Saturday, 30 November 2013

Review: Etiquette & Espionage - Gail Carriger

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.

Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners. Mrs Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realises the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's young ladies learn to finish . . . everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress and etiquette but they also learn to deal out death, diversion and espionage - in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail Carriger's legions of fans have come to adore.

Finishing School Series:
(This is a YA series set in the Parasol Protectorate world but set 25 years before the first book)
Etiquette & Espionage
Curtsies & Conspiracies
Waistcoats & Weaponry
Manners & Mutiny

Delightfully Deadly:
(A series of standalone adult novellas set in the Parasol Protectorate world featuring characters you may recognise from the other series, they fit into the timeline between the Finishing School and Parasol Protectorate books)
Poison or Protect
Future titles and release dates to be confirmed

Parasol Protectorate Series:
The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar (Novella)
Soulless
Changeless
Blameless
Heartless
Timeless

Custard Protocol Series:
(This is another adult series set in the Parasol Protectorate world but set several decades after the last book)
Prudence
Imprudence

Supernatural Society Series:
(A series of standalone adult novellas set in the Parasol Protectorate world featuring popular LGBT characters you may recognise from the other series)
Romancing the Inventor
Romancing the Werewolf (2017)

Visit Gail Carriger's website for more information

Review:
I really enjoyed Soulless so when I found out Gail Carriger was writing a YA series set in the same world I couldn't wait to read it, add in the fact that the Etiquette and Espionage is set in a finishing school that teaches students the art of spying along with how to pull off the perfect curtsy and I was sold. Reading this actually reminded me how much I loved Soulless and made me realise I need to finish reading the Parasol Protectorate series as soon as possible. Gail Carriger creates stories that are full of humour, have fabulous settings (just wait until you arrive at the Finishing School!) and wonderful characters and Etiquette and Espionage has all that and more.

Sophronia is horrified when she finds out that her mother is sending her away to a finishing school, she is expecting to hate every minute of it and is utterly convinced she'll never be able to fit in but she quickly finds out that things at the school aren't what she was led to believe. While she is taught about manners, the right clothes and how she should act she is also learning how to be the perfect spy and that is a lot more fun than her dance classes. I love how strong willed Sophronia is, she doesn't want to conform to the expectations of how a lady should behave and would much rather be investigating a crime than sitting quietly doing embroidery. She is smart, intelligent and determined which are all useful traits for a spy to have but her sense of curiosity has a tendency of getting her into trouble because she finds it impossible to mind her own business. She is also a loyal friend who looks out for those she cares about and stands up for what she believes in.

We are introduced to a great selection of side characters in the form of Sophronia's classmates and she has a habit of collecting friends in unusual places which keeps things interesting. Although a lot of the story is focused on building the world and introducing our main characters there is also an interesting mystery surrounding a strange missing prototype that Sophronia takes it upon herself to find. One of the highlights for me was Sophronia's pet, Bumbersnoot, who was constantly making me smile. I love the creativity of the story, everything from the finishing school and Sophronia's crazy antics to the amusing chapter headings (little gems like "Never hurl garlic mash at a man with a crossbow") has been well thought through and just adds to the atmosphere. This is a series I can't wait to continue and I definitely feel a Parasol Protectorate reading binge coming on!

Source: Received from Atom in exchange for an honest review.

Other Reviews:
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Paperback / Kindle:

Friday, 29 November 2013

Review: Lover Undercover - Samanthe Beck

He’s undercover. She’s in over her head.

Yoga instructor Kylie Roberts is the good twin. At least she was—until an accident forces Kylie to step into her twin’s sexy stilettos at a posh Hollywood “men’s club." But nothing could've prepared Kylie for the dead body in the club’s parking lot or the ridiculously hot detective who insists the killer is targeting her regulars.

Detective Trevor McCade needs Kylie’s help to draw out the killer. It means long nights undercover and long dances where Kylie’s body tempts him with sensual promises. Dances that leave them both wanting more. But despite Kylie's hidden identity and the danger lurking in the shadows, it’s only a matter of time before Kylie and Trevor take this undercover operation under the covers . . .

McCade Brothers Series:
Lover Undercover
Wicked Games (Novella in the Lovers Unmasked anthology also available as a stand alone ebook)
Falling for the Marine
Best Man with Benefits

Visit Samanthe Beck's website for more information

Review:
Kylie may look identical to her twin sister Stacy but they couldn't be more different when it comes to their personalities. Where Stacy loves the limelight and dreams of becoming a famous actress Kylie is happier to live a quiet life and just wants to make her yoga studio a success. But when Stacy has an accident and breaks her leg Kylie is forced to take her sister's place as a stripper in an exclusive men's club. The charade gets a whole lot more complicated when Kylie finds a dead body in the car park and it comes to light that someone is murdering Stacy's regular clients. Kylie is forced to work with undercover detective Trevor as he tracks down the killer but can she keep her own identity a secret, especially when things are heating up between them?

Having enjoyed Samanthe Beck's debut novel Private Practise so I was looking forward to reading her second book Lover Undercover. She has certainly proved that she can write sexy contemporary romances and I loved the chemistry between Kylie and Trevor in this story. I'm going to admit that I'd guessed who the killer was long before the big reveal because there weren't that many suspects to choose from but that didn't stop me from enjoying the romance as it developed. I also liked the side story with Stacy and Trevor's partner Ian, in fact you can read a follow up story about that couple in the novella Wicked Games which is Samanthe Beck's contribution to the Lovers Unmasked anthology and it's well worth checking out if you haven't come across it already.

Trevor is a great guy, he's a sexy homicide detective who is very sweet and protective. He knows that Kylie is hiding something and is determined to get to the bottom of it but he is attracted to her and doesn't want to scare her off before he convinces her to take a chance on him. I loved seeing the attraction between them reach boiling point in the club because they were forced to work so closely together with Trevor posing as one of Kylie's private clients. Kylie really didn't want to take Stacy's place at the strip club but she feels like she has no other option and once they've started the lie it is very hard to back out of it. She is so shy in the beginning but I loved seeing how much her confidence grew throughout the story and the way that the extra confidence helped her learn to stand up for herself with Stacy. Kylie really has been a bit of a push over when it comes to her sister so it was about time for her to stand on her own two feet and do what she wanted for a change. I think what I liked most about her relationship with Trevor is that he didn't try to change her, she was worried because he was a police officer and he thought she was a stripper but her job never seemed to bother him and he wasn't trying to pressure her to change.

