Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Book Review - Witch in Winter

Title: Witch In Winter
Author: Ruth Warburton
Series: Winter Trilogy (book 1)
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Release Date: 5 Jan 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1444904697

Synopsis
Anna Winterson doesn't know she's a witch and would probably mock you for believing in magic, but after moving to the small town of Winter with her father, she learns more than she ever wanted to about power. When Anna meets Seth, she is smitten, but when she enchants him to love her, she unwittingly amplifies a deadly conflict between two witch clans and splits her own heart in two. She wants to love Seth, to let him love her—but if it is her magic that's controlling his passion, then she is as monstrous as the witch clan who are trying to use her amazing powers for their own gain. When love is tangled up in magic, how do you know what's real?

My Review
I requested this ages ago after seeing some good reviews for it, then I heard it was a trilogy so I waited until all 3 books were out. Then they still sat on my shelf for months. I think I've renewed these books about 20 times at the library, I almost gave them back but every time I tried something would stop me. I knew I wanted to read them so I kept putting them back on my to be read shelf. I was scanning my shelves trying to decide what to read next last week and this jumped out at me so I put it in my bag. I was then out all weekend so it stayed there, but I have been ill this week with Bronchitis and had a 40 minute wait at the doctors so I started to read this and I was instantly hooked. When my name was called I didn't want to put it down. I got home from work today (yes I've still been at work) and sat to read for an hour. Well, 2 and a bit hours later I was still sat there and just finishing it, I just couldn't put it down.
Anna and her father move to Winter leaving her friends and the busy London life behind them. The old creepy house isn't what Anna is used to but she's willing to grin and bear it for the fresh start her Dad is trying hard to get. Starting at a new school at her age is always going to be hard and she makes an instant bad impression on the popular girl. And when she finds an old 'magic book', she tries a spell with some of her new friends, not believing in magic she thinks it can't hurt - right? BUt when the spell works - very well, Anna is in trouble, how can she release him from his obsession, and will she ever be able to believe that his love is real and not a spell. Mix in some magic rivalry and old grudges things start to get messy quickly.
I don't know what it was about this book that made me keep reading, Anna is a great character, she doesn't want to give up or let anyone else take the risks for her but I also found her slightly annoying. There were odd little things that annoyed me a bit, such as the massive fight she has with her dad - once it's over it's never mentioned again, but the things they said would have a backlash. Caroline attacks Anna and warns her to stay away from Seth or she'll regret it but then seems to fade into a background character that is hardly mentioned. And lots of secrets and hints about the witches and their community are hinted at but never fully revealed - I don't know, maybe some of these things will be resolved later in the series. The ending/big fight also seemed very sudden and thrown together a bit to climax the story and make an impressive ending, but even so it was done fairly well.
Despite the niggles I did still find myself enjoying the story and wanting to know what would happen next, it's the sort of book you can't put down but you're not sure why. And yes I do have book 2 next to me ready to read, I just have to know what comes next. This book is seriously addictive. 
If you are looking for a exciting, easy read then this book is for you, definitely worth picking up

My Rating
    

Monday, 14 April 2014

Book Review: Skulduggery Pleasant - Last Stand of Dead Men (Re-Read)

Title: Last Stand of Dead Men
Author: Derek Landy
Series: Skulduggery Pleasant (book 8)
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Release Date: 29 Aug 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0007489206

Synopsis
War has finally come.
But it's not a war between good and evil, or light and dark – it's a war between Sanctuaries. For too long, the Irish Sanctuary has teetered on the brink of world-ending disaster, and the other Sanctuaries around the world have had enough. Allies turn to enemies, friends turn to foes, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie must team up with the rest of the Dead Men if they're going to have any chance at all of maintaining the balance of power and getting to the root of a vast conspiracy that has been years in the making.
But while this war is only beginning, another war rages within Valkyrie herself. Her own dark side, the insanely powerful being known as Darquesse, is on the verge of rising to the surface. And if Valkyrie slips, even for a moment, then Darquesse will burn the world and everyone in it.

