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Fire and Flood (Fire & Flood)
Fire and Flood (Fire & Flood)
by Victoria Scott
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Something a Bit Different, 27 Feb. 2014
Fire and Flood is one of the only dystopian books to hold my interest in a long time. It would be fair to say that I was growing tired of the genre and although Fire and Flood follows a similar formula to other dystopian books out there it also has its own unique flare that had me turning the pages wanting to know more about this world.

The book begins on a very contemporary note which made me instantly connect to Tella and her situation as we get to know her and her family. The layers of the plot slowly begin to unfold as we’re introduced to a world within our own and before you know it we’re in a life or death survival story that has you on the edge of your seat. I absolutely loved the way this book was told, it had so many elements rolled into one plot.

Tella was a really interesting character to read about – she was not what I was expecting! Instead of the unflinchingly brave martyr to the cause type heroine that I’ve become accustomed to in dystopian fiction we’re offered an incredibly normal heroine with a contemporary voice. Some of the early reviews that I’ve read have labelled Tella as vain but I found her very human and believable. Tella is very much a girly girl but she was tough and strong when it mattered so I actually found her really refreshing to read about. If I’d gone days without so much as a shower in the jungle with a hot guy around I’d want a mirror and my cosmetics too! I loved the message that you can be tough and girly at the same time and that it isn’t an either/or situation.

Another aspect of this book I really loved was the Pandoras. Oh how I want my own Madox! I’m a huge animal lover so the idea of having an animal sidekick with super cool powers was an idea that I loved and I came to love some of the Pandoras just as much as the actual characters. Speaking of characters there is a wide and diverse cast here some of whom I loved and some I hated with a passion! My favourites were Harper and Jaxon – I really hope we get more from them in book two!

Overall I was really impressed with Fire and Flood. My only small complaint is that I was left with a lot of questions still regarding the world building in this book but since it’s the first in a series I’m hoping to learn more in future books which I’ll definitely be reading after enjoying this book so much.

The One Plus One
The One Plus One
by Jojo Moyes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book I've Read This Year!, 27 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The One Plus One (Hardcover)
Jess Thomas lives with her talented young daughter Tanzie, troubled teenage stepson Nicky and the large and loveable family dog Norman in a small seaside town but their life is far from the idyll that you’d imagine. Tanzie is a child genius who’d rather spend hours pouring over maths problems than playing with other children her age and Nicky is badly bullied for his love of mascara and skinny jeans. Their small town is one that is equally small minded and labels anybody who’s a little bit different a freak and for Jess and her family life is a daily struggle. That is until one day when wealthy business man Ed Nicholls comes into their lives and offers a helping hand and so they set off on a whirlwind road trip adventure that will change not only Jess’s life but Ed’s life for the better.

The One Plus One is a character driven read told from Jess, Ed, Tanzie and Nicky’s points of view. After a few chapters I quickly became immersed in this story, so much so that I devoured this 500 plus page book in two days. The Thomas family are such underdogs and I felt every emotion alongside them as we watch them struggle through life. I laughed, I cried, I got angry and I desperately wanted things to change for them. This book is about family, misfits, hope and the random acts of kindness from strangers that can make someone’s day a hundred times better. The One Plus One shines a light on those struggling with poverty in the UK and I loved seeing how wealthy Ed’s views regarding money gradually changed throughout the book as he got to see how the other half live.

I completely fell in love with every character in this book but I just have to give a special mention to our heroine Jess who not only is a wonderful mother but such an inspiring lady to read about. Jess is such a kind and hopeful character – when life knocked her down she’d get right back up again and I admired her so much. For all you romantics there is also a lovely slow simmering romance between Jess and Ed that develops throughout the book. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted two characters to get their happily ever after more!

Simply put The One Plus One is the best book that I’ve read in 2014 so far. If you like books about life changing road trips with a bright and eccentric cast of characters and a loveable furry companion to boot then I couldn’t recommend this book to you more! I laughed, I cried and a week after finishing I still can’t get the Thomas family out of my head!

The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson
The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson
by Paige Toon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Read With Heart!, 6 Feb. 2014
Jessie is a teenage wild child who’s been acting out ever since her mum’s unexpected death on Jessie’s fifteenth birthday. I have to be honest and say that Jessie didn’t make a good first impression with me – in fact I thought she was a bit of a brat with the way she treated people. But my advice is to stick with her folks! It soon becomes apparent that it’s all just a tough girl act to mask the pain and guilt she feels over her mum’s death and the fear that she doesn’t really belong to any one now that it’s just her and her stepdad Stu. Paige Toon did a fantastic job of capturing a young girl’s grief and those weaker moments with Jessie when her mask would slip and she’d let us in were some of my favourite moments in this book.

