Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Book review: Deacon by Kit Rocha


Title: Deacon
Author: Kit Rocha
Publication date: 29th August 2017
Genre: Dystopian/Romance
Series: Gideon's Riders #2
Source: Review copy from author

Description: Book #2 in explosive new series from bestselling author Kit Rocha...

Ana has trained most of her life to achieve one goal: to prove that anything men can do, she can do better. Now she’s Sector One’s first female Rider, and being the best is the only way to ensure she won’t be its last. Distractions aren’t allowed--especially not her painful attraction to the reserved but demanding leader whose stern, grumpy demeanor has already gotten into her head.

Deacon has spent the last twenty years trying to atone for his past, but the blood he spilled as a mercenary and assassin will never wash away entirely. If his riders knew the extent of his sins, he’d lose their trust and respect. It’s easier to keep them all at arm’s length, especially Ana. But his newest recruit’s stubbornness is starting to crack his defenses.

And their sparring matches are driving him wild.

The passion sparking between them can’t be denied, but neither can the vengeance barreling toward Deacon. When his old squad comes back to punish him for his betrayal, Ana and the Riders are squarely in the line of fire. The only way to save his people may be to make the ultimate sacrifice.

But first, he has to convince Ana not to follow him straight into hell.

My thoughts: I continue to be a huge fan of Kit Rocha, and I'm really glad that the Gideon's Rider series takes us back to their dystopian future America. In Deacon, readers get to know the group of Riders much better. If you're new to the series, the Riders are a group of men (and now a woman) who protect the area of the city known as Sector One, and particularly its royal family.

Ana is the first woman who has been allowed to join the Riders, so there are a lot of people watching her, and a lot of expectations resting on her. She feels like she's an experiment - that she must do well, otherwise they'll never let a woman join again. She can't risk anyone ever thinking that she got through a test or a hard patch of training just because Deacon went easy on her because she's a woman. And that means she certainly shouldn't be thinking about sleeping with him. I was really interested to see how Ana handled these issues, and I'm pleased with how things turned out.

When a sinister playing card is found at the site of an arson attack, Deacon knows it's a message from the assassin gang known as the Suicide Kings, a gang he used to belong to. Many years ago they sent Deacon to kill Gideon, but he never went back. Now he thinks they're looking for him, and that he must face them head on: kill or be killed. I think the tension was done really well with the Suicide Kings plotline. I really didn't know where it was going, and whether people would come out of it ok or not. There are some very tense moments, and I love how the characters support each other and play off one another.

As for the romance, I liked these two as a couple. Their biggest challenge is to figure out together how to make their personal relationship work alongside their professional one, and where to draw the lines between the two. It leads to some really difficult and really moving scenes - as with many a Kit Rocha book, make sure you have your tissues close to hand! A dystopian twist on the falling-for-the-boss trope, I loved the nail-biting plot and thought the romance meshed with it perfectly - it was one solid story, not a separate love story & action story.
I'm giving Deacon by Kit Rocha 8 out of 10.

You can find it on iBooks and Amazon, amongst other places.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Book Review: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick


Title: Scrappy Little Nobody
Author: Anna Kendrick
Release date: November 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Autobiography
Source: Gift from friend

Description: A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

My thoughts: I'm aiming this year to read six non-fiction books; combined with the fact a friend offered me a copy of the book, this is mostly why I read it. It's the second non-fic book I've finished, so I need to speed up a little with that challenge.

The book starts at the beginning of Anna's life, with some funny stories about her personality during primary school, before moving to look at how she got involved in professional musical theatre in her early teens. Once it gets to her living in LA, things start to jump around a bit more and become more topical, with stories about learning to live alone, dating, sex, and learning about fashion. She throws in lots of little anecdotes involving famous people she's worked with, which were fun to read.

I found the first section of the book really interesting; I always like to hear about how someone ended up in their career. I did get a little bored in the middle though - I felt like, there are better places to get dating advice, and at this point, a lot of this advice is kind of too late for me, I've learned the lessons myself and am doing ok now, really. I didn't care about the awkward dating experiences she had in high school, those stories just weren't particularly interesting to me.

I did find the book more enjoyable towards the end. I liked the funny stories of things that had happened while filming various movies, and at events like the Oscars. I think if you like celebrity autobiographies, you will probably enjoy this one as well, or if you're interested in an acting career. For me, it slowed down a lot in the middle and I had to push myself to keep going. I don't think I'll be looking at more autobiographies from people this age any time soon. Overall, I'll give Scrappy Little Nobody 6 out of 10.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Book review: I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson


Title: I Have No Secrets
Author: Penny Joelson
Release date: 4th May 2017
Publisher: Egmont
Genre: YA Crime
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Description: Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can't tell anyone. 

Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change...

A page-turning thriller seen through the eyes of a unique narrator, this is a truly original, heart-rending and compulsive book for young adult readers. Perfect for fans of Wonder, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Looking for JJ.

My thoughts: I Have No Secrets is told in first person by Jemma, who is unable to communicate with anyone around her - she can't even move her eyes. I really liked that the book showed me a new perspective; I've never really thought about what life might be like in that situation, or read a book told from that point of view. You really see how powerless Jemma is.

One of the big problems for her is that she's really uncomfortable with her carer's boyfriend. Since the carer, Sarah, lives in, Dan comes round to their house often and makes fun of Jemma when he's alone in a room with her. Early on in the story, he implies to Jemma that he's responsible for the murder of a young man who lives on her street. Then, Sarah goes missing. Of course, Jemma suspects Dan, but she has absolutely no way to tell anyone else about what he'd said to her.

