Friday, 24 March 2017

REVIEW - WOLVES' TRIAD - CASCADIA WOLVES BY LAUREN DANE

The book below was once released under the different title Tri-mates.
The Cascadia Series have been updated and slightly tweaked to be even better!
The main story/plot is the same.

Title: Wolves' Triad
Series: Cascadia Wolves
Author: Lauren Dane
Genre: 18+ Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 1st January 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
The tri-mate bond is a myth 
That's what Tracy Warden has believed all her life. Werewolves have one true mate, someone their wolf bonds to physically, mentally, emotionally. She didn't expect to find her mate so soon, but Nick, second to the Pacific pack's Alpha, is undeniably hers. The scent of him, the irrefutable way their bodies call to each other—it's the beginning of a new life for them both.  
Until Tracy meets Gabe, and everything she thought she knew is turned upside down.  
None of them expected this. It shouldn't be possible. But the bond they share can't be denied—and before long, they don't want to deny it. The triad makes them whole, and two alpha wolves in her bed—in her life—make Tracy wonder how she ever lived without the tri-bond. 
But there's tension in Pacific, tension that goes much deeper than mere pack politics. Gabe, Nick and Tracy will do anything to protect each other, and their new bond is about to be put to the test… 

PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK

REVIEW
To say I was eager to get started reading this book is an understatement. I started reading this book on my old tablet which decided to switch itself off every time I attempted to read it. So when I had to then wait until I could replace my tablet to read really get into reading this book which extremely irritating when I was ready for my next Cascadia Wolves fix!
Whilst reading this book I should point out that there are some rather detailed sexual scenes within it, so I would definitely say 18+ only for this one. Personally the explicit scenes were bordering on too much detail for my reading taste but at the same time it didn't make me want to totally want to stop reading, and certainly didn't spoil the plot of the book for me.
The cover is again gorgeous, I'd love to have this set of books on my bookshelf (maybe even a signed copy! . . . hey! I can dream lol).

The cover has the bottom have like the other books in the Cascadia Series, the forest, that surrounds the Wardens home. There's the wolf silhouette at the bottom left corner. The title appears above the forest and wolf silhouette as well as the authors name, both in fonts that match the other books in the series so far. Above the author name is a blonde female, in this case after reading the book we know to be Tracy. She has a figure close to each side of her, and we know the hint from the first line in the blurb "The tri-mate is just a myth".

The genres this book fall's into are paranormal, fantasy, werewolves and as I mentioned earlier I would have to say it is definitely for an adult 18+ audience because of it's content and explicit descriptive scenes. Whilst there are such scenes in the book there is a strong plot and some brilliant characters old and new. 

I guess I should begin by explaining what a tri-bond is. . . its when someone has two "perfect mates" and the three actually form a tri-bond. Is that what occurs in this book? Or is the tri-bond just a figment of an overactive imagination?, or an old ancient myth?
Once again bad shifter Warren Pellini rears his ugly head, having created a much stronger, more dangerous werewolf mob. If you get in his way. . .well you don't live very long. this plot runs alongside the romance element in the book.
There's been some fighting between the Cascadia Pack and the Pacific Pack along the borders of their territory, and a mediator has been called in to sort things out in an amicable and mutually agreed way. Both enforcers Lex from Cascadia and Nick from Pacific will meet up with the mediator to discuss the situation and solve the problem. As well as the enforcers other pack members go to help in the disscusions. It is decided that Nina will accompany Lex as they still can hardly bear to be apart. Tracy will also attend in the capacity of personal assistant/note taker. Tracy of course takes Milton with her whenever possible too. On the drive to the hotel that the mediation will take place there's banter between Tracy, Lex and Nina. Tracy laughs at the couple and makes a comment about them still being in the honeymoon phase of their relationship. Lex and Nina laugh, with Nina telling Tracy when she meets "the one", her very own mate, she will not want to be separated from them and will understand.
Cade asks his enforcer Lex, to mention Warren Pellini to the mediator Gabe Murphy who is third in the National Pack. Pellini seems to be attempting to cosy up to the second of the National Pack and its something that has not just the large packs like Cascadia worried, but the smaller ones like Pacific uneasy too. Though there's a connection between the Pacific Pack and Warren Pellini that even their own werewolves would not guess at!
When the small skirmishes are sorted out it leaves two things to be dealt with. The first thing is sorting out Tracy and her mate, anchor and her pledging fealty to what will be her new pack. The second one the fact Gabe Murphy has been contacted by werewolves from the other pack expressing their concerns. Gabe doesn't want to go above his second Jack Myers the enforcer in the National Pack to discuss the problems but events determine he has to.