With Jessie’s behaviour spiralling out of control stepdad Stu thinks it would do her good to learn the truth about her real father who is none other than famous rock god Johnny Jefferson. When Jessie flies out to LA to get to know Johnny and her new family is where the fun really begins. There are A-list parties, designer clothes shopping, and yes, a cute boy. Whilst all this is really fun and glamorous to read about there are also some really touching moments as Jessie starts to bond with her family.

My favourite thing about The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson was how every character felt realistic. I could understand every characters thoughts and feelings over this big change in their lives and I loved that this book wasn’t all fun and smooth sailing in Jessie’s new life. Seeing how everyday things would trigger Jessie’s memories of her mum brought a tear to my eye on several occasions. And Jessie’s gradual character development was spot on to the point where I closed the book feeling really proud of how far she’d come.

Overall The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson was a lot of fun and had a lot of heart. I’ll definitely be continuing on with this series to see what happens to Jessie and her family next and I also want to pick up ‘Johnny Be Good’ Paige’s adult series to find out how Johnny and Meg’s story all began!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 6, 2014 7:20 PM GMT

Mother, Mother
Mother, Mother
by Koren Zailckas
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Never Really Know What's Going On Behind Closed Doors..., 29 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mother, Mother (Hardcover)
Psychological Thrillers are an old love of mine but unfortunately I don’t read them as often as I used to. However, when I read the synopsis for Mother, Mother it sounded just like the dark and menacing read I was after and so after reading some glowing reviews for the book I decided to give it a try. Mother, Mother is the kind of book that crawls under your skin without you realizing it. It’s not the kind of thriller that’s fast paced and full of twists but rather one that makes you feel uneasy and suspicious of every character. It’s so compelling that it practically turns the pages itself as you dive deeper into the world of this deeply dysfunctional family and their twisted relationships.

The book is told from two of the Hurst children’s point of views with oldest daughter Rose having recently run away from home and escaping their mothers clutches. Will is a twelve-year-old autistic boy who has withdrawn so much from the world that his mother and her approval is all that really matters to him. Then there’s Will’s older sister Violet the middle child in the family who’s recently been sectioned in a mental health unit due to a crime against her brother that she has no recollection of committing.

Will and Violet are both such unreliable narrators that you’re never quite sure what to believe especially when the different accounts on their home life begin to clash. Trying to piece together exactly what’s going on in that household made captivating reading.

All members of the Hurst family are broken, flawed and interesting characters to read about. None more so than mother Josephine who really is the puppeteer behind their family and the perfect façade they show the world. I won’t say too much about Josephine other than she’s an incredibly clever individual who kept me guessing throughout the book. Is she the loving and attentive mother that Will adores? Or the deranged psychopath who is ruining Violet’s life?

The only thing that let this book down for me was the ending. I would have liked something a little more surprising and sinister to have taken this book to new heights.

Overall Mother, Mother was a chilling and thought provoking read that proves that you never really know what’s going on behind closed doors.

Calling Mrs Christmas
Calling Mrs Christmas
by Carole Matthews
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Christmas Books I've Ever Read, 4 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Calling Mrs Christmas (Paperback)
After enjoying my first Carole Matthews books A Cottage by the Sea this summer I was eager to read more from this author. Thanks to the snippet shared at the back of A Cottage by the Sea I got to read a sneak peak of Calling Mrs Christmas the latest festive offering from Carole - I loved the sound of it and was looking forward to snuggling up with a copy during the build up to Christmas. I'm going to say straight off the bat that this is one of the best Christmas books that I've ever read. I read the whole thing straight through in a day because I was so caught up in this story!

Calling Mrs Christmas is brimming with festivity and is perfect for getting excited for Christmas. The book follows Cassie - unemployed and struggling to stay afloat Cassie is not looking forward to Christmas this year (a time that she usually loves) because of the expense that comes along with it. Then Cassie gets the wonderful idea of turning her love for Christmas into a business and so Calling Mrs Christmas is born. Tree decorating; gift buying, organising Christmas parties, baking - it's all in a day's work for Cassie. As Cassie starts to really enjoy herself you can't help but get caught up in the Christmas excitement along with her!

Unexpectedly my favourite thing about this book was Cassie's partner Jim's chapters. Jim is a kind and gentle soul whose meagre wage as a prison officer at a young offenders unit stretches to support both him and Cassie. Although their financial situation means that they live in a small flat and haven't been able to get married or have children yet Jim would do anything in his power for Cassie and you see that time and time again through his actions. Jim was such a lovely bloke and he quickly became my favourite character.

