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COMPETITION TIME!!! Penny Reid GOODNESS!

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COMPETITION TIME!!! Penny Reid GOODNESS!

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Truth or Beard releases in ONE week! That’s right… ONE week! This book is the epitome of goodness and all that is right with the world. (Check out our review HERE) So to celebrate this, we’re giving away a copy COMPLETELY free to one of our very deserving readers.

Truth or Beard

What do you have to do? Easy peasy! Comment and let us know which book(s) are rocking your world this year. That’s it! We’re going to run this competition through the next week… And on the Truth or Beard release date of 21 July 2015 we’ll pick our winner.

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So get commenting and let us share the love

T&C’s – Enter as many times as you like. Entry can be either comments on blog page or Facebook post. Prize is one FREE E-book copy of Truth and Beard. Winner will be drawn on 21 July 2015. Winner will be announced on blog page and Facebook post and will have 48 hours to claim prize before it is re-drawn. Good luck!

Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers #1) by Penny Reid

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Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers #1) by Penny Reid

Truth or Beard

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!
Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life. His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…
But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.
Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-headed heart is she willing to risk?

I have been acting like some next level creeper-stalker person over this book… Ever since I read the excerpt for this story in the Shiver Anthology last year I’ve been counting down the months until I could get my hands on ALL of the story. So when I finally got hold of it last week I was a very VERY happy human. Since everyone knows my Penny Reid fan status (Big, HUGE fan) I’m going to try and keep this review less on the fan-girl side and more on the explaining why I’m fan-girling so much side…. So here goes!

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters most, in the end” – Ernest Hemingway

Truth or Beard is the first instalment in the series that Penny Reid has dedicated to the 6 Winston brothers who were first introduced to us in Beauty and the Mustache. I love this idea, I love how this series connects with the Knitting in the City series. I love how we are going to get a (much) more in-depth look at each brother and his story, because they were so intriguing in BatM. And most of all I love how I just know that Penny will take each brother and create a story that is as unique as he is. Starting here, with Duane.

I love Duane! Yes, he comes across distant and broody on the outside, but once I got into his head he was so much more. The depth of his feelings made him a complex character. For a lot of the book he was battling his own emotions as much as he was battling Jessica’s. He had big plans for the two of them and no matter what he wanted to make sure everything was planned and executed to perfection so that he could give her everything that he felt she deserved. However, what Duane didn’t take into account was that life can’t be organized perfectly, sometimes you just have to live and chase your dreams. He was so busy trying to do the right thing by everyone that he almost missed out on his own dream in the process.

He nibbled on my ear, whispering my name like it was a dirty word – but not a curse word – a dirty word. Something erotic and scandalous. I had an odd thought then, that I liked my name on his lips more when it was whispered.

Jessica was instantly likeable. I loved that she was busy obsessing over travelling and experiencing the world rather than obsessing over finding a husband and a white picket fence. She had long dreamed of all of the places she would go and she was determined. So determined, that when her heart started to travel on it’s own path she had no idea what to make of it or how to reconcile the fact that even if she hadn’t planned on love, it may have found her and if it had found her, then how on earth was she going to be free to embark on her childhood dream?

Penny Reid is super duper talented at dual POVs. She knocks it out of the park every time. The tone, the subtle details, these things really make all the difference when you’re the reader. She always gets it right and this book is no different. So I LOVED having the book set up like this, the story called for it. It really added to the back and forth between Jessica and Duane. The angst of not knowing what to do next with their feelings, the hotness of the hot looks, the intricacies of their relationship and themselves… All of these things were magnified from being able to look through both sets of eyes.

…I wanted to hold on to this moment for as long as possible, because it was the first time – and maybe the only time in my life – I felt truly seen, known and understood. And I wanted to give him everything in return. I wanted him to know I saw him. I knew him, too.

