Thursday, 17 January 2013

[book review] On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

Series: On Dublin Street (1)
Paperback: 416 pages
Published by: Penguin (January 17, 2013)
Courtesy of: Netgalley 

Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare . . . Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well - until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street, where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core. Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he's determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached. But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won't be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her . . . down to the very soul.

Samantha Young writing an adult book? I had the exact same feelings as when Kresley Cole decided to write a non-steamy book. These where fear (that I'd hate it therefore ruining Samantha as one of my favourite authors), scepticism (it could go so wrong) & curiousness (Will it just end up being a smut fest or will there actually be a good story here). Like Miss Cole though, Samantha did an absolutely brilliant job of venturing outside her genre and probably gaining a whole new hoard of fans. 

Everybody raved about this book, and I can now see why. The story was beautifully written and the characters had so much depth, I could imagine them being an integral part of my life. 

Joss was such an interesting character, there was so much going on in her head I'm not surprised she was a little cuckoo. I saw some parts of myself in her, and boy did that scare me. Although there's a lot of darkness around Joss she still finds the time to have a pretty good sense of humour, 

“Babe,” he gave me a look that suggested I was missing the obvious, “I never kid about blowjobs.”
The sound of someone choking brought my head up. Our waiter had descended on us just in time to hear those romantic words and his rosy cheeks betrayed his embarrassment. “Ready to order?” he croaked out.
“Yes,” Braden answered, obviously uncaring he’d been overhead. “I’ll have the steak, medium-rare.” He smiled softly at me. “What are you having?”
He took a swig of water. He thought he was so cool and funny.
“Apparently sausage.” Braden choked on the water, coughing into his fists, his eyes bright with mirth as he put his glass back on the table.

Talking of Braden, him I didn't like so much. He was a little too 'caveman' for my liking. Okay so he's hot and obviously has issues, so I'll excuse his behaviour a little but I did just want to  slap him silly for how he acted towards Joss at times. 
Aww Ellie, sweet little Ellie. I'll admit I ended up crying because of her. I was all like 'why Samantha, why?' She was definitely my favourite character, she was so sweet and fluffy at the beginning. I kind of worried about her living with a narcissist like Joss. I didn't want her to lose all that made her, her. Obviously she ended up with some bad habits, but I think I'd forgive her almost anything.
This book is a must read and as much as I love Samantha Young's earlier work I can't wait to see what more she has to offer.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Week 2: A Song of Ice and Fire Challenge (chapter 8-14)

8. Bran II  (page 72)
Wow! Don't even know what to say about this chapter, only WTH? My first thought after that murderous, lecherous B******D threw him from the sill, the one I felt most sorry for was his wolf. He didn't even get to name it :(. He couldn't die without naming his wolf, that's just wrong. So okay, I did check to see if there where any more chapters from his POV and horaahh, he didn't die. I know spoiler but I just couldn't have kept reading if Bran was killed so soon. Arghh, how much do I hate Jaime right now! I can't even focus on anything else from this chapter, I'm just in total shock! Not like I've forgot the whole Jaime & Cersei, I quite frankly wish I could forget it. Looks like that image will stick with me for a long time. Well done Mr Martin you've got the shock factor.

9. Tyrion I  (page 82)
A little confused as to what Tyrion's deal is? Is he good? Is he evil? It could go either way with him. At the moment I'm a fan of his, but it seems to me he knows that Jaime and Cersei had something to do with Bran's fall and if he ends up sticking up for them I will not be pleased with him. Also he's got to at least have his suspicions about Jaime & Cersei's 'relationship', he seems like a smart enough guy who notices all the small things so there's no way them two idiots haven't been caught by anybody. I'm really hoping he's just not another Lannister. There could be a great character within him and I hope he's allowed to develop into the 'giant' man he could be.

10. Jon II  (page 88)
So Catelyn's hate towards Jon shows itself yet again. This time, however, she's actually voicing her opinion in front of Jon. I'm really trying to understand Catelyn's actions but I just can't find myself liking her. When she says to Jon "It should have been you" as opposed to Bran lying in a coma, I just wanted to punch her pretty southern face. Yeah, I completely understand why she thinks this, and that she's obviously not in the right frame of mind to deal with her hate. But to actually say it out loud. Dude, that's cruel. It doesn't matter how much I understand her, I still despise her. Jon is still my favourite character so as far as I'm concerned she can go and suck a rock!

11. Daenerys II  (page 94)
Not really got an opinion on this chapter, I mean I already know Viserys is a total turd and I'd get as far away from him as possible if I was Dany. I think this chapter just reinforces my sympathy towards Dany, what girl wouldn't be scared of losing their maidenhood, never mind losing it to a huge, scary man who you don't even share a common language with. I'm trying not to let the whole age issue make me dislike Drogo and I have to say he did seem like an alright dude when it was time to do the deed. I'm glad he's not such an A hole, I would love to see Dany ride off into the sunset with her rather greasy husband. I've got a funny feeling Viserys isn't going to be getting his army any time soon.