Jim's warmth and kindness also extends to two of the teenage boys in his care Rozzer and Smudge. The boys haven't had the best start in life and Jim provides them with the chance to prove themselves as well as being a role model for the lads to look up to. Whilst Cassie's chapters deal with the food and decorations and gifts, Jim's chapters deal with the true meaning of Christmas tackling themes of taking care of those less fortunate than ourselves and appreciating our lot in life.

The only thing that stopped this book from being a perfect five star read for me was Cassie! She really started to annoy me towards the middle of the book, I felt like she became very selfish and ungrateful. It all went towards her character development though and so although at times I wanted to shake some sense into her I did make my peace with her by the end of the book.

I closed Calling Mrs Christmas with a big smile on my face, a tear in my eye, and that lovely heart-warming Christmassy feeling. Although everything was wrapped up nicely by the end of the book I feel like there is definitely room for a sequel - I'd love more from these characters and to find out what happens to them next! This year I have fast become a new Carole Matthews fan and I absolutely cannot wait for her next novel A Place to Call Home to be released next year!

Crash into You (A Pushing the Limits Novel)
Crash into You (A Pushing the Limits Novel)
by Katie McGarry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I Laughed, I Cried, I Swooned!, 27 Nov. 2013
My heart broke for Isaiah in Dare You To and so right from the start of Crash Into You I was rooting for him to finally find the love and happiness he deserves. I'd seen a few mixed reviews before reading this book and knowing that a big part of it is about cars and street racing (something I know next to nothing about) I was a bit worried that I wouldn't enjoy this book as much as the other two in the series. I needn't have worried, despite Isaiah and Rachel's car talk going over my head at times, I actually loved the thrill of the car races and the excitement it added to the story. To my surprise I ended up loving Crash Into You even more than Dare You To although Pushing The Limits still remains my favourite.

I think the reason I loved Crash Into You so much is because of Rachel and her story. Rachel appears to have it all; wealthy parents, an expensive education, and four protective big brothers. Behind the façade her family are crumbling from the heartbreak of losing Colleen - a sister Rachel never knew and was born to replace. Colleen was girly, confident and had a strong bond with their mother. A bond that Rachel is desperately trying to forge by being who her family wants her to be - essentially another Colleen. However Rachel is nothing like her sister was; she'd much rather tinker around with her beloved car than go for pedicures with her mom. Rachel is crumbling under the pressure of living in Colleen's shadow and as a result suffers from crippling panic attacks. Being somebody who suffers with anxiety I instantly connected with Rachel and felt sympathetic towards her situation. Rachel sees herself as selfish and weak and I loved reading about her growth as a character as she came out of her shell and realised that what she saw as her weakness actually takes strength to live with. By the end of the book I was so proud of her and got all emotional at how far she'd come.

A reoccurring theme throughout Crash Into You is how appearances can be deceiving and that was certainly true for Isaiah as well as Rachel. I'd read in a few reviews that people felt like Isaiah's personality completely changed in this book but I just think that we finally got to see the real Isaiah behind the front he puts on. Isaiah's the kind of guy you'd cross over the street to avoid if you saw him coming with the tattoos, piercings, and his reputation for being a bad ass. We learn in this book that that isn't Isaiah at all but an exterior he wants the world to see. It's the armour he uses to protect himself and stop people from getting too close or messing with what's his. I loved getting to know the Isaiah underneath all that - a guy who is deeply damaged by his past and fiercely protective of those rare and special people who he lets in.

I loved Rachel and Isaiah's relationship and thought that they had fantastic chemistry. Although there was an immediate attraction between them I liked how Isaiah still struggled with his feelings for Beth and how they didn't just disappear as soon as Rachel came along. Rachel was the perfect match for Isaiah; she loves cars as much as he does, isn't intimidated by how he looks and takes the time to get to know the person underneath. Not only did Rachel and Isaiah bring out the best in each other but they also challenged one another. Isaiah had to find faith that Rachel wouldn't be snatched away from him like so much in his life has been and Rachel has to show Isaiah that she's strong enough to take care of herself and that he doesn't need to protect her.

Overall I absolutely loved Crash Into You! I laughed, I cried, I swooned and I'm left desperate for stories featuring Abby, Logan and Ethan who were brilliant secondary characters that I want more from (maybe Abby with one of the guys?) Katie McGarry has done it again and I'm looking forward to West's story in Take Me On.

