30 June 2013

Review: Stalking Sapphire

Stalking Sapphire
Stalking Sapphire by Mia Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was fantastic.

Stalking Sapphire is full of mystery and suspense and WOW at those twists. I thought I had everything thought out and then my mind was blown by the whodunnit twist.

The writing is strong, the plot unravels at a delicious pace, gripping yet slow and subtle.

Sapphire is a great character - you know and understand her motives right from the start. She's confused and tense. Aston grew on me, I wasn't sure about him at first. I think he perhaps grew the most as a character.

This is New Adult as it should be written - yeah, there's a little teensy tiny bit of sex, but it's not overkill. It's not even graphically described (THANK YOU!). This story is Sapphire and her transition from young adult to adult. She has to sort out her own life, get her priorities right, and catch that killer!

I cannot wait for the next one. Especially with that extra twist at the end. Can I have it now, Diversion Books?

Copy from Diversion via Net Galley in exchange for an hones review.

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28 June 2013

Review: Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend

Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend
Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend by Louise Rozett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fantastic second book in a series. It is totally accessible for readers who are new to the series and yet the summaries of the previous book is so subtle that I don't think it will be intrusive to readers invested in the series already. I definitely will be reading the first book. Just my cup of tea.

It is well written in general. The narrative style is like a comfortable pair of pyjamas, something you know you can rely on for comfort after a hard day. It's easily accessible and easy to read.

The characters are also refreshingly REAL. Rose is a particular favourite - she knows when she's being a bitch and she goes back and makes things better. She lets her emotions simmer and build. She's a normal teenager, confused about life.

When I was thirteen, I was collecting horse stickers.

This whole book could have easily been a depressing pity party. But it's not. It's upbeat and makes you think pleasant thoughts.

I didn't like the nickname "Sweater". In the UK, it means something completely different. I found myself wondering whether Rose showered or used antiperspirant.

Thank you to Mira Ink via NetGalley for a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

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25 June 2013

Review: White Trash Beautiful

White Trash Beautiful
White Trash Beautiful by Teresa Mummert

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was very almost a one star.

This book annoyed me so much. It infuriated me. It made me sigh and roll my eyes. I had to push myself to finish it. I hoped that it would get better at the end, but it didn't. Not for me anyway.

But I can see the draw of this book. The title is pretty excellent. And I think that a lot of people will like it. It's the kind of story that most Young Adult readers will probably lap up.

I found the writing terribly immature. It was like a thirteen-year-old's over excited fan-fiction about whichever boyband crush she has at that moment. But it was trying to be older than that. It was written in such a young way that I was confused when Cass and Tucker went to a bar - wasn't she too young to drink? But no. She's supposed to be college leaving age, not the fifteen year old girl the writing seemed to portray her as.

Cass? She annoyed me from the very very start. This whole book was one great big woe-is-me pity party for her. She was so plain, with her blonde hair, blue eyes, and freckles on her heart shaped face. Yeah right. Oh, and she was super skinny too, skinnier even than her junkie mother who didn't eat a scrap in this entire novel.

Tucker was alright. He's probably the reason this got two stars. He saw through Cassie's crap and told her to get real. Then he went and ruined it all towards the end.

The end. You've got to be bloody joking. The character's hit their all-time most juvenile at the end.

I don't think I could put myself through the next book, sorry Teresa Mummert. Your writing is just not my cup of tea. In fact, it's like Dandelion and Burdock to me. Eeww.

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23 June 2013

Review: The Herbalist

The Herbalist
The Herbalist by Niamh Boyce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very easy four stars. Almost five.

This story starts slow and builds and builds and builds. It is fantastically written and the prose is so lyrical that it felt at times as though I were reading a poem. The writing itself grows and by the end you feel as though you're reading a different book entirely.

It is mysterious and shocking, with threads of romance woven through. The little town has just as much of a little mind, is judgemental and closed and old-fashioned even for the times. It's a poisonous little place.

At first I found it a little difficult to differentiate between the different narratives, but it soon became easy, the voices became so much more distinct once I better knew the characters.

Emily was the character that got to me the most. It's like she aged all of a sudden, yet at the same time it was so slow and subtle. She was infuriating and more than a little silly, but she grew up and did the right thing.

I felt so sorry for Sarah and only wish I hadn't been drip-fed the information so slowly. But at the same time it was right for the pacing of the story.

