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, 28 September 2015

Review: Tempting the Best Man - Jennifer L. Armentrout

Tempting the Best Man by Jennifer L. Armentrout, published by Hodder on 13th August 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Madison Daniels has worshipped her brother's best friend since they were kids. Everyone thinks she and Chase Gamble would make the perfect couple, but there are two major flaws in their logic. 1) Chase has sworn off relationships of any kind, and 2) after blurring the line between friends and lovers for one night four years ago, they can't stop bickering.

Forced together for her brother's wedding getaway, Chase and Madison decide to call a truce for the happy couple. Except all bets are off when they're forced to shack up in a tacky 70’s honeymoon suite and survive a multitude of "accidents" as the family tries to prove their "spark" can be used than for more than fighting. That is, if they don't strangle each other first…



Review:
'Tempting the Best Man' is the first book in the Gamble Brothers series, featuring the utterly irresistible Chase Gamble.  You have been warned ladies!

I knew I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it, even though it is an adult, rather than a YA title.  Jennifer L. Armentrout is one of my absolute favourite authors and having her write an adult romance with a sexy hero, definitely ticked all my boxes.  The romance scenes were actually a little tamer than I was expecting, although things did get pretty steamy at times. 

The heroine of the story, Madison, has loved Chase ever since they were little.  Having grown-up together, she has seen his good side and his bad (not that there is very much bad about him!) and she loves him still.  If only she can made him see her as something other than his best friend's little sister.  At her brother's wedding she gets the perfect opportunity to show him the new grown-up Madison, although there are plenty of obstacles in her path.

I enjoyed every single second of reading this story and the only negative thing I have to say about it, is that it was far too short.  I wanted it to go on and on.  It was so fab!  Jennifer L. Armentrout writes such fantastic romances with couples who you absolutely fall in love with.  I was rooting for Madison and Chase from the start and I enjoyed seeing the dynamics of their relationship change as they spent more time in each others company.

Next in the series is 'Tempting the Player' which features Chase's brother, Chad Gamble.  I need to get my hands on it asap.       

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Review: Monster - C.J. Skuse

Monster by C.J. Skuse, published by Mira Ink on 24th September 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
At sixteen Nash thought that the fight to become Head Girl of prestigious boarding school Bathory would be the biggest battle she’d face. Until her brother’s disappearance leads to Nash being trapped at the school over Christmas with Bathory’s assorted misfits. As a blizzard rages outside, strange things are afoot in the school’s hallways, and legends of the mysterious Beast of Bathory – a big cat rumoured to room the moors outside the school – run wild. Yet when the girls’ Matron goes missing it’s clear that something altogether darker is to blame – and that they’ll have to stick together if they hope to survive.


Review:
This book blew me away!  I started it on a two hour train journey and became so engrossed that all I wanted to do was stay on the train, travel home for another two hours and finish it.  Like it's aptly named title, it crept up on me slowly, enveloping me in a cloud of intrigue and suspense.  I felt like my heart was stuttering along with the frayed nerves of the main characters, as foreboding wrapped itself around me.  After the first few chapters, I thought that this was going to be a pretty good book and then suddenly it turned into dynamite in my hands.  No one could have shaken me from the spell I was under.

Now I'm telling myself that I must be mad not to have read anything by C.J. Skuse before.  Have I been living under a rock?!  I have a burning need now to go and buy all of her other books and have a mini-marathon.

I should have known from the tagline 'Malory Towers meets I Know What You Did Last Summer' that I was going to fall hook, line and sinker for this story.  The book suggests that there is a monster living inside all of us - although with some it is let out by choice and with others by necessity.  I am also a sucker for stories set in boarding schools and Skuse presents such an appealing view of this one (monsters aside).  Bathory School for Girls is set in a picturesque location.  There are wonderfully long summer days with trips outside, games and swimming.  There are Hogwarts style houses and secret hidey holes.  It also has it's very own legend stalking the grounds - the Beast of Bathory. 

The main character Natasha, or Nash as she is known, hopes to become Head Girl.  She and a small group of others are left behind at the school for Christmas.  Nash's parents are unable to come for her because her older brother is missing abroad.  A blizzard means that they are trapped at the school, but although they can't leave, something or someone wants to get in. 

