Burning Midnight crop

Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh

Burning Midnight is an original, exciting story. That is until it wasn’t… The suspense built up, keeping me enthralled until near the end when the storyline began to peter out losing its fizz leaving behind a disappointing anticlimax.

The intriguing spheres and the related treasure hunt were brilliantly portrayed. The two main characters were very different, but both multilayered and interesting. The way Sully kept bringing his other two friends in on every find was frustrating as if he needed to others to validate his success. The characterisation of these friends is weak, They did little to add to the story and their greed was very off-putting.3 Star

Recommended age: 12+

 

Title: Burning MidnightBurning Midnight
Author: Will McIntosh
Publication Date:
11 February 2016
Publisher: Macmillan
Source: Review copy

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Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much – Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers – but it helps him and his mum make the rent. No one knows where the brilliant-coloured spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at maths, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the greater the improvement – and the more expensive the sphere.

When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. What they find will change more than just their lives… Because the entire world fights over spheres, but no one knows why they’re here or what their powers are… until now.    — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the publisher does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Who Are You crop

Who Are You? by Megan Henley

Who Are You? is a courageous memoir of a horrific hoax and I hope that many are able to avoid a similar fate by the warning. Having said that, this was a very difficult book to like. Several times while reading I wished Ms. Henley had employed a ghost writer. It was only after I had finished the book that I discovered on Goodreads that she did so in my opinion, there is no excuse for the amateurish, clumsy writing.

Many memoirs are written to give the author an opportunity to express their innocence in the situation and Ms. Henley is portrayed in a good light which gives the story a selfish, unrealistic and subjective edge. It was easy to pick out the parts which were supposed to evoke emotion because they were repeated over and over again while the rest of the book was very slow and drawn out. I felt little of the emotion I may have with a better written book.

I found Ms. Henley’s personality very frustrating. There are many instances where I just could not understand why she made the decisions she did. For example, it is initially made abundantly clear that she was not romantically attracted to Vic  but soon after it seems they are in a  relationship…2 Star

Recommended age: 16+

Title: Who Are You?Who Are You re
Author: Megan Henley
Ghost writer: Linda Watson Brown
Publication Date:
28 January 2016
Publisher: Harper Collins
Source: Review copy

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A dramatic and terrifying memoir of a ‘catfish’ scenario – when a woman meets a man online but nothing is what it seems.

25-year-old Megan Henley put her five-year-old daughter to bed one evening and switched on her laptop. A Facebook ‘friend request’ seemed to be genuine. There were a few common friends and very similar interests, so Megan accepted.

With that one simple act, she changed her life forever. In her words: ‘looking back on it, it was as if I had opened my front door to a stranger, as if I had thrown away every precaution I’d ever put in place, as if I had freely given access to my whole world – all because of some naïve belief that it was ‘just’ a friend request on a social media site.’ Megan is tricked into a relationship, paranoia and ultimately betrayal by the man she loved and trusted but nothing is as it seems.  — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free copy of this book from the publisher does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Recoil by Joanne Macgregor

Recoil by Joanne Macgregor

Recoil is an unpredictable, fast-paced, exhilarating ride. While I have been avoiding dystopia lately, tired of the predictability and lack of originality I am so glad I accepted this ARC from Joanne Macgregor  a well-known, talented South African author whose previous books have been amazing. Recoil did not disappoint in fact I was glued to the book as I rushed to the finish trying to pace myself so it would last.

“In the pause between breaths, in the space between heartbeats, I squeezed the trigger”

Brilliant world building, characters that you’ll wish were your friends and a fresh, exciting storyline that will glue you to your seat. I really hope we will not have long to wait for the second book in this trilogy which promises to be one of the best YA dystopian I have read.5 Star

 

Recommended age: 13+
Title: Recoil
Series: Recoil Trilogy
Author: Joanne MacgregorRecoil by Joanne Macgregor
Publication Date:
14 May 2016
Publisher: Joanne Macgregor
Source: ARC

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When a skilled gamer gets recruited as a sniper in the war against a terrorist-produced pandemic, she discovers there’s more than one enemy and more than one war. The Game is real.

Three years after a series of terrorist attacks flooded the US with a lethal plague, society has changed radically. 

Sixteen year-old Jinxy James spends her days trapped at home – immersed in virtual reality, worrying about the plague and longing for freedom. Then she wins a war simulation game and is recruited into a top-secret organisation where talented teenagers are trained to become agents in the war on terror. Eager to escape her mother’s over-protectiveness and to serve her country, Jinxy enlists and becomes an expert sniper of infected mutant rats.

