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Keren Hughes (UK)

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His Hometown Girl (Mills & Boon Heartwarming)
His Hometown Girl (Mills & Boon Heartwarming)
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Story of a mother's love for her son, 20 April 2014
This book was totally amazing. I don't really know where to start or what to tell you without completely gushing and ruining your own enjoyment of this story.
I was asked if I wanted to read and review His Hometown Girl and of course, I couldn't refuse. I adore Karen Rock and have read the Camp Boyfriend series she wrote with her sister, Joanne. I wanted to read more of Karen's writing and was desperate to get my hands on this book in particular.
I thought I was prepared for this story, boy was I wrong. I fell into this particular journey believing that I would adore the characters, but I didn't know jut how much it would affect me. I fell completely in love with Daniel Gleason, but it wasn't just him that I fell for. I have no real words to accurately describe what this book meant to me. It's a love story of a different kind. It's a powerful, emotional story of the love a mother has for her son and the lengths she will go to in order to give him the life he deserves - she will not only protect him but she will do the things she vowed not to do because it means giving her son the best life she can.
This story is about learning to open your eyes to the bigger picture and not just solely focus on one small part of it.
Tyler is autistic and so everything is just that much harder for single mom, Jodi. She wants to give him the best education she can, but with the fees for the private school being so high, Jodi has to really strive to achieve the promotion she is in line for. Midland have told Jodi that if she can go back to her hometown and acquire a certain amount of acreage from local farmers, then they will give her a bonus and a promotion. To Jodi, this is what she needs in order to give Tyler the best life possible. She doesn't really think of herself at all. She is, in fact, one of the most selfless characters I have come across.
Daniel is her ex-boyfriend and also her biggest childhood rival, the competition between these two was always fierce. Daniel wants the local farmers to join his co-op in order to preserve their land, their farms, their families heritage but Jodi wants to swoop in and buy up all the farms in order to please Midland and get back to her life. Not only has her ex husband not seen Tyler, he has also sued to lower his child support payments. Life for mother and son is one obstacle after another and she needs to set things on a better path for their future.

Going back home was harder than Jodi thought. It stirred up those feelings she had for Daniel, it made her yearn for "home" but competing with that is a mother's love for her son and just what she will do in order to give him the life he needs.

For me, one of the biggest things was the fact that Daniel is amazing. He's got all the character traits that a girl could wish for, tall, handsome, winning smile - but what made him stand out for me was the fact that he was so accepting of Tyler. He didn't look at Tyler like he was disabled or a "problem to be solved" like many other people did. I am disabled myself and I know just how it is to be judged on your disability, not the person you are beneath the label. So when Daniel went and got Tyler the 'girl toy' (read HHG and you will know which scene I mean) it made me smile from ear to ear, and shed a tear or two because he's such an amazing guy. He's kind, thoughtful, patient, tender, loving and he loves Jodi and Tyler for who they are.
Tyler deserves the whole world and this was Jodi's way of trying to give it to him. Was the journey hard? Definitely. Was it emotionally fraught? Definitely. Was it absolutely beautiful and compelling? HELL YES!


The Lioness: A True Love Tale
The Lioness: A True Love Tale
Price: £2.15

5.0 out of 5 stars A True Love Tale, 24 Feb. 2014
Where to start this review, that's the question. This book left me speechless for a while. I was in tears and couldn't see to type. This story is one of love, trust and inexplicable bonds - it really a true love tale. There are trials and tribulations along the way, but who better to face them with than your best friend?

Adria Catarr is our heroine and it's her journey we follow. It all starts one fateful night at the Midsummer Festival when she meets the crown prince, Lando Cardé. He's handsome and kind, pays her compliments and whisks her off her feet at the dance. Just like that, Adria believes she's in love and goes home with a feeling of joy in her heart. Upon finding out that Lando is in the dauphin of Masselia, Adria believes it's her destiny to find him and she sets off on a journey with her best friend Kaiden Sordell who is travelling to try and get a place at a very prestigious school.

We follow along as the two friends have an adventure together on their way to Masselia. Kaiden is in love with Adria and has been since they were children, but will he tell her and if so, will she reciprocate the feelings?

Adria is in for a bit of a shock upon her arrival in Masselia and Kaiden is in for a shock of his own. The pair are drawn back together and set off on another journey, this time a much more fateful one. This time, they seek out the Temple of the Red Mare. There, they will discover much more than they ever thought possible.

What truths will the pair reveal? That's for you to read the book and discover!

