Wednesday, 23 August 2017

REVIEW - DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY BY AMANDA FOODY

Title: Daughter Of The Burning City
Author: Amanda Foody
Genre: Teen, YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: 25th July 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
As I chose this book I wanted something a little different than my recent reads which have been shifter, and dystopian books. I am also quite fascinated with old style travelling circus theme. 

I've seen two covers for this book and have described them below in my Cover Compare feature. I love the purple colour that is featured on both covers which represents the fog and smog smoke from the constant magical burning in and around the moving city that is the Gomorrah Festival. I think just based on the colour alone, this book would catch my eye enough to it pick up and learn more about it from the blurb.

The main character is Sorina who is just sixteen years old, she was adopted by the proprietor of the Gomarrah Festival, Villiam. Life within the travelling city of Gomorrah is all Sorina has known. Sorina, along with some of the other performers in the carnival/festival have what is described as Jynx-work. Sorina is a lonely character and even within the festival she doesn't know or talk to many people. The festival has been banned from certain places for around three years then suddenly Villiam has been told that the festival is once again welcome on those areas. Sorina has her own tent which is entitled the "Freak Show" which consists of her, "The Girl Who See's Without Eyes". At first I thought Sorina was a puppeteer which I suppose she is in a way except the strings to her illusions are invisible. The book begins with a nervous Sorina peeking through the heavy velvet curtains. One by one her illusions perform, then for the finale Sorina is "The Girl Who See's Without Eyes". Sorina doesn't think of her illusions as a freak show act. Sorina feels all her illusions are their own persons and her family, there's Gill the troutman who can breathe in water who is like an Uncle to Sorina, Blister who is the baby that breathes fire and the two twin younger brothers which are Unu and Du who share a body but have their own heads and opinions that they don't mind sharing and arguing with each other. The problems begin when one of the illusions is killed. If illusions aren't really a living human how can they be murdered/killed? That is the puzzle that Sorina and a newer member of the festival called Luca who says he is a gossip worker which means he hears a lot about what is going on in Gomorrah. 


I struggled to begin with and at one point actually thought I won't be able to finish read this one. Then suddenly the pace and intrigue picked up and I felt more drawn into the book with the intriguing details of the 'freaks' created by Sorina and their individual acts in the Gomorrah Festival. It certainly had me asking questions quite early on in the book too. Why after over three years is the festival suddenly being allowed? Why has the 10pm Menagerie show been cancelled?
Who killed Gill? And why? Who is the important up mountain man that has gone missing that provoked such an uncivilised and fierce reaction from the local up mountainers? Why did Jaifu not turn up to the usual place he meets up with Sorina to split the proceeds of his thefts do she can pay for Kahina's medication."
I absolutely had to continue reading as I wanted to know what was going on, who was doing the killings, why are they killing those closet to Sorina? Why is the festival suddenly allowed to visit cities it had previously been barred from for the past 3 years?
As I said I founder the very early part of this book slower paced than I usually like but by about half way through I was glad I had to persevered. 

I feel I shouldn't go into much more detail as you need to read the book yourself. It has slow beginning and at times I thought it was a little odd but as the story develops it becomes more interesting and you feel yourself pulled deeper. The plot speeds up and there are so many suspects for the killings, you easily become more involved and it certainly keeps you guessing who the guilty party is. This book becomes more complex, and intriguing with every page. Just when you think you have worked certain characters or parts of the plot out there's another twist or turn!

I liked the character of the somewhat naive Sorina as well as Kahina, the one who is a mother figure to Sorina. Yet when Kahina contracts the dreaded snaking disease it is Sorina that has to use rather unscrupulous methods to obtain the money to pay for the procurment of the necessary medication. I was also intrigued as to how Sorina has created her own band of friends/family that perform in the freak show along with her. Another character I loved was Luca, a male gossip worker who was quite stand offish towards Sorina but ends up being an increasingly important person in her life. Sorina quickly develops a crush on Luca, but does he feel the same way about her? I thought Luca came across as a very innocent young man, which at first I thought suspicious but then later in the book there is a perfect explanation for his inexperience. When Luca is explained more in the book and certain things are revealed his reactions and behaviour all make sense. To be honest if I had to choose just one favourite character it would be Luca. I loved the descriptions of the outfits he wore, his whole terminology and how he spoke.
A character I thoroughly loved hating was the proprietor of the festival, Villiam. Villiam is the man who adopted Sorina all those years ago, who says one day she will take his place and be the proprietor, yet he seems reluctant to begin training her and revealing the secrets and harsh realities of the festival. At times he can be rather dismissive of Sorina. To me he became a little patronising of her, telling her only the bare minimum of what she needed to know. Then in my opinion when it suited him he actually used Sorina and her little family as part of a very dangerous plot for power.

So to finally sum up my final thoughts as I finished this book were, Wow! How on earth can I describe this book? . . . . .brilliantly weird, strange and compulsive reading. Amazingly different character within an olde worlde setting of a travelling festival/circus.