This is a book that would quite easily help me pass a long, slow summer's day.

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22 June 2013

Review: This Northern Sky

This Northern Sky
This Northern Sky by Julia Green

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Read this book. Read it now and then tell everyone.

Look at the pretty cover. It's striking and elegant all at once. But it doesn't suit the story for me. In fact, it put me off reading this for a while. The cover could be so so much more, could be so beautiful just like the island. I understand that it's meant to "go" with the covers of other books, but it's a little disappointing once you've read the AMAZING story.

This story is haunting and beautiful and I loved it. I will definitely re-read this book. I was reminded of [b:Lucas|294817|Lucas|Kevin Brooks|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328867454s/294817.jpg|2395659] by Kevin Brooks, Kate's narrative voice reminded me of Cait, and the island setting, although VERY different, seemed to reinforce this. That's not a bad thing, Lucas is one of my favourite books. But This Northern Sky is NOTHING like Lucas, aside from being haunting, a book that will stay with you.

I love the beginning. I love how it holds back, but is still chock-full of description. I love the feeling of isolation and loneliness which is compounded by the vivid, dark descriptions. I've highlighted so many passages.

The characters are fluid and natural and develop wonderfully. I love them all, with their flaws and imperfections.

Kate is a great character. Julia Green has done a fantastic job with her - she's so believable, so real. She grows and changes, and it's all completely right. It's exactly how it should be. She matures. She grows up. She lets go. Even her appearance changes, but of course it would.

And the island... Oh my gosh, the island. Please can I go to this beautiful place? It's my idea of paradise, and was from the beginning, although Kate feels differently. A fifteen year old dragged away from suburbia to a remote island with nothing to do? Heaven for me, but it's what made Kate real from the very start. I love how the island isn't simple. It's hard. Life depends on the weather and so far out to sea you can't predict it.

My favourite part of the book was definitely that special moment in the middle of the night on the beach. I don't want to spoil that magical moment, so you'll have to read and experience it for yourself. The scene is all the more powerful because of what's already happened.

I love the ending. I love how everything comes so beautifully together, but isn't rushed. My heart felt like it was going to burst with all of the emotion this book filled me with. So much hope and love and a crushing hint of sorrow. It brings you back, subtly, to the start and you want to read it and experience everything all over again.

Read this book. Read it now and then tell everyone.

Thank you so much to Bloomsbury and Net Galley for a copy of this.

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21 June 2013

Review: A Taste for Blood

A Taste for Blood
A Taste for Blood by David Stuart Davies

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn't really want this story to end. I didn't know how it was going to end, and I just loved that feeling. Too often can you predict what's going to happen in a book, but A Taste For Blood? Nope. You can't.

First take a look at the cover. It's dark and twisted and broody and makes me think of Jack the Ripper.

I love crime books, I probably read one each week, but I didn't think this would be my cup of tea. How wrong I was.

The narrative switches between a few different characters in this book, but that didn't bother me at all. All of the characters had their own strong voice, their own mannerisms with language which made them stand apart from each other.

I grinned. "I'm anybody's for a cuppa and a biscuit."

I could relate to the characters. Well, most of them. Not really Sexton or Northcote. Eew. Although I did understand Northcote's motives towards the end.

This book twists and turns so unexpectedly that I re-read more than a few sections, just to make sure I'd taken it all in properly. It's gruesome and violent and more than once my toes curled. It's horrific in the way that all good crime should be, with blood and gore everywhere and enough mystery to keep you, as a reader, on your toes.

Some things didn't really work for me though. Mostly the setting. World War Two London, and the characters are popping into pubs for a sandwich and cafés for meals, and drinking lots of overly sweet tea and alcohol. It doesn't make sense to me that these resources would be so readily available in wartime London with rationing in full swing. I'm a tea addict (and tea-geek) so I know how little tea was available, not to even mention the more scarce products like sugar, and it just doesn't add up to me.

Copy provided via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.

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18 June 2013

Review: The Truth About Letting Go

The Truth About Letting Go
The Truth About Letting Go by Leigh Talbert Moore

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maybe more of a 3.25 than a 3, but not a 4 in my books - it just wasn't quite my cup of tea.

