Guest Post: Kate Harrison


Today we are very excited to have Kate Harrison, author of Soul Beach on the blog! 

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Definitely not a romantic comedy...
  
Every book is a gamble, but Soul Beach was a bigger gamble than most. 

Since my first book was published in 2003, I’ve written romantic comedies about love, life and friendship. As soon as I had the idea for Soul Beach, I knew it wouldn’t fit that mould.
             
But I was desperate to write it anyway.
             
The idea came when I was reading the paper. As I turned the page, a photo of a grinning teenage girl stared up at me, accompanied by a story about how the girl had lost her life suddenly. It wouldn’t be right to identify the story, but the article mentioned how the girl’s friends had immediately gone online to pay tribute to her on her Facebook page.
             
After that, I began to notice these happy photos, taken at parties or festivals, were always being lifted from Facebook sights. There was a strange sense that the young people pictured were living forever on those social networking sites, along with their messages and accounts of the lives cut short.
             
It brought back memories for me, too. As an 18-year-old junior reporter, I was often sent to interview bereaved families, and their grief at the loss of a son or daughter has stayed with me.
             
And the idea formed in my head of a website where all the members were the victims of sudden deaths, still unresolved.
             
Definitely not a romantic comedy ...
             
I had been reading about the number of new YA books being published, and wondered if that might be the genre giving me the freedom to write this particular story. The reasons against writing it were strong, though. I had no track record writing this kind of book. No contract. No contacts. And my women’s fiction novels paid the bills, as well as being a real passion for me. Was it worth taking the risk of writing the idea, going back into the submissions process and facing the rejection all writers know about.?
             
Turns out the idea wouldn’t let me give up. The women’s fiction stayed my ‘day job’ and Soul Beach became my night-time hobby. My agent put me in touch with her colleague in the children’s section who gave me brilliant advice on how to steer the book. We cut out the school scenes I was writing to prove I know what teen life was like – and added in the mysterious voice of the murderer.
             
The book was sent off to publishers the week before the finale of the BBC’s Ashes to Ashes – and I was rather freaked out by some of the similarities in their dĂ©nouement. I got ready for rejections – though I still hoped my own passion for the idea would have paid off...
            
I didn’t have to wait too long before I got the best possible news! The book had been sent to the children’s department of my favourite publisher – Orion, who already made my adult books happen. And they loved it, and wanted to publish the trilogy...
             
It looked like my gamble had paid off. 


Of course, selling a book to a publisher isn’t so much a happy ending, as the end of the beginning. There’s been a lot of hard work since, with fantastic guidance from editors Amber and Jen, a gorgeous cover design, a website, a book trailer....     

But now the biggest gamble of all, as the book heads onto the shelves. The rest is up to the readers...

I am in the middle of reading Soul Beach now and absolutely loving it!! Have you seen the trailer for it yet? 


Book Review: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test is Aimee Carter’s debut young adult novel. It was published by Mira-Ink on 16th September and the book is 304 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Plot
Family isn’t something that Kate has had much luck with. It has always been just her and her mum but her mum is dying and it’s only a matter of time now. Her last dying wish is to go back to the town where she grew up and spend her last days being happy. For Kate, this is a nightmare. Having to start a new school, make friends and deal with her mother’s illness is not Kate’s idea of fun at all!

Things are actually going ok until she is thrown into the path of Henry, a dark, mysterious guy who claims to be Hades, ruler of the Underworld. Things begin to get really interesting once Henry makes Kate an offer. He’ll keep her mother alive as long as she agrees to embark on seven tests. Quickly, Kate thinks that Henry is insane but then she sees him bring a dead girl back to life. If Kate can pass these seven tests, she will become a goddess but if not, her future doesn’t look very bright at all!

What I thought
As a big fan of Greek mythology, I couldn’t wait to read and review this title.

Kate is a likable character from the off. Having to move across the country with her dying mother, you immediately feel sorry for her and what she has had to deal with since her mum got sick. Kate doesn’t have friends and she is quite open in saying that she doesn’t really want any either, knowing that she has to spend all of her free time taking care of her mum so right here, I wanted to give her a big hug. Even with a lot going on, no one should be without good friends to help cheer you up when you’re down.

