These ‘about me’ sections, or even sections that inform you about blogs, have never been my forte. Much to my chagrin, I was never taught the unwritten rules of what you are supposed to say. The links at the side of the blog – Twitter and Goodreads, for example – are liable to tell you more than I could ever say in words.

Mostly, this will be a book blog. I read a lot, and I love to share my views on my most recent reads. I try to read a little bit of everything, but if you look closely you’ll notice I will occasionally become obsessed with one specific genre for a short period of time. Old books, new books, yet to be released books – I read them all. If you’re an author looking for advance readers or just wish for more reviews of a book you’ve already released, please feel free to contact me. There is a contact form at the side of my blog – if you scroll down below the Twitter and Goodreads sidebar you will find it – so drop me a message and I’ll be sure to get back to you in double time. After all, finding new authors is what makes the book world go around.

Thanks for taking your time to read this. With a little bit of luck, you will find my blog much more interesting than this mundane introductory section.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Review: Windhaven

Windhaven Windhaven by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everyone knows George R. R. Martin from his A Song of Ice and Fire series, yet a lot of his other books are fun reads as well. I admit that I have only read a handful of his standalone novels, but what I’ve read have been – mostly – good reads. Windhaven is another book to add to the list of non-ASOIAF books people should read if they’re a fan of Martin’s work.

Truthfully, this wasn’t a book I was going to go out of my way to purchase. I’d seen it whilst browsing online on more than one occasion, but I never went out of my way to purchase it. Of course, when I saw it in an offer my mind was made up. I never say no to books by my favourite authors when they’re on offer, meaning when I saw this one (along with a book by another of my favourite authors) in an offer I jumped at it. I didn’t pick it up straight away – my bookshelf is overflowing – but I worked around to it rather quickly. I was curious, after all.

For me, I’d deem this book to be a fantasy novel with a bit of a sci-fi back-story. Set on another world, seemingly extremely far in the future, we have a whole new way of living. On this planet, travel between the distant islands is hard so flyers exist to take messages back-and-forth across the planet. I feel as though I could have done with a bit more information regarding how the whole flyer thing worked – what it was about the atmosphere and the gravity of the planet that made it possible – but even without these details it was a wonderful concept.

As you would expect, though, things aren’t as straightforward as they should be. Like any good fantasy novel there is conflict. One group against another, trouble between the classes. There is a clear divide in the society and things need changing. What we’re given is the story of these changes taking place.

Whilst we follow the same main character throughout, I do feel as though it was more about the story than about her. Yes, she was important. She was a great main character to follow, she was important in the events, and I loved watching her life at these main points. Still, her life took a backseat to the main story. Not that such a thing bothered me, as it was great to see such a thing. We are merely given glimpses, for the most part, into her personal story. The personal story takes a backseat to the important changes taking place in the world, our character being our focus simply for the role she plays – and it is this role we focus on.

Honestly, it was a great read. The story is split into three parts, three points in time where big change happens. I’m not going to go into detail about what these things are, but throughout we get to see how the world has changed. As we shift from one point in time to the next, we get to see the effects of the last change on society and the characters that keep popping up. Speaking of characters, there’s quite a bit of fun to be had there. The cast is great, all having their own role to play in the story.

Truthfully, this is the kind of thing I could imagine being made into a movie. Unfortunately, I fear as though it would be one of those movies that are terribly awkward. I guess it’s a good job I’m not really one for endorsing movie adaptations of the books I read.

Certainly, though, I’d recommend this for fans of George R. R. Martin.

View all my reviews

Friday, 29 July 2016

Review: Falling Over You

Falling Over You Falling Over You by Heather C. Myers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Before I get too deep into this review, I wish to make a quick point. This is one of those cases whereby I’ve rounded my rating up. It isn’t quite a full four stars, yet had I given it three it would have been an injustice. All in all, it was a bit over the three-point-five rounding down threshold. A very strong three, but not quite a full four.

As always, Heather C. Myers has created a wonderful love story. I’ve said this before, for one of her other books, but I’ll say it again. Heather C. Myers has a way of taking themes that have been done before, ideas that are already out there, and giving you something fresh. She puts her own spin on tales, meaning you get a classic notion with something very much unique to her. With this one, it’s a paranormal tale. It’s a tale of falling in love with a ghost. Just what can you do when you’re the only one who can see someone, the only one who can hear someone, the only one who can feel someone?

I’ll admit, the main reason it isn’t quite a full four star rating is due to the ghostly element of the tale. I know that Heather C. Myers can write the supernatural aspect of her stories. I’ve seen it done wonderful in some of her other tales, where she truly brings the supernatural creatures to life. For me, however, in this one, she fell a bit short. I feel as though the ghost aspect was underdeveloped, that it could have been explained better. I feel as though there were some inconsistencies in the way things were working, in the rules applied to the ghost. It felt, at points, as though the rules changed in regards to what was convenient for the scene. Due to this, I would have liked something set, some guidelines, as to how things were to work out.

Despite this, it was a fun tale. Whenever I noticed something that left me questioning the rules of the ghostly world, I forced myself to pay extra attention to the story. It was an interesting one, with all the amusement and drama you can expect from a Heather C. Myers story. As always she sets the romantic scene, allowing us to watch as our characters come to the realisation we’re waiting for. Truthfully, I’d expected the ending to be different. I knew what to expect in terms of the romantic ending, but I wasn’t sure how the specifics of it would play out. I knew certain things would come to light, that certain information would be given, but the actual act of how the two came to be… I was expecting something different. Whether this is a good or bad thing, I cannot say for sure. Technically, it’s not bad; I’d just convinced myself that something else would play out. Nevertheless, I was content with the ending.

Overall, it was another great Heather C. Myers read.

As a final note, I would like to thank the author for allowing me to advance read this one in exchange for a review.

View all my reviews

Review: Broken Heart

Broken Heart Broken Heart by Tim Weaver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brilliant, as ever. Tim Weaver has, once again, demonstrated why he is one of my favourite authors.

Before I go into a full review of this book, however, I wish to share one of my annoying stories. I really am sorry to those who have been reading a lot of my reviews recently, as it seem as though most of the books I’ve been reading have come with a story attached. This story, though, exists simply to show just how obsessed with the David Raker series I am.

I found Never Coming Back in the Asda two books for seven pounds deal back when it was first released, what I didn’t realise was that it was part of a series. Thus, I worked to amend that. It took me a while, but I finally worked around to buying the first three books. More often than I should be admitting to, I have read series in the wrong order. This often ends with spoilers, clues of where individual stories are heading. I did not want this to happen with the David Raker series. Now whilst I enjoyed the first book it wasn’t a crazy level of love. It was enough to ensure I carried on with the series, but I wasn’t pulling my hair out because I wasn’t already up to date with the books. The second book I enjoyed a lot more, ensuring I was a fan. By the time I made it to Vanished, book three, I was crazy about the series. Vanished is without a doubt my favourite in the series. There have been some close calls since, but I stand by Vanished being my favourite to date. Obviously, after finishing the third book I jumped straight into the fourth. It’s when we get to book five that my crazy obsession stories come into play.

Fall From Grace was realised around the same time as a book by one of my other favourite authors came out in paperback. When I made it to the store I brought them both, which resulted in a massive problem. It was already evening, and I didn’t know what I wanted to read first. I adored both of the books I’d purchased, desperate to see where both series were heading. Thus, I did the only reasonable thing: I stayed up all night reading them back-to-back. This is totally normal behaviour, though, so it wasn’t that bad… At least, it was tame compared to what happened with book six.

What Remains was a real doozy to get my hands on. I’m rather OCD when it comes to my books: if I start a series in hardback, it stays in hardback throughout; if I start in paperback, it stays in paperback throughout. Thus, I had to hold out on purchasing What Remains until it was realised in paperback to go with the rest of the series. I planned to head straight into the city to purchase it, yet I had a day of lectures and couldn’t go hunting until the late afternoon. By that time, almost everywhere in Aberdeen had sold out. The book was just that popular. There is no exaggeration when I say I walked miles to get my hands on the book, finally I found it hidden away in a corner in a Sainsbury’s. It was more than worth the trouble. What I did not realise is that trouble would occur with book seven, as well.

