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Tamara Epps

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Hidden Objects
Hidden Objects
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Hidden Items Game, 10 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hidden Objects (App)
Out of all the hidden items gsames I've tried, this is the only to hold my interest, definitely worth unlocking all the levels.

Bound and Unbroken: A BDSM Romance (Out of Bounds Book 1)
Bound and Unbroken: A BDSM Romance (Out of Bounds Book 1)

4.0 out of 5 stars Intimacy. Sex. Kink. And the wonder of a new relationship., 13 Mar. 2015
When Lena is dragged to the bar by her flatmate, she didn’t expect to enjoy herself, and certainly not meet someone. But when a man starts talking to her, her curiosity is piqued, and leads to a shared cab ride and memories. Until she sees him at the school she teaches at.
Eric only returned home to look after his nephew, and wasn’t looking for a relationship, but after seeing the woman he shared an almost intimate cab ride with at his nephew’s school, he can’t get her out of his mind. But will she accept that a relationship with him involves so much more than anything she’s experienced before?

Firstly, yes, this book includes a lot of sexual scenes, however, I felt most of them were more about intimacy and the character’s growing relationship than simply kinky lust. Because of this, they were so much more relatable to, than just a description of the physicality – I felt how Lena and Eric felt which only invested me more in the story. Admittedly, I feel there were more sexually charged scenes than strictly necessary, but most of them were important to the story, and nothing was there just to shock the reader.

The main thing I enjoyed about Bound and Unbroken was how real the world the author created was. There were no billionaires with limos and giant playrooms, but there were friends and family, and a BDSM club which I felt really added to the authenticity and believability of the story. There were a lot of supporting characters that played important roles in the story, I only wish I knew more about them; as this is a series, I hope they are more clearly characterized as I it can only make the world more real.

The main characters, Lena and Eric, do have issues in life, but so does everyone. I think Skye Callahan could have shared more of their pasts within the book, as she only alludes to troublesome childhoods, without going into depth. While I am glad the characters are fairly stable at the time their relationship starts, only having snippets of their pasts is quite distracting, as I’m creating it in my head (only for it to be disproved or changed by a later snippet), and therefore unsure of how their previous experiences have made them make the choices they do. While it is understandable that neither character wishes to push the other into explaining their issues before they are ready, this leaves the reader unsatisfied as this usually isn’t explored further.

As I said, I feel there may have been a few too many sexually charged scenes, but at the same time I would say at times I could have done with a little more physical interaction. Of course I want to know how the characters are feeling, but occasionally I had to reread passages to work out what was physically going on (and for some of them I still can’t visualise it) which took me out of the flow of the story. Other than that, however, my only other complaint is that the book could have been proofread better.

I would recommend Bound and Unbroken to anyone interested in the BDSM lifestyle, though this story is primarily a love story with extra kink. Those who feel this kind of relationship can only be abusive will find this book confusing as there is never any signs of abuse or non-consent – in fact the safe word isn’t only discussed regularly, but the reaction to it is also experienced by the reader. However, you won’t like this book if you don’t like to read about sex or alternative relationships (including homosexual). It is a fairly quick read once you get into it, and I know I will continue to read the series as I want to know where the author is going.

[I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.]

Unrequited - One Girl, Thirteen Boyfriends, and Vodka
Unrequited - One Girl, Thirteen Boyfriends, and Vodka
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Christy Heron is witty, unforgettable and, un-put-downable, 17 Nov. 2014
January Estlin is like any other woman in her twenties – lost, in love, and trying to find herself. Of course, it would help if she wasn’t so in love with the unattainable Jack (or SSF ‘Short Fat Fuck’ as she and her friends call him), that she moves back to her hometown ‘for my writing’ (at least, that’s what she tells herself). Between sleeping with Jack when he gets away from his girlfriend, a succession of men January dates, and plenty of alcohol and swearing, January’s life is confusing, chaotic, and completely relatable.

