WWW Wednesday: 8th November 2017

The WWW Wednesday meme is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently ReadingRenegades (Renegades, #1)

I started reading Renegades by Marissa Meyer yesterday morning and while I’m only about 5% in I am already loving it. I just really like her writing, it draws you instantly, and I’m a big fan of the whole superhero thing so this this is right up my street. Fingers crossed it lives up to expectations.

I also still have Copycat by Alex Lake on the go but have had to pretty much park it while I try to beat publication dates for some of the ARCs I have.


Recently Finished

I got a bit distracted by stalking Benedict Cumberbatch the filming that was going on in Glasgow last week (pic above from outside my office) but I managed to finish three books.

Bad Girls with Perfect Faces

The first of these was YA thriller  Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten which I’d received from NetGalley. I’d previously read and loved the author’s previous book Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls but I think this might have been even better. Honestly it was so good I was picking it up at every possible opportunity.

It’s a dark and twisted story about girl who’s in love with her best friend and is trying to pluck up the courage to tell him when his cheating ex reappears in his life and starts trying to win him back. Girl sets up a fake email and insta to catfish the ex but it all goes disastrously wrong. I posted a raving review at the end of last week with all of my feelings but in summary I loved it and would definitely recommend if you like a good thriller.

Strange Weather

The second book finished this week was another NetGalley pick, Strange Weather by Joe Hill. It’s a collection of four short novels very loosely linked by bizarre weather events. This is the first full book I’ve read by Hill (I started the Fireman but still haven’t finished) and I really enjoyed it. I did prefer some stories to others but each one had something about it I loved. The shorter format was both brilliant and really annoying (I need to find out what happens next). It’s definitely encouraged me to go back and finish The Fireman and also read some of his other books.

 

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black

The third and final book finished was The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr. I read and absolutely adored Barr’s previous novel The One Memory of Flora Banks so I was very excited to receive this from NetGalley a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately while it does have a lot of similarities in writing style I’m not sure I can really say I enjoyed this. There was one really disturbing incident pretty early on in the story that I just couldn’t get past and from there on in I think I was just looking for problems. Something that wasn’t too difficult as there were quite a few things about it that made it uncomfortable reading.

I’m still swithering over whether to review it here but you can find a draft with my initial thoughts over on GoodReads.


Reading Next

I discovered last week that the publication and archive dates for a lot of the books on my NetGalley shelf are a lot sooner than I thought (and than it says on the shelf) so I’ve had to rework my reading plan a lot. I can’t really complain when they’re some of my most anticipated reads 🙂 I think the following will be up next.

My Side of the DiamondIf There's No TomorrowGoodbye, Perfect

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Wednesday Everyone!!!

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Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Strange Weather by Joe Hill

A brilliant collection of four short novels. This is the first book by Joe Hill I’ve read from start to finish but it’s definitely persuaded me to try some of his longer books. I did enjoy some stories more than others but all were incredibly well done. The shorter format, while frustrating at times (I didn’t want a couple of the stories to end), was used to it’s fullest effect by Hill who somehow managed to pack in a lot of action, well rounded characters and some truly memorable moments.

It’s a bit difficult to rate it as one book so instead I’m going to do some little mini reviews for each of the four stories.


Snapshot – 3.5 stars

This story while not my favorite of the collection turned out to be a strangely emotional read (yes I cried). It’s set in the 1980’s and follows a lonely overweight teenage boy who has a run in with “The Phoenician” a tattooed thug with a polaroid camera that erases memories snap by snap. I think if you know someone who’s been affected by dementia you’ll know how terrible losing your memories can be for both them and their loved ones. This really got to me in a few places as the portrayal of a certain character who’s losing what makes them them was just so real and so sad. As well as being sad this does have it’s creepy and edge of the seat moments. I did however find it a little bit slow in places and I wasn’t keen on the way the story was told from the pov of the boy some 30 years in the future. This is just a personal preference thing though.