First of all, take a look at that cover. All sunshine and love and summer and happiness? No. It's not. The cover is a lie and it meant that what I read was completely different from what I expected. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

It wasn't a bad story, it was a good story, and the characters all seemed to grow (apart from Colt, but more on that later) and there were some sweet moment and poignant messages.

"It's over," I whisper. "I don't believe in you anymore."

Ashley is one frustrating ho-bag of a character. And she's super immature to boot. I found that I disliked her intensely after about 25% of this book which is a shame as I was really quite enjoying the story. And when you can't connect with a spoilt brat of a character, how can you connect with the story? She gets drunk quicker than anyone I've ever read before. One shot of vodka? Smashed. Four sips of wine? Smashed. And she has her own credit card which she doesn't need to worry about, because she's so privileged and has faced no read hardship until recently. She treats her best friend like crap, even though Mandy is just trying to make things OK like they were before, to cheer her up.

"Are you mad at me?"
I watch her collect her things. Her lips tighten, and I know she is. But she shrugs. "Your life's been screwed up enough this year. Being mad at you's like kicking a puppy."

Then there's Jordan, who Ashley is absolutely awful to. Her behaviour is disgusting - she even tries to force him into having sex with her despite his wish to stay a virgin until marriage. Uhm, if that was the other way round I bet it would NOT be brushed off so easily (see the Colt scene a little later on). Jordan is so sweet and I only wish that he'd ended up with Charlotte. But Charlotte's the fatty and so gets no attention. None. Even Ashley (until her "I'm a bitch, better change that" moment) doesn't pay her any attention, just laps up the attention Charlotte lavished on her. And poor Charlotte, she was the character I felt the most for throughout this story.

And then there's the dick. Colt. A bigger scum-bag you're unlikely to meet. I felt sick reading about him. He annoyed me and angered me so so much. He's aggressive and just plain vile, and I don't give a toss about the twist at the end which is supposed to make you understand him. Just, no.

But all of the characters grow, and they grow slowly. It's a real strength in this book. Some things may read like an over-excited teen, but the writing is mostly strong and the plot moves smoothly. It's slow building, with a great pace that makes for a pretty good - if slightly depressing - summer read. I think I'll give Leigh Talbert Moore one more go after this, hopefully she drops the Mary-Sue main character.

Thank you Net Galley for this.

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16 June 2013

Review: Every Breath You Take

Every Breath You Take
Every Breath You Take by Sheila Quigley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is probably the best in the Lorraine Hunt series. Full of twists and turns and turmoil and mystery.

My favourite part of this book is how real everything is. From everyone in a household crowding round the window to watch a police raid across the road (don't turn the light on or they'll see us watching!) to a daughter pushing the boundaries with a father she never knew she had.

The romance in this book builds slowly with the adult characters, but the teenage characters have exactly the right amount of young-impulsiveness that lets them love so freely and eagerly.

The crimes are gruesome and horrific, with a twisted killer and some unexpected deaths. Sheila Quigley is not afraid to kill some pretty awesome characters, who you think will hang around for at least a whole book. These deaths are shocking but just add to this already pretty amazing book.

One more to go, and I'll be quite sad when I get to the end of this series. I started reading it in high-school and it's stayed with me easily these past six or seven years.

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13 June 2013

Review: The Elite

The Elite
The Elite by Kiera Cass

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I haven't read the first in this series, so this is a proper test for The Elite. Can it stand out as a good book in its own right?

The answer? No. This is a 2.75 rounded up to 3.

Warning: this review is a little angry, I didn't enjoy this book as much as that overly-fussy yet still pretty cover made me think I would. Boo for pretty covers and my judging a book by its cover. But it's still got (almost) 3 stars, so it's not all that bad.

It's a decent enough story, if not terribly confusing, as it apparently picks up exactly where the last one ended. I often pick up a book and read it without checking to see if it's part of a series - and usually that's perfectly fine, it's great, it makes me want to read all of the other books. In a series there is usually a run-down of what happened in the previous book(s) if not only to remind you of what happened. Even House of Night managed that (but, you know, nowadays that'll be a book in itself. FINISH IT ALREADY!). It's the mark of a strong series, that it's easily accessible. The Elite just isn't unless you're already invested in the series.