My Review
I read and reviewed this back in September just after it had been released and said that I was really disappointed with it. But I knew it was my own problem, I wasn't in the mood, I didn't have enough time to read it and I hadn't read the earlier books in the series for quite a while so I wasn't entirely sure what was going on at various points. I swore to re-read it sometime and that time has come. 
I started by listening to the rest of the series on spoken word which was awesome. Although the guy who reads the first 2 or 3 is EPICALLY good, he does all the voices and really gets into the story, then it changes to someone else and it wasn't as good, the voice just fell flat. Then someone else takes over and whilst it's not as good as the first he does a pretty decent job. Slightly off topic - but certainly worth a listen to. 
So once I was up to date with the series again and really into it all I grabbed my copy of this book and dived in once more. And I am totally thrilled to say that this time I really enjoyed it. I still ended up reading it in bits (lunch breaks at work etc) but I found myself wanting to get stuck in and read more. It seemed exciting to me again, and yes whilst I knew what was going to happen and who was going to die I still found myself turning pages in anticipation and dread. This time the whole book had a different feel to it, the way SP always used to feel to me, the raw emotion, the excitement, the banter between characters, the destruction and mania. It was all there, everything I remember loving about the series.
I still can't believe we are nearing the end, and I still can't believe some of the characters he killed - how dare he! Derek Landy is playing with our emotions!
I am so glad I gave this book another chance, it's strange how much circumstance and mood can affect the way you enjoy a book.
I am now eagerly awaiting book 9 - the final book! Whose title was released today, and it shall be called "Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light". I can't wait - it comes out the day before my birthday too - PERFECT!
Once more the world makes sense - well as much as it ever did. I read the book and loved it, phew!
I'm sorry I ever doubted you Derek.

My Rating
   

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Author Q&A -Julie Milillo

One Girl.Two Worlds.
Three Questions.

What lies beneath the hidden secret?
Can love rise above the inevitable?
And most importantly, where will her fate lead her?
Amanda Chaste had lived what she considered an average life in New Jersey, looked after and cared for by her grandmother. But when she accidentally meets an enigmatic stranger from out of town, her world is drastically thrown upside down. A hidden secret has been buried in the past and not even Amanda can save herself from her own fate.
Conflicted and tormented within her own flesh, discovering her true identity will prove to be something that will change her life forever.




How far would you fall for answers?

Amanda has accepted her new life and the darkness has become more appealing than ever before because of Mitch.
But when her world is thrown into a drastic downward spiral, she is left questioning everything.
Amanda embarks on a nightmarish adventure and her faith is put to the ultimate test as she journeys onward to discover the true meaning behind family, love and her destiny between good and evil.  





 Author Q&A

1. What made you want to start writing?
I had always been involved in creative writing since I was young. I loved writing poems, lyrics and short stories in my free time or for school.
After a while, I also developed a passion for reading and after having a personal confrontation with one of my favorite authors, it really inspired me to take move forward with an idea I had and thus became The Immortal Sin Trilogy.

2. What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on the third and final installment to The Immortal Sin Trilogy.

3. Who are some of your inspirations?
I have quite of few who I admire and who’s work I love. Some of my inspirations are Elizabeth Chandler, Becca Fitzpatrick, Alexandra Adornetto, Stephanie Evanovich, Nicholas Sparks and the list could go on and on.

4. How did you get the idea for your latest book?
Well, my latest book is connected to the trilogy I have/am writing. The idea for The Immortal Sin Trilogy stems from my love for paranormal and specifically Angels and Demons. After reading so many books about this topic, I wondered what it would be like if an Angel and Demon came together and created something that has never really been considered before. Then my imagination just took off with it while incorporating experiences and emotions that I have experienced firsthand. So, this trilogy is very personal to me.

