Sunday, 29 September 2013

Comfort Food by Kitty Thomas

Comfort Food

It has potential but is lacking in a lot of things.

 Firstly, let me state that is NOT a romance. There is no love story and there is no romance, only twisted, raw and graphic scenes of sex. It is a dark erotic fiction that explores the psychological theme of ownership and basically, Stockholm Syndrome. 

The concept was good, but the story was too short which made everything rushed and limited the story line and plot. I wish the author dug deeper into her mysterious character who's name we do not find out. I feel like he, who was actually interesting, was not written in such a way that we could explore the depths of his characteristics, and experience through the protagonist, different facets of his personality. There was none of that; he was pretty two dimensional. I was captivated by his handicap and thought that it was all so abrupt and cut too short. 

 There isn't much of a plot at all. Nothing happens. It's like the story begins half way through and finishes three quarters of the way through something that could have been extended into a proper novel with thorough subplots and a more interesting monologue from the protagonist. 

 Taking in mind that this is a short novel, I can't help but think that every single aspect of the novel has been narrowed into something that just scrapes the surface of the issues and topics concerned. The story just fell flat on it's arse.

 Rating: 2*

Truth (Consequences #2) by Aleatha Romig

Truth (Consequences, #2)

Loved it. Much better than the first one. Mind-bendingly brilliant and now I gots a taste for a man who is older, thanks to Tony and his fucked up hotness.

I learnt to appreciate the authors style and quality of writing, though there were some pointless chapters like the ones with Sophia and Derek - I found them to be quite boring and impatiently scanned through them most of the time. My one other critique about the authors writing was that she used the word 'vista' to describe EVERYTHING in both book 1 & 2. It became predictable when she was going to use it. "Claire looked out the window and scanned the urban vista," blah blah blah. That's not an actual quote, just me giving a rubbish example. 

I always knew from the very start of book 1 that Catherine was a fucking psycho. 

I loved the way the back story was woven together and related to the main plot, and how the revelations were subtly revealed through a mixed third person narrative. 

I have no idea how I went from loathing Tony within the first half, then loving him in the second. For that, again I appraise you, Aleatha Romig. 

Now I can't wait for book 3 which comes out in two weeks time.

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simmons (The Bronze Horseman #1)

The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman, #1)

I praise thee, Paullina Simmons. I completely holed myself away for two weekends with this one.

One of the best books I've read, absolutely timeless. 

A story of the hardships of the best hero and heroine combo ever, during the invasion of the Germans in Russia during WWII. 

Book 2, here I come.

6 stars. 6 well deserved stars.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Different Blue by Amy Harmon

A Different Blue

This is a story of self discovery. It's a sad journey of the protagonist's life really but the ending is dependent on whether your glass is half full or half empty at the time you read it. You have to have patience when reading this book and absorb it slowly instead of trying to rush it, because it won't have the right effect on you. I lack patience when it comes to whizzing through books and so thought it was a little bit slow at times for me but a total adventure and not in the superficial sense. 

I admire how the author did not overthrow the love story elements with constant lovey dovey rubbish. Everything was paced and sweetly spaced out; nothing over the top. The romance in the story is tame which makes a nice change because it allows you to focus more on the real tale which is both diverse and intense.

The quality of the writing is good- creative and detailed- although there were a few little editing mistakes but these were far and wide. The sub-stories were interwoven nicely and surprisingly not so far fetched. The plot was well thought of as well as the interesting revelations, particularly at the end.

I can see why fans of The Sea of Tranquility would recommend this book, because aspects of Blue's personality reflect that of Nastya's from Katja's book. It is also, like TSoT, a story that deals with consequences of the injustices forced upon young people and how they deal with them.

Rating: Solid 4*

Wethering The Storm (The Storm #2)

Wethering the Storm (The Storm, #2)

Review: For now, I'm undecided on whether I want to rate this on 3 stars or 4, so I'm just going to settle it with a 3.5 for now. I was just expecting more I suppose, and for it to be longer.

I loved TMS and while I did like reading this one, nothing much happened. I expected over the top drama, more than enough for my taste, but it was the opposite where there was not enough of it to satisfy my TMS appetite. 

