Books 21-25 in 2015 are:

21.
Erica James – The Dandelion Years
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is one of my favourite types of books, by one of my favourite authors. I really enjoy Erica James novels, and this one was set in both the present day and during WW2. I love books with a dual timeline! This story was interesting, gripping and touching – plus it was set in Bletchley Park, which I found really exciting. My review is HERE.

 

22.
Amanda Hocking – Wake
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is the first book in the Watersong series by Amanda Hocking. I really enjoyed her Trylle series, so had high hopes for this new book. This is young adult, fantasy literature, which I almost always enjoy. This book is darker than Hocking’s Trylle series, and I didn’t enjoy it as much. That said, it wasn’t a boring or bad read – I read this book in two sittings! My review is HERE.

 

23.
Marina Fiorato – The Glassblower of Murano
Rating: 3 out of 5

The Glassblower of Murano is one of those books which has been sitting on my bookcase for a few years, so I added it to my Goodreads Mount TBR Challenge, so I am pleased to report that I have now read it! This is another book which has a dual timeline; present day and the 1600s. I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as I thought I might. I didn’t find the storyline terribly exciting and I wasn’t overly keen on any of the characters. My review is HERE.

24.
Amanda Hocking – Lullaby
Rating – 3 out of 5

This is the second novel in the Watering series by Amanda Hocking. It continues the story of Gemma, and her entanglement with the sirens. Again, this instalment is darker than the first, but as this is a young adult book it doesn’t get too bad! I am enjoying this series. The storyline is gripping, I like the characters and the books are exciting. I have the last two novels to read, and I am looking forward to them.

 

25.
Beth Redman – God Knows My Name
Rating: 5 out of 5

This is the second time I have read this book, and I have loved it each time. Beth Redman looks at our identity in God. She talks about how God knows us, made us, and how we don’t have to feel shame or regret in His presence. This is a great read, full of truth and encouragement about who we are in God, and who God is to us. This is a must-read in my opinion.

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As I am behind in posting updates about the books I have read (see previous post!) I have decided to attempt to do block updates to catch up.

Books 16-20 in 2015 were:

16.
Harriet Evans – A Place For Us
Rating: 3 out of 5

I hadn’t read a Harriet Evans novel in a long time, although I have several lined up. I saw that this one was available at the library so I snatched it up. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I found it quite long, and sad. The book looks at family, mental illness, secrets and affairs. It wasn’t a particularly easy read and one that I came away from feeling a bit down. I will read more by Evans, but this one isn’t one I would highly recommend.

17.

John Green – Paper Towns
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is the second John Green novel I have read. I loved The Fault in Our Stars so had high hopes for this novel. I found it a bit of a let down – well, I found the ending a let down. This is a story of friendship. A girl goes missing, and a group of friends – led by her neighbour – seek to find her. I liked the tension, I liked reading about the friendship group, but ultimately I didn’t really like the girl they were looking for and I didn’t like the outcome. I finished the book feeling a bit deflated. I will probably watch the film when it comes out though!

18.

M. C. Beaton – Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet
Rating: 4 out of 5

This is also the second M C Beaton novel I have read. I am thoroughly enjoying the Agatha Raisin series. I find them entertaining, gripping and easy reads. The crimes are never too gruesome, and there is something about Agatha that amuses me. This novel didn’t let me down. In this instalment, she investigates the murder of the vet that no one liked. It was a fun read. If you like light-hearted crime novels, this is for you!

19.

Rowan Coleman – The Memory Book
Rating: 4 out of 5

Man, this was a sad book. This was recommended to me by a friend (a fellow book lover), and I did really enjoy it. But goodness me was it a sad read. This novel looks at dementia, but in early age, and the effect it has on the family. It was a hard read, a bit of a tear-jerker, but one that I enjoyed. There was also a little twist, which I hadn’t seen coming, but was a bit heart-warming. This is a novel I would recommend.

20.

Debbie Macomber – 1022 Evergreen Place
Rating: 3 out of 5

As you know, I like a Debbie Macomber novels. They are quick, easy reads – definite Chick-Lit. This, of course, fit that bill perfectly. This is the 10th Cedar Cove instalment. As I am reaching the end of this series of books, I am finding them to be a bit same-y. That said, I liked the storyline about the WW2 letters, that brought a new element to these stories. If quick, girly reads are your thing, you will like this series books – but don’t read them all in one go!

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Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

What if compassion was not an emotion that evoked a response,
but was a prize to be won?

57142 has only ever known the reality of Outside, the place where he has to glean a lonely existence from the discarded rubbish of Tropolis.

