Monday, 27 February 2017

Caught Up in You (Caught Up book1)

by Colee Firman

Rating: 5/5


25976545
Pages - 299
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Publication Date: 2014


Summary (via Goodreads)

Life has a way of shaping you into what it wants you to be, regardless of how much you fight it.

Brantley Prescott is damaged. Scarred by a past she can’t forget. Hiding secrets she’s terrified to share. Searching for a future she doesn’t believe she’ll ever find.

Myles Franco is alone. Burdened by mistakes he’ll never live down. Fostering a deep resentment for the opposite sex. Unleashing his wrath on any girl who gets too close.

Brantley has worked behind the bar long enough to recognize Myles for what he is—a douchebag player with nothing on his mind but keeping a steady stream of girls flowing through his bed. With his messy dark hair, sapphire blue eyes, rock-solid body, and endless tattoos he’s impossible to ignore. But that’s exactly what she plans on doing.

After just one run-in with Brantley, Myles is even more determined to stick to the rules he lives by. She’s mouthy, blunt, and doesn’t back down—no matter how hard he pushes her. She could turn out be the one temptation that drags him down the path he’s been trying to avoid. He won’t let that happen.

Both are content living behind the solid walls they’ve built around themselves. Neither is prepared for what happens when their lives collide.


Due to sexual content and graphic language - 17+ recommended.


Review

Thank you to NetGalley and the author for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

Where do I start? I absolutely became obsessed with this book! I have not come across a book that had me so addicted in quite a while - I simply could not pull myself away from it and the moment I finished the first book, I found myself on Amazon buying the sequel.

Caught Up in You tells the story of sassy and independent Brantley as she tries to get control over her life and learn to stand on her own two feet and forget about her troubled past. She is young, smart and incredibly stubborn. 

On the flip side is Miles - brooding, dark and incredibly sexy, but determined to make something of himself despite his mistakes.

Both have a past they want to escape and hide, and both have tempers that flare and, in the most humorous way possible, cause several misunderstandings and dramatic exits! There were moments when reading that I honestly snorted out loud (something I simply do not ever do when reading!).

The author has created a love story that moves away from the old cliché's and predictable storylines of star-crossed lovers and has, instead, literally reinvented the 'boy/girl-next-door' scenario. What is fresh, however, is the way she has done this by using people who are more relatable and have lived lives that feel more real and possible rather than giving the reader characters who cannot be related to. This helps to make the drama, tragedy and romance feel more intense to the reader, pulling you into every page and will have you yelling at the book as you read, determined at points that your eyes must be lying to you.

I cannot recommend this book enough! But, as is mentioned above - this is DEFINATELY not a book for younger readers - 17+


The Kingdom of Oceana

by Mitchell Charles

Rating: 3/5

28129039

Pages - 222
Publisher: Butterhorse Media
Publication Date: 2015
ISBN: 978-0-692-50841-1


Summary (via Goodreads)

SURFER SHARK TAMER FIRE WALKER EXPLORER TEENAGER HERO Five Centuries Ago, On the Island Now Called Hawaii, There was a Kingdom Filled with Adventure, Beauty, and Magic. When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise. As warring factions collide for control of Oceana, it sparks an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers that threatens to erupt-just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano. With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki's spell. Can peace be restored to the kingdom? Can Prince Ailani claim his rightful place as the future king of Oceana? ONLY ONE CAN RULE.

Review

May I start by giving my thanks and appreciation to both the author and to Book Publicity Services who brought my attention to this book.

Who doesn't like a dramatic book that explores sibling rivalry?

I very rarely review books designed for younger readers but I am so glad I made an exception for this book!

The Kingdom of Oceana tells the story of two teenage brothers who both bid and scrap for their parents love and attention. The brothers are close to a certain extent, but also hold resentments towards each other which threaten to destroy their relationship and their entire kingdom.

Mitchell Charles has brought the culture and life of Hawaii to life in his book and has shown a deep respect and understanding towards the history of the island and its people. I really enjoyed the colour, life and amusement that this book had to offer from cover to cover and found myself drawn in to Ailani's story as it unfolded throughout the pages. The characters are well written and you feel like a witness to an intense journey as you read, like you are drawn into the action rather than being separate from it.