I felt sorry for poor Tracy who is truly knocked flat by the whirlwind she is caught up in when she meets her mate. Then there's the fact she will be the one to move, leave her house, business and more importantly her family behind to fit in with her mate and his pack.
A minor thing to some but a sticking point for Tracy when her mate is adamant they will live in his apartment and that it is not dog friendly. From the very outset he is fixated in his belief that the apartment is where they should live. Though things go from shaky to being awful and dangerous when the Cascadia pack members, Alpha and eldest brother Cade, enforcer Lex and his mate Nina along with Tracys parents, Henri and Beth and grandmother Lia all arrive at her mates home and their is a very thin veil covering bubbling animosity towards Tracy. To say the air is thick with tension . . . wow you can feel it rippling out of the book at you!
It's grandmother Lia that puts the werewolves right and speaks quietly to Tracy about the truth of the tri-band and the mystical spell that can break a bonding if needed.

I love the banter and affection readily shown between the members of the Cascadia wolves. For example Nina is mate to Lex, and her anchor and pack alpha Cade and is able to be a calming influence of both male wolves. Nina is beginning to be more and more integrated into the pack, both the pack politics and the personal lives and relationships of the other pack members. I also find it really funny that Nina calls Lex "Scooby"!
I adore the feeling of family it comes across really well in how Lauren Dane writes, as well as that strong emotion of pack. Tracy is the youngest in the Warden family so has plenty of older siblings to look out for her. Though Cade and Lex are the ones that display their protectiveness openly, and almost deliver a threat of what the will do if their baby sister is hurt in any way. The fact Nina and Tracy are so close is an amazing thing too, though Tracy had been there for Nina when she most needed it. To say Nina was originally human and was bitten and turned during a challenge that turned out to be more of an attack or attempt to kill her in front of the whole pack she feels very strongly for her werewolf family. Nina does want change within the pack structure, to make things more democratic and she may just have someone else whose thoughts are similar to hers in Gabe Murphy. I think we may see more of Nina and Gabe shaping the future of the packs and their hierachy and ancient, sometimes outdated, and barbaric ways in future books.
My favourite character are still headed by Nina, Lex and Cade and I immediately loved Tracy, how she has the cute, soft and lovable dog Milton that is treat like the spoilt child of the pack. Though the males in the pack probably wouldn't admit it they enjoy having Milton around too. In fact at one point in this book, a guy not liking Milton and not being so willing to adapt to include the beloved dog nearly has his relationship on a possible downward spiral.
Tracy is a real tough cookie to look at, with tattoos and piercings and she can certainly hold her own in a fight. Tracy is not one to walk away quietly if she knows she is right, she is not afraid speaking up and is prepared to fight whoever necessary to prove her point. Tracy truly has one heck of a roller coaster ride of emotions in this book, from the thrill of finding her mate, to the confusion of feeling the same about a second wolf. what happens in the end? You'll have to read the book to find out. In this book we also meet two werewolf children, Haley and Chris, who are caught up in the danger and threat of retaliation from Warren Pellini. It is the fault of the parents of these children that they are now in danger but Tracy doesn't hold grudges and makes phone calls and arrangements for the children along with their mother to be kept safe until the Pellini situation can be fully taken care of. 

To sum up I am in love the characters and totally immersed in plot of this series. Wolves' Triad is another great addition to the Cascadia Wolves Series. I would reiterate that this book is 18+ due to descriptive, and explicit sexual scenes in the book. These sections are part of the greater story/plot but at times went a little far for my own usual reading comfort zone. Having said that, it didn't put me off reading the whole book and I am fairly eager to read the next book to discover what will happen to Warren Pellini as well as catching up with the Warden clan.
 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

REVIEW - THE JAKARTA PANDEMIC - THE PERSEID COLLAPSE SERIES BY STEVEN KONKOLY

Title: The Jakarta Pandemic
Series: The Perseid Collapse Series
Author: Steven Konkoly
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Horror, Post Apocalyptic
Publisher: Stribling Media
Release Date: 14th December 2013

BLURB from Goodreads
The People's Republic of China announces strict travel restrictions...  

Indonesia goes dark...  

Cases of an uncategorized influenza virus appear in major cities around the globe...  

Department of Health and Human Services officials claim that measures have been taken to safeguard the American public... 

Most ignore the warnings...  

Alex Fletcher, Iraq War veteran, has read the signs for years. A seasoned sales representative for Biosphere Pharmaceuticals, he understands the unique dangers of a pandemic flu and has taken the necessary steps to prepare. With his family and home mobilized to endure an extended period of seclusion, Alex thinks he's ready for the pandemic. He's not even close.  

The lethal H16N1 virus rapidly spreads across the nation, stretching the fragile bonds of society to the breaking point. Schools close, grocery stores empty, fuel deliveries stop, hospitals start turning away the sick...riots engulf the cities.  

As hostility and mistrust engulfs his idyllic Maine neighborhood, Alex quickly realizes that the H16N1 virus will be the least of his problems. 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I had purchased an ecopy of this one sometime ago from amazon when it was on sale a while ago so it had been sitting on my kindle/tablet waiting for me to get around to reading it.
I had recently read a couple of books from a contemporary genre and was missing the post apocalyptic genre.

