Monday, 25 November 2013

Review: Fathomless - Jackson Pearce

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce, published by Hodder Children's Books on 4th July 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant - until Celia meets Lo. Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea - a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid - all terms too pretty for the soul-less monster she knows she's becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she's tempted to embrace her dark immortality.

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her...and steal his soul.

I loved Jackson Pearce's previous fairy-tale books, 'Sisters Red' and 'Sweetly' but I didn't think that 'Fathomless' held quite as much charm and magic.  I enjoyed it but it didn't leave me as enthralled as Pearce's other titles.  Based on 'The Little Mermaid' by Hans Christian Anderson, the book has been given her own unique spin but for me, veered a little too far from the traditional tale. 

I really enjoyed the first half of the book, although I wasn't so keen on the direction it took at the end.  Although this tied it in with some of the other characters from Pearce's stories, it seemed out of keeping with the rest of the plot. 

The story is jointly narrated by Celia and Lo.  Celia is one of triplet sisters, who has the special ability of being able to see into the past of the people she touches.  Although she abhors this, it proves to be vital to her friendship with Lo.  A creature of the sea, Lo lives in the ocean but struggles to leave her life as a human behind.  She desperately wants to remember the details of who she was and what happened to her family but the details have slipped away.  I really liked Lo who I thought was an interesting and multi-faceted character but I wasn't as keen on Celia. 

Although there were quite a few elements of the book which didn't work for me and I would have liked there to have been more romance but not the obligatory love triangle, what I did love was the way in which Pearce captured the beauty and danger of the ocean.  I could sense the way that Lo felt at home in the waves and the power and majesty of her surroundings. 

'Fathomless' didn't tick all my boxes but I'm still excited to read the fourth and final book in the series which is going to be based on The Snow Queen and will be called 'Cold Spell'.

Friday, 22 November 2013

News: Unlocked ebook imprint launched

Hotkey Books have recently launched their new ebook imprint.  Unlocked will publish digital novellas for 16+ market, in various genre sets, the first being Christmas Romance. With the launch of each new genre set there will be a contest to give new writers the chance to write for the list.

The first set of Christmas novellas are quick, fun and steamy reads.  Included within the set are 'Under the Mistletoe' by Kate Kingsley, 'All I Want For Christmas' by Esme Taylor (aka Keris Stainton), 'Santa Baby' by Ali Cronin, 'Baby It's Cold Outside' by Catherine Cooper and 'Last Christmas' by Harriet Reuter Hapgood'.

I love Christmas stories so I'm definitely going to be checking out some of these! 

For more information about Unlocked and their forthcoming set of fantasy ebooks, you can follow @UnlockedBooks or have a look at their Facebook page to read extracts of some of these titles.  

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Review: After Eden - Helen Douglas

After Eden by Helen Douglas, published by Bloomsbury on 7th November 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Eden Anfield loves puzzles, so when mysterious new boy Ryan Westland shows up at her school she's hooked. On the face of it, he's a typical American teenager. So why doesn't he recognise pizza? And how come he hasn't heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden the most, however, is the interest he's taking in her.

As Eden starts to fall in love with Ryan, she begins to unravel his secret. Her breakthrough comes one rainy afternoon when she stumbles across a book in Ryan's bedroom - a biography of her best friend - written over fifty years in the future. Confronting Ryan, she discovers that he is there with one unbelievably important purpose ... and she might just have destroyed his only chance of success.

'After Eden' is the debut novel of British author Helen Douglas.  With a winning combination of time-travel and romance, this book will appeal to fans of Ally Condie and Beth Revis. 

The story is set in Cornwall and centres around teenager Eden whose life changes when she meets new boy Ryan.  There are strange quirks about him, such as the fact that he has no idea about everyday things like pizza and he becomes a puzzle that she wants to solve.  When she discovers his secret, the truth about him is stranger than she could ever have imagined. 

This book was a quick read which I finished in one evening and while I enjoyed it, I have to say that I didn't feel like I got deeply involved with the characters and their lives.  I personally thought that Eden was very accepting of the things she discovered about Ryan and quick to believe everything he told her.  I would have liked to have seen her question things more as I think that would have been more realistic and true to her character. 

The ending of the book was thrilling and provided an unexpected twist which I didn't see coming.  There is a sequel planned called 'Chasing Stars' which will be published in 2014.  I'm intrigued about what is planned next for Eden and Ryan, as I think the next instalment could potentially go in quite a different direction, but at the same time 'After Eden' could equally have worked well as a standalone title because I thought the ending was pretty perfect as it was.     

