Holiday Reading 2016

It has come to that time of year once more; the time to pick out my must-read’s for my summer holiday.

Ah, holidays – fun, food and fiction!

Holiday #2

Source: Free Stock Photos

I love holidays; you can sit and read for hours in the garden sitting on a comfortable chair, on the beach with your toes in the sand, snuggled under a blanket in the cool evenings and in a coffee shop wedged into the most-comfortable corner of a sofa.

Although I will be taking my Kindle (and its 500+ books) I want to have a few specific books to aim to read; some of these will most definitely be in the unutterably delightful physical book format. Unfortunately as physical books are hellish on space and weight, I will have to whittle my ‘want to take’ pile into a ‘definitely take on pain of death and/or boredom’ pile.

But first, where the heck have I been for the past 11 months and why haven’t I been reading? Well, I have…kinda. I’ve been reading fan fiction and loving it. Sadly however, phone signals being what they are where I’m headed it’s far easier to take a proper book.

So, what books are definite and which am I considering?

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Lailah & Gabriel (Styclar Saga #1 & #2) by Nikki Kelly

Styclar #1

These two are definites. Nikki Kelly is a talented author and these two books are pretty brilliant in my humble opinion. How can I not take the opportunity to re-read these favourites?

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Alice in Zombieland vs Splintered
Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles #1) by Gena Showalter / Splintered (Splintered #1) by A G Howard

Alice #1

I would really love to read a book with a take on Alice in Wonderland this holiday and these are the two currently on my book shelves. Both are the first in their series and from what I’ve read about them with beautiful writing to match the gorgeous eye-catching covers.

 

Red Queen vs A Discovery of Witches
Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard / A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

Red Witches #1

Red Queen is one of the few books I have gone out and bought brand new, compared to buying from the charity shop or jumble sale as I normally would; heavens knows why I haven’t read it yet as I was so excited to! A Discovery of Witches would be a re-read but it is one of my favourite books.

Looking for Alaska vs Throne of Glass
Looking for Alaska by John Green / Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J Maas

Looking Glass #1

These books are both ones that I’ve seen a lot of fantastic reviews for but have never read for myself; Throne of Glass especially – such a popular series!

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And therein, dear readers, lies my dilemma. Let me know which books I should be taking on holiday this summer or if you think I’ve missed any must-read books!

 

Review: Lailah (Styclar Saga #1) by Nikki Kelly

18324459Source: Amazon UK
Format: E-book – Read on Kindle
Publish date: 7th October 2014 by Feiwel & Friends
Price: £7.59
Date Read: 7th/8th October 2014 & 1st September 2015

Amazon UK – Hardcover / Paperback / Kindle / Audio Book

Goodreads Summary:

The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.

On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.

In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?

Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.

It’s been almost a year since I originally read Lailah and I honestly have no good reason for not reviewing this book before. I read Lailah while I was on holiday in the wilds of the Welsh/English border. There was no phone reception or internet, unless you went into the pub and connected to their wifi. Before going away I had pre-ordered via Amazon and hoped for the best that I would be able to get the book on my Kindle on release day. Fortunately for me (and not so fortunately for those I was on holiday with!) I did download Lailah and spent the next two days with my head firmly stuck in Nikki Kelly’s amazing world.

I had heard a heck of a lot about Lailah even before it was published publicly for all to read. British author Nikki Kelly originally published the story online on Wattpad and it was picked up by an American publisher; the American YA audience loved it and (quite rightly) got behind Nikki and made Lailah and the Styclar Saga a sensation. ARC copies of Lailah were pored over, rejoiced over and the praises sung of the story and author for many weeks before and after the publishing of Lailah. Reading it for myself I can certainly see why. I am certainly a massive fan of this amazingly talented Brit myself!

Lailah is a paranormal sensational story written in the first person; I did this and I went to that… Not a format I would normally read but being front and centre of a YA Paranormal-y Romance-y Action-y story really appealed. The book is filled with vampires, angels, demons and angels… A chaotic mix which works perfectly and yet totally confuzzles the reader in a rather please ‘Give me more’ way!

The writing is open and appealing and extremely easy to read and lose yourself in. The story, although some may at first say mirrors others of the same genre, surprises the reader with twists, turns and mysteries which leave you wanting and eager to turn the page. For me it was definitely an ‘Oh God it’s 4am and I have to be up in 3 hours, why the hell can’t I put this book down and go to sleep’ book. High praise indeed! it’s also a re-readable book. I’ve read it I-don’t-know-how-many times so far but I still love it and keep going back to it. I spot things or make connections that I haven’t before. That’s the kind of book I really love; one which will sit well-worn on my bookcase, not gathering dust because it doesn’t have the chance to sit still long enough.

