Friday, 20 April 2018

REVIEW - RISEN - BLOOD ETERNAL BY COLE GIBSEN

Title: Risen
Series: Blood Eternal
Author: Cole Gibsen
Genre: Sci-Fi, Teen, YA
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: 27th March 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
Fans of Vampire Diaries and Twilight will be thirsting for this latest vampire addiction…

My aunt has been kidnapped by vampires, and it’s up to me to save her. Only…I had no idea vampires existed. None. Nada. I’m more of a reader than a fighter, and even though I’d been wishing to escape my boring existence in the middle of nowhere, I’d give anything to have it back now if it meant my aunt was safe. 

Then there’s the vampire Sebastian, who seems slightly nicer than most of the bloodsuckers I’ve run into so far. Yes, he’s the hottest being I’ve ever come across, but there’s no way I can trust him. He swears he’s helping me get answers, but there’s more to his story. Now I’m a key pawn in a raging vampire war, and I need to pick the right ally.

But my chances of surviving this war are slim at best, when the side I choose might be the one that wants me dead the most.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
The cover initially attracted me to this book and then when I read the blurb, I realised that I couldn't remember the last time I had read a vampire themed book, so this book was the perfect choice. That and the fact the publishers were Entangled Teen made me give the book a closer look.

As I said the cover was what initially attracted me to the book. The sky in the background of the cover is a murky, turbulent, stormy one. The ground is covered in what I would call autumnal coloured leaves. The main object on the cover is a tree, with its branches and remaining leaves in a heart shape. Most people who read my reviews will probably know by now that I love a good byline. The byline featured towards the bottom of this cover is "From Death Comes Life". . . .quite mysterious, whose death? what life? is this byline about a human about to be tuned into a vampire? Or maybe a vampire that has been turned recently? The only down point about the byline is the font style and its placement could mean a few people miss it. I think it could stand out a little more.

The genres I have seen listed are Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Teens & YA which all fit the book well. I definitely think this book is aimed at the younger to mid teen audience, though I did enjoy reading it myself.

The one thing that made me doubt reading this book was this phrase from within the blurb "Fans of Vampire Diaries and Twilight will be thirsting for this latest vampire addiction…" So many books compare themselves to both the Vampire Diaries and Twilight which in my opinion isn't always a good thing. It's kind of a "pet hate" for me. I would have probably just overlooked this book is the rest of the blurb hadn't piqued my interest and the fact the publishers were Entangled Teen who have published many fantastic books. After reading this book I honestly wouldn't compare it to either book mentioned. Maybe whoever decides on using the phrase thinks it will attract more readers, personally it tends to put me off.

The book starts with the main character, Charlize walking her dog Jax wishing something exciting would happen. Charlize or Charlie as most people call her, is bored living in the middle of no-where with her Aunt Rachel. There's no telephones, landline or mobile, or internet etc so Charlie helps her rather hippie Aunt make soap and other craft items to sell. In her spare time Charlie either reads or spends time taking long walks with her German shepherd dog, Jax. Her Aunt always warns her not to stray too far away from the cabin they live in. Charlie does have an ulterior motive for all those long walks with the dog as she has bought herself a mobile phone, which under normal circumstances would have come in handy when two men appear insisting they are taking her Aunt away with them. Her Aunt tells her phoning the police will not help and she stresses to Charlie that under no circumstances at all should she try to run! Charlie is totally shocked by what her Aunt Rachel tells her but does her best to listen to her. Aunt Rachel is taken away by the first two men that had entered the cabin, leaving Charlie behind to be "taken care of" or rather "disposed of" by Sebastian.

So Charlie had managed not to make a run for it whilst the men were holding her Aunt Rachel in the cabin with her but now there was only herself to think about what did she have to lose? So when Charlie finds herself left with a third young man called Sebastian she thinks she should attempt to get away and perhaps find Jax who has been scared away. Sebastian catches up with Charlie easily and warns her not to run or scream as it triggers his blood lust. Charlie has difficulty accepting the existence of vampires but she needs to learn how to survive around them fast!
Sebastian offers to take Charlie to Matteo, King of the Anima who will help her get her Aunt Rachel back. Charlie immediately agrees, as she will do anything to rescue her Aunt. 

There are three types of vampires, Corpus, Mentis and Anima. The Corpus are the most cruel and even feed on their own kin, their gift is to blend into the shadows. The Mentis are kind of middle of the road vampires in that they feed but keep humans in what they call a farm to feed off. The gift the Mentis have is to be able to charm and mind control anyone who looks into their eyes. The final type of vampires are the Anima, these feed on animals and humans. They protect humans and want everyone to know about them and to find a way to live in peace.

