Monday, 1 September 2014

(ARC) Book Review (380): Messenger Of Fear (Messenger Of Fear #1) - Michael Grant

Messenger of Fear (Messenger of Fear #1)

My Thoughts.
Messenger Of Fear is the first book in an all new series, an unputdownable, nail-biting read, full of darkness, set in a world where people who do wrong are visited by the Messenger Of Fear, forced to chose between playing a game where if you survive you go free, if you don't well you will be forced to endure your biggest fear, it's the same if you refuse to play the game.

Mara who woke up in a field and has no idea of who or where she is, is horrified to learn that she is the Messenger's apprentice,  forced to watch as people are punished for their crimes but at the same time sickened by these people's actions and the people they have hurt, she will be shown three different cases once they are over she will learn how she came to be where she is and why.

While the punishments may seem graphic it goes with the story, these are also meant to be lessons that Mara is to learn, justice needs to be served to those who take it upon themselves to hurt and harm others, once Mara learns her real story she'll understand.

This book was a one sitting read for me, as soon as I picked it up I was absorbed in this book and desperate to get to the end and discover why there was such a big cover up with Mara's memories, and boy was there a twist that was quite a big shock, and that I never would have anticipated, but so well done.

This was my very first Michael Grant book and I loved it, I must move his Gone series up on my TBR list, if that series is anywhere near as good as this book was I'm sure I'll be hooked in no time, I'm extremely anxious to get my hands on the next book, I need to know what happens next with Mara and Messenger.

A fantastic story, great concept and intriguing characters.

I give this 5/5 stars.

wasn't me, that was someones else. 

I had a hard childhood. Hard for my parents. Not that bad for me. I was an Army brat, moved around a lot. Then I didn't settle down. I just kept moving. Why? What inner turmoil drove me? Mmmm, I gotta say none. I just have a short attention span. Easily bored. 

I'm living in Tiburon, CA right now. How much longer? Don't know.

I've written 150 books. That's right, I said 150. In your face, Stephen King. Granted, mine are shorter than his. And less popular. And less likely to be made into a major motion picture. And I guess i don't play in a band with Dave Barry, either, do I? 

Sorry: Salieri complex acting up.

Most of those books -- and by "most" I mean 149 out of 150 -- I wrote with my wife, the lovely, the talented, the eternally hot, Katherine (K.A.) Applegate. We've been together for 29 years. Which is a long time. Looooong time. Sweet lord what a long . . . No babe, I'm not implying anything.

Damn internets: you never know who's reading things.

Anyway, GONE. My goal in writing GONE? To creep you out. To make you stay up all night reading, then roll into school tired the next day so that you totally blow the big test and end up dropping out of school. 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

(ARC) Book Review (379): A New Darkness (The Starblade Chronicles #1) - Joseph Delaney

A New Darkness (The Starblade Chronicles #1)

Publication: 2nd September 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 416
Genre: Fantasy
Age Appropriate: Young Adult
A chilling new trilogy from the author of the internationally bestselling The Last Apprentice series! Tom Ward is an apprentice no longer—now he is a fully fledged spook battling boggarts, witches, and other creatures of the dark. This three-book arc will introduce brand-new readers to Joseph Delaney’s haunting world, and delight longtime fans.

Tom Ward is the spook, the one person who can defend the county from ghosts, ghasts, boggarts, witches, and other bloodthirsty creatures of the dark. But he’s only seventeen, and his apprenticeship was cut short when his master died in battle. No one trusts Tom’s skill, not till he’s proven himself. And a fifteen-year-old girl named Jenny knows more about the three mysterious deaths in the county than Tom does. She is a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter and she wants to be Tom’s first apprentice—even though a female spook is unheard of. Together, Tom and Jenny will uncover the grave danger heading straight toward the county, and they’ll team up with a witch assassin to confront it.

A New Darkness begins a three-book series that will introduce new readers to Joseph Delaney’s deliciously scary imagination and delight his longtime fans. A New Darkness is perfect for every reader who loves thrills, chills, action, and adventure-no prior knowledge of the Last Apprentice series necessary! 

The Last Apprentice series, the first internationally bestselling series about Tom Ward, is soon to be a major motion picture, Seventh Son, starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia Williams, Antje Traue, Djimon Hounsou, and Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin.
My Thoughts.
A New Darkness is the first book in an all new trilogy, which is a spin-off of The Last Apprentice series, focusing on Tom Ward the apprentice of the original series.

Tom is now the official spook of Chipenden, tasked with eliminating any boggarts, witches and other creatures that are here to harm humans, he has reluctantly taken on an apprentice of his own, one of the first spooks to have a female apprentice, a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter Jenny who has her own set of gifts.