Everything changes when he receives the crimson Post. It invites him to the competition that is the Compassion Prize offering wealth, happiness and a place in Tropolis if he succeeds.

How could he refuse to enter?

This is the third novel by Katy Hollway, and is completely different from her other two books, which are part of the Remnant Chronicles. This novel is not part of this series, it seems to be the beginning of a new series of young adult books.

This is a young adult, dystopia novel. 57142 lives in the Outside, surviving off the scraps from Tropolis, until he is selected to enter The Compassion Prize. This gives him the opportunity to compete against 19 others for a live in Tropolis for him and his family. This novel reminds me of both The Hunger Games and the Divergent series for the following reasons:
1. The idea of the very rich city and the very poor outside sectors
2. Competing for a place in a different, better society
3. The public in the city voting for their favourite contestant
That said, this novel does take a different look at this type of society. Hollway starts to unpack the idea that compassion and charity can be outlawed, and the effect this has on live. There are no friendship, no trust and no communities. It is a stark look at how important compassion is. How do you survive in a world like this? Is it possible to build friendships and escape this sad existence? Is being rich and fortunate enough to live in the city actually worth it? I really liked this different take on the dystopia novel.

I found this book really drew me in. I was hooked right from the first page and would have easily read it in one sitting had I been able to! I really liked the characters. They displayed a whole range of emotions, and despite their faults and lack of understanding, I was drawn to them and wanted to see what would happen. I also liked that they weren’t all inward-looking. Some were gentle and caring, despite what life has thrown at them. They were realistic and likeable.

I liked the storyline too. The tension built really well throughout the book. I found the novel easy to read and really easy to get drawn in to. Hollway creates a world and scenes that aren’t hard to imagine. There is drama, adventure, fear and a lovely study into friendship and trust. This storyline is so different from Hollway’s other novels, yet it was such a good read. Hollway is displaying that she has a wide range of writing talents, and a vivid imagination. This book draws you in – the more I read, the more I wanted to read and find out what happened. I am hoping this is the start of a new series by Hollway as this was a great read.

I am rating this novel 4 out of 5 because I really enjoyed it. This is a great, dystopia novel. If you like novels by Suzanne Collins, Lauren Oliver and Veronica Roth than this book is for you!

The first three chapters of this book are available to read to Katy Hollway’s blog.

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Addition: Hardback
Genre: Young adult
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Still haunted by nightmares of her mother’s death, fifteen-year-old Sienna Jones reluctantly travels to Indonesia with her father’s relief team to help tsunami orphans with their post traumatic stress disorder-something Sienna knows a lot about. Since her mother’s plane went missing over the Indian Ocean three years before, Sienna doesn’t do anything if it involves the ocean or planes, so this trip is a big step forward.
But the last thing she expects is to fall for Deni, a brooding Indonesian boy who lives at the orphanage, and just so happens to be HOT. When Deni hears a rumor that his father may be alive, Sienna doesn’t think twice about running away with him to the epicenter of the disaster. Unfortunately, what they find there could break both their hearts.

This novel has been sitting on my shelf for an age, so I decided to add it to my 2015 Mount TBR Challenge, so I am pleased to tick it off my list!

In this book we follow Sienna, a fifteen year old girl whose life dramatically changed when he mother was killed in a plane crash. No longer fearsome, she is not happy when her Dad asks her to go on a mission trip to Indonesia, to help at an orphanage for children who suffered in the tsunami. While there, she meets a boy called Deni, and surprises everyone when she falls for him. He shows her another side of Indonesia, and when there is a chance to find his father, they run away together. But the ending isn’t quite as Sienna hoped or imagined.

I remember being desperate to read this novel when it was released, so I’m not sure why I waited so long to read it. In fact, I left it so long that I had forgotten what the story was about, so I was fairly surprised when I read the synopsis – this book just wasn’t what I had thought it would be. I’m also sad to say, it didn’t live up to high expectations I had placed on it. Maybe the lesson here is don’t leave a book so long to read!

So how come it didn’t live up to expectations? I think the main issue I had with the novel was I couldn’t relate to Sienna. Now I have never faced anything as awful as losing a parent or been a victim of something as horrendous as a tsunami, but I struggled to empathise with Sienna or Deni for that matter. Perhaps unfairly, I just found them to be moody teenagers – children who thought they knew best. There were some things they did which I also found very unrealistic – like running away together. They disappeared off more than once and weren’t caught. I find it hard to believe that a father takes his vulnerable fifteen year old daughter to the other side of the world, and then doesn’t know where she is.

All that aside, the storyline was fascinating. Taking a close up look at the tsunami and the impact that had on the children was heartbreaking. I don’t know how realistic the orphanage was, but those children I could feel empathy for. They were lost and scared. The thunder storms brought back horrible memories and their living conditions were so poor. I guess this book was eye-opening into a culture I have never experienced, and it wasn’t easy to read about their new lives. It also wasn’t easy to read when Sienna and Deni return to his home and see the loss and devastation there. To be honest, it was hard to comprehend the pain.

This was an interesting read – such pain mixed in with a teenage love story. For me, I didn’t need the love story. Sienna going to Indonesia would have been enough. Others will disagree with me and will have connected with her in a way I didn’t. I am rating this book 3 out of 5 because if you put the love story aside, I did enjoy this story. It was sad, yet eye opening, and heartbreaking. What I am left with is a sense of deep sadness for those children.

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I haven’t done a Recommended Author post in a long time, but today I wanted to change that!

recommended authors

The author I am recommending is: Katy Hollway!

katy_avatar

Katy has released two books so far; The Times of Kerim and The Days of Eliora. These are the first two books in the Remnant Chronicles series. Katy’s books are young adult, Christian books and I have really enjoyed both of them. Her writing is engaging and draws you in – with both novels I found myself reading huge chunks in one go as I wanted to know what would happen. I have found Katy’s writing to be like Frank Peretti, which is a big compliment as although I have only read one of his books, I really enjoyed it. If you like young adult fiction, if you like fantasy fiction, and if you like Christian fiction, than Katy is definitely worth checking out!

You can find out more about Katy Hollway and read the first three chapters of The Days of Eliora at her website, www.katyhollway.com

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Addition: Paperback
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Fall under the spell of Wake—the first book in an achingly beautiful new series by celebrated author Amanda Hocking—and lose yourself to the Watersong.

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They’re the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone’s attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs. She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

This is the first book in the Watersong series by Amanda Hocking. A few years ago I read Hocking’s Trylle series and really enjoyed it, so I had quite high expectations for this book. I was also nervous, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this book, which would have been sad as I liked the Trylle series so much.

This book follows Gemma, a sixteen year old girl who loves swimming. Her beauty and natural ability in the water attract the attention of three girls – Penn, Thea and Lexi. These girls are newcomers to the town, and their stunning beauty is making the town nervous. Gemma is cautious of them, but during a late night swim she is convinced to join them in the cove. She wakes the next morning having no memory of the night before, but knows something has changed – she has changed. What does this mean for her and her future?

I am pleased to write that I enjoyed this book. Maybe not as much as the Trylle series, but enough to read it in two sittings! This book is gripping, and pulled me in straight away. It is an easy read, but enjoyable. I liked the characters and I liked the story. This is a young adult novel, but as an adult I enjoyed it.

I liked Gemma and her sister Harper. I felt for Harper, she just wanted to protect Gemma. I found the storyline with their Mother a bit odd, and I’m not sure it added much to the book. Their Father seemed to be a sweetheart. Hard-working and trying hard to look after his girls. I think I forgot that Gemma is on sixteen, she seemed more mature than that. I liked the boys written into the story as well. Daniel made me chuckle as he humoured Harper, and Alex just seemed very sweet.

The storyline was good. This is the first in a four book series, so it took a little longer to get going than usual but I didn’t mind the scene-setting. I quickly worked out what fantasy characters the three girls are, but I enjoyed watching the story unfold. There were bits that were a little bit more gory than I expected, but that didn’t bother me much. The story is gripping, there are a couple of mysteries throughout the story, and of course there are a couple of romances too.

I don’t have anything bad to say about this book, except that it isn’t the best book I have ever read. I may have rated this book higher if this was the first Hocking book I had read, however this was a good read. Like I have said, I read it very quickly and I did enjoy it.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the Trylle series, however I liked it enough to buy the second book in the series. I am rating this book 3 out of 5.

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Addition: Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Fantasy, young adult
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That–along with everything else–changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon–an uncle she’s never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it’s hard to resist. Especially if you’re a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

I received this book from Netgalley to give an honest review.

This is the first book by Django Wexley I have read, and it is the first in The Forbidden Library series. In this novel we meet Alice, a girl recently orphaned, who has been sent to live with her mysterious Uncle. But things are not as they seem. She quickly learns that magic is everywhere and her Uncle is some sort of wizard. She is drawn into this world when she follows Ashes, a talking cat, into the library she has been forbidden from. She is on a hunt to find out what has happened to her father, but she is about to enter a whole new world and start leading a life she wouldn’t have believed possible just a few months ago.

This book falls into the scope of fantasy for young adults. But it is more than just that. This book has adventure and suspense. There are unanswered questions – mystery follows through the book – and there is fighting and the need to survive throughout the book.

