Thursday, 28 May 2015

Book: Hawthorn by Jamie Cassidy

Title: Hawthorn
Series: Darkling Saga (#1)
Author: Jamie Cassidy
From: beta/review copy
Genre: Horror, Fantasy
Release Date: 
Challenges: 2015 New Release Challenge
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Gemma and her family are new in Learmouth and have moved into the house on the hill. Gemma finds the house creepy almost as soon as she sees it, and her views are shared by her younger brother, Danny, and her Mum's partner, Jules. But Danny's twin, Heather, loves the house, and keeps trying to get Danny to play with her friend, Elsa. Even with a new school, a new home and new friends, Gemma still can't shake the creepiness that the house has to offer, though maybe in this case she should listen...

For whatever reason I don't tend to read that much horror, and I'm not too sure why because I have enjoyed horror books in the past, but this was written by a writing duo that have yet to write anything I don't like, so I was more than happy to beta for them. Because I read the book as a beta reader (for the first time) I did read it slightly differently than a normal book, and even so I could still feel the suspense brewing, on reading through without stopping, the suspense is even more intense!

Hawthorn never really gave away what was going on until it was too late. I had a lot of guesses throughout the book as to what was happening and why, but it didn't come together until later on (which is a good thing in horror I think or else it ruins the tension!) When the big reveal did come the story felt like it really came together! The ending was a really good one for horror, I thought it worked well and tied up the loose ends.

One of the big things that made Hawthorn unique was the point of view splits. I've never before read a book that included POVs from small children (Heather and Danny turned 5 during the book). I thought the authors did a fantastic job of continueing the story at the same time as capturing the childish essense to their POVs. It worked well, without making either of the children sounding too old. They also came across very differently which helped with their character development.

I will admit to having a soft spot for Danny while reading. There was a lot that reminded me of my own brother, and the relationshiup that Danny had with his (quite a bit older) sister, Gemma, made it even more so. I did find myself drawn to those two characters together and it made me feel more connected and affected by the story.

Gemma herself felt like a genuine teenager. Quite often I've found teenage characters end up sounding older than they are supposed to be, and though Gemma could be mature at times, I never felt that she was. She was a teenager and she acted like it, both in her interactions with other characters and her thoughts.

The other two characters (on top of the three children in the story) that had POVs were Gemma & the Twins mother, Mary, and her partner, Jules. They had very different views on the kids, but both cared a great deal about them. I particularly liked Jules as a character, I think there was just something about her. I also really liked the fact that the parental figures were lesbians, I liked that their relationship was already established rather than them discovering themselves.

Hawthorn was full of mystery and suspense. A definite read if you enjoy horror!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Book: A View to a Kill by Mandy M Roth

Title: A View to a Kill
Series: King of Prey (#2)
Author: Mandy M Roth
From: Review Copy
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Release Date: 24th July 2007
Challenges: 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Sanchin is head of the Royal Guards, a highly skilled fighter and more than that, a bird shifter. 3 years ago he saved Paige after the death of her mother and keeps returning to her because of the pull between them. On her 21st birthday they take things to the next level, only for Sanchin to fly away scared that she won't accept who he is. When he returns a year later he finds Paige has moved on with her life and has agreed to marry another man...

A View to a Kill tells the story of a character who had been introduced in the first book and who played an important role in the two MCs finding a way to be happy. This meant that while reading, Sanchin was already a well established character, whereas the other MC, Paige was brand new.

Interestingly, though there was a connection between Paige and Sanchin when they met, it was actually a slow building thing. Though not all on page, there are four years between the events at the beginning of the book and the events at the end, meaning that there was plenty of time for Paige and Sanchin to develop a deeper relationship than just physical attraction, though that was there.

I also found it different that Paige had started to move on with her life. A lot of authors would probably choose to have the heroine pining away, whereas Paige had the strength to move on in her life even if she did secretly hope that Sanchin would return.

It was also interesting to have a character working out what the other character was through hints and events which otherwise would have been ignored. It was good to have an intellegent character who was able to put the pieces together without actually freaking out!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Book: Call of Temptation by Michelle M Pillow

Title: Call of Temptation
Series: Call of the Lycan (#3)
Author: Michelle M Pillow
From: Review Copy
Genre: Paranormal, Erotica, Romance
Release Date: 26th April 2011
Challenges: 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

With his brothers newly married, it falls to James O'Connell to hunt down the rogue lycan, Meghan, who threatened the lives of his eldest brother and sister-in-law. Drawing close to Meghan leaves him in a precarious situation, particularly when he discovers that her latest victim hasn't actually died. Now nursing a newly turned lycan, Claudia, James feels the connection between them in an undeniable way.

