Thursday 31 July 2014

Review: Dirty Angels by Karina Halle

  Dirty Angels by Karina Halle book cover

Title: Dirty Angels
Author: Karina Halle
Series: Dirty Angels, #1
Format: Kindle
My rating: 4.5 / 5
Setting: Mexico
Pages: 309

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**warning: this book contains situations which might be triggers for some people. Please see the bottom of this description to see if this is the kind of book that you'll love or piss you off**

For Luisa Chavez, a twenty-three year old former beauty queen, a better life has always been just out of her reach. Sure, she’s had men at her feet since she was a young teenager but she’s never had the one thing she’s craved – security. Having grown up in near poverty, her waitressing job in Cabo San Lucas can barely let her take care of herself, let alone her ailing parents. Every day is another unwanted advance, every day is a struggle to survive.

When Salvador Reyes, the depraved leader of a major Mexican cartel, takes an interest in her, Luisa is presented with an opportunity she can’t afford to pass up. She’ll become Salvador’s wife and exchange her freedom and body for a life of riches – riches she can bestow upon her deserving parents. But Luisa quickly finds out that even the finest wines and jewels can’t undo the ugliness in her marriage, nor the never-ending violence that threatens her every move.

Soon, Luisa is looking for an escape, a way out of the carefully controlled life she’s leading. She finally gets her wish in the worst way possible.

As it is, being the wife of Salvador makes her an ideal target for rival cartels and there’s one particular man who needs Luisa as part of his cartel’s expansion. One particular man whose quest for power has destroyed lives, slit throats and gotten him out of an American prison. One particular man who will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants.

That man is Javier Bernal. And he wants Luisa. He wants to take her, keep her, ruin her.

Unless she ruins him first.

***While this is a spin-off of The Artists Trilogy, prior knowledge of the books is not needed. DIRTY ANGELS is the first in a trilogy, however each book can standalone and follows or introduces different characters***

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

Well, Javier is just as twisted as I remembered! Take the warnings seriously, I definitely don’t think this book will be suitable for the squeamish, or anyone reluctant to read the themes mentioned in the blurb. I do think the blurb sums up the story perfectly, so I’m not going to summarise it again.

I loved The Artist’s Trilogy, and while I always preferred Camden, Javier was one of those characters that stuck with me, and I was so curious about him. He was always the enigma slightly on the outside of that story, and when I saw he was getting his own book, I knew I’d jump at the chance to see inside his head.

I would strongly recommend reading all the books in The Artist’s Trilogy, including On Every Street, before starting Dirty Angels. I feel it’s a necessity to be able to fully appreciate Javier’s personality. He is one of the most complex characters I have ever read about. He has so many layers, and seeing him go from his most deranged, to kind of sweet and then back again is one heck of a mind-fuck! He isn’t a nice guy - never has been - but there is a thread of vulnerability and compassion just below the surface that draws you in and made me root for him in Dirty Angels. For me, he is the prefect representation of someone you love to hate, or hate that you love!

I hate to say, but Luisa faded into the background quite a bit. Javier’s personality is just that strong, he completely dominated the book. I will say, she turns out to be every bit as twisted as Javier, and from that respect, she is the perfect match for him. She had to accept the ways of Mexican drug cartels extremely quickly in order to survive her marriage. I can’t help but feel it was slightly too convenient at times. It’s strange; she is the only character Halle has created that I didn’t fully click with. I could sympathise with her, but I didn’t fully empathise at any stage.

As always, I loved the writing style. The story was perfectly paced and kept me wanting to read more and more. The way Karina explored the drug cartel life is phenomenal. There is a realism and authentic atmosphere to the way they are described, and sometimes what happens is very shocking, but this only adds to the atmosphere and keeps drawing you in. She isn’t afraid to tackle taboo and controversial topics, and I really admire her for this. She allows her characters – certainly Javier in this case – the freedom to tell their own stories without being bound by a set of genre “rules”.

I always find Karina’s books the hardest to rate. If I’m comparing Dirty Angels to a book by a different author, it easily would get 5 stars. All of her books have ended up in their own little bubble in my mind, and I end up rating them against each other, and that’s why I’ve given it 4.5. I can’t wait to continue on with this series, and the next book will reintroduce us to another familiar character: Javier’s sister, Alana! This should be good!

Wednesday 30 July 2014

WoW #20 What If by Rebecca Donovan

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

What If by Rebecca Donovan book cover

What If by Rebecca Donovan

Expected publication: September 16th 2014

Genres: Contemporary; New Adult

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A new novel by the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Breathing Series . . .

What if you had a second chance to meet someone for the first time?

Cal Logan is shocked to see Nicole Bentley sitting across from him at a coffee shop thousands of miles from their hometown. After all, no one has seen or heard from her since they graduated over a year ago.

Except this girl isn't Nicole.

She looks exactly like Cal's shy childhood crush, but her name is Nyelle Preston and she has no idea who he is. This girl is impulsive and daring, her passion for life infectious. The complete opposite of Nicole. Cal finds himself utterly fascinated-and falling hard. But Nyelle is also extremely secretive. And the closer he comes to finding out what she's hiding, the less he wants to know.

When the secrets from the past and present collide, one thing becomes clear: Nothing is what it seems.

