Friday Favourites – Female Protagonists.

Author – Kiera.

I was the one who suggested the topic of this FF, but then I started to panic because I couldn’t think of any! Luckily Goodreads came to the rescue, and after going through my read pile I’d made quite a lengthy list. The interesting thing about focusing on a certain aspect of a book is that you start to see similarities you didn’t know were there.

Yelena – Poison Study by Maria V. Synder.

poison-study-young-adult-front-cover2 Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

We first meet Yelena in a prison cell. She’s there for committing murder, and when she’s called up for execution she is given a choice – become the new food taster for the commander or death. Obviously she becomes the new poison taster or it would be a very short book! Yelena is one of the most hardy characters I have ever come across. Her survival instinct is unparalleled and she almost always manages to stay ahead of the game.

 

 

 

Deuce – Enclave by Ann Aguirre.

enclaveI really have a soft spot in my heart for the characters in this series. Deuce is fifteen and one of the enclave’s only female huntresses. She faces some of the most harrowing circumstances possible, but she never becomes bitter or resentful in anyway. She sees the world for what it is, and does her best to survive each day. I think that it is Deuce’s age and innocence that makes her such an appealing character.

 

 

 

 

Jane Yellowrock – Skinwalker by Faith Hunter.

Skinwalker-250These books read in a very similar way to the True Blood/ Sookie Stackhouse novels. There is a lot of down time that is filled with tea making and internal monologue, but during that time you really get to know Jane as a character. She has no idea where she came from or who her family are, just that she is of Cherokee descent. Following her while she discovers more about herself and the city she has been hired to protect is an enjoyable ride, and Cherokee heritage isn’t something I had come across before so thumbs up for that too.

 

 

 

Lia – The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

tkod I’m not completely sure what it is that I find so captivating about Lia. She is a Princess and to prevent war breaking out between Kingdoms it is arranged for her to marry a Prince she has never met and certainly doesn’t love. So she does what any girl would do in her position, she makes a run for it and hopes that all hell doesn’t break loose. Now I am aware that actually most people wouldn’t do that, and maybe that is what I like about her. She makes a decision and goes for it. Such a go-getter.

 

 

 

Ivy – Wicked by Jennifer L Armentrout.

22895264Ivy is a character that I think people either love or hate. She is sarcastic, quick witted and can fight like a man. I fall into the love camp. I really enjoyed reading the story from her point of view. The dialogue between her and the other characters had me laughing out loud all the way through this book. Ivy has experienced a lot of loss in her life, and it makes her understandably guarded, but I found that to make her more relateable.

 

 

 

 

There were so many other amazing female characters I wanted to include here, but I wanted to try and keep them as diverse as possible. Which female characters are your favourite?

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Wednesday Wonderings

When people say they don’t read it makes me feel sad. They are missing out on so much. Films and TV are great, but there is nothing quite like having your own input into the story. Inventing the characters, the world and relationships. It’s a wonderful thing!

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Friday Favourites – Standalones!

Author – Kiera

When I suggested doing standalones as a Friday favourite I thought it would be a really easy topic. What a fool I am! After having a look through my reading history I noticed that actually I read books in a series far more often that I do standalones. Once invested in a series I’m too impatient to wait and must read the next book as soon as possible. If not sooner.

So with that being said here is my little list of standalones that I have read and enjoyed.

 

My Life Next Door – Huntley Fitzpatrick

mlnd“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

 

I finished this book today. It is completely adorable. A typical Young Adult Contemporary but one that addresses a few heavier issues. It made me laugh, it made me mad and it gave me that warm fuzzy feeling. If you are in the mood for something light hearted that still has some substance then I recommend this!

 

Ugly Love – Colleen Hoover.

ulWhen Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

From the Young Adult to the Adult. I read this a while ago after hearing an equal amount of good and bad things about it. I might be broken, because all the things people seemed not to like in this book I loved. It is angsty and some times you just want to shout at the characters, but for some reason that keeps me reading! Plus the sex scenes are pretty damn good.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black.

tcgictTana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

 

 

I know we have all read a million and one vampire stories by now, but I really felt like this book put a very different spin on things! It has a very modern setting and all the outcomes feel realistic. The fact that it is a vampire book that stands alone is even better. Who has time for twenty plus book series anymore?

 

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

rpoIn the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape

 

 

If you like 80’s culture/references, treasure hunting, the internet and generally things that are ‘nerdy’ then I have to ask you – why you haven’t read this yet? I really hope we come up with something like the OASIS (not the band. Ick) soon, because I was made to live in it! Virtual reality + all day in pajamas = heaven! This book left such a clear impression in my mind. The world building is amazing and I loved the characters.

 

There are other standalones that I love – The Night Circus, Illusions of Fate and Tiger Lily are ones that I really wanted to give a little mention, and if you’re interested they all have their own reviews here on thebookspa for you to check out.

Book Club Review – Stray by Rachel Vincent

stray

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 😃📖

 

 

 

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.

 

enidblytonFamousFive6to10

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

519-+xg-X4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

 

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?

Mini review – A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

ALSD

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!

Book Review – The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

 TSED

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

 

Author – Kiera.

Before we get going I just have to take a moment and appreciate the beauty that is this book’s cover! Having read the book I like to think it has a meaning all of it’s own. Something along the lines of being your own poison. The story about the two wolves comes to mind, the stronger one being the one you feed.

Anyway, I digress!

So, you may have read the synopsis and thought – hang on a minute, that sounds a lot like Shatter Me. While on the very surface it may seem that way and I know the whole death by touch concept isn’t new, but let me assure you it is nothing like it.
This is an amazing fantasy tale filled with religion and lore and antiquity.

We follow our main character Twylla who is (as you may have guessed) the Sin Eater’s Daughter. When a person dies food is laid out on their coffin, each item represents a sin they have committed. When all the food is eaten they are relived of these sins and can go on to the afterlife. Twylla is in training to become the next Sin Eater, but one day the queen arrives at her house and tells her that she is actually the embodiment of Daunen, who is the child of the gods. She goes to the castle and is betrothed to the prince and that’s when things start to go wrong.
Don’t you just hate it when that happens.

Religion plays a massive part in the book, though not in a conventional way, and I really enjoyed learning about the practice of Sin Eating and what it entailed. The way religion is portrayed in the book is as a tool. It is used to control the masses and is very effective in that way. Twylla is a part of it, but as an outsider I think she is always aware of the consequences of having so much power. At the same time she is young and not completely immune to the calling it has.

Now I will warn you; there is a love triangle. However I think this is one I can actually understand. Twylla is torn between what she wants and what she thinks is right, and this seemed to cause her to develop as a character throughout the story.
There is a lot of information to take in throughout the story, but this is somewhat balanced out by the minimal world building. It almost wasn’t important that there was no world building as the driving forces of the book were the religion/politics and the characters.

I won’t say too much more, as there are lots of things to uncover as you read,  but I have to say all my predictions for how it would all play out were completely wrong!

I need someone else to have read this book so I can talk to them about it! Anybody..?

Friday Favourites – Worlds We’d Like to Live in

Author – Hazel

This week it’s my turn to tell you about the wonderful story book worlds I’d like to live in. Laura and Kiera enjoy reading fantasy novels so have been transported to all different types of worlds and surroundings, but I don’t read much fantasy so my choices will probably be vastly different….

 

Prague (from Daughter of Smoke and Bone)

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Whilst reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I really wanted to visit Prague. Laini Taylor does a fabulous job of describing the city. Her prose is beautifully descriptive and immersive. I even ate goulash several times whilst reading this book. And another reason to want to visit Prague, the library…..Wow!

 

The Commonwealth Space Galaxy.

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In the Commonwealth books (written by Peter F Hamilton), humanity has stretched itself across the Galaxy, inhabiting many worlds. Even though in reality the idea of traveling in space is overwhelmingly scary, in the Commonwealth books, technology is so advanced it wouldn’t be an issue. Imagine the different lands, plant life, wild life, sunrises and sunsets, maybe even intelligent life you would come across, a curious explorers dream.

 

Carcassonne, Southern France (from The Languedoc trilogy)

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Kate Mosse’s Languedoc trilogy is set in Carcassonne, France. Her stories travel through different time periods and are told from different perspectives but the wonder and beauty of Carcassonne is still present. From the beautiful sweeping fields and sunshine to the rich historic ruins, I wanted to please my curious mind and explore the ruins and picnic in the grasses whilst reading her books in the glorious sunshine.