Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Review: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

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Title: Mercy 

Author: Rebecca Lim

Series: Mercy #1

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication date: 28th October 2010

Format: Paperback | 288 pages

Genre: YA | Paranormal 

Goodreads



Mercy wakes on a school bus bound for Paradise, a small town where everyone knows everyone else's business…or thinks they do. But Mercy has a secret life. She is an angel, doomed to return repeatedly to Earth, taking on a new human form each time she does, in an effort to resolve a cataclysmic rift between heavenly beings.


In Paradise, Mercy meets Ryan, and eighteen-year-old whose sister was kidnapped two years ago and is presumed dead. When another girl is also taken, Mercy knows she has to act quickly and use extraordinary powers to rescue her, even if it means exposing her true identity.



My thoughts:


Mercy is the first book of a series focusing on a girl who doesn't know who she is past the name she's given herself - Mercy. Every once in a while she wakes up in a new body with a new name and in a new location. Things change when Mercy finds herself taking control of Carmen, a small, musically talented girl that dreams of making it as big a opera star. She finds herself fighting to find Ryan's sister where she wouldn't usually go out of her way for someone she'd only just met. But it might just end up pointing her in the right direction to find out who she really is once and for all.


Throughout this read Mercy is controlling Carmen's body but occasionally snippets of Carmen's thoughts would come through and it becomes plain to see the differences in the two characters' personalities. I really enjoyed that. It didn't happen very often but when it did, I found it really intriguing. Mercy wasn't exactly the friendliest person ever, but it was what Carmen needed to move on from her so called 'best friends' who were holding her back big time. I actually found Mercy to be a huge bitch, but Carmen balanced it out a little and stopped me from outright hating the main character which would have been disastrous.


However, I thought a lot of the characters weren't written so well. Seeing as though this read had a crime solving element to it, there was a whole list of characters thrown into the story to be seen as suspects which I didn't think worked so well. Mercy trying to figure out who took Ryan's sister is one thing, but when the characters Mercy suspects have no depth or personality traits a reader can relate to, it makes them fall short as even the most basic of criminals. Aside from that, I also found the mystery side to the story extremely predictable - I had no problem guessing who was the kidnapper far from the end of the book.

 

Overall I liked this read and I think I'll be carrying on to the second book for now. I have to say though, while I enjoyed Mercy, I think if the next book isn't any better than this one, I won't be going any further with the series.

 

My rating: 6/10

 

 Rebecca Lim:

Goodreads | Facebook 

 

Mercy:

  1. Mercy
  2. Exile
  3. Muse
  4. Fury

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Review: The General by Robert Muchamore

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Title: The General

Author: Robert Muchamore

Series: Cherub #10

Publisher: Hodder

Publication date: 4th September 2008

Format: Paperback | 352 pages

Genre: YA

Goodreads



The world's largest urban warfare training compound stands in the desert near Las Vegas. Forty British commandos are being hunted by an entire American battalion.


But their commander has an ace up his sleeve: he plans to smuggle in ten Cherub agents, and fight the best war game ever.



My thoughts:


For those of you that haven't heard of this series before, it follows a secret organisation that uses child spies to get criminals locked away for a good long while. Of course, since children are involved, the characters get up to some crazy, hilarious stunts both during missions and at the Cherub campus. The General, mostly focuses on James and his sister Lauren as they test soldiers to the limits in a training compound in the middle of an American desert. 


I'm already a big fan of this series but this book just took the biscuit for me. I couldn't stop laughing for the life of me. The beginning of the book was great for more serious action with James' first mission, but after that went wrong, things just got a turn for the hilarious. I loved what went down in the training compound - it was a perfect mix of chaos, childish pranks and combat training. Muchamore's ability to keep reminding readers that these agents are still kids is brilliant.


I also enjoyed the great mix of characters that played a part in this story. James and Lauren are favourites of mine just because of their great relationship as siblings but the rest of the gang played their parts too and it led to some brilliant moments. The instructor Kazakov has definitely become a new favourite of mine because of his genius antics in this book. 


