Frostblood – Elly Blake

32618150Forced to hide her Fireblood abilities from the Frostblood ruling class, Ruby has never had the opportunity to practise or develop her skills. When Frostblood soldiers destroy her village and murder her mother, she is suddenly thrown into a battle she has little time to prepare for. Her mission: kill the Frost King.

Frostblood is a classic, fantastic YA fantasy adventure. By far the best I’ve read in a long time. It is very well-written, with all the predictable but vital components of the genre: a feisty teen heroine, a rocky but passionate romance, and an epic battle between good and evil.

Ruby is a strong, volatile character. She has some serious anger-management issues and the tendency to jump to conclusions, but it’s all essential to her Fireblood personality which stops her from tipping over the edge into annoying (like so many YA heroines do). The rest of the characters, including love-interest Arcus, are also likeable and well-developed. I especially loved brother Thistle – what a babe.

The plot is really, really good. It’s super eventful and unpredictable. There were good amounts of plot development, character and world building in equal measure. The book was at no point boring, but also didn’t speed along too quickly or become too action-packed. Plus there were one or two plot-twists that genuinely took me by surprise.

Frostblood is a must-read for fans of fantasy and magic. I will be buying book #2, immediately.

Goodreads | Amazon

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No-one Ever has Sex on Christmas Day – Tracy Bloom

35918407.jpgKaty and Ben want the perfect Christmas for their daughter, Millie. But visiting family, an overseas job offer, and romantically-challenged friends all threaten to mess things up. With so much else going on, can Katy and Ben even make it to Christmas day?

No-one Ever has Sex on Christmas Day is a quick and light read. It’s quirky and fun, and perfect for this time of year. Although it is part of a series, I read it as a standalone and it totally worked. There were references to events in previous books (I’d obviously missed a lot of drama between Katy, Ben, Matthew and Alison), but it was still perfectly easy to follow on its own.

The plot is a little bit odd because there’s no real point to the story. There’s no affair, no breakup, no real drama, so the climax felt a bit… anticlimactic. Also none of the main events happen to any of the main characters (their stories must have been covered in the previous books), but to their side-character pals instead (mainly, Ian and Braindead). This made the book feel a little bit aimless, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Braindead was by far my favourite character. I would have actually preferred to read a book based around him instead of Ben, Katy and the others, but he did play a fairly large role in moving the plot along so that was good. Alison, on the other hand, was just awful. I could have done without her.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Angelica – Clabe Polk

36561321When her mob enforcer husband dies in a car accident, Angelica Vicetti has no option but to flee Las Vegas with her son to escape the clutches of the mob and it’s notorious boss, Don Antonio Scarpone. Eleven years later, Angelica has set herself up with a comfy life in the small town of Poplar Bluffs. Everything is going fine, until members of Scarpone’s organisation start turning up with one goal: to kill her.

Angelica is a fast-paced and engaging story of survival. It’s an enjoyable read with an array of different characters. The town of Poplar Bluffs is a great setting (a surprising amount of the story takes places in the local diner, Bertie’s). I enjoyed the general writing style and the plot, although it did have one too many stages for my liking.

The story was good, but somewhat undermined by how useless the mob members actually were. Half of them had never killed a person and were very weak willed on the matter, while the other half were just useless (e.g. not ever realising when they were being followed). This discredited the story and made it much less believable. However, aside from the unimpressive mob members, Angelica is a good a fun read.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

34200289Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine. She goes to work, she goes home, and every weekend she treats herself to a couple of bottles of vodka and a frozen pizza. Everything is fine. Until an unlikely friendship and an unhealthy crush start to dredge up memories from the past, and a childhood trauma she has thoroughly suppressed.

This book is amazing. I loved everything about it. The writing style is strong and easy to read, while the story is perfection. I loved the characters: Eleanor and Raymond in particular. It took a little while to warm up to Eleanor, but once I got to know her better she really grew on me. The relationship between Eleanor and Raymond was a pleasure to read, and I found myself really genuinely caring about them, as though they were real people.

