Book Club Review – Stray by Rachel Vincent

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There are only eight breeding female werecats left . . .
And I’m one of them.

I look like an all-American grad student. But I am a werecat, a shape-shifter, and I live in two worlds.

Despite reservations from my family and my Pride, I escaped the pressure to continue my species and carved out a normal life for myself. Until the night a Stray attacked.

I’d been warned about Strays — werecats without a Pride, constantly on the lookout for someone like me: attractive, female, and fertile. I fought him off, but then learned two of my fellow tabbies had disappeared.

This brush with danger was all my Pride needed to summon me back . . . for my own protection. Yeah, right. But I’m no meek kitty. I’ll take on whatever — and whoever — I have to in order to find my friends. Watch out, Strays — ’cause I got claws, and I’m not afraid to use them . . .

Author – Kiera

This was Yasmin’s pick for March, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it! There is a sort of formula for these types of supernatural/urban fantasy stories which generally creates a similar outcome each time (alpha male + strong willed female × bad guy kidnapping her = lots of drama and a few steamy scenes) but if you like the formula then you will enjoy Stray. It is easy to read, and although the first portion of the book is a lot of information about werecats and their family histories – which wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, I personally loved it. Probably because I’m nosey!

I liked Faythe, she is a typical spoiled only girl in the family and she wants to do things her own way. As well as being head strong she is also smart and capable of looking after herself, which makes a nice change.
There are a lot of peripheral characters in this story, which can get quite confusing at times, but I quickly found my favourites and hope to read more about them later on in the series. Especially Jace and Parker. Swoon.
I really enjoyed the character development that happened with Faythe, she went through a lot in quite a short space of time and you could see her becoming unsure of her choices and questioning her actions. It was definitely important to the story that she get knocked down a peg or two so that she could start to see things from her Pride’s point of view.

All in all it was a 616 page book that I read within a few hours. Which is normally a good sign!

Author – Laura

*** 3 Stars

Overall I enjoyed Stray. I did feel that it was unnecessarily long, and as Kiera said its quite formulaic, but if it ain’t broke…

I really liked the various supporting characters, and how each of them contributed to the story. Ethan and Jace stood out for me, and secretly I think Faythe might have made the wrong choice with Marc.

As the main character I found Faythe difficult to like; I’m not sure why, but I just didn’t warm to her. She was massively over-confident to begin with, and appeared quite selfish. The character development was great and she was a different person by the end of the book.

Sometimes you just want something familiar and easy to read. Stray totally delivers on both counts.

Author – Antonia

When Yasmin first told us of the book for this month I was a bit apprehensive with 600 pages. However i managed to complete with a day to spare. Anyway so moving on to the review. I did enjoy this book and the action involved. I found Faythe to be rather needy and always wanting her own way. She was very head strong and knew what she wanted. This helped her in a few situations. I loved the way her character progressed throughout the book and the fight in her. The pride went through a lot together and it was good to see them help one another. Definitely worth a read 🙂

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Friday Favourites – Books I loved as a Child

Author-Hazel

This was a bit tricky for me as most of the books I loved as a kid, Laura and Kiera already talked about, so I really had to think and do some research. This took me on a happy journey down nostalgia lane and I remembered a few that made me smile…

Not now, Bernard by David Mckee

image Reading this story as an adult gave me a totally different perspective. As a child, I was horrified that because his parents ignored him, Bernard was eaten by a monster! Growing up as the eldest child of 6, this story resonated with me and although it wasn’t done deliberately, I could really relate to Bernard and his struggle to get his parents attention. As an adult, I found this story hilarious and this time I could relate to the parents! Sometimes you’re just too busy to deal with your child’s or children’s (in my case) every whim.

 

 

 

 The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan Ahlberg

imageThis is such a fantastic book. The postman is delivering all the Christmas Mail and we get to sneak a peek at it. Fully illustrated letters, postcards, recipes etc, this story is told through many different mediums and is beautifully interactive. It adds to the magical atmosphere of Christmas, a must read for all young children.

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Crush by Sarra Manning

imageI discovered these books when I bought Just 17, a magazine for teens back in the 90’s. It was first serialised for the magazine and that’s when I found my love for romance books. I remember these books gripping me and leaving me with all the feels. Perfect stories for younger teenage girls, they were light and fluffy with drool worthy guys.

 

 

Making out series by Katherine Applegate

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After reading the Diary of a Crush books, I went searching for more teen romance stories (not as easy as it is now) and I found the Making out series. I read the first few in this massively long series, they were exactly what I was looking for, light and fluffy romances. As a teen I flitted between these books, the Sweet Valley High books and the Point Horror books Laura already mentioned.

 

Hope you have as much fun traveling down nostalgia lane as I did, Happy Reading 😃📖

 

 

 

Mini Review – The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

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Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother – the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic – steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe’s power.

The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches’ help to thrive.

Avery has never read a dream that hasn’t come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance.

 

Author – Kiera.

I have mixed feeling about The Witch of Salt and Storm. I really love the premise and the setting. The writing style was lovely and lyrical but it also felt a bit disjointed at times and I had to read a few things twice to understand what was meant. This might be considered a bad thing, and I know some people will find it off putting, but it fit the style of the story quite well. The first half of the book moved at a very slow pace. There is a lot of family history, lore and scene setting to get through. I found it enjoyable but it didn’t move the storyline along as quickly as I would have liked. I loved the magic system, and can understand the lure of the sea. Each of the Roe witches had a different ability from their connection with the sea, and was all so interesting! I just would have liked a bit more of it throughout the book.

There is a good mix of characters, and I found myself drawn towards Avery’s Grandmother and Tane. They both have quite turbulent pasts yet remain honest and likeable.

I know that Whaling happened and why it did. I also understand why it was an integral part of the story, but that being said it wasn’t something I enjoyed reading about.

Overall though I found it slow I did enjoy reading this. Historical fantasy isn’t something I have read much of, and this has definitely made me want to read more.

Book Review – Frigid by J.Lynn

Author – Hazel

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For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn’t anything new. They’d been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the ‘man’ in man-whore. He’s never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn’t want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.

Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she’s perfect and she’s everything. But the feelings he has for her, he’s always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have.

But when they’re stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor’easter, there’s nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.

Frigid is a New Adult novel following Sydney and Kyler. The two have been best friends since they were little, but as the years go by they have fallen in love with each other. They can’t admit it to each other or themselves until their winter break from college. They become snowed in at Kyler’s family ski chalet, alone because their friends couldn’t make it due to the snow storm. As the days go by, Sydney finally admits to Kyler that she loves him but some complications and scary situations arise.

I love J. Lynn’s New Adult books and I also love her Young Adult books written under her name Jennifer L Armentrout.

This was a quick read for me, it was fast paced and the writing style kept me hooked. The story gave me lots of feels and I related quite a bit to Sydney, the female protagonist. The story is written from the dual perspectives of Sydney and Kyler. I loved reading the story from Kyler’s point of view; I find it fascinating seeing through a males eyes. They see things so differently from us females.

The story has some cheesy moments, but I like cheese in small doses. Although the story was character driven, J Lynn gives you enough world building to visualise the story’s surroundings, so I found it easy to picture the story flowing in my head.

This novel is quite light and fluffy. There was one section that got a bit heavy but overall it was just what I needed after some heavier reads I’ve been experiencing lately. A perfect New Adult romance, I loved it!

Friday Favourites – Books I loved as a child.

Author – Kiera.

I have an endless list for this topic of Friday Favourites. There is something special about childhood books, you always remember them fondly and get a real sense of nostalgia. With many of these picks I could tell you where I was when I read them, what I had been doing, who I with. I also have many of the copies I read stashed away in a box for safe keeping.

I’m going to try and be somewhat chronological with this post and hope I can narrow it down a bit, let’s see how that goes!

 

roalddahl

Roald Dahl.

This one is probably pretty common, I don’t think there is a book lover out there that has not read a Roald Dahl book or two! I specifically remember reading The Twits, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach repeatedly. His writing style and the brilliant illustrations always made it so easy for me to picture his colourful characters. I even have the recipe book to go along with the stories, though I confess the only thing I really make is the Bruce Bogtrotter cake nowadays.

 

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Enid Blyton.

This is another author I read a lot of as a youngster. The books that will always stick in my mind are The Faraway Tree stories and The Famous Five. Clearly I wanted to pack my spotted handkerchief and go off on lots of fun adventures as a nine year old! While the Roald Dahl books appealed to me because of their characters, these were all about the imagery and world building. I think I checked all the trees in the local area to see if Moonface happened to be living in one. No such luck!

 

the-switch-anthony-horowitz

The Switch – Anthony Horowitz.

I used to get given book recommendations most weeks from my teachers growing up. Before the days of Goodreads (how did we cope?) it was a case of heading the library and filtering through books until you found something that sounded good. So to have someone suggest a book you might like was always a great start. This was one of them, and the one that stand out most in my mind. I love Anthony Horowitz’s writing style even now and this is going to be one that I read with my son at some point in the near future.

 

 

Artemis-Fowl-Series-Book-1-8

 

The Artemis Fowl Series – Eoin Colfer.

I was fourteen when this series started. It was recommended (as many books are) by my Aunt and we started reading them together. This is an amazing series to have someone to experience with. The story lines are fun and fast paced, the characters are hilarious and the world building is great. Even now we still make references to these books in general conversation. People must think we’re mad.

 

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And last, but not least! The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud.

Now, I’m going to say something that is probably going to get me in trouble. This is what I reading when everyone else was reading Harry Potter. I’m sorry, don’t hate me. As a teen I was very much – if everyone else is doing it, then I’m going to be doing something else. In this case it actually worked out pretty well, because this series will always be one of my favourite fantasy stories, and actually they are often compared to Harry Potter now. A boy who does magic, must be like HP.