COVER COMPARE
So as I said at the beginning of my review, I've seen two covers for this book which are pictured below. I really love the purple colour that is featured on both covers which to me represents the fog and smog smoke from the constant magical burning in and around the moving city that is the Gomorrah Festival. Both covers feature the brilliant byline of  "Wicked, wicked to the core, the city will burn forever more...". I love it rhymes, it makes you think of children being brought up singing it as the play outside their homes in the travelling city of Gomorrah. I think just based on the colour alone, this book would catch my eye enough to it pick up and learn more about it from the blurb. 

COVER A
The cover below on the left is what I would imagine a flyer advertising the Festival to look similar to. The font of the title and the swirly curls around the words give it a very olde fashioned feel. There's also the up turned top hat that perhaps the proprietor would wear when in the big ring. Or it would also fit that Nicoleta may wear one when in the ring of the Freak Show addressing the audience.

COVER B
The cover on the left is what I would envision the city with all its performing tents and the food traders and side show act tents to look like from a birds eye photograph, or as would be more fitting with the books content perhaps a photograph or a view that Hawk (one of Sorina's family of illusions) would have when flying.

                                            A                                          B

Which one do you prefer?

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

REVIEW & INTERVIEW - BODY PARTS BY JESSICA KAPP

Title: Body Parts
Author: Jessica Kapp
Genre: Mystery, Thrillers, Teens & YA
Publisher: Diversion books/Diversion Publishing
Release Date: 15th August 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
People would kill for her body.

Raised in an elite foster center off the California coast, sixteen-year-old Tabitha’s been sculpted into a world-class athlete. Her trainers have told her she’ll need to be in top physical condition to be matched with a loving family, even though personal health has taken a backseat outside the training facility. While Tabitha swims laps and shaves seconds off her mile time, hoping to find a permanent home, the rest of the community takes pills produced by pharmaceutical giant PharmPerfect to erase their wrinkles, grow hair, and develop superhuman strength.

When Tabitha’s finally paired, instead of being taken to meet her new parents, she wakes up immobile on a hospital bed. Moments before she’s sliced open, a group of renegade teenagers rescues her, and she learns the real reason for her perfect health: PharmPerfect is using her foster program as a replacement factory for their pill-addicted clients’ failing organs. And her friends from the center, the only family she’s ever known, are next in line to be harvested.

Determined to save them, Tabitha joins forces with her rescuers, led by moody and mysterious Gavin Stiles. As they race to infiltrate the hospital and uncover the rest of PharmPerfect’s secrets, though, Tabitha finds herself with more questions than answers. Will trusting the enigmatic group of rebels lead her back to the slaughterhouse?


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
The cover caught my eye and attention, then the blurb pulled me in even further and made it a "must read". 
The cover shows a young girl with long red hair that is twisted up off of her neck to reveal what looks like a barcode! So that had my mind curious as to what it really was for etc. The background is also kind of like a barcode in shades of blue, or could the blue represent the curtains in either the centre Tabitha lives in or the hospital she visits. Either one really fits in with the book. The cover certainly did its job making me stop scrolling and read the blurb!

This book is set in a dystopian/futuristic era on an island mostly owned by a pharmaceutical company called PharmPerfect. In this world there there is a pill for almost everything. If you want to reduce your wrinkles, grow your hair, gain extra speed or strength, all you need to do is swallow the correct pill. Sounds perfect? Well not really, as like all medications you take in our present day, the drugs produced on the island have side effects that can put certain organs under stress, for example liver,kidneys, heart and lungs. So organ replacement is a booming business. Some people buy donor organs in advance and have them specially stored for them just in case they should need them. Those that can afford the pills, and have the funds readily available just purchase them never giving a thought to where they come from.

We meet the main character Tabitha during a training session at the Centre Of Excellence. 
Tabitha is almost seventeen years old and all she can really remember are the two institutions she has been in. The Centre Of Excellence has teenagers continually training to be stronger and fitter in order to be chosen by a foster family. No one knows what happenes if you don't get fostered and reach the age of 18, it's just not talked about. In fact the teenagers have minimal contact with the outside world. They are only allowed to watch certain TV programmes deemed suitable by the Institute. Naturally the teens dream about the day they will be chosen by a family. In fact, they regularly talk about the type of family they'd like to have. Inside the institute the only family they have is each other. The Institute teaches the young adults to be disciplined and to have drive. The Institute motto that is written on the wall says "It's whats on the inside that counts".
The day we meet Tabitha she and her friend Paige are being monitored for how long they can hold their breath under water to test their lung capacity. Tabitha wins! The girls then sit at the side of the pool talking with Parker, and with Paige's twin Meghan. All the teens are instructed in ways to make sure they are both mentally and physically fit. The young adults are also taught self defense in case they should ever need it. As they have been taught that there are some weird people who would be jealous of their good health and kidnap them to sell on their organs on the black market!