Things really begin to take shape though when Kate has a run in with Ava, a popular girl at school and this is where Kate meets Henry. Giving Kate a way out of her pain and grief, Henry offers her something that doesn’t seem possible. I loved how the main plot line was revealed and how it all began. Henry is introduced really well but I do wish he had been given a different name. I know Henry was used to stay close to Hades but surely a better H name was available!? His name aside, I liked Henry. He was mysterious and troubled which gave him a lot of depth. It was great that way that his story was revealed and the way in which I got to find out more about him.

Secondary characters were just as good as main characters in this book and they really gave a lot more to the story. Without characters like Ava, the popular girl or the help around Henry’s house, the story would have been completely different. Each secondary character added something exciting and different to The Goddess Test. Kate’s mother is a big part of the story, especially with her nearly dying so it was nice to see that she was kept a part of everything once Kate went off to live with Henry and prepare for the seven tests.

The best thing about this book was the seven tests that Kate agrees to take. The way the story is written means that it is never really clear what the tests are or when they are being administered. There was so much mystery surrounding this part of the story and I couldn’t wait to find out whether Kate passed them all or not and what the outcome was going to be either way. The end has a wonderful twist and I was quite annoyed with myself that I didn’t figure some things out sooner. I do think the tests could have been made a bit more exciting though but the way they are done make this a lovely YA read.

The Goddess Test was a thoroughly enjoyable read for me and I can’t wait to see what Kate, Henry and other characters get up to in the sequel.

Book Review: Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel

After two years on the run, best friends Rose and Lissa are caught and returned to St. Vladimir's Academy, a private high school for vampires and half-bloods. It's filled with intrigue, danger - and even romance. Enter their dark, fascinating world through a new series of 144-page full-colour graphic novels. The entire first Vampire Academy novel has been adapted for book one by Leigh Dragoon and overseen by Richelle Mead, while the beautiful art of acclaimed British illustrator Emma Vieceli brings the story to life. (From Goodreads)

What I thought
Being a big fan of the Vampire Academy series, I couldn’t wait to see the graphic novel version of the first book. I don’t usually read graphic novels but for a series I loved so much, I was willing to make an exception.

Obviously, as the graphic novel was overseen by Richelle Mead, the author of Vampire Academy, it does stay close to the original book, fitting in as much as possible without leaving out anything important. The graphic novel is only 144 pages long so it doesn’t go into as much detail as the novel did and this was something that I really missed. Although you know what is happening in the story, you don’t get to find out what is happening behind the scenes and especially, in main character Rose’s head. This being missing made me really glad I had read the normal series first.

The illustrations were very impressive. As I said, I don’t normally read graphic novels so don’t have much to compare the illustrations to. Most of the pictures of the characters were spot on apart from one which I wasn’t too impressed with but I can let that go. I think I just had a different picture in my own head of this specific character but I think many other people will be really pleased. The action scenes were what was most impressive for me and I think it really helped me to picture what Richelle Mead was thinking when she wrote the book.

There were a couple of scenes that I was definitely looking forward to seeing and these didn’t disappoint me at all! One in particular could have been done really badly but it wasn’t. The taste of this scene was great and without going over the top, it caught the passion and feeling that I got from reading it the first time around. Even though there isn’t as much detail in the graphic novel, the illustrations of certain scenes made them really come to life!

If I hadn’t already read the series, I would have been quite disappointed reading this but that is only because it wouldn’t have gone into enough detail for my liking. The graphic novel is a great addition to anyone’s Vampire Academy collection though!

Book Review: Everlasting by Alyson Noel

Everlasting is the sixth and final book in the Immortals series by Alyson Noel. It was published by Macmillan Children’s Books on 7th July and the book is 336 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.

Plot
Everlasting is the sixth and final installment of the epic love story that has enchanted readers across the world. Ever and Damen have spent centuries facing down bitter rivals, jealous friends and their own worst fears-all in the hope of being together forever. Now in Everlasting, their destiny is finally within reach.

Will they be united-or torn apart forever?


What I thought
I can’t quite believe that this is the end of the whole series. I have been following this one since the very beginning and now I’m quite sad to see it finish.

