes, her narrative told us all the things she was thinking but at times the romance and loving side of Charli and Adam wasn't enough to pull me in completely.

Other than that, a great start to what I'm sure will be a great series.

- CBx



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Review: Stay With Me (With Me #1) by Elyssa Patrick





My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Published August 30th 2013 by Elyssa Patrick

This is definitely one of the books that I've liked more this year. The story of a child actress/starlet who basically wants to pull away from her old life and do normal stuff. Going to college and dating ordinary guys is a bit out of Hailey's comfort zone so its refreshing that she's even giving it a try.

I did like the good background settings that cropped in here and there. Anyone who watches E! or reads the gossip mags can only grasp at what life as a young superstar must be like. Admittedly I didn't learn anything new about her previous business but the author did certainly do her research.

I loved the boys network of Caleb and his housemates. Caleb is a safe and solid guy to fall in love with. He has no ulterior motive, no shady side to him. Just a nice guy who likes the girl! Any drama was always going to be in Hailey's head. Not anywhere else.

The big secret and its reveal? Well, it wasn't the biggest. Honestly, I wasn't even that surprised. Horrible what happened to her? Yes, absolutely. Did I doubt Caleb? Never in a month of Sundays.

I loved the HEA. I see that there'll be other books based on the other guys. Definitely worth reading!



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ARC Review: Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley





My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Expected publication: April 22nd 2014 by HarperTeen



To grow up as a bloggers baby might have been quirky and fun as a youngster but now 15 year old Imogene has had enough. She can't even get out of bed in the morning without her mother waking her up and snapping a quick photo (with bed hair and all) for her blog, Mommyliciousmeg dot com. Even her name was chosen pre-birth by a blogging poll. What was once a feeling of being special for a mother and daughter is now an invasion of Imogene's privacy, in her eyes anyway.

This book has an intriguing premise, and one very real in bloggerland. The message is clear. How far is too far when blogging. Imogene's mother has forgotten how to be a mum, she's a blogger first and foremost. Imogene doesn't have many friends, never had a boyfriend and constantly is heckled by her schoolmates who all read Meg's blog. And Meg doesn't hold back. She announced her daughters first period, first bra purchase and other personal moments.

This story was believable to a certain extent, even to the point where I was almost cheering Imogene on for overcoming obstacles. I had to finish reading to find out what would happen.

Definitely worth a read mainly because its about blogging!

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ARC Review: Anything to Have You by Paige Harbison





My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Expected publication: January 28th 2014 by Harlequin Teen


I usually like Paige Harbison books. They have a realism and edginess that authors can sometimes not quite nail. Unfortunately I didn't connect with this one at all and was still trying to figure out the message the book was trying to convey.

Natalie and Brooke have been BFF's since a young age. When a new, hot guy arrives at school Brooke is the one to take a step out with him, although Natalie told her to put in a good word for herself. Brooke, who is a little jealous of her popular but introvert friend appears to take this as a challenge and soon enough Brooke and Aiden are dating. One year on, Natalie is still popular and quiet, Aiden is the nice, kind boyfriend, but Brooke isn't happy with her life. This is where the book picks up from.

The characters are very real. Brooke is obsessively jealous of her best friend and boyfriends friendship and thinks the only way to try to be more popular than Natalie is to drink and party. She seeks attention, craves it, wants guys to ogle her even though she has a boyfriend. Her jealousy soon gets mixed with antagonism. She hangs out with like-minded people who are not like Natalie. She begins to see how Natalie and Aiden are more suited as a couple but she refuses to give him up.

Natalie however goes to a party, a rarity for her. She wakes up the next day knowing something happened with a guy but is unsure who it was. Eventually, she sees a change in Brooke and keeps her growing feelings for Aiden undercover. After all, you do not get with your best friend's boyfriend, big no no!

The story is told from two POV's, Natalie and Brooke. My honest opinion is that the author wanted readers to warm to Brooke. To understand the whys and wherefores of how she works. Personally it only made me hate her even more.

Topics covered as our two best friends free-fall are drugs, alcohol abuse, pregnancy and cheating. I would say that they were all covered sympathetically, the author could have gone for a far more shocking story than she did.

Two things strike me as I finished. Firstly, the book title was wrong. It should have been Anything to be you. Certainly Natalie didn't do anything to get Aidens attention, she was just herself. And Brooke didn't want Aiden, not really so that doesn't work either. The second thing was that none of the characters talked. Even though they're all supposed to be very best friends and shared a lot of time together they never aired their laundry with each other. I mean, don't teenagers break up and make up all the time, not sit on problems and let them escalate as badly as they did in this book.

