Saturday 23 February 2019


Mackenzie spent the last three years learning who she was in Origins. Now she will face her greatest challenges in Trials ......

Title: From The Grave
Series: Mackenzie Grey: Trials
Author: Karina Espinosa
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 13th December 2018

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Secrets don’t stay buried forever. 

Mackenzie Grey is a lone wolf who’s earned her fair share of battle scars from the past, but that’s all over now. Or so she thought. 

Known as the Freedom Princess, her heroic deeds have come with a heavy price when a mysterious new villain emerges, one who’s intent on killing Sebastian. As a new breed of danger lurks on the horizon, secrets between Bash and Kenz pile up and her worst nightmare is realized.


I felt a mixture of joy and disappointment as I finished reading the last book in the Mackenzie Grey Origins series. The ending was ... well it was wow! I loved the Origins series from the first book to the last page of the last book but it didn't stop me being disappointed that there was to be no more. Then when I heard that Karina Espinosa had more plans for Mackenzie Grey and she was coming back within another series called the Mackenzie Grey Trials I knew it was going straight on the top of my "Must read" list! In fact I didn't take the chance of missing it I actually pre-ordered it so that as soon as it was available it would immediately download to my kindle app to read! The other obvious reason I had mixed emotions was, the question of would this series be as good as the Origins some more of my review to find out!

I really like the cover of this book as it could well be a photograph of the area where the Brooklyn Pack are situated. It's a great representation of the description of warehousing described in the book. The central part of the cover is of course the female figure which is Mackenzie confidently striding forward, her hair loose in the wind wearing a white vest top and her jeans with holes in them. Behind Mackenzie’s head there is the full moon which of course is an important feature within the book which affects wolves. There are also the two wolves at either side of Mackenzie, I'd say they are Bash and Jackson.

In this book everyone is trying to recover from the selfless act Jonah made at the end of the Origins series. Mackenzie & Sebastian are finally officially in a relationship, and it is commonly known that Sebastian/Bash is the true soul mate or “Anam Aonachid” of Mackenzie/Kenz who is now known as the freedom Princess. The still fairly fledgling relationship between Kenz & Bash is still struggling somewhat with the both of them keeping secrets from the other. Keeping these secrets create more secrets which turn into lies and more lies. I found myself sat on the edge of my seat waiting for one of them to discover the others secrets and lies!
The “Anam Aonachid” element of the book is a double-edged sword really as yes Kenz and Bash are deeply in love and meant to be together. Together they are also a formidable team. However if one of them dies the other will slowly go mad and die too, their bond is so strong and reliant on the other.

There were so many other plot lines within this book, one of the larger ones is the fact someone seems to be killing off pack Apha’s. Then there’s still Amy and her dilemma of whether to take the cure for vampirism and become mortal and human again. Though I would say it’s probably the most sensible thing to do with the dangerous kind of situations her and her friends keep finding themselves in.

As with the Origins series there is so much going on in this first book of the new Mackenzie series. There is so much potential for this new series too. There are all the different supernatural being’s that can be part of the series along with the different scenarios that the SIU can come up with for Mackenzie and the taskforce to have to deal with different law breakers. Then there is all the family interaction we can expect. Kenz has avoided visiting her adoptive parents and brother for as long as she can and in this book we see that the big tough Alpha of the Brooklyn Pack, Sebastian and his kick butt Freedom Princess, Mackenzie are in awe and actually nervous of visiting with Mackenzie’s human family. Mackenzie has kept her human family as far away as possible from her other life. They are still under the impression that Mackenzie works for a "normal" Police Force. There are some really funny scenes around the dinner table. Then of course Mackenzie calls on her brother Oliver Grey to help out within one of her investigations.

There are the usual fixes and problems that Kenz gets herself into using dark magic sources to trace fugitives or help those she loves. At some point Kenz will have to repay all her black-market favours. Lets hope they don't cost her more than she would wish to pay or cause her anymore problems.