If you read this story, you won't be sorry you did. It was a beautiful novel, cleverly written so that you don't know what's around the corner. There is much laughter but also many tears to be beheld within the pages. This book should come with a warning that reads: "WARNING: A whole box of tissues required."
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I couldn't put it more honestly than this: The Lioness: A True Love Tale is a revitalising story of how true love is something that makes you rise. When you are in love, you don't fall, you rise. If it weighs you down, the truth is it probably isn't true love. It reminds you that love is something special that isn't taken by rights, it's given freely.


Better (Too Good series Book 2)
Better (Too Good series Book 2)
Price: £2.93

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Amazing Read from Summer Walden, 1 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What can I say about Better? It is yet another example of Summer Walden's all-consuming, fantastic writing. This story is where we find out a lot more from Mark's POV. He is a 28 year old high school teacher who is in love with his student. He knows he'd lose his job if anyone found out but it turns out Cadence is more important than his job.
Cadence's family knows about their relationship and now with it exposed, it's only a matter of time before the school finds out.
Mark and Cadence are suddenly thrust out into the limelight and though they say 'what doesn't break you makes you stronger', there is something in the air that says the couple are fighting an uphill battle that makes them both question whether their love will survive.
Cadence is a little girl lost in a grown-up world, she needs something to anchor her before she drifts off, lost at sea. She gets a job and she goes to college - but she didn't expect to feel the way she does about things.
Mark has a secret. Though the couple have been together for a year, Cadence doesn't know what Mark has hidden in his past. Her attempts to find out fall flat. He knows he has to tell her, yet there's never going to be a "right time".
We see their relationship progress and blossom. We are witness to the ups and downs of a relationship that everyone thought of as doomed to fail. Yes, there are trials and tribulations both must endure. But if you are anything like me, you will be rooting for them to pull through it all and come out stronger.
I absolutely adore Mark, he really is one of my favourite love interests of 2013. I love Cadence too. Though she is prone to bouts of typical teenage behaviour, I felt a connection with her because I myself was in a relationship with a large age gap at her age. I was 17 and he was 36. I had 2 step-children and one step-grandchild to contend with and I really was a little girl lost in a world where grown-up was something I wanted to be, and I had to grow up fast in order to deal with the stresses and strains of such a relationship. so yes, I totally felt for Cadence.
My Goodreads statuses said:
55%: "I've laughed and I've cried which, to me, means that Summer Walden has cast her spell upon me once more. I am having to go to bed now as I am finally at a point where I feel okay stopping - if not for the late hour (midnight) I would read it in one sitting. I have read 55% straight off and nowhere has felt like a place to break for sleep.
and 100%: "I'm crying again! Who knew you could cry so much? I loved this book, this series. I wish there was more. I loved both Good and Better beyond belief!"

I cried at both books and that is because Summer Walden knows how to play on my emotions. She is an uber-talented author. I was up and down like a roller-coaster. But I wouldn't have it any other way. In essence, me being an emotional mess means that Summer did her job right.

If you haven't yet read Good or Better, then may I make a polite suggestion that you do? :D


Good: Volume 1 (Too Good)
Good: Volume 1 (Too Good)
by S. Walden
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.89

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Amazing Read from Summer Walden, 1 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book appealed to me because I know Summer Walden is a fantastic author and I wanted to know how she pulled this one off. I know some people will read this blurb and immediately be put off because the subject material is "taboo". However, it was the mere fact that it was taboo that peaked my interest.

Cadence Miller is a good girl. She goes to church, she's part of a good family. She seems like your typical god fearing teenager. That is until she ends up in a juvenile detention centre. She made one mistake, but it was a shockingly big one. So as punishment, she spent time in juvie. One day, a group from juvie are collecting trash from the side of the highway and Cadence sees a guy changing his tyre. This guy happens to be the most handsome guy she's ever seen. Shame she's in heer orange jumpsuit!
Upon her release from juvie, Cadence must return to school. She expects the nasty, snide remarks. She expects her peers to act as though she has some disease and stay as far away from her as possible. What she doesn't expect is the gorgeous guy from the side of the highway to be at school. Worse still, he isn't a student. He's going to be her Math teacher!
Cadence knows that falling for your teacher isn't exactly a wise idea - it's not like it could be reciprocated. He's her teacher, a totally "no go" zone. But they say you can't help who you fall for and in this case, that's exactly right. She falls for Mark Connelly. She convinces herself that it's all her and that he can't feel the same - but there are little things he says and does that niggle at her and make her question if he could actually feel anything for her.
Mark knows that falling for his student isn't smart, but he can't help it. Since the day they met by the side of the highway, he's been attracted to her.
When Mark finally confesses his attraction to Cadence, that's when she finally sees that her life can be good. It's been nothing short of Hell since she went to juvie and lost her friends. She makes one new friend at school, Avery - but Avery has her very own agenda for befriending Cadence. But Cadence doesn't care about Avery's agenda, as long as she covers for her so that she can sneak off and be with her teacher.