A Gift to Remember
A Gift to Remember
by Melissa Hill
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars New York, Books and Christmas, 23 Nov. 2013
This review is from: A Gift to Remember (Hardcover)
Melissa Hill is one of my favourite authors so I always get excited for a new book from her but as soon as I heard what A Gift to Remember is about my excitement doubled - a book about books, set at Christmas time, in New York, topped off with a bookish heroine, mystery and a husky dog? Yes please! This is one of those books that sound like it was written for me and hands down it was the festive book I was most looking forward to reading this year.

Darcy Archer is a bit of a loner. She works in an independent bookshop in America's greatest city and lives a quiet life selling books by day and getting lost between the pages of her favourite classics by night. Darcy was a girl after my own heart and her love for books shone through the pages. In many ways A Gift to Remember is a book about books and the people who love them with quotes from famous authors headlining each chapter and books themselves playing a big part in the story. Needless to say this is the perfect wintery read for book lovers to curl up with this Christmas.

One of the things I love about Melissa Hill's books is the sense of mystery throughout and the surprising twists at the end. A Gift to Remember follows Melissa Hill's usual formula this time centring around Aidan the man Darcy accidently knocks down on her bike one morning on her way to work. Aidan ends up forgetting everything about his life and so Darcy spends the book trying to piece together the small fragments she knows about Aidan's life to help bring back his memories so that he can leave hospital and return home to his loved ones in time for Christmas. The only clues she has to work with being Aidan's gorgeous husky dog that he was walking at the time of the accident and a mysterious book shaped present that he was carrying on his person. There's a lot of mystery surrounding Aidan and I loved putting the puzzle pieces that we're given together. Although towards the end of the book I had an inkling as to what had happened there were some good surprises thrown in there too. By the end everything had wrapped together nicely. Like a Christmas present A Gift to Remember has many layers and unwrapping each layer to get to the heart of the story only builds the anticipation and fun.

The only thing that let this book down for me was that it wasn't as Christmassy as I was expecting it to be. I felt like Melissa Hill could have taken advantage of Christmas time in New York more than she did. Nevertheless although it wasn't packed with festivity it was a lovely story with a Christmas back drop. Just keep that in mind if you're looking for a full on Christmas read.

Overall A Gift to Remember was a heart-warming story sprinkled with romance and mystery. If you're a book lover with a soft spot for books about books this needs to be on your Christmas to be read pile! Or if you're looking for the perfect gift for somebody who loves books this would be a real treat to find underneath the Christmas tree!

World After: Penryn and the End of Days Book Two
World After: Penryn and the End of Days Book Two
by Susan Ee
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I think I loved it more than Angelfall!, 21 Nov. 2013
Angelfall was a book that I read and fell in love with only a few months ago and so I had the advantage of not having long to wait for World After. I started it as soon as it arrived and read the entire book in a day because I could not put it down. Like Angelfall it was gritty, romantic and exciting and I loved it just as much.

In World After we're introduced to some new characters and some new places as well as catching up with old characters and re-visiting familiar areas. We get to find out more about the creepy Scorpion creatures and more about the children like Paige and what the Angels plans are for them. We were left with all this new information at the end of Angelfall and I loved learning more about the Angels' creations and finding out the extent of their apocalyptic plans for our world.

I'm sad to say that there is less Raffe in World After and although I did miss him it only made the chapters with him in even more special and there are some gorgeous moments between him and Penryn. In Raffe's absence Susan Ee keeps him as a central part of the story in a unique and clever way. Penryn is left with Raffe's sword and early on in the book Penryn starts receiving visions from the sword as it shares Raffe's memories from key moments during Angefall that I absolutely loved getting his thoughts and feelings on. We also get to see memories from Raffe's past which is something that I was always curious about in Angefall. I loved this aspect to the story and thought that it was a clever way to still keep Raffe involved whilst he wasn't physically present.

Now that Penryn and her family are reunited there is more from her mother and Paige in this sequel and I loved getting to know them better. Paige actually plays quite a big role in this story and we find out exactly what she went through in the time that she was missing which made me cry on several occasions because it was so heart-breaking to read. My heart broke for that poor little girl and everything she'd been through. We also get to find out what Paige has become and what her abilities are now that she's not entirely human.

With any beloved book there is always the worry that the sequel won't be as good or that it'll suffer from the dreaded "second book syndrome" but World After is just as extraordinary as its predecessor and looking back I think I might have loved it a tiny bit more than Angefall - which I didn't think was even possible! World After made me laugh and it made me cry and I literally couldn't put the thing down. It also finished on a nice solid ending and I applaud it for relying on its gripping storyline and lovable characters to leave readers desperate for the third book instead of an unresolved and abrupt ending which seems to be all too common in YA these days. I am already anticipating the third book and I think that speaks volumes about Susan Ee's talent as an author and the quality of this stunning series.

