The Diviners (The Diviners #1) by Libba Bray

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Book Blurb :

Cassandra Clare meets Phryne Fisher meets Patricia Cornwell in this launch of a blockbuster series set in 1920s New York about a teen psychic and her similarly gifted friends on the hunt for a serial killer.

1920s New York. A teen clairvoyant. An old evil. It has begun…

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old home town and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City – and she is pos-i-tute-ly thrilled! New York is the city of speak-easies, rent parties, shopping and movie palaces, and soon enough Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfeld girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult – also known as ‘The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies’.

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of it. Even Evie’s new pals – hoofers, numbers runners and activists, but all swell kids – are drawn into the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer – if he doesn’t catch her first…

 

 

Tash M

Take one massive epic-sized book, that is 500+ pages of creativity and secrets and you get a magical story. Set in the 1920’s, The Diviners tells the story of Evie, a young woman who has a gift that has gotten her in trouble and shipped off from Ohio to New York where the roaring Twenties is in full swing. She soon settles down, running around the city with Mabel, a friend she made on previous trips to New York, and Thea, a Ziegfield girl who lives in the same building that her uncle lives in.

Evie is a brash girl who uses her charm and ways to get what she wants and sets her sights on taking on the town and helping her friends. Mabel wants Jericho, uncle Will’s assistant while Evie just wants some fun. A match made in heaven, right? But there always a stickler figure in a relationship and in this story it’s Uncle Will who has gained a reputation by objecting about the war and instead learning about the paranormal, specializing in the area of occult which will come in very handy for Evie as she uses it to her advantage to get her name in the newspaper.

There is a dark underbelly to New York City, which her Uncle is drawn into because of his work.  Murders are happening and the killer is leaving references to different religions but they all have an occult element in common. Uncle Will is a respected authority on the occult and is called in to help by Detective Mallory. Little does he know what his niece can do and how she will be able to help. She can find out anything about anyone if she has a personal item of theirs in her hand and her skills have developed to the point that it invades her dreams. However, she is not the only one with gifts and it gets her into things that make her expand her horizons.

There is Memphis who just wants to become a poet but is stuck living with his Aunt and looking after his brother Isaac. He spends his days working for Papa Charles collecting betting money, and spends his nights at the club with Gabe, his best friend, who always needs help getting out of trouble while dragging him into trouble. His main concern is Isaac, both of them possess gifts but Memphis’s gift disappeared when his mother died. It is a sore point as people do not just understand he cannot heal anymore. In addition, Memphis does not want to be known for it, as he wants to protect Isaac. Isaac has the gift to able to read cards  facedown and it’s something to be kept hidden as they have seen what happened to Memphis. To complicate matters, Isaac is saying things in his sleep that seem to relate to the prophecy about the Diviners and it looks like he may be able to prophesize.

Then there is Sam who walks himself into the story causing trouble from the onset. He is able to sneak up on Evie at the station when she arrives because of his gift of being able to hide and appear out of nowhere. Evie, being who she is, will not let him get away without a fight. Being a thief, he fights back with what he knows best to get Evie right where he wants her, working at the museum.

Jericho … I thought I had him all figured out as a young, quiet, mysterious boy who doesn’t open up to people because he was an orphan. Then Bray drops a bombshell with him appearing alongside a man who was mentioned as an rich industrialist. WHAT JUST HAPPENED?! This is why I could not wait until I had the opportunity again to pick up this book.

I started this book and then life took over and I started it again when I had the time and I was quickly immersed in the world that Bray created. This probably is one of those books that’s hard to describe because there is so much going on and you need to read it for yourself to fully understand and appreciate. I can give the general information and my thoughts but there is honestly two stories going on in this book. Evie and her friends and Memphis and his friends. I was wondering whether Evie and Memphis would meet in this book as they seem to play an intricate part of the prophecy . When the groups do, it is not who I expected to meet and I was disappointed for a moment but there is so much going on you can forgive it as there is excitement immediately following.

