Saturday, 29 April 2017

Review: Strange the Dreamer - Laini Taylor

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around - and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries - including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Strange the Dreamer Series:
Strange the Dreamer
The Muse of Nightmares

Visit Laini Taylor's website for more information

It's been a long wait for something new from Laini Taylor, I absolutely adored her writing in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series but if anything she's honed her skills even more and Strange the Dreamer was even more beautifully written. She always manages to completely captivate me with the worlds she creates and when I fall into one of her books I never want to come back out again.

Strange the Dreamer is the story of Lazlo, a young man who was orphaned as a baby and raised by monks before he discovered the magic of the great library and trained to become a librarian. Lazlo is in part a little like every book worm you'll ever meet, he's obsessed with stories and spends so much time with his head stuck in a book that real life often happens around him without him even noticing. Lazlo's biggest obsession is the mystery of Weep and he has dedicated his life to reading everything he can about the city that disappeared so long ago. It's been years since anyone was able to find Weep and nobody can even remember the city's real name but Lazlo longs for it to be discovered again and he would give anything to visit the place he has spent so long dreaming about. Lazlo is a dreamer but he's also smart, funny and very caring. He always tries to help people but never expects thanks for his hard work and is so grateful for every opportunity he is offered that he never takes anything for granted.

This is also the story of Sarai, a young woman who has been trapped in her home for years with only her siblings for company. I don't want to get into too much detail about where Sarai is or how she ended up trapped there but her path crosses Lazlo's in the most unusual manner and I absolutely loved spending time with them both and watching the beginnings of their romance. Sarai and her siblings have been through something horrific but thanks to her unique talent she is the one best placed to understand both sides of the story and she longs for peace and freedom. She's such a compassionate girl, one who has seen the worst people have to offer but who also has great capacity for forgiveness and who tries really hard to look at the good in people.

Once again Laini Taylor has created a world that you just want to dive into, there are so many beautiful and amazing things to discover but there are also dark secrets lurking underneath that will leave you reeling. Her characters are people you want to be friends with and even her villains are so complex that you can understand their actions even if you don't particularly agree with them. There is so much pain and fear between the two different groups in the story that it's going to take a miracle to pull them together but I have complete faith that if anyone can pull it off Lazlo Strange and the Muse of Nightmares can. Working together I think they can achieve anything.

Strange the Dreamer is definitely one of my favourite books of the year and there is no doubt in my mind that it is going to be appearing on a lot of "best of 2017" lists. The Muse of Nightmares is right at the top of my 2018 wish list but I know I'll be rereading this book while I wait for it to be released.

I just have to add that I think the UK cover is so gorgeous and after a little arm doodling I think it would make a pretty gorgeous tattoo too!

Source: Received from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
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Friday, 28 April 2017

Review: Wanted and Wired - Vivien Jackson

A rip-roarin’ new snarky, sexy sci-fi paranormal romance series with the perfect balance of humor, heat, and heart. Now that Texas has seceded and the world is spiraling into chaos, good guys come in unlikely packages and love ignites in the most inconvenient places…

Rogue scientist • technologically enhanced • deliciously attractive
Heron Farad should be dead. But technology has made him the man he is today. Now he heads a crew of uniquely skilled outsiders who fight to salvage what’s left of humanity: art, artifacts, books, ideas—sometimes even people. People like Mari Vallejo.

Gun for hire • Texan rebel • always hits her mark
Mari has been lusting after her mysterious handler for months. But when a by-the-book hit goes horribly sideways, she and Heron land on the universal most wanted list. Someone set them up. Desperate and on the run, they must trust each other to survive, while hiding devastating secrets. As their explosive chemistry heats up, it’s the perfect storm…

Tether Series:
Wanted and Wired
Perfect Gravity (November 2017)

Visit Vivien Jackson's website for more information

I really expected to love this book, in theory it contains everything I look for in a fun sci-fi romance and I should have enjoyed every minute of it but unfortunately it just fell flat for me. Vivien Jackson has some really interesting ideas and I'm sure there could be a great world in here somewhere but we never quite got to see it in all it's glory. This book managed a rare combination of giving you both too much information and also too little, the story is bogged down by lots of new technologies and different terminology but most of it is never explained in enough depth for readers to understand it. We know there has been some kind of environmental disaster but not what caused it, we know that Texas is now considered a country completely separate from the rest of the United States but we don't know why.  I never really got a good picture in my head about what life is like now and I had so many questions that never seemed to be answered.