This series had me laughing all the way through, even though it is gritty and all the characters are flawed. I think it set a standard for what I like and look for in fantasy novels now.

 

I’m going to leave it there, while there are so many more I want to mention these are the ones that always come to mind first. What are your favourite childhood reads?

Wednesday Wonderings.

The English Language is a tricky thing. You don’t realise how much until you are trying to explain to a seven year old learning his spellings why words that look the same sound different, but words that looks different sound the same!

I found this poem that displays it perfectly.

 

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Fe0ffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

English Pronunciation by G. Nolst Trenité

Book Review-The Ice Twins by S.K Tremayne

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A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.

But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity – that she, in fact, is Lydia – their world comes crashing down once again.

As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past – what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died?

Author – Hazel.

The Ice Twins is a psychological thriller told from two perspectives, Angus and Sarah. Angus and Sarah are married and have twin daughters Kirstie and Lydia, who are identical. With white blonde hair and icy blue eyes the family nick-name them The Ice Twins.

One summer evening one of the twins falls tragically to her death and the family are thrown into despair. They try to make a new start and move to a cottage on a secluded island in the Scottish Hebrides, which is where this creepy story really kicks off.

The setting of the story is perfect. A cold winter on an island in Scotland. It’s grey, bitterly cold, windy and rainy but picturesque in an eerie kind of way. It adds to the eerie atmosphere of this story.

The book is a psychological thriller but with a bit of a supernatural twist (you’ll have to read it to find out why!). I was really creeped out and scared by this story, there were parts where I had to stop reading. The kids were in bed asleep and my fiancé was out and I’ll admit, I got scared! But although it was scary, it was also a gripping read and I needed to know what was going to happen next. The writing was descriptive enough for me to imagine myself on that cold, chilling island. Throughout the story I sympathised with Sarah as a mum. I often wondered what I would do in her situation.

The story builds throughout, giving us a bit of information towards solving the mystery but at the same time it opens up more questions. I wouldn’t say the story has a twist but it does give you a brilliant thought provoking ending. A fantastic read.

Friday Favourites – Books I Loved When I Was a Youth…

Author – Laura

We all have a series of books that remind us of our formative years. As a (ahem) 30 plus year old woman my adolescence seems like quite a long time ago, but these three series make me nostalgic for simpler times, when the most important things were how short my school skirt could be before I got into trouble and who was snogging who at the school disco.

Point Horror – Various Authors

Point Horror Book Covers

Point Horror was a collection of books which became really popular with boys and girls alike during the 90’s. I remember thinking my friends and I were really edgy for reading this series. It was the first time I’d really read anything creepy, and so I felt quite grown up getting these out of the library. The covers always had lovely metallic embossed titles, which was really important when I was 13.

I remember not being able to sleep properly after reading The Babysitter, and deciding that vampires were pretty awful following The Cheerleader. (Of course, I hadn’t met the BDB or the Cullens by then…)

Sweet Valley High – Francine Pascal

Sweet Valley High Book Covers

I actually read the Sweet Valley High books at primary school, possibly in Year 5 or 6. I thought the Wakefield twins were just so fabulous; blond, American and independent, I was really quite envious of their lives at the tender age of 9 or 10. I’ll confess, I wanted to be Jessica rather than Elizabeth – Jessica was much cooler in my book.

The girls in my class used to fight over the new releases, so I always ended up re-reading the same books while I was waiting my turn to get the latest story. I was pretty excited when they made the TV series, but in all honesty I was a bit older and sadly it just didn’t do it for me in the end.

The Kay Scarpetta Series – Patricia Cornwell

Kay Scarpetta Book Covers

As I got older, about 16-17, I somehow got hold of a Patricia Cornwell novel. It was a massive step up from Point Horror – some of the themes are frankly nasty, but I was hooked, and I scoured second hand book shops, the library and car boot sales for any of the Kay Scarpetta series I could get my hands on. This meant I first read them in bit of a higgledy-piggeldy order. I’ve since re-read them and funnily enough it made more sense the second time round.

I struggled a little when Cornwell changed her POV from first to third person – it took me a while to reconnect with the storyline as I felt like an outsider rather than reading it from Scarpetta’s shoes, but it didn’t stop me enjoying all of the following books.

This series is still going strong, and Cornwell has just announced the next Kay Scarpetta novel – Depraved Heart, which will be released this autumn.

We’d love to hear which books remind you of your teenage years – let us know!

Mini review – A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

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The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.  But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together….

 

Author – Kiera.

This was the sweetest little book I think I have ever read. It’s very much your standard contemporary story of boy meets girl, and they like each other but they just can’t see it and then all the drama that comes along with it. The thing that makes this story something different is that it isn’t told from the perspective of either of the two. It’s told from the snippets of what all the people around them see. I have to say, I’ve never read from a squirrel’s point of view before! Gabe and Lea are adorable and their friends are hilarious, I laughed a lot while reading this.

It’s a funny, heartwarming and ridiculously cute romance. If that’s your thing and you’re looking for something with a bit of a twist, I would definitely recommend this to you!