That's when Ms Preen marches in with her red folder! The red folder means someone has been chosen! They all line up for Ms Preen as they are expected to, as she glances at the paperwork. Parker slips his arm around Tabitha, he really looks out for her and is one of her closest friends in the Institute.  Then without even looking straight up Ms Preen mutters "Where is the red head?" Paige is immediately irked that Ms Preen does not ask for Tabitha using her name. So much so she actually spells out Tabitha's name.
Parker squeezes Tabitha then she steps forward. There are thoughts rapidly rushing through her head. Is it really her turn? What will her new parents be like? Then she looks at her friends....her family, she can see they are both excited and disappointed. Excited for her being chosen, but disappointed it isn't them too. Tabitha has to go through a final screening to make sure she passes all the tests at 100%. Then all too quickly for Tabitha, Parker, Paige and Meghan etc it's time for them to say goodbye. The teens left behind get Tabitha to promise to visit them, which like all the other before her she agrees to. Tabitha fully intends to be the one that keeps that promise to visit her friends.

When Tabitha is in the car, Ms Preen gives her a candy which is unusual as it's very rare for Ms Preen to even be civil to them let alone kind. Tabitha takes the candy anyway. . . she begins to feel drowsy. . then everything goes black. When she awakens, Tabitha finds herself tied to a hospital examination table. Naturally she can't remember exactly how she got here, she remembers passing the receptionist at the Centre Of Excellence as she left with Ms Preen. Then there was the car journey, Ms Preen being kind, then. . .nothing until now. As Tabitha looks around two young males enter the room in a rush. They move her from the room into a van, though she can see and hear all that is happening she still hasn't got her mobility back yet. All she can do is lie where she is put, feeling scared and wondering who these adolescent males are. . . . could they be the ones the trainer once told them about? Are these people kidnapping her right now for her organs, to sell them on the black market? Tabitha begins to plan, there's no way what so ever she is going down without a fight. When the van finally stops and the back doors are open she takes her chance and hits the male that approaches her fast and hard in the nose!

So there's lots happening in this book from the first page to the very last. I truly loved it. Among my favourite characters were Tabitha, Gavin, and Mary. I enjoyed reading the interactions between Mary and the other 'renegades'. The way they can be arguing with each other, or having the worst day ever and one hug from Mary just fixes those emotional feelings. I really liked Ry, even though he insists on popping the pills himself when he knows what can happen through first hand experience with his own mother. One character with a smaller part in the book was Craig, who had been a pill popper but had ended up needing a liver, which his family paid for. At the time Craig had been oblivious to the possibilities of where and how his liver had been obtained. I also liked the bristly hairstyled and initially bristly attitude of Sasha, she is kind of like the big sister of the group and the first one the gang has had saved. Although I loved a lot of the characters I also loved hating the 'bad' characters, such as the haughty Ms Preen who thinks so little of the teens at the Centre of Excellence she doesn't even say their names. I also enjoyed hating the CEO of PharmPerfect, you'll know who I mean, and understand why when you read the book.

The book is well written, and has a fairly fast pace. The only problem I had with the book was I honestly didn't want to put it down! This book made me think of another book I have read called The Body Institute by Carol Riggs, so if you like this book I think you'd like that one too. They both have a similar society, that just takes the quick fix, rather than looking at the lifestyle they are leading first. I admit I did guess what the medication was that Tabitha had been taking for her heart condition, but it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book in any way. I want to talk about the book and its characters so much more but to do so would spoil things for you reading it, so I guess I've said all I can. The other thing I'll say about this book is that it is eerily realistic, in that it's not too much of a stretch of the imagination to think this could actually happen in our world. In fact who is to say some of it, ie selling organs doesn't already happen now?

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were; Loved it! Loved it!Loved it! I'd love for it to be the start of a series? Loved most of the characters and loved hating the others too! It does make you think where our present world is going as well as how drugs are tested. The subject is something you really don't need that much of an imagination to believe that it could happen in the present or near future even.
I definitely want to read more by this author! I've checked Goodreads but there is only this book listed, but I'm following the author so I'll know when she releases other books.



INTERVIEW

Is Body Parts the beginning of a series? (I am really, really hoping it is):
I would love to continue the story! When I wrote Body Parts, I had an idea in mind should it ever evolve into a series. The plot is bouncing around in my brain, but for now, the story is a standalone. 

What genre would you personally put Body Parts in? Is this a genre you will be writing more of?
I would put Body Parts in the thriller genre, but it certainly appeals to dystopian fans. I consider myself a writer who branches just beyond contemporary into the lighter side of speculative fiction. And YES, I will certainly be writing more in this genre! I like my worlds to be grounded with a hint of ‘what if’ and have lots of stories brewing.

Who/What/How did you get your ideas for Body Parts?
Several years ago, my husband was rushed to the hospital for sudden liver failure. At one point the doctors pulled me aside to talk about putting him on the organ transplant list. It was terrifying to think about, and awful to consider someone would have to die for my husband to get a new liver. Luckily, his health stabilized and no organs were transplanted. But it got me thinking, and shortly after we returned from a long stay at the hospital, I started writing about teens being raised for their body parts.