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Breathing series, but I was left very disappointed with the final book. When I saw that Rebecca Donovan had a new book coming out, I’m definitely going to try it. I want to get over that let down. It’s a standalone as far as I know, and it sounds awesome! I don’t know why the blurb sort of reminds me of Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout. What If seems to be completely different though! *Shrugs* I loved that book, and hopefully I’ll like this one just as much.

What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme run by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From.

I’ve stuck with books that are actually on my bookshelves – physical or virtual – right now. If I had to dig through my old books, this would be a completely different list of authors!

 Agatha Christie photo

Agatha Christie

49 books

Yes. This shocked me as well. I knew I had built up a collection of her mysteries over the years, but I didn’t realise it had gotten this bad!

 Karina Halle photo

Karina Halle

21 books

If Karina writes it, I shall read it. All of these are eBooks unfortunately. I need to get the entire EIT series in paperback. NEED! Oh, and The Artist’s Trilogy. Yeah, OK and Love In English…

Monday 28 July 2014

I will read you – one day! I promise…

Hi, I’m Alma, and I’m a book buying addict.

I hope I’m not alone with this little problem. I have so many physical books sitting on my TBR bookshelf* that I know will take me at least two or three months to get through half of them. Don’t even get me started with the amount of eBooks I have – that runs into the hundreds (probably closer to four figures actually. Thankfully the majority are freebies!) And what do I do? I order another three physical books and one-click five more eBooks. Yeah. I’ll never learn.

(* Yup, only one bookshelf. I don’t have that much space, and I limit all my TBR’s that I really want to read to just one shelf. The result? BOXES of books I haven’t read! But that’s another story…)

There is a little problem I’ve noticed: once I start a series, a little voice insists that I. Have. To. Finish. It. NOW! As my local bookshops rarely carry any books I want to read, I turn to the wonderful interwebs and bargain shop to my little hearts content. This little obsession of mine isn’t exactly new.

See these books?

Well, erm, most of them have been sitting around the house since April. That would be April of 2013.

When I bought them, I had every intention of reading them as soon as I could. There isn’t anything wrong with the books – it’s me. Pretty, shiny new releases come along and I get side tracked.

Then there is the little matter of these lovely chunky books…

Oh yeah. I'll definitely never learn! I need to make some headway or else it’ll get to the stage I won’t have any bookshelves left for books I’ve actually read!

So here goes: I promise I will read these five pretties in August. (And I do give advanced permission to call me out on it if I don’t complete them by August 31st!)

I’ve been putting Breakable off for the past few weeks. I’ve seen lots of low ratings, and I’m terrified it’ll affect my opinions of Easy if I dislike this one. I hope I like it, but I’m not holding my breath. Throne of Glass will be the main one I’m almost certain I will love. Seraphina would be a close second. I’m a little indecisive about My Soul to Take. A book based on the banshee? Is this a wise topic for an Irish person to read? Umm, almost all Irish families have had a run in with a real bean sí at some stage down the years, my own family included. I really don’t want it to be a repeat of Carrier of the Mark… *fingers crossed* it won’t be!

What books have you bought that you meant to read, but are gathering dust instead? I hope I’m not the only one this has happened to!

Sunday 27 July 2014

Sunday Post, #7 - July 2014

The Sunday Post at Journey Through Fiction blog

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news, recap what has happened on the blog, what is upcoming and anything everything in between.

Anyone can participate as long as you:

-- Enter your link on the post- Sundays beginning at 12:01 am(CST) (link will be open all week)

-- Link back to Caffeinated Book Reviewers blog

-- Visit others who have linked up

July Re-Cap

It feels like forever since I wrote a re-cap post. Back in June, I struggled with what seemed like a never ending stream of OK books, or books that just didn’t work for me. I’m SO glad July turned out a million times better! I took away all pressure I was putting on myself, and started to just read for me. It worked out so well, I loved every book I read this month! I've noticed I'm reading a lot slower and I'm connecting with the stories so much easier. Maybe this is just down to my book choice, who knows! It's so nice to be enjoying reading again. The only catch is I need to catch up on some ARC's and review requests, but hopefully I'll get around to them all in August.

The weather has been absolutely beautiful the past few weeks – average 26C (78F) – and clear blue skies most days. This is IRELAND!! What the heck is happening? We’ve actually had a summer this year! I did attempt to get a tan… but instead of going a beautiful golden brown… I turn pink. No word of a lie. Oh the joys of Irish skin! :D

Any Gamers? How about a free game?

I know some of my fellow readers are also gamers, and I wanted to give a little heads up on something I think is pretty sweet. And it’s free! Even better!

I’ve been a big gaming addict for as long as I had access to a computer, and one series I think the majority of people have heard of is The Sims franchise. Electronic Arts (EA) is retiring The Sims 2 before the release of The Sims 4 in September.

Origin (EA’s online platform) has released the entire Sims 2 Ultimate Collection for FREE and this includes all the expansion packs and stuff packs.

If you’ve been curious about the trying out the game (like me!), now is the perfect time. All you need is an Origin account (which is also free to set up), go to the product redemption page, and enter this code: I-LOVE-THE-SIMS

It does have a huge file size, 12+ GB’s, but you don’t have to download it immediately. The offer ends July 31st 2014, at 10am PDT, so if anyone is interested, use the code ASAP! As you can see from this clip, yes, I did take advantage of this offer myself. Also, if you know anyone who’d be interested, pass the code along!