Lover Undercover is an incredibly hot story, Trevor and Kylie have scorching chemistry that builds in intensity until they just can't help themselves. There is a good amount of action and I'm glad to say that there was no unneeded relationship drama. You'll also find plenty of amusing banter to keep a smile on your face. I will say that Trevor doesn't always follow official police procedure so if you're a stickler for the rules then this may not be for you but when the story is as much fun as this one was then I'm more than happy to see the rules get bent!

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

Other Reviews:
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Kindle:

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Review: Unteachable - Leah Raeder

I met him at a carnival, of all corny places. The summer I turned eighteen, in that chaos of neon lights and cheap thrills, I met a man so sweet, so beautiful, he seemed to come from another world. We had one night: intense, scary, real. Then I ran, like I always do. Because I didn’t want to be abandoned again.

But I couldn’t run far enough.

I knew him as Evan that night. When I walked into his classroom, he became Mr. Wilke.

My teacher.

I don’t know if what we’re doing is wrong. The rules say one thing; my heart says screw the rules. I can’t let him lose his job. And I can’t lose him.

In the movies, this would have a happy ending. I grow up. I love, I lose, I learn. And I move on. But this is life, and there’s no script. You make it up as you go along.

And you don’t pray for a happy ending. You pray for it to never end.

This novel contains graphic sexual content and strong language. It is intended for mature readers.

Visit Leah Raeder's website for more information

Review:
I purchased this book after seeing several of my friends raving about how good it was (thanks Cory, Ange & Jenny!) but I have to admit I wasn't too sure what to expect when I picked it up. I seem to have read quite a few stories about forbidden student / teacher relationships recently so I wasn't sure Unteachable would stand out from the crowd. After reading the kindle sample I was intrigued enough to buy the book and I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed it. I afraid I've left it too long between reading the book and writing this review to do it justice though but I'll do my best.

I think one of the things I liked most about Unteachable was how honest it was, it isn't afraid to show how messed up the relationship between Maise and Evan is and how the fact that they have to work so hard at keeping it a secret just adds to the excitement for them both. Maise is an interesting character, one I actually found it hard to like at times but her story is compelling and certainly kept me hooked. I liked the fact that Maise can be such a contradiction, in some ways she acts a lot older than her age but then she'll do or say something that reminds you that she is still a teenager and hasn't fully matured yet. I think most of us were probably very similar at that age, I can remember thinking I was an adult and that I knew everything but looking back now I have to question some of my actions! It's not easy when you're old enough to feel like an adult but don't have enough life experience to make mature choices.

I'm still not sure how I feel about Evan, he disturbs me in a lot of ways and I'm not convinced that their relationship would be able to last the distance but I could understand why Maise found him so attractive. There is something compelling about him and the forbidden feel to their romance certainly added to the excitement on both sides. Their relationship is all-consuming and Leah Raeder has done a wonderful job of capturing the intensity of falling in love for the first time. Unteachable is a beautifully written story about flawed characters and mutual obesession, it is gritty, raw and I guarantee it will suck you in!

Source: Purchased

Other reviews of this book:
She Reads New Adult
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:

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Review: Cake - Lauren Dane

She won’t be satisfied with just one bite...

Art student-slash-bike messenger Wren Davis pursues what she wants. And what she wants now is Gregori Ivanov, rock star of the Seattle art scene. With his tattoos, piercings and sensual sneer, Gregori is the ultimate bad boy. Wren’s gotten to know the man beneath the body art, too—and it only makes her crave him more.

But Gregori loves women like he loves cake and champagne—intensely, but only for the moment. And after Wren experiences just how scorching sex with Gregori is, she’s determined to show him that just one taste won’t be enough...

Visit Lauren Dane's website for more information






Review:
Just in case you need an incentive to read this story I thought I'd tell you that Lauren Dane based the character of Gregori on aerialist Brandon Pereyda (is anyone else drooling along with me?!):

Brandon Pereyda

Wren is an art student who works as a bike messenger part time to pay her way. In the months she has spent delivering parcels to artist Gregori she has fallen hard for the bad boy artist and is determined to make him see her as more than a friend. Gregori is hot property in the art world and is used to people being more interested in what he can do for them than they are in the real person so he has come to appreciate Wren's friendship and the way she is so determined to succeed at her career on her own terms. He can't help lusting after her but he's had more than enough of relationships thanks to his crazy ex-wife and he doesn't want to hurt Wren by starting a fling when he can't offer her more.

At around 100 pages Cake is a very quick, sexy read from Lauren Dane and it's one I really enjoyed. I have definitely developed crush on Gregori with his body to die for, sexy tattoos and red mohawk! Gregori epitomises everything you think of when you hear the phrase bad boy, he has a snarky attitude and is a bit of a player but he is also incredibly talented and focused on his art. Like a lot of rich and successful men he finds that women often see him as a meal ticket, something his ex has confirmed on more than one occasion so he finds Wren's attitude incredibly refreshing. She likes and respects Grigori for his talent but she wants to be recognised for her own abilities not because he has pulled strings for her. She is reluctant to even show him her work because she'd rather keep that part of her life separate from him. I have to say that as much as I liked Gregori I respected Wren even more, she knows what she wants and she is prepared to put the effort in to earn it.

The chemistry between them is fantastic and I enjoyed reading something that isn't too full of relationship drama. Yes Gregori's ex does try to throw a spanner in the works and he is reluctant to make a commitment but overall they manage to work things out fairly quickly with a minimum of fuss. They make such a great couple because they have so much in common and I enjoyed spending time with them. If you're looking for a fast paced, swoon worthy read then I'm sure Cake will be perfect. I'm looking forward to checking out more of Lauren Dane's back list in the future.

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.

Kindle:

Review: The Wedding Dress Diaries - Aimee Carson

Get in the bridal spirit with this prequel novella to the fabulous new Mills & Boon Modern Tempted contemporary romance series, The Wedding Season!

Bridal shop owner Amber Davis dreaded the moment she'd run in to Parker Robinson while working on his sister's wedding. She'd spent every summer in the Hamptons with his family as a kid, fantasizing about kissing him. But she's shocked to discover that the confident boy who'd given Amber her first taste of love has become a man who mocks its very existence.

Parker can't believe the girl who used to follow him around has grown into a beautiful woman—one with some very naughty ideas when she fits him for his tux. But Amber also knows why he's shut everyone out of his life. She's not the kind of woman Parker gets involved with…even if he can't keep his hands off her.

Amber doesn't do one-night stands or casual hookups, but she's wanted Parker long enough to make him an exception—especially if she can convince him he needs love in his life, too.

Look for all four books in the Wedding Season series from Mills & Boon Modern Tempted: The Unexpected Wedding Guest by Aimee Carson, Girl Least Likely to Marry by Amy Andrews,Maid of Dishonor by Heidi Rice and Last Groom Standing by Kimberly Lang.