Sigh. I just feel like it was lacking in plot and I feel it didn't live up to book 1 so much that I personally think it is somewhat robbed of it's potential.

However, I LOVED the touching conclusion and think it ended perfectly. Needless to say, I look forward to more of Samantha's work.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Interview with Petra F. Bagnardi for new novel A Veil Of Glass And Rain

Synopsis: Brina and Eagan meet for the first time when she’s nine and he’s fourteen. They like each other from the very beginning, although their bond isn’t immediate, but it grows over the years. What links them is the fact that their parents are photographers and are extremely devoted to their work and to each other; so much so that both Brina and Eagan have to learn how to take care of themselves from a very young age. Despite their differences, age, gender, nationality, Brina is Italian and Eagan is American, they find comfort in their growing friendship. 
Then Brina becomes a teenager, and her feelings for her friend start changing and deepening. New desires stir within her. As soon as Brina realizes how those feelings complicate her friendship with Eagan, she runs away from him.
A few years later, Brina is twenty and Eagan is twenty-five, they find one another once again. Brina is studying cinema in Rome and she’s also trying to become a musician. Eagan begins to work as an architect in the same city. Eagan wants to be a part of Brina’s life anew. Brina, however, is still in love with him; she finds it difficult to act merely as a friend and she keeps pulling away.
Set in the beautiful Rome, this is a sensual and romantic story of friendship and love.
Author: Petra.F. Bagnardi Petra F. Bagnardi
Work: A Veil Of Glass And Rain
Genre:  Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Erotic Romance.
Alisha: Petra, tell us three interesting/unique facts about yourself.
Ideas come to my mind mostly while I’m brushing my teeth.
I could eat pizza every day.
When I was a teenager I was in love with Michael J. Fox.
Alisha: Well we at least have one thing in common which is that we could both eat pizza everyday. What is your favourite reading genre and why did you decide to publish a book within the NA romance Indie scene?
Petra: My preferred genre is Romance, but I read and appreciate every genre that contains strong romantic elements.
While I was working on my debut novel, “A Veil of Glass and Rain”, I wasn’t thinking about the NA genre, I just knew that I wanted to write a story about two friends falling in love in a moment of life when childhood and adulthood still fade into one another, so the feelings, the actions and reactions of the characters are often extreme and irrational.
Alisha: You have a very distinct writing style that I would describe as organic and visually aesthetic. Are there any authors over the years that have inspired your writing?
Petra: When I was a teenager I fell in love with two Italian authors in particular, Elio Vittorini and Italo Calvino. More recently I’ve discovered the books written by American novelist Carol Goodman. All of them have very distinctive voices and all of their books are written with a clear, but poetic prose.
Alisha: Can you tell us about your writing experience from the beginning of A Veil of Glass and Rain, pitching and planning, throughout the writing stages and the completion of it. What journey did you take to get to where you are, having completed your debut novel? How long did it take you to complete?
Petra: It took me about six months to write “A Veil of Glass and Rain”. In the beginning there weren’t words, but images and voices floating in my head. So I decided to buy two big notebooks and I began to write Brina’s story assuming her POV. As her story went by on the pages, Eagan’s voice got louder and louder, so I decided to let him tell his version of the story. Finally, I wrote everything on my lap-top and I gave it a structure and a style.
Alisha: If you could cast anyone as Eagan and Brina, who would it be?
Petra: Chris Evans and Troian Bellisario!
Alisha: Good choice. Do you read what you write?
Petra: Yes.
Alisha: What did you find to be the most challenging aspect about writing a romance NA novel?
Petra: Writing the sex scenes. I had to do a lot of rewriting, because I wanted to find the perfect balance between sensual and poetic.
Alisha: Well I think you certainly achieved that balance. Eagan and Brina’s story covers the first half span of a lifetime together. Were the seeds of your characters sown from the idea of anyone in particular in your life and does the story relate to anything on a personal level that you have ever experienced yourself?
Petra: Brina and Eagan’s story comes from some of my personal experiences, some of my friends’ experiences, but also from books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen.
Alisha: Brina is a very delicate, sensitive and moral character. How did you come to find the voice of her narrative? Does her personality reflect part of your own or did writing from her perspective amount to you stepping out of your own shoes?
Petra: There is a part of myself in Brina, in Eagan and in each one of my characters. 
Brina’s character in particular was challenging because, as you said, she’s very sensitive and delicate and she loves with such abandon that, at times, while I was writing, it scared me, but it also fascinated me. I like writing about people who have some of my traits, but I love writing about people, like Brina, who are almost completely different than I am, because it’s challenging and it forces me to open my mind to new emotions and experiences.
Alisha: What is up for you next? Do you plan on writing anything else in the near future?
Petra: Yes, I do. I’m actually already working on Neal’s story (Eagan’s best friend in “A Veil of Glass and Rain”).
Thank you Petra. 
For more A Veil Of Glass And Rain, check out the links below:

Interview with Christine Brae over debut novel The Light In The Wound

The Light In The Wound is the newly published debut novel by Christine Brae, and it is vastly garnering a diverse international fan base following. Since reading the emotive, debate provoking and feeling evoking  TLITW last July, I’ve watched and been a part of the responses, ratings and rantings on both Goodreads and Facebook, and had to give Christine a good old formal interview about the whole shebang.
Author: Christine Brae
Work: The Light In The Wound  
Alisha: Christine, tell us 3 interesting or unique facts about yourself.
Birds and anything with feathers freak me out.
I have a photographic memory; I can picture a page I just saw in my head. I know everyone’s number by heart.
I have a hard time getting close to people but once you’re my friend, I will do anything for you.
Alisha: I am so interested in knowing, if you could cast anyone as your three main characters, Jesse, Isa and Alex, who would you cast?
Christine: Ian Somerhalder, Jessica Alba and Paul Walker.
Alisha: Which authors or novels have been your source of inspiration to write?
Christine: I’ve been reading and writing all my life – so many books, so many inspiring authors. It really has only been a year since I decided to take a stab at writing a novel and self publishing it. I guess it was spurred by the explosion of Indie books and the emergence of a few specific authors who have inspired me. Tarryn Fisher and Willow Aster have been great mentors and friends. I also love the writing style of Tiffanie De Bartolo and actually want to one day write just like her. Before Indie books, there were mainstream authors like Anita Shreve, Alice Hoffman and Colleen McCullough who were a part of my growing up years.
Alisha: It’s fantastic that all of the new Indie authors are linked through general fan base and the Indie NA reading community which I’m thrilled to see expanding. How did the ideas and concepts of the book spring to mind?
Christine: I had a story to tell and I went ahead and told it. :)  
Alisha: When you began the pitching, planning and writing for this book, was the plot and characters set in stone or did they develop and change?
Christine: No, the plot was never set in stone. I know I had a main character named Isabel who loved two boys in her life for two different reasons. The rest just flowed as I was writing the book. They developed as the characters developed. I let them lead the way.
Alisha: Through Facebook polls and the general consensus on Goodreads, there is evidence of a lot of Alex fans however surprisingly, the #TeamJesse fan base is increasing, competing them as key rivals. Did you specifically plan for and expect this reaction from your readers to be this way, and who do you personally side with?
Christine: Alex is perfect. So I had no doubt whatsoever that he would be the main character of choice. I am however, surprisingly pleased that so many readers are also connecting with Jesse. I wanted the latter chapters of the book to show them how human and vulnerable he really was, and to understand why he did what he did during the time he was with Isabel. He is a good guy, just like Alex. Alex and Jesse are very different in personalities but essentially good. I am actually happy that people are asking about him and wanting to know what his future looked like after the end of Book 1.
Alisha: Okay, this leads us to the next question: Which character do you feel you portrayed yourself in the most? Who is you’re favourite and who do you relate to?
Christine: If I told you, I’d be opening myself up to the whole world! Let’s just say that the people in this book are real. Let’s leave it at that. For now. The Street Team knows. :)
Alisha: Well I can certainly relate your characters to people I’ve had past experiences with, particularly Jesse as the possessive, controlling boyfriend. Did you use anyone who you’ve ever known as a template for any of your characters?
Christine: I think that’s the reason many women have sent me messages about how the book has touched them and evoked so many memories of their own experience with men like Jesse. Let me tell you that all of these characters are real people. One of my friends actually put it so eloquently when she said, “you just can’t make this s**t up.”
Alisha: I love that! It makes everything completely authentic. It’s also clear that readers respond and appreciate a storyline and characters that are realistic and relatable. So, how long did The Light In The Wound take to write?
Christine: It took me six months from start to finish to come up with a book that I was happy to release into the world. I kept on asking my author friends, how do I know I’m done? And just like that, I knew I was done.
Alisha: Reading you book for the first time, I noticed that your style of writing is very structured and polished. Have you always been writing or is it a skill you recently discovered?
Christine: I have always loved to write. This is my very first book so I guess I recently discovered how much I really needed to do this.
Alisha: What message do you think resonates throughout the telling of your story? What is the overall moral?
Christine: I think that there are so many messages in this story whether you look at it from the perspective of first love, true love, family or relationships. What is most special to me about this story is the fact that just because we are inclined to become a product of our early life, we have the power to change things for the better and avoid the mistakes that were committed in the past.
Alisha: TLITW seems to come to the perfect conclusion, but is everything really said and done, and do you plan to compensate Jesse in Mystery Book 2?
Christine: To be completely honest with you, TLITW was supposed to be a stand alone book. I am writing Book 2 because I feel that Jesse still has a lot to say about what has happened over the years. So I will tell you that I have temporarily placed my originally planned second book to finish his story. The words are flowing and so I know that I have made the right decision.
Alisha: I’m sure getting inside Jesse’s head will be a much anticipated journey. Finally Christine, do you have anything to tease us with to keep us hanging until Book 2’s release next year?
Christine: I have an awesome Street Team that will be privy to all of the inside information on Book 2. People need to join it if they want to be in the know.
For more The Light In The Wound gossip and inside book 2 teasers, visit Christine’s page on Goodreads or join the Street Team group on Facebook.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Light In The Wound by Christine Brae