This book is not light on the profanity, sex, or drunkenness; so if that bothers you, you can move on now – but you’ll be missing out. In this ‘anti-romance’, Christy Heron is witty, unforgettable and, un-put-downable. In my mind, her writing has a contemporary female Kerouac feel to it (only more interesting). Personally, I found for once, the swearing actually amplified the story, and my only issue with it was that halfway through the book it seems to almost disappear (and not because the character has a big change of voice).

The book is told through the voice of January, and so at times doesn’t completely make sense, but let’s face it, no one’s mind makes complete sense. Somehow Heron has captured the state between desperation and complete mental break-down the character imagines herself having, without making the novel difficult to read.

January, like any other young woman, wants to be loved. The problem being that her love is unrequited to the point where it seems Jack is just using her. While obviously my life is completely different to January’s, I believe we all have thought ourselves in love with someone, when clearly they’re not interested, but that doesn’t stop us from pursuing the object of that love. And so January does. She knows it’s futile, but no matter what is going on in her life, she is always dragged back to the turbulent ‘relationship’ with Jack.

The main problem I had with this book was the use of names. January assigns everyone nicknames (B1, B2 for the boyfriends. ‘childless Brad Pitt’ for her brother, etc), which can at times make it a little confusing as to who she’s talking about, but for the most part this didn’t have too much of an impact on the story.

When I started reading I wasn’t sure what to expect, but found myself unable to put the book down. Honestly, I can say it’s one of the top, if not the top, books I’ve read this year, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Heron’s next book. No matter whether or not you know what it’s like to be a writer, cheat on your boyfriend, struggle to get up due to a hangover, Unrequited – One Girl, Thirteen Boyfriends, and Vodka will finally allow you to see that the craziness going on in our heads isn’t something that only happens to us (at least I hope not!). While I think this book is probably aimed at women, I’m sure men would enjoy it just as much, if for no other reason than to get a little insight to a woman’s mind. In general, my advice is go and buy this book right now and start reading, you won’t regret it.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.]

How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers
How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers
Price: £7.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointing Read with Few Good Suggestions and Examples., 28 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In How to be Sick Toni Bernhard tells of how she used her Buddhist faith and understanding to accept living with a chronic disability.

I had been looking forward to reading this book for a very long time (despite having it on my shelf for months before I got to it) as I really enjoy Bernhard’s column at Psychology Today in which she gives advice to those with chronic disabilities, and their carers, revolving around Buddhism. I was expecting more of the same with How to be Sick, only more in-depth. Unfortunately I instead found that most of the book was, in my opinion, fluff (ie. extra words that weren’t necessary just to make the chapters longer).

The book starts with Bernhard’s personal journey with becoming ill on a holiday in Paris, and never recovering. She then goes on to explain a few fundamentals of Buddhism and examples of how she uses them. However, I felt that it was simply repetition of saying ‘so I started to think like that and it helped’, which isn’t actually very useful to the reader. I was really looking for actionable steps, due to it being described as ‘a Buddhist-inspired guide for the chronically ill and their caregivers’, and for me the book just didn’t deliver.

I did find some of the explanations of Buddhist ideas helpful, but I feel that I would just as easily be able to learn these online or using books dedicated to Buddhism. As so many of Bernhard’s examples simply explain what her mental and emotional state would be like without using Buddhism, I didn’t find many of them useful or explanatory.

Despite not finding the majority of the book up to my expectations, the final chapters did explain the difficulties people with chronic disabilities face, that most people may not be aware of, as well as giving suggestions on how to deal with specific problems (although, most of those suggestions involve nothing more than some positive statements to say to yourself).
Overall I was very disappointed with How to be Sick, and I personally didn’t find it worth my time, money or energy. However, for those with chronic disabilities and their carers, I still recommend reading Toni Bernhard’s column online if you are looking for a burst of inspiration, acceptance, and understanding.