The Wedding Season Series:
The Wedding Dress Diaries - Aimee Carson (Free Short Story)
The Unexpected Wedding Guest - Aimee Carson
Girl Least Likely to Marry - Amy Andrews
Maid of Dishonor - Heidi Rice
Last Groom Standing - Kimberly Lang

Visit Aimee Carson's website for more information

Review:
I had already read the first book in the multi-author Wedding Season series from Mills & Boon's Modern Tempted range so I'd met Amber and Parker before and was curious to read this story to see how they got together. The Wedding Dress Diaries is a quick read but it was a cute story and it makes for a nice introduction to the series.

Parker is the older brother of one of Amber's best friends and she has had a crush on him since she was a young girl. He is five years older though and always thought of her as his little sister's pesky friend. Amber is the kind of girl who dreams of big weddings and happily ever afters while Parker has abandonment issues and is determined to never let any woman get close to him. He is happy to stick with one night stands rather than risk getting his heart broken. They haven't seen each other for years until they bump into each other at his sister's engagement party and Parker doesn't even recognise Amber at first but he does find himself attracted to the beautiful woman she has become. Amber is determined to help Parker and his sister build a closer relationship and she is willing to take drastic measures to get what she wants.

I thought they make a really cute couple but since this is such a short story their relationship develops very quickly. I would have loved a longer story about them and there was definitely room to do that when you take into account Parker's history. If you're looking for a quick read then it's well worth giving this one a try - especially since it's a free read so you can't really lose. I'm planning on continuing with the rest of the series very soon and hope we'll see Amber and Parker make more of an appearance in future instalments.

Source: This was a free read available to download from Amazon.

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

Kindle:

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Review: Losing Hope - Colleen Hoover

UK Cover
Dean Holder has spent the last thirteen years obsessing over the moment that changed his life forever . . . the day his best friend was taken from him.

Holder can't help blaming himself for Hope's disappearance, and looks for her in every girl he meets. Until he finds Sky, who is the spitting image of the little girl he let walk away all those years ago, only she doesn't know who he is . . .

But while Holder can't help falling for Sky, he also can't shake the responsibility he feels, and the new guilt that is thrust upon him. In order to move forward Holder must dig deep into his past, and with Sky's help, find the peace that he so desperately needs.

Hopeless Series:
Hopeless
Losing Hope

Visit Colleen Hoover's website for more information.

Review:
I loved Hopeless when I read it earlier this year, the twist completely took me by surprise and I loved seeing how things unfolded as Sky slowly uncovered the truth about her past. I did find Holder's behaviour was more than a little disturbing at the beginning of the book but after finding out what was going on I could understand his actions. When I heard that Colleen Hoover had re-written the story from his point of view I was quite excited to get inside his head and seeing exactly what he was thinking during the pivotal moments. I was also hoping we'd get a lot more insight into Holder's past and to a small extent we do but unfortunately we didn't get enough new material to completely hold my interest.

I did really enjoy learning more about his relationship with his twin sister Lesley and seeing what had driven her to take such drastic action but the majority of the scenes between Holder and Sky were the same ones that we'd already read in Hopeless. I spent a lot of time reading the exact same conversations and wondering what was the point. I think I'm starting to get a bit bored of this new trend of writing the same story again but from a different POV. It can work really well when it tells a different part of the story or adds some insight that we didn't get from the first book but when it's too similar it just feels like a waste of time reading it.

I have to say that Losing Hope is very well written and I probably loved Holder even more after seeing inside his head but I still ended up feeling a little disappointed overall, in fact I think this would have worked better as a novella so that there was less repeated material in there. Colleen Hoover is a brilliant author so I have high expectations when I pick up one of her books but this one fell a little flat for me. If you were a massive fan of Hopeless then you might still want to give this one a try but I'd say it's probably worth picking up a copy from the library or borrowing it from a friend first rather than buying it.

Source: Received from 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.

US Cover
Paperback / Kindle:

Monday, 25 November 2013

Review: Roman Holiday Part 3: Blindsided - Ruthie Knox

In Episode 3 of Ruthie Knox’s eBook original serial, Roman Holiday, Ashley has led Roman across state lines in an attempt to save her home. And he’s about to learn just how wily this wild child can be.

With his Escalade buried up to the axles in Georgia muck, Roman Díaz will do whatever it takes to put his Florida development back on track—but it never occurred to him that Ashley Bowman would start fighting dirty. Ashley figures all’s fair in love and war—and this is war, right? It can’t be love. Love doesn’t involve blackmail. So why does blindsiding Roman and forcing him to do her bidding make her feel so wrecked?

Roman Holiday:
Chained (Episode 1)
Hitched (Episode 2)
Blindsided (Episode 3)
Ravaged (Episode 4)
Ignited (Episode 5)
Roman Holiday: The Adventure Begins (Bind up of episodes 1-5)
Roman Holiday: The Adventure Continues (Bind up of episodes 5-10)
Roman Holiday: The Complete Adventure (Bind up of episodes 1-10)

Visit Ruthie Knox's website for more information.

Review:
Blindsided is the third instalment in the Roman Holiday serial by Ruthie Knox and picks up the story immediately after Hitched ended. Ashley and Roman have arrived at the hippy commune just in time to join the drum circle and since Roman managed to get both his car and Ashley's trailer stuck in the mud escape isn't an option. The commune really is the last place on earth Roman wants to be and he couldn't get much further out of his comfort zone if he tried but Ashley is right at home and determined to use that to her advantage. She isn't above playing dirty to get what she wants no matter how guilty it might make her feel afterwards.

I have to admit I enjoyed seeing Roman at such a disadvantage in this instalment, he obviously has no idea what to expect or how to react to the people who live at the commune and it was amusing seeing him struggle. I quickly started to feel sorry for him though, it felt like people were being deliberately mean towards him and that didn't sit right with me. Even Ashley begins to feel guilty about things when she starts to think about it. I do like the fact that Roman has met his match and that he's starting to realise that he has to go along with Ashley to a certain extent if he wants to get his project back on target though. It was great to see past his cool exterior to get a glimpse of the emotional man he keeps hidden deep inside, he is finding it hard to keep his tough guy shell in place and I wanted to see him shaken up a bit.

The chemistry is definitely starting to build between them now that Roman has dropped his guard a bit. It seems like the more Ashley manages to rile him up the more attractive she finds him and the less in control he is the more he starts to see in her. They still have a long way to go before they can find any kind of compromise but it's going to be interesting an interesting journey. I'm really enjoying reading the Roman Holiday serial, as much as I usually prefer to devour a novel in one sitting I do think this has been split into well paced instalments that are a satisfying read but still leave you eager to continue the story. Each part has plenty of humour to make it a light hearted and enjoyable read perfect for when you're short on time and I'm looking forward to reading more.