My love for it is something I’ve certainly tried to share and I hope I’ve been doing my bit here in the UK – I managed to persuade my library to buy a copy and it’s not been too long on the shelves so far to my knowledge!

So, have I persuaded you to give it a try? Let me know if you’re Team Gabriel or Team Jonah! Me? I’m Team Lailah; she’s strong and able and should be a team all of her own!

Read Lailah and now you want more? 

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Amazon UK – Hardcover & Kindle

The second book in the Styclar Saga series ‘Gabriel’ is available for pre-order and will be released on the 27th October 2015; not long to go!

From Goodreads:

Gabriel is an Angel Descendant. He’s also an ally to a generation of vampires who want to break away from the demon who controls them. His faith in the power of good over evil wavers, however, when he discovers that Lailah, the woman he considers his only true love, may be both angel and demon. Is their love enough to overcome the dark forces who are ready to go to war with Gabriel, the vampire Jonah, and the angel and vampire forces? And can Gabriel compete with Jonah, who is also in love with Lailah?

About the AuthoNikki-Kelly-BWr:

NIKKI KELLY was born and raised only minutes away from the chocolately scent of Cadbury World in Birmingham, England. Lailah was first launched to wattpad, an online readers and writers community. Within six months, the novel had over one million reads. Lailah is Nikki’s debut novel, and the first book in The Styclar Saga. She lives in London with her husband and their dogs, Alfie (a pug) and Goose (a Chihuahua).

Boo!

Well hello, how are you and welcome back to my most awesome and amazing blog. It’s been *gasp* seven whole months since my last update and i’m sincerely sorry it’s taken so long. In that time my job role has changed, i’ve become a far more social creature (horror of horrors) and not really touched social media or the wonder that is a book.

Yup, i’ve not read a book.

When you’ve all picked yourselves up off the floor i’ll tell you all about it. Basically i’ve rekindled my love of fan fiction. Many of you i’m sure will have explored the sites of FanFiction.netAdultFanFiction.orgFictionAlley and the other myriad of fan fiction postings available online. You shouldn’t be surprised too that many end up being snapped up by publishers; 50 Shades for example was originally a Twilight fan fiction.

There are many reasons to love and, in turn hate, fan fiction. Usually the authors are the every day person on the street who has thought ‘What if…’ and just had to write it down. I remember when i was in my teens i started writing a Fast and the Furious story as i didn’t like Letty and wanted Dom with another character. My character was pretty awesome and i could live vicariously through the words and the story i created. Unfortunately my interest waned but i still remember where i wanted the story to go and you can still find it online. Maybe one day i’ll pick it back up again.

That brings me to the hate part, something i myself am guilty of. Sadly many fanfictions remain incomplete; these are usually the best ones too. You can spend days, weeks, months or even years waiting for updates which often never come. There are two i’m still awaiting updates for which in my heart of hearts i know will never arrive but occasionally i do still check. Just in case. For those that don’t finish, there are of course those that do. Sometimes it will take months or years and you have to re-read it to be able to follow the storyline, but it’s really rather exciting.

The best part of reading fanfiction though is finding the hidden gems. In a hundred stories you may find only a few that you race right through, staying up until 4 in the morning to finish. It’s much like published books. That hidden gem makes up completely for the hours spent trawling through sometimes indecipherable gobbledegook or plots that don’t make a lick of sense and there’s a sad moment when you come to the end of the story and you don’t want to finish it. Finishing it would mean exiting this wonderful world you’ve been inhabiting for the past x hours, days, weeks or months.

So, no wonder i’ve been lost for the past seven months to fanfiction.

Fanfiction too doesn’t question if someone is good enough to read their work. You don’t have to apply and be judged whether you’re suitable to read a copy of an authors work. Coming to the end of my stint in book reviewing i was getting disheartened by the need to keep proving myself good enough to read. Surely if i’m interested in reading an authors work i should be able to read it and give my opinion? I don’t ask to read books i’m not interested in; why waste my time reading something i know i’m going to hate? There’s no time in this world for that. I did appreciate the fact though that i was given the chance by many publishers and i’m sincerely sorry that i didn’t read at the pace i probably should have done. It’s exhausting though, something i’m sure many of you find.

So, where do i go from here? I seem to have my writing spark back and my book reading spark is rearing its head once again.

