About Me

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United Kingdom
I'm a librarian based in the UK who loves books. I'm happiest when I'm either talking about them, reading them or buying them. This blog is dedicated mainly to my addiction to YA fiction but you will also find some adult and non-fiction book reviews as well.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Review: Fire in You - Jennifer L. Armentrout

Fire in You by Jennifer L. Armentrout, published by Hodder on 27th April 2017
Goodreads synopsis:
Six years ago, Jillian Lima's whole world was destroyed. The same night her childhood love Brock Mitchell broke her heart, her life was irrevocably altered by a stranger with a gun. After years spent slowly rebuilding the shattered pieces of her life, Jillian is finally ready to stop existing in a past full of pain and regret and is determined to start living. The one thing she never expected was the impossibly handsome Brock walking back into her life...

Brock can't believe that the breathtaking woman standing before him now is the little girl who used to be his shadow growing up. Unable to stay away from each other, their tentative friendship soon sparks into something more and the red-hot chemistry sizzling between them can no longer be denied. But falling for Brock again risks more than just Jillian's heart. When the past resurfaces, and a web of lies threatens to rip them apart, the fallout could lay waste to everything they've ever cared about...




Review:
‘Fire in You’ was a sizzling and sensational romance. I absolutely loved it. Jennifer L. Armentrout is one of my favourite authors and she hands down writes the BEST romances.

It’s funny because when I started reading this book, I wasn’t completely sold on the character of Brock. He seemed to have just waltzed back into Jillian’s life on a whim and he appeared overly cocky and arrogant. But then I began to fall for him as he showed his softer more caring side. He won’t give up on Jillian and is determined to prove to her that he is there to stay. By the second half of the book I wanted them to get together so badly.

I loved Jillian. She’s been in love with Brock ever since she was a little girl. She has never loved anyone else like she loves him. She’s also incredibly brave and has had to overcome the events of one terrible night which is continually hinted at throughout the first half of the story. 

I really liked the setting of the book and the backgrounds of the characters. Jillian comes from a long line of Lima’s, who run a very successful family business. They own a string of mixed martial arts facilities where they train fighters. Brock is one of their MMA champions. These are definitely not your traditional occupations but I enjoyed reading about them.   

As Brock begins to break through Jillian’s defences, she starts to open up to him and shows him a side of her that she had long hidden. I loved the scenes where they begin to get to know each other again. They were perfectly written and one of my favourite parts of the book.

‘Fire in You’ was absolutely fantastic and such a treat to read. I’m eager now to get my hands on all of the other books in the series. There were lots of different characters and couples referenced throughout the story and I’m looking forward to reading more about how they all ended up together.:

Friday, 19 May 2017

Review: Crimson and Bone - Marina Fiorato

Crimson and Bone by Marina Fiorato, published by Hodder and Stoughton on 18th May 2017


Goodreads synopsis:
London, 1853.
Annie Stride is a beautiful, flame-haired young woman from the East End of London. She is also a whore. On a bleak January night Annie stands on Waterloo Bridge, watching the icy waters of the Thames writhe beneath her as she contemplates throwing herself in. At the last minute she's rescued by a handsome young man.
Her saviour, Francis Maybrick Gill, is a talented artist. He takes Annie as his muse, painting her again and again and transforming her from a fallen woman into society's darling, taking her far away from her old life.
But there is darkness underpinning Annie's lavish new lifestyle. In London and in Florence, prostitutes are being murdered. There's someone out there who knows who Annie really is - and they won't let her forget where she came from...




Review:
I am always eager to read anything by Marina Fiorato because her stories are captivating and her writing is beautifully lyrical and descriptive. Her newest offering, ‘Crimson and Bone’, was a real treat and I devoured it in a couple of evenings.  

The story focuses on a common prostitute, Annie Stride, who at the beginning of the book is ready to end it all. Life has not been kind to her and down on her luck, she decides that she doesn’t want to live anymore. Events however, take a different turn, when she is saved by a handsome painter, Francis Maybrick Gill, who offers her comfort and safety in return for her becoming his model.