I could go on and on with this story but I leave you with this: the prophecy is coming true, the powers are revealing themselves to people who will help make the prophecy come about and there so many unanswered questions I want to know the answers to, including those of the minor characters who seem wise and understanding.

Five couples.

P.S. For those reading this and living in Australia, Libba Bray is coming to Australia this year. Dates and signings are to be announced if she doing any but for those in Victoria, she one of the guests at the Reading Matters Conference run by the State Library.

Publisher : Allen and Uwin

Source : Publicist Provided for review

Released : November 2012

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A Sinful Regency Christmas by Amanda McCabe, Christine Merrill , Bronwyn Scott, Ann Lethbridge & Marguerite Kaye

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Book Blurb :

It was a thrilling and thoroughly sinful Regency Christmas!

Lady Cassandra Osborne is ready to take a lover to her bed – and she’ll be at the same Christmas house party as Sir Ian Chandler, her late husband’s rakish best friend…

Robert Breton’s touch fills Anne Clairemont with a delicious, scandalous heat – but can Robert’s mistletoe kisses seduce her into breaking her planned engagement?

Dashiell Steen, heir to an earldom, craves one final adventure before settling down – and finds it with a vivacious beauty escaping from a manor window!

Lady Eugenie Hardwick is being driven wild with need by the sounds of unrestrained passion coming from notorious Lord Richard Townsend’s bedroom!

Cursed to be widowed on her wedding anniversary, Jura McNair chose not to marry, but, with handsome Lawrence Connaught, she feels the lure of forbidden desire…

 

 

Tash M

 

Review:

I wished I hadn’t read this straight away. Maybe I had high expectations for the historical books that Harlequin produces. This anthology has it gems and then there are ones that left me scratching my head asking if they added the Christmas bit to the story so they could include it in the collection. Also there is the different length of the stories, some short, others a decent length and there is one that has something on the order of nine chapters. Now, more words or less does not mean a bad thing necessarily, but it did in this instance.

The first story is One Wicked Christmas by Amanda McCabe. It has five chapters and fifty five pages and it’s a little gem. McCabe manages to write and convey a story that you would expect in a novel-length book. Widow Lady Cassandra Obsborne has decided she wants a lover so she can move on and she desires a certain man. Her husband was okay but she wants someone exciting, namely his best friend, the rakish Sir Ian Chandler who she thinks has rejected her. Therefore, her friend Melisande suggests that she take another member of the ton who has been seeking her out and come to her Christmas Party which is known for being on the naughty side. You know where this is leading, Ian is invited too as Melisande is a friend of his, too, and she wants to set him up with a woman who has set her eyes on him. But Ian wants only Cassandra and decides to take things into his own hands and give Cassandra what she wants.

It’s pretty obvious where the story is going but it is enjoyable and one of the highlights in this anthology.

4 couples

 

A Virgin Untouched, um … what were they thinking when they came up with this title? The book is roughly 50 pages and 5 chapters. It a nice short story but just a straightforward plot that proved enjoyable but lacks the extra spark to make it memorable.  Anne Clairemont knows her duty. She needs to get engaged to Joseph Stratford so that her family can gain the house through marriage. She has the title, he has the money and it seems the perfect arrangement. However, Annie is falling in love with his best friend, Robert Breton, who does not have the money and possessions that the family wants. Nevertheless, this Christmas holiday Robert is going to make his move as he can’t wait any longer and Annie is a tempting distraction who believes that Joseph doesn’t deserve her. Annie wants the house back in the family so she agrees with a prompting from her family to get married to Joseph. But he is never around and Robert is always there and she doesn’t understand the reason.

Will their brains win over their hearts this Christmas? You need to read it find out.

