Monday, 21 October 2019

REVIEW - THE CHOSEN - KNIGHTS ACADEMY BY EMERALD BARNES

Title: The Chosen
Series: Knights Academy
Author: Emerald Barnes
Genre: Paranormal, Shapeshifters
Publisher: Clean Reads
Release Date: 19th February 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
Still reeling from her grandmother’s death, Myka William’s has been chosen to rule her pack, but she isn’t sure she wants the job. It comes with an unwanted fiancĂ© and vampires who are still hunting them down. Running away has always been her go-to answer, but Myka’s finally found what she’s been looking for—home. Running is no longer an option. 

As the last female alpha in her pack, Myka isn’t allowed to follow her heart, and she has to fight a battle between her heart and head. Will Myka be able to have the happy ending she so desperately wants? 

Along with help from vampires, hybrids, and werewolves she can trust, Myka must learn how to find a way out of her engagement, get the pack to take her seriously, and save her pack from the vicious vampires who want to use them for unspeakable things. 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
So far, I have absolutely loved the Knights Academy series, so I knew I had to read this instalment too! The cover is gorgeous and the female on the front does fit the image of Myka that the book gives you when reading it.

This book picks up with a still devastated Myka. Just when she has found Francis, her grandmother the She-Wolf leader of the pack that Myka should have grown up in and known all her life her grandmother is killed by Preston the vampire henchman of Marcus Knight. Marcus, headmaster of the Knight Academy is still after her and other female werewolves of the pack to make a hybrids. They are quite literally sat waiting for him to attack them again. Another problem Myka is facing is the fact she is expected to marry the male werewolf born with the alpha mark, Colin. Myka is basically “going through the motions” in that she has to appear to agree but she knows in her heart will always belong to Brent, her beta in the pack. The vampires are helping the wolves out with security. In fact, Myka has her own personal guard throughout the book consisting of, one werewolf and one vampire. Dragon insists it is the best way to protect the Princess.

There are some amazing emotional sections in this book, between Brent and Myka trying to be together at every opportunity. Brent is the support that Myka needs to get her through mourning the loss of her grandmother.
There are quite a few heart to hearts and poignant moments between Myka and Anna. Anna was both good friend and maid to Francis, so is now the maid looking after Myka.

We don’t see or hear as much about Olivia and Luka in this book, but they are still about and there when Myka needs them.
Milo seems to finally getting over the fact he and Myka are not together, nor will they be. In fact, Milo seems to be ready to move on when his attention is caught by one of the female wolves.

It turns out that Dragon and Brent are right to be on edge and guarding Myka from everyone, when someone in her inner circle attempts to betray her and give her to Marcus Knight and his followers.

Another character that has made it on to my favourites list in this series is Sunni, a young werewolf with a secret who approaches Myka with it, scared if it gets out, she could be made to leave the pack and her aunt. Of course, I still love, Myka, and Olivia, along with the brilliant book boyfriend options of Brent, Milo, Luka and Dragon!

Also mentioned in this book is that more vampires and werewolves are needed to fight against Marcus. Dragon briefly leaves his position as guard to go ask more vampires to join them. Though Dragon never lets Myka down and when she is grave danger he has already anticipated an attack and soon has the situation under control.

I really don’t want to say much more about this book as it’s brilliant and I really do not want to give spoilers. I can honestly say you will not be disappointed by this book.

To sum up, what more can I say I totally adore this series!
When can we have more??

Saturday, 19 October 2019

REVIEW - THE END AND OTHER BEGINNINGS - STORIES FROM THE FUTURE BY VERONICA ROTH

Title: The End And Other Beginnings Stories From The Future 
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Teens, YA, Dystopian, Futuristic
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books, Harpercollins
Release Date: 1st October 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
No world is like the other. Within this masterful collection, each setting is more strange and wonderful than the last, brimming with new technologies and beings. And yet, for all the advances in these futuristic lands, the people still must confront deeply human problems.

In these six stories, Veronica Roth reaches into the unknown and draws forth something startlingly familiar and profoundly beautiful.

With tales of friendship and revenge, plus two new stories from the Carve the Mark universe, this collection has something for new and old fans alike. Each story begins with a hope for a better end, but always end with a better understanding of the beginning.

With beautifully intricate black-and-white interior illustrations and a uniquely designed package, this is the perfect gift for book lovers.
 

Goodreads Link

PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
As I loved reading Divergent by Veronica Roth, I was immediately interested in reading this collection of short stories/novellas. I was also interested by the fact that some of the novellas are set in the same world as some of her other series too, in particular her “Carve The Mark” series which I have not read any of as yet.

The cover is green and features what could be doors or frames on it. I don’t like the cover but at the same time I don’t hate it either. The cover would not make me pick it up from a book store shelf to learn more about the book. It would be the authors name that would make me take the book from a shelf to discover more about it.

