Monday, 25 May 2015

End of Days by Susan Ee (Book #3)

"End of Days is the explosive conclusion to Susan Ee's bestselling Penryn & the End of Days trilogy.
After a daring escape from the angels, Penryn and Raffe are on the run. They're both desperate to find a doctor who can reverse the twisted changes inflicted by the angels on Raffe and Penryn's sister. As they set off in search of answers, a startling revelation about Raffe's past unleashes dark forces that threaten them all. 
When the angels release an apocalyptic nightmare onto humans, both sides are set on a path toward war. As unlikely alliances form and strategies shift, who will emerge victorious? Forced to pick sides in the fight for control of the earthly realm, Raffe and Penryn must choose: Their own kind, or each other?"

I have waited for over a year for the third book in this addictive and explosive trilogy from Susan Ee.  The first two books are incredible and so End of Days had a lot to live up to! 

There are two things that I love most about this trilogy.  

First...although each book leaves you desperate for more, there is no messing around at the beginning of the next book; we get to dive straight back into the storyline exactly where we left off.  This is simply fabulous; there is not anything worse than being left on a complete cliffhanger (as the first book does, whereas the second book stops mid-flight, literally!) and then when you finally get your hands on the next instalment you find the author takes you around the houses for a few chapters to 'settle you back in'.  Susan Ee glides straight back into the action and you instantly remember why you were so hooked in the first place.  This also means that if you have not had yet had the pleasure of reading any of these books, then you can read all three and they will feel like one continuous story without having the tortuous wait that most fans have had to endure!  

The second thing I love about this trilogy is Raffe (not in that order, I definitely love Raffe the most)! I adored the relationship and interaction that Penryn and Raffe have in the first book, which sadly you see less of in the second book but it is back with a vengeance at the start of End of Days as Penryn and Raffe are reunited.  My absolute favourite parts of this book are Penryn and Raffe based - I don't want to give anything away but look out for Chapters 5 and 12 (I literally could not tear my eyes away from the page). If anything, I wish there had been more of these moments.

The chapters in End of Days are short which means the pace is fast.  Susan Ee has done a great job with continuity of all the threads into the last part of this trilogy.  There continues to be plenty of action from humans, angels, demons and locusts! I read it easily in two sittings, and it would have been one had I had a choice!

I felt like everything was wrapped up by the end (although felt perhaps a little rushed), however, my only complaint would be that when the end came, I found myself thinking "That cannot be it".  There simply is not enough of the one thing all fans of this trilogy have been waiting for throughout the three books! I had longed for it for so long that I wanted to bask in it forever but it is all over so quickly.  Then you turn the page and find an epilogue, and your heart skips a beat, but it does not really add anything in terms of closure! Perhaps Susan Ee will treat us with a surprise fourth book?!!

Highly recommended as a trilogy; I just wish there had been more! The Penryn and the End of Days Trilogy is not just a young adult trilogy - it can be enjoyed by YA and adults alike (I can definitely not be classed as a YA anymore!). If you've enjoyed The Angel Trilogy by L.A. Weatherly, I recommend you check out this trilogy too!

Angelfall, World After and End of Days are all OUT NOW! Get yourself copies of all three, block out some space in your diary and enjoy the addictive ride!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

You Think You Know Me by Clare Chase

"Sometimes, it’s not easy to tell the good guys from the bad… 

Freelance journalist, Anna Morris, is struggling to make a name for herself, so she’s delighted to attend a launch event for a hip young artist at her friend Seb’s gallery. 

But an exclusive interview isn’t all Anna comes away with. After an encounter with the enigmatic Darrick Farron, she is flung into the shady underground of the art scene – a world of underhand dealings, missing paintings and mysterious deaths… 

Seb is intent on convincing Anna that Darrick is up to no good but, try as she might, she can’t seem to keep away from him. And as she becomes further embroiled, Anna begins to wonder – can Seb’s behaviour be explained away as the well-intentioned concern of an old friend, or does he have something to hide?"

The first two thirds of this book is a gentle but interesting ride in which Clare Chase draws you in, but it cannot prepare you for the wild roller coaster that follows.

Following a build up which will have you questioning everyone, You Think You Know Me transforms into a gripping page turner and I did not come close to guessing the outcome until it was thrust upon me.  As the "baddie" was revealed, I gasped and as the climax developed, I could feel my heart thudding in my chest and I sat holding my breath as I turned the pages as quickly as I could thinking "this cannot be happening".

I was disappointed once the ending came, but only because I had become so embroiled in the story that my brain, and my heart, was longing for more.