And then on to the characters. Dear god, America, what kind of girl are you? Do you want him or don't you? She's all "oh I don't want to be with him!" and then he shows the slightest interest in someone else and she's all "back off bitch!" and angry. Not everyone loves you, you spoilt Mary-Sue, who's only redeeming quality seems to be that she was once poor and is a bit of a slag. Maxon is a spoiled brat pretty much until the very end, and Aspen just needs to go away and stop screwing with Mer's head. I liked the queen though, and Marlee.

The world seems very flat too. For a dystopian novel this isn't good at all, oh no. This story seemed to focus on the mansion and all the pretty things and the lavish lifestyle. There wasn't much of the hardship displayed, only a few raids during which all the characters are tucked away safely. Except for America of course, she's a Mary-Sue so can run faster than anyone, ever.

Good points? Yes, there are some. The story was sweet in places and I really felt for Marlee. And for Kriss, as it feels like she's being led along. And America's maids, she was quite nasty to them, even when they devoted themselves to her. And by the end I was beginning to piece the obscure world together a little and better understand the motives driving some of the characters. Maxon's not all bad, but he's not all good either, I'm definitely team Maxon. There was tension and conflict between the characters, they weren't all 2D, they had emotions.

The ending was a bit of a relief for me. It was predictable, yes, but a good predictable. It wrapped up well but kept enough back to set the scene for another book, you know to resolve the whole Selection process. And there was even more tension added, you know, because it's the end.

If I had read the first I'd probably like this story more, as I'd know what was going on.

Thanks, NetGalley for a copy of this.

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Review: Love is a Thief

Love is a Thief
Love is a Thief by Claire Garber

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very heart warming and hilarious chick-lit.

I like the cover, but feel it could have been more enticing. It seems a little plain for the ride that the story really is.

For the most part, this book had a good pace and plenty of hilarious points. But at times it seemed to drag on a little and I'd look at how much further I had to go and sigh. But those dragging points were few and far between and I really enjoyed this book, the rest of the story more than made up for those moments.

It's full of fantastic philosophical advice on life and love. It made me laugh out loud a lot, and I don't think I've ever read more profanities in a whole book than I've read in a single page of Love Is A Thief.

The characters are a wide mix of personalities, with a few stereotypes thrown in. What would a chick-lit be without a gay best friend or the office bitch who everyone else loves? And of course there has to be a love lost somewhere, or several in this case.

There were a few "OH MY GOD" moments in this book, when I sat gobsmacked and unable to think properly, which was great. There is passion and life in this book.

This book really made me stop and think about my life. What has love stolen from me? How different would my life be without love? What have I given up for love? It's not often a book has me questioning most aspect of my life.

I will not be surprised to see this book popping up on best-seller lists when it's released, even if it's not everyone's cup of tea.

Thanks to Mira and Net Galley for a copy of this. I'll definitely be getting the print version.

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09 June 2013

Review: In Too Deep

In Too Deep
In Too Deep by Bea Davenport

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What's that? First review for this book? How lucky I am!

This was a great read.

When I think crime, I don't think summer read. But I've read this whole book in the sun in my garden. It works. The setting is great and I could picture Dowerby perfectly. Although I knew it was set somewhere inspired by Alnwick and other Northern market towns, I was picturing Dowery just like that anyway, and would have regardless.

Maura was a rather frustrating character. She was in a poisonous relationship with her husband, and my, what a dick he was! Men like Nick deserve to die a very slow and painful death and I'm very glad of how the end turned out. Kim was great - glamorous and sassy she was just what Dowerby needed. And she wasn't afraid, not until the very end - and anyone would have been terrified then.

I feel sorry for Rosie in all of this and don't understand why she didn't say anything at nursery - isn't that the kind of thing a child would mention?

I loved the conflict between the characters and I loved the setting. I liked a lot of what the book had to say but resented some things.

Having attended an event with the author and hearing her talk of the book, I really want to know what the strand of romance was that she had had to edit out! I look forward to reading more of her adult offerings - and perhaps her young adult if they are published?

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07 June 2013

Review: The Medium

The Medium
The Medium by C.J. Archer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fantastic freebie from Amazon - if you haven't downloaded it yet, go get it now. I think it's a love-it or hate-it book and I know I definitely love it and will certainly re-read it in the future.

I knew I'd enjoy this book simply from the cover and blurb - historical fantasy set in London with ghosts? I'm sold. There's something about ghosts in London that seems to have me hooked at the moment, regardless of any other genres, and this book does it SO SO WELL.