The theme/setting of the collection is the “future” so I thought futuristic maybe dystopian in genre, which is a genre I usually love. The book has six novellas and they each have their own individual titles, which are, Inertia, The Spinners, Hearken, Vim and Vigor, Armored Ones and The Transformationalist. I did discover that I had already read Hearken elsewhere though I cannot remember where and I still really enjoyed reading it again. I have decided to tell you about just a couple of the stories as I don’t want to reveal too much about the whole fantastic collection.

Inertia is one of my favourite novellas from the collection. The main characters are Claire and Matthew, and it is set in a future that when you are on a life support machine, or dying you can have visitations with your loved ones where you can talk to each other in the dying persons consciousness. Most people stated those they wanted to have last visits with in their wills. It turns out that Matthew has requested Claire to be one of his last visits along with his mother. Claire goes first, though she is surprised about Matthews request as though they were good friends, well best friends but they had drifted apart more recently. Claire is very nervous as it is her first visitation with anyone so she is a little unsure how it all works and what to expect. When Claire gets to the hospital, she is seen by a Doctor Linda Albertson. Claire’s blood pressure and other vitals are checked to make sure she is fit and well enough, then the sympathetic and friendly Doctor hooks her up to the machine, electrodes are touched to her head and an IV needle. Dr Albertson explains the procedure explaining younger people seem to take to it much easier. Claire is having her visit first, then Matthews mother will have hers later but before Matthew undergoes a last surgical attempt to help him. Claire’s visit will be an hour, and she may have to explain how the visitation works to Matthew. They each get to choose and revisit the memories they shared together, to kind of relive them.

The short story then has the pair reliving/reviewing their shared memories and remembering how much they cared for each other and how close they actually were. They seem to be able to get over whatever it was that came between them in real life. Within their memories everything makes more sense. As the visit comes to an end both are at peace with each other and Matthew says something important to Claire, something he said he had wanted to say to her before but was unsure. When the visit is over and Claire is brought back to reality, she realises she still has things she wished she had had the time to say to Matthew but now its over, or is it? Matthew has his visit with his mum then he goes for a last attempt at life surgery.

I really loved this story and the elements within the world and would love more stories set around this technology and the world it exists in.

Hearken was the other novella I also really loved and was fascinated with the world it was set in. Another futuristic world I would love to read much more from. As I said I have read this one before and though it is a rarity that I re-read anything, I re-read this one and still loved it as much.

Being a Hearkener is very rare but it is discovered that the main character, Darya, in this book has the gift. She does not come from a well off or high-class family. She comes from a poor family, just getting by. Her mother is an alcoholic and has been since shortly after her second daughter Darya was born. Khali can remember their mother when she was alcohol free and happy and did things with her family, rather than the reclusive, numbed alcoholic she is now. Khali tries to explain this to Darya but Darya cannot remember her mother prior to being an alcoholic at all. The world they are living in is one that it is in the constant threat of terror attacks. The family have two masks, for to breath in the toxic fumes from the bombs the terrorists set off is a death sentence. It is Darya’s father that accompanies her to be tested to see if she can gain a place to be trained as a Hearkener. They do not have their masks, as, Khali and her mother need them to walk to school. There’s an incident on the way and Darya’s father escapes with her but has inhaled some of the toxic gas. They go home unable to travel on to the building the test is being held at. They will have to make another appointment.
When they finally make it to the building the test is at a woman with the black markings of a Hearkener looks pitifully at Darya’s father. Later when he dies and when Darya is accepted to train as a Hearkener and learns more about it all she realises this woman could hear her father’s death song. Hearkeners have a choice they can choose red, then they will hear people’s life songs. Or they can choose black, which means they will hear people’s death songs. So, what with Darya choose? If her older sister Khali has anything to do with it, she will pick black. Khali wants to hear their mother’s death song and tries all ways to persuade Darya to decide on black. They argue with Darya saying she cannot promise anything and that once she has chosen, she cannot change her decision. Meaning if she chooses black to hear their mother’s death song, she will be a death song Hearkener for the rest of her life.

Again, I really enjoyed this story and loved the characters. It would be great to read more set in this unique world setting too.

I did enjoy the other novella’s too which consisted of The Spinners, Vim And Vigor, Armored Ones which is the novella set in the same world as the Carve The Mark series, and finally The Transformationalists.

I think Vim and Vigor was quite different to the other books, it had a more realistic setting and was more about friendship and dreams for the future rather than being set in a more futuristic/dystopic setting of the other novella’s.

On the whole I really enjoyed reading this collection of novella’s and it reminded me as to how much I had loved reading Divergent, also written by Veronica Roth. I will certainly be keeping my eyes peeled for any forthcoming title by Veronica Roth hoping she may release some full- length books based in the same worlds and setting as this novella, or even more novella collections to read.

So, to sum up definitely well worth reading! Oooo and I almost forgot there are some brilliant sketch illustrations in the novella collection too!