One of my favourite things about this book is actually the lack of romance. The story is about Eleanor, the way she lives, and her eventual recovery. Although the relationship between her and Raymond is charming and integral to the story, that isn’t what the book is about. It isn’t a romance novel, and is all the better for it.

The balance between humour and tragedy was very well done. Taking serious and sad topics and turning them into a warm, witty and enjoyable story takes some serious skill, and Gail Honeyman clearly has oodles of skill.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is full of emotional and impact, but none of it is forced or sentimental. It is a thoroughly enjoyable book that I would recommend to everyone.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Warlock’s Nemesis – Alena Des

36000377.jpgAlice is a healer, so when a deadly virus ravages the world, she is sent to help. Teamed with the powerful warlock, Tannon, Alice does what she can to save the human race. However, the power behind the virus has a different target in mind, and things take a serious turn for the worst for Alice, just when things seem to be looking up.

The Warlock’s Nemesis is book #2 in ‘The Kings’ series, but I read it as a standalone (having not read book #1). The events of the previous book are mentioned a few times, but it is absolutely not necessary to read book #1 first.

The most notable thing about this book is the number of plot twists. It is genuinely impossible to predict which way the story is going to go, making it surprising and exciting. Some of the events were a little farfetched and unnecessary, but this is a paranormal fantasy story after all.

Although I generally liked the characters and their relationships, I felt the relationship between Alice and Tannon was a bit forced. Alice kept going on about how much time they were spending together when – from the reader’s perspective – it had only been one or maybe two days. They were together for a maximum of a week and were suddenly utterly and completely in love. Also, once they were ‘together’, the way the spoke and behaved towards each other completely changed. It was quite jarring. I did like the way the relationship developed after that though, with the twists regarding Alice’s general temperament.

Overall, The Warlock’s Nemesis is a fun and eventful story, but it is a little flawed and the writing style lacked refinement.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Word is Murder – Anthony Horowitz

35021922.jpgDiana Cowper, mother of a famous actor, visits a funeral parlour to arrange her own funeral, on the same day that she’s murdered. Coincidence? Detective Hawthorne doesn’t think so. Lured into the investigation by the prospect of writing an adult, true-crime novel, author Anthony Horrowitz finds himself deeply involved in the case.

This was a really interesting book to read because Anthony Horrowitz is not only the author and narrator, he is also the point-of-view character in the novel. Although it’s a work of fiction, it is full of popular culture references and realistic details, making it read like a true and completely believable story.

I’ve always enjoyed Anthony’s writing style (ever since the Alex Rider series). His books are very easy to read, and following the case along with the characters was really straightforward. Character-wise, I liked Hawthorne. It was interesting to have a character who knew what was going on, possibly from the very start, but refused to share all the information early on because he was being paid by the day. Anthony’s character I actually liked slightly less, despite being more amenable. He was too easily manipulated and naïve.

A long way from his children’s novels, The Word is Murder is the perfect book for fans of crime, mystery and murder, looking for something just a little bit different.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Mussolini’s Island – Sarah Day

29758001.jpgSet in 1940’s Italy, Mussolini’s Island explores an area of history rarely looked at. Along with many other men like him, Francesco finds himself being imprisoned and sent to the island of San Domino for confino (confinement), for the crime of being gay. With suspicions about who gave their names to the police, fear over what will happen to them, and the pressure of an impending war, life on the island is far from easy.

Elena, a young local girl, is drawn to Francesco but can’t understand why he and the other men have been made prisoners on her island. When she finds out the truth about the prisoners, she is left with a decision that could have terrible consequences.

There are a lot of layers to this book. I found the historical aspects very interesting, and I really enjoyed the inclusion of some Italian terms (confino, arrusi, etc). Homosexuality in Italy during the 1940s isn’t an area I’ve read about before and I was eager to learn more. Although the story is fictional, a large amount of research obviously went into writing this book and I have a lot of respect for the author for that.

Unfortunately, I also had some big problems reading Mussolini’s Island and didn’t particularly enjoy the story. Mainly, the plot was very, very slow. There is a large mystery element (what happened to Francesco’s father; who turned the arrusi’s names over; and who killed Rapetti) but these questions aren’t answered until near the end. The rest of the book mainly consists of Francesco either reminiscing about the past or fawning over Emilio. Overall, it was kind of boring. If it weren’t for the general intrigue and interesting historical elements, I wouldn’t have made it all the way through.

