Monday, 31 October 2011

Review of BloodMining by Laura Wilkinson

Thank you to Laura for the review copy of this fabulous book!!!

** What it's about? **

Megan Evens appears to have it all: brains, beauty, a successful career as a foreign correspondent. But deep down she is lonely and rootless. Pregnant, craving love but unable to trust after the destructive affair with her baby's father she returns to the security of her birthplace in Wales. 

 When Megan's son is later diagnosed with a terminal condition, a degenerative, hereditary disease, everything she believed to be true about her origins is thrown into question. To save her son Megan must unearth the truth; she must excavate family history and memory. Enlisting the help of former colleague Jack North, a man with a secret of his own, Megan embarks on a journey of self discovery and into the heart of what it means to be a parent."


** What I thought **

Despite dystopian books being massively on trend at the moment, I don’t usually particularly enjoy these books that are set in the future and are far too unrealistic for me to be able to relate to. However, Wilkinson doesn’t take this too far.  BloodMining is set in the not-too-distant future and it’s scarily believable.

Part One of the book is set between 2048 and 2052.  Part Two then skips back to 2015 to 2020 where we learn the background story to the present characters.  Finally Part Three comes back to 2052 to 2053 where the story is concluded.  This story is seamlessly put together, the pace is truly excellent and it leaves you wanting more.

I really like that the synopsis didn’t give too much away about the storyline, and so I won’t give away anymore either.  The characters of the story are wonderfully drawn; three very different women with one thing in common – motherhood.  This book looks into what mothers will do to protect their children and themselves. Set in Wales but with glimpses of London and international destinations such as China and Romania, this book has a real homely feel to it. Wilkinson grew up in North Wales and some of the descriptive narrative that features in this book is clearly written from the heart.

There isn’t anything predictably girly about this book – it’s a fantastic debut novel which surpassed my expectations.  I totally agree with one Amazon reviewer; this has got BBC 3-part drama written all over it! Simply fabulous!

Laura Wilkinson won the Bridge House Debut Novel Competition.  The judges said this about the book “What we loved about this novel was the strength of the writing, the beautiful way the novel is crafted and the sense of time and place. Set in the near future it deals with contemporary issues but in a way that tugs at the heart. This novel stays with you long after you've turned the final page.”

CONGRATULATIONS LAURA ON AN EXCELLENT DEBUT – KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK :) 

Review of Darkside by Belinda Bauer

Thanks to @BenWillisUK for the copy of Darkside!

** What is it about? **

“It is freezing mid-winter on Exmoor, and in a close-knit community where no stranger goes unnoticed, a local woman has been found murdered in her bed. This is local policeman Jonas Holly's first murder investigation. But he is distracted by anonymous letters, accusing him of failing to do his job.

Taunted by the killer and sidelined by his abrasive senior detective, Jonas has no choice but to strike out alone on a terrifying hunt . . . but who is hunting who?”



** What I thought **

I really liked this book in general.  Bauer provides us with some wonderful background and fantastic characterisation that makes this gripping and packed full of suspense.

However, my one downside would be that I felt the ending was rushed and it was out sprung upon you.  The ending had crossed my mind.  I think this is because I was constantly looking for the most unusual twist, and in combination with the title, made me consider the ending. But I didn’t know it was true until I got to that point in the book. It was very nice for the clues not to be too obvious but I think this meant that the ending was a bit abrupt and dramatic in comparison with the rest of the book.  The rest of book is so carefully thought through and crafted, it is full or suspense and it is gripping, however, the ending just felt a little detached, as though it was just popped on the end. It just wasn’t quite right.

Yet despite this, I think it is definitely worth reading and I would certainly read more of Bauer’s books – I think this showed great potential and I really enjoyed it besides the slightly abrupt ending.  Bauer’s writing is gripping and draws you in right from the start. 

'Death in Amber' Winners

We only had 6 entries for this competition, and 6 prizes means everybody wins something!! 

Using random.org, I have drawn the winner of the signed copy of 'Death in Amber'.........Congratulations to..... @philibaldi

AND.....Congratulations to:

@linziwoopp
@rubyred232323
@EmmaHolness
@GeorgeBee69
@aesop57

who have all won an ebook of 'Death in Amber'

Could all winners please email me your details - see contact me page for email address! I will pass your details on to Dean Fetzer.

Thanks for your entries

Friday, 21 October 2011

Review of 'Death in Amber' by Dean Fetzer PLUS a giveaway!


** What it’s about **


A wondrous room made from panels of carved amber – a gift in the 18th Century to Peter the Great, Czar of Russia. Once part of a palace outside St Petersburg, this priceless treasure has been missing since the end of World War II.

