Thursday 28 February 2013

Review: Invisible - Jeff Erno (A Free Short Story I Think EVERYONE Should Read)

Chase Devereaux is a fifteen year old boy under a great deal of stress. He has to give a speech today for his Oral Communications class, and he's terrified of public speaking. Worse yet, he's being bullied by one of the most popular kids at school. He just has to make it through his third-hour gym class and then give his speech, and everything will be all right. The events about to transpire, however, may make this what proves to be the worst day of his life.

This short story can be read online for free on Jeff Erno's website here, it can also be downloaded in several different ebook formats from the Goodreads Page here.

I also found out that Invisible is included in a collection of short stories published by Jeff Erno called Bullied. I haven't read the collection yet but I have definitely added it to my wish list.

My review of Invisible:
I don't often review short stories on my blog but I have to make an exception for Invisible by Jeff Erno. Bullying is an issue that will always be close to my heart, it effects thousands of teens every single day and as someone who went through it myself I know just how hard it is to have a target painted on your back and feel like everyone is against you. Any story that can raise awareness of the problem and perhaps get a bully to think twice before they act is a good thing and Invisible does and excellent job of that.

Invisible may focus on a teen who is being bullied for his sexuality but the feelings he describes are exactly the same for anyone who is suffering from bullying and I think most people will be able to relate to Chase's story. I'll tell you right now that this 14 page story broke my heart, I have never, ever, had such a strong reaction to such a short piece of writing and by the time I finished I found myself sobbing like a baby! I'm not going to give spoilers by telling you much more but I will say that a lot of those tears were happy ones. I don't want to give the impression that this is a depressing read because although it tackles a very difficult subject it leaves you with a sense of hope at the end.

Jeff Erno's writing is powerful and thought provoking. It raises the very valid point that if you sit back and watch the bullies at work without doing anything to stop them then you are just encouraging them to continue. Unless someone speaks up their behaviour will carry on and in all likelihood escalate. We all need to take a stand against any form of abuse, standing by and ignoring it is just not acceptable.

Bullying isn't an issue that goes away when you leave school, I know my experiences still have an impact on the way I see myself and I'm sure I'm not in the minority there. I also think that most adults will have come across some form of bullying since they left school - be it in the workplace, at their local pub or anywhere else that groups of people spend a lot of time together. Hell, we see it all the time in online communities too - just because people are sitting behind a computer screen they feel it is acceptable to victimise others!

If you ever suffered from bullying then you need to read this story, if you ever stood by and watched someone else get bullied then you need to read this story and most of all if you are or ever were a bully you need to read this story. Basically I think everyone should read Invisible! It will take 10 minutes of your time and it won't even cost you anything but it might just change the way you look at things.

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.

I've included the blurb for Bullied below in case anyone is interested in finding out more about the short story collection.

Every day, all over the country, teenagers struggle with the realities of bullying. Tormented, ridiculed, and beaten—simply for being who they are—these teens face alienation, humiliation, and even the explicit assertion that they have somehow brought this upon themselves, that they should just blend in. Bullied is a series of short stories exploring the world of these teens from several different viewpoints: the victim, the bully, the gay bystander, the straight friend, the concerned parent.

Closeted Bryan wonders why Christian Michaelson doesn't just try to blend in if he hates being bullied so much. Star athlete David isn't a homophobe—after all, he's not afraid of anything. Jonathan, a Christian fundamentalist, must weigh the Bible against peer pressure and what he knows is right when he discovers his childhood friend is gay. Bully victim Chase Devereaux finds an unexpected ally in a brave fellow student. A single mom struggles to accept the reality that her only son is gay. Two tough gay teens are forced to confront their own inner demons when tragedy befalls a classmate they failed to help. And overweight Kirby finds the strength of character to make a friend, which leads to a lifestyle change and a chance at love. Each character grows as an individual as he or she comes to terms with what it means to be a gay teenager in America.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Review: Bewitch - Felicity Heaton

A vampire with a past stained with blood and a soul tainted with darkness, he is perfect in his self-control, never surrendering to his darkest desires. Now a beautiful witch in the shadowy fae underworld threatens to reawaken long denied hungers and tempts him with carnal pleasure.

Payne despises the incubus side of his mixed genes and refuses to give it free rein, but when the wickedly sexy Elissa offers him a possible way to help a friend, he finds it difficult to resist paying the price, even if it will be his undoing—one night of passion at her command.

Elissa is a witch down on her luck until Payne comes crashing into her life. The dangerously handsome male is the key to fulfilling a promise she made, but he is also forbidden, and surrendering to the wildfire passion he stirs within her means risking ruin and death.

When one incredible night of fulfilling their deepest fantasies leads to more than just a pathway to keeping a promise and saving a friend, will they be able to overcome the barriers that stand between them and forever?

Vampire Erotic Theatre Series:

Eternal Mates Series:
(This series is set in the same world as the Vampire Erotic Theatre series but can be read completely separately)
Kissed by a Dark Prince
Claimed by a Demon King
Tempted by a Rogue Prince
Hunted by a Jaguar
Craved by an Alpha
Bitten by a Hellcat
Taken by a Dragon
Marked by an Assassin
Possessed by a Dark Warrior
Awakened by a Demoness
Haunted by the King of Death
Tuned by a Tiger
Tamed by a Tiger
Treasured by a Tiger
Unchained by a Forbidden Love
Avenged by an Angel
Seduced by a Demon King

Cougar Creek Mates Series:
(Set in the same world as Vampire Erotic Theatre & Eternal Mates series but can be read completely separately)
Claimed by her Cougar
Captured by her Cougar
Courted by her Cougar
Craved by her Cougar

Black Ridge Bears Series:
(Set in the same world as Vampire Erotic Theatre, Eternal Mates & Cougar Creek Mates series but can be read completely separately)

Visit Felicity Heaton's website for more information

Bewitch is the fifth story in Felicity Heaton's Vampire Erotic Theatre series and the first full length novel. Although I've enjoyed the previous novellas it was great to have a longer story to really get my teeth into and I think Bewitch is my favourite in the series so far. Each of these stories does work as a stand alone but I would recommend reading all of the books in order, they are great steamy reads and I've thoroughly enjoyed them all.

Payne has promised his friend Andreu that he will help find a solution to the curse that was placed on Varya but he seems to be running out of options. Everything he has tried so far has failed and his last chance is to find someone from the fae realm who can help him get his hands on a very rare artefact that might break the spell. Unfortunately it isn't easy to get any of the fae to trust someone who is half vampire and half incubus. That is where the witch Elissa comes in, she has her own reasons for helping Payne but only if he will return the favour. She will help him find the artefact but only if he helps her recover something precious that was stolen from her and has been hidden in the same location.

