Tuesday, 17 January 2017

REVIEW - DEEP DOWN DARK - MONSTER ISLAND SERIES BY KATIE FRENCH

Title: Deep Down Dark
Series: Monster Island
Author: Katie French
Release Date: 25th December 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
My name is Lucca DiVitas. 
A few other teens and I have been trapped on an island full of blood-thirsty monsters. 
But when we try to escape, every door we open creates more questions than answers. 
Why is someone planning our deaths, watching from cameras like a sadistic voyeur? 
Why would someone dangle a twelve-year-old girl from a tree like bait? 
And what does my own father have to do with this? 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I was certainly looking forward to reading more of this series. I had lots of questions from both the prior books in the series. Hopefully I will get some answers or hints at answers in this book! Though why do I feel I may be asking as many questions I get answered. . .lol.
I didn't really take notes as I was reading this, Being familiar with the characters and the fact that this is a series is presented as a number of short stories I basically didn't want to put the book down! I felt like I was racing along side the characters, desperate to learn about where they were and why they were there as well as the big question of who has brought the here to Monster Island.

The cover again is kept simplistic, and fits in well with the other covers. The same byline of "Pay For Your Sins" is again featured on the cover. I'd certainly say this series falls into the genres of thriller, suspense, and I would even say it has a horror element to it.

This book picks right up where the previous one, The Noose, ended. Lucca and Kat are still united and determined to find 12 year old Joslyn. They are struggling, moving through the snow and extremely cold conditions in their frantic attempt to get to Joslyn before the sadistic kidnapper lowers her to the floor and amongst the awful beast that seem native to this horrific Island of terrors!
Later in the book Kat and Lucca are almost herded to a church by the monster-beasts. In fact they are so afraid they make the terrible mistake of engaging a combination lock to keep out the monsters, which it does but they then soon realise in their hurry to escape they have in fact trapped themselves!
Still Kat and Lucca push on together, unified in their bid to find out the answers to the increasing amount of questions they have.It's then they make a discovery which shatters their friendship. . . I won't say what they discover . .but I felt so sorry for Lucca, who to be honest is as dumbfounded by their discovery as Kat is. Lucca attempts to explain but Kat see's something on one of the video camera feeds that looks like her sister and she dashes off into the wintery landscape alone to rescue her sister.

The character that became my favourite in this book was Kat. You are given more insight into her home life prior to her being kidnapped. Kat is naturally protective over her twelve year old sister Joslyn. Kat and Joslyn live with their Nana, their parents went off for a three week excursion, but never returned. . they have been gone eight months!
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 think I learnt much more about Kat's character in this book. Some of my questions were partly answered but I still have a few of the same questions I had after reading Taken, and then The Noose. I cannot imagine why someone, or some organisation maybe would want to put young teens on such an isolated island full of monster-beasts and sadistic individuals!
I am eagerly awaiting the next part of the series! I want to know more. . .more about the island and maybe some more about the characters "before" they were taken too. It's very clever how Katie is having the character flashing back in time presenting reasons for why they may deserve to be punished on this odd, macabre island.

Upon finishing reading the book I like to make a quick note of my feelings/reaction. The final thoughts I had as I came to the end of Deep Down Dark were "Well I didn't expect that! or 'him' to be part of it all!"

Friday, 13 January 2017

REVIEW - HAVELOCK BY JANE D. EVERLY

Title: Havelock
Author: Jane D. Everly
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Release Date: 26th November 2015

BLURB from Goodreads
Eliana Havelock is a female with no past, whose determination to bring down a Karachi arms dealer catches the attention of the British Secret Intelligence Service. MI-6 is currently fractured due to political upheaval with many of its covert programs dissolved or disbanded. When Eliana presents the opportunity to divert an international arms disaster, the head of MI-6 partners her with one of it’s best and brightest, the enigmatic, Connor Blackwell. But in a world of secrets and hidden agendas, who can Eliana trust? And what, or who, is Eliana really after?


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
Having read and enjoyed another "mystery, thriller" I fancied reading this one. The genre is somewhat newer to me and so I'd say I am still discovering authors/books I enjoy. The plot was making me ask questions quite early on in the book, for example, How does Eliana know of Treadik and can she stop him?

The cover shows a female who I'd say is Eliana, with her hand outstretched, showing her bright red nail polish. Above her hand is a large pill/tablet with the title of the book, Havelock across it. 

This book is listed as being Adult, Contemporary, Mystery and Thriller, which I think describes the book well, and I agree with those genres.

I began reading this one quite some time ago and just couldn't get into it, so I filed it away to try again in the future. After reading a YA Mystery/Thriller, and a couple of Adult, Mystery, Thriller's so I decided to give this book another go.