4 couples

 

In the third story, An Illicit Indiscretion, Dashiell Steen went from a minor nobility to being heir to an earldom resulting in matchmaking mamas wanting him at their parties. He is at the Earl of Greybourne party where he grows bored and seeks some fresh air. When the stars align and he sees Elizabeth, the daughter of the earl, climbing down a pole to witness Halley’s Comet, he is intrigued and he decides to help her, both of them unaware of who the other is. They spend the night at a fellow astronomer’s house where she hopes to see  the comet but instead finds something more. This is the longest story in the book and was something different. Dashiell wants love but is being dictated to by duty. Elizabeth wants her freedom. She has had four seasons already and she would rather spend her days as an astronomer and so when Dashiell appears and seems interested, she starts lowering her carefully erected barriers. He seems interested in her work which is something she found her other suitors not to be. I love this story and this was the crème de la collection.

5 couples

 

The last two stories in the book really have little to do with Christmas, one featuring only the spirit of Christmas and the other featuring Christmas only towards the end. A Rake for Christmas is about two neighbours who are alone for Christmas and who argue about the noise coming from Lord Richard’s bedroom. Eugenie was sent to the countryside after her reputation was wrecked and she lives as a spinster thinking that she will never marry.  So when she walks into Richard’s to give him a letter, she lets everything go and has a wicked night with him. Richard realises that the spinster he think is strict and dowdy is actually a young beautiful woman who is haunted by her choices. Will this rake be tamed for Christmas? The answer is played in a way that makes me question some of the story, as in the part that they were friends because of the letters they wrote to each other to deal with their problems and therefore makes it acceptable for them to fall in to bed.

2 couples (more like 2 and half)

Spellbound and Seduced is so out of the theme with the rest of this collection. There is a paranormal element in this story. The heroine, Jura, is cursed and has the gift of healing which has been the downfall for the women in her family. Lawrence Connaught is on his way to his new home when he has an accident and Jura finds him. The story is solid but it wasn’t for me. Jura is a strong woman but she harps about being not able to marry because of the curse. This was a skim-through read for me and is probably one of the shorter stories that needs a longer length to make it convincing .

2 couples

Overall I give this collection 3 couples.

 

 

Publisher : Mills and Boon  Australia

Source : Publicist Provided for review

Released : October 19th 2012

Rating

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Sylvia’s Secret by Charlotte Carroll

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Book Blurb :

When Sylvia Sweet throws up on the cop who pulled her over, she is sure that things can’t get any worse. All her worldly possessions are now crammed into her elderly Subaru, which is quietly rusting just outside the city limits of her tiny South Carolina hometown. Her dignity? Gone. But when she discovers that she’s deathly ill and two weeks pregnant, everything changes. Romance will be absolutely the last on her list.

Even if it means pushing away a handsome, enigmatic policeman who could possibly be Mr. Right, except for one, tiny detail.

He’s not the father.

 

Dolce Amore

Review:

When Silvia Anne “Sylvia” Sweet comes back to Rabbit Creek, she is hurting. The bookstore, Ladybug Books, she had given five years of her life to has burned down; and she just discovered that the relation she had with Mark was a lie; he was a married man. So she is coming back home to decide what she should do next. Because of the shock of discovering Mark’s duplicity, she doesn’t realize that she has a bad case of food poisoning until she loses consciousness in front of the cop who stops her less than five miles away from Rabbit Creek, thinking she was driving drunk.

 

Oh, dear God, he thought that she was wasted. Her, the girl who was always too in control to take more than two sips out of her beer during a party. He thought that she was smashed.

 

Caleb Dixon vaguely remembered Sylvia from the high school.

 

A serious, studious girl who coordinated book drives for the local library. But beyond that, there was nothing. She was as vague as a shadow. She had stepped out of his life without him even missing her.

 

Yet now he sees her and admires her beauty. Even with her high fever and dehydration, Caleb can’t stop from admiring her. But there are some boundaries that he shouldn’t cross and he shouldn’t involve himself in her situation … yet he can’t resist her. So Caleb not only takes her to the hospital, but he stays with her until her fever breaks and her mother arrives to take her home.