As much as Ever has annoyed me over the course of the series, I think she finally redeems herself in Everlasting. Gone is the girl who makes the most infuriating mistakes and choices and instead, we have a girl who seems to have her head firmly on her shoulders. I think her whole journey over the series has lead her to this exact point in her life and all of the mistakes she has made in the past have been to make her ready for what she is about to experience. As much as her mistakes have bugged me in the past, I now see that they have all been extremely worth while and justified.

Something that I wasn’t expecting from this book was for the majority of it not to take place on the mortal plane. A lot of the book actually takes place in the magical world of Summerland and this made a massive change compared to the rest of the series but it was also a welcome change. Summerland makes everything a lot more exciting and interesting due to what is able to happen there and I think this made the book more entertaining on the whole. Summerland is a place where you can manifest anything you can possibly think of and it is a place I would love to be able to visit myself.

As in past book, Ever and Damen are able to revisit their past lives but this time it is with a bit of a difference. Gone are the fantastical worlds of Paris and Amsterdam and instead, we get a completely new life that no one has ever seen before. I loved the twist on Ever and Damen’s past lives and I really enjoyed getting to know more about where they came from and what kinds of people they once were. This part of the book was a particular favourite of mine. I have enjoyed seeing their past lives before but now I think that this new one is my favourite overall.

As well as some of my favourite regular characters returning, there was also the addition of some from the past who I had kind of forgotten about. It was nice to be reminded of people who had a hand in getting Ever to the place she is at in this book and being reminded of what they went through while she was working things out. It was great to see some of the more mischievous characters from the past and I think they definitely made the story a lot more interesting and exciting, especially when it came to Ever making one massive decision.

I was really happy with the way that the ending was written. Although it is a bit predictable, I wouldn’t have wanted any other outcome for Ever and Damon. Ever and Damen’s journey has been a bit hit and miss for me over the course of the series but I think that Everlasting did an amazing job of tying up a lot of loose ends. All characters involved gain some kind of closure in whatever form that might be but it was good to see that Alyson Noel really thought of everything. No one was left out at any point and she really thought of everything that has gone on in the past. Overall, this was a great ending to a fantastic series and I am sad to see the end of Ever and Damen now.

Book Review: A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies


On the night of Skye’s seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites—like fire and ice—Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye’s life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move—only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.
In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can’t help falling for, and Devin, who she can’t stay away from, the consequences of Skye’s choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine.
A Beautiful Dark is the first book in a captivating trilogy by debut author Jocelyn Davies. (From Goodreads.com)

I had high hopes for this book when I started, I immediately liked the easy writing and the characters, who we meet at a party and seem incredibly real and believable. I was intrigued by Asher and Devlin and the secrets they would reveal. It started so well!

Sadly my excitement didn't last too long. Honestly, there's nothing bad about this book. There's enough to keep my attention reading on, the characters are ok and mostly likeable, it's easy enough to read in big chunks and pass the time BUT there's just nothing new here. It all just felt like something I've read before. Lots of times before. I don't know, maybe I've read too many YA paranormal books recently but my initial excitement dwindled to meh in the end. 

I was looking forward to some new and interesting paranormals in the Gaurdians. Really, they're just angels and nothing fresh. We do have two sides in Asher and Devlin, good and evil, black and white in basic terms dressed up a little. There was an intriguing back story which could have made the book more interesting but the focus is mostly on Skye and her dithering between the two 'hot new boys' rather than this, which is a shame. I felt the Gaurdian's world was under created and would have liked to know more about this. There's an order versus chaos, free will versus strict rules theme which could have been fascinating but Skye's dilemma seemed more about which guy she found most attractive. 

I did like Skye's 'human' friends, who are all very well created, flawed and real. I loved the beautiful settings and descriptions of snowy mountains and thought they were described very vividly. I also liked the fact that Skye took a little getting used to the secrets being revealed to her and it sent her a little crazy. That was different from the norm and something I appreciated.

Don't get me wrong, A Beautiful Dark is ok, but that's it. If you're looking for something new and exciting then I can't recommend this book. I read it in a couple of sittings, but after the first couple of chapters felt pretty underwhelmed. The ending is more exciting, but it's left until too late and is over too quickly on a huge cliffhanger, although I'm really not bothered about reading more. If you're a die hard Angel fan, then you'll probably love this book. If you're fed up of paranormal romance then you'll not. For me, I could take it or leave it.