The central character in this book is Eliana Havelock, who is described as having crystal blue eyes, a dark complexion. The book goes on to tell us, the reader, that Eliana is a strong independent woman, taught to be that way by her mother. Eliana's mother died whilst she was still young, yet her father never appeared to claim her. Which is why Eliana is looking for her father, she wants answers. Currently Eliana is following the drugs trade and we meet her whilst she is being held captive by those she had been watching. When attacked by one of the men, Eliana manages to cut his face as retaliation, which angers her captor even more. The man and Eliana continue fighting with Eliana using the man's overconfidence and manages to get hold of the mans own gun and shoot him with it! So we now know that Eliana is one tough cookie, who can fight her own battles. Eliana does not enjoy killing for the sake of it, she views it merely as a case of survival of the fittest. It's whilst she is assessing her own injuries that the door to the room she is in is kicked in and in swarm two men in combat gear, and another rather attractive looking guy. She quickly assess the new situation she finds herself in. I really enjoyed reading about Eliana, her character and the people she comes into contact with, within the book.
The other character I read most about in the book was Jeremy Lampert. To say he is the opposite of Eliana's character is an understatement. Jeremy is a 39 year old male married to a woman who loves sending much more money than they have coming in. This man can see no way out of this debt and no light at the end of the tunnel for his life, private or business work life. Jeremy married his wife Vanessa when they were very young, they have three children. Their eldest Evie is in a rehab centre in South Florida. To be totally honest I found Jeremy a little irritating...I wanted to physically shake him to wake him up and break him out of his monotonous life that he is seemingly just plodding along in. One minnute Jeremy is doing the daily drudge of going to work, goes to the bathroom and recives a phonecall from his wife. . . then the next minute he is once again driving in his car and see's it is 10.03am and he has some how lost the last 45 minutes of his life/day. Then Jeremy notices blood on his hands and car steering wheel....he then hears his name on the car radio, saying that there is a city wide hunt out for him, it's believed that he is guilty of being part of an assassination plot! I read further on where Eliana is in contact with and then soon working in conjunction with MI6. 

I felt like there were too many slower paced parts in the book for my reading taste and I became more and more irritated to a point I was avoiding reading! It was then that I decided I should finally DNF (Did Not Finish) this book. I don't know if it's just this specific book, it characters or slower plot that made it so I couldn't get along with, or the fact that the book is in a genre I do not read a lot of.

I would say please don't let me put you off this book just because I didn't enjoy it, doesn't mean you won't. I think this book, it's plot and characters would have been more my dad's "cup of tea"/book type than mine. The thing is you don't learn anything if you don't try new genres and new authors, and like I stated at the beginning of this review, I had recently broadened the parameters of the genres I read. So I have actually read and thoroughly enjoyed other contemporary, mystery, thriller books. 

To sum up this particular title was just not for me, hence my Did Not Finish.






REVIEW

FAVE CHARACTER/CHARACTERS



FINAL THOUGHTS

This book has what I would class as a kick butt female character at the centre of the plot. I did like the characters of 

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

REVIEW - BLUE BLOODED - JESSICA MCCLAIN SERIES BY AMANDA CARLSON

Title: Blue Blooded
Series: Jessica McClain
Author: Amanda Carlson
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Vampires, Magic
Release Date: 19th December 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
Jessica McClain is on the hunt for her destiny. She arrives in Baltimore to find that her quest has reached a dead end and only a note remains. Forced to do as it says, or die, Jessica and her crew must head overseas.

They arrive to discover Julian de Rossi, the Mediterranean Pack Alpha, is double dealing with a powerful goddess and Tally is still missing. With help from a divine source, they engage in an all out war—one that must end in a sacrifice. But is Jessica ready to pay the ultimate price?


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
To say I couldn't wait to read this book was an understatement! I was really looking forward to catching up with Jessica and all the other supernatural characters in this book. I did put it on my kindle/tablet to start reading on the 19th but due to being ill I couldn't even read, yep I was that ill! It was really frustrating not be able to read this book straight away! So I actually began reading the book on the 26th of December. I could feel myself being pulled right back into the story again. As for the characters it's like meeting up with old friends. 

The cover has Jessica featured prominently in he middle of it which fits really well with the plot of the book as Jessica is front and centre in the majority of the action! The moon is once again featured in the background, which both ties in with the other covers as well as being there because of its importance to the wolves and in this book it's even more important as the Coalition with say their vows under the moon. The byline on this cover says "Fight To Win" and is exactly what has to be done, not just by Jessica but by other various characters too. (I can't say which characters as that would involve spoilers! so forgive me for being a little vague). My usual would the cover make me pick this book up from a book store shelf is a definite yes. 

The genre's this book falls into like the rest of the series are paranormal, urban fantasy, shape shifter, and more. I'd say there is a definitely a supernatural in this series to suit every reader.

In this book Jessica is having to follow directives from Enid. Enid is naturally angered with Jessica for killing the host body that her sister Bianca would have been re-born into. Jessica, Rourke, James, Marcy are joined by Kayla and they are helping her find her brother Jax as well as looking for Danny, Naomi, and Tally. There's the added pressure of the new coalition being formed very soon but first fate has a few twists and turns for Jessica to work her way through.
I found the gang being in Italy interesting as Amanda also included information about the genuine surroundings and landmark, tourist place of Italy. I found the new characters fitted in well with the existing ones and I soon became attached to Kayla and Ajax (Jax for short). In this book we meet more of the Mediterranean Pack.
There are lots of different supernaturals featured in this installment of the series, shape shifters (werewolves, cats, fox), vampire, fae, witches, seers, warlocks, kitsune, and ....(I can't say as it would be a spoiler). As for a favourite character, how can I choose just one? I mean of course I love Jessica! She has remained kick butt and true to herself throughout the series so far. It is continually hinted at in this book that she will have to make a great sacrifice. When asked if she will do this, she doesn't simply say yes blindly to get what she wants at the time (freedom of her kidnapped friends). In fact she actually says no, explaining if the sacrifice was to murder someone in cold blood or a member of her family she would be unable to do so. Eventually somewhat of a compromise is put forward and Jessica agrees to make a sacrifice when it is necessary. We find out what it will be later in the book that the sacrifice will not only affect Jessica, but will deeply affect her mate and by extension her family and pack. However fate has spoken and what will be. .  will be. I guess we will find out for sure in the next book. 
Everything builds up and there is a large confrontation in the book, that could change everything in both the supernatural world and the human world. Though there are supernaturals on hand to make sure events turn out as fate intended them to. 

