Book Chick City - Urban Fantasy & Romance Reviews Urban Fantasy & Romance Reviews Sun, 29 Mar 2015 16:16:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 WEEKLY ROUNDUP – 29th March 2015 Sun, 29 Mar 2015 09:00:41 +0000 Weekly Roundup Banner

Hi Guys! Hope you’re having a great weekend. Here’s the low down on what happened at BCC this week…



Hero - Samantha YoungThis week I’ve continued with my audiobook, Hot Head by Demon Suede, which I finished this morning. It’s a contemporary m/m romance featuring two hot fireman who turn to porn to help with finances. To be honest, it was ok but not brilliant. The story was a bit slow, and the narrator wasn’t that good, but good enough for me to continue. I’ll be reviewing this soon so keep an eye out.

I started my first physical book in what’s been months and months of the BIGGEST reading slump EVER. I’ve had a lot going on personally and picking up a physical book felt too much like hard work and I just couldn’t concentrate, which is why audiobooks have been amazing. Anyway, I started Hero by Samantha Young on Rebecca’s recommendation. Rebecca has already reviewed it here and she loved it so I hope I love it just as much. I’ve read lots of other books by Young and I’ve enjoyed them all to differing degrees, so I’m sure this one won’t disappoint.


Rock HardSince we last met I have read The Viper by Kele Moon. I had read the first in her Battered Hearts series some time ago and really enjoyed it, but at the time that was all she had released. Having seen the second in the Untamed Hearts series advertised I looked into it and realised that she had more books out, so I also bought and read Star Crossed and Crossing the Lineand I’m now eagerly awaiting The Slayer at the end of the month.

Hoping to distract myself until the 31st (when there are a few pretty awesome books coming out) I moved on to The Duke Who Knew Too Much by Grace Callaway. It was a bit of a slow starter for me – possibly because it’s the beginning of a new series, but I was definitely rooting for the characters by the end of it. I also read Rock Hard by Nalini Singh, which I had been very much looking forward to – it didn’t quite live up to my expectations but it was a good, quick read.


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WEEKEND READS: Sexy Fireman & Biker Heroes Sat, 28 Mar 2015 10:00:45 +0000 What are you reading this weekend? Anything you think we should be reading, or maybe your current read is just a bit… bleh. Whether you’re loving or hating your current read, we want to know about it! We love to hear about books (as if you didn’t know).

Here’s a run down on what we’ll be reading this weekend:


Hot HeadThis weekend I will be continuing with my audiobook, Hot Head by Damon Suede, a contemporary m/m romance. This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I’m around third of the way through. I am enjoying it but it’s a bit slow, plus the narrator isn’t all that great, it’s not as bad as some I’ve tried to listen to, so I will be persevering. I’ll be reviewing this one too so keep an eye out for that over the next few weeks.

The first physical book I’ve picked up in months is a rec from Rebecca, Hero by Samantha Young. I really enjoyed Young’s On Dublin Street series, so I’m looking forward to reading more of this one. I’m only a couple of chapters in so far so can’t really comment on it yet, but watch this space.


Reaper's Property

I am back into the world of bad-ass biker hero romances at the moment. This weekend I will be reading Reaper’s Property by Joanne Wylde. This is a new to me author and series. I ended up buying the first three books in the series when they were on an Amazon Kindle deal.

I do have a few issues with the male hero, however I also cannot seem to be able to put the book down! I suspect I may very well end up finishing the book over the weekend and moving on to the second one straight away.


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5 STAR REVIEW: Hero by Samantha Young Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:00:23 +0000 Hero by Samantha YoungPut down whatever book you’re reading right now and pick up Hero by Samantha Young. I don’t make recommendations like this very often, but this is definitely one of the best romance novels I have ever read.

The book begins with Alexa Holland’s return to work after the death of her mother, an event which has understandably left her very shaken. As an assistant to a celebrity photographer, Alexa is shocked to discover that her first shoot is for Caine Carraway, the CEO of Carraway Financial Holdings. Having recently discovered her family’s worst secret, that her father had an affair with Caine’s mother and left her to die after a cocaine overdose, Alexa is reluctant to be anywhere near Caine with her family name. However, her feelings get the better of her and she apologises to him on behalf of her family, which only leaves him angry and using his powerful influence to get Alexa fired.

Frustrated at his reaction and concerned for her financial state, Alexa forces her way into Caine’s office and apologises again for ambushing him, yet holds her ground when faced with his intimidating stare. Instead of getting her old job back, Caine offers her a job as his PA, warning her that he will be relentless in his demands and will make her job excessively difficult. She accepts the position, with part of her wanting to get close enough to Caine to make him understand that she is not responsible for her family’s mistakes, despite his hatred of the Holland name.

As Caine continues to make excessive demands on Alexa as his PA, the chemistry between them heats up and it is only a matter of time before they give in to it. However, Caine has a reputation of only keeping a woman for a few weeks and never gets close enough to get attached to them emotionally. Alexa knows that she is playing a dangerous game with her emotions if she embarks on an affair with her boss, but maybe, just maybe, she can bring out the softer side to Caine that she glimpses now and again when he is with her. Helped along by Caine’s old lady neighbour, Effie, and his humorous best friend Henry, they might just succeed in turning Caine into the hero that Alexa believes him to be.

On the surface, this might sound like another romance between a billionaire and his assistant, but it is so much more than that. The family secrets that connect Caine and Alexa are only just beginning to come out in full, which serves to both deepen and threaten the connection between them, as Caine has to see past his hatred of the family if he is to really give her a chance. We are always aware that there is a part of his self that Caine is withholding from Alexa, like a barrier between them that needs to broken down by more than just the lust they share.