12. Eddard II  (page 104)
Okay so kind of got the impression Robert's a jerk! Seriously I'm not surprised Jaime's after his throne, who would want this feeble minded turf ruling over you. What has Robert been doing all these years? Why is he only now worried about the Dany? I can understand why he's not too interested in Viserys, he's a fool even the King can see that but he's had thirteen years to get rid of this family he seems to hate so much. Seriously I'm not liking the fatty!

13. Tyrion II  (page 113)
In this chapter we find out Tyrion is basically obsessed with dragons, I'm sure that's not significant! I find myself liking Tyrion more and more despite the fact he's a Lannister. I love the  fact that he's so obviously flawed, yet has the quickest mind of any other characters. I have to keep reminding myself that Tyrion is, in fact, a dwarf. I love his dry sense of humour, I could see myself being friends with him in another life. 

14. Catelyn III  (page 122)
I just wanted to slap Catelyn silly at the beginning of this chapter, seriously the woman was deranged. I'm not saying I probably wouldn't be the same way but she has got other children to think of. Robb practically pleads with her to help him because he needs her 'Mother, I need you too. I'm trying but I can't . . . I can't do it all by myself'  omg I was nearly crying myself when he said this so how could his mother just ignore his obvious pain, especially as just before he tells her that her three year old son thinks everyone has deserted him. It was so heart breaking. That being said though, how glad am I she acted like a loony. If not for her delaying Bran's assassin, Bran would have been dead before his wolf even reached his room. I'm going to hedge a guess that it was either Cersei or Jaime that sent the hired knife after Bran, but are they seriously that stupid? I wouldn't have thought so but obviously I'm wrong because who else would want Bran dead. So once again I want to congratulate Catelyn on being a bit out of it, she just might have saved Bran's life. 

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

[book review] Witchblood by Emma Mills

Series: Witchblood (1)
Kindle Edition: 195 pages
Published by: Emma Mills, (January 8, 2012)
My Copy: Emma Mills (author)

When Jess steals a glance at a gorgeous guy in a Manchester nightclub, little does she realise how he is going to change her life…or should that be death? Yet, the vampire clan could never have predicted what they were taking on. With Luke pronounced ‘off-limits’ and the blood of a vampire simmering in Jess’s body, can she forget the love of her life and move on? If not, she will risk exposing the entire Northern vampire clan to untold dangers, in order to live her life the way she wants. Can Jess be sure that Luke is all he appears to be? Will she succumb to the attraction she desperately tries not to feel for Daniel? And why does she still crave a packet of crisps more than a tasty teenage boy’s blood?

A book set in Manchester (that's in the UK in case you didn't know). We should have more books set in the UK, I've found most YA books are either set somewhere in America or Ireland. I love discovering books that are set in the UK, so obviously when I saw this book I just had to read it.

This isn't just another vampire story. There's some of the old world vamp stuff for it to feel familiar with just enough of a modern edge for it not to feel overused. Let's not forget there's a whole bunch of witchiness thrown in there for good measure.
Although I liked Jess, I felt like I just new too much about her. She seemed to spend a lot of time in her own head just pondering over guys. I would have liked to see more action from her.
I didn't feel like I clocked so much with Daniel, yeah he was nice enough but I don't know there was just something about him and I couldn't make myself trust him fully. Maybe I'm just a suspicious person who knows, I just feel like he's keeping too many secrets. 
Now Eva I absolutely loved. She's one of them girls you love to hate and then somewhere along the way... BAM! You're best friends. She definitely added the extra oomph to this book and it definitely wouldn't be as great without her. 
Although the beginning started off rather slow, I'm so glad I kept with it because pretty soon I was so engrossed in the book I was finished in no time at all. There where some twists in this story but I did see a few of them coming, although the biggy at the end totally threw me... I'm so glad I received this book and the second in the series from the author because there is no way I can stop reading these now.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Week 1: A Song of Ice and Fire Challenge (chapter 0-7)

0. Prologue  (page 1)
Bam! We're thrown straight into this perilous world. A little bit confusing at the moment because I don't really have a feel for who everyone is and what this world is about. Straight away I can tell this book is not going to be all smiles and happy rainbows. I can already tell the description in this book is going to be top notch. Just as I'd pretty much worked out who I liked (Will) and who I didn't (Royce) they all went and got killed off except for Gared. Ah but just because they're dead it doesn't mean they'll stay dead!  Can't wait to see what's going to happen in this novel, I'm already pretty much hooked. 