Did you have to any of research for Body Parts? If so what/how did you do it?
Absolutely! I wanted the science to be as authentic as possible, and I found a great geneticist who provided incredible feedback! She helped me understand more about predispositions and how people metabolize drugs differently. Her insight helped me fix plot issues and make the story stronger, and I’m forever grateful!

If you had to choose to be a character from Body Parts, which would you be and why?
Ohhhh! Great question! Let me think…
Probably Mary. She has lost so much at such a young age but she’s still an optimist, and her hope seems to be contagious. I admire that about her.


How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for Body Part? Who designed the Cover of your book? Do you have a lot of input into the process?
I came up with the title early on and fully expected the publisher to change it as I’d heard that 99% of author-created titles didn’t stick during the road to publication. To my surprise, Body Parts did! But the credit for the beautiful cover design goes entirely to Diversion Books. They came up with the barcode idea on Tabitha’s neck to signify the fact that she was a commodity while giving it that futuristic feel. They did such a great job, adding smart subtleties on the cover to give the book its SciFi look while grabbing a reader’s attention!

Do you basic plot/plan for each individual book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I wish I was a better plotter, but truth be told, I’m a total pantser. I start with a basic (like, REALLY basic) outline, but I like to let the story take shape on its own. Sometimes it can cause me headaches (okay, A LOT of times). For instance, when writing Body Parts, the story went an entirely different direction around chapter four. I wrote about 7,000 words before I realized I was heading in the wrong direction and needed to cut it. That always hurts, but I love letting the words flow freely. My characters are smarter than I am most of the time and seem to have a good idea about what they need to do!

How long did it take you to write Body Parts?
I wrote Body Parts in about three months and it took another few months to revise.

What can we expect from you next and in the future?

I have two stories finished and ready for revisions. One is a dual perspective contemporary—it was such a challenge to write, but I really enjoyed it! The other is a little darker and based on a real-life experience I had when I was a teenager. I also have a speculative fiction story I can’t wait to start. The characters are just as eager to get out of my head, and I’m almost ready to let them loose! 

Thank you for answering my questions, I look forward to reading more of your books in the future, and hope that Body Parts becomes a series too!

Friday, 11 August 2017

REVIEW - OMEGA - MACKENZIE GREY SERIES BY KARINA ESPINOSA

Title: Omega
Series: Mackenzie Grey Series
Author: Karina Espinosa
Genre: Paranormal, Shifter, Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: 11th August 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Bodies drained of blood are scattered around New York City. With a serial killer on the loose, Mackenzie Grey is obsessed with solving the murders. She dives into her work at the Supernatural Investigative Unit to forget about the events that dismantled her Pack a year ago. When the killer makes Kenz the target, she falls down the rabbit hole and discovers she has a lot more to do with these murders than she realized. 
As her past creeps up behind her, she must swallow her pride and seek aid from old and new friends. Nothing stays hidden as Kenz learns a valuable lesson: rats swim.
In the epic finale of the Mackenzie Grey: Origins series, she will finally become the wolf she is destined to be…


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
As soon as I heard about this book being available to read I was eager to receive my copy to read and review. I've loved all the previous books in this series so far but this is the last in the series, so I wondered if it would live up to my expectations, and how would it end? Would it be such a final ending that the characters could never be revisited, or would the author leave us the reader still having to answer some of the many questions ourselves, leaving the possibility of a return in the future?

Once again on this cover the kick-ass Mackenzie Grey is front and centre, with the background being the real image of where the Brooklyn Pack warehouse is. This cover fits perfectly with the rest of the series too. I have to say I also loved the original covers. 

As the blurb reveals dead bodies are turning up all around New York, some are human, and some are supernatural. Mackenzie and the rest of the Supernatural Investigations Unit have to work out why these deaths are happening, who or what is doing them before they can even plan how to stop them. Mackenzie isn't on top form at all, still carrying a lot of guilt about what happened to best friend, Luna Blu as well as the other Luna's that answered her call to stand up for themselves. Mackenzie has been ignoring her wolf for some time now and finds it extremely painful to shift at all. Lieutenant Briggs head of the SIU has to bring in another lycan to make up the numbers of his officers (you'll learn why when you read the book. I am trying my best here not to give any spoilers!). This new officer that Mackenzie instantly dislikes is Cassidy Chang a member of the Queens' pack. It takes a lot of time for Mackenzie to accept Cas let alone accept his help with her wolf. I mean after the type of attention Mackenzie has had from some wolves you can't blame her for being suspicious of Cassidy and his motives. At one point in the book when Mackenzie has reached out to Bash, and things are still unresolved, he turns up at her flat and upon finding Cassidy there jumps to the conclusion Mackenzie has "moved on" and is in a relationship with him. The thing about Mackenzie and Bash they are so stubborn around each other. If they would just sit down and talk through everything with each other they could sort out any problems and move on either together or apart. I seriously wanted to shout at them both at times in this book. Another wolf who needs a good shaking & talking to is Jackson who can't seem to get over the fact the love of his life is now a vampire, as well as the fact his brother Jonah is staying and working in Scotland. . . . and then other things happen to him. . . . Jonah is the one who has a right to mope about and be moody etc but what he does. . .well. I know this probably isn't making a great deal of sense but trust me when you read the book...wow!