Despite the book being told from Alexa’s first person perspective, Young succeeds in building up a fully detailed impression of Caine that makes it just as easy to imagine what he might be thinking. He might be intimidating at first, but over the course of the book we get to see where his weaknesses lie and how he might be allowing himself to fall for Alexa. Every time he gets too close, he tries to push Alexa away and can be cruel in his treatment of her, but it is easy to see that this is a self-preservation mechanism and that part of him hopes Alexa will keep coming back. It was particularly touching to see him with Effie, as she has practically become a grandmother figure to him and he lets his guard down around her so we can see his softer side.

It is this softer side that Alexa begins to fall in love with, but she is never naïve enough to think she can change him completely, as he is just as untameable as she is. I loved Alexa’s stubbornness, as she never gives in to Caine’s demands without some smartass quip, making her a perfect match for his domineering nature. She knows exactly what Caine is like before engaging in a relationship with him, but she has been attracted to him from the beginning and feels like he understands her better than anyone else. They have both been abandoned or let down by their parents, and Caine becomes the first person that really makes Alexa feel safe. She is reluctant to give up her heart to him as she knows their dalliance will inevitably end, but I could easily relate to the part of her that couldn’t stop hoping for something more from him.

What I loved most about these characters was how real Young makes them feel, as it is easy to feel as if you know Alexa and Caine, with there being a depth to them that you don’t often find in romantic fiction. Their flaws were genuine and what makes them human, with them sharing that spark felt at the beginning of a new relationship and the sex scenes only serving to enhance their chemistry. Although there are moments of angst between them, Young knows exactly when to lighten the mood using Henry or Effie, ensuring that there is always the right level of tension to keep the story moving. I could honestly pick this book straight back up again and reread it now, which is not something I say about a book often. I think it’s clear to see that I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough.


An absolutely fantastic romance novel that sets the bar high for other books in this genre, I fell in love with Young’s writing style from the start. The story is told with an ease that subtly pulls you in and won’t let go until you’ve read the final page, helped along by the scorching chemistry between Alexa and Caine. The two leads are so well-developed that by the end of the book you know them inside out, hoping against hope that they will get together. Young knows exactly when to introduce some comedic relief from Effie and Henry, often having me laughing out loud, proving yet again her prowess as an author.

Rating: 5 Stars

Hero by Samantha Young
Contemporary Romance
Piatkus (3 Feb 2015)
Ebook: 416 pages

Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK: Paperback / Kindle || Amazon US: Paperback / Kindle

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Rebecca’s Coveted Releases & TBR for March Wed, 25 Mar 2015 10:00:30 +0000 Welcome to our monthly feature here at BCC! Each month I will be sharing a selection of releases I’m most looking forward to, as well as giving you all an insight into what is on my TBR pile for that month. I’d love to hear if you’re anticipating (or reading) the same titles as I am!


Last month was all about romance novels, but normal service resumes in March as I’m looking forward to a whole host of books from different genres.

1. Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum 

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander EssbaumThis is a particularly interesting book that has caught my eye, exploring the domestic existence of a housewife who grows bored and lonely, increasingly separated from her husband and family. Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum is about Anna Benz, who is an American expat and lives in the lap of luxury in a picture-perfect suburb of Zurich. She has taken the leap to move away from home, but her life is slowly falling apart as she struggles to connect with her husband or his family, and cannot even find solace with her fellow expatriates. The only security and authority she can find is in short-lived sexual affairs, becoming increasingly sexually promiscuous and finally crossing the line. In doing so she triggers a series of catastrophic events that causes her life to further spiral downward, leaving Anna clutching at straws to find her identity. This book sounds like a really intriguing read, and I really want to know what tragic events are triggered by Anna’s affairs.

Release date: 26th March, Mantle

2. The Fighter and the Fallen Woman by Pamela Cayne

The Fighter and the Fallen Woman by Pamela CayneA novel set in London in 1883, The Fighter and the Fallen Woman by Pamela Cayne explores the seedy backstreets and boxing rings of the East End, putting a fresh spin on the historical romance genre. I’m sure we’re all used to this genre being dominated by high class ladies and lords, so I can’t wait to explore this other side of history and find out what happens to our protagonists, Lady and King. Admittedly, these names sound a little odd, but Lady belongs to Hannibal Adams, a ruthless business man who drapes her in jewels and keeps her locked away for the pleasure of paying gentleman. When she kisses his best fighter, King, for luck before one of his fights, he sees the woman trapped behind the finery and craves what he can’t have. Mr. Adams never gives up his possessions, so will Lady and King have the strength to break away from him and make a future together? I can’t wait to find out how this tale ends up!

Release date: 9th March, Carina Press

3. Prudence by Gail Carriger

Prudence by Gail CarrigerI am a huge fan of the Parasol Protectorate series, so I can’t wait to see what Prudence by Gail Carriger has in store for us. This new series is the story of Alexa Tarabotti’s daughter, Prudence, who is given a dirigible and suitably names it the Spotted Custard before floating off to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. This sounds just as pleasantly amusing as Carriger’s previous books and, of course, there is more to be found in India than just tea. Prudence stumbles upon a plot involving Scottish werewolves, a kidnapped wife and the local undesirables, forcing her to uncover centuries old secrets in the process. I can’t wait to get stuck into this new series, as I love Carriger’s writing style and her inimitable wit, so I’m definitely expecting great things from this series as well as the opportunity to find out more about Prudence as a metanatural. Oh, and I absolutely adore the cover for this book!