5. If your latest book was a movie, which actors would you see playing your main characters?
I am a huge movie person so there are many actors I would consider for the parts in my book.  Here are some actors I have considered:
Grey Damon, Taylor Lautner, or Jensen Ackles would be a potential Mitch/Malicious.
Evan Rachel Wood or Lauren Cohan as Amanda Chaste
Amanda Seyfried as Alexia Bellamy
Blythe Danner as Nan (Glory)
Chris Evans as Gregg
Meghan Ory as Ravish
Liam Hemsworth as Luca

6. What is the process of writing a book like?
It requires a lot of time and patience; a lot of analyzing and detailing. It’s best to commit as much as you can to it in order to complete a story that you are trying so delicately to assemble. It’s fun despite the hard work and long hours spent on putting the pieces together because you can let your imagination run wild.

7. Is your latest book going to be part of a series? Or are you looking at something completely new for your next book?
Yes, the latest book I’m working on is the last in my trilogy. I have plenty of new ideas I have been considering for a completely new series. However, I’m definitely sticking to paranormal, without a doubt. Stay tuned!

8. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kinds of music? Or do you need quiet?
I find it best to write in silence. It makes it easier for me to concentrate and fully submerse myself into this world I am creating on paper. I use music to give me some inspiration behind the things I write.

9. What is your favorite genre to read/write?
Paranormal/Romance/Mystery/
Inspirational
All of the above to read and write.

10. Can we follow you on social media? Do you have a Facebook page and/or Twitter and website?
Anyone can contact me or find more information on the following sites:

Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Julie-Milillo/191954764274292
My blog:
http://juliemilillo.blogspot.com/
My Website:
http://www.juliemilillo.com/

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Book Review - The Wells Bequest

Title: The Wells Bequest
Author: Polly Shulman
Series: The Grimm Legacy (book 2)
Publisher: OUP Oxford
Release Date: 5 Sep 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0192793119

Synopsis
It was an evening like any other for Leo Novikov. That is until a miniature version of himself appears before his eyes . . . from the future! Not only that, he's riding on some kind of weird machine, with his arms wrapped around the hottest girl he's ever laid eyes on!
He heads off to the New York Circulating Material Repository to do some research and meets Jaya, the girl from the future. Together they embark on a dangerous mission to save New York City . . . a mission that will take them to the other side of the world, and to the other side of time.


My Review
I read the Grimm Legacy and really enjoyed it so was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was another book in the series and I requested it straight away. It came in quite fast at the library but I couldn't read it straight away. I finally got to start it a few days ago and was surprised that it wasn't the same characters I knew but someone completely new - Leo Novikov. I was a bit disappointed but decided to stick with it - this was good because he does end up visiting the New York Circulating Material Repository and meeting some of the characters from the first book, suddenly the two stories link up and make sense. 
Leo has grown up in a family of scientists and physicists, they all expect him to follow in their footsteps so when it comes to the School Science fair he knows he has to do something impressive. But as he is sitting in his room one night he meets a miniature version of himself - from the future. Suddenly questions about time travel and machines fill his mind - and the girl his future self was with - who was she and how does he meet her. This is where he discovers the wonderful world of the Repository and it was great as a reader to go back to it. This is set about 5 or 6 years after book 1, as 10 year old 'Jaya' from book 1 is now Teenage Jaya working at the Repository and capturing Leo's thoughts.
I have to admit I was a bit hesitant about this book as 'Wells Bequest' obviously refers to 'H.G Wells' author of the Time Machine and from the synopsis I knew it would include time travel - this is a subject I don't tend to get along with too well. It either confuses me or annoys me. It has to be done very well for it to capture my imagination. 
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, there were a few moments of confusion where I wasn't entirely sure what was happening and how it would adjust the past and future and the consequences but it wasn't too bad. Although Time Travel is the underlying theme, it isn't actually too prominent (the actual traveling) and I found myself enjoying the character development and seeing Leo discover the Repository for the first time.
I didn't enjoy it as much as book 1, I didn't feel like it captured my imagination or heart as much as the first but I did still enjoy it. I am still curious enough that if there was another book in the series I would definitely read it. More for the characters than the story. Something about them make me want to read more and know more about them.

