Sunday, 30 March 2014

Book Review (318): Charm & Strange - Stephanie Kuehn

Charm & Strange

Publication: 11th June 2013
Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
Pages: 216
Genre: Contemporary
Age Appropriate: Young Adult
When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . . 

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself. 

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable. 

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present. 

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.
My Thoughts.
Charm & Strange is a book masquerading as something that it's not, it's not a bad thing, I mean it in the best way, I can't remember the last book that I read that gave me a reaction like this did, like a punch in the stomach, the twist that forces not only us as a reader but the character of Win/Drew, to find his way back to reality and to deal with what the true subject of what this story is about, leaves you blindsided and emotionally heartbroken and disturbed.

What sets this book apart is the way it plays with your mind, you think you know exactly what kind of book it is that you're reading, and then you come to the end of the story and you find out what this book is really about, and it hits you hard, emotionally I was in tears for this boy who has lost so much and is mentally paying the price for it, having been in denial for a very long time, we see what he thinks and does to cope with this traumatic experience.

It's hard to write a review for a story like this without giving anything away, I think it's best to go into this book with knowing as little as possible, because when you come to the realisation of what you're reading about it will have more of an impact as shocking as it is.

I really enjoyed the alternating chapters of Win/Drew now in the present tense and back when he was aged 9-10 with his brother Keith and sister Siobhan, like a before and after that you don't really understand the significance of, and why his part of the story with his siblings just stops, it's not an easy read but well worth it.

Stephanie has created such a well crafted, intriguing and heartbreaking story of a subject that unfortunately is more common than it should be, to be able to get into the head space of the character who has suffered in this way was so well done and she tackled this subject in a tasteful way which still had me in tears, this is one book that will stay with me for quite some time to come.

I look forward to reading Stephanie's next release, her writing is fantastic and thought provoking, and she's found herself a new fan.

I give this 5/5 stars.

I grew up in Berkeley, California, which is a quirky sort of a place with a ton of wonderful bookstores. My very first job was working in one of those bookstores, and I’ve been a freakishly avid reader for as long as I can remember. Back then, some of the books that had the greatest impact on my life were young adult novels, and now, as an adult, I’ve found my own passion in writing books for teens.
Other passions of mine include mental health advocacy, social justice, and sports of all kinds. When I’m not writing or reading (or studying for graduate school), I’m usually outside running or playing with my family. I currently live in Northern California with my husband, three kids, and our menagerie of pets. Life is loud, joyous, and filled with animal hair.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, my last name is pronounced keen. I know! I don’t get it either.
Thanks for stopping by!

(ARC) Book Review (317):Silence Of The Wolf (Heart Of The Wolf #13) - Terry Spear

Silence of the Wolf (Heart of the Wolf #13)

Publication: 4th March 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Pages: 352
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Age Appropriate: Adult
Gray werewolf Tom Silver is determined to find the wolves who have been attacking local livestock. While tracking the pack through the Rockies, a blizzard forces him into a remote cabin where he hears a plane crash nearby. 

When he discovers the sole survivor is a beautiful female werewolf/coyote shifter mix, bound as a prisoner, he knows it's his duty to hide her. Now, they are both at risk as a search ensues for the missing prisoner. 

Will Tom be able to protect this beautiful stranger while tracking down the wolves responsible for terrorizing the local livestock?
My Thoughts.
Silence Of The Wolf is the thirteenth book in the Heart Of The Wolf series by Terry Spear.

Following a different couple throughout each book, this stories focus is on Tom Silver of the pack-run Silver Town and the Silver triplets and Elizabeth Wildwood a mix of wolf and coyote who has been ostracized her whole life because of her mixed blood.

In town to report a story and to meet up with North, a member of her Uncle's pack who was meeting her to hand over evidence of the murderer of her parents, Elizabeth is doing whatever she can to stay far away from her half-brother Sefton and her Uncle Quinton after they had both attempted to kill her, being a loner and having not been a part of a pack her whole life because of being discriminated against, she is surprised after meeting Tom and his pack how welcome she is even after them finding out her mixed heritage.