I already knew that I was going to love Payne's story and I'm so glad that he lived up to my expectations. We get to know him so much better here and we finally understand why he hates his incubus side so much. He has a dark past, one that broke my heart to read about, so I really was pleased to see him get a happy ending. Payne gives new meaning to tortured heroes, his vampire and incubus sides are constantly at war with each other and he has spent so long being afraid of his incubus side that he has lost the ability to control his powers. It makes him terrified of making a mistake and hurting Elissa but she is determined to break through his tough shell and act on the chemistry between them. If you've read any of the previous stories in the series you'll be expecting a hot read but trust me this was the most scorching one yet and I'm surprised that Payne and Elissa didn't melt my kindle!

Both of these characters have very good reasons not to trust each other and they are both wary of getting hurt again so one of the things I really appreciated was how naturally their relationship develops. They slowly grow to trust each other as they spend more time together. One of the things I loved the most about Elissa was the fact that she saw the whole of Payne, even the parts he tries so hard to keep hidden. It is thanks to her help that Payne finally starts to accept who he is and feels like he can put his past behind him and look towards the future.

If you're looking for a hot, spicy read with elements of kink and a real emotional connection between the characters then Bewitch is just want you need. Another fantastic instalment to a wonderful series and I'm dying to get my hands on the next book to finally have the chance to read Snow's story!

Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
Book Loving Pixie
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:

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Review: The Golden Lily - Richelle Mead

Will love lose her everything she knows?

Sydney is an alchemist.
She protects vampire secrets -
and human lives.

In hiding at a Californian boarding school, Sydney's life has become irrevocably intertwined with Jill Dragomir, the vampire Moroi princess she has been tasked with protecting. She has grown close to those in Jill's royal circle - and to someone in particular. Someone that forces her to question everything the alchemists believe in. Someone forbidden.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world - her new world - apart, Sydney's loyalties are tested more than ever. Should she trust the alchemists - or her heart?

Bloodlines Series: (This is a spin off from the Vampire Academy Series)
Adrian's Lost Chapter (Free Short Story can be read here)
The Golden Lily
The Indigo Spell
The Fiery Heart (release date to be confirmed)

Vampire Academy Series:
Vampire Academy
Vampire Academy Graphic Novel
Shadow Kiss
Blood Promise
Spirit Bound
Last Sacrifice

Visit Richelle Mead's website for more information

I'm a huge fan of the Vampire Academy series so of course I couldn't wait to start reading the spin off Bloodlines series. I enjoyed Bloodlines when I read it and The Golden Lily was one of my most anticipated sequels of the year last year - I could not wait to pick it up and start reading! You're probably wondering why it has taken me so long to get around to writing this review then. I hate to say it but when I started reading The Golden Lily last year it annoyed me so much that I couldn't even finish reading it! I really want to love this series but for the first half of this book it just wasn't happening. I decided to try the book again because I keep hearing so many good things about the follow up The Indigo Spell and I'm actually glad I did give it a second chance. I don't think I'm ever going to be Sydney's biggest fan but I found myself really enjoying the last third of this book and now can't wait to see what happens next.

I'm going to start by talking about my love / hate relationship with Sydney, I hate to say it but she irritates the heck out of me most of the time! She annoyed me a little in Bloodlines but at the same time she showed enough of her inner strength and bravery for me to be able to respect her. That Sydney was completely absent for the first half of this book though. The way she goes on and on about her weight and is so adamant that she can't consume anything with a single calorie in it is enough to drive me insane, I seriously think the girl needs to be admitted to an anorexia clinic! I know she has body issues and is comparing herself to the impossibly beautiful Moroi but I worry about the message it sends to teens when someone who is supposed to be their heroine is constantly saying that a size 4 (which I think is equivalent to a UK size 6) is fat. The combination of her complaining about her weight and her dating the world's most boring man is what made me put down the book. I can't even remember her boyfriend's name but I think I would rather poke needles in my eyes than have to read about one more of their dates, watching paint dry would be more exciting!

I said I have a love / hate relationship with Sydney but so far I've only told you why I hate her so I think I need to balance this review up a bit. I get that she has been raised in a very strict way and she has always believed everything that the Alchemists have told her so she showed a lot of bravery in VA when she helped Rose knowing she would end up paying for it. I respect the fact that she has now started to look past the things she has always been told and is now beginning to make up her own mind about what is happening around her. She was always told that Moroi are evil but she knows from spending time with Jill, Adrian and Sonya that just isn't true and it makes her start to question everything else. Finally in the second half of the book we start to see Sydney's world view shifting and although I wish it would happen faster I'm glad that it is happening. There was one particular point towards the end of the book where Adrian spells out a few home truths to her and I wanted to jump up and down waving pompoms! Hopefully when she has had time to sort through what he said we should see some more big changes. Another thing I was extremely happy about was seeing Sydney start to embrace her own magical abilities - I can't wait to see more of that as the series continues.

Now lets talk about the rest of the book. I have to say I'm disappointed with several of the characters. Jill was incredibly selfish, childish and even reckless throughout the first half but again we see glimmers of hope towards the end of the book. Angeline acts much younger than her age but I can kind of understand that considering her upbringing and I would love to learn more about her family and the Keepers. The glimpses we saw of Dimitri weren't enough to satisfy me, it just isn't the same spending time with him when Rose isn't in the picture and I miss them as a couple so badly. It is impossible not to like Eddie though, although I can't for the life of me understand why he is so attracted to Jill, but I think my main reason for giving the book a second chance was to see more of Adrian. I'll say it outright - I love Adrian! I may never have wanted him to end up with Rose but I never liked the way she treated him so I desperately want to see him have his own happy ending. My heart broke for him in this book seeing the way his father treats him and it made it even easier to understand why he acts the fool so much and doesn't think he is capable of anything better. I actually really like the way Sydney sees through him and knows just how much he is capable of and towards the end of the book I even began to feel that they could be a good couple which was something I'd not been 100% on board with before.

I have to admit that I still have reservations about this series but if the next book can just take all of the positives from the end of The Golden Lily and run with it then I could start to really enjoy it again. I would love more than anything for these books to reach the heights of Vampire Academy and I do think that the potential is there. It's hard to settle on a final rating for this book, the lack of action and the fact I gave up reading makes the first half easily a 1 star read but the second half improved and the last quarter was probably 3.5 - 4 stars so I'm going to be generous and rate it 3.