I could easily go on and on about this book and what happens, the new supernatural characters we meet and the new planes that are revealed to both Jessica and us the readers. I found this book an amazing installment in a truly brilliant series. So I do not reveal any spoilers from this book, or the previous books I think I have to stop here, but please take my word for it this is a must read series!

Personally I find series is more addictive with each and every installment. Amanda Carlson has delivered a fantastic read once again. I totally adore this series and it's brilliantly crafted characters and plot. Definitely, desperately want to read more of it! I love everything about this series and its captivating characters!

I have been asked who/what author/books I would compare this series to. I have read and adored and would compare the Jessica McClain Series and it's author Amanda Carlson as being as good, (I never thought I would ever say this as I was besotted with the Bitten Series) if not even better than, Kelley Armstrong's Women Of the Otherworld! There are some fantastic shape shifter series available right now. Others I would recommend are Karina Espinosa's Mackenzie Grey series, J.A. Belfield's Holloway Pack series and Lauren Dan's Cascadia Wolves Series too. (which is being re-released by Carina Press). 


Friday, 6 January 2017

DOUBLE REVIEW - ALONE TIME & GIRL'S NIGHT OUT - VISITS TO PETAL SERIES BY LAUREN DANE

Title: Alone Time
Series: Visits To Petal
Author: Lauren Dane
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: 4th September 2012

BLURB from Goodreads
Visits to Petal, Part 1
***This free story is bonus material for readers of the Chase brothers and Petal, Georgia, series and is not intended to be standalone.***

It’s date night in Petal, Georgia, and Nathan, Matt and Shane have some long-awaited alone time with their women and they’re not about to let that opportunity go.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
To be totally honest I didn't read the Goodreads Blurb for this book, which is unusual as I do normally check out a book/novella I want to read on Goodreads first. I'd read the two Cascadia Wolves novella's, loved them and wanted to try another title or two by Lauren Dane and as this one was free I just downloaded it and read it.
The cover features a couple passionately embracing and undressing so of course suggests romance and though some people on Goodreads have classified this as erotica, to me, I'd say even though its a novella there is enough plot/story line in it, sure it has some steaminess suggested, but is mostly romantic. This book introduces you to the Chase's, very well as well as giving you a good idea of their family dynamics as a whole as well as how their own homes and their own little part of Petal are. I think its amusing how all the Chase brothers want is a little alone time with their partners whilst their parents are looking after the children.. One character in the novella also has an important announcement for her partner once they are alone.
I think reading this novella has given me a good idea of the family at the centre of it all in Petal and I do think I will adding the Chase Brothers Series to my "Want To Read List".
To sum up I still enjoyed reading this novella even though it wasn't necessarily the order they are meant to be read in. 

Title: Girls Night Out
Series: Visits To Petal
Author: Lauren Dane
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: 3rd September 2013

BLURB from Goodreads
Party time? Nobody does it better than the Murphys and the Chases.

Lily and Nathan’s wedding is just a few short weeks away, and the Murphys and Chases are doing their parties up right!

It’s Friday, and the women head to the Pumphouse to celebrate with cocktails, cake, and laughter. The men? They’re at the Tonk for beers, wings, and trash talk.

Throw in party games, penis hats, and crazy-eyed ex-fiancĂ©es, and it’s bound to be a night they’ll be talking about for a long, long time.


Goodreads Link

PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK

REVIEW
Once again I'm being totally honest here, I didn't read the Goodreads Blurb for this book, which is unusual as I do normally check out a book/novella I want to read on Goodreads first. I'd read the Alone Time novella, loved the character within the novella and wanted to try the next title in this series by Lauren Dane and as this one was also free I just downloaded it and read it.
The cover features a couple embracing, so of course suggests romance and though once again, some people on Goodreads have classified this as erotica, to me, I'd say that when put together with "Alone Time" there is a plot. As standalone novella there wasn't enough plot, or enough information, and moving on in a storyline for me. Having said that both this novella and the one featured above in this post are meant to be read as additional stories to the Chase Brothers Series not as I have read them as though prequels. Total honesty here, they were free to download so I thought I'll read them and see if I like the characters that I get a glimpse of in them. Well they worked in that way for me as I took a liking to the characters and would let to get to know them more. This series may not be paranormal, so is not featuring a pack of shifters ,but there seems to be a very strong family unit at the centre of these novella's that I would certainly like to read more about.
So Lily and Nathan are soon to be tying the not and in this novella the men are at a bachelor party and the women a bachelorette (or as we would say in the UK a hen party). So we see how the males act and react with the other male members of their family, and the same with the bacholerette's dressing up and having a "theme" for their evening.
I do think I will adding the Chase Brothers Series to my "Want To Read List".
To sum up I still enjoyed reading this novella even though it wasn't necessarily the order they are meant to be read in. 


Sunday, 1 January 2017

DOUBLE REVIEW - RELUCTANT MATE & PACK ENFORCER - CASCADIA WOLVES BY LAUREN DANE

Title: Reluctant Mate
Series: Cascadia Wolves
Author: Lauren Dane
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 1st December 2016

BLURB from Netgalley
"I can't touch you yet. Once I do, it's over."  