She’s immediately drawn to Quinn O’Riley, a charming and subversive intelligence analyst who knows more about the new order of government and society than he is telling. Then a shocking revelation forces Jinxy to make an impossible decision, and she risks losing everything.   — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Non bookish websites

Non-Bookish Websites… Do They Exist?

Wanting to avoid highlighting the obvious websites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, it’s been really hard to come up with a list of websites that I use often but are not related in some way to books. 99% of my time online is book related. The other 1% is spent stalking family and friends to see what they are reading.

I may not use these as much as the website I live in my favourite website, Goodreads but these are all on my bookmarks bar.

Websites non bookish 1

Photo editor / Graphic design

PicMonkey is my favourite photo editing/graphic design website. So far I have only used the free version, but the upgrade is very tempting.

What I love about it: It’s so easy to use
What’s not so great: You need a pretty good internet connection as all is done online and there is no mobile version yet…

Geocaching

I was introduced to Geocaching.com by the book North of Beautiful (you see everything relates back to books, it’s a curse!).

What I love about it: Fun and addictive
What’s not so great: Need money to travel if you’ve exhausted the local list.

Radio

When I am missing home (Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa) I tune into East Coast Radio live streaming.

What I love about it: Makes me feel connected to friends and family back home when I am in my second home in Indonesia.
What’s not so great: Need reliable internet connection.

Art Journaling

Art journaling is so much fun and is one of the things that occupies my non-reading time. Yellow Daisy Art is informative and inspiring

What I love about it: Fun and relaxing but most of all portable!
What’s not so great: Not enough time to do often.

Cooking

I really don’t enjoy cooking, but that doesn’t stop me from collecting recipes on Yum Print that maybe one day…

What I love about it: Easy to use app allows you to clip and save any online recipe.
What’s not so great: Nothing, I love it.

Life-long learning

Do you want to learn almost anything? Try Udemy.

What I love about it: Convenient – can study at your own pace.
What’s not so great: While there are many free courses, some are fairly expensive.

Translate

I find languages difficult to learn and find Google Translate invaluable while I am overseas.

What I love about it: I use this site all the time in Indonesia
What’s not so great: Need internet connection, which is not always possible on the road.

Movies

I love movies and TV series almost as much as reading. Rotten Tomatoes is a movie review website that I often use to choose between the movies showing simultaneously.

What I love about it: The reviews are pretty accurate and you can watch the trailer on the same site.
What’s not so great: Nothing.

What non-bookish websites do you love? Do you use any of the ones on my list, or have you got a recommendation? I’d love to hear from you.

Top Ten Tuesday reduced

 

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

 Book Teaser: Recoil by Joanne Macgregor

 Book Teaser: Recoil by Joanne Macgregor

Book Teaser: Recoil by Joanne Macgregor

 

Recoil by Joanne Macgregor is due for release on 14 May 2016.

I am so fortunate to have an ARC and I can’t put it down. If Recoil is not on your TBR list add it now!

There’s more than one enemy and more than one war. The Game is real. Three years after a series of terrorist attacks flooded the US with a lethal plague, society has changed radically.  – abstract from Goodreads.com

The teasers…

As gently as though I was touching a raw wound, I squeezed back on the trigger. The recoiling rifle stock slammed into my shoulder. A vicious expletive from down the avenue told me I’d hit something.

“What the hell did you do, Blue?” he said. His voice was a mixture of amazement and confusion.
“I took the shot,” I said, closing the distance of the last few metres to Sarge and Leya.

Goodreads    Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk

Teaser Tuesday reduced

 

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat. Head over to her blog to see what she’s reading.

Of Pens and Swords by Rena Rocford

Of Pens and Swords by Rena Rocford

This is such a difficult book to review. I loved the storyline but not the characters who were stereotypical and lacked depth. Cyra stomps around with a huge chip on her shoulder regarding her missing hand and her sarcasm came across as bitchy instead of a more understandable defense mechanism. Her friendship with Christine appeared to change in a blink from dislike to best friend and nearing the end (no spoilers here) the emotion felt forced.

The story itself is melodramatic and at times trite. The ‘real’ romance was lacking… just that – romance, I did not see the spark between Cyra and Rochan.

On the positive – the cover is beautiful and the font used for the chapter headings is to die for.

The fencing side to the story was brilliant and a refreshing change from stories featuring the more common sports such as football and ballet (except not ballet because I love ballet books!). I am not a sporty person and am often bored by the play-by-play descriptions and explanations of the rules, but the author handled the sport really well, allowing it to shine but not dominate.3 Star

Recommended age: 12+

Title: Of Pens and SwordsOf Pens and Swords by Rena Rocford
Author: Rena Rocford
Published: 21 March 2016
Publisher:
Curiosity Quills Press
Source: ARC

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Seventeen-year-old Cyra Berque wants two things in life: a date with Rochan and a chance to fence at the Olympics. But people with one hand don’t normally fence, and girls with big thighs don’t get the boy. Knowing that she wants to make the Olympics, Cyra’s coach sets her up with another coach, one who could take her all the way to the top, but the new coach costs more. Feeling her dreams slipping out of reach, Cyra agrees to tutor a ballerina with a rich father and a D minus in English. It’s triple the pay and triple the pain. The ballerina isn’t interested in passing classes―she wants Rochan, and she’s promised she’ll turn her D minus into a full-fledged F if Cyra doesn’t help her win the heart of Rochan.     — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

As I Am by AnnaLisa Grant

As I Am by AnnaLisa Grant

‘As I Am’ explored many important themes including self-esteem and bullying. But, I felt the author was so focused on these themes that she forgot to allow the story to flow resulting in stereotypical characters flopping around in an unoriginal, predictable storyline that lacked realism – who really forgives/changes their personalities so conveniently?

Long boring descriptions (often including clothes and make-up) and over-explained circumstances left me skim reading at times, desperately hoping that it would improve.2 Star

Recommended age: 14+

Title: As I Am
Author: Annalisa GrantAs I Am by AnnaLisa Grant
Published: 20 March 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace
Source: ARC

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“You’re not invisible. You’re invaluable.”

When Kinley Carmichael looks in the mirror, she doesn’t see her blonde-haired, blue-eyed, size 4 twin sister. She sees her dark-haired, brown-eyed, size 12 self. 

Kinley and her twin sister Addison are excited to start their second summer as counselors at The Camp at Lake Hollis. All Kinley wants is to earn enough money to meet up with her mother so they travel the world as professional photographers. All Addison wants is to work on her tan, seduce a boy, and build her fashion budget. And while Kinley and Addison couldn’t be more opposite, nothing has ever stopped them from being the best of friends. 

It’s an especially great summer for Kinley as the official camp photographer and Notre Dame Quarterback Cal Harper showing interest in her. But when poet Miller Conrad arrives and rejects Addison’s advances, showing more interest in Kinley, true colors will shine and the sisters’ bond will be tested. — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

For The Love Of Reading

For the Love of Reading . . .

Any bookworm will have a list of the things they love most about reading. Fanatic Avid readers who take the love of reading to the next level (to consume their identity and (if they are lucky) become their bread and butter) will easily jabber on for hours testing the patience of anyone but a fellow book lover soulmate.

The Escape

I have always fallen head first into story worlds which I find far easier to navigate than real life. I recall three-day-long annual treks to my grandparents’ home near the beach where despite the distractions amazing views I spent every day on the road wrapped up in a book (or six). Packing for holidays meant trying to fit in enough books to ensure I was never without another world to escape to. Painfully shy, the books played the additional role of protecting me from unwelcome conversations.

The Covers

Shallow? Maybe. But I’m the first to admit that the cover determines which books I add to my reading list. I know it’s subjective and that there are many great books with unfortunate covers that I have probably missed, but I have judged the book long before I’ve seen the title, the author or possible content. Unless bribed strongly encouraged books are immediately assigned a category somewhere between hell yes and never.

The Ritual

Before eBooks ruined my life made themselves so useful, I followed a personal a bookish ritual every time I started a new book. Every new (to me) book was held like a precious gem while I admired its cover, contemplated the thickness of the spine, stroked the crisp pages, breathed in the new book smell of ink and paper and read the blurb. The anticipation of the treasure within heightened by the wait.

First Lines

Sometimes, if you’re lucky you’ll find a book that you know is going to be great from the very first few lines. The joy of finding such a treasure where the author seems to be talking directly to you is exceptionally rare. Living between Southern Africa and South East Asia the opportunities to attend bookish events are few and far between. This is probably fortunate for authors with whom I have felt such connection as they’d probably run wailing to the hills in response to my enthusiastic ambushing barely contained fandom.

Browsing

If you have never wasted spent time amongst the books lining the shelves of a library or bookstore (virtual or physical) then you’ve never experienced the bittersweet joy of possibilities. You know you’ll never live long enough to read all the books you want to and you have no idea how to choose which will be next but you find yourself greedily drooling in the anticipation of devouring as many as you can!

Sharing 

My heart sings every time I see someone lost in a book. Wanting to find out what they are reading and wallow in the pleasure of discussing books with other bookish people, I have a hard time stopping myself from intruding. If you catch me staring, please put me out of my misery and initiate a bookish conversation!

Characters

Sometimes, if you’re very lucky you’ll come across a character that will jump out of the pages and into your heart. You’ll know straight away that carrying them with you will forever change how you see the world. For me these characters are rare and so precious I am reluctant to share in case you tell me they meant nothing to you… Don’t read on unless you can agree or keep silent! Park, Verity, Lily, Cath, Zuzana

Fantasy Story Worlds

The pleasure that comes immersing yourself into a well-constructed story world where life is far from reality but makes perfect sense within the world itself is something that is exceptionally difficult to put into words. These are worlds that you can easily lose time in. Think Narnia or Middle-Earth.

Titles

I love when I discover within the story the reason a particular is chosen and of course without titles we wouldn’t have fun constructing bookspine poetry.

I know I am not alone in smothering myself with printed pages, what are your bookish pleasures?

Top Ten Tuesday reduced

 

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

 

Ugly crop

Ugly by Margaret McHeyzer

Ugly was a tough read. Domestic abuse is a difficult subject, difficult to face, difficult to stand up to, difficult to write about. But that wasn’t only why I struggled with the book.

If the purpose of the story was to give victims the courage to get help, then it is everything it needs to be. Including the addition of contact numbers at the end.

But as a story, it didn’t quite deliver. With one-dimensional characters and long drawn out chapters, this was a book I couldn’t wait to finish. It was written devoid of emotion, almost like a documentary and I couldn’t quite reach Lily. I felt detached from the story as though I was hearing it 3rd hand. Sensitive to other people’s emotions I cry over books and movies all the time but with Ugly I just didn’t feel it.

It was only at the end, where skimming through the author’s acknowledgments that I realised it was based on true story. I am not sure if I would have felt differently if I had known that at the beginning, but it does put the events into perspective and make me more aware that maybe it could be a lifeline to someone one day.2 Star

Recommended age: 16+

Title: Ugly
Author: Margaret McHeyzer Ugly
Publication Date:
36 October 2015
Publisher: Margaret McHeyzer
Source: ARC
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If I were dead, I wouldn’t be able to see.
If I were dead, I wouldn’t be able to feel.
If I were dead, he’d never raise his hand to me again.
If I were dead, his words wouldn’t cut as deep as they do.
If I were dead, I’d be beautiful and I wouldn’t be so…ugly.
I’m not dead…but I wish I was.

— abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

The Masterpiecers crop

The Masterpiecers by Olivia Wildenstein

I so wanted to love this book. The idea behind it is brilliant and I loved the original reality show and that the main characters (identical twins) are such unreliable narrators. They kept me guessing throughout the story.

As both characters are restricted by the boundaries of their unique environments, the supporting characters had a very big role to play. This is possibly where the essence of the book was lost. With no voice and little insight into their lives, the supporting characters were missing something, their characters shallow.

The story started off well, but about halfway through I started to feel it weaken. The plot had so many missing pieces and loose ends and not all had been revealed by the end.  I kept waiting for a twist or something to give clarity to the storyline.

There is a sequel planned so here’s hoping clarity is still to come.3 Star

Recommended age: 13+

 

Title: The MasterpiecersThe Masterpiecers x
Series: Masterful
Author: Olivia Wildenstein 
Publication Date: 15 April 2016
Source: ARC

 
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Nineteen-year-old Ivy Redd’s talent with a needle and thread has earned her a spot on a coveted reality TV art competition set in New York’s Metropolitan Museum. The prize: a significant amount of money and instant acceptance into the Masterpiecers, the school that ensures new artists fame and fortune. Her talent has also thrust her and her twin sister, Aster, into the spotlight. 

Not that Aster needed help with becoming a media favorite. She managed that on her own by running over a wanted mobster. She told the police it was self-defense, because she couldn’t tell them the truth—the truth would make her sister look bad.

Locked in an Indiana jail to await her trial, Aster watches Ivy on the small TV hanging in the dayroom. It’s the highlight of her day, until she finds out what her sister truly thinks of her. Then, observing her sister becomes a punishment far crueler than imprisonment.  — abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.