The character portrayals in You Think You Know Me are excellent and combined with the fabulous storyline, it make this an incredible debut from Clare Chase.

You can always rely on Choc Lit to deliver the absolute best authors and they have not failed to deliver, once again, on this occasion.  You Think You Know Me is chick lit with a razor sharp edge.

You Think You Know Me is available as an ebook now and will be released in paperback in September.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

"Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. 

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…"

I had obviously heard of The Girl on the Train, I had seen people reading it on my commute into London and I knew from Marian Keyes twitter page that she considered it to be #GripLit, but other than that, I had no idea what to expect - I had not read any articles or reviews and I had not even read the synopsis.  I just knew I wanted to read it.

The Girl on the Train is certainly gripping.  The book is told from three different perspectives - Rachel, Anna and Megan.  Megan's perspective is slightly behind in terms of the timeframe at the outset but eventually catches up; you will need to pay attention to a degree.  Each time the perspective shifted, I found myself longing to go back to know what else that character had to share with me whilst simultaneously longing to stay with the current characters version of events.  As a reader, you also have to try and decipher who you can trust and whether you believe what you are reading as all three of the main characters have traits that cause them to be unreliable at best.  

The book does not contain the sort of characters that you will necessarily like or feel a connection with but it is the curiosity and intrigue that will keep you hooked to this particular tale.  It is quite an achievement to grip a reader to a book in which the reader does not actually like any of the characters (although the characters are well portrayed).  However, this is the sort of book that you will find yourself saying 'I'll just read one more chapter' until suddenly you find yourself at the end! 

I have to admit that I was lulled in and I did not guess the ending, but had I taken the time to think it through along with the 'it is the last person you would expect' philosophy then perhaps I would have done.

Not as gripping as I thought given the hype but I did enjoy the ride.

Take A Chance on Me by Debbie Flint

"You know what they say about mixing business with pleasure… 

When the breakdown of her marriage leaves Sadie Turner a single mum, she vows that she will make it on her own. After all, why would a smart businesswoman with a PhD and the prospect of a life-changing deal on the horizon need a man? 

But Sadie’s man-ban is tested to the limit when she travels to Monaco to meet her potential investor. There she encounters Mac, a rough and ready playboy billionaire who lives life in the fast lane – and that’s when the real adventure starts! 

But Sadie’s heart isn’t the only thing on the line. There’s also the business she’s worked so hard to make a success; the business that could so easily slip out of her grasp if she doesn’t seal the deal within thirty days…"

Take A Chance on Me is published under 'Hot Choc Lit', which Choc Lit describe as "slightly raised heat level but not erotica".  

This book reminded me of Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson (in terms of the steamy scenes and the strength of the connections between the main characters, rather than the Christmas theme) and if you liked that book I am sure you will enjoy this one.  

There are some particularly steamy scenes in Take A Chance on Me but they are exceptionally well written.  When I first started reading, I wasn't sure about Sadie; I thought she was going to be shallow and irritating but I was wrong.  She soon stumbles across Mac and this instantly brought a smile to my face.  The book is so well written that the connection between Sadie and Mac is exceptionally strong and it jumps off the page.  It feels so real that you feel like you are living it yourself so when the inevitable problem arises, you, as a reader, feel the longing feeling in your heart as though it were your own loss.

I enjoyed the fact that although this is a romance book, it has a strong business element to it and I was not surprised to discover that Debbie Flint had a career in finance once upon a time.  Whilst the romantic side of the book is not all that unpredictable, it is still gripping because the emotions are so powerful and the other side of the storyline has plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing.

Another beauty from Choc Lit.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Set Me Free by Daniela Sacerdoti

"Margherita's marriage is slowly falling apart. Getting pregnant after trying for so long may have been a fabulous surprise for her, but for her husband it was the last straw. When she needs him most, her husband is just not there for her or their children and she realises that they need time apart to figure out where their marriage is going. 

As she struggles to come to terms with her new life, Margherita decides to leave London and spend the summer in Glen Avich, where her mum and stepdad have just opened a new coffee shop. She needs time away to reconnect with her daughter Lara and sort out her life. 

But Glen Avich can have a strange effect on people, and when she and Lara start working for Torcuil Ramsay at a rundown local estate, everything begins to change. Margherita finds her heart awakened in a way she never thought possible and Lara begins a new friendship with a mysterious local boy, Mal, which makes her mother feel increasingly uneasy. And just when Margherita is finally beginning to discover who she really is, she finds out how quickly things can change and how hard it can be to make brave choices."

Set Me Free is the greatly anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Watch Over Me and Take Me Home.  Readers of Dani's books will be longing to revisit Glen Avich in the hope of catching a glimpse of some of the past characters as well as discovering new ones, and they will not be disappointed!