As daughter of the ruling Pack family, Layla Warden is under pressure to settle down. Find a nice wolf mate from a nice wolf family and have nice wolf babies. Layla has other plans, but when you're a werewolf, biology trumps plans. And when Layla meets Sid, the sex is so intense, so hot, so consuming, it's more than just a connection. It's a mating bond.  
Sid Rosario wasn't expecting to find his mate so soon—some wolves never find theirs. Now that he's found Layla, he's never letting her go. But lust and desire alone aren't enough to secure their bond. If they want this incredible happiness to last, there's one more thing they'll have to do…

~ This  book was previously published under a different title ~

REVIEW
I have to confess I think I may have read this Reluctant Mate & Pack Enforcer in the wrong order. So I discovered this book covers the story of Layla and her mate bonding with Sid, that was referred to in Pack Enforcer. Though I feel I should say after reading this book, I personally think they can be read in either order. 

The cover features a back view of a muscular male and woman embracing. Then the author’s name appears in the mid section of the cover, with the title smaller directly beneath Lauren Dane. If someone described this placement and sizing of author name and title, I readily admit I would probably scrunch up my nose presuming it would not look aesthetically pleasing but it truly works. I do like both the placement of the title and its font style. The bottom third of the cover has a rolling hills landscape with a forest of trees, which upon reading the book I would conclude is the land which surrounds the Warden’s private home. I love the wolf in the bottom left corner, how it forms part of the landscape, giving the perfect place for the series title, Cascadia Wolves.This cover would draw my eye to it on a book store shelf and encourage me to lift it from the shelf to learn more about it, so I’d say the cover does its job very well.

So the main kick butt female character at the centre of this novella is Layla Warden the eldest daughter of the Cascadia Wolves Pack. Which means Layla is part of the ruling pack family. Layla is described as a tall, busty red head with beautiful china blue eyes. The other female heavily featured in the novella is Layla's best friend, pack member Tia Mathers. The three males featured in the plot are Sid Rosario, a tall, dark, dangerous man who oozes rebellion! who has short black hair and a row of earrings in his right ear. Sid is an artist who normally resides in Tucson. The other two Rosario's are Sid's cousin Adam, who is quite well known to Layla and Tia, in fact he has dated and slept with Tia. The other cousin who is called upon for help by Sid is Shane Rosario. Shane is higher in his pack hierachy than Sid but is tall and dark haired like Sid and is close to him as it is Sid's family that have shown him the werewolf ways as his mother is human. Layla is under increasingly more pressure to settle down, find a mate and have little werewolf babies to carry on the family line. This book is set in 1996, ten years prior to Pack Enforcer which was one of the glaring clues that informed me I had read the books in the wrong order. Duh! Well I was suffering an ear infection at the time! Layla is fiercely independent keeping her pack life and work life totally separate, unlike her female cousins who all work in a pack family business. Layla is adamant she is sooo not ready to settle down and procreate, no matter what her family and pack wishes are! 

It's during a night out at Nautica that both Layla and Tia end up bumping into Adam and Sid. Sid spots Layla and Tia and questions his cousin Adam about the females. Adam replies quite literally giving Sid the females "pedigree". Sid is insistent he is not interested in Layla's pedigree, but he does find her instantly attractive and feels drawn to her. So it's up to Adam to introduce everyone. Layla also eels a strangely strong pull towards Sid. . .she feels lie she is falling under some sort of spell. When Layla learns that Sid is her mate and bonding to him she panics and goes on the run, away from pack, family, friends and Sid. Layla is finishing it difficult to accept and she knows she has to complete the tri-bond too or she will slowly go mad. Initially it's suggested that Adam be the one to complete the tri-bond. but naturally the fact Adam has slept with Tia complicates things in Layla's mind so Sid generously contacts another of his cousins to complete the bond. Layla knows she needs the tri-bond desperately and is eventually found by Sid. Both Sid and Shane take things slowly and try to make the tri-bond as easy as possible for Layla. I won't explain what the tri-bond is other than to say it is an important and totally necessary part of the mates bonding.
There is an epilogue at the end of this book which has what I would consider a small spoiler for Pack Enforcer regarding Nina and Tracy, so I feel for me that I read them in the correct order. 

I loved the Cascadia Pack dynamics and how they are not necessarily set in stone, nor seem to force the females in the pack to be succumb to the males will, or be at the makes beck and call. Even after the bonding I am sure that Layla will continue doing the work she wants to do. Sid seems to be type of werewolf that will come up with a compromise with her on all aspects of their lives, from her working to them procreating.

I should probably say that these titles are a little steamy, certainly 18+ in my opinion, though I personally would not class them as erotica. To me erotica is pure sexual scenes, and very little plot or character building or background. These novella's are definitely plot driven so to me are not erotica. I found I thoroughly enjoyed them and am eager to read more when they are available.  To be honest if the next one was out now I would be purchasing it to read! I can truthfully say I have found another author to add to my favourites list.


Title: Pack Enforcer
Series: Cascadia Wolves
Author: Lauren Dane
Genre: Paranormal, Shifters, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 1st December 2016

BLURB from Netgalley
This wolf mates for life… 
Nina Reyes knows trouble when she sees it, and Lex Warden, Enforcer for the local werewolf pack, is nothing but. When her brother gets in too deep with some dangerous wolves and comes to Nina for help—dragging super alpha protector Lex into her life—she can handle it. She might have put her grifter past behind her, but she's still got what it takes. If only she didn't find Lex—his body, his scent, even his domineering nature—so intoxicating. 
As Enforcer, it's Lex's job to protect his people. Nina might be more capable of handling herself than he initially thought, but that doesn't mean she's safe from their enemies. His need to protect her is more than just pack business—Nina, a human, is his mate. Bedding her once is not even close to enough; to satisfy his wolf, he needs a true bond.  