On the Blog Recently

Review: The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade
Five Friday Favourites: Five Favourite Secondary Characters
Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Review: Immortal City by Scott Speer
Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Discussion: How Realistic Do You Like Your Ficiton?
Life of a Blogger: Favourite Sports Teams

Books I Read Recently

Posts I loved

Eltoria Secrets: How To Make Your Own Lip Scrub -- So easy to make, and with stuff in the cupboard!

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction: Can Insta-love ever work?

Jenny @ Reading on the Farm: Signing up for NetGalley -- I love reading about other peoples experiences on NetGalley and the like. I know I went a bit mad when I first signed up, hence why I'm making myself stay away for as long as I can! It's way too tempting!

Cait and Mime @ Notebook Sisters: 55 Questions About Books, Part 1 -- I love these two, they always make my day!

Soundtrack for the Week

I honour of the summer, I've chosen the appropriate song:

Summer -- Calvin Harris

Saturday 26 July 2014

Review: The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade book cover

Title: The Ghost and the Goth
Author: Stacey Kade
Series: The Ghost and the Goth, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 4.5 / 5
Pages: 304

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Alona Dare–Senior in high school, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, Homecoming Queen three years in a row, voted most likely to marry a movie star…and newly dead.

I’m the girl you hated in high school. Is it my fault I was born with it all-good looks, silky blond hair, a hot bod, and a keen sense of what everyone else should not be wearing? But my life isn’t perfect, especially since I died. Run over by a bus of band geeks—is there anything more humiliating? As it turns out, yes—watching your boyfriend and friends move on with life, only days after your funeral. And you wouldn’t believe what they’re saying about me now that they think I can’t hear them. To top it off, I’m starting to disappear, flickering in and out of existence. I don’t know where I go when I’m gone, but it’s not good. Where is that freaking white light already?

Will Killian–Senior in high school, outcast, dubbed “Will Kill” by the popular crowd for the unearthly aura around him, voted most likely to rob a bank…and a ghost-talker.

I can see, hear, and touch the dead. Unfortunately, they can also see, hear and touch me. Yeah, because surviving high school isn’t hard enough already. I’ve done my best to hide my “gift.” After all, my dad, who shared my ability, killed himself because of it when I was fifteen. But lately, pretending to be normal has gotten a lot harder. A new ghost—an anonymous, seething cloud of negative energy with the capacity to throw me around—is pursuing me with a vengeance. My mom, who knows nothing about what I can do, is worrying about the increase in odd incidents, my shrink is tossing around terms like “temporary confinement for psychiatric evaluation,” and my principal, who thinks I’m a disruption and a faker, is searching for every way possible to get rid of me. How many weeks until graduation?

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

I absolutely loved The Ghost and the Goth! This book has been on my must read list for a couple of years and I never got around to getting a copy. I am so thankful I finally got my hands on it, and that I loved it every bit as much as I was expecting to. Ok, prepare for lots of fangirling.

The story begins with Alona Dare sneaking out of school. She is the high school princess, right at the top of the popularity food chain. Unfortunately things take a turn for the worst for our heroine, when she’s hit by a bus. And dies. While she begins to settle into her after life as a ghost, one of her biggest fears is losing her popularity and fading into obscurity. Being invisible to the general school population isn’t all it’s cracked up to be: she finds out her friends move on a little too quickly for her liking, amongst other things. In the middle of her devastation, she realises Will Killian, the “biggest weirdo-loser of all time” can see her. Even in death she’s an attention seeker, and does her best to haunt Will until he has no choice but to listen to her. Will can see, touch, hear and speak to the dead. There is no off switch to the endless chattering, but he does his best to ignore them. Acting like a regular person is virtually impossible, and we find out he’s been seeing a psychologist who is convinced he needs to be locked up in a padded room. Add Alona to the mix, and things begin to get worse.

I don’t think The Ghost and the Goth is going to be life-changing for anyone, but from an entertainment perspective – and the ability to help me out of a reading slump – it’s next to perfect! I will admit that I didn’t click with Alona at the start. It took a couple of chapters to begin seeing there is much more to her character than first appearances. She takes the superficial, popular bitchy girl to the nth degree, but we can see signs right from the prologue that this is just a mask. Will, on the other hand, I liked from the start. The best part of the book, in my opinion, is the dialogue and banter between Will and Alona. It’s so entertaining to read, and these moments when Will and Alona are together helped me connect with both characters completely. I had the biggest grin on my face when I was reading, I loved it!

The story is told in the first person, with alternating chapters from both Will and Alona’s POV’s. They both have distinctive voices, which I absolutely loved. I was able to distinguish between both narratives without having to glance at the name at the beginning of the chapter. This is such a huge positive for me, as I’ve read so many split POV’s where the narrators sound essentially the same. It’s such a treat to read a story where this is handled so well.

Another huge plus: no insta-love! I swear a choir of angels sing whenever I find a book without insta-love. The romantic aspect of the book, while it happens quickly, was realistic. Both characters started out very distant and unwilling to connect with the other based on their preconceived ideas and things that happened in the past. When these barriers were slowly taken down, the way things progressed was believably portrayed and I loved seeing the story unfolding from both perspectives.