My Rating
 
   

Monday, 7 April 2014

Book Promo - The Awakening



Do you believe in vampires? Ghosts? The supernatural world?
Meet Lauren who instantly clicks with Gavin at a friend’s BBQ. Everything goes well until Lauren starts to experience strange things and hears a weird voice. It seems like a warning but from what? Lauren eventually makes the startling discovery that Gavin is a vampire and it has profound consequences for herself. The arrival of Daniel makes things even more confusing for Lauren as she is warned he is bad news from a ghostly source. Laurens life is turned upside down as things she thought were myths and legends become real and she struggles to cope with everything she has discovered.
Will Lauren and Gavin’s relationship survive and what about the mysterious Daniel?



Author Bio

Hi, I'm Emma. I have always absolutely loved reading and remember reading The Worst Witch, Judy Blume and Point Horror when I was younger. I have dabbled in writing for 6 years but only recently decided to dip my toe into the self publishing world after months of deliberation. My writing started as a hobby whilst on maternity leave but over the last 12 months has become my passion. I love all things vampire so naturally my first book is based on this theme. My first book The Awakening is out now and will be followed soon my a short story called Origins which focuses on Drake and Emily. I hope you enjoy. Please pop along to my Facebook page and say hello or leave any comments.


Like the sound of it? Here's the purchasing links -

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H5UM4QQ

The Awakening is £0.99 UK and $0.99 US for a limited time.

Friday, 4 April 2014

FF (158)


Follow Friday is an opportunity to discover and follow other book related blogs! Want to join? Check it out at Parajunkee or Alison Can Read

This week's question feature is
...


Late April Fools. What was the best prank you’ve played or had played on you? Share!

My Answer: I'm not really one for pranks but I do like to make people jump. Last week one of my colleagues went out the back room to grab something, so I stood just to the side of the doorway. When he opened the door to walk back through I jumped out in front of him and he jumped so much! I think I nearly gave him a heart attack but it was really funny. Best reaction I have ever had! :)

Happy hopping and Blogging!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Book Promo - Black Cats and Ballet Slippers





Black Cats and Ballet Slippers - Week Blitz

By Iva Valentino

Middle Grade Humor
Date Published: March 7, 2014

Gemma Mayfield feels like middle
school is a lot to bite off and chew. School, ballet classes, and planning on how to get Trevor Davis to ask her to
the Halloween Dance are a tough balancing act. On top of that, Gemma is convinced that her science teacher, Ms.
Pruett, is a witch.
When things start getting fishy at school, Gemma knows that Ms. Pruett is behind it all! Students are getting spells placed on them and start to go missing. Gemma and her best friend, Izzie, vow to stop Ms. Pruett from doing any more damage. Will they be able to save Middleton Middle School from witchcraft?


EXCERPT

Okay, so something REALLY strange is going on. Boys are from a different planet, but right now a few of them at Middleton are acting like they’re from a different universe. (Wait. Does this make sense? Is there more than one universe? Ugh. Maybe I should have paid more attention last year in Astronomy.)

So, by the time I got to Ms. Pruett’s class, I had already worked myself into a super version of “I Don’t Wanna Go To Class Because I’m Creeped Out!” mode. I walked into the Science Laboratory, and I swear I felt the cold of Building 400 smack me right in the face. I’m not kidding.

Of course Ms. Pruett was at the door, acting like her sweet old lady self (ha ha, I know better), and was welcoming all the kids into the classroom. I just kept my head down and muttered a hello as I passed. Staying below the radar was the goal. Then I sat down at my lab table and shivered a bit.

Joey sat down at the table just a second later. Normally he is really loud and obnoxious, cracking jokes, and calling to the other Soccer Jocks across the room. Today he was quiet.

“Hey,” I said, trying to be friendly. I thought maybe we could commiserate on us both having spells cast on us. Joey responded with a “hey” but didn’t say much else. Hello? Was this the Joey I knew?