Published by Harperteen US September 2011
My copy - EBook received for review via Netgalley

Book Review: Abandon by Meg Cabot

Abandon is the first book in a trilogy by Meg Cabot. It is published by Macmillan Children’s Books with a release date of 7th October and the book is 297 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC for review.

Plot
Not too long ago, Pierce died. Now she isn’t dead, all Pierce is trying to do is to get on with her life and try to be as normal as possible, which doesn’t seem very likely at all. How normal can one girl be after dying and taking a trip to the Underworld where everything she thought she knew, changed. Now, someone is watching her all of the time and Pierce can do nothing to escape the feeling that she will never be completely alone again.

Before moving to a new town, Pierce seemed to be right in the middle of a lot of bad things that happened but they weren’t really her fault, were they? With all of that put behind her, Pierce hopes that this new start will be a new life for her. Unfortunately for Pierce, he can find her wherever she goes and wont give up. He wants her back and refuses to ever let her go. She got away once and he isn’t about to let that happen again.

What I thought
I am a huge lover of all things mythology related so when I got told about this book, I knew I had to read it and soon!

I immediately felt sorry for Pierce. How could you not when she just died?! The opening to Abandon was strong and exciting and introduced me to the main character well. At times, Pierce was extremely strong and a hell of a lot braver than I would have been in her position. Because of this, I really liked her and was routing for her from the beginning. I certainly didn’t want her to go through some of the things she did as she didn’t deserve the stress. While Pierce started off really well, it didn’t stay that way for the whole book. Sometimes it seemed like she was a bit stupid if I’m completely honest. She can see what is going on in front of her but either refuses to acknowledge something is happening or she acts in a silly way that gets her into trouble.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Pierce and John although I completely hated his name. For his character, this was such a bad choice and it was so boring and normal and John is anything but those things. The relationship was extremely real and that was why I liked it so much. There was none of this fall in love instantly rubbish. Pierce doesn’t even like John in the slightest to begin with and the progression with them moved forward at a really nice pace. John, however, could have been a little more adventurous as a character and the danger in him could have been done a bit better. There is obviously a lot more to him than was revealed in this book.

This book is based on the myth of Hades/ Persephone but when we enter the underworld for the first time, it is cut way too short. I was hoping for a good chunk of the book to be set there but really, we only get to visit in passing. Spending more time in the underworld would have given the book a much darker feel and it would have added to the intensity and mystery of the story. I am hoping that as this is a trilogy, this setting will be visited again and in more detail. I think there is a lot more here that could be explored and it would help back up the rest of the story. One of the best aspects of the darker side of Abandon was the idea of death deities and the Furies. The Furies are something which I can see playing an even bigger part later on in the trilogy.

Pierce’s family were characters who could have been amazing but they weren’t used nearly enough. I really would have liked for her relationships with family members, especially her cousin and uncle, to have been explored a little more or for them to be featured more. In the way of secondary characters, while there are quite a few, I never really got to know much about any of them expect for one and that was a real shame. Another thing that could have made this book better overall.

So far, this book sounds like a real mixed bag but I really did like it. Yes, there were things that bugged me but overall it was extremely enjoyable and completely different from anything else I have read. Something that I really liked about Abandon was the fact that it switched between past and present. This gave me the opportunity to really get into Pierce’s life and understand what she was going through from all sides. There was so much going on before and after she dies and it was a great thing to find out about these events. This way of telling the story also gave great insight into why Pierce is the way she is sometimes and why she makes certain decisions.

Abandon was my first Meg Cabot book but definitely wont be the last now. This is a trilogy which promises to be extremely exciting!

Book Review: The Name Of The Star by Maureen Johnson

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities. (from Goodreads.com)



The Name Of The Star was a book I was really looking forward to reading. I've not read many Ripper themed books in the past, but like most am intrigued by the most infamous murder story in history. It sounded like the ideal autumn book to curl up with on a windy night and after reading it I can confirm that this should indeed be on your Halloween reading list. It's atmospheric, creepy, chilling and tense with a whole new spin on both the paranormal and the Jack The Ripper mystery. 