I honestly think the author took her finger off the pulse on this one and therefore it just didn't seem quite accurate. But that's just my opinion. :)

- CBx


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Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine





My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Expected publication: December 31st 2013 by Balzer + Bray


The cover pretty much sums up the book. Sweet, innocent, little Wren and older (by a couple of years), Grayson. One adorable couple who want to try for something real. No pretence, no lies, just an honest relationship.

"Wren: 
Wren Caswell, Doesn't participate in class.
Bright but quiet.
Quiet. Quiet.
Too quiet.
I tried not to let the evaluation bother me, but it did. Being quiet was not a conscious protest. It was my nature."

They do share a connection from the beginning of the story. Even though their beginning is Grayson acting an idiot in front of his friends and speaking down to her. Wren, equally not amused by him, is the only one looking when he starts choking on a mini sausage. One Heimlich manoeuvre later and he sees Wren through different eyes. In fact, his whole outlook on life changes.

"Grayson:
She's just a girl, Grayson. 
A girl who saved my life. 
I wanted to sweep the hair away from her face, feel her body against me, without an audience or the threat of my imminent death.
Connecting with her had felt different. Real. I had to get to know her."

Don't be misled. This is a book of secrets and lies, back-stabbing school mates, evil Ava, and the beginning of a romance that might easily be thrown away if the couple doesn't try hard to make it work. Time and again Grayson's past comes back to haunt and ruin him. But Wren is a smart cookie. She's good at damage control, especially with herself. And she's definitely is not one to be underestimated. She's a fighter.

The only thing I would criticize is the lukewarm ending. The rest of the book had sizzling eyes, warm hands and plenty of kissing. I couldn't help feeling like I wanted a little bit more heat.

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ARC Review: The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa



Publishers: Harlequin Teen
Published Date: Oct 29th 2013
From: NetGalley
My rating: 3 out of 5


Synopsis:

In the real world, when you vanish into thin air for a week, people tend to notice. 

After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as "normal" as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for-his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again. 

But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, "normal" simply isn't to be. For Ethan's nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan's and Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all.


Review:

Everyone who has read my previous reviews on anything by Julie Kagawa will know how much I adored The Iron Fey series. The Lost Prince was also a good story, unique, different than the other storylines. Not so much time spent in Nevernever, more in the our real world.

However, this one didn't really hold my interest as much as it should have. I don't know whether it's because I actually don't find Keirran that interesting, other than he's Meghan and Ash's son. Or if it's Ethan POV that grates a little. Yes, we all know he hates anything to do with Fey but here's the thing. The Iron Traitor is another adventure/journey through New Orleans (which we did already in the past) and then travelling through the Wyldwood (which we also did in the previous stories). Okay, there are new beasties to fight and other interesting fey on the way that get in the way of Ethan's progress. But i just couldn't help feeling that I wasn't really reading anything new.

What held most people interest in the Iron Fey stories was the stunning romance beginning between Meghan and Ash. These characters don't hold the same charm and lack the luster really needed to keep the momentum going.

I gave it a 3 out of 5 because there's no doubting that Julie Kagawa is an extraordinary writer and visionary.


You can reach Julie Kagawa here:
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Review: Lick (Stage Dive #1) by Kylie Scott




Publishers: Momentum
Published Date: July 1st 2013
From: NetGalley
My rating: 5 out of 5


Synopsis:

Waking up in Vegas was never meant to be like this.

Evelyn Thomas’s plans for celebrating her twenty-first birthday in Las Vegas were big. Huge. But she sure as hell never meant to wake up on the bathroom floor with a hangover to rival the black plague, a very attractive half-naked tattooed man, and a diamond on her finger large enough to scare King Kong. Now if she could just remember how it all happened.

One thing is for certain, being married to rock and roll’s favourite son is sure to be a wild ride.


Review:

I loved, loved, loved this one! So much that I read it again straight after finishing. At the moment everyone seems to be writing books about rock stars and the antics that go with it. Lick is slightly different from the start.

Evelyn wakes up curled up in the bathroom feeling extraordinarily rough after a night on the tequila. Sat opposite her is a gorgeous guy, definitely swoon-worthy. After a few words she discovered the worst possible nightmare. She married him! Him being David Ferris, God Guitarist of the rock band Stage Dive. He's world famous, very rich, and for some reason likes big-boned, heavy boobed Evelyn.
Its all a big misunderstanding she tells herself. If she forgets about it no one will ever know, it could be a secret. However, the world press are waiting at the airport the next day and Evelyn is headline news!! Here begins her adventure into how to get unmarried, and nothing goes to plan!

