Saturday, 4 October 2014

I like my Kindle....but do I love my Kindle?

I like my Kindle.  

It's light and therefore great for travelling with, it's easy to read even in bright sunlight but it still doesn't have quite the same hold as a paperback.  There is something that feels irreplaceable about an actual book - the smell of the paper and the feel of turning an actual page.  

It also just occurred to me that one of the key things you miss out on with an e-book is the cover.  You're told not to judge a book by its cover, but let's face it, we all do.  When you think back to a book you loved, you can see the characters, feel their emotions but you can also recall the cover.  You miss this with an e-book.

It is sad to think that, one day, the paperback will probably not exist.  I therefore find myself clinging to the present and try to read the physical book whenever I can.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the ebook v physicial book debate....please do comment below :)

The Sarah Midnight Trilogy - Dreams, Tide and Spirit by Daniela Sacerdoti

"You’d never think it could happen to you. You’d never think that one day you’ll stand in a graveyard, rain tapping on a sea of black umbrellas, watching your parents being lowered into the earth, never to come back. It’s happening to me. They said it was an accident. Only I know the truth. My parents were hunters, like their parents and grandparents before them, hundreds of years back, scores of ancestors behind me, fulfilling the same call. I must follow in their footsteps. I am the only one left to keep the promise. I can never give up the fight, this fight that has been handed down to me, thrust upon my unwilling shoulders. I’d rather be buried with my parents, my brave, fierce father and mother, who lived and died by the Midnight motto: Don’t Let Them Roam.’
Ever since her thirteenth birthday, seventeen-year-old Sarah Midnight’s dreams have been plagued by demons – but unlike most people’s nightmares, Sarah’s come true. Her dreams guide her parents’ hunt as Sarah remains in bed, terrified but safe, sheltered from the true horrors of the Midnight legacy. But all this is about to change. After the murder of her parents, she is cruelly thrust into a secret world of unimaginable danger as she is forced to take up their mission. Alone and unprepared for the fight that lies before her, Sarah must learn how to use the powers she’s inherited and decide whom to trust before it’s too late…"

"Sarah Midnight is no ordinary teenager. She is a demon hunter, caught up in one of the deadliest wars unknown to man. Orphaned at the age of sixteen, Sarah learned the family trade of hunting without her parents to guide her but under the watchful eye of her ‘cousin’, who was revealed to be Sean Hannay, no relative at all, but a dear friend of the real Harry Midnight.
Now, in the exciting sequel to Dreams, the fight continues. Sarah and Sean may have defeated the Scottish Valaya, but the rest of the war still rages on, and Sarah, Sean, Nicholas and their companions must unearth the identity and location of the Enemy – the leader of the demons – before the world plunges into the Time of Demons once more. Their quest leads them to Sarah’s family home, the Midnight mansion in Islay, and there they discover horrible truths about the demon ruler, his plans, and Sarah’s own personal history.
Along the way, Sarah must battle not only the demons but her hurt toward Sean and her feelings for the enigmatic Nicholas, who has plans of his own."

"This is the gripping conclusion to the Sarah Midnight trilogy. The identity and location of the Enemy - the King of Shadows- have been revealed and Sarah has fully embraced the Midnight legacy and her own powers. Sarah and her friends travel to the ancient forests of Poland to find the portal between their world and the Enemy's in order to destroy him. Two Secret Heirs join them on the journey, but are all members of Sarah's company really loyal to their cause? Nicholas, the son of the King of Shadows, holds the key, but is he still serving his father? As they enter the Shadow World and battle demons they didn't know existed, will Sarah and Sean finally come together? Or will Elodie's vision of the death of Sarah Midnight be realised? A final sacrifice may be necessary to free humanity from the King of Shadows. Follow Sarah and her friends into the Shadow world, and to the heart wrenching, exciting, surprising end of Sarah Midnight Trilogy."

I am a massive fan of Daniela Sacerdoti, having read her absolutely incredible debut novel Watch Over Me and also more recently Take Me Home - to see what I thought of them both, click on the links to see my previous reviews.  My review of Watch Over Me also appears on Daniela's website as one of her favourite reviews (I feel very honoured by this!!!)

In contrast to her other books that I have read, this trilogy is a Young Adult trilogy, and I have to admit, I didn't totally fall in love with the trilogy in the way I loved The Hunger Games or Host.  I liked Sarah Midnight, I liked Harry/Sean and I liked their chemistry but there was something missing for me.  I did not find myself entirely captivated, unable to tear myself away, although I should stress that I did enjoy the books as a whole and would not go as far as saying that I do not recommend them.  

The Sarah Midnight Trilogy is packed full of demons, friendship, betrayal and love.  Sarah (and others) find themselves in all sorts of horrific situations, and I think this was the source of the main downfall for me; I just found it too unrealistic and could not understand how people could continue to survive an onslaught of such awful encounters.  