I have to be honest, I didn't really read any synopsis or other reviews on this book before starting and presumed it was historical (I think the cover also lead me to that assumption) but this book is very much set in modern times. American teen, Rory moves to a boarding school in London just as a copycat Ripper serial killer starts replicating the famous murders of the late Nineteenth century. While this wasn't really what I was expecting, I found myself engrossed in Maureen Johnson's characters and writing straight away. I loved seeing London from Rory's point of view which was extremely believable and at times funny. I've read books in the past where this can seem patronising but definitely didn't feel it was the case here. I also loved the fact it was set in a boarding school, because well who doesn't love a boarding school story? I still haven't forgiven my parents for not sending me to one all those years ago *sigh*


But of course it's the mystery surrounding the murders that make this book gripping. I had to know what was happening and who the Ripper was. Again, the fact I paid little attention to the synopsis of this one meant I wasn't expecting a paranormal element. I don't want to give too much away here, as discovering exactly what these paranormals where was part of the intrigue of the book. I will say it's original and different- the book ends up being a mix between a murder mystery and paranormal. I did like this, but feel it was probably the weakest area of the story, particularly towards the end where things got a little too far fetched for me. I wouldn't say it ruined the book, it just didn't blow me away that much compared to other parts of the story.


I really enjoyed Maureen Johnson's the Name Of The Star. I liked the atmospheric and visual descriptions of London which are incredibly detailed and well researched. The history of the Ripper was also intriguing and I learned things I didn't previously know. It's also pretty gruesome at times as the real horrors of the murders are not shied away from! I really enjoyed main character Rory and her humour, I went from terror to laughter in a paragraph at times. The witty style ensures I'll be checking out more of Johnson's work in the future. The paranormal element was intriguing and different, it certainly left me wanting to know more despite not being my favourite part of the book. Overall I found this an entertaining, creepy read with a nice dose of humour for light relief when needed. One to read on a stormy night by the fire.






Published by Harpercollins UK September 2011
Thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review.



Read The First Chapter of Crossed (Matched#2) by Ally Condie



Just wanted to share an email I got from the lovely people at Penguin...

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The Wait is nearly over as the hotly anticipated sequel to international bestseller, Matched is finally coming!
But for now you can get a sneak peak of CROSSED, exclusively at EW.com:





CROSSED is coming on 24th November 2011

The dystopian craze continues ...

Who will Cassia choose?
Will Society allow them to be together?
Or will crosses and double-crosses stand in their way?
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Are you excited? I'm excited! Loved Matched and can't wait to read more! 

Book Review: Bleeding Hearts by Alyxandra Harvey


Bleeding Hearts is the fourth book in the Drake Chronicles series by Alyxandra Harvey. It was published by Bloomsbury on 3rd October and the book is 304 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

Plot
Christabel Llewellyn is Lucy Hamilton’s cousin and new to Violet Hill. She has no idea what her new life is about to be like, especially as she doesn’t know her cousin runs with vampires. Lucy’s boyfriend is a vampire, her best friend is a vampire…most of her friends are vampires!

If only all of the vampires in town were like the Drakes though. Violet Hill is home to another breed of vampire, the Hel-Blar, who are not even close to being nice and friendly. The feral, insane and nasty breed are out for blood and the whole town is in danger. When Christabel is kidnapped and held for ransom, the Drakes are forced to fight back and break a few of their own rules in order to get her back.

What I thought
The Drake Chronicles is one of my favourite YA series and I was so excited when this one came through the door. I even picked it up and finished it the same day.

Christabel was a great character and someone who I could relate to in a sense. Her life has been thrown up in the air a little bit when she moves to Violet Hill and due to not having many friends and having to rely on Lucy’s social life, she hides away in herself a bit. Christabel has a massive love for reading, which of course I can relate to, and I loved this about her. Her passion for books and poetry clearly shines through and it gave her character a lot of depth and something different to others in the series. I also liked the fact that she had no idea what was going on in Violet Hill and when she does finally find out, she is in a massive state of disbelief that things like vampires exist.