Call of Temptation has more sex in it than some of Michelle M Pillow's books, though I found that it also had more action than the previous two books in the Call of the Lycan series, particularly as the hunt for Meghan came to a dramatic close. I found that I liked the increase in plot action and didn't think that the tension and chemistry between Claudia and James suffered for it at all.

It was certainly interesting seeing how a bitten lycan changed. Up until this point no one had been bitten in a long time, something that was clearly mentioned in all three books. This meant that seeing Claudia change into a lycan was a big focal point and as it isn't something that a lot of books often focus on it made it more interesting.

The attraction between Claudia and James was certainly there, and what was more was that Claudia actually owned it. There was no shying away from what she wanted, even if she was somewhat shy at points about herself and her sexuality. James was also somewhat reserved for an alpha character, thinking about not wanting to take advantage.

The plot line revolving around Meghan and her capture tied up several loose ends for the O'Connell brothers and the series does feel like it has reached it's natural happily ever after, which I like. I don't feel like there's any major unanswered questions or unresolved plot lines which is always good!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Book: Becoming Alpha by Aileen Erin

Title: Becoming Alpha
Series: Alpha Girl (#1)
Author: Aileen Erin
From: Netgalley
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Release Date: 17th December 2013
Challenges: 2015 Reading Assignment Challenge, 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Tessa has never been normal. She has Bruja blood meaning that when she touches people or objects with her bare hands she gets visions. With her family deciding to move to Texas she looks forward to the fresh start, but when one kiss at a party changes her life forever she finds herself thrown into the world of werewolves and the other supernatural. What's more the pull she feels towards the wolf that bit her, Dastien, makes her life even more confusing...

I was a little wary of Becoming Alpha after discovering that Lola @ Lola's Reviews didn't enjoy it, but it was on my 2015HW list so if I didn't want to fail the challenge I was going to have to give it a go. And I'm glad I did, I actually really enjoyed Becoming Alpha and its seamless blend between the paranormal and coming of age plot line.

Becoming Alpha definitely provided an interesting lore surrounding werewolves and the supernatural. Pack hierarchy played a big part in the story and I found it interesting how Tessa was interacting with certain very Alpha characters (not just Dastien) and it has caused me to form some theories about her eventual place in the pack. Because Tessa was new to being a werewolf it meant that the reader learnt along with her and for the most part she was discovering things by doing rather than being told which was both interesting and different.

Romance did play a part in Becoming Alpha and I was prepared for the classic 'mate' approach. But Becoming Alpha did supply something a little different to that. Yes there was the whole mate approach used, but the way that both Tessa and Dastien approached it made it much less cliché. Tessa accepted that she was attracted to, and drawn to, Dastien, but didn't accept him straight off. Dastien held back knowing that she needed time to aclimatise, and they actually spent time gettting to know each other. There wasn't any opposites attract thing, they actually had quite a lot in common.

I also liked the fact that Tessa wasn't totally ok with the fact she woke up as a werewolf. There was quite a lot of denial going on and even towards the end of the book she hadn't completely accepted her wolf. Without giving any quite big plot parts away I don't think I can completely describe Tessa's relationship with her wolf, but it was definitely complex.

There were also the tensions and friendships that you would expect in a school setting, and I really liked the way that Tessa didn't make instant friends, she was wary but did find good ones in the end. Not only that but there were people in her group of friends that she didn't get on with that well and she had enemies. It felt like a normal teenage girl. More than that though was that she was treated like a teenage girl rather than the answer to all problems.

I enjoyed Becoming Alpha and I'm looking forward to continueing the story.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Book: Passion Unbound by Erin Maxwell

Title: Passion Unbound
Series: Dark Passion (#1)
Author: Erin Maxwell
From: Amazon
Genre: Erotica, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 1st May 2015
Challenges: N/A
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Having left her home around 100 years ago, Sienna went on a rampage to try and feed the hunger that became part of her via her heritage. Now returned, she finds herself being guarded by a dhampir, Kaden, for whom she feels an intense attraction that he refuses to act on. Sienna looks for satisfaction  from her other lovers, Kye, Rhoan and Brock, but nothing quite relieves the lust she feels. When she goes on the hunt for an abductor of humans, she bites off more than she can chew and may bring about her own death...

Passion Unbound is first and foremost erotica, and it is erotica that revolves around the main character having sex with more than one person (though not at the same time) which does appear to be somewhat to do with protecting her heart, so actually helped to develop her character. Passion Unbound does also contain strong urban fantasy elements that really keep the story moving.