Don't get me wrong, the writing is good and you will not find yourself bored. Daniela does well to link the three books without being repetitive, keeps the momentum going, and each book contains a distinct element to the storyline. For those YA's who enjoy this type of book, definitely worth a look.

Perhaps my feelings are purely because I can no longer call myself a young adult!  I continue to look forward to Daniela Sacerdoti's next Glen Avich magic book; Inary's Silence.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Going Back by Rachael English

"It's never too late for a second chance.
 Ireland, 1988.  Elizabeth Kelly's parents think she belongs at home; her boyfriend is certain of it. But, unwilling to settle down just yet, she decides to spend the summer in Boston.
Quiet and dutiful at home, she surprises herself and everyone else by falling in love with Danny, a restless charmer with a troublesome family - and everything changes.
More than twenty years later with opportunities in Ireland scarce once again, a new generation looks to America, awakening memories of a golden summer for their parents. When a crisis occurs, Elizabeth returns to Boston where she is drawn back into the life she once lived. But will she be able to reconcile the dreams of her twenty-year-old self with the woman she has become?"

I was delighted to discover Rachael English, through the medium of twitter, and even more delighted when she offered to send me a copy of her debut novel, Going Back, and delighted once more when I saw that Rachael had inscribed the front of the book for me!  Thank you Rachael.

Going Back is divided into two parts; the first part is set in June 1988 when Elizabeth first steps foot in Boston, fresh off the plane from Ireland, and the second part begins in 2010, and follows Janey (Elizabeth's daughter) as she begins the same journey.  However, this book is not a comparison of the times Elizabeth experienced and the times her daughter, a generation on, experiences. 

Emigration is only the background to this book, and in Going Back we meet two people from two very different worlds who make a connection, and the question is whether that connection can stand the test of time.

I found the initial part of part one to be a little slow burning, and I often found myself wondering who this character was and what had been happening with them previously.  However, as the tangled webs continued to be weaved, I found myself more drawn in and the way the first part of the book ends left me craving more.  The second half of the book flew past and I enjoyed it, although would have liked to have gained a little more knowledge about Elizabeth in the twenty years in between the two parts. 

As a girl with Irish roots, the Irish dialogue often made me smile, and the quotes from Elizabeth's Irish parents were brilliant.

Going Back is an impressive debut novel; a story of love, regrets and second chances. 

I am looking forward to diving into Rachael's next book, Each and Every One.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Quarter Past Two on a Wednesday Afternoon by Linda Newbery

Thank you to Shaz's Book Blog and to Transworld for the competition prize of a copy of Quarter Past Two on a Wednesday Afternoon.

"It was the day when everything stopped.

At quarter past two on a hot afternoon in August, Anna's beautiful, headstrong elder sister Rose disappears.

Twenty years later, Anna still doesn't know whether Rose is alive or dead. In her early thirties now, she sees her future unfolding - with sensible, serious Martin and a grown-up, steady job - and finds herself wondering if this is what she really wants.

Unable to take control of her life while the mystery of her sister's disappearance remains unsolved, Anna begins to search for the truth: what did happen to Rose that summer's day?"

This book was not at all what I had expected.  It focuses on Anna, twenty years after her sister's disappearance, as well as Anna and Rose's mother.  It shows the different ways that each member of Rose's family continues to struggle with the unexplained disappearance of Rose hanging over their lives, preventing them from living their lives to the full.

The story also jumps back to various points in the past and, like a jigsaw, allows you to see the bigger picture very slowly and piece by piece.  Linda Newbery does exceptionally well to weave each thread together in such a way that the reader understands what is happening but doesn't see the whole picture until the moment she wants you to.  

It is hard to give a truly honest opinion of this book without spoiling the ending for those of you who have not read the book yet, but all I will say is I found it hard to believe each family member's reaction to the answer they had all been waiting for for twenty years.  I understand the concept, and it is actually very clever, but I expected more fireworks and explosions and it left me with some unanswered questions.  

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Wedding Proposal by Sue Moorcroft

"Can a runaway bride stop running?

Elle Jamieson is an unusually private person, in relationships as well as at work – and for good reason. But when she’s made redundant, with no ties to hold her, Elle heads off to a new life in sunny Malta.

Lucas Rose hates secrets – he prides himself on his ability to lay his cards on the table and he expects nothing less from others. He’s furious when his summer working as a divemaster is interrupted by the arrival of Elle, his ex, all thanks to his Uncle Simon’s misguided attempts at matchmaking.

Forced to live in close proximity, it’s hard to ignore what they had shared before Lucas’s wedding proposal ended everything they had. But then an unexpected phone call from England allows Lucas a rare glimpse of the true Elle. Can he deal with Elle’s hidden past when it finally comes to light?"

