Thursday, 30 May 2013

Review: Transcendence - C.J Omololu

Transcendence by C.J. Omololu, published by Bloomsbury on 21st May 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Nicole fears she's losing her mind. Lately, everywhere she goes, everything she touches, triggers vivid scenes of a time she doesn't know, in a place she's never lived. Then she loses her heart too . . .

When Griffon first sees Cole, he knows immediately that she is special, like him - that her visions are memories of past lives. And he is sure their paths were meant to cross in this life . . .

With Griffon's help, Cole pieces together clues from many lifetimes and discovers a secret that could ruin her only chance of a future with Griffon. But risking his love may be the only way to save them both.

'Transcendence' was an interesting and enjoyable read which although took me a while to become fully immersed in, had plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing along the way and had a really exciting ending.  It deals with the subject of reincarnation and shows what it would be like for someone to actually remember all the details of their past lives. 

I found the story quite slow in the beginning and I wasn't quite sure what direction the plot was going to take.  The initial opening scenes take place at the Tower of London and set up the meeting between Nicole, known as Cole and Griffon.  They have an instant connection but the depth of this is only revealed later in the story.  At the start I wasn't took keen on the narrative constantly being interrupted by Cole's memories of the past.  It felt like this was too often breaking up the flow of the story and detracting from current events.  However, these did eventually become more seamless and began to make more sense in terms of their connection with the story. 

I like the fact that Omololu allows the reader to experience what it would be like to remember your past lives.  You would be a different person but your grand-children or children might still be alive.  The story questions how you might cope with this and explores all the angles that reincarnation presents.  Although I've read books where the characters flash back to a life they have lived before, I've never seen this theme explored in quite the same way before.  C.J. Omololu has created a whole community of people who are like this and who call themselves Akhets.
The connection between Cole and Griffon is at the heart of the book.  Their romance develops gradually but is very sweet and mutually supportive.  A surprising secret about them is revealed later on in the book and this led to a thrilling finale which featured a pretty spectacular plot twist.   

Although I felt like this would make quite a good stand-alone story, there is a sequel planned which is called 'Intuition' and published in the UK in 2014. 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Review: The Originals - Cat Patrick

The Originals by Cat Patrick, published by Electric Monkey on 6th May 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
I glance at the three baby portraits in thick wooden frames.  I feel a familiar prickling on the back of my neck.  Because I know there's another picture somewhere - and the baby in that photo looks identical to the babies on the wall.  Somewhere, there's a photo of the original.

Ella, Betsy and I look like sisters: triplets, you might think.  But that's not what we are at all.
We are clones in hiding. We split our lives and exist as one person in the outside world. And we've always been happy. But now I've fallen head-over-heels in love . . . and that changes everything.
Because, to let love in, I need to be allowed to be Me.

Cat Patrick is one of my favourite authors.  I would read literally anything she writes.  This is her third book and yet again she does not disappoint with an original plot which throws up plenty of ethical questions for readers to consider.  In 'The Originals' the story centres on three girls who give the appearance of being sisters but are actually clones.  What I loved about this was that Cat never takes the story too far into the realms of science and although this is touched upon, the girls are very much just like you and me and the plot is strongly grounded in reality.

Lizzie, Ella and Betsey are the three girls who have been kept secret for their whole lives.  Only allowed to each live a third of a day, they take it in turns to be seen out in public.  Nobody knows that there are three of them until Lizzie meets Sean and everything changes.  I loved each of the girls.  They may be clones but they have very different personalities and never came across as carbon copies of each other.  They are extremely close and share an extremely unique bond, but you never forget that they are individuals too. 

Lizzie is the focal point for the majority of the book, as events unfold from her point of view.  She seemed to be the most headstrong out of the three and she is the first to really begin to question the existence that they are living.  I felt like I got to know her much better than either Ella or Betsey who don't feature quite as prominently.  The three of them have been content to follow the rules and do as they are told, until the growing relationship between Lizzie and Sean acts as the catalyst for them to seize control of their lives.

The science side of the story is explored but never in a great amount of detail.  The girls are always portrayed as much more than just a scientific experiment; they are living, breathing human beings.  Some of the ethics around the issue of human cloning are addressed and I found this an intriguing and interesting aspect of the book.  It's left very much up to the reader to decide where they stand on this controversial issue.   

The ending was brilliant and featured a quite unexpected twist which threw me for a loop.  I never saw it coming at all!  I adored 'The Originals' which was a stellar read and I'm beyond excited to see what Cat Patrick will end up writing about next. 

Monday, 27 May 2013

Blog Tour: The Originals: Weird Science as Inspiration - Cat Patrick

Today I'm hosting a stop on the blog tour for Cat Patrick's new book 'The Originals'.  I have a great guest post from Cat herself to share with you.
The top question I’ve been asked as an author is: “Where do you get your inspiration?” Unfortunately, there’s not an Inspiration Shop with a drive-up window, but the good news is that inspiration can be found everywhere. One of my favorite places to look is in weird science news. Doing that helped me with the ideas for my latest novel, The Originals—which is about the first human clones—as well as my second book, Revived, which is about a drug that brings you back from the dead. I love reading articles about scientific discoveries and pondering how they might shape themselves into stories.

So, in honor of the weird science in my novels, here are some real bits of news and corresponding fake story ideas:

Real News: Time travel is possible!

Fake Story Idea: Girl travels back in time to when her grandma was in high school in 1963 and solves a mystery as part of a familial crime fighting duo. This thought was inspired by my grandpa, who was in high school in 1946, and who was bound for dental school at the time. So, in my personal version, it’s a molar mystery!

Real News: My kiddos are obsessed with bats, and I love anything sensory related, so this research about determining whether blind people can use bat-like echolocation—tracking where objects are through echoes—appeals to me.

Fake Story Idea: I like a gal with supersonic hearing, don’t you? Full disclosure: I may have a first draft of a book about something along these lines, so it’s not truly fake.

Real News: How amazing is gene therapy, the ability to swap DNA to fix certain genetic issues when a baby is still in the womb?

Fake Story Idea: Well, there’s a lot you could do with the idea of designer babies. Or, what if the DNA gave the baby superpowers? What if the DNA was from a serial killer and made the baby bad?

And finally…

Real News: I don’t have the world’s greatest recall, so I like the idea of these brain implants that could recover lost long term memories.

Fake Story Idea: London Lane from Forgotten returns after brain surgery with some of her lost memories of the past recovered…including some she’d rather forget!

Happy reading!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Review: Grounding Quinn - Steph Campbell

Grounding Quinn by Steph Campbell, published by Simon and Schuster on 9th May 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Eighteen-year-old Quinn MacPherson's biggest fear has always been turning out like her mentally unstable mother or cold-hearted father. That is, until she meets Benjamin Shaw.

Quinn thinks hooking up with Ben over summer vacation will be nothing more than a quick fling, and with his hot body and heart-breaking smile that's all she really wants from him. But she quickly realises that, Ben is not just some guy. He gets her - the real her, flaws and all - and that scares the hell out of her. So when Ben does the unthinkable and tells Quinn he's in love with her, she does what comes naturally: she pushes him away, breaking his heart, before he can break hers.

Ben isn't prepared to let go that easily, he knows that Quinn is something special, and he'll do whatever it takes to make sure they're together. But will he be able to persuade Quinn to open herself up and allow Ben in to her life… and her heart?

This is the first book I've read by Steph Campbell and overall I really enjoyed it.  It's a quick read, I finished it in one evening and features a sweet romance with a gritty undercurrent. 

The main character Quinn has been messed up by her family's problems.  Her father is having an affair, her mother is hooked on pills and Quinn's afraid more than anything of ending up like her.  She has plenty of friends and boyfriends but she doesn't really let anyone properly into her world, until she meets Ben.  He's a positive influence on her life and things between them move pretty fast until Quinn makes a big mistake which could ruin things between them once and for all.    