I’m afraid to say that I didn’t like Connor as much as the other Drake boys. I don’t know what it was about him exactly but he just didn’t have that special something that I liked in the others. Maybe it was because of was a bit too nice. I like my fictional crushes to have at least a bit of bad in them (the whole being a vampire thing doesn’t count here!) but Connor just seemed to be completely nice. He was sweet and wanted to protect Christabel which was lovely and good but not for me. I didn’t see the danger with his character, even though Christabel did, and I wanted him to have a bit more of an edge.

The story was great though. Due to the events that happen in this book, the couples of Drake books past make a reappearance and that was a great thing for me. Although I didn’t love Connor, at least I got to see Nicholas, Kieran and some others again and they really made the story for me. I felt like having these other characters play such a large part in what was going on was a way to not make this book just about another Drake boy finding love. They added to the intensity of the story as they have such large roles to play and have certain people to protect.

As soon as Christabel is kidnapped, the excitement and tension is really amped up. From this point, I loved the book. As Christabel knows nothing about vampires up until this point, there is quite a large amount of mystery and her not knowing what the hell is really going on. That isn’t the only mystery though. Also, there are a few new characters in Bleeding Hearts and not too much is revealed about them although I have a feeling that they are going to play a large part in the next book due to what happens in this one. The new characters were great and really mixed things up.

The previous books in this series didn’t really have cliff-hangers. This all changes with Bleeding Hearts though as it has the mother of all cliff-hangers! As I read the last sentence, I was left with my mouth hanging wide and being in total shock. I wasn’t expecting such a shock at all and would never have seen this coming in a million years. While this book wasn’t my favourite in the series, the ending alone made me want the next book immediately and I know its release won’t come round anywhere near quickly enough.

Book Review: Forbidden: The Demon Trappers by Jana Oliver

Forbidden is the second book in The Demon Trappers series by Jana Oliver. It was published by Macmillan Children’s Books on 5th August and the book is 432 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.

Plot
All her life, Riley Blackthorn knew she would be following in her father’s footsteps…as a Demon Trapper. While that initially excited her, she’s beginning to think it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. When demons seem to be after you personally, you start to rethink your choice of career. Not only that but Riley’s dad has been stolen from a necromancer no where to be found and no one is talking about his whereabouts. Surely that is enough for one teenage girl right?

Riley also has to deal with the near death of her wonderful boyfriend Simon and the warm and fuzzies she has for someone else who is keeping a hell of a lot of secrets from her. All Riley really wants is to be a normal teenage girl for a while and to chill out but it looks like people have other plans in store for her. Will she live to see them though?

What I thought
I utterly loved the first book in this series, Forsaken, so much so that I would put it as one of my favourite books of the year. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the sequel so when I got home from holiday and saw it sat there waiting for me, I was extremely excited.

I loved Riley in the first book but I loved her even more in Forbidden. While she was kick ass in Forsaken, there was a lot more to her character this time around. Although she had already been through quite a lot, her coping mechanism seemed to be to lash out and for her confidence to shine through but this time, we get to see a lot more of the real Riley. I could feel everything that she was feeling and felt like I was there with her going through a personal hell. It was good to see a change in the main character and to realise that she wasn’t all about putting on a front and there was a real person hiding underneath a tough exterior.
So much happens for Riley in this book and it made the story extremely exciting.

This is a trilogy with some serious hot guys. A trilogy of guys to be exact.

Ori wasn’t around half as much as I wanted him to be in the first book but that was quickly changed in Forbidden. Ori plays quite a large role in this book and I was glad to see him around a lot more. While he is still extremely mysterious for the most part, we do get to learn a lot more about him this time around and I was extremely thankful for that. It’s all good someone being mysterious but there has to be a lot more to them to keep me really interested and this was the case with Ori. Little bits about him were revealed at a good pace and nothing at all about him was rushed or felt out of place in this story.

Beck is still by far my favourite guy in this series. He had Riley have somewhat of a past and are now bound together after her father’s death. Beck sees himself as a kind of guardian for Riley now that her dad is gone and he wants to do what is best for her but there are some complications. For anyone who has read the first book, you know that there is something more to Beck than he is letting on about when it comes to Riley and slowly, Forbidden shows just what those hidden things are. I can’t wait to see where to story goes next for Beck and whether or not that serious hunk of a man will get what he wants.