Thursday, 17 October 2019

REVIEW - MANNING UP BY BEE WALSH

Title: Manning Up
Author: Bee Walsh
Genre: Childrens Fiction, Teen & YA
Publisher: West 44 Books
Release Date: 1st October 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
Jack is at the top of his game. He's a senior running back on the football team, dominating every opponent in his way. To everyone else, Jack is totally in control. In reality, he struggles with an eating disorder that controls every aspect of his daily life. When Jack starts using steroids, he feels invincible, but will the steroids help him win the big game, or will he lose everything he's ever worked for?


PURCHASE LINKS


REVIEW
I was attracted to reading this book as it is a Hi Lo book which roughly means, when I googled it to explain it correctly, I found the following explanations “A hi-lo book, broadly defined, is a title that offers highly interesting subject matter at a low reading level. A number of publishers have focused on producing these books, though they often take slightly different approaches to creating the products that best fit a particular market.” Also, another description I have come across is, ““Books where stuff happens…but easy to read. Not a book for kids.” This is a common readers’ advisory question for reluctant or struggling teen readers (and their adults). Such readers often feel keenly the gap between the books they are able to read, and the topics they *want* to read. Must they read from the children’s section, with its juvenile topics and the same titles they would have picked in grade school? Not at all. This is a gap that hi/lo books aim to fill.”

I really like the cover of this book and in fact, generally like the covers of Hi Lo books as the ones I have come across are bright, colourful and certainly draw your eyes and attention to them. The genres listed for this book are Children’s fiction, Teens and YA and it does fit those genres but as an adult I still enjoyed reading this book, I would say personally I think the book is aimed at the teenaged end of children’s fiction rather than under 12’s though.

The books main character is Jack a high school soccer player who is already really good though he does watch what he eats fairly carefully. Where his team mates go for milkshakes and burgers after school, Jack will go along but by moving table to table, talking to different team mates he manages to get away with not eating anything and no one noticing he isn’t eating too. The soccer coach is constantly pressuring the team to play better, train harder to get to the championships. Though he is already a great soccer player when he see’s other team members receiving medication to help them bulk up more than he is already naturally with his gym sessions. Jack soon discovers the side affects of taking medication is a real problem.
  
Jack lives with his mum and sister Beth as his dad died years before. Jack sort of considers himself as the man of the house and takes a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. He tries his hardest to be strong and doesn’t share his emotions and feelings very well. Jack worries about hi sister Beth being bullied at school, and worries when he hears his mother sat crying at the kitchen table surrounded by bills. He really takes on the whole family’s problems and issues. When his friends at school are counting the days to the end of school, thinking about who to ask to the homecoming dance and talking about going away to college and what they want from the years ahead, Jack cannot seem to get excited for leaving school and cannot see what his future will be.

I won’t go any further into the details of the book but I have to say I felt really pulled into the book. Even though it is a fairly short book it is a very quick read. I really didn’t want to put it down and became quickly attached to the character of Jack. The story and plot come across really realistic and I think this book would be a great one to be read in schools to prompt conversations.

I have to say I adored the characters in this book. The book illustrates perfectly that body dysmorphia and eating disorders are not exclusive to females. This book tells the story of a fantastic football player called Jack who doesn't believe he is good enough.



I have to say I adored the characters in this book. The book illustrates perfectly 





Tuesday, 15 October 2019

REVIEW - IF DARKNESS TAKES US BY BRENDA MARIE SMITH

Title: If Darkness Takes Us
Author: Brenda Marie Smith
Genre: Mystery, Thrillers, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Publisher: Southern Fried Karma, SFK Press
Release Date: 15th October 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
Grandma Bea prepped for apocalypse, but when a solar pulse destroys modern life, traumatized teens may be her undoing.

In suburban Austin, Texas, Bea Crenshaw is left alone with four grandkids whose parents don’t return home. She must teach these kids to survive without power, cars, phones, running water, or doctors in a world fraught with increasing danger.

If Darkness Takes Us is realistic post-apocalyptic fiction with a focus on a family in peril, led by a no-nonsense grandmother who is at once funny, controlling, and heroic in her struggle to hold her family together with civility and heart.

Can Bea teach her grandkids to survive on their own in the face of mounting threats before her heart and her hope give out?


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
The cover and title first caught my attention, then when I read the blurb, I knew this one was a must read for me. The colours on the cover, in my opinion will make this book stand out on a book store shelf. The title has you immediately asking questions such as, What is the darkness? What causes the darkness? Can the characters survive the darkness?

Most people that come across my reviews & blog will know that I love the post-apocalyptic genre, although the genre’s listed for this book are Mystery, Thriller, Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I agree with them all but adding post-apocalyptic to those genres is a must!