Bloodlines: The Fiery Heart (book 4)
Bloodlines: The Fiery Heart (book 4)
by Richelle Mead
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars High Stakes and a Burning Romance - Best of the Series Yet!, 20 Nov. 2013
The Fiery Heart is hands down the best book in the Bloodlines series yet. I know I say this with every book but each one gets better! The Fiery Heart is the most romantic in the series yet as we finally get to experience Sydrian as a couple - it was well worth the wait! The book starts with sweet and tender stolen moments between the two and as their relationship strengthens and develops we see the spark between them burst into flame as their love becomes more urgent and steamy.

Of course with their Vampire/Alchemist relationship Adrian and Sydney have to keep their romance a secret and they have to be extra careful with Sydney's Alchemist sister Zoe lurking around *sighs.* Part of me loved the extra thrill this added to their relationship and another part of me was sad that they couldn't behave and be treated like a normal couple. I basically swooned and fangirled my way through this book and my hatred for the Alchemists and everything they stand for intensified.

For the first time we're given an insight into Adrian's thoughts and feelings with the inclusion of chapters from his point of view. I'm always a bit wary when a dual narrative is suddenly added but Richelle Mead captures Adrian's voice perfectly and I never had any trouble distinguishing between him and Sydney. It was so nice to see what was going on behind his brooding looks, to read his feelings towards Sydney and explore the bond he has with Jill. It was also really interesting to see first-hand the affect Spirit has on him mentally and to see how he actually uses his magic to create Spirit dreams and heal. I really felt like I got to know Adrian on a deeper level and I came away from this book loving him even more.

Plot wise I feel like everything has started to come together in this book. There is certainly some development with both Spirit and Sydney's magic and I love the direction Richelle Mead has taken with this. As well as the supernatural issues both Sydney and Adrian are going through contemporary problems as well; Sydney with her family and Adrian with his mental health. I love that Richelle Mead deals with real world issues as well as the supernatural ones; it makes her characters and world feel even more real.

The cherry on top of the cake for me was that we got to go back to court and hang out with all our old friends. Dimitri, Rose, Lissa, Christian and Sonya are all present in this book. I always had the biggest smile on my face whenever they were around or mentioned!

Although I completely saw the ending to this book coming it still broke my heart to read and has left me desperate for book five. The Fiery Heart brings ALL OF THE FEELS and was an emotional rollercoaster to read. With high stakes, a burning romance, and a plot that is heading towards a series climax The Fiery Heart has left me with my emotions all over the place, my nerves in shreds, and my heart holding on to hope as I impatiently await Silver Shadows.

The Reunion
The Reunion
by Amy Silver
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Betrayal, Secrets and Friendship, 8 Nov. 2013
This review is from: The Reunion (Paperback)
Amy Silver is one of my favourite authors for women's fiction and I don't think that her books get nearly enough attention as they deserve. If you enjoy character driven stories about realistic, and at times difficult, topics then Amy Silver is the author for you - I love unravelling the messy tangle of her characters' lives! The Reunion is moving and compelling and it makes a nice change of pace from the happy festive reads that you can find in abundance at this time of year whilst still being an ideal read for cosying up with by the fire.

This story of betrayal, friendship and secrets begins with five old friends who haven't spoken in years being thrown together in a remote cottage in France during a snow storm. Best friends at University until tragedy tore them apart Jen, Dan, Nat, Andrew and Lilah haven't spoken since that fatal day. With news to share Jen invites them under false pretences to spend a weekend at her home in France that's haunted by the happy and sad memories of the summers the group shared there. When a snow storm hits, the group are trapped and are forced to confront the past and untangle the messy and complicated relationships they have with one another as well as confront the blame and guilt they feel over the part they played on that life changing day. Amy Silver doesn't give up all of her secrets at once; everything is slowly revealed in chapters that are set both in the past and present so that we get to thoroughly examine each character and their actions and the revelations that add vital pieces to the puzzle keep on coming until the very end.

Each character is so well developed. They're all incredibly human with both good and bad traits. By the end of the book I felt like I knew every one of them inside out from what makes them tick to what brings them happiness. Each character had their flaws but I couldn't help but love all of them because I could always understand where they were coming from and the thought process behind their actions. Each character has a place in the group and holds a piece of the puzzle and I loved seeing how one characters actions would then go on to influence somebody else's decisions and so on until that heart-breaking final.

The Reunion is such a hard book to review because I don't want to give away any of its secrets but if you enjoy books that give you plenty to chew over and characters who you can't stop thinking about once you've put the book down then this is the book for you. Amy Silver has delivered an emotional and enthralling read and I'm already looking forward to what she comes out with next.

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