Tense, nail-biting and with one hell of a twist, 'Monster' was my kind of book.  It had an ending that left me wide-eyed and open-mouthed and was deliciously dark and scary.  The suspense kept being ramped up and up until I almost couldn't bear to find out what was going to happen next.  A book hasn't left me on the edge of my seat like that for a long, long, time.  Sheer brilliance and one of the best YA thrillers I've ever read.  Don't hesitate to grab yourself a copy of 'Monster'.  You won't regret it. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Review: Daughters Unto Devils - Amy Lukavics

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics, published by Simon and Schuster on 8th October 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner fears she is losing her mind. When her family move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, Amanda hopes she can leave her haunting memories behind: of her sickly Ma giving birth to a terribly afflicted baby; of the cabin fever that claimed Amanda's sanity; of the boy who she has been meeting in secret...

But the Verners arrive on the prairie to find their new home soaked in blood. So much blood. And Amanda has heard stories - about men becoming unhinged and killing their families, about the land being tainted by wickedness. With guilty secrets weighing down on her, Amanda can't be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or within her soul...



Review:
I will read just about anything and everything but I'll admit that I'm not normally a big fan of the horror genre.  I think it's partly because I have such an overactive imagination that horror is often too much for me to stomach.  However, I wouldn't say that 'Daughters Unto Devils' is out and out horror - or at least not until the very end, when yes, you will need to ensure that every light in the house is on.  Or better yet, read it in broad daylight and not just before bed.  You will most definitely regret it otherwise.

Sixteen year old Amanda and her family live in a small cabin in the mountains.  Cooped up with her siblings and parents, during a long and tough winter, Amanda none the less has a secret of her own -  a boy she has been meeting without their knowledge.  When the family uproot and move to the prairie, it is a fresh start for Amanda, but something is out there and evil lurks everywhere. 

The tension ramps up from the very beginning of the book.  I knew something terrible was going to happen but I didn't know what and I didn't know when.  That was enough to keep me on the edge of my seat throughout.  The evil when it came, crept under my skin.  There is one scene in particular which totally crept me out.  I wanted to look away but I was glued to the page with horror.  You'll know the moment when you get to it. 

Amy Lukavics's debut novel is a great read, which I've seen described as Little House on the Prairie meets The Crucible.  This is the perfect spooky Halloween read, although if you are of a nervous disposition then beware.  This book is not for the faint hearted!
 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Review: Black Cairn Point - Claire McFall

Black Cairn Point by Claire McFall, published by Hot Key Books on 6th August 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Heather agrees to a group camping holiday with Dougie and his friends because she's desperate to get closer to him. But when the two of them disturb a pagan burial site above the beach, she becomes certain that they have woken a malevolent spirit. Something is alive out there in the pitch-black dark, and it is planning to wreak deadly revenge.

One year later Heather knows that she was very lucky to escape Black Cairn Point but she is still waiting for Dougie to wake from his coma. If he doesn't, how will she prove her sanity, and her innocence?


Review:
This was a super creepy read with one hell of a twist at the end.  Just when I thought that the story was about myths and pagan legends, it turned out to be something else entirely.  I loved the fact that it kept me on my toes and challenged my perceptions.  I really want to read it again now because it will be like seeing the characters and their actions in a whole new light.

Heather, along with her best friend Emma, Emma's boyfriend Darren and their friends Dougie and Martin, head off together on a camping trip.  The story alternates between the events that transpired during their excursion and current day Heather, one year on and still seemingly recovering from her experience.  She tells of an evil spirit that seems intent on wreaking havoc on their small group but the question is, will anyone believe her?

It is not often that I can be completely surprised by a book, but Claire McFall definitely managed that.  'Black Cairn Point' was creepy, chilling and wonderfully thrilling and I enjoyed every second of the story.  Normally I like to race through to get to the big finale, but I took my time reading this book and enjoyed savouring every bump in the teens' journey.  I was most definitely on the side of Heather throughout the story, as she tries to convince her Doctor that she is not crazy and she was not responsible for what happened to her friends.  I really sympathised with her and I liked her as a main character, which made the ending even more brilliant. 

