Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Review: False Hearts - Laura Lam

To save her twin, she must take her identity

One night Tila stumbles home, terrified and covered in blood. She's then arrested for murder, the first by a civilian in decades. The San Francisco police suspect involvement with Verve, a powerful drug, and offer her twin sister Taema a chilling deal. Taema must assume Tila's identity and gather information to bring down the drug syndicate. The police may then let her sister live. However, Taema's investigation raises ghosts from the twins' past.

The sisters were raised by a cult, which banned modern medicine - yet as conjoined twins, they needed life-saving surgery to replace their failing heart. And with help from co-conspirators, they escaped. Taema now discovers that Tila had found links between the cult and the city's criminal underworld. The twins were once unable to keep secrets, but will learn the true cost of lies.

False Hearts Series:
False Hearts
Shattered Minds (2017)

Visit Laura Lam's website for more information.

Review:
When her twin sister comes home covered in blood and is promptly arrested for murder Taema is convinced that there must be some kind of explanation. She is sure that Tila must be innocent no matter how much evidence is stacked against her. With the police determined to press charges there is only one thing standing between Tila and the death penalty and that's Taema. The police offer her one chance to save her twin's life, if Taema goes undercover as her sister and helps them bring down a drug syndicate they claim Tila was involved in then Tila's life will be spared. Taema will do whatever it takes to clear her sister's name but the deeper she digs into Tila's life the more she starts to realise that she never really knew her sister at all.

False Hearts is Laura Lam's first foray into the world of adult sci-fi thrillers and what a great start it is. As a huge fan of the author's Pantomime series I had high hopes for this one but the genres are so different that I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Laura Lam has created a believable futuristic world full of completely believable advances in technology. Even people's dreams can be monitored and there are drugs that allow people to live out their fantasies in dreams that feel so lifelike that they never want to leave. Crime rates have fallen considerably and Tila is the first person arrested for murder in 10 years because violent personalities are able to play out their dark fantasies in dreamscapes rather than reality.

Conjoined twins Taema and Tila were born in an isolated commune that had no access to all the technology the rest of the world take for granted. They'd still be living in Mana's Hearth now if they hadn't started suffering with health issues. When their heart started to fail their only option was escape and it was at this point they were successfully separated and for the first time ever they were able to lead their own lives rather than spending all their time together. It was so interesting to see how they went from knowing every little thing about each other to keeping so many secrets from each other. Tila was the outgoing twin who found it much easier to adapt to being separate, she had a large circle of friends and was the life and soul of any party. Taema on the other hand was shyer and more reserved, she'd built a successful career for herself but was more isolated than her sister and found it harder to fit in.

Their completely different personalities made it so much harder for Taema when she went undercover as her sister but playing a role actually really helped to build her confidence and it was great to see her blossom as she became more sure of herself. I don't want to say too much about the direction the investigation takes her in but it definitely kept me guessing. The story is told across two different plot threads, Taema talks of the present and shows her fight to clear her sister's name while Tila writes about the past from her prison cell working forward to show how she ended up in her current situation. Gradually the two narratives come closer together and we find out exactly what is going on in their world.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, I loved the characters, the world building was fantastic and the plot was brilliantly woven together. I'm so glad that Laura Lam is writing another book set in this world, even though it will feature different main characters, and I'll definitely be picking up Shattered Minds as soon as it's released.

Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Hardback / Paperback / Kindle:


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Review: Alien Nation - Gini Koch

It's a typical day of bureaucracy and stress for President and First Lady Jeff and Kitty Katt-Martini, made more stressful when alien spacecraft are spotted making a beeline for Earth, none of them from the Alpha Centauri system.

Then a cryptic request from an old adversary pulls Kitty out of the White House and into an explosion - and an even more explosive situation. Not only is the Mastermind back in the game, influencing the Club 51 True Believers to find and destroy all Centaurion bases, but he's also found a dangerous benefactor and created some frightening new cloning abilities. And, just to make things a little more challenging, those alien spacecraft are coming to as Kitty for protection, and asylum on Earth.