Source: Received for review from Penguin 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.

Paperback / Kindle:

Monday 25 February 2013

Review & International Giveaway: Game for Marriage - Karen Erickson

He’s going in deep to make her his…

Struggling artist Sheridan Harper never imagined she’d spend a sizzling night with Jared Quinn, the smoking-hot star quarterback of her local professional football team, the San Jose Hawks. And she’s even more shocked when Jared’s publicist offers her a proposition: a fake marriage to keep Jared out of the gossip mags. Being that close to Jared would be too tempting, so to protect her heart, she insists on secretly including a clause forbidding sex between them.

Jared just wants to keep his starting QB job and keep it in San Jose. His reputation as a ladies’ man has landed him in the headlines one too many times, but there’s something about his kind, passionate new wife that tempts him beyond reason. Any sort of intimacy between them is completely forbidden, but as their bodies fall in deep, will their hearts follow suit?

Game for It Series:
Game for Marriage
Game for Trouble
Further titles & release dates to be confirmed

Visit Karen Erickson's website for more information.

I'm on a massive contemporary romance kick at the moment and I know I can rely on the Entangled Brazen imprint when I'm looking for a book with great characters, super hot chemistry and a fun, flirty romance. Once again they have hit the spot with Game for Marriage by Karen Erickson and I devoured this book in one sitting (staying up until 4am to finish it!)

Jared is the star quarterback but his womanising ways have got him in hot water with the team's new owner who is looking to clean up the team's image. If he wants to stay with the team he loves then Jared has to do something about his reputation and the team's publicist thinks that the best way for him to do that would be to get married. The last thing he wants is a serious relationship and he's not at all keen on the idea of getting married but it doesn't look like he has much of a choice. When he meets the sweet, sexy, down on her luck artist Sheridan sparks fly and after one amazing night together Jared thinks he can work this whole marriage thing to his advantage, if he has to stick with one woman for a year then he might as well be with someone he can't keep his hands off of! Sheridan is reluctant to spend more time with Jared knowing that she could end up getting her heart broken but she desperately needs financial help to keep her gallery going. Thinking that adding a no sex clause to the agreement will keep her heart out of the mix she agrees to marry Jared. It's turns out to be impossible to ignore the sparks between them but will they be able to keep their emotions separated?

I liked Jared immediately, he's a sexy guy and he knows it which can make him come across as a bit arrogant but it's the kind of arrogance that manages to stay on the right side of sexy without stepping over into ass-hole territory. As a single guy with women practically throwing themselves at him he is more than happy to take them up on their offers but at the same time it was obvious that not all of the stories that earned him his reputation were actually true. He is actually a really sweet guy and didn't even consider looking elsewhere when Sheridan insisted on the no sex clause in their marriage contract. Jared obviously cares a great deal about his team and wants his family to be proud of him, he also respects Sheridan and wants to help her keep the gallery that she loves so much. It doesn't hurt that he is sexy as hell but he really was the kind of guy most girls wish they could meet in real life.

Sheridan was also a likeable character, she is wary of getting her heart broken but everything she does she goes at full throttle and doesn't hold anything back. She doesn't look at Jared as a meal ticket and isn't interested in him because of his fame or money. As much as she needs his help financially now it isn't because of a lack of hard work on her part and you just know she can make a success of her business on her own merits. I loved the way she saw the Jared that nobody else did, she saw the way he was constantly putting everyone else's needs before his own and she wanted to be the one who put him first for a change. The chemistry between Sheridan and Jared was off the charts but because of the no sex clause it was a long time before the were brave enough to take things further. That lead to some fantastic teasing scenes between them that really helped to build anticipation for the main event. I think one of the things I enjoyed most was seeing them getting to know each other outside of the bedroom though. When they get married they know practically nothing about each other but as they spend more time together you can see the mutual respect grow as they slowly fall in love.

If you're looking for a sweet and sexy contemporary romance that isn't full of needless angst then Game for Marriage will hit the spot perfectly. I'm exited that this is the first book in a new series and I can't wait to get my hands on the next instalment which I really, really hope is going to feature Sheridan's friend Willow and Jared's team mate Nick. There was obviously some history between the two of them and I definitely want to know more!

Source: Received from Entangled Publishing 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.


Giveaway Details:

As part of the blog tour Karen Erickson is offering readers the chance to win a $50 voucher to either Amazon or B&N. You can enter the giveaway using the rafflecopter widget below. The winner will be chosen by Karen and contacted by her to arrange the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday 24 February 2013

Review: Edge of Dawn - Lara Adrian

Prepare yourself for seduction as Lara Adrian unleashes a dark new breed of vampire . . .

Twenty years after First Dawn - the morning that followed a blood-soaked night where mankind learned that vampires lived among them - wars and skirmishes continue. Peace between humans and the Breed seems elusive, but the Order and their allies will not rest until it is won. For Mira, raised with the Order from the time she was a child and now the formidable captain of her own team of warriors, the first fight is personal. War with mankind has cost her a great deal - the life of someone she loved dearly.

Vowed to avenge his death, Mira blazes into every battle like a Valkyrie - until an unexpected encounter with a rebel leader brings her face to face with a startling truth, and a betrayal that will cut through her every defence . . . straight to the core of the wounded woman whose faith has never been more tested, not her heart more deeply torn.

The Midnight Breed Series:
A Touch of Midnight (Novella included in The Midnight Breed Series Companion, now also available separately)
Kiss of Midnight
Kiss of Crimson
Midnight Awakening
Midnight Rising
Veil of Midnight
Ashes of Midnight
Shades of Midnight
Taken by Midnight
Deeper than Midnight
A Taste of Midnight (Novella)
Darker After Midnight
The Midnight Breed Series Companion
Edge of Dawn
Marked by Midnight (Novella)
Crave the Night
Tempted by Midnight (Novella)
Bound to Darkness
Stroke of Midnight (Novella)
Defy the Dawn
Midnight Untamed (Novella)
Midnight Unbound (Novella)
Midnight Unleashed (Novella)
Claimed in Shadows
Break the Day

Hunter Legacy Series:
(A series of standalone romances set in the Midnight Breed world)
Born of Darkness
Hour of Darkness
Edge of Darkness

Visit Lara Adrian's website  for more information about the Midnight Breed series you will find excerpts from each of the books.  Lara can also be found on Facebook & Twitter where she posts regular updates or you can join other fans to chat about the books over at the LAMB (Lara Adrian Midnight Breed) Forum

Anyone who knows me already knows what a massive fan I am of Lara Adrian and the Midnight Breed series. I even have a Breedmate mark tattoo so it should be no surprise if I tell you this is my favourite paranormal series. The only thing I don't love about these books is the year long wait between each new instalment so I couldn't wait to get my hands on Edge of Dawn. After events in Darker After Midnight we already knew this book was going to be a game changer but I couldn't have even begun to guess at all the surprises Lara Adrian had in store for us. For the first time in the series this book doesn't follow immediately on from the last, in fact it skips 20 years into the future and introduces us to the next generation of the Breed - the children of our previous heroes and heroines. In some ways I feel a little disappointed that we didn't get to see them grow up but in another I'm just excited to get to know them all as adults and to catch up with the lives of our previous favourites.

