Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Duke's Accidental Wife by Erica Ridley

Title: The Duke's Accidental Wife
Series: The Dukes of War (#7)
Author: Erica Ridley
From: Netgalley
Genre: Historical, Regency Romance
Release Date: 1st March 2016
Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge, 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (12 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

*May contain minor spoilers for previous books in the series*

The Duke of Ravenwood has always wanted to marry for love, the one concession he'll give to himself over his duchy. Katherine Ross doesn't want anything to do with husbands, especially if that involves the risk of children. But when the two of them find themselves compromised into marriage they have to learn to live with their fate...

These two! The pair of them were at each other's throats almost constantly during the first part of the book. It was one of those situations where they were both evidentally attracted to each other but wanted to deny that for reasons completely their own. It helped add to the tension between them as the book wore on.

On the surface it didn't look like Ravenwood and Katherine would fit well together, but before long it became more and more clear that the two of them actually made a good team. They were both thoughtful and liked to show people that they cared, and they were both easily hurt. It took the two of them a while to get into a groove in their marriage.

I had several "awwww" moments in this book over sweet things the two main characters did for each other. Their relationship had a good depth and I felt that I really got to know the two of them better than some of the other characters in the series. That could be down to the fact that the two of them have already played roles in previous stories though!

This was a great ending to a fun series that us great for those moments where you want something sweet and enjoyable!

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Magpie Bridge by JA Huss

Title: The Magpie Bridge
Series: I Am Just Junco (#4.5)
Author: JA Huss
From: Amazon (I Am Not Junco Omnibus)
Genre: Sci-fi, NA
Release Date: 1st April 2013
Challenges: 2016 Read the Books You Buy, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

*May contain spoilers for previous books in the series*

With Junco gone again, Tier has to face living his life without her, and without the pieces he needs to save the world. But Tier has one thing left, Junco's HOUSE, and before he knows it the little girl AI has worked her way into his heart. But there's one way that he could save them both and the world, except that he's lost all hope.

This one was so emotional! After the ending to Range this was really needed, and in some ways it made me a little better about where things are going and that they'll work out okay. Even so there was something about it that was just emotional!

This was a real insight into Tier! After Range his motives were thrown a little bit into question, though I never doubted that he loved Junco. But The Magpie Bridge made it super clear exactly what he felt for her, and by extension HOUSE, and it furthered their story together.

And that ending...wow! It was so romantic, sweet and perfect. It fit so well with Junco and Tier and their relationship and it gave the reader hope that everything would be okay! I can't wait to get  into the final book, I feel that it will have a lot to offer!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

25 Perfect Days by Mark Tullius

Title: 25 Perfect Days
Author: Mark Tullius
From: Netgalley
Genre: Dystopia, Apocalyptic
Release Date: 15th March 2013
Challenges: 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 Reading Assignment Challenge, 2016 Blogger Shame
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Totalatarian states don't just happen over night. People's rights slip away day by day as one group comes to power. 25 Perfect Nights tells the story of the decline into a dystopia and the fight against it through 25 interlinked short stories.

I'm not going to lie, this book was kind of disturbing, in a completely scary way. I liked how it showed how America went on a downward sprial into a dystopia, it showed a great deal of talent from the author to pull off in a way that engaged the reader and kept their attention.

One of the issues I had with it is that I'm a character driven reader, and because each of the stories is only short I didn't have the time to fully come to care about the characters, or even really get to know them. In some ways this helped, because for a lot of them the outcome wasn't good, and even early on there were some shocking moments for them.

The dystopian elements were well thought out, the basis of which was a religious sect gaining control over the government and later everyone. There were other factors taken into account as well such as a baby boom, and how the government/Church of the American Way dealt with that, and I very much hope that no one in the world is capable of anything like appeared in this book.

This wasn't a happy read, it was fascinating and interesting and it ends happier that Orwell's 1984 (which I maintain is one of the scariest dystopian endings out there!) But its the realism that gets me. This isn't one of your teenage heroes are going to save the day dystopias, instead its one of the "the world is really messed up" ones.