There is a new creature in Chipenden having killed three girls so far, Tom and Jenny go to investigate and discover that it is a Kobales a species who's plans areto kill all males and to enslave all females, Grimalkin who has been tracking them and finding out all the information she can agrees to help Tom with this problem and convinces him to journey to the Kobales homeland to investigate further, but this is where we are left with a huge cliffhanger, and I was left shocked and gobsmacked at the ending.

While this was described as a trilogy that you don't need to have read the main series of, I felt that there was a whole lot of storyline and knowledge I missed out on by my not having read it, I feel like I've missed something everytime something is mentioned that happened in those books, and while I definitely do plan on carrying on with this series I may need to pick up The Last Apprentice series to understand a lot of the references that were made that made no sense to me.

All in all I did enjoy this new start to a trilogy, full of action and adventure it was a look into a world I'd like to read more of.

Definitely recommended for fans of The Last Apprentice series and readers who like a bit of fantasy/paranormal and creatures that go bump in the night.

I give this 4/5 stars.

Joseph Delaney is a full time writer living in Lancashire, in the heart of Boggart territory. He first got the idea for the Wardstone Chronicles series when he moved to the village where he lives now and discovered there was a local boggart - ‘a man like me needs boggarts around’. He made a note in his notebook ‘a story about a man who hunts boggarts’ and years later when he had to come up with an idea at short notice developed this into ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’, the first book in the series.
He continues to draw upon the folklore of Lancashire and has acquired much local knowledge over the years which he tweaks and modifies to create his fictional world. Another source of inspiration has been Lancashire’s varied and atmospheric landscape. Many of the locations in the County are based on actual places in Lancashire. 
In the early days of his writing career Joseph worked as a teacher at a Sixth Form College: his subjects were English, Film and Media Studies. He used to get up early and write every morning before work. That way he could write a book a year – which promptly got rejected! When the Americans bought the series he decided to give up teaching and write full time. 
Prior to teaching he worked as an engineer in his twenties, completing an apprenticeship just like Tom Ward in the spook’s books.
Joseph describes his method of writing as a process of discovery. He doesn’t plot too far ahead and often doesn’t know what is going to happen until he writes it down. In other words he makes it up as he goes along. He prefers writing dialogue to description, in which he says he is a minimalist and leaves much to the reader’s imagination. 
Joseph has three children and nine grandchildren and is a wonderful public speaker available for conference, library and bookshop events.
The Spook's ApprenticeThe Spook's Curse and The Spook's Secret have all been shortlisted for the Lancashire children's Book for the Year Award. The Spook's Apprentice is the winner of both the Sefton Book Award and the Hampshire Book Award.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

(ARC) Book Review (378): My Highland Spy (Highland Spies #1) - Victoria Roberts

My Highland Spy (Highland Spies #1)

Publication: 2nd September 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Pages: 320
Genre: Historical Romance
Age Appropriate: Adult
Buy It:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble
This Highland Laird won't bow to the Crown

Laird Ruairi Sutherland refuses to send his only son away to be educated by the English. And he most definitely will not appear in Edinburgh to pay homage to a liege who has no respect for Scotland. So he does what any laird would do—he lies to the king. The last thing Ruairi expects is a beautiful English governess to appear on his doorstep.

But this lady spy might make him...

Lady Ravenna Walsingham is a seasoned spy who is sent to the savage Highlands to uncover a nefarious plot against the Crown. Playing the part of an English governess—a job easier said than done—she infiltrates the home of Laird Sutherland, a suspected conspirator.

If she doesn't betray him first

Ravenna soon discovers that the only real threat Sutherland poses is to her heart. But will the proud Highland laird ever forgive her when he discovers the woman he loves in an English spy?
My Thoughts.
My Highland Spy is an intriguing debut novel in an all new historical romance series, an exciting start to what is sure to be an amazing series.

Lady Ravenna is a spy for the Crown, sent undercover as a governess to Scotland and to the home of Laird Ruairi Sutherland to teach his young son English, she soon discovers that Highlanders are not barbarians as she was lead to believe and instead finds herself falling for this rugged and handsome Scotsman.

Between Ravenna gathering information for the Crown, and the troubles that Ruairi is having with his deceased wife's Father who is trying to persuade him to rise up against the King, there is never a dull moment, add in a budding romance, some sizzling chemistry and men in kilts and you have yourself one scintillating story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I look forward to the rest of the series, Victoria Roberts is an author to watch, her writing will keep you captivated and enthralled the whole way through.