Mira has changed a lot from the 8 year old child we remember. She grew up within the Order and even though she is human she has become an impressive warrior who is now in charge of her own team. She is liked and respected by her fellow warriors but has hardened her heart after the death of her childhood friend and crush Kellan. Mira is so focused on getting revenge on the rebels who caused Kellan's death that she sometimes ignores the rules and this often gets her in trouble with leader of the Order Lucan. I found myself feeling so bad for Mira, she lost the one man that she has ever loved and eight years later she is still unable to get past his death. Mira was dedicated to Kellan as a child, they grew up together and just at the point where she felt that they could be something more than friends he was taken from her. When she finds herself captured by a group of human rebels and realises that their leader Bowman is really Kellan she is devastated.  She has spent eight years grieving for a man who wasn't actually dead - he was just hiding from her and the betrayal cuts her deeply. My heart absolutely went out to her at that point and I wanted to kick Kellan's arse for doing that to her!

Kellan had his reasons for letting everyone who loved him believe he was dead but I never really felt that they were justified and that made it very difficult for me to forgive him for his actions. He stayed close enough to keep watch over Mira so he must have seen how much she was suffering without him but he never considered ending her misery. I think because I had such a hard time understanding and forgiving his actions I found it very difficult to believe that Mira would and that made it really difficult to feel fully invested in their relationship. I was also left with too many questions about what Kellan had been up to in the eight years he was gone, we only really know about his most recent mission and how he met the rebel team he now leads, perhaps if I'd learnt about lots of good deeds he'd carried out while he was away I might have found it easier to connect to him. In spite of my reservations about Kellan I did find myself routing for the couple but that was more because I felt Mira desperately deserved her happy ending.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the book was seeing how things had changed in the 20 years since the last book. The fact that humans are now aware of the existence of the Breed added a really interesting dimension to the story and I could understand why tensions were so high between both groups. It was great to get a chance to catch up with some of the previous couples but what I loved most was meeting their children. I had a little trouble keeping track of who was who because there were so many new names to remember but that is something I'm sure will get easier with each book. In some ways this is almost like starting a new series so you have to expect a little confusion while you get to know everyone again. The action was just as good as you will be expecting if you are familiar with Lara Adrian's writing and she once again kept me on my toes by throwing in a really interesting twist right towards the end of the book - one that is going to have another huge impact on the series.

Fans of the Midnight Breed series are going to love getting to know the next generation of the Order and Edge of Dawn is a book you won't want to miss. Since there have been such dramatic changes since the last book I also think that you could probably pick up this book even if you haven't read any of the previous 10 instalments. I personally would recommend starting from the very beginning though, I know it can be off putting starting a series that already has 11 books but trust me this series is worth it and I have really enjoyed every instalment. I can't get enough of these books so my only plea to Lara would be to please, please, please write faster!

Source: Received from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review but I've already purchased a copy to take pride of place on my shelves with the rest of the series.

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.

Paperback / Kindle:

Saturday 23 February 2013

Review: Demon at my Door - Michelle A. Valentine

Gothic outcast Natalie Sugarman bartered her soul for her dying mother’s life sixteen years ago to a boy demon that could stop time. Now, days before her twenty-first birthday, the lifelines on her palms are slowly vanishing, and she knows it’s just a matter of time before Satan’s little helper collects.

Natalie's tried numerous times to kill the demon and regain control of her soul’s destiny, but she always falls short. When she decides to try and gain the element of surprise for her next attempt, Natalie seeks answers about his location from a freaky, glowing-eyed fortuneteller. Creeped out by the psychic’s methods, she bolts from the reading and misses the warning that the demon who stole her soul is always closer than she thinks.

After some strange incidents with her new boyfriend, including a hot, levitating sex session, she realizes he’s the grown-up version of her little nightmare and he’s returned to collect on their deal. Natalie must figure out how to win her soul back from the demon before her lifeline completely disappears and she becomes his forever—even if that means making a deal to damn three other souls to take her place.

*Demon At My Door is a New Adult Paranormal Romance with very mature scenes*

Visit Michelle A. Valentine's website for more information.

Natalie was five years old when she sold her soul to a demon in order to save her mother's life, she didn't understand what she was really giving up but that isn't going to stop the demon from collecting his payment when she reaches her 21st birthday. Ever since she told people about the demon she has been treated as a crazy outcast by her family and by people at school. Her friends turned their backs on her and now she lives a very lonely life. Over the summer she has been dating her ex-friend and neighbour Stew but now they are back at college he is refusing to publicly acknowledge their relationship and Natalie feels more alone than ever. That is until new boy Rick comes onto the scene and takes an immediate interest in her completley ignoring the warnings to stay away from the crazy girl. She grows closer to Rick but her birthday is fast approaching and she has very little time left. Natalie is desperate to find a way to win back her soul but will the demon be prepared to make a new bargain?

I really enjoyed Michelle A Valentine's debut Rock the Heart so when I heard she was publishing a paranormal romance I couldn't wait to read it. Demon at my Door is the first book in a new series and is aimed at the new adult market. With the new adult label I have to say I was expecting a higher sexual content than it included, apart from one particular (very hot!) heavy petting scene this really read more like a young adult book. The main character Natalie is 20 but I felt she acted like she was much younger than that and I would have found it more believable if she had been around 16 and at school rather than college.