Removed from the palace by a Nazi art collection squad at the height of the war, the Amber Room was last seen in Königsbourg in late 1944 Рit vanished without a trace. Now, someone knows where it has come to rest and will do anything to get it.

Ninety years on and beautiful young women are being found dead with no evidence of why they died. Forensics has no clues and fewer answers.
Haunted by a mysterious benefactress, Jaared Sen is hired by an old friend to find his missing niece. A Contractor for The Company, Jaared is the only one who can find her – and the Amber Room – before the killer strikes again.

** What I thought **

Within the open paragraphs, I already had butterflies and a slightly elevated heart rate.  There is something mysterious about Fetzer’s fluently detailed writing.

Fetzer throws you in the deep end and makes you tread water for a few chapters before you get your bearings, and by this point, you’re well and truly hooked.  Getting your bearings involves realising there are two storylines running side-by-side.  However, my one criticism of this book would be that I was constantly waiting for these two storylines to catch up with each other and overlap in some dramatic fashion.  There is a wonderful build up throughout this book, but for me, the ending wasn’t as explosive as I was expecting.  It also left me with a few unanswered questions, and ones that I really wanted to know the answers to.

This book is set in a futuristic world, although there is very little explanation as to how this came about.  I’m hoping that is picked up more in future books as this book is the first in a series focusing on Jaared Sen (a blind investigator working for the Company).  I’d certainly be interested to read more of these books and see where Jaared ends up.  I have high hopes for this future world!

Something about Fetzer’s writing reminds me of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy; whether it be the investigator and unusual sidekick or something else entirely, I can’t quite put my finger on it.

All in all, a mysterious and gripping book; a promising start to the series.

One last point for the proofers/editors: For one of the secondary characters who appears for only a few pages – her name changes mid-way through the page! Threw me slightly for a while….!





Giveaway


Dean has kindly offered to giveaway 5 ebooks and a signed copy of the first book in the Jaared Sen Quartet!!






STEP 1: To enter, you must tweet the following phrase AND then leave a comment on this post telling me that you have done so. Also tell me if you've done any of the additional entry steps.


"Win 1 of 5 ebooks or a signed copy of Death in Amber with @kirstylou29 at http://pukkapad29.blogspot.com/2011/10/win-1-of-5-ebooks-or-signed-copy-of.html "


STEP 2: You can get additional entries by doing any or all of the following:


1. Follow this blog using GFC
2. Follow Dean Fetzer on twitter here
3. Follow me on twitter here

T&CS


1. There are 6 prizes in total - 5 ebooks and 1 signed copy
2. Steps 1 and 3 are mandatory for valid entry, Step 2 can be completed for additional entries.
3. Only one prize per household
4. Winners details will be passed on to Dean Fetzer who will arrange for your prize to be dispatched to you.
5. UK residents only
6. Competition closes at 9am on Monday 31st October 2011.
7. Winners will be chosen at random and notified after the closing date.  Winners will have 72 hours to respond.  If no response is obtained from the winner within 72 hours, I reserve the right to re-draw.


** The Competition is now closed **

Friday, 14 October 2011

Review of About Last Night by Adele Parks

I received this book as a competition win from the lovely Amanda at onemorepage - Thank you Amanda!


** What it's about **


"Steph, eternally solid, considerate and dependable, is begging her best friend to lie to the police as she's desperately trying to conceal two shocking secrets to protect her family. Pip, self-consigned to the role of scatty, frivolous hot-head is overwhelmed; she's normally the one asking for help in a crisis although never anything as catastrophic as this. Both women have always believed that friendship is built on mutual selflessness, compromise and trust.


Are those beliefs now to be tested beyond endurance?"*


* Taken from Amazon's Product Description






** What I thought **


Uniquely, this book is set over a five-day time period.  In these five days, lives changes, friendships and relationships are tested and crimes are considered and committed.  These five days centre on two main characters; Steph and Pip.


It isn’t predictable, and throughout the book I often wondered which direction Parks would take it.  I always appreciate that uncertainty, as there is nothing worse than it being blindingly obvious what is going to happen.


There isn’t much dialogue, but instead the story is told through third person narrative.  I know a lot of readers have struggled with these, finding that it doesn’t move quick enough and there is too much reminiscing.  However, I enjoyed the leisurely pace which managed to hold my attention due to the twists and turns that Parks provides at just the right moments.


There is something unique about this story, and it was one which I enjoyed immensely! I'll certainly be checking out more of Adele Parks' books in the future!

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Available in Hardcover and Kindle Edition from Amazon.co.uk:

       

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Review of An Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson

Thanks to Milly Johnson and Simon & Schuster for the copy of An Autumn Crush.  You can follow Milly on twitter or facebook.


** What it’s about **


Synopsis from back cover:

"In the heart of the windy season, four friends are about to get swept off their feet...

