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.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

REVIEW - DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY BY AMANDA FOODY

Title: Daughter Of The Burning City
Author: Amanda Foody
Genre: Teen, YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: 25th July 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
As I chose this book I wanted something a little different than my recent reads which have been shifter, and dystopian books. I am also quite fascinated with old style travelling circus theme. 

I've seen two covers for this book and have described them below in my Cover Compare feature. I love the purple colour that is featured on both covers which represents the fog and smog smoke from the constant magical burning in and around the moving city that is the Gomorrah Festival. I think just based on the colour alone, this book would catch my eye enough to it pick up and learn more about it from the blurb.

The main character is Sorina who is just sixteen years old, she was adopted by the proprietor of the Gomarrah Festival, Villiam. Life within the travelling city of Gomorrah is all Sorina has known. Sorina, along with some of the other performers in the carnival/festival have what is described as Jynx-work. Sorina is a lonely character and even within the festival she doesn't know or talk to many people. The festival has been banned from certain places for around three years then suddenly Villiam has been told that the festival is once again welcome on those areas. Sorina has her own tent which is entitled the "Freak Show" which consists of her, "The Girl Who See's Without Eyes". At first I thought Sorina was a puppeteer which I suppose she is in a way except the strings to her illusions are invisible. The book begins with a nervous Sorina peeking through the heavy velvet curtains. One by one her illusions perform, then for the finale Sorina is "The Girl Who See's Without Eyes". Sorina doesn't think of her illusions as a freak show act. Sorina feels all her illusions are their own persons and her family, there's Gill the troutman who can breathe in water who is like an Uncle to Sorina, Blister who is the baby that breathes fire and the two twin younger brothers which are Unu and Du who share a body but have their own heads and opinions that they don't mind sharing and arguing with each other. The problems begin when one of the illusions is killed. If illusions aren't really a living human how can they be murdered/killed? That is the puzzle that Sorina and a newer member of the festival called Luca who says he is a gossip worker which means he hears a lot about what is going on in Gomorrah. 


I struggled to begin with and at one point actually thought I won't be able to finish read this one. Then suddenly the pace and intrigue picked up and I felt more drawn into the book with the intriguing details of the 'freaks' created by Sorina and their individual acts in the Gomorrah Festival. It certainly had me asking questions quite early on in the book too. Why after over three years is the festival suddenly being allowed? Why has the 10pm Menagerie show been cancelled?
Who killed Gill? And why? Who is the important up mountain man that has gone missing that provoked such an uncivilised and fierce reaction from the local up mountainers? Why did Jaifu not turn up to the usual place he meets up with Sorina to split the proceeds of his thefts do she can pay for Kahina's medication."
I absolutely had to continue reading as I wanted to know what was going on, who was doing the killings, why are they killing those closet to Sorina? Why is the festival suddenly allowed to visit cities it had previously been barred from for the past 3 years?
As I said I founder the very early part of this book slower paced than I usually like but by about half way through I was glad I had to persevered. 

I feel I shouldn't go into much more detail as you need to read the book yourself. It has slow beginning and at times I thought it was a little odd but as the story develops it becomes more interesting and you feel yourself pulled deeper. The plot speeds up and there are so many suspects for the killings, you easily become more involved and it certainly keeps you guessing who the guilty party is. This book becomes more complex, and intriguing with every page. Just when you think you have worked certain characters or parts of the plot out there's another twist or turn!

I liked the character of the somewhat naive Sorina as well as Kahina, the one who is a mother figure to Sorina. Yet when Kahina contracts the dreaded snaking disease it is Sorina that has to use rather unscrupulous methods to obtain the money to pay for the procurment of the necessary medication. I was also intrigued as to how Sorina has created her own band of friends/family that perform in the freak show along with her. Another character I loved was Luca, a male gossip worker who was quite stand offish towards Sorina but ends up being an increasingly important person in her life. Sorina quickly develops a crush on Luca, but does he feel the same way about her? I thought Luca came across as a very innocent young man, which at first I thought suspicious but then later in the book there is a perfect explanation for his inexperience. When Luca is explained more in the book and certain things are revealed his reactions and behaviour all make sense. To be honest if I had to choose just one favourite character it would be Luca. I loved the descriptions of the outfits he wore, his whole terminology and how he spoke.
A character I thoroughly loved hating was the proprietor of the festival, Villiam. Villiam is the man who adopted Sorina all those years ago, who says one day she will take his place and be the proprietor, yet he seems reluctant to begin training her and revealing the secrets and harsh realities of the festival. At times he can be rather dismissive of Sorina. To me he became a little patronising of her, telling her only the bare minimum of what she needed to know. Then in my opinion when it suited him he actually used Sorina and her little family as part of a very dangerous plot for power.

So to finally sum up my final thoughts as I finished this book were, Wow! How on earth can I describe this book? . . . . .brilliantly weird, strange and compulsive reading. Amazingly different character within an olde worlde setting of a travelling festival/circus.



COVER COMPARE
So as I said at the beginning of my review, I've seen two covers for this book which are pictured below. I really love the purple colour that is featured on both covers which to me represents the fog and smog smoke from the constant magical burning in and around the moving city that is the Gomorrah Festival. Both covers feature the brilliant byline of  "Wicked, wicked to the core, the city will burn forever more...". I love it rhymes, it makes you think of children being brought up singing it as the play outside their homes in the travelling city of Gomorrah. I think just based on the colour alone, this book would catch my eye enough to it pick up and learn more about it from the blurb. 

COVER A
The cover below on the left is what I would imagine a flyer advertising the Festival to look similar to. The font of the title and the swirly curls around the words give it a very olde fashioned feel. There's also the up turned top hat that perhaps the proprietor would wear when in the big ring. Or it would also fit that Nicoleta may wear one when in the ring of the Freak Show addressing the audience.

COVER B
The cover on the left is what I would envision the city with all its performing tents and the food traders and side show act tents to look like from a birds eye photograph, or as would be more fitting with the books content perhaps a photograph or a view that Hawk (one of Sorina's family of illusions) would have when flying.

                                            A                                          B

Which one do you prefer?

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

REVIEW & INTERVIEW - BODY PARTS BY JESSICA KAPP

Title: Body Parts
Author: Jessica Kapp
Genre: Mystery, Thrillers, Teens & YA
Publisher: Diversion books/Diversion Publishing
Release Date: 15th August 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
People would kill for her body.

Raised in an elite foster center off the California coast, sixteen-year-old Tabitha’s been sculpted into a world-class athlete. Her trainers have told her she’ll need to be in top physical condition to be matched with a loving family, even though personal health has taken a backseat outside the training facility. While Tabitha swims laps and shaves seconds off her mile time, hoping to find a permanent home, the rest of the community takes pills produced by pharmaceutical giant PharmPerfect to erase their wrinkles, grow hair, and develop superhuman strength.

When Tabitha’s finally paired, instead of being taken to meet her new parents, she wakes up immobile on a hospital bed. Moments before she’s sliced open, a group of renegade teenagers rescues her, and she learns the real reason for her perfect health: PharmPerfect is using her foster program as a replacement factory for their pill-addicted clients’ failing organs. And her friends from the center, the only family she’s ever known, are next in line to be harvested.

Determined to save them, Tabitha joins forces with her rescuers, led by moody and mysterious Gavin Stiles. As they race to infiltrate the hospital and uncover the rest of PharmPerfect’s secrets, though, Tabitha finds herself with more questions than answers. Will trusting the enigmatic group of rebels lead her back to the slaughterhouse?


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
The cover caught my eye and attention, then the blurb pulled me in even further and made it a "must read". 
The cover shows a young girl with long red hair that is twisted up off of her neck to reveal what looks like a barcode! So that had my mind curious as to what it really was for etc. The background is also kind of like a barcode in shades of blue, or could the blue represent the curtains in either the centre Tabitha lives in or the hospital she visits. Either one really fits in with the book. The cover certainly did its job making me stop scrolling and read the blurb!

This book is set in a dystopian/futuristic era on an island mostly owned by a pharmaceutical company called PharmPerfect. In this world there there is a pill for almost everything. If you want to reduce your wrinkles, grow your hair, gain extra speed or strength, all you need to do is swallow the correct pill. Sounds perfect? Well not really, as like all medications you take in our present day, the drugs produced on the island have side effects that can put certain organs under stress, for example liver,kidneys, heart and lungs. So organ replacement is a booming business. Some people buy donor organs in advance and have them specially stored for them just in case they should need them. Those that can afford the pills, and have the funds readily available just purchase them never giving a thought to where they come from.

We meet the main character Tabitha during a training session at the Centre Of Excellence. 
Tabitha is almost seventeen years old and all she can really remember are the two institutions she has been in. The Centre Of Excellence has teenagers continually training to be stronger and fitter in order to be chosen by a foster family. No one knows what happenes if you don't get fostered and reach the age of 18, it's just not talked about. In fact the teenagers have minimal contact with the outside world. They are only allowed to watch certain TV programmes deemed suitable by the Institute. Naturally the teens dream about the day they will be chosen by a family. In fact, they regularly talk about the type of family they'd like to have. Inside the institute the only family they have is each other. The Institute teaches the young adults to be disciplined and to have drive. The Institute motto that is written on the wall says "It's whats on the inside that counts".
The day we meet Tabitha she and her friend Paige are being monitored for how long they can hold their breath under water to test their lung capacity. Tabitha wins! The girls then sit at the side of the pool talking with Parker, and with Paige's twin Meghan. All the teens are instructed in ways to make sure they are both mentally and physically fit. The young adults are also taught self defense in case they should ever need it. As they have been taught that there are some weird people who would be jealous of their good health and kidnap them to sell on their organs on the black market!

That's when Ms Preen marches in with her red folder! The red folder means someone has been chosen! They all line up for Ms Preen as they are expected to, as she glances at the paperwork. Parker slips his arm around Tabitha, he really looks out for her and is one of her closest friends in the Institute.  Then without even looking straight up Ms Preen mutters "Where is the red head?" Paige is immediately irked that Ms Preen does not ask for Tabitha using her name. So much so she actually spells out Tabitha's name.
Parker squeezes Tabitha then she steps forward. There are thoughts rapidly rushing through her head. Is it really her turn? What will her new parents be like? Then she looks at her friends....her family, she can see they are both excited and disappointed. Excited for her being chosen, but disappointed it isn't them too. Tabitha has to go through a final screening to make sure she passes all the tests at 100%. Then all too quickly for Tabitha, Parker, Paige and Meghan etc it's time for them to say goodbye. The teens left behind get Tabitha to promise to visit them, which like all the other before her she agrees to. Tabitha fully intends to be the one that keeps that promise to visit her friends.

When Tabitha is in the car, Ms Preen gives her a candy which is unusual as it's very rare for Ms Preen to even be civil to them let alone kind. Tabitha takes the candy anyway. . . she begins to feel drowsy. . then everything goes black. When she awakens, Tabitha finds herself tied to a hospital examination table. Naturally she can't remember exactly how she got here, she remembers passing the receptionist at the Centre Of Excellence as she left with Ms Preen. Then there was the car journey, Ms Preen being kind, then. . .nothing until now. As Tabitha looks around two young males enter the room in a rush. They move her from the room into a van, though she can see and hear all that is happening she still hasn't got her mobility back yet. All she can do is lie where she is put, feeling scared and wondering who these adolescent males are. . . . could they be the ones the trainer once told them about? Are these people kidnapping her right now for her organs, to sell them on the black market? Tabitha begins to plan, there's no way what so ever she is going down without a fight. When the van finally stops and the back doors are open she takes her chance and hits the male that approaches her fast and hard in the nose!

So there's lots happening in this book from the first page to the very last. I truly loved it. Among my favourite characters were Tabitha, Gavin, and Mary. I enjoyed reading the interactions between Mary and the other 'renegades'. The way they can be arguing with each other, or having the worst day ever and one hug from Mary just fixes those emotional feelings. I really liked Ry, even though he insists on popping the pills himself when he knows what can happen through first hand experience with his own mother. One character with a smaller part in the book was Craig, who had been a pill popper but had ended up needing a liver, which his family paid for. At the time Craig had been oblivious to the possibilities of where and how his liver had been obtained. I also liked the bristly hairstyled and initially bristly attitude of Sasha, she is kind of like the big sister of the group and the first one the gang has had saved. Although I loved a lot of the characters I also loved hating the 'bad' characters, such as the haughty Ms Preen who thinks so little of the teens at the Centre of Excellence she doesn't even say their names. I also enjoyed hating the CEO of PharmPerfect, you'll know who I mean, and understand why when you read the book.

The book is well written, and has a fairly fast pace. The only problem I had with the book was I honestly didn't want to put it down! This book made me think of another book I have read called The Body Institute by Carol Riggs, so if you like this book I think you'd like that one too. They both have a similar society, that just takes the quick fix, rather than looking at the lifestyle they are leading first. I admit I did guess what the medication was that Tabitha had been taking for her heart condition, but it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book in any way. I want to talk about the book and its characters so much more but to do so would spoil things for you reading it, so I guess I've said all I can. The other thing I'll say about this book is that it is eerily realistic, in that it's not too much of a stretch of the imagination to think this could actually happen in our world. In fact who is to say some of it, ie selling organs doesn't already happen now?

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were; Loved it! Loved it!Loved it! I'd love for it to be the start of a series? Loved most of the characters and loved hating the others too! It does make you think where our present world is going as well as how drugs are tested. The subject is something you really don't need that much of an imagination to believe that it could happen in the present or near future even.
I definitely want to read more by this author! I've checked Goodreads but there is only this book listed, but I'm following the author so I'll know when she releases other books.



INTERVIEW

Is Body Parts the beginning of a series? (I am really, really hoping it is):
I would love to continue the story! When I wrote Body Parts, I had an idea in mind should it ever evolve into a series. The plot is bouncing around in my brain, but for now, the story is a standalone. 

What genre would you personally put Body Parts in? Is this a genre you will be writing more of?
I would put Body Parts in the thriller genre, but it certainly appeals to dystopian fans. I consider myself a writer who branches just beyond contemporary into the lighter side of speculative fiction. And YES, I will certainly be writing more in this genre! I like my worlds to be grounded with a hint of ‘what if’ and have lots of stories brewing.

Who/What/How did you get your ideas for Body Parts?
Several years ago, my husband was rushed to the hospital for sudden liver failure. At one point the doctors pulled me aside to talk about putting him on the organ transplant list. It was terrifying to think about, and awful to consider someone would have to die for my husband to get a new liver. Luckily, his health stabilized and no organs were transplanted. But it got me thinking, and shortly after we returned from a long stay at the hospital, I started writing about teens being raised for their body parts.

Did you have to any of research for Body Parts? If so what/how did you do it?
Absolutely! I wanted the science to be as authentic as possible, and I found a great geneticist who provided incredible feedback! She helped me understand more about predispositions and how people metabolize drugs differently. Her insight helped me fix plot issues and make the story stronger, and I’m forever grateful!

If you had to choose to be a character from Body Parts, which would you be and why?
Ohhhh! Great question! Let me think…
Probably Mary. She has lost so much at such a young age but she’s still an optimist, and her hope seems to be contagious. I admire that about her.


How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for Body Part? Who designed the Cover of your book? Do you have a lot of input into the process?
I came up with the title early on and fully expected the publisher to change it as I’d heard that 99% of author-created titles didn’t stick during the road to publication. To my surprise, Body Parts did! But the credit for the beautiful cover design goes entirely to Diversion Books. They came up with the barcode idea on Tabitha’s neck to signify the fact that she was a commodity while giving it that futuristic feel. They did such a great job, adding smart subtleties on the cover to give the book its SciFi look while grabbing a reader’s attention!

Do you basic plot/plan for each individual book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I wish I was a better plotter, but truth be told, I’m a total pantser. I start with a basic (like, REALLY basic) outline, but I like to let the story take shape on its own. Sometimes it can cause me headaches (okay, A LOT of times). For instance, when writing Body Parts, the story went an entirely different direction around chapter four. I wrote about 7,000 words before I realized I was heading in the wrong direction and needed to cut it. That always hurts, but I love letting the words flow freely. My characters are smarter than I am most of the time and seem to have a good idea about what they need to do!

How long did it take you to write Body Parts?
I wrote Body Parts in about three months and it took another few months to revise.

What can we expect from you next and in the future?

I have two stories finished and ready for revisions. One is a dual perspective contemporary—it was such a challenge to write, but I really enjoyed it! The other is a little darker and based on a real-life experience I had when I was a teenager. I also have a speculative fiction story I can’t wait to start. The characters are just as eager to get out of my head, and I’m almost ready to let them loose! 

Thank you for answering my questions, I look forward to reading more of your books in the future, and hope that Body Parts becomes a series too!