The heat between them scares Nina, but sometimes the reward is worth the risk, and the thought of living without Lex terrifies her more than any threat the werewolf mafia can pose. Lex will do anything to keep her safe. And when the Rogues catch up to them, he'll get a chance to prove it… 
This book was previously published under the title of Enforcer ~ GR Link

REVIEW
To be truly honest I was in a bit of a reading rut and I was awaiting a few titles I had already signed up to read and review to become available for me to read. So I decided to sit down and think out of what has become my usual reading comfort zone of the dystopian, and the post apocalyptic genres. I went back to an older favourite genre of shifter romance. . .and found this re-released title on Netgalley and chose to read this book.

My thoughts whilst approaching reading this one were quite mixed after seeing the genres readers have classified this book as “erotica” and I do not read that genre. Whilst reading this book, which I would say is an 18+ more adult read due to some steamy scenes I have come to the conclusion that I may perhaps have a different idea on what I would call erotica than other readers. I think of erotica being made up of vast majority of sexual scenes with very little plot line. I would not categorise this book as erotica as it has a strong plot line, great characters that draw you into their lives and dilemmas, and hold you there for the book journey.

The cover features a back view of a muscular male holding what could be a weapon. Then the author’s name appears in the mid section of the cover, with the title smaller directly beneath Lauren Dane. If someone described this placement and sizing of author name and title, I readily admit I would probably scrunch up my nose presuming it would not look aesthetically pleasing but it truly works. I do like both the placement of the title and its font style. The bottom third of the cover has a rolling hills landscape with a forest of trees, which upon reading the book I would conclude is the land which surrounds Cade and Lex Warden’s private home. I love the wolf in the bottom left corner, how it forms part of the landscape, giving the perfect place for the series title, Cascadia Wolves. I certainly prefer this book cover to that of the previous edition of the book. This cover would draw my eye to it on a book store shelf and encourage me to lift it from the shelf to learn more about it, so I’d say the cover does its job very well.

So I’ve already mentioned that some readers seem to classify this book as falling into the erotica genre, personally I do not totally agree with this. Yes it is aimed at adults as it contains descriptive steamy scenes so I’d agree it is an 18+ aimed book. I would also add the genres of fantasy, paranormal, romance with shifters/werewolves. Another point I should add if you are a romance reader/fan this book comes along with the Carina Press Romance Promise! - which says a book “comes with all the romance you are looking for!”

So how does the female human Nina Reyes become embroiled in the Cascadia Wolves problems? Well to explain you need to know more about Nina’s earlier life. Nina has had to be tough since her parents died, when she was just 12 years old. Though distant cousins took her in along with younger brother Gabriel, they were only wanted for the income housing them gave. Nina soon took on the role of mother to Gabriel, trying her best but regularly failing to keep him out of trouble. They run away when it seems the authorities are about to place them into care with a strong possibility of them being parted from each other. Nina does what she has to in order to survive, pay rent and support herself and her younger brother such as stealing, and petty theft. She goes on to finding a more legitimate form of income doing cleaning. With help from her employer she obtains an education and becomes a computer geek/hacker! Though Nina does break the law she does so only long enough to give herself and Gabriel a fresh start elsewhere. Things are ticking long nicely, Nina has her own florists shop but then trouble finds Gabriel once again with him getting into a bar brawl. . . the trouble is he is also bitten and given the lycanthropy virus which mean he is now a werewolf. Nina has mixed feelings on this but accepts her brother as she always has and hopes being part of a “pack” will help him settle down once and for all. Sadly Gabriel is helping pack brother Tommie look into some problems within the pack concerning pack members quite high in the hierarchy. Tommie is shot, Gabriel is on the run with the “evidence” on a laptop and unsurprisingly turns to his beloved sister Nina for help, dragging her into an already dangerous and volatile situation. Though it’s not all bad as she ends up meeting the “most feared wolf in North America”, Lex Warden! Lex totally underestimates Nina, her love and protectiveness towards her brother, as well as mistaking her for the quiet, nerdy, “librarian like” she likes to portray but he soon learns differently. Irrespective of her disguise Lex soon realises she is his mate and quickly becomes over protective when her brother, home and business are targeted by the rogues and those who are woring against the pack from within it.
Nina quickly learns Lex doesn’t take no for an answer and neither does his brother and Cascadia pack Alpha Cade. She is stubbornly independent, and soon shows she is determined to stay that way. Nina also shows that though she is what is considered a weaker human she is not afraid to face death to stand by her love or her brother.
I could seriously ramble on and chatter on and on about this book. Wow this book is brilliant I fell in love almost immediately with the Cascadia Pack. I am eager to read more and am so glad that the series seems so extensive. I am also interested in discovering some of Lauren Dane’s other shifter book series, such as “de la Vega Cats”, “Cherchez Wolf Pack”, and “Diablo Lake”, having said that I did enjoy Lauren Dane’s writing style, so maybe I should branch out and try one of her more contemporary genre book series too.

I had lots of favourite characters within the Cascadia Wolves already, from the main characters to the rogues and the extended Warden family. Naturally I love the kick butt female character of Nina Reyes, with her long curly hair and hazel eyes she is an independent woman who hides behind a severe hairstyle and fake glasses on a daily basis. When there’s a need to dig around within the pack to find out who is betraying them Nina isn’t afraid to step up and put her own life on the line to discover which of the three suspects is the guilty party. Then there’s the two main hot hunks of the Cascadia Wolves pack, Cade Warden, 40 year old, hazel eyed, still single pack Alpha who commands and receives great respect from the other pack members. Along with his 6” tall, brown/blonde haired, gorgeous green eyed brother and pack enforcer (Alexander) Lex Warden. Hmmm gorgeous! Er where was I? . . Aah . . . other characters I felt an immediate kinship towards the following female character along with the possibilities of great future plot involvement, with Megan and Tracy both kick butt young woman. Even the rogue suspects in this book had a few tiny likable qualities!