Yet, another positive: the ending was wrapped up nicely, with a few hooks to get you interested in considering continuing on with the series. I definitely will be continuing, but I love that it gives me the option. I don’t feel forced to continue on, or cheated out of an ending.

While I’ll try to get as many people as possible to give this book a shot, I think The Ghost and the Goth is excellent for character driven readers. I’m very character focused, and it’s no secret that the one thing I keep mentioning in my reviews is whether I connected with the characters or not. I’m reluctant to give the book a 5, even though I think it deserves it, hence my 4.5 rating. As it’s a trilogy, and this is only the first book, I’m giving some room for the series to grow, and I do think the next book will get better. Can’t wait to start Queen of the Dead!

Friday 25 July 2014

Five Favourite Secondary Characters

Five Friday Favourites is a weekly event hosted by Amanda over at Book Badger. Each week she chooses a subject and everyone is welcome to join in and answer the question. Check out this link for more information and the future subjects.

Five Favourite Secondary Characters

I love the topic this week. It’s not often secondary characters get some love, and I’m terribly guilty of this. My main focus is always on the main character(s) and the others get swept aside. When I was looking through my read books to pick out my five favourite secondary characters, it hit home that for over half the books I can’t actually remember too much about any secondary characters. I get vague impressions, but nothing in great detail, certainly not enough to class them as a favourite. In a strange way, this made it easier to choose only five! These characters immediately came to mind, and I knew I had to include them on the list.

Under the Never Sky book cover

1. Roar

Under the Never Sky trilogy by Veronica Rossi

Obsidian book cover

2. Dee Black

Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Hunger Games book cover

3. Finnick Odair

The Hunger Games by Susan Collins

Angelfall book cover

4. Dee-Dum

Angelfall by Susan Ee

Twilight book cover

5. Alice and Jasper Cullen

Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

Roar instantly comes to mind when I think of secondary characters. I loved his character through the entire series, and if I’m honest, I think his presence overshadowed Perry and Aria a couple of times. Dee Black is another that instantly comes to mind. She’s such a bubbly character, and I missed her presence at times in the last couple of books. And Finnick. When he first appeared in the books, I wasn’t too sure what to make of him. As the story continues both in Catching Fire and in Mockingjay, he became one of my favourites from the trilogy, after Katniss and Peeta. Dee and Dum, or Dee-Dum, are twins that have made the angel’s invasion in Angelfall really benefit them. I love the banter between them and other characters, and I can’t help smiling whenever they show up in the story. And finally the series that causes so much division: Twilight. Alice and Jasper are two secondary characters that I felt could have had so much more impact on the story than they did. I was caught up in the Bella and Edward bubble when I read the series, but now, looking back, Alice and Jasper are just as memorable.

What do you think? Who are some of your favourite secondary characters?

Wednesday 23 July 2014

WoW #19 Trial by Fire

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Trial by Fire book cover

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Expected publication: September 2nd 2014

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

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Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted...which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

I love when I take part in Waiting on Wednesday and I stumble across a new release by an author I’ve liked in the past, but I didn’t know were about to release a new book. Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini is one of those books, and I came across it a couple of months ago. The Salem witches? A New Salem? Parallel universe? It sounds amazing! I loved Angelini’s Starcrossed series, and I can’t wait to see if Trial by Fire will be just as good.

What do you think? Any book you can't wait to read? Feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments so I can come visit!

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Ten Characters I'd Want With Me on a Deserted Island

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme run by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island, and we can put whatever spin on the topic we'd like.

I love the topic this week. I’m not sure exactly how to approach it, I mean, should I be all practical and go with survival skills? Or should I just do for yummy character-candy? Maybe both? Sounds good to me!

This list isn’t in any particular order, and the links are to each books Goodreads page.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Susan Collins book cover

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark

The Hunger Games trilogy by Susan Collins

It might be a little cruel to dump these two on a deserted island after everything that’s happened, but since it’s my list, we’ll go with it.

It’s common knowledge Katniss is good with a bow, and has lots of survival skills and Peeta is, well, Peeta! On the practical side, he’s an excellent people person, and I could see him being the diplomatic one, bringing everyone together.

On a less than practical note, Katniss and Peeta are two of my three favourite characters from The Hunger Games, (Finnick being the other) and I’d love to see more of their stories.

Monday 21 July 2014

Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling book cover

Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Author: J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 4.5 / 5
Pages: 223

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Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That's because he's being raised by his miserable muggle aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he's really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend Hogwarts school for witchcraft and wizardry and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

How, how, HOW am I supposed to review this?! I don’t think it’s possible at this stage, all the praise has been said before and I’ll be joining saying the same things as everyone else. This won’t be a review as such, more along the lines of my reactions to finally reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, over a decade late! (Yes, that decade part made me feel old!)

When I finish a book, and the story still lives on in my mind weeks later and it keeps getting better, I’m pretty certain I’ve found a new favourite series. It’s only happened to me a handful of times in the past, but when it does, it’s such an amazing feeling. Reading about all the people and places I’ve heard so much about, but knew so little, was so special: Dumbledore, Hagrid, Voldemort, quidditch, platform 9-and-three-quarters, Hogwarts (!!) and how can we forget: Harry, Ron and Hermione.