At the beginning of each chapter, Annie’s story is accompanied by that of Mary Jane who was Annie’s best friend. At the start of the book, I wasn’t entirely sure why this was included, but as Annie’s story progresses, it made a lot more sense and all the threads of their stories wove together brilliantly at the end.

My favourite part of the book was actually the beginning which was set in London. It was interesting to see Annie adjust to her new surroundings and gradually become more refined under Francis’s tutelage. She revels in no longer having to share her body with a man and in being protected by someone with seemingly pure and good motives. The other two parts of the book are set in Florence and Venice. I could sense Marina Fiorato’s love of these places in the way the language of the book flowed so easily in these sections and in the way she described Annie’s surroundings.
  
The tension built throughout as the story headed towards a revealing and shocking finale.  I was utterly gripped until the final page as revelations about the main characters come to light.  Overall, 'Crimson and Bone' was a hugely entertaining read and one that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Review: One Italian Summer - Keris Stainton

One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton, published by Hot Key Books on 4th May 2017


Goodreads synopsis:
Milly loves her sisters more than anything - they are her best friends. But this holiday is different. The loss of their dad has left a gaping hole in their lives that none of them know how to fill. Heartbreak is a hard thing to fix ...

Still, there is plenty to keep the girls busy in Rome. A family wedding. Food, wine, parties and sun. And of course Luke .... Luke is hot, there is no way around that. And Milly will always have a crush on him. But this summer is about family, being together, and learning to live without Dad. It isn't about Luke at all ... is it?






Review:
I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton. I bumped it straight to the top of my TBR pile. I’ve loved all of the books I’ve read previously by this author so I couldn’t wait to dive right in. Initially, I thought that the book was going to be quite a light and breezy read. The story is set in Rome and follows three sisters and their mother, as they embark on holiday. This, however, is the first time they have been to Rome without their father. His death has hit them hard and they are all dealing with it in different ways. Grief and bereavement are prominent themes in the book which made some parts quite difficult to read. I felt very emotional while reading certain scenes which really packed a punch. This definitely wasn’t what I was expecting and made this title far more than just a summery, beach read. 

I really loved the relationship between the three sisters, Milly, Leonie and Elyse. It was refreshing to see their sibling bond portrayed in such a positive light, as there seem to be so many books where all the sisters ever do is bicker and squabble. It was interesting to see how each of them coped with their feelings about their father’s death and how his passing had changed their lives. 

The middle sister, Milly, narrates the story, so events are seen through her eyes. She is afraid that everything will be different now that her Dad isn’t with them. She has a constant fear of letting the people around her go. She worries that something might happen to them, which in light of events, is completely understandable. She is also afraid to see Luke, the boy that she has had a crush on for as long as she can remember. As readers, we know that something significant happened between them but we’re not quite sure what until later in the book. Although I thought that the issue of grief was handled well in the story, I wasn’t as convinced by the romance between Milly and Luke. I’m not really sure why but I just didn’t particularly see them being together. This made the whole thing fall a bit flat for me. 

Personally, I enjoyed the fact that the theme of family was at the centre of the book. It was interesting to see how the dynamics of their family had changed and adapted and how the summer trip to Rome brought them all closer together.

If you are looking for a YA contemporary read with real heart then look no further than ‘One Italian Summer’.                

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Review: Girlhood - Cat Clarke

Girlhood by Cat Clarke, published by Quercus Children's Books on 4th May 2017


Goodreads synopsis:
Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can't escape the guilt of her twin sister's Jenna's death, and her own part in it - and she knows noone else will ever really understand.

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels...loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died. Then Kirsty's behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper's? And why is she so obsessed with Harper's lost sister? Soon, Harper's closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity. How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her?




Review:
‘Girlhood’ by Cat Clarke is good but I’m afraid that I can’t rave about it like I could with some of her previous books. I did enjoy it and it was well-written but for me, the story itself fell a little short.

It is set at a Scottish all girls boarding school. I love, love, love stories which feature boarding schools. I think this can be traced back to adoring series like the Chalet School and St Clares when I was younger and more recently Robin Stevens Murder Most Unladylike books. It makes for such a brilliant setting for a story.