My first thoughts upon finishing this book was. . . .What a great introduction to a fantastic new shifter series for me to work my way through! Then I remembered that this series isn’t actually “new” as such but it seems the first couple of books have been re-tweaked etc.  So my next thoughts were: When can I read the next book? Is the rest of the Cascadia Wolves Series being tweaked and re-released and if so when will they be available to read? To sum up I have to add that this is another brilliant shifter series to add to my list of greats which include Amanda Carlson’s Jessica McClain Series, Kelley Armstrong’s Women Of The Otherworld, Karina Espinosa’s MacKenzie Grey Series, J.A. Belfield’s Holloway Pack, as well as both of Rachel Vincent’s shifter series, Shifters and Wildcats.




Monday, 26 December 2016

REVIEW - THE MAGDALEN GIRLS BY V.S. ALEXANDER

So Christmas Day has been and gone. You've rushed around doing everything for any guests and family you had round, now treat yourself to a book to curl up on the sofa or in bed to read. Indulge yourself with a fantastic, realistic read.

Title: The Magdalen Girls
Author: V.S. Alexander
Genre: Historical, Literary, Contemporary
Release Date: 27th December 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
Dublin, 1962. Within the gated grounds of the convent of The Sisters of the Holy Redemption lies one of the city’s Magdalen Laundries. Once places of refuge, the laundries have evolved into grim workhouses. Some inmates are “fallen” women—unwed mothers, prostitutes, or petty criminals. Most are ordinary girls whose only sin lies in being too pretty, too independent, or tempting the wrong man. Among them is sixteen-year-old Teagan Tiernan, sent by her family when her beauty provokes a lustful revelation from a young priest.