One element I found particularly helpful when reading was the additional information provided for any unfamiliar words that related to Hawaiian culture. These helped me to understand not only the story as it unfolded, but also gave me a better appreciation for the society and time the book was written about.

I would recommend this book to anyone, but I do feel it is more aimed at teenagers by the way it is written and the content covered within the book.

All Souls Trilogy

by Deborah Harkness

Rating: 4/5

86678481155920016054217

Publisher: Viking Adult
Publication Date: 2011, 2012, 2014


Summary (via Goodreads)

A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life, now available in a beautiful boxed set

With more than two million copies sold in the United States, the novels of the number one New York Times–bestselling All Souls Trilogy have landed on all the major bestseller lists, garnered rave reviews, and spellbound legions of loyal fans. Now all three novels are available in an elegantly designed boxed set that’s perfect for fans and newcomers alike.
 

Review
It's been a while since I have had a chance to post any reviews of books so may I start by sending my apologies to any authors/publishers that have been kept waiting.

I read this trilogy one after the other, finding myself completely drawn into the world that Deborah Harkness has created. the story follows the dramatic and challenging love story of Diana and Matthew as they rise up to the constant battles that are thrown their way in their magical world which includes witches, vampires, time travel and fighting.

I think the way that Harkness has put the fictional world together within our own has a very unique feel to it somewhere between Harry Potter and The Mortal Instruments (if these had been aimed at adults that is!). She is clever with humour and the historical elements throughout the three books. Being a history nut, I particularly enjoyed her time spinning fun in Book Two (Shadow of Night).

I think of the three books, Book One (A Discovery of Witches) was my favourite just for the interesting and gradual unfolding of not only the main characters, but the love that grows between Diana and Matthew that borders on obsession. Harkness has created believable characters who, despite the magical elements within the stories, the reader can relate to at times, which is one of the main reasons I believe the books are so addictive and successful.

I would recommend this trilogy to any lover of witch folklore and vampire-romance crossovers.

I only wish Harkness would write another book to continue the story of Diana and Matthew as I found myself yearning for more by the time I came to the end of the books.



Saturday, 2 January 2016

Between Gods

by Alison Pick

Rating: 3/5


24604049

Pages: 368
Publisher: Tinder Press
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN:  9781472225092
 
Summary (via Goodreads)


From the Man-Booker longlisted author of FAR TO GO, comes an unforgettable memoir about family secrets, depression, and the author's journey to reconnect with her Jewish identity.

Alison Pick was born in the 1970s and raised in a loving, supportive family, but as a teenager she made a discovery that changed her understanding of who she was for ever. She learned that her Pick grandparents, who had escaped from Czechoslovakia during WWII, were Jewish, and that most of this side of the family had died in concentration camps. At this stage she realised that her own father had kept this a secret from Alison and her sister. Engaged to be married to her longterm boyfriend but in the grip of a crippling depression, Alison began to uncover her Jewish heritage, a quest which challenged all her assumptions about her faith, her future, and what it meant to raise a family. An unusual and gripping story, told with all the nuance and drama of a novel, this is a memoir illuminated with heartbreaking insight into the very real lives of the dead, and hard-won hope for all those who carry on after.
  






Review


I would like to thank both Alison Pick and Bookbridgr for a review copy of this book.


I don't tend to review non-fiction very often but when I read the blurb for this book I found myself compelled to read it.


Alison Pick discovered at a young age that her family had once been Jewish and that her grandparents had fled Europe during World War II in a hope of running from the carnage that tore countries apart and resulted in the horrific murder of millions of people. As a result of this revelation Pick found herself drawn to the cultural heritage and lives of her family as well as others who, like her, were trying to work out where they belonged. Her journey forwards leads her down paths she wasn't expecting and she soon realises that reclaiming her heritage will not be as easy as she thought.


Pick writes her memoir with honesty and compassion for those lost, looking at her family with sincere interest and respect. Her resulting memoir tells of her journey towards finding the truth hidden under decades of secrets and denial and her acceptance of the way she wants to live her life and the people she meets along the way.