I never thought when I started this book that I'd get so caught up in the plot. From the impossible romance (which I'm still rooting for!) to the twisting mystery of whodunnit, I couldn't get enough. There are characters to love, like, dislike and hate, and plenty of quirks had me smiling. But my goodness, did it have me craving a nice cup (pot?) of tea!

“Tell me you won't go, tell me you'll stay forever, tell me you love me.”

This book wraps up well and can be read on its own and you'll be satisfied enough, but I know I'm itching to get the second one already.

I read this after reading [b:The Wrong Girl|17836528|The Wrong Girl (The 1st Freak House Series, #1)|C.J. Archer|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1366588110s/17836528.jpg|24957489] and kind of wish I'd read this one first. C.J. Archer's writing is good in this book but in The Wrong Girl is simply amazing, you can really track her development as a writer.

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04 June 2013

Review: English Fairy Tales & Legends

English Fairy Tales & Legends
English Fairy Tales & Legends by Rosalind Kerven

My rating: 0 of 5 stars

The illustrations in this are gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous.

I'd read or heard of most of the stories in this charming book, and I particularly liked the re-tellings of the ones more local to me.

I wouldn't say this is for really young children, perhaps 6+. It feels a bit grown up in places and younger children would probably struggle to understand some of the terms. It'd be perfect for reading aloud, perhaps a bedtime story to inspire dreams of dragons and giants?

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Review: Promise You won't Tell?

Promise You won't Tell?
Promise You won't Tell? by John Locke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was nothing like a thought it would be. But it was pretty great despite that.

And I loved that twist at the end, I didn't quite see that coming.

I like Dani and I'll probably read more of this series. She's smart and sexy and savvy, and so strong. I loved how she was so passionate about catching the bad guys, the predators. I wasn't sure about Riley at first, but by the end she was every bit as amazing as Dani.

Ethan was vile, absolutely vile. And he was meant to be. I'm just a little disappointed that he didn't get properly punished. What's a few million dollars to someone that rich?

Overall a great read, which I'd recommend to pretty much anyone. I'd say this is a New Adult Crime Thriller Mystery, what a mix.

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03 June 2013

Review: Losing It

Losing It
Losing It by Cora Carmack

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very almost 4 stars.

I definitely enjoyed this book. For a lot of the beginning I was grinning like a fool, which was quite embarrassing as I was on a bus at the time. But then the grinning stopped and I found myself huffing and rolling my eyes.

There are lots of hilarious quotes from Losing It that I could pick out and share, but then you wouldn't get the pleasure that I got from them while reading.

I suppose what stopped me loving this book were the main characters, Bliss and Garrick.

I'll not lie, Bliss is a slightly vapid Mary-Sue. You name it, she hits every cliché. She's gorgeous and doesn't know it, gets the leading part, gets the man, and is only slightly clumsy to stop herself from being too perfect. And boy does she over think and over react about everything. You should read what she does when she lies about having a cat... I'll admit I was giggling manically but it should never have gone that far.

And Garrick, love. What can I say about Garrick, love? He has this way of talking, love, which drives me mad, love. The only Englishmen I've ever heard say "love" after every sentence are creepy leery guys with a slimy look about them. It wasn't at all what I wanted to have in my mind when the supposedly gorgeous Garrick is talking, love.

Overall it's a pretty good read, and it was only just short of 4 stars. Like a 3.9 or something. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, but it was good nonetheless.

Thanks to Net Galley for providing a copy of this for review.

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01 June 2013

Review: The Wrong Girl

The Wrong Girl
The Wrong Girl by C.J. Archer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was one fantastic read! A really fascinating story which I couldn't put down, so this is easily a 5 stars.

The characters really came to life for me, and there was plenty of mystery and drama, and even a spark of romance.

Hannah was loyal and strong, Jack was headstrong and Sylvia? Well, I still think she's hiding something. Bollard was creepy and more than a little scary.

The twists in this book are excellent and I wasn't even expecting most of them. It's great to be surprised by a book, by the way the plot is woven, especially when there are so few original ideas out there. I don't know if this book will be to everyone's tastes, but I freaking love it, it's an excellent start to the series which I know I will continue reading.

I am now more eager than ever to read C.J. Archer's Emily Chambers series, that little reference has got me intrigued. Thank goodness I already have the first book!

I don't understand the cover though, isn't Hannah a fiery red-head?

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