The cover is bright red, which certanily catches your attention and also suits the fact that the book deals with an infection. The red colour could also be to depict the anger, and bloodshed as both are covered in this book. I'd say the house on the cover is the house that belongs to the Fletcher family, which represents a place of safety, and that they have to guard to keep safe too.

I was pulled into the book immediately, and felt compelled to continue reading it to the last page. So there's a new virus that seems to be spreading quickly, but it's in China and Indonesia so nothing to worry about yet. It's not long before all that changes when the virus hits in America and "normal" life soon drastically changes for the families living in the Durham Road Neighbourhood. The central family in the book is the Fletchers which consist of father Alex, mother Kate, son Ryan and daughter Emma.
Alex works for Biosphere a drug company and has samples of anti viral medication that could help those with this new virus. Biosphere wants Alex and all the other representatives to bring their samples to be re-distributed and sold to another company. Alex knows this virus is on the increase so gives his remaining stock to a Dr he knows. Alex has also kept and collected medication samples over the years so has his own small supply in his basement, where he also has other supplies such as food, fuel and water should an event like this, or a storm that would result in them holing up in their home occur. 
Alex has also tried to help the other residents in Durham road and his own and his wife's extended family advice of such an event happening. As the virus spreads Alex attempts to help people suggesting they stock up on food etc. Soon Alex immediate boss asks where the anti viral samples are, and Alex has to resign. Alex had an idea this would happen but it means he can stay home as the situation develops, ensuring his family is safe, has supplies to survive when they have to totally cut off from the rest of the world and to keep himself and his family isolated from others that may either have the "Jakarta Flu" or be carrying the virus and being contagious.
The neighbour's on Durham Road soon fall into sections, those who are prepared and have supplies and are determined to limit human interaction. In comparison to those who make rotas for childminding and think they have plenty of time to get food etc, that the government should sort everything out for them.
Alex readily admits to having some anti viral medication and gives what he can to the appointed "Durham Road Group Leader" so she can give them out as and when people need them. Things turn nasty at a neighbourhood meeting when some of the less organised men suggest that they take an inventory of everyone's food supplies so that they can be shared out equally amongst everyone, starting at the Fletcher House! Naturally Alex doesn't want this. . .I mean who would. You have worked hard and paid for the few supplies you have and its not a never ending supply. You have collected these items that are majorly important to your families survival.
Alex Fletcher and his wife Kate have many difficult decisions ahead. The community does have a few residents who pull together to try their best to protect each other and the neighbours around them. It soon becomes apparent that things are so bad in certain areas that those who live there are moving towards Maine . . . and Durham Road is one of the places that these people are looking around to move in.
Alex and Ed try to somehow vet those that come onto the estate in their usually supply filled vehicles. They have come to a conclusion that they cannot keep these people out of the empty houses so it would be better to help these refugees move into the vacant homes. Alex and Ed direct one such couple to a home nearby, and it turns out to be a life saving decision, as the couple have medical supplies and experience to go with them.
Sadly they cannot keep the "riff raff" element out that want to take what little supplies Durham Road have. One of the neighbours who suggested taking Alex supplies and splitting them called Todd, takes it upon himself to direct anyone and everyone that knocks on his door over to the Fletcher home. One family or group of travellers look like instant trouble. Alex a former marine has seen these sort of people before and knows that there is no reasoning with these types. Even if he could spare a little of the food they have it would never be enough, these people (whom he nicknames the "Mansons") would be back for more and more until everything the Fletchers had would be gone. 
It soon becomes apparent that Alex and his neighbours Ed and Charlie (whom Alex had initially thought would be a nuisance and was "gun happy") are prepared to back each other up and "do what needs to be done" to protect their homes and families.
Even though Alex has planned extensively it becomes apparent sticking to those plans may be much harder than he had thought. Alex marine instincts kick in and his wife jokes with him saying he is enjoying all the covert operations watching the "new neighbours" that have just moved in. It is soon proven that Alex first impression of the "manson family" was correct and maybe he should have gone with the knee jerk reaction he felt when first confronted with the head of their family and his shotgun! The lead Manson then openly threatens Alex and his family. Thats when Alex realises his first thoughts were right and there would be no reasoning with this group of people the only thing they understood was violence. So how far are Alex and Charlie prepared to go? They both wonder if they could kill to protect their families.