Source: Received 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.

Kindle:

British Books Challenge 2014 - Sign Up Page


I'm very excited to announce that I'm going to be continuing to host the British Books Challenge in 2014! I hope that everyone who has taken part in the past will continue to participate and it would also be fab to see some new people joining us - come on you know you want to!

So what is the British Books Challenge?

The BBC is a reading challenge that was created by Becky from The Bookette in 2011 as a way to encourage people to read more books by British authors. The challenge was taken over by Kirsty at The Overflowing Library for 2012 and has been hosted here at Feeling Fictional since 2013.

The books can be in print or out. Old or new titles. They can be from any genre and for any age range. Becky and Kirsty's blogs both focus on YA books but I read a mixture of adult, NA and YA so you can expect to see reviews of both on my blog. Obviously it's entirely up to you if you want to read adult, NA, YA or children's novels - or a mixture of them all!

If you sign up for the Challenge you will be aiming to read at least 12 books by British Authors (which works out to one a month). For every book you review each month you will get an entry into the draw to win a monthly prize pack. Therefore the more you read the more entries you will rack up. Towards the end of the year I hope to do some kind of special prize draw for those who have gone to the most effort over the year managing to read 50 or more British Books. As prize packs are mainly being sponsored by British publishers I'm afraid that some of the prizes will only be available for UK participants but I hope that international bloggers will still take part. I will try to host a couple of international giveaways throughout the year but it will depend on finances and whether I can afford postage costs for sending out the books.

If you have any questions about the challenge then make sure you check out the FAQ page HERE.

I have to say a massive thank you first to Becky for originally creating the challenge and also to Kirsty for hosting it in 2012. They have both put in an incredible amount of work to promoting British authors and I hope I can do half as well as they did next year. Special thanks to Kirsty for letting me pretty much cut and paste her FAQ and sign up pages!

To Sign Up:
  • Write a post or page on your blog linking back to this one.
  • In that post/page write a list of the titles you hope to read. If you are not yet sure, just add one or two and update as and when you read titles with hyperlinks to your review.
  • Insert the BCC button onto your sign bar. To do this save the button you like onto your computer, then go to add gadget on your sidebar to put the picture on your blog adding a hyperlink to it of the url address for this post.
  • Fill out the Mr.Linky form below, make sure the link you add is directly to your sign up post and has your blog name as the title. Links to anything other than sign up posts will be deleted and only people who have created a sign up post will be eligible to win the monthly prize pack so this is very important!
  • And finally, as you review the books on your blog, update your sign up post/ page with a link to your review. Every link up you do will be an entry into each month's prize pack (although some of the prizes may be donated by publishers only willing to send to the UK).
Exciting Extras:

I am absolutely delighted to tell you I have had a huge amount of support and encouragement in the planning of this challenge from UK publishers.

These wonderful publishers / authors have agreed to provide British bookish goodies for prize packs which can be won by the challenge entrants (I will be updating this list as new prize packs are confirmed)
  • Sponsor details coming soon
Watch out for the review link up post each month for details of what you could win.

If you are a publisher who publishes books by British authors or British author who would be interesting in promoting their titles through the British Books Challenge giveaways please contact me by email.

Current Participants in the 2014 British Books Challenge:

Please enter your blog name and the link must go directly to your sign up post.



British Books Challenge 2014 Button:

Please the button to your sidebar and link it to this sign up post so that more bloggers can join in the fun!

British Books Challenge 2014 - FAQ


It's that time of year again when we all start to think about what challenges we're going to be signing up for in 2014. I have loved hosting the British Books Challenge this year so I'm excited to be hosting it again and I hope you'll all be signing up to take part again - it would be great to see some new faces too!

So what is the British Books Challenge?

The BBC is a reading challenge that was created by Becky from The Bookette in 2011 as a way to encourage people to read more books by British authors. The challenge was taken over by Kirsty at The Overflowing Library for 2012 and has been hosted here at Feeling Fictional since 2013.

The books can be in print or out. Old or new titles. They can be from any genre and for any age range. Becky and Kirsty's blogs both focus on YA books but I read a mixture of adult, NA and YA so you can expect to see reviews of both on my blog. Obviously it's entirely up to you if you want to read adult, NA, YA or children's novels - or a mixture of them all!

If you sign up for the Challenge you will be aiming to read at least 12 books by British Authors (which works out to one a month). For every book you review each month you will get an entry into the draw to win a monthly prize pack. Therefore the more you read the more entries you will rack up. Towards the end of the year I hope to do some kind of special prize draw for those who have gone to the most effort over the year managing to read 50 or more British Books. As prize packs are mainly being sponsored by British publishers I'm afraid that some of the prizes will only be available for UK participants but I hope that international bloggers will still take part. I will try to host a couple of international giveaways throughout the year but it will depend on finances and whether I can afford postage costs for sending out the books.

I have to say a massive thank you first to Becky for originally creating the challenge and also to Kirsty for hosting it in 2012. They have both put in an incredible amount of work to promoting British authors and I hope I can do half as well as they did next year. Special thanks to Kirsty for letting me pretty much cut and paste her FAQ and sign up pages!

To sign up: Go to the sign up post HERE

For suggestions of British Titles to read:
  1. A great resource for information about British authors of YA books is the UK-YA blog, they even have a list of the Top 100 UK-YA titles (as voted by readers of the blog) which should give you plenty of suggestions!
  2. There are some great YA suggestions on Kirsty's UK-YA shelf on Goodreads HERE
  3. I also have a selection of YA and Adult titles on my British Author's shelf on Goodreads HERE
  4. Karen posts a monthly list of books published in the UK over at her blog Teenage Fiction for All Ages where she also highlights the titles that are by British Authors. You can read through all of her posts for 2012 HERE and the 2013 book releases can be found HERE.
  5. You might also want to check out this list of UK YA titles being published in 2013 that was created on Goodreads by Clover from Fluttering Butterflies. I can't guarantee that all of the titles on this list will be by British authors because anyone can add to lists on Goodreads but I'm sure most of them will be correct, especially the ones with a lot of votes. You can view the list HERE. Clover has started a feature in 2013 where she is listing new releases by British authors each month, you can read through her posts HERE for some fantastic recommendations!
  6. You can always have a look through other participant's review links on the monthly link up pages once the challenge gets started. I'll add links to each month's post below.
These links by no means include the only books that count towards the challenge but hopefully they'll help you get started.

Don't forget to post links to your reviews each month for your chance to win prizes:
  • January
  • February
  • March
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Frequently asked Questions:

I post reviews on more than one blog. Can they count towards my challenge total?