This book was nothing less than AMAZING! I was sucked in from the first word til the last. It was a wonderfully written, highly entertaining, page-turner. Let me share with you my Goodreads statuses so you get a feeling for how I felt while I was reading Good.
At 53%, I wrote: "Holy cow! This book is amazing! The only thing 'good' about this book is the title! Move over every fictional or even real man that came before... Enter, Mr Mark Connelly!! I always love reading Summer Walden's words but this? This is something else entirely - not mere words on a page, more like a movie in my head. I AM Cadence... I feel Mark's hands on her, lips kissing her... WOW!!"
At 72%, I wrote: "I need to go to bed and I DO. NOT. WANT. TO!!! This book is amazing. So glad I bought Better earlier today (when I was only 35% into Good) You can guess what I'm reading next, right?! I've laughed, I've cried, felt like I've received a punch to the gut... This book has a hold over me and gives me goose bumps all over with a delicious chill in the warm air."
At 84%, this was all I wrote: "I'm crying and snotting like a bloody baby!!"
And when I finished, I said: "Oh. My. God!!!!!!! I am shaking right now. The ending has left my jaw on the floor and my heart in my throat. I need to read BETTER like I need to breathe oxygen! Summer Walden has done it again, she's totally amazed me and floored me and left me feeling... I'm not even sure how I feel apart from scared for Cadence and Mark and anticipating the next book!!"

This book provoked so many feelings in me. It was such a powerful story. I felt such a connection with Cadence, it was like I was her. I was totally and utterly in love with Mark Connelly and I needed the next book, Better, immediately. I downloaded it when I was around 25% into Good so that it would be waiting for me at the end.
I love the way Summer writes and how she isn't afraid to write something that pushes the boundaries. Her writing style is all-consuming, I can't help but get encompassed by it.
Yes, there were times when I wanted to slap Cadence for her immaturity, but then I am a 30 year old woman and she is only 17, so, it was to be expected that I would find her actions a little childish. Mark made me want to rage and to knock some sense into him too. The characters both had their flaws - but that's what made them feel so real. Who isn't flawed? If you can show me someone without flaws, I will show you a liar.
I hope when you are considering whether or not to read this story that you will stop to think that yes, the subject matter is seemingly a little taboo, but in reality, Cadence was a consenting adult and nothing they did was illegal.


Declaration (Preservation Book 3)
Declaration (Preservation Book 3)
Price: £2.61

5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing End To an Amazing Trilogy, 5 Nov. 2013
So for those of you who know me well, you will know I am a sucker for any book written by Rachael Wade. She writes a few different genres and manages to pull them all off... to say well, would be an understatement, so let's say extraordinarily. This woman has an amazing talent and thank goodness she is kind enough to share it with us. As an author just starting out on my own journey, I can honestly say that I admire Rachael and how much hard work she puts into her books. I aspire to be just like her, but if I can't manage it, I want to at least be one one-hundredth of the author she is. Now, if you don't know me well, you might think I'm just trying to kiss butt here, but let me assure you that is not the case. Rachael is one of my favourite authors and has been since I first read Amaranth, the first book in The Resistance Trilogy. However, what really got me to sit up and take notice of her was Preservation. She wrote a book about a young woman and her college professor, something a lot of people see as a taboo subject. I read it in one sitting because it was so compelling and I could not put it down until finishing it at 2am where I cried like a baby. If you haven't read it, you really should because it's the first book in the trilogy that Declaration rounds off so beautifully.
Where books one and two were about Kate and Ryan, this book is about one of the secondary characters, Kate's best friend, Carter Montgomery.

Carter did the one thing that he shouldn't have done. He fell in love with his best friend. Unfortunately Kate didn't reciprocate those feelings. This prompted Carter to make a change in his life and this story walks us through that change. First thing's first, he moved across the country. This completely upended his life in a good way, a great way, but you need to read the book for yourself to see what happened. You could choose to read this as a stand alone book or you can read the trilogy - but my suggestion would be to read Preservation, Reservation, Love and Relativity and then Declaration. That's the order I read them in.