Nothing really comes to mind when I think about what I didn't like about this book. I suppose I would have liked to have seen a bit more of a fight between Dana and James when all that drama went down. It was over a little too quickly and James seemed to get over Dana awfully fast for someone who claimed to love her. I guess his heart's elsewhere.


Overall I loved this book and I thought it was a fantastic addition to the Cherub books. I'm looking forward to starting the next one.

 

My rating: 10/10

 

Robert Muchamore:

 

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

 

Cherub:

 

  1. The Recruit
  2. Class A
  3. Maximum Security
  4. The Killing
  5. Divine Madness
  6. Man vs. Beast
  7. The Fall
  8. Mad Dogs
  9. The Sleepwalker
  10. Dark Sun
  11. The General
  12. Brigands M.C
  13. Shadow Wave

Monday, 7 July 2014

Review: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

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Title: A Game of Thrones

Author: George R.R Martin

Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #1

Publisher: HarperVoyager

Publication date: January 6th 2003

Format: Paperback | 807 pages

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Goodreads



Summers span decades.

Winters can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.


As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must…and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.


The old gods have no power in the south, Stark's family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.



My thoughts:


I'm pretty sure most of you will know a little about this series or at the least heard of it. For those who haven't, A Game of Thrones follows quite a few characters as they battle it out for the Iron Throne. There's a whole lot of stabbing in the back, war talk and heads on pikes. As for the rest, it's a pretty complicated book to narrow it down to one paragraph, you'll just have to find out for yourself.


What I love the most about this book is the characters. I was bowled over by how easy it was to hate some and really love the rest. The characters were incredibly clear cut in the way the contributed to the plot which I haven't really experienced before in any read. Since the chapters alternated between different characters' points of view, it made it really easy to get excited when I saw whose point of view was coming up next. I can't even properly express how well written these characters were - they were so detailed and had so much depth to them, a book could be written about each one.


The plot itself certainly got me racing through the book - as much as you can race through a book 800 pages long. It was original and I didn't see anything coming at all which I found incredibly refreshing. It wasn't especially thrilling for quite a lot of the book, sometimes there wasn't much going on at all, but there was no part of the story that bored me or made me lose interest.


It was only the length of the book that put me off a little. I'm used to finishing a book within a day or two at most, so this one took forever in comparison. To be honest, it's not something even worth complaining about, but for people who have more of a hectic life than I do, it'll most likely take a good long while to finish this one, never mind the rest of the series. 

 

Overall this was a fantastic read that I can recommend to anybody, especially readers who want to try a book of this genre, it's a good place to start. 

 

My rating: 9/10


George R.R. Martin:

Goodreads | Website 

 

A Song of Ice and Fire:

  1. A Game of Thrones
  2. A Clash of Kings
  3. A Storm of Swords
  4. A Feast for Crows
  5. A Dance with Dragons
  6. The Winds of Winter
  7. A Dream of Spring

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Review: Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

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Title: Inside Out

Author: Maria V. Snyder

Series: Insiders #1

Publisher: Mira Ink

Publication date: January 2011

Format: Paperback | 315 pages

Genre: YA | Dystopian

Goodreads



I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody.

One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I just to my job and try to avoid the Population Control Police, who dream of recycling scrubs into fertiliser. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? It's not like it's dangerous…


Well, turns out it is. Because I know ever corridor, pipe and shortcut I've become the go-to girl to lead a revolution. I know if we find a gateway to Outside it'll be suicide plain and simple. But guess who likes a challenge?



My thoughts:


Inside Out follows the story of Trella, one scrub among thousands whose job it is to clean out the pipes that make up the 'Inside'. While some scrubs take pride in their work, Trella can't help but feel like she doesn't belong when she sneaks around the pipes and catches glimpses of the Uppers. Because of Trella's knowledge of all the shortcuts and ways around the pipes, she soon becomes the figurehead needed to lead a revolution and change the scrubs lives for the better.


Trella was a great character. She had such a fiery personality and I really enjoyed reading her interactions with the other scrubs. Trella did kind of push people away in order to protect herself and while it was annoying at times, it was also endearing once I realised why exactly she does it. 