25 Perfect Days is different and thought provoking, and I'm glad I've read it.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Wasted Lust by JA Huss

Title: Wasted Lust
Author: JA Huss
From: Amazon
Genre: Suspense, Romance
Release Date: 23rd June 2015
Challenges: 2016 Read the Books You Buy 
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

*There could be minor spoilers ahead for other JA Huss books (Rook & Ronin, Ford/Spencer Spin Offs, Dirty Dark & Deadly, Meet Me in the Dark, and 321)*

Having gotten free of the Company and become an adult in a normal home, Sasha is following her dream of studying dinosaurs, except that isn't going quite to plan. When Agent Jax Barlow approachs Sasha in an attempt to get more information on Nick Tate, the man that left her when she was 13, it leads Sasha back into a life she didn't want in the first place...

Technically Wasted Lust is a standalone, however I for one would highly recommend it being read after Meet Me in the Dark (So basically read the books in the order that I listed them above). 321 is the book that really got me into Huss and even some of the plot from that book fell into place properly for me after reading Wasted Lust! That's how well all those books tie together.

I've loved Sasha since her first appearance in the books (which I'll admit to not reading in the right order!) and this book just topped up that love! Sasha is an amazing character, simultaneously fragile and comepletely kick a**. In a way, I think she's the most stable of the Company characters even if she was the youngest member of the team.

I liked the chemistry between Sasha and Jax, it was clear that there was deinfitely something there and they seemed to bounce off each other well. I actually found myself reading and hoping that Nick wasn't going to turn up and ruin everything between them.

Nick was a slight enigma to me in this book. He hasn't been around all that much in any of the books to say that he's Harper's twin (Harper is the female lead in Dirty Dark & Deadly) and it took me a while to even try to figure out his plan (naturally I was wrong about it). When his motives were revealed I couldn't help but aplaud Huss once again, all the information was there in the book but it was something I didn't suspect.

This was a fantastic ending to the "Company" books, it tied together some loose ends and definitely gave a sense of closure! (Though I am looking forward to seeing the characters again in future books!)

Friday, 20 May 2016

Forest of Demons by Debbie Cassidy

Title: Forest of Demons
Author: Debbie Cassidy
From: Kindle Scout
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 3rd May 2016
Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge 
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Priya has always dreamed of seeing the Capital despite living in the shadow of a forest filled with demons. There's one rule the villagers truly stick to; don't go into the forest at night. But when there's a demon attack during the day everything changes.

I don't want to say anything more in my summary simply because I think it would give too much away. I read this both in beta form and now it's released, and I have to say that the twists and turns kept me on my toes the second time as much as the first. Debbie Cassidy has definitely woven a fantastic story.

Priya is a likeable main character, if a little naive at times, but that does make her endearing. She definitely comes across as her age, with things like a crush on her friend Guru,  but feeling attracted to the village blacksmith, Ravi. She cares for her parents but finds them smothering at times...for me it just worked character wise.

Aryan, the other main character who lived in a completely different place, was more difficult to like. There were moments where his morals and charm warmed me to him a little, but then he'd do something and I'd just find myself not liking him again. I'm pretty sure some of that was because I already had a sense of what he was going to do or not.

For both main settings in the book the mythology was cleverly woven in and a complete back story given. The world was well created and really drew the reader in. There is a glossary at the back of the book for some of the Indian/Hindu words, which I do think helps!

This was a great read and I'd definitely recommend it!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Range by JA Huss

Title: Range
Series: I Am Just Junco (#4)
Author: JA Huss
From: Amazon (I am Not Junco Omnibus)
Genre: Sci-fi, NA
Release Date: 1st April 2013
Challenges: 2016 Read the Books You Buy, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

*May contain spolers for other books in the series*

2 years of pain and torture have passed since Inanna took Junco and forced her into a morph tank. Finally back with the people she thinks are on her side, Junco is more messed up than ever, dealing with remembering her past and coming to terms with her future. With everyone seeming to have their own agenda, who is really by Junco's side?