The chemistry was there between Sienna and the various male characters, though I thought there was less of it towards her three previous lovers (Kye, Rhoan and Brock) particularly Brock, and far more of it with Kaden. The advantage that Sienna's relationship to Kaden had was that there was a slow building tension because he refused to act on it.

It was good to have a female character who was so confident in her body and owned it. Not just in a sexual way, but also in her position as a weapon (both because of her supernatural tendancies and because she learnt to fight). There was no whining from Sienna, instead she was confident and more than a bit kick ass. But she also had her own issues; namely controlling her hunger.

The action in Passion Unbound helped push the story along. There were several different levels to it as well, including a none physical plane and sparring as well as actually fighting evil. It helped build up an interesting supernatural culture as well.

Passion Unbound was a good read, I'm certianly hoping that there is more coming for Sienna, there are some loose ends that need tying up!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Book: The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Title: The Duff
Series: Hamilton High (#1)
Author: Kody Keplinger
From: Netgalley
Genre: New Adult, Romance
Release Date: 7th September 2010
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Bianca has never take to partying quite like her best friends, Jessica and Casey. But one night Wesley Rush, the biggest player at Hamilton High talks to her. Telling her that she is the Designated Ugly Fat Friend (in comparison to her two bezzies). What Bianca didn't expect was the attraction that sparks up between them. When things at home spiral out of control, Bianca turns to Wesley and they begin a physical relationship little expecting the consequences for their hearts.

Finally! A book with teenagers that act like teenagers. The characters in The Duff are all still in High School, but they act like real teenagers rather than the over sensible don't even know what sex is and refuse to swear kind you get in most high school books. So I'd say that The Duff would fall into more New Adult catagory. Though there is nothing explicit in the book, sex is an important part of the story.

The Duff has a certain amount of predictability about it, like a good chick flick (which I guess it is, though I watched the trailors and I think it is one of those films that I'd end up yelling at cause it isn't the same!) And completely honestly, I read it with that in mind (it's been one hell of a week!) which meant that I really enjoyed it. The Duff was definitely an easy and enjoyable read.

Wesley and Bianca had a love-hate kind of relationship which had at least some basis on physical attraction, and that made their relationship work well. There were plenty of issues with it and surrounding them which made it seem more real. They also knew each other for a while, then slept together for a while, then decided that actually they wanted to be with each other. It felt far more realistic than insta-forever love that some teenage characters seem to experience.

So Bianca herself. The first person narrative definitely gave an insight into Bianca's mind and I loved her as an MC. Despite not being that confident in herself for the most part, Bianca's voice wasn't whiny or depressing, quite the oppsite and I found myself laughing at times at lines in the book. Even more so than her relationship with Wesley, the story was about Bianca's growing confidence and self worth, which I think should be the focus of more books aimed at a teenage audience.

There was also a big focus on friendships, and not everything that the girls talked about was boy-related (though some of it was). I did feel that theirs was a true friendship and hadn't just been put in as a nod to conformity. I also liked the way that they supported each other but still had fall outs.

This book just worked for me. I liked it but I don't think I'll be watching the film any time soon, I have a feeling it would frustrate me!

Cover Reveal: Hawthorn by Jamie Cassidy


A house on a hill. 
A house filled with mirrors. 
A house with eyes that watch your every move. 

“I hate it on sight. It’s dull and large and clunky, a creepy old house with a creepy house smell.” 

Learmonth Village has a history, a past that it holds dear, superstitions that it clings fast to. Learmonth House, however, is governed by its own set of rules, its own past. Gemma and her family are about to discover just what those rules are. 
Learmonth has a pact with the darkness… 

The darkness is hungry...




Thursday, 21 May 2015

Book: The Billionaire's Inconvenient Obsession by Nadia Lee

Title: The Billionaire's Inconvenient Obsession
Series: The Pryce Family (#2)
Author: Nadia Lee
From: Review Copy
Genre: Romance
Release Date: 20th December 2014
Challenges: 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Since falling for conman Gio's lines, Jane Connolly's world has been turned upside down. Now determined not to return home until she's proved herself, she's living out of her car and trying to find a job. Except that Gio won't let her go and when Iain Pryce finds her her car has been ruined. Iain gave up MMA fighting 13 years ago and walled himself off from his emotions and from caring, except that there is something about Jane that messes with his calm. If only he can shake it.

Nadia Lee never fails to provide engaging characters and a great story, and The Billionaire's Inconvenient Obsession definitely doesn't fail to deliver! Despite the series being about the rich (and somewhat famous) Pryce family, it is clear early on in the book that money isn't really an issue for the Pryce men, from comments both Mark (from the previous book) and Iain made it wasn't about money for them.