Whilst this review is not about Watch Over Me or Take Me Home, and I can confirm that Set Me Free is an entirely stand alone book, I urge you to get yourself copies of all three books (and in fact you have the chance to win a copy of all three below).  You can read what I thought of the first two by clicking on the following links - Watch Over Me and Take Me Home.  It is not surprising that Watch Over Me (which was Dani's incredible debut novel) broke records as it sold over 445,000 kindle books before the paperback was even released as it is a beautiful book. 

I am honoured to be closing the Set Me Free blog tour, and you can see what other bloggers had to say along the way by visiting their blogs:

When I first turned the last page of Set Me Free, I thought it was my favourite book of Dani's so far, but having just sat and re-read my review of Watch Over Me, I think perhaps I got myself caught up in the moment.  It might not be my absolute favourite but it is certainly one of my favourites and without a doubt comparably good. It made me realise how much I had missed Dani's books and Glen Avich.  Dani has easily become one of my favourite authors of all time; Dani has a unique style of writing that sets her aside from other authors of the same genre and the storylines are instantly recognisable as being a Sacerdoti tale.

Dani's adult books have the power to cast a spell over the reader; they are absolutely enchanting in a raw and powerful way.  Whilst the characters lives are tinged with sadness, Glen Avich contains magic which has the potential to make everything better. 

Whilst Set Me Free is a standalone book, readers of the earlier Glen Avich books will recognise some of the characters.  In particular, we get to catch up with Inary and there are also references to both Eilidh and Alex. I love the way that the Glen Avich books are intrinsically linked and the supernatural element which we saw in the earlier books continues in Set Me Free but once again it is subtly perfect.

I have to admit, I had completely forgotten about the prologue until I saw it mentioned in a fellow reviewers review.  I had got so wrapped up in the story that I had forgotten the clever hint that Dani had set right at the start.

Set Me Free is a book of ethereal beauty; it is delicately sensitive and precious and you should bathe in its wonderfulness.  I found myself racing towards the end of the book, desperate to know what happens but at the same time desperate for it never to end.  

Glen Avich and its cast will stay you for a long time, and I hope it isn't too long before Dani allows us to visit again!

Dani comes out with the most beautiful lines that they make you go back and re-read them to let their beauty sink in a little further.  A couple of my favourite lines from Set Me Free include:

"I am the sun in my own solar system"

"Some ties, even if worn and constricting and infused with bitterness, are very difficult to break - maybe impossible.  Not without severing parts of yourself with them, anyway."

I must thank both Dani and Black and White Publishing.  Dani once (via twitter) called me a bloggess (aka Blog Goddess) and promised that she would write my name into one of her books.  She did not fail to deliver and it made it extra special reading those parts of the book that contained my name!  Thank you to Black and White for the copy of Set Me Free and including me in this fabulous blog tour.

Black and White Publishing have produced a little recipe book with bakes from Margherita's CafĂ© so if you want to try any of the delights which are featured in Set Me Free head over to their website or Amazon where you can download it for free.  Some of the descriptions are drool-worthy so if you're a baker, then I highly recommend it!

Finally, Black and White Publishing have kindly agreed to offer one lucky person the chance to win a set of Dani's Glen Avich books; that is a copy of Watch Over Me, a copy of Take Me Home and a copy of Set Me Free.  You lucky people, follow the rafflecopter instructions below to enter...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Life You Left by Carmel Harrington

"The life you lived. The life you loved. The life you left…
For fans of Jojo Moyes and Cecelia Ahern.

It started out like any other day for Sarah Lawler; getting the kids ready for school, making the pack lunches and juggling baby Ella’s feeds.
There was no way of knowing that her husband, Paul, would leave for work that morning and simply not come home.
Now the questions are piling up quicker than the unpaid bills and, unable to answer her children’s questions about where their Daddy is, Sarah is getting desperate.
But it turns out she isn’t quite as alone as she thought she was. When her beloved childhood friend, Edward, comes back into her life, Sarah thinks she’s finally been thrown a life line.
There’s just one problem with Edward: Sarah is the only person who can see him."

Thank you to @margaretbmadden for running #IrishFictionFortnight and for introducing me to Carmel Harrington (@HappyMrsH) and thank you to Carmel for taking part and sending me the fabulous signed copy of The Life You Left.  I had been looking for a new Irish author, and I have found that in Carmel Harrington, who is easily comparable with the best; Cecelia Ahern and Marian Keyes.