“So, Joey, are you feeling okay?” I asked. “You know, after yesterday…”

Joey didn’t say anything, but began writing on a piece of paper. He folded up the piece of paper and passed it to me. I gave him a questioning look. He gave me a weird look back that I couldn’t decipher. The note was as follows:

Hey Gemma,
   
  Sorry I gave you a hard time yesterday about the “Cute Boy” list. It was kind of rude of me.

     Joey

That’s when it hit me that Joey hadn’t recovered from Ms. Pruett’s spell. For me it was just temporary, like a few minutes. But Joey was acting weird. It had to be the spell.

“Um, thanks,” I said. “Don’t worry about it.” I then started taking out all my school stuff so that I could look busy and not have any more awkward moments with Joey until he felt better. He was taking longer to recuperate.

After class I headed straight down toward the lunchroom. On the way there, I saw Trevor going in the opposite direction past me. Our conversation went like this:

Me: “Hi Trevor!” (with a big smile and enthusiasm)

Trevor: “Oh, hi Gemma.” (with zombie-like attitude)

 Me: “Okay, have a good lunch!”

 Trevor: “Okay, thanks. Bye.”

I wondered where he was going, in the opposite direction from the lunch room when it was lunchtime. It took me another couple of moments to realize that the ONLY classroom in that part of campus was Ms. Pruett’s room. He was headed back toward Building 400!

Yikes! I turned myself around in mid-stride and turned back the way I came. I knew there was no way possible that Trevor would be going to Ms. Pruett’s. Why would anyone in their right mind be going there by themselves?

I didn’t want Trevor to think I was stalking him, because of course I would never do that. But just in case that’s what it appeared to be, I used as much stealth as possible. I walked in the shadows and stopped to peek out behind bushes and building walls. I saw him up ahead…just before he ENTERED MS. PRUETT’S CLASSROOM.

My mouth fell open, and I just sort of stared at the door for a while.

Weird things are going on here at Middleton. And I think Ms. Pruett’s behind it all!


Iva Valentino
Iva Valentino lives in Arizona with her husband and their dog, Lupo. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Education. She thinks visiting cold places is fun, but she loves living year-round in the warm desert.

Iva spent many years as a middle school teacher, where she enjoyed doing cool science experiments with her students. She currently works as a science editor at an educational publishing company. She loves travel, yoga, and photography. There is nothing that brings her more happiness than a good dance class!


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Sunday, 30 March 2014

Book Review - Arch Enemy

Title: Arch Enemy
Author: Frank Beddor
Series: The Looking Glass Wars (book 3)
Publisher: Egmont
Release Date: 1st October 2009
ISBN13: 9781405251938

Synopsis
The battle for Wonderland has come to a head and the Heart Crystal's power has been depleted thanks to King Arch's devastating weapon, WILMA. Imagination has been wiped from the land and the people of Wonderland have lost their greatest asset. Most alarmingly, even Queen Alyss is without her powers as her Queendom hangs in the balance. 


My Review
I read the first two books in the series quite quickly and really enjoyed them, I started this one but for multiple reasons I haven't had much time to read over the last week or so so this got put to the side. I had a day off today so decided to finish it. 
Alyss and Redd are still at war but now they also have a common enemy - Arch. Determined to take over and make Wonderland into a Kingdom he disables the Heart Crystal rendering Alyss and Redd's powers useless. 
Alyss must try to defeat Arch and get rid of Redd before all of Wonderland is lost forever.
I was expecting great things from this book after the first two and I wanted it to answer all my questions and I don't know just be exciting. I have to admit I was a little disappointed. The plot felt very disjointed to me, it would move from one scenario and character to another, back and forth and I found myself losing interest and forgetting what was going on. I would just get into part of it and it would change to something else. Not only that but it felt more complicated than it needed to be, I started to get bored, I just wanted the book to get on with it. Normally I will sit and read a book and look at teh page numbers and be like 'wow I've read over 100 pages already' but with this one I would look and be like 'has it really only been 30 pages!' It just seemed to be really slow and at times I had to make myself keep reading.
Overall the story isn't bad and it does resolve 99% of events and character questions but I just feel like it could have been done a lot quicker and with less interruptions.
Good if you want to finish the series, but a bit disappointing in my opinion.