1. Bran I  (page 11)

Aww Bran sounds such a cutie, even though he's only seven years old his dad makes him come along to the beheading of Gared (so that's everyone I bothered memorizing dead) which makes me feel oh so sorry for him. We're also introduced to direwolves and aww how cute do they sound. Never mind that they can rip you to shreds I still want one. In this chapter we're introduced to the Lord Eddard Stark's son's, who to me seem like they have to put on an act in front of their father. What I really got from this chapter though is that this place is god-damn cold. This is not a nice place to live by anyone's standards its all cold and hard but seemingly clean. The only character apart from Bran that I have any feeling towards so far is Jon Snow the bastard child (that's not me being cruel he's the kings illegitimate son). Its obviously the authors intention for the readers to feel more of a connection to Jon as he's seen through Bran's eyes as being rather awesome. I'm so glad he ended up getting a direwolf in the end, even if it's basically the runt of the pack. I'm sure all these 'signs' are leading somewhere epic but not sure what that's going to be just yet, but I can't wait. 

2. Catelyn I  (page 19)
Okay so there where a hell of a lot of names thrown around in this chapter, I didn't bother remembering most of them because if the get killed off again I'll just have to throw the book at the wall. From what I could glean, there's Catelyn, who's married to Eddard (aka Ned?). Originally from the House of Tully, Catelyn doesn't like the starkness of the House of Stark (get it? Ha). Basically this chapter is mostly giving us information (a bit much sometimes) and there's not much going on. We learn that Catelyn's sister is married to some old Lord that's just died. This Lord (can't for the life of me remember his name) brought up Eddard and King Robert, so they're basically brothers. After the Lord's death the King decides he's coming to visit Ned along with his 100+ followers of guards and such. Also along for the ride are the Kings in laws who are cowards and who Ned doesn't like. Oh almost forgot to mention the 'Other' sightings, apparently they haven't been sighted for 8000 years, so obviously the prologue seen was a much bigger deal than I originally thought. Don't know if its a case of they've been seen but by no one alive kind of deals, who knows. I'm sure all this will come to a big climatic scene. 

3. Daenerys I  (page 25)
So was yet again confused by this chapter. Because Daenerys (Dany) is described as a princess I was expecting her to be the kings daughter. Logical thought on my part? Apparently not. Turns out Dany is the daughter of the previous king. Dany as a character seems like she can grow very loveable and I have absolutely no problem with her. Its her brother, Viserys, who I want to stab in the eye. Seriously what is wrong with him? At first glance it seemed he was like this because he's the result of an incestuous relationship between father and father's sister. But no, Dany was conceived the same way and her mind seems rather normal to me. So what exactly is my problem with him? Its not even with him and  Dany having a somewhat incestuous relationship themselves. I can kind of get my head around that seen as humans as a species have been known to this continuously throughout history (think Egyptian Pharaohs). I know. Its the whole 'waking the dragon' thing he does. What the hell is that about? Is it some type of euphemism? Sure sounds like one. 'You don't want to wake the dragon do you?', 'you do not steal from the dragon'. It was creepy to say the least. This is definitely a chapter to get us fighting in Deny's corner and totally hating Viserys. Its hardly hard for us not to hate a guy who would gladly offer up his sister to 'forty thousand men and their horses.'
Characters: Daenerys Targaryen (Viserys' sister), Viserys Targaryen (heir of Airys II), Illyrio Mopatis (dealer), Drogo (warlord of Dothraki nomads), Jorah Mormont (exiled knight).

4. Eddard I  (page 36)
So we finally get to meet this amazing king. Everybody (including his so called close friend Ned) is expecting some magnificent warrior who's built like some kind of giant king. What we get in fact is a jolly fat man who's as wide as he is tall. He's nothing like the man Ned remembers, they haven't seen each other in nine years so this is rather understandable. Straight upon arrive king Robert demands to be taken to the crypts to see what I'm believing is his one true love, Lyanna (who happens to be Ned's sister). Robby boys not impressed with his sweetheart being buried underground in this cold, dark place and would rather her be surrounded by the flowers and sunshine she loved so much. Ned, though, made a promise to his dying sister that he'd bury her with their other brother, Brandon and their father. There's also talk of another promise Ned made with his sister, didn't really know if it was still the being buried in a crypt promise or a different one all together. Its obvious to me that Robert is as oblivious as most leaders in fantasy novels. It seems he's sat on his (huge) backside too much ad doesn't pay enough attention to those around him. This is even more obvious when the king offers Ned a position as the King's Hand (basically the Beta to his Alpha) and makes plans to betroth his son Joffrey to Eddard's oldest daughter, Sansa. Its obvious to everybody, except the King, that Eddard in no way wants this position or for his daughter to marry the prince but he can't just outright say no to his friend and his King, so he's given the time to think it over. I've got a sneaky suspicion their friendship won't last much longer.