A great historical romance, that is a quick and easy read.

I give this 4/5 stars.

Award-winning author Victoria Roberts writes Scottish historical romances about kilted heroes and warriors from the past. She was named by RT Book Reviews as "one of the most promising debut authors across the genres" and was also a 2013 RT Reviewers’ Choice award winner for X Marks the Scot.
Represented by Jill Marsal of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, Victoria is a member of Romance Writers of America® and several local chapters, as well as a contributing author to the online magazine Celtic Guide.

Victoria lives in western Pennsylvania with her husband of twenty one years and their two beautiful children—not to mention one spoiled dog. When she is not plotting her next Scottish adventure, she’s dragging her clan to every Scottish festival under the sun.

Monday, 25 August 2014

(ARC) Book Review (377): Feral - Holly Schindler


Claire and her Father have just arrived in Peculiar Missouri, after a story that Claire wrote for her previous school's newspaper left her brutally beaten and near death in Chicago, she's glad for a change of scenery and to escape from the pitying looks that she got from everyone afterwards who knew what had happened to her.

No sooner has she arrived when she discovers the dead body of Serena, a high school girl who went missing the day Claire and her Father arrived, with her death explained as accidental with no foul play, Claire soon comes to the suspicion that someone was responsible for her murder, when Claire decides as a tribute to Serena to finish off the last story she was working on, what she uncovers may just be what got her killed and may send Claire on the same path

This story didn't go where I thought it would, while the reasons for all the weird goings on were explained, it was definitely unexpected and did make sense in the end, I did guess the murderer very early on I just wasn't sure of the reason why but once revealed it was something I never would have guessed.

Holly has a writing style that draws you into the story and keeps you invested all the way through, I will definitely pick up Holly's future releases her way of turning a story into something you're not expecting is intriguing and a joy to read.

For a mystery that will keep you on your toes, I recommend this.

I give this 3.5/5 stars.

I can’t remember the last time I left the house without a spiral notebook or some pages folded up in a back pocket. And I don’t think I’ve ever returned without fresh ideas, titles, opening lines, or poetry fragments climbing every one of those pages, racing up the margins, crisscrossing in as many different directions as the highways and interstates on a road map of Missouri (my home state).
I’ve spent my life making those notes in the margins—even as a little girl, my favorite activity was to write books bound by strips of red ribbon…and to scrawl comments next to my paragraphs like the most critical of editors. Lessons learned from this childhood pastime served me well, especially in college—I received a BA and MA in English, and while I was a student, I wrote piles of poetry, literary critique, short fiction, and even attempted my first novel.
After college, I dove headfirst into writing. To pay a few bills, I taught piano and guitar lessons in the afternoons. This time, the margin notes on my back-pocket pages were character sketches, mannerisms, phrases all inspired by my students. It soon became clear to me that in addition to writing for adults, I also wanted to write for the children and teens who filled my home with music. My first two published works, A Blue So Dark and Playing Hurt, were both YA novels. My debut MG, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, released with Dial / Penguin on February 6, 2014, and my next YA, Feral, is forthcoming from HarperCollins.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

(ARC) Book Review (376): Undead With Benefits (Eat, Brains, Love #2) - Jeff Hart

Undead with Benefits (Eat, Brains, Love #2)

Undead With Benefits is a hilariously entertaining zombie story, full of humour and action which is a delightful sequel to Eat, Brains, Love.

We catch up with Jake, Amanda and absconded former government psychic Cass, as they take a road trip to Iowa where they hope to find the cure for their 'zombieness' before both Jake and Amanda become mindless ghouls, Cass wants the cure purely for the fact that the evil Alastaire is blackmailing her, the cure in exchange for the safety of her Mother.

Once arriving in Iowa they discover that the state is infested with zombies and ghouls, led by the self-appointed Lord Of Des Moines, who has hidden the cure and decides who will or won't receive it.

There is an interesting dynamic in this book, Jake ends up separated from Amanda and Cass and meets and befriends Reggie, a zombie who is a gamer and stoner like Jake who also has another identity, one that comes as a bit of a surprise.
This also leaves the girls stuck together which makes for some entertaining scenes (cat-fight anyone?)

I really enjoyed this book, and I can't wait to see just what happens in this series next, the concept and  storyline, make for a YA series that will have you laughing out loud at the dialogue and witty one liners.

A fun and quick read, highly recommended.

I give this 4/5 stars.

Jeff Hart is originally from Rochester, NY, and now lives in Brooklyn. EAT, BRAINS, LOVE is his first novel.