 

The poor girl was terrified. And alone.

He should go now. There had to be boundaries. Or else people would lose respect for the law. They would try to talk their way out of traffic tickets. They would think that they had a contact who could personally fight all of their battles for them. It was a slippery slope.

“Caleb…”

Oh, Hell. He could start making boundaries with her tomorrow.

She needed him, and here he was.

 

When Sylvia is told she is pregnant, she can’t believe it. Her life is a mess and she can’t tell Mark about the baby, as he already has children with his wife.

 

How to tell her mother that she was having a married man’s baby?

Oh, my God, I’m a Jezebel.

 

Once she’s out of the danger, she starts helping her mother at The Sweet Spot, the only coffee shop in town, and although she tries to resist the attraction she feels for Caleb because she is pregnant with somebody’s baby, she can’t, especially after seeing that Caleb wants to see where the relationship between them can lead.

 

“Say that she rail; why then I’ll tell her plain, she sings as sweetly as a nightingale. Say that she frown; I’ll say she looks as clear as morning roses newly washed with dew. Say she be mute and will not speak a word; then I’ll commend her volubility, and say she uttereth piercing eloquence. If she do bid me pack, I’ll give her thanks, as though she bid me stay by her a week.”

“What?”

“Shakespeare wrote it.”

“I know who wrote it. I was just wondering why you’re quoting The Taming of the Shrew to me at eight o’clock in the morning.”

“Because you’re not nearly as hard-core as Kate is. I was in Iraq. I know hard-core when I see it.”

“Your arms are… more muscular than mine.”

“The better to hold you with, my dear.” 

 

Still, when Caleb discovers about the baby she’s carrying, he feels betrayed and thinks Sylvia is trying to pass the baby off as his. While he loves her, and knows she loves him too, Caleb needs to discover if he has the strength needed to raise her baby as his … and he has to do it before she leaves town.

 

I liked this story. The story and the characters have enough depth to make them real.

 

I liked Sylvia. Although I felt her relation with Caleb came too soon after her relationship with Mark ended and she appears to have no difficulty in putting the year she had with him behind her, her coupling with Caleb seems kind of rushed. She seems real enough, especially while she discovers what the difference is to read about pregnancy and to read about your own pregnancy.

 

The pictures, filled her with something between hope and terror.

She had seen these same pictures ever since she had learned about sex. She knew how a baby would look in a womb. But that was a very different experience from reading information about her baby, in her womb.

 

And while being caught while staring at Caleb’s ass.

 

Oh, God, he caught me staring at his ass. Please let me die right now.

 

I loved Caleb. He is the strongest character in this book and seems like an incredible hero, the perfect hero. As Sylvia is the first woman who has caught his attention since his wife died several years ago, he wants to see where their relationship might take them, so he doesn’t accept No for an answer.

 

I loved this scene where we can figure how much he needs her in his life and how happy is simply hearing her voice:

 

“Hi, this is Sylvia.”

The room seemed instantly brighter. “Sylvia!” He winced, suddenly picturing himself as an overenthusiastic dog trying to lick her face. He hoped that she didn’t hear that tone of voice.

 

Like I said, the story and the action between the main characters seemed a bit rushed and Sylvia forgets a little too soon about her ex so I have to rate it 4 couples.

 

Publisher:  Self Published

Source : Purchased

Released : August 29th 2011

Rating

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For Men Like Us by Brita Addams

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Book Blurb :

After his lover dies trying to lend him aid at Salamanca, hopelessness becomes Preston Meacham’s only way of life. Despite his best efforts and with no pride left, he sells himself for a pittance at a molly house, the mindless sex giving him his only respite from the horrors he witnessed.

The Napoleonic War left Benedict Wilmot haunted by the horrific acts he’s forced to commit, as well as torture at the hands of a homophobic superior. As the battle rages around him, a weak and beaten Ben is ordered to kill a fellow redcoat, else face a ghastly death himself. Even in his dreams, he can’t escape the memory of the man he killed.