Release date: 17th March, Orbit

4. The Captain’s Bluestocking Mistress by Erica Ridley

The Captain's Bluestocking Mistress by Erica RidleyI’ve had the first book in The Dukes of War series on my kindle for the past month, but I’m looking forward to the release of the second instalment, The Captain’s Bluestocking Mistress by Erica Ridley. Like other historical romances, the book seems to operate a dual perspective between the lady and her man, with Jane Downing being a spinster that wants off the shelf and into the arms of Captain Xavier Grey. Even if she can’t marry him she is determined to be his mistress, but she hasn’t counted on the Captain’s trauma from the sights he has seen during the war. Despite the help of his friends in readjusting the the Beau Monde, Xavier knows that he does not deserve happiness, and especially does not deserve the lady that is trying to seduce her way into his bed. With the heroine of this book sounding so headstrong and determined, I can’t wait to see how this novel turns out and what methods she uses to ensnare him.

Release date: 2nd March, Intrepid Reads


The books that I’m hoping to read throughout March from my ever-increasing TBR pile are:

1. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker by Brandon SandersonI’m fast becoming a huge fan of this author, so I invested in Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson and can’t wait to dive straight into another of his carefully constructed fantasy worlds. This time around, we meet sisters Vivienna and Siri, who are the princesses of Idris. One of them must marry Susebron, the God King, whilst we are also treated to the presence of an immortal who is trying to undo the mistakes he made years ago. This new world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods and live in a confined pantheon in Hallendren’s capital city, a world transformed by magic that can only be used one unit at a time. The synopsis for this book does sound a little complex, but I’m sure that once I begin I won’t be able to put this book down and will definitely be sucked into its pages. Sanderson is a master at what he does, so I can’t wait to lose myself in this fantasy world for a while.

2. Dark Vision by Debbie Johnson

Dark Vision by Debbie JohnsonHaving read a festive romance by this author, I’m really intrigued to find out whether Dark Vision by Debbie Johnson will be as diverse as her romance writing. Turning her hand to fantasy, Johnson’s book is about protagonist Lily McCain, who is cursed with the ability to see a person’s future when she touches them, no matter if it is happy or tragic. She is understandably afraid of these visions, and works to distance herself from the world around her and live a life of solitude where she can be at peace. However, this ambition is broken when she touches a mysterious stranger with powers of his own and she sees her own future, in which she is forced to make a terrible choice. There a lot of questions I have about the plot of this book, as the synopsis doesn’t reveal very much, so the curiosity in me is desperate to dive straight in to this read this month.

3. Legion by William Peter Blatty

Legion by William Peter BlattyA book that has been sitting on my TBR for a good year or so, Legion by William Peter Blatty is finally getting a read this month. The book begins with a murdered boy being found in a crucified position, with Lieutenant Kinderman left to follow a confusing trail that leads to a psychiatric ward and its inhabitants. As more murders begin to occur in strange ways, Kinderman is left wondering whether this could be the work of a killer long thought to be dead, or a new culprit such as a neurologist or patient of the hospital. With the subsequent victims being priests, is there a connection between all three crimes, or is there more than one culprit? This book sounds like it has its fair share of suspense, so I’m looking forward to giving it a chance.

4. Hero by Samantha Young

Hero by Samantha YoungI’ve been hearing some great things about this book and its author, so I’m planning to give Hero by Samantha Young a try. I haven’t read anything by her before, but based on other bloggers’ recommendations I can’t wait to get stuck in. This book is about Alexa Holland, whose father was her hero until she discovered that her and her mother were not his only family. Ever since, she has been desperate to prove herself and carve out her own identity away from the shadows cast by her family secrets, but when she meets a man who is similarly scarred by his father, she is determined to help him. However, Caine Carraway wants nothing to do with Alexa and takes steps to make her hate him instead, which only leads to the chemistry between them increasing. Despite seeming like polar opposites, they begin an affair that could actually result in love. This book definitely intrigues me, so I’m keen to see if I will share in the hype!

5. Filthy Rich by Dawn Ryder

Filthy Rich by Dawn RyderThis book was on my Coveted Releases post last month, and I decided that I had to give Filthy Rich by Dawn Ryder a try, just to satisfy my curiosity. The book is about billionaire playboy Nartan Lupan and his pursuit of Celeste Connor after meeting her at his best friend’s wedding. He is not used to taking no for an answer, so is surprised when she refuses his initial advances towards her. However, what he doesn’t know is that Celeste has been a victim of an abusive ex-husband and is reluctant to get into a relationship any time soon. She is determined not to be a victim again, despite feeling drawn to this attractive and powerful man who seems to be in her thrall. I’m hoping that this book turns out to be just as passionate as it sounds, with some great characters to match.

I hope you’ve enjoyed me sharing my Monthly Releases and TBR, what releases do you plan to get your hands on in March?

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REVIEW: A Vintage Wedding by Katie Fforde Mon, 23 Mar 2015 10:00:46 +0000 A Vintage Wedding by Katie FfordeA spontaneous business idea throws three women together in A Vintage Wedding by Katie Fforde, which is helped along by their own shots at romance.

The book begins with the meeting of Beth, Rachel and Lindy, who happen to strike up a friendship during an event at the run-down village hall. They discuss how easy it might be to spruce up the venue, especially when Lindy’s mother has promised the hall to a local girl for her wedding reception. What follows is the idea for ‘Vintage Weddings’, a company that will organise weddings on a budget by using vintage materials, utilising each of the girls’ skills in a different way.

The book shifts perspectives between the three women, which gives a better idea of their differences and flaws, as well as introducing us to their individual love interests. First up is Rachel, an accountant from London who wants to escape city life for that of the country. She has a touch of neurosis when the book begins, as everything in her house is minimalist and painted white, with her having a fear of anyone invading and messing up her space. When she meets Raff, a local trader who can provide almost anything, she is reluctant to be in his company, especially when he insists on walking her home. As she gets to know him better, it seems like Raff is the bit of rough to complement her pristine ways.