Naming favourite characters is difficult because I like so many of them so
of course, there’s the usual suspects . . . er werewolves, Kenz, Bash, Jonah, and Jackson, along with vampire's Lucian and Amy are all still favourite characters. Even though certain characters are not in this series yet they are mentioned so I am also looking forward to hearing more from them in the future of this series.

I still like the character of Garrett Michaels who is Kenzie’s Police partner in the Special Investigations Unit and I think there is lots and lots of potential for stories around the SIU.

In this book we do learn more about Kenzie's human brother Ollie. A big tough army guy who is prepared to do anything to help out his adopted sister without asking too many questions even if it means putting himself in danger. It would be great if Oliver learnt the truth about the supernatural beings that live in plain sight within the “normal” world. Maybe Ollie could date a supernatural being?

My immediate thoughts upon finishing reading this book were Wow! What a great start to a possibly second fantastic series centred around Mackenzie Grey & Brooklyn Pack.

I could literally go on and on talking and writing this review about From The Grave, Bk 1 of the Trials Series. I have totally avoided explaining the relevance of the book title but once you read the book you will know why! I try not to give away too much story or any major spoilers whilst at the same time letting you all know how much I love the book. What’s left to say other than this one is a must read and the rest of the series is on my want to read wishlist.

Tuesday 19 February 2019


Title: 365 Ways To Beat Stress
Edited by: Adam Gordon
Genre: Self Help
Publisher: Watkins Publishing
Release Date: 19th February 2019

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No other book offers so many easy-to-use and diverse stress-relief techniques in a uniquely attractive gift package.

With a different technique or tip for each day of the year, no other book offers such a wide range of ways to release stress and anxiety, all set in an attractive illustrated design that will make dipping in for inspiration a joy. All the practices are effective yet also easy to follow, even if you have never tried them before, and range from energy techniques such as simple shiatsu, to quick stress fixes such as visualizing a blue bubble, to methods of life simplification such as avoiding a news overload and rationing your evenings out, to inspiring visualizations such as imagining yourself as the sky or as a lotus floating on water. This is one of the first two publications in a new 365 series from Watkins, showcasing easy, accessible and effective approaches to dealing with our demanding modern lives. Readers are free to work through the book in any order they like, either using the chapter headings to deal with aspects that they feel need particular attention (for example, home, work, relationships, mind and spirit, or stress and emotions), flicking through at random or selecting ideas in chronological order. There is no need to subscribe to any particular belief, lifestyle or long-term practice; this is simply a collection of brilliantly effective ideas that together have the potential to transform lives.

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As I am a full time carer of my mum who is diabetic, has Menieres Disease, arthritis etc for ten years and then more recently my dad who has mixed dementia which consists of Vascular & Alzheimers, I am er. . .busy and naturally get stressed. Added to my own health issues I am always looking for ways to feel peaceful or de-stress so when I came across 365 ways to find peace I thought it may be helpful for me to read it and thinking along those same lines I decided this book might be a good book to read too. I mean I think if they are being honest most people will admit to being stressed out at some points in their life or work. I think we could all do with a little help to de-stress our lives.

The cover of this book has a pale. Pastel peach as its background and has feathers and butterflies which I guess when you think about those item’s they could relax you and so help with stress. Would this book cover stand out on a bookshelf? I can’t honestly say as it would depend on what other books is was nearby.

The genre of this book is self-help, though I think could fit into the “gift book” category. It could also be within the “new year/ new me” type of genre.

So what can I say for the book, well it was an interesting read but it mostly consisted of ways to de-stress that I already knew. I suppose if you sit down with a cuppa and this book that would be relaxing and help you de-stress too.

The books suggestions go into detail on how to achieve the best results by doing things such as “Wake up naturally” and “Engage all five senses.” The one I often do is “Sing in the Shower”. The book continues suggesting “Put on a bright shirt”, “Decide to be happy”. The suggestion/way to that I loved was “Read a classic” Well I don’t read many classic books but I do find that reading does reduce my stress level. Whether its reading a magazine, a newspaper, a textbook, or a fictional story, they all provide escape from whatever is/was stressing you!