Transparent (A Transparent Book)
Transparent (A Transparent Book)

5.0 out of 5 stars Transparent was more than I imagined and I can't wait to continue the series., 26 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Fiona was born invisible, yet in a world of strange mutations and powers she is the only invisible girl. Her father heads one of America’s leading syndicates, and so she is brought up in a world of crime, often working alongside her mother. When they do escape, Fiona is fully expecting to be caught and taken back, but until that happens she decides to appreciate the chance she has at being a normal teenager. At school she is still seen as a freak, but as she starts to let her guard down, she realises there are others who understand and are willing to accept her.

I didn’t know anything about Transparent other than the main character is invisible – I chose it because I used to read Natalie Whipple’s blog long before she got a publishing deal and I wanted to support her. Transparent wasn’t quite what I was expecting as it is bordering on dystopian YA rather than set in the current world, but that didn’t stop me from racing through the story and desperate to continue reading the series.

Lately I have read too many YA books written in first person, but in Transparent Fiona’s voice is so strong it’s impossible not to feel you’ve lived her life right alongside her. Not only does Fiona come across as a unique teenager, but most of the other characters are also well-defined and interesting to read about. Despite many of them having special and unusual powers, they all come across as people I might know/have known at high school. I would say though, many of the adults in this book had so little background shared with the reader that it’s difficult to understand them and their actions. I am hoping those characters are explored further in the next book.

As well as interesting characters, Whipple succeeds in creating an intriguing and unexpected story with what could be predictable scenarios and plot points. For me, the fact that I was continually wondering what would happen, right alongside the characters, is what made this book such a wonderful read. My main issue was it felt far too short and I reached the conclusion much earlier than I would have liked. Of course, being the first in a trilogy means there is still more to come and I am sure I will continue reading Whipple’s books.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a clean teenage story with a few twists. It isn’t quite dystopian, so for those who are unsure of the genre, Transparent is a good choice as it has many of the page-turning qualities of a complete dystopian YA, without having to consider an unimaginable world (even the ‘mutations’ and ‘powers’ are explained and we could imagine it as a very similar society to Western society today).

The Day After Yesterday
The Day After Yesterday
Price: £0.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A Contemporary Story of Loss, Grief and Music, 5 April 2014
Struck by grief, depression and guilt, caused by a tragedy to his family, Daniel Whitman struggles to once again find meaning and hope in his life. His overwhelming guilt causes him to leave everyone he knows, along with his music, in the hopes of once again finding hope. What he learns and discovers on his journey changes the rest of his life.

The main thing that struck me while reading this book was how long it was. I read it via Kindle and just wasn't prepared for such a long read. Not only was it long, but it felt as though there were many sections to the book - it continued on long after logical places to end. This makes the book different from any other I've read, and to be honest, I found this meant the last few sections of the book felt like it was being dragged on and on when there was no need.

The Day After Yesterday focuses on many intense topics, such as depression, abuse, but also tempers this with themes of friendship and the healing powers of creativity. Therefore, this isn't a light read, but rather an extended look at how life can be.

While there are these over-arching themes, the story focuses on the small details and how life-changing and impactful they can be. To be honest, this is one of the things I liked about this book; however I did feel that many of these were predictable and clichéd.

I am a big believer in the importance of creativity, especially when used for healing. Kelly Cozy has obviously tried to use this within the story, especially musical creativity, unfortunately I felt that in many places the use of creativity is used as a crutch and eclipses the story and the characters, which was disappointing.
The main issue I had with this book was the ending. It felt drawn-out and unnecessary, though feel it could have been added to to create a novella to accompany the book.

The main things I loved about this book was the variety of characters and the way they worked together. All the characters felt like real people with their own histories, and nuances. It was also a heart-warming story of the importance of family and friendship.

I believe anyone looking for a book that focuses on friendship during hardship would enjoy The Day After Yesterday, as well as those who enjoy reading about journeys of self-discovery, even though this is a fictional book.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.]