Tom is attracted to her straight away, but is dismayed when after being pushed down a ski slope and having her room broken into and her belongings stolen she leaves without saying good-bye, but unbeknownst to both of them their paths cross again when Tom is out investigating wolves threatening farmer's livestock when he comes across a plane crash and finds Elizabeth among the wreckage, the only survivor, he takes her back to his cabin and it's from here that their relationship takes a step forward.

But it's not the end of all the action though, we still have to discover who was responsible for Elizabeth's kidnapping, her push down the slopes, the robbery as well as the wolves prowling the farms before these two get their happily ever after.

Oh and we get to meet Sheriff Peter's long-lost brother and you'll never guess who it is, I was surprised in a very happy way, plus I love this character and I was happy to see him make an appearance in another book.

The chemistry between these two is hot, I've been eagerly awaiting Tom's book for quite a while now and I'm so happy that it was so good, I love how different characters from each book have met before or have known each other and we discover these relationships throughout the series.

I can forsee plenty more stories that can come out of this series, many more characters that deserve their stories told.

Terry has a way of writing extremely exciting, hot and drool-worthy alpha males that will leave you weak-kneed and desperate for more.

I eagerly await each and every installment that is released and to fall in love with each and every characters stories.

For fans of paranormal romance series I highly recommend this series.

I give this 4/5 stars.

USA Today Bestseller, TERRY SPEAR writes urban fantasy and Highland medieval romance: hot wolves, jaguar shifters, medieval Highlanders and lots more. She also pens young adult paranormal romance. She has over fifty paranormal books to her name, earned Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of the Year, and has been featured in The International Wolf Magazine, Woman’s World and BGS Book Review Magazine. She creates award-winning teddy bears in the heart of Texas and gardens. She retired from USAR after rappelling, mountain climbing, learning water survival, qualifying with a number of firearms, survived the obstacle courses, leadership reaction courses and confidences courses – and knows if she can do it, her characters can overcome any obstacle she puts in their path.
For more information, please visit, or follow her on Twitter, @TerrySpear

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

(ARC) Book Review (316): The Nightmare Dilemma (The Arkwell Academy #2) - Mindee Arnett

The Nightmare Dilemma (The Arkwell Academy #2)

Publication: 4th March 2014
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 384
Genre: Paranormal
Age Appropriate: Young Adult
The second in a thrilling new fantastical mystery series

Dusty Everhart might be able to predict the future through the dreams of her crush, Eli Booker, but that doesn’t make her life even remotely easy. When one of her mermaid friends is viciously assaulted and left for dead, and the school’s jokester, Lance Rathbone, is accused of the crime, Dusty’s as shocked as everybody else. Lance needs Dusty to prove his innocence by finding the real attacker, but that’s easier asked than done. Eli’s dreams are no help, more nightmares than prophecies. 

To make matters worse, Dusty’s ex-boyfriend has just been acquitted of conspiracy and is now back at school, reminding Dusty of why she fell for him in the first place. The Magi Senate needs Dusty to get close to him, to discover his real motives. But this order infuriates Eli, who has started his own campaign for Dusty’s heart.

As Dusty takes on both cases, she begins to suspect they’re connected to something bigger. And there’s something very wrong with Eli’s dreams, signs that point to a darker plot than they could have ever imagined.
My Thoughts.
The Nightmare Dilemma is the second book in The Arkwell Academy series by Mindee Arnett.

Luckily enough this book doesn't suffer from the Sophomore Syndrome of being a filler book, instead it is as fresh and exciting as the debut novel that started this well developed and fantastic series off.

Catching up with our favorite characters: Dusty, Eli and Selene, who have had a quiet spell with no drama at all, until their friend Britney is attacked, and they find themselves amidst all the goings on.

Dusty and Eli are enlisted to try and discover the attacker in their shared dreams but whilst trying Dusty discovers that she has a block in her dream state which passes over into Eli's, and it won't go away until she can figure out what it's trying to tell her, frustrated not only by the fact that she can't help and the attacker has gotten away with the crime until she fixes this problem, she is growing more atttracted to Eli as the days go by, but every time they get close Eli pulls away and she can't understand why.