The Life You Left took me totally by surprise when it grabbed my heart and soul and dragged me straight into the pages. I had not expected the storyline that unfolded in front of my eyes; the last thing I had expected when I read the back of the book was murder and guardian angels but I loved every minute of it.  

The concept of guardian angels may not sit with everyone's beliefs but there is something about the way that The Life You Left is written which absorbs you into this world where I did not doubt or question the storyline for even a nanosecond.  I loved the references to white feathers (something which we have in our family) and I had not come across the pennies from heaven before.  I was walking out of the tube station the other morning, and sat there glistening on one of the steps was a penny; it made me smile on an otherwise bleak morning, so thank you Carmel for bringing something new to my life as well as your fantastic book. 

What made The Life You Left extra special for me is that Carmel Harrington lives in Wexford and my family are from County Wexford. In fact, they are from Gorey which features in The Life You Left and I found myself beaming as I read those sections purely because of the association with my life.  Although I have always lived in England, Ireland is somewhere which feels like home and there is always something inside of me pulling me back there. 

Harrington has an incredible writing style and you can feel the emotions pouring off of the page. It made me cry, it made me laugh and it made me feel rage at a certain character.  I felt the fears and anxiety radiating off the characters but I also felt the love and energy pouring out of their hearts. 

The Life You Left is packed full of a fantastic cast of characters, both goodies and baddies. I warmed to the lead character, I adored her children, I loved her twin and the other supporting cast members and I loved despising the baddies.  The Life You Left is warm and uplifting, it is about moving on and fresh starts, it is about love and friendship and it is about making a difference.  This book will stay with me for a very long time.

The back of the book is absolutely spot on - if you like Jojo Moyes and Cecelia Ahern, you will also love Carmel Harrington.

I will not hesitate to get myself a copy of Harrington's debut novel, Beyond Grace's Rainbow, and will be keeping an eye out in the future for any new releases; a new favourite author for my list!

Renegade by Kerry Wilkinson (Silver Blackthorn Trilogy, Book #2)

"Silver Blackthorn is a fugitive.
Silver Blackthorn has committed treason.
She is dangerous.
Do NOT approach her.
A large reward is on offer. Report any sightings to your nearest Kingsman.
Long live the King.
Silver Blackthorn is on the run.
She fled Windsor Castle with eleven other teenagers, taking with her something far more valuable than even she realises: knowledge.
With the entire country searching for the missing Offerings, Silver must keep them all from the vicious clutches of King Victor and the Minister Prime. Until now, no one has escaped the king and lived to tell the tale. Or have they?
With expectations weighing heavily on the girl with the silver streak in her hair, will she ever find her way home?"

It has been almost a year since I read and was totally gripped by Reckoning and you can read my review here.  Firstly, I have to thank Kerry Wilkinson and Pan Macmillan for including a quote from my review of Reckoning inside the front cover of Renegade - what an honour!

** REVIEW **

When I started reading the second book in the Silver Blackthorn trilogy, I had to get back into the swing of it.  I had wanted to re-read Reckoning first to fully remind myself and get back into the addictive nature of the plot but as soon as Renegade dropped through my door, I could not bring myself to wait any longer.  I dived straight in, knowing that I had loved it and knowing that it was comparable to The Hunger Games. As I found myself settling into Renegade I desperately tried to separate the things that had happened in Reckoning from the things that had happened in The Hunger Games in my mind; I mean this as an overiding compliment - they are both so fabulous and addictive and there are similarities that it is hard to separate the two.

Renegade is as good as Reckoning and then some! I once again found myself totally sucked in and on the one hand I was racing through, turning the pages as fast as I could and on the other hand I was praying that it would not end too soon as I could not bear to be left on another cliffhanger.  

When the ending did come, it was perfect but it left me willing the next, and final book in the trilogy, to magically appear in front of me.  Sadly, it hasn't materialised and I am told I will have to a whole year to discover what happens to Silver!! I know, without doubt, that it will be worth the wait.

There are plenty of twists and turns along the way to that ending, and I found myself holding my breath at a number of different points in the book as my heart thudded in my chest.  A lot of terrible things happen in Renegade and you find yourself wondering how on earth Silver is going to get herself out of the hole she has dug herself into this time.  There was nothing predictable about the path which this part of Silver's story takes and it continues to be ideal for fans of The Hunger Games.  I stand by my statement that it should be as talked about and celebrated as The Hunger Games trilogy because it is, without a doubt, just as good.

Renegade is not just the story of Silver Blackthorn, but also of her comrades.  As with Reckoning, the supporting cast pull the whole book together and makes it the story that it is.  You will have to seize the first copy you can lay your hands on to discover which of Silver's friends make it to the end of Renegade with her!