As it was, I did reach the end and I did enjoy the book to some extent. What it really lacked was a stronger level of romance and excitement. Sadly, a well-written but decidedly average book.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Disciple – Stephen Lloyd Jones

Hello! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a review, but now that I’m set up in my new flat and finally connected to the internet, I’ll be back to posting regularly. Thanks for stopping by!


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Edward Schwinn’s life is changed the night he rescues the sole survivor of a horrific road accident and agrees to take care of her new born daughter. The child’s arrival starts a chain of horrifying and deadly events that no one can explain, and Edward finds himself responsible for her safety.

My main take away from The Disciple is that it is much, much too long. We meet Edward and Piper at different stages in their life, meaning there are large time-jumps, and the same thing happens each time. It’s very repetitive and severely lacks any kind of character or relationship development or world building.

Alongside the troublesome plot development, there are too many characters who are all named and play small but significant roles. This made the story complicated and difficult to follow.

Although not poorly written, the book reads as though the author had a million and one ideas, and didn’t know how to filter any of them out. As the story builds, it becomes more interesting, more exciting, and more ridiculous. The Disciple is a mash-up of horror/sci-fi/fantasy/thriller and had some very enjoyable sections, wedged between pages of drivel.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

T5W: Books Featuring Vampires

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Thoughts on Tomes. (You can find the Goodreads group for it here). This week’s topic is Books Featuring Vampires (in honour of it being October). Pretty self explanatory.

  1. Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan – Probably the first and best series of books about vampires I read, this is a truly fantastic story about a boy forced to fake his own death and learn how to live as a vampire. Cirque_du_freak
  2. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer – The most obvious choice possible, but I really did enjoy this series. The writing was terrible, the characters were awful, and the general love-triangle fuelled teen-angst was truly dreadful, but I loved it anyway. 41865.jpg
  3. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare – Another very obvious YA fantasy to pick, but it turns out I’ve actually read very few books featuring vampires. Although there are quite a few vampires in this one, Simon is obviously the main one and the best. 256683
  4. The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams – This was a really epic fantasy adventure, featuring mostly immortal beings who feed off human blood (vampires). The Vamps in this book also carry some elfish characteristics and are very sassy and cool. 29758013
  5. The Evil Seed by Joanne Harris – In a nice change of pace, the vampires in this book are vicious and cruel, and don’t fall in love with humans. 11383768

Blog Tour: Trust Me by Zosia Wand

Hello! Welcome to my stop on the Trust Me by Zosia Wand blog tour. Many thanks to Head of Zeus for having me – I hope you like my review, and I’m also fortunate enough to be able to provide you with an extract from the book. Enjoy!


trustme.pngLizzie is a 27-year-old, with a 53-year-old boyfriend (Jonty) who has a 17-year-old son (Sam). Their family dynamic is unusual, but it works. Until Sam starts to act strangely. Lizzie is doing everything she can to keep their little family together, but everyone else thinks she’s to blame. How can she fix this when she doesn’t understand how it broke?

Although this book falls quite comfortably into the thriller category, it’s actually more of a family-drama and let me tell you, I was HOOKED. Lizzie is a great character. She’s relatable and real, and it was very easy to sympathise while her whole world fell apart around her. Jonty was the only real anomaly in the story because he was just generally an arse and I didn’t get why Lizzie was with him (I was actually rooting for the inappropriate Lizzie/Sam relationship, which I’m not sure we’re meant to). And then Rebecca. Just, ugh. Read the book and you’ll get it.

I really loved the way this book was written. The story unfolded kind of slowly, but this added a lot of depth and reality to it, and really built the tension. It was an easy and engaging read, full of excitement, confusion and drama. I would recommend Trust Me as a good introduction to the thriller genre, for those who don’t want something too intense or violent.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon


Extract:

Sam works quickly, methodically, concentrating, eyes squinting, forehead lined. He’s competent. Masculine and adult. No longer a boy. I like watching him. The graceful sweep of his limbs, these strong, confident movements. Jonty lets him take the helm and he rests his hand on what I now know is the tiller, which somehow steers us. His faded blue T-shirt is billowing below his buoyancy aid, offering glimpses of a taut stomach above the waistband of the shorts I teased him about this morning. Feeling the cling of damp denim against my flesh, I can see the sense now.