I was working on the day Broken Heart was realised, and I feared a repeat of my last escapade. Therefore, I sent my mother on a mission to find the book. I would like to point out that my mother lives hundreds of miles away, so she was getting strict instructions down the phone. I needed her to find me a very specific book so that when I came to visit I would be an exceptionally happy daughter. She did as I asked though, heading out to find me one. After work, I phoned to see whether she had managed to grab me one… only for there to be bad news. For some reason, her search had ended in a conversation of how the book would not be on the shelves for a while. Thus, I became a woman on a mission. Again, I searched Aberdeen. Fortunately, my search was much easier this time. Again, the trouble was worth it.

The trouble is always worth it with Tim Weaver.

Now, after hundreds of words rambling on to explain my love of – obsession with – Tim Weaver’s work, I will tell you all about Broken Heart.

From the get-go, I was pulled into the story, with Weaver doing what he always does: setting the scene, giving you glimpses of mystery, leaving you with many questions. What I especially loved about this story was the case. Tim Weaver always creates thrilling missing person stories, but this time it was outside the norm. What I mean is that the missing person did not fit the stereotype found in so many of these books. This time we have an older woman going missing, the reason for her disappearance completely unknown. It was a great change to the norm, showcasing once again how Tim Weaver can create a compelling story for any character.

When we’re given information regarding why our character went missing… well, the story did not go where I was expecting. It was wonderful, full of twists and turns. The story was beautifully interconnected, more and more being added on to the sordid tale until you fear no more can be added – only for Weaver to show you otherwise. Honestly, it was great. I cannot begin to explain all that is going on without doing the book an injustice. There’s a mix of the past and the present. Fears of what will happen and anxiety about what has occurred.

Moreover, the personal side of the tale continued to grow. I expected there to be more relating to the past book, about Colm, yet such a thing did not happen. That story was briefly mentioned, only one real aspect of it continuing on. Not the Colm aspect, the aftereffect of the events on David. As a person, throughout the books, he has really grown. I was crossing my fingers for certain things to happen in this one, for things to go a certain way… but to say anything specific about how I feel will tell you too much. Just know that if you’re really interested in the personal life of David things shift some in this book.

Honestly, I could go on and on about how beautiful the story is, but my words would never do it justice. From the start, we have mystery and action. The story progresses at a great pace, the information slowly being drip fed to us, leaving us wanting more whilst answers are slowly given.

If you haven’t started the David Raker series, I suggest you amend that now. There is no telling where Tim Weaver will go from here, all I know is that he’s writing consistently brilliant books and I plan to go out of my way to purchase them as soon as they come out. He has a fan for life in me, and you’ll be foolish not to jump on the bandwagon I’m proclaiming myself queen of.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Review: Before They Are Hanged

Before They Are Hanged Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn’t quite as pleased with the first book in this trilogy as I had hoped to be. It was an okay read, but I was left wanting more. Despite this, I had high hopes for the second book. There was much promise. Fortunately, I can say I enjoyed this one a lot more.

You see, Joe Abercrombie sat on my to-read list for a rather long time. I had many internal debates in bookstores as to whether or not I was to pick up his books. Whenever there is a Goodreads giveaway for one of his books, I enter. It is through one such giveaway that I came to be reading this series – well, at least partly.

Allow me to tell you a short story, before I get down to writing my review of this book, just so you better understand how I feel towards it.

Earlier this year, a friend of mine offed me a collection of his fantasy books. He was cleaning out his house, making more room, and wanted to unload some of his books. Who better to hand them to than little old me? Everyone who knows me is aware of my love for books, of how I will nab any and all offered. I asked him what was included and he gave me a wonderful list (at this point I would like to point out the embarrassing fact of how he has only read a couple of them, thus leaving me to question our friendship). There were many squeals as names were read out. Patrick Rothfuss. Joe Abercrombie. Robin Hobb. Scott Lynch. The last easily brought out the biggest of squeals because the first two Gentleman Bastard books were being handed over. Still, I was pretty excited by a lot of the names.

Now, obviously, I jumped into the Scott Lynch books first. Such a thing goes without saying. Yet, I was interested in many of the other books. My problem, however, was I didn’t know where to go after finishing the two Scott Lynch books (other than ordering book three and awaiting book four, that is).

Enter another friend, this one being someone who spends all their free time reading high fantasy. Most of the names she had either read or they are on her to-read list. Thus, she was happy to make suggestions. To begin with, she told me Patrick Rothfuss. This changed when she realised I’m an impatient soul, and she had no wish to force another wait on me. Thus, she told me to read Joe Abercrombie. Before I could do such a thing, though, she wanted to borrow the last two books. Whilst she has read his other series, she had only read the first of this series. I allowed her to borrow the books, and my reading was to be put aside.

Whilst waiting for her to finish with the book, I saw a giveaway for Sharp Ends. It’s a collection of short stories set in The First Law world. Knowing I now had the trilogy waiting to be read, I entered the giveaway. I was more than a little bit surprised when I won. I informed my friend, highlighting how I needed her to speed up her reading because I needed to get on top of things before my winning arrived. It arrived quite quickly, though, and she wasn’t quite done.

Finally, however, I got the books back. Upon return, my friend informed me of how I would love the books. They’re very character driven, and right up my street, she told me. Basically, she fangirled and I took her word for it.

Now that I have read book two, I can say I’m more inclined to mirror her view. I’m not as crazy about it as she is, but I admit that this second book was an improvement on the first.

As my friend informed me, the first book is very character driven. I loved this about the story, to a degree. We found out so much about the characters, with them really coming alive. It doesn’t matter whether a character is a main character or a side character – they are very much brought to life. However, in doing so, the story was lacking in the pace I like. For me, far too much time was spent creating the characters. This is fine, so long as the story progresses with the creation. The two should happen together. Instead, we had a lot of one and not much of the other.

In other words, I loved the characters yet the story let me down. For a lot of the story, I had no idea where things were heading. This is wonderful for suspense – but I like to have a general idea of what is going on. Some characters are on some kind of quest. Some characters are set out to cause trouble. Some characters are preparing for war. Everything seemed to be going in different directions, and I wasn’t sure what I expected for any of them. I grew tired of waiting for things to come together, for things to become clear.

This changed for the last part of the first book, with finally things coming together. I became a lot more interested in the story, the last half of the book being a four star rating. In the end, I could only give the first book three stars. However, due to the last half, I was hopeful that all of the second book would be a four star rating. Whilst this wasn’t entirely the case, it was for most of the book. There was just a little bit at the start where things seemed a little bit slow, but once things were reintroduced everything moved at a wonderful pace. The story was great, clearly heading somewhere, and I knew what I was dealing with when it came to each character. That isn’t to say the book was predictable, merely I was no longer lost in the wind when it came to working out what was happening.

Each character’s story goes in a different direction, a wonderful direction, without any confusion being caused. Moreover, the development we had so much of in the first book continues on. Characters grow and continue to come to life, as more and more is found out about characters. Characters whom had somewhat limited roles in the first book play a larger role in this one.

All in all, it was a great second read and I cannot wait to see how the trilogy ends.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Review: Saven Defiance

Saven Defiance Saven Defiance by Siobhan Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh my. I can safely say Defiance is my favourite book in the Saven series to date. Honestly, it was so good. I don’t know what I’m going to do now that I’m sitting waiting – impatiently, might I add – for the conclusion to this great series.

Before I go into detail about this book, I feel as though a little recap is called for. I’m doing this mainly so you can understand just how much I adored this book, so you can truly appreciate how hard it hit me.

Months ago, I joined a number of advance read teams without really knowing much about authors. What I mean to say is I joined some advance read teams prior to reading any of the author’s work. It was silly, I know. It was possible I would be disappointed. Fortunately, that did not happen. Either luck or divine intervention meant I found myself enjoying all of the work I was reading. As you have probably already guessed (or you are already aware of if you have read my other reviews for this series), Siobhan Davis falls into this category.

Siobhan Davis came to my attention through her True Calling book. My to-read list is extremely long. I have it split on Goodreads between what I own and what I still need to buy. The owned book section, at present, has managed to surpass the one thousand mark due to my love of downloading free books from Amazon. When I found her True Calling series, however, the number was at around four hundred books. Needless to say, upon downloading True Calling the book ended up very low down on my priority list. Despite this, I joined the author’s mailing list and when she asked for people to advance read her Saven series I jumped right in. I am not one to deny a series that sounds so very interesting.