What I loved most was the chemistry between Evelyn and David. The obvious reason is that they are perfect for one another, even though Evelyn can't see it and David acts like an ass because of his own insecurities! This book isn't so much a rock star on the road story that I've been reading a lot of, more of an intense romance with a whole lot of love involving a girl-next-door and a guy who clearly adores her for who she is.

Even if you don't like rock music Lick is a great goosebump bringer, heart-acher with the added bonus of mature love for +17's.





You can reach Kylie Scott here:
 

Review: Come Back to Me by Coleen Patrick



Publishers: Coleen Patrick
Published Date: April 10th 2013
From: NetGalley
My rating: 3 out of 5


Synopsis:

Whitney Denison can’t wait to start over.

She thought she had everything under control, that her future would always include her best friend Katie… Until everything changed.

Now her life in Bloom is one big morning after hangover, filled with regret, grief, and tiny pinpricks of reminders that she was once happy. A happy she ruined. A happy she can’t fix.

So, she is counting down the days until she leaves home for Colson University, cramming her summer with busywork she didn’t finish her senior year, and taking on new hobbies that involve glue and glitter, and dodging anyone who reminds her of her old life.

When she runs into the stranger who drove her home on graduation night, after she’d passed out next to a ditch, she feels herself sinking again. The key to surviving the summer in Bloom is unraveling whatever good memories she can from that night.

But in searching for answers, she’ll have to ask for help and that means turning to Evan, the stranger, and Kyle, Katie’s ex-boyfriend. Suddenly, life flips again, and Whitney finds herself on not only the precipice of happy but love, too, causing her to question whether she can trust her feelings, or if she is falling into her old patterns of extremes.

As she uncovers the truth about her memories, Whitney sees that life isn’t all or nothing, and that happy isn’t something to wait for, that instead, happy might just be a choice.


Review:

I liked this book. It mainly dealt with real life teenage issues, mostly alcoholism and dealing with death of a loved one. One significant party in particular led to Whitney losing her memory completely, wrecking her car, and resulted in seeing her dead best friends ghost.

For me this was one I had to see through to the end. Not only to piece all the puzzle parts together but also to find out how Evan was involved with the great mystery.

My only problem was the length of the book. The narration did ramble a lot, and various topics were discussed at length repeatedly at various stages of the book. Katie was mentioned on nearly every page which brought me to believe Whitney actually had a very unhealthy relationship with her so called best friend before she died. Again this is discussed many times and is drawn out in the conclusion of the book.

This more of a journey to travel along, not an romance discovery themed book as I originally thought but still definitely worth a read.





You can reach Coleen Patrick here:
 

ARC Review: After Eden (After Eden, #1) by Helen Douglas




Publishers: Bloomsbury Childrens Books 
Published Date: Nov 5 2013
From: NetGalley
My rating: 3.5 out of 5


Synopsis:

When mysterious new boy Ryan Westland shows up at her school Eden Anfield is intrigued. On the face of it, he's a typical American teenager. So how come he doesn't recognise pizza and hasn't heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden most, however, is the interest he's taking in her.

As Eden falls in love with Ryan, she stumbles across a book in Ryan's bedroom - a biography of her best friend - written fifty years in the future. Unravelling Ryan's secret, she discovers he has one unbelievably important purpose ... and she might just have destroyed his only chance of success.


US Cover



Review:

Firstly I loved that this book was set in England! In Cornwall, no less!! It makes a refreshing change to read about England when the YA market is swamped by American writers. Not that there's anything wrong with that by this was just refreshing, as I said!

So, Eden spots the new boy at school. He stunningly good looking, has a strange accent and despite the more popular girls attaching themselves to him, he seems to like Eden a whole lot more. They become friends, although Eden is quick to spot irregularities in his story of why he's in Cornwall with his sister and dad. A chance mistake when she picks up her homework books has an autobiography of her best friend, Connor, in her book bag. She's eager to find out the truth about Ryan's real reason for being in Perran. What she learns is not only that her life is in danger now that she knows the truth but also that her best friend discovered another planet which in turn poisons Earth. Yes, folks, everyone is doomed!! Ryan and Eden work against the clock to change history.

This is an easy read book, I finished it in around 3 hours. The writing is simple yet image evoking and the characters are all normal teenage kids. Some of the dialogue was a little messy sometimes but I liked the clear depiction of 16 year olds living in UK. The romance was very innocent and sweet too. This isn't a book I would normally read, I would go for something with an older or wiser protagonist but Eden is young and innocent and that's just how she is.