As the plot develops it becomes clear that all these deaths are somehow tethered to Mackenzie. First she must break this connection and then face the reality of who she is as a human as well as a wolf. She has to kind of learn to coexist and become at one with her wolf, to trust her instincts. This becomes even more needed when she discovers she has another ability which enlarges the ever present target on her back! Of course she has the SIU, with new addition Cassidy, but she soon comes to realise she will need more than her fellow lycans to defeat the "dark force" that is planning to take over not only the supernatural's world but the humans and their world too! We see the return of some evil characters we have already met whom Mackenzie has to battle with and defeat once and for all with her mixed supernatural army of friends behind her. So yes we get another great fix of Sebastian, Jonah and Jackson. Then there's Amy and how she is coping with her new life and the realities of being a vampire. During the battle old partnerships return and new bonds are made, there's even help from some rather unexpected sources too.

I could seriously go on and on about this book. I want to talk all about it but not spoil the revelations in the book for other readers. If you have loved the rest of the series then you should really adore this last book. You really go through a load of emotions reading this book, there's times you will smile, times you will want to shout at some of the characters in the book (yep Mackenzie included), and then there's the strong emotion in reaction to how far Mackenzie is prepared to go for, and sacrifice for her best friend, to undo the harm she feels she has caused her. One of the older characters that returns when they are most needed, is Lucian and he had me in tears! I truly love his character, a proper old fashioned gentleman. I love his terms of endearment, when he calls Mackenzie "Pet".
I even ended up feeling affection towards a couple of the so called "bad guy" characters. One, is wanted by the SIU, but may also be the one that could help Mackenzie with a personal goal of fixing something for a close friend. The other is Malaki, a member of the Fae...and we all know how the Fae cannot be trusted! To be honest I really don't usually like Fae in books as characters at all, but this is one of the few series with them in, that I do really enjoy them in. Obviously my favourite character is a "no brainer" it's Mackenzie, the kick-ass, no nonsense, female lycan who wants to change the existing "traditional" role of Lunas. Mackenzie is an idol/hero to the young Lunas. Mackenzie has managed what was initially considered impossible and has managed to persuade some of the Alphas and packs to reconsider their treatment of Lunas. A change that will continue to be slow and a learning experience along the way.

To say I loved the book is kind of an understatement! The way the books ends is good. I'd say some "issues" are left for the reader to decide how they will end. For me the way things were left, still left me with questions, as well as wanting even more. Maybe Karina will revisit these characters again? Or maybe they will be featured in another series? Or there could be more books at a later date? (I hope so!).

My first thoughts as I finished were. . . Karina! really!? That can't be the absolute end! I still want more, I want more about the different Supernatural Investigations Unit, more of the Brooklyn Pack and the possibilities new Lunas will bring. So to sum up I've truly loved, and adored reading this series from the very beginning to the very end. It would be so amazing to re-visit these characters a little down the line maybe. . . .? I can wish for more, you never know? To Karina I want to say thank you for a fantastic series, filled with characters so brilliant, I have become so attached to and don't want to believe I have to say goodbye to them!

Friday, 4 August 2017

COVER REVEAL - ISAN BY MARY TING

Title: ISAN  
Author: Mary Ting 
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Cover Design: Deranged Doctor
Publication date: May 1st 2018

BLURB
The world has changed.
Scientists warned it would happen.
Meteors devastated the Earth. World Governments developed plans to help surviving citizens. The United States disbanded and salvageable land was divided into four quadrants—North, South, East, and West—governed by The Remnant Council.
Struggling to survive, seventeen-year-old Ava ends up in juvenile detention, until she is selected for a new life—with a catch. She must be injected with an experimental serum. The results will be life changing. The serum will make her better. To receive the serum Ava agrees to join a program controlled by ISAN, the International Sensory Assassin Network.
While on a training mission, she is abducted by a rebel group led by Rhett and told that not only does she have a history with him, but her entire past is a lie perpetuated by ISAN to ensure her compliance. Unsure of who to trust, Ava must decide if her strangely familiar and handsome captor is her enemy or her savior—and time is running out.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
International Bestselling Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children's chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.


Author Links:

Thursday, 3 August 2017

THE BREEDERS STORIES - THE BREEDERS SERIES BY KATIE FRENCH

Title: The Breeder Stories
Series: The Breeders Series
Author: Katie French
Genre: Post Apocalyptic, Dystopian
Release Date: 17th June 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Four stories set in the world of the bestselling YA dystopian romance series, The Breeders, including one completely new story Plan B, Part Two. 