By the time I joined the list, though, the first book was already out. Siobhan Davis was kind enough to send it to me, so I could get up to date. Of course, this bumped it up my to-read list. I had a slight up and down with the book but, for the most part, I enjoyed it. I was more than ready for book two. Despite being late to the advance read party, I still had to wait. As soon as I had it, though, I devoured it. Then I was impatient again. I mean that cliff-hanger! The woman had me holding on for dear life. Then came two-point-five. Again, there was devouring. I needed answers. My insides were so twisted from my need for answers. What I was given was wonderful. Despite my love-hate relationship with series novellas, I adored Denial. It gave me all I wanted and then some.

As you can see, as the series has progressed I’ve come to enjoy it more and more. Nevertheless, I was still hit much harder by this one than I had expected. After reading it, I’ve been well and truly pushed into the fangirl camp.

Okay, I’m rambling more than I mean to. I’m sorry – I’ve just got so many feels and need you to truly understand just how much fun I had with this one, how I enjoyed it so much more than the prior books (books that were already at a high level of enjoyment).

Another quick tangent, though, although this one is an important one. You have to read Denial before you read this one. Defiance carries on after the events of the novella, and those events are extremely important for what is to come. Trust me, you’ll get spoilers and confusion is you ignore the novella. Therefore, turn back now if you have yet to read Denial. Go catch up and enjoy the amazing two-point-five story! If you are up to date, if you have read the between story, I will now continue on.

The end of Denial was another cliff-hanger of a story. It wasn’t as big as the Disclosure ending, but it still left me on the edge of the seat for what was to come next. There were so many possibilities. My mind created the worst explanations possible. Due to my overactive imagination, I was a tiny bit disappointed at the very start. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I still loved it, but it was different to what my mind hand concocted. I had to remind myself that this was not my story, and Siobhan Davis knew exact where she was going. Fortunately, my initial feelings only last a chapter or two. With book one I was disappointed by how the action seemed to be held off for quite some time, the same was somewhat true with book two due how I’d wanted more action, yet book three moved much faster. There was no waiting for things to happen. Things are moving, moving at a real pace, from really early in the book. Moreover, once things get moving they do not stop.

As with book two, so much happened in this one. There are so many different aspects to the story, so many things going on. Fortunately, everything is given enough attention. Things play out well, rather than items appearing meshed together. Honestly, and I know I’m repeating myself, there was so much. I was so pleased by the additional alien races in book two and then two-point-five, and such a thing continues on in book three. The science fiction lover in me was so glad that things continued to grow in that regard. In fact, there was quite a bit happen in relation to the alien races. Fear not, I’ll hold back on spoilers, but be prepared for secrets to come out and for the story to grow even stronger where the peace and hatred between the alien races is concerned. A couple of things were expected, not overly shocking, but because there was so much going on, I still found certain twists catching me off guard. Whilst we are given answers to many of our questions, there are still so many things we need to know more about. In fact, there were almost as many new questions as there were answers. It promises great things for the next book, it really is no surprise the author added a fourth book to the series.

In addition to all of this, I feel even more in love with the series for another reason. Yes, there are plots within plots. Yes, things are progressing at a great rate. Yes, I’m holding out for answers I’m sure will be wonderful. It sounds crazy that I would need anything else to enjoy the series – but there is something more. Something unique to me, I believe. What I’m about to say will not apply to most people, as I know many hold different views, but in explaining this it does help show just how deep into the story I’ve emerged myself.

You see, I’m a massive fan of the young adult genre. I will pick up any young adult book that interests me. However, I do have a slight issue with the never-ending romance stories. They are all the same, in my personal opinion, and such a thing bores me. My interest in the romance in this story… well, it was never quite what I had hoped it would be. I had been crossing my fingers that I would enter the fangirl feels at some point but it didn’t seem to be happening. I didn’t hate the romantic aspect, yet I wasn’t overly concerned by it. Not in the way I have been in other stories.

Something changed in this book.

The romantic aspect seemed a lot more mature at times. I admit there was still some annoyance about the additional aspect added by Denial (as I said, two-point-five is an important story), yet it could have been so much worse. I feel as though it worked to strengthen Sadie as a character, and due to this I wasn’t as annoyed as I could have been – as I’d expected to be. She was a strong woman, who knew what she wanted, and she wasn’t about to let drama influence her life. I came to really respect her as a character, and through the events that took place I came to enjoy the romantic aspect of the story. I found myself smiling at the things that were occurring, rather than rolling my eyes in disgust. It was a massive improvement. I admit that some of the romantic parts still felt juvenile but, as a whole, things seemed a lot more mature.

Basically, the romantic drama changed to something I could deal with. The characters were a lot more grown up about things than I had expected them to be. There was a lot of development within and between characters, and I came to accept that aspect of the story. In fact, the development wasn’t simply in regards to the romance. There was a lot of development in general. Characters I already liked I came to like more. Some characters I changed my views about, or I came to question how I feel towards them. Certain characters have a story that… well, just hold out for a lot to happen in this one to both the main and the side characters.

I really could rant on and on, but I’m sure you’re growing bored of my fangirl nature by this point. As I said, this one really has ensured my love for the series. I’ve said since the start that Siobhan Davis can write a great story, yet this one took things a step beyond her normal level. This one guaranteed I would be throwing the series at anyone and everyone, rather than holding out for just those I thought it would appeal to.

Seriously, I cannot wait to get my hands on the last book. I’m so ready for my answers, so ready to see how things play out for all of the characters. Expect me to fangirl over it, probably worse than I have here.

As a final note, I would like to say the biggest thank you to Siobhan Davis for allowing me to advance read this one. It was wonderful, thank you a million times over.

View all my reviews

Review: Stranger

Stranger Stranger by Heather C. Myers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read a number of books by Heather C. Myers – Tempting the Flesh and Losing Myself In You (the first two Somerset novels), Death in Neverland (the first Neverland novel), Heroes and Thieves, A Beauty Dark and Deadly – and I can honestly say I consider Stranger to be my favourite. All of her stories have been enjoyable reads, yet this one had something a bit more to it.

Stranger reads like X-Men, with a bit more romance and more focus upon the individual storylines. In many ways, it reflects countless other stories whereby we’re given a school full of special students, but that does not make it any less enjoyable. In fact, I’ve found Heather C. Myers is more than capable of taking a general theme that has been done before – in this case the school of special teens – and putting an enjoyable spin on it. Therefore, whilst it may sound like just another one of those stories, I can assure you it is more than worth reading.

The story itself is great. There are multiple aspects to it, and whilst at first I was put out by the different focuses, I soon found myself pulled into both aspects. I found myself favouring the aspect I was reading… until I started a new chapter and my focus changed to the other part. Basically, I loved all of the different storylines that were being told. Fortunately, it did not feel as though one aspect was being given more attention than the other aspect. We follow the different parts of the story at an equal pace, with enough being told for each to ensure you are pulled completely into it. There are also aspects that are ignored, working to ensure we have enough mystery surrounding certain parts of the story to ensure we want to know more.

The world building is also a lot of fun. It’s simple yet elegant, with enough thrown in to ensure it is not boring. We find out about the basics pretty quickly, yet by the end of the book we’re still not one hundred percent of all this supernatural world is capable of. In fact, that is part of the mystery of the book. It is part of the mystery of the series, and has more than ensured I wish to carry on to see where things go. I need to get answers to certain storylines, not only because I’m invested in the characters but also because I’m invested in the world.

Speaking of the characters, they are a lot of fun. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about some of them. In fact, I was sure I was going to dislike some. However, as the story continued I came to enjoy them more and more. Each character has a great storyline. There are some clichés to be found, especially when it comes to the romantic element of the story, but it was possible to overlook these things due to the diverse cast. Our characters gave us a little bit of everything, and it was fun to watch a lot of the interaction play out.

Honestly, I know I’m not saying much, but it’s because I fear I will say too much. I really did enjoy this one. I’m curious as to where the story is going to head next, and I plan to find out sooner rather than later. It’s certainly a series I want to finish.

If nothing else, you should pick it up because it’s free. Sometimes free books can be a bit of hit and miss, yet such is not the case here. I promise you’ll enjoy it.