I also loved the sci-fi aspect. The author tells us about the night sky, gas giants, constellations, planetary systems and its really interesting to learn how an author sees an alternative life-bearing planet like Earth thriving and prospering but also with similar dangers.

A great read for all younger teenagers who love sci-fi with a sprinkling of romance!




You can reach Helen Douglas here:
 

Review: Wide Awake by Shelly Crane

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0982926944/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=0982926944&linkCode=as2&tag=neverleavethe-21


Publishers: Self Published
Published Date: March 22 2013
From: Bought
My rating: 4 out of 5


Synopsis:

A girl.
A coma.
A life she can't remember.

When Emma Walker wakes up in the hospital with no knowledge of how she got there, she learns that she's been in a coma for six months. Strangers show up and claim to be her parents, but she can't remember them. She can't remember anyone. Not her friends, not even her boyfriend. Even though she can't remember, everyone wants her to just pick up where she left off, but what she learns about the 'old her' makes her start to wish she'd never woken up. Her boyfriend breaks up with the new girl he's dating to be with her, her parents want her to start planning for college, her friends want their leader back, and her physical therapist with the hazel eyes keeps his distance to save his position at the hospital.

Will she ever feel like she recognizes the girl in the mirror?



Review:

Wide awake is very well written and an absolute page turner. I think I had about two bathroom breaks reading it because I wanted to find out what happened in the end! If that happens when you're reading it must be a good book.

The premise was interesting. If you woke up from a coma and had no memory of who you were BC (before coma) then what would you do? Emma has this dilemma even though she's assured that her memory may come back over time. Small things may trip her into remembering features of her past life. However when Emma is gradually told about who she was BC she's not entirely sure she wants to be that person again. Arrogant, demanding, a girl with a jock of a boyfriend (who even started dating someone else while she was in said coma), someone who ruled the school with a 'look at me' attitude. I wasn't sure I'd want to be that person either.

She doesn't know her parents or siblings, she can't relate to them in any way so while she's in hospital she gets closer to Mason, her physiotherapist who visited her daily during C. Soon after waking she develops a crush on him only to learn that he has feelings for her too.

The story unfolds and what I loved about this book is the way Emma stuck to her guns and didn't give in to her family trying to mold her back into the person she once was. She not daddy's girl any more, in fact he can't stand to be around her because she isn't 'his daughter'. Her mother appeared to love the antics of old Emma, antics that are cringe-worthy. In the end Emma finds no peace within her world except when she's with Mason.

Learning about Mason gives her life more meaning and soon she's wrapped in a new world away from the norm. As we reach the end I actually feel very sorry for Emma. The emotions that Crane brings out are true and very real. Emma suffers right until the end.

A great, unique and thought-provoking read.




https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0982926944/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=0982926944&linkCode=as2&tag=neverleavethe-21


You can reach Shelly Crane here:
 

Review: Acid by Emma Pass



Publishers: Random House Childrens UK
Published Date: May 14 2013
From: NetGalley
My rating: 5 out of 5


Synopsis:

2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID – the most brutal, controlling police force in history – rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed – or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember.

The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID – and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago



Review:

If you like dystopia then this book is for you. ACID is set one hundred years in the future and fifty years after the government of the UK are overthrown and a new regime steps into place. The new regime is called ACID, and is basically run by the new modern police making the Independent Republic of Britain effectively a police state.

Jenna Strong is in prison for the murder her parents. She struggles with her memories of the night it happened. But during her time there she's bulked up and learnt how to defend herself. A necessity when you're the only female on the wrong side of the bars.

Pretty much instantly the action and adventure begins. After a prison breakout, Jenna becomes Mia, and with a few facial and hair modifications she's thrust back into London life albeit in the Outer poorer section than she's used to. But she has a task to do and its important to break through the ACID barriers and bring the new flawed police system down and find proof that prisoners on the infamous Innis Ifrin prison are being tortured. The problem is that the man in charge of running the country, General Harvey, was her father's best friend and is her godfather. He's the one that put her in prison in the first place.

The world that Emma Pass has created is so thorough that I completely believed in it. Everyone has Komms and c-cards to talk to each other and get around. Of course everything is monitored by ACID. The food is substituted in parts. Everyone has a LifePartner who is chosen for them at an early age (no marriage or living together with a partner of your own choice is allowed). And people abide by the rules and the law because you never know who could be watching and who could report you for non-compliance.