As a character, I quite liked Alice. She was hard working, compassionate and fearless. She is however, only 12 and I think that when you read through the book you forget that. She seems to be a very mature 12 year old. I felt like I was reading the adventures of a late teen, not a girl. I did find it convenient and a bit far-fetched the number of times she suddenly had a plan that would save her life. My favourite character was Ashes – who doesn’t love a grumpy cat! He reminded me a lot of Grimalken the cait sith from the Iron Fey series. As a rule, I don’t like cats, however Ashes was exactly how I imagined a cat who could speak would be. He was definitely a highlight in the book for me.

I think my biggest complaint with this book is simple: it dragged a bit. I know I have said that there is action and adventure, but it was a bit slow. I did find myself checking to see how long I had left in the book. There is a lot that happens in the book – we are taken into three different worlds, there are the encounters with the evil fairies, plus we watch Alice fight for her life on more than one occasion – yet there were moments when I wondered if I would finish the book.

Overall, I am rating this book 3 out of 5. There are elements of this book which I really enjoyed. There is action, a sense of mystery and I did wonder what was going to happen. However, I won’t be rushing to read the next book in this series.

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2015 Reading: Book 1 – The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

Synopsis:

Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That–along with everything else–changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon–an uncle she’s never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it’s hard to resist. Especially if you’re a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

Quick thoughts:

I received this book from Netgalley to give an honest review.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book – I have never read a novel by Django Wexley before. This is fantasy and action, with a hint of thriller in one book. We follow Alice into a mysterious world – one with talking cats and fairies. My initial thoughts are this: I did enjoy the book however I did find it a little slow. There is quite a lot in the book and a fair amount happens, yet I did catch myself checking to see how many pages were left. I am currently writing a full review of this book, but I would say this was an OK book – lots of adventure and fantasy, but I did think it dragged sometimes.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Days of Eliora

Katy Hollway’s The Days of Eliora was book 43 in 2014. This is the second novel by Hollway, and the second in the Remnant Chronicles series.

Like with her first novel, I wasn’t sure what to expect – when this book is set or who the main characters will be. However, that should not put you off this book. Set in the times of Moses as he follows God’s orders to see his people freed, we follow Eliora, a girl stuck between the Hebrew and Egyptian worlds. It is hard to say what I thought coherently! I did enjoy this book, I wanted to keep reading and I found myself thinking about it. However, I didn’t like some of the storylines! I will write a proper review of this book, but I would rate it 4 out of 5 because I wanted to keep reading, and I would recommend it.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

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I LOVE buying books! I have so many to read, yet that doesn’t stop me buying and borrowing more. And this week was no different! Earlier in the week I was enticed onto Amazon…a dangerous place for me…and treated myself too:

The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt
I have read The Secret History by Tartt, which I enjoyed, so am looking forward to reading this. It is a bit long though…!

The One Plus One
Jojo Moyes
I have had a mixed experience with Jojo Moyles. I loved Me Before You and yet didn’t finish The Girl You Left Behind, so it will be interesting to see how I get on with this novel.

Haha, good thing I have a “pocket money” account!

Yesterday, I was in WHSmith with my husband, and he treated himself to the new Lee Child hardback book, and because he got a book, I was allowed to spend the same amount on books, from the joint account! I pondered and decided, I could get more Kindle books for the same amount, so I downloaded:

The White Princess
Philippa Gregory
Ooo I do like Gregory’s novels. This is book five in the Cousin’s War series. I have read the first two books in this series, and have books three and four waiting to be read. I can’t wait to get to them!

A Time to Kill
John Grisham
Now this is an oldie! I have read a few Grisham books and recently bought my husband Sycamore Row, but I haven’t read A Time to Kill so can’t read Sycamore Row once he has finished. Looking forward to reading this one a lot.

Looking For Alaska
John Green
I recently read The Fault in Our Stars – I read it in one sitting – and loved it! When I saw this wasn’t very much on Amazon, I was quick to download it!

Blossom Street Brides
Debbie Macomber
This is one of my favourite reading series. It is girly, but a comfort. For ages I have been hoping Macomber would bring out another Blossom Street book, and she has! I am one pleased girl!

I also downloaded a free Cedar Cove short story, When They First Met, by Debbie Macomber.

Plus, from my Mum I borrowed:

The Silkworm
Robert Galbraith
I have only recently finished The Cuckoo’s Calling, which is the first novel from Galbraith and the first in the Cormoran Strike books, yet I really enjoyed it. I am very much looking forward to reading this second novel by Galbraith.

So, quite a haul this week. I am quite pleased with myself! Have you read any of the above? What have you been buying this week?

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