As I said before, Rachael is an amazing author and this book, like the others that came before it, is an outstanding story. I felt a real connection with Carter and other characters. I love when I can not just read a book but fall head first into another life. There's emotional depth to the people and that is one of the things I love most about it. The people are real and tangible. They may only be fictional characters but Rachael breathed life into them. They made me laugh, they made me cry and most of all, they made me fall in love. It had been a while between reading the other books and this one, so although I knew of Carter before, I wasn't totally in love with the guy. However, this book took care of that. I fell in love with the little firecracker that is Whitney too!

I urge you all, if you haven't read these books, please do so. You don't know what you are missing!


Because of Lucy (Butterfly Days Book 1)
Because of Lucy (Butterfly Days Book 1)

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evan fits into Vanessa, 30 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have to be honest, this is only the second book I have read by this author, yet I can already tell she is an all-round superstar. The other book I have read of hers is called Soul Ties and is a Paranormal Romance, then here's this Contemporary Romance which has just come along to show that Lisa can switch-up the genres and be able to pull it off with deft ease.

This is the story of Vanessa and Evan. The two meet by chance when Ness's friend Abby is dating Evan's friend Matt. There's an attraction between the two but Evan's reputation as a charmer precedes him and Ness doesn't want to get caught up in the drama.
Abby and Ness room together, and Abby has a habit of holding parties til stupid o'clock in the morning. Ness can't get away from the student life even though she isn't one. She decided not to follow along the path that she had previously been on. Her parents wanted her to study but she decided to get a job instead.

Evan is attracted to Ness. Maybe it's the fact that she's gorgeous, maybe it's the fact she doesn't seem interested or maybe it's both. When Ness looks at Evan, all she can see is his reputation for being the 'love them and leave them' type of guy. She can't deny she's attracted to him but as drawn as she is, she doesn't want to be just another notch on his bed post.

What ensues is a tale of a not-so-straightforward romance. Don't forget, there's Lucy to consider. But just who is the mysterious Lucy and what hold does she have on Evan?

I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of Contemporary Romance and anyone who loves an emotionally gripping story.
I was so drawn into this story. I had an emotional investment in it from the beginning. I felt as though Lisa had written the role of Vanessa for me. She has sass and doesn't take any messing. She is just my kind of girl.
This book was full of sexual tension and oh-so-witty banter and repartee. There were times aplenty when I had to laugh out loud at some of the moves Evan was trying to pull and Ness wasn't having any of it. But then there were also times when my mood was brought down, take for instance my Goodreads status at 72% in:

"I just can't hold them back any longer... Hot salty tears are racing each other quietly down my cheeks as I take in all that Evan is and what he and Ness could be... I want my own real-life Evan, minus the "issues""
and my status update when I finished:

"I couldn't go to bed because I simply had to finish not just want to, but HAD to finish this book. I seriously adore Evan and Vanessa. The whole man-whore thing was so... well, you'll see... I am bowled over by Lisa's beautiful words and her insight into "the issues" - I am crying my eyes out but trying to be quiet so as not to wake my son!"

In all honesty, I can NOT wait until the next book in this series, I think I might have bitten my fingers off in the slow, agonizing wait!


Soul Ties: Volume 1
Soul Ties: Volume 1
by Lisa Swallow
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Story, 17 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Soul Ties: Volume 1 (Paperback)
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up Soul Ties and when I finished it, I realised I must have had some expectations because it didn't end up being at all what I thought.
From the way it was written, to the story content itself, I was swept away by a fast-paced, page-turning book that kept me on my toes and guessing what might come next. But each time I thought I knew what to expect next, I was proved entirely wrong.

Ava is a soul-hunter, sent to capture Keir's Nephilim soul and return it to the Celestia, his soul is what she plans to trade for her freedom. Without his soul, the Celestia will not give Ava her Will.
When Ava meets Keir, he has an attitude and a best friend who's attitude is even worse. From the off, neither Keir nor Dahlia like Ava and don't like having to endure being in her company. But they can't just shake her off. She's been sent to do her job and will not return without his soul in the gem provided for retrieval.
As the story moves along, we find Dahlia may have reasons for her reticence to trust the new girl, but still, she keeps up the attitude as if she doesn't have an off-switch.
Keir however, begins to warm to Ava's presence. He's attracted to her like she is to him. That makes things a tad more difficult. She wants to get close to him to take his soul, but the more she gets to know him, the less she wants to take it. What's more important, doing the Celestia's bidding and retrieving Keir's soul to get her Will or helping Keir's cause, falling deeper in love with the secretive yet unforgettable Nephilim?

Soul Ties isn't just your straight-forward love story. There are so many things getting in the way of Keir and Ava's possible relationship. They don't trust each other, he's Nephilim and she's a soul-hunter, those things alone make life very difficult but what makes Ava question everything is the way Keir hunts and captures Demons in order to free their souls. Nephilim don't track and kill other Demons, so what is Keir's agenda?

To find out Keir's agenda and see if the unlikely pair can come together despite the many obstacles in their way, you need to pick up a copy of Soul Ties for yourself.

I love Lisa Swallow's easy style of writing. She writes a complicated plot with many twists, but she makes it all easy to understand. That's no mean feat. Some people write complicated tings just for the sake of it. Swallow's world building doesn't take a lifetime to get to get to grips with. I can't wait for books 2 and 3. From what I hear, book 2 is from Dahlia and Jack's POV and book 3 picks up Keir and Ava's story. I for one would love to hear from Keir's own POV. I hope that's something Swallow will consider as she writes more of the soul tied world.

Thank you Lisa for the e-copy of Soul Ties, I would LOVE a signed copy to go with my special signed books collection. Here's hoping you a) sell signed copies or b) have bookplates!


Alice's Sacrifice (Alice Clark Series Book 2)
Alice's Sacrifice (Alice Clark Series Book 2)
Price: £3.08

5.0 out of 5 stars I Love Cole Corvus <3, 30 Jun. 2013
If any of you have read my review for Finding Alice, you will know just how much I loved it. That being said, I think Alice's Sacrifice was even more amazing. You can't help but get sucked into the turmoil and turbulence that is Alice and Cole's life. I can honestly say, I loved Cole Corvus right from book one, but now? I love him even more and I hadn't previously thought that was possible.

In this amazingly written second installment of the Alice Clark Series, we are given insight into more of their Fallen family and as it is written from alternating POV's, you get to experience things not only from Alice's standpoint, but also that of Cole, Penemue/Paul, Kokabiel and Jake. If you think this will make the book more confusing, don't worry because it doesn't. Andread DigGiglio has a knack of keeping things simple even when things in their world get complicated. She just makes it so easy to understand and you live vicariously through each of the characters. This gives you a more rounded view of the world they live in and the lives the Fallen lead.

I don't really want to give much of the plot away, because I know I will get carried away, so I will try to keep my review short and sweet.

Things in Alice's life have a knack of being complicated. But nothing could really prepare her for what was to come. Some may call it Destiny, I call it an unfair chain of events. I'm not sure I believe anyone's destiny is written in stone. I don't believe that we are born and everything that happens to us leads us to a pre-written destiny. I believe that we are born and throughout our lives, we experience things that -although they aren't always just or fair - shape us into the people we are. As for our end goal? No two people have the same end in sight, we create our own destiny by the road we choose to take in life.

Alice and Cole just want to be happy. Is that really too much to ask? Well in their case it seems as though that is so. They never can catch a break. This time seems to be one of the worst in their time together.

Some people believe that the End of Days is near and that Alice will be their saviour. They are ready and willing to sacrifice her to save themselves. They want to get back into the graces of God and think this is the way to go.
Meanwhile, Sariel, Paul, Kokabiel, Jake and Cole are readying themselves for what's to come and they will protect Alice at all costs, personal or otherwise.
Cole would sacrifice himself in a heartbeat in order to save the girl he loves, but when the time comes, will Alice sacrifice herself and for whom will it be if she does?

There is plenty of quality time with Alice and Cole in this book but there is also plenty of action in it to keep you on the edge of your seat, with a few twists thrown in for good measure.

I never knew what was coming next and I was pleasantly surprised throughout.

Not everything that happened to Alice and Cole was good, but it was always intriguing to say the least. If you were in lust with Finding Alice, prepare to fall in LOVE with Alice's Sacrifice.
The characters are more fleshed out in this book. It's good to find out more about Alice and Cole's fathers and their Fallen family.

If I could sum up this book in word, it would be: EPIC.
If I could sum it up in three words, they would be: BUY IT NOW.

Thank you so much Andrea for the chance to review your amazing series. Thank you for creating a world I want to dive into head first and get lost in without coming up for air.


