Monday, 26 May 2014

Impossible Things by Kate Johnson

Are they Cursed as well as Chosen?

Ishtaer is a mystery. A blind slave, beaten and broken by her sadistic mistress, with no memory of a time before her enslavement.

Kael Vapensigsson is one of the elite Chosen - a Warlord whose strength comes from the gods themselves. But despite all his power and prestige, he is plagued by a prophecy that threatens to destroy everything he loves. When Kael summons Ishtaer to his room and discovers the marks of the Chosen on her body, including the revered mark of the Warrior, both Warlord and slave seem to have met their match.

But as their lives become increasingly entangled and endangered, Ishtaer is forced to test whether the Chosen ever have the ability to choose their own fate.

I struggled to get into Impossible Things at first - it was based in a world I didn't understand and it just didn't click in those first few chapters for me but as I stuck with it, things became clearer.  I must admit after starting to read this a couple of months ago, I stopped a few chapters in and read a handful of other books before returning to my kindle and realising I hadn't finished this.  It hadn't captured me early on, but as I continued to read I found myself more and more drawn into the story.  By about half way, I was totally and utterly immersed.

Johnson's writing is fantastic and allows you to see the scenery in your mind as you read.  ChocLit books are usually jam-packed with romance, almost from the very first page, but this book is different.  You always have half an eye on the romance, waiting for it to happen, but it doesn't until quite late on in the book.  The focus of this book really is friendship and family, the struggle against who you really are and who you are perceived to be, and it is packed full of action and mystery.

Reckoning by Kerry Wilkinson

The Silver Blackthorn Trilogy

In the village of Martindale, hundreds of miles north of the new English capital of Windsor, sixteen-year-old Silver Blackthorn takes the Reckoning. This coming-of-age test not only decides her place in society - Elite, Member, Inter or Trog - but also determines that Silver is to become an Offering for King Victor.

But these are uncertain times and no one really knows what happens to the teenagers who disappear into Windsor Castle. Is being an Offering the privilege everyone assumes it to be, or do the walls of the castle have something to hide?

Trapped in a maze of ancient corridors, Silver finds herself in a warped world of suspicion where it is difficult to know who to trust and who to fear. The one thing Silver does know is that she must find a way out . . .

I found that this book feels like The Hunger Games on so many levels, including the powerful, supposedly popular, dictator claiming to prevent the word from destroying itself, the offering as a reminder/gift of thanks to said dictator, the female heroine with two potential love interests and not knowing how she feels about each of them.  I've also heard it has similarities to other books, such as Divergent, but I haven't read that so cannot comment.

However, despite any similarities this book might have, it most definitely stands by itself as a highly addictive, well-written, book.  Readers will find themselves willing the next book in the trilogy to come out before they've even turned the last page.

Silver Blackthorn is the focus of Reckoning, but the supporting cast are fabulous and make the whole thing work.  I liked the concept, the fact it is based in the UK and the twists and turns that make you gasp because you simply didn't see them coming.

Reckoning is addictive; it had me willing my train journey not to end so soon so I could read just a few more pages.  Most certainly a strong contender to The Hunger Games - I have a feeling this trilogy will be just as popular and talked about.

Summer's Shadow by Anna Wilson

Her mother's will states that Summer's legal guardian is her uncle Tristan: a man Summer has never even heard of before. Forced to leave her life in London, Summer moves to Tristan's creepy, ancient house in Cornwall. There she is met with indifference from him, open hostility from her cousin, and an aunt who has chosen to leave rather than to tolerate her presence.

Soon Summer comes to believe that the house may be haunted. But is it haunted by ghosts, or by the shadows of her family's past?

Scared and lonely, Summer begins to spend more and more time in the beautiful sheltered cove she discovers nearby. But she's not alone. A local boy frequents it too. Can Summer find first love and the answers to the mysteries of her new home with this good-looking boy who appears to be too perfect to be true?