The Skin of Water
The Skin of Water
Price: £2.02

3.0 out of 5 stars A slow-paced novel, which encompasses war, prejudice, love, and a changing world., 7 Mar. 2014
This review is from: The Skin of Water (Kindle Edition)
When Zeno follows wealthy Catherine Steiner one evening his whole world changes. After following her to Budapest, they embark on a love affair which escalates beyond what either of them imagined. The struggle they have only becomes more dangerous when the Nazis come to Hungary and they have to face a country of people whose views have changed. Friends become enemies with anti-Semitism, and no one can be trusted.

At its heart, this is a love story, though definitely not easy-reading or relaxing. Reading this brought my attention to many little details that are often forgotten when we view large events such as WWII, breaking it down into individual lives and the struggles against changing perceptions. I don’t have any knowledge of Hungary which I felt did diminish the story for me a little as a lot of it felt like the author expects the reader to recognize the places. This is unfortunate as this particular story is tied very strongly to the country and the characters’ attachment to it which simply wasn’t shown as much as, I feel, it could have been.
While there is the backdrop of WWII, the majority of the story happens before major political changes suddenly happen. For me this was very important, as while WWII interests me, that isn’t why I chose to read this book. Honestly I wasn’t sure what I was expecting other than a detailed vision of a character or two which was definitely provided.

My main issue with this novel is the languid pace of the story-telling itself. I can see how this style complements this particular story; however I often found myself not wanting to return to the book due to its slowness and lack of excitement. I feel it would have benefited from including a few sections where the speed of the story picks up a little, as, while it is definitely a bonus to take time reading a book, I feel The Skin of Water took it to an extreme that most people will struggle with.

In particular I loved how the main character, Zeno, sees the world through filming it and how this clearly came across in the story. For me, it added interest and allows the reader to see certain scenes as he sees it when watching back over his edited films. In a way this means that the most important scenes are ‘seen’ twice by the reader which allows us to really get to know Zeno from seeing his creative reaction to what is happening to him.

This isn’t a book for those looking for a quick read or a happily-ever-after romance. I think that people who love to explore characters and countries would likely enjoy reading The Skin of Water, as well as those who really want to slow down and experience another time and place.

[Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.]

The Memory Book
The Memory Book
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A heart-warming story of love and family in a time of struggle., 21 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The Memory Book (Kindle Edition)
Suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s Claire struggles to stay independent and true to herself, despite not always knowing who she is or what she is doing. Along with her family she starts a memory book of pictures and fragments of her life, knowing that soon this will be all her family has of her. Her oldest daughter, Caitlin, has many problems of her own but Claire is determined to be there for her while she still can. Claire’s youngest daughter, Esther, only aged three, doesn’t understand why her mother can no longer read to her. And Claire’s husband, Greg, is left watching the woman he loves as she grows further and further away from him.

I am very lucky in that so far in my life I haven’t had any true experience with Alzheimer’s, and honestly I don’t know how I would cope if someone I loved were to begin forgetting everything they are. The Memory Book does not shy away from the harsh reality of what living with Alzheimer’s can do to a family, yet at the same time it is a heart-warming story of a loving family who all become closer because of their circumstances.

I have always been afraid of losing someone to Alzheimer’s, but reading this book has helped me to understand the disease more fully. I especially liked how most of the story was told from Claire’s point of view, meaning that the reader can know and feel the way she does. For me, this humanised the view I had of Alzheimer’s, making it less of an abstract idea and more of a reality, but one that still included hope. While I still hope never to have to experience this disease, I now feel that I would be able to survive it and I strongly recommend this book to anyone trying to deal with Alzheimer’s or those who want to understand it better.

The great thing about The Memory Book is that it is about a family, rather than about a disease. Even though everything is obviously over clouded by Claire’s struggle, the struggle of her daughter, Caitlin, is no less important. Between this and the memories each member of the family share, this book seemed to me to focus mainly on the mother daughter relationship – both between Claire and her daughters, and Claire and her mother. Yet somehow Rowan Coleman somehow manages to weave love stories in amongst everything else.

The Memory Book is a complex look at a family in a time of difficulty, and its focus is always on the characters, rather than the situations they find themselves in. I loved this book and will definitely be reading more by Rowan Coleman in the future. I would recommend this to anyone who wishes to read an uplifting tale of hope that includes a lot of unpalatable reality that no one can avoid completely.

[Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.]

Doctor Who: Into the Nowhere (Time Trips)
Doctor Who: Into the Nowhere (Time Trips)
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing and exciting book, unfortunately let down by the writing., 30 Jan. 2014
When the Doctor and Clara land on a planet neither the Doctor nor the Tardis recognize, it doesn’t take long for the Doctor to want to start exploring. But the more of the planet they see, the further into danger they seem to be. As they try to navigate traps that seem to be alive, they start finding messages, and Clara’s fear grows. Can the Doctor help her through her fears, and does he know more than he is letting on?

I would classify myself as a fan of Doctor Who, but I have never read any Doctor Who books before. I didn’t really know what to expect when I started reading Into the Nowhere but finished knowing I will definitely be seeking out more Doctor Who books to read.

As it is a narrative, there is more explanation of thoughts and feelings than in a television episode, yet the action keeps the story fast-paced and exciting. It didn’t feel all that different from watching an episode, which gave me my Doctor Who adrenaline fix that honestly I wasn’t expecting a book to be able to offer. My main issue was that, while obviously a reading speed is slower than watching, this particular book felt a little short; it was as if the author had rushed through it and missed a lot of potential in the process. As I said, this was the first Doctor Who book I’ve read, but I’m hoping that they don’t all leave me with this feeling of being cheated of a full story.

Most of the book seemed to be in Clara’s point of view, and it gave me a completely different view of the character. In Into the Nowhere, Clara’s fear is stated many times, and a large part of me felt this wasn’t the Clara I knew. I also wish that the author had focused on creating the feeling of fear, rather than telling the reader about it, as being told pulled me out of the world, meaning I wasn’t completely invested in it.

Overall, the book excited me to the possibilities of Doctor Who stories. The fact that, even though it is a different media, it can still create a world of intrigue and raised emotions is something I always look with Doctor Who, and for the most part the book delivered on this. However, I do hope this isn’t the best of what is available, as it seemed to be slightly off in the deliverance, meaning that I, as a reader, had to work harder to stay in the world, when that is something that I feel reader’s should feel without noticing until they finish a book.

This book wasn’t all bad, as I stated earlier, a pleasant surprise was that it gave me the Doctor Who fix I wasn’t expecting. Of course it may be my unfamiliarity with Doctor Who books that makes me unsure of this story in particular, but I will definitely be reading more, and hope they are all able to include the excitement and intrigue that Into the Nowhere did.
*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Obvious Game
The Obvious Game
Price: £2.06

4.0 out of 5 stars A contemporary YA title that isn't afraid to confront issues such as cancer and eating disorders., 10 Jan. 2014
This review is from: The Obvious Game (Kindle Edition)
[Disclaimer: I received this book free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.]

When Diana accidentally starts teaching the new kid, Jesse, how to play the obvious game, she doesn't realise that their relationship will strengthen until the secrets that she is so determined to keep hidden prevent her from realising she is not the only one hiding.

Rita Arens is not afraid to confront big topics and issues that are prevalent in today's society. At the beginning of The Obvious Game we learn that Diana's mother is recovering from breast cancer. It is easy to not notice all the other issues in Diana's life because of this, but the beauty of this novel is that it encaptures how a situation is never fully created from one issue.

While this book has a lot of hard-hitting topics, including eating disorders, I didn't find the style preachy or in any way openly commenting on them. Instead, the novel is simply a snap-shot of what life can be like for those struggling with similar issues. I personally loved this as it allowed me to fall into the world of Diana and, as it is told through her point of view, understand her decisions while feeling incapable of changing them, as the others in the book are.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants a slice of reality while retaining the light side of the struggles. I think anyone trying to understand eating disorders especially should pick this book up.
The only thing I didn't love was the ending, as it felt a little too neat and tidy for a book based in reality as this one is. However, I am certainly looking forward to reading more by Arens.

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