I enjoyed the fact that each chapter alternated the points of view of both Ben and Quinn.  I always think that getting to see the male/female perspective on events really gives the reader a great insight into how each character thinks and feels.  Steph Campbell writes both equally well and I appreciated the contrasting views that they provided.

Quinn grew on me throughout the course of the book.  I liked the fact that she is very real and doesn't pretend to be something she's not.  She does mess up and she does make the wrong choices sometimes but there's no attempt to gloss over all of that.  I didn't always like her but I appreciated the fact that she is a realistic character who does learn and grow by the mistakes she makes.  She has definitely evolved by the end of the story into someone much more mature and grounded.

If you're a romance fan then you should definitely give this book a go.  There are some very sweet moments between the two leads and Ben is the kind of guy you could lose your heart to.  I'm looking forward to reading more in the future by this author. 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Red Moon - Benjamin Percy giveaway winners

Thank you to everyone that entered my giveaway to win two hardback copies of 'Red Moon' by Benjamin Percy. If you weren't successful this time then check back again soon when I'll be having another giveaway on the blog.

I'm pleased to announce that the winners are:

#1. Carly

#2. Laura C

Congratulations to you both! You will be receiving an email from me shortly requesting your postal details.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Review: First Light - Samantha Summers

First Light by Samantha Summers, published on 28th May 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
Ronnie Rose is trying to cope with the loss of her father; now it looks like she might lose everything else that's dear to her too. Huge debts threaten to destroy her family, her childhood home and her future. Only one person cuts through her pain. Kalen Smith has just moved to town. He's trouble and everyone knows it. He and his mysterious friends keep to themselves and the town likes it that way. But when Kalen mourns at her dad's funeral, Ronnie wants to know why and her investigation plunges her into a dangerous world of murky government secrets, with deadly consequences. Ronnie knows she should walk away from Kalen before it's too late. Problem is, she's falling for him...

I don't review many self-published books but 'First Light', the opening book in the Project Five Fifteen series by author Samantha Summers is something special.  It exceeded all my expectations with an explosive plot, fast-paced action scenes and not one but five gorgeous boys thrown into the mix.

The story centres around teenager Ronnie whose father has just died.  Her older sister can just about look after herself and Ronnie is living all alone in her childhood home.  Trying to get her life back together, she's haunted by an event from her past and thrown by the mysterious boy who suddenly appears in her small town. 

I really, really loved this book but I have to say that there were a few typos near the beginning and I found some of the initial dialogue between the characters a little stilted.  However, this didn't detract at all from my enjoyment and once the story began to kick up a notch, I was absolutely hooked and there was no looking back.  Each chapter just kept getting better and better and although I'd only planned to read for a short while, I didn't move from my chair all day.   

Some of my very favourite series (such as Joss Stirling's books about the Benedict boys) feature a group of brothers and while Kalen and co may not be linked by blood, they are irretrievably linked together by their past experiences.  Laith is mysterious, Ace is so sweet and cute, Denver upbeat whatever the circumstances and Nash utterly dependable.  Then you've got Kalen whose romance with local girl Ronnie is at the heart of the story.  Believe me, you will lose your heart to these boys!

As I was reading 'First Light' I could definitely picture it as a television series.  I think the story would translate so well to the small screen.  I love the concept of Project Five Fifteen and I'm excited to see where Samantha Summers will take the plot next.  'As You Were', the second instalment, is out now and I'm dying to get my hands on it.  If like me, you don't often read self-published books then I would strongly urge you to make an exception for this very talented author.  

Friday, 17 May 2013

Review: Race the Wind - Lauren St John

Race the Wind by Lauren St John, published by Orion Children's Books on 1st April 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
When Casey Blue's Badminton victory earns her and Storm an invitation to the prestigious Kentucky Three Day Event, it is a dream come true. But that dream is about to turn into a nightmare. After her father is arrested for a crime Casey is convinced he didn't commit, she finds herself the victim of a vicious blackmailer. To make matters worse, Storm is behaving like the wild horse he once was. Faced with losing everything she loves, she needs the help of her farrier boyfriend, Peter, to win in Kentucky. But is he for her or against her?

'Race the Wind' is the excellent follow-up to Lauren St John's 'One Dollar Horse', following the story of Casey Blue and the horse she rescued from the knackers yard, Storm Warning.  After her success at the Badminton Horse Trials, Casey has an automatic shot at the Kentucky Three Day Event and the seemingly unobtainable Grand Slam.  Things are finally looking up for her, when her father is suddenly arrested on suspicion of murder and Casey becomes entangled in trying to clear his name.

Although 'Race the Wind' is quite a different book to the first in the series, the focus is still on the wonderful connection between Casey and her horse.  Their relationship is at the heart of the story and I enjoyed seeing the partnership they share flourish even further.  There are a couple of short passages throughout the book where events are narrated through the eyes of Storm Warning and these served to enhance the bond that girl and horse have.  They may have their ups and downs but they can always count on each other.

I loved seeing Casey's grit and determination to become as good as she can be, in her quest to win the elusive Grand Slam.  She starts working out with a trainer to improve her overall fitness level and some of what she does sounds pretty painful!  This shows what all committed sports people put themselves through to try and achieve their goals. 

I was slightly disappointed not to see as much of Peter, who Casey became romantically involved with at the end of the first book.  He's still involved in the story but their relationship becomes quite tenuous and they certainly have some issues to overcome. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable read and will appeal hugely to horse-lovers.  When I was young, I used to love reading the Jill's Pony books by Ruby Ferguson, as well as the Saddle Club series by Bonnie Bryant.  A whole new generation of horse-mad teens would do as well picking up this series by Lauren St John, to experience the thrills of Casey Blue and her horse Storm Warning.

The third and final part of the trilogy 'Fire Storm' will be published by Orion in 2014. 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Trailer and Giveaway: Red Moon - Benjamin Percy

'Red Moon' is the newest book by Benjamin Percy, published by Hodder and Stoughton on 9th May 2013.  It is a literary/horror crossover novel, reminiscent of Stephen King and Justin Cronin. It is an apocalyptic vision of a future where lycans (werewolves) revolt against the drug treatment and isolation enforced by an increasingly conservative USA government to fight for the rights and freedom of the lycan population.

The film rights have already been sold and production is currently underway.

Every teenage girl thinks she's different. When government agents kick down Claire Forrester's front door and murder her parents, Claire realises just how different she is. Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and, hours later, stepped off it, the only passenger left alive. A hero. President Chase Williams has sworn to eradicate the menace. Unknown to the electorate, however, he is becoming the very thing he has sworn to destroy. Each of them is caught up in a war that so far has been controlled with laws and violence and drugs. But an uprising is about to leave them damaged, lost, and tied to one another for ever. The night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge, and the battle for humanity will begin.

I have two lovely hardback copies of the book to giveaway.  This is only open to entrants within the UK and you must be a follower of my blog.  All you need to do is fill out your name and email address on the form below to enter.  Good luck!

Giveaway rules.
  • There will be two winners.
  • Open to entrants with UK addresses only. International entrants may enter, provided they have a UK address to send the books to.
  • Please fill out the form completely - including email address
  • You must be a follower of my blog
  • Deadline for entries will be on 21st May 2013
  • Winner(s) will be drawn by
  • Winner(s) will be contacted via e-mail, and will be given 48 hours to response. Otherwise, a new winner will be drawn.
  • Any details will be deleted after use and will not be passed on to any third party.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Review: The Eternity Cure - Julie Kagawa

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa, published by Mira Ink on 3rd May 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
In Allison Sekemoto's world, there is one rule left: Blood calls to blood

She has done the unthinkable: died so that she might continue to live. Cast out of Eden and separated from the boy she dared to love, Allie will follow the call of blood to save her creator, Kanin, from the psychotic vampire Sarren. But when the trail leads to Allie's birthplace in New Covington, what Allie finds there will change the world forever-and possibly end human and vampire existence.

There's a new plague on the rise, a strain of the Red Lung virus that wiped out most of humanity generations ago-and this strain is deadly to humans and vampires alike. The only hope for a cure lies in the secrets Kanin carries, if Allie can get to him in time.

Allison thought that immortality was forever. But now, with eternity itself hanging in the balance, the lines between human and monster will blur even further, and Allie must face another choice she could never have imagined having to make.

'The Eternity Cure' is the second book in the Blood of Eden series and in my opinion, a stellar follow-up.

It's been quite a while since I read 'The Immortal Rules' and although I loved it, I was a bit apprehensive about remembering all the plot points.  This meant that I really appreciated Julie Kagawa providing a handy recap of events throughout the first few chapters.  It helped to get me absorbed back into the story and soon enough I was right back up to speed with the characters and the plot. 

The story focuses on Allie's quest to rescue her sire Kanin from Sarren, as well as her unexpectedly teaming up with Jackal to try and find the cure for rabidism.  Who would have thought that Allie and Jackal would ever end up working together?!  But that's one of the things that's so great about Julie's writing - she's never afraid to surprise you or take things in a different direction and those characters you thought you hated...well you're about to love them now. 

Jackal turned out to be one of my favourite characters in the book which believe me, I never thought would happen.  He has some of the smartest and snappiest lines and when he briefly disappeared for a while, I couldn't wait for him to come back.  I still suspect that he may have some kind of ulterior motive, but for the moment, he proves he can work together with Allie if necessary and he provides some light relief throughout the story.

I know I'm probably in the minority, but I've never been a big fan of the Allie/Zeke relationship.  It was however interesting to see them explore this further and delve into the dynamics of how and if a vampire and a human can ever truly be together, 

The ending is so tantalising that I couldn't believe that the story finished where it did.  I kept checking to make sure that I hadn't missed any pages.  You can bet that I'm going to be waiting impatiently now for the next in the series.        

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Trailer: The Academy: Game On - Monica Seles

On 6th June 2013, Bloomsbury are publishing tennis star Monica Seles' first fiction book for teens.  'The Academy: Game On' provides a behind-the-scenes look at life for aspiring sports stars of the future and is on my to-read list.  Take a look at the trailer below:

The Academy is the hottest international sports school for teen athletes. There are only two ways in: money – and lots of it – or enough talent to earn a scholarship.

Young tennis star Maya’s dreams have finally come true! She’s got the scholarship. She’s got the drive. She’s on her way from small town to pro career . . . But when Maya starts boarding at the sports training school, her fantasy of the Academy doesn’t quite match the reality – because where there are beautiful, talented teens, there’s plenty of drama.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Review: Where You Are - Tammara Webber

Where You Are by Tammara Webber, published by Penguin on 14th March 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Emma, Reid and Graham's story continues in this sequel to Between the Lines, by bestselling author of Easy, Tammara Webber. Emma has pursued her dream - she's trying to live a normal life and attend university. But when a twist of fate means she encounters Graham again in New York, life promises to be anything but ordinary . . .

'Where You Are' is the second book in the Between the Lines series by Tammara Webber.  I ended up loving it even more than the first one because the focus was heavily on the romance between Emma and Graham.  Because they are now giving it a go as a couple there are lots of lovely romantic scenes between them and there's no doubting their feelings for each other. 

There are four different narrative points of view incorporated into the story: Emma and Graham, plus Brooke and Reid.  I will admit that the latter two characters are definitely not amongst my favourites in the series.  This time, they are scheming to break-up the happy couple but I can't help thinking they would be much happier if they just got back together themselves.  Although Reid has grown on me a tiny bit and there could be hope for him in the future, I disliked Brooke straight-away and she definitely gets to show her true colours.  I was glad to find out more about their shared past but I did find myself skimming past their sections of the book quite quickly because I was desperate to get back to Emma and Graham's lives.

Please someone tell me where I can find a guy out there like Graham!  He is sweet, kind, mature for his age and utterly, utterly adorable.  I loved him even more in this instalment because he expresses his feelings for Emma in such a way that I felt weak at the knees.  The scenes with them together were my favourite in the book and I like the fact that he is always honest and truthful with her about what's going on in his life and how he feels about her.  By the end she's left in no doubt at all. 