My favourite characters were Alex and Charlie. Alex the ex marine, prepared for almost anything and prepared to use whatever he has or can find to defend his family and their home. Alex does try to shelter his two children Ryan and Emma from the harsh realities, but for family safety has to share his thoughts with his wife Kate. The first impression we the reader get of Charlie is that he is perhaps "all mouth and no action" but when things get dangerous he turns out to be invaluable, and plays an active part, along with Alex in ridding the neigbourhood of imminent danger. Even the quieter character of Ed becomes involved in the Manson/Fletcher feud!
Obviously the characters I hated the most were the "Mansons" that drove into the area after stealing someone else's car, and think they can literally knock on a door and be provided with anything and everything they need. They honestly see nothing wrong in taking vital supplies from others. Though I suppose I should also mention Todd, the Durham Road resident that wanted to commandeer the Fletchers provisions, and when that doesnt work, he foolishly tells the new rough "Manson family" about it all. I'd like to think he was way too naive telling the Mansons about the Fletchers food etc as if it is not naivete the conclusion I come to is that Todd vindictively told the Mansons about the Fletchers in the hope when they confronted them he would get some of the supplies for himself and his family. Basically Todd lit the kindling and stood back to watch the fire. I mean things could have gone really badly, ending up with the Fletchers being killed or thrown out of their own home with nothing.

I really enjoyed the book from beginning to end. I'd love to read more about the Fletcher family and their neighbours, so I hope to read more of the Perseid series. I'd say if you love the post apocalyptic genre, then you need to read this one for sure! I enjoyed the writing style that kept me hooked, and on the edge of my seat throughout the book. You really could envision Alex setting up wood with cans standing on top of them as early warning systems for people breaking into his home. I will also be taking a look at the other books/series written by this author too.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were, brilliant book, nail biting, edge of the seat reading and highly addictive too. When can I read more!
I found this book to be a very thought provoking throughout, you do find yourself thinking what would I have done, as well as at times wanting to shout at Alex no don't do that! don't say that! Then at other times I guess I became a little over safety conscious along with Kate Fletcher and must say when first confronted by the "Manson family my instinct matched Kate's of just shoot them now!

Friday, 10 March 2017

REVIEW - HARD TIMES IN DROWNETOWN - BEYOND THE DOME BY JACKSON DEAN CHASE

Title: Hard Times In Dronetown
Series: Beyond The Dome
Author: Jackson Dean Chase
Genre: Sci-Fi, YA
Release Date: 16th July 2015

BLURB from Goodreads
Vikka and Rylee are best friends. Now it’s Rylee’s turn to become a factory girl, but even that won’t help her escape her cruel father or the awful life the New World Plutonomy has planned for her. When Rylee runs away to find a way “beyond the Dome” that covers Alpha City, Vikka is desperate to find and save her friend… But is it already too late?


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I had been asked if I was interested in reading the first book in the "Beyond The Dome" Series by the author, so I decided to purchase this prequel to see if I would enjoy his writing style and his world building etc prior to reading more in the series. 

This title is the second book that I have read before even adding it to Goodreads. It took me a couple of reading sessions to complete but could probably read in just one sitting.
In this prequel novella we get a brief insight into the lives of two young teenage girls as well as the society they live in.

The cover features a city including high rise buildings in the background, though the most prominent thing on the cover is a female dressed in futuristic, sci-fi themed clothing, with a blue wig and some prominent and unusual make up too. The cover has a blue hue to it suggesting its possibly night time. Would the cover make me pick this book up from a book store shelf? I think I'd take a look at it, as I'd say it would stand out from other books.

The genre categories listed for this book as Sci-Fi and (YA) Young Adult, which I do think fit the book book well. Though I certainly am not a teenager I read this prequel novella and found it an interesting read. After reading the novella I would also call it Dystopian, and Futuristic too.

The two main characters of the prequel are two teenaged girls who have totally different home lives. Vikka and Rylee are best friends and live in the New World Plutonomy which exists under a protective dome. Vikka has a fairly good family life, though not without its hardships and sorrows, in that she has been excused from her "factory duty" to stay at home and care for her father. Her entry into the factory has been postponed for now. Rylee will start her duties at the factory very soon, and doesn't really want to join the monotonous life that will become hers. Rylee wants more and intends to take it if she can. She decides to runaway and try to exit the dome in the hope of a different way of life. Sadly for Riley her home life is awful. It's a case of the unknown of what's outside the dome is a better prospect than staying where she is. 

Sadly things don't really turn out as easily as Rylee would like and seems to have swapped one life of drudgery for another. It comes to the sad point that even her best friend cannot reach her.

The novella had a great start, then it's pace slowed. I would have liked a chapter or two from Rylee's point of view, covering her attempts at her better life and a reason for where she ended up and why. Then towards the end of the novella where I would have enjoyed a little more detail and a medium pace, it seemed rushed, and perhaps some of the detailing missed. I wanted a little more, when the book abruptly finished.

My final thoughts are I enjoyed the world building and liked the characters of Vikka and Rylee. Maybe this prequel is better read after the first book in the series, in that this novella adds the detail and background you want about Vikka and Rylee. Will I be reading the first book in the series, Drone? Yes I am interested in learning more about this world and those that are running it. as well as the possibility of more about the two characters I met in this prequel.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

REVIEW - THE THERAPIST EPISODE ONE - A MIDNIGHT FLING STORY BY J.A. BELFIELD

ABOUT THE THERAPIST SERIES

Chase Walker: Founder of C.W. Consult. Sex therapist extraordinaire. 