The main character of the book is Bea Crenshaw, married, though not particularly happily to a rather grumpy, selfish old man called Hank. Though Bea and Hank both have grown up children they are from previous relationships. Bea has always tried to be fair about helping and giving her own biological children and her step children even though Hank hasn’t been. Bea has always shown an interest in the theories of “the end” and what it could be like without local stores, medical centres etc if there was some disaster. So much so, Bea used some of her own money that she inherited from an Aunt to purchase a nearby house and equip it for a possible disaster. Hank knows she received some inheritance money and she spent some of this money on the house they were living in too, but he doesn’t know anything about the other house and supplies or the extent of Bea’s inheritance. Bea does actually feel guilty about hiding things from Hank, but as he is a selfish man and at one point in their marriage pointed out he earned more money than her so he should and could give more money to his children if he wanted to, Bea feels justified in keeping the secret.
Hank and her grown up children are away at a sporting event, the Oklahoma-Texas game in Dallas which leaves the grandchildren alone with Bea. We are introduced to the four grandchildren, Joaquin or Keno the name he uses every day is 17years old, then there’s his 15year old sister Natasha, or Tasha as everyone calls her. Then there’s the younger grandchildren, Milo who is 12years old and Maizie, the baby of the family at 6 years old.

“It” all starts with a train crash! Bea and her grandchildren have to evacuate. In her hurry to make sure she has all her grandchildren will need and herself they forget the dog Harry. Sadly, when they try to return for him despite begging and promising to just nip in and out quickly, they are turned away. They go to a nearby hotel. Hank calls and lives up to his nickname as “Hank the crank” asking why they are going to the expense of staying in a Hotel, despite him being away at a game in Dallas.

When they are finally allowed to return to Bea and Hanks home it’s clear that more has happened than just a train crash. Soon “something else” happens and it soon becomes apparent that “crazy” Bea’s prepping knowledge and supplies are going to come in very handy. Bea has some extremely difficult decisions to make, should she share her supplies? Who should she share them with? Or should she keep her supplies for just herself and her grandchildren?

Bea ends up being the head of a committee that organises the security, planting of food crops etc. Everyone that works as part of the whole community programme of providing food, shelter and security are given rations from Bea’s “Mint House” supplies.

The character’s I truly adored in this book were Bea who opens her heart and takes in orphaned children, along with sharing her food and knowledge on how to survive whatever it is that has been unleashed on them. I thought Bea and Jack made a brilliant team. The way Jack is always hovering in the background ready to help Bea, it is clear he really cares about her but still respects the fact she is married to Hank. Even if Hank makes Bea unhappy, Jack respects the fact Bea is married to him.
I loved Bea’s grandchildren to varying degrees. Joaquin or Keno is the name he uses, is only 17, yet soon steps up to the plate of being man of the house when he is needed to. He tries to help Bea as much as he can with his sister Tasha and his younger cousins Milo, and Mazie. He insists on doing his share of dangerous duties such as security and scouting for water. Keno has a scientific mind and discusses what has happened to the world with Bea. Keno is also really good at building things and even puts together a kind of cart that he can pull along on his bike to take his grandmother Bea around in. Regrettably it is this very contraption and another characters, ignorance and stupidity that leads to the tragic death of one of the main characters. Natasha/Tasha is just 15 years old at the start of the book and at times come across very jealous and kind of spoilt and somewhat selfish, though she does learn the error of her ways. Milo is in awe of his older cousin Keno, and really struggles wanting to do as he does. Milo wants to take on more responsibility, yet Bea will not allow it because of his age only being 12 which he finds difficult to accept. However later in the book when he is struggling with the aftermath of a death, he really does save the day. The last of Bea’s grandchildren is Mazie, who is at 6 still a baby really and struggles with how the world has so drastically changed. Tasha does take her under her wing, in fact all the others try to include Mazie in “helping out” so she doesn’t feel left out. There were other great characters in the book too, such as Sonja, Alma, Darla, Eddie, Pete and Cesar to name a few.

When I list the character’s that I really loved I usually add the ones that I “loved to hate” too. In this book it was Hank, “Hank the crank” who slowly and methodically undermined Bea’s confidence. I also enjoyed disliking Chas, who was after any and all the young teenage girls around him. He is a drug addict who is forced to become clean by circumstances. I guess I should say he does show a little remorse at one point in the book, regrettably he soon returns to type and goes bad again. His end is fitting though violent. I felt a little sorry for his mother who can see her son’s faults, unlike her husband who see’s nothing wrong in his son and even if he did wouldn’t be forceful enough to put him on the right track either.