Nessa: Eighteen-year-old Nessa knows what it's like to be an endangered species. Growing up in a dying world where nine out of ten babies are born male, she survives by trusting no one. When Marlin, the nineteen-year-old gunslinger with the sky-blue eyes, kills the man who has been keeping her enslaved, Nessa decides this handsome stranger might be her meal ticket. What she doesn't realize is love is still possible, even in their decimated world. When Nessa discovers she's pregnant with Marlin's child, her difficult life now teeters on a knife's edge. 

Clay: When Clay's younger brother is killed, everyone thinks Clay's to blame. His father won't look at him, the hired guns don't respect him, and Clay can't live with himself. A dangerous mission presents itself, and Clay jumps at the opportunity, knowing it might be his only chance to win Pa's favor. But the job's so dangerous even Pa won't ride along. Can Clay prove himself and earn his guns before someone puts a bullet between his eyes? 

Plan B: When Nolan is selected as one of few candidates lucky enough to work in the Breeders' hospital, he thinks all his troubles are over. Now he can afford precious medicine to save his ailing father. He's heard of the Breeders' cruelty, of their inhuman experiments, but he's sure they're all lies. Then he stumbles into the Plan B room and learns how truly awful the Breeders can be. 

Plan B, Part Two: With the rescue mission complete, Nolan finds himself on the road with Kindy, the girl from the Plan B room. But she is not at all what he expected.

REVIEW
I purchased this book collection even though I had previously read all the other novellas except Plan B part two. Yep! That how addictive and how much ?i love this book series. If you love the post apocalyptic, and dystopian genres this series is a must read for you!

I guess the easiest wait to review this collection is to add my previous reviews of the individual novellas then add the Plan B part two review. But first I have to say, I love the cover, it really pulls the series together and it portrays the feel of the books very well. The whole thing of the woman on the cover being trapped, yet peering out of a broken window

Nessa
Lets just say that Nessa hasn’t had a great start in life, then when Marlin comes along she doesn’t know whether to trust this handsome rugged guy or maybe try and use him to stay away from the Breeders. Maybe this guy Marlin can protect her, he is a pretty good shot with a gun.
All seems to be going well, hiding out form the Breeders, kept safe by Marlin, al be it in a strange and not so nice place to be staying. Then Nessa finds out she is pregnant. . . will Marlin want a baby? What if he doesn’t will he sell her to the Breeders? How can she run from the Breeders when she is physically too big to run?
This short novella is written in the same well written style and fast pace as the book The Breeders. I loved it. Without giving spoilers its difficult to explain the other reason I loved it, Mmm lets just say you learn more about two characters who are in The Breeders in this novella and lots of questions are answered as well as you being given the reasons for their maybe strange actions in The Breeders. You definitely need to read The Breeders first and then this novella. Reading the novella would give you too much knowledge when you got to a certain part in The Breeders when you “meet” Nessa.

Clay
This novella as you will guess from it's name is all about Clay. We meet Clay as a younger boy, and learn more about what made him the way he is. We witness the whole incident where Clay and his younger brother Cole, went out and sadly Cole never made it back. It's the incident that certainly still haunts Clay throughout this series. Marlin Tate makes it well known to anyone and everyone around    You also get a closer look at Clay and His father Marlin's relationship. The way Marlin belittle's his son for learning to read, to the point of sadistically stepping and crunching Clay's hard sought after glasses. Marlin call's him sissy boy, pansy-arsed and a four eyed freak! what Clay has to do to be accepted by his fathers men. I loved the luxury of the closer look at Clay, his character and what has made him the person he is now. When reading this novella, the reader learns where Clay developed his protective streak, how he attempted to shield the housekeeper Martha from his father's drunken rages, often putting himself in the eye of the target to deflect his fathers vengeance. 
I really enjoyed reading more about Clay, the novella explains quite a lot, especially how and why he slowly coaxed Riley into trusting him.  Though I have to admit to already having a soft spot for Clay's character.