Even though this is a young adult book, it was one I, as someone in my late twenties, really enjoyed.  I devoured it extremely quickly, before passing it on to my mum, who read it in a few hours and also thought it was a great book.  

Yes, it is light reading but I never really thought of it as a book for teens.  Wilson's writing is sophisticated and had me totally immersed in Summer's story and her new, and intriguing, beautiful surroundings. 

Summer's Shadow follows Summer as she tries to come to terms with losing her mum, and the sudden upheaval of moving away from everything, and everyone, she knows to live with people who are supposedly family but treat her in a very different manner.  Who are these people and how did they know Summer's mum?

I have to say, I wasn't at all surprised when it was revealed how Tristan is related to Summer.  It didn't come as a shock, but this didn't take anything away from the book for me.  I had also guessed a couple of the other "unknowns" along the way, but despite this, I really enjoyed following Summer's story.

Wilson creates the atmosphere and the imagery of this enchanting tale from Cornwall perfectly.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Before You Die by Samantha Hayes

Oh God, please don’t let me die.

It has taken nearly two years for the Warwickshire village of Radcote to put a spate of teenage suicides behind it.

Then a young man is killed in a freak motorbike accident, and a suicide note is found among his belongings. A second homeless boy takes his own life, this time on the railway tracks.

Is history about to repeat itself?

DI Lorraine Fisher has just arrived for a relaxing summer break with her sister. Soon she finds herself caught up in the resulting police enquiry. And when her nephew disappears she knows she must act quickly.

Are the recent deaths suicide – or murder?

And is the nightmare beginning again?

So many other reviewers have been comparing this book to Until You're Mine but I haven't read Until You're Mine so I read this as a stand alone book and have nothing else to compare to.

I found that Before You Die pushes you in right at the deep end of the story and the plot instantly continues to twist, turn and unravel right up to the very last page.  There isn't any respite, as seemingly unconnected threads weave together until it dawns on you that they were always part of the same thread, you just hadn't realised the connection.

I have to say I generally really enjoyed it; I found myself rapidly turning the pages to follow the next knot in the thread that was threatening to be untangled.  I did not guess, or come anywhere close to guessing, how the connections would all link up or who had been involved in which element of the story.

However, ultimately, I personally found there to be a couple of loose ends that were left unresolved, and the epilogue just did not work for me.  I had to re-read it to cement in my brain what had just happened, and the moment I'd done that I found myself online looking for other bloggers' reviews of the book to see how they had reacted to the ending.  I haven't found any other reviewers that feel there were loose ends or the ending wasn't quite right, but for me it just didn't tie into any of the rest of the story line; it came from nowhere.

It's difficult to say anything more without giving away too much of the story but I would love to know what you thought of the ending and whether it worked for you.  Get in touch by commenting below.....

Somewhere beyond the Sea by Amanda James

"When love begins with a lie, where will it end? 

Doctor Tristan Ainsworth has returned with his family to the idyllic Cornish village close to where he grew up. The past has taught him some hard lessons, but he’ll do anything to make his wife happy – so what’s making her so withdrawn? 

Karen Ainsworth daren’t reveal her true feelings, but knows her husband has put up with her moods for too long. A chance to use her extraordinary singing voice may set her free, so why shouldn’t she take it? Surely her past can’t hurt her now? 

As a tide of blackmail and betrayal is unleashed to threaten the foundations of their marriage, Karen and Tristan face a difficult question. Is their love strong enough to face the truth when the truth might cost them everything?"

Another ChocLit beauty.  

This book contains snippets of the past, among the chapters of the present, and with each snippet the reader comes closer to learning the truth.

The pace of this book is perfect, and keeps you guessing until just over half way through the book.  The remainder of the book follows Tristan and Karen in the "aftermath" as they deal with the truth.  You'll have to read the book to see whether life will ever be the same again for them.....

Somewhere Beyond the Sea covers abuse, heartbreak, revenge, unconditional love and friendship.  The descriptions of Cornwall are beautiful, and the emotions are captured extremely well.