In this terrifying new world Jenna holds true to herself even when she is finally caught and made to become sappy Jessica. The memories aren't as strong any more and she struggles with what is real and what isn't. And who is the boy that melts her heart every time she remembers a certain dusty dark place?

The finale is pulse-racingly good, the characters are all either ones you want to root for or ones you really want Jenna to hurt in the end.

A great debut complete novel.






You can reach Emma Pass here:
 


Review: Ten Tiny Breaths (Ten Tiny Breaths #1) by K.A. Tucker



Publishers: Atria Books
Published Date: Feb 12 2013
From: NetGalley
My rating: 4 out of 5


Synopsis:

Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them.

Four years ago Kacey Cleary’s life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend, and best friend. Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside, holding her boyfriend’s lifeless hand and listening to her mother take her last breath, Kacey wants to leave her past behind. Armed with two bus tickets, twenty-year-old Kacey and her fifteen-year-old sister, Livie, escape Grand Rapids, Michigan, to start over in Miami. Struggling to make ends meet, Kacey needs to figure out how to get by. But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle anything—anything but her mysterious neighbor in apartment 1D.

Trent Emerson has smoldering blue eyes, deep dimples, and he perfectly skates that irresistible line between nice guy and bad boy. Hardened by her tragic past, Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable and Trent is determined to find a way into Kacey’s guarded heart—even if it means that an explosive secret could shatter both their worlds.



Review:

Right from the outset we learn that Kacey is a tough nut. Her language, her attitude, her thoughts on others prove that she has trust issues. But the most constant person in her life is what keeps her grounded, to a certain extent, at least. Livie, her sister, was sick at home when the car accident happened. At sixteen Kacey's parents, her boyfriend and her best friend were all killed when a drunk driver hit their car. Kacey survived and she is understandably traumatised by the whole shocking ordeal. Hospital for a year, rehabilitation, shrinks and moving in with her aunt and uncle all take their toll. Kacey manages to continue life after the accident albeit from the bottom of a bottle, using drugs and having lots of meaningless sex. Her life was spiralling out of control. Her aunt and uncle were not role models either. Her aunt being a bible nut preaching against evil, her uncle squandering their inheritence in a card game. All in all when Kacey's uncle makes a move on fifteen year old Livie, she takes control back of her life for once and gets them away in the dead of night for a new beginning and a fresh start.

This book is a moral story. Kacey's been given a second chance at life, she just doesn't know it yet. Her primary concern is taking care of her sister, but we soon learn that it's really her sister taking care of her. Without Livie Kacey would be a lost soul on a path for destruction. Kacey wants nothing more than vengeance against those who took her family from her. It's eaten so deep inside her that its hard for her to make any kind of connection with anyone new. Her neighbours help. Storm is a lively, Barbie looking babe who has an adorable little daughter that captures everyone's hearts. On the other side of her new apartment is Trent, who literally steals her breath away. No one has ever affected Kacey the way Trent does.

What I loved most about this book is it gives us a reason to hope for something better. The small network of people that soon become part of Kacey's family are varied, sometimes troubled but mainly they are there in Kacey's life through the good times and the bad. They don't pry, they don't judge, they don't ask questions, they just get on with life and slowly meld their lives together. So the better in Kacey's life isn't the fact that she eventually earns enough money to put Livie through school, or lets the small secrets of her past gradually creep out. It's the constant knowing that others are around you when you break and will be there when you get better. After all, don't they say family doesn't equal a blood tie, its those who you let in.

The other moral behind this story is the drunk driving incident. After a night out, drunk Trent lent his car keys to a close friend who lied and told him he hadn't been drinking for a while so was able to drive them home. Trent has to live with those consequences for ever. A mistake like that doesn't just affect the ones who died, but the ones who lived and the relatives and friends. That mistakes affects families, rips relationships apart even to the point of some wishing for a way out like Tanner's brother suicide.

I was pleased with the outcome of the story, the end 30% is quite intense and I'm not sure how I feel with some of Trent's actions towards Kacey during the past or present but TTB did have an HEA.







You can reach K.A. Tucker here:
 

Available from Amazon:

    



Review: Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo




Publishers: Henry Holt & Co/Macmillan
Published Date: June 4th 2013
From: Bought
My rating: 5 out of 5


Synopsis:

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.