Loaded – 4 stars

Despite being written some time ago this story about a mall security guard who courageously stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero seems particularly relevant at the moment. All is not however as it’s being presented as one journalist finds out. This jumps around a little in terms of points of view and time which I struggled with a little particularly at the start but it’s very powerful at times and asks some big questions about racial profiling and gun control. The ending in particular is literally breathtaking.


Aloft – 5 stars

This story of a young man undertaking his first parachute jump only to land on something other than the ground was by far my favorite story in the collection. There was something about it that just instantly drew me in and there was something incredibly likable about main character Aubrey. It was just such an gripping story as Aubrey tries to figure out just what he’s landed on and how he’s going to get out of the predicament he finds himself in.

I loved how we got an instant sense of who Aubrey was and also how the author worked in little flashbacks to tell us how he got to that point and the realizations that he reaches about his life. Plot wise it’s completely unbelievable but Hill makes it seem completely real. My only gripe with this one is that it ended. I want to know so badly what happens next.


Rain – 4.5 stars

This apocalyptic story is the most horrific of the collection but is just sooo good. I find it unbelievable that the author managed to cram so much into so few pages. We have the apocalypse itself in the form of a rain of nails which instantly wipes out large swathes of the population, a bit of semi convincing science behind it, a harrowing journey, a bit of a dig at the current government (and the human race in general) but best of all some great characterization. There are a lot of characters in this one but each and every one of them left some kind of impression, mostly good but more than a few bad. All however felt real despite yet again the unreality of the situation they find themselves in. I did feel the ending was a little bit sudden (hence my knocking off half a point) but otherwise a really enjoyable read.


Overall therefore this is a great collection and if like me you haven’t really read any books by the author a great introduction.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

Teaser Tuesday: 7th November 2017

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker. If you want to join in grab your current read, flick to a random page, select two sentences (without spoilers) and share them in a blog post or in the comments of The Purple Booker.


This week my teaser comes from Strange Weather by Joe Hill which I received from NetGalley. It’s a collection of four novellas (each around 100-150pgs) written at different points in Hill’s career each with some kind of weather link. I enjoyed some a little more than others (Aloft was my favorite) but all are brilliant.

My teaser is from the first story Snapshot about a Polaroid camera that erases memories with each picture it takes.


My Teaser

“Invent a way not to ged old,” he said. “It is a terrible goddem trick to play on someone. Gedding old is no way to stop being young.”

~ 3% Strange Weather by Joe Hill


BlurbStrange Weather

A collection of four chilling novels, ingeniously wrought gems of terror from the brilliantly imaginative, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman, Joe Hill

“Snapshot” is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by “The Phoenician,” a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories, snap by snap.

A young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapor that seems animated by a mind of its own in “Aloft.”

On a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. “Rain” explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads out across the country and around the world.

In “Loaded,” a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun rights movement. But under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it. When an out-of-control summer blaze approaches the town, he will reach for the gun again and embark on one last day of reckoning.

Mini Review: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

 

Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1)

Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sweet, funny and very steamy, I found it difficult to resist reading at every opportunity.


THE BLURB

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.


MY REVIEW

This is only my second Nalina Singh book and the first contemporary romance from her I’ve had a chance to read but it won’t be the last.

Main characters Sailor and Isa are extremely likeable and from pretty much the first page the chemistry between them had steam rising from my kindle. Both are troubled by events from their childhood, Isa pretty much ignored by her family who thought work was more important and Sailor by a father who walked out on the family leaving them destitute, and they’re looking for very different things in life. When they meet however they just can’t resist getting involved despite expecting it to end in disaster.

I had a lot of love for Isa and the way she fought for her family but honestly Sailor has to be the sweetest, kindest and sexiest man alive. The secondary characters were also brilliantly done and I loved how the author worked in a lot of diversity as well as issues such as arranged marriage, bullying and neglect.

The pacing is spot on and I absolutely loved a lot of the dialogue. Sailor and Isa definitely have a lot of chemistry and the sparks certainly fly between them at every interaction but there’s a lot of affection and humor between all of the characters.