She is also shocked to be told that her ex-boyfriend Paul has been cleared of all charges and that he'll be returning to school, if that wasn't bad enough she's asked by Lady Elaine and  Sheriff Brackenberry to get close to Paul to spy on him and watch out for any suspicious behaviour on his part.

Quite a few characters from the previous book make appearances, one in particular that I was most excited about Moira, Dusty's Mom and a character I would love to read more about, I'd love a prequel series based on her life when she was younger, with her reputation I'm sure it would be entertaining

Choc-full of action, adventure, mystery and fun this was an exciting addition to this series, I can't wait for the next instalment to see what the gang get's up to next, fingers crossed that Dusty and Eli can find a way to be together.

Thouroughly enjoyable, Mindee has written another ripper of a novel, sure to keep your eyes glued to the pages.

I give this 4/5 stars.

Mindee Arnett lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. She’s addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outer space. She has far more dreams than nightmares.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Book Review (315): The Unseemly Education Of Anne Merchant (The V Trilogy #1) - Joanna Wiebe

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant (The V Trilogy #1)

Publication: 14th January 2014
Publisher: BenBella Books
Pages: 272
Genre: Mystery/Paranormal
Age Appropriate: Young Adult
So many secrets for such a small island. From the moment Anne Merchant arrives at Cania Christy, a boarding school for the world’s wealthiest teens, the hushed truths of this strange, unfamiliar land begin calling to her—sometimes as lulling drumbeats in the night, sometimes as piercing shrieks.

One by one, unanswered questions rise. No one will tell her why a line is painted across the island or why she is forbidden to cross it. Her every move—even her performance at the school dance—is graded as part of a competition to become valedictorian, a title that brings rewards no one will talk about. And Anne discovers that the parents of her peers surrender million-dollar possessions to enroll their kids in Cania Christy, leaving her to wonder what her lowly funeral director father could have paid to get her in… and why.

As a beautiful senior struggles to help Anne make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world without breaking the rules that bind him, she must summon the courage to face the impossible truth—and change it—before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.
My Thoughts.
The Unseemly Education Of Anne Merchant is the first novel in The V Trilogy by debut author Joanna Wiebe.

You know how you have those books where you are so sure that you have the storyline figured out, and you get to thinking that you've read this story before, well that was my opinion of this book, and then it twisted into something I would never have guessed, and then it twisted again just when you think you have the last twist figured out.

It's going to be hard to review this book without wrecking both twists but I'll try, so the gist of the story is about a girl called Anne who is starting her first day at new school Cania Christy, on an island far away from most places, being a very exclusive school parents are willing to pay anything to get their children enrolled, but what has Anne confused is the fact that her Father is poor, as a Mortician he doesn't earn much and she can't understand how he could afford to send her to Cania Christy with all these rich kids.

First day and she's given a Guardian named Teddy who's job it is to observe and record every little thing she does, all this goes toward winning The Big V, being the Valedictorian of the year, and at this school it's a very big deal.

But Anne soon realises that there is something very strange about this island, for one the red line that no student from their side can cross over into the village on the other side and vice versa, without being given a reason why, and that is the same for most things at Cania Christy, which leaves Anne with a load of questions that no one is willing to answer.

Then there are the two boys: Pilot who is the only friend she has at school who seems to like her way more than she likes him, the reason why Ben Zin, her next door neighbor and the guy she has a crush on although he won't give her the time of day.

There is a big secret on this island and when it's revealed get set for a huge shock that will knock your socks off.

This book was fantastic, from the concept, the very well-written storyline and the often mysterious island and it's inhabitants, this was a very enjoyable read that had me guessing a lot of the way through.

I eagerly await the next book so I can discover what happens next after the finale we were left in this one, I want to know what's in store for Anne next.

Highly recommended.

I give this 4/5 stars.