This book was fairly interesting to read as an ebook, but personally I think it would be much better to read as a physical book. I feel some books are just better in a physical format to flick back and forth through.

It would make a good gift idea for someone. As the title says 365 Ways to beat stress as a physical book it could be read on a daily basis. 

Friday 15 February 2019


Title: 365 Ways To Find Peace
Byline: Meditations and Inspirations for Calm and Contentment
Author: Marcus Braybrooke
Genre: Self Help
Publisher: Watkins Publishing
Release Date: 19th February 2019

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No other book contains such a wide range of accessible, effective and inspiring self-calming techniques, drawn from traditions and literature from around the world, both secular and religious.

With a different meditation or inspiration for each day of the year, this is a wonderfully inspiring collection that will open readers' hearts and mind and show them the way to peace and contentment whatever their mood or situation. A fresh, attractive design featuring sympathetic line drawings adds to the appeal of this gift package. Author Marcus Braybrooke has drawn upon poetry and prose, sacred and secular, from all around the world and from all ages, from the Upanishads and the Tao Te Ching to the speeches of Mahatma Gandhi and the great 19th and 20th-century poets such as Walt Whitman, Rainer Maria Rilke, Wallace Stevens and Seamus Heaney. 

The inspirations and meditations are arranged thematically, following a structure that reflects the idea of love radiating outward - from self-esteem, the acknowledge of spirit within oneself; through love for family and friends; through love for humankind in general; to love for the One, the spiritual essence that animates all existence. Readers can choose to follow this order, or dip into the book at random, or select an area that they feel particularly drawn to work on. Containing the wisdom of all the world's great spiritual traditions, this is a book that will appeal to people of all faiths, as well as to those who believe in spiritual values without subscribing to a particular religion or even belief in a divinity.

Amazon US
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As a full time carer for my mum who is diabetic, has Menieres Disease, arthritis etc for ten years and then more recently my dad who has mixed dementia which consists of Vascular & Alzheimers, I am er. . .busy and naturally get stressed. Added to my own health issues I am always looking for ways to feel peaceful or de-stress so when I came across 365 ways to find peace I thought it may be helpful for me to read it.

The byline says, "meditations and inspirations" and that made me even more eager to read the book. The cover is a colour that is often used to represent calm and peace and features what I would say are koi fish and to symbolise calm well. 

The genres this book falls into are self help, and I would also put it into the gift book category.

The book consists of different things well known people have said such as, 
"A DROP IN THE OCEAN, We ourselves feel that we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." - Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 1910-1997, India.
And the following second example.
"COMPASSION, If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete." - The Buddha c.c.483bce, India.

This was quite interesting to read as an ebook, but personally I think it would make a brilliant gift idea for someone. As I think a physical copy of this book would be easily dipped in and out of on a daily basis throughout the year. 

Friday 8 February 2019


Title: Black Ice
Series: After The Shift
Author: Grace Hamilton
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Climate Change
Release Date: 10th January 2019

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Losses pile up like the snowdrifts of a never-ending winter in this post-apocalyptic series conclusion. 

Nathan Tolley’s wife is gone, leaving him adrift in a vast ocean of bitter white that promises nothing but heartache and despair. Yet, his weary band of travelers continue to look to him to secure their safety. But Nate’s no leader. Every decision he’s made on their dangerous cross-country journey has taken them from bad to worse. First Detroit. Then Chicago. Now, Wyoming, which proves the deadliest of all. 

As circumstances continue to deteriorate like the weather, Nate turns their sights south, but the past is about to catch up to them in ways none of them will see coming. And in order to embrace an uncertain future, sacrifices must be made. 

Survival of the fittest gets real—fast. 

And, this time, it’s personal. 