So! Like I promised, fan-girling moments aside… I  FREAKING loved this book! Penny Reid is an exceptionally talented writer who never shies away from writing exactly the type of story she feels like she needs to write. I’m positive this is why her books always hit the mark and why every time I read a new one I find it harder and harder to have a firm favourite. This is a definite must read whether you are familiar with Penny Reid’s work or not. This book… This freaking book It’s definitely made it into my top reads of the year that’s for sure,

ARC received in return for an honest review

Book Review – Kaleidoscope Hearts by Claire Contreras

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Book Review – Kaleidoscope Hearts by Claire Contreras

I have been in a reading/reviewing abyss. Sure I’ve read this and that, I’ve even read some pretty great books. But I haven’t read anything a quite a few weeks that has had me needing to review it…. Until now. Kaleidoscope Hearts has broken my book slump! Hurrah!

kaleidoscope hearts

He was my older brother’s best friend.
He was never supposed to be mine.
I thought we would get it out of our system and move on.

One of us did.
One of us left.

Now he’s back, looking at me like he wants to devour me. And all those feelings I’d turned into anger are brewing into something else, something that terrifies me.
He broke my heart last time.
This time he’ll obliterate it

This story devoured me. I was hoping for heart squeezing intensity and I got that and more. The last time I had such a major case of the FEELS over a book was when I read BATM by the super talented Penny Reid…. So for this book to take me to that place was beyond expectation.

The first boy I fell in love with used to regale me with stories about kings and queens and war and peace, and how he hoped to one day be somebody’s knight in shining armor. I lived vicariously through his late night adventures, watching the way he swung his hands animatedly as he told his stories, and loving the way his green eyes twinkled when I laughed at his jokes. He taught me what it feels like to be touched and thoroughly kissed. Later, he taught me the pain one feels at the loss of someone that you’ve grown attached to. The one thing he forgot to teach me was how to deal with the way my chest squeezed after he broke the ghost of what heart I had left. I’d always wondered if it had been a missed lesson. Now I wonder if maybe he’d been trying to figure it out for himself, or if he just never felt anything at all.

I loved LOVED LOOOOOVED these two main characters, Elle and Oliver. These two have possibly ruined me for this genre for a wee while… Elle has been through a lot, she’s suffered loss and heartbreak, she’s not all together whole. She is perfectly broken, endearing in all of the right ways. I commiserated with her, I was angry and sad with her, I felt her hope and her passion, I felt her happiness and above all I felt her reawakening. This is a female character worth investing in. No attention to detail was spared when the author sat down to write about Elle and her story and I really appreciate this, if you’re going to read about a character who has been through so much and has so much emotional cleaning out and organizing to do you want to be able to buy it…

Oliver was written in much the same careful way, whilst maintaining that mysteriousness that we all love to see in our leading men. This guy has joined my super selective book boyfriend list. How could he not? A paediatric doctor who I’m sure leaves drooling women in his wake while being his effortlessly cool self, no he’s not without his quirks and not so fabulous bits, but it wouldn’t be a novel if he was perfect would it!

Life is short, and brutal, and painful, and it takes loved ones away from us as quickly as it brings them into our lives, but it’s also beautiful.

I think a big part of why I felt I got such a well rounded complete picture of these two characters and their story is the clever use of flashback chapters… These little gems were carefully sprinkled throughout the story and the combination not only provided a complete timeline of their romance, but also their own personal stories of growth and discovery. Love doesn’t need to be completely co-dependant, there is a beauty to watching characters grow and change and come into themselves as adults before the strings of a relationship start to pull tight.

So as you can tell I completely and utterly fell in love with this book. I would definitely read this again, and probably again after that! This book was a very lucky random find on one of my endless Amazon browsing missions. Claire Contreras can expect me to be reading pretty much anything she puts out next and I intend to go through her prior releases while I’m at it. So get ready Claire… There’s a new fangirl around and she’s super grateful to you for ripping her out of her book slump!

Book Review – See How She Runs by Michelle Graves

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This book has to be my favourite FREE one-click find to date. If a Fantasy is done right I’ll be its biggest fan, there is nothing better than being transported into another world, better yet if there is some beautiful type of romance to ensue…

One delivery changed her whole life.