The ending was brilliant but the whole book was such an enjoyable read and so good that it was hard to put down.  The next book in the series is called 'Good For You' and I have a feeling will focus more on Reid.  I really hope that he can finally redeem himself and prove that he's not such a bad guy after all.     

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Review: Drummer Girl - Bridget Tyler

Drummer Girl by Bridget Tyler, published by Templar on 1st May 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
It was supposed to be the summer of her life. Instead, 17-year-old Lucy finds her best friend Harper shot dead in an LA swimming pool. How did it come to this? Lucy Gosling is the drummer in Crush, a rock band formed by five London schoolgirls that has just won the UK semi-final of an international talent contest. But when the band lands in Hollywood for the big final, things are not quite as they seem. The band's lead singer, Harper, has just one thing on her mind - using sex, drugs and rock and roll, not to mention Crush itself, to win back her bad-news ex-boyfriend. Lucy must decide whether she's playing to Harper's tune, or setting the rhythm for the rest of the band.

'Drummer Girl' author, Bridget Tyler, has written a fast-paced and enjoyable read about a group of girls who form a band and try to make it big in the spotlight of Los Angeles.  I enjoyed it a lot more than I originally thought and the ending leaves me hope that there might be a sequel somewhere down the line.

The story opens with the shocking death of Harper McKenzie, one of the members of the band.  This grabbed my attention immediately and left me guessing all the way through the book about who could have killed her.  It also meant that I was suspicious of everyone - even if they did seem really nice.  The action then jumps to 8 months earlier when we get to see the events leading up to her death.

The narrative is shared out between each of the girls in the band which I enjoyed because although they are on a journey to fame and fortune together, each girl has a different challenge to face and overcome.  My favourite characters were Lucy and Iza.  Lucy is the most central character in the book and the 'drummer girl' of the title.  She  tries to keep everything and everyone together while temptation is continually put in front of them.  She has however disobeyed her parents by going to LA against their wishes and faces a lot of pressure from different directions.  She is probably the most likable of all the girls and the most grounded but has boy problems to deal with too. 

The book is about the reality of fame and fortune and shows all the behind the scenes goings-on that happen to the band.  It's not all fantastic parties and free clothes and there is a price to pay for everything.  It focuses on the dark underbelly of a life led in the spotlight and how this affects each of the girls.  'Drummer Girl' is perfect for fans of reality shows and the music world and I think will appeal enormously to today's generation of teens. 

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Review: Going Too Far - Jennifer Echols

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols, published by Simon and Schuster on 1st April 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far... and almost doesn’t make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won’t soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won’t be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge—and over...

This is the first title I've read by Jennifer Echols after hearing a lot of great things about her books from other readers.  Although I didn't end up loving it as much as I thought I would, I definitely still want to read more by her.

The story centres around teenager Meg, a rebel who at the beginning of the book gets herself into trouble with the police.  Her punishment is to ride the night shift with Officer John After - a young policeman who wants to make Meg face up to her actions.  It doesn't seem like much of a punishment however, when she starts developing feelings for him which he may just return. 

This is normally the sort of contemporary YA book which I enjoy but although it was a good, quick read, it didn't wow me in any way.  I think a lot of that is down to the central character of Meg who I felt needed more development.  She has a secret in her past that she conceals until the second-half of the book.  Although when this eventually comes to light it made it much easier for me to understand her and her actions, I still didn't particularly warm to her.  She's hiding behind her secret but because of this she just came across as immature and rebellious. 

I also didn't feel the connection between her and John.  I found it strange that she could construct a whole imaginary life for him in her head, where he is forty and married with children.  Although he is mature for his age, he's still only nineteen, not middle-aged.  He was an interesting and unusual male romantic lead but again, it was only right at the end of the book that I saw another side to him which I quite liked. 

If you're looking for a quick, contemporary read which doesn't fit the usual mould for a YA romance, then I would suggest giving 'Going Too Far' a try. Although I wanted more from the story and the characters, I'm still eager to read some of Jennifer Echols's other books in the future. 
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