I only really had a couple of small niggles the first of which was Isa’ s inner alter ego Devil Isa. That was wandering a little too close to the Fifty Shades inner goddess for me (although I promise it’s nowhere near as bad). I also would’ve liked a bit more struggle, a few more obstacles on the path to “Twue Love” but maybe I’m just mean.

Overall though I did love this book. It’s funny, sweet and has just enough chemistry to keep you going back for more.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. This has not influenced my review.

Review: Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten

Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by [Weingarten, Lynn]
Bad Girls with Perfect Faces
by Lynn Weingarten

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Wow!!! This book had me gripped from the very first page until the very last. It’s dark and twisted but oh so good and not at all what I was expecting.

Bad girls know there is no right and wrong. There’s just what you’re willing to do.
What you need to do


THE BLURB

From the New York Times bestselling author of Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls comes a stylish thriller about the darkness that lurks inside all of us.

When I looked up, his smile was wide and real. “Ready?” he said.
I faked a smile back. I had gotten so good at faking things.
I thought: You brought this on yourself, Sasha. You will have to pretend forever now.
He squeezed my hand again. He couldn’t begin to imagine what this actually was. He had no idea what I’d done. What any of us had.

When Sasha’s best friend Xavier gets back together with his cheating ex, Ivy, Sasha knows she needs to protect him. So she poses as a guy online to lure Ivy away.

But Sasha’s plan goes sickeningly wrong. And she soon learns to be careful of who you pretend to be because you might be surprised by who you become…

Told in multiple points of view, Bad Girls with Perfect Faces is sexy and twisted with shocks at every turn.


MY REVIEW

Before I start this review properly I should probably confess that I mixed up the blurb for this book with the blurb for another and found myself a tad confused about what I was reading. Despite this, there was something about it that drew me in instantly and I was completely hooked before I realized what I’d done. So hooked in fact that I ended up reading the whole thing without ever going back and reading the synopsis, something that probably worked in my favor as the less you know about it the better.

For that reason I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on the storyline. What I will say is that this is a very dark and twisted story that questions just how far you’d go for someone you love, what you’d do to protect them and just what you’d be willing to forgive. It begins very much like your usual YA contemporary with a girl, Sasha, in love with her best friend, Xavier, but too scared to tell him how she feels. When his ex Ivy reappears in his life and starts trying to rekindle things Sasha resorts to a bit of catfishing to prove to Xavier what Ivy’s really like but things don’t exactly go to plan.

The story is pretty fast paced with more than a few surprises and I found it a lot more gripping than I could have imagined. It was one of those books I couldn’t resist reading at every possible opportunity, and if I wasn’t reading it I was either thinking about it or talking about it. The author’s writing style is perfect for me, it just drew me in completely and didn’t let go. I’d previously read and loved Suicide Notes for Beautiful Girls but I think this may actually be better.

The story is told from three points of view, Sasha’s, Xavier’s and a mystery person’s and the author does a brilliant job of keeping each of these very distinct and different. Even though a big proportion of the book is from Xavier’s point of view though it feels like this story is all about the girls, with Xavier a pawn for them to play with. He’s sweet and kind and a bit fragile, making him no match for the girls. He was probably the only character I kind of liked but still found myself becoming frustrated with how weak he was. I just wanted him to act, to stand up for himself and get free of this toxic relationship with Ivy.

As for Sasha, I wouldn’t say she was necessarily that likeable or even very relatable but there was something about her that fascinated me from the very beginning. She’s very much a loner, left to fend for herself by her mother and with no real friends other than Xavier. She’s completely fearless in some ways, she’ll walk into a party or a club alone and just pick someone up for a one night stand, but you can’t help but wonder how much is an act. Xavier is the only person she really cares about and she loves him fiercely and possessively. Her actions at times were a mystery to me, not because they didn’t make sense but because they were so completely alien to me.