Police stations being blown up and war helicopters in play aren't enough to keep Kitty down, especially when she's got some new alien friends helping out. But what these aliens share will rock the world - the other aliens on their way to Earth are fleeing an enemy so terrifying that even a Z'porrah ship is trying to get to Earth for safety and protection. And if Earth isn't able to stop this threat, there may not be anything left of humanity.

Now Kitty and Company have to figure out where the Mastermind is and stop him before any new aliens land. And then they have to save the world from a deadly invasion. Or, as Kitty calls it, Thursday.

Katherine "Kitty" Katt Series:
Touched by an Alien
Alien Tango
Alien in the Family
Alien Proliferation
Alien Diplomacy
Alien vs. Alien
Alien in the House
Alien Research
Alien Collective
Universal Alien
Alien Separation
Alien in Chief
Camp Alien
Alien Nation
Alien Education (May 2017)
Aliens Abroad (December 2017)
Alien Rescue (May 2018)

Visit Gini Koch's website for more information

Review:
14 books in and this series is stronger than ever! Once again Gini Koch has managed to up the stakes, this time bringing in a whole host of new alien species who are all headed to earth seeking sanctuary from a terrifying new enemy. I don't know where Gini gets her ideas from but you can look forward to meeting some fun new characters in Alien Nation.

This series never has a chance to grow stale because it's constantly evolving and I honestly don't know how Gini manages to create such intricate plots that have spanned over so many books. We've known who the Mastermind is for a couple of books now but Kitty and co finally get a chance to take out their enemy once and for all, if only they can stop him before he kills Jeff and the rest of the world leaders in one fell swoop that is.

I'm so glad we're back to seeing Kitty do what she does best, she has a unique way of looking at every situation and she's brilliant at finding new allies but more than anything she is able to kick ass with the best of them. There is just no stopping our girl when people she cares about are in danger and since she has such a huge heart that includes a massive circle of friends and adopted family members. This series has such a huge cast of characters but they're all so well drawn out that I never have any problems keeping track of who everyone is and I just have so many favourites whose stories I'm invested in.

None more than Kitty and Jeff though, they're such a brilliant couple and I love spending time with them. I'm so pleased that this series is still going strong and I'm looking forward to lots more future adventures in this world.

Source: Received from DAW books in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Crafting Corner Tutorial: How to make a bookish Christmas Wreath


After last year's success making a bookish Christmas Tree I decided I wanted to carry on the tradition and come up with a new book related Christmas craft to try out this year. After some google searching I decided to make my first ever Christmas Wreath. There are loads of different wreath designs out there but I fell in love with one I found on the blog What Katy Did and Kid so decided to follow Katy's tutorial.

So let's have a quick look at my finished wreath and then I'll give you step-by-step instructions on how to make your own!

I'm so thrilled with how this wreath turned out!

Now let's have a look at what you'll need to make your own:



  • Polystyrene wreath ring - I bought a pack of 5 quite cheaply from Amazon here but you can probably find something similar in your local craft shop. The size is up to you but I used a 30cm one.
  • An old paperback book - sorry fellow bookworms but the book will be destroyed in the process of making this so pick an old one and preferably one that's already falling apart LOL.
  • Glue Gun & spare glue sticks - I used about 2.5 sticks to make my wreath, you could probably get away with less but this was my first time using a glue gun so I was a bit overzealous
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Ribbon or other items to decorate - You really can add whatever you like when it's finished, I used a red ribbon but I might try making another one with pine cones or Christmas tree baubles later
Once you've gathered your supplies it's time to get started



  1. Take a page from your book
  2. Fold it in half from top to bottom
  3. Then fold it in half again so you end up with a long thin strip that's made up of four layers
  4. Draw a leaf shape on the top page (you could create a template but I ended up just cutting the shapes out freehand, I think it looks nicer if the leaves aren't all a uniform shape).
  5. Cut out the leaf shape (cutting through the whole folded piece of paper)
  6. You'll end up getting 4 leaves from each piece of paper
  7. Fold each leaf in half so they'll give a more 3D shape when you stick them to your wreath

You'll need to repeat steps 1-7 a few times until you have enough leaves to start sticking them to the wreath. I started off by making 40 leaves (using 10 pages from my book) but in the end it took me 120 leaves (30 pages) to finish the wreath. It's up to you if you want to make all the leaves to start or just cut out more as you go along but I found it much easier to have a bunch ready before I got the glue gun heated up.



At this point it's just a case of starting to stick your leaves down, if you're anything like me you'll probably end up getting glue everywhere so make sure you put something down to protect whatever surface you're working on!

I started by placing a row of dots across my wreath and sticking 6 leaves in place. From there you just slowly add more leaves as you work your way around the wreath making sure all the leaves point in the same direction. The leaves don't have to be touching but try to make sure that you don't leave any holes that you can see the polystyrene through. The idea is to layer the leaves so that they overlap slightly and don't leave any gaps in the finished design.

You can use the end of your pencil to help you push the leaves into place and that will definitely make things easier when you reach the end of your wreath and are trying to push leaves in underneath your original starting point to close the circle.


It takes time for the wreath to start to come together but it's worth the effort when you see the finished product! As you can see I decorated mine with a red bow made from ribbon which I just glued in place using the glue gun but your decorating options are unlimited so let your imagination run wild.

I also glued a smaller length of ribbon to the back to make a loop so the wreath can be hung from a door or picture hook.

I'll update this post when I try out different designs but in the meantime if you make a wreath of your own I'd love to see it so please leave me a link in the comments if you blog about it!


As I only used about 30 pages of my book to make this I have plenty left to create more wreaths or try another bookish craft. If you want to try making the Christmas tree I made last year you can find my instructions here. You'll need around 200 pages still stuck together to create a tree and you'll end up with something that looks a lot like this:


So what do you think of my Christmas Wreath? Have you made anything similar? If you have any other bookish crafting ideas I'd love to see them, I'm always looking for new craft projects to try!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Review: Knife of Dreams - Robert Jordan

As the very fabric of reality wears thin, all portents indicate that Tarmon Gai'don, the Last Battle, is imminent - and Rand al'Thor must ready himself to confront the Dark One. But Rand must first negotiate a truce with the Seanchan armies, as their forces increasingly sap his strength.

All is in flux as established powers falter . . . In Caemlyn, Elayne fights to gain the Lion Throne while trying to avert civil war and Egwene finds that even the White Tower is no longer a place of safety.

The winds of time have whirled into a storm, and Rand and his companions ride in the vortex. This small company must prevail against the trials of fate and fortune - or the Dark One will triumph and the world will be lost.

Wheel of Time Series:
New Spring (Prequel Story but it's recommended to read after Crossroads of Twilight)
The Eye of the World
The Great Hunt
The Dragon Reborn
The Shadow Rising
The Fires of Heaven
Lord of Chaos
A Crown of Swords
The Path of Daggers
Winter's Heart
Crossroads of Twilight
Knife of Dreams
The Gathering Storm
Towers of Midnight
A Memory of Light

Visit the Wheel of Time series website for more information

Review:
Finally a book comes along that has restored my faith in the Wheel of Time series! The first four books were absolutely brilliant but I think anyone will agree that the series went a bit haywire after that, Robert Jordan kept introducing more and more points of view and random plot threads that just never seemed to go anywhere. The stories went from being 1000 pages of pretty much non stop awesomeness to being 600 pages of boring description with about 200 pages of actual plot development and I'd considered quitting the series many times. It's only the fact that I've been buddy reading the series that pulled me through, that and the fact that I've now read over 9000 pages in this world (which is a LOT of reading hours!) and I'm rather invested in the characters by this point!

Anyway, all is almost forgiven because Knife of Dreams reminded me how much I loved the earlier books (and it also proved that the most recent offerings just couldn't compete). I'm sad that this is the last book Robert Jordan was able to finish before he died and I'm a little nervous about Brandon Sanderson taking over the series for the remaining three books. I'm going to hope that he was able to create a fitting end to the series though and the fact that he had Robert Jordan's blessing and used his notes to help him makes me think we'll at least get to see the ending Robert Jordan was aiming for.

So what was so great about Knife of Dreams? Well we finally start to get some resolution to things that have been plodding along at a snail's pace for ages now. Perrin finally has a chance to rescue Faile, Rand takes on another of the forsaken, Mat and Tuon's courtship gets even more confusing for him, Nynaeve outwits Lan in a moment of utter brilliance, Egwene shows the world her backbone and totally earned my respect, we finally find out what Moiriane's letter to Thom was all about (and it's going to lead to something fantastic!) and Loial's family finally catch up with him.

I think the only chapters I didn't enjoy were the ones about Elayne, she's annoyed me for a long time now but I got so fed up of hearing about her pregnancy mood swings. I also hated the way she constantly puts herself into dangerous situations using Min's visions of the babies being born healthy as proof that nothing bad can possibly happen to her. I'd actually quite like to see her made to suffer for that but luckily for her Birgitte is always on hand to save the day. Aviendha has been stuck on the sidelines for several books now so I'm actually glad to see her being removed from Elayne for a bit and hope that means she'll be given a chance to shine again. I still think the weird love square would be much better off as two separate couples. Min and Rand fit together perfectly while Elayne and Aviendha are far more upset about leaving each other than they ever have been about parting from Rand.

Anyway, Knife of Dream left me excited about the Wheel of Time series for the first time in ages and I'm looking forward to seeing how Brandon Sanderson does at pulling all the different threads together ready for the big finale.

Source: Purchased

Other reviews of this book:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Review: New Spring - Robert Jordan

The city of Canluum lies close to the scarred and desolate wastes of the Blight, a walled haven from the dangers away to the north, and a refuge from the ill works of those who serve the Dark One. Or so it is said. The city that greets Al'Lan Mandragoran, exiled king of Malkier and the finest swordsman of his generation, is instead one that is rife with rumour and the whisperings of Shadowspawn. Proof, should he have required it, that the Dark One grows powerful once more and that his minions are at work throughout the lands.

And yet it is within Canluum's walls that Lan will meet a woman who will shape his destiny. Moiraine is a young and powerful Aes Sedai who has journeyed to the city in search of a bondsman. She requires aid in a desperate quest to prove the truth of a vague and largely discredited prophecy - one that speaks of a means to turn back the shadow, and of a child who may be the dragon reborn.

Wheel of Time Series:
New Spring (Prequel Story but it's recommended to read after Crossroads of Twilight)
The Eye of the World
The Great Hunt
The Dragon Reborn
The Shadow Rising
The Fires of Heaven
Lord of Chaos
A Crown of Swords
The Path of Daggers
Winter's Heart
Crossroads of Twilight
Knife of Dreams
The Gathering Storm
Towers of Midnight
A Memory of Light

Visit the Wheel of Time series website for more information

Review:
New Spring is technically a prequel to the Wheel of Time series (it's about events that occurred approximately 20 years before The Eye of the World) but I was advised to read it after book 10, Crossroads of Twilight, to avoid accidental spoilers. I'm not sure there were any major spoilers hidden in here but it definitely gives you an idea about which of the Aes Sedai can and can't be trusted so I can see why I was told to hold off on reading it until this point in the series.

I'm really torn about how to rate this book, yes it was interesting to see how Moiraine and Siuan got involved in the search for the Dragon Reborn and I liked seeing a younger version of Lan but I'm not sure this actually gave us any new information that we haven't already discovered throughout the rest of the series. There weren't any major new revelations and it's hard to build tension in a story when you already know the outcome of events that follow on from it.

It's also hard to be happy when you see how horrible one of your favourite characters used to be when they were a new Aes Sedai. I've always loved Moiraine, she is manipulative and she keeps far too many secrets but she's an interesting character and I always felt that she's trying to do the best for the people around her. Young Moiraine isn't a nice girl though, she's just as manipulative but she also has a vicious streak and the way she treated Lan was absolutely appalling. He's not the only person she made to suffer but because I'm so attached to his character I felt really bad for him. I just lost respect for Moiraine because she's so petty and willing to act as judge, jury and executioner for people she's barely met.

It didn't help that we also got to meet Lan's carneira Lady Edeyn and once again a woman in the Wheel of Time series is a nasty piece of work. She took Lan's virginity when he was 15 (and she was in her 30s) and according to custom that gives her some kind of control over his life so she is now able to manipulate him back into her bed - somewhere he quite clearly didn't want to be! It's like the Tylin and Mat scenes all over again except Edeyn is plotting to marry Lan off to her daugher even while she's forcing him into her own bed. How did Robert Jordan consistently manage to create such horrible women and messed up relationships? I can't think of a single female character that I've liked throughout the entire series because he keeps turning them into whiny harpies or sex offenders and I'm so sick of that now. All the men are pushed around by nasty manipulative women and the Aes Sedai get away with murder because everyone else is terrified of them. At this point I'm half hoping Rand will go crazy and destroy the world!

In spite of the issues mentioned and the fact that the plot moved at a snail like pace for at least the first two thirds of the book I still found myself enjoying it though. I don't know quite what that says about me but there you have it - I've obviously lost all sense of perspective when it comes to this series. I'll just say that I'm glad we're closing in on the end now, I almost wish I'd never started reading it but I'm really hoping that the last few books will be amazing enough to make me forget about the drudgery from the middle of the series.

Source: Purchased

Other reviews of this book:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Review: Catology - Adrian Searle & Oliver Ninnis

Just what is your cat thinking? As it gazes up at you, are those eyes filled with love and admiration or spite and scorn? From the author of the award-winning 101 Uses of a Dead Kindle and If Dogs Could Swear comes a hilarious insight into the twisted, venal, self-serving psychology of our cutest four-legged sociopaths.

Visit the book's page on Goodreads for more information

Review:
As both a cat lover and someone with a whole shelf of these kind of humorous books that you can just dip in and out of when you have a few minutes to spare I absolutely jumped at the chance to review Catology. Unfortunately the book is actually a lot shorter than I expected and it didn't quite contain as much detail as I had hoped for.

I read a digital edition so I can't confirm the print layout but on my Kindle you see one image per page with a short one or two sentence caption underneath. Some of these cartoons are brilliant but only a couple actually made me laugh out loud and it wasn't enough that I could imagine myself flicking through the book a second time. There are only around 80 pictures included so it's a very quick read and I'd read from cover to cover within about 10 minutes but I just thought the book was lacking in depth compared to other similar books out there.

I've included a couple of my favourite images to give you an idea what to expect, these particular ones read very true to my experiences with my own cats and all got a chuckle out of me.





There is a reason that cats are so popular and I think it's because of their independent attitudes and the way they just completely ignore all commands and do exactly what they want when they want. People don't own cats, we're totally owned by them and this book does capture that so I think it would make a nice little stocking filler for any cat lovers in your life.

Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here

Hardback / Kindle:

Friday, 2 December 2016

Book Trailer: Carve the Mark - Veronica Roth


I received some super exciting book post today, an arc of Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth, so I thought it would be a great time to share the fabulous book trailer. I'm a massive fan of the Divergent series (although I've still not read the last book after my friend's husband accidentally spoilered me!) so I've had Carve the Mark on pre-order for months now and it's one of my most anticipated reads of 2017! Obviously that means I'm going to be diving into this as soon as possible so watch out for my review on the 17th of January (release day).

Now let's have a look at the trailer:



What do you think? Isn't the trailer amazing! Who else is as excited about Carve the Mark as I am?

Here's the book blurb for anyone who hasn't read it yet and you can also find out more at Carve the Mark website:

Fans of Star Wars and Divergent will revel in internationally bestselling author Veronica Roth’s stunning new science-fiction fantasy series.

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favoured by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not – their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power – something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive – no matter what the cost.

When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive – or to destroy one another.


I also found out today about a fabulous giveaway for anyone who pre-orders Carve the Mark or purchases it on the release day (17th January 2017) and submits their details through the Carve the Mark website here. This is currently only available to US and Canadian residents but I thought I'd mention it here for my international followers.

I'm absolutely gutted that this offer isn't open to UK residents too and I'm really hoping that HarperCollins UK will do something similar because Veronica Roth has written an exclusive short story that is an extra epilogue to the Divergent series! We Can Be Mended gives a glimpse of Four's life five years after the end of events in Allegiant and everyone who fills in the form by the 17th of January will be sent a free copy. Please, please let us have access to this story too HarperCollins UK!

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