Keep up with Jeff: Twitter

Sunday, 17 August 2014

(ARC) Book Review (375): Sanctum (Asylum #2) - Madeleine Roux

Sanctum: An Asylum Novel (Asylum #2)

Publication: 26th August 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 352
Genre: Paranormal
Age Appropriate: Young Adult
In this haunting, fast-paced sequel to the New York Times bestselling photo-illustrated novel Asylum, three teens must unlock some long-buried secrets from the past before the past comes back to get them first. Featuring found photographs, many from real vintage carnivals, Sanctum is a mind-bending reading experience that blurs the lines between past and present, genius and insanity, perfect for fans of the smash hit Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Dan, Abby, and Jordan remain traumatized by the summer they shared in the Brookline asylum. Much as they'd love to move on, someone is determined to keep the terror alive, sending the teens photos of an old-timey carnival, with no note and no name. Forsaking their plan never to go back, the teens return to New Hampshire College under the guise of a weekend for prospective students, and there they realize that the carnival from the photos is not only real, it's here on campus, apparently for the first time in many years.

Sneaking away from sample classes and college parties, Dan and his friends lead a tour of their own—one through the abandoned houses and hidden places of the surrounding town. Camford is hiding a terrible past, and the influence of the asylum runs deeper than Dan ever imagined.
My Thoughts.
Sanctum is a spine-tingling, chilling and creepy second book in the Asylum series.

Dan is still haunted by his time at Brookline, seeming to become almost obsessed with the history of the Warden and the asylum, he convinces Abby and Jordan to join him for a weekend after a visit with Felix leaves him with clues, which may hold information into what the Warden really got up to at his time in charge.

The secret society The Scarlets who first made an appearance in the #1.5 novella are very active in this story, the society created by the Warden back in the day, his legacy has carried on and his lobotomies and experiments are still being carried out to this day by a predecessor  whom he left everything to including his knowledge and evil way of thinking.

By solving the mystery behind every strange and weird occurrence, can Dan and his friends finally put an end to the Warden's madness and put a lid on and stop the evil and madness he has spread years after his death.

I enjoyed Sanctum more than I did Asylum, I found the story to have a bit more action and the story was more intense as all the loose ends were wrapped up and we were given the ending which we'd hoped for, I can only assume that this is a duology and I was happy with the finale.

I'll be keeping a lookout for future releases from Madeleine as I really enjoy her writing style and storytelling.

This series is a good choice to read at Halloween for those who like books that give you shivers down the spine.

I give this 4/5 stars.


MADELEINE ROUX received her BA in Creative Writing and Acting from Beloit College in 2008.  In the spring of 2009, Madeleine completed an Honors Term at Beloit College, proposing, writing and presenting a full-length historical fiction novel.  Shortly after, she began the experimental fiction blog Allison Hewitt Is Trapped.  Allison Hewitt Is Trapped quickly spread throughout the blogosphere, bringing a unique serial fiction experience to readers.
Born in Minnesota, she now lives and works in Wisconsin where she enjoys the local beer and preparing for the eventual and inevitable zombie apocalypse.
To see my St Martins/Macmillan author page, click here!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

(ARC) Book Review (374): The Homecoming (Thunder Point #6) - Robyn Carr

The Homecoming (Thunder Point #6)


The Homecoming by Robyn Carr is a delightfully heartwarming instalment in the Thunder Point series, focusing on the relationships of the locals of a small town, with each book featuring a different couple, we also get point of views of various residents throughout the book.

Seth Sileski is back in town as the new Deputy after years away, wanting to reconnect with his childhood best-friend Iris McKinley the local school counsellor, years ago when they were both teenagers a misunderstanding tore these friends apart and Iris hasn't spoken to him since, but Seth is determined that the girl he fell in love with years ago will hopefully return his feelings.

Filled with romance, action and drama this may just be my favorite book of the series so far, Robyn has created a cast of characters that will keep you entertained and happy to be back in Thunder Point, these books I easily finish in one sitting, I always know that when I pick up a book in this series I'm in for a good time.

I look forward to the next book,  the next couple as well as my next visit to Thunder Point.

I give this 5/5 stars.