And, without question, always in control.

After years of schooling his emotions, Chase takes pride in his self-composure and firm lack of commitment. It takes only one, fresh-faced redhead in need of his services for all of that to fall to pieces. 

Abigail O'Shay is everything Chase isn't. Sweet. Innocent. A virgin.

Chase has never wanted to defile anything more.

Except, if that whole therapist-client barrier isn't enough of an issue, Chase's own demons are only too happy to cock-block all the sinful fantasies treatments he has in mind for his latest client.


THE THERAPIST
EPISODE ONE

Title: The Therapist, Episode One
Series: The Therapist, A Midnight Fling Story
Author: J.A. Belfield
Genre: Adult 18+, Steamy, Romance, Erotic Novella's
Release Date: 20th February 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Episode One: Through self-imposed rules and a learned composure, Chase Walker takes a married couple on their first steps into bedroom communication. The same stance he takes with every client on his list. That is, until his newest client walks in and gives a whole new meaning to a hard day at the office. With a face full of innocence and a beauty she seems unaware of, Abi O’Shay might just be the first person to crack his professional fa├žade.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
So I will readily admit that I wouldn't normally choose this genre of book. Erotica is usually way out of my genre comfort zone. Though this year I made a new years resolution to try to read more books from outside of my usual genre range. I began by reading a dew titles by Lauren Dane, both her Moonstruck Series and her more overtly sexual Cascadia Wolves Series. I have read other titles by J.A. Belfield from her Holloway Pack Series and I proudly declare I am one of her "Hollerers" (her street team). I purchased The Therapist, episode one from Amazon UK.

What can I say about the cover? Well I guess I should comment on the two versions of the cover and some "problem" with Amazon that made it much easier for J.A. Belfield to adjust the title of the book and tweak the cover a little too. So the original cover's main feature was the rather buff body of who I would presume is the "therapist" we meet in the first episode. Well of course the hot body on the cover certainly attracts the eye to the cover and makes you want to see . . .and know more about the guy the body belongs to.
The newer up to date, tweaked cover shows a smartly dressed, perfectly groomed male who seems to hover between smooth and sophisticated yet still has a few gorgeous rough edges around him such as the facial hair. Is the hot guy, buttoning or unbuttoning that shirt? Again I'm guessing the man with those eyes that speak to you from the book cover is the main character, the therapist himself, Chase Walker. 

My first thoughts were quite conflicting, was I going to be able to read the whole novella? Was it going to be too overtly explicit for my "reading parameters? As this is a different genre to the other J.A. Belfield titles I have read I am wondering if it will it still have a great plot along with the steamy aspects? I suppose the trepidation I felt about what I would think about this book could maybe compared to a little of what The Therapist's clients feel when going to their appointments with him.

The Therapist business/service called C.W. Consult is headed by a man called Chase Walker, he is an impeccably dressed and groomed in a certain style, and standard he keeps solely for business. It is not just the beautifully cut suits Chase wears, it is right down to the way he styles his hair. 
Chase offers his very own brand and style of counselling to male, females and couples who may think they require some help in the sexual relationship areas of the their lives. Chase offers both verbal, and practical sessions, along with giving his clients very specific homework to do between sessions. Though Chase is physically in the same room as his clients he never initiates his part in their practical sessions, all suggestions come directly from the client. Chase is very composed at all times throughout his appointments with his clients. Not that he doesn't have his own urges and thoughts on what he would like to happen in certain situations.
We meet the rest of Chase's staff, the two receptionist/assistants that he met when they were still "tied" to a pimp. Chase paid the pimp well to have the two women with looks I'd describe as chalk and cheese work for him. It's quite clear both women enjoy their work and find their employer attractive.
We meet a couple of Chase's clients. The first are a couple attending their first physical session, who are shown into Chase's office wearing just plain robes and slippers supplied by Chase's company. Chase asks them to choose which room they want to "play in". Chase has a variety of rooms and settings, from luxurious bedrooms and sumptuous bathrooms, one of the rooms is even decorated very similar to his own office and is usually rather popular with all ages! The other client we are introduced to is Abi O'Shay and without revealing any spoilers she may be the one client that could be capable of ruffling the perfectly groomed and tightly restrained Chase Walker.
Also in this novella, the reader is shown a darker side of Chase. We get a glimpse into his "play-room" and the type of role play he enjoys himself.

I think this novella series really has the beginnings of an intriguing plot, with interesting characters that I would really like to learn more about. I'd be curious to know how Chase ended up in this line of work, as well as wanting to learn more about his employee's, and their lives now and before meeting Chase. 
Then there was the cliff hanger of what Chase is going to suggest as therapy for Abi O'Shay, and the question of will Chase be able to hold on tight to his well practiced restraint.
Another character the reader only meets briefly that I took an instant liking to, despite her only being a voice on the other end of a phone call, is Chase's mother, she seems lie a down to earth woman. Who knows if how much of her sons job she knows about. I can imagine him to settle down with a young woman like Abi O'Shay and give her some grandchildren to fuss over too!