Izzy was a normal girl living in Chicago as a bike messenger before that fateful day. She delivered one package and set into action a chain of events she never could have expected.

Now she is running for her life from the Corporation, her best friend is not at all who he seemed, and to top it all off she keeps having visions.

Will she survive to navigate the waters as a Seer? Will her feelings for Kennan be her very downfall? Find out in See How She Runs.

I can’t even begin to list every single thing I loved about this book. If I did that then it would literally be pages and pages of spoiler filled goodness. So for the sake of leaving some mystery for all of you wanting to read this in the future, I’ll have a go at reigning myself in.

This book begins with what essentially is really a super bad day in the office for the main character Izzy. She has no idea about what really is going on in the world or how it affects her and the people she knows. That is, until her peaceful oblivion is shattered. Once she has started this chain of events there is just no turning back, her old life is in the past and she has to learn about her new life quickly if she wants to survive. As with so many first books of a series, this book needs to spend a decent amount of its page space building up the back-story and the characters while setting the scene for the storyline to unfold. Michelle Graves goes above and beyond with covering all of these aspects. I loved the fact that I was learning a lot of (necessary) information but still was flicking through the pages feeling like the story was accelerating. I was captured straight away and didn’t for a second feel like anything didn’t ‘fit’ or was awkward or slow.

My BBH and I love strong woman characters, and really who doesn’t?! When I open a book I want to love my main girl. I want to be completely in her corner… And Izzy has 100% got me in her corner. Her smart mouth, coupled with her completely inappropriate timing, as well as her caring personality combined with her relentless drive and fierce bravery made for one ah-mazing heroine. So many of her one-liners had me cracking up and I definitely wasn’t expecting to spend so much time giggling away to myself. I LOVED that Izzy and the other characters bought such a decent dose of humor. It’s definitely an aspect that not only made me completely obsessed with Izzy as a character, but also really set this book apart from others in its genre.

Holy cow, hormones, let’s just put that on the back burner and come back to it never.

I can’t write this review and not make a special mention of Kennan. Kennan was the Mr Sexy-pants of the book; a title well deserved, may I say. His big gruff protector demeanor was perfect for this story; this guy was no one dimensional eye-candy. He was just as a big of a part of this story as Izzy was and I loved that his character was so well fleshed out. Just like with how I like my heroine to be kick-ass, if a male character wants to be book boyfriend material he needs to be a hot-big-strong-protector with a gooey-caramel centre… I can honestly say Kennan passes on all accounts. Book boyfriend material he most certainly is… He’s definitely one complex guy, yet despite all of the gruffness and complexity he is irresistibly lovable.

While I was reading this book I was describing it to my BBH and told her that it was a lot heavier on the romance side than the action side. After finishing it I stick by that observation. The action is there… and it does kick up a notch towards the end and I know for certain there is a truck-load of action in the subsequent books (yep already read them! Literally. Could. Not. Stop.) But like I said before, this book is setting the stage. I love that Michelle Graves started this story off properly and spent the time exploring the characters and their relationships. Believe me, between the smart-assed jibes and the intense chemistry there is no time to be bored. This book has really set the stage for what I can tell, is going to be an amazing series.

photo credit: Lotus Carroll via photopin <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b

Book Review – Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

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I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still the yellow brick road, though—but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.

I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I’ve been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.

I loved the sound of this as soon as I saw the cover and the title. The overall effect was a little bit creepy and a lot intriguing! I knew I had to read it. Then the blurb confirmed that not only did I have to read it, but I had to read it STRAIGHT AWAY.

There’s no place like anywhere but here.

I felt like every two sentences I was stopping to highlight a section of the page. Honestly I probably could’ve highlighted the whole book at the rate I was going! Yes it probably was greedy of me but I had to keep as much of the writing as I could to read back on. It was so enchanting, so descriptive so utterly imaginative. I was very quickly obsessed. I haven’t had so many quotes that I’ve loved from one book in a looooong time.