Yes.

I am an international entrant and sometimes I do not have time to write my reviews in English. Can I write them in my native language?

Of course. It would be helpful if there was a little summary in English so that I can comment but as long as you make sure the book's title is translated somewhere on your post then it is fine. I'm delighted that international bloggers are going to help promote British authors.

Do Irish authors count towards my challenge total?

No. Ireland is not part of the UK. The UK is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Authors who live in any of these locations can count towards the challenge.

How about authors who were say born in America (insert any other country here) but are currently living in the UK?

Yes, we are using the following criteria to decide whether an author can count towards the challenge:
  • Authors who were born in the UK, live in the UK and are published in the UK
  • Authors who were born overseas but are CURRENTLY living in the UK and their books were/are being published in the UK first
  • Authors who were born in the UK are currently living overseas but their books are being published in the UK first
I know it can be tricky to work this out so if you are not sure contact me and I'll see what I can do to help

I do not have a blog but I would love to take part. Is there a way that I can take part?

If you have an account on Goodreads or another book review website then you can still enter the challenge. Sign up by linking to your profile page and make sure you link directly to your reviews each month to be eligible to win the monthly prize packs.

I am a publicist promoting a book by a British author (or indeed a British author). Can I promote my book via the British Books Challenge?

Yes. If you would like to donate prizes to the monthly prize packs that would be fantastic. Please contact me by email to discuss.

Can I count books that I have already counted on other challenges?

I don't see why not..

I have a question that you haven't answered here. How can I contact you?

The best way to contact me is by email, I will reply to all emails as quickly as possible but sometimes life gets in the way so please bear with me if it takes me a couple of days to respond.
I do have a twitter account (@sarahsreviews) but I don't spend much time on there so it will probably take much longer for me to notice your tweet and get back to you.

Review: My Favourite Mistake - Chelsea M. Cameron

Two secrets. One bet. Who will break first?

Taylor Caldwell can't decide if she wants to kiss her new college roommate or punch him.

On the one hand, Hunter Zaccadelli is a handsome blue-eyed bundle of charm. On the other, he's a tattooed, guitar-playing bad boy. Maybe that's why Taylor's afraid of falling in love with him, or anyone else. She doesn't want to get burned, so she needs him gone before it's too late.

Hunter himself has been burned before, but Taylor's sexy laugh and refusal to let him get away with anything make her irresistible. Determined not to be kicked out of her life without a fight, Hunter proposes a bet: if she can convince him she either truly loves or hates him, he'll leave the apartment;and leave her alone.

But when the man behind Taylor's fear of giving up her heart resurfaces, she has to decide: trust Hunter with her greatest secret, or do everything in her power to win that bet and drive him away forever.

My Favourite Mistake Series:
My Favourite Mistake
My Sweetest Escape

Visit Chelsea M. Cameron's website for more information

Review:
I hate to say it but this is going to end up being more of a rant than a review, I just can't talk about this book without going into detail about the main character's completely unacceptable behaviour and I have a whole heap of quotes I'll be using to back that up. I really hate this trend that female characters have to act like a complete bitch to be seen as a strong woman, the trend that says it is OK for a girl to beat up on a guy because she has had a bad experience in the past. Domestic violence is WRONG, I don't care if the perpetrator is male or female - the ONLY time it is acceptable to resort to violence is when you are defending yourself from a physical assault. If you are beating people up for any other reason then you need to seek help.

My Favourite Mistake starts with the main character Taylor making the following statement:

The first time I met Hunter Zaccadelli, I punched him in the face. Granted, he completely and totally deserved it. He also asked for it, in so many ways.

I was initially prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt because we don't know what he did to get that reaction from her but when the scene plays out I was shocked at her behaviour. Taylor has just moved into a new coed dorm at her college along with her friends Renee and Darah and they are waiting for their fourth room mate to arrive. In walks Hunter and Taylor is horrified to discover that she will be sharing her room with a guy. I can kind of understand that reaction but it's not exactly Hunter's fault that he was assigned to their room. (On a side note would a college really place a guy in a room with three girls? I'm not sure I believe that!). Hunter is a good looking guy with tattoos, a guitar and a cocky, flirty attitude so Taylor immediately pegs him as a douche without even spending five minutes getting to know him. He makes the terrible mistake of flirting with her and stepping into her personal space but does Taylor react like a normal person and ask him to back off? No she punches him in the face (hard enough to leave a bruise) and knees him in the nuts before storming out of the apartment. Her friends don't seem particularly surprised by her reaction which just confused me - if one of my friends acted like that I'd want to know what the hell was wrong with them! The only person who questions her behaviour is her sister and this is the conversation they have about it:

"Aw, Kid, why did you do that?"
"He cornered me, what was I supposed to do?" My hand was red and starting to turn a lovely purple shade.
"You could have told him to back off. That would have been the logical thing to do."
"You know I'm not a logical person."

Well no Taylor quite obviously isn't a logical person - she's actually a violent head case. From this point onwards Taylor is consistently rude to Hunter, she calls him names, snaps at him and does everything she can to get him out of her life. For his part Hunter is patient with her, he cooks for her, he buys her jewellery, he goes out of his way to make sure she is safe and happy and he continues to banter with her while all this time she continues to call him a douche for absolutely no reason! I can't for the life of me understand what such a nice guy sees in her. There is just nothing likeable about Taylor, even when we eventually find out what she went through in her past it couldn't excuse her current behaviour. I felt bad about what had happened to her and could understand her being wary around men and finding it difficult to trust people but that is still no excuse for her getting violent.

I kept hoping we'd see her get some kind of anger management but she refuses to accept any kind of help and that wasn't the only time she hit Hunter either. She threatens him constantly and the second time she attacks him was when he committed the terrible crime of trying to wrap her in a blanket because she was shivering. Here is part of her attack against him:

“Stop it!” I thrashed, but he wouldn't let go of me. He tried to pick me up, but I was ready for him, landing punches and kicks right and left. His face was blank. Somehow he got me to my feet, and the blanket fell away. It was like I’d unleashed something dark and violent that had been stirring inside me since that night eight years ago.
“Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” I pounded on his chest. I slapped his face and I kicked him. I kept going until my lungs were heaving and my arms were sore and a strangled sob had escaped my mouth.
He stood with his arms at his sides. His face was red from me slapping him.

and this is her sad attempt at an apology:

"I’m still sorry I beat you," I said, touching his perfect face.
"How’s my face looking?"
I glanced up. He was going to look quite pretty tomorrow. "A little battered."
"That’s okay. I’ll just tell everyone I was in a bar fight."
"What, you’re ashamed to say you were hit by a girl?"
"No, but I’m worried you’ll get hauled in for domestic violence," he said with a smile.
"Okay, fine."