I could probably have looked past all of that if I'd loved the main characters but unfortunately I struggled there too. Mari is a mercenary who is willing to take any job as long as the price is right, she works alongside Heron who is her handler. It's Heron's job to get her any background information she needs, make sure she has all the equipment required and to get her safely into position and back out safely after the job is completed. Everything goes to hell for the two of them when they are hired to destroy an android version of a well known politician, they believe that the real man is safe and they're targeting an imposter but the job was a complete failure and they're now on the run for murder.

The story had lots of action and that's probably the main reason I kept reading. Mari and Heron were both okay characters but neither of them were particularly memorable and getting both of their points of view was like being stuck inside the heads of a pair of horny teenagers. Practically every other thought either of them has is how hot their partner is and how desperate they are for sex and I was constantly rolling my eyes and wishing they'd just get on with it already. The chemistry between them felt forced and there wasn't much in the way of actual romance between them.

I am kind of curious to see whether the world building improves as the series continues but none of the side characters introduced particularly caught my attention and I'm not sure if I'm interested enough to try reading future books. I think it's probably a case of this series just not being a good fit for me.

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

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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Book Trailer: Salt to the Sea - Ruta Sepetys

I've been browsing YouTube book trailers recently & I thought it would be fun to start highlighting some of the books that I really want to read but haven't quite got around to yet. Some of these have been on my to read pile for months (or even years!) but these trailers make me want to read them ASAP.

I absolutely loved Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (read my review here) so of course I immediately wanted to read Salt to the Sea and I have absolutely no excuse for not getting to it sooner! If anyone has read it I'd love to hear your thoughts so hit me up with a link to your review in the comments.

It's early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories. Fans of The Book Thief or Helen Dunmore's The Siege will be totally absorbed.

This inspirational novel is based on a true story from the Second World War. When the German ship the Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk in port in early 1945 it had over 9000 civilian refugees, including children, on board. Nearly all were drowned. Ruta Sepetys, acclaimed author of Between Shades of Grey, brilliantly imagines their story.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Review: Where's Kitty? Dot-to-Dot

From Rio to Paris, Kitty shows up in some unlikely places! These thirty puzzles will keep your tail twitching with more than 500 dots to join on each page. Find out if Kitty is stretching her legs on the Great Wall of China, passing the time in the shadows of Big Ben's clock tower, or enjoying a lazy afternoon in the sun at the Taj Mahal. Connecting the dots to find Kitty can improve concentration, increase hand-eye coordination, and will provide hours of fun for all ages.

It's been years since I last did a dot-to-dot puzzle but I love adult colouring books so when a friend bought me this for Christmas I was quite excited to give it a try. Until I saw the size of the numbers that is! I'll admit I don't have 20/20 vision but with my glasses on I don't normally have any issues but I've never been faced with text this small before.

There is just no way I can sit at a table and fill in these puzzles. I have to hold the book about the length of a ruler from the end of my nose so that I can read the numbers and that makes it extremely awkward to both hold the book and try and give myself a hard surface to write on.  To give you an idea how small I'm talking just have a look at this picture using a 5p coin for scale!

The book contains 37 images of iconic locations from all around the world & each picture has a can hidden in it somewhere. All of the pictures are made up from at least 500 dots but some come in at over 1000 so they can take a while to complete. One thing I will warn you is that there are a few images that have errors in them either with missing numbers or with numbers being duplicated.

There's no denying that the finished pictures look good but it requires a lot of concentration and very good eyesight to actually achieve the desired results. I can't do more than a couple at a time or I find myself getting eye strain. Here are a few pictures to give you an idea what sort of images are included.

Source: Gift from a friend

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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Review: Ride Rough - Laura Kaye

Brotherhood. Club. Family.
They live and ride by their own rules.
These are the Raven Riders...

Maverick Rylan won’t apologize for who he is—the Raven Riders Motorcycle Club Vice-President, a sought-after custom bike builder, and a man dedicated to protecting those he loves. So when he learns that the only woman who has ever held his heart is in trouble, he’ll move heaven and earth to save her.

Alexa Harmon thought she had it all—the security of a good job, a beautiful home, and a powerful, charming fiancé who offered the life she never had growing up. But when her dream quickly turns into a nightmare, Alexa realizes she’s fallen for a façade she can’t escape—until sexy, dangerous Maverick offers her a way out.

Forced together to keep Alexa safe, their powerful attraction reignites and Maverick determines to do whatever it takes to earn a second chance—one Alexa is tempted to give. But her ex-fiancé isn’t going to let her go without a fight, one that will threaten everything they both hold dear.

Hard Ink Series:
Hard as It Gets
Hard as You Can
Hard to Hold on to (Novella)
Hard to Come By
Hard to Be Good (Novella)
Hard to Let Go
Hard as Steel (Novella) (This is a Raven Riders MC crossover novella)
Hard Ever After (Novella)
Hard to Serve (Novella) (This is a Blasphemy crossover novella)

Raven Riders MC Series:
(This is a spin off from the Hard Ink Series)
Hard as Steel (Novella) (This is a Hard Ink crossover novella)
Ride Hard
Ride Rough
Ride Wild (October 2017)

Blasphemy Series:
(This is a spin off from the Hard Ink Series)
Hard to Serve (Novella) (This is a Hard Ink crossover novella)
Bound to Submit
Mastering Her Senses
Eyes on You (July 2017)

Visit Laura Kaye's website for more information

Laura Kaye always writes such irresistible male leads and Maverick is no exception to that rule. He's a badass biker who is willing to bend the rules when he needs to along with the rest of his MC, the Raven Riders, but they put any profits they make towards helping women escape from dangerous situations so it's very hard to fault them for it. There is one woman in particular that Maverick is worried about right now though and that's his ex-girlfriend (and the only woman he has ever loved) Alexa. He knows Alexa is in a damaging relationship but she has to be willing to accept his help before he has any chance of rescuing her.

Alexa broke up with Maverick after her brother died, she was struggling with her own grief as well as trying to look after her emotionally unstable mother and she needed security that Maverick just couldn't provide. When she met Grant she thought he was everything she ever wanted but gradually over the years they've spent together he has slowly eroded her confidence and cut her off from her friends. Grant's controlling behaviour started so gradually that Alexa didn't even realise what was happening until it was too late and it's only when he starts becoming increasingly erratic and prone to violence that she realises that she's in deep trouble. She automatically turns to Maverick for help but Grant isn't going to let her go easily and they're going to need the help of all of the Raven Riders to keep Alexa safe.

I absolutely adore Maverick, he's that perfect alpha that's a little bossy and very protective but who doesn't push it too far. He is obviously head over heels for Alexa and he would do anything to keep her safe from harm. I loved that he puts Alexa's needs before his own, he goes out of his way to make sure she has everything she needs to feel comfortable and secure and he works with her to make sure her mother is taken care of too. We get some lovely bonding moments with him and the other Raven Riders and I really can't wait to get to know all of these characters better in future books. Alexa has been through a lot and it shows, she's been so beaten down by Grant that she has very little confidence but that quickly starts to change as Maverick helps build her back up again.

The chemistry between these two was off the charts and I think this was actually the hottest book in the Hard Ink / Raven Riders series so far. If I had one complaint it was that I felt things moved forward between Alexa and Maverick far too quickly, yes the sexy times were unbelievably hot but I would have found them more realistic if they'd waited a bit longer to give into temptation. Alexa has just come out of a 5 year relationship with a master manipulator who turned her into a shell of her old self, she was bound to be seriously messed up and I really would have loved to see her take a little time out to process her emotions and deal with things before she jumped into bed with Maverick. We do see her make a lot of progress by the end of the book but it felt a little like she was using Maverick as a crutch to help her cope rather than learning to stand on her own two feet, something that could have easily been avoided by holding off on their sexual relationship for a few weeks.

That didn't stop me enjoying the book though, Maverick is definitely my favourite Raven Rider so far (although I have high hopes for several of the others!) and I enjoyed seeing Alexa turn her life around. I also loved Alexa's pet cat Lucy who was utterly adorable. It was great to catch up with some of the characters we met in the previous books and I'm definitely excited about continuing the series. Laura Kaye never lets me down and is definitely an auto buy author for me.

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

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Release Day Launch: Ride Rough - Laura Kaye (Excerpt + Giveaway)

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Laura Kaye brings you the second title in her Raven Riders Series, RIDE ROUGH, releasing today! A sexy romantic suspense, you might’ve first met the Ravens in the Hard Ink world, but this series about a different kind of a motorcycle club with a protective mission stands on its own and is even sexier, edgier, and grittier! The Raven Riders Series takes you on a new adventure and kicks it into overdrive! Grab your copy of RIDE ROUGH today!

About Ride Rough (Raven Riders #2, 4/25/17)

Maverick Rylan won’t apologize for who he is—the Raven Riders Motorcycle Club Vice-President, a sought-after custom bike builder, and a man dedicated to protecting those he loves. So when he learns that the only woman who has ever held his heart is in trouble, he’ll move heaven and earth to save her.

Alexa Harmon thought she had it all—the security of a good job, a beautiful home, and a powerful, charming fiancé who offered the life she never had growing up. But when her dream quickly turns into a nightmare, Alexa realizes she’s fallen for a façade she can’t escape—until sexy, dangerous Maverick offers her a way out.

Forced together to keep Alexa safe, their powerful attraction reignites and Maverick determines to do whatever it takes to earn a second chance—one Alexa is tempted to give. But her ex-fiancé isn’t going to let her go without a fight, one that will threaten everything they both hold dear.

Add to your Goodreads

And don’t miss all the books in the Raven Riders Series!


“What am I going to do? My entire life is wrapped up in him. My job. Where I live. My car. Where Mom lives. Everything. Oh, God. This is going to be a nightmare, isn’t it?”

Maverick grasped Alexa’s hands. “One thing at a time. You’re out. You can stay here as long as you need to. I have plenty of room. I’ll help you through it. That’ll give you time to figure out what it is you want. There’s no rush.”

“Okay,” she said. “Okay. God, thank you.” A shiver raced over her skin.

“You don’t have to thank me. I’m so relieved for you that I might fall the fuck over,” he said, his thumb rubbing over her knuckles. She almost managed a little smile. “Your hands are like ice, Al. I shouldn’t have made you stand her all this time when you’re soaking wet.”

Alexa shook her head. “It felt good to get it out, Maverick.”

“Glad to hear it. Would a hot shower make you feel better? I can find you a T-shirt and a pair of boxers to change into while your clothes dry.”

All the TLC and understanding he was giving her reached right inside her chest. When was the last time someone had taken care of her this way?

The last time you were with Maverick. The truth of that thought made her breath catch. “Yeah. I’d like that,” she managed.

He gave a tight nod and stepped back, and she missed his heat immediately. “Uh, good. That’s good. You remember your way around?”

“Of course,” she said. How much time had she spent here over the years? Even before they dated? At one point, Maverick’s place had practically been a second home.

“You okay?” he asked, watching her.

She pushed off the door. “I don’t know yet,” she said, coming to him. “But what I do know is how grateful I am to you. For everything. For being there when I told you not to. For listening. For just . . . being you.”

“Always.” He crossed his big arms and ducked his chin, like something about the exchange made him uncomfortable.

“I mean it,” she said, and then she pressed onto tiptoes and kissed his cheek, his stubble tickling her lips. “You saved me tonight.”

“No,” he said, eyes flashing, one brow arched. “You saved yourself, Al. I was just your getaway driver.”

Staring into one another’s eyes, the tender moment stretched out, morphed, suddenly flashed hot. Being so close to him set her body on fire, and finally she could actually consider acting on it. Need roared through her, a living, breathing thing. “Maverick,” she whispered.

“Fuck, Alexa, I think you better go take that shower,” he said, his jaw ticking. “Now.”

She released a shaky breath and nodded. He was right. Of course, he was.

So, showering. She could handle that. Afterward, God only knew what she was going to do.