View all my reviews

Review: Writer's Block: The Top Ten Best Method's For Overcoming Writer's Block and Increasing Your Creative Productivity

Writer's Block: The Top Ten Best Method's For Overcoming Writer's Block and Increasing Your Creative Productivity Writer's Block: The Top Ten Best Method's For Overcoming Writer's Block and Increasing Your Creative Productivity by C.J. Anaya
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Do you want to learn how to stop worrying and start writing that #1 bestselling book? Do you have an amazing idea for a novel, but you can't seem to push through your own mental blocks and put pen to paper?

Such are the questions C.J. Anaya poses in the blurb. When she contacted her advance read team to see who was interested, she spoke of how it would probably appeal to those who have always wanted to be an author or for those with jobs or schooling that require a lot of writing. I can safely say that she spoke the truth. Addressing the two questions in a few short pages, C.J. Anaya hopes to make everyone’s life a little bit easier.

Honestly, I’m not going to write an overly lengthy review for this one. I’ll try to keep it short and concise.

In a very few pages, C.J. Anaya works to answer questions and offer up suggestions. In many cases, especially when it comes to the topic of writing, people are belittling in their means of offering advice. It may not be intentional, yet such a thing happens more often than it should. Fortunately, C.J. Anaya avoids that. She gives the most basic of information without the ‘you should already know this attitude’. She gives advice without any ‘this is what works for me and you should conform to my ways’ undertone. In fact, if this book is anything to go off, the woman is lovely. It’s friendly advice rather than a harsh guide.

A handful of pages are offered up to four main topics: the different types of writers block, covering excuses and distractions, ten easy methods to try out, and the different ways in which people can be inspired. As I said, it’s all basic stuff. It’s not a thousand word story of her success nor is it a professor harking out jargon that will improve your style until you’re a bestseller. It’s a light-hearted way of looking at writing, a simple way of opening up your eyes to the way of the writing world.

Very basic, but this is often what is needed.

As a final note, I would like to thank C.J. Anaya for sending me a copy in exchange for a review. It’s a great help, and I’d certainly recommend it to those needing some light advice.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Review: Cuffed

Cuffed Cuffed by Marc Horn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is one of those freebies from Amazon that spent far too long sitting on my Kindle.

Earlier this year I spent an evening working through the freebies on Amazon with my friend. We were looking for books that would interest us both, that we would both sit reading. During our search she sent me the link to this book, informing me that it seemed right up my street. I had a quick look at it, decided she was right, and hit the download button. I planned to read it much sooner, as I was truly interested in what it had to offer, only it kept disappearing under other books. Finally, however, I worked around to it.

Truthfully, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

By the time I worked around to reading this, I’d mostly forgotten what it was about – all I really knew was that I’d once considered it something of interest. I did not let this faze me, though. I jumped in with the general notion of a thrilling cop story with some madness thrown in. Whilst it was a cop story with madness thrown in, it would do better to reverse the order of the words. It was a madness story with a cop aspect to it. In a few ways, it reminded me of Catch-22: the story was more about the madness than the events that were going on, if anything the events lost some of their impact because of the madness overshadowing everything.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad story. At first I was considering giving it three stars, as I was intrigued to see where things were going. There were many aspects to the story. I was finding certain things amusing enough to voice laughter. You never really knew what was truth and what was fable. It made for an interesting read. However, as the story continued I found myself caring less and less. By the time I was around the sixty-five percent mark, I was reading it simply for the sake of finding out how it ended. I wanted answers to my questions but I was no longer as connected to the story as I had been.

It became a case of ‘I need to finish this’ rather than ‘I want to finish this’.

I did have fun at times, though. Due to this, I’m willing to give the author another chance. I think I just lost interest in this particular story, and I’m hoping some of his other work will appeal to me more. I’m not sure at what point I’ll working around to reading his other stories, but I’ve hit the download button so it will happen at some point. My fingers are crossed!

View all my reviews

Friday, 22 July 2016

Review: Persuader

Persuader Persuader by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m unsure as to whether or not I have had this rant before. I feel as though I may have touched upon it somewhat, but this time I really need to get it off my chest. For that, I apologise in advance for the following paragraph…

Why does Lee Child keep changing what perspective he is writing from? I understand authors changing perspective, wanting to writing in a different way, but when it is done within the same series it annoys me. I want consistent reads. Flickering between first and third person Jack Reacher stories is really bugging me. It is part of the reason why I read them so far apart – and, even then, I still manage to find myself annoyed when he changes perspective again. I know this is very much a personal thing, I know most will consider me crazy for being so annoyed by such a small aspect, but it really bugs me. I want one way or the other for the telling of the same character’s story.

And rant over. Sorry, again.

Okay, so I’ve said before that the Lee Child reads are somewhat of a guilty pleasure. I’m not the biggest fan of his writing style, but I love the Jack Reacher stories. They pull me in, keep me entertained enough to overlook his writing style. Sometimes the stories are better at keeping my attention away from my dislike than others; and in the case of this story, we have a very strong one. I was pulled in, wanting to see what came next.

As I read the first chapter, I was somewhat confused. I sat thinking ‘this does not sound like the Reacher I have come to enjoy during the first six books’, and I was ready to throw my book out of the window. Then came the last line. The last line in that first chapter… well, it guaranteed that I was hooked. I wanted an explanation. I wanted to know what was going on. I knew there was something good coming.

My belief was confirmed, with the story being one of my favourites in the Jack Reacher series thus far. The fact that I gave it a four star rather than a three, as I have with quite a few of the others, shows just how much I enjoyed this one. Once I was started, I was unable to put it down. The action and intrigue kept up, leaving me constantly wanting more.

I could sit here and say my usual rant about his writing – telling you how I feel it is lacking in style and is more than a little bit repetitive – but if you’ve read any of the other Reacher books then you know what to expect. This one is much like the others, giving you all you expect from a Lee Child novel in terms of both writing and the story.

In short, as soon as that sentence hit me, I was done for.

View all my reviews

Review: Heroes & Thieves

Heroes & Thieves Heroes & Thieves by Heather C. Myers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while. You see, I’ve read a few of the author’s stories so far, and to date I’ve enjoyed them. Some more than others, but all have kept me interested throughout. This one appealed to me for one simple reason: pirates. I’m not someone who will go out of their way to find pirate books, especially not pirate romance books, but I cannot say no to such books. I have a soft spot for them – so much so that I really wish I’d read more of them. Moreover, this was the first book the author wrote and I wanted to see where it all began. To quote the author:

“A quick word about Heroes & Thieves - this was one of the first books I wrote seriously. It means a great deal to me because it's the essence of my dream come true. I remember scouring the romance aisles for a pirate novel (I'm obsessed with pirates!) that had more than just love at first sight, damsels in distress, and sex (although those are all great things - I want more to a book than one genre). I was with my mom at Borders (remember those?), and when I couldn't find anything, I turned to her and said, "I'm going to write my own."

And I did.

A few, actually.”

So, as you can see, a number of things pulled me towards this one. I didn’t start on it right away, but it was constantly nagging at me to read it. Unfortunately, when I gave in and decided to give it a read I did so at a less than wise moment in time. Starting a book at one o’clock in the morning when you’re working the next day is not wise. It means no sleep. Well, such is what this book meant. I kept telling myself I would put it down upon finishing a chapter… expect that never happened. I kept telling myself to stop, to sleep, but I kept going until I reached the end. You know you’re addicted when you forego sleep.

We have a fun story, even if it is a little bit slow at times. We have a fun heroine (one of my favourites by the author, actually): she has wit, she does what she wants, and she is generally fun to read. We have the typical romance, which is fun to watch play out. I admit there are some inconsistencies in the story, but if you’re as pulled in as I was then it is possible to overlook them. I would have also liked something more from the ending, for things to be more solid, but it was an interesting way for things to end. If nothing else, it means there is a possibility for the author to come back to it in the future if she wants to – and I would love for such a thing to happen.

If you’re a fan of pirate romance, I certainly recommend giving this one a read. It’s super fun.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Review: My Fair Assassin

My Fair Assassin My Fair Assassin by C.J. Anaya
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

That’s it; I’m officially caught up with C.J. Anaya’s work.