Plan B part one
The main characters in this novella are Nolan a young man who unusually (in this societies present state is hardly ever heard of) is still living with his ailing father. The illness Nolan's father is suffering from is "wet lung" which is basically a death sentence for the sufferer. Nolan's father is in fact only 42 years old, but thanks to the hard lives people now live he looks nearer to 62 years old! Nolan thinks, if only he can get a decent, stable job, he will be able to afford better food for both himself and his father and perhaps with the extra money he could maybe buy medicine for his father too. The other idea Nolan has that if he gets a job working for the Breeders at their hospital, maybe they will know and give him a cure for his father. This is why Nolan and his father are standing in line waiting to be allowed into the courtyard of the Breeders hospital.
One one hand Nolan is praying and wishing to be chosen to work here but on the other hand he is petrified by the thought of working for the Breeders. Nolan has heard many horror stories about the Breeders from "they eat babies" to "they suck the marrow outta the bones" etc etc. The hospital is a symbol of prosperity, possible comfort and yet also a symbol to be afraid of. 
A woman appears in the courtyard which is an highly unusual sight. Free women are extremely rare, in fact for the majority of the males gathered in the courtyard this woman in front of them is the only one they have ever seen! This woman has a guard with a gun, to each side of her, presumably for protection, but this is no weak, fragile woman. The woman is wearing red high heeled shoes, and is dressed in a blood red suit and matching finger nails too. The woman's auburn hair is severely slicked back and fastened with a clip in the shape of the Breeders Logo, the very same one all breeder girls and women are tattooed with. The woman's eyes are ice cold blue and are already calculating the scene and people around her. The woman announces there are just three vacancies available, she orders the crowd to line up in an orderly fashion, and kind of like little sheep, they follow her orders. It is almost an hour after the interview process begins that Nolan is in front of the powerful woman he now knows as Dr Vandewater. Two of the job vacancies have been filled. Two men have been given a golden ticket each, meaning there is only one golden ticket left. Nolan sort of gets through the interview in a muddled dazed state and is a mixture of surprised and shocked when he is given the third and final golden ticket! Though Nolan is grateful for the ticket he cannot stop himself asking Why him? Dr Vandewater answers him by saying she likes an "employee that has something to lose". In other words Dr Vandewater has already worked out that Nolan's father is his weakness.
It's whilst working as a cleaner in the hospital facility that Nolan discovers the room that houses the girls and women on Plan B. Can he learn to ignore the fact these girls/women are humans and turn a blind eye as his supervisor seems to have done with no trouble? Sadly Nolan discovers that his supervisor, Samuel is in fact smoking himself to his own death with devils spine in an attempt to forget what he has seen happening in the hospital he now also works in. Whilst all this is going on at work, Nolan is still feeling the pressure to save enough money/slips to purchase a possible cure for his father, who's health is rapidly deteriorating even more.
 Nolan wants to keep his father alive, prevent Samuel from smoking himself to death with devils spine and finally help the Plan B room girl he seems to have fallen in love with. Sadly Nolan soon learns he cannot get everything or fix everything in his life and his surroundings. Nolan ends up on the run from the Breeders like many of the characters are doing in this fantastic series, when he goes along with Samuel's plan and selfless actions. 
This novella really takes you through a whole range of emotions, from pride about the relationship Nolan has with his father and the love they share, that is strong despite the wilderness they are now having to fight to survive in. Then there's the complex character of Samuel, who initially seems to be hard heated at the plight of the those in the Plan B room, he seems brusque with Nolan until he learns Nolan has seen inside the Plan B room. Samuel then tries to distract and reason with Nolan that there is nothing to be done. Though later it is a plan formed by Samuel that sets not just Nolan on his way to the possibility of freedom and a new life. The negative emotions you go through are the shock, horror, repulsion and disgust at what the Breeders and Dr Vandewater are up to in their hospital facility.

Plan B part two
So this novella basically picks up from where Plan B part one finished. Nolan is still stunned about the loss of someone else he cared deeply about. Nolan still refers to the pregnant girl he managed to rescue as Angel. However he soon finds out she is far from an Angel and is in fact called Kindy. Kindy didn't particularly want to be rescued, she wanted to find her mum who was also sent to Plan B before she was. The laboratory technicians in Plan B are trying to ensure more females are born to keep the human race going. Kindy has been told her baby is dead and I think that is why she just wants to drink herself into oblivion. Nolan tries his best to look after her but she continues to find fault with everything he does. Kindy doesn't think Nolan is old enough or tough enough to take care of her. I guess she has a point as Nolan has had a somewhat sheltered life experience in comparison to the usual men she has come across.
As females are so rare its no surprise when Kindy becomes separated from Nolan, she ends up being kidnapped. Then she goes through the pain giving birth to her baby. Can Nolan rescue Kindy and her baby? Or are they destined to be sold and used by the highest bidder.

I really enjoyed reading these Breeders Stories. They explain and give more background to the titles I have read in the series so far. I'm sure they will become even more relevant as I continue to read through this great series.


Thursday, 27 July 2017

REVIEW - THE PURSUAL - THE NOME CHRONICLES BY F.F. JOHN

Title: The Pursual
Series: The Nome Chronicles
Author: F. F. John
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Publisher: Harcourt Briggs
Release Date: 10th April 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Neith and Invier are madly in love, yet destined for an unhappy ever after.

Invier's family is too lowly-ranked for a union with Neith, so she, unwilling to accept a loveless union with someone else, revives a long-abandoned competition called the Pursual. In the Pursual, the prize is the girl and an alliance with her influential family.

Entered into the competition without his consent, Invier becomes suspicious of Neith's motives. Still, he must win, or see his love married to a rival. The mysterious deaths of competitors, the discovery of dark secrets, and a growing rebellion mean that nothing will come easy.

The competition meant to bring them together threatens to tear the couple apart. Yet only by working together will they overcome their rivals and gain a life with each other.