I am completely BLOWN AWAY after reading this!!! Take Note those of you who are still suffering your Love Me With Lies hangover: this book might be your cure.


This goes up on my list of indie favorites along with The Sea of Tranquility, The Opportunist, April and Oliver and True Love Story. I have been reading four books a week in anticipation for a book that will make me feel like this one did. All throughout my work shift today, I kept running off in a cupboard or to the toilets to steal snippets from my kindle. 

The story spans through Isabella's life from the age of seven until the age of about thirty seven. The number seven is also significant to the years spent in the painful relationship and coming of age journey spent with her first love, Jesse. The relationship grows from a normal romance but as the years elapse, develops into something all consuming. Jesse becomes possessive and controlling. As soon as I seen these signs of his character I thought "Great, so he's one of those guys," whilst rolling my eyes. He reminded me of my friend's boyfriend- Her bf didn't let her go to parties wearing a skirt or dress, didn't let her go anywhere where there'd be boys (unless he "accompanied" her), made her cancel her holiday to Italy with her grandmother, and then made her quit all of her friends, including myself.

Crazy right? That's what I thought until I read the chapters covering Isabella's college days. Jesse is something else. His jealousy, possessiveness and the power which comes with his popularity, make him become completely demanding and agonizingly controlling. Isa is naive, wants to please her boyfriend and lives to satisfy his every last whim, even if it means isolating herself from society to please him. 

I loved Jesse, I hated Jesse, I hated Jesse, and then I learnt to love him again, but mostly through sympathy.

As Isabel wills to move on, things get complicated when she becomes intimate and eventually falls in love with Alex. It is not a love triangle in the sense that it is an ongoing affair or fling, but things get extremely nostalgic and simply sad for lack of better word.

I loved this sentence: "Jesse was the hot flame that torched my heart, while Alex is the ever-glowing coal the keeps the fire burning, steady and unwavering.

I forgot to mention how relieved I was to read a touching love story with characters involved who weren't hounded by a dark mysterious past or scarring hidden secrets or any of those ridiculous and overly popular issues.

Now if you hate Wuthering Heights, don't kill me for saying this but (forgetting Bronte's gothicness), Isa and Jesse resemble Heathcliff and Cathy to a T, like a modern day American version of them.