This is Sam’s environment: the lake, the mountains, the wind. He could be one of those beautiful young men from that other world, gliding into a continental marina, ready to disembark for an evening of cocktails with a pretty girl.

It was Sam who suggested we take the boat out today, swallowing the last of his tea and taking the stairs two at a time to gather the kit. I grabbed the coolbag and threw in anything that might lend itself to a picnic, because I knew once we got to the lake we’d be here until sundown. Days like this can be rare. We might be lucky and have weeks of sun right through spring and summer, but that’s the thing about Cumbria, you can never predict the weather. If the sun is out and it’s at all possible, everyone drops what they’re doing and heads for the lake. The weather forces even the most reticent to be spontaneous because it rains a lot in the Lake District. I knew that before I moved here and I wasn’t looking forward to it, but what I didn’t know is what happens when the clouds part and the sun breaks through. It’s like someone has picked up a paintbrush and splattered the world with colour. Indigo lake reflecting the sky, mountains of lavender and mauve, grey blue slate. Today the first early buds are appearing on fragile branches; in a matter of weeks there will be green on green added to this palette, khaki through to lime, the purple hum of bluebells between. Our slice of paradise.

Sam’s body stiffens. He straightens up. I follow his gaze. Ahead of us the sky looks darker. There’s a menacing grey cast across everything.

Jonty laughs. ‘We’ll be fine!’ But he’s on his feet, taking the tiller from Sam, preparing for something.

The shining mirror of the lake has shattered, offering a broken reflection of the sky. The surface of the water is changing in texture, becoming rougher, matt. I shiver, suddenly chilled. ‘What’s happening?’

Sam is focused on Jonty. ‘We should reef, Dad. That wind from the valley is strong.’

Jonty laughs. He’s in his element, the wind on his face, his body alert, but Sam is nervous.

‘We should reef the sails while we’re still calm.’

‘We’ll be fine.’

I can hear the familiar edge to his voice and ask, ‘What’s reefing?’ to distract them from one another.

Sam explains. ‘We reduce the sail. It gives a smaller surface area and makes it easier to cope with the wind.’

‘Reefing’s for wimps!’ Jonty fixes his eyes ahead. ‘Let’s show you some proper sailing!’

My gut clenches. I want to say something, but I’m in a foreign place, without the experience or the words.

Sam gives me a reassuring nod, but he looks worried. ‘Just do what I say.’

I take comfort from the fact that there are other boats braving the wind, and half a dozen windsurfers riding the gusts like giant butterflies flexing their wings, but as we get closer I notice the boats ahead of us are leaning over, their masts conspicuously tilting away from the wind. They seem to be lowering their sails. I look back at Sam.

‘It’s all right. He knows the lake. If it gets too much we’ll turn around.’ But I can hear the anxiety in his voice. He guides me down to the front end. ‘We need to distribute our weight evenly across the boat.’

Stumbling, I fall against him as we pitch to and fro. He lowers me on to the bench along one side and sits opposite. Goosebumps pepper my arms, my hands are trembling. As the boat shifts this way and that, Sam leans back and then forward, following the rhythm, using his body to steady us.

‘What’s happening?’ I’m trying to understand. To prepare.

‘The air flow is more turbulent up this end of the lake. It’s disturbed by the landscape as it rolls over Torver Common – the contours of the ground, buildings, trees.’ Water sprays over the side of the boat as we pitch alarmingly to one side. Cold seeps through the seat of my jeans. Sam leans back to compensate and has to shout over the rush of the wind. ‘The further up the lake it goes, the more agitated it gets.’

‘Should I rock backwards and forwards like you?’

He shakes his head, leaning towards me, but Jonty barks, ‘Sit still! I’ll keep the boat steady.’

‘I’m just—’

‘I know how to sail a boat!’


Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour!

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