I'll admit that I wasn't too sure at the beginning of the book whether I was going to enjoy it, it took me a long time to warm to Natalie and I couldn't stand Stew from the very beginning. I hated Stew for the way he treated her but I was almost as annoyed at Natalie for letting him get away with it. Thankfully as the story progressed and I learnt more about her past I started to understand why Natalie acted the way she did, I still didn't agree with what she was doing but it made sense that she would behave like that. I'll never be a fan of Stew but I even came to understand him better by the end of the book. The story definitely picked up for me the moment Rick walked onto the page, I loved him from the beginning and he certainly provided plenty of swoon worthy moments! Rick gives off a bad boy vibe without actually acting like a bad boy, from the very beginning he is protective of Natalie and he is such a good friend to her even while it is obvious that he is interested in so much more. I found it hard to see why Natalie would still be pining over Stew when she had the gorgeous Rick on the scene but then again first love is a very tricky thing! Even when it became clear that Rick had a few secrets that he was keeping I was still firmly on his team.

One thing that I feel I have to mention is the editing, this book could have been so much more enjoyable to read if there hadn't been so many mistakes. If I'd been reading a print copy rather than an ebook I would have been tempted to get out my red pen because on practically every page I'd come across incorrect words (your/you're, too/to, tale/tail to mention a few) or sentences that didn't quite make sense until you'd guessed what the missing word was. If that is something that will drive you insane you may want to wait and hope that an updated version is released but if you can look past it then the story itself is enjoyable. It's hard because you can't really compare a self published novel that costs £1.30 to a traditionally published book that is more likely to be £6.99, I'm just warning you so you'll know what to expect when you buy the book.

Overall I did like Demon at my Door but it didn't manage to blow me away. However, after a rocky start I found myself enjoying the story more and more towards the end which is when things really got going and I can't wait to spend more time with Rick when the sequel is released. If you're a fan of young adult paranormal romance and you don't mind stories with a bit of spice to them then it would be worth giving this book a try.

Source: Ebook received from the author 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.


Friday 22 February 2013

Review: Sealed with a Curse - Cecy Robson

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other twenty-something girls—with one tiny exception: They're the products of a curse that backfired and gave each of them unique powers that make them, well, a little weird…

The Wird sisters are content to avoid the local vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region—until one of them blows up a vampire in self-defence. Everyone knows vampires aren't aggressive, and killing one is punishable by death. But soon more bloodlust-fuelled attacks occur, and the community wonders if the vampires of Tahoe are plague-ridden.

Celia reluctantly agrees to help Misha, the handsome leader of an infected vampire family. But Aric, the head of the werewolf pack determined to destroy Misha's family to keep the area safe, warns Celia to stay out of the fight. Caught between two hot alphas, Celia must find a way to please everyone, save everyone, and—oh, yeah—not lose her heart to the wrong guy or die a miserable death. Because now that the evil behind the plague knows who Celia is, he's coming for her and her sisters.

This Wird girl has never had it so tough.

Weird Girls Series:
Gone Hunting
A Curse Awakened (Novella)
The Weird Girls (Novella)
Sealed with a Curse
A Cursed Embrace
A Cursed Moon (Novella)
Cursed by Destiny
A Cursed Bloodline
A Curse Unbroken
Of Flame and Promise
Of Flame and Light
Of Flame and Fate
Of Flame and Fury

Visit Cecy Robson's website for more information.

The Wird sisters, Celia, Taran, Shayna and Emmie, all have unique abilities, they don't quite fit in with any of the other supernatural groups and all they have ever really wanted is to be able to find a place where they can be accepted for who they are and left to live in peace. The new home they recently moved to was supposed to give them a new start but when one of them kills a vampire in self-defence it brings them to the attention of master vampire Misha. The punishment for killing a vampire is death and Misha is determined to make sure they pay for their crime but as more and more of his family are infected with bloodlust he is left with no choice but to ask for their help. Now the sisters find themselves caught between the vampires they promised to help and the werewolf pack who is determined to destroy Misha and his family to stop the bloodlust epidemic from spreading. With Celia's growing attraction to the werewolf alpha Aric she may have to choose between her head and her heart.

Sealed with a Curse is the first full length novel in Cecy Robson's Weird Girls series and if you've read the prequel novella The Weird Girls you'll already be familiar with the curse that gave the Wird sisters their supernatural abilities. It isn't essential to have read the novella though and if you haven't you'll quickly be able to pick up all the important information. This is a strong debut and a great start to the series and although I had a couple of minor niggles it is well worth picking up if you're an urban fantasy fan. I'll start with my complaints and admit that I felt a couple of things were a little too convenient, I can't say too much without spoilers so I'll just briefly mention the sister's new boyfriends and the way all of them already knew each other was one of them, I'm sure you'll understand what I mean when you've read the book. The only other slight complaint is that I felt it was a little too easy to guess who the baddie was, I had them pegged when I was about a third of the way through and was desperately hoping to be proved wrong by the end but that wasn't the case. I did still enjoy watching the sisters trying to figure things out though.

Overall those minor irritations didn't stop me enjoying the story and there were far more positives than negatives. The story is told from Celia's point of view, she is the oldest sister and the one who has spent her whole life protecting her younger siblings. As a shapeshifter she has the ability to turn into a tigress but her inner beast has always frightened the people around her and she finds it harder than the others to fit in and live a normal life. I love that she was able to stand up for herself and her family though, in fact all four girls have kick ass abilities, they are fiercely loyal and there is nothing they wouldn't do for each other. It is so nice to have a group of sisters who in spite of having very, very different personalities still have a strong bond. I have to admit that from reading the synopsis I was a little concerned that I was in for yet another love triangle so I can't even begin to say how refreshing it was to discover that isn't the case. Yes Celia does have two very hot guys who are interested in her (Misha the vampire and Aric the werewolf alpha) but it was obvious from the very beginning where Celia's interests lay. I can't say I blame her because Aric was sexy as hell! He's gorgeous, powerful and very protective but at the same time he respected Celia's abilities. As much as he didn't want the girls to run off into danger without him and his pack at their sides he didn't try to stop them joining the fight.

Another thing that is outstanding about this book is the action, the pace was fast and furious from practically the beginning and even when it did let up I was still glued to the pages. I loved spending time with the sisters and I enjoyed the storyline with the vampires but I particularly loved every interaction between Celia and Aric. I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel A Cursed Embrace when it comes out later this year so I can spend more time in the world Cecy Robson has created. If you like strong heroines then you'll love this series where you'll find not just one but four kick ass chicks who are going to take the supernatural world around them by storm.

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.