Of course there's lots more going on in the book such as why a Mentis like Sebastian cannot remember his life before becoming a vampire. Then there's the rescue plan to be made to retrieve Aunt Rachel from the Mentis clan. Another mystery is where Matteo and Aunt Rachel's off-spring are. I could go on and on about the book. I did enjoy reading it though it ended on quite a cliffhanger situation as we hadn't found the answers for the questions raised by the book. Having said that this is book one in the Blood Eternal series so I would say it was a good thing to leave the first book with some unanswered questions as it keeps you eager for the next book.

I liked Charlie, how her immediate thoughts when her Aunt Rachel is stolen away from her is how can I get her back. I think her Aunt Rachel has underestimated her "niece" and she maybe should have explained the reason they are living so remotely. Aunt Rachel could have prepared Charlie how to react if she was taken from her. Though even by the end of the book Aunt Rachel nor anyone else has really explained to Charlie who/what she is and revealed her true parentage and the power/gift she has deep within herself. 

I really loved the character of Sebastian, his unknown past from before he was made a vampire by the Mentis Clan. The fact Sebastian wants to help Charlie even before he realises she has a power/gift that allows him to see glimpses of his "before" life. Sebastian knows that when he is returned to the Mentis he will suffer for helping Charlie. The Mentis Queen will see to it that he suffers pain for what she will see as a betrayal. There is an instant attraction between Sebastian and Charlie but can it ever work? A vampire, human relationship. . . though we don't actually know what/who Charlie really is!

King Matteo of the Anima is portrayed as a good guy though how long that view will last when the war between the vampires really begins is left unrevealed. It's clear to see that Matteo cares for the lives of humans. He instantly begins planning Aunt Rachel's rescue. It is also revealed that rather than use humans just for blood and disregard or even kill any that are no longer of any use like the other vampire clans of Corpus and Mentis. King Matteo and the Anima Clan willing give blood to any human it can help. In fact we witness one such human when Charlie is helping to make soap who tells her that he had a terminal illness but was cured by vampire blood.

My immediate thoughts were that I enjoyed reading this book, hope this is the beginning of a potentially great series as I would like to read more about Charlie & Sebastian. Especially wanting to know what Charlie is, as well as learning more about Matteo & Aunt Rachel's relationship.

So I did enjoy reading the book but kind of finished feeling like I had wanted a few more definite answers within this book to the questions I had. I will have to be a little more patient and hope to find the answers in the next book. There seemed to be so much going on that could have perhaps been explored more deeply such as why were the Mentis draining blood from the humans and experienting on them? What were the experiments for? Why drain a human until you kill them when you could take blood little and often, more like the Anima Clan and have a plentiful supply of blood given willingly? I think I would have liked to know a little more about each clan, specifically the Anima and Mentis ones.

Also at around 80% of the way through the book it ends and the remainder of the book is labelled "bonus content" and is from Sebastian's point of view, which was mostly, basically what we had read at the beginning of the book from Charlie's view. The section from Sebastian's outlook was interesting when we got little hints and perhaps more detail of things that had happened to Sebastian in the Mentis Clan that lead up to him being trusted and tested at the same time on the retrieval of Aunt Rachel and the clear up and search for information. I would have rather had that inserted within the main part of the book somehow. I just felt a little disappointed with the section from Sebastian's point of view as it didn't reveal anything different enough to what we had already read. Saying all that I would like to read the next book in the series, and I would say that this book is perfect for the Teen/YA target audience that it is aimed at.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

REVIEW - THANKS FUR LAST NIGHT ANTHOLOGY BY EVE LANGLAIS, MILLY TAIDEN & KATE BAXTER

Enter a world of smoldering shifters in this scintillating anthology headlined by New York Times bestselling authors Eve Langlais and Milly Taiden with brand-new, never published novellas! 

Title: Thanks Fur Last Night Anthology
Authors: Eve Langlais, Milly Taiden & Kate Baxter
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: St Martins Griffin
Release Date: 30th January 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
Bearing His Sin by Eve Langlais
Cole should have killed Anja the moment he realized she was his mate. Instead, he let her live and now they’re on the hunt, chasing the morons who think they can force her to marry another man. Like hell. And while this shapeshifting bear might have his share of sins, he’s not going to let little things like murder and mayhem prevent him from having the woman meant to be the keeper of his heart.

