Stealing Snow – Daniella Paige

28260524I LOVED this book. From what I’ve seen, a lot of people haven’t enjoyed it, but who cares what they think, right?

Snow and Bale both live in Whittaker, a psychiatric hospital. Bale is obsessed with fire, and Snow seems to have something weird going on with ice. One night, Bale disappears from Whittaker and Snow finds herself following a boy from her dreams into another world in order to get Bale back. Oh and guess what? It turns out Snow is a princess in this other world and has magical snow powers. So far so good.

The only thing that bothered me was that literally every boy Snow meets seems to be in love with her (but what I really hate is love-triangles and this technically is more of a love-square… So I can’t really complain). I guess Stealing Snow is kind of a retelling of The Snow Queen, but I’m not very familiar with that so any similarities in the story didn’t bother me. The fairy-tale aspects worked for me, and I enjoyed all the characters (definitely a tiny bit in love with Jagger). The plot was pretty eventful and well written, and I liked the premise of a girl in an insane asylum escaping into another world (my favourite film is Sucker Punch – go figure).

So basically, ignore the hate. I thought it was fab. Actually gutted when I finished the book.

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

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Broken Lynx – Tori Knightwood

31435405Broken Lynx is the fourth stand-alone book in the Hotel Safari series. I haven’t read any others in the series, but I really don’t think that matters. The premise: An Irish nurse gets a job at the Hotel Safari Lodge in Kenya, where she meets a sexy shape-shifting German and falls in love.

To be honest, it isn’t the best. It’s a pretty short book, so the story starts super quickly and there isn’t much of a plot and barely any character development. I didn’t really understand the need for Hans to be a shape-shifter – it didn’t add much to the story – and Deidre was way too chill about the whole thing. If I saw a chap change into a Lynx in front of me I probably wouldn’t be totally eager to be his friend. And then, why are there other shape-shifters here? Why is this lodge full of men who change into animals? Maybe that makes more sense if you read the whole series, I don’t know.
Then there’s the romance. Both characters went from feeling platonic and friendly to fancying the pants off each other extremely quickly (like, the space of a page). There just wasn’t enough substance.

However, if you want a quick, raunchy romance, does plot and substance really matter? Probably not.

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

The Mine – John A. Heldt

19353394Joel Smith enters an abandoned mine in May 2000… He steps out in May 1941. Unable to return to his own time, Joel makes a life for himself in an age heading for war. Befriending his 21-year-old grandmother and her attractive friends, Joel finds himself falling in love with Grace; a girl from the right place, but the wrong time. When the chance to return home arises months later, Joel must decide whether to stay in his new life with the girl he loves, but suffer war and possibly change the future – or to return to his own time without her.

I enjoyed the story and the characters – everyone was pretty likeable – but I did struggle with how easily Joel gave up trying to get home at the start. If I accidentally time-travelled I don’t think I’d be so calm about it. I also felt that the romance between Joel and Grace was extremely selfish on Joel’s part (*semi-spoiler* she leaves her fiancé for him!) I found that super harsh if he wasn’t planning on necessarily staying in the past with her forever.

However, the writing is very good and easy to read, and the plot development is great. The details of the past seem (at least to me – a person of very little knowledge of pre-war America) extremely well researched and presented. The story flows well and as far as time-travel romances go this is a good-un. (And the ending is exactly how you’d hope).

I received a copy of this book from the author for review.

Beauty and the Beast Book Tag

beautytag.pngThank you Kee @ Kee the Reader for tagging me – I love tags and always get a bit overexcited when I get the notification. This one looks really creative so I’m thrilled to do it.

Rules: 

  • Thank the person who tagged you.
  • Mention the creator- Kristy @ Kristy and the Cat Read
  • Match a book to each of the songs/characters below.
  • Tag as many people as you like. 

1. “TALE AS OLD AS TIME” – A popular theme, trope or setting you will never get bored of reading.