Paperback / Kindle:

Review: The Weird Girls - Cecy Robson

New Cover
Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they're products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, a little weird…

The Wird sisters are different from every race on earth—human and supernatural. When human society is no longer an option for them, they move in among the resident vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region. Could this be the true home they’ve longed for? Um, not quite. After the sisters accidentally strip a witch of her powers in a bar brawl, they soon realize the mistake will cost them. Because to take on a witch means to take on her coven. And losing the battle isn’t an option.

Includes a preview of the first full-length novel in the Weird Girls series, Sealed with a Curse—as well as introductions to the Weird World, and a letter from the author.

Weird Girls Series:
Gone Hunting
A Curse Awakened (Novella)
The Weird Girls (Novella)
Sealed with a Curse
A Cursed Embrace
A Cursed Moon (Novella)
Cursed by Destiny
A Cursed Bloodline
A Curse Unbroken
Of Flame and Promise
Of Flame and Light
Of Flame and Fate
Of Flame and Fury

Visit Cecy Robson's website for more information.

This novella is a prequel to Cecy Robson's new Weird Girls series and introduces us to the four sisters who are going to star in the series. The girl's mother was cursed by her family for marrying outside her race but the curse backfired and gave each of the sisters unique and unusual abilities. As they were growing up their abilities meant that they never really fitted in, they aren't human but they don't quite fit into any of the supernatural groups either. All that Celia, Taran, Shayna and Emmy really want is to find a place to settle down, a home to call their own where they will be left in peace by humans and supernaturals alike. They think they have found the perfect place but when a fight in a bar brings them to the attention of the local coven of witches they find themselves in trouble. They refuse to give up their new home without a fight though so if that means taking on the whole coven then so be it, after all they have a few tricks of their own to help protect them.

The Weird Girls was an interesting start to the series, we get to learn just enough about the sisters to want to know more, all four girls have distinctive personalities and I'm looking forward to getting to know them better. As the oldest Celia feels responsible for the others and she is very protective, when the witches target the family she will do whatever it takes to keep the others safe even if that means putting herself in the firing line. Considering this is a novella not a full length novel Cecy Robson managed to create an action packed story that left me excited to see what will happen next in Sealed with a Curse. If you're looking for a new urban fantasy series with a group of strong female heroines then I don't think you can go far wrong with this one.

Source: Purchased

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.

Original Cover

Thursday 21 February 2013

Review: Hysteria - Megan Miranda

Mallory's life is falling apart.

Her boyfriend was stabbed. He bled to death in her kitchen. Mallory was the one who stabbed him. But she can't remember what happened that night. She only remembers the fear...

When Mallory's parents send her away to a boarding school, she thinks she can escape the gossip and the threats. But someone, or something, has followed her. There's the hand that touches her shoulder when she's drifting off to sleep. A voice whispering her name. And everyone knows what happened. So when a pupil is found dead, Mallory's name is on their lips.

Her past can be forgotten but it's never gone. Can Mallory live with that?

Visit Megan Miranda's website for more information

Mallory's life was changed forever the day she killed her boyfriend. Although she was spared from facing murder charges thanks to her lawyer's plea of self defence Mallory actually has very little memory of what happened that terrible night. Sent away to boarding school by her parents Mallory is hoping to put the past behind her but in a school where secrets are a highly valued commodity it is only a matter of time before the truth comes out. Even worse is the fact that someone or something seems out to get her, she hears voices in empty rooms, wakes up with mysterious injuries and feels like she is being followed. When another student is murdered Mallory's past makes her the most likely suspect but can she get to the bottom of what is really going on before anyone else is hurt?

I absolutely loved Megan Miranda's debut novel Fracture so I couldn't wait to get my hands on her latest book Hysteria. Once again she has hit the spot and created a story that will grip you from the first page, a story with so many twists and turns that you will find yourself constantly questioning everything you have already been told. I love the way this author manages to write stories that almost have a paranormal feel to them but are at the same time firmly grounded in reality, both of her books have shown hints of what the human brain is capable of and I find that fascinating to read about.

Mallory has hardly any memory of the night that she killed Brian and she really has no idea what happened between them or how he ended up dying from a stab wound. She is now constantly doubting herself and wondering if she could have done something differently to prevent his death. Distressed by what happened she is now convinced that Brian is haunting her so when the opportunity to leave home and go to boarding school comes up she jumps at the chance hoping to leave him behind. When the strange events follow her to school she starts to worry that she is actually losing her mind. Mallory finds it very difficult to trust anyone and doesn't know where to turn when things get out of control, her fear was very realistic and my heart went out to her.

Since she has so many holes in her memory I found Mallory to be a very unreliable narrator, it was difficult to know whether she was telling the truth or recreating events in a way that made her feel better about what had happened. I went back and forth between being convinced that she was going crazy from the stress to thinking that someone was out to get her and worrying about her safety. I love a story that can tie me up in knots and make it impossible to guess how events are going to unfold and that is exactly what Hysteria did. I also really enjoyed the way the current timeline showing her life at boarding school was interspersed with flashbacks from the night of the murder. I was anxious to know what had happened that night but I was equally interested in finding out exactly what was going on at her school.

Hysteria was another fantastic thrill ride of a story that I can't recommend highly enough. I can't wait to see what Megan Miranda comes up with next, she is definitely an author to watch out for!

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

Other Reviews:
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Wednesday 20 February 2013

Review: Secrets of a Summer Night - Lisa Kleypas

Four young ladies enter London society with one common goal: they must use their feminine wit and wiles to find a husband. So a daring husband-hunting scheme is born.

Annabelle Peyton, determined to save her family from disaster, decides to use her beauty and wit to tempt a suitable nobleman into making an offer of marriage. But Annabelle's most intriguing--and persistent--admirer, wealthy, powerful Simon Hunt, has made it clear that while he will introduce her to irresistible pleasure he will not offer marriage. Annabelle is determined to resist his unthinkable proposition . . . but it is impossible in the face of such skillful seduction.

Her friends, looking to help, conspire to entice a more suitable gentleman to offer for Annabelle, for only then will she be safe from Simon--and her own longings. But on one summer night, Annabelle succumbs to Simon's passionate embrace and tempting kisses . . . and she discovers that love is the most dangerous game of all.

Wallflowers Series:
Again the Magic
Secrets of a Summer Night
It Happened One Autumn
Devil in Winter
Scandal in Spring
A Wallflower Christmas

Visit Lisa Kleypas' website for more information

Since the death of her father Annabelle's family finances have been getting steadily worse and it has now reached the point where her only option is to find a husband who can support them. Unfortunately after four seasons in London she has yet to find a member of the aristocracy who is willing to marry her. Simon is a self made millionaire who has reluctantly been accepted into society because of his money, he is attracted to Annabelle but the last thing he is offering her is marriage. Annabelle may be drawn to Simon but she doesn't want to become his mistress, unless she finds a husband soon though she may have no other choice.