When I found the first three books in The Healer series in a Goodreads giveaway, I was intrigued. Intrigued enough to join her mailing list and then her advance read time. My first introduction to her work was through Marry Your Billionaire. It was a surprisingly wonderful read. I say surprising, because I don’t usually enjoy romances as much as I enjoyed that book. I then went on to read the first three of The Healer books, and I’m now anxiously awaiting the final book in the series. I’ve also read her other short stories. My Fair Assassin spent all this time sitting on my Kindle. It was accidental, though. I have so much stuff on there that things often slip down my reading list and I focus upon other reads. I finally worked around to it, though.

As with all of her other work, My Fair Assassin is a great read. It’s short and sweet, meaning there are some clichés to be seen. However, with stories that are a mere handful of pages long, I can accept such a thing. The important aspect was that the story was enjoyable and the characters great.

Anaya has a way with words, you see. The story is quickly brought to life, with the characters jumping out of the page. This was but a handful of pages, yet I found myself loving the interaction of the characters. In fact, I would gladly read more about these characters. Actually, the same is true about the world she created. We’re merely given brief information, yet I can imagine entire stories being created out of what we’re told about the fae world. Honestly, I’m so down for a full-length novel to come from this.

Overall, a great read. I highly suggest you sign up to C.J. Anaya’s mailing list. All of her work is wonderful, plus you’ll get a copy of this little beauty. I promise you won’t regret the choice!

View all my reviews

Review: Book of Lilith

Book of Lilith Book of Lilith by P.K. Tyler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve said this many times before, and I’ll probably continue to reiterate it every time it is necessary, but I have a real love hate relationship with short stories. In my own opinion, I find them to be rather hit or miss. Whether it is because I expect too much or the wrong thing, or whether it is something else entirely, but I always enter short stories with a feeling of trepidation.

Thus far, P.K. Tyler has given me a number of short stories that were enjoyable. In fact, in terms of short story writers, she is someone I’ll happily read over and over. In short, the woman knows how to write a short story that gives you all you need in a handful of pages.

Book of Lilith is no different.

If I were to be completely honest, I’d go so far as to say this is my favourite of her short stories to date. It is a story you can complete in no time at all, but it will stay with you long after finishing. Truthfully, I wanted more from it – but in the best way possible. Sometimes you want more from a short story because it failed to give you anything, other times you want more because the story is so good you wish to see an entire world built from the few pages. With Book of Lilith, we have a case of the latter. I want more of this story, more of this world. It is an amazing tale in and of itself, and it has opened so many possibilities for where the story could go from here. I want to read those stories. I want to see where things head.

Basically, I want more.

I could sit here and explain the ins and outs of the story, explaining what happened and what you can expect, but I’m not going to do so. It’s short enough for such a thing to offer spoilers. In as simple terms as possible, it is a tale of how the world came to be with an interesting twist to make it stand out beyond the rest. Honestly, you can complete it in no time at all, so go ahead and pick it up. I promise that it is well worth the read.

As a final note, I would like to thank the author for allowing me to read and review this as part of her review team. As I’ve already said, it’s certainly my favourite of her short stories to date!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Set Outside The US.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature that can be found at The Broke and the Bookish. It’s been a while since I have participated in this, but I’m back to play the game! The topic for this week is my top ten books set outside of the US. Most of these will be set in Britain, as I’ll fall back on all my home-grown authors, but I’ll try and spread my wings a bit.

1.     The Lacey Flint series by Sharon Bolton. I’m including them all in one, to prevent them taking up multiple spots. Set in England.
2.     The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor. What is set on Earth mostly takes place in Prague.
3.     The Logan McRae series by Stuart MacBride. Set in Scotland.
4.     The Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch. Set in England.
5.     The Lewis trilogy by Peter May. Set in Scotland.
6.     The David Raker series by Tim Weaver. Set in England.
7.     The Jack Caffery series by Mo Hayder. Set in England.
8.     The David Ash series by James Herbert. Set in England.
9.     Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton. Set in the Falkland Islands.
10.  The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Set in Australia.


Evidently, I should have added an additional aspect of ‘also not set in the UK’ as living out of the US appears to have given me an advantage. I may try this one again on a freebie day with such a criteria.

Review: Void Moon

Void Moon Void Moon by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Michael Connelly is one of those authors. You know what I mean, whereby the word ‘those’ is written in italics or spoken with more emphasis than the rest of the sentence. He is a name you can speak and everyone will instantly know to whom you’re referring. Most have read one of his books, if only to see what he is all about. Considering the number of books he has written, and the following he has, it should come as no surprise that he has been sitting on my to-read list for a very long time. With Void Moon, I finally worked around to giving him a read.

As I said, Michael Connelly has been sitting on my to-read list for quite some time. I wasn’t really sure where to start. I’d been planning to start with the Harry Bosch series, working from the beginning, as that seemed to be what everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good series. I constantly tell myself I’m working through far too many as it is… yet I still find myself buying more books that are part of a series than I do standalone novels. I just love following characters throughout constantly developing stories. Thus, when I found a Michael Connelly collection going cheap, I jumped at them. Ten books for a little over what I would pay for just one book: count me in! Within the collection, there were the first in many of his character’s stories. There were also the most recent, meaning if I enjoyed the first I would need to go out and purchase the in-between books. There was also a single standalone novel – Void Moon. It was through this that I decided to go for the standalone novel rather than being lured into yet another series whereby I’d be playing catch up with the rest of the fandom.

After finishing Void Moon, I can safely say I understand why he has so many fans. There is no doubt that I will now be delving into his Harry Bosch universe, working my way through the books until I’m up to date. If Void Moon was any indication of what I can expect in his other work… well, I can imagine Michael Connelly will quickly be working his way up my list of most read authors.

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t pulled in from the very start. At the start of the book things seemed to drag a bit. There seemed to be too much set up for me. The story was moving forward, but the action promised in the synopsis was not appearing. I’d been promised a thief and murderer showdown of epic proportions, yet I was given all the build-up into our thief re-entering the life of high roller pay-outs. Due to this, I was a little bit let down.

That changed, however, once we reached the point of the actual crime being committed. At that point, I could not put the book down, finishing what was left of the story in one sitting. What I’m trying to say is don’t let the first part of the story put you off finishing the book. Once we move beyond part one, the book moves at the kind of pace I’d expected of it. The story moved forward, things start to intertwine, and everything comes into play. We are given what the synopsis promised: we have a good old game of cat and mouse in the criminal world.

Honestly, it was such fun. Certain things failed to give the shock that was probably intended, but I wasn’t really expecting a mystery from this one. It was thriller, and with all the action going on I wasn’t bothered by how I worked out certain aspects of the story before they were explained.

Overall, it was a great introduction to Michael Connelly’s work. As I’ve already stated, I’ll certainly be reading more of his books in the future.

View all my reviews

Review: Vincent, Survivor

Vincent, Survivor Vincent, Survivor by O.L. Eggert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’d like to start with a thank you to the author. O.L. Eggert contacted me about his debut novel, which he described as (and I quote) “an urban fantasy with a dark, apocalyptic twist”. After reading the synopsis, I decided it seemed like a thoroughly interesting read. Being a lover of such things, and having a soft spot for review requests, I said yes.

I’ll admit to having a bit of an up and down with the story. There were times when the book was great, and yet at the same time I wasn’t as engaged with it as I had hoped to be. In short, it wasn’t quite what I had hoped it would be. It was a great debut novel, but at the same time I was left wanting a little bit more.

The story itself is great fun. It’s exactly as described by the author: urban fantasy with an apocalyptic twist. In a few ways, though, it reminded me of The Walking Dead. I know, I know, they’re two completely different things. O.L. Eggert gives us a wonderful twist to the usual urban fantasy. Nine times out of ten, the urban fantasy novels I stumble across contain the same supernatural creatures – vampires and werewolves – yet this one gives us something new. In fact, this one gave me something I have not seen before: we have minotaurs. Whilst this isn’t the first time they’ve been used, it was the first time I read about them without a direct link back to Greek mythology. They come from an entirely separate world, a creation of the author. They’re not the only creature, though. We have an entire cast outside of the norm, saving us from the repetition that we so often find in the supernatural elements of urban fantasy novels.

Nevertheless, as I said, I did feel the occasional The Walking Dead déjà vu. It was probably just me, though, as I’m sure many will see my links as being… well, tenuous at best. It merely felt that way to me, and distracted somewhat. It was the whole untrustworthiness of safe havens that did it for me. There were other aspects as well, that gave a slight The Walking Dead feeling, but that was the biggest aspect. It’s not as though such a thing is limited solely to The Walking Dead, as it’s been done in many novels, but with the whole apocalyptic twist such is where my mind went.