As for Simon, I loved where this story took his character. I wasn’t expecting this twist at all considering what happened at the end of Forsaken. I was a bit speechless as I saw his character develop and for changes to appear within him. I really didn’t think that he would be capable of some of the things he does in this book and although I didn’t want things to end up that way, I think it made for some great twists and turns in the story. Simon certainly kept things interesting and he kept me guessing throughout as I was never sure what he would do next.

The pace of Forbidden was perfect for me. Although there is a lot going on all of the time, every single little thing was done so well that you never got confused as to what was happening or who things were happening to. The mystery of this book was by far the best thing (next to the hot guys of course) for me and I loved not being able to figure out what was going to happen next. Just when I thought I had something figured out, a massive twist would be thrown in and I was caught off guard yet again.

The lead up to the end of this book was exciting, thrilling and pretty intense for the most part so I was hoping for the book to go out with a massive bang. Forbidden didn’t disappoint here at all! The ending was actually a complete shocker than I never saw coming. I was sat there with the book open at the last page with my jaw on the floor. Jana Oliver certainly knows how to deliver some fantastic cliff-hangers and ones which leave you wanting the next book immediately. I couldn’t quite believe what I had just read and it took me a while to get over it.

Forbidden is an amazing sequel for this trilogy and I just know that the third and final book, Forgiven, will be the best out of them all!

Book Review: Stealing Phoenix by Joss Stirling

Stealing Phoenix is the second book in a series by Joss Stirling. It was published in September by OUP and the book is 272 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC for review.

Plot
Although Phoenix has special powers, she is far from being in a good position in life. Living within the Community means working for the Seer and using her gift to do as he asks…in this case it means stealing certain things. When her latest mission that includes a very specific target fails, Phoenix knows she is in deep trouble. The only way to save herself is to get closer to the guy she is supposed to steal from, an American student visiting London.

That American student is Yves Benedict and what Phoenix doesn’t know is that Yves has special gifts of his own. He is a Savant just like her. He turns out to be so much more than Phoenix’s next target though, he is her destiny even if she doesn’t believe it to begin with. The Community has different ideas though and think that they own Phoenix - past, present and future. If Yves has anything to do with it, she won’t be staying there for much longer but there are many obstacles to overcome before that can ever happen.

What I thought
Ever since I finished Finding Sky, I was dying to have more from Joss Stirling and the Benedict boys. I couldn’t have been more excited when Stealing Phoenix got delivered!

What I love about this book, even though it is technically part of a series, it also works really well as a stand alone. There may be a little confusion when it comes to figuring out what Savants/ Soulfinders are but other than that, you don’t really need the previous book, Finding Sky for anything. While the Soulfinder aspect is great, this book works just as well if you take that out, although it obviously strengthens the story.

I was really glad to see that this book was set in London, rather than in Wickenridge, Colorado again. It isn’t that I didn’t like that setting but I think changing the scenery gave this book a whole different feel to go with the new voices of Phoenix and Yves. This also gives the readers from the UK a big advantage by knowing a large amount of places mentioned in the capital. I really enjoyed the London setting and I could really feel myself going where Phoenix and Yves do and to have that feeling of familiarly throughout.

Phoenix (Phee for short) was a wonderful main character. Her life is not easy at all and she has had a lot to deal with for only being a teenager. Knowing no other life than that of the Community, Phee gets on with life as best she can, by doing the jobs the Seer gives her. Although in some ways, Phee is ruled by other people, she still has a strong voice of her own and isn’t one to back down from a fight. I loved how spunky and strong Phee was even though she had so much going on. Her fighting spirit certainly made me love her to pieces and to route for her from the very beginning. I also really liked the journey that Phee went on throughout the book in the sense of finding out/ realising who she really is.

Joss Stirling has a fantastic ability to create swoon-worthy teenage guys. As much as I loved Zed from the previous book, Yves has completely knocked him out of view. As a very intelligent guy, Yves had a lot going for him. Not only is he extremely good looking, he is smart beyond the average, isn’t afraid to show his geeky side and is very confident in himself. I loved everything about Yves as soon as he appeared on the page. He was charismatic and funny but also sensitive and caring when he needed to be. If Yves were real, I would go to London right now, track him down and attempt to steal him away myself!