Review:

Siege and Storm is the second book of the wonderful Grisha Trilogy. A pseudo-Russian tale of commoner girl becoming more powerful than the king who runs the country. Grisha are the people born with magical skills. Some can muster weather, others can create. The worst Grisha is the Darkling whose only end game is to take control of the country and rule. And only Alina, an orphan, deserter from the army and late developer of her Sun summoning skill, can stop him. In Shadow and Bone we learned how Alina along with her best friend Mal travel across the Fold and Alina saves the lives of everyone, especially Mal's. At the end she runs from her life at the palace knowing the Darkling wants her power and also wants her by his side to conquer the country of Ravka.

We start this sequel as Alina and Mal are making a life for themselves far away from the enemy. Both are enjoying their life undetected and away from the threats of Ravka. Friends from a young age there is even a hint of the growing romance between them but their secret life is brought to an awful crashing end when the Darkling catches up with them.

From here on the adventure takes us through twists and turns. The privateer Sturmhond takes them on a journey and ends up revealing a more important side to his character. And soon word is spreading about a living saint, Sankta Alina - Saint Alina, the Sun Summoner. Supposedly raised from the dead and turned saint, Sankta Alina is the only one who can bring the Darkling finally down. But with rumours of his army growing larger and soldiers deserting the First Army, Ravka is on the brink of war.

You know when you're reading a good book and a thrilling series when you really can't bear to put the book down and you're grateful you have so much more to read. Then you reach the end and you feel that pain that says 'Now I have to wait another year - Why??'

Leigh Bardugo does not disappoint in this amazing sequel. The characters are as rich, humourous and as real as before. The range of emotions Alina goes through has heightened since the last book and I truly felt sorry for her situation. She neither asked for it or felt it was deserved. In the same vain Mal was a wonderful guy who stood by her, despite fighting his own demons of being non-Grisha and in the end he still accepted her for who she is. But the one who stole the book for me was Prince Nikolai. What a great character to bring into the second book. Funny, witty and clever with it. Alina would have been lost without him.

If you enjoy tales of magic, intrigue and heroes then this is the series you definitely should read. Don't forget to check out the small stories in between also. Here's a link to Goodreads where you can download or view them.


Here's the official video trailer







You can reach Leigh Bardugo here:
 

ARC Review: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) by Sarah J. Maas



Publishers:  Bloomsbury UK
Published Date: August 15th 2013
From: Publishers
My rating: 4 out of 5

Thank you to Emma at Bloomsbury UK for allowing me to read this ARC


Synopsis:

An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. 

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?


Review:

Crown of Midnight is soon to be upon us and is the much-anticipated sequel to Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas. While Throne of Glass had an ordered and organised feel about it, the high-fantasy world of Celaena Sardothien winning the famed competition to become Kings Champion, Crown of Midnight is equally as riveting with it's high octane tale of adventure and royal intrigue, though this time you never know what to expect from our heroine.

Celaena IS the Kings Champion. What deeds would the King have her do now that her task is legal killing on behalf of the Kingdom? Unfortunately for her, the kings wishes lead her to liaise with associates from her past. Associates she knows very well, even taught. More questions than answers take Celaena along a bumpy and sometimes lonely path to find out why the king particularly wants these certain people dead. Are they enemies of the Crown or merely important people in the way of something bigger?

This is no love triangle story of Celaena and Dorian or Celaena and Chaol, although Chaol does feature more greatly in this book but Crown mostly tells us about Celaena herself and her battle with her past and how she learns to embrace her future. But in the now, she learns the language of wyrdmarks from the lovely Princess Nehemia settles into a semblance of normal daily life during her duties at court. Celaena finally gets a chance to be herself. But who actually is she? Her past is still shrouded in secrecy and she gives little away until the end.

The writing of Crown is superb and if you've managed to pick up the short stories from the Throne of Glass series then they will help add substance to the main story going on here. Crown isn't as long as Throne, nor does it have as much density with regards to descriptions or even the magnanimous plush parties as we experienced before. Instead we have a fast-paced, action packed adventure that keeps its own mystery until the very last page. My only disappointment with Crown was the abrupt ending of each chapter. I personally would have preferred the scenes to play out just a little bit more rather than the knife edge slice to the next chapter but still, it does leave your imagination to run wild while waiting to find out what happens next.

Crown of Midnight brings back all our favourite main characters including a few new ones that include a doorknocker called Mort and a devilishly handsome good guy/bad guy in Archer. And I think hearts will melt again because the small bit of romance is pretty special too.

All in all Sarah J Maas did a great job of writing a rich and powerful sequel that will be loved by Throne fans everywhere!