5. Jon I  (page 46)
Sooo happy there's a POV from Jon. He's by far my favourite character of the novel. I can tell we're going to get some right good times from him. This chapter starts off with Jon drinking his weight in alcohol, which is never a good idea. I love Jon's take on the royal family. The previous chapter was focused mainly on the king and Jon's view, whilst rather cynical is entertaining and gives me an instant opinion on the members of the court. We become aware of Jon's interest in joining the Night's Watch because as he sees it he will have no life when all people see him as is a bastard child. He needs a good shaking if you ask me, yeah I understand why he's all depressed about it. Come on who wouldn't with the way nearly everyone sneers at him, like its his fault his dad shagged his mum. But seriously, dude needs to just get over it. Which is why, I'm sure, I've become very fond of Tyrion the dwarf (also the queen's brother). He has some words of wisdom, mixed with wry humour, for our jon. He basically tells him his life could be a whole lot worse, he might be a bastard but at least he's not a dwarf. 'All dwarfs are bastards, but not all bastards are dwarfs.' I love Tyrion sense of humour. He's got a right to be all cranky, really. How cool is Ghost (Jon's direwolf)? I seriously want that one. What could be more awesome than an all white wolf, with bright red eyes that moves as silently as the wind? Dude sign me up for one now!

6. Catelyn II  (page 55)
It turns out the Queen killed off Jon Arryn (previous King's Hand). Not like we didn't see that coming but you know, its nice to have your thoughts confirmed. This news comes in the form of coded letter from Arryn's wife Lysa. As the letter is addressed to her, Catelyn is the only one who does (and can) read the letter, the fact that she burnt it though straight after reading it, did not go unnoticed by me. Why did she do that? Was that really all there was to the letter? Or was there something more? This early in the novel I just find myself constantly questioning everybody's actions. Everyone seems suspicious to me. I'm not really sure how I feel towards Catelyn as a character. She just seems a little cold hearted towards Jon. I mean I kind of understand that you wouldn't want to be reminded of the fact your husband had an affair but its hardly Jon's fault. He didn't ask to be born. Also Jon's what fourteen? Shouldn't she have kind of thawed towards him by now. I don't have a clue how I'd react in this situation but I'd like to think I wouldn't blame the innocent child. As if Jon doesn't have it hard enough, what with being a bastard, he has to live with the knowledge that his siblings mother hates him. I'm so glad she hasn't managed to poison her children against him, at least that's the case with Bran, I'm not really sure on the other kids. 

7. Arya I  (page 64)
We're finally introduced to the Stark's youngest daughter Arya (wonder when we'll meet Sansa). Aww I want to just lift her up in a big hug and squeeze her silly. I have a feeling, though, that this would not be appreciated by what is obviously a feisty young lady. Why are we, as readers, drawn towards the oppressed? I feel like I've found my kindred spirit in Arya. I too was often forced to partake in 'ladylike' activities when all I really wanted to do is run around with the boys and get all muddy. I'm instantly drawn to fighting Arya's corner, I hope I see more from her because she gives a nice light-hearted view on the world around her. Also I love the chat between her and Jon, its good to see another of the Stark children that isn't prejudice towards my favourite character Jon.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

[book review] Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Hardcover: 384 pages 
Published by: Penguin Group Viking (December 31, 2012)
My Copy: Netgalley

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. 
What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane. 
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that. 
What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

Honestly do not know where to start with explaining this book. I'd never read a book by this author before but my nan absolutely adores her and seeing as she knows me so much she's been trying to get me to read her novels for ages but I've always steered clear. Let me tell you what an idiot I was. Jojo Moyes is now one of my must read authors and I'm raving about her to everyone I know (I even bought the paperback version of this book for my mum for Christmas).
The cover doesn't really give much of this book away but I was expecting the usual chick-lit, light, fluffy stuff. What I got however was a complete emotion overload, even sitting here now, thinking about the book, my eyes are filling up.
This story, with its heart-wrenching storyline, beautiful characters and wry humour had me hooked till the very last page. I applaud Ms Moyes on the way she handled the sensitive subject of quadriplegia and the rights of disabled people. It had me re-assessing the way I viewed the world. I always thought I'd react in a certain way if faced with some of the choices presented in this book but now my mind has officially been opened and I couldn't be more thankful.
I thought I had this book sussed out by the first chapter, but even I couldn't comprehend the amazing journey that this novel took me on.
I did feel a little let down in the ending, it all just seemed to be over with way to quickly. If you like Marian Keyes you'll love Jojo Moyes!!
This book will stay with me for years to come. Ms Moyes I salute you!