So many feelings while I was reading this book. There was a lot going on and sometimes I did struggle a little to keep it straight in my head, particularly when it came to what character's agendas were, but then there'd be "oh!" moments where it all falls into place!

As I'm sure I've said in previous books, every time Junco seems to become more and more human (emotion wise, by this point I believe it's pretty obvious she is not in fact human) and more relateable. For me it was that she fixated slightly on the loss of her wings, which in the grand scheme of things wasn't a big thing, but it was normal of her to do that and it was very endearing.

The action was still there in this book, though maybe down a little notch from previously. There was also some of it in flashbacks which showed more about Junco's past and answered a few questions. Of course there are still a lot of questions I want answers for, including a lot about Gideon!

The romance was pushed to the side a little in this book, and mainly was explored as a consequence (and through a lot of shouting!). I'm still very definite about who I want Junco to end up with, and though I'm not 100% sure on how exactly it will work yet I'm almost convinced that it will!

I can't wait to carry on this series!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Touched by Love by Melissa Foster

Title: Touched by Love
Series: Love in Bloom - The Remingtons (#6)
Author: Melissa Foster
Genre: Romance
Release Date: 18th May 2016
Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Janie refuses to be anything less than independant despite being nearly blind, but when she suffers a fall she quickly learns that sometimes you have to rely on others. Boyd Hudson has been trying to keep Janie at arms length, never letting on how attracted to her he is, until her fall. The two of them quickly fall into a routine and discover that there is much more between them than simply friends. But Boyd has a past he needs to face, and with the two of them at pivotal points in their careers, a new relationship could prove difficult...

I must say, Foster always delivers, especially when you want a romance that you know will work out in the end, but will have to work for the HEA. The elements of family and friendship in the books just make them seem more real and I love that touch.

I really liked that Janie and Boyd had to deal with real life relationship dramas. It wasn't all big things (though Boyd's past was pretty major and my heart broke for him), it was the little things like career decisions and saying things without thinking, that really made it real for me.

While Janie being blind was a plot point I don't feel that it was over laboured. It was used to show how attentive Boyd was and added a slightly different dynamic to their relationship, but for the most part their relationship was perfectly "normal" (in inverted commas because I believe that every relationship is unique anyway!)

I loved the side characters too! Some of them I've read of before, and others could be placed in family trees I know of (though it took me a while in a couple of cases!) Kiki was definitely my favourite though! And the epilogue...so cute!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen by Alison Weir

Title: Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen
Series: Six Tudor Queens (#1)
Author: Alison Weir
From: Netgalley
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: 5th May 2016
Challenges: 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 New Release Challenge
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

After coming to England from Spain at a young age, Katherine of Aragon discovers a cold and distant husband in the Prince of Wales, Arthur, only for him to die before their marriage is consumated. Kept away from court, and from Prince Henry, her new betrothed, Kathrine learns to deal with hardship until the death of her father in law, King Henry VII, leads to her marrying the love of her life and becoming Queen of England. But history shows that Katherine's ending isn't a happy one...

It took me a long time to read Kathrine of Aragon, the True Queen, not because it wasn't good (because it definitely was) but because there was so much to it. The book tells the story of Katherine's life from her arrival in England to her death and a lot happened in that time. While her love for Henry is one focus of the book, there is plenty of politics, both of England itself and of Europe as a whole.

I thought that Weir's version of Katherine was actually quite naive for a long time. Even towards the end of the book where she should be more worldly because of what was done to her, she still thought it would work out okay. It actually worked really well with the events of Katherine's life, and especially when it came to her stubborn streak.

Katherine definitely had a lot of endearing traits. Her love for her husband and her daughter were strong and she was always trying to do what she thought was best. This even translated into positive thoughts towards Anne Boleyn (in the early stages that is!) which was mostly due to the people at court shielding her from it.