The first few chapters of ‘Girlhood’ introduce the reader to the main character Harper and her three best friends Rowan, Ama and Lily. There is some background provided to Harper’s family history and Harper confesses that she feels responsible for her sister’s death. Now, at this point, I was expecting the book to develop into a psychological thriller with lots of twists and turns and surprises along the way. That has typically been the formula with most of Cat Clarke’s other books and is something that I always enjoy. Instead, we are presented with a story which focuses mainly on an exploration of the relationship between best friends. In Harper’s case, her friends are like her family. They tell each other everything, spend practically all of their time together and live in each other’s pockets. The close bond between the girls is upset when the dynamic shifts with the arrival of new girl Kirsty. Suddenly their tight little group of four, doesn’t feel quite so cosy anymore.   

When I reflect on the story, I honestly don’t feel that an awful lot happened and that contributed to the slow pace of the narrative. The focus is firmly on how Kirsty’s arrival affects the relationship between Harper and her friends and how things change as they begin to ready themselves for the next step in their lives.

There were some parts which I thought might have been expanded on more, such as the events surrounding Harper’s sister’s death and there were some bits which I felt seemed less than believable, such as the reaction of the girls at the end of the book. With regards to the latter, it appeared that everything was leading up to a big showdown at the end of the story which then didn’t really happen.  

I know that it must sound like I didn’t particularly enjoy ‘Girlhood’ but the truth is that I did. I guess the problem was that I had certain pre-conceived ideas about the book which didn’t match up to the reality of reading it. Although this wasn’t a five star read for me, I have loved some of Cat Clarke’s other books in the past and will still be looking out for new titles by her in the future.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Review: Girls Can't Hit - T.S Easton


Girls Can't Hit by T.S Easton, published by Hot Key Books on 20th April 2017


Goodreads synopsis:
Fleur Waters never takes anything seriously - until she turns up at her local boxing club one day, just to prove a point. She's the only girl there, and the warm-up alone is exhausting . . . but the workout gives her an escape from home and school, and when she lands her first uppercut on a punching bag she feels a rare glow of satisfaction. So she goes back the next week, determined to improve.

Fleur's overprotective mum can't abide the idea of her entering a boxing ring, why won't she join her pilates class instead? Her friends don't get it either and even her boyfriend, 'Prince' George, seems concerned by her growing muscles and appetite - but it's Fleur's body, Fleur's life, so she digs her heels in and carries on with her training. When she finally makes it into the ring, her friends and family show their support and Fleur realises that sometimes in life it's better to drop your guard and take a wild swing!






Review:
‘Girls Can’t Hit’ is the third book I’ve read by T.S Easton and I think my favourite one yet. The story centres around a teenager called Fleur who gets bitten by the boxing bug and soon finds herself itching to get inside the ring.

I found that the story started quite slowly and initially I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my kind of book. The first few chapters focused on Fleur and her friends Pip and Blossom who all live in a small village near to the site of the Battle of Hastings. They spend their Saturdays dressed as Saxon peasants, talking to tourists about the Battle and the history of the site. Although the start was slow, what really got me hooked was when Fleur discovers a local boxing club. What starts initially as a protest against the division between men and women’s’ only boxing nights, turns into a real passion for Fleur.

I loved seeing how Fleur channels all of her time and energy into her new hobby. She starts cycling with her Dad, she lifts weights, she trains hard and she eats like she’s never eaten before! Although I’ve never boxed, I do run and I know the discipline it takes to train and get yourself into physical shape. Fleur’s newfound love of boxing isn’t embraced by everyone though and she finds herself at odds with her Mum and at times her friends, over the amount of time she is spending on it.

There is an underlying message about feminism and equal rights in the book, but personally, what really struck a chord with me, was how boxing makes Fleur more confident and ultimately improves her relationships with those close to her. She has a fractious relationship with her Mum which takes a different turn near the end of the story, her Dad loves getting to spend time with her on their bikes and her friends gradually begin to see a new side of her. There’s also Tarik, a handsome boxer at the club, who definitely catches Fleur’s eye.

This turned out to be a brilliantly entertaining read which at times made me laugh out loud. I’d love a follow-up book all about what happens to Fleur next.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Review: The Struggle - Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Struggle by Jennifer L. Armentrout, published by Hodder on 23rd March 2017 

Goodreads synopsis:
The war against the Titans continues, but now the most dangerous, most absolute power lies elsewhere... with Seth.