My biggest concern from the start was the third person POV, as I’ve found at times I struggle to fully connect with the characters when their stories are told this way, and I’m a very character focused reader. I greatly prefer books in the first person, but that’s just a personal taste thing. I’m so glad to say it didn’t bother me at all! I absolutely loved Harry from the first couple of chapters. How can you not instantly connect with him? And Hermione and Ron! I absolutely adored seeing the beginnings of one of the most famous fictional friendships of our time. I did get all choked up when I read:

“But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other. And knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.”

I loved the world-building side of the story, and Hogwarts is so vividly described it almost becomes a character in itself. The only slight negative I have was that the writing was a little too middle-grade if I’m honest, but I was warned about this before starting, so at least I was prepared. I’ve been told books further on in the series have a more YA feel, and I can’t wait to continue on with the next six books! What’s awesome is I’m pretty sure the rest of the series gets progressively better, so I know I’ll have six books to read I know I’m going to love!

Friday 18 July 2014

Funny YouTube Videos: Mrs Brown's Boys - F&F #10

Feature and Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. The goal is to increase blog followers and to make new friends. If you want to take part, answer the question posted and add your post to the linky, follow the hosts and the featured blogs, and hop from blog to blog leaving a comment to say hello, and following other bloggers.

This Weeks Question:

Share A Funny YouTube Video

Technically, Mrs Brown’s Boys is a TV show, but they have promo clips on YouTube. It’s an Irish comedy featuring everyone’s favourite mammy, Mrs Agnes Brown, created and starring Brendan O'Carroll and his family. It’s absolutely hilarious, but I don’t think it’s on air in the US. I’ve managed to narrow it down to one, but I’ve left a couple of links to other clips if anyone’s interested in having a look!

I have to give a warning: it’s not for the young’uns. (Or for those easily offended!)

Mrs Brown Makes Rory Laugh

Mrs Brown's Grandson

Mrs Brown and the Mormons

Mrs Brown on Drugs

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Thursday 17 July 2014

Review: Immortal City by Scott Speer

Immortal City by Scott Speer book cover

Title: Immortal City
Author: Scott Speer
Series: Immortal City, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 3.5 / 5
Setting: Los Angeles, CA
Pages: 406

Add to Goodreads

Jackson Godspeed is the hottest young Angel in a city filled with them. He's days away from becoming a full Guardian, and people around the world are already competing for the chance to be watched over by him. Everyone's obsessed with the Angels and the lucky people they protect - everyone except for Madison Montgomery.

Maddy's the one girl in Angel City who doesn't breathlessly follow the Angels on TV and gossip blogs. When she meets Jackson, she doesn't recognize him. But Jackson is instantly captivated by her, and against all odds the two fall in love.

Maddy is swiftly caught up in Jackson's scene, a world of glamour, paparazzi - and murder. A serial killer is on the loose, leaving dead Angels' wings for the police to find on the Walk of Fame. Even the Guardians are powerless to protect themselves in the face of this threat … and this time it's up to Maddy to save Jackson.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

Immortal City has left me very indecisive (this seems to be the story of my life lately!): on one hand I really like the idea behind it, but on the other, I can obsess over lots of things that bothered me. The best way to describe the story is to take a dose of True Blood, but nix the vampires and replace them with angels. Move the setting to LA, and have every human obsess over the angels who are essentially the celebrities of the Immortal City world. Add a pinch of mystery, mix all of this with back-to-back episodes of The Hills, TMZ and E! and every celebrity cliché you can think of, and you'll have a pretty good idea what the book is about!

Immortal City is very visual. I felt like I was reading a movie, if that makes sense. All the imagery is crystal clear yet balanced, without falling into overly descriptive territory. Speer’s background as a movie director really shines through, and while I thought it worked out pretty well, it took quite a bit of getting used to. The big picture is easily focused on, but the little things and emotional impact suffered as a result.

Maddy Montgomery and Jackson Godspeed are our two main characters, and for most of the book I quite liked them both. Maddy is human, and living with her uncle since her parents died. He owns and runs a diner, and Maddy helps out serving the tables both before and after school. Jackson is an angel at the top of the celebrity food chain, and he seeks refuge in the diner to escape the cops who are trailing him one evening, thus providing the perfect opportunity for our two characters to meet. Maddy knows what it’s like to struggle through life, and she’s not easily captivated by Jacks lifestyle or celebrity angel status. Jacks on the other hand, is used to people saying yes to everything he asks for, and this inevitably is one of the main issues that constantly crops up. And I really do mean constantly.

I liked both characters when I was reading the book, but the more time passes since I’ve finished, the more neutral I’m getting. Neither of them left any lasting impression on me, and I’m not sure if this is solely down to the narrative style, or they weren’t unique enough, or if it’s the frequency of POV switches. The story’s told in the third person, and sometimes I do struggle to fully connect with characters when this narrative is chosen.

Also, we have a third POV to contend with in Immortal City: Detective Sylvester. This was one of those points I could obsess over. Even now, I have no idea why his POV was needed. The only reason I can come up with is to info dump background information on both characters and how the world is governed by the angels. His voice didn’t blend into the story seamlessly, and I tried very hard not to skim over any of the sections where he was involved. I just didn’t care, and for me, it detracted from the flow of the plot.