Next up is Beth, whose perspective didn’t feel as diverse as the other two women. She is primarily in the area to plan her sister’s wedding, which soon becomes another assignment for Vintage Weddings, but also to escape the clutches of her overbearing mother. She is a graduate without a job, finding work in the local pub, but still seems to make the wrong choices when it comes to romance. Similarly making bad choices is Lindy, whose childhood crush on Angus went unnoticed and led her to have a one-night stand with his brother, Edward. A failed marriage and two children later, Lindy is a single parent relying on help from her mother and grandmother, requiring some skilled time management to complete her tasks for Vintage Weddings. When Angus turns up in the village again, will she be able to resist her first love?

I found that this book was a lot of fun to read, as the girls are each so different and yet complement each other really well when they do share scenes. Rachel is the organiser with her trusty notebook and pen, and also fairly uptight when it comes to discussing personal matters. She is stuck-up in comparison to the other two, but what I liked about her was that she learned to relax over the course of the book. I think she came to realise that there was more to life than the strict organisation she craved, but I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t get to learn more about her past. We know she lived in the city and that she has an ex-husband, but we never really know why it all went wrong or why the sudden move to the countryside.

On the other hand, we get to know all about Beth and her family, as she seems to detest her mother’s interfering and wants to give Helena the wedding she deserves. I liked her determination, as well as her ability to learn new skills by watching YouTube videos, but did find her a little irritating by the end of the book. I thought she became whiny and needy, bending over backwards to impress a man that she had only just met, especially at the cost of her sister’s wedding.

Instead, it was Lindy’s perspective that really interested me in this book, as we learn her full history and get to see her daily struggle in being a single parent and feeling guilty at leaving her boys with her parents so often. She has almost consigned herself to being single, as she is determined not to bring a strange man into her children’s life in case the relationship fails. As her boys seem to love the attention given to them by their Uncle Angus, she is conflicted as to whether a relationship with him would really be the best thing for her children. She learns to give love a chance, and I think for her it was the biggest leap of them all.

For me, it was these romance plotlines that seemed to become the forefront of the book, especially as the storylines progressed. It seemed to become less and less about the business idea, with these arrangements happening almost instantly. I think everything fell into place for them a little too neatly, as we don’t get to see many of the preparations for the second wedding they plan, or even get to know how much money the girls might make from their planning. Personally, I would have liked a few more hitches for them to overcome in their wedding plans, as well as more understanding of what they were spending or earning. I thought this book was a fun read, but I was just craving more of the finer details.


This is a great novel about newfound friendship and the support of a small community, along with the added formation of romance. I liked the interactions between the three women and their sudden desire to start a business together, as well as the change of perspective that lets you see each of their lives in more detail. Some of the action did seem too instantaneous, and I would have liked to know more about their pasts before they moved to the village, but overall I loved how fun this book was and how the women learn to relax and enjoy life to the full.

Rating: 4 Stars

A Vintage Wedding by Katie Fforde
Contemporary Romance
Cornerstone (12 Feb 2015)
Ebook: 464 pages

Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK: Hardback / Kindle || Amazon US: Paperback / Kindle

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REVIEW: Tarnished by Rhiannon Held Fri, 20 Mar 2015 10:00:32 +0000 Tarnished by Rhiannon Held*Warning: May contain spoilers for the first book in the series*

Despite werewolf fiction not being one of my favourite genres, I couldn’t wait to read the second instalment to the Silver series, Tarnished by Rhiannon Held.

The close of the last book saw Andrew Dare and his mate, Silver, without a pack to call home, forcing them to wander in the hopes of finding somewhere safe to stay. Still recovering from his injuries, Andrew is biding his time before making a challenge for the title of Roanoke, aiming to take the title from his former alpha. In the mean time, Silver’s injuries do not seem to be healing and she spends more of her time speaking to Death, who continually lurks in her consciousness. She is still unable to transition into her wolf form, which distances her from the Lady, the werewolf equivalent of a goddess.

Dare and Silver eventually wind up in Seattle, seeking the help of their alpha, John, and hoping that he won’t mind them staying in his territory for a while. However, John has fallen in love with a human woman, Susan, with whom he has had a son. As humans are not supposed to know about Were, he has already broken the rules in having a relationship with her, but Susan still feels left in the dark at the amount of information John keeps from her. Despite this, when Susan is forced to protect the pack she is dragged into the dangerous world of werewolf politics, which could see her life put at risk.

Alongside the drama of Susan and John’s relationship, there is the added threat from the current Roanoke, who has no desire to lose his title to Dare. He would play dirty and use any means necessary to prevent Dare from making a legitimate claim on the title, not to mention dragging up his violent past with the Spanish packs. Andrew’s weakness is undoubtedly his daughter, who has been raised by his former pack in Spain and with whom he has been allowed no contact. It is a sore subject for him, and could perhaps hinder his attempts to bring peace to the Were packs of North America.

There is a lot of political talk in this book about the hierarchies of a pack and how the different packs are subject to the alpha that holds the Roanoke title. What I wasn’t expecting was the introduction of the Spanish packs, demonstrating the differences between countries and the violent methods used across the ocean. I think at times the political discussions did make the text a little heavy to read, as this is the dominant plotline of the book and introduces us to many different pack alphas as well as rules and regulations. I found the vast number of alphas difficult to keep track of, as the book often switches between calling them by their title (e.g. Seattle) and by their first name (e.g. John).

I think that what works best in this book is that the protagonist role is shared between Dare and Silver, with neither one being more dominant than the other. Silver helps to balance Dare, as she is a shoulder to lean on when his emotions for his daughter get the better of him, becoming a voice of reason that he so badly needs. In the same way, Dare is fiercely protective of Silver and won’t let anyone take advantage of her weaknesses, especially as she is unable to shift. I think I would have liked to see Dare and Silver share some more alone scenes in this book, as they have a lot of solitary or group moments but not many opportunities to develop the intimate connection of their relationship.