While I did want to know what had happened to Sarah, I have to admit that I got a bit bored reading this book. By her very nature, Jemma is a passive narrator. The plot moves forwards as people talk about things within Jemma's hearing. Someone goes off to do something, comes back, and talks about it. For the majority of the book, things happen around Jemma, not because of her, and I found that very slow and not particularly exciting. So much of the action in the main plot thread (the murder investigation) happens off-page. It really emphasises the struggle Jemma has each day, which is great for broadening the horizons of the reader, but it's not so good at making the story engaging. Overall I have to give this 5 out of 10. It's an interesting idea, but I don't think it worked to make an exciting book - and when it's focussed on a murder investigation, I think the story ought to be exciting.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Book review: Tempted by the Bridesmaid by Annie O'Neil


Title: Tempted by the Bridesmaid
Author: Annie O'Neil
Release date: 1st August 2017
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Description: The last time brooding Italian surgeon Luca Montovano saw bubbly heiress Francesca Martinelli was at his best friend's failed wedding. Sparks flew then, and now she's made a surprise appearance at his mountaintop clinic, bringing a much-needed whirlwind of laughter!

Aristocratic Luca just wants to be left alone to care for his orphaned niece. The scars on his face reach right to his heart, and he's learned to push people away. Until Fran forces him to see the world through her eyes!

My thoughts: I've always liked romance stories, and what I particularly like about a Mills & Boon book is that I can pick one up and read it in just a few hours. It's a nice cosy evening thing to do and leaves me feeling all happy. Tempted by the Bridesmaid begins with Fran standing at the altar with her best friend, forcing herself to tell the bride and the priest that the groom is having an affair. As another good friend of the bride, Luca can't understand why Fran would 'wreck' everything, so they get off to a bad start on their first meeting.

However, their mutual friend has arranged for Fran to work with Luca over the summer: Fran trains therapy dogs, and is going to work with Luca's niece, who is in a wheelchair. Career path changed by the accident that disabled her, Luca is renovating some land to create a medical treatment facility for disabled patients, which has its grand opening part way through Fran's stay.

I liked that their romance is balanced by the questions of whether the clinic will be ready in time, and then whether it will be a success. Fran is a lovely woman who always sees the best in everything and is always trying to help with anything she can at the clinic. However, I have a problem with Luca. Their relationship is very 'sparky', they argue despite being very attracted to each other, but I noticed halfway through the book that Luca will be thinking about some nice, thoughtful thing Fran is doing, and how she's so wonderful, then he'll snap out something grumpy and hurtful at her, then immediately be thinking that he regrets it. He does it again and again and again. I think if he really did regret it, he would have stopped doing it. To me, it did not read as a healthy, happy relationship and I couldn't buy in to Luca being an appealing hero, or the two of them having a happily-ever-after with the way he was shown in this book. By the end, I could believe that the ending was the start of his redemption, but I would have liked to see the change on the page, rather than being left to imagine it.

This is getting a solid 5 out of 10 from me. There are elements of a sweet romance, and a nice secondary plot with the clinic, but it's a pretty straightforward story, and the hero being a dick so much of the time was very off-putting.

Buy it here: Amazon

Monday, August 7, 2017

Book review: Protecting Their Mate (Part 3) by Moira Rogers


Title: Protecting Their Mate (Part 3)
Author: Moira Rogers
Release date: August 7th 2017
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Erotica
Source: ARC from the authors

Description: As the full moon raises tensions–and appetites–Ashley indulges her wildest fantasies…and discovers what it truly means to belong to the pack. But Blake’s control is tested as outsiders descend on the pack’s territory, and Ashley discovers that following her heart may be the only way to find her mate.

Ashley’s heart longs for one man, but her wolf demands that she test herself against the alpha. Can she settle for a life of never knowing, or will she risk everything for Blake?

Protecting Their Mate was originally published as an eight part serial under the penname Mia Thorne. It has been repackaged, but the story remains the same.

My thoughts: This is the final part of a serialised story - here are my reviews of Part 1 and Part 2.

The sex in Part 3 is as steamy as in the rest of the story, and Ashley continues to explore her sexuality with all five other members of the pack. A deeper plot comes back a little here, which I thought was good - it got a bit lost in Part 2, I think. The threat of another pack who have made contact throws up some issues in this part of the story, as does the fact that the other pack have a female wolf of their own. Ashley's pack suspect that the other female might not be there willingly, so they come up with a plan to get to the bottom of things, and fix it if need be.

I love all the sexiness in this book, but I need plot, not just porn, so I was glad to have the additional conflicts become an equally large aspect of Part 3 as the quest for Ashley to find her mate is. I will read on in the series - the sequel is coming out later this year - but it'll be as a cheer-me-up, guilty pleasure sort of read, not because I'm desperate to find out what happens next with any aspects of the story.

I'm giving part three, and Protecting Their Mate as a whole, 6 out of 10.
 

Term of Use

If you would like us to review your book, do an interview or host a guest blog, you can contact Ailsa at: ailsa.floyd@yahoo.com or Emily Cross at:emilycross09@gmail.com

We are happy to review any genre of books - get in touch and we can chat.

The Book Bundle Copyright © 2009 Flower Garden is Designed by Ipietoon for Tadpole's Notez Flower Image by Dapino