I reached out my hand and let some flakes fall into it. It didn’t melt. It wasn’t snow, I realized. It was ash. I looked up at Nox in surprise. “Your fire burned up the sky,” he explained. For a second, I was disappointed. Show would have been so pure and beautiful. But ash made so much more sense with who I was.

This story follows Amy Gumm, high school student from (yep, you guessed it) Kansas. Trailer park raised by a mother with many issues. Smart-assed, scrappy, angry and lonely. Amy is by no means shiny and perfect that’s for sure, but considering the last seemingly perfect person to land in Oz had turned into its worst nightmare I feel it was fitting that Amy was a little rough around the edges. Sometimes with characters like this, especially in the YA genre I get frustrated with their lack of growth, but by the end of this book she really had developed. She still has a way to go but there was definitely change happening. Thanks to that, not to mention her general kick-butt amazingness I was totally team Amy by the end of the book!

“That girl has more cracks in her than the road of yellow brick”

I loved the liberties the author took with the very well known characters from the very well known tale of Oz. If you’re going to take such well known characters and such an iconic story and absolutely turn it on its head then you really need to commit and go full-throttle. Make an impression and prove to us readers why we should believe in this version of events. Absolutely this happened here. I 100% believed the story that was being told here. The familiar twisted with the dark. Dorothy, The Lion, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, Glinda – all horrifying now in their own way. It’s safe to say I LOVED what was done with these characters.

“Good. Like that means anything around here. I hate to break it to you, but just because someone has pretty hair and good skin tone and a crown instead of a pointy hat doesn’t mean she’s not the baddest bitch this side of the Emerald City.”

“Down is up, up is down. Good is Wicked, Wicked is Good. The times are changing. This is what Oz has come to.”

I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, I loved following this book through having no idea where it was going, no idea who was good and who was wicked, so I won’t ruin that possibility for you. All I will say is if you want to read something a little bit different, with a bit of an edge and a lot of weird then you should definitely give this a go. I do read the Fantasy type genre, but I can’t say I’m a big YA fan, however in this instance I loved it. There are more books to come in this series and I will absolutely be reading on, I seriously can’t wait to see what’s in-store for Oz next.

Dorothy Must Die

By Danielle Paige

 photo credit: Lori Joan via photopin cc

Sunday Loves – 27.04.2014

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In the name of all things WTF! I bring you this weeks Sunday Love… This has apparently been around for a while, so how have I not seen this ‘tribute’ to Sookie by Snoop Dogg before?! Who came up with such an idea? What would Sookie think of this? And Eric for that matter?!!! Seriously is EVERYONE in love with Sookie, even rappers? And whose plan were the dancing Merlottes waitresses?! Honestly this is just everything.

Behold….

I. Just. Can’t.

This made my night.

Book Review – Life After Life By Kate Atkinson

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‘What if we had a chance to do it again and again,’ Teddy said, ‘until we finally did get it right? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?’

This book took me a little time to read. It couldn’t be rushed. It was one of those books that you would do yourself a total disservice if you tried to read quickly. It needed to be absorbed slowly, mulled over and really thought about. And I guarantee you it is TOTALLY well worth it. For a start, check out this bit of stunning writing:

An icy rush of air, a freezing slipstream on the newly exposed skin. She is, with no warning, outside the inside and the familiar wet, tropical world has suddenly evaporated. Exposed to the elements. A prawn peeled, a nut shelled. No breath. All the world comes down to this. One breath. Little lungs, like dragonfly wings failing to inflate in the foreign atmosphere. No wind in the strangled pipe. The buzzing of a thousand bees in the tiny curled pearly of an ear. Panic. The drowning girl, the falling bird.

There is much, much more from where that came from. I found no matter what part of the story Kate Atkinson was telling, her writing was beyond beautiful. Even when discussing death, loss, pain or despair. She has a beautiful way with words.