Bought by the Bear by Milly Taiden
Josilyn Martinez just needed the money to help raise her nephew. That's it. There's no other reason she would take a job posing as a shifter's mate so he can assure his grandmother he's settled down. There's no reason to stay at his place so they learn "more about each other." And there's definitely no good reason she should get involved with the hard, hot, and handsome shifter that's hired her.
Xander just needs a fake mate for a week to get his grandmother off his back. But what's a bear shifter to do when the impostor mate he hired turns out to be his actual mate? All sweet, luscious curves and a heart of gold, Xander's not going to let his mate get away. Now all he has to do is show her that they belong together, one kiss and touch at a time...

The Alpha and I by Kate Baxter
Devon Kincaid is happy with her new life in Lowman, Idaho. Her little bar on the outskirts of the tiny, isolated town is doing well, and she’s not even interested in finding a man. But when she finds a bleeding man—a hot, hard, handsome, naked bleeding man—in the snow one night, Devon brings him home to care for him. He’s definitely not like any man she’s ever met before, but what she doesn’t realize is that he’s not just a man…

Liam Murphy isn't simply a werewolf. He's the Alpha. In a heated battle with a deadly bear shifter, he's moved his pack to the Sawtooth Wilderness in order to draw danger from them. He was hoping to escape his problems—but the last thing he expects to find in the isolated Idaho wilderness was his mate. Fragile and unfamiliar with the violent supernatural world, the only way he can protect Devon is to make her what he is: a werewolf. He only hopes that in the process convincing her to enter fully into his world, that he doesn’t drive away the one woman he can’t live without.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I approached reading this novella with trepidation as I know through checking on Goodreads that both Eve Langlais and Milly Taiden have series that are classed as erotica and it is a genre I usually steer away from, but this anthology is listed as paranormal romance and it was suggested I may enjoy it as I love shifter books so I decided to give it a go. For Kate Baxter I have found her books listed as paranormal romance so feel I should certainly get along with her novella okay. I haven't really read anything before by these authors but decided this Anthology would be a great way for me to try out three new authors.

The cover background has either an ocean or lake with a bear splashing his way through it, this part of  the cover could certainly fit a scene from within the first novella by Eve Langlais. In the foreground of the cover is a rather passionately kissing couple. I love the title with the play on the word Fur/For. I immediately understood it and it made me smile and want to know more about the anthology. 

The various genres I have seen listed for this anthology are Paranormal, Fantasy and Romance, Anthologies and I agree with those genres. I would also add it to "Novella's" as the Anthology is made up of three novella's. 

I think the blurbs for each novella give away enough about them so my reviews are merely my personal thoughts and views on the individual title.

Bearing His Sin by Eve Langlais
So I'm being totally honest, as always, this did have rather explicit or what I term as erotica type descriptions which at time were a little off putting, but I guess that's down to my own personal reading preferences and my personal comfort zone. I found this novella a bit slow to start off, and felt it jumped about a bit too much and was in my opinion fragmented somewhat. I stuck with the novella and in the end I found a fairly good read. Would I want to read more titles by Eve Langlais . . hmm maybe.


Bought by the Bear by Milly Taiden
This novella was a faster paced read and even though it had some steamy hot scenes they were so well in context that it felt "right". I loved the character of Josilyn, how she is working a quite literally back breaking job to feed herself, but more importantly her nephew Nick, whom she has cared for since his parents died in a car accident. I adored the way the once womaniser Xander was totally out of his depth with Josilyn. I did really enjoy this novella, so much so I've put some other titles by Milly Taiden on my Want To Read List already! I really didn't want this novella to end!

The Alpha and I by Kate Baxter
This novella was also a really good read, enough to make me check out the authors other available books too! I love that Liam the Alpha werewolf who is used to everyone doing as he tells them without question has to try and go against his alpha nature and not just tell Devon how things are going to be. I liked the element of the whole will she choose to become a werewolf and the process and was a little disappointed when we didn't get the whole bite scene etc. The third novella in this anthology and the second one that I didn't want to end. I could imagine reading a whole series about the fantastic shifters in this novella! 

So the anthology as a whole was a really good one. I've discovered two new authors I'd like to read more of. I usually avoid anything that has been labelled erotica like the plague but the publicist that recommended these authors to me thought I would love this anthology, so I decided to give it a go, not knowing what to expect and ended up with a great surprise read and a couple of authors I maybe wouldn't have given a chance before. 

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this anthology were, Will definitely be checking for other titles by these authors. This anthology definitely allowed me to indulge my love of the werewolf & shifter genre.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

REVIEW - CLEAN BY JUNO DAWSON

A razor-sharp, adrenaline rush of a novel from award-winning author Juno Dawson, Clean is Gossip Girl meets Girl, Interrupted.

