Friday Favourites – Female Protagonists

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Author-Hazel

It’s my turn this week to tell you all about my favourite female leads. Going through my read list on Goodreads and picking my favourites has made me realise that all my favourite females embody life and personality traits that I envy or idolise. I think a good aspirational character is a fantastic thing to read about in a story. It can influence you to better yourself or even better, realise you’re pretty darn great already. All my favourites have a lot of flaws which, I think, humanises them, making them more relatable and more enjoyable to read.

Kay Scarpetta (Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell)

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When I was a teenager, and the teachers traipsed you down to the careers office, I was always drawn to the science and investigation careers. Primarily, a Forensic Detective. It’s my dream job, and if things had played out differently… who knows, it could’ve been. I loved reading about this fascinating career and all the different aspects of it, and I loved Kay Scarpetta; a strong woman holding her own as the chief M.E in a male dominated world. She made mistakes, but carried on anyway because she knew her role was important in potentially saving lives. And the woman can cook. Some of the mouth-watering recipes were described in the books.

Paula Myo (Commonwealth Saga by Peter F Hamilton)

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Paula Myo is a Police Detective. She’s brilliant and methodical. So methodical in fact she borders on obsessive. Perhaps because she was bred specifically to excel and want to work in law enforcement. The planet she originates from genetically alters the DNA of their humans so they are and will be pre-disposed to favour and be excellent in chosen careers. Paula Myo struggles with the love she has for her work and the fact she does not agree with her planets’ genetic manipulation. Her love of her job sometimes takes her into very dangerous situations and she has made many enemies over her lifetimes, but she won’t quit in the search for justice.

Avery Morganstern (Wait for you by J Lynn)

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Avery went through a terrible ordeal when she was 14, and because her family and town let her down she was forced to endure isolation and bullying throughout her teenage years. Although she is still very much affected by the tragedy she suffered, she’s trying to move on (and move away), get herself a College education and survive on her own without her parents. I admire her courage, strength and her ability to try and better herself even after going through something that would break a lot of people.

Elena Michaels (Women of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong)

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Elena doesn’t wear make-up, perfume or use scented bath/shower products. She wears comfy clothes. Essentially she looks like an everyday woman. But Elena is a werewolf. The only female werewolf. And she can hold her own amongst this heavy testosterone, alpha male environment. She’s tough but feminine and I love that combination.

Freya Beachamp (Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz)

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Although I was unimpressed by this book, I did like Freya. She’s full of energy and fun and isn’t afraid to dare and take risks. She followed her heart even though it put her in some sticky situations. She was conflicted by her feelings for her fiance’s brother and struggled with it throughout the story, making some questionable decisions along the way. She’s also the Queen of mixing up potions, creating elaborate concoctions for all occasions.

Do you have some favourite female protagonists?

 

 

 

 

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Book & Movie review – The Duff

Author-Hazel


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Book or movie? This question always comes up when a film (or sometimes book) adaptation comes out. But is it always as simple as choosing one or the other? I don’t think it is. Sometimes they can be very different but equally enjoyable. And that is the case for The Duff…

 

 

The book

This book had been on my radar for a while and when I heard it was being adapted into a film, I bumped it up my TBR pile. I loved it! It was gritty, realistic, funny and at some points, dark. The story was fast paced and never boring. The writing was brilliant and engaging and it felt that the author had a very good and realistic grasp on what it is to be a teenager. The unique way they speak and respond to each other and situations is sometimes difficult for a an adult to pull off but Kody Keplinger did it very well. When I researched the author, I found out she was only 17 when she wrote this book! I think that’s a very impressive feat for such a young person and to do it so well too is fantastic. I’m definitely going to check out some of her other work. So after reading this and loving it, I had high hopes for the movie.

The movie

At 31, this kind of film is really a guilty pleasure for me (especially as there was a reference to 30 being old). It was a lot of fun, a light-hearted feel good movie with a good moral message. Plus Robbie Amell, shirtless – need I say more!

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The basic plot was the same but it had many differences. Some of the heaviness of the book was replaced with humour and light-heartedness.

 

 

 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of reading the book and watching the movie. Luckily I’m not a stickler who expects the adaptation to be exactly the same as the book. I appreciate that the story is being presented in a different medium and from a small collection of people’s perspectives. In conclusion, the book was great and the film was a lot of fun. They were different but equally enjoyable. I recommend checking both out if you enjoy YA Contemporary stories, you won’t be disappointed. Happy reading 📖:)

 

 

 

Friday Favourites – Standalones!

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Author – Hazel

This was a tricky one. I discovered that I tend to read books that are part of a series. But having said that, if I could, I would choose Standalones over books in a series. I like the excitement of delving into a new book. I like the story being wrapped up in a 400 page novel as opposed to sometimes having to get through several or more books to get to the conclusion.

Here are my favourites.

Pretty Girl Thirteen by Liz Coley

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This was one of my Book Club picks of 2013. It’s a young adult psychological thriller that kept popping up in various recommendation pages and the synopsis sounded like the story might spark some interesting discussions. Although the story was gripping and easy to read, the content was heavy and upsetting. Liz Coley did a great job of weaving a disturbing and unpleasant story in a way where younger people can read and appreciate the complexity and understand the distressing situations, without having to read graphic scenes of a horrible nature. I found the psychological aspect of the story fascinating.

Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

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This book was recommended to me by someone on Goodreads. It’s a new adult novel about a girl running away from her past and a guy living with a disability. They meet and a beautiful romance begins. I loved this book, I couldn’t put it down and it gave me all the feels. And this book had a happily ever after ending.

My other favourites have already been mentioned in Kiera’s Standalone Favourites, or they already have a review on our blog.

Happy Reading 📖😊

Book Review – Thoughtless by S.C Stephens

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For almost two years now, Kiera’s boyfriend, Denny, has been everything she’s ever wanted: loving, tender and endlessly devoted to her. When they head off  to a new city to start their lives together, Denny at his dream job and Kiera at a top-notch university, everything seems perfect. Then an unforeseen obligation forces the happy couple apart.

Feeling lonely, confused, and in need of comfort, Kiera turns to an unexpected source – a local rock star named Kellan Kyle. At first, he’s purely a friend that she can lean on, but as her loneliness grows, so does their relationship. And then one night everything changes…and none of them will ever be the same.

Author-Hazel

Thoughtless is a New Adult romance novel set in Seattle. The story is told from Kiera’s perspective, the female protagonist. The story is about a young couple, Kiera and Denny, who move to Seattle, Denny for an internship and Kiera, for a college scholarship. They rent a room from Denny’s friend Kellan, and a slow but red-hot affair begins between Kiera and Kellan.

The writing of this book was gripping and addictive. I couldn’t put it down and when I had no other choice but to, I kept thinking about the story. It is a character driven novel with little world-building but the way S.C Stephens writes tension between characters was amazing. The tension between Kiera and Kellan was sizzling! I really felt it whilst reading.

Kellan was my favourite character. Drop dead gorgeous, good with his hands, cheeky, charming and funny. Some of his dialogue had me laughing out loud. He was a very swoon worthy character whom I couldn’t get enough of.

Kiera, what can I say! OK, the affair started innocently enough, but the fact that she allowed herself to get into that situation and still think that she was innocent, is beyond me. She was insanely naive and selfish, essentially bed-hopping between two men who loved her and whom she claimed she loved. Her indecisiveness was shocking and about 75% in, it started to get annoying. Kellan was what kept me reading. I just wanted to slap her. I don’t believe anyone, experienced in love and relationships or not, could lead two men on that they love, continuing to hurt them profoundly because of her indecision. It started off feeling like nativity but ended up being just downright selfish.

Eventually there was a happy ending but, I don’t feel like Kiera deserved it. The story is though provoking and made me think about what I would do in her situation, but I could not relate to her because I believe my decisions would have been different. Did I mention she was crazy clingy too?

Overall the story was good, I really enjoyed reading it and would recommend it if you don’t mind reading about infidelity.

Friday Favourites – Book Boyfriends!

Author – Hazel

So it’s my turn this week to share my favourite book boyfriends. Laura and Kiera have chosen some swoon-worthy guys and hopefully I’m adding to the best looking list in the history of lists.

Damon – The Vampire Diaries

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Honestly, I have a thing for a bad boy. I seem to gravitate towards dark, moody and brooding bad boys. Damon is at the very top of that list. I favoured him over Stefan in the books but when I saw Ian Somerhalder cast as Damon, I fell in love 😍 I’m definitely a ‘Delena’ fan and I hope Ian’s beautiful blue eyes and naughty grin keep us entertained on the TV show for a long time.

Wrath – Black Dagger Brotherhood

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It’s no secret that us Bookspa girls love J.R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books. Luckily, we all melt over a different brother and mine is Wrath. I fell in love with Wrath as soon as I started reading the BDB books and even with the introduction of a lot of hunky, gorgeous brothers, my heart belongs to Wrath. Again he’s dark, moody and brooding, but above all he’s the type that would pick you up, sling you over his shoulder, show you an unforgettable time and take care of you too. From the very beginning I imagined Wrath as the one and only Jason Momoa.

Cam – Wait for you 

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J Lynn (Jennifer L Armentrout) writes some deliciously sexy male leads. I’m a fan of all the men I’ve read about in her books, but my favourite is Cam. He’s gorgeous, sexy, confident but sweet, caring and loving. And let’s face it, would you say no to a sexy guy, shirtless, cooking you breakfast and baking you cookies!

Cam definitely had me at ‘sweetheart’.

Daemon – The Lux series

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OK, I lied. Jennifer L Armentrout just writes men that I like. A lot. Daemon is an alien! But there’s no little green men here. Oh no, Daemon is a glorious hunk of deliciousness (sorry all this book boyfriend talk is leaving me swooning). Daemon is arrogant. He has a cocky attitude and is downright horrible sometimes. But as another reviewer put it, he has a beautiful face, a beautiful body and a horrible attitude. The holy trinity of (in my opinion) a hot guy! I think you can see the pattern here. I like bad guys and Daemon is no exception to this.

Alcide – Sookie Stackhouse books (True Blood)

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Last but certainly not least, Alcide. When reading the True Blood books, I didn’t have a clear favourite guy until Alcide came along in book three. He’s a hunky werewolf. The perfect amount of a ruggedly rough male and a sweet and caring man. Alcide became my favourite very quickly and I absolutely love the cast of him in the TV show.

So there you have it. A pretty hot list, I think you’ll agree. Happy reading 📖:D

Book Review – Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

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Author – Kiera.

 

My review this week is going to be a bit different. Sort of a three in one. I originally saw Masque of the Red Death while on the hunt for Steam Punk and Dystopian books on Goodreads. It was only after I picked it up that I realised it was based on the novel of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. So this is where it gets tricky. Bethany Griffin wrote two full novels and a novella based on the original short story, and I have read them all. To be able to reference it properly I thought I should read the original too. Which means this review will be a combination of my thoughts on them all.

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story is based around Prince Prospero and his attempts to avoid the Red Death that is ravaging the lands, by barricading himself in his castle with one thousand guests and throwing lavish masquerade balls. The masquerades are set within seven rooms, each with their own theme and each more disturbing than the last. It is important to note that Prince Prospero is missing a fair few of his marbles. This quote sums it up perfectly for me – ‘There were much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible and not a little of that which might have excited disgust’.

motrdBethany Griffin’s stories take from this idea and spin it into a world of misery and death and an interesting set of characters, while keeping all of the strange atmosphere in Poe’s version. It is based around our main protagonist, Araby Worth. The world has been ripped apart by plague and her father is a scientist that has invented masks that protect people from contagion. The only problem is that Prospero is in charge of distribution of the masks, which means only those who can afford to pay for them are protected. Araby is tormented by the death of her twin brother Finn, and to try and escape the pain she spends a lot of her time in the Debauchery Club with her best friend April. They drink, take drugs and generally try to forget the horrors of the world around them. Here is where we meet Will and Elliot. Will works at the club and Araby is drawn to his tattoos and dark tousled hair. Elliot is April’s brother and he recruits Araby to help his cause to try and make the city a better place – which means taking control away from Prospero.  I’m sure you can see where this is going – love triangle anyone?

dotrdDance of the Red Death is where you can really see the influence of Poe’s novel on this story. The masquerade takes place in this book, and it is just as intense and strange. I really liked the progression of the characters throughout both of these books. There are many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and they all seem to force the characters forward with decisions they make. From what I have seen there is a divide between Will lovers and Elliot lovers. I am firmly in the Will camp. They both do horrible things, but I think I understand Will’s actions more.

These books feel equally character and story line driven, and in a way the world building is a character in itself. I could clearly picture the city and the club, the swamp filled with crocodiles and the porcelain masks they wore. No detail is left out and it makes for a vibrant reading experience.

I was looking for a gritty Dystopian novel and I certainly got that, with Steampunk elements and a gothic twist too!

Book Review – The Prince of Mist

Prince of Mist Cover

Author – Laura

The Prince of Mist is a young adult novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, written in 1993 and translated from Spanish into English in 2010.

The main character is a young boy called Max Carver. In 1943, along with his two sisters, his mother and watchmaker father, he moves to a little town by the sea to get away from the war. As soon as they reach the new place Max realises things aren’t quite as they should be.

Max discovers that the new house was formerly owned by the Fleischmans, whose family is surrounded by tragedy after the death of their son, Jacob. The house is pretty normal; big, old and full of strange noises, but nothing out of the ordinary until Max finds the sculpture garden near his house.

Strange things start happening, and get even stranger once Max makes a friend. Roland takes Max diving near a wreck, where a six pointed star on a flag is a reminder of something similar Max has seen in the sculpture garden. Max starts asking questions and learns that the boat sank leaving only one survivor, but no bodies. The boat was carrying a circus crew led by a man known as The Prince of Mist…

I loved this book. It’s so atmospheric, and unless you have zero imagination it’s very easy to visualise every scene, right down to smells and subtle changes in the light and temperature. Considering this book is a teeny tiny 200 pages, it feels epic – there is a real sense of something much bigger; like this is a little snapshot in time in a story that spans generations.

With that in mind, it was a little difficult to appreciate the immediate depth of the relationship between Roland and Alicia, who seemed to fall in love in one afternoon. But at 15 you fall in love at the drop of a hat so it’s not totally unbelievable.

The Prince of Mist is a creepy baddy. This is essentially a children’s book but I had to take a little break near the end – it gets scary and I was totally there, living it with them. I think above all this is a story about bravery and loss, and it feels very pure. It’s beautifully written even if it’s completely chilling and frankly sinister in places.

 Buy it on Amazon

Friday Favourites – Book Boyfriends!

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Author – Kiera

 

So, this topic has been in the pipe line for a while, the only problem we have is we fight over who gets which book boyfriend – logical, right? We couldn’t decide what to do for today’s post, so I flipped a coin and here we are. If you don’t hear from me in the next few weeks, please send a search party 😉

I also feel the need to apologize in advance because this post will probably get rather swoony.

In no particular order (as I love all my book boyfriends equally) we have;

 

Rhage – Black Dagger Brotherhood.

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There are many reasons Rhage is my favourite Black Dagger Brother. He’s funny, laid back and says it as it is. He’s also 6 ft 8 and transforms into a dragon type beast when he loses his temper. All my favourite things. In my opinion all scenes in BDB are improved by Rhage and his book is still my favourite in the ever expanding series. Plus any character that Jesse Pavelka can portray is fine by me.

 

Clay – Bitten.

I feel like I’m going to tick all he stereotypical supernatural boxes. Vampire – Tick. Werewolf – Tick. Still Clay is lovely (we won’t talk about him biting Elena against her will) and I love his protective streak – which might also be a common theme here. He is clever, gorgeous, loyal and very anti social. I think we would get along great.

 

Stefan – The Vampire Diaries.

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Okay, so maybe we aren’t done with the vampires yet. This is the last one, I promise (as much as I want to include Edward….) and yes I chose this picture for the suit. You are welcome. The main things that I love about Stefan is that he is a gentleman and he’s sensitive. Got to love a guy that keeps a diary. The Salvatore brothers seem to divide people, and I’m firmly on the Stefan side. It’s just a shame that Jeremy isn’t in the books.

 

Fade – The Razorland Trilogy.

I couldn’t find a picture I liked enough for Fade but he is described as having silky black hair and impossibly dark, deep eyes with a ring of violet surrounding. He is lean and fit and fights with a grace that no one else can compete with.  Fade goes through a lot in these books and some pretty gruesome things at that, but he is such a strong character and I think that is what is most appealing about him. Plus he’s just lovely.

 

Akiva – Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

I know you’re all shocked by this one. I love Akiva – he’s my favourite. I’m not sure I need to say much more! I’m sure you’re all fed up of hearing about it by now.

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 🙂

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 😃📖