When their paths cross, Ben feels an overwhelming need to protect Preston from his dangerous profession, because, as he explains, “The streets are dangerous for men like us.

 

BlackTulip

 

Review:Personally I’ve always been a sucker for damaged and tormented souls and if you’re not afraid to have your heart trampled on … Brita Addams definitely knows how to play with your feelings and emotions, she simply plays the game masterfully!

At first sight, you may think that you’ve already read a similar story but very rapidly you will discover that nothing could be more wrong …

The battle of Salamanca has ended with a complete victory for Wellington, but for our two protagonists, Preston Meacham and Benedict Wilmot who have lost everything … They emerge both wounded but alive from this total insanity, only as mere shadows of their former selves … broken, lost and alone with their minds.

Very tragically and irremediably connected by their past, they walk through life like ghosts unable to live it anymore.

Theirs is a long and arduous journey where pride can be a hindrance, courage and patience will be needed and certainties will crumble along the way. In time, comes acceptance, forgiveness and only then, healing is on its way.

The author makes us experience and feel with strong intensity their everyday private hell, different but also very much alike, through Benedict’s destructive and exhausting nightmares and Preston’s plaguing and haunting memories prevent them from moving forward and keep them in a dark and desolate place.

Ms. Addams has created a very detailed background for Benedict and Preston, which is rare enough for the length of a novella; it adds an extraordinary dimension and depth to the story. The interaction between them, and I don’t mean only the sex scenes, as well as the conflicts, are brilliantly achieved and utterly believable. In this book, the author shows an undeniable strength and skill at describing and translating emotional trauma. The way she cleverly and skillfully drip-feeds us smatterings of information can only be admired. I became addicted with the very first drop!

I love the constant and meticulous description of their state of mind, the way they struggle with their personal demons, their inner desire and physical attraction. Vulnerability, pride and guilt: all these elements combined to create a complex and captivating novella.

The BDSM theme is lightly used and this perfectly suits me because it’s not really something I favor that much. My only niggle is that I felt once or twice that the sex scenes weren’t always necessary …  even as well written as they are—but of course, it’s only my very personal opinion!

This is a poignant tale of love, pain, sacrifice and redemption, harsh and sweet at the same time, beautifully written, realistic and with a fulfilling conclusion.  I give For Men Like Us 4 couples but it’s more like 4.5!
Pubisher :  Dreamspinner Press

Source : Purchased

Released :September 12th 2012

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Lullaby (Watersong #2) by Amanda Hocking

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Book Blurb :

Harper only wanted a safe, normal life. But when her younger sister Gemma runs off with a dangerous clique of beautiful girls, Penn, Thea, and Lexi, everything changes. Vowing to get her sister back no matter what the cost, Harper must face dangers unlike any she’s ever experienced. Fortunately, she has Daniel by her side, a gorgeous guy who’s devoted to helping her find her sister—and who’s immune to the girls’ dark powers.

While Harper searches for her sister, Gemma struggles to adjust to her new life.  Gemma’s powers are growing by the day, and the longer she lives with her new “sisters,” the harder it is to resist entering their magical world.  It’s a realm both dark and beautiful, and where she’s plagued by strange hungers and unspeakable needs.  Just as she’s drifting far away from her old life,  Harper and Daniel find her…but no one can deny how much she’s changed.  All she wants is to return to her family and the mortal world, but how can she do that when she’s become something else entirely—and will they still love her once they learn the truth?