The writing is simple but effective and conveys so much emotion. It is preened and polished and structured to perfection. There is no sickly overload of soppy romantic scenes; those make me want to stick my finger down my throat.

I wasn't blown away by delicately detailed or abstract prose; I was blown away by the utter gut wrenching turmoil. Everything is spaced out and angsty and realistic to the nature of real people. The timescale of the story and reading from Isabella's perspective is like reading an autobiography of her life. 

I don't know what to say about the ending and I'm not going to give much away. All I will say is that I'm glad that Christine didn't take the obvious and easy route to please her readers; to do this, she didn't need to. It gives the perfect closure. I'm sure this is one book that I'll definitely re-read at some point during my gap year.

I am about to be soppy here, but Katie Waissel's song 'I'm Fine' reminded me of this story and I feel that the lyrics reflect the relationship between Jesse and Isabella.

I also listened to John Newman's 'Love Me Again' once or twice while reading this: 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Courtesan's Lover by Gabrielle Kim

The Courtesan's Lover

This is a historical story set in the beautiful Tuscany. The visuals given by the writing were vivid and aesthetic. The writing was of a high standard, had picturesque depictions, and each of the characters were thoroughly developed, each with a detailed sub plot. 

I enjoyed reading the story until a third of the way through. I had reached a point where the plot became too paced and tame, and then I lost interest. I read a spoiler review to see if the book was to me, worth finishing, but when I seen where the storyline goes, I ended up not picking the my copy back up.

It just didn't make sense to me that the first 30% of the book was about the young virgin son (forgotten his name) get close to, and fall in love with the mysterious courtesan, Francesca, and for them to share such intimacy, then for her to marry his father. That is why I didn't carry on finishing the book. Useless plotting.

I can see why people would like this book, but it just wasn't for me, and the plot spoiled it to the point where I didn't want to finish it. Needless to say, because of the high quality of the writing and the technical side of the literature, plus the fact that I think Gabrielle Kim is a talented writer, I give this three stars.

The Coincidence Of Callie And Kayden by Jessica Sorensen

Rating: 3.25*
The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden (The Coincidence, #1)

I liked it.
Not a four star however, for the following reasons:

1) It didn't blow me away.

2) The quality of the writing was okay but not notable. Standard.

3) The concept was nothing exceptional to about 20 other books I've read this year. Neither was the sub plot.

4) I don't get that feeling I'd ever want to read it again.

5) It didn't make me cry or get emotional. Not like books with touching issues such as this one usually do. I blame myself. Maybe I've just overindulged on these sort of books.

I did like the characters though, but I feel like the secondary characters were more rounded than the primary characters. Luke had a dry sense of humour and made me laugh, and Seth was a brilliant friend with such a distinct personality, and reminded me of my gay guy friend from high school. 

I like the tactic that the author used which was to finish the book without conclusion, to draw readers into wanting to read the second book, though I'm undecided if I'm going to read book 2 yet. Since a quarter of the way into the book, I was waiting for it to kick in and make it amazing, but it just didn't happen. I also had high expectations (5* worthy-The Sea of Tranquility-high) because of the pretty good average rating and because nearly all of my Goodreads friends who've read it, all gave it a five star.

Now I'm sorry here, but before I leave, I have to say it: I think it's overrated. Good, but overrated.

The extra .25 added onto my rating is for the beautiful cover which I really love.

Addicted To Him by Lauren Dodd

Rating: 4*

This is going to be more of a ranting review regarding my reaction to the themes and content of the book. Having past experiences with physical and verbal abuse, and having seen female members of my family suffer because of male aggression and violence towards women, I feel very strongly about these subjects, particularly within the second half of the story. 

I won't go into depth describing the plot but in brief, Addicted to Him is the story of the 18 year old Cassidy who, having suffered a great ordeal of dysfunctional and cruel relationships and abuse from: Her boyfriend, best friend, mother, "step-grandparents", and step father; she stays with her biological father for the summer in a vouch to get away from it all. 