Bea has many problematic decisions to make in this book, some harder than others, of course like any human being she has regrets about some of those decisions but that’s what makes the character of Bea so realistic and believable, she is attempting to care for and protect her little family despite her worsening health issues, Yet at the same time be fair with her neighbours, most of whom who are ill prepared for anything that the world is throwing at them right now. Bea thinks she has thought of everything though soon finds out she hasn’t thought of some quite simple things such as how exactly to power her solar panels, it turns out the salesman hadn’t thought of every eventuality as Bea had asked. Also, Bea has stockpiled a small stash of medicines but it soon becomes apparent she has nothing near as much as she would like to have. Bea also has to have a somewhat awkward conversation with her eldest grandchildren, Keno and Tasha about sex as she had never thought of birth control or condoms. Despite her bringing the subject up and explaining the consequences of having nothing to assist in the possible complications of pregnancy and birth pregnancies still occur. Despite the many warnings and explanations she had with the younger survivors still ends up being made to think it is her fault by certain characters.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were that this book was a bit slower starting than I initially liked but then all the things that were explained at the beginning set the scene perfectly for what was going to happen in the latter two parts of the book. This book really is a brutally honest depiction of what could happen. I ended up becoming really emotionally attached to the characters, devastated when certain characters, such as Sonja’s leaving in search of help for her son’s worsening medical condition. On the other hand, I was ecstatic at the relationships we left Keno and also Bea in at the end of the book.

So, to sum up, the book may feel like it’s moving quite slow to begin with, but it really is so well worth continuing to read it. I honestly ended up loving the book and wanting even more.




Thursday, 10 October 2019

BLOG TOUR - REVIEW - HOOD ACADEMY BY SHELLEY WILSON

Title: Hood Academy
Author: Shelley Wilson
Genre: Horror, Teens & YA
Publisher: BHC Press
Release Date: 10th October 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
Will she follow the pack…or destroy them?

A dead mother. A violent father. A missing brother.

When Mia’s father is murdered, it’s her estranged uncle that comes to the rescue, but what he offers her in return for his help could be worse than the life she is leaving behind.

Taken to Hood Academy, a unique school deep in the forest, she discovers friendships, love, and the courage to stand on her own.

Mia takes the oath that seals her future as a werewolf hunter, but not everyone wants Mia to succeed.

Screams in the night. Secret rooms. Hidden letters. Mia becomes an important piece in a game she doesn’t want to play.

Loyalty, friendships, and family bonds are tested as Mia discovers her true identity, but will the truth set her free, or will it destroy her?


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I decided I wanted to read this book after reading the BHC Press sampler 2019. It had the first few chapters this book among quite a collection of other titles too. This is the one book from the sampler that really stood out to me and made me want to read it. In fact, after reading the sample chapters it made this book a “must read”!

The book has quite a shocking beginning with the main character of Mia Roberts witnessing the murder of her father by a werewolf! With her mother being killed in a car accident years before Mia is in a desperate state as she has no contact details for her brother Zak. Then just as it seems that Mia will have to be placed in social care, her Uncle Dr Sebastian Roberts arrives to take her back to his home and school the Hood Academy For Gifted Young Girls. Mia accepts she has to go with her Uncle and thinks it can’t be as bad as the daily abuse she has suffered at the hands of her father over the years. Also she has every intention of finding her brother Zak. When Zak had left all those years before he had promised to return for her, and she wanted to know where he was now and why he hadn’t kept his promise.

Upon arrival at Hood Academy Mia thinks she is being dumped at some boarding school however her Uncle explains he is the headmaster and the school will train her to be a hunter. Apparently to be a hunter you have to have seen a werewolf which Mia has. There is an old legend which says for every werewolf born there is a hunter born. Mia’s Uncle Sebastian says if she really hates the school, he can sort it out for her to go to the local school in Ravenshood. The book continues with Mia being taught the origins of the school and the history between the hunters and werewolves. Things don’t sit right with Mia and she runs off into the woods and comes across a cliff area where she sits looking at the view. It’s in this beautiful, relaxing place where she meets a young boy around her age who has the most startling blue eyes she has ever seen. Mia ends up becoming quite close to Cody. Mia also becomes surrounded by werewolves at one point too, though they show no signs at all of attacking her like she has been led to believe they would by what she is being taught at the Academy. Of course, like at most schools, there’s a mean girl and her side kicks. In this book it is Felicity Parker and her friends that take an instant dislike to Mia, and enjoy making her life difficult at every opportunity. It does seem at times that Sebastian favours Felicity if there is any sort of disagreement. Though it is revealed why, later in the book when her father is revealed to have been “calling the shots” for some time. 