Newly single after a bruising divorce, Juliet Miller moves into a place of her own and advertises for a flatmate, little believing that in her mid-thirties, she'll find anyone suitable.  Then, just as she's about to give up hope, along comes self-employed copywriter Floz, and the two women hit it off straight away.

When Juliet's gentle giant of a twin brother, Guy, meets Floz, he falls head over heels.  But, as hard as he trites to charm her, his foot seems to be permanently in his mouth.  Meanwhile, Guy's best friend Steve has always had a secret crush on Juliet - one which could not be more unrequited if it tried...

As Floz and Juliet's friendship deepens, and Floz becomes part of the Miller family, can Guy turn her affection for them into something more - into love for him? ANd what will happen to Steve's heart when Juliet eventually catches the eye of Piers - the man of her dreams?

As Autumn falls, will love eventually bloom for them all? Or will the secrets of the past turn the season's gold to the chill of winter?"




** What I thought **

This is my first book reviewed within my October theme, and what a book it is.  Despite being October, I read this on a recording-breaking October day, with temperatures soaring, sat in the garden surrounded by leaves fluttering to the ground as Autumn descends.

I read Johnson’s A Summer Fling over the summer and loved every page of it.  Johnson’s next book An Autumn Crush is no disappointment.  I read it in one sitting, which is unusual these days with a book of this thickness.  I was lucky to have a day to sit in the glorious sunshine in the garden and soak up every word.  Johnson writes some of the best chick lit there is; she lures you in and then immerses you fully.  You’ll smile constantly (in fact, I think my cheeks ache from smiling too much) and I did shed a fear tears at the end. 

This book is packed full of warm and energetic characters.  Guy melted my heart – the perfect gentlemen.  I often found myself holding my breath, waiting for something to happen and Johnson does make you wait.  She builds up the anticipation perfectly, so that when things start to come together, they do so perfectly.  And boy, is it worth waiting for.  There are plenty of unexpected twists and turns along the way, but these will lead you to a seriously satisfying ending.

Perfect – get yourself a copy, and immerse yourself immediately!


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Available in Paperback and Kindle Edition at Amazon.co.uk:

           

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

I received this award from Sharon at Jera’s Jamboree
Thank you so much Sharon! I love reading your blog, and you would certainly have been on my 15 if you hadn't have beat me to it.



The rules of this award are:

  • Thank and link back to the person who gave the award to you
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Send it along to 15 other bloggers and let them know you have awarded them!


 Seven things about me:
  1. Next month, I’m going to be hitting the big-quarter-of-a-century!
  2. I have a bit of a thing for men in uniform. Am I the only one??
  3. I love the sunshine, but I’m not the greatest fan of flying.  The sunshine usually wins!
  4. I used to be a trampolinist (beginner, not Olympic!) because it sounded like fun but I hate exercise!
  5. I love to drive, which is a good thing as I live in the middle of no-where!
  6. I have had mumps despite having all the required vacs.
  7. I have traces of OCD, and believe everyone does to some degree!


The fifteen blogs that I’m passing on The Versatile Blogger Award to are:
Thanks to all those who read my blog! Readers and comments are always appreciated!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Review of Are We Nearly There Yet? by Ben Hatch

When I was approached by Ben Hatch to review his latest book, Are we nearly there yet?: A family’s 8000 miles around Britain in a Vauxhall Astra, I instantly wanted to say yes as I have very vivid memories of sitting in my parents’ car as a small child uttering these exact words. So, that is what I did.


This is what it’s about….

“They were bored, broke, burned out and turning 40.  So when Ben and his wife Dinah were approached to write a guidebook about family travel, they embraced the open road, ignoring friends’ warnings: ‘One of you will come back chopped up in a bin bag in the roof box’.  Featuring deadly puff adders, Billie Piper’s pyjamas and a friend of Hitler’s, it’s a story about love, death, falling out, moving on and growing up, and 8,000 misguided miles in a Vauxhall Astra.”





Thanks to Ben (who you can follow on twitter here) and Elly at Summersdale Publishers for the copy!

** What I thought **

Ben Hatch makes John Cleese laugh….! It says so on the front of his book.  Well, Ben Hatch makes me laugh too. This book is not one to be read on a train, or anywhere in public where you would like to be perceived as vaguely normal, as you will laugh out loud.  There are plenty of these laugh out loud moments in this book, and not just ones that are funny at the time, but as I sit and recall them hours later, I still giggle to myself! Something will remind me, and I’ll involuntarily laugh, no matter where I am or who I’m with.  One moment in particular involves Ben’s wife Dinah merging (or at least attempting to) onto a motorway and what Ben has taught his daughter, Phoebe, to do.  Look out for it, it’s utter genius – made me laugh all week long, and I think will continue to do so forever!! Also look out for a fear of tortoises, an incident with a toothbrush and a bat combined with some deadly puff adders!