This is a clean and quick read about teen romance against the odds and will appeal hugely to readers who love stories about time-travel and the possibility of what could be out there beyond our home planet.    

Monday, 18 November 2013

Review: Becoming - Samantha Summers

Becoming by Samantha Summers, published on 31st October 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
You can’t run from darkness. Eventually, the sun has to set.

Turning his back on the killer he was trained to be wasn’t as easy as Kalen Smith had hoped. They’d tried to run. They’d tried to hide. People had lost their lives. The wrong people. Now, driven by a thirst for revenge, Kalen and his team are preparing to take down those responsible.

But vengeance comes at a price and Ronnie can feel the boy she fell in love with slipping away from her, as the darkness he’s been running from for so long threatens to consume him.

With danger looming in every direction, the possibility of a happy-ever-after is looking bleak, but The Agency isn’t the only obstacle in the way of Ronnie and Kalen’s future. Ronnie’s harbouring a tragic secret that isn’t hers to keep and the truth could destroy not only their relationship, but what’s left of Kalen’s humanity.

One way or another, everything is about to change...

I don't know where to start with my review of 'Becoming' because I loved this book and indeed this series so much that I can't believe it's all over!  When the final instalment landed through my letterbox I was equally torn between shutting myself away to start reading it immediately (because I really couldn't wait to start it) and wanting to wait and prolong the enjoyment and anticipation.  In the end, my desire to find out how the story was going to conclude and what was going to happen to my very favourite book couple, Ronnie and Kalen, won out.  I read it in one evening and could not put it down.  Samantha Summers storytelling held me in the palm of it's hand and each chapter delivered so much that I was gripped and absorbed the whole way through. 

It's no secret that I love the romance between Ronnie and Kalen.  What I love even more is the fact that there's no obligatory love triangle thrown into the mix just to shake things up between the two of them.  They've only ever had eyes for each other and although obstacles have frequently been put in their path, when it comes down to who their hearts belong to, there's no doubt that they are soul mates.  Although there wasn't quite as much romance in this instalment as I would have liked ('As You Were', the second book, delivered this in spades), I did enjoy the final twist that was thrown in and I thought it made the last few moments of the book even more special.  I'm trying desperately not to give away any spoilers but I do want to say that I thought the ending was mind-blowingly brilliant and was very true to all the characters and their stories.

Ronnie has taught Kalen so much about himself since they met.  I particularly liked some of the flashbacks in the book to when he first set eyes on her and how he couldn't get her out of his head, even when he tried desperately to forget about her.  They've always had an amazing connection and although at times Kalen has doubted whether or not they should be together because of the danger it puts Ronnie in, there has never been any doubt in my mind that they are a team and always work better together. 

With Kalen and co plotting to take down The Agency once and for all, there are lots of new faces in the book as the other boys of Project Five Fifteen begin to surface. I loved seeing them all together and although they're not actually related by blood they are like a family and have each other's backs.  Ace is yet again utterly adorable and I really warmed to Denver who steps up and takes charge when needed.  There's definitely potential for a spin-off featuring some of the other characters or even a TV show! (I pictured Colton Haynes in my head when I was reading about Kalen).

'Becoming' was a superb read which delivered romance, adventure, action and excitement in spades!  I was absolutely engrossed in the story and found it compulsive reading.  I'm so sad that the series is over because I've become invested in the characters and their lives and I don't want the adventure to end.  I'm going to be re-reading the trilogy over and over again because I have so many favourite moments that I want to go back and relive.  Samantha Summers, I applaud you and I will read anything you turn your hand to next.  Thank you for giving me Ronnie and Kalen and thank you for writing such a wonderful series of books. 

Friday, 15 November 2013

Review: Twinmaker - Sean Williams

Twinmaker by Sean Williams, published by Electric Monkey on 14th November 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Clair is pretty sure the offer in the ‘Improvement' meme is just another viral spam, though Libby is determined to give it a try.

But what starts as Libby's dream turns into Clair's nightmare when her friend vanishes.

In her search for answers, Clair seeks out Jesse - a boy whose alternative lifestyle might help to uncover the truth.

What they don't anticipate is intervention from the mysterious contact known only as Q, and being caught up in a conspiracy that will change everything.