The Great War fought by the few is coming...
All may doubt and fear what Seth has become. All except Josie, the woman who might be his final chance at redemption.

In the end, the sun will fall...

The only way Seth and Josie can save the future and save themselves is by facing the unknown together. It will take more than trust and faith. It will take love and the kind of strength not easily broken. No matter what, their lives will never be the same.

For what the gods have feared has come to pass. The end of the old is here and the beginning of the new has been ushered in...




Review:
‘The Struggle’ is the third book in Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Titans series and personally I think it may be the best one yet. The action picks up straight after the events of the previous book and we see Seth leaving Josie behind to protect her from what he has become. I’ll admit that I did struggle a little bit at the very beginning to recollect exactly what had happened but it didn’t take long before I had all of the threads of the story straight and from then on I was well and truly sucked back in.  

I have to say that I just love Jennifer’s writing. Her dialogue is always spot on, making me want to laugh and then cry in the space of a heartbeat. She writes amazing characters that come alive on the page and which you instantly want to root for. Also, don’t get me started on the romance. No one can write an intimate scene better than her. The relationship between Seth and Josie is at the heart of the book and it’s tough to see what they both have to endure along the way before they can get anywhere near a happy ending. Josie is determined to find Seth no matter the cost but she has to pay a heavy price and Seth too begins to learn more about who he is and what he is capable of. Both characters are big favourites of mine and it’s been interesting to see them change and grow so much throughout the series. 

The ending consisted of a jaw-dropping cliff-hanger. I’m not sure how I’m going to possibly last before I can get my hands on the next book. The wait is going to be endless.  

There was plenty of action and excitement in ‘The Struggle’ and it kept me gripped the entire time. I practically inhaled it and finished it in one evening. If you haven’t yet discovered this series then you really need to give it a try. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. It had everything and more that I look for in a book and it was an incredible read.     

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Review: Scorched - Joss Stirling

Scorched by Joss Stirling, published by Oxford University Press on 6th April 2017


Goodreads synopsis:
Ember Lord is facing charges for the murder of her father. She was found at the scene of the crime, holding the murder weapon, and refuses to explain herself.

Joe Masters is tasked with getting under Ember's skin, and breaking through her stony facade; to gain her trust and find out what her plans are now her father's legally-questionable business is under her control.

But as the two get closer, Joe begins to break down the wall that Ember has built around herself, and gets a glimpse of the truth behind. Is he really falling for a cold-hearted killer? Or is there more to the murder than meets the eye?



Review:
‘Scorched’ is the final book in Joss Stirling’s Young Detectives series. It revolves around Joe, who was introduced in earlier instalments of the series and the mysterious Ember Lord, who at the beginning of the book is being held on suspicion of her father’s murder. The story places Ember in the middle of a terrible situation. She struggles to recollect the events of that night and how she came to be standing over her father’s dead body. She is initially not sure of her own innocence and has only one desire – to protect her twin brother Max.


In the training centre where she is being held pending trial, Joe and co. are charged with finding out what she knows about her father’s shady business dealings. Before they do that though, they have to get close to Ember and gain her trust. Hence the staging of a Shakespeare play, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, giving Joe the opportunity to get close to Ember without raising her suspicions. I loved the scenes where they are staging the play because it gives Ember a chance to show her true character. She has had to hide who she is to protect herself from her father and his associates but through the words of Shakespeare she begins to open up and we see what kind of person she really is.  

I thought it was interesting to see Joe having so many doubts too about his suitability to be part of the Young Detectives Agency. He is still trying to recover from the events of the first book in the series and his confidence has been knocked terribly. While he is attempting to help Ember open up, she unknowingly, begins to help him see what he is capable of.    

I loved seeing all of the other couples in the story too: Kieron and Raven, Nathan and Kate and Damien and Rose. It reminded me of all the great adventures they’ve had together and what they’ve had to endure to come out stronger on the other side.

‘Scorched’ was a worthy finale to the series but it was sad to say goodbye to so many well loved characters. I can’t wait to see what Joss Stirling is going to write next. I will definitely be along for the ride!

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