The strong, sassy female lead. These are abundant in most genres, particularly YA, but as a female who is strong and sassy (at least, I like to think so) I never tire of this trope. Quite often, they turn out to be a disappointment (i.e. Bella Swan, Katniss Everdeen, America Singer) but I love them anyway.

2. BELLE – A book you bought for its beautiful cover that’s just as beautiful inside too.

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch and The Woodcutter by Kate Danley. I adored these covers and the books both turned out to be fabulous.

3. BEAST – A book you didn’t expect much from but pleasantly surprised you.

Severed Heads, Broken Hearts by Robyn Schneider. I sort of bought this on a whim not really thinking about it, and the story turned out to be much better and more emotional than I expected.

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4. GASTON – A book everyone loves that you don’t.

Literally anything by John Green. Everyone raves about his books so much. I’ve only read a couple but they were both so *yawn*. Angsty kids with completely unrelatable problems, cheesy quotes everywhere – no thank you.

5. LEFOU – A loyal sidekick you can’t help but love more than their counter part.

Simon from The Mortal Instruments series. I actually did love Clary, Jace and the others as well, but Simon was my favourite. Especially in the film (I mean, yum).

Image result for the mortal instruments simon

6. MRS. POTT, CHIP, LUMIER & COGSWORTH – A book that helped you through a difficult time or that taught you something valuable.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Any time I’m in a remotely bad mood I can just pick up this book and everything is better. I love it so much. Literally the best book I’ve ever read.

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7. “SOMETHING THERE” – A book or a series that you weren’t into at first but picked up towards the end.

This has been the case with a lot of books recently. Most notably, The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker.

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8. “BE OUR GUEST” – A fictional character you’d love to have over for dinner.

Loki from Joanne Harris’ books (he appears in a few). He’s incredibly charismatic and, being the trickster god, that would make for quite an eventful meal.

I Tag:

 Bookslayer Reads
M reads books
The Book Kat
(Apologies if you’ve already been tagged, or don’t want to be).

Patriarch Run – Benjamin Dancer

30331928Good lord, this was non-stop action. Not my usual genre, but absolutely fantastic nonetheless. It was like reading an action film. Literally.

Jack doesn’t know who he is or what he’s done, all he knows is that skilled operators are trying to kill him. He heads instinctively to Patriarch Run, the home he left a decade ago, where his wife and son (who he doesn’t recognize or remember) still live. As fragments of his memory return, Jack must choose between the fate of humanity and that of his family.

The pace is fast. The narrative flits between present and different points in the past, and to different characters’ points of view on a page-by-page basis. Because of all the action, I didn’t have a clue what was going on most of the time, but I really didn’t mind. It was all so exciting. Benjamin Dancer’s writing is superb. Oftentimes switching time frames and POVs can disrupt the flow of a story, but not in Patriarch Run. The characters were likeable (though not exactly relatable… unless you happen to live in a mountainous area of America and have regular shoot-outs with special forces and run-ins with the Mexican drug cartel).

As I said, this isn’t my usual preferred genre, but I would recommend giving it a go. The story also carries a deeper message regarding the choices made by humanity as a whole, which gives the book a meaningful edge.

Wicked Children: Murderous Tales From History – Karen Maitland

31122419This short book is essentially an advertisement for Karen Maitland’s other works. She is known for medieval thrillers, a lot of which contain really evil children.

Wicked Children is made up of three parts: one explores some of the real-life cases of children abusing their power and committing acts of murder, which inspire her own characters. The information about these cases is interesting (provided you have at least some interest in evil children and murder) and really quite shocking. The stories of children getting people hung or burned at the stake for witchcraft by pretending to have been cursed or possessed are truly intriguing. But sadly, that’s about as good as Wicked Children gets.

The second section is also quite interesting – a brief list and description of some medieval poisons and cures. However, the final part is simply sample chapters from two of Maitland’s novel (hence, an advert).

What’s there is interesting, but it’s very short. I wouldn’t pay for it.

