The House of Birds – Morgan McCarthy

27999444When his girlfriend, Kate, inherits an old house and with it an old a family feud, Oliver takes on the responsibility of getting the house in a sellable condition. However, the house holds some kind of allure for Oliver and, when he discovers an old diary, he beings a quest to find out what happened to the diary’s owner, and what was intended to happen to the house.

I heard so much about this book before starting. The cover is beautiful, and the reviews were great. I was so disappointed. The writing itself is pretty good: lovely and descriptive, and easy to read. Where the book fell down for me was the characters – I didn’t like any of them. Oliver was meek and annoying, Kate wasn’t very nice, Sophia and Boll were both selfish, George was horrible (although that wasn’t bad because he wasn’t supposed to be nice), and we never got enough detail about Christopher for me to form much of an attachment. The only saving grace was Lena, and even she didn’t really have a big enough part to make a difference. Because of this, I never got properly into the story. I just didn’t care what happened to anyone. It’s a real shame because I was really excited to read this book.

The House of Birds does have a decent story in there, but it’s hard to say much more because I found myself skimming over a lot of it in the end. Give it a shot, but don’t have high hopes – my high expectations ruined it for me.

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

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to say a quick Merry Christmas to all of you.

I started my blog earlier this year and everyone has been very welcoming and supportive – I really appreciate it! So I hope you all have a wonderful time (and get all the presents you want – lots of books, obviously), and I’ll see you all back on the blogs after Christmas, ready for the new year!


Christmas at the Cornish Café – Phillipa Ashley

51PotjCREuLReally getting into the Christmas spirit with this one, the second part of the Penwith Trilogy. Now, I loved book #1 (Summer at the Cornish Café). It was essentially Poldark fan-fiction, which was fine by me, but for book #2 Philippa Ashley came up with some more original story lines: Cal and Demi are successfully running Kilhallon Park and Demi’s new café, all while trying to work out their personal relationship as well. In the run-up to Christmas, a writer named Kit comes to the park for a few months – an unusually long stay. Despite (or perhaps because of) Kit’s charming nature, Cal doesn’t trust him. But Kit’s not the only one with a secret.

I loved this book just as much as the first. It’s light and breezy, easy to read and well-written. The setting is as good as ever (it’s hard not to love Cornish scenery). I liked all the characters already, and the new ones slotted into the story seamlessly. The only real criticism I have is that Cal’s ‘dark secret’ seems to have come from nowhere. It’s meant to be something he’s been struggling with internally, but there was absolutely no mention of it in the first book, so it was a bit out of the blue. Cal’s particular storyline in Christmas at the Cornish Café also creates some confusion to the overall feel of the book, because it is actually rather dark and serious, where the rest of the story is light and romantic. On the other hand, it did give the book a bit more depth.

Really, I’m just being picky. Will definitely be picking up the last book when it’s out.

Infamous – Lori Sizemore

32722638After a sex-tape scandal, Justine Montgomery has become infamous. Determined to prove herself, she takes a job at her father’s entertainment company, partnered up with the attractive and mysterious Sawyer. Fighting against her unsupportive father, stalker ex-boyfriend and scandalous past, Justine and Sawyer must battle the odds to make their relationship work – business and personal.

Following the structure of classic women’s contemporary romance, Infamous is well-written and entertaining. The characters are all likeable in their own ways (expect the ones you’re obviously supposed to hate) and the story, despite being completely predictable, is full of ups and downs that make it worth reading. Justine and Sawyer were both incredibly frustrating the way they could never figure out each other’s feelings even though it was totally obvious. Still, I enjoyed the way they interacted with each other and the chemistry between them.

The plot is well paced and full of humour, drama, and sexual tension. It’s a bit more than just a flighty love story, and a good addition to the genre.

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

Bertie’s Gift – Hannah Coates

32332059Can one dog bring a family back together in time for Christmas?

Well, we already know the answer to that question is “yes”. But, to be fair, it’s not entirely predictable how.

In this festive tale, Bertie the beagle is separated from his sister and adopted into a family struggling with grief. It’s a challenging time for Bertie, as he fights to get his sister back and bring his new family together.

Now, I have always struggled with stories told from the point of view of pets (for this reason, I never even finished Warhorse – I just waited for the film instead). However, I persevered with Bertie’s Gift and, although I never warmed to the pet-perspective style, I did enjoy the story.

The book is certainly not the best written. While still enjoyable, the story is kind of flat and the characters are quite two-dimensional. There were parts were the dog behaviour was well observed, and other parts that felt weak. It is articulate, but not imaginative. That being said, it is a heart-warming tale, with some fun aspects (the cats were actually my favourite, even though I don’t like cats very much). Perfect for a light, Christmas read.

The Wave at Hanging Rock – Gregg Dunnett

31276896This book started out kind of slow; I wasn’t sure what direction it was going in. We follow two seemingly unrelated stories: Jesse and his friends surfing in Wales, and Natalie – a psychologist whose husband mysteriously disappears.

I liked the Natalie parts. The mystery surrounding her husband, Jim, was intriguing and unpredictable. Jesse kind of annoyed me. John, the leader of their friendship trio, had some psychopathic tendencies which Jesse and the other friend, Darren, never fought against. I understand peer pressure, but they never really tried to oppose him even when they knew he was wrong. I just didn’t enjoy reading about those three. BUT once the story properly got going it was really good.