Although, that wasn’t the only aspect of the story that has been done before. There were a few ‘twists’ that I saw coming. I’m not going to go into detail, but I saw quite a few of the things before they came to be. Things were made far too obvious, in that regard. It was fun, yet I couldn’t help but feel annoyed at how the characters were overlooking what was so obvious.

Despite this, I did have fun.

Whilst the characters fell flat at time, some did stand out. Grandma, in particular, was a massive love for me. I imagined her to be the grandmother from Mulan. That is, of course, were Mulan not a Disney movie. Grandma let out far too man f-bombs to ever get a role in a Disney movie. Still, she was such a great character to read. If nothing else, she is someone to aspire to be like in old age. Being old and miserable is overrated, this woman grabs life by the most sensitive part of the anatomy and squeezes. Yeah, as you can tell, I enjoyed her character.

There is also potential for where the story will go in the future. I’m not quite sure what to expect next, but there are so many ways in which the story could go and it would be interesting to see what the author decides to do. Whilst I’m not going to go out of my way to read the second book, I am interested enough to give it consideration. Hell, there have been many situations whereby the first in a series hasn’t pulled me in as far as I’d expected only for the second book to win me over. Such is my hope with this.

Overall, it was a fun read. I’d like to once again thank the author for allowing me to give this one a read – much appreciated!

View all my reviews

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Review: Memory Man

Memory Man Memory Man by David Baldacci
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Memory Man was my first real David Baldacci read. He’s one of those authors that everyone seems to have read at some point, if only because he covers such an array of genres. I’d been meaning to pick up one of his other thrillers, as a friend of mine had enjoyed it, but in the end I found myself with this one – if only because it was going cheap in an offer that was on. As anyone who has read any of my other reviews will know, I’m a sucker for cheap books.

I’d been given a warning about his work prior to reading this, though. I was told he was rather repetitive when it came to information, and I can safely say I can understand why such a warning was given. Having completed this book in one sitting, I probably noticed the repetition more than others did; but even if I hadn’t performed a one-sit reading, I’m sure I would have noticed the repetition. It wasn’t a case of repetitive writing, insomuch as it was a case of repetitive information. I understand reminding the readers of facts… yet it happened far too often with things that did not need reminding. There was too much reiterating of things, even those that weren’t as important as the constant repetition would want you to believe.

Did you see how many times I wrote a variant of the word repetition in that paragraph? How you feel about the overuse of the word in a mere one-hundred-and-thirty-word paragraph is how I felt about the constant duplication of information throughout the book.

Nevertheless, as the four stars suggests, I did enjoy the read.

Throughout I had to silence the neurologist within. I found myself assessing the main character in a way that that I would assess cases in scientific journals. Such was not beneficial to my reading, not when it left my mind wandering. Still, this demonstrates how the author did his research. It wasn’t perfect, but these things very rarely are. Unless you experience something like this, it is hard to truly replicate it when writing fiction. I guess it was a good job the book was written in third person, as a first person experience of the disorders the main character had would have probably left me ranting and raving in a way nobody wants.

Putting that aside, moving back to the story, I can say I had a lot of fun with the mystery. There were some things that were obvious, but throughout you’re on the edge of your seat regarding what is to come next. We’re spoon fed information as the story progresses, things being held back about characters until they are important to the story. Such prevents us from working everything out at the get-go, lessening the blow of the more obvious aspects of the story.

Now whilst I did enjoy it enough to give it a four star rating, I’m not sure how I feel about the sequel. I’m interested to see what comes next, but it’s not a situation whereby I’ll go out of my way to read it instantly. Of course, this has happened before. I’ve found many series where the first book has merely been a decent introduction only for the second book to leave me addicted to the series and counting down until the next release. Thus, whilst I won’t be reading book two within the next few days, I will be reading the next book and I will make my choice regarding whether or not I wish to go on from what the second book gives me. My fingers are crossed, though, as there is quite a bit of promise.

Overall, it was a fun read. I’ll certainly be checking out more of Baldacci’s work in the future.

View all my reviews

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Review: A Faint Cold Fear:

A Faint Cold Fear: A Faint Cold Fear: by Karin Slaughter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I fear I’m about to enter a Karin Slaughter slump. I’ve been playing catch up, working through her Grant County series, and have reached the end of the few I have sitting at my bedside. I want to carry on so badly, but before I can do such a thing I need to do some ordering of books. Of course, we all saw this coming.
 
I’m terrible when it comes to reading series in the correct order, at least when it comes to crime thrillers, and my biggest mistake probably sits with Karin Slaughter’s work.

Those people who have been fans of Karin Slaughter from the very start say to read her books in order. Unfortunately, I ignored this advice. No, not ignored – I was ignorant of this advice. I jumped on the Karin Slaughter bandwagon extremely late (read ‘over ten years late’). When I found Unseen and Fallen in a cheap combo pack in a store, I picked them up and decided to read them. At this point in time, I was oblivious to how they were parts of a series. It became obvious extremely quickly – yet I was able to enjoy them without the other books. Nevertheless, I went out and brought the other Will Trent books. I tried to read them all in order, but it didn’t go as planned. I was so excited to find out more about the characters that I read the books as I received them, not caring that the order was all wrong. Despite this, I really enjoyed them. Upon finishing, I told myself I would get hold of her Grant County series. I needed to know what came before Will Trent.

Then came Cop Town and Pretty Girls. I got distracted by the two of these and the Grant County series got pushed down my to-read list. Then The Kept Woman was announced. By this point, I’d managed to find the first couple of Grant County books going cheap in the second-hand university bookstore. I told myself I would read them prior to the release of the eighth Will Trent book… Only NetGalley got in the way. I was accepted to read the book, and I jumped right in. I told myself, upon finishing it, that I had to read the Grant County series. I couldn’t put it off any longer.

Thus, I jumped in.

I was pulled in from book one, but not as much as I had been with the Will Trent series. By the end of book two, I’d concluded that I wasn’t as in love with this series as I am the Will Trent series. Whilst this remains true after the third book, the gap is slowly being bridged. I still stand by the statement I made with Kisscut – that your first love will probably be your bigger love when it comes to Slaughter’s two series – but I cannot deny that both series are wonderful reads.
 
As always, Slaughter delivers all you could hope for in a great thriller read. Of the first three Grant County books, this one is certainly my favourite. It has everything that Slaughter has to offer in abundance. A dark storyline, filled with twists and turns to connect everything together, leaving us questioning everyone and everything throughout. It is classic Slaughter. It is exactly what you expect of the woman. If you’re a fan of the series, you will not be disappointed with this read.
 
I really need to get my hands on the next books. Even though I know how things end due to having read the Will Trent books (see, reading her releases in order is beneficial), I still want to read the specifics. No, not want, need. I need to read the specifics, and I need to read them soon.

View all my reviews

Friday, 15 July 2016

Review: Environmentally Friendly

Environmentally Friendly Environmentally Friendly by Elias Zanbaka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’d like to start by saying thank you to the author. Elias Zanabka contacted me regarding a review request, offering up an action-thriller. I was lured in by the following: “It is centres around a highly unstable army veteran hell-bent on waging his own personal war against Mother Nature. He is the number one target being hunted down by the police in the city of Los Angeles as he rampages through the city in an attempt to provoke such a powerful and overwhelming force as Mother Nature into a highly personal battle. Out of that entire police, only one officer has gone against the grain and become intent, almost to the point of equal obsession in helping that army veteran to do the impossible and bring Mother Nature to its knees.” Being the sucker for thriller that I am, I said yes to giving the short story a read.

I should point out, before I say any more, that I am extremely hard to please when it comes to short stories. I cannot explain why, but I always expect more from them than I do full length novels. I know it is quality over quantity, yet in many cases I fear that cutting a story down to a handful of pages will prevent me from experiencing everything I hope for. This ranges from a lack of character development through to there being no real action. Of course, this isn’t always the case. I know such is not the case in many situation. However, despite my knowledge, I still find myself a little bit tentative before I enter a short story.

Fortunately, Environmentally Friendly was a fun little read. In fact, I would love to see it as a full-length novel. If I’m being completely truthful, such is what prevented it from getting a higher rating.