A highly recommended read and I will be looking out for more by Claire McFall in the future.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Review: The Blackthorn Key - Kevin Sands

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands, published by Puffin on 3rd September 2015 

Goodreads synopsis:
London, 1665. Fourteen-year-old Christopher Rowe is apprenticed to master apothecary Benedict Blackthorn. In Blackthorn's shop, Christopher learns the delicate secrets of transforming simple ingredients into powerful medicines, potions and weapons. His beloved master guides him with a firm, steady hand - instilling him with confidence and independence that prove increasingly vital as Christopher learns of a mysterious cult preying on the most learned men in London. The murders are growing closer and closer to home and soon Christopher is torn from the shop with only a page of cryptic clues from his master and the unambiguous warning: 'Tell no one'.

Helped by his best friend, Tom, Christopher must decipher his master's clues, following a trail of deceit towards an unearthly secret with the power to tear the world apart.



Review:
If you are a Percy Jackson fan looking for your next read, then 'The Blackthorn Key' may well fit the bill perfectly.  It is a story with plenty of twists and turns, some dark secrets to uncover and fiendish clues to crack.  Although I don't often read a lot of middle-grade fiction, this one appealed to me a lot and proved to be a fantastic read.

One of the things I particularly liked about it was the main character, Christopher Rowe.  He is a apprentice apothecary to Benedict Blackthorn, who is more like a father to him than an employer.  Christopher finds himself in deep trouble when a series of murders are committed and he is caught in a web of secrets more dangerous than he could ever realise. 

Set just before the plague in London, during 1665, the story hurtles ahead at breakneck speed, taking the reader along for the ride.  You are plunged straight into the adventure, as Christopher has to solve a series of cryptic clues.  The story is like 'The Davinci Code' for a younger generation of readers and I loved it. 

If mystery and murder are your kind of thing, then you will definitely enjoy 'The Blackthorn Key' which will take you on an adventure you will never forget! 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Review: As Black As Ebony - Salla Simukka

As Black As Ebony by Salla Simukka, published by Hot Key Books on 6th August 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Lumikki has a new boyfriend - easygoing, gorgeous Sampsa - but she is unfaithful in her dreams, longing for the electrifying touch of her ex, Blaze.

Then the threats start arriving, from someone who seems to know Lumikki intimately. Sharing her fears risks deadly consequences; now she is more alone than ever.

When Blaze suddenly reappears, Lumikki is torn. She can't deny the chemistry between them, but can she trust him? To stop the killer, Lumikki must uncover a dark secret that has haunted her family for years.


Review:
The third and final part of this series definitely reached the heady heights of the first book.  It was a spell-binding conclusion to the trilogy and had me utterly gripped.  There is something so refreshingly different and original about these books which I can't quite put my finger on but which makes them impossible to put down. 

Lumikki is such a fantastic protagonist - one of my all-time favourites.  She does not conform to the usual traits of female characters but that does not make her any less of a heroine.  In fact quite the opposite is true.  She is somewhat of a loner, she lets few people into her life and she is introverted but she is also incredibly brave, determined and will never back down from a fight. 

I thought that the series had a little dip with book two but 'As Black As Ebony' reeled it back in and was totally entrancing.  Lumikki is back on home soil with a new boyfriend, but is still convinced that her parents are hiding a big family secret from her.  She also has a new threat to face from someone who seemed to know about all of her own secrets but she has no idea who is behind the threatening letters she starts to receive.  The elusive Blaze, her ex-boyfriend, is also back on the scene, causing her romantic complications. 

This story was brilliant.  So many questions were finally answered and threads that had been planted earlier in the trilogy were unravelled, spilling secrets left, right and centre.  It's a little bit of a shame however that everything was wrapped up so quickly at the end, because I think that after a big build-up, more could have been made of the final end scene.  That aside, this was a compulsive and thrilling read which was a real nail-biter.  I wish everyone would read these books.  They are terrific!
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