I still have the books i was sent before and i think getting through them will be a big part. The reviews will be a little old by then but no matter. Whether i’l be asking for any more, who knows. I’m not in a hurry to be judged or have to prove my worthiness to publishers to get first glance of their new works. The hype for those newly-published works will be horrendous on twitter and other social media but that can’t be helped. I’m me and i won’t be changing just for the chance to read a book. If you don’t want me to read it, don’t bother making me jump through hoops. I’ll just borrow it from my local library for free later on.

But anyway, rant over and you can all come out from under the desk.

For now though, goodbye my lovelies and I hope to be writing to you all again soon. Well, sooner than 7 months…😉

Book Review: Vivid by Andrea Murray

Welcome to my spot on the Vivid blog tour! I’m honoured to be a part of this and so happy to be back blogging. It’s been too long!

23703248Source: Paranormal Cravings Reviews
Format: EBook (Read on Kindle)
Publish Date: 13th November 2014 by Booktrope (Originally published in 2011)
Price: N/A
Date Read: 18th December 2014
Genre: Paranormal / Sci-Fi
Links: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received this review copy of Vivid for free in return for an honest review. The opinions and thoughts I share in this review are my own.

Goodreads Summary:

When Vivian Cartwright was five years old, she witnessed her mother’s death.

Now, sixteen-year-old Vivian only wants a normal life—hard to accomplish when you possess the power to control energy. Her entire life she has feared her power and its connection to her mother’s murder. She has kept her ability a secret from everyone except her guardian, Charlotte, who has hidden Vivian from the man responsible for her mother’s murder.

Her secret is safe until Vivian subconsciously defends herself at school using her power. After this first use of her gift in many years, Vivian’s power seems to take on a mind of its own, increasing in strength and demanding to be used. This increase in power also brings dreams of her mother’s death and the mysterious man connected with it. When she is assigned to tutor the would-be boyfriend of Trista Parmer (a.k.a. the biggest diva in school), Vivian cannot deny the electrifying connection that she feels for the boy, Easton Garrett. In her desire to get Easton away from Vivian, Trista doubles her efforts to humiliate Vivian, forcing Vivian to use her supernatural gift over and over. With each use, Vivian fears she is losing control and discovers her powers are growing—maybe too much—bringing her unknowingly closer to the man who murdered her mother.

Vivid is the first book in the Vivid Trilogy. It is followed by #2 Vicious and #3 Vengeance. Telling the story of Vivian Cartwright, Vivid is written in the first person. This along with the writing engage the reader and draw them into the story through the eyes of the teenage Vivian. Going into it, I did wonder if this would be a conventional and average teen/young adult read; the kind you know the method of the story to before even reading it. Fortunately I was happily surprised and I enjoyed reading to the very end and wanted more. Unfortunately, I am no longer a teen and most definitely not an American teen so a bit probably went way over my head. I certainly screamed “Oh grow up and get over yourselves!” to many of the not-so-nice and bullying people in the story.

The majority of the first book seemed to me to be an introduction of the characters and gave insight into a few of them. Character-wise, I went between love and hate for many – Abby most of all – though with the amount of bullying that starts off the story I was ready to scream at someone. Oh teen life, I don’t miss it at all! As a teen though I would have loved to have Vivian’s powers. That would most definitely have been majorly fabulous and I would have kicked arse. I look forward to seeing how these develop at the trilogy continues and the difficulties and further trials Vivian will face.

At around 142 pages, Vivid is a relatively short but good read which I would definitely recommend to those who love teen / young adult / paranormal / sci-fi fiction.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

About the author:

andrea murray

Andrea Murray

Andrea Murray has been teaching English for longer than most of her students have been alive. She has taught everything from junior high language arts to concurrent credit freshman composition. She lives in a very small town in Arkansas with her precocious daughter, energetic son, and race car-driving husband. When she isn’t writing or reading novels for her students, she’s probably watching reality television or cheesy science fiction movies. In addition to the Vivid Trilogy, she has also written Omni, her new YA dystopian romance.

Twitter // Goodreads

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This blog tour was organised by Paranormal Cravings Reviews

Review: Taken By Storm by Tamara Mataya

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Tamara Mataya’s fantastic new novel ‘Taken By Storm‘! A Swoon Romance published novel, I knew it would knock my socks off and I was right. I hope you enjoy my review and get yourself over to buy a copy of the book for yourselves. I’d love to hear if you’ve read this book or if you now plan to.


Taken By StormSource:
 Swoon Romance
Format: EBook (Read on Kindle)
Publish Date: 2nd December 2014 by Swoon Romance
Price: N/A
Date Read: 30th November 2014
Genre: Erotic Romance
Links: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received this review copy of Taken By Storm for free in return for an honest review. The opinions and thoughts I share in this review are my own.