It may seem strange that I haven’t devoted that much time to discussing Dare and Silver, but that is because Susan, the human character, was the one who really stood out for me during this book. She becomes a big personality throughout the book, struggling with her relationship with a werewolf and worrying about what will happen to their son. Her maternal instincts make her feisty and dominant when it comes to protecting those she loves, and she almost takes on the wolfish personality of an alpha as her character develops. I loved her character growth, as she learns not to take no for an answer and demands the truth from John in order for their relationship to grow stronger.

I may have had a few issues with this book character wise, but the reason this book didn’t receive a higher rating was because of the plotline. It didn’t seem like an awful lot had happened over the course of the book, perhaps only covering a time span of a week (I haven’t counted the exact number of days). As such, there were some scenes that felt too long or convoluted for what was actually happening, and could have needed a little streamlining. On the whole though, this book did grab my attention and roused more excitement for werewolf fiction than I usually have. If the genre is not your usual cup of tea, then I’d definitely recommend giving this series a try.


Once again this series gave me a renewed interest in werewolf fiction, which is not one of my favourite paranormal genres. The characters of Dare and Silver are so well developed that you feel a familiarity with them from the beginning, and I really enjoyed learning more about the pack hierarchies in North America. Again, what I love about this series is that the romance is subtle, with the werewolf plots taking centre stage. This book also deals with how a human might fare in the werewolf world, which only serves to develop the world building even further.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Tarnished by Rhiannon Held
(Silver #2)
Urban Fantasy
Tor Books (21 May 2013)
Hardback: 352 pages

Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK: Paperback / Kindle || Amazon US: Paperback / Kindle

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REVIEW: The Key by Sara B. Elfgren & Mats Strandberg Mon, 16 Mar 2015 10:00:21 +0000 The Key by Sara B. Elfgren & Mats Strandberg*Warning: Contains spoilers for previous books in the series*

Having thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the series, I was pleased to return to Engelsfors for the final book by Sara B Elfgren and Mats Strandberg, The Key.

After the shocking conclusion to book two, the Chosen Ones have dwindled to four members out of seven, leaving their circle with some devastating gaps. Anna-Karin, Minoo, Linnéa and Vanessa know that the apocalypse is approaching, but they still have no idea how to close the portal in Engelsfors, or even where the portal is located. After all the strange happenings in the town, the magical energy is only growing stronger and causing further disturbances, as each of the seven elements will manifest in some form as a sign that the portal is ready to activate.

It is Minoo who is separated from the other Chosen Ones in this book, as the guardians tell her that her magic is the strongest of all and that she will be the one responsible for closing the portal. She is persuaded to practice with a new circle that has been formed in association with the Council, one which already has a witch for each element. With the Chosen Ones being so few, there is the fear that they are no longer capable of preventing the apocalypse without the deceased members of the circle, making Minoo question which circle she should belong to.

With tensions running high, it is no surprise that Minoo has arguments with Linnéa, further forcing her to seeking refuge with her new circle. This book throws up even more problems for the troubled Linnéa, as she has to cope with a court trial after Erik and Robin admit to breaking into her flat in the last book. The court will drag up every bit of dirt they can to make Linnéa seem like a liar, but instead of seeking the support of her friends her initial reaction is to push them away. This particularly applies to Vanessa, who has finally realised that she reciprocates Linnéa’s love for her, but has to deal with Linnéa’s fear of happiness and the ease with which it can be snatched away.

Once again, these books have an incredibly vast plotline to sum up in just a few paragraphs, as there is so much going on for each character, and not just the Chosen Ones as a whole. I haven’t mentioned Anna-Karin’s family struggles or the relationship dilemma faced by Minoo, or even the clever way of integrating the deceased Chosen Ones into the plot of this last instalment. Needless to say, there is a lot that goes on these books and it all contributes to the plot in some shape or form. I would say that there are few extraneous details, as even the relationship drama is integral to the development of the characters. With all the stress of their magical responsibilities, it is easy to forget that this group are teenagers and that they still face the same problems as any other teenager.

I think I particularly enjoyed the story of Linnéa and Vanessa in this book, as we have seen their friendship develop in the previous books and now it is being taken further. It is handled particularly well by the authors, as the characters are comfortable with each other and build things up gradually, with the perspectives of each character giving a balanced view of the relationship. We get to see Vanessa’s joy at finally sharing her feelings, having a renewed hope that she has found a relationship that will last. Then we see all of Linnéa’s fears, as she is the happiest that she has ever been with Vanessa, but thinks deep down that she will end up ruining what they have and that she will still be alone. I think they were a good balance for each other, and that they are one of the indicators of hope at the close of the book.

I won’t say too much about how this series ends, as I think the authors did a good job in tying up all the loose ends that have been created throughout, even bringing back some old faces to make sure that their stories also come to a close. I think that given the huge wealth of characters, this series has done a great job at keeping track of them all, making sure that you remember each one when they reappear without having to go over old plotlines. I also loved the further development of magic in this book, as each Chosen One seems to develop a new ability and strength, which manifests slowly rather than giving them instant power. There are also a few surprises when it comes to new magic users, as more people begin to find out about the Chosen Ones.

All in all, I have enjoyed this series from start to finish and think that Elfgren and Strandberg have created a truly unique world with Engelsfors, incorporating a vast mix of characters and ensuring that everyone can find someone to associate with. They also manage to mix comedy and severity seamlessly, often transforming supposedly amusing moments into those of seriousness and danger. The reason I haven’t given this book a higher rating is because there were still moments when I wasn’t as hooked as I could have been, but this could be a translation point rather than a problem with the actual plotlines. As far as the ending goes, there are still questions to be answered in Engelsfors but they are suggested in a futuristic and hopeful way, and not in the way that might beg for an additional book. There is a sense of closure for the Chosen Ones, which is exactly as it should be for such an intense and action-packed trilogy.