However, a lot of the characters, in my opinion, were lacking a lot of depth. I didn't find Cog and Riley to be relatable at all - they always came into the story where they were needed and never provided any additional support to the plot. I didn't connect to them at all and I feel that it was purely because they weren't around enough, especially Cog. Cog appeared frequently in the beginning of the book but afterwards he wasn't heard from at all. Both Riley and Cog were characters I didn't end up caring about so in the end, I wan't anxious about what might happen to them.


I have to admit as well, I lost interest in the plot very quickly. There was no issue with finding it predictable or unoriginal just because I couldn't bring myself to care enough to think about it. I think there wasn't enough suspense for me. I recognised where the author really tried, for example, countdowns to somebody's execution. But if I don't like the character in the first place, it's not going to affect me greatly if he was executed so it didn't really work. 


Overall I wouldn't really recommend this read. There have been a lot of good reviews for it though, and this is only my opinion, so check it out if it looks interesting.


My rating: 4/10


Maria V. Snyder:

Goodreads | Blog | Facebook 


Insiders:

  1. Inside Out
  2. Outside In

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

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Title: Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Author: Laini Taylor

Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication date: 17th Apr 2014

Format: Hardback | 528 pages

Genre: YA | Paranormal

Goodreads

 

 

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. 

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?
 



My thoughts:


Dreams of Gods and Monsters is the third and final book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. It starts off essentially where the second book, Days of Blood and Starlight, left off, with Karou and Akiva trying their best to unite the seraphim army, known as the misbegotten, and the surviving chimaera.

 

Every since I finished the second book of the trilogy, I've been simultaneously dreading and anticipating the release of the last book. The second book ended with such a surprising turn of events that I really didn't know what to expect to happen with this one. I just had the feeling that everything was going to get so much worse for the characters and there's no way they could get out of the situation they were left in. Especially for Karou and Akiva, I couldn't bear the thought of them not being together in the end and so I was so nervous to see what would happen between the two.

 

Honestly though, just like the last two books, this book was an absolute joy to read. Not because everything was all puppies and roses, it wasn't, it's just that Laini Taylor has this beautiful, mystical way of writing that sucks me into her world and lets me see what she sees. As of writing this review, I'm emigrating and you can imagine that takes a lot of work and a half! This book proved to be the most perfect distraction when things got a little too stressful and gave me the most amazing place to escape to so that I could forget about reality for a little while and go into a world filled with flying, blue-haired girls and angels with golden eyes.

 

The characters in this book are amazing. The story is amazing. The writing is beyond amazing.

 

There's absolutely nothing more I can say that will do this whole trilogy justice. If you haven't already, please, please give it a go. 

 

My rating: 10/10

 

 

Laini Taylor:

Goodreads | Website 

Monday, 26 May 2014

Blog Tour: Lamb to the Slaughter by Karen Ann Hopkins (with giveaway)

LtS BannerH

                 
 
 
 
LtS CoverFNL L Some Amish communities aren't so cosy.

Lamb to the Slaughter is a story about the intertwining lives of three unlikely people in an Indiana Amish Community and the devastating results when a rebellious teenage girl is found shot to death in a corn field during the harvest.

Serenity Adams is the newly elected young sheriff in the country town of Blood Rock and besides dealing with the threatening behaviour of her predecessor, she now has a dead Amish girl on her plate. At first glance, the case seems obvious. The poor girl was probably accidentally shot during hunting season, but when the elders of the Amish community and even the girl's parents react with uncaring subdued behaviour, Serenity becomes suspicious. As she delves deeper into the secretive community that she grew up beside, she discovers a gruesome crime from the past that may very well be related to the Amish girl's shooting.

Serenity enlists the help of the handsome bad-boy building contractor, Daniel Bachman, who left the Amish when he was nineteen and has his own dark reasons to help the spunky sheriff solve the crime that the family and friends who shunned him are trying desperately to cover up. Serenity's persistence leads her to a stunning discovery that not only threatens to destroy her blossoming romance with Daniel, but may even take her life in the end.

*Lamb to the Slaughter is book one of Serenity's Plain Secrets.