There aren’t many other characters in the story and those that do appear only do so briefly but still manage to make an impression. I loved that the author kept it so simple in this respect as it kept the focus very much on the relationships between Sasha, Xavier and Ivy.

It is a surprisingly dark and disturbing story and I feel like I should add a little bit of a warning that it’s probably more one for older YAs. There is underage drinking, sex, drugs and other things that I won’t go into as they’re spoilery and this isn’t a book you want to know too much about.

Overall though I thought this was an incredible read and is one I’d definitely recommend to anyone who likes a good thriller.

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley. This has not affected my review.

WWW Wednesday: 1st November 2017

The WWW Wednesday meme is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

CopycatI have two books on the go at the moment, the first of which is Copycat by Alex Lake. I won this in a Goodreads giveaway a couple of weeks ago and was in the mood for something different from all of the YA fantasy and sci fi I seem to have been reading lately. I’m not too far through (maybe 100 pages) but I am really enjoying it. It’s about a woman, Sarah, who discovers that someone has set up a Facebook profile in her name and is posting pictures of her and her family. They’re trying to get her attention but why?

It’s definitely one that makes you think about the information you put out there on social media.

Bad Girls with Perfect FacesThinking about this the second book I’m reading, Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten has a very similar theme. It’s a YA thriller about a girl Sasha who catfishes her best friends ex girlfriend when she thinks they might be getting back together.

I received this from NetGalley and wasn’t planning on reading it yet but discovered yesterday that it was published that day (I thought it was a January publication). Anyway, I started it immediately and literally haven’t been able to put it down. I’m already about half way through and will probably have it finished either today or tomorrow. There’s something about the author’s writing which really draws you in.


Recently Finished

I’m pretty much back to full reading speed but have to admit I still feel a little bit off. The books I’ve been reading haven’t been gripping me the way they usually do and I don’t think it’s them. Despite this though I have managed to finish three books this week.

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass, #6)

The first of these was Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas which is book six in the Throne of Glass series. The story follows Chaol and Nesryn as they venture to the Southern continent to seek aid so it’s a lot simpler than the previous book. There are quite a few new characters but a couple of the characters from Assassin’s Blade also made an appearance which was sooo good.

I do think it’s longer than it needs to be, it seemed to take forever to read it and there’s a big chunk where not very much happens but it does have some absolutely brilliant moments. I do wish SJM would keep the language consistent though as it really started to get on my nerves. I have nothing against swearing in books but “not giving a sh*t” just doesn’t fit for me.

Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1)

The second book finished (although technically I finished it before ToD) was Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh. I was in the mood for something light and completely different from all of the fantasy reads I seem to be surrounded with at the moment so when I got approved for this on NetGalley I thought why not.

I’ve only read one other book from this author so this was the first contemporary romance by her that I’ve picked up but I doubt it’ll be my last. I really enjoyed it and think it was just what I was needing. I would have liked a bit more struggle but it’s very sweet and funny so I’m not complaining too much.

The Empress (The Diabolic #2)The third and final book finished this week was The Empress by S.J. Kincaid. I have been desperate to read this ever since I heard The Diabolic was getting a sequel. I actually requested it on NetGalley ages ago but had given up all hope of getting a copy when I was suddenly approved at the end of last week.

I’m not sure I enjoyed it quite as much as The Diabolic but that could have been due to my expectations being higher (and this never ending slump). It is however brilliantly unpredictable, packed full of action and has one of my all time favorite characters Nemesis. She was created in a lab as a bodyguard and killing machine so isn’t always wholly human in her actions. She has very little empathy and next to no conscience. Basically kill first ask questions later. It’s very refreshing to have a main character who isn’t constantly thinking and worrying. In this story though she is starting to become more human and understand just what that means. It’s really good.


Reading Next

My reading next list is pretty much the same as last week’s as yet again I wandered off track. I do really need to pick up Strange Weather and My Side of the Diamond asap though as they’re both due for release. Goodbye Perfect is just one I got from NetGalley and think I might be in the mood for.