I think that was one of the most disturbing conversations in the whole book. He is making excuses to cover for her and protect her which is classic victim behaviour in domestic violence situations. The fact that she ribs him for being embarrassed to have been hit by a girl rather than worrying about her own actions was just completely disgraceful. She had kicked, punched and slapped him like a mad thing while he just stood there and took it. If that scene was written so that Hunter had been the one attacking Taylor can you imagine the public reaction? People would have been rightly horrified so why is it acceptable for Taylor to be the one doing the attacking? I'll answer that question for you - IT ISN'T!!! There is no way in a million years you'll ever convince me that she is anything other than a violent bully with anger management issues who should be in therapy. I might have been able to forgive her over time if she'd owned up to her problems and taken steps to resolve them but she doesn't and Hunter doesn't help with this either when he says things like this:

"I’m not coping with it, according to my therapists. There have been many."
"Fuck them. If breaking things and punching people every now and then helps you, I’ll be your punching bag and we can get you some stuff to throw off the roof. Deal?"

He's offering to be her punching bag if that makes her feel better? No, just NO. That isn't the right way to go about things! He should be offering to help her find a decent therapist or he should be telling her he isn't prepared to put up with the way she treats him and then running a million miles away from her. Taylor's behaviour isn't right, it isn't acceptable and it's only going to get worse if she doesn't deal with her issues. I'm disturbed that this story is considered a romance and that not one of her friends or family members try to put a stop to her actions. I'm also annoyed with Hunter for letting her treat him the way she does, he doesn't just let her get away with it he actually encourages her to carry on.

I think this is the first time I've ever given a book that I actually finished reading 1 star (I usually save that rating for books I didn't finish) but I can't bring myself to give it a 2 star "it was OK" rating because that feels too much like I'm saying domestic violence is OK. I've seen the results of domestic violence first hand and it is NEVER OK.

Source: Received from 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:

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Review: World After - Susan Ee

The survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what's left of the modern world.

When a group of people capture Penryn's sister Paige, thinking she's a monsterh, the situation ends in a massacre. As Penryn searches the streets of San Francisco looking for her, she's drawn into the heart of the angels' secret plans, where she learns the horrifying extend to which they are willing to go.

Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can't rejoin the angels, but when faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?

Penryn & the End of Days Series:
Angelfall
World After
End of Days

Visit Susan Ee's website for more information

Review:
I may have been late jumping on the Angelfall bandwagon but I fell completely in love with Susan Ee's characters and the world she created so I can't tell you how relieved I was that I already had a copy of World After so I could continue the adventure. Considering Angelfall was my favourite book of the year I had high expectations for this sequel, ones I was worried it would be hard to live up to, but thankfully World After was just as good - in fact I'd go so far as to say it was even better! I can't praise this series highly enough so if you haven't started reading it yet then I urge you to do so, I promise that you won't regret it.

I really don't want to talk about the plot in this review, I would much prefer to let people enjoy discovering what happens for themselves and I think you'll enjoy it all the more for that. What I will say is that Susan Ee has really ramped up the action, she throws in so many curve balls that it is impossible to guess what will happen next and the story is darker and more creepy than ever. You'll see just how low some humans are prepared to sink in order to survive, in fact I found their behaviour even more horrific than the angels at times and that is saying something! At the same time you get to learn more about the angels' plans and they are definitely shocking. You'll also discover that although Penryn's mother is completely crazy she is actually a lot smarter than most people give her credit for and quite often there is a reason for the strange things she does.

My heart absolutely broke for Paige though, I can't even count the number of times I wanted to crawl into the book to give her a cuddle and tell her everything would be OK even though I couldn't see a way out of the mess they were all in. The dynamics between her and Penryn are very different to the way they were in the first book, Paige is like a completely different child since what happened to her but she loves Penryn more than anything and is incredibly protective of her big sister. In some ways it felt like their roles had reversed but there were some wonderful moments between them towards the end of the book that made me sob like a baby. I'm not going to lie to you, this book is painful to read at times but that just proves how emotionally connected I am to each of the characters.

I will admit that I missed Raffe during the first half of the book, we don't see as much of him as I would have liked but I can understand why the story needed to be told that way and his absence was more than made up for when he does make his appearance. I loved the banter between him and Penryn in Angelfall and I think it was even better in this book, they are incredibly funny together but there are also some really sweet and poignant moments between them. Penryn is definitely one of my favourite heroines, she has to make difficult choices but she always acts in the best interests of the people she cares about, she will fight to the death to protect her family but she also puts herself at risk for complete strangers. She may not always make the best choices but she always does what she thinks is right and you have to admire her for that.

World After is an incredibly dark book but it also has a lot of humour and lighter moments that will put a smile on your face. Dee-Dum are always able to lighten the mood with their silly antics but Penryn has her moments too - just wait until you see the disguise she comes up with for her sword! Angelfall and World After are two of my favourite books ever and this has fast become my top YA series, I just hope that Susan Ee doesn't make us wait too long for the next book because I NEED to know what happens next. It's only been a couple of days since I finished reading this book and I'm already itching to pick it up again so that should give you some idea of how much I loved it!

Source: Received from Hodder & Stoughton 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: Between Friends - Vristen Pierce

After being unceremoniously dumped by her long-time boyfriend, Stacy Washington hits one of the hottest clubs in town with her best friend, Nina. Stacy decides it's time to shed her good girl persona by letting go of her inhibitions. Relationships are trouble; casual sex is simple.

When she sees sexy bartender, Evan, she's instantly intrigued by his dark, good looks and his killer smile. Before she has a chance to get to know him better, an equally sexy prospect comes her way and this one is ready to play. Justin's not shy about telling Stacy exactly what he wants. She plans to have her way with both him and Evan until she finds out they're close friends. This could be awkward or this could be the most exhilarating experience of Stacy's life. She decides to take the plunge by coming between friends--in more ways than one.

Between Friends is a 21,000 word erotica novella.

Friends with Benefits Series:
Between Friends
Friends and Lovers

Visit Vristen Pierce's website for more information

Review:
Stacy has just been dumped by her long term boyfriend and had her heart broken so she's sworn off of relationships, that doesn't mean she can't have a little fun though so she sets out to find herself a one night stand. She is attracted to the cute bartender Evan but ends up taking his best friend Justin home with her. They have a great night but don't exchange contact details and a week later she still can't get Evan out of her head. She goes back to the bar hoping to find him but would it be weird to take him to bed when he knows she slept with his best friend?