My final thoughts are that I had gotten a pleasant surprise, that I enjoyed reading most of this novella/episode, despite it's few darker explicit scenes. More explicit than I would normally read, though it worked well as it was a novella/episode. I may even read more when the next episode is available for me to do so. I think I ought to try reading outside of my comfort zone more often especially when the books are written by authors I trust to deliver a great plot alongside the hot steaminess!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

REVIEW - MONSTER ISLAND OMNIBUS EPISODES 1-5 BY KATIE FRENCH

Monster Island is a Young Adult serial mystery thriller 
where the pages practically turn themselves. Readers who like LOST, Maze Runner, 
and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will devour this action-packed tale. 
Parts 1-5 are included in this complete omnibus. 
For more information, please visit katiefrenchbooks.com.

Title: Monster Island
Author: Katie French
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: 14th February 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
My name is Lucca DiVitas. 
I woke up in a burlap sack to the sound of screaming. 
There's a note in my pocket that says, "Pay For Your Sins." 
The cages are empty. 
The howls are real. 
They're coming. 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW 
I freely admit that I don’t normally read this genre, but as I have read other titles by this author and loved them so much I decided to give this book a go.

The cover for the omnibus edition has tall trees, a forest with a dark background to represent the night. So not a place you’d like to be in the dark. The title is in a bright green, so you’ll see this one on the bookshelf, and you really don’t want to miss this one!

I think the specified genres of YA, mystery, thriller are still right but personally I feel it also has a bit of a dystopian, and horror edge to it aswell, maybe thats just me or because I have read other books by Katie French that are dystopian. I'll be interested to read what other readers would say on this. 

When you start reading this book you are pulled straight in, and held there until the last word on the last page. I hated having to put the book down to do other things and would have loved to have had the time to sit and read it all the way through.
The book is from the point of view of the teenage characters within the book. I thought the way the author builds the tension slowly is really great, it keeps you on the edge of your seat and guessing along with the characters themselves. I was pleased by the fact that as a reader we only know what the teens know, so we are as puzzled as them as to where they are and why they are there. I liked how both Lucca and Kat try to think if they have done anything bad enough to warrant them being kidnapped from their homes and dumped in this isolated, potentially dangerous place that shows no signs of civilisation. In fact I was curious as to what anyone could do to warrant the punishment or revenge of being put on such a dangerous, horror filled place, let alone what teenagers could have done.
The teens do discover what I would describe as cryptic sayings or quotes in the same handwriting as the note Lucca found in his pocket such as “If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not REVENGE?” Kat instantly recognises it, not that it really reveals anything to the two teens.
The two teens don’t get off to an easy start with Kat thinking Lucca is going to attack her. Both of them are scared, they don’t know where they are, or how they got there either. As he looks back up from his pocket he sees Kat has suddenly stopped and is transfixed by something in the distance. Lucca follows her gaze and sees what she is staring at. There are eight large cages, the metal doors to them are wide open. The two teens discuss what could have been in the cages and where it or they could be now. Worried about being out in the open they notice a cinder block building and head towards that hoping for some way to contact someone, anyone that can help them solve this unsettling position they both find themselves in.
I really loved the astrological desriptions revealed in a scene between Kat, Jos and their Nana before they were taken. Kat is a cancerian, which means though she can be moody and emotional, she is also very caring and is usually the one to fix things. Where as Joslyn is a scorpion, known to be hot headed and having a temper.
I also identified with the solution and action Kat takes against a boy who has been bullying Joslyn, she certainly teaches him a lesson, though she also gives herself a rather nasty scare in the process. Kat comes across as really brave and in control the way Kat is prepared to face anything from a twelve year old boy who is bullying her sister to a large squid, monster wolf/bears and the sadistic people who have kidnapped them and placed them on this island of horrors! She would do anything for her younger sister. 

I grew quite fond of both of the main characters Lucca and Kat they both seem like normal individuals. Neither of them comes from an especially wealthy family, so I guessed that they hadn't been kidnapped for ransom money.
I'd have to say from the first book Lucca has been the character that has been my ultimate favourite! He continues to be a strong character throughout the whole book, and still exhibits a fierce protectiveness towards Kat and also her younger sister Joslyn whom he has only known since they met on this awful island.
The character that probably shocked me and I would have to say was my least favourite teen character, was Jade. We don't really know why she is like she is towards the other teenagers. Jade is a character that puts herself and her own safety first. The reason she was on the Island was not really fully disclosed, neither was her father’s demise, and reasons for it.
The other character that works so well, that you have to have some level of dislike or maybe hate for is Vito, Lucca's father. Vito is easily led, in financial trouble so easily blackmailed and made to toe the line by the person controlling the Island and its horrific experiments. Sadly Lucca learns a lot of un-savoury things about his father, but being the forgiving young man that he is doesn't shun his father when he has more than one opportunity to do so, even though he continually lets his son down. Though I suppose some readers may think Vito manages to redeem himself by making the ultimate sacrifice.