 
 
 
 
 
LTOffer
 
For a limited time, Lamb to the Slaughter is available for $2.99 from Amazon and Barnes & Noble so get your copy now! 
 
 
 



Guest Post:


Researching Lamb to the Slaughter


Six years ago I moved from the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee to a northern Kentucky Amish community.  I brought twenty-four horses with me and set up my established horse-back riding business at the new farm.  Within a few weeks of arriving in Kentucky a stream of Amish teens were coming to the arena to participate in riding activities with the English kids (the Amish refer to anyone who isn’t Amish as English).  Watching the interactions between the two groups, and observing some obvious flirting going on, I began to wonder how a relationship between the two vastly different cultures could possibly work out.  It seemed impossible and incredibly intriguing at the same time, and from there, the seed for Rose and Noah’s story and my first book, Temptation, sprouted in my mind.


 

I dedicated two years to learning as much about the Amish way of life as I could.  Besides my observations at the arena, my life was inundated with the Amish culture as Amish girls babysat my younger children, Amish teens hung out with my own teen sons, as I drove the Amish women to town to shop and even took a Tennessee vacation with an Amish family.  I attended five Amish weddings and numerous schoolhouse benefits and private dinners with neighbors.  When I was confident that I’d gained enough experiential knowledge, I began writing and a year later, I had an agent and Harlequin Teen had purchased the forbidden love story.

 

 

For me, the more I became immersed in the Amish community around me, the thirstier I was for knowledge about them.  Some things about their culture leave me scratching my head, while other times I’m humbled by their ways. Their vast differences from us and their secretive ways make them a delightful group to write about.

 


The Amish are stuck in a strange time-warp, where they’re surrounded by the modern world and yet they reject it all.  Why do the women put up with the anti-feminist structure of their culture?  Why don’t they refuse to do laundry by hand or secretly sneak birth control so that they don’t have to give birth in the double digits?  The questions can go on and on and usually infuriate the curious, but at the same time that we’re exasperated by the life choices of the Amish, we’re also fascinated at the stubborn strength of these people.  We respect them and want to understand why they live the way they do and what really makes them tick.  

 


I began writing Lamb to the Slaughter over a year ago after my agent asked me if I could create an Amish murder mystery.  I was instantly on board with the idea, especially since I had personally witnessed some strange and almost creepy goings-on in my own Amish community.  I really wanted to delve deeper into the darker side of being Amish, especially in relation to my personal passion, the lives of the teenagers and some of the harsh realities they’re faced with.  


 

Interestingly enough, all of my neighbors know about my books and many of the teenage girls and women and even a grumpy old man have read them.  One girl who had already left the Amish to be with her English boyfriend contacted me to let me know that she cried through the entire Temptation series.  She related very strongly to what Noah was going through and reading my books actually helped her to deal with her own shunning from her family and community.  For the most part, the reactions from my neighbors has been positive, although it’s taboo for them to discuss their children having romances with outsiders and the possibility of anyone leaving the community, so there are those who have shied away from the series. 


 

Lamb is a representation of the Amish Church’s worst fears and it illustrates a tragic scenario of when a young person doesn’t fit into the strict structure of its society and is forced to run away.  This is obviously a work of fiction, but much of it is derived from actual occurrences that I’ve personally witnessed and discussions that I’ve had with my neighbors and several people who grew up Amish but chose to leave their Church and became English.  


 

It still amazes me that hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and Canada, with the largest population centers found in the Midwest, live their lives like those born in the distant past.  They turn away from modern conveniences and technology, oftentimes enduring many hardships to live a quieter and highly religious existence.  You would think that the population would be dwindling away, but instead, it’s growing by leaps and bounds. The Amish have large families, sometimes as many as ten or more children and many of those kids are remaining in the culture, even after they step out and see the world for a bit.  The young people have discovered that the lifestyle that we all take for granted and can’t live without is not all it’s cracked up to be in their eyes.  In the end it’s all about the freedom of choice to live in a way that makes a person happy and as long as it doesn’t interfere with others, so be it.