Another stellar addition to the series, this book manages to conclude everything in a unique and unexpected way, following the trend of unpredictability that had been set with the first two books. I particularly loved the continuing development of the characters, as their bonds grow even closer as they work together to prevent the apocalypse, finally realising that teamwork and trust is what will give them the advantage. Once again, I enjoyed the many character perspectives featured throughout this series, and this time there seems to be more importance attributed to events than ever before. There are shocks and surprises throughout, as the book deals with adolescent relationships alongside the impending apocalypse, leaving us with a thought-provoking conclusion that still manages to tie up loose ends.

Rating: 4 Stars

The Key by Sara B Elfgren & Mats Strandberg
(Engelsfors #3)
Horror, Young Adult
Cornerstone (29 Jan 2015)
Ebook: 670 pages

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5 STAR REVIEW: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson Fri, 13 Mar 2015 10:00:12 +0000 Elantris by Brandon SandersonA tale of corruption and lost cities, Elantris by Brandon Sanderson was his first fantasy novel, and sets the precedent that everything that has followed.

The book begins with Arelon’s Crown Prince, Raoden, having woken up and discovered that he has been marked by the Shaod. The Shaod is a mysterious disease that can afflict anyone in the city, causing them to come out in black blotches and to lose their hair. As a result, all those infected with the Shaod are thrown into the city of Elantris, a city that was once magnificent and reigned over by magic users believed to be gods. However, the great city fell a decade ago and is now a place of ruin, with sludge lining the streets and the infected left struggling with their hunger and wounds that refuse to heal.

With the magic gone, Raoden is faced with trying to bring some kind of order to Elantris, seeing hope in the once-great city. If he can work with the gangs that have formed, then maybe the Elantrians can prove that they are still civilised, and are not completely without their humanity. However, as Raoden tries to bring order to Elantris, his home city of Kae has been thrown into disarray as Hrathen, a Fjordell priest, tries to convert the city to the ways of Shu-Dereth, a religious movement that will stop at nothing to convert all the nations of Arelon.

Similarly to Kae, Teod is another nation that has refused to both to Fjordell’s ways, and Princess Sarene was hoping that her marriage to Raoden would secure an alliance against Fjordell. With Raoden having ‘died’ before their wedding, Sarene is left to secure her own political alliances with the noblemen of Kae, hoping to ensure that the leadership of the nation remains secure. She also believes that the Elantrians are not to be feared, and perhaps might be influential enough to make a difference to both Teod and Kae.

It is quite difficult to sum up the vast amount that occurs during the plot of this book, as Sanderson is a master at making insignificant details suddenly seem important, and vice versa. For a long time, it is the city of Elantris that holds all the mysteries, as no-one knows why the magic suddenly left the great city, or even if it could one day return. Yet, despite all the focus on Elantris, the politics that surround Serene’s perspective are just as important and intriguing, as it becomes clear that there are secret plots to steal the throne, but it is hard to judge when or where such an event might occur.

I think one of the things that kept me so hooked with this novel was the connection between Serene and Raoden, as they had exchanged letters leading up to their engagement but had never actually met. With Raoden having ‘died’ before Serene’s arrival, she was robbed of the opportunity to know him, now convinced that she will be a spinster for the rest of her days. Despite this, Sanderson manages to give the pair a connection that slowly grows as the plot moves on, with them meeting but not necessarily knowing the others’ identity. I became more and more desperate for the truth to come out, as Sarene and Raoden complement each other perfectly, with their quick wits leading to lengthy and intelligent discussions about the best course of action for the people.

As we see the developments Raoden begins to make in Elantris, Sanderson communicates an overwhelming sense of humanity and compassion, emphasising what it perhaps means to be human and what people can achieve with a bit of determination. Raoden is a truly inspiring individual who is full of hope, which makes an amusing contrast to his pessimistic Elantrian friend, Galladon. He is someone who can see the good that can come out of a bad situation, and had previously won the hearts and affections of his people in Kae, with many of them awaiting his ascension to the throne. In many ways he does the same in Elantris, becoming the leader that the people need, giving them something to take their minds off of the painful hunger. He is incredibly selfless, yet still has his secret agendas for the good of the people, which made me desperate to know what he was planning.

Sarene is a similarly inspiring leader, as she has been brought up around politics and is acutely aware of what would be advantageous for each party. She has a hand in teaching the noblewomen how to fence, in changing the people’s view of Elantrians, and even in gaining the trust of fellow nobles who had previously been loyal to Raoden. Despite all her power and influence, there is still an inimitable human quality to Sarene, as she is involved in all of these things but never really feels like she is a part of them. This is particularly apparent with the other women, as she never managed to be married to Raoden as she had hoped and fears that she is still seen as a spinster. She is confident and intelligent, refusing to be as submissive to the noblemen as the others, and just wants someone to love her for who she is and not what power she can bring them.

I think what Sanderson manages to capture so perfectly with this book is the balance between personal relationships and politics, as you never feel bombarded by one or the other. There is always a balance to everything within the plot, and I think this is partly achieved by the multiple perspectives of Sarene, Raoden and Hrathen. Although we don’t get to see as much as Hrathen, we see enough to learn of his plots and of his changing vision for the Derethi religion. It is this combination of characters that somehow manage to complement each other so well, and keep you intrigued for the duration of the book, which is no easy feat given the 615 page count! Sanderson’s debut fantasy novel certainly raises the bar for his future works and, having read the Mistborn Trilogy, I can’t wait to read even more of Sanderson’s novels.