I enjoy reading a good ménage story to make a change sometimes so I was looking forward to reading Between Friends. It's a fairly short novella so I was expecting a hot read with very little in the way of relationship development and I guess that's exactly what I got but even so I have to admit it was missing something. I had a hard time connecting to Stacy, at the start she comes across as a fairly liberated woman who wants to take control of her life and enjoy herself which is great but I had trouble believing her actions. She didn't take a second to think about her safety when she takes a complete stranger back to her home after a five minute conversation and she does the exact same thing the following week with a guy she's had 2 short conversations with. I know it's a novella and things have to move fast but it just didn't feel realistic and that bothered me.

Her first encounter with Evan was pretty much an exact repeat of the one she had with Justin, the positions varied slightly but not enough to make things interesting to read about, the sex scenes felt very formulaic and I was bored when reading them. She then proceeds to go back and forth between the two guys, there is no secret in the fact that she is seeing them both which was good but there was also no mention of the three of them spending any time together until the day they decide to have a threesome. It seemed to come out of nowhere and if I'm honest the scene wasn't particularly well written either. It wasn't horrific but it definitely wasn't a turn on.

To top it all off you have a cliffhanger ending that I'm guessing is supposed to encourage you to read the sequel when it releases next year. Unfortunately in this case it had the opposite effect. I don't care about any of the characters, I didn't believe the feelings they had for each other and I'm not interested in seeing how things turn out for them so I won't be carrying on with the series. It's disappointing but there are a lot of really good ménage stories out there so I don't need to waste my time on mediocre ones.

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.

Kindle:

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Come Join the Epic Group Read of the Harry Potter Series!


So my friend Cory (known as Litchick on Goodreads) has been organising an epic group read of the Harry Potter series, we currently have 98 people taking part and I think that number is sure to increase now that we've started reading and are all talking about it non-stop. Cory has set up a group on Goodreads so we can chat about the books as we're reading them, everyone has been sorted into Houses (see details below) and we've all been making new friends as we stalk each other's reviews and status updates while we read.

If you'd like to join the fun go to Cory's review HERE, leave a comment and she'll invite you to join the group. We've already started the first book but lots of people are still reading so you have plenty of time to catch up.

It's time to go back to HOGWARTS!!!

The aim is to read one book a week (although we may end up taking longer with the last few books since they're so much bigger than the earlier ones) so the current schedule is:

Monday 18th of November - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (the first book is called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone if you're in the US)

Monday 25th of November - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Monday 2nd of December - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Monday 9th of December - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Monday 16th of December - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Monday 23rd of December - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Monday 30th of December - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


Once you've signed up to take part in the group read (because come on who can resist a Harry Potter re-read??? Just look at that adorable little face!) the first thing you need to do is sit down comfortably and slip on the Sorting Hat to discover which house you're in.


Now I know Harry, Ron and Hermione are all in Gryffindor but this is where the real party is at:



Welcome to HUFFLEPUFF HOUSE! Our emblem is the badger, an animal that is often underestimated, because it lives quietly until attacked. Our house colours are yellow and black, and our common room lies one floor below the ground, on the same corridor as the kitchens.

Traits: Kindness, loyalty, hard work, patience, fairness, just, devotion and trustworthy.

Notable people: Tonks, Cedric Diggory, Professor Pomona Sprout.


I've already reviewed Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone HERE so I won't be reviewing it again now that I've reread it. I will be reviewing the other books as I read them though so look out for lots of Harry Potter fun over the next few weeks. I would really love to see more of my blogging friends join in the madness so please do go to Cory's review HERE to sign up to take part! If you don't have time to read the books you should at least take the Sorting Hat Quiz HERE and leave me a comment to let me know which house you're in!

Are you ready to go back to school?

You have just enough time for a hearty breakfast in the Great Hall before lessons start . . .

. . . but the first class is Double Potions with Professor Snape so you'd better get a move on - you don't want to be late!

Luckily you have some good friends to watch your back . . .

. . . and to help you out when you're struggling in your lessons!


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Extract & Giveaway: Her Sexiest Mistake - Jill Shalvis

I'm a massive fan of Jill Shalvis's Lucky Harbor series, she writes such brilliant contemporary romances - full of humour, great characters, fun family dynamics and friendships and wonderful heroes and heroines. So I can't wait to read Jill's newest digital release Her Sexiest Mistake. To celebrate the release Jill is giving away 25 copies to lucky readers. Before we get to the giveaway let me give you a bit more information about the book:

Mia Appleby finally has the life she always wanted. She's escaped her trailer trash childhood and built a nice life for herself with a marketing job and a cute, little condo. But no matter how much baggage she's ditched from her past, she still hasn't managed to shake her greatest weakness-men. So when her new neighbor turns out to be single and oh-so-sexy,Mia's worried she's playing with fire . . .

Kevin McKnight can't get enough of his gorgeous neighbor, but after one amazing night, she's already showing him the door. Something tells him this is the way she handles most men. But Kevin is far from your average guy-and he's ready to prove it to Mia. When a blast from her past shakes up Mia's life in a major way, will she stick with her self-sufficient solo act . . . or take a chance leaning on Kevin's strong shoulders?


Author Bio:
New York Times Bestselling author Jill Shalvis wrote RESCUE MY HEART and FOREVER AND A DAY, along with many other romance novels including her acclaimed Lucky Harbor series. The Rita winner and 3-time National Readers Choice winner makes her home near Lake Tahoe. Visit her website at http://www.jillshalvis.com for a complete book list and daily blog, and http://www.facebook.com/jillshalvis for other news.

Website - http://jillshalvis.com
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22370.Jill_Shalvis
Twitter - https://twitter.com/JillShalvis/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/JillShalvis

********************

Extract from Her Sexiest Mistake by Jill Shalvis:
(posted with permission from Grand Central Publishing)

The kiss started out sweet, soft, but cranked to intense quickly, a hot, deep, wet connection that reminded her that their bodies knew each other, craved each other like air, and that being this close was inviting the inexplicable maelstrom that occurred every time she let him put his hands on her. She stopped thinking then, just let herself feel, starting with the pure sensation of his solid, hard-muscled body against hers and ending with the heat of his mouth as he deepened the kiss.

He put his hands on her now, in her hair, holding her face, then with a groan glided them down her body, touching everything he could as he trapped her between the hard desk and his tough body. He stroked her breasts, then slid his hands beneath her clothes to warm her flesh with his hands, and the simmer burst into flames.

When he finally pulled back, she was grateful to have the desk behind her holding her up, because he’d just decimated her, burst right through her every single defense with one simple kiss.

Simple? Ha! She’d never been kissed, so thoroughly, so deliberately, so absolutely fully.

He staggered back a step himself, looking surprised and just as shaky. “There,” he said in a voice low and ragged and satisfyingly hoarse. “You’re finally speechless. I like you that way.”