My Rating
     

Friday, 28 March 2014

FF (157)


Follow Friday is an opportunity to discover and follow other book related blogs! Want to join? Check it out at Parajunkee or Alison Can Read

This week's question feature is
NJ Kinny’s World of Books

Snap it Time! A picture is worth a thousand words. Anything and anything. Just give us a pic.

My Answer: Last weekend I went to Rome, so I shall some photos from my visit:

The Colosseum

Gorgeous view and pretty flowers
 
The Pantheon

 

Me by the Trevi Fountain 

 Had a fabulous time, I took nearly 300 photos so this is a very small taste of them. :D

Feel like I should post a picture that's book related so here we go:

Don't forget you can order your own book hedgehog. Just follow my link here

Happy hopping and Blogging!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Book Review - The Long Song (Audiobook)

Title: The Long Song
Author: Andrea Levy
Publisher: Headline Review
Release Date: 4 Feb 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0755359400 (book)
ISBN-13: 978-0755384006 (audio)
Read by: Adrian Lester and Andrea Levy

Synopsis 
The child of a field slave on the Amity sugar plantation in Jamaica, July lives with her mother until Mrs. Caroline Mortimer, a recently transplanted English widow, decides to move her into the great house and rename her “Marguerite.”

Resourceful and mischievous, July soon becomes indispensable to her mistress. Together they live through the bloody Baptist war, followed by the violent and chaotic end of slavery. Taught to read and write so that she can help her mistress run the business, July remains bound to the plantation despite her “freedom.” It is the arrival of a young English overseer, Robert Goodwin, that will dramatically change life in the great house for both July and her mistress. Prompted and provoked by her son’s persistent questioning, July’s resilience and heartbreak are gradually revealed in this extraordinarily powerful story of slavery, revolution, freedom, and love.
 


My Review
I have been listening to audiobooks in my car for months now and I love it, being told a story as I drive round is great. I listened to all of the Harry Potter's and then the Skulduggery Pleasant series, so mainly old favourites and books I wanted to re-read but didn't have the time for. Then I got to a point where my next book of choice hadn't arrived and I had nothing to listen to, my colleague at work pulled this off the shelf and said it was a really good book and that I should give it a go, so I did.
When I first started to listen to it I really wasn't sure, it's nothing like my usual kind of book and I wasn't sure if I would get on with it, but I decided to give it a fair try and my other book still hadn't arrived so I stuck with it.
This book follows first Miss Kitty as she works in the fields and then gives birth to a baby girl. From then on the story follows little July, who works by her mother's side in the fields until one day when she is 12 the new owner's sister arrives and decides she wants her as a house slave and takes her away. Brought up alongside Miss Mortimer, July learns to read and write and has some privileges other slaves don't have.
To be honest I didn't really know an awful lot about slave movements or Jamaica in general, but this story crafts the setting and events well and is actually quite a gripping tale. I don't know what it is that made me want to keep listening but I couldn't stop.
The book is read by the author herself on the audiobook and so she obviously knows how it should be read, she reads it in the proper accents, Jamaican being the main one but she does do quite a good English accent for Caroline Mortimer. She has one of those voices you can't help but listen to.
I certainly would never have picked this by choice and I don't think I would ever re-read it, but I did enjoy the story nd am glad my colleague recommended it. 
It does have a lot of serious issues in it; slavery, love, murder, suicide, war etc but it is aimed at adults and none of it is over the top. 
If you are looking for something a bit historical or cultural then this is a good book and a worthwhile read.

My Rating
I would maybe rate this slightly above average, so Average +