 

 

I hope that Lamb to the Slaughter and my Temptation series opens up the fascinating and secretive world of the Amish to mainstream readers everywhere.  The culture’s anti-feminist ways and primitive lifestyle are sure to ruffle some feathers, but there’s no denying that many of us are captivated by the Amish and want to learn more about them.     


 

I’ve enjoyed spending time at Glorious Books today!  I love to hear from readers and answer any of their questions (especially the Amish related ones) too!  Please contact me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or you can visit me on my website at www.karenannhopkins.com.  I also have a special giveaway going on right now that I’d like to share with you.  If you purchase Lamb to the Slaughter on either Kindle or Nook for the promo price of only $2.99, you can be entered in a giveaway for a three book autographed set of the Temptation series.  It includes copies of Temptation, Belonging and Forever!  All you have to do is personally contact me on FB, Twitter, Goodreads or my website and let me know that you’ve purchased Lamb and I’ll get you entered.  The drawing will be held on May 30th in conjunction with the blog tour ending.  This is a separate giveaway from the Rafflecopter below.  Happy reading!  


Karen Ann Hopkins

 



Hopkins Karen Ann 11 colII 224x300
 A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.









Giveaway:


Contest Info:
We have a really exciting prize package for this tour, so make sure to follow along for more chances to win every day! What’s up for grabs:

• A $100 Amazon Gift Card
• An autographed set of Karen’s YA Temptation series
• A traditional Amish style hand stitched wall hanging/lap quilt with the lone star pattern in country colors

Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.




a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Tour Schedule:


 
 
 
 
 

Friday, 25 April 2014

Review: The Singing by Alison Croggon

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Title: The Singing

Author: Alison Croggon

Series: The Books of Pellinor #4

Publisher: Walker 

Publication date: September 1st 2008

Format: Paperback | 496 pages

Genre: YA | Fantasy 

Goodreads



In a desperate race against the Dark, Maerad must solve the final Riddle of the Treesong. Only then will the Nameless One be defeated and peace restored to the Seven Kingdoms. But Maerad only holds the key to half the riddle - her long-lost brother, Hem, has the other.


After an epic confrontation with the Landrost, Maerad and her mentor, Cadvan of Lirigon, embark on a perilous journey to find him. But the dark grows ever more powerful - will brother and sister reach one another in time or will all be lost in a final, apocalyptic battle?



My thoughts:


This was by far my favourite book out of the entire 'Books of Pellinor' series and for quite a few reasons.

 

This book features both Hem, Maerad and the rest of the gang I've grown to know and love as they fight to finish their quest of defeating Sharma or the 'Nameless One'. The plot of this book, which is kind of typical for the last book in any series, isn't as complicated as the previous books if only because all the secrets have been revealed and all that's left to do is get on with it and get rid of the evil plaguing the land. Of course it sounds simple when I put it like that but it proves to be a little bit more complicated since Hem and Maerad start off with hundreds of miles between them and have to race to get back together before it's too late.

 

For me, Cadvan and Maerad really stole the show in this book. I love Hem and all but I feel so much closer to Maerad and Cadvan since they've been there since the beginning of the series. I feel that they've been through so much more on their journeys and grown so close together that I can't help but get excited every time they come into play in the story. The couple were so nice to read about - more so than in the other books - the fact that they really care about each other and are so anxious about each others safety is really apparent the entire way throughout the book. It added a really refreshing element to the book - something different to novels focusing more on romance that can end up lacking a great plot.

 

 The plot was more straight forward than previous books but it made the read no less intense. I couldn't stop turning the pages and every time I had to put the book down, it would constantly be playing on my mind. I counted down the seconds until I could pick it up again. The fact that this is the last book only added to the suspense for me since I had no idea in what direction the story would go in the end. I have to say, I'm more than a little upset that it's over.

 

Overall I found this to be a fantastic read. I definitely recommend this entire series for those of you who haven't read it already, especially for fans of the fantasy genre. 

 

My rating: 10/10

 

Alison Croggon:

Goodreads | Website | Twitter

 

The Books of Pellinor:

  1. The Gift
  2. The Riddle
  3. The Crow
  4. The Singing