Holding – Graham Norton

9781444792003I am a huge fan of Graham Norton, so I was super excited to receive an ARC of his debut novel. I had unrealistically high hopes (just because you’re an amusing presenter doesn’t mean you’ll be any good at writing), but I was honestly not disappointed at all. Holding is expertly written, with a flowing style and a really good story.

Usually I try to write my own synopsis of the book I’m reviewing, but I actually really like the blurb of this one. So here’s the synopsis, from Goodreads: The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of­ two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former­ love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

The story is beautifully written. Graham Norton paints a vivid picture of life in a remote Irish village, and the characters feel like real people. The nosy shopkeeper, the fat policeman, the smug city detective, even the alcoholic housewife. They’re all relatable (with the possible exception of the Ross sisters) and feel really genuine, with real-life problems and personalities.

Contrary to what other reviewers have said, I didn’t read it in Graham’s voice. I didn’t think the narrative sounded like him, but I personally think that’s a good thing. It was easy to separate the book from the celebrity and, although it means there was no distinctive ‘Graham Norton style’ about it, there was nothing to indicate that this is the debut novel of a celeb. People shouldn’t read Holding because it’s by Graham Norton – they should read it because it’s a damn good book. Holding is touching and a little tragic in places, but has an overall sense of charm about it. A truly enjoyable read.

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

Teaser Tuesday (13th September)

tetTeaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted on Books and a Beat.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Holding by Graham Norton

9781444792003Loc 341 (Kindle edition):

“Maybe now after all these years the mystery of her life would be solved… Someone had robbed her of her happiness, and now that they had found his body, she knew exactly who was to blame.”

Book Description (from Goodreads):

Graham Norton’s masterful debut is an intelligently crafted story of love, secrets and loss.

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of­ two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former­ love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

tt

The Delphi Effect – Rysa Walker

30439157I have very mixed feelings about this book.

17-year-old Anna Morgan has spent her life moving between foster homes, along her with her ‘adoptive’ brother, Deo. She also has the ability to speak to the dead. When she unwittingly picks up the ghost of Molly, a young girl who was brutally murdered, Anna is dragged into the hunt for Molly’s killer which leads her and her new friends deep into a deadly government conspiracy.

The first half of the book didn’t really catch me. I liked the general idea and the characters weren’t annoying (which is rare in YA books), but the writing was pretty waffly and it just didn’t draw me in.

However, things started picking up in the second half, and I have to admit I became hooked. The story really took off. There’s excitement, wit, likeable characters, proper baddies, and special abilities galore. There’s also a nice little romance brewing – and no love triangle in sight (my YA pet hate). I was still a bit put off by the writing style because Rysa Walker does seem to waffle on more than I’d like, but I am intrigued to see where the next book will take go. The Delphi Effect isn’t my favourite YA story, but it’s on the better side of average, with the potential to improve as the trilogy goes on.

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

A Proposal to Die For – Vivian Conroy

cover96350-mediumLady Alkmene isn’t a detective, she’s bored. But when she hears about the suspicious death of the uncle of a visiting Hollywood actress, she becomes determined to uncover the truth. With the help of some of her high-class friends and the somewhat judgy journalist, Jake Dubois, Alkmene sets out to catch a killer.

Set in the twenties, A Proposal to Die For is wonderfully smooth and glamorous, in the style of Agatha Christie combined with the beauty of Gatsby. The story is very reminiscent of Poirot, with Alkmene and Dubois following clues and interviewing suspects, until the killer is revealed and they spill all the secrets of how and why they did it. Because we are introduced to characters as the story progresses, the culprit is not predictable (it’s not a standard, obvious whodunit book).

The setting is beautiful; Conroy’s description of clothes and locations paints a glorious picture of the twenties in full, vibrant colour – exactly how I imagine it. (Alkmene and Dubois’ hunt takes place largely in London, but they do also visit Dartmoor which is where I grew up, so I especially enjoyed that part).

This is the first of three Lady Alkmene Callender Mysteries, I hope the next two will be as delightful as this. The whole thing is absolutely perfect of fans of fun, inoffensive mystery.

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