I WAS ALWAYS A READER, and I imagined how wonderful it must be for an author to know that someone – anyone – even someone like me – was waking up, rolling over and opening their book first thing in the morning. Or, as I grew older and lost the luxury of idle mornings, I watched people reading on airplanes, and in waiting rooms, and in parks, and in coffee shops, and on buses, and with their feet up on the sofa (TV off!). And I wondered what it would feel like to see my book in their hands.
It gives me goosebumps even now.
As I write this, I’m just over 2 months from seeing my debut novel hit bookshelves. It’s starting to feel real, although I do wonder if it ever will feel fully real. But those musings are for the blog:)
For now, here’s a short list about how I got here – because that’s probably why you’re reading the page titled, “About Joanna”:

  • My first writing ‘accolades’ were for a Remembrance Day poem I wrote in Grade 4, which earned me honorable mention; seven years later, another Remembrance Day poem earned me first place in northern Alberta… and some much-needed vindication!
  • My Nana and sister Sarah were the first to remark on something I’d written – a description of someone holding something – and I was quickly hooked on the high of hearing I’m “a good writer”
  • I graduated with first-class honors from the University of Alberta with a BA in English, which was really just a cover for me to take Creative Writing classes
  • I won the James Patrick Folinsbee Prize for my short stories two years in a row
  • I have an MA in Communications & Technology, which has been a big part of my life for the past decade
  • I lived in Japan for a year
  • I can’t swim
  • I’m the fourth of five children – or the middle of seven, if you include my stepbros
  • I adore the tech startup world, which will hopefully make it into a book or two of mine one day
  • I’m a total foodie
  • Chocolate, espresso, cheese and wine – the four food groups
  • I had 3 literary agents reading my manuscript at the same time, but one very motivated fellow named Jason Anthony zoomed through the whole thing over the weekend and ‘scooped me up’ first thing Monday morning :)
  • “The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant” is my first novel… and hopefully not my last!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Sale Promo: Just The Sexiest Man Alive - Julie James

Bestselling author Julie James’ JUST THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE contemporary romance novel is currently on sale for just $1.99 at all of the major retailers.  The price discount lasts through Tuesday, March 18th.  Any readers who love contemporaries filled with fun, sexy banter will not want to miss this one!

 No woman could resist him—except the one he wanted most...

Cool, Calm, Collected...

Nothing fazes Taylor Donovan. In the courtroom she never lets the opposition see her sweat. In her personal life, she never lets any man rattle her—not even her cheating ex-fiancé. So when she's assigned to coach People's "Sexiest Man Alive" for his role in his next big legal thriller, she refuses to fall for the Hollywood heartthrob's charms. Even if he is the Jason Andrews.

Confident, Famous, Irresistible...

Jason Andrews is used to having women fall at his feet. When Taylor Donovan gives him the cold shoulder, he's thrown for a loop. She's unlike any other woman he's ever met: uninterested in the limelight, seemingly immune to his advances, and shockingly capable of saying no to him. She's the perfect challenge. And the more she rejects him, the more he begins to realize she may just be his perfect match.

Book Highlight & Giveaway: Saving Us (Paradise Taken #2) - CM Hutton

Title: Saving Us
Author: CM Hutton
Series: Paradise Taken #2
Genre: Adult Romance
Publication: January 2014

Our love affair wasn't what everyone wanted it to be. It was raw and full of absolute joy and unbelievable pain. My love for her had consumed me for years and now that Kaye was mine, I was never letting her go. I knew the consequences of our affair would be devastating and hated to see the hurt in Claire's eyes. I thought it would be so easy to just walk away...start a new life. I didn't expect to feel so conflicted about leaving. I needed her. She was my lifeline and we were determined to get our happily ever after....until one day, one event, one conversation threatened it all. "I had to know what went wrong. My stomach was sick with grief and I didn't know what to do next or even how to help Kaye. I needed to get to her. It didn't matter what Rob or Claire thought. No one could stop me from going. I knew she needed me. I could feel it deep in my soul.