'Twinmaker' is a sci-fi thriller set in a world which on first appearance seems to be pretty much perfect. People are able to travel anywhere in the world using d-mat technology which can transport them to their chosen destination in a fraction of a second.  There are no limitations to where a person can go and the technology described in the book sounds amazing.  For Clair and her best friend Libby, d-mat is a normal part of their everyday lives, until Libby decides to use it to 'improve' herself.  Improvement turns out to be more dangerous than they could ever have thought possible and changes their very existence.  Suddenly the world doesn't seem so perfect after all.   

At the beginning of this book I wasn't convinced that it was going to be my kind of read.  I love dystopian fiction and I'm quite keen on the sci-fi genre but I found the world building at the start of 'Twinmaker' difficult to get to grips with.  There were a lot of new concepts to cope with and I didn't understand all the technological explanations of d-mat and how it worked.  I very nearly gave up but I'm so glad that I stuck with it and kept on reading because Sean Williams turned out a great story which was thought-provoking and interesting and raised so many ethical questions that I'm still pondering some of them now. 

It is quite a long book at over 500 pages and in places I thought that it could have been trimmed a little but once I got over my initial confusion about the direction of the story it really took off.  Clair is a great heroine who surprises herself with her strength and bravery and she is at the heart of the plot.  It's on her shoulders that the future of the world rests but she is more than capable of the journey ahead of her.  There are some intriguing secondary characters in the book as well, including the elusive Q, bad boy Zep and Clair's counter-part Jesse who I really liked.    

This is the first in a trilogy so there were a lot of questions left unanswered at the end, but I'm hoping that these will all be addressed in the sequel which will be out in 2014.          

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

News: Writes of Passage

I have news today about a new teen reading recommendations initiative that has recently launched in the UK by Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman.  Nominations are now open for 'Writes of Passage’.

The award-winning author of bestselling teenage series Noughts and Crosses is inviting book lovers of all ages to help compile the definitive range of titles for young people to try by the time they hit 16.

So think about all those books you couldn't wait to read and tell your friends about or think back to your teenage reads and nominate those titles that rocked your world.  

Anyone can take part by visiting the World Book Day website and sharing their favourites by Friday January 17th, with one lucky participant set to bag every book on a final list of 50 recommended reads for teens which is being unveiled for World Book Day 2014 (March 6th).

Monday, 11 November 2013

Trailer: Foreplay - Sophie Jordan

Today, I'm showcasing the fabulous trailer for Sophie Jordan's new book 'Foreplay' which is the first in The Ivy Chronicles trilogy.  This book sounds brilliant and will definitely be going on my Christmas list!  

Pepper has been hopelessly in love with her best friend’s brother, Hunter, for like ever. He’s the key to everything she’s always craved: security, stability, family. But she needs Hunter to notice her as more than just a friend. Even though she’s kissed exactly one guy, she has just the plan to go from novice to rock star in the bedroom—take a few pointers from someone who knows what he’s doing.

Her college roommates have the perfect teacher in mind. But bartender Reece is nothing like the player Pepper expects. Yes, he’s beyond gorgeous, but he’s also dangerous, deep—with a troubled past. Soon what started as lessons in attraction are turning both their worlds around, and showing just what can happen when you go past foreplay and get to what’s real…

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Review: The Falconer - Elizabeth May

The Falconer by Elizabeth May, published by Gollancz on 26th September 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

'The Falconer' has been one of my most eagerly awaited debuts of the year.  It's a stunning mix of fantasy and steampunk with a historical setting and the addition of evil faeries.  The story rockets along, particularly in the second half, at breakneck speed and there is so much drama, tension and excitement packed into the book that you'll find yourself on the edge of your seat, biting your nails down to the quick. 

Set in Edinburgh, the story features one of the best heroines that I've come across this year.  Aileana Kameron is an aristocrat.  The only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, she tries to pretend an interest in balls and dancing and all the other things that go along with her position but secretly leads a double life.  She is determined to avenge her mother's death by killing the faerie that brutally murdered her mother and ripped out her heart.  It soon becomes apparent how different Aileana is when she tracks and kills an evil faerie at a ball she is attending before the creature can ruthlessly kill one of the other guests.  Aileana is a marvellous protagonist.  She is not interested in trivial matters and although she tries her best to kept her father appeased, she is far more worried about protecting the city she loves and the people who live in it. 

She has a complicated relationship with her fae mentor, Kiaran Mackay.  He is a complex figure in the book and I feel like I have so much more to learn about him.  He is not always forthcoming about himself and he seems to be hiding a lot of secrets but he and Aileana work well together and there are hints of romance in their future.    