Now that Robyn Carr has earned the #1 slot on the New York Times list many times, the creator of the wildly popular Virgin River and Thunder Point series laughs when someone refers to her as an overnight success.
“The truth is, I was first published in 1978, and it took me thirty years to make it to The New York Times bestseller List,” she pointed out, referring to 2007’s A Virgin River Christmas.
But once Robyn became that popular, she stayed that popular. WhenBring Me Home for Christmas, the 16th Virgin River novel, was released in November 2011, it debuted in the #1 slot not just on the New York Times roster, but also on the Barnes & Noble and Publishers Weekly lists as well. Her last seven books, including her three 2013 Thunder Point novels, have all earned the coveted #1 New York Timesslot the first week on sale. Her newest milestone: The Hero, her September 2013 Thunder Point novel, debuted in the #1 position onseven national bestseller lists: USA TodayPublishers WeeklyNew York Times Mass-market Fiction, New York Times eBook Fiction, New York Times Combined Print/eBook Fiction, the Wall Street Journal, and Bookscan.
After thirty-plus years of hard work, life is very, very good for the Las Vegas author who began writing when her two children were babies.
Those who try to explain Robyn’s “sudden” success might say it was because she was on the leading edge of a trend toward small-town romances. The truth is, Robyn’s Virgin River and Thunder Point series, like her earlier Grace Valley books, are a blend of romance and women’s fiction—books that not only entertain but also address sensitive issues, such as domestic violence, health risks and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anything that can compromise a woman’s happiness because she’s female. And there’s no denying that Robyn has a way with words. Her voice is unique and takes her readers into the hearts and minds of the brave men and women who have served in the military, into the families left behind, and into those who confront challenges head-in in their search for love and fulfillment.
Surprisingly, Robyn didn’t always know she wanted to be a writer. She had planned to become a nurse. She married her high school sweetheart four weeks before he left for Air Force Officer’s Training School at the peak of the Vietnam War. Because she found herself following Jim from base to base, Robyn never had a chance to pursue nursing. Her husband worked long hours and often traveled. To pass the time Robyn read. When doctors instructed her to stay down and keep her feet up during a complicated pregnancy, her neighbor began bringing her ten paperbacks a week.
“I was reading more than one a day. Nothing short of labor pains could snap me out of it,” Robyn said.
Since the books she’d been devouring were by Anya Seton, Kathleen Woodiweiss and Rosemary Hawley Jarmen, Robyn says it only made sense that her first efforts to write were in the historical romance genre as well.
There was no training program available at the time for writing romance. At the first writers’ conference Robyn attended—back in 1976—a novelist who wrote in a different genre critiqued Robyn’s third manuscript and suggested she go home and find something to do for which she had talent.
That same manuscript was published in hardcover two years later asChelynne, a novel which Robyn has reissued as an e-book. Her second manuscript was eventually published as well. But Robyn says her first was simply a tool for learning and will remain buried and “never seen by human eyes.”
Robyn has always written about strong women, no matter the period in which they live. For the first fifteen years of her career she wrote romance, the early books of which were all historical, but later included contemporaries. Needing a change, she branched out and wrote a thriller, which she said she’ll never do again because, for her, it was too creepy. She also tried her hand at non-fiction and what she smilingly describes as “several brilliant but as yet unsold screenplays,” in addition to articles and short stories.
“I jumped all over the place, not really aware that I was working on reinventing myself and redesigning my craft,” she says. “I began to develop my own brand of women’s fiction, a style that most closely resembles my take on life. I want to laugh through a book, but I don’t want a book that’s a big laugh. As a reader I want to have a genuinely good time, but I don’t want the book to be a joke. I want real women’s issues, real humor and teeth in the story.”
She says that reading is important because people need a safe place to deal with the emotions they’re stuck with, and a book is a safe place to do that. She believes there’s great value in her novels dealing with real issues in a realistic manner.
Robyn’s settings are so richly drawn they function like characters. Virgin River—a fictional town in the rugged, remote Humboldt County of northern California—is a location that Robyn describes as a brave and adventurous spot.
“It’s not a cute and easy place to live,” Robyn explained. “It calls on my characters’ deepest sense of adventure to live there.”
Asked if she’d enjoy living in Virgin River, Robyn’s quick to say that even if it were a real spot, she’d never move there.
“I have an overwhelming need to live in a place where I can get my eyebrows waxed,” she explains.
After writing twenty Virgin River stories, Robyn is now taking her readers into another fictional community, a picturesque coastal town on the Oregon coast she calls Thunder Point. Like her Virgin River novels, the Thunder Point books will make readers laugh, sigh, and fall in love: with a small town filled with people they’ll never forget. In addition to 2013’s The WandererThe Newcomer and The Hero, Thunder Point novels on Robyn’s schedule are three 2014 titles, The Chance (March), The Promise (July), and The Homecoming (September).
Robyn and her husband enjoy traveling, often taking research trips together. Their son and daughter are grown. Robyn says that, in addition to reading her novels and making snide remarks about how she’s used family scenarios to her advantage, they have made her a happy grandmother.