The writing was wonderful and the storyline thrilling. I had no issues with that. Yet I wanted more. I felt as though this was part of one much larger story. It was as though we were seeing but a single aspect of something much bigger. Whilst everything was brought together nicely, and whilst a lot of fun was had, I felt as though it could have given us something more. I wanted to know more about the characters. I wanted to know more in terms of build-up.

For those looking for a short read, this is perfect. It gives you all you ask for. For me, being the picky person I am when it comes to my reads, I found myself wanting more. This isn’t a bad thing, not really. You know a story has pulled you in when you’re left wanting more. It is great when something so short leaves you feeling as though an entire story could be created from but a few pages. Who knows, such could perhaps happen one day.

Overall, it was a great quick read. It is certainly worth it.

Once again, I’d like to say thank you to the author for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for a review. It was much appreciated, and I cannot wait to see what comes next!

View all my reviews

Review: Kisscut

Kisscut Kisscut by Karin Slaughter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a big fan of Slaughter’s Will Trent series and for the longest of times I told myself I needed to read what came before, that I needed to know what happened in Sara’s life prior to her appearance in the Will Trent books. It took me longer to work around to them than I had hoped, but I’m there now. More importantly, I can say they are not disappointing.
 
I read the Will Trent series in the wrong order. I brought a pack of books and a couple of them were in said pack. I was so interested that I didn’t bother to search whether or not they were part of a series. I simply jumped right in. Whilst the books worked as standalone novels, it was clear that there was an overarching story I was missing out on. I attempted to amend my lack of knowledge, but continued to read them in the wrong order as I started each one as it arrived in the post. I promised myself I would not do the same with her Grant County novels.
 
Thus, when I found books one and two going dirty cheap in the university’s second hand bookstore, I grabbed them. I promised myself I would stick to reading them in order, even if it meant annoying waits between the books, and jumped right in.
 
I’ll admit that I’m not as in love with them as I am the Will Trent series, but they’re still great reads. I think, however, that this comes down to the fact that I read the Will Trent books first. There are many fans who read the books in the correct order and enjoyed these stories more. Perhaps it’s just a case of what you read first being your bigger love, but we’ll never really know for sure.
 
As with all of Slaughter’s work, this second book in wonderfully dark. We have a great storyline, intricately connected, gripping us throughout. We’re left on the edge of our seats as more and more details come to light, with things progressing in wonderful ways. I could sit here trying to sound poetic about her work, but anyone who has read any of Slaughter’s other work will know what to expect. Darkness. Twists and turns. The harshness of humanity. Mystery. A questionable cast of characters (and that goes for both the bad guys and our leading roles).
 
Honestly, if you enjoyed the first there is no reason not to pick this one up.

View all my reviews

Review: DEAD IN BED By Bailey Simms (Part 1: Fifty Shades of Gangrene)

DEAD IN BED By Bailey Simms (Part 1: Fifty Shades of Gangrene) DEAD IN BED By Bailey Simms (Part 1: Fifty Shades of Gangrene) by Adrian Birch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well this one was a pleasant surprise!

This is yet another of those stories I downloaded simply because of the word ‘free’. It has become a running theme in my life, as of late, influenced heavily by BookBub. If I’m honest, though, this one did interest me more than some of the other free books I have downloaded. After all, it seemed like a good laugh. Dead in Bed. Fifty Shades of Gangrene. Both aspects of the title appealed to the lover of comical horror tales within me. I wasn’t sure whether I would get enough to appease that aspect of me with such a short part of the book, but I was hopeful.

Fortunately, I was not disappointed.

You see, I tend to dislike these sequence aspects of stories. I like to read the entire thing in one. If I’m not pulled in from the get-go, I’m unlikely to continue. With part one of the Dead in Bed story I was left wanting more. Very rarely have I given four stars to such a short aspect of a story.

I was pulled in from the very start. We have mystery, humour and horror all in one. It is but a few pages long, but we’re given everything you would expect from a full-length novel. Plus, we know there is more to come. What’s not to love? The characters are interesting and diverse. The story, whilst only in the beginning stages, is gripping. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised.

Without a doubt, this is a must read. Even if you only give this first part a read to see what to expect.

Trust me when I say it’s worth it.

View all my reviews

Review: Orientation

Orientation Orientation by Mac Flynn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is another of those downloads that I purchased simply because of the word ‘free’. I’ve said it before, and I’ll sure I’ll say it many more times, but I’m a sucker for the word free. I give so many books a try for that reason alone, venturing into genres I wouldn’t usually read. Sometimes it works out, other times it does not.

With this one, it did not work out.

In truth, a part of me wished to give this read a single star rating. However, I’ve recently read a number of other books in this genre that are… well, much more deserving of a one star rating, if I’m to put it as politely as possible. Therefore, this isn’t quite a full two star rating yet I couldn’t bring it down to a one star, as it wasn’t quite as bad as others I have read and given a single star rating.

It’s a quick read, one you can complete in no time at all. It’s also one of those sequence pieces, where we are given a section of the story at a time. I’m not the biggest fan of such things, but occasional I read one interesting enough to leave me wanting to read the rest of the sequence. Whilst this one does end in such a way that you’re left with questions, the story as a whole failed to pull me in. I felt as though very little happened and then everything happened.

Overall, I cannot say this was my cup of tea.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Review: The Killing Lessons

The Killing Lessons The Killing Lessons by Saul Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ll start by saying this is a low four-star rating. There were a few moments throughout in which I considered giving three stars, yet in the end I had to opt for the four. It is far from the strongest four star rating I have ever given, but I couldn’t bring myself to drop it down to a three star rating as I enjoyed it too much for that.

I’m not one hundred percent sure about how I feel about this one, though. As I said, I enjoyed it too much to give a three star rating but it wasn’t quite a four stars. Mostly, it’s because I did not engage with the story as much as I would have liked to.

I’ll start with the writing style. I’m a lover of individual writing styles, the type that works as an identifier. I can safely say such is the case with this author. They have a writing style that is very much their own. However, I’m not one hundred percent sure about how I felt towards the particular style. It’s not bad; it simply wasn’t something I would go out of my way to read more of. Partly, I believe, this is due to the same words being used over and over again. Not just any words, though. It was as though the author occasionally used a thesaurus and realised they had a new favourite word. It reminded me far too much of the ‘word of the day’ and how people will go out of their way to use it far too many times in sentences.

The story itself, however, was really interesting. I was gripped to see where things would go, enjoying the way we followed many aspects of the story. I do feel, though, that Nell’s aspect of the story was a bit of a let down. I had expected more of a struggle for survival. When it became obvious that Nell wouldn’t be getting the attention the blurb had me believing she would, it became clear how the ending would play out. We knew she played a vital part, and with the way things were working, we knew it was only a matter of time before certain aspects came to be. I would have liked more from this aspect of the story, but other than that I did enjoy the way we followed many different characters.

Despite this, I couldn’t bring myself to connect with any of the characters. None of the stories really stood out for me. Mostly, their individual backstories and side stories bored me. There wasn’t anything overly original. The cops were clichés. The criminals were clichés. The reasoning for actions were clichéd. I’ve seen them before, and I’ll probably see them again.

Even though I did enjoy it, I’m not sure whether I will continue on with more stories following these characters. I guess we’ll find out when we have conformation as to whether or not the talk of a series is true. Perhaps I will pick up the next book, but I cannot say for sure.

Overall, a decent enough read.

View all my reviews

Review: The Last Necromancer

The Last Necromancer The Last Necromancer by C.J. Archer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this one.

Freebies are very much a case of hit or miss. Either they will surprise you or you’ll question how you managed to work your way through the entire story. In all honesty, I hadn’t really been expecting this one to blow me away. The reviews for this book were such a mix and match that I really wasn’t sure what I was letting myself in for, but I was still curious to give it a read.

You can imagine my surprise when I found myself addicted to the story.

Don’t get me wrong, the book is far from perfect. I can understand why some people dislike the book. It isn’t for everyone. However, if you enter with an open mind, it’s rather fun. It’s very much your classical young adult fantasy story, but sometimes we just need such a read to keep us going.

The main story is super interesting. We have two sides battling over our main character due to their necromancer abilities. Quite quickly, our main character finds themselves in a bit of a tight spot and things quickly progress in a way that does not work favourably for our character.