I liked the writing style. Transitions between characters and time frames were handled well. It was all very easy to follow, and totally unpredictable. The two stories eventually came together and made total sense, and although it started out slow, the pacing did change quite dramatically around half way through.

The Wave at Hanging Rock is a good, dark, psychological thriller. As the story unfurls, the plot becomes clearer and more dramatic, full of intrigue and misdirection, and loose ends all nicely tied up at the end.

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

Grind – Edward Vukovic

28787990Told from the perspective of five different characters, this story explores the impact people can have on each other through chance meetings. Ziva, Isaac, Simon, Michel and Danielle are five strangers who’s paths cross and have a significant impact on each other’s lives. We follow the mini-story of each character, leading up to a shocking climax (which I won’t spoil).

The main focus is on Ziva, an immigrant with a gift for predicting the future. Her story – and Danielle’s – really is what kept me in the book. The others I found pretty boring, but they are integral to the story. Grind is beautifully written, descriptive, slow-paced and gentle. Although not very exciting, it made a nice change. The romance between Ziva and Isaac is light and believable, and I wanted to know what was going on with Danielle from the second we met her.

This story is not exciting or particularly relatable, but it is intriguing, moving and very well-written. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a change of pace, something a bit different. (Also, if you like coffee, that’s a pretty big thing – hence the title and cover art.)

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

Brothers and Frenemies – Samuel Alexander

31932606Dealing with issues of sexuality, friendship, family and violence, Brothers and Frenemies is a coming-of-age story unlike any other. Four boys, each struggling with their own issues, taking it out on others through bullying. Until one of their victims finally stands up to them. An unlikely friendship is born – is it one that can last?

There are a lot of characters in this book, it was at times difficult to work out who was speaking, but ultimately that didn’t really matter. They all have likeable and dislikeable traits, which was great. None of them are perfect but none of them are intrinsically bad either.

I’m not sure how realistic the whole thing is. A whole group of 10-year-olds much more mature than any I’ve ever met, the chilled attitude to having known murderers and crime bosses as friends, and the surprisingly high number of gay men in one group (family and friends included). For all I know this could be completely normal, but as I said, I’m not sure. There were other things that I simply couldn’t understand (namely, how often the boys sent videos to each other of themselves having sex). This is not a world I’m familiar with at all and therefore it was difficult to connect with the story. Despite this, I did find myself invested in the characters, genuinely concerned about what was going to happen to them.

Overall, the story was moving, interesting, and unlike anything else I’ve read. If you want diversity in books, this is it.

Side-note: there is A LOT of sex. Not, however, in the descriptive erotic-novel style, which makes it much easier to cope with.

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

360 To Paradise – Casey Marx

32033322So, to be honest, I didn’t understand half of this book. It was all hot babes, drugs and skating – not my forte. That being said, it was a great read.

Cody is a drug-dealing teen who thinks he’s God’s gift, until suddenly everything goes wrong. He knocks up his best friend, his parole officer is determined to get him put in prison, and he owes his dealer $12,000. Can he survive the day?

Cody’s narrative voice is great. I had no clue what he was on about most of the time, but I still loved it. It was pretty much non-stop action, drug taking and teenage-questioning-of-life, so what actually happened was kind of a blur. There’s a fantastic assortment of characters (Dane was my favourite – completely insane), who all bring a little something to the story (although I couldn’t for the life of me explain who contributed what). It’s brilliantly written, you can literally feel Cody’s panic and stress emanating from the page. The ending however, was so not what I wanted! And yet, it was right (I won’t spoil it by explaining). Definitely recommend this book as a fast-paced, action-packed drama, although be prepared to not understand a lot of what’s going on.

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

Fallen To Grace – A.J. Flowers

This review is for A.J. Flower’s December Blog Tour (which is my first blog tour)! You can check out the author’s website here and take a look at the other tour posts.

Azrael is one of the Windborn – a wingless angel. She is a moral hybrid, able to see both good and bad, unlike most of her kind. When she makes a deal with a demon to change her future, the last thing she expects is to become Queen. Fallen to Grace, the first instalment of the Celestial Downfall Trilogy, tells the tale of Azrael’s fight to survive her new royal magic, resist the call of the demon within her, and avoid losing everything to the darkness.

Fallen to Grace is a good story. A.J. Flowers gives a version of angels and demons that I haven’t seen before, with interesting characters like the Hallowed who is both creepy and kind of likeable. There is a slight romantic aspect, (although this was brought in quite suddenly with little build up) but the story focusses mainly on Azrael’s relationships with the Queen and her best friend, Meretta, and Azrael’s struggle to survive through the Acceptance of the Divine Material she must receive to become queen.

I liked the overall story and feel of the book, but Azrael really bugged me. She blames herself for literally everything and thinks that she is responsible for saving everyone when she’s really not. She’s just there to undergo the Acceptance and learn about becoming queen. Sure, when she is queen she’ll be more responsible, but until then protecting everyone is just not her problem. So yeah, I found that pretty annoying which made it hard to connect with her. Other than that though, the book was good. I liked the original take on angels and the other characters. I’m interested to see how the series will develop.

I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Release date: 2nd December, 2016.