Paradise Taken, book #1

Rob was sitting near Jake and Claire and motioned for me to join him on the lounger.  I put my finger up indicating I needed a minute as I still had to see the caterers out.  Rob winked at me and smiled, reminding me of Jakes odd response earlier in the evening.  I smiled back as I tried to ignore my thoughts.
Eventually, I made my way over to my husband and crawled into the chair with him.  Jakes eyes never left me, but Rob didnt notice.   It should have been unnerving, but it wasnt.  I snuggled deep beside my man, laid my head on his muscular chest, and wrapped my arms around his waist.  He was my home. 
I felt Rob stirring and realized Id fallen asleep in his arms in the lounger.  He was still chatting with Jake about work stuff, and I started to get up, but he pulled me back down and held me in place.
Dont leave. We were thinking of going for a night swim. Rob grinned.  I knew what that meant.  He loved to swim naked with me, but I certainly wasnt going to do that with Jake and Claire here.  He chuckled at my raised eyebrows because he knew I was about to protest, so he whispered, With suits this time.

I’m a wife, a mom of three, a friend, an aunt, a sister, a daughter and a teacher.  Now, I can add writer to my list!  I’ve always wanted to write and finally found inspiration and support to do it.

I live near Austin, Texas with my family and love to read and travel.  Put me on a beach with a good book and the world just disappears around me.

Paradise Taken was my first novel and is a highly emotional book based on true events.  Its sequel (Saving Us) is due out February 2014.

Loving Her was the second book I wrote after needing a little time off from Paradise Tak-en.  It is a story close to my heart.

I love that you are willing to take a chance on a new writer and promise to keep striving to put out great books!

If you don't like my books, that's okay. Just please be gentle on my fragile ego. ;)

I'd love to chat with you, so look me up on any of my social pages.

Happy Reading.  :)

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Book Review (314): Notes From Ghost Town - Kate Ellison

Notes from Ghost Town

Publication: 12th February 2013
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 336
Genre: Contemporary/Mystery/Paranormal
Age Appropriate: Young Adult
They say first love never dies...

From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it’s only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death. 

There’s a catch: Olivia has gone colorblind, and there’s a good chance she’s losing her mind completely—just like her mother did. How else to explain seeing (and falling in love all over again with) someone who isn’t really there?

With the murder trial looming just nine days away, Olivia must follow her heart to the truth, no matter how painful. It’s the only way she can save herself.
My Thoughts.
Notes From Ghost Town is a mix of different genres, a contemporary featuring a mystery with a paranormal aspect, mixed all together with an intriguing concept to make one fantastic story.

Olivia has a Mother who is schizophrenic, ten months ago she was arrested for the murder of Olivia's best-friend Stern, with only nine days to go until her trial, the ghost of Stern appears to tell Olivia that her Mom is not his killer, of that he's sure, although he can't remember who it was exactly.

So after believing all this time that her Mom was guilty she sets out to investigate and find the truth about who set her Mom up to take the fall, but when she starts to look into it she'll find that the killer will do anything to make sure that their identity is never revealed, even if it means killing Olivia in the process.

While I did guess the killer and most of the motive, there was still a bit that I hadn't figured out myself, but still it made for a very gripping reveal once we do discover the perpetrator and their reasons why.

I do like the fact that we had a heroine with a bit of a disability in the fact that at the start of the book she goes color-blind which she never tells anyone about for nearly eleven months, the fact that she's an artist who was a student at an art school having to cope with that kind of an affliction was a nice touch, especially as she lost her sense of color during the one and only time Olivia and Stern kissed before his untimely death.

So many factors made this such an exciting book to read, amazing plot and storyline and add to that intriguing characters to help the story along.

I hope in the future to discover more of Kate's books, I really enjoyed what I read here and I'd love to read more.

Loved this book, I recommend it to everyone who likes a bit of mystery with ghostly apparitions making an appearance.

I give this 4/5 stars.

Kate Ellison spent a lot of time as a child, in Baltimore, pretending to be things she wasn't: a twin, a telekinetic, a benevolent witch with a box full of magical stones, a spy, a soccer player. She trained as an actor in Chicago and has walked across the entire country of Spain. She is a painter and jewelry-maker, and has at least one artist friend who really does keep his true name a secret from the world. He told her, but don't ask her to tell you—she's not gonna do it. Kate lives in Brooklyn, New York. The Butterfly Clues is her first novel.

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