Tim Brooke-Taylor says ‘has hints of the Brit sitcom Outnumbered’ and as I read this I literally said “Ahhh yes, of course!!” The writers of Outnumbered could certainly learn a few things from Phoebe and Charlie! (Ben, perhaps you should take advantage of this?!)

You don’t have to be a parent to appreciate this book; it’s not just about travelling with small children.  It’s about real life and relationships.  It also focuses quite heavily on the grief of losing your parents as an adult, as Ben’s father, Sir David Hatch, is taken ill and sadly passes away during Ben and Dinah’s journey.

Like a cross between a memoir and a novel; this is an absolutely fabulous read. It will make you smile, it will make you laugh and it will move you deeply.  Get yourself a copy and enjoy!

*******************

** This book currently has been reviewed 18 times (soon to be 19, when I add my review!) and every single one of those reviews has awarded it 5 stars.  I shan’t be changing that pattern!  


I'll also certainly be checking out Ben's other two successful comic novels The Lawnmower Celebrity and The International Gooseberry.

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Here are some photos from their journey:

Ben, Phoebe and Charlie

Charlie at Warwick Castle 

Phoebe on Severn Valley Railway

Phoebe and Charlie, worn out!!

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Available in paperback and Kindle Edition at Amazon.co.uk:


      

Monday, 3 October 2011

Review of Bumped by Megan McCafferty

** Thank you to UK Book Tours & Carly for hosting the tour of Bumped!


** What it’s about **

A virus has swept the world, making everyone over the age of eighteen infertile. Teenagers are now the most prized members of society, and would-be parents desperately bid for ‘conception contracts’ with the prettiest, healthiest and cleverest girls - cash, college tuition and liposuction in exchange for a baby.

Sixteen-year-old Melody is gorgeous, athletic and has perfect grades, and has scored an amazing contract with a rich couple. And she’s been matched with one of the most desirable ‘bumping’ partners in the world - the incredibly hot, genetically flawless Jondoe.

But Melody's luck is about to run out. She discovers she has a sister - an identical twin, Harmony, who has grown up in a religious community opposed to the idea of ‘pregging’. Harmony believes her calling is to save Melody from her sinful plans. Melody doesn’t have time for this – she can’t wait to meet Jondoe and seal the deal. But when he arrives and mistakes Harmony for Melody, everyone’s carefully-laid plans are swept out of control – and Melody and Harmony are about to realise they have so much more than just DNA in common.



** What I thought **

I’m sad to say this book just wasn’t for me.  For the first few chapters, I felt really disconnected from it all (characters and storyline).  I think this was mainly to do with me being vaguely confused about what on earth was going on! There was too much futuristic slang, which I can see why some people would find funny, but for me it was just too much! Perhaps I’m getting old, but it was confusing and lacked explanation.  I can’t cope with words like MiNet, MiChatting, pregg(ing), fertilicious and bumped being thrown round without too much context.  I mean, I get it now, but it was hard work. 

After that initial confusion, I have to admit I was hooked and read the rest of the book in one sitting, mainly because I had to know where on earth this was going to end up.  Dystopian YA are very on trend at the moment, and admittedly this is one with an edge to it and a very unique concept.  However, I think a bit like marmite, you’ll either love it or hate it!

This book is obviously set in the future, but it isn’t until page 126 that you’re told which year (2036!!).  This annoyed me, I wanted more background; when it’s set and perhaps how this virus came to be?

I didn’t relate to or particularly feel anything for the characters (Melody or Harmony; twins) but I did love Melody’s best friend Zen.  He was genuine and I liked him – I hope he features heavily in the sequel Thumped.

The premise is good (a virus which has causes everyone over the age of 18 to become infertile) but for me the book itself is just too unbelievable.  When you really sit and think about it, it’s actually quite uncomforting that humanity would be buying and selling babies; giving young girls the incentive to have a child on somebody else’s behalf.  It essentially plays on the premise of surrogacy but takes it a million times further than what we know as surrogacy today.  I’m not sure exactly what message McCafferty was trying to portray, and that bothered me. Yes, it's taking teen pregnancy to an extreme but for me in way which wasn't particularly comfortable to read!

The ending is cliff-hanger-esque indicating a sequel and indeed Thumped  is due to be released on April 24th 2012.  Although I took quite a major dislike to this book at the start, I have to admit, I'm more than intrigued to see where McCafferty takes the sequel!

Perhaps for those of you who are loving your dystopian YA novels at the moment, and can cope with the futuristic, slightly unnerving premise of this, it will fare a little better!

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Available in Paperback and Kindle Edition on Amazon.co.uk