Kerry Wilkinson, the wonderful creator of Silver, has kindly agreed to answer a couple of questions for me and the readers of Book - Love - Bug (I tried my hardest to discover what happens to Silver in the end, I promise, but Kerry was not giving much away!):

Was the finished result of 'Renegade' what you had imagined it would be when you first finished 'Reckoning'?

KW: Renegade was an odd book to write in that, for probably the first time, I started writing it without much of a plan. Usually, I plot everything and, even though small bits might change, the broad plot remains the same. Renegade took its own path. I knew there were a couple of plot points from Reckoning on which to follow up - the information that Silver takes from the castle; Hart's injury; Opie; Imrin and Opie - but it turned into a story of friendship that I hadn't really expected.

The more I wrote the supporting cast of Jela, Pietra and Faith - particularly Faith - the more they became the focus of the story. Are they Silver's friends, or Silver's soldiers? Is their journey about what's best for Silver, or what's best for everyone?

Those are questions that Silver asks herself. Hopefully the reader, too. Does the end justify the means? Awful things happen in Renegade and the question could be asked: 'Would they have happened that way if Silver made different choices?'

Ultimately, I didn't want everything to be black and white - good guys/bad guys - I wanted it to be about the greys. 

B-L-B: This is definitely true - Renegade is all about the greys.  As a reader, I never knew who was going to turn on Silver next - it could have been a Kingsman or it could have been one of her 'friends'.  Also watch out for the people that come to her rescue!

Can you tell us anything about what is in store for Silver in 'Resurgence'?

KW: Well, she has one friend to heal, one friend to rescue from an impossible situation - and most of the country hunting for her. She also has to deal with the aftermath of Renegade, a King who wants her head and, if she gets through all that, there are two lads each vying for her attention and a decision to be made.

There's also my favourite scene of the whole trilogy. One part I'd been waiting for a long time to write. I wrote myself into the biggest trap I could imagine - and then tried my best to write myself out of it.

B-L-B: Wow, I cannot wait to see if I can guess which is the favourite scene and how you managed to write yourself out of the trap!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your other books; where do you get your ideas from?

KW: I started writing books in 2011 after a decade of being a sports journalist. It's gone pretty well! I'm now a full-time author, something I never thought would happen.

With the crime books I write, the ideas are easier to come by. Usually a tiny throwaway story somewhere that I've heard or read and then I let my imagination run wild. I have a massive pad of lines and ideas and it's always fun to take a single sentence and make it a 90,000-word novel.

For the non-crime books...I guess it's a lifetime of reading superhero comics and watching shows like Doctor Who. Silver came about from when I was on holiday, supposedly not woking. I liked the idea of an old castle coupled with far newer technology and then wondered how a world like that might pan out. Things like mad kings and crazy soldiers are always fun to write.

B-L-B: I will be jumping at the chance to read some of Kerry's other books!

Do you have a routine that you follow when you're in the full swing of writing?

KW: With the exception of Renegade...yes!

Usually, I'll start with a one-line pitch - a single sentence that sums up the general plan for the book. So, for instance, with Reckoning, it would have been something like: 'In the future, a teenage girl goes up against a crazed King'.

From there, I'll write a 'skeleton' of the plot. It'll be very bullet-pointy, 'this happens, that happens' and so on. After that, I'll write a proper plot, which is where everything comes together. That can be anything up to 17- or 18,000 words, with each chapter laid out to say what will happen. This is where I'll try to get rid of any plot holes or problems.

When that's done, I'll write it all properly. Sometimes what felt good in my plot doesn't quite work in the actual writing, so I'll switch things around, but the main parts - the beginning and the end - are rarely altered.

I usually work at a frenetic pace through the autumn and winter. I don't really like the dark or the rain - but I'm very disciplined. I can work 15- or 16-hour days no problem. When the sun comes out in the spring and summer, I take a bit of a break and usually work on plots as opposed to full-on writing. It's easier to dip in and out of that way but I usually have something on the go. I do some sort of work every day, be it writing, plotting, replying to reader emails, updating my website, contacting my mailing list, or whatever. There's always something to do.

It helps that I can write anywhere. The Silver trilogy was written in various countries; on planes and trains; on my sofa, in hotel rooms - and so on. I just get on with it. There's an awful lot to be said for just getting on with it.

B-L-B: A fellow sun lover! I am in awe of your ability to turn a single sentence into such a masterpiece. 


And finally...the chance to get your hands on your very own copy of Renegade.  

Entry is simple, just follow the Rafflecopter instructions below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway