Thursday, 21 September 2017

REVIEW - THE RED RIBBON BY LUCY ADLINGTON

Title: The Red Ribbon
Author: Lucy Adlington
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Teens & YA
Publisher: Hot Key Books, Bonnier Zaffre
Release Date: 21st September 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might have all been friends together. But this was Birchwood. 

As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients. Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Auschwitz. 

Every dress she makes could be the difference between life and death. And this place is all about survival. 

Ella seeks refuge from this reality, and from haunting memories, in her work and in the world of fashion and fabrics. She is faced with painful decisions about how far she is prepared to go to survive. 

Is her love of clothes and creativity nothing more than collaboration with her captors, or is it a means of staying alive?

Will she fight for herself alone, or will she trust the importance of an ever-deepening friendship with Rose?

One thing weaves through the colours of couture gowns and camp mud - a red ribbon, given to Ella as a symbol of hope.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
So approaching this book I wasn't sure what to expect, I was hoping for a personal level story not just a retelling of the atrocities. I personally think that the Holocaust is something that should never ever be forgotten. I have read a few books, both fiction and non fiction that are set in this era of history. This book is actually based on facts though it is a work of fiction as are the people portrayed in it. It brings home to you that those horrific acts were carried out on normal people every day people that belonged in families. These people didn't do anything to warrant being treated in the horrendous ways the German army treat them. 

The background of the cover is a bleak grey/white colour, which I think represents the nothingness of the world the prisoners are forced to exist in. There is a red ribbon as a main feature of the cover and it is twined around some barbed wire. Also on the cover are some different buttons, which have an important significance in the book. The cover also features the byline "Every dress she makes could mean the difference between life and death" which you realise when reading the book that this is a stark truth. Something as simple as one of the female guards, the male guards wives or the Commandants Wife not liking a dress you have made them, or you may have not made it quickly enough could result in you being shot, or worse having you job & it's meagre perks taken away from you. Losing your job could mean a slow death from starvation and heavy back breaking work. I did find the cover interesting and it certainly made me curious about the red ribbon and the pretty buttons and how they were a part of the ugliness of a concentration camp. I felt compelled to read the book, we owe it to both the few that survived and the ones that didn't to read their stories and pass them on to the next generation. I really did feel pulled into this book immediately and it held me captive and on the edge of my seat until the very end. 

So the books main character is a fourteen year old girl called Ella who is picked up on the street whilst running an errand and taken to Birkenau-Auschwitz. No one has a name anymore, just a number you must remember and be able to recite to any guard or prominent that asks you for it. Ella manages to fake her age as sixteen, as anyone below that age is considered useless and usually ends up either doing back breaking work that kills them or being sent to the "showers". I would describe Ella as being an optimist, always hoping for the best, seeing the good in people. There is very little in her surroundings to find good or hope in but she manages to battle on through whatever is done to her or taken from her. Ella's character, and seeing the awful acts being committed around her give us the reader a very realistic insight into the era covered by the book. 

Another central character in the book is Rose, who is described as looking like a la-di-da who wears odd shoes, one is a sickly green satin slipper with a metal buckle, the other is a leather brogue with broken laces. The thing that stands out about Rose is she really doesn't care what she may look like. She has shoes to wear and that's fine. Rose ends up sharing a bunk and mattress with Ella. Rose tells Ella all about how her mother is a famous writer, that she will be waiting for her. Rose also likes to make up stories which become a quite popular way the girls while away time until they finally fall asleep in their bunks. They come to rely on each other for hope. Rose and Ella even plan for "after" their time in Auschwitz-Birkenau. They list family they want to see, books they want to read, clothes they wish to make and wear as well as having a dress shop and working there together. They even plan where to meet up, a place which their famous dress shop will be.

In the book Ella tells her story of how she came to be where she is, which is Birchwood. Though Birchwood is much better known and most often referred to in history as Auschwitz-Birkenau. A one sentence description of Auschwitz within this book stood out for me "The place where everyone arrives, and nobody leaves." Those people dispatched to Auschwitz soon realise that their lives have changed forever, and to survive, they have to adapt quickly. These prisoners find out that what before seemed trivial can be something that is very important when it is taken away. All prisoners are stripped of all their clothes and possessions and given identical stripey garments to wear, their hair is shaved and the women given a piece of fabric to use as a scarf. Then you are thrown some shoes from a large pile of them, so there's a scramble to get a pair that fit let alone a pair that match.

A typical day for Ella began with being woken in her barracks at four thirty am, she had to climb from the top of the three tier damp wooden shelves, leaving her dirty straw mattress behind. With around five hundred women squashed in each barrack block, it meant at least six women to a bunk, with just one mattress shared by at least two women. There was no other furniture in the barracks block, just some toilet buckets. Each Barracks has a "Barracks Boss", who is a prisoner themselves but rules the Barracks. "Bull" is the boss of the Barracks that Ella exists in. With cramped conditions like this it was inevitable that disease, infestations and illnesses spread rapidly. Though being sent to the camp hospital was the last place you wished to be sent as it was rare for anyone to return from hospital. Once up, there was Roll Call.You really was just a number in a list, not a human being. Stripeys had badges made of different colour cloth sewn onto their dresses. The badge showed the reasons why "They" has decided you weren't fit to live in the real, free world anymore, such as a green triangle for bosses. Rose aka Squirrel/Princess has a red triangle which means she is a political prisoner. In Ella's opinion it's crazy, how can Rose be a political enemy!? She was such a dreamy, dipstick, who loved stories. Ella has a gold star, but this gold star was not like one you could receive at school for good work, and to be worn with pride. This star meant you were classed and treated as the lowest of the low, not even a full human, they were treat below human and were totally disposable!
At roll call everything had to be perfect, everyone had to look the same, the guards made sure. Ella recalls a woman who had dared to attempt to slick what was left of her hair to try to make herself look/feel better. The guards pounced on this woman who had dared to try to make herself look and feel better and she was punished by being beaten unconscious.
This book is packed with incidents where stripeys are put in their place by the guards for the most trivial things possible.

There are other jobs available at the camp, such as working in the "washery" or sorting through possessions for valuables and for items that can be reused, or the back breaking work in the surrounding fields. You had to be tougher to work in the "washery" so it is a very big change from working in the sewing room. Ella still refers to those around her in terms of animals. There's Bear, the boss of the washery who is in charge of giving out the specific tasks. Then there's Hyena who assists Bear, they both make life difficult for Ella and Rose insinuating they are "too soft" to do the work. Ella and Rose are given the worst jobs day in and day out but they still remain grateful for the work as it means a little more food at the end of the day as well as another day not having to do the back breaking work that eventually kills you. They do eventually earn the respect of the tougher women in the "washery" too. 

By faking her age and keeping her eyes and ears open she hears about a job going in the sewing room. There is a kind of frantic race to the sewing room, Ella and a female she names "Rabbit". Rabbit even loses one of her shoes in the process. Those wanting the job have to impress Marta, the Prominent in charge of the sewing room. (Prominent's are prisoners who have been given privileges and power. They have just enough power to rule the other prisoners making the majority of them into successful bullies.) Marta put Ella and Rabbit on trial, they are each given a task. Ella to make a dress from scratch for a blonde client called Carla. Where as Rabbit as Ella names her (is 24 years old, and stutters and shuffles about like a rabbit) is tasked with letting out a designer blouse for a client who doesn't want to admit how plump she is. There is much more to the trial than I have shared but I don't want to giveaway too much, so I'll just say that Ella manages to impress the "Prominent" Marta and her client Carla. The sewing and dressmaking skills Ella has were learnt whilst sitting with her Grandmother end up coming in really useful. It means Ella has a good chance at a relatively good job that is coveted by manyWhen Ella is in the sewing room her thoughts often stray to memories she made with her Grandmother, such as where her Grandmother is now? If she wonders where she (Ella) is? If Grandmother is waiting for her to return? Ella also asks herself what her grandmother would say or do in the situations she finds herself in.
Those employed in the sewing room don't get chance to speak to each other very much, they are their to work and provide a dressmaking service primarily to the Commandant's wife. So when Ella works there she gives her fellow workers names that remind her how they behave. There's Marta, the prominent in charge who loves giving orders, her name is "Shark". The other girls that applied for a job the same day as Ella are "Squirrel/Princess" (Rose) who gets put on trial with Ella. Then there's "Rabbit" who lost a shoe in the race to get to the sewing room as quickly as possible to be interviewed for the vacancy. Rabbit is 24 years old, and stutters and shuffles about like a rabbit. Already working in the sewing room that Ella originally notices is Francine "Frog" who is wide and squat with blobby skin.
Ella is quite successful in her sewing and making garments, but with success comes more danger. Though Ella becomes a more trusted prisoner, she has to be careful to act meekly and as expected to act by the guards or she will be immediately slapped down. What is given can quite easily be ripped away.

I loved the way the character of Ella shares some of her Grandmothers sayings in the book. They seem to envoke happier memories for her. Grandmothers sayings are things such as, "Clean hands means clean work", "Waste not want not", and "Better than a smack in the eye with a wet kipper". Ella also remembers her Grandmothers advice such as "Don't think failure, you can do anything you put your mind to", "Sorry doesn't butter any bread"and "Cross that bridge when you come to it, or swim the river if you have to".

As you will probably have guessed by now Ella was my favourite character, she knew what was happening around her,she could see it and hear it all but to cope she manages to shut the bad things out as much as she can. It is something she has to do to survive. When one door is quite literally slammed in her face she doesn't give up and looks around until she can find another job. Ella is a character that needs to work and keep busy in order to block out the horrors taking place around her. Ella may only be a teenager but she quickly adapts to her surroundings and learn when to speak up and when to turn a blind eye even when she really wants to stand up for herself and those around her. In the unlikely surroundings Ella manages to make both a best friend and other friends, some of which she doesn't realise she has until she is at her very lowest. Ella's best friend is Rose aka Squirrel/Princess. Rose came from a well to do, wealthy family. Rose loves telling stories and claims her mother is a famous author. The actions of those around her lead you to perceive Rose as living in her own little, self created world. Though I would say don't be so quick to judge some of the characters in this book as there are a few surprises. I did grow to love Rose as a character, though she came across as a little "air headed" she truly ends up helping Ella survive when things are tough. I won't go into how the red ribbon comes into the book, but will say it becomes a treasured beacon of hope in an increasingly dark, stark world. 

For characters I "hated" I would have to choose Marta the head of the sewing room, who takes credit for the hard work of the other girls. Marta also constantly refers to the fact she was "trained by the best."Also Carla who is a tough guard that enjoys having clothes made for her by Ella. Carla at a couple of points in the book seems to genuinely care about Ella, almost becoming a friend to her. Then Carla also is instrumental in Ella losing her job in the sewing room.

As to what I thought about this book it feels wrong describing the book as an enjoyable read because of its subject and content. I think though I have read other books and watched movies on this subject, I still found the book enlightening. The cover piqued my interest, the blurb made me even more curious, I hadn't heard of the "sewing room" at Auschwitz so wanted to know more. It is one of the few books on this subject I have read that is from the point of view of a young female character. It was at times heart-breaking when Ella, is reminiscing about her grandmother, especially the "sewing machine incident" which I won't go into within the review but you will almost certainly know what section of the book I am referring to when you read. Another part of the book I will not go into in detail is the "liberation dress" incident, again the feelings it gives you are a mixture of good and bad, so many tears and a few smiles.

I was reading this book through tears at some points, it is a very honest account of such horrific incidents from the point of view of a child torn from her family, no chance to say goodbye and no knowledge to where her family is whilst all this happening to her. I became attached and instantly cared about Ella and what was happening to her as well the sometimes awful choices she was confronted with. I really didn't want to put this book down once I began reading it. 

I don't know about anyone else but I always read the sections such as acknowledgements, or letters/note from the author. In this book the author Lucy Adlington reveals that the sewing room featured is in fact based on the real one that was based in Auschwitz. Coincidentally the head of the real sewing room was actually called Marta, though the name is the only similarity between the characters. I also discovered that Lucy Adlington is not only a writer but a costume historian, something I find extremely interesting. So I will certainly be checking out other books both fiction and non fiction by this author!

My thoughts as I finished reading the book were that I had just read an amazing book. The author has written a fictional version based on the extremely real facts that took place at the horrific prisoner of war camp that is better known as Auschwitz. This is the sort of history that should be taught about in schools so the atrocities and those who died are never ever forgotten. Sure it's not a pretty light hearted story, it's as close to the facts you will ever get other than reading a book or speaking to an actual survivor.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

REVIEW - MUTTS LIKE ME - THE AWAKENING BY KERI ARMSTRONG

Title: Mutts Like Me
Series: The Awakening
Author: Keri Armstrong
Genre: Paranormal, Shifters
Publisher: Highland Publishing
Release Date: 26th March 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
All I ever wanted for the holidays was to have my family together. Unfortunately, with my mother dead, my grandmother drunk most of the time, and my dad... well, who knew who he was, much less where he'd disappeared to. No brothers, sisters, or cousins that I knew of. 

Until now. 

I just found out there's a whole other world out there that I'm a part of, thanks to my dad. 
Who it turns out is a freakin' werewolf. 
And still missing, by the way. 

But now it seems I might be able to track him down - if I can just survive long enough to learn the truth about what happened to him, and somehow resist the pull of the silver-eyed fox who kidnapped me. 

Happy flippin' holidays to me. 

Mutts Like Me. The stand alone first in a series set in the world of The Awakening, where every supernatural creature you ever heard of is not only real, they're coming out of the closet and into the streets. 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
To be totally truthful I really fancied a paranormal shifter book to read and I had downloaded this one when it was either reduced price or free, so decided it was the right time to give it a go.

At first glance I really liked both of the covers I had seen for this book but I have pictured the one I preferred above so will start by describing that one. The background shows tall buildings, with a full moon also present. The main focus of the cover is the female on it with all her black curly hair and unusual eyes. As I began reading the book I automatically thought the female was the main character Marti. However after finishing the whole book I'd say that the female on the cover could also be Cass. Both females are wolf shifters with eyes that change colour. This cover would make me pick it up from a book store shelf as the females eyes, the kind of swirly blue mist and moon all suggested shifters and/or magic to me. So yep this cover does its job perfectly. 

As you can see below the other cover features a male and female, whom I would say are Marti and Toshi, but there seems to be something not quite right in the skin and angle of the womans pose to me that makes it look awkward. There is the addition of a cryptic byline featured on this cover which says "Getting kidnapped by a sexy shape-shifter wasn't on her wish list, but maybe it should have been" which is good. Would this cover (below) have made me pick it up from a bookstore shelf? I'd like think I would still pick the book up to learn more, as if not I would have missed a good read!



So we meet the main character Marti who is at this time living with her alcoholic grandmother. Marti's mum died years ago and her father . . well she doesn't know his name or anything about him. Her grandmother is drunk as is usual and collapses on the floor. Marti gets a pillow for her grandmothers head and a blanket to cover her then attempts to sleep herself. Only to be awoken by a strange male figure bent over her. This stranger we later learn has been watching over Marti for a while knowing she would be experiencing her first shift soon. Her father had planned to be there to explain everything to her but he is missing so its Toshi that ends up taking things into his own hands to try and help Marti. The last thing he wants is to draw attention to them so when she screams he squeezes a pressure point in her neck and she fades into unconsciousness. The trouble with that is that now Marti knows nothing of who the people are that have her or what they want. Naturally Marti is suspicious and scared of those around her.

There is a complicated story within the book about people known as "The Awakened" and the fact they want to kill all the shifters. I found that I could have done with "The Awakened" to be explained a little more to fully understand everything that was going on. I loved all the interaction between the various shifters and how poor Marti had to learn what she was and how to control it in the midst of all the fighting and action. 

I loved Marti as a character, she has to deal with a pretty big loss in the middle of learning she is a wolf shifter. Then finding out about her dad only to be told he is now missing! I was also strangely fond of the current kick-butt alpha female Cassandra who took an immediate dislike to Marti which I think is because she is jealous of the chemistry in the air between Marti and Toshi. There are lots of different shifters in this book, Toshi is a Kitsune, Alex a fox, Sunjoo a dragon to name just three!! There are more wolves and kitsune, witches, nago/snakes as well as many hybrid cross-breeds. I think as this book hopefully develops into a series and we will meet even more paranormal's and be introduced a little more thoroughly to the Awakened.

There's plenty of action within the book, but I will say that thee are parts that don't quite flow together as well as they could. there are also a few formatting and grammar issues along with the odd missed word here and there. I don't know how else to describe it other than it need tightening up a little. I still read and enjoyed the book its nothing so major that it totally spoils the book. It left me wanting to read more of the series.

My very first thoughts upon finishing this book were that it was a good start to a potentially highly addictive series. It's a brilliant mixture of Shape-shifters, Witches and Vampires. There's also so much more to be revealed about Marti's father and the continuing battle with the Awakened too.

Friday, 8 September 2017

REVIEW - THE BARRIERS - THE BREEDERS SERIES BY KATIE FRENCH

Title: The Barriers
Series: The Breeders
Author: Katie French
Genre: Sci-Fi, Post Apocalyptic, Dystopian
Release Date: 1st July 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
Riley hasn't seen her boyfriend Clay or her nine-year-old brother Ethan for two months. Between violent road gangs and ongoing clashes between the Breeders and the Free Colonies, are they even still alive? But Riley will never stop looking. Her search takes her to Kirtland Air Force Base, where she finds the remains of a battle and one glimmer of hope: rumors of the boys heading toward the Free Colonies and a man who can help her get there. The only catch? He nearly murders Riley the first time they meet. 

Meanwhile, Clay, Ethan, and Betsy struggle to steer clear of bandits, thieves, and slavers. Their water is gone, along with Clay’s memory and Ethan's patience for Betsy, who only makes things worse by trying to convince Clay they're in love. With Clay's mind muddy, it’s up to Ethan to keep them alive long enough for Riley to find them. 

The route back together is paved with trials—and how many more have to pay for their freedom with their lives?


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
So after reading The Brothers and learning more about Riley's mother, Arn, and Auntie Bell as well as who Riley's biological father was, I really wanted more Riley & Clay! I also want more of the other characters of Ethan/Cole, Auntie Bell and of course Doc. It's so clear he has feelings for Riley though her heart belongs firmly with Clay.


Again with this book there are two covers. I have shared the cover for the book when I originally got it and it is featured above. Once again it has the grey, worn, battered and broken scene. This time it is the escalators in a shopping mall, or as we would call it in the UK a shopping centre. This is a scene straight out of the book where Riley has to brave its deep, dark depths, in exchange for using technology to attempt to trace Clay and Ethan. I really like that its a scene from the book, I also think the cover immediately tells you its genre of post apocalyptic. 

The Barriers still has the two separate groups desperately trying to survive and be reunited with each other. In one group led by Riley is Auntie Bell and Doc. Doc still has a real crush on Riley despite having had no encouragement from her. Riley has been totally honest always searching for her one true love Clay. The other group is led by Clay, who is still extremely confused from the surgery that his mother Vanessa Vandewater did on his brain. Also in his group who was quite literally the guinea pig for the brain operations is Betsy. The only one in the group who doesn't have memory or behavioural issue dues to their brain being operated on is Ethan. Though Ethan is Riley's younger brother he goes along with the fact that Clay thinks he is his younger brother Cole who died years before and Clay carries a lot of guilt around his tragic death.
So in this book we meet some new characters along with Riley that are scientists, geneticists and doctors that used to work for Vanessa Vandewater. This group of scientists are led by Dr Corra Washington they have been left the Breeder Hospital a while and they didn't leave empty handed, they took some of Dr Vanessa Vandewater Plan B experiments. Corra says that here in an underground facility they have found they are attempting a supposedly kinder way of getting their "subjects" pregnant. They are working on shortening the gestation and somehow speeding up the fetus growth cycle. Unfortunately not all the subjects are willing and Subject Seven has become overly aggressive. Subject Seven has managed to break out of the underground facility and taken one of the other subjects too. Subject Eight, that has been taken, is an even more valuable one because its easier to handle and is much more placid to work with. Corra insists to Riley that they do not hurt the subjects and that they have a better life than the ones with Vanessa Vandewater. 
So Corra cuts a deal with Riley, she has to go find and return Subject Eight alive and uninjured. In return Corra will use the facilities technology to help search for Clay & Ethan, so that instead of wandering around searching Riley, Doc and Auntie can go directly to Clay & Ethan.
Clay is on a similar mission. Betsy is doing her best to convince Clay that he is her boyfriend. Clay manages to wander off whilst Betsy sleeps, Ethan doesn't notice because Betsy has locked Ethan away as a punishment for  not going along with her plan to replace Riley in Clay's affections. Betsy & Ethan and Clay end up "captured" by a nearby settlement. They have to barter for freedom/acceptance in the group, which involves Clay taking a home made unstable bomb through a ventilation system to blow up the nearby underground facility.. .. .. 

So there's lots of potential for tragedy in this book with both Riley and Clay finding themselves yet again in really dangerous situations. More of the stark realities of Dr Vanessa Vandewater's Plan B experiments are revealed and once again Riley finds herself being pulled right into the centre of it all. Things seem to be going from bad to even worse for both the main characters, Clay and Riley both on missions they must complete before they can reunite with others in their group to then search a for each other. Having said that the situation is far from safe or perfect for those they have left behind or have being prevented from being on the mission with them, (as in Auntie Bell, and Cole) This book is certainly action packed and keeps you guessing what will happen next! Could Plan B actually have worked even if only partially? If some of the Dr's have achieved this from a couple of test subjects, what had Vanessa Vandewater accomplished in the basement of the Breeder facility??

I'm looking forward to the next book, and am eager to find out what happens with the extra addition that tagged along with Riley when they all parted company with Corra and the scientists. I'm also interested to see if Riley's secret will revealed that she had to hide in this book. Will she tell Clay? How will she cope herself? How will life turn out for them now? Where will they live? Will they get any peace? Will they be able to join the free colonies?

My very first thoughts when finishing this book were . . .Absolutely love this series! Looking forward to reading more. When's the next one available?!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

REVIEW - THE BROTHERS - THE BREEDERS SERIES BY KATIE FRENCH

Title: The Brothers
Series: The Breeders
Author: Katie French
Release Date: 6th August 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
“They tell me it’s for the good of humanity. That I’m saving our way of life with my body. They lie.” 

Book Four in the award-winning, best-selling Breeders series.

Riley has survived madmen, deranged doctors, and false prophets. Her next task is uniting her family, which has been ripped apart by Nessa Vandewater, the Breeders’ enforcer. Her boyfriend Clay and brother Ethan are still missing. Only she can find them. 

But on her way, Riley is stung by a scorpion. To ease her suffering, Auntie Bell shares the story of Riley’s mother, Janine, and how she escaped the Breeders. 

Nearly twenty years in the past, Janine, an obedient Breeders girl, is nearing her seventeenth birthday, and the clock is ticking. She has two months to become pregnant, or she’ll be put out, sold into slavery . . . or worse. When her doctor informs her she’s infertile, she’s devastated. But some doctors lie, and one in particular seems to want Janine for his own . . .


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I must admit I had this book on my kindle and in my reading list for a while. Sometimes I just want to read a book that I am 99.9% sure I will enjoy. There are times I could sit and binge read just one author, so I do make a conscious effort to try to vary my reading. So I'd tried reading a couple of books and just wasn't getting drawn in, so I gave up and immediately went to one of my favourite authors and decided to pick up the Breeders Series again. I had recently re-read The Breeders Series novella's and was left wanting more so chose to read the next book in the series which was The Brother's.

So the cover I have chosen to feature within this review is the one that was in use at the time I downloaded The Brothers. The cover has a grey background and depicts the inside of a worn and tired looking hospital. The walls have peeling paint and the flooring looks shoddy too. There is a hospital trolley with a thin mattress on it abandoned in the dim, desolate looking hallway. The book title, series title, and author name is in a fairly plain font style but is bold and stands out on the book cover. I also like the addition of the byline which says "For the good of mankind, one baby at a time" which is a mantra that is repeated time and time again by those that believe in the breeders and their cause. I think this cover fits both this book and the rest of the series. The newer, most recent cover (I have put below this review) is a much more colourful and has a more modern feel to it. Being totally honest either cover would make me curious enough to pick it up from a bookstore shelf or click on it in a virtual store to learn more about it.

The only worry I have when reading a series is the thought of forgetting an important incident and the story not making sense to me. However I should reassure all The Breeders series fans that there is no way you can do that with this series as at the beginning of the books Katie French includes a recap section of the key facts you need to remember from the previous book. 

The book then gets straight back into the action, Doc, Auntie Bell and Riley have stopped the van they are travelling in for a much needed rest in the heat of the day. Riley has been driving for hours and in Doc and aunties opinion it is time for a rest stop. Riley as usual is restless so decides to stretch her legs having a walk round. She decides to find somewhere with some cover so she can relieve herself before returning to the van to try and talk Doc and Auntie Bell into allowing her to begin driving again. Its as she is crouched down behind a bush that she is bitten by a scorpion! Yep, typical Riley, she has to be the unluckiest female ever! She just happens to be near a scorpion and is bitten. The pain begins to come on rapidly, though Riley forces herself forward to get as near to the van as possible, she knows she won't make it. The best she can hope for is to make herself easier to find if/when Auntie or Doc come searching for her. Riley is in so much pain she can't even shout for help. When she is found by Doc she is taken back to the shelter but still hot humid air of the van. Both Doc & Auntie say she is in no condition to drive they now have no choice but to have a rest.
Doc cleans the bite with what little they have and it soon comes down to distraction techniques being the only type of pain relief readily available. Auntie Bell says she will tell Riley the story of how her mother Janine met Arn. Doc actually openly scoffs at a story being any help in this situation but Auntie Bella knows best and begins telling Riley a story she has promised to reveal before but has never had chance to.

That's where the flashback into the past begins as Auntie Bell reveals how she met Janine at the Breeders hospital. Auntie Bell was there as most of the older women were to take care of the young females when they were fertilised and made pregnant as well as taking care of the babies when they are born. Auntie explains how the females were allocated their rooms on the basis of how well they reproduced. The girls considered better are on a higher floor better rooms, and more privileges. Then there's the not so fertile girls or the new ones that are yet to have a pregnancy. Despite the girls being separated into different groups they all come together in the communal rooms such as the recreation room and the canteen where they all have to go to eat. The girls all wear the same sort of nightdress but have little roses embroidered on them, each time they have a successful pregnancy. If a baby girl is born the child is brought up by the Breeder Hospital nannies and grows up to become a breeder herself. If the baby is a boy, he is given to the men on the outside to bring up. Those that choose to bring up a male child are given a small amount of money on a monthly basis to help with the costs. The girls only have a certain time frame to conceive in, which means if you cannot be made pregnant you are considered "no use" at the Breeders Hospital. So the girl would be sold quite literally to the highest bidder. Which usually meant a life as a slave that is passed around to be used by men. So when it seems like Janine is having problems becoming pregnant, Auntie Bell plots and plans ways to help her. I want to tell you more but to do so means slipping into spoilers territory which I prefer to avoid.

I still love Riley as a character, she remains a strong minded female, I like the way she doesn't sit back waiting for a male to rescue her, she knows what she wants and is prepared to do whatever needs to be done to obtain it. 
Within Auntie Bell telling the story about Janine we also meet new characters, as the title is "The Brothers", they played a large part in Janine's life. The Brothers are twins, both looking alike, yet their personalities are very different. 
One brother is serious, keeps himself to himself, who puts over a harsh exterior and persona to strangers. He is more particular who he will mix with, preferring to stay away from situations with loud, bawdy men competing in stupid games and gambling. He has built an invisible protective shell over himself and his other twin. He is the leader of the two brothers. If you are wondering both brothers make great "Book Boyfriend" material.
The other twin is a more fun loving, he survives the wants to block out the ugliness of the world and live in a life of his own creation. He needs regular medication. He likes to join in by watching the games that are gambled on. He sneaks off from his other brother, doesn't stick to the rules he has been given, preferring to act like a little child at times and mixing with some seriously bad people who think nothing of killing humans for sport and collecting debts by chopping off debtors limb! It's these ruthless men that get hold of Janine and want to use her for their sick gambling games. When she wins the first game, there is uproar as lots of men lose money and limbs. Obviously we know Janine somehow survives as we wouldn't have Riley who is the child Janine is carrying and trying to keep secret during this tale Auntie Bell is revealing. So the question is can one or the other brother save/rescue Riley and them all flee unscathed?

This book is filled with action and easily fulfilled my high expectations. As with the rest of the series, the book is well written and in this book is told from the three main characters of the book, Riley, Doc and Auntie Bell. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Janine's story as well as learning much more about Auntie Bell too. I had wanted to know more about how Riley's mum came to be pregnant and free from the Breeder Hospital, as well as how she met Arn and what his life had been before Janine & Riley. I loved how Riley's parentage was revealed, maybe that is something that may be built upon later in the series? Perhaps Riley will want to search for him or quite accidentally find him? I am looking forward to reading more of this series as soon as I can. It really is addictive reading! Almost forgot to mention that I loved the way that Katie French delivered the reader Janine's story, it would have been so easy to create a novella for Janine, and Janine & Arn's meeting story but I truly loved the way it is Auntie Bell who was with Janine at the Breeders Hospital and all the way through to her meeting Arn etc. I never gave Arn much thought in the other books, but after reading his and Janine's story I really saw him in a different light.

My thoughts immediately upon finishing reading this book were . . . Oh wow, an amazing read, I loved reading about Janine, Bell, and Arn's meeting story... brilliant!

Monday, 4 September 2017

COVER LOVE - THE BREEDERS SERIES BY KATIE FRENCH

COVER LOVE

So I am sure you have noticed that lots of Authors are updating their book covers.
Being totally honest sometimes I actually preferred the original covers!
Having said that the ones for the Breeders Series that I have featured below, well its hard to choose a favourite. I love the new covers that have close ups of one of the main characters in each relevant book. I like the broken glass look which represents a very broken world so well. But on the other hand the initial covers have a more post apocalyptic feel to them for me which also fits very well with the books!

So which cover set would you choose as your favourite?

PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK

PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK

PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK

PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK

PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK


THE NOVELLA'S OF THE SERIES

First Covers
Goodreads Links


New Cover
PURCHASE LINKS

What else can I say
I love this series, new covers and old. . . . and then there's the actual books which I highly recommend reading. It truly is an amazing series!


Tuesday, 29 August 2017

REVIEW - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED - WORD$ BY GREGORY SCOTT KATSOULIS

Title: All Rights Reserved
Series: Word$
Author: Gregory Scott Katsoulis
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: 29th August 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
In a world where every word and gesture is copyrighted, patented or trademarked, one girl elects to remain silent rather than pay to speak, and her defiant and unexpected silence threatens to unravel the very fabric of society.

Speth Jime is anxious to deliver her Last Day speech and celebrate her transition into adulthood. The moment she turns fifteen, Speth must pay for every word she speaks ("Sorry" is a flat ten dollars and a legal admission of guilt), for every nod ($0.99/sec), for every scream ($0.99/sec) and even every gesture of affection. She's been raised to know the consequences of falling into debt, and can't begin to imagine the pain of having her eyes shocked for speaking words that she's unable to afford.

But when Speth's friend Beecher commits suicide rather than work off his family's crippling debt, she can't express her shock and dismay without breaking her Last Day contract and sending her family into Collection. Backed into a corner, Speth finds a loophole: rather than read her speechrather than say anything at allshe closes her mouth and vows never to speak again. Speth's unexpected defiance of tradition sparks a media frenzy, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps, and threatens to destroy her, her family and the entire city around them.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I downloaded this book from Edelweiss, as soon as I saw the cover and read the blurb I knew I absolutely had to read it. I found both the cover and the blurb fascinating and to be truthful you could imagine this actually happening in the distant future.

The cover is a very powerful image. It's a bright yellow colour background so that should ensure it jumps out at you on a book store shelf. There are also lots of different words around a silhouette of who I would say is the main character Speth. I think the byline at the top of the cover of "When every word has a price. Her silence could spark a revolution", it really describes Speth and her actions in this book.

The genres listed on Goodreads for this book are Sci-Fi, and Dystopian which I totally agree with, though I would add "Futuristic" to that list too. The book is aimed at the Teen and YA age group and I certainly don't fall into that age group but I totally loved it. The blurb of the book had me asking lots of questions before I even arrived at the first page to begin reading. I mean how can you exist in a world where every word and most gestures have to be paid for? What happens when you have no money left to pay for you to speak? What would life be like? How could you do day to day things?

So to tell you a little about the book. The society like every great dystopian society has the "well off, haves" and the "poor, have nots". Every word and the majority of gestures have a monetary value. For children up to the age of fifteen words and gestures are free, but only until they are fifteen. At the age of fifteen you have a party and are given a speech that is paid for by those that wish to be your sponsors. Sadly the best sponsors prefer the wealthier and more aesthetically pleasing people in society. Even your name has a price! Naturally the more you speak of gesture the more you are charged. Everything is trademarked, or copyrighted. Only the very affluent can manage to live debt free. There are also those that make a living finding breaches of copyright/trademarks and suing those that made the breaches or the family descendants of the individual. When you are in a certain amount of debt, or have broken any rules in any way you are either indentured, which means you are literally sold as a servant to the highest bidder or sent to work monotonously manually collecting the pollen from flowers as there are no longer bees to do this work. 
I guess like myself you will be wondering how the speech and gestures are monitored. At the age of fifteen everyone is fitted with a cuff that keeps track of your words and gestures and adds up the cost of everything and it is added to your families ever increasing bill. People also have corneal implants, these used to be optional but even that choice has been taken away. 

My favourite character had to be Speth Jime, but I was also fond of the characters that make up the placers gang. Placers take out items and sneak into premises to place new or promotional items which can be anything from a new soap, to a new gadget. They then place spotlights to shine on it so its looks the best it can when the person/people its meant to be for finds it. I suppose you could compare it to people today that test products and then blog about them. I suppose its like book blogging, where you are given a book and then you review it and naturally tell friends and family about it. Its a "word of mouth" way of promotion. The Placers gang that we get to know in this book are leader Kel, and Henri and Margot. Though they may not agree with the ethics of their job and how the items are distributed to the wealthy they continue as if they did not do it, another placer gang would. Placers are not meant to be seen. Their jobs rang from simple placements in someones living room whilst they are in bed to a persons bedroom whilst they are laid asleep in it.

I really loved Speth, though she hates her name, its cheap, but its what her parents could afford at the time. Speth has courage and is strong willed with a great sense of the rights and wrongs about the society she is living in, On her fifteenth birthday someone who she cares for commits suicide and I think its the final straw that pushes her into the controversial act of making the motion of zipping her lips ad not speaking. I don't think Speth could have ever imagined what the fall out or others reactions to her gesture would be. Let alone that her choice would provoke others to do the same.
Speth hates her name, it is a cheap name at just 9c. Saying Sorry can be very expensive as not only are you charged for the word but it is treat as an admission of guilt/fault and opens you up to be being served with a law suit. Smiling is still free as are any emotions that you can control, such as laughing and crying. However screaming is charged at $1.99 per 2 seconds. Kissing is 17c a second. 

I loved this society and felt really drawn into the plot of the book. I felt sorry for Speth's family. Having being sued for an ancestors misdemeanor her mother and father are taken away to do the job that bees once did. As a family their only hope of ever having their parents back is to pay off the debt. Unfortunately to function in society you need to communicate so as they pay off some of the money they owe, they are also continually adding to their bill. Those families whose parents have been sent away to work are assigned a guardian/social worker to check in on them regularly. 

This book really was a brilliant read! It did an excellent job of showing how words were used to trap the society, and how ultimately the lack of them can possibly lead to making life better. Though the way this book ended I suppose it could be a standalone but I love the fact this is one book in a series. I am seriously looking forward to reading much more about this society, both about the characters I loved and the ones I loved to hate, as well as meeting new characters. This book really did keep me glued to it from beginning to end. As so many YA books are being made into a movie, I have to say this would be perfect! After seeing the Book Trailer I'm certain it would be a hit. Its so different to other books I have read.