As soon as I heard this one was available to read I knew I had to have it and read it as soon as possible! After the ending of Killing Frost where a major much loved character was killed off I wanted to know how the remaining characters in the group of traveler's would cope. Would their plans have to change? Would the death be the beginnings of the group breaking up? Yep, I had loads of questions I needed answering.

This book cover fits well with the rest of the series with its blue tones and icy imagery that makes you feel cold and shivery looking at it. These covers really do set the scene described within the books really well. I wanted to know who was the lonely figure on the book cover and why they were alone. To be honest this cover could fit several scenes described within the book with quite a few character possibilities for the lonely figure. I think the cover fits the whole “climate change” themes within the book too. Black Ice fits well into the post-apocalyptic genre, with what some could say has futuristic elements, so dystopian and Sci-Fi genre too.

I loved the fact there was a small re-cap chapter at the beginning of the book and then, . . well then, we were straight back into the drama filled, action packed plot. The group go through more and more hazardous situations from a town they were hoping to settle in arguing amongst themselves so the group gives that town a miss. They also come into contact with another weirdo who wants to pull them into his cult. It seems just when things improve for the group they are hit with another dangerous situation. They almost consider staying in Denver as there are FEMA officers there, then when they are forced to ask for access to the hospital, they find out that Denver is even more lawless than other places they have left. It seems that everyone is just out for themselves even more. There are two rival gangs fighting each other and setting up tolls to stop any newcomers and past them from their valuables. Even more worrying is the fact when Nathan tries to catch up with Tommy etc he decides it best to approach the FEMA army toll, preparing to give up a few weapons and maybe ammo but he is told that isn’t nearly enough. Nathan has to turn away from the toll and think about a way to break in or buy their way in and out.
It is whilst the group are finding each other and trying to escape that an awful character from their past shows up! One question I was asking myself throughout the whole book, even at the end was Can Nathan and his friends ever truly evade Brant and his bully boys or will there be one last battle?
I found the herbal remedies that came from the handwritten book entrusted to them interesting especially the fact Lucy seems to have appointed herself the keeper of the book and herbs.

Even as the characters are dealing with the hazards of this new world, I still enjoyed reading the incidents and sections that covered the normal growing up of Tony Tolley. He first becomes a more confident boy who looks after his baby brother and has a malamute dog as a friend. Then as time goes on, he shows he has a “good head on his shoulders” remaining calm in situations grown men and women would not cope with. At one point in the book Tony proves he is a valuable part of the group when he tips the odds back into favouring the group and turns a deadly situation around.
I thought Syd was a great kick butt, mature, savvy and sassy female character who has a knack of acting older than her actual age. Though Syd returns to the survivors group and re-integrates well, she still has her mysterious, quieter, private side and the strong possibility of keeping secrets. Syd is a good friend to Tony and seems to have a way with words and a knack to know when Nathan needs her around.
To say I was not keen on Tommy is an understatement. Even though he had previously helped Cyndi rescue Nathan. In this book he seemed somewhat cantankerous, moody and wanting to continually take the opposite view than the majority of the group. He really didn't like Lucy making any future plans for the group or even her expressing her opinion at all. I can understand him wanting his say and obviously he always has the option of going his own way, no one is forcing him to stay with the group. He irritated me so much in this book at times I felt I wanted to violently shake him by the shoulders and tell him to get over himself!
I found the addition of the new character of Arctic, who turns out to be an ace sniper interesting and maybe if there is more to come from this series, she will feature in it more.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were, that I really appreciated the initial little catch up at the very start of the book. Then we were launched straight back into the drama and the Post-Apocalyptic setting within the no government, no law world. Black Ice introduced more new characters as well as having some old ones return to the group. Will there be a book four? Yet at the same time I was wondering what else could happen to Nathan and his friends?