You can reach Sarah J. Maas here: 

Web 

Review: Hidden Wings (Hidden Wings #1) by Cameo Renae



Publishers: Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing
Published Date: January 18th 2013
From: Bought
My rating: 3 out of 5


Synopsis:

Seventeen is a life changing age for Emma Wise.

As her family's sole survivor in a car crash, she is left with a broken arm and a few scrapes and bruises. But these are only outward marks; inside, her heart is broken and the pieces scattered.

Whisked away to Alaska, to an aunt she’s never met, Emma starts over. Secrets unveil themselves and now…she doesn't even know who or what she is.

A centuries old prophecy places Emma in the heart of danger. Creatures of horrifying and evil proportions are after her, and it will take Emma, her aunt, and six, gorgeously captivating Guardians to keep her safe. But, if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday... things will change.



Review:

Hidden Wings is a nice easy read if you're a fan of angel stories. What I liked most is that I didn't get too bogged down with centuries of history between warring factors which sometimes happens in books. The story is actually quite simple and nicely written.

Emma is whisked away to Alaska after a terrible car accident that killed her parents. Her Aunt is now her legal guardian and sends an escort to take Emma to her new home. Enter Kade, the dashingly handsome who turns Emma's insides gooey at a single touch.

Soon after Emma arrives at her new home she meets Courtney and Caleb, two other kids also staying with her Aunt Alaine. Trouble begins and soon Emma is caught up in an age old battle between the Fallen and the Angels, and the prize is Emma.

Lots of twists and turns, plots and surprises make Emma's new life more adventurous than she's used to and the shock ending means I'll be hanging and waiting for book 2!

A great start to a new angel series but one question I have to ask the author - why oh why couldn't we have had more Emma and Kade time??!! Hopefully we'll be more rewarded in the next installment!!





You can reach Cameo Renae here: 

Available from Amazon:

    

ARC Review: Believe by Sarah Aronson


Publishers:  Carolrhoda Books
Published Date: September 1st 2013
From: NetGalley
My rating: 4 out of 5



Synopsis:


Janine Friedman is famous. She’s the miraculous ‘soul survivor’ of a suicide bombing in a Jerusalem synagogue ten years ago. The bombing killed both her parents and changed not only her life, but also that of Dave Armstrong, the tourist who dug her out of the rubble and ‘found God’ as a result. Most people can remember where they were when it happened – the image of that little girl with her bleeding, ruined hands being dragged into the light.

Ten years on, Janine just wants to forget the past, though the nightmares persist. Sure, she avoids cameras and journalists like the plague, and her hands will never be quite right, but she’s one leg of a ‘tripod’ of friends – Miriam and Abe are always there for her – and the most she’s worrying about is whether she should settle for boyfriend Dan or still go after gorgeous Tyler.

Janine always knew the tenth anniversary would be tough. But then Abe is nearly killed in a road accident and ‘miraculously’ survives. Another boy gets out of his wheelchair and starts to walk… And the common denominator is Janine, with her supposedly healing powers.

With Dave Armstrong back in town, Janine finds herself at the centre of a media storm. Forced to look more deeply into the past, she must finally seek the truth about her parents, her hands, and the terrible day that shaped her life. What does she really believe about all three – and about herself?



Review:

I think there are very few people in this world that can actually understand the gravity of what life must be like for Janice Friedman. The sole survivor of a Jerusalem bombing that killed almost 70 people. One man heard her voice from the wreckage and saved six year old Janice that day. Dave Armstrong reckoned he felt a pull on the day of the bombing. Gods sign? He was refused entry to the synagogue but turned back after he felt the quake and pulled Janice free.

From that day onward, the world has been interested in Janice and Dave's lives. And ten years on is no different. The ten anniversary is a big deal to Janice because of her parents death, NOT because she was the Soul Survivor. Dave Armstrong has turned his deed on that day into a walking talking ministry. Now he has followers and people that hang on his every word. Janice hates him, doesn't want anything to do with him. She just wants a normal life.

Believe tells many stories in one volume. Firstly the story of Janice and how she copes with every day life. She has friends who wouldn't betray her, a boyfriend that she has things in common with--mainly their love of clothing designs, and an Aunt who dotes on her while also giving her good advice about staying out of the way of the media.

The next story is about an old Oak tree in the town. The council want to relocate a farm and make use of the land the tree occupies. Her friend Miriam is acting as an activist and wants the age old tree to stay and the farm to remain where it is even though it isn't doing so well.

The next story is about Dave's new protegee, Emma and how Emma affects the lives of those around her with her goodwill and belief in God. She believes that God cares and if you pray enough, believe enough in his power then good things will come.