PURCHASE LINK

REVIEW
As soon as I had finished reading The Proem, (which is the prequel to this series), I felt compelled to read more. I felt I had to learn more about the society and characters I had just met. So approaching this book I had high expectations for it. 


I like the title, it's straight to the point and certainly fits the book well when you read the definition of the word. The blurb lets you know that this book contains a competition so you have a strong hint of what is to come. 

This cover still made me think of The Selection Series by Kiera Cass, The Lone City Series by Amy Ewing and The Perfected Series by Kate Jarvik Birch. The cover has a dark blue shade in the background, where it was purple on The Proem cover. The dark blue makes me think of a stormy sky so does that represent the mood of this book? A troubled competition, or trouble for one or more of the characters maybe. The female body I'd say it is Nieth, is wearing beautiful blue coloured, and very expensive looking dress or gown. The cover once again features the family insignia of the Reffour household. I have to say I'd want to take this book with such an attractive cover from a store shelf to learn more about it.

Though I more than likely covered some of the society information in my previous review of The Proem, I'll go ahead and re-explain it as understanding the hierachy within this dystopian civilisation. Those highest in society are part of the "Top Twenty" Nomes, they own the businesses are "the haves") that run the country and employ those from the lower classes. Then there's the "Sixty" that have what I would describe as "white collar" jobs or jobs where they don't get their hands dirty! ("the have some money") Then there's the Lesser Lands where those that provide the physical labour, and lowest in the hierachy live - ("the have nots"). Within each "class" there is also a "pecking order". In terms of pairing you are expected to marry within three or four levels within your own class. Which means Neith should be paired within the "Top Twenty" Nomes, which at first makes you think it's not a problem she can marry Invier as his family are in the "Top Twenty" but his family is too low in the "Top Twenty" they are only just holding on to their rank at 20. That is the reason that Neith researches the history of the tradition of having a "Pursual". In it's oldest sense it meant suitors fighting and competing with each other to gain the right to be paired with the Scion or Scioness whose family has organised the "Pursual". There was a lot of violence, bloody battles and deaths in those old fashioned Pursuals. The more modern take on the Pursual means that there will be no fights to the death and all challenges are within a specialist simulator. There will also space for an audience to sit and watch what goes on in the simulator. Every competitor will have an equal chance of winning. Though after the first challenge, the winner of that one will be given extra points. Meaning the winner of the first challenge will get a large headstart! The person that wins is the one that has the most points at the end of the competition. It is he/she that will then be named Paladin.

Naturally with most things celebrated in the upper classes of this society, there is a special party to announce the competitors. Naturally the celebrations, as always are sorted out by Master Portan. He also educates Nieth on the etiquette of a modern Pursual, and what will be expected of her and the competitiors. In this book you have a closer look at the relationship between Master Portan and Neith Reffour. Master Portan has a lot of jobs to do, including educating Neith, being an advisor to the Nome of Reffour. Master Portan acts as the compere to the ceremony of the names of the Pursual competitors being read out. There's a slight murmur of shock when he reads out the name of Scioness Adela Seltan and varying levels of applause and cheers for the following names Scion James Saint Espirit, Scion Loic Carre, Scion Erhart Vesta, Scion Ika Ateguns, Scion Seth Talum, Scion Mehrdad Cyra. . . . the Scion Invier Floran's name is called his families faces are a picture of shock whilst Invier's face is also tinged with horror! Neither Invier nor his family had put his name forward as a competitor, so how did his name end up being called out? To back out now would be devastating for his family. Though the fall out from such a decision wouldn't bother Invier or probably his father, it would undoubtedly upset his mother and it would serious damage his sister, Song's pairing prospects.
To say the competition gets out of hand is an understatement really, as in there are some kind of related deaths, but I'm not going to tell you anything about that! Only that it truly is edge of the seat reading! Everything seems to be going the way Neith would like when suddenly the Nome of Reffour comes under attack, from so called "friendly Nomes"!!

A character within this book that became a favourite for me, was Master Portan who shows he truly loves Neith and is totally loyal to the Reffour Nome. We do glimpse inside the bond shared between Master Portan and Neith portrays him as a surrogate father figure who finds it particularly difficult to deprive Nieth of anything if its within his power to fix or provide her wishes he will, and he does prove that in this book on more than one occasion. I felt like we saw a different side to Neith in this book. and is was a less flattering side. She came across selfish more than once, in fact her best friend Bel calls her out on it too. I liked that we learnt more about Belema Mazon and what profession her family do. The ending was certainly different and I wasn't expecting that. Though the ending hints at much much more to come in the next books & novella's which are on my "must read" list already!

The writing style of this book is the same as for the novella, different chapters are told from the different points of view of certain characters such as Neith, Bel and Invier. I didn't think it was possible but I loved this book even more than the prior novella. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment. 

My final thoughts as I finished the book were "wow, action packed, full of twists and turns. Looking forward to reading more of this series..".