Jane was a really strong female character. All of the women in Lee's novels are strong in their own way, but Jane is determined in a way that puts the rest of them to shame. She was just a normal woman and that meant that she was determined to make her own way. I really liked how there wasn't that much focus on how she looked, more on how she felt and how beautiful she was to Iain more than anything else.

Relationship wise, Iain and Jane's relationship was one that progressed naturally. There was no big love at first sight moment (though there was intrigue and lust at first sight!) rather it was a slow slide for them both, and though they may have realise that they were falling for one another it took a while for them to actually admit it.

The Billionaire's Inconvenient Obsession has me intrigued on several of the secondary characters as well. Because of the way in which Lee has written her two series, The Pryce Family and Billionaires in Love, a lot of the characters had been introduced before, and several of the secondary characters in The Billionaire's Inconvenient Obsession had been heros/heroines of their own books (Mark, Hilary and Brooke, as well as several mentioned characters such as Amandine and Gavin). Vanessa particularly has my attention, but Dane also seems intrigueing!

My only regret with this book is that I waited so long to actually read it...I kind of feel a bit like telling myself off for that one, but Lee's books are enjoyable, they are a great set of books!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Book: Sweet Submission by Roxy Sloane

Title: Sweet Submission
Series: Submission (#1)
Author: Roxy Sloane
From: Amazon
Genre: Erotica, Romance, BDSM
Release Date: 18th Decemeber 2014
Challenges: N/A
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Isabelle Ashcroft has been under the control of her adopted brother for years, being told how to act, what to wear and who to be. But when he takes her to a BDSM club without her realising, she ends up in deeper trouble than ever before. Cam looked up to the CEO of Ashcroft Industries until his death, and always had a thing for his adopted daughter. When at the club he hears her distress and rushes in to save the day...

Sweet Submission kind of sounded like it was going to be one of those books where you couldn't escape the sex, and I chose to read it because of how much I found myself enjoying another of Sloane's books, The Seduction. But in reality Sweet Submission is actually barely about the sex at all. Yes there is an undercurrent of attraction between Cam and Isabelle, but ultimately this seemed like a set up for the rest of the series. And I liked that.

At first, even from her POV, Isabelle came across as rather shallow and just a shell of a person, but as Sweet Submission progressed she seemed to  develop and become more and more of an individual. This wasn't only through her own POV, but also as Cam got to know her and see who she really is.

In contrast, Cam still feels like a bit of a mystery. I'm not all that sure exactly what his story is, only that he has one, and I think that is another thing that added to the enjoyment of Sweet Submission. There was a lot of building up the characters and I can definitely get on board with that!

Sweet Submission holds promise for what is to come, and gets you suitably intrigued!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Book: The Wanted by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Title: The Wanted
Series: The Woodlands (#4)
Author: Lauren Nicolle Taylor
From: Amazon
Genre: Dystopia, Young Adult
Release Date: 31st October 2014
Challenges: 2015 Reading Assignment, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (12 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Joseph is left devastated after being forced to leave the love of his life behind. Rosa understands why he left but feels the hole in her heart where Joseph and their son, Orry, should be. Tortured and forced to watch the events that led to her own death, Rosa struggles to hold on to herself. But can the couple find their way back to one another and what they want most in the world?

I started The Wanted knowing I would probably be crying by the end. But though the final chapters did make me emotional (and there may have been some tears) it wasn't nearly as much as I expected. Though that wasn't in a bad way. I did have to stop reading a few times because of how impacted I was by Rosa's torture (and Jospeh's self-torture) which was partly due to being so invested in these characters. But the main thing that struck me was that The Wanted was a story about strength. Both Joseph and Rosa had to find the strength to carry on even when they feel broken.

The dystopian element of the book wasn't quite as strong in The Wanted as in the previous Woodlands books, but I think that was because of the focus on the emotions of the two main characters. Saying that, the elements were definitely there and the evilness of people such as Superior Grant did take centre stage. Some of the characters around him did surprise me it must be said.

Interestingly one of the most central characters was only actually on page for two chapters; Orry. In previous books he's played more of an on page role, but in this book the emotions that came from both Joseph and Rosa when they thought about their son made him really important, particularly when understanding their motivations. One of the chapters with Orry was also one of those that made me cry a little bit.

The ending was right. What I mean by that is it isn't the most perfect ending for the characters, or even for the society, but it works for the series and the characters. It ties up what happens to them at the same time as not betraying their struggles and having things magically sort themselves out.

This was one of those books that made me forgo sleep. If you haven't read any of The Woodlands series, then it is definitely one to recommend (and book 1 is free!).