My favourite character relationships in the book were of course Mia and Elizabeth/Lizzie who become instant friends and support each other whenever possible even if it means going against all you have been taught on a few occasions for Lizzie. The next character relationship I liked was Lizzie and Adam. Adam is the grounds man at the Academy and their relationship has to be kept low key as if revealed it could mean Adam losing his job and/or Lizzie being dismissed from the Academy.
I also loved the tutor/pupil relationship that Miss Ross has with Mia and Lizzie. When it is revealed that Miss Ross knew Mia’s mum it brings them even closer. There were other character relationships, between Mia & her boyfriend that were really sweet. They start of with secrets and then all is revealed and no matter what they have to fight for each other they will. I am not revealing Mia’s boyfriend name as I think it could be a bit of a spoiler. I could go on as there really were some great character relationships within this book. Favourite characters were Mia, Lizzie, Adam, Cody, Zak, and Miss Ross. Mia has some seriously difficult decisions to make in this book. From who to trust, to what to do with information she finds out in files in Sebastian's office. Mia also has to get used to her big brother being back in her life, telling her what to do. Zak has changed a lot since he left his home and Mia. He is now the Alpha of the Ravenshood pack. Mia does realise eventually that though Zak was not physically present, he was always thinking about her and did have contact with people checking on her every now and then. It takes a while of Zak to get used to the fact his little sister is no longer the timid little girl he left behind all those years ago. Mia soon puts her brother in his place when he expresses his dislike over her choice of boyfriend. I also immediately loved the character of Ari, a youngster who has been given an illegal, unproven injection that could kill her. I thought the friendship between her and Mia was brilliant. Though Ari is very young she is a great help to Mia in the book. Characters I loved to hate were Felicity, her sidekicks and her father, and on some occasions in the book Sebastian.

I absolutely adored reading this book, it was action packed from the beginning to the end! I also loved all the background and history of the Academy and the Werewolves. The serum development and its possible affects were also interesting. I thought the change of Oath was a great touch in the book and it would be great if this book was the beginning of a series, although I don’t know what would come next. I love shifter books and this one is up there with some of the best I have read. I would compare it to the Knight Academy by Emerald Barnes. Though Knights Academy is not just hunters & shifters, as it has other supernatural beings in it.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were that it was an Amazing, I have to say I loved every word from beginning to end. I just really, really hope that there's going to be more from the Hood Academy, and the Ravenshood pack.

So, to sum up, Hood Academy is a great shifter book, and I would love more of it! I have not just discovered a possibly fantastic series but an author that is new to me too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shelley Wilson was born in Leeds, making her a fellow Yorkshire lass! (Leeds is just bus ride away from where I live!! Small world!) Shelley Wilson is a genre straddling English author of motivational self-help titles and young adult fantasy fiction.

She has published six non-fiction self-help books including her bestseller - How I Changed My Life in a Year - as well as five young adult (YA) fantasy novels. Book one of her werewolf series was a finalist in the RONE YA Book of the Year Awards and has been combined and re-released with book two under the new title - Hood Academy.

Shelley now lives in the West Midlands, UK, with her three children. She has a crazy black cat called Luna and is obsessed with vampires, Tudor and Viking history, and exploring castles.

Where can you stalk/find Shelley?
Find her on Twitter www.twitter.com/ShelleyWilson72
And don’t forget to check out her Website http://shelleywilsonauthor.co.uk





Monday, 7 October 2019

REVIEW - MATERNAL INSTINCT BY REBECCA BOWYER

 Title: Maternal Instinct
Author: Rebecca Bowyer
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Womens Fiction
Publisher: Story Addict
Release Date: 7th October 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
Australia 2040. No child lives in poverty and every child is safe. But at what cost?

19-year-old Monica never wanted a baby but the laws require her to give birth twice before she can move on with her life.

Now that her first son, Oscar, has arrived she’s not so sure she wants to hand him over to be raised by professional parents: the Maters and Paters.

When Monica turns to her birth mother, Alice, for help, she triggers a series of events that force Alice to confront her own dark past. Alice must decide – help her daughter break the law, or persuade her to accept her fate and do what’s best for the nation’s children?


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I felt immediately curious about a society that strongly discourages married/loving couple conceiving naturally an bringing up their baby together.

In this book we have two eras in time the past in 2020 when Alice and Oliver were in the Mandatory National Procreation Service and the present is 2040 when it is Monica, Alice’s daughter that is in the process of her Mandatory National Procreation Service. So to explain this Mandatory Procreation Service, all males and females around the age of 19 years old have to take part. For males it is a case of providing sperm donations, or working in some way for the service like Joe in the book in 2040 he works in a birthing home kitchen to fulfil his service. Females are expected to have two pregnancies as their duty. They are inseminated and live in a “Birthing Home” with others of the same age. They are constantly monitored, given the correct amount, of calories, with the vitamins, etc, deemed necessary for a successful pregnancy. Once the woman has had the baby she stays with that baby until he/she is 6 months old when she is expected to hand the baby over into the “Home System” a special home where other babies and children of a similar age are. In this “Home System” the children are cared for by one female who has chosen to become a “mater” and one male who has chosen to become a “pater”. Once the females have had their two pregnancies, they are free to go off to further education or training for whatever job they wish to do. The biological parents of the baby/child are allowed to visit on Sundays when the mater & pater get their day off.