Teagan soon befriends Nora Craven, a new arrival who thought nothing could be worse than living in a squalid tenement flat. Stripped of their freedom and dignity, the girls are given new names and denied contact with the outside world. The Mother Superior, Sister Anne, who has secrets of her own, inflicts cruel, dehumanizing punishments—but always in the name of love. Finally, Nora and Teagan find an ally in the reclusive Lea, who helps them endure—and plot an escape. But as they will discover, the outside world has dangers too, especially for young women with soiled reputations.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I have read other books similar to blurb of this one. It seems totally wrong to say I enjoy reading this type of story, as what has been done to these women truly is horrific. I do however believe that these books need to be written and read so that these awful acts are addressed publicly and officially (and loudly) apologised for. I think that there should be some form of amends made for the suffering these women underwent at the hands of those running the establishments.
The cover of the book fits the book very well. It features a young women about to become a Magdalen. We don't seethe young woman's face which represents the fact when entering the convent all the young girls are stripped of their previous identity, clothes, possessions and even their hair!
My thoughts throughout reading this book were on a continual tidal wave going up and down as the young women journeyed through their lives as best they could and their experiences were revealed. I find it a crazy concept that so many were forced to give up babies they could have supported with a little help. In comparison in this day and age young women in this situation have life a lot easier. In fact nowadays it sometimes seems that young women are being rewarded for having a child out of wedlock and with a father who has no way and no intention of supporting their offspring. As I am writing this section of my review I am only a few percent into reading this book and already I firmly believe an apology is way, way overdue for those whose lives were broken by such an horrific act of removing a woman's child so quickly after birth and for the treatment these women had to put up with in the laundries within convents and other similar establishments. Yes, its a subject I feel quite strongly about!"
I'm at around half way through the book and find myself really routing for the three main Magdalen's this book is centred on, to escape. Then again I wonder what would they or could they do if they escape. What help is there available to them if they do manage to get out of the convent. Society looks down on these women. If an escapee Magdalen is spotted, the majority of people won't help, they'll just call the guards. (Police)
I'd say that the genre this book falls into is realistic, women fiction. In a book store this book would be placed in the "romance and saga" section of the fiction department.
I guess I should give you a bit of an overview of the book. Basically we witness two different girls that though from similar backgrounds find themselves being shipped off to the nuns. To be more specific the nuns at The Sisters of the Holy Redemption. Neither of these two girls are actually pregnant, in fact they haven't even had sex at the time they are sent away. The two girls, naturally protest their innocence to their parents, and we the reader the reader know the girls are not guilty of anything but perhaps a little naivety. With each girl it is the father that is the main instigator that ensures they are sent away for good. 
Teagan Tiernan is accused of "making eyes" or "attempting to seduce" the new priest visiting the parish. Sure she finds the Father Mark attractive, he is after all the youngest Priest she has ever seen. The Priest seems pretty flattered by the attention he is receiving from the women of the parish himself. Teagan has a crush on a local boy, Cullen Kirby, only her heavy drinking father does not approve of him as Cullen is Protestant and the Tiernan family are a good Catholic family. 
Nora Craven is accused of "cavorting"with her boyfriend Pearse, who is somewhat older than her. Her father loses it when he catches Nora kissing Pearse in their family home.
Both girls receive a similar welcome at The Sisters of the Holy Redemption convent from the Mother Superior, Sister Anne. Sister Anne prides herself on showing the girls the error of their ways using love. Her love and the love of God. In fact Sister Anne has individual blocks with the letters LOVE on them in a prominent place in her office. Though as you read the book you quickly realise that Sister Anne's version of love is very different to that of a "normal" person. 
Both girls are given new names when they enter the institution, Teagan Tiernan is told she is now called Teresa and Nora Craven is given the new name of Monica. They are also now known as Magdalen's. The girls are taken to Sister Rose in the cuttery, as all Magdalen's are given a short hair cut, apparently to avoid accidents from long hair becoming caught in any machinery. The girls are also given a grey rough fabric shift style dress to wear. A white apron completes their uniform. The young women/girls are set to work in the laundry, which means sorting the laundry,washing it, stain removal, drying and ironing as well as any mending that needs to be done. The majority of the Magdalen's work in the laundry. Other more fortunate ones can be put to work making and repairing lace. 
There is other main Magadalen's we learn more about are Betty, an older woman who has long since become resigned to her montonous life of drudgery at the hands of the nuns. Then there's Patricia, a greedy, similar aged to Teagan and Nora, a petty Magdalen, who regularly snitches on her fellow Magdalen's to the nuns to gain favour. Patricia plans on becoming a nun as soon as she is able. From what we see of her character within this books pages, she would fit right in with the majority of the nuns featured in the book. The last Magdalen who plays a large important part within the book is Lea. Lea is a considered a "good magdalen" by the nuns and does not work in the laundry. She has her own task which is reproducing a copy of the "Book Of Kells". 
In one scene in the book Teresa, Monica and Lea are being punished made to lay as if on the cross like Jesus. they are instructed they may not eat, drink nor soil themselves and will stay there until Sister Anne deems them to have learnt their lesson. The girls react different during the punishment. Teresa is silent, Lea mutters a prayer and the still confident at this stage Monica spits on Sister Anne!
Another more favoured punishment is being put in the penitent's room. Which from the description is more like a cupboard, with a small stool in it and nothing else. Once the door is closed and locked the penitent is left in the dark to think on their sin. Whilst in the room, Sister Mary-Elizabeth sneaks the "guilty party" a drink, a slice of toast or for a visit to the jacks (toilets).
Sister Anne, the Mother Superior comes across as a very nasty piece of work who actually seems to almost enjoy the punishments she doles out! Though later in the book we learn that she has her own inner demons and her own family history to deal with. In fact that very family history that pains her literally once again lands on the doorstep of The Sisters of the Holy Redemption for her to deal with!
Though I really loved all the characters of Teagan/Teresa, Nora/Monica and Lea, I found Lea fascinating. She seems to exist in her own little world in her head. She wants everyone to be happy and be nice to each other, and that's her wish for the Magdalen's and the Nun's. So sadly it is something that is unlikely to happen within the book. I guess you could say one of the three girls is vindicated and eventually escapes The Sisters of the Holy Redemption for a new life. Though I doubt her memories of her time with the Nun's is something she will ever forget, nor be able to fully forgive. Another of the three girls escapes briefly, but seems doomed to stay at The Sisters of the Holy Redemption forever, and seems to have lost all hope of ever having any kind of "normal" existence. The last girl of the three does a selfless act, that sadly fails having a tragic end outcome for more than one of the Magdalen's. 
I did enjoy reading the book, and think the circumstances covered in the book that actually really did happen to many girls, needs to be something told and retold and passed down the generations. I was both surprised and shocked to read that institutions such as the one featured in this book where still in existence and operational in 1996!
The subject of babies being taken away from their mother and put up for adoption is touched upon in this book, though is not the main theme. I think there are many people, in fact I'd probably go as far as saying, many more people than we may realise that were affected by all the different aspects that this book touches on. It is imperative that these displaced children and parents be reunited if they wish.
It is truly truly horrific when you think about the families that have been torn apart. That sure this actual book is fiction but I feel I should stress it is based on real events!
I have already recommended this book to my mum, and daughter, insisting they must read it. My heart genuinely goes out to anyone that has either been through what is depicted in the book either themselves or a family member or friend they know has suffered in this way. My mum and I have read other similar titles and watched movies on the subject. How could I describe this book in only two words? "Thought provoking" kind of horrific to learn the book is a depiction of what was really going on behind those convent walls.
A subject I feel strangely fascinated with it all. Would like to read more on the subject n totally agree with the Author and her reasoning why this has been kept quiet even in the present date. I cannot believe that these institutions were still in existence in 1996, just twenty yrs ago!!!
I could go on and on about this book and others I have read similar to it but I will force myself to limit myself to one last sentence to sum up my final thoughts on this book. I found the book a very emotional and moving read.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

REVIEW - PAPER BUTTERFLIES BY LISA HEATHFIELD

Title: Paper Butterflies
Author: Lisa Heathfield
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Release Date: 30th June 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
June's life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one – and a secret one. She is trapped like a butterfly in a net. 

But then June meets Blister, a boy in the woods. In him she recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away from her home and be free. Because every creature in this world deserves their freedom . . . But at what price?