My final thoughts are that this series could now have come to its completion with how this book concludes. Having said that I would eagerly read another in this series and I definitely intend to read more books by this author, both in the series I have already started and anything new by Grace Hamilton. There was possibly a hint when Nathan says he is happy where he is at the moment but maybe things will change in the future. I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears open for more!

Friday 1 February 2019


Title: Some Girls Bind
Author: Rory James
Genre: LGBTQIA, Teens & YA
Publisher: West 44 Books
Release Date: 1st February 2019

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Jamie knows that she isn't like other girls. She has a secret. She binds her chest every day to feel more like herself. Jamie questions why she is drawn to this practice and why she is afraid of telling her friends, who have their own secrets. Could she really be genderqueer?


The cover has a young female body with the chest bound to look flat, but at this stage we do not know if this is a girl who wants to look like a boy, or something/someone else. 

After watching a TV mini series called Butterfly about a young boy who identified as a girl. The mini series centered on his family and how they coped with the news as well as how the young boy himself felt, what he went through at school and with the "system" he had to work through to be herself.

I then noticed this title whilst browsing online and as the TV show had kind of pulled my interest to a subject I had never really given a great deal of thought to and that led to me wanting to read this book.

So I started reading this book not really knowing what was meant by the "hi-lo" terminology. So perhaps I should explain what is meant by this term first . . .I "googled it" here is the result of that search "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."

The central character who is the female binding her chest is Jamie. Jamie is secretly binding her chest since she was 14 years old and is scared to reveal that she is doing so to anyone in her family or friends. Jamie has a great group of friends though all seem to have their own issues and the friend can literally talk about anything and everything except their individual secrets. Levi who is gay and his boyfriend Evan,, neither boy has officially "come out" to his parents. Though they both decide to "come out" to their families during the course of the book. It's such a shame when one families reaction is that they do not want their gay son any where near their daughter! Eric wants to drop out of swimming but has been continuing as he feels that is what expected of him and is the way to get a scholarship to further education. There's also Nora who has to take care of her younger brother and is literally their only "parent" as her father is an alcoholic. Nora and Jamie always rush to the cubicles to get changed in gym class. Jamie is hiding her binding and Nora is trying to keep her bruises secret.
Jamie struggles with who she is, is she still a daughter and a sister? Jamie knows she doesn't want to be a boy so discovers she is "gender queer". Jamie hides

The person Jamie eventually feels she can speak to is her brother Steve.  When he visits home for the weekend he notices his little sister seems quieter and as though something is wrong. It doesn't take too long to get her to confide in him. Steve immediately accepts his sisters wishes and offers to order her the correct clothing item to bind herself safely and correctly. Steve explains about a guy he knows who is gay and how hard it was for him to "come out". I guess Steve openly talking about sexuality lays the ground work for Jamie to explain how she feels, which is "gender queer". The book covers how her parents react and then how her close circle of friends accept her and support her when she reveals she is gender queer to them.

I thought the characters of Jamie and Steve were really well written and I loved how Steve reassured his sister that he loved her no matter what and that he would always be there for her. He also starts talking about the subject of gender which helps Jamie join the conversation and reveal how she has been feeling to them.

The book was an easy, fairly quick read and would be great as a conversation starter in schools, teen groups or even in an at home setting. I think it would be interesting if the other teens in the group had their own stories too. Even though Levi & Evan reveal their sexuality in this book, they could have their own book//books, and I think Nora should have her own book too. This style of book can really help teens broach the awkward subject.

My immediate thoughts when I finished the book were that the feel of the book, and it's writing style reminded me a little of Moonrise by Sarah Crossan. The subjects that Some Girls Bind places the spotlight on also struck me as similar
to Clean by Juno Dawson. 

To sum up this is a great book about a group of friends who are slowly choosing their future paths as well as coming to terms with their sense of themselves. I think I actually learnt a few things from this book. Myself not being a teenager or younger person hadn't heard the term "gender queer" but I understand a little more of the subjects of LGBTQIA. I would certainly be interested in taking a look at any future books by this author.