An excellent tale of politics and fantasy, this book raises a lot of important questions about power and who should wield it, as well as how a city or its rebellion should be managed. There is detailed character development throughout, as well as events occurring simultaneously across perspectives to give a wider view of the plot and how it affects all involved. I particularly loved the relationship developed between Sarene and Raoden, and devoured each of their sections with increasing speed in the hopes that they would finally be honest about their secrets. This is a great fantasy debut from Sanderson, and had everything I expect and more from an epic fantasy tale.

Rating: 5 Stars

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Gollancz (11 Aug 2011)
Paperback: 615 pages

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REVIEW: The Dish by Stella Newman Mon, 09 Mar 2015 10:00:59 +0000 The Dish by Stella NewmanA novel that carefully treads the line between secrets and lies in a relationship, The Dish by Stella Newman features the delectable world of food tasting and a sprinkle of romance.

Four years ago Laura Parker discovered that her husband had been cheating on her with one of her best friends, leaving her heartbroken and lost, not to mention seeking a new a career. In a bid for escape she moved to London and began working as a secretary to Roger, the editor of magazine, The Voice, and an old friend of the family. She might have taken a step down from her previous role as a coffee expert, but Roger soon bestows upon her the food critic column, known as The Dish.

So far, so good; Laura has been steadily building up a reputation as a food critic and publishing her articles anonymously to ensure that the restaurants don’t give her preferential treatment. When she and Roger visit LuxEris, the newest and most exclusive restaurant in the basement of a skyscraper, Laura writes her most scathing review to date about the rude attitudes of the waiting staff and the almost-inedible food. However, after several failed dates she then meets the enigmatic Adam Bayley, who just so happens to be the head chef at LuxEris.

They meet after a humorous encounter involving a custard doughnut, but when Laura learns what Adam does for a living she knows that she must keep her role as The Dish a secret. After having been lied to by her husband she is understandably guilty about her deceit, and consistently means to tell him the truth, but something always seems to crop up. Needless to say, it also appears that Adam is keeping a secret of his own, and Laura cannot cope with dishonesty in relationships. Is a happy ending possible for this food-loving pair?

I loved the easy-flowing writing style employed by Newman throughout this book, as it made it very easy to associate with Laura and the struggles she has had to face throughout her life. The addition of humour is also rife for the duration of the book, often making me laugh at some of the outrageous comments from her friends, or the emails she receives from her work colleagues. However, at the same time the email exchanges grew a little frustrating, but I think that this was primarily a formatting issue on kindle as they weren’t displaying as I would have liked them to. Regardless, the content of the messages still played a large part in the story, as a lot of important information is exchanged in this way.

I found that I really liked Laura as a protagonist, as she is upfront and tells it like it is, even if people don’t necessarily want to hear it. However, as always with these characters she is reluctant to hear her own flaws, or to take others’ advice as to how she should handle certain situations. She was quite interesting in this regard, as she seems so reliant on advice when it comes to work or trivial matters, but when it comes to her relationship with Adam she seems lost and determined to try things her own way. What was nice about this was that she is almost forced to find her sense of self before the relationship can take off, which only strengthens her as a main character.

It was the chemistry between Laura and Adam that led me to liking him even more, as they bounce off each other with their quips and similarities, which really gives the impression that they belong together. Their passion for food is obvious from the beginning, but it is down to both of them for letting their personal issues get in the way of their connection. As a chef, Adam can only steal a few hours away from work in order to spend time with Laura, and even then he sometimes seems distracted and not quite himself. Regardless of this withdrawal, he is still capable of being romantic and spontaneous, treating Laura to some truly fantastic memories and food dishes.

I really enjoyed watching the relationship between the pair grow, as there was a kind of realism to these two characters meeting by chance and then negotiating the terms of their relationship. By this I mean that they have to cope with each other’s respective pasts, as they are both in their thirties and so do have a history that cannot just be wiped away. Ignoring the coincidence that Laura just so happens to have reviewed Adam’s restaurant, they seemed like a real couple that were slowly bonding and falling in love with each other.

This book made for a great read and I’m intrigued to read more by Stella Newman, as I thought the writing style was brilliant, and the humour was excellent. The exchanges between Laura and Roger deserve a special mention, as she almost acts like his daughter with the way she bosses him around to make sure he takes care of himself. There is genuine care between them that goes beyond the boss/employee relationship, not to mention the exchanges (or catfights) with the office bitch, who continually tries to make Laura’s life difficult. I think is a great book if you need a pick-me-up, as it is sure to leave you with a smile on your face.


This was a book filled with a lot of will-they-won’t-they moments, particularly in regards to Laura revealing her identity as the restaurant critic. As such, there were moments of frustration with the characters in willing them to get their act together, but also a nice level of build up as they weren’t desperate to get straight to the bedroom. I loved the added details about food tasting and coffee expertise, although this should also come with a warning as it can make you feel very hungry whilst reading! I think I would have liked to see less email communication throughout the book, as this was quite awkward on a kindle layout, but on the whole Newman has a great writing style and makes Laura a relatable protagonist.

Rating: 4 Stars

The Dish by Stella Newman
Contemporary Romance
Headline (12 Feb 2015)
Ebook: 416 pages

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REVIEW: The Engagement by Chloe Hooper Fri, 06 Mar 2015 10:00:46 +0000 The Engagement by Chloe HooperFrom what initially seems like an erotic novel, The Engagement by Chloe Hooper cleverly twists into an unexpected thriller that is abundant with unanswered questions.