Empress Orchid

by Anchee Min

Rating: 5/5


862340

Pages: 336
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: 2005
ISBN:  9780747568339
 
Summary (via Goodreads)


The setting is China's Forbidden City in the last days of its imperial glory, a vast complex of palaces and gardens run by thousands of eunuchs and encircled by a wall in the center of Peking. In this highly ordered place -- tradition-bound, ruled by strict etiquette, rife with political and erotic tension -- the Emperor, "the Son of Heaven," performs two duties: he must rule the court and conceive an heir. To achieve the latter, tradition provides a stupendous hierarchy of hundreds of wives and concubines. It is as a minor concubine that the beautiful Tzu Hsi, known as Orchid as a girl, enters the Forbidden City at the age of seventeen. It is not a good time to enter the city. The Ch'ing Dynasty in 1852 has lost its vitality, and the court has become an insular, xenophobic place. A few short decades earlier, China lost the Opium Wars, and it has done little since to strengthen its defenses or improve diplomatic ties. Instead, the inner circle has turned further inward, naively confident that its troubles are past and the glory of China will keep the "barbarians" -- the outsiders -- at bay. Within the walls of the Forbidden City the consequences of a misstep are deadly. As one of hundreds of women vying for the attention of the Emperor, Orchid soon discovers that she must take matters into her own hands. After training herself in the art of pleasing a man, she bribes her way into the royal bedchamber and seduces the monarch. A grand love affair ensues; the Emperor is a troubled man, but their love is passionate and genuine. Orchid has the great good fortune to bear him a son. Elevated to the rank of Empress, she still must struggle to maintain her position and the right to raise her own child. With the death of the Emperor comes a palace coup that ultimately thrusts Orchid into power, although only as regent until her son's maturity. Now she must rule China as its walls tumble around her, and she alone seems capable of holding the country together. This is an epic story firmly in the mold of Anchee Min's Becoming Madame Mao. Like that best-selling historical novel, the heroine of Empress Orchid comes down to us with a diabolical reputation -- a woman who seized power through sexual seduction, murder, and endless intrigue. But reality tells a different story. Based on copious research, this is a vivid portrait of a flawed yet utterly compelling woman who survived in a male world, a woman whose main struggle was not to hold on to power but to her own humanity. Richly detailed and completely gripping, Empress Orchid is a novel of high drama and lyricism and the first volume of a trilogy about the life of one of the most important women in history.





Review
I always find it interesting when in the past people have said to me that women were deemed both unimportant and uninvolved in the ancient history of the world. The truth is of course the opposite and I love reading historical novels that help to hone this point. Anchee Min's Empress Orchid is a fantastic example of this. Set in 19th century China at the heart of the Forbidden City Min tells the story of a lowly concubine's rise to power and her determination not to be overlooked amongst thousands of other women.


Orchid, a poor girl from a family slowly starving and struggling to survive finds herself in the grasp of being forced into an undesired marriage when an opportunity presents itself that allows her to not only change her own fate, but the fate of her family too. Suddenly Orchid is thrust into a world of bitter resentment, betrayal and beauty and she soon realises that in order to survive and retain her sanity she would need to find her way into the Emperor's life and sets out to achieve her goal, no matter the cost.


I found Empress Orchid utterly compelling. Through brilliant writing Min has brought the character and the world surrounding her to life. From start to finish I found myself hooked by the tragedy, anger and intrigue that existed in Empress Orchid's world and I am thoroughly looking forward to reading her sequel The Last Empress.


I recommend this book highly and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.









Saturday, 10 October 2015

Twisted

by Lola Smirnova

Rating: 5/5


21446984

Pages: 314
Publisher:  Createspace
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN:  9781496031013
 
Summary (via Goodreads)


Back in the 90’s, the corrupt post-Soviet Ukraine with its faltering economy, is thrown into a devastating depression. Times are hard. Opportunities are scarce.

Three eager young sisters – Natalia, Lena and Julia - dream of a better life and weigh their options: do they stay and struggle like their parents, or join scores of their compatriots in the sex trade in glittering western European cities, who earn in a night what they’d take several months to earn at home? Naive and tempted by the allure of 'quick' money, the girls set off on an adventure that changes their lives forever...

Can they stay out of trouble enough to fulfill their ambitions?
Can they hold on to their idealism in a world where depravity and danger are constant companions?
How far are they willing to go to make a buck?