And lastly the ability to heal through faith. Faith healers are no new thing. When an accident or disease cannot be cured and there is no last resort in the scientific world people turn to the power of Faith, no matter which god you believe in.

Gradually all these stories start intertwining around one another and at the centre Janice is doing her best to keep her head above water. Her friends ask her to use her celebrity status to help save the farm and the tree. Janice knows she is no celebrity. She didn't earn the title, didn't do anything remotely interesting to deserve it. She was saved when others died. The guilt and uncertainty weigh heavy on her and the last thing she wants is to step into the limelight and have more fuss over her than she already has. Unfortunately this example shows us the power of friendship and how one request can end up backfiring. Do you go with Miriam and Sam's interpretation that Janice is being selfish and only thinking of herself? Or do you go with Janice's beliefs that if you give the media an inch they'll take a mile?

The faith healing aspect of the story was what I most wanted to read about when I read the synopsis of this book. I thought it was interesting and very thought provoking. I was worried about the suggestion that Gods word would be preached and I was right, it was, but it is done in a very tasteful way, not in a way that tries to convert you.

The depth of the story is quite revealing because although even the author states in the book, Janice is not always a likeable character, I found I did understand her motives and lets face it. At sixteen we don't really know what we want out of life so imagine when the world thinks you should be more proactive with your status and do more to help others, what would we really do?

Without stereotyping and pushing ideas at us Believe does give me something in the end. And a message that tells you something meaningful is always a good reason to start the day and do things different. Much like Janice, this book took me on a journey and I'm glad I read it.



You can reach Sarah Aronson here: 


Review: My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi


Publishers:  Sourcebooks Fire
Published Date: April 2nd 2013
From: Bought
My rating: 4 out of 5



Synopsis:

Lucy just had the worst week ever. Seriously, mega bad. And suddenly, it's all too much—she wants out. Out of her house, out of her head, out of her life. She wants to be a whole new Lucy. So she does something the old Lucy would never dream of.

And now her life will never be the same. Now, how will she be able to have a boyfriend? What will she tell her friends? How will she face her family?

Now her life is completely different...every moment is a gift. Because now she might not have many moments left.


Review:

Its always difficult to rate a book when not only is the subject sensitive but the subject matter isn't exactly one that I would chose to read for entertainments sake. That is why we read after all, right? To be entertained.

My Life After Now is an incredibly touching story about Lucy. She's a member of her schools drama group. Her boyfriend of eighteen months also attends. A casting for Romeo and Juliet is on the cards and the lead part doesn't go to Lucy, it goes to her girl-enemy Elyse. Her friends, Courtney and Max get her to check Elyse's Facebook status one night shortly after rehearsals start. Yep, Elyse and Ty are 'in a relationship'. Lucy is horrified, embarrassed and more than mortified at Ty's betrayal. That and a visit from her estranged birth mother, Lisa, has Lucy and her two friends going out and having an outrageously fun night. One thing leads to another and Lucy wakes up in a lead singer's bed naked. He's only the second guy she's ever slept with.

The story continues with how Lucy copes from here on it. It isn't that she slept with the guy. Her two dads know she was having sex. It's the consequences of not practicing safe sex. Lucy soon finds out she has HIV.

Like I wrote earlier, yes, it is a sensitive issue. All kinds of preconceptions pop into your mind when you think of someone with HIV. But what I really liked about this book was the normalcy of the situation. A girl that isn't promiscuous in any way makes one mistake one night and she's saddled with this terrible virus for the rest of her life.

Lucy takes us through the drama and crises of what happens next, and there are many. I loved her two dads and had little sympathy for her birth mother who used Dad and Papa any which way she could. Evan was a nice, kindly character to add for Lucy's new love interest. But most of all we learn about the virus itself. What are the common attitudes of people when they find out? How do you deal when someone tells you to clean up some blood and burn everything after? Or when you visit a support group and everyone tells you things you really don't want to hear?

In this story Lucy finds out she is lucky. She has tremendous support from her family and the few friends that know, but as the book tells us at the back, the statistics involving teenagers, sex and HIV are staggeringly high. As Lucy says 'it's called Safe Sex for a reason'.

So this is more of a moral journey, rather than a book to entertain you. It really is a good read, it isn't dark or gloomy and deals with the negative as well as the positive of contracting HIV.

I've given it four out of five because of the strong story line. I really did like it and it's definitely a good book to recommend all teenagers to read.


You can reach Jessica Verdi here: 



Available from Amazon: