Friday, 20 April 2018


Title: Risen
Series: Blood Eternal
Author: Cole Gibsen
Genre: Sci-Fi, Teen, YA
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: 27th March 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
Fans of Vampire Diaries and Twilight will be thirsting for this latest vampire addiction…

My aunt has been kidnapped by vampires, and it’s up to me to save her. Only…I had no idea vampires existed. None. Nada. I’m more of a reader than a fighter, and even though I’d been wishing to escape my boring existence in the middle of nowhere, I’d give anything to have it back now if it meant my aunt was safe. 

Then there’s the vampire Sebastian, who seems slightly nicer than most of the bloodsuckers I’ve run into so far. Yes, he’s the hottest being I’ve ever come across, but there’s no way I can trust him. He swears he’s helping me get answers, but there’s more to his story. Now I’m a key pawn in a raging vampire war, and I need to pick the right ally.

But my chances of surviving this war are slim at best, when the side I choose might be the one that wants me dead the most.


The cover initially attracted me to this book and then when I read the blurb, I realised that I couldn't remember the last time I had read a vampire themed book, so this book was the perfect choice. That and the fact the publishers were Entangled Teen made me give the book a closer look.

As I said the cover was what initially attracted me to the book. The sky in the background of the cover is a murky, turbulent, stormy one. The ground is covered in what I would call autumnal coloured leaves. The main object on the cover is a tree, with its branches and remaining leaves in a heart shape. Most people who read my reviews will probably know by now that I love a good byline. The byline featured towards the bottom of this cover is "From Death Comes Life". . . .quite mysterious, whose death? what life? is this byline about a human about to be tuned into a vampire? Or maybe a vampire that has been turned recently? The only down point about the byline is the font style and its placement could mean a few people miss it. I think it could stand out a little more.

The genres I have seen listed are Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Teens & YA which all fit the book well. I definitely think this book is aimed at the younger to mid teen audience, though I did enjoy reading it myself.

The one thing that made me doubt reading this book was this phrase from within the blurb "Fans of Vampire Diaries and Twilight will be thirsting for this latest vampire addiction…" So many books compare themselves to both the Vampire Diaries and Twilight which in my opinion isn't always a good thing. It's kind of a "pet hate" for me. I would have probably just overlooked this book is the rest of the blurb hadn't piqued my interest and the fact the publishers were Entangled Teen who have published many fantastic books. After reading this book I honestly wouldn't compare it to either book mentioned. Maybe whoever decides on using the phrase thinks it will attract more readers, personally it tends to put me off.

The book starts with the main character, Charlize walking her dog Jax wishing something exciting would happen. Charlize or Charlie as most people call her, is bored living in the middle of no-where with her Aunt Rachel. There's no telephones, landline or mobile, or internet etc so Charlie helps her rather hippie Aunt make soap and other craft items to sell. In her spare time Charlie either reads or spends time taking long walks with her German shepherd dog, Jax. Her Aunt always warns her not to stray too far away from the cabin they live in. Charlie does have an ulterior motive for all those long walks with the dog as she has bought herself a mobile phone, which under normal circumstances would have come in handy when two men appear insisting they are taking her Aunt away with them. Her Aunt tells her phoning the police will not help and she stresses to Charlie that under no circumstances at all should she try to run! Charlie is totally shocked by what her Aunt Rachel tells her but does her best to listen to her. Aunt Rachel is taken away by the first two men that had entered the cabin, leaving Charlie behind to be "taken care of" or rather "disposed of" by Sebastian.

So Charlie had managed not to make a run for it whilst the men were holding her Aunt Rachel in the cabin with her but now there was only herself to think about what did she have to lose? So when Charlie finds herself left with a third young man called Sebastian she thinks she should attempt to get away and perhaps find Jax who has been scared away. Sebastian catches up with Charlie easily and warns her not to run or scream as it triggers his blood lust. Charlie has difficulty accepting the existence of vampires but she needs to learn how to survive around them fast!
Sebastian offers to take Charlie to Matteo, King of the Anima who will help her get her Aunt Rachel back. Charlie immediately agrees, as she will do anything to rescue her Aunt. 

There are three types of vampires, Corpus, Mentis and Anima. The Corpus are the most cruel and even feed on their own kin, their gift is to blend into the shadows. The Mentis are kind of middle of the road vampires in that they feed but keep humans in what they call a farm to feed off. The gift the Mentis have is to be able to charm and mind control anyone who looks into their eyes. The final type of vampires are the Anima, these feed on animals and humans. They protect humans and want everyone to know about them and to find a way to live in peace.

Of course there's lots more going on in the book such as why a Mentis like Sebastian cannot remember his life before becoming a vampire. Then there's the rescue plan to be made to retrieve Aunt Rachel from the Mentis clan. Another mystery is where Matteo and Aunt Rachel's off-spring are. I could go on and on about the book. I did enjoy reading it though it ended on quite a cliffhanger situation as we hadn't found the answers for the questions raised by the book. Having said that this is book one in the Blood Eternal series so I would say it was a good thing to leave the first book with some unanswered questions as it keeps you eager for the next book.

I liked Charlie, how her immediate thoughts when her Aunt Rachel is stolen away from her is how can I get her back. I think her Aunt Rachel has underestimated her "niece" and she maybe should have explained the reason they are living so remotely. Aunt Rachel could have prepared Charlie how to react if she was taken from her. Though even by the end of the book Aunt Rachel nor anyone else has really explained to Charlie who/what she is and revealed her true parentage and the power/gift she has deep within herself. 

I really loved the character of Sebastian, his unknown past from before he was made a vampire by the Mentis Clan. The fact Sebastian wants to help Charlie even before he realises she has a power/gift that allows him to see glimpses of his "before" life. Sebastian knows that when he is returned to the Mentis he will suffer for helping Charlie. The Mentis Queen will see to it that he suffers pain for what she will see as a betrayal. There is an instant attraction between Sebastian and Charlie but can it ever work? A vampire, human relationship. . . though we don't actually know what/who Charlie really is!

King Matteo of the Anima is portrayed as a good guy though how long that view will last when the war between the vampires really begins is left unrevealed. It's clear to see that Matteo cares for the lives of humans. He instantly begins planning Aunt Rachel's rescue. It is also revealed that rather than use humans just for blood and disregard or even kill any that are no longer of any use like the other vampire clans of Corpus and Mentis. King Matteo and the Anima Clan willing give blood to any human it can help. In fact we witness one such human when Charlie is helping to make soap who tells her that he had a terminal illness but was cured by vampire blood.

My immediate thoughts were that I enjoyed reading this book, hope this is the beginning of a potentially great series as I would like to read more about Charlie & Sebastian. Especially wanting to know what Charlie is, as well as learning more about Matteo & Aunt Rachel's relationship.

So I did enjoy reading the book but kind of finished feeling like I had wanted a few more definite answers within this book to the questions I had. I will have to be a little more patient and hope to find the answers in the next book. There seemed to be so much going on that could have perhaps been explored more deeply such as why were the Mentis draining blood from the humans and experienting on them? What were the experiments for? Why drain a human until you kill them when you could take blood little and often, more like the Anima Clan and have a plentiful supply of blood given willingly? I think I would have liked to know a little more about each clan, specifically the Anima and Mentis ones.

Also at around 80% of the way through the book it ends and the remainder of the book is labelled "bonus content" and is from Sebastian's point of view, which was mostly, basically what we had read at the beginning of the book from Charlie's view. The section from Sebastian's outlook was interesting when we got little hints and perhaps more detail of things that had happened to Sebastian in the Mentis Clan that lead up to him being trusted and tested at the same time on the retrieval of Aunt Rachel and the clear up and search for information. I would have rather had that inserted within the main part of the book somehow. I just felt a little disappointed with the section from Sebastian's point of view as it didn't reveal anything different enough to what we had already read. Saying all that I would like to read the next book in the series, and I would say that this book is perfect for the Teen/YA target audience that it is aimed at.

Sunday, 8 April 2018


Enter a world of smoldering shifters in this scintillating anthology headlined by New York Times bestselling authors Eve Langlais and Milly Taiden with brand-new, never published novellas! 

Title: Thanks Fur Last Night Anthology
Authors: Eve Langlais, Milly Taiden & Kate Baxter
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: St Martins Griffin
Release Date: 30th January 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
Bearing His Sin by Eve Langlais
Cole should have killed Anja the moment he realized she was his mate. Instead, he let her live and now they’re on the hunt, chasing the morons who think they can force her to marry another man. Like hell. And while this shapeshifting bear might have his share of sins, he’s not going to let little things like murder and mayhem prevent him from having the woman meant to be the keeper of his heart.

Bought by the Bear by Milly Taiden
Josilyn Martinez just needed the money to help raise her nephew. That's it. There's no other reason she would take a job posing as a shifter's mate so he can assure his grandmother he's settled down. There's no reason to stay at his place so they learn "more about each other." And there's definitely no good reason she should get involved with the hard, hot, and handsome shifter that's hired her.
Xander just needs a fake mate for a week to get his grandmother off his back. But what's a bear shifter to do when the impostor mate he hired turns out to be his actual mate? All sweet, luscious curves and a heart of gold, Xander's not going to let his mate get away. Now all he has to do is show her that they belong together, one kiss and touch at a time...

The Alpha and I by Kate Baxter
Devon Kincaid is happy with her new life in Lowman, Idaho. Her little bar on the outskirts of the tiny, isolated town is doing well, and she’s not even interested in finding a man. But when she finds a bleeding man—a hot, hard, handsome, naked bleeding man—in the snow one night, Devon brings him home to care for him. He’s definitely not like any man she’s ever met before, but what she doesn’t realize is that he’s not just a man…

Liam Murphy isn't simply a werewolf. He's the Alpha. In a heated battle with a deadly bear shifter, he's moved his pack to the Sawtooth Wilderness in order to draw danger from them. He was hoping to escape his problems—but the last thing he expects to find in the isolated Idaho wilderness was his mate. Fragile and unfamiliar with the violent supernatural world, the only way he can protect Devon is to make her what he is: a werewolf. He only hopes that in the process convincing her to enter fully into his world, that he doesn’t drive away the one woman he can’t live without.


I approached reading this novella with trepidation as I know through checking on Goodreads that both Eve Langlais and Milly Taiden have series that are classed as erotica and it is a genre I usually steer away from, but this anthology is listed as paranormal romance and it was suggested I may enjoy it as I love shifter books so I decided to give it a go. For Kate Baxter I have found her books listed as paranormal romance so feel I should certainly get along with her novella okay. I haven't really read anything before by these authors but decided this Anthology would be a great way for me to try out three new authors.

The cover background has either an ocean or lake with a bear splashing his way through it, this part of  the cover could certainly fit a scene from within the first novella by Eve Langlais. In the foreground of the cover is a rather passionately kissing couple. I love the title with the play on the word Fur/For. I immediately understood it and it made me smile and want to know more about the anthology. 

The various genres I have seen listed for this anthology are Paranormal, Fantasy and Romance, Anthologies and I agree with those genres. I would also add it to "Novella's" as the Anthology is made up of three novella's. 

I think the blurbs for each novella give away enough about them so my reviews are merely my personal thoughts and views on the individual title.

Bearing His Sin by Eve Langlais
So I'm being totally honest, as always, this did have rather explicit or what I term as erotica type descriptions which at time were a little off putting, but I guess that's down to my own personal reading preferences and my personal comfort zone. I found this novella a bit slow to start off, and felt it jumped about a bit too much and was in my opinion fragmented somewhat. I stuck with the novella and in the end I found a fairly good read. Would I want to read more titles by Eve Langlais . . hmm maybe.

Bought by the Bear by Milly Taiden
This novella was a faster paced read and even though it had some steamy hot scenes they were so well in context that it felt "right". I loved the character of Josilyn, how she is working a quite literally back breaking job to feed herself, but more importantly her nephew Nick, whom she has cared for since his parents died in a car accident. I adored the way the once womaniser Xander was totally out of his depth with Josilyn. I did really enjoy this novella, so much so I've put some other titles by Milly Taiden on my Want To Read List already! I really didn't want this novella to end!

The Alpha and I by Kate Baxter
This novella was also a really good read, enough to make me check out the authors other available books too! I love that Liam the Alpha werewolf who is used to everyone doing as he tells them without question has to try and go against his alpha nature and not just tell Devon how things are going to be. I liked the element of the whole will she choose to become a werewolf and the process and was a little disappointed when we didn't get the whole bite scene etc. The third novella in this anthology and the second one that I didn't want to end. I could imagine reading a whole series about the fantastic shifters in this novella! 

So the anthology as a whole was a really good one. I've discovered two new authors I'd like to read more of. I usually avoid anything that has been labelled erotica like the plague but the publicist that recommended these authors to me thought I would love this anthology, so I decided to give it a go, not knowing what to expect and ended up with a great surprise read and a couple of authors I maybe wouldn't have given a chance before. 

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this anthology were, Will definitely be checking for other titles by these authors. This anthology definitely allowed me to indulge my love of the werewolf & shifter genre.

Thursday, 5 April 2018


A razor-sharp, adrenaline rush of a novel from award-winning author Juno Dawson, Clean is Gossip Girl meets Girl, Interrupted.

Addiction and redemption, love and despair. Clean will have you hooked from the first page.

Title: Clean
Author: Juno Dawson
Genre: Teens/YA, Contemporary
Publisher: Quercus Children's/Hachette Children's Group
Release Date: 5th April 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
A razor-sharp, adrenaline rush of a novel from award-winning author Juno Dawson, Clean is Gossip Girl meets Girl, Interrupted.

'I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter ... it's liquid gold.'

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she's hit rock bottom.

She's wrong. Rock bottom is when she's forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all ... 

It's a dirty business getting clean ...


The cover initially attracted me to this book, making me curious as to who was having the needle, what was in it and why etc. Also being totally honest and up front I had read a few mixed reviews about this book, suggesting it should carry trigger warnings and that it covers sensitive subjects etc and I wanted to know what the fuss and controversy was all about!

The cover is quite stark, with the background possibly a clinical tabletop or perhaps a dressing table top with a syringe and some liquid from it forming the L in the title Clean. I think the cover certainly has an impact and instantly makes you wonder what is going on with the needle. There's also the sort byline on the cover which when you include the book title says "It's a dirty business getting clean" The cover really fits the book in its title being Clean and the cover design being clean too.

The genres I have seen listed are Teens & YA and Contemporary which I personally think fit the book well. I think the book would also fit the NA category too. It also has a "coming of age" "angst of being a teenager" vibe too as the different characters all have different types of addiction.

As I mentioned above the book deals with all different types of addiction and shows different ways that the individual characters and the families of those addicted cope and try to come clean in the controlled and safe environment of the Clarity Centre. 

The central character in the book is Lexi Volkov who is the privileged daughter of the Russian Volkov's that own so many luxurious Hotels. In fact Lexi and her older brother Nikolai live in suites within the different hotels their parents own. Lexi and Nikolai's parents have divorced, mum is off doing her thing in the Cayman Islands and her father has his new younger model girlfriend, so maybe that's why they haven't seen their daughter is seriously out of control. Lexi is the ultimate party girl who attends all the parties places "one should be seen at."  

So their are so many great characters that I really liked and want to mention in my review. I'll start with Dr Isaac Goldstein - really came across as a sympathetic, understanding man from the very beginning. Then later in the book he reveals something about his own past which answers the question as to how and why he is so empathetic about addiction. I'll briefly mention the fact that the Clarity Centre has been set by a couple, one of whom we meet in the book because their son struggled with addiction and they saw the lack of places to help teens troubled by addiction. 
I thought the relationship between Nikolai Volkov and his sister was amazing. It shows how much Nikolai really felt for his sister that he dragged her off to "rehab". 
I could go on and on about the fantastic characters of Kendra, Brady, Sasha and the others but that would spoil the way you learn of their individual addictions.

I thought the interaction towards the end of Lexi's stay at the Clarity Centre with a rather tough, brash character called Sasha, who ends up trying to get off the island via a boat was amazing. They were both scared, unsure, in need of help and both had addictions and emotions to deal with yet they only had each other. Do they both crack their tough "I don't need anyone" attitudes and survive their escapade? That is just one reason you have to read this book!

My immediate thoughts upon finishing reading this book were that is was a totally different genre to my usual reads but that I had really enjoyed reading this one. It's very different to other books out there at the moment. 

So as I explained earlier in my comments, I had read a few mixed reviews about this book, suggesting it should carry trigger warnings and that it covers sensitive subjects etc. The thing is I want to give my opinion but without going in to detail and giving away spoilers, so please excuse me if I seem a little vague at all. There are many sensitive issues within this book centering around addiction, grief, sexuality, and toxic relationships but these are issues that our teens of today are facing. In fact it isn't just teens, its pre-teens too in our "full of pressure" world. To be totally truthfully, in my own opinion I think that this book, read in the right setting, could help many more people than it could hurt or offend. I'd go so far as to say that I believe it may make an excellent conversation starter. It could be read by teens at schools, then the "issues" within the book openly discussed. Hey I know not everyone that reads this book may think that but in today's instant communication age and our teens being more candid and forthright with their opinions I think I'd almost say it really is a "must read" book. Our society needs to learn to be more tolerant of others. We have never all "been the same." As a society we may have once put on a "front" and presented an image of conformity and had strict ideas of what "normal" is. Today's more forthright generation see no reason to conform, or hide away any "problems, issues or addictions" they may have. 

Friday, 30 March 2018


Title: The Taster
Author: V..S. Alexander
Genre: General Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Release Date: 30th January 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
Amid the turbulence of World War II, a young German woman finds a precarious haven closer to the source of danger than she ever imagined--one that will propel her through the extremes of privilege and terror under Hitler's dictatorship . . . 

In early 1943, Magda Ritter's parents send her to relatives in Bavaria, hoping to keep her safe from the Allied bombs strafing Berlin. Young German women are expected to do their duty--working for the Reich or marrying to produce strong, healthy children. After an interview with the civil service, Magda is assigned to the Berghof, Hitler's mountain retreat. Only after weeks of training does she learn her assignment: she will be one of several young women tasting the Fuhrer's food, offering herself in sacrifice to keep him from being poisoned.

Perched high in the Bavarian Alps, the Berghof seems worlds away from the realities of battle. Though terrified at first, Magda gradually becomes used to her dangerous occupation--though she knows better than to voice her misgivings about the war. But her love for a conspirator within the SS, and her growing awareness of the Reich's atrocities, draw Magda into a plot that will test her wits and loyalty in a quest for safety, freedom, and ultimately, vengeance.


Having read The Magdalen Girls by V.S. Alexander back in December 2016 and absolutely loved it, I had been keeping an eye out for more books by this author. When I saw The Taster I was instantly very interested, then when I read the blurb I knew I just had to read this book as soon as I could!

The cover features a woman dressed in a plain wine dress with a very neat white lacey collar. The female also has a brooch or badge at the neck of her dress. There is also lace featured on the cuffs of the long-sleeved dress. The female is holding a tea cup & saucer. The picture created on the cover could represent lots of different scenes from within the book. It could be the main character of Magda Ritter, or it could also represent Ursula Thalberg. 

The genres listed for this book are General Fiction and Historical Fiction which fit the book perfectly. I would also add the label Realistic Fiction and make sure to explain that this book is based on a true story too.

The book actually begins at the end with Magda Ritter explaining she is a childless old widow alone in a house full of memories. Magda describes the linden trees in spring and the blue lakes in summer that no longer bring her any joy. Then Magda reveals that she was one of fifteen women tasters that were employed to try/test Hitler's food to prevent him being poisoned by Allies, spies or any of his own men. Magda goes on to say after the war only her husband knew exactly what Magda did. But though she has kept her secrets for many years she feels now she has not much longer to live, she must reveal her hidden secrets. I loved the wording where Magda says she hopes people will not judge her as harshly as she has judged herself. How can anyone judge her badly for doing what she had to do to survive?

The book then steps back to a much younger Magda and tells the sequence of events that took place for Magda to become a taster for Hitler and the course of events that led to Magda being in the bunker the day Hitler died. 

At the beginning of the story, Magda Ritter is living with her parents Hermann & Lisa Ritter in Berlin. Hermann Ritter is quietly against Hitler, his Nazis' and the war. He works at a factory and due to an injury and his age, is thankfully too old to be conscripted and sent to war. His wife, Lisa Ritter, is more accepting and sympathetic to Hitler, his Nazis' and the war. Lisa thinks Hitler may be good for Germany and its people. In fact, she is concerned when her daughter does not join the Nazi party! Lisa brings in money for the family by doing sewing. Also living in the same building as the Ritter family is Frau Horst, an elderly lady who openly supports the Nazis with a swastika card in her window. Frau Horst prefers to gather her cognac and cigarettes before making her way down to the basement when the Allies are bombing. As Berlin is becoming increasingly difficult to live in with Allied strikes increasing, food and work becoming scarcer, Hermann Ritter insists his daughter Magda be sent to live with his brother Willy and his wife Reina. After initially attempting to reason and making her case to stay in Berlin, Magda finally gives in to her parents’ wishes and is sent to Berchtesgaden, to her father’s brother and his wife's home. Magda packs a small case, putting in a family photograph and the cherished stuffed monkey her father bought and gave her when she was a young child. There's an SS Officer checking everyone's papers before she is allowed onto the train to begin her long journey. When Magda boards the train she notices a young couple a few seats in front of her. They lean close together smoking and quietly talking to each other. Part way through the journey, the train is stopped. Ann SS Officer board the train and marches up to the couple, putting his gun to the male’s head. He remains this way until armed police arrive to remove the couple from the train. Magda is naturally in shock, why are the couple being removed from the train? They are in the middle of nowhere what is going to happen to the couple?
Once Magda arrives at Berchtesgaden train station she quickly searches the people milling around and standing between all the swastikas and flags. Once she locates her Aunt and Uncle she greets them with the expected Nazis salute, she notices that her Uncle Willy in his local Police uniform with a swastika on his arm, looks much happier to see her than her Aunt Reina does. Aunt Reina is wearing a cobalt blue dress that has a fastened collar with a diamond brooch in the shape of a swastika pinned above her heart. Her Aunt and Uncles Bavarian home is festooned with swastikas and even has a black and white portrait of the F├║hrer hanging over the fireplace! Aunt Reina is openly, fully supportive of Hitler, the Nazis and the war. Aunt Reina is convinced Hitler is going to win the war easily and is the best person to rule the country. In fact, it doesn't take long for Aunt Reina find fault with Magda, specifically that Magda is not a party member yet. Aunt Reina is a big fan of Hitler and everything he says and does. Reina quickly dictates that Magda must find a job or a husband, as she and her Uncle cannot afford to keep her for nothing. It is the fact that her Uncle Willy is part of the local Police force that helps Magda finally get an interview for a job. The job Magda is accepted for is that of being one of fifteen "Tasters" though she doesn't find out what her job is until she arrives at the Berghof. Magda once again finds herself packing her small case and taking her treasured stuffed monkey to live on site at Hitler’s mountain retreat, The Berghof. Magda reports to the head of the kitchen and cook Fraulein Schultz who explains she has been chosen by her and SS Officer Captain Karl Weber for a very important job, to taste the Fuhrer's food. Fraulein Schultz goes on to say that being a taster is an important honour, as well as a job, for Magda's body is being offered in sacrifice to the Reich in case the Fuhrer's food is poisoned. It is Fraulein Schultz that teaches Magda the individual, different poisons, how they smell, taste and work. Though Fraulein Schultz is a hard boss, she is a fair one and soon comes to like Magda and they become firm friends.

Magda does meet, and make some good friends, such as Ursula who introduces her to her own boyfriend Franz. It is via Franz and Ursula that Magda eventually becomes involved with SS Captain Karl Weber and ends up being drawn into a group of Germans with in Hitler’s work force who are plotting to try and bring Hitler and his regime down.

Magda is not only risks her life every time she tastes the Fuhrers food but she has to live 
under constant scrutiny and behave as the perfect citizen according to Hitler too. When Hitler takes an interest in her budding romance with Karl, and gives his blessing, he even gives Magda a special badge to wear when he takes it upon himself to make her part of the Nazi party. Then Hitler continues to keep track of their lives and is constantly pushing them to marry sooner rather than later and go on to have many healthy German babies! When they do plan their wedding Hitler not only attends their wedding with his companion Eva Braun but they are the witnesses to the marriage. Hitler gifts Karl and Magda special matching, engrave silver rings, to wear as wedding rings. The young couple are happy to be together and living in married quarters now but they still have to be very careful as they are still under scrutiny, anything they do, that is perceived as being wrong can and will be severely punished. The thing is it won't just be their necks on the line but that of their family too. Magda is aware one wrong step could result in her parents, or even her Aunt and Uncle being held responsible and them being punished or killed. Magda has to be extremely careful, yet ends up being very brave in the actions she does take. This way of punishing the nearest person to the one who has committed the offence is shown when in an attempt to both protect and distance Magda from being part of any plot against Hitler, Karl leaves her behind, whilst he goes on the run. Sadly, the Colonel, who has never particularly liked Magda refuses to believe she is innocent and had no knowledge of the plotting has her sent to Bromberg-ost. It is Magda's wedding ring gift that came directly from Hitler that saves her from abuse and the fate of living in, and perhaps dying in the Bromberg-ost concentration camp.

I immediately took to and came to both respect and be in awe of Magda Ritter, she is thrown into a job beyond her own control and is simply expected to put her life on the line for one of the most self-important, hated figures in history. Magda definitely views life and politics like her father Hermann and remembers her father’s advice of "Do what you must to survive" and has to choose to adhere to this advice on many occasions throughout the book. Magda endures a lot in this book, at one point another cook Otto takes a dislike to her and actually purposely gives her poisoned food to taste. Initially Hitler thinks this was a great idea that should be repeated regularly to assess his tasters and their abilities. It is much later in the book that unintentional actions taken by Magda mean that cook Otto falls seriously out of favour with Hitler.

I adored the relationships between Magda Ritter and SS Officer Karl, as well as the one between Ursula, a fellow taster and SS Officer Franz. Ursula and Franz had known each other since childhood and planned to eventually get married. Sadly, this is a plan not meant to come to fruition as a task carried out by Ursula has awful consequences.  

As much as I disliked the cook Otto, I grew to love cook, Fraulein Schultz as much as Magda did, she came to treat Magda as a good friend. So much so that when Magda has to choose between leaving Fraulein Schultz behind or escaping danger, it ends up being a very painful and difficult decision for Magda.

The funny thing is that two of the characters I found I really disliked were Lisa Ritter and Reina Ritter, though they not blood related, they are so alike and would probably have loved the honour to have had Magda's job as taster. They both can see, only the good in Hitler and his Nazi beliefs and doctrines. They both belittle those who would question Hitler and blindly believe he is the saviour of Germany right to the bitter end.

I ended up truly, adoring reading this book and I honestly became very fond of Magda. I think even more so when you realise it is based on a true story. The horrors she saw, was part of, and had to endure. Just when Magda thinks the war is over and safety is within grasp, she and those friends she has found are attacked and abused by their supposed "Russian saviours".

I have to admit it, I had a tear in my eye when Magda gets to go back to her Aunt & Uncles house when things are over, and Hitler is dead. She certainly see's a difference in her Aunt, gone are the swastika's and the portrait of the Fuhrer. There is another, bigger, surprise awaiting Magda at her Aunt & Uncles, but I don't want to spoil the surprise. I will just say have those tissues to hand.

I thought I would hate Hitler's companion Eva Braun but on occasion within this book you see a rather lonely woman who loves a man that is so busy with the war that he has very little time for her and continually puts off their wedding. Then on the other hand you think Eva Braun surely must have known what was going on with the concentration camps, which makes you wonder how could she love such a man? In the book you see Eva as a lonely figure so desperate for friends she tries to make friends with Hitler's staff. Of course, we know Eva does get her wish and gets to marry Hitler, and they then commit suicide together in his bunker with members of his staff on hand to assist where needed. Trusted members of staff then set fire to their bodies and bury their ashes as per the final instruction given to them by Hitler. 

This book did go into some great and interesting details of Hitler & his staffs final weeks and days hidden far underground. The book revealed how Hitler’s right-hand men also committed suicide alongside him in the bunker first making sure their young children were also dead. Even nearing the end of his power Hitler's staff were still diligently, blindly doing the crazy man's bidding. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Hitler's final days through Magda's eyes. This view also leaves you with questions, was Magda really there alone with Hitler at the end. I don't doubt that she would be brave enough to stay as she wished "at the end" or even carried out the actions she says she did.

I truly enjoyed reading this book. I learnt more about what day to day life was like for those around Hitler. Also, I hadn't known that some of Hitler's own employees and people from his inner circle were plotting and sometimes attempting to kill him. So even those in a close vicinity to him knew he was losing the war, knew what he was trying achieve was wrong and knew he had to be stopped at all costs. Then there is the other side of the coin, of Hitler’s almost fatherly interest and matchmaking with his employees and their relationships, Also shown in this book is Hitler’s love of his dog Blondi, that has pups. Once again, Hitler goes on to show, what I guess, most people would simply say, is his pure evil side by killing the dog he professes to deeply love and care for and her pups so that when he commits suicide in his bunker no one else would get his beloved dog Blondi or her pups!

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were, Wow, an amazing read! 
This is the second book I have read by this author. This book is a work of fiction based within factual information gathered. I have to admit I grew really fond of Magda and could certainly empathise with her character, and understand how she reacted, and why she reacted to the increasing madness around her. This book is so brilliantly written, it makes you feel you are actually there, with a bird’s eye view of the horrific events through Magda's eyes.

I honestly found this book both a highly addictive read and an interesting, informative one too.  There are so many little details in this book, that encourage you to really visualise what is being portrayed in the book. What can I say? It truly is a time in history that evokes strong feelings and emotions from within me. I think the stories of the real people around Hitler should continue to be told. I am also adamant that what happened in and around the concentration camps that Hitler built etc should never, ever be forgotten.

Another great book by V.S. Alexander! I will most certainly be keeping my eyes and ears open for any other forthcoming books by this author.

Sunday, 25 March 2018


Title: The Wolves Of Winter
Author: Tyrell Johnson
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Mystery
Publisher: Scribner, Story HQ, Harpercollins UK
Release Date: 2nd January 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive.

Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As memories of her old life haunt her, she has been forced to forge ahead in the snow-covered Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap to survive.

But her fragile existence is about to be shattered. Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who sets in motion a chain of events that will force Lynn to fulfill a destiny she never imagined.


To be totally honest I originally thought just from the title that this would be a shifter book, but I was totally wrong there though when I read the blurb I decided I still really wanted to read this one. I loved a good post apocalyptic read. I also enjoy reading debut authors so had to give this one a go.

The cover shows a bleak landscape with lots of snow on the ground and snow falling too. There are thin spindly trees featured on the cover. I love the bold style of the title as well as blocky effect of the font and how it dominates the book cover. The "I" in winter is also replaced by a lonely figure walking in snow, which when you read the book you just know the figure is the main character of Lynn McBride.

The genre's I have seen listed for this book are Sci-Fi, Dystopian, and Mystery which I totally agree with but I would also definitely add post apocalyptic. The other sub genres that are featured are climate change, genetics and virus. After reading the book I would be tempted to add futuristic too. 

This book is set in a bleak future where war has decimated the world and its population, and where a flu virus created on American soil has killed off many people both intended in Asia and unintended back in America along with the weather going kind of crazy makes the world a harsher place to live. Where the climate is warmer the flu is more virulent so naturally some people opt to move to cooler climates even if this means a harsher, more difficult style of living. One family that has made this difficult move is that of Lynn McBride. Lynn lives with her only surviving parent, her mother, her older brother Ken who treats her more like a friend/buddy than his younger sister. Also in their family group is Jeryl, Lynn's Uncle on her dads side of the family. Jeryl has become the leader of their group and father figure since her own father died.  Last but not least is Ramsey, the son of John-Henry, best friend to Jeryl. When John-Henry died it seemed only natural for Jeryl to take in Ramsey.

The book starts with the 26 year old Lynn discovering one of her traps has been triggered yet is empty and surrounded with blood. Lynn immediately presumes one of three things has happened. One, The animal could have gotten loose, Two, Wolves had gotten to the animal caught in her trap or Three, the most likely explanation is that Anthony Conrad had stolen her kill!! Lynn checks the animal tracks and identifies that the animal caught in her trap had been a deer. A deer meant a great catch and a good meal. Lynn had even pulled her sleigh all the way out to her traps to drag anything back to her family. Naturally Lynn is fuming and decides to confront Anthony Conrad who is her families nearest neighbour. The confrontation doesn't go well and ends up with Anthony Conrad surprising Lynn by striking her and then pinning her to the ground groping and threatening her. 

Back at the settlement Lynn and her family live in there are four buildings strung together in a narrow valley which is surrounded by hills. Lynn and her mom live in the largest building which is a log cabin, it was the first thing her family group built. Initially they all lived in it until the other buildings were ready. Now things have changed with the addition of extra buildings. Jeryl and Ramsey have their own cabin. It took a while for him to decide but Ken decided to construct his own cabin too which he has to himself, giving him some independence from living under his mom's rule. The remaining building is a multi use building, for storing the firewood and equipment and for the animals that they had managed to bring with them from their previous home. They have two goats called Hector and Helen that provided milk and cheese as well as an early warning system, telling them when wolves were about too. The other animal they brought was a musk ox that Lynn called Stankbutt as she thinks it more fitting than Jebediah which is what everyone else calls him. The Ox was old and provided very little for the human keepers, though Jeryl and Ramsey had ox fur coats. 

This books timeline jumps about quite a bit which I ended up labelling in my book notes as "Present Past" and "Present Now". So to share a little more about the book the "Present Past" covers the fact that the McBride family once lived a fairly average, normal life in Chicago. Then when Lynn was around twelve years old they moved to Alaska which was before the bomb hit New York. Everything changed then, fires started, TV's stopped working, planes stopped flying and then things just continued to get worse. The War began, nuclear strikes, sides were taken by different countries having to choose to be pro or against America. Then as all this progresses America uses biological warfare by sending a form of flu to Asia, only they fail to realise that the flu will spread so easily and it actually ends up claiming victims back in America too. To try to control the flu spreading a taskforce is created and called the DCIA: Disease Containment and Immunity Advancement, though people refer to them as the "Immunity" or "Immunisers". These people dressed in a in a uniform that has white stars on the shoulders went into schools and businesses giving out containment rules and masks. People were told that the Immunity were doing research but all they seemed to do was blocking off zones they perceived as safe. The Immunity had trucks, soldiers and guns too! Sadly whatever the Immunity were meant to be doing was too little, too late as the flu spread like crazy. International travel stopped, communication faltered when the mail stopped, then the schools and hospitals were closed. Following this the fighting and looting began, people were moving around in attempt to find a flu free place to settle.

Lynn was lucky in a way, as she was kept pretty sheltered by her parents. The only differences in life she initially noticed was when he biologist father began working from home in their basement. In fact she became very curious about what her father was doing down there. Sadly Lynn becomes seriously ill hallucinating that a bee stings her and then she slowly gets better each day but unfortunately the flu hasn't finished with this family when her dad gets the flu he doesn't recover, he dies. That's when Uncle Jeryl takes over as head of the family and self appointed protector of the family. He literally saves the family as when Lynn's dad dies of the flu her mum slips into a trance like, just existing state. Uncle Jeryl has to be blunt and perhaps a little cruel and hard hearted to snap Lynn's mum out of the the just existing state she has gotten herself into. Once she has snapped back to harsh reality and the fact they must move from Alaska to survive as to stay would mean more risk of the flu or the immunity researchers, Lynn's mum becomes harder, tougher and more determined to keep the remainder of her family close and safe.

This book has so many great characters that I grew fond of in different ways for all sorts of reasons. One of the character's I have to mention is Lynn, at age 23 she is still sheltered by her mum, Uncle Jeryl and even her older seemingly indifferent brother Ken. At times in the book seems more like she is in her late teens! Personally I wouldn't have guessed she was as old as we are told within the book. I would have put her age at 19. She sulks and though she has a fairly safe steady paced life with all any one can hope for in these dire times by having "enough"food, "enough" wood, "enough" clothes and a large portion of her family with her. Lynn longs for change, she envisions travelling around the stark landscape and finding other survivors. Someone should have told Lynn to be careful what she wished for because whilst out setting traps she meets Jax, who at first seems innocent enough but as the book goes on we realise he has many hidden secrets that will draw dangerous people to him and anyone harboring him. Having said he is "trouble" he really is what Lynn needs, a fresh face, a new crush, someone who reveals that there are other survivors out there. A snap decision by Lynn almost costs her, her life when she gets stuck outside far from home in a snow storm. Then she is caught by a group of people claiming to be immunity. This is when we meet another character I really grew fond of Braylen, quickly even though she is only in the book for a short time. I honestly think in slightly different circumstances Braylen and Lynn could have been a long lasting friends living within the same community. Another character I have to mention who I instantly felt affection for was Ramsey, the son of Jeryl's best friend John-Henry. Ramsey is younger than Lynn and seems to still have a crush on her even though she doesn't appear to see him that way. So when Jax arrives on the scene Ramsey is naturally jealous of him and the friendship he rapidly builds with Lynn. I guess Ramsey also notices that Lynn shows Jax a lot of attention and seems to have a crush on him too.
I should give a small mention to the character I loved to hate which is Anthony Conrad, he certainly makes you think of the saying "keep your friends closer and your enemies even closer". Lynn and her mothers instinct about him are proven justified.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I particularly enjoyed the sections from Lynn's point of view of what she misses from her "before life". Though the book does tend to jump about from what is happening in the present, things that happened in the near past and then the odd part from the farther back past. Once you get into the book this isn't a problem at all. I would have loved to have had the backstory of Lynn and her family travelling from Alaska to the Yukon revealing what horrors they saw, what they had to do to survive and how they coped dragging the animals with them. Maybe that could be told in a prequel? This book read well as a standalone but I really hope it's the beginning of a series. 

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were that this book left me wanting more, much more! Please tell me it's the start of a potentially wonderful series!?

This is the debut of Tyrell Johnson and I have to say I want to read much more by this author! I found this book to be addictive reading, I hated having to put the book down! The mixture of genres within this book were brilliant, it had the post apocalyptic landscape and way of life along the the genetic elements and the threat of the out of control flu virus. There's so much more to this book than I have revealed. I would have to say I would put this book up there alongside Year One by Nora Roberts. Yep! I enjoyed this book that much!

Tuesday, 20 March 2018


Title: This Body Won't Break
Series: The O-Negative Series
Author: Lea McKee
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Pandemic
Release Date: 5th December 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
The truth doesn't always set you free. 

Orphaned as a child, Joanna has lived her entire life in the care of the New Terra Alliance. On the verge of turning eighteen, 
she eagerly awaits her release into what remains of society. 

It was a beautiful lie. 

Joanna was never meant to leave. She is part of the August Harvest, slated to die before the month’s end. With a rogue 
soldier’s promise to find her a way out, Joanna dares to hope. But as Harvest Day approaches, she realizes that to truly defeat the NTA, she must extinguish the source of its corruption–the Commander General himself. But Joanna has no idea the Commander lies in wait, hatching a deadly plot of his own.


After reading a few contemporary books I felt ready to go back to one of my favoured genres of Post-Apocalyptic or Dystopian. When I read the blurb of this book I decided this was what I wanted to read. I bought an e-copy of the book from Amazon UK. At the very end of the blurb there's a snippet that recommends this book for fans of Divergent, The Darkest Minds, and The Handmaid’s Tale saying it is story of twisted secrets, romance, and page-turning suspense. I loved Divergent when I read it so decided to read this book.

The background cover of the book is just a plain black and has an explosion of grey on it. The title and author name fonts are quite basic yet stand out well. One thing I really love about the cover is the addition of the first line of the blurb "The truth doesn’t always set you free." to the cover. Being super nit picking the only thing I would change about the cover is to add some colour. I think the "explosion" of the red would certainly attract attention to the book when it is on a bookshelf in a store. Having 
the splash in red in the middle of the cover would represent the theme of blood which is pretty central in this book.

The genres I have seen listed for this book are Sci-Fi, Dystopian & YA. I totally agree with both the Sci-Fi and Dystopian genres. It may be aimed at the young adult market but as an adult I also thoroughly enjoyed reading This Body Won't Break. I would also add that I think the whole virus/disease of TEN would place the book into the post-apocalyptic genre and come under the pandemic label too.

After finishing my previous book I decided to read just a couple of pages of this book (as it was late at night) I felt pulled into this book almost immediately, and read more than just a few pages as originally planned! I finally forced myself to stop reading at around 26% I seriously didn't want to put it down. In fact, I ended up being really drawn into this book quickly and it kept a hold on me until the very end! It really is addictive reading!

The main background part of this book you need to know, is that a virus called TEN was caused by nuclear fallout and has become airborne which leads to a terminal sickness that has wiped out a lot of the population making it necessary for the government referred to as the NTA to take the steps of introducing an Institute for those orphaned to be brought up and prepared for being useful citizens when they reach working age. Each area has a few of these Institutes where those that live in them go through phases one and two, preparing them to leave and go onto phase three. Upon reaching maturity, at 17 almost 18 years old those at the Institute are taken to "phase 3" where they will be tested and helped to choose and train for their chosen job in society. 

We meet the main character of the book, Joanna as she is dressing in her black, white and dull green uniform that marks her out as being part of zone 3. She looks around her room an exact copy of every other room in phase 2 at the Institute. Those living in the Institute are orphans' aspirants who have lost their families to the dreaded virus which is referred to as TEN. Its August which is Joanna's birth month, she is now considered an adult and will be leaving for phase 3 along with the other aspirants with the same birthday month. This leaving phase 2 and moving on to phase 3 is referred to as harvesting. Joanna first came to live at the Institute quite late in life at just three years old. Her parents died in an accident, leaving her an orphan so she was sent to the Institute. The others at the Institute such as Danny and Sophie have been there all their lives like the other aspirants at the Institute. Making friends is not really encouraged so it is unusual when Dianna, one of the Institute workers seems to take Joanna under her wing, allowing her to eat her meals with her in the kitchen instead of alone in her room. This friendship is the only reason Joanna can think of, when Dianna pulls her to one side in a desperate bid to hurriedly tell her something before she is actually transported to phase three. The information that strikes Joanna as odd, that she remembers Dianna telling her is that, Things are not as they seem. That they have been risen like a farmer raises pigs. Joanna doesn't get the opportunity to ask Dianna exactly what she means as guards appear to usher all the aspirants into an awaiting van. As the ten aspirants from Joanna's Institute get into the van, they are all pondering what will happen at phase 3. One girl says they will only be at phase 3 for a month before being sent out to specific areas to train for their future jobs. After her brief warning from Dianna Joanna is even more perplexed when the van guard berates the ten aspirants for not working "it" out. He actually tells them they have thirty days and they should make the most of them. Another character in the van who is even more suspicious about what is to come in phase 3 is Chase. We learn has escaped twice already, the first time out of pure curiosity, and the second time because of something he had seen that he shouldn't have! When their van stops they are told to leave the van in an orderly way and wait along with other aspirants from all the other Institutes in the different areas. Males and females are assigned their wings and room numbers and will only mix with each other in the shared communal spaces. Only for some strange reason Cash is assigned to the same room as Joanna, and two other female characters, Danny and Sophie. 
Joanna's suspicions are raised even more when a guard whom seems strangely familiar to her hands her a piece of paper saying he needs to show her something. Should Joanna trust him? Is it some sort of trap or part of the training or even a test.
So I have decided at this point I cannot really tell you much more of the plot, as you should have things unfold and pique your individual curiosity as you read the book.

The character I instantly liked was Joanna, who has to try to piece together certain clues to decide whom she can trust. Joanna also has to deal with Cash and his distrust of the establishment that runs the Institute and has brought them up. I think maybe Joanna would have just put her concerns aside but with Cash asking questions and then the guard Knox saying there is something she needs to see, she cannot just forget and go on blindly. I really liked the part where Joanna realises how institutionalised she has become. Joanna discovers that the full name of her rescuer/protector is Ethan Knox. At the institute no one has a surname, only a first name, birth month and ID number. So at the Institute she was known as Joanna August 638.

I loved the description and character of Knox. When Joanna has her recurring nightmare of falling from a tree despite a hand from above trying to save her, and this time she sees the actual face belonging to the hand and it's Knox you realise there is much more to Knox that Joanna cannot remember. I really love the character of Ethan Knox because of the way he checks in with Joanna making sure she is alright. He truly wants to protect her. When the reason he blames himself for Joanna being in the Institute is revealed you understand why he is so protective over her.

I enjoyed the writing style and pace of the book. Lea managed to reveal things slowly but still hold enough back to make you so eager to read more, I really hated having to put this book down! There’s a lot of action, some romance as well as danger and betrayal in this book.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book Wow! How could you leave the book right there Lea?! I loved this book, which is the start to the O’ Negative Series and I had a feeling about that certain character whose name I won't reveal and the scene where he dropped something, I was so suspicious of him! I hope I have told you enough in this review to encourage to read the book without giving away too many details and spoiling the flow of the book for you to read for yourself. What else can I say, I loved this book. Certain aspects in it reminded me of other titles I have read. There is a certain aspect within the book that seems to be an upcoming new sub- genre. This book had me thinking of Body Parts by Jessica Kapp, The Body Institute by Carol Riggs, The Vampire Games by Stephanie Archer along with a few other titles I have read. I'd definitely recommend reading it.