Him (Him & Her Book 1)
Him (Him & Her Book 1)
Price: £0.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars i love me some HIM, 23 Jun. 2013
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

I can honestly say I had to wait half an hour or more before even trying to write this review because I was a teary-eyed mess. This was such a beautiful, intense, romantic story and it melted this Ice-Queen's heart. It's not often a book will touch me in such a profound way as this one did. I was drawn into Sarah's life like I was really living it. I fell head over heels in love with 'Him' - he's so... *searches for a word*... swoonworthy, schmexy, droolworthy, lovable... Umm, I could go on but I won't.

Sarah Miller hasn't been home in seven years. Then her brother Brian announces he's getting married to Christine and Sarah has to put on her big girl panties and go home. There's just one thing she's not looking forward to about the trip. What? Him. Will Price. The boy who broke her heart all those years ago, the reason she left home in the first place.
When Sarah arrives home she makes a conscious effort to avoid him. The only problem with that is, he's everywhere she turns.

As the preparations are made for the wedding, Sarah does all she can to stay out of his path. He's the one that broke her heart and he doesn't get a free pass on that. After what happened, Sarah was a mess. But now he's a groomsman in the wedding party so it's useless trying to avoid all social occasions that involve him, like the rehearsal dinner. But that doesn't mean that she has to do more than make small talk just to try and get him off her back.
He follows her around like a lovesick puppy and whilst he is still as handsome as ever, if not more, he doesn't get to sniff around Sarah's heels anymore. She can't help but notice he is still the same wonderful guy she fell in love with - but that doesn't mean she wants to go there again. He broke her heart into a million pieces, perhaps even a part of her soul died that day.

Will was Sarah's best friend. They went everywhere together, knew everything there was to know about each other. They went out for ice cream waffle cones together. Sarah was in love with him, had been for years. The trouble was, Will was dating Jessica.
Sarah could see that Jessica was everything she wasn't and could give Will everything she couldn't. Jessica was popular, beautiful, wore all the right clothes and knew how to use her wiles to keep a boy like Will on the hook.

One day, Will told Sarah he was thinking of breaking it off with Jessica. He said there was somebody else. How could Sarah compete? If he was dumping Jessica, it had to be for someone even better and Sarah was no match for that. Or was she?

What happens when you fall in love with your best friend?

Having broken up with Jessica, Will was free to be with the girl he really wanted, had done for years. Sarah.
To say it came as a shock to her is an understatement and she kept wondering if it was really happening or if she was dreaming.
Dating Will was one of the best things to have happened to Sarah. It was a dream come true. He showed her off to everyone, kissing her in public and showing the kids at school they were together. Sarah never wanted it to end. But Jessica had other ideas. [spoiler not included]

That fateful night, Sarah was a mess. She came home from the party early and decided she wanted out, she needed to leave. But where to go? Uncle Chip had always said that he was there if she needed anything, surely she could go and live with him?
She packed her bags and wrote a note to tell her parents that she had gone, then she was out of there.

Seven years had passed and Sarah hadn't gone home once. She always made excuses to her Mom that her job kept her too busy and she couldn't get away. Truth be told, she just didn't want to run into the boy who she had never managed to get over.
But now Brian and Christine's wedding was upon her and she was a bridesmaid. She couldn't let her big brother down after all he had done for her. So she caught a flight and dragged her reluctant backside home.

She's happy to be home with her family, but she's annoyed that no-one told her that just because she left didn't mean that Will had stopped coming round.

Will is happy Sarah came home for the wedding. He doesn't know why she left, all he knows is he was heartbroken. He tries to get Sarah alone to talk several times. She tries to talk to him once but she just can't get the past out of her head. He's the one who hurt her, not the other way round and she doesn't know why he's acting like a love sick puppy.
She calls her best friend back home and asks for her advice. She can't seem to make a clear decision on her own because of how messed up her head has become. She knew that coming back home she would see him around town, but she didn't expect that Will would still be firmly ensconced in her family's life.

Will Sarah ever be able to forgive Will and be able to move on? Can Will ever manage to win back Sarah's affections? Well that's for you to find out for yourself.

Carey Heywood has a way of writing that really draws the reader in. She made me remember my first love and whilst I'm not in love with him anymore, he is still a part of my heart and probably always will be. We all remember that first moment we experience true love, we will never forget. It's inexplicably impossible to close off your heart to someone who put you on the path of love, even if you're not travelling the path together anymore.

I fell head over heels for Will and I really can't wait for HER where we get to hear what happened in his life over those seven years.

Sarah was such a lovable character. Sometimes, characters are but a caricature of a real person, but not Sarah. She's 100% real. She's tangible, she's everything a main character should be. She's strong and beautiful, even if she doesn't know it. I loved reading her story because it didn't seem like just a story being told, it felt like a life being lived.

This book was so real that it played havoc with my emotions. I loved how alternating chapters told the story of the Past and the Present, it served to give me a really in-depth look at Sarah and Will. There were moments when I laughed, moments when I totally swooned, and a few raw moments when I had to have a good old cry.
It wasn't just Sarah's story, it was mine. I was her and she was me. I felt the grief of losing Will like I'd lost someone myself and then when she got home, I felt that tumultuous roller coaster of feelings with her. She still loved Will, hadn't ever had a relationship that lived up to him. He had big shoes to fill and had left a huge void in her life. Not only had she lost her boyfriend, but her best friend, her soul mate.
Was she right not going home for seven long years? If she'd gone home earlier, could things have been patched up between the two? Would they have lost those years together? That's something they'll never know. But living in the past does no-one any good and they both need to look to the future.

This is only the second book by Carey Heywood that I have read but she is now on my list of Favourite Authors whom I will need to read everything they write. Her stories pack a punch and I have found with both Stages of Grace and HIM that her stories have a very real air about them. You could have lived what was written on the pages, and if you haven't, you will once you read them.

I'd like to share two songs with you that this story made me think of as I read it (if you read the book and listen to the lyrics of these songs, you'll see why) - for those of you reading my review somewhere other than my blog, the songs are 'I Love Me Some Him' and 'I Don't Want To' by Toni Braxton....

I would like very much to thank Carey for providing the e-ARC of this amazing book. I'm glad you decided to release it early Carey, I think you made the right decision because now everyone can be touched by Sarah and Will's story


PODs
PODs
Price: £6.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Debut from Michelle Pickett - A Must Read!, 4 Jun. 2013
This review is from: PODs (Kindle Edition)
I have been dying for an ARC of PODs since I first discovered it's existence months ago on Spencer Hill Press' website. You wouldn't believe the volume at which I squealed when the mail man knocked on my door and handed me a parcel directly from Michelle Pickett. I tore the parcel open and discovered that not only was there one ARC but actually there were two signed copies. One for me and one to give away. Plus, there was a little swag bag set up for me and one for give away. The final amazing item was a tote bag with a picture of the PODs and Milayna covers on. I was speechless and so very happy.

I had just finished with a book and so I was ready to read PODs the day it arrived. I dived in straight away and boy oh boy was I in for one hell of a ride. I didn't realise at the start that I should have buckled up my seatbelt and braced for the energetic, lightning paced story that would ensue.

Evangelina Evans is a normal 17 year old girl with a normal life, until the day an incurable virus comes to town. If contracted, this virus will mean a painful death within just days of the symptoms emerging.
The government decide that they need to move people to the PODs that they built underground in case of any such pandemic. And that's exactly what this is. The virus will wipe out anyone living above ground when it hits.
The government say that there is room for only 70,000 people in the PODs and that 20,000 of those spaces are reserved for members of the government themselves. So that means that out of the entire population, only 50,000 people will be saved. How do they decide who should be saved and who shouldn't? Well that comes in the form of a Social Security Number Raffle. Basically, everyone's social security number is entered into the raffle and those that get drawn out will have a space in the PODs. Anyone else will be left to fend for themselves topside until the virus inevitably wipes them out.

Eva and her family desperately wait for the phone call to say that they have been selected. Time goes by and the phone call doesn't come.
Eva's cell phone rings and she is told that her number has been drawn. She must pack no more than two suitcases of things that she will need. She must say goodbye to her parents as their numbers weren't drawn.
Eva is scared as Hell and doesn't want to leave without her parents. She keeps hoping that their numbers will be drawn. She keeps that hope up right up until the day that she is driven to the checkpoint and she must say a final goodbye.

Once past the checkpoint, Eva must go through Quarantine. They put her in a glass room and they draw her blood every day to make sure she is showing no signs of having the virus.
She sits in her glass box that feels like a prison cell, she has books that she's read cover to cover. There's a television but all it shows is news reports of what's happening topside and Eva doesn't want to know what will happen to those that have been left behind. She doesn't want to accept the fate that her parents have been dealt. Her room is surrounded by others that contain people the same as her. Everyone must go through this quarantine before being allowed into the PODs. The government need to know that no-one will have the virus and spread it once underground with the others.

Once quarantine is over, people are moved into sub-PODs that branch off from the main POD. There are ten people to one sub-POD; five of which are male and five female.

Eva moves in with five boys and three other girls, one of whom is pregnant.

Adjusting to life underground in a small sub-POD is difficult. Not everyone is pleasant to live with. There's one young girl in the group and Eva thinks she can't be younger than 12, there's one girl who doesn't speak English very well and then there's the boys. David, George, Josh, Seth and Aiden. David is good looking, sweet, charming and funny. George is nice and seems more welcoming than some. Josh is an A-hole. There's no other word for it. He is always down on everybody else. He makes fun of everyone, he's arrogant and rude. No-one in the POD likes him, but they know they have to live with him for a year.

Eva has a theory about who got selected and who got left topside. She believes that it's only people between the ages of about 12 and 25 and they are all smart, with a four-point-oh grade average.
The residents of each sub-POD are sent textbooks through a chute and are told they need to complete coursework and modules online via the intranet. They are also to partake in blood tests to make sure they are still fit and healthy.

A year is how long the government believe it will be before the virus has worked it's way through topside and then they say it will be gone and people can move back up there.

Eva doesn't want a romance within the POD but every time David passes her by, he sends shivers down her spine. His touch elicits butterflies in her stomach. She can't help but notice how handsome he is. How kind, charming, funny, caring he is. It seems they both feel the same way but they avoid doing anything about it. If they had a relationship and it turned sour, they'd still have to live together in the confines of the POD until the year is over.

There's nothing that can be done to stop the inevitable though. David and Eva embark on a relationship. They are such a good match for each other. Everyone can see how much they obviously care for each other after months underground together. But Eva wonders whether the relationship will still thrive once they are allowed back topside. Is it just the confines of the POD that make them feel this drawn to each other?
There's no mistaking the chemistry they have together though.

Tiffany's baby is born in the POD. The group help her when she goes into labour and they can't make contact with the main POD. Eva remains collected and talks everyone through their roles and the baby is born safely.

Once the year is up, once the government believe the virus has died out topside, the people underground are allowed to move to camps that have been set up for them up there.

Before they are set up in homes and are been assigned jobs in the sector that the government chose for them, Eva realises that her and David won't be put together. The numbers they have been assigned don't match. To say she is upset is the understatement of the century. Yet she must do as she has been told. She has been given a house of her own and she must attend the job she has been assigned as a teacher. Gone are the days when she saw David 24/7, when she could see his sweet smile, smell the unique smell of his skin, when she could kiss him and hold him, be held by him at night and fall asleep on the settee in the POD.

What does the future hold for Eva? For David? For any of the friends she made down in the POD? Is the virus really gone? Will a mutated version of the virus ravage the small camps/compounds that have been set up for the residents protection?

These are questions you will only get answers to by reading the book for yourself.

This book was an energetic, tumultuous roller coaster ride that had me on the edge of my seat and biting my nails constantly. I never knew what was coming. There were the bitter-sweet moments that I lived through when Eva and David were alone together. Then there were the moments that had me laughing and sometimes wanting to punch the snot out of someone (Josh). There were also times when I got so emotional. I felt all the feelings Eva was feeling. I fought battles with my tear ducts, they wanted to overflow and I didn't want to let them. But there were a few moments when it felt like a tap had been turned on and no-one could stop the warm salty tears that raced their way down my cheeks.,

You know when Goodreads says "Meet Your Next Favourite Book"? Well this is it! This is my favourite book of 2013. I can only compare the feelings I have for PODs by looking back at my favourite book of 2012, Divergent by Veronica Roth. Anyone that knows me, knows how much love I have for that book (and how many tattoos I have related to that book and the sequel, Insurgent).
I have booked to have a PODs tattoo of the symbol that we see at the beginning of the book and on the Chapter pages.

In my honest opinion, Michelle Pickett is best-selling author material. She has a talent beyond anything I had imagined upon starting this book. She writes with such emotion, such passion and tenacity. It is obvious that she poured her heart and soul into this book and you can tell that she would have been sat at her computer probably crying her eyes out at some of what she was writing. To have produced a book as good as PODs, this author must be overflowing with talent. It doesn't feel like a debut book, her writing style speaks of someone who has been writing and publishing books for years.

I live for books that keep me on my toes and keep me guessing all the way through. I like it when I have no idea how it will turn out. This is one of those books! I honestly had no idea what would come next. There is so much I could say about both this book and this author, but if I did, you'd get mad at me for spoiling some of the things that should be discovered first-hand when you pick up the book yourself.

Trust me when I say, you really need to be purchasing this book from anywhere it's available on June 4th 2013. That's not far away, perhaps you should go and pre-order it now. If my review hasn't incensed you to go and pick up a copy, then I haven't really done my job properly


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