There is a mystery arc, and I really liked the concept, but I don’t feel it delivered fully on its potential. I felt it was a bit too tame and didn’t manage to overshadow the celebrity culture enough. At times I didn’t buy into the threat posed to the characters. I think the materialistic side was explored a bit too much: at times I felt like I was drowning in brand names! Granted, this helped cement the celebrity lifestyle and all the privileges that go along with it, but for me, the cost was losing focus on the mystery elements.

Up to around page 300, Immortal City was destined for quite a high rating. Unfortunately, I thought the ending spoiled things. It felt like the last 150 pages of the book was the actual ending, and it was so dragged out that by the time the book was almost over, I was at drama overload and struggling not to lose interest. It’s such a shame, as this is the last impression I’m left with, and it sort of tainted my overall feelings about the book. I’m not sure if Immortal City will be for everyone. If you take a chance on it, I hope you love it, but my best advice is to keep expectations in check and it could turn out to be a good read.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

WoW #18: Dust to Dust by Karina Halle

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Dust to Dust by Karina Halle

Expected publication: July 29th 2014 by Metal Blonde Books

Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal

Add to Goodreads

Dust to Dust by Karina Halle book cover

The dramatic conclusion to the Experiment in Terror Series.

Perry Palomino and Dex Foray.

On their own, they’re uniquely brilliant. Together, they’re an unstoppable team.

Until now.

Because after everything the duo has encountered, they haven’t come across an evil quite like this. An evil that has been years in the making, an evil that will stop at nothing until they, and everyone they care for, are destroyed.

Dex and Perry’s love has survived a multitude of sins.

But can it survive the end?

This is one series I never want to end. I already know I’ll be heartbroken when I read the last page! I love both Perry and Dex. They’ve become more than characters in a book: they’ve jumped out of the pages and made me fall in love, and I’ll be classing them as two of my all-time favourite characters for a long time to come. Experiment in Terror is one series I'll continue to try to get every person even remotely interested in reading to try. Each book keeps getting better, and I already know I will love Dust to Dust, even if it leaves me a crumbled shell after I finish reading it!

What was your choice this week? Leave a link to your post if you created one, or tell us in the comments!

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder tensed her arm’s muscles until they were shaking. A snort came through the speakers, as if the disembodied voice was amused by her antics.

The android was well-programmed. Despite her rebellion, the needle punctured her vein on the first try. Cinder gasped.

A pinch. Just a pinch. The fight drained out of her as the clear liquid ran in.

-- Cinder, page 84

Cinder by Marissa Meyer book cover

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Add to Goodreads

What do you think? What's your teaser this week, leave a link you your post, so I can stop by, or tell us in the comments.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa book cover

Title: The Iron King
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: The Iron Fey, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 4.5 / 5
Pages: 363

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Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil, no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

Thank you Julie Kagawa, for getting me out of a reading slump! I loved The Iron King. I was so reluctant to start the book; I didn’t want my previous disappointments to influence or dictate my feelings. I wanted to love the book, and I’m glad I can say I did. I had very high expectations, and for the majority, they were met.

I loved the writing style. I enjoyed everything about it and it grabbed and held my attention. I adored the world building and the way the world is crafted. It’s appealing, easily imagined and the imagery and descriptions are so vibrant. I love the concept of the Nevernever, and further on in the book, how our new technology is having an effect on the fey and other myths and legends of old.

The characters are so likeable and their personalities jump out of the pages. I loved Megan. She is such a real teen, the way she thinks and expresses herself I though was really genuine. She’s a strong character with back-bone. The book is quite fast paced, and this forces Megan to accept things quickly, maybe a little too quickly? I understand that she never felt completely accepted in her home/school life, but it felt a little convenient that she accepted everything she learned almost instantaneously.

Megan isn’t the only character I connected with: I loved both Puck and Grimalkin. I couldn’t help picturing Grimalkin as Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, with the voice over included! When the characters pop out of the pages, and I can easily picture them interacting with each other, I’m a very happy reader. Puck’s humour and wit was so appealing, and mixing this in with Grimalkin’s snarky-ness, it was so entertaining to read.

The only character I didn’t connect with was Ash. I think I’m in the extreme minority with this, but I felt his character was very flat and cardboard like. I didn’t find him appealing at all. I was a lot happier reading about Megan, Grim and Puck. When Ash joined the story, things felt forced.

I’m glad to say the romance that blossomed didn’t overshadow the book. It’s a very small part of the story thankfully, as I felt what happens between Ash and Megan was strained and didn’t seem natural or believable. It came out of the blue, and I really didn’t see how their feelings progressed so quickly. This, and not enjoying Ash’s character, would be the only negatives I have about the book. Everything else I loved.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Review: Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep

Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep book cover

Title: Spider's Bite
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Elemental Assassin, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 3 / 5
Pages: 432

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“My name is Gin, and I kill people.”

My name is Gin Blanco. They call me the Spider—the most feared assassin in the South (and a part-time cook at the Pork Pit BBQ joint.) As a Stone elemental, I can hear the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet and feel the vibrations of the soaring mountains above me, though I don’t use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.