Although Again the Magic is set in the same time frame and there is a cross over of some of the characters I do think you could read Secrets of a Summer Night first. I loved both books though so would happily recommend them to fans of historical romance. One of the things I loved most about this book was the friendship that develops between the four wallflowers Annabelle, Evie, Lillian and Daisy who we hadn't been introduced to previously. The girls couldn't be more different from each other and are having problems finding suitable husbands for very different reasons but they form a close bond as they set out to find each of them a husband. The interactions between them and the antics they get up to were hilarious and had me laughing out loud on several occasions. I love stories with strong female friendships and this series definitely fits the bill.

I have to admit that I wasn't a big fan of Annabelle's in the beginning. She came across as really shallow and snobbish and I hated the way she looked down on Simon because he had earned his money with hard work and wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth. There were times that I felt she didn't deserve him but I'm glad to say that she had really grown on me by the end. She does a lot of growing up realising what is important in life and finding that having a title isn't the be all and end all. Simon was easy to fall for, he was protective, caring and incredibly sexy and I would be happy to take him out of Annabelle's hands! I loved the fact that he didn't make any apologies for who he was, he was rightfully proud of his achievements and didn't give a damn what anyone in society thought of him. Although he had no intention of ever marrying Annabelle at the beginning it doesn't take him long to fall head over heels for her and from that point he will do anything to make her his.

I'm really looking forward to getting to know the other wallflowers better. Evie is painfully shy but with the girls her confidence is slowly starting to grow and I can't wait to see her come out of her shell even more. Lillian and Daisy are the wealthy daughters of an American businessman and their mother is determined to see them marry an English gentleman and gain a title. Although they have plenty of money neither girl is used to London society, they come across as brash and their behaviour scandalises the society ladies. They are both very outspoken and it's going to take a pair of special guys to tame them.

I still can't believe that this is only the second Lisa Kleypas book I've read, she has such a witty writing style and creates such superb heroes that I can't wait to read more of her work. If you love historical romance and haven't started this series yet then you're really missing out and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Source: Purchased

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Tuesday 19 February 2013

Review: The Case of the Good-Looking Corpse - Caroline Lawrence

My name is P.K. Pinkerton & I am a Private Eye operating out of Virginia City.

At the moment I am in Jail in the shadow of a hangman's noose. It is all because I tried to solve the biggest mystery here in Nevada Territory & protect a girl who witnessed a terrible crime.

If I write an account of what happened, then maybe I can convince the jury not to hang me by the neck until I am dead.

The P.K. Pinkerton Mysteries Series:
The Case of the Deadly Desperados
The Case of the Good-Looking Corpse
Future titles and release dates to be confirmed

Visit Caroline Lawrence's website for more information

I loved The Case of the Deadly Desperados so couldn't wait to catch up with our young detective P.K. Pinkerton as he goes about solving his latest mystery in The Case of the Good-Looking Corpse. I mentioned in my review of the first book that I wasn't sure of P.K's gender and now having read the second book I have to admit that is still the case so I'm going to continue to refer to him as male as that is the way he spends most of his time acting. I have to applaud the author for making me change my mind so many times throughout the book without ever providing a definitive answer though. I think one of P.K's charms is his innocence, the way he refuses to conform completely to one gender or the other and the fact that he has no embarrassment about dressing as a girl when he needs a disguise.

This story picks up right after the last one ends and we see P.K. setting up shop as a Private Detective. Unfortunately nobody seems to take a 12 year old detective seriously so he has plenty of time on his hands while he waits for his first case. That was until a young girl called Martha comes to him for help, she worked as a lady's maid for Short Sally and was the only witness to her murder. Martha is terrified that the killer will come after her next and begs P.K. to solve the case and keep her safe. P.K. is determined to do a good job on his first case to prove that he can make it as a Detective but when his witness goes missing things get a whole lot more complicated.

If you've read the first book you'll already know that P.K. is a young autistic child who has many foibles and eccentricities. He also has a lot of difficulty reading people and understanding their facial expressions which can lead to some amusing misunderstandings. I love P.K's outlook on life, he tries so hard to understand why people do the things they do but at the same time he makes no apologies for the way he sees things. In a lot of ways you could think of him as someone who is quite simple but just to survive in the Wild West as an orphan shows how smart he really is.

Caroline Lawrence does such a fantastic job of pulling you into the story and making it feel like you have stepped back in time, she includes so many little details that just add depth to P.K's world and I can't read these books without having a smile on my face. I'm not sure what age range these children's books are aimed at but can say without hesitation that as an adult I thoroughly enjoy reading them. Alongside P.K. we have been introduced to a great selection of characters and I particularly enjoy watching Poker Face Jace teaching P.K. the signs to look for when someone feeling a strong emotion. If you liked the first book then you'll love this one just as much and I really hope that we get to read more of P.K's adventures in the future.

Source: Received from Orion in exchange for an honest review

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Monday 18 February 2013

Review & International Giveaway: Vanilla on Top - C.J. Ellisson

Discover your inner bad girl, and set her free…

Heather Pierce is done being a wallflower, both personally and professionally. Desperate to live a different life for one night, she attends a speed dating event. Maybe here, anonymous unless she chooses otherwise, she can become someone new. When a man way out of her league sits across from her, Heather gathers her courage and takes charge of what she wants, secretly fearing he won’t desire the real person she’s desperate to hide.

Top acquisitions officer and international playboy Tony Carmine is about to close the biggest deal of his career. But then he meets Heather at a speed dating event…and discovers losing control may be exactly what he needs. Her blossoming sensuality occupies his every thought, consuming him with the need to possess the most intriguing lover he’s ever encountered—until he walks into the boardroom and sees Heather on the other side of the negotiating table.

Walk on the Wild Side Series:
Vanilla on Top
Further titles & release dates to be confirmed

Visit C.J. Ellisson's website for more information.

Heather is sick of being walked over by the men in her life, she has always bent over backwards to make her relationships work yet they still end in disaster and she has had enough. When her friend drags her to a speed dating night she decides that for once she is going to put her own needs first and take control of the situation. The incredibly good looking guy she has her sights set on may be well out of her league but she isn't going to let that stop her and she plans to have him at her mercy. Playboy Tony is used to getting things his own way, he is on top of his game at work and his good looks and money ensure he never has a problem getting dates. So when Heather takes charge of their first meeting and then walks away without a second look he is shocked to find himself wanting to chase after her. Heather's take charge attitude intrigues him and he can't get enough of her.