Prepare to fall under the spell of Lullaby, the second book in the Watersong series from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

 

 

Tash M

 

Review:

[warning]If you haven’t read the first book, this review will ruin the first book for you.[/warning]

As mentioned in the Wake review, the time between the first book and the second book is a matter of days, well, try the next day for the starting point of Lullaby. It begins with Harper reflecting what happened the previous night. She discovered Penn, Lexi and Theas’ deadly secret. They are Sirens, the actual girls mentioned in the Greek legend and they needed a fourth to remain strong and immortal so they chose Gemma, and turned her without her knowing and now they are gone as they have been discovered by Harper, who knows all their secrets

Gemma is forced to go with them as Thea threatened to kill Alex the boy she loved. She can’t risk that and she wants to protect Alex and her family so she reluctantly leaves her home town and goes with the girls. But she is not going to play by Thea’s rules and use her powers to help them. She is going to suffer whilst pining for those she loves.  So whilst Thea uses a young, rich guy named Sawyer to get what she wants in terms of needs except for food, there is a search going on for these girls.

Meanwhile Harper is starting a desperate search for her, armed only with what she knows and research with the help of Alex and Daniel. She knows it’s only a matter of time before they pop up again and she lies to protect Gemma from her father Brian by saying that she ran away but the group know the truth. She didn’t, and Harper wants Gemma back away from the girls and their deadly influence.

Not much has changed from the previous book, as it is really a continuation on the events that happened at the end of book one. We know about Gemma and the mysterious trio’s secret and their disappearance from the town leaving a devastating trail behind them. In this book, we learn about the sirens individually more and discover their personalities as the book is split between the two groups. It’s interesting as Thea is obviously the leader but the other two girls show totally two aspects. Penn is a follower and won’t disrespect Thea orders but Lexi doesn’t agree with everything. So Lexi knows when to argue and when not to, as she doesn’t want the same fate as the previous fourth girl who Gemma replaced. So there’s interesting dynamics between the girls, and it something that I was waiting for after the previous book where we only saw them when they approached Gemma taking her, with the only exception being the prologue.

The last book was dominated by Gemma and her relationship with Alex which became something special very quickly and it was nice to see Harper’s  budding relationship with Daniel, the guy  who she hated because he rubbed her the wrong way but then we discovered he had a kind heart and was trying to help Gemma .

By the end of the story, I was kind of disappointed as Hocking reuses something from the first book. In the first book Thea tries to kill Alex in order to get Gemma to come with her and succeeds and she tries again when Harper rescues her, brings her home to try and get Gemma back into the group. I wished she had done something else at this point and was slightly disappointed with this but then she makes it up with reasoning Gemma uses her siren powers to make Alex forget about their relationship and love for her so that Thea won’t come after him again. I just wish this was done either differently or earlier. So we are left with this and I have to wonder what Harper and Gemma’s next move will be as they discovered something that could help them which I won’t reveal as it seems that will have an important part in the third book as they move on.

 

 

 

 

Publisher : Pan Macmillan Australia

Source : Publicist Provided for review

Released : August 1 2012

Rating

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Wake (Watersong #1) by Amanda Hocking

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Book Blurb :

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

 

Tash M

 

Review:

I was on vacation and brought with me four books from two different series in case I got bored.  Little did I know these books would have something in common as they are different genres, one a contemporary fantasy and the other pure fantasy. Both of these books are book one and two of the series but that is not what they have in common. The time between book one and book two is a matter of days and each of them is seeking a person who disappeared in the author’s first book.

I’m going to start with the contemporary fantasy book that is written by none other than Amanda Hocking, the original self-publishing success story in the YA world. Her latest series, Watersong, tells the story of Gemma, a girl who gets dragged into something unknown when she catches the attention of three girls named Penn, Thea and Lexi, three strangers who just happen to be spending the summer in her small town. We first meet the girls in Wake when they mysteriously walk into the scene between Penn and Thea who are talking over something that just happened. Hocking knows how to draw us in and we have to wonder after reading the prologue what is going to happen and what just transpired. The answer to both of those questions will be answered but it is not going to be answered straight away. It will be only answered towards the book’s climax and it is an interesting story that Hocking has to tell and it is not going to appeal to all, I must warn. The book is subtle at the start with the fantasy element and you think it going one way before completely taking another direction and fitting what we read at the start of the book.