After a ruthless Air elemental double-crossed me and killed my handler, I’m out for revenge. And I’ll exterminate anyone who gets in my way. I may look hot in a miniskirt, but I’m still one of the bad guys. Which is why I’m in trouble when irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine agrees to help. The last thing a coldhearted killer needs when she’s battling a magic more powerful than her own is a sexy distraction... especially when he wants her dead just as much as the enemy.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

Spider’s Bite is the first book in the Elemental Assassin series, and in short, I did like the story. I went through an Urban Fantasy phase about five or six years ago, and I read every UF book I could get my hands on at the library. I think this is why I didn’t love Spider’s Bite: it blends in with every other UF book I’ve read. I don’t think it brought anything particularly new to the genre.

Gin is our main character and narrator, and the book gets off to an awesome start. She is an assassin for hire, and we’re thrown into the story mid-way through one of her hits. I mean, with an opening line “My name is Gin, and I kill people” I was almost positive I would adore every second. This part of the book was super-fast paced, and I was thinking that if this pace could be maintained for the entire book, I’d love it. Most plots ebb and flow, but for some strange reason, after the first third, I felt the book slowed down and it pottered along at the same pace without any changes. You know when you’re listening to someone giving a speech, and they never change their tone of voice? That’s sort of what it felt like. I wanted some emotion, or a spark, or a big surprise… something! At times I wanted to push the plot along so it would return to the fast pace at the beginning.

I really liked Gin’s characters from the outset. She is reserved, bordering on aloof. She’s a badass girl that doesn’t back down from a challenge and I really enjoyed most of the story looking through her eyes. By the end of the book unfortunately, she started to blend in with most of the other female Urban Fantasy MC’s I’ve read about. Her voice wasn’t unique enough to stand out from the crowd as much as I would have liked.

And this brings me to the overall impression I was left with: Everything was good. I don’t have any moments I hated, but on the same token, nothing made me fall in love with the book either. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad read: I have a feeling the series could be a slow burner and the next books will improve.

One of the main things that put me off from loving the book was that I couldn’t buy into the romance between Detective Donovan Caine and Gin. In most UF’s there is a romantic interest that appears at some stage during the series, it’s almost expected. I felt the attraction between these two was created out of nothing. It felt like a staged romance, there was no spark and I lost interest in both the characters and the romantic story-line whenever the book veered onto this thread. I’d end up wanting whatever chapter it appears in to be over so we can get back to the main story. I also didn’t really see the point in having the Detective as the love interest: this happens in every book! I don’t see the appeal; I find it cheapens the character as they usually end up unwilling feeding our main character with inside information.

I enjoyed the world building, and I’d love to see more of Fin’s character appearing in that book. I thought he was so much more interesting than Donovan. I ended up liking Spider’s Bite enough that I do think I will continue on with book two at some stage. I didn’t find anything in the first book that helped set it apart from others in the genre, so hopefully the next edition will do that.

Saturday 5 July 2014

How Realistic Do You Like Your Fiction?

I love my fiction books: it’s no secret. But, there is something I’m terribly guilty of, and I think others could feel the same as me: I tend to occasionally throw around the words “unbelievable” and “unrealistic” when I review a book.

That got me thinking: isn’t fiction supposed to be, well… fictitious?

It’s not really supposed to mirror life exactly. It takes the basics we know from our daily lives and puts a complete imaginative spin on it. How can I critique a book by saying I found certain things unbelievable or unrealistic when in fact it’s not supposed to be trapped within the boundaries we have in our lives! (Unless it's tagged "Realistic Fiction". Then that's a completely different argument!)

What do we really mean when we say something in a book is unrealistic?

This will be entirely personal and change from person to person, but when I write that I found something unrealistic, in general I mean I couldn’t imagine the series of events happening in the way it’s described in the book, or I couldn’t see how what happens matches with the mechanics of the world and how I imagined it to be.

I have this little inner-voice that buzzes annoyingly when I type those words and it goes along the lines of “Isn’t this an easy way to gloss over not connecting with a book, without going into detail about why I didn’t like it?” To try to pacify my inner-tormentor, I have tried to get in the habit when I’m thinking about a book to try to explore why I feel certain ways, and if I think something was unrealistic, I try to pinpoint exactly what bothered me. In theory, this is great, but in practice, sometimes I’m left with a jumble of feelings that I can’t distinguish, and in the end using the word unrealistic or unbelievable sums up what I’m feeling just nicely!

Something Believable

It’s not just world building or plots it happens with, but also with the characters in the book. I also have said some are unbelievable, whether it relates to personality or dialogue. But, what the heck do I mean by this? What is bundled together into this one little word? I think it could be narrowed down to one thing: Something was missing. Putting your finger on exactly what that is can be one of the hardest things to do.

You know that moment when you know you've found a new favourite character? That little spark, that moment when you think, yes, finally I found a character I understand, love and can fangirl over? We all know it. Hopefully we've all experienced it. But, how can you put that feeling into words, without sounding like a blubbering fool?!

I think this feeling has something to do with what I personally mean when I say a character wasn't believable. I didn't care or believe in them or their personality enough to hope things work out for the long haul. That word, believable, or unbelievable, can blanket over so many feelings and reasons for disliking or not connecting with a character. The hard part is to find all the words to describe those feeling without a review turning into a novella length book report!

How realistic do I like my fiction?

I like my fantasy books as far from reality as possible; my paranormal books with lots of spooks and imagination; my sci-fi on another planet and contemporary firmly, but gently, shackled in the real world. Yeah, ok, I’m not asking for much am I?