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I have read another title by this author, Seed which I thoroughly enjoyed and found very interesting, yet different to my normal chosen genre. So when I saw this one I knew I wanted to read it. After finding myself in a bit of a reading rut, having a dilemma not knowing what to read next, I flicked through some older books on my kindle/tablet. I decided to read a few pages of this book, and I'm glad I did as I immediately felt drawn in and wanted to know more about the main character June.
The cover is a close up image of the main character of this at time harrowing book. June is mixed race, so is darker skinned and in looks favours her late mother, rather than her "Mr Average" father. The title of the book is displayed prominently on the book along with the byline of "Can you fly with broken wings?" which so aptly fits this young innocent girl, who has to adapt to the loss of her mother, a "new mum" being brought in by her father and a step sister too. I can't honestly say I love the cover and that's what attracted me to the book as it wasn't. I was compelled to read the book because of the blurb.
I think I could perhaps describe this book as disturbing in certain sections, the awful, vindictive abuse poor June has to put up with from her step mother whilst still plainly distraught with grief from the loss of her own mother. June's mother drowned in a nearby river whilst swimming. . . or did she? Could it be that June's mother discovered something about her husband that drove her to feel unable to carry on and take her own life, leaving him and their daughter behind. Kathleen is the new mother June's father brings into the family home along with her own daughter Megan. Kathleen take the role as wicked step mother to the extreme, and Megan seems to be the evil step sister too. The things Kathleen does to June range from plain spiteful to being horrific. From forcing so much fluid down a young June, denying her use of the toilet before school therefore causing June to wet herself on the bus. Kathleen also forces June to eat large portions of stodgy food causing the young teen to gain weight. Kathleen manages to do all of this without June's father ever noticing anything at all. Kathleen also coerces her own daughter Megan, who is a year younger than Kathleen to help her carry out the spiteful acts, and vicious attacks on June. To make things even worse June is also bullied at school for being different to the norm. The other children do not attempt to take June under their wing to offer solace or any comfort at all,they just belittle her, calling her names, saying she smells and in one particular incident being racially abusive. For the most part the adults at the school are either ignorant or choose not to see what the increasingly isolated June is going through. there are many occasions where June almost tells an adult exactly what is going on in her home. ...there are also occasions where she hints quite heavily at being unhappy at home but sadly she is neither heard nor seen until its far too late.
The one bright light in Junes life is her friend Blister. I loved Blister as a character, and how he came by his nickname too. Blister comes from a large family, his parents adopt children and are immediately welcoming to June. It is with the Wick's family that June has glimpses of what a real loving family should be like. How parents are supposed to react with and around their children. Though the Wick's family don't have lots of money they have love and are more than willing to share that with June whenever she can escape from her own home of torture. The Wicks children don't attend main stream school, they are home schooled by Mr & Mrs Wicks, and June so longs to be taught this way, to escape her poor school life. Another safe haven for June is the abandoned caravans, where she first met Blister. They soon become firm friends, supporting each other. Blister has a brother called Tom who is ill and well his health is slowly deteriorating. June knows this and enjoys helping Mrs Wick's, Blister and his family care for Tom. June keeps Blister and the rest of the Wicks family a secret as long as she possibly can because Kathleen and Megan spoil everything for her. June has a box hidden in her bedroom containing items that are precious to her, some origami Blister has done for her, a treasured scarf that belonged to her mother, that if she closes her eyes tightly and sniffs it still smells of her too. So she can pretend for a few stolen seconds that her mum is still with her. It is the destruction of this hidden box and its beloved contents that finally pushes June to retaliate. Sadly that first, small act of vengeance, has accidental, tragic consequences for June. Finally someone has to take notice of June, but it's not necessarily what you can say in a good way. However June at last has someone to talk to, a Reverend, ultimately someone who believes her. As she gains the Reverend and the final release of speaking about the horror of both her home and school life, it means she loses the unrestricted access to her best friend and now boy friend Blister. June had confided in Blister some of the awful acts Kathleen and Megan had done to her. The Wicks family learn the whole story, and though found guilty and locked away they still stand firmly by June whenever and however they can. 
I loved the characters of June and Blister, I so wanted a happily ever after for them. One of my "Thoughts Whilst Reading" comments was mainly centered on the character of June and was "What an awful life June is having. It's like June is more than one person. She loves alone time with her father yet doesn't tell him how awful Kathleen n Megan treat her. She is bullied at home and at school. June is 'more herself ' with Blister but she doesn't tell him the true horror of her treatment at home....but knows some of what happens at home, and most of what happens at school."This book however is much more realistic, and incidents occur, punishments have to be given out and accepted. During the interactions between June and an older woman called Mickey who is featured in the latter section of the book both crushed my heart, took my breath and made the tears roll down my cheeks all at the same time.
This book is written from the prospective of June, from "Before" when she is a young child having lost her mother, getting used to a new family dynamic when her father brings in a new mum and sister, and from "After" when she is a young woman finally revealing the true horror of her life to a Reverend. I have to say I found this book amazingly written, it didn't just make me tear up, I really cried and finally sobbed at the ending. Then at the very end of the book there is a small "letter" style chapter from the point of view of Blister. . . and just as he gave June hope and a reason to go on, he gives the reader that sliver of hope, that chink of a light at the end of the tunnel.
I could go on and on about this book, it horrified me! At times I was internally shouting and screaming "How can you not realise how unhappy this girl is?" at some of the adults June is around. I also had strong feelings towards June's father. . ."Why couldn't he see how upset his daughter was?" Then something is revealed about his relationship with Kathleen that made me wonder. . .maybe he can see how upset June is but he doesn't want to handle it. . .preferring to turn a blind eye and deaf ear. Wanting to play happy families with Kathleen and Megan. At times during the book I admit I hated Megan, not just for what she did to June, but the fact she kept silent about it, and never seemed to even attempt to comfort June. Then during a conversation between an older June and Megan, she reveals the reasons for her behaviour, whilst not making her actions forgivable, they do explain them a little. At the very end of the book June totally isolates herself from those that love and desperately want to support her, she also forgives those that quite literally made her life a living hell, yet seems unable to forgive herself. The scene where she is given a photograph which shows the people supporting her and petitioning for her totally broke me. I had to stop reading, calm myself, then continue to the end of the book. 
This book is an amazingly powerful, highly emotional, at times crushing, disturbing but also a very thought provoking book. Lisa Heathfield is an amazing, talented author and I will once again be on the look out for any other books by her.