In the 2020 year we meet Alice and Oliver who love each other, however when they enter the Mandatory National Procreation Service, Oliver’s sperm is not considered “good enough quality” so Alice is impregnated using the sperm of another male doing his service. The fact Alice is pregnant with another mans child, despite it being so by law, Oliver doesn’t cope well and they drift apart. It is only when Alice has finished her service and the baby who Alice names Monica has been handed over that the pair rekindle their relationship. Even when Alice takes her rights of visitation every Sunday Oliver does not go with her nor ask anything about Monica, its as if she doesn’t exist to her. Alice and Oliver marry and Alice works for the government in the Genetics and Reproduction Department.

The characters I loved in this book other than the main ones were Ellie and Margery.
Ellie because she was so bossy for a little 4 year old and she clearly love her mater Margery and her pater Oliver. Ellie really does have Oliver wrapped round her little finger! In fact, later in the book Oliver proves that he looks upon Ellie and the other children in his care as his own children despite them biologically not being his.
I thought Margery was a brilliant character especially when she talks to Alice, she encourages her to do what she truly wants and go for it with Monica if that is what her heart is telling her to.

As there are characters I like, love and adore in the book there are also those that I disliked, and hated on behalf of the characters they were awful to. I really got riled with Barbara Mathers, the way she just presumes that Alice’s pregnancy is a dreadful mistake and that Alice will of course be terminating the pregnancy at the first possible opportunity because in her opinion and in fact the opinion of the society within this book she is too old and having a child and keeping it would dramatically change her status and career!
I disliked Graham Smythe, he represented that man/woman at work who is snide and sucks up to the boss all the time. I am sure you know the type in real life!

I guess my next two characters are unique in that I both liked and disliked them. I will try to explain without revealing too much. Oliver is great at his job as a pater putting those children and their welfare and safety above everyone else in his life, including Alice and someone else who in my opinion should have come before his role of pater. I hated the fact Oliver was so selfish when it came to a biological child he had supposedly yearned for and expected Alice to do what he wanted what society demanded. In a way he attempts blackmail tactics with Alice to get things to be done the way he wants.
I became annoyed with Alice for the way she brushed away her biological daughter Monica when she confesses to be having serious doubts about handing over her son Oscar when the time comes. Alice’s decision at the end of the book had me puzzled and I found it quite thought provoking, pondering what I would have done faced with her choices. I honestly don’t think I would have done what she did. Maybe that makes me selfish, but I would always put my own flesh and blood ahead of others. I still found myself questioning Alice’s eventual decision.
Does she think she is some sort of hero that she can make a stand, that she alone can change things for the better, for the masses. Could Alice be part of the policy changes that need to be made or is she simply giving in to blackmail tactics of Oliver.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were that the book had been a really interesting read and I honestly didn’t see that ending happening. In fact, I was a bit disappointed with the character Oliver. I was rather disgusted and disheartened by his attitude towards his own biological child. I think Oliver’s actions throughout the book were selfish, he wanted everything his way, irrespective of anyone else’s position.


To finally sum up I felt I wanted more at the ending of the book. I wanted to know what the consequences of Alice’s actions would be, both on a personal level and for the future of the society too. Maybe there will be a second book/novella to revisit these characters either picking up where this book left off, or even a year or so down the timeline. 

Thursday, 3 October 2019

REVIEW - THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS - THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS SERIES BY CHARLOTTE NICOLE DAVIS

Title: The Good Luck Girls
Series: The Good Luck Girls
Author: Charlotte Nicole Davis
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Teens & YA
Publisher: Hot Key Books, Tor Teen, 
                      Macmillian-Tom Doherty Associates
Release Date: 1st October 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
Aster. Violet. Tansy. Mallow. Clementine.

Sold as children. Branded by cursed markings. Trapped in a life they never would have chosen.

When Aster's sister Clementine accidentally murders a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge - in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by the land's most vicious and powerful forces - both living and dead - their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe.

It's going to take more than luck for them all to survive.
 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I was instantly drawn to this book by the cover. I have seen two different covers for the book and to be honest I really like them both. Though if I had to choose one, surprisingly I would pick the UK cover version which is unusual as I normally prefer the US covers!
The genre’s listed for this book are Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Teens & YA, which whilst I agree with these, I would also add Dystopian to that list and would say that I definitely do not fall into the YA age group but honestly loved reading this book!

The book concentrates on five girls, Aster, Violet, Tansy, Mallow, and Clementine. These girls have all been sold to the same Welcome House when they were younger. Upon being taken into the Welcome House the girls are renamed after flowers which they then have tattooed on their necks, this tattoo is referred to as a favour. There is no way to remove these favors and everyone knows they mean you belong to a Welcome House and are a Good Luck Girl or as some refer to them as Lucker’s for short. Until you “come of age” at 16 years old, you are known as a “Daybreak girl”, who works during the day and does cleaning, and cooking chores. You are not allowed to mix with the Sundown girls, though are expected to wait on them and show them due respect. On your sixteenth birthday you have what is called your “Lucky Night” and from then on become a “Sundown girl” who begins working as the sun goes down. A Sundown girl has to entertain male clients or as they are called in the book “Brags”.