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About Laura Kaye:

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty-five books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense, including the Hard Ink and Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and monster puppy, Schuyler, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

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Monday, 24 April 2017

Review: Moonlight on Nightingale Way - Samantha Young

Logan from Echoes of Scotland Street is back with his own smouldering story, as the bestselling On Dublin Street series returns...

Logan spent two years paying for the mistakes he made. Now, he's ready to start over. He has a great apartment, a good job, and plenty of women to distract him from his past. And one woman who is driving him to distraction...

Grace escaped her manipulative family by moving to a new city. Her new life, made to suit her own needs, is almost perfect. All she needs to do is find her Mr. Right-or at least figure out a way to ignore her irresistible yet annoying womanizer of a neighbor.

Grace is determined to have nothing to do with Logan until a life-changing surprise slowly begins turning the wild heartbreaker into exactly the kind of strong, stable man she's been searching for. Only just when she begins to give into his charms, her own messy past threatens to derail everything they've worked to build...

On Dublin Street Series:
On Dublin Street
Until Fountain Bridge (Novella)
Down London Road
Castle Hill (Novella)
Before Jamaica Lane
Fall from India Place
Echoes of Scotland Street
Valentine (Novella)
Moonlight on Nightingale Way
One King's Way (Novella)
Stars Over Castle Hill (Novella)

Visit Samantha Young's website or the On Dublin Street website for more information

Moonlight on Nightingale Way is the last full length novel in the On Dublin Street series and as much as I've loved these books I can't help thinking that's probably for the best because the stories have started to feel a little forced now. I was actually looking forward to reading Logan's book, we met him in Echoes of Scotland Street (he's Shannon's brother so we've already seen exactly what he was prepared to sacrifice to protect his sister!) and I really wanted to see him get his own happy ending after everything he's been through.

Logan is trying to put his life back together after being released from prison, he has a steady job and he's making up for lost time when it comes to women working his way through a string of one night stands but he refuses to let anyone close to him. Grace escaped from her emotionally manipulative family and has built a new life for herself in Edinburgh. She's happy with her career but is still looking for Mr Right. Grace and Logan are neighbours whose relationship doesn't get off to the best start when he's constantly disturbing her with his very loud bedroom antics but in spite of their instant dislike there is also some pretty intense chemistry between them. They're thrown together when Logan makes a shocking discovery and Grace happens to be there to witness it, she goes out of her way to help Logan deal with his new situation and as they spend more time together they start to realise that assumptions they'd previously made about each other might not be quite so accurate.

I have to confess I was a little disappointed in the romance between these two, they're both great characters so it had the potential to be great but there was so much drama between them and we spent too long watching Logan sleeping around with other women. I don't mind that he had a past but I'm not interested in listening in on the hero when he's in bed with other women and I didn't like the way he threw it in Grace's face, it wasn't that he was cheating on her as they weren't in a relationship or even friends at the time but he was quite disrespectful to her as a neighbour and it made me wonder why she'd ever be interested in him as a potential partner. There were a few times when he pushed her away for ridiculous reasons too and I just got bored of them circling around each other when it was so obvious they both wanted to be together.

I think my main issue with the later books in this series is how Samantha Young is so determined to mention every single previous couple that she creates events just to be able to shoehorn them in. I actually love it when contemporary romance series allow us to revisit previous couples but when a series is this long you don't need to bring in ALL of the previous characters or it just becomes an overwhelming list of characters, I can't keep track of who everyone is and I honestly don't care that they all have 300 children and this is their names and ages. It makes sense in this case to have Shannon and Cole on the scene because she's Logan's sister, you could even bring in Jo and Cam because they're Cole's family but when you go beyond that you just bog down your story with name dropping and short change the couple you're supposed to be focused on. Even the epilogue gives us a final wrap up for all previous couples and yes I understand that this was supposed to be the last book in the series (although we know there have since been a couple of novellas!) but I think it would have been better to post that separately, perhaps as deleted scenes on the author's website.

Overall I think Moonlight on Nightingale Way could have been a lot stronger than it was, I think its probably a good thing that the author decided to end things here because I doubt I'd have continued beyond this point anyway.

Source: Received from Piatkus in exchange for an honest review

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