In seriousness though, for me, all roads lead back to the genre.

Genres and Realism

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that the genre of a book has a great impact on our levels of expectation, and how willing we are to let down our personal realism boundaries. For me, Fantasy and Sci-fi get so much more leeway with what I’m willing to accept and believe in.

Just thinking of those genres alone automatically opens my mind further to accept spaceships, wizards, vampires and countless other imaginary creatures, characters and situations, and that’s before I even open the front cover to start reading! I expect something quirky or different or out of the ordinary to happen. My judgments are relaxed, and I accept these things as part of building a new fictitious world. The challenge I have is applying the same principle to the Contemporary genre.

I subconsciously put more unofficial “rules” on contemporary books, both for the characters and story arc, than I do for any other genre. I look at Contemporary Fiction as a fictitious take on real life. So, at the core of the story, I expect a certain amount of realism. For the most part, my real world boundaries, opinions and limitations will be brought over into the books world. If things are changed around too much, yeah, I can adapt but I find I don’t have the same belief in the story anymore.

I suppose, with contemporary books I expect things to be within the realms of possibility in our own lives, even if it’s not probable that it could ever happen. It’s not particularly fair, but it’s how I end up looking at, and judging, the genre as a whole.

Ok, your turn! What do you think? How realistic to you like your fiction? Do you agree or disagree with me?

Wednesday 2 July 2014

WoW #17 Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Expected publication: August 5th 2014

Genres: Young Adult, Sci-Fi

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Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout book cover

Katy knows the world changed the night the Luxen came.

She can't believe Daemon welcomed his race or stood by as his kind threatened to obliterate every last human and hybrid on Earth. But the lines between good and bad have blurred, and love has become an emotion that could destroy her—could destroy them all.

Daemon will do anything to save those he loves, even if it means betrayal.

They must team with an unlikely enemy if there is any chance of surviving the invasion. But when it quickly becomes impossible to tell friend from foe, and the world is crumbling around them, they may lose everything— even what they cherish most—to ensure the survival of their friends…and mankind.

War has come to Earth. And no matter the outcome, the future will never be the same for those left standing.

The reason I included Opposition this week? Only ONE MONTH left!! In less than 35 days we shall have this glorious book in our hands! The downside? Unlike the rest of the year July will crawl by ever so slowly, just to torture us. Yep. Always happens!

What do you think? What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Top Ten Classics I Want to Read (or Re-read)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme run by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, the topics are Top 10 favourite classic books or Top 10 classics I want to read.

Note: I’ve put a slight spin on the topic this week, and included books I want to reread at some stage.

Classics, in general, aren’t usually my thing; and I firmly place the blame on my secondary school English classes. It managed to do several things for me: it made me mistrustful of books written by Irish authors, and it made me dislike anything historical, in particular anything with the label “classic”. The only person I studied that managed to escape the fate of auto-hatred was William Shakespeare! Thank goodness my year managed to skip all Jane Austen books… that would have really ended badly.

I really doubt any education board wants to discourage a person to read particular types of books, but sadly these were my feelings for such a long time. Thankfully, I managed to persuade myself to try some classics once I was far away from a classroom, and I discovered quite a few classics that I genuinely love. Hand me a copy of Pride and Prejudice, for example, and I’ll float away happily for hours.

These are in no particular order.

Pride and Prejudice book cover

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

After reading what I wrote above, it won't be a surprise I've listed this first! Unlike most, I didn’t read Pride and Prejudice for the first time when I was a teen in school: I actually read it when I was nearly finished college! And I’m really glad I read it then. If I had read it when I was fourteen or so, I know I would have hated it. Now, it’s one of my all-time favourites and I make a habit of rereading it every year or so.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Anything Agatha Christie Wrote

I’ve read so many of her books, and I still have dozens more on the list I haven’t read yet. Yes, I do find some of her mysteries a tad formalistic, and I can predict the guilty person very quickly, but I still really like them!



by Vladimir Nabokov

I haven’t read Lolita, but I’ve seen lots of divided opinions. It’s one of those books that I’ll eventually get around to reading and seeing what reaction and opinions I end up having.



by George Orwell

I love dystopian books, so this one should something I’ll like.



by Daphne du Maurier

This one has been sitting on my TBR list for years, and I think it’s about time I take the plunge and read it!

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Bronte

What’s not to love about the Bronte’s? =)

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

by Emily Bronte

I read Wuthering Heights when I was a kid and I thought it was alright, it didn't appeal to me that much. I’ve wanted to give it another go for years and hopefully including it here will remind me to dig out my old copy and re-read it!



by Jane Austen

This was one of those books I was expecting to hate. I know, not the best way to approach a book! I loved it, and it's second to Pride and Prejudice as my favourite Austen books.

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

by William Shakespeare

I studied Romeo and Juliet in school, and I’ve always wanted to reread it without expectations, and teachers hovering over my shoulder, whispering what opinions I should be having about what I’m reading!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

The Harry Potter Series

Is this pushing the “classics” boundaries to far? Maybe it is. I suppose it could be classed as a new classic now, and since I haven’t read the series just yet - (I'm going to start the first book this week!) – I’m including it for its legendary status. =)

What books did you include in your Classics list this week? Leave a link to your TTT post so I can visit =)


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