It was good to see characters from Finding Sky appear in this book. As much as I enjoyed Phee and Yves’ story, I was happy to see some of the Benedict family make an appearance and to help out. Stealing Phoenix gives some insight into what may come in future books from Joss Stirling and into what the other brothers may be like in their own books. Not only were the reoccurring characters good but also the new characters. With people like the Seer, Dragon and Unicorn, this book was never going to be boring. The Community as whole provides a lot of mystery and action throughout which made the pacing perfect. There are some really good fast paced parts that were mixed well with slower, more sensitive parts when it came to Phee and Yves.

I was a little worried that I wasn’t going to like this book as much as Finding Sky but infact, I liked it a hell of a lot more. If you thought that Zed was the brother for you, be prepared to think again!



Stealing Phoenix Blog Tour: So I Say Thank you For The Books by Joss Stirling


So I Say Thank You For The Books...' is a regular feature were we invite authors and book bloggers to share with us who or what inspired their love of books.




Today we're welcoming author Joss Stirling as part of her UK book tour Stealing Phoenix, follow up to the very awesome Finding Sky...


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So I say thank you…

Answering the question ‘who is responsible for making me the writer/reader I am today?’ is akin to one of those embarrassing Oscar speeches that go on too long and the band interrupts. And yes, like Gwyneth, I will be in tears and end up telling my audience of authors ‘I love you all *sob*sob*’

Joking aside, it is impossible to put my finger on one person or one book without being unfair to all the others.  Picture me as one of those fiendish 1000 piece puzzles, each bit representing something that went into making the whole.  I can only hope to find some corner bits to show you; the rest will have to remain in the box.

One corner has to be Geraldine the babysitter.  She lived next door and had the unenviable task of looking after my sister, brother and me.  I of course was the angelic youngest (the other two did it).  When we weren’t tying each other up to trees and rampaging across the garden in our fire engine assembled from deckchairs, she got us excited about this book called ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’.  She wasn’t much older than us and I think her pleasure was still very much that of the child who believed doors did open into Narnia.  As a result I was convinced the airing cupboard in my room was going to let me through if I opened it just right.  Sadly the only creature that discovered a new world through that door was an escaped hamster (but that’s another story).

I rustle through the box and pull out another piece: Mr England.  He was my teacher in the equivalent of Year 6 at Primary School.  A funny looking chap (three-piece suit, tubby, comb-over), he made us learn things by heart.  Thanks to him I can still recite ‘Tiger, tiger, burning bright…etc.’, which has proved surprisingly useful and enjoyable. I wish I’d learnt more this way.  What he did was let me write.  Once I’d finished my tasks for the day (I was quick so that was often an hour or so ahead of others) I spent my time making up stories.  Ofsted might fail this style of teaching now but it suited me down to the ground. He also was the first to predict I’d have books in a library one day. So thank you, Mr England.

Third piece – my local library.  I did not come from a bookish family.  My mum was more artistic than literary (lots of art books) and my dad a busy policeman (he was the one who brought the Ian Flemings into the house I would guess).  Not having many books at home was more than made up for by the local library.  Can you think of a greater pleasure for an inquisitive child than experimentation at no cost?  We really mustn’t lose the libraries in our communities because children like me from non-book backgrounds will find it difficult to make the jump into lifelong learning.

My final corner piece – an English teacher when I was in the sixth form, Mrs Waterhouse.  She taught me not to dismiss what I did not understand or know.  In one discussion, I made some callow comment about stupid poems on things like Greek urns and she challenged me to read Keats’ poem and understand it.  Thank goodness she did, or I would never had got into Cambridge to read English and later go on to do a doctorate.  That lesson also taught me not to rubbish genres others sneer at: romance, sci-fi, chicklit etc. A good story is a good story even if hidden under a genre wrapping that might be initially off-putting.


OK. I’ve gone on long enough.  The band is playing and they are cutting to adverts.  *Sob* I love you all *Sob*


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Don't forgot to follow the next stop on the Stealing Phoenix blog tour tomorrow at http://bookpassionforlife.blogspot.com/


And look out for Lyndsey's Review of Stealing Phoenix coming later today!


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