Gemma is just a normal sixteen-year-old living with her dad and older sister, Harper. She lives for swimming and most likely will be found training at the swimming pool at school but she’s carefree and is about to have her first serious relationship with the boy next door, Alex. Harper is the practical sister; smart and best friends with the boy next door and tries to keep the family together after her mother suffered irreparable brain damage in an accident that has put her into the care of a group home.

Something happens that is going to be tested as the summer progresses. The girls are growing up and discovering new things and decisions need to be made about their future. However, where does that mysterious trio of girls fit in? Where does Daniel fit into the story, the young man who seems to get Harper all worked up whenever they talk? You’ll find it interesting, to say the least, in discovering those answers.

The mini blurb at the back of the book describes the trio perfectly ‘ Beautiful. Fearless. Dangerous. The kind of girls you envy. The kind of girls you want to hate.’  It also sums up the feelings of the novel about these mysterious girls who add an element to the novel and changes the tone of the story. Every time those girls appeared in the novel, Hocking uses them to do something that changes her tone. However, it’s all for a reason and I wanted to know the reasoning behind their actions and couldn’t put down Wake until the last page.  Wake is a book that leaves you wanting to know what happens next and something luckily I didn’t have to wait for.  You need to read it for yourself to discover the secrets of the mysterious girls as well as Harper and Gemma.

4 couples

 

 

Publisher : Pan Macmillan Australia

Source : Publicist Provided for review

Released : August 1 2012

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Walled Garden by F.M. Parkinson

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Book Blurb :

William Ashton, retained as a gardener by Edward Hillier, discovers his new master to be a detached and driven man. Over the years, as travail and tragedy bring them closer together, he understands that they have more in common than he first realised, but the affection they feel for one another will be sorely tested by boundaries both of class and of rigid Victorian morality. Like the private garden behind the high walls their love must flourish only in the strictest secrecy – or else it will not do so at all.

 

BlackTulip

 

Review:
If you’re looking for a “breeches ripper” you’ll be very disappointed, this book is simply not for you; not that I don’t like a good one myself, I do!  But from time to time I relish losing myself in such a book as this one…

Two young men had to make a decision early in their lives but their choices were drastically different. For one of them, it was to take a risk and have the courage to simply be and accept who he was but having to dissimulate his proclivity for the rest of his life. For the other one, it was to avoid questioning himself about unusual and disturbing feelings and opt to bury them the deepest possible and then follow the only acceptable path for a young gentleman living in the Victorian era: marriage …

This is a slow paced and beautiful story full of charm, written with finesse and patience where nothing is rushed. Each feeling and emotion have time to take root, grow and then finally bloom. This narrative spans three years and it’s simply about life and its unavoidable dramas, but it’s neither overly melodramatic nor boring. F.M. Parkinson always seems to be able to keep it in check in a very subtle, subdued and clever manner that stays very consistent and always believable.

Everything begins when William Ashton joins Edward Hillier’s staff as a gardener. Hillier knows next to nothing about the man who answers his advertisement, the decision to hire him is impulsive and it won’t be the last when it comes to Ashton. The second one is to give him the key to the walled garden that has a very special place in Hillier’s heart. Very quickly trust and friendship grows between them, despite the difference in their station. For Ashton, this develops into something unexpected and his life becomes a constant struggle, more so with each day that passes in Hillier’s presence. But it will take a good measure of time and patience, tenacity and love to breach the wall of restrain Hillier has built around him over the years.

This novel contains a very interesting character study; Ashton and Hillier are poles apart, mostly because of the path they chose but also because their personality couldn’t be more dissimilar. In my opinion their behavior seems to mirror perfectly the rules and characteristics of that time. Each theme that is evoked in this book seems to have been meticulously studied and everything seems perfectly accurate particularly with regard to homosexuality. Henri Hillier is the perfect and sad example of repressed emotions up to a point of complete denial as if he had never felt anything of that kind … ever.