I am a huge Sue Moorcroft fan, and despite first encountering Starting Over by Sue Moorcroft over three years ago (my review can be found here), I still remember how much I enjoyed the book and most importantly, the love I felt for Ratty. So when ChocLit offered me the chance to review Sue's latest book, I didn't even need to read the synopsis before jumping at the chance.

There is never anything to fault with Sue Moorcroft's books.  They have exceptional characters (some that melt your heart (whether they be children or adults), some that you want to be friends with, some that you dislike immensely, some who you fear (the dreaded Fiona) and one who you fall in love with (or in this case two - Lucas and Carmelo)), great pace, a great storyline with twists and turns and some damn good romance, and The Wedding Proposal is no exception.  

This book wasn't what I had expected, as "the wedding proposal" in question is something from Elle and Lucas's past.  I loved the beginning of the book when Elle and Lucas clash after being thrown together for the first time in four years, and I enjoyed getting to know them both and seeing how they worked around each other after all this time.  There are also some exceptionally good secondary characters, who make the book complete.

This book made me want to go to Malta, enjoy the sunshine and fall in love.  It made me smile and it made me cry, both with sadness and happiness.  A story of second chances, and the ideal book to read in the last of the September sunshine....

Monday, 25 August 2014

Much Ado about Sweet Nothing by Alison May

"Would you risk everything for love? 

Independent, straight-talking Trix Allen wouldn’t. She’s been in love once before and ended up with nothing. Now safely single, Trix is as far away from the saccharine-sweet world of hearts and flowers as it’s possible to be. 

Ben Messina is the man who broke Trix’s heart. Now he’s successful the only thing rational Ben and free-spirited Trix see eye-to-eye on is the fact that falling in love isn’t part of the plan. But when Ben’s brother sets out to win the heart of Trix’s best friend, romance is very much in the air. Will Trix gamble everything on love and risk ending up with zero once again?"

I have to be honest, and admit that this is probably the first ChocLit book that I didn't adore.  I found it difficult to like any of the characters, and they didn't really grow on me either.  I liked Trix and I was ok with Claudio (he was hero material but just didn't pull it off), but I didn't like Ben and I found Henrietta really annoying (a bit of a wimp; she should have shouted and screamed!!!).  That said, I see a number of reviews on Amazon have said that they loved the characters...and don't get me wrong, the characters are very well depicted for what they are (for example, Henri is so well written for somebody who has OCD and self-esteem problems), but the trouble was I just couldn't engage with them.

I suppose the storyline is pretty much set as I believe it is fairly true to the plot of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, so I can't really complain about things being unbelievable.  I haven't read Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, but I do not think this is where the problem lay for me.  I just couldn't connect, and I think I was totally lost from the moment I found myself reading about cleaning crumbs from behind the toaster!

And oh my god, the ending, that is the only sort of cliff hanger you can leave a reader on if you are planning a follow up book, which despite everything, I sort of hope there is....

Thank you to ChocLit for a copy of this e-book in return for an honest review.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Sugar and Spice by Angela Britnell

Sugar and Spice is Angela Britnell's debut UK novel, having won ChocLit's Search for an American Star competition, and it is no wonder because you can tell that she is a very accomplished writer.

"The Way to a Hero’s Heart…

Fiery, workaholic Lily Redman is sure of two things: that she knows good food and that she always gets what she wants. And what she wants more than anything is to make a success of her new American TV show, Celebrity Chef Swap – without the help of her cheating ex-fiancĂ© and producer, Patrick O’Brien. So when she arrives in Cornwall, she’s determined to do just that.
Kenan Rowse is definitely not looking for love. Back from a military stint in Afghanistan and recovering from a messy divorce and an even messier past, the last thing he needs is another complication. So when he lands a temporary job as Luscious Lily’s driver, he’s none too pleased to find that they can’t keep their hands off each other!

But trudging around Cornish farms, knee deep in mud, and meetings with egotistical chefs was never going to be the perfect recipe for love – was it? And Lily could never fall for a man so disinterested in food – could she?"

Sugar and Spice is pure romance, almost from the very first page and it doesn't let up in the slightest until you have absorbed the very last word. I have to admit that I found American Lily a little irritating to start with but I soon came to adore her relationship with brooding Kenan. I also loved Kenan's relationship with Mandy, and my heart went out to him when I learnt the circumstances under which he hadn't been in her life for a number of years.

If I had to complain about anything, it would be this: Lily was in the UK to find chefs to take part in her new American TV show, Celebrity Chef Swap (I really can imagine this show gracing our screens) but, in my opinion, we don't see enough of this element. Her journey to find the chefs is just too simple, and they are all a little too agreeable, although I really liked the different characters. I just would have liked to have seen a bit more of them and for there to have been a little more drama from this element, rather than all the drama being romanced based. Although having said that, there is also Patrick O'Brien to consider; ex-fiancé and producer, he is a force to be reckoned with.