I adored Derrick the pixie who lives in Aileana's dressing room.  He has an addiction to honey which often leads him to become honey drunk but although he is small, he will do anything to protect and defend her.  He has some of the best lines in the book and provides a nice dose of light relief to balance the darkness that Aileana faces on a daily basis.  I definitely want a pixie just like him!

This is the first book in a trilogy but I can't believe that I've now got to wait for the next instalment!  I hope Elizabeth May writes very, very fast!     

Monday, 4 November 2013

Review: How to Love - Katie Cotugno

How to Love by Katie Cotugno, published by Quercus on 3rd October 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Reena has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember. But he’s never noticed her, until one day… he does. They fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town, leaving a devastated – and pregnant – Reena behind.


Three years later and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter Hannah. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again.  After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer again?

I finished reading this book a few weeks ago but I'm still trying to make up my mind about it.  There were some aspects which I enjoyed and there were others which I didn't understand at all.  I have very mixed feelings about the whole story and the characters so I'll try to explain my overall opinion of it.

The story is told within two time frames: Before and After.  Before Sawyer left Reena and After he walked back into her life.  Now, I'm personally not a huge fan of this particular narrative device.  It was interesting to see what happened between the two main characters in the very beginning but I found the constant switching backwards and forwards just left me feeling disorientated most of the time.  I also had to keep checking to make sure I knew which time period I was currently reading.  I definitely think this affected my overall enjoyment of the book. 

In terms of the characters, I liked Reena who always tries to do the right thing but who feels she has let her family down.  I didn't however understand the attraction she feels for bad boy Sawyer LeGrande who she has been fascinated by for as long as she can remember.  She's intrigued by everything about him and doesn't have eyes for anyone else.  When he starts to date her best friend however, she has to try to put aside her feelings for him but that's easier said than done.  I have to say that I just didn't like Sawyer.  He only ever seems to hurt Reena and he came across as extremely selfish and self-centred.  I much preferred Aaron, the other male figure in the story who treats Reena with love and respect.  I know the book deals with showing the messy, real side of love and relationships but because I wasn't a fan of Sawyer, I found it hard to make myself care about whether or not he and Reena would end up together. 

The story shows that there isn't always a happy ever after and that relationships have to be worked at if they are going to survive.  This is not the kind of book where everything is tied up with a neat bow at the end.  Although I wasn't always keen on the character portrayals I could still appreciate Katie Cotugno's writing and I  hope to see more titles by her in the future.               

Friday, 1 November 2013

Review: The Waking World - Tom Huddlestone

The Waking World by Tom Huddlestone, published by David Fickling Books on 3rd October 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
The Island is in peril. For years, bloodthirsty Marauder pirates have raided along the coast, carrying off goods and cattle. Now they're growing bolder, striking further inland, even taking slaves to man their black ships. An invasion is underway.

As the son of a wealthy Law, young Aran should be safe. The underground farmstead of Hawk's Cross lies miles from the sea, and even the killing winds that sweep down from the moors can't penetrate those solid steel gates. But Aran doesn't want to be safe, he wants to be a warrior: to fight for his friends, his family and his home.

Many tales have been told of the boy who became our greatest King. Very few have spoken of the future . .

'The Waking World' is a futuristic Arthurian tale on an epic scale.  It's set in a future society which is completely unlike the one we know today.  The Earth has been ravaged by pollution and climate change and the people live as they did in the past, surviving off the land.  The story is set at Hawk's Cross, the home of Aran, the main character in the book.  He is one of the sons of a wealthy Law but the Island on which they live is under attack from the invading Marauders.  Aran is desperate to protect his home but also must discover the secret of his true heritage if he is to fulfil the destiny laid out for him. 

I really liked the fresh take on the Arthurian legend of Arthur and Merlin.  It's one which so many people are familiar with but I thought that Tom Huddlestone still managed to bring something entirely new to the traditional tale.  At the start I wasn't sure how he was going to link everything together but bit by bit all the pieces started to fall into place.  It's an entirely different slant but it does work extremely well and the story is packed full of excitement and adventure. 

One of my favourite aspects of the book was the friendship between Aran and his friends Cas and Mohanna.  They have grown up together and know each other inside and out and I liked seeing them look out for one another when they were in some dangerous situations.  I also loved the bond which develops between Aran and the mysterious Peregrine.  The latter was extremely intriguing and it was a delight to get to discover more about him throughout the course of the story. 

I presume this is the first in a series as I finished it feeling like there was lots more to come.  I hope so because I enjoyed getting to explore Aran's world and I'm hoping to read more about him and his friends in the future.      
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