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed Vanilla on Top, it was so nice to have a heroine who knows what she wants and is prepared to take risks to get it. As much as Heather was nervous at times she never showed it to Tony and I loved the way she was able to tease him and leave him hanging. She has been through her fair share of rubbish boyfriends and it was about time she got to set her own terms in a relationship. It was great to see Heather blossom as her confidence grew and that didn't just effect her relationship with Tony but also the way she interacted with her friends and how she saw herself at work. She starts off thinking that she is putting on an act but after a while she realises that deep down she can take control of her life and that she deserves to have the good things in life.

I have to say it - Tony is HOT! He was sexy as hell and he was willing to put his skills to good use! He is used to having women fall at his feet so it intrigues him when Heather seems so immune to his charms. Although he is usually the dominant one in his relationships but there is just something about Heather that makes him want to give up control and I loved the way they are so happy to experiment together and act out each others fantasies. I have to admit I loved Tony even more when he started to let his own dominant side out to play, there is something about alpha men that I find impossible to resist! There is no doubt that these two have chemistry but even though the story takes place over a relatively short time period I also felt that they had an emotional connection. They both changed for the better after meeting each other and it was like they gave each other the confidence to be who they really are inside.

If you're looking for an erotic romance with a strong heroine, a sexy Italian stallion, incredible foreplay followed by smoking hot sex alongside real relationship development then you should definitely read Vanilla on Top! The next book in the series will jump straight to the top of my wish list the second it is published and I can't wait to read more from C.J. Ellisson in the future.

Source: Received from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
Herding Cats & Burning Soup
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.

Giveaway Details:

As part of the blog tour I'm excited to offer one of my followers an ebook copy of Vanilla on Top thanks to Entangled Publishing.
  • One winner will receive a PDF copy of Vanilla on Top by C.J. Ellison.
  • The winner's prize will be sent out directly by the publisher Entangled Publishing so the winner must give me permission to pass their email address on.
  • To enter please use the rafflecopter widget below, there are optional extra entries for following or tweeting about the giveaway but these are not required to enter.
  • Duplicate and invalid entries will be deleted and the winners will be chosen at random from all remaining entries.
  • The giveaway will close at Midnight GMT on the 4th of March 2013 and the winner will be contacted soon afterwards with their prize.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner: Red Zone - Sherri Hayes

With the help of I am happy to announce the winner of an ebook copy of Red Zone by Sherri Hayes is:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations Cindy! I have forwarded your email address to my contact at The Writer's Coffee Shop so that she can send you your ebook. I'd like to say a massive thanks to TWCS for allowing me to host this giveaway for them.

Sunday 17 February 2013

Review: Pantomime - Laura Lam

New UK Cover
In a land of lost wonders, the past is stirring once more.

Gene's life resembles a debutante's dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. Then she displays unwanted magical abilities - last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age. Matters escalate further when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees home, dressed as a boy.

The city beyond contains glowing glass relics from a lost civilisation. They call to her, but she wants freedom, not mysteries. So, reinvented as 'Micha Grey', Gene joins the circus. As an aerialist, she discovers the joy of flight - but the circus has a dark side. She's also plagued by visions foretelling danger. A storm is howling in from the past, but will she heed its roar?

Micha Grey Series:

Vestigial Tales:
(Series of short stories set in the same world as the Micha Grey series)
The Snake Charm
The Fisherman's Net
The Tarot Reader
The Card Sharp
The Mechanical Minotaur

Visit Laura Lam's website for more information.

It is really difficult to know where to start with this review, I'm going to have to be incredibly careful about what I tell you because there is no way I want to spoil the shocking twist in Pantomime. Honestly, this has to be one of the most unusual YA books I've ever read and it is an incredible debut from Laura Lam. I want to go out and start placing copies of Pantomime in people's hands because I think everyone should be reading this book. In fact, I NEED everyone to read this book and then I need them to contact me so that I can discuss it with them without having to avoid spoilers!

Pantomime is an atmospheric debut that captures the essence of life in the circus and makes you feel like you're right there alongside Micha learning how to perform on the trapeze. Micha is new to the circus, still trying to find his place with the other performers who aren't happy to have a stranger in their midst. All Micha can do is work hard and hope that people will start to accept him and stop playing tricks trying to make him leave. At the same time we are getting to know Micha we are also introduced to Iphigenia (or Gene as she prefers to be called), a young girl who hates the restrictions placed on her by society. She is constantly forced to dress and act like a proper young lady but she'd much rather be climbing trees and having fun with her brother and his friends. Gene and Micha's lives couldn't be more different but their paths cross in a very surprising way that will change everything.

As much as I loved the circus setting for most of the story Pantomime's biggest strength by far is it's characters. I really, really adored Micha right from the start, he was so brave in the way he fought to be accepted in the circus and he never even considered giving up. He's the kind of person you'd want to have in your corner, someone who is loyal to his friends and who desperately needed to have that friendship and loyalty returned. Life has taught him some very difficult lessons but I was happy to see him come to accept himself for who he was. I also really liked Gene, she was a feisty and fearless tom boy who hated the fact that people only saw her as a young lady who should do as she was told, wear pretty dresses and try to find herself a good husband. She wanted more for herself but it seemed like everyone was against her apart from her brother who was incredibly protective and supportive.

The story is a fantasy, set in the fictional land of Ellada and has a very historical feel to it. If it weren't for the mysterious Penglass monuments and talk of an ancient vanished race called the Chimaera I would have thought I was reading a historical novel set in Victorian times. If there is one thing that I was slightly disappointed with it was the fact that I wanted to learn more about the Chimaera and the history of Ellada, we were given some information and I'm sure it will be expanded upon in the next book but I'd have liked to know a little more now. Especially since the story is so focused on world building and introducing the characters and there is very little action until the end. The ending was fantastic edge of your seat stuff though and it left me desperate to find out what happens next. At Pantomime's heart lies a very big secret, one I have to confess I'd guessed well before it was revealed but one that I still absolutely loved. Laura Lam may be a debut author but she isn't afraid to take risks and that is something I really appreciate, I'm definitely adding her to my list of authors to watch out for and I'm predicting big things from her in the future.

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

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Original UK Cover
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