Goodreads Summary:

Leilani’s plan was simple: Return for her father’s wedding, housesit for the happy couple while they went on their honeymoon, then get the hell outta dodge. She’d thought the worst thing would be returning to the town she grew up in (and despised). She was wrong.

A flashflood hits the small town, stranding Firefighter, Ryan, and a few strangers at the local bar. Worst of all, Leilani, his old high school rival – and last night’s scorching one-night-stand – is one of the people stuck in the bar. With waters rising, they need to stick together and wait for rescue.

The power grid’s knocked out, and cell phones aren’t working. When the others panic and leave, Leilani and Ryan are left alone in the dark. Fortunately, words aren’t necessary to keep the former rivals warm. But when they’re forced to leave their refuge, they must cooperate to navigate the flood ravaged town and reach safety.

Rising waters bring them closer together. Rising tempers might tear them apart.

I suppose in a way I was cheating when I signed up for this blog tour. I’ve read many books published by Swoon Romance, by many different authors, yet I have loved each and every one so far. Surely reading should be about testing boundaries and trying something new? Oh well, yet again I’ve found another book to love and an author to (slightly) obsess over!

At an (Amazon) estimated 156 pages, Taken By Storm is the perfect length for an afternoon spent in front of a roaring fire with nothing else to do. Exactly the spot I found myself in on Sunday. Armed with only a large mug of tea, a packet of wotsits (for those in the US, think Cheetos) and an extra large snickers bar I entered the wonderful world of Leilani and Ryan. Amazingly, the chocolate survived – it showed how drawn in and captured I was by this wonderful story. Best of all, Taken By Storm is actually inspired by true events!

I loved the authors turn of phrase and the conversations and interactions between Leilani and Ryan. With such achingly real characters and fantasticly well written situations, the reader is picked up and plonked straight into the middle of the story. That doesn’t happen too often. My emotions though were up and down like a yo-yo as Leilani and Ryan argued, got into scary situations, sexy situations (one word: OMG!) and everything in between. I understand entirely now why the publisher is named Swoon Romance – I certainly very nearly did!

For such a heart-achingly awful Monther Nature caused situation, the author has written an utterly wonderful story around it. The awfuness of the situation and the terror and havoc isn’t passed over but is a part of the story and makes it so much more wonderful – if that was even at all possible.

And as for the ending? I guess you’ll have to read it yourself to find out *wink*

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

About the author:

Tamara Mataya

Tamara Mataya

Tamara Mataya is currently a librarian; she lurked there for so long recommending books to patrons and shushing people, that she suspects they only hired her so it would be less creepy. Now she’s armed with a name tag, and a thin veneer of credibility. She’s also a musician with synaesthesia – which isn’t an issue until someone plays a wrong note, which makes her want to squirm inside out. It makes for a good live show.

Twitter // Facebook // Blog // Goodreads

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This blog tour was organised by Swoon Romance

Review: The List by Joanna Bolouri

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Joanna Bolouri’s fantastic debut novel ‘The List: My Year of Sexual Adventures‘! While you’re here, have a wander around and maybe leave a comment or two – I’d love to hear if you’ve read this book or if you now plan to.

19006544Source: Quercus
Format: Paperback
Publish Date: 10th April 2014 by Quercus (first published 5th December 2013)
Price: N/A
Date Read: 13th November 2014
Genre: Romance-y Angst-y Chick-Lit
Links: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received this review copy of The List for free in return for an honest review. The opinions and thoughts I share in this review are my own.

Goodreads Summary:

Phoebe Henderson may be single but she sure doesn’t feel fabulous. It’s been a year since she found her boyfriend Alex in bed with another woman, and multiple cases of wine and extensive relationship analysis with best friend Lucy have done nothing to help. Faced with a new year but no new love, Phoebe concocts a different kind of resolution.

The List: ten things she’s always wanted to do in bed but has never had the chance (or the courage!) to try. A bucket list for between the sheets. One year of pleasure, no strings attached. Simple, right?

Factor in meddlesome colleagues, friends with benefits, getting frisky al fresco and maybe, possibly, true love and Phoebe’s got her work cut out for her.

Joanna Bolouri’s The List is completely unlike any book I have ever read and would normally ever read. For one, I tend to shy away from angsty chick lit and, secondly, from diary-format reads in the first person. This book however intrigued me when I first heard about it; hence joining the blog tour! The List took me straight out of my biblio-safe zone and on a fast train to who-knew-where. I wasn’t disappointed.