There, she meets and unexpectedly falls in love with Seth, who she can relate to on an emotional level. Seth heals her in ways she didn't think possible. As their relationship rapidly intensifies and her addiction to her boyfriend heightens, she (and we as the reader) find that he is not the person we thought he was.

Addicted to Him

I have to say that at first, I suspected there was something not right about him. This was hinted at in the way that he spoke (shouted, really) at his baby sister when she made an innocent and child like remark to Cassidy. Then I started to really like him. I respected him for the situation he was left in. I expected him to be like every other perfect but supposedly flawed male character that is out there in the NA area of literature. When I read that he punched a guy to the ground when the guy had been advancing upon Cassidy with unwanted attention, I rolled my eyes thinking "So he's one of those guys...again."  Turns out, he was a genuine pyscho!

How wrong was I? Well. We begin to see Seth's demeanor gradually change towards Cassidy when, out of the blue, he hits her. In a one time ounce of jealousy, we see him become a possessive monster who threatens to kill her if she ever leaves him. I was so frustrated that she automatically forgave him, though he was hardly remorseful, even after knowing everything she had suffered with in the past. He then conveniently passed his aggression off for the same old excuse of "having a bad day at work". It was more worrying to me that he was so nonchalant about the whole event and did not grovel in any way or form. What made me even more angry with the characters was that 30 seconds later,[ he proposes and expects her to accept. And of course, she does.  I've seen this so many times. Girls get knocked about, their boyfriend apologizes, promises to never do it again, but then of course does. My mam made me promise if a man so much as acted outwardly aggressive even in the same room as me, that I flee and not make the same mistake she did. The truth that people need to realize is that when they say they'll change or get help, whether they believe it or not, they won't.

The thing that angers me the most, is that while Cassidy accepted and dealt with Seth's physical and verbal abuse,and covered the marks he left, the only thing that actually made her leave him was when he slept with another girl.
What. The. Fuck.
She even admitted that while she can put with his abuse, she can not live with having to compete with another girl. 
 Am I missing something here? This girl is seriously damaged to the core.

Anyway, things carry out as there is more physical abuse and fornication. I worried that the author was going to make the incredibly bad and cliche decision of making Seth some what redeemable. It is safe to say, I have never been more relieved and pleased that this book did not have a fairy tale ending. Thank God. I'm also glad that in the end, Cassidy made the only right decision. Never the less, I won't lower my rating albeit how irritated I was with the characters decisions, because that would be close minded. The story was real life stuff. Situations like this occur all the time. The story was not happy, but honest. It told the truth, which is all I ever want.

Drink Devine by Aryn Cordner

*Copy of Drink Devine provided by Aryn Cordner in exchange for an honest review*

Rating: 3.75

Drink Divine (Drink Divine Book 1)

Fingersmith meets Twilight 

I love period novels and the whole theme of Victorian England. I can only imagine being a writer, that it is difficult to compose of a story within an era of such significance, abberration and singularity. Victorian England was a time of gothic heterogeneity, and I believe that Aryn succeeded in capturing Victorian idiosyncrasies through the written aesthetics and ideas prevalent throughout. 

The concept of vampirism additionally seemed more authentic in such a setting, and though some of the ideas were wholly unoriginal and have previously been explored (i.e- Half vampire, Half human with such characteristic/living traits;*cough* Twilight *cough, cough*), it was still a brave area to explore.

It would, however, be a harsh statement to say that this is a near carbon copy of Twilight; which I see a lot of vampire books post the Twilight saga be perceived; because it is not. 

I read a few comments by readers who complained that the protagonist, Selena, was not likable. To that, I have to say that when reading from Selena's POV, you have to remember the time period and culture that this is set in and how it effected the way women were and thought of themselves in Victorian England. If you have read the likes of Jane Austen, despite it being of the Regency Era, or even the Brontes, then you will know that this was the way women were taught to be. You can easily argue that Austen had a narrowness of vision regarding her characters, and that they are shallow and pompous, but this was the 18th/19th century principles. Women also were expected to market themselves through their outward personalities and appearance, to potential husbands of a noble and notable family..($Wealth$) 
This all relates to their vanity.

The plot and story was interesting, as were the characters, to read. 
Also, the cover is beautiful!