I’ll admit that I was tentative at first. A decent proportion of our story glosses over the fantasy aspect. We know it is there in the background – after all, we are introduced to it at the start of the book – but it never really develops. This holds true for the entire book, and I’m somewhat disappointed that we did not get more specifics. I’m sure such will change in future books, but I was left wanting a little bit more. Nevertheless, when I realised such was to be the case, I managed to accept this fact. Fortunately, I was pulled into the rest of the story.

Moreover, I’m pleased about the romance aspect of the story. Whilst it is there, it is not shoved in your face as it is in other books. It sits below the surface. Again, I believe this is something that will change in future books. For now, I’m simply pleased that the romance did not overshadow the rest of the story, as I often fear to be the case with these kinds of stories.

As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It was much more enjoyable than I’d expected, and a large part of me now wishes to go on and read the rest of the books.

View all my reviews

Review: Death in Neverland

Death in Neverland Death in Neverland by Heather C. Myers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another of those reads that isn’t quite a full four star rating. However, again, it could not be rounded down. It was close enough to the four stars that I had to hand them over.

I was pulled into this one by the promise of a Peter Pan retelling mixed in with Greek mythology. How could I say no to such a thing? I adore retellings. More than I should, if I’m honest. I especially love it when authors select something aside from the typical – namely, I adore it even more when an author choses a story other than Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast to retell. Thus, I was pulled in by the Peter Pan aspect alone. When we added in the promise of Greek mythology, I was unable to say no.

Truthfully, I feel as though it was a bit of false advertisement.

The Greek mythology is present. The names of the Peter Pan characters are there. However, I wouldn’t really call it a Peter pan retelling, insomuch as I would call it another take on Greek mythology using some of the names from a popular classic story.

Don’t get me wrong, it is an interesting story, it simply wasn’t what I was expecting. I went in expecting something much closer to Peter Pan than I was given. Had I not been promised the Peter Pan aspect, I probably would have given it a full four star rating rather than a rounded up four star rating.

Thus, for the rest of the review (or, at least, the majority of it) I will approach the story as though I had not been promised the Peter Pan aspect.

The story is a fascinating one. We take interesting aspects of Greek mythology and create a wonderful new world. We’re dealing with the afterlife and the goings on in a limbo world. The limbo created by the author is a lot of fun. We’re given quite a lot of details regarding the goings on, and whilst it can seem quite daunting at times, it is important to cover these aspects. Later in the story, once we’re done with loading information, things become much easier. We’re able to move along with the story without worrying about missing details.

Without a doubt, the world building was my favourite aspect of the story.

There were some fun characters, too. Although, truthfully, I did not enjoy them as much as I enjoyed some of the other characters the author has created. Some things felt a little too forced when it came to the characters – in particular how the views of the main character changed. She seemed to go from one extreme towards the other far too quickly, as though development was being forced upon her at an unnatural rate. Plus, I found myself enjoying side characters more than the main characters. Still, I could deal with them. There have been many characters I have despised, and such was not the case here. I merely didn’t love them as much as I could have.

Additionally, I feel as though the book could have used a final proof read. Part of me believes the names of characters were changed to add in the Peter Pan aspect, as I’m sure I found an inconsistency or two here and there. Such often happens with freebies, and it did deter from the book somewhat.

Overall, though, I’m interested to see where things go in the future books.

View all my reviews

Review: Enticed

Enticed Enticed by Ginger Voight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If I’m being completely truthful, two things pulled me towards this book. First, we have the word ‘free’. Whenever a book is free on Amazon, I click the ‘buy’ button. I cannot say no to freebies. Second, we have the cover. I know you should never judge a book by the cover, but this one was so pretty. Thus, I was pulled in by two aspects that aren’t overly related to the book. Despite this, I did want to enjoy this one.

From the start, I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped to.

By the end of chapter one, I’d decided that I did not like the main character. I could not tell you what in particular bugged me, but throughout the first two chapters my friend had a running commentary upon all the negativity I already felt towards her. As the book progressed, I came to enjoy her a bit more – but I never really came to enjoy her all that much.

In fact, I never really enjoyed any of the characters.

It seems to be the done thing nowadays, to create dislikeable characters. However, I really don’t believe such is what the author was aiming for. We were supposed to like the characters… yet I couldn’t. I cannot place my finger on what was the exact problem, but I never really came to like any of them. They all felt like too much. Whilst these views play in with the ending, I feel as though I was not supposed to have such negative views towards everyone from the start. You’re supposed to have mixed feelings, whereas I simply refused to like them.

Moving on, though, before I start to rant too much about this one aspect.

The story itself was okay. It wasn’t anything overly wonderful. In all honesty, had it not been for the ending, I would have considered it overly boring. There was some fun to be had, but I have read much better in other romance books. The ending was a great joy, though. I wasn’t really expecting such a revelation to come about at the end, and I’m pleased the author decided to do something different. It was a massive saving grace that I’m pleased for.

Still, even though it was a quick and easy read, I feel as though I forced myself through it. I know many will enjoy the story, but it simply wasn’t for me. I’d wanted something else, something more. Even the mature content was a let down – I’m really not sure why it says for eighteen plus, when I’ve read more detailed scenes in young adult books.

In the end, though, I doubt I’ll be reading the rest of the series as it wasn’t for me.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Review: Hanging Hill

Hanging Hill Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been meaning to read this one for so long.

I’m a big fan of Mo Hayder’s Jack Caffery series. He is one of my favourite police officers. The books sit up there in my favourite police procedurals. I’m crossing my fingers regarding what will come next. Due to this, I’ve spent a long time wanting to read one of Hayder’s standalone novels. Of the three – The Devil of Nanking, Hanging Hill, and Pig Island – this one always stood out to me the most. I was going to pick it up no matter what, but one day there was a nice surprise for me at work.

To raise money for the charity, there was a book sale. Many books were sold, but many were left over. Thus, I went for a rummage through the boxes of left over books. There was much squealing, as it seemed every crime fan in Aberdeen had donated their books to the charity. There were so many big names to hunt through. My pile grew bigger and bigger. Paperbacks and hardbacks were added. Included in the pile was Hanging Hill. It was probably one of the biggest squeals. What caused more squealing, however, was when I was informed the books were even cheaper now that I was working my way through the unwanted pile after everyone had gone home. In the end, I managed to get this wonderful read for less than two percent of the original price.

What. A. Bargain.

I didn’t get down to reading it straight away, though. Despite all of my excitement, I tried to work my way through the other books on my shelf. Then there were releases that I was too excited to ignore. It was bumped down my to-read list, but in the end it worked its way back up. I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I needed to know what happened. I needed to know if Mo Hayder’s standalone novels were as good as her Jack Caffery novels.

Based upon Hanging Hill, I can safely say Mo Hayder excels in the standalone novels.

I’ll be reading the other two books – The Devil of Nanking and Pig Island – of course, just to make sure, but I have no fear. The woman is on my list of favourite authors for a reason, and whether she is adding another book to her Jack Caffery series or whether she is writing a standalone, it seems as though she is capable of pulling you into the story.

As always, Mo Hayder writes a dark tale. Hanging Hill isn’t as dark as some of her Jack Caffery novels, but the darkness is still there. This is no cosy mystery. This is a gritty tale of human nature. Whilst the crime is always there in the background, quite a lot of the story is dedicated to showing the darkness of the characters. It shows how humanity can be at its best and its worse at the same time. It shows how darkness and light can go together. It shows how there is so much more to a person than you know. So many connections, so many things unknown. It is a great read, all the while with the mystery underneath as more and more is being added to the criminal aspect of the story.

Honestly, I could say so much. Hayder really has created something wonderful here. The characters are complex. The mystery is intriguing. The story is dark. You’re given everything you want. Well, maybe not. The ending is a cliffhanger. Not in the sense that you don’t get all your answers: you know who is to blame for what – but certain events are left… well, open. It was a great way to end the story, yet I know some will be annoyed by the way it came about. The only thing that annoyed me was the fact that I sort of saw it coming. Not the specifics, but I knew something was going to happen regarding certain characters. There were too many red flags for me to ignore, but I was still pleased by the way it played out.

Overall, a great read. I certainly need to pick up those other two standalone novels so I can complete my Mo Hayder collection.

View all my reviews