Addiction and redemption, love and despair. Clean will have you hooked from the first page.

Title: Clean
Author: Juno Dawson
Genre: Teens/YA, Contemporary
Publisher: Quercus Children's/Hachette Children's Group
Release Date: 5th April 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
A razor-sharp, adrenaline rush of a novel from award-winning author Juno Dawson, Clean is Gossip Girl meets Girl, Interrupted.

'I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter ... it's liquid gold.'

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she's hit rock bottom.

She's wrong. Rock bottom is when she's forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all ... 

It's a dirty business getting clean ...


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
The cover initially attracted me to this book, making me curious as to who was having the needle, what was in it and why etc. Also being totally honest and up front I had read a few mixed reviews about this book, suggesting it should carry trigger warnings and that it covers sensitive subjects etc and I wanted to know what the fuss and controversy was all about!

The cover is quite stark, with the background possibly a clinical tabletop or perhaps a dressing table top with a syringe and some liquid from it forming the L in the title Clean. I think the cover certainly has an impact and instantly makes you wonder what is going on with the needle. There's also the sort byline on the cover which when you include the book title says "It's a dirty business getting clean" The cover really fits the book in its title being Clean and the cover design being clean too.

The genres I have seen listed are Teens & YA and Contemporary which I personally think fit the book well. I think the book would also fit the NA category too. It also has a "coming of age" "angst of being a teenager" vibe too as the different characters all have different types of addiction.

As I mentioned above the book deals with all different types of addiction and shows different ways that the individual characters and the families of those addicted cope and try to come clean in the controlled and safe environment of the Clarity Centre. 

The central character in the book is Lexi Volkov who is the privileged daughter of the Russian Volkov's that own so many luxurious Hotels. In fact Lexi and her older brother Nikolai live in suites within the different hotels their parents own. Lexi and Nikolai's parents have divorced, mum is off doing her thing in the Cayman Islands and her father has his new younger model girlfriend, so maybe that's why they haven't seen their daughter is seriously out of control. Lexi is the ultimate party girl who attends all the parties places "one should be seen at."  

So their are so many great characters that I really liked and want to mention in my review. I'll start with Dr Isaac Goldstein - really came across as a sympathetic, understanding man from the very beginning. Then later in the book he reveals something about his own past which answers the question as to how and why he is so empathetic about addiction. I'll briefly mention the fact that the Clarity Centre has been set by a couple, one of whom we meet in the book because their son struggled with addiction and they saw the lack of places to help teens troubled by addiction. 
I thought the relationship between Nikolai Volkov and his sister was amazing. It shows how much Nikolai really felt for his sister that he dragged her off to "rehab". 
I could go on and on about the fantastic characters of Kendra, Brady, Sasha and the others but that would spoil the way you learn of their individual addictions.

I thought the interaction towards the end of Lexi's stay at the Clarity Centre with a rather tough, brash character called Sasha, who ends up trying to get off the island via a boat was amazing. They were both scared, unsure, in need of help and both had addictions and emotions to deal with yet they only had each other. Do they both crack their tough "I don't need anyone" attitudes and survive their escapade? That is just one reason you have to read this book!

My immediate thoughts upon finishing reading this book were that is was a totally different genre to my usual reads but that I had really enjoyed reading this one. It's very different to other books out there at the moment. 

So as I explained earlier in my comments, I had read a few mixed reviews about this book, suggesting it should carry trigger warnings and that it covers sensitive subjects etc. The thing is I want to give my opinion but without going in to detail and giving away spoilers, so please excuse me if I seem a little vague at all. There are many sensitive issues within this book centering around addiction, grief, sexuality, and toxic relationships but these are issues that our teens of today are facing. In fact it isn't just teens, its pre-teens too in our "full of pressure" world. To be totally truthfully, in my own opinion I think that this book, read in the right setting, could help many more people than it could hurt or offend. I'd go so far as to say that I believe it may make an excellent conversation starter. It could be read by teens at schools, then the "issues" within the book openly discussed. Hey I know not everyone that reads this book may think that but in today's instant communication age and our teens being more candid and forthright with their opinions I think I'd almost say it really is a "must read" book. Our society needs to learn to be more tolerant of others. We have never all "been the same." As a society we may have once put on a "front" and presented an image of conformity and had strict ideas of what "normal" is. Today's more forthright generation see no reason to conform, or hide away any "problems, issues or addictions" they may have.