Monster Island will keep you glued to your seat wanting to read through the whole of this book! You will not want to put it down. I didn't. After all the suspense, building up gradually from the very beginning of the section of the book title Taken, right up until the final section titled An Inch Of Light. Finally some “light” is shed on who is behind the teenagers being kidnapped and why they were taken in the first place. We find out whose idea it was to kidnap the children and take them to "Monster Island" and why “they” did it. I was so shocked as to who had kidnapped Lucca though, I hadn't really contemplated that it could be who it turns out to have done the actual deed!
The very existence of the Island and what scientific experiments have taken place there is quite shocking! We do meet more of the adults towards the end of the omnibus, but to be honest I think it is the teenagers all the way through this series that have behaved in a more adult way, than the actual adult characters themselves!


The ending is good, I'm not sure it was how I saw it all ending. There is also the addition of an Epilogue which was interesting to read, but I also felt I wanted updates on all the teenagers, and the adults that featured too. For me things were not explained enough about Jade. . . mind you could that mean there is more to come? Has the horrifying person at the helm of everything that was happening and being created at the Island really been stopped. . . . could that person have escaped or maybe that person had other colleagues/investors/friends who will want to continue the experiments? Having mentioned those questions, it is also feasible that the book just ended with the epilogue which gives the series a fairly good ending.

QUOTES ABOUT THE BOOK

"I've read Katie French books before, and this isn't my first in this YA genre, but this is outstanding in its readability. Just can't wait to get my eyes on episodes 3-5. Superb. Great read and highly recommended." 
"What else can I say about this series other than I am enthusiastically, though a little impatiently awaiting more! I certainly recommend this series so far!"

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

REVIEW - THE MARKED - KNIGHT'S ACADEMY BY EMERALD BARNES

Title: The Marked
Series: Knight's Academy
Author: Emerald Barnes
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Vampires
Publisher: Clean Reads Publishing
Cover Art: Cora Graphics
Release Date: 10th January 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Myka Williams has never fit in with her peers, and although her adoptive parents are loving and supportive, she feels most at home alone in the woods.

When she's offered a full scholarship to Knight's Academy in the Smoky Mountains of Tennes-see, she takes the opportunity for a fresh start. She soon learns that Knight’s Academy is more than just a school. Within the stone walls of the institution, humans and vampires are mixing, and their offspring are going unnoticed.

As Myka falls prey to the evil plan of the school, she makes a chilling discovery about her own heritage and realizes that she’s at the Academy for more than just an education. Myka must yield to her birthright at the risk of losing everyone she loves or succumb to the fate that Knight’s Academy has in store for her—a fate worse than death.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
As I have reviewed other titles by this author and really enjoyed them I was quick to jump at the chance to read and review this book. After reading the blurb I was interested to know more about both it's characters and the direction the plot would go in too.

The pace of this book is a medium pace, which I liked a lot and became almost immediately captured my attention and held it throughout the book. I really enjoyed the direction of the plot. I found characters that I became quite quickly attached to, had empathy with, and I found I really cared about what would happen to them. Of course for every great character that you love you also have one you dislike, but I'll go into that further on in my review.

I love the different blue hue's used on the cover. I'd definitely conclude that the female on the cover holding her books, and wearing the Knight's Academy Uniform, is Myka, the main female character in this book. There's a full moon in the background as well as a werewolf lurking about in the background, which hint at the paranormal's featured inside. I guess some would count the full moon and werewolf as spoilers but personally they just confirmed I had chosen a book I would enjoy. The building at the very back of the background on the cover is a school/college, Knight's Academy. I adore a great byline, it can be the difference between choosing which book to read first or even be the final thing that pushes me to purchase a book too. The byline on this book say's, "She'd been marked; can she escape a fate worse than death?". So to sum up the cover on this book would certainly make me pick it up from a bookstore shelf, and the combination of cover, byline and blurb would make me put the book in my basket to buy!

The genre's that this book is listed as being, on Goodreads are, Paranormal, Romance, Vampires and I agree the book falls into those. I think both YA, NA, and Adults can read and enjoy this book. As I was reading the book, the Knight's Academy reminded me just a little of Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead which is a series that I read and loved.  

This book has a prologue which give's us, the reader some background, and lays the foundations to help us to come to the correct conclusion about one of the male characters. It also gives insight into what looks like a great offer for Myka actually has a hidden ulterior motive. 