The book begins on Clementine’s sixteenth birthday, she will have her “Lucky Night” as her sister Aster and the other girls before her have and will be auctioned to the highest bidder who will then be “entertained” by his purchase for however long he has purchased her for. To help the Sundown girls cope with what they do on a nightly basis the woman who runs the home, Mother Fleur provides the girls with a drug called Sweet Thistle. It soon becomes addictive and the only way some of the girls can cope with what they have to do. Things take a different turn when Clementine fights back against her brag and accidentally kills him. It’s only the quick thinking of Clementine and her older sister Aster along with the help of friends and daybreak girls Mallow and Tansy that temporarily hide what has happened. The girls decide the only answer is to go on the run. When Mother Fleur’s favourite girl Violet discovers the girls with the brags bloodied body, they think their lives are over, but when Violet hears the plan to run away, she asks to go along with them!
Without much choice and no time to argue the girls say yes and Violet soon proves to be valuable part of the escape plan.

The rest of the book is the journey the girls take on their mission to find Lady Ghost who it’s said can remove their favour tattoo’s. Violet was told the story by her mother. In fact, Violet’s own story is quite unique as she was born to a Good Luck Girl working in the Welcome House which is an extreme rarity. (You’ll find out why, when you read the book!) Being the eldest of the girls, Aster soon becomes the leader of the girls and she is quite sceptical about the whole idea of the mysterious Lady Ghost who can remove favors, for a price. Aster believes Lady Ghost is a fairy-tale character thought up to make the younger Good Luck Girls feel better and have them think that they can at some point leave the Welcome House lifestyle and stigma behind them. Aster also wonders on a practical level where on earth they would all get the money to pay Lady Ghost with. The five girls know they will be chased, Mother Fleur will have sent the Welcome House Raveners after them. Raveners can literally paralyse a person with fear and sorrow. Raveners can get into the minds of their victims and can make them go out of their own minds. The fugitives also discover the identity of the brag that Clementine accidentally killed. It turns out to be a very important, wealthy man whose family are determined to track the girls down, though they make it widely known that they want the girls alive. The family of the brag have their own family raveners on the girls trail as well as wanted posters of the girls put up all around the scab and route to possible freedom for the girls.

My favourite character, quite predictably is Aster the unofficial leader of the fugitives. Aster has wanted to try to escape the Welcome House life for many years, but being a Sundown girl, she has been kept apart from her Daybreak girl sister Clementine. As Clementine has unintentionally killed her first ever brag, the decision is hurriedly made, it is the only option to go on the run. I adored how protective Aster was of Clementine, she seriously would lay her life down in the place of her sisters. I also liked the relationship between Clementine and Zee. Zee is a rangeman, a guide who escorts people on journeys through the Scab. The Scab is the dangerous, wilderness area the girls need to travel. Though Aster makes it quite clear that she doesn’t fully trust Zee yet, she thinks he is hiding something from them. Clementine is insistent that she has a good feeling about Zee, as the girls need his help as a guide, he is given the benefit of the doubt.

A character that I initially disliked but really ended up having my mind changed was Violet, but as you learn more about her, you realise she is as much a victim of the Welcome House system as the other girls. Violet is determined to get to Lady Ghost, and truly believes in her. Violet ends up becoming a valuable member of the group. She is as ruthless as she is practical and often makes the girls rethink their own opinions. The girls are somewhat thrown together in this escape and though they have lived together for years they grew much closer and end up trusting each other with their lives. I really enjoyed the way the girls slowly reveal their secrets, their names before they were sold to the Welcome House along with the reasons they were sold.

I could honestly rave on and go on and on about this book, but I don’t want to give away any more detail than I already have. I felt pulled into the story very early in the book and was totally hooked by less than 20% into it. I became attached and protective of the girls and really cared about what happened to them. I felt I was as suspicious of everyone they came across as Aster was. I was cheering them on when they came up with the ideas of getting the money to pay Lady Ghost.

My immediate thoughts on finishing the book were that it was an amazing read! But. . .I felt all over the place I wanted to know even more! What comes next? Could Dawn possibly find happiness with Eli? What about those in Ferron? What is life like for them? What happened to Violet? Does she ever make it to Lady Ghost? What’s the truth about her mother? I also hope to learn more about the raveners, how they become them and why. There is so much more to discover about this rather cruel world the Good Luck Girls exist in. I would also love more from the Scorpions!

To sum up my thoughts on this book I totally loved it! And I want more, much more please! I would have to say I think this book will appeal to those who have read and loved The Lone City Series by Amy Ewing, The Belles Series by Dhonielle Clayton, with elements of The Aviary by Emily Shore and the feel of A Dress For The Wicked by Autumn Krause.


COVER COMPARE

Which one do you prefer?