I love Ms. Parkinson’s unusual style of writing that is, in itself, a very special character to this novel. The writing made me think about the passing of the seasons, slowly but surely … The walled garden is a very important element of the book, both physically and symbolically. It’s, in fact, as much a protagonist as William Ashton and Edward Hillier are. It plays a very important role because it’s where everything actually begins. The author has a way of describing this garden and nature in general that is so soothing, relaxing and peaceful. More than once, when reading her descriptions and my imagination doing the rest, it was as if I was admiring one of these wonderful British romantic paintings of the 19th century … what an extraordinary feeling!
The undeniable rift which exists between the two protagonists that seems so insurmountable at first makes, in my opinion, this story even more interesting to read.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading F.M. Parkinson first novel.  I can only highly recommend it and I give five stars. She’s an author I’ll definitely be watching out for in the future.

Pubisher : Manifold Press

Source : Purchased

Released : May 1st 2012

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The Unexpected Choice by Stephanie Taylor

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Book Blurb :

Joey McCrary needs a wife and someone to help him raise his daughter after he made some poor choices in college. Stacey has always been his friend, and even though she’s a sweet girl, nothing can compare to the feelings he has for his ex.

Joey realizes that he and Stacey can benefit one another. Joey can provide Stacey with all she’s ever wanted: a family. But can Stacey teach him a few things along the way, too?

Dolce Amore

Review:

 

 

First, I want to say that I read and reviewed two of the Stephanie’s books and I loved them. However, this book was a deception from the first pages.

 

Joey comes home after graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and discovers that his childhood friend, Stacey, had dropped out of high school her senior year two years ago to take care of her grandfather who has cancer.

 

Come on! His best friend and neighbor drops the school two years ago—two years!— and just now Joey discovers it? This is one of the most unreal situations I have ever read. Besides, their conversations are not like those of two friends. He comes to “help” her but he does little more than asking her to have sex with him, knowing that she had a crush on him for years. Their conversations are so unreal and surreal that they almost made me stop reading the book.

 

After the death of Stacey’s grandfather, she finally discovers why Joey is behaving the way he is. He wants to marry her to have her help him raise his future child, who is going to be born in two months. His ex, Cameron, was arrested in a drug bust and Joey wants to give their baby a real home. So he tells Stacey that he will pay her grandfather’s debs and take care of her if she marries him.

 

I think Joey is a jerk. How dare he say Stacey is selfish when she tells him she wants to marry for love? Good for Stacey! She tells him he is a coward … but why has she chosen the word ‘coward’? And when I really started to like Stacey and think there’s a gal with some backbone, she accepts Joey’s proposal.

 

On her wedding night, after she has spent over an hour preparing herself to give Joey her virginity, he tells her that he can wait; but when, after a kiss, she decide to wait, he almost forces her. He takes advantage of her desire for him to convince her to have sex with him. And when I thought my opinion of Joey couldn’t be lower …

 

I swear, this book makes no sense. I read at the start of the book that Joey’s ex was arrested the same night they had a fight. He wanted to marry her and she didn’t want that. So why am I now reading this?

 

Six months ago, settling down was the last thing on his to-do list.

 

The book doesn’t get any better.  After she gives birth, Cameron wants her baby for when she gets out from the prison. Stacey and Joey talk a lot about God’s will, about His will, but what about forgiveness? They are such hypocrites; they don’t forgive Cameron’s mistake!

 

I swear these characters made me mad! They are among the worst characters I have ever read about and I read lots of books. I can’t rate this book more than 1 couple, and you already know my reasons as outlined above. Although I hope the next book from Stephanie Taylor will be better, I’m not sure I’ll risk it to find out.

 

 

Publisher: Astraea Press

Source : Publisher provided for review

Released :December 3rd 2012

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