Inspired by real-life events, Twisted is a fascinating New Adult SUSPENSE THRILLER about vulnerability, courage and the art of making a living in the sex trade...




Review




I would like to thank both Lola Smirnova for allowing me to review her book and to Book Publicity Services for contacting me in the first place and offering me a review copy or I may never have come across such a captivating and alluring book.


I cannot describe how much I enjoyed reading Twisted, nor how much I cannot wait to read the second book in her series; Craved.


Twisted followed the story of three sisters in their bid to survive poverty and depression in the 90's Soviet Union.


What I loved the most about the book was the language. Smirnova writes in a way rarely seen in most books like this; honest and blunt without overly romanticising the content. The book is neither underplayed nor overdone. It is simply perfectly written to reflect the story.


That may sound over the top on my part but it is my opinion nonetheless. Often I come across books that overplay the sexual nature within their stories, or make the notion of prostitution either too 'rose-tinted' or degrading to the women who work in the profession. Smirnova, on the other hand, shows the sex trade from both sides in equal measure, it can be fun, but it is still the sex trade.


The characters of the three sisters were humorous, sarcastic and incredibly entertaining to read about. I could go on forever about the book, but I do not want to give anything away. All I will say is READ IT! You will not be disappointed. 


I wish to end this review with a quick word of caution. Please be advised that there is an age warning on this book as the content is of a highly explicit nature and therefore is not suitable for young readers. I would only recommend this book to readers above the age of 18!


About the Author: (courtesy of Book Publicity Services)
Lola Smirnova is an author from Ukraine. She loves twisting a suspenseful tale through the dark lens of realism around the sexual underworld, so clocked in secrecy and shame. Lola’s work is inspired by real-life events and is meant for the open-minded readers who are not afraid of a little blood, sweat and semen.


Her debut novel Twisted was released in 2014. The book placed as Honorable Mention in General Fiction Category of The 2014 London Book Festival’s Annual Competition.
Whether you prefer to slide your finger across a touchscreen or turn a paper page, Lola’s thrilling tales will surely shock and surprise you, with both its storyline and its literary value.


Now living in South Africa, Lola is about to release her second novel – a sequel to Twisted – Craved, which proves just how many fascinating stories she has to share about the ordinary women in the global sex industry.


To learn more, go to http://lolasmirnova.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/twistedlolasmirnova

Saturday, 5 September 2015

The Sister Queens

by Sophie Perinot

Rating: 4/5


11459517

Pages: 503
Publisher:  NAL
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 9780451235701
 
Summary (via Goodreads)


Patient, perfect, and used to being first, Marguerite becomes Queen of France. But Louis IX is a religious zealot who denies himself the love and companionship his wife craves. Can she borrow enough of her sister's boldness to grasp her chance for happiness in a forbidden love?Passionate, strong-willed, and stubborn, Eleanor becomes Queen of England. Henry III is a good man, but not a good king. Can Eleanor stop competing with her sister and value what she has, or will she let it slip away?

The Sister Queens is historical fiction at its most compelling, and is an unforgettable first novel.


Review


How do you determine the creator of history? Is it just one person or several? Are they male? Female? Both? Who are they?


These were some of the questions I had in the back of my mind when I was reading The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot.


The Sister Queens follows the stories of Marguerite, Queen of France, and Eleanor, Queen of England in the 1200s. What is interesting about the two women is that, not only were they both married to powerful kings, but they were also sisters who would continue a constant bond and correspondence with one another for their entire lives, despite the very different direction those lives would go in.


I had never actually heard of Eleanor or Marguerite, or their other two sisters who would also become queens in their own right. However their story intrigued me. Eleanor and Marguerite were queens to warring kings who, at some points in their lives, resented one another. Despite this, the two sisters worked together to bring peace between their two countries as they attempted to hold their own in a world ruled by men.


Overall I found the book to be interesting to read and the voices of the characters to be captivating. I found myself following the story and, due to my limited knowledge of the history behind the book, guessing at what would happen next.


Both sisters are portrayed as being strong, independent and intelligent women who learned how to achieve what they wanted despite being considered inferior by their contemporaries.


Perinot has really brought the dead back to life in her book and given them their own voices once again.