The books follows main character Ursula and her numerous lives. What would it be like if every time you died you came back again? What would that do to the person? What would it mean for the people around that person? And of course, how would it alter the course of the world and even possibly history? The chapters flick back and forth and with each time she dies, the stories reincarnate with her. Each time her life story would slightly be altered, have a slightly different direction. Each time she would have a sense of déjà vu or a sense of foreboding for no good reason. From the readers point of view it’s beyond intriguing to watch Ursula make different decisions based on a feeling of fear, but not knowing it’s because in another life she or someone else had made a decision that ended badly for her or for people around her. That subconsciously she was trying to prevent events that she doesn’t even know will happen in her current life. Her alternate lives have her in various scenarios, sometimes taking multiple attempts at living to actually survive an event. Sometimes she would come back and avoid the first death or disaster only to fall to something that still ended her life in the same time or situation. Each time the story rewinds. Many times we start back at her birth, or start back at a certain chain of events.

Everything familiar somehow. ‘It’s called déjà vu,’ Sylvie said. ‘It’s a trick of the mind. The mind is a fathomless mystery.’ Ursula was sure that she could recall lying in the baby carriage beneath the tree. ‘No,’ Sylvie said, ‘no one can remember being so small,’ yet Ursula remembered the leaves, like great green hands, waving in the breeze and the silver hare that hung from the carriage hood, turning and twisting in front of her face.

The jumping back and forth slows down once she reaches adulthood; she seems to have fewer situations that bring her back to being born on a freezing snowy night in 1910. As the gaps widen between her life restarting, the stories really start to develop. World War 2 is starting to encroach on Britain and it is these stories, these potential lives lived by her that cram the most gripping detail in. Kate Atkinson really does take Ursula down every potential life that you could lead in wartime. She manages to layer so many layers into one character, see so many different scenes with in the same war and have so many different experiences. One such life I am so glad that she wrote about was when Ursula was in Berlin. She was trapped in Germany when the war accelerated, and more so, trapped within Hitler’s inner circle. I think that this life of Ursula in Germany was so important to the greater story, how else can you convey so many details through one character if she doesn’t experience them first hand.

At the Fuhrer’s approach the crowd’s excitement had grown to a rabid frenzy of Sieg Heil and Heil Hitler. ‘Am I the only one to be unmoved?’ Sylvie said. ‘What is it, do you suppose – mass hysteria of some kind?’ ‘I know,’ Ursula said, ‘It’s like the Emperor’s new clothes. We’re the only ones who can see the naked man.’ ‘He’s a clown,’ Sylvie said dismissively.

 The detail over chapters and chapters of the blitz in London and the people caught up in it makes you feel that you too are trapped in the midst of the swishes and booms of bombs, the dust caked in your lungs and the constant fear and weariness of being trapped in a city that is slowly being obliterated. The rawness of what people faced sometimes was hard to digest. I could compare it to the book The Cellist of Sarajvo By Steven Galloway. (Also WELL worth reading) You are constantly on edge. It’s unsettling. The facts laid out cold and bare, babies dying in bombings, people blown apart like crackers, the cold, no food, the smell and the sound of war and the fact that soon Ursula and other characters began to find a normalcy in the constant violence.

Death and decay were on her skin, in her hair, in her nostrils, her lungs, beneath her fingernails, all the time. They had become part of her.

So I’m over-emotional and trying to put down on paper words that just don’t seem poetic enough, descriptive enough to tell you about this novel. I don’t feel that my review can do this book justice, I honestly think that everyone will pull something different from it and I cannot recommend it enough. I personally found this book so incredibly thought provoking. It’s hard to wrap your head around the possibilities raised within the pages. So much of it replays in my mind, even after finishing it and I’ve been kept up at night thinking about its many aspects and layers. There was actually a certain paragraph that hit very close to home for me;

‘Hugh’s sixtieth birthday’, one more in a roll-call of family occasions. Later, when she understood that it was the last time they would all be together, she wished she had paid more attention.

How true is that, even in our everyday lives today. How often do we go about life, seeing people we love, family and friends and just check it off like a box on a to-do list. The finality of not being able to have these times back gets forgotten until someone is no longer here. This is what I think this book does so well, it explicitly points out how life is short, how life is unfair, how we have no way of predicting the future and how unlike Ursula, we can’t just go back and re-live it every time the black bat comes for us.

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