The actual book begins on a normal, usual day at school for Myka, she is struggling through her math's lesson, she really doesn't like algebra. Myka would much rather be outside in the fresh air and open spaces, with her sketchbook. So Myka is sat in the hot, humid stuffy classroom dreaming about sitting in the woods with her sketchbook. Then Rachel the freshman who helps out in front office knocks on her classroom door, the very beginning of Myka's life changing beyond recognition! Rachel brings a message that Myka's presence has been requested by Principal Adams. Myka immediately worries about why she is summoned to the Principal's office and Mrs Childress the secretary indicates for her to go straight into the office. Once in the Principal's office Myka notices the two strangers also in the room. Both men are wearing suits, though in totally different ways, creating totally different impressions. The older man, roughly forty has jet black hair, not a hair out of place. His suit is pristine and finished off with a hunter green tie. The man looks eager to be here unlike the younger of the strangers who looks like he doesn't care and he certainly doesn't want to be right there in the room they are in! The younger male looks about 17, so a similar age to Myka. He has dirty blonde hair, rolled up shirt sleeves and a loose hanging hunter green tie. He has bright green eyes that seem to look right into Myka's soul. Myka is so intent on checking out the younger male stranger she imagines kissing his lips and running her fingers through his hair. . . . Myka is brought abruptly back to the present as Principal Adams introduces the men. The older male with the pristine hair and suit is Headmaster Marcus Knight, he looks eager to begin speaking, but the Principal is introducing the younger dirty blonde haired guy now, his name is Milo. . . .Milo Farrar he is one of the students at Headmaster Marcus Knight's school, which is called Knight's Academy. Headmaster MArcus Knight, begins to explain that her Prinicipal has told him about Myka's love of art. then Marcus Knight asks Myka what she would say if he offered her a full scholarship at the Knight's Academy. Myka doesn't immediately say yes, she has the sense to question the offer, noticing that Milo has the faintest smirk on his lips as she does so. Headmaster Knight explains that they make a point to search out students with excellent grade and amazing skills. By the way Marcus Knight stresses the word skills, Myka is in no doubt that her grades alone have not secured this generous offer. Myka has never heard of Knight's Academy before today, but knows private schools are normally very good. Myka enquires about the Knight's Academy art program, Headmaster Marcus Knight assures her it is a marvelous program and equally marvelous offer, but he goes on to say she should come on a tour of the school with her parents. Hmm, her parents are another great reason to accept the scholarship offer, it would mean much less expense for her adoptive parents Jill and Barry Williams.
The next Chapter begins two months after the Knight's Academy tour. Myka is being dropped off at her new school, she had thought she was ready and it was not a big deal until the car stopped in front of the dorm building.  Jill and Barry help Myka move her things into her dorm room, and meet dorm mother Ms Carolyn Peters, who reassures Jill and Barry that she is always available to all the girls at anytime of the day or night. Myka soon settles in with room mate Olivia. They meet some older girls who are in their second year at the Knights Academy, they befriend them, telling them what happens next, the welcome assembley, being assigned a guide etc etc.
Myka soon settles in, she has Preston as her guide who seems to be glued to her side and becoming increasingly possessive over her and her time. Initially it seems a nice, friendly thing but soon becomes more irritating and Preston becomes possessive both during classes they have together like Archery to his insistence he walks Myka to classes, or be with her during her free time. It begins to make an already claustrophobic Myka feel as if she is trapped. Preston seems to think he is boyfriend material for Myka. The first efforts by Myka to remove herself from being glued to his side. Myka honestly much prefers the mysterious and moody Milo. Things look like they are going well when he purchases her a gift of something he has seen her admiring, but then he just falls off the radar for a while. Then there's a parents/family weekend and it turns out that Myka's quiet mild mannered adoptive father Barry takes an immediate and quite strong dislike for Preston! In fact at one point Barry tells Myka to use him, and the fact he doesn't like Preston as an excuse to get rid/avoid him! Sadly even that doesn't deter the possessive suitor.
I don't want to go into more detail as I prefer not to reveal spoilers as much as possible. I will say if you loved the Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead I think you'll truly enjoy reading this one too!

Naturally one of my favourite characters is Myka Williams, she is a bit of an outcast, so I guess that's one of the reasons I empathise with her. When given the chance of a free scholarship she has no qualms about acceptiing as she doesn't really have very many friends to leave behind. Myka isn't a fashion enthusiast, preferring to feel comfortable and covered up. Myka especially prefers to hide the strange birthmark she has, that becomes more relevant as the book goes on. In fact Myka doesn't know anything about her life or parents before Jill and Barry adopted her.
I also really liked Olivia, the girl that Myka shared dorm room 4C with. Olivia is the louder, more outwardly confident "Miss Socialiser" friend that Myka needs to help her make friends and settle into the Knight Academy.

My thoughts upon finishing this book were, I want more! When can I read more? Could Milo and Myka ever have an "out in the open" official relationship? What about Luka and Olivia? If it comes down to a war between the human's and vampire's, whose side will the hybrids be on and what about the Knight's Academy staff? Who will dorm mom Ms Carolyn Peters and Teacher at Knights Academy, Mother to Milo,Girlfriend to the headmaster, Ms Farrar, side with in such a war. I am also looking forward to Myka's biological parents being revealed or discussed in the next book too.