Strange WeatherGoodbye, PerfectMy Side of the Diamond

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Wednesday Everyone!!!

Review: The Empress by S.J. Kincaid

The Empress (The Diabolic #2)The Empress by S.J. Kincaid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I may not have been sure I wanted a sequel to The Diabolic but I’m so glad we got one. It’s completely unpredictable, full of action and a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Nemesis is an absolutely brilliant character and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

*Spoiler Alert* This is second book in a series so while my review has no spoilers for the book both it and the blurb contain major spoilers for The Diabolic.


THE BLURB

It’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite.

But having power isn’t the same thing as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress.

Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it?


MY REVIEW

I was a huge big fan of The Diabolic (it was one of my favourite reads of 2016) but have to admit I thought it was a standalone. I wasn’t too sure what to think when I heard we were getting a sequel. I liked the ending to The Diabolic but I was quite excited at the prospect of finding out what’s next for one of my favorite characters.

The story picks up almost immediately after book one with Tyrus on the throne and Nemesis by his side but while it seems they’ve gotten everything they want they’re in a very precarious position. The other senators are not happy with Tyrus’s radical ideas and aren’t overly keen on the idea of Nemesis becoming Empress. Add to that there’s something uneasy about the relationship between Tyrus and Nemesis. Neither fully trusts the other and they are so very different it’s difficult to see how their relationship can survive.

I kind of wish I’d re read The Diabolic before I picked this up as it took me a little while to get back up to speed on the world, it’s characters, the governance system and just who killed who. This is definitely not a book you can just pick up without reading the previous book and even then there’s a lot to remember. The author does a pretty good job of bringing you up to speed without info dumping though so it wasn’t long before I was fully immersed in this world of political maneuvering, deceit and violence.

Rather than going over old ground however the focus of this story is in moving things forward and questioning all that we seemingly know. She builds on the structure already in place adding so much more depth and detail but also bringing in so much new information on their religion and history. There are a few surprises in store for both the readers and the characters.

With this increasing focus on the religion the author asks some very powerful questions such as what does it actually mean to be human. Can someone who was created in a lab from various bits of DNA really be considered human and do they have a soul? It also raises issues around if and where a line should be drawn on genetic engineering and technological advances and is controlling technology and knowledge a way to control the masses. All things which I find fascinating.

Based on what I’ve said so far you’re probably thinking oh god this sounds so boring but it’s anything but. From almost the very first page you’re straight into action and it never lets up. It’s violent, horrifying and often heartbreaking and it’s completely unpredictable. Every time you think you know where it’s going some huge great spanner gets tossed in.

It’s safe to say there’s a lot of death and destruction, the scale of it is immense and it’s often sudden and shocking. What can you expect I suppose when your main character was grown in a lab with one purpose, protect a certain person at any cost.

I really, really love Nemesis. She’s such a wonderfully unique character. Due to her upbringing she has absolutely no empathy and no conscience. She’s very stab first, ask questions later when it comes to protecting those she loves. There’s no questioning her actions or indecisiveness which is incredibly refreshing.

What I love though is how she’s developing over the course of the series and in this book in particular. She’s becoming more human and learning what that really means. The contrast between her and Tyrus is fascinating to watch. He’s much more of a thinker than a doer so they balance each other out in a lot of ways but also often end up at odds when she wants to act and he doesn’t. I do love them together though. They get a really rough ride in this but the moments when it’s just the two of them are some of my favorites.

The differences between her and some of the other characters are also interesting. She’s considered a monster but she’s actually very naive in a lot of ways and sees the world in very simple terms. Those around her plotting and scheming and committing terrible acts could be considered far more monstrous than she ever is.

The pacing of the story is pretty much spot on and it’s definitely a very readable book. I more or less read the whole thing in a few hours. It’s so unpredictable and so packed full of twists it’s difficult to put down and the conclusion when it came was truly epic. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. As always all views are my own.