Ultimately, Sugar and Spice is just that - sweet Kenan has met his match when he lays eyes on Spicy (and sultry, and sexy by all accounts) Luscious Lily. But can they find the perfect recipe to cook up their happy ever after?

Thank you, as always, to the ChocLit team for a copy of Sugar and Spice in return for an honest review. If you're looking for a challenging read, this probably isn't the book for you, but if you are a fan of good old chick lit, Sugar and Spice is out now, so you can grab yourself a copy and enjoy some Sugar and Spice, everything nice.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Bring me Sunshine by Janet Gover

"Sometimes, you’ve just got to take the plunge …

When marine biologist, Jenny Payne, agrees to spend Christmas working on the Cape Adare cruise ship to escape a disastrous love affair, she envisions a few weeks of sunny climes, cocktails and bronzed men …
What she gets is an Antarctic expedition, extreme weather, and a couple of close shaves with death. And then there’s her fellow passengers; Vera, the eccentric, elderly crime writer and Lian, a young runaway in pursuit of forbidden love …

There’s also Kit Walker; the mysterious and handsome man who is renting the most luxurious cabin on the ship, but who nobody ever sees.
As the expedition progresses, Jenny finds herself becoming increasingly obsessed with the enigmatic Kit and the secrets he hides. Will she crack the code before the return journey or is she bound for another disappointment?"

I have to say I found the beginning of this book a little unbelievable, I mean accepting a job on a cruise ship and not checking the destination, really? So when Jenny turns up with a suitcase packed full of summer clothes, she is in for a little bit of a shock when she discovers that Christmas will actually be spent in the Antarctic.

But what follows is a nice romantic tale full of mystery and adventure.  I liked the way Janet Gover used a number of the cruise ship passengers, who each have their own little tale, and reason for being there, to build a nice cast for Bring me Sunshine, and I really liked the moments that Jenny and Kit spent together.

Dance until Dawn by Berni Stevens

"Do you Believe in Love After Life?

At twenty-five, West-End dancer, Ellie Wakefield should be having the time of her life. The only problem is, since waking up in a three-hundred-year-old vampire’s leaky cellar, Ellie’s been very much dead. And to make matters worse, she’s found that an aversion to blood and a fear of the dark aren’t very helpful – especially when you’re a fledgling vampire.

William James Austen has fallen hard. He’s spent the last year loving Ellie from afar and now he’s finally able to be truthful about who and what he is. As the most powerful vampire in London, he’s used to getting what he wants. But this time, Will might just have bitten off more than he can chew."

I found this book somewhat mesmerising. It isn't anything like Twilight, it is a whole new vampire world. The relationship between Ellie and Will made me smile, and the flirtatious banter made me laugh.  

The book really does centre around their relationship and doesn't really get into the battle between Will and the the evil Khiara until quite a way into the book. To be honest, I still don't know what the Trials are and the 'battle' itself didn't really seem to grip me in the way it should have. I didn't feel nervous at the outcome and I think because it wasn't built up for long enough into a suspense for me.

However I really liked the characters and their relationship.  Will is an extremely chivalrous man despite being a vampire, and I challenge you not to fall in love with him, just a little bit...!

This is what a vampire book should be like....!

The Highwayman's Daughter by Henriette Gyland

"Is it a crime to steal a heart?

Hounslow, 1768. Jack Blythe, heir to the Earl of Lampton, is a man with great expectations. So when his carriage is held up by a masked woman, brandishing a pistol and dressed as a gentleman of the road, he wholly expects to have his purse stolen. And when he senses something strangely familiar about the lovely little bandit, Jack also expects to win his cousin’s wager by tracking her down first.

But as Jack and the highwaywoman enter into a swashbuckling game of cat and mouse, uncovering an intricate web of fiercely guarded family secrets, the last thing Jack expects to have stolen is his heart."

I don't usually read historical fiction, but the cover of this book was just too gorgeous to resist.  The highwayman's daughter captured my heart from the cover alone, so it's no surprise she also captured Jack's heart despite the fact she is holding up his carriage, masked and dressed as a gentleman of the road and threatening him with a pistol.

What follows is Jack's attempt to pursue the highwayman's daughter, firstly to win a bet against his cousin, Rupert, and to turn her over to the magistrates, but ultimately, after he lays eyes on her dressed as herself, because he has such an intense connection with her that he is entirely enamoured with her.

As with all true chick-lit, the ultimate ending is obvious, but the path that leads you there is filled with twists and turns, which make you wonder how on earth this is all going to work out for the best.

The Highwayman's Daughter also has a dark side, as it features an 18th century prison, public executions and loss of loved ones.