I thought that Weir's version of Katherine was a much more human one than many I've read and I liked that. Her world was rich and interesting and it created a fantastic reading experience.

Monday, 16 May 2016

I'm really really sorry

I want to apologise for falling completely off the radar these past couple of weeks. I'd love to be able to say that there's a good reason, but if I'm honest with myself there really isn't. For whatever reason I've been really struggling with everything (not just writing reviews) and my poor best friend ended up with so many messages from me when I was feeling low. I mean it even took me 2 weeks to finish a book I was enjoying...that's definitely not right! 

Anyway, I'm now back on the ball (at least I hope so!) I finished my edits of Cloaked and sent it off to my publisher, I finished the book it took me so long to read, and a few other things sorted themselves out! I do now need to catch up on writing reviews though!

Sorry! 
Laura

Sunday, 8 May 2016

A Book's Genesis (May)

abooksgenesis



A Book's Genesis is  a monthly meme hosted by +Daniela Ark, you can check out the rules/future topics here

So basically it's all about Works in Progress (WIP) and each month there'll be a different topic related to a WIP. Because April is the first month of this it's kind of like an intro post! 

In the Beginning… there was AN IDEA . Let there be light: and there was light”

Well first an update on my WIP from last month Phantom...while it still needs a name (oops!) the first draft is with my best friend now who is going to help me 'rip it apart' (my way of describing the first round of edits I do...) You can read my introduction to Phantom here

So...the idea...I'm not very good at planning before I write, and if I do I find my characters start to rebel against me, so this one was interesting in that the plot was semi-structured for me. 

My main inspiration is naturally The Phantom of the Opera, which I first discovered as the film back in 2004 when I was just 11 (maybe 12). Since then I've read the book (and several retellings), watched it on stage, played the music (on the flute), and listened to the soundtrack so many times my iTunes would probably crash if I tried to find out how many.  

The soundtrack is actually where the idea for this started. Sometimes when I listen to soundtracks of musicals I like to imagine how I'd make it look if I was directing it (I can't sing otherwise I would totally be pretending to be Christine instead!), but it was originally just a quirk of mine that I had. 

Because of how much I love The Phantom of the Opera I had already been toying with the idea of a retelling, but I was going to set it in an orchestra with a flautist taking the role of Christine (mostly because I know the most about flutes than other instruments). Somehow the ideas merged and Annabelle the assistant director was born. 

I knew that I didn't want a paranormal style Phantom, and developed the idea that maybe some of the accidents could be a prank pulled by other cast members. And this is where my best friend, Anna, got involved. Anna's been a fan of The Phantom of the Opera just as long as I have, and the first time we both saw it on stage was together a few years ago. I sent her a photo of my first scene and she started to brainstorm with me. 

One of Anna's ideas was one that shaped the book into what it is now. She suggested that the Phantom character could be mostly in Annabelle's head in the form of an abusive past relationship. She was a little wary of it at first because she thought that it may open a can of worms for me, but once the idea took root that was it, Toby the Phantom (and Annabelle's ex) was formed. 

Toby did take on a bigger role than we first planned, but I think that was needed to keep the tension with the Raoul character (Jack). But honestly this book isn't meant to be about Jack and Toby, it's meant to be about Annabelle. It's her journey to get past what happened to her, and to be comfortable in who she is and in her relationships. 

If I'm completely honest with myself there is a lot of me in this book. While I didn't suffer anything near as bad as what I put my main character through, some of what I wrote about is exaggerated versions of my own past. And scarily, probably what would have happened to me if I hadn't been able to get out when I did. There's also some of me (and some of Anna) in Annabelle and Hayley's relationship. They're best friends, and the straight talking tough love between them is defintely there in mine and Anna's relationship! As is the unconditional support and the fact we can still be best friends even if we spent time apart. 

Let’s share our Sparks !

What are the books, movies, songs, characters that have inspired your WIP and why?

I probably answered this one above! But the main song that started this off is definitely Masquerade