The book itself is written in the first person from the point of the main female character; Phoebe Henderson. There are no real chapters as the story is written in the format of a diary with an entry for each day, though the book is split into months. Phoebe is joined by a whole host of other characters including the lovely Oliver; all of whom are extremely relateable and astonishingly real. The List is absolutely hilarious and Joanna takes no prisoners. If you don’t like swearing or sex though, this book is not for you. I described the book earlier as ‘chick lit’ and honestly I’m not sure if that is the right category – what is though is a whole new matter. It’s full angst and romance. It’s uproarious, cringe-worthy and downright dirty in places. I went through the book alternately wanting to cheer on or throttle Phoebe, Oliver or most of the other characters. For me though, that’s the sign of a great book! It is a book I could well see being based on real-life events, though a life far different from my own. Isn’t that the point of reading though? To quote Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations” –  and to boldly go where my mind hasn’t gone before.

Reading The List has taught me a lot about my literary likes and dislikes. The book itself was extremely easy to read and I felt carried along by the trials and tribulations of Phoebe and her exciting and often horrendously amusing life and sexual explorations. For all the sex in the book however, it wasn’t at all pornographic and honestly was mainly talked about plainly and without going into great detail. Not a book I would give out to all and sundry but would definitely offer to a friend. And the big question; Does it have a happy ending? Spoilers darling. You’ll just have to read it for yourself.

Overall a great and funny read which I hope you will try.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

About the author:

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Joanne Bolouri

Joanna Bolouri worked in sales before she began writing professionally at the age of thirty. Winning a BBC comedy script competition allowed her to work and write with stand-up comedians, comedy scriptwriters and actors from across the UK. She’s had articles and reviews published in The Skinny, the Scottish Sun, the Huffington Post and HecklerSpray. She lives in Glasgow with her daughter.

Twitter // Facebook // Blog // Goodreads

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This blog tour was organised by the lovely Emma Louise of Emma Lou Book Blog

Review: The Mausoleum Road Affair by Patricia Miller

20562731Source: Swoon Romance
Format: E-book – Read on Kindle
Publish Date: 4th November 2014 by Swoon Romance
Price: N/A
Date Read: 12th November 2014
Genre: Romance
Links: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received this review copy of The Mausoleum Road Affair for free in return for an honest review. The opinions and thoughts I share in this review are my own.

Goodreads Summary:

Frustrated mother of two, Brianne Hunter, escapes her bland life in rural Fennelton by embarking on a weekend away shopping with her best friend. On the drive to her friend Darlene’s estate, Brianne crashes her Jeep off the Mausoleum Road, and makes her way, bleeding and injured, to a stone ranch seeking help. There she encounters Dr. Robert Moss, whose spouse is in Europe spending their money. Thus begins an immediate attraction, and a wildly sensual coupling that essentially changes them both.

When the weekend tryst ends, Brianne returns home to the demands of her predictable life. Shortly thereafter, life-changing losses occur for both Brianne and Dr. Moss. Then comes the day when Dr. Moss pays Brianne a house call, attempting to reignite their union; however, a revelation he delivers may be more than Brianne can accept. Yet Brianne cannot deny her heart’s passion, and returns to the ranch to deliver a disclosure of her own. In the end, the pair must decide if they will follow their passionate fate together or not.

I was initially drawn to this book by the absolutely gorgeous cover. Possibly that’s a little shallow but I adore it. I would love to have a hardback or paperback copy to adorn my shelves but for now I will stick with the black and white copy that shows up on my kindle! The book itself is utterly fabulous too. The writing and descriptions are so in depth they draw you right into the story and you can imagine the whole thing so easily! Descriptions of smells, sounds and touch are so well put you can almost experience them for yourself through the authors words. Not what I was expecting for words written on a page.

Along with the way it’s written, the author has brought to life some amazing characters. They are hurt, loving, flawed and amazing people that grab on to your heart and make you love them. This book makes you laugh, cry and care about Brianne, Robert and their families; people who live in the pages of a book, and that is something rather beyond comprehension at times. I think that the part I love most about this book are the flawed characters. Odd? Maybe. Humans are flawed though. Life doesn’t come with guaranteed happy endings and this is something the author has put across brilliantly. How this book ends I won’t reveal though; to quote River Song… “Spoilers, darling”.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥ ½ – I utterly loved it. (Note: This rating is rounded up when a ½ is unavailable)

 

About the author:

Patricia Miller

 Patricia Miller

Patricia Miller lives in Bradford, Ontario with her husband and two children. Her work has appeared inThe Era Banner, The Toronto Star, The Toronto Quarterly, From The Cottage Porch: An Anthology, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada The Wonders of Winter. She enjoys snowboarding and snorkeling.

Twitter // Facebook // Website // Pinterest