She stared at him, let out a sound of disgust, and pushed past him to the door. “You’re an ass.”

She slammed the door behind her, a gaffe that surely announced in a scream how he affected her, but she couldn’t seem to help it. No more, she told herself. No more. She was Mia Appleby, ad exec, queen of her world, and no one made her crazy. She kept her cool at all times.

********************

Giveaway Details:

25 lucky winners will each receive a digital copy of Her Sexiest Mistake by Jill Shalvis.

You can enter using the rafflecopter form below. Winners will be chosen and announced by Grand Central Publishing and they will contact the winners directly to arrange sending out the prizes.

a
Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Review: Fire Study - Maria V. Snyder

The battle of her life has begun

In the barren territory of Sitia, power comes at a price. Yelena Zaltana possesses the most terrifying magic in the district - the ability to capture and release souls.

While the sinister Sitian council meet to decide her fate, Yelena must capture a Soulstealer, her dark counterpart, until she discovers someone far more dangerous.

And in the war between good and evil, there can only ever be one victor.

The Chronicles of Ixia:
Poison Study
Assassin Study (Short Story)
Magic Study
Fire Study
Power Study (Short Story)
Ice Study (Short Story)
Storm Glass
Sea Glass
Spy Glass
Shadow Study
Night Study
Shattered Glass (Novella)
Dawn Study

Visit Maria V. Snyder's website for more information

Review:
I have become a huge fan of Maria V. Snyder since I first read Touch of Power last year and my experience with her Chronicles of Ixia series has just cemented her as one of my favourite YA fantasy authors. I'm beginning to think she can do no wrong because every single time I pick up one of her books I'm completely pulled into the world she has created and am captivated by her characters. I have come to love Yelena, Valek and their friends and I'm sad to say goodbye to them now that their part of the series has come to an end. I'm looking forward to getting to know side characters better in the next part of the series but I do hope we'll see appearances from some familiar faces too because I want to know how they get on in the future.

I have loved learning about Yelena's magical abilities and in Fire Study we get to see skills really put to the test. She failed to destroy the Soulstealer in Magic Study so she must go up against them once again but now they know of her powers they have been able to prepare for her attempt to stop them. The enemy she is facing has powerful allies who will stop at nothing to destroy Yelena and she has never been more at risk. Unfortunately there isn't anyone who can help her master her powers, knowledge of Soulfinders has been lost over the years because her abilities are so rare so Yelena has to work out a lot of things on her own. Thankfully she has good friends and people who care about her but letting them close enough to help just puts them at even more risk. Yelena has to decide who to trust and find a way to keep them safe while they work alongside her.

I don't want to say too much more about the plot for fear of giving spoilers so I'll just tell you that this is just as action packed as the first two books, there is so much going on and the characters are really up against it. We get to explore more of both Sitia and Ixia, spend time with familiar faces and get to know some not so familiar ones. It was really nice to learn a bit more about Opal who is the heroine of the next three books in the series and I'm really looking forward to finding out more about her glass blowing skills and the beautiful things she creates.

If you enjoyed the first two books in the series then I'm sure you'll love Fire Study just as much, the characters are in for a tough time but the ending was perfect and left me with a happy smile on my face. I had guessed at who was in league with the Soulstealer but I think we were supposed to and that didn't stop my enjoyment of the story. I can't recommend this series highly enough for fantasy fans but you definitely need to read the books in order starting with Poison Study. I'm just so relieved I have three more books already available to read - I know I'm going to be devouring them very soon.

Source: Received from Mira Ink 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, 18 November 2013

Review: Roman Holiday Part 2: Hitched - Ruthie Knox

Ruthie Knox’s eBook original serial, Roman Holiday, continues in Episode 2, as Ashley and Roman flee an oncoming hurricane by hitting the highway—only to encounter some outrageous bumps in the road.

Roman Díaz isn’t thrilled about being forced to evacuate Ashley Bowman from the Florida Keys—and that’s before he sees the decrepit Airstream trailer she wants to hook up to his shiny new Escalade. Ashley’s in way over her head, and the only way she knows to beat Roman is to get some help from a friend . . . in Georgia. She can put up with Roman’s fury at the unexpected detour, no problem. It’s the bizarre thrum of attraction between them that she could do without. And yet there’s something about being hitched to Roman that makes Ashley never want to let go.

Roman Holiday:
Chained (Episode 1)
Hitched (Episode 2)
Blindsided (Episode 3)
Ravaged (Episode 4)
Ignited (Episode 5)
Roman Holiday: The Adventure Begins (Bind up of episodes 1-5)
Roman Holiday: The Adventure Continues (Bind up of episodes 5-10)
Roman Holiday: The Complete Adventure (Bind up of episodes 1-10)

Visit Ruthie Knox's website for more information.

Review:
I really enjoyed the first instalment to the Roman Holiday serial Chained so I couldn't wait to start reading Hitched. The first part had introduced the main characters but hadn't given us much of a chance to get to know either of them so it was great to learn a bit more about both Roman and Ashley's backgrounds and the kind of people they are. These two really are complete opposites but they actually have more in common than you'd expect thanks to their childhoods. They both felt unwanted and unloved as children but Ashley was lucky enough to find a bond with her grandmother as a teenager and that has given her a sense of security that Roman has never had. He has always been on his own and it goes a long way to explaining why he is so driven and determined to succeed - he just wants to prove everyone who doubted him wrong and show that he is worthy of having a family.

I have to say my heart went out to them both as we learnt more about their pasts and it made me want to see them both fulfil their dreams. I'm not sure quite how Ruthie Knox is going to pull that off though because they both want totally different things. I'm sure she'll find a way though and it will be interesting to see how things play out. I enjoyed seeing how much Roman underestimates Ashley, he thinks of her as a flake who will easily give up on her goals but it doesn't take long for him to realise that there is a steel core inside her. Ashley has nothing left to lose so she isn't afraid to play dirty to get what she wants, she takes great pleasure in pushing Roman out of his comfort zone and deliberately tries to rile him up just to get a reaction. Roman is quite a stick in the mud so I think he needs someone like Ashley to teach him how to let loose and have fun but at the moment he is really fighting against it.

In some ways it's hard to see how these two are going to end up a couple, on the surface they seem so mismatched that to think of them together is almost laughable but there is definitely chemistry there. I also get a strong feeling that their very different personalities will help bring out good qualities in each other, that they'll both learn from each other and grow closer together because of their differences rather than in spite of them. Whatever happens between them it's sure to be an interesting journey, especially now they've arrived at Ashley's friends home - a hippy commune in the middle of the swamp - I can't wait to see how Roman reacts to having to spend time there!

Source: Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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