Liese Campbell has moved from the UK to Australia and is now working as a real estate agent in Melbourne, hoping to somehow pay off her debts and return home. It is then that she meets Alexander Colquhoun, a handsome and wealthy son of a farming family who is seeking a pied-a-terre in the city. After viewing yet another disappointing property, Liese seduces Alexander and leads him to the bedroom, jokingly saying that it’s ‘half price’ when he pulls out a wad of cash afterwards. She takes the money regardless, playing an erotic game with Alexander in which he believes she is a prostitute.

Whenever Alex returns to the city he calls Liese and she chooses one of the real estate properties for their rendezvous. For her, this is all a bit of fun and a quicker way of paying back her numerous debts, not to mention that she believes Alex is in on the game. With her flight tickets booked at last, she consents to one final weekend with Alexander at his home in the country, looking forward to sex and luxury for one last pay check.

Arriving at the country farm, Liese is greeted with less luxury than she had first anticipated, and Alex has different plans for her entirely. He presents her with an engagement ring and Liese believes he just wants to play at being a couple for the weekend, but soon events take a turn for the worse. When Alex tries to delve into her prostitute past with other men, he refuses to believe that she isn’t a whore and even produces evidence in the form of handwritten letters. These letters claim to be from all the men Liese has been with and all the obscene acts she made them commit, but are these all in Alexander’s fantasy or are the letters real?

I was totally surprised when this book twisted from the erotic to the thriller, as I had almost expected a loving relationship to develop between Liese and Alex and was instead greeted with the opposite. When she arrives at his house, Hooper is brilliant at slowly increasing the tension and the sense of unease that arises, especially as Alex’s character is so hard to read. This then impacts on Liese, as we are made to believe that she might not be reliable as a narrator and might have faked her innocent past in England.

This doubt impacted on my impression of Liese as a protagonist, as she is quite difficult to like and yet I could still sympathise with her situation. Her fear of Alex is built up slowly and becomes very genuine, which heightens the suspense of her escape attempts or her new discoveries around the house. What I didn’t like about her was the idea of the prostitute game, as she goes into detail about how she would invent new positions for her and Alex to try, making the game all about her enjoyment and the money rather than about any connection with Alex. With all this detail, it seems little wonder that he refuses to take her word for it when she claims she isn’t a prostitute and he is her only client.

However, Alex is very much an enigma throughout the whole book, as we are not given much information at all about what he is thinking at given moments. All we have are Liese’s opinions and evaluations of him, as she tries to psychoanalyse his actions in relation to the few facts she has about his family and childhood. Her speculations form the basis of his character, so it’s difficult for him to really come to life as anything other than her captor. He can be both tender and aggressive, claiming to really love Liese, but he is a very complex character to understand throughout the whole book, ensuring that you can never really connect with him.

On the whole, I did enjoy the plotline of this book, even though Liese’s prostitution stories were a little bizarre and unrealistic at times. It almost made you wonder how Alex would fall for her act, or how he fell for her initial joke of ‘half price’. The thriller aspect of the book was well built up and developed into a very suspenseful ending, but I was hoping for a conclusion that was less rushed. It seems hard to believe that all the action takes place in just one weekend, yet there are still questions to be answered after the last page and I was hoping for a more definite conclusion.


Admittedly, from the cover of this book I was anticipating an erotica plotline, and was surprised when I was instead greeted with a psychological thriller. At times the plot did seem a little unrealistic, but Hooper throws in enough questions to keep you intrigued as to whether Liese is really a reliable narrator. I thought the ending scenes were a little rushed and that the conclusion left a few too many questions, but on the whole I did enjoy the strange psychological game between Liese and Alexander.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

The Engagement by Chloe Hooper
Penguin (22 Aug 2012)
Ebook: 256 pages

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5 STAR REVIEW: Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell Mon, 02 Mar 2015 10:00:58 +0000 Three Amazing Things About You by Jill MansellIn a dramatic novel that explores love, loss and medical miracles, Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell is one of those special books that makes you appreciate the life you’ve been given.

The first of the three perspectives in this book is that of Hallie, a twenty-eight-year-old cystic fibrosis sufferer who is on the transplant list for a new set of lungs. She has her good days and bad days, but knows that on the whole her condition is slowly deteriorating and is desperate to enjoy the time she has left. Her dilemma comes in the form of her doctor, Luke, whom she has a massive crush on but knows that she can’t act on her feelings because of his position and the likelihood of her premature death. Instead, she has set up a website called ‘Three Amazing Things About You’, where people can send in three facts about themselves followed by a problem, which Hallie will solve with agony aunt-style advice.

Next up is Tasha, who humorously finds the man of her dreams whilst losing her credit card during her last minute Christmas shopping spree. She accidentally throws her card away and begins delving through a dirty London bin when a handsome man turns up to give her a hand. Not having stopped to get his name, Tasha is pleasantly surprised when he turns up in her life again and finds that they have an instant connection. However, Rory is into extreme, adrenalin-inducing sports, and Tasha is afraid that one of these ventures might well be his last.

Finally, we have Flo, who works as a carer for the elderly and spends more time with octogenarians than people of her own age. Until recently, she has been helping her neighbour with shopping and other bits and pieces, as well as looking after the cat, Jeremy. When Flo learns of her neighbour’s death, she is left in charge of caring for Jeremy, who has been left the flat until he passes into cat heaven. Of course, this comes as a great shock to the grandchildren, Zander and Lena, with Lena kicking up a fuss about her inheritance being stolen from her. Zander is calmer about the situation and sparks Flo’s interest, despite Flo knowing that Lena will never approve of them having any kind of relationship.

As you can probably tell, the three storylines in this book each have their individual qualities and the characters are all unique and memorable. I found it easy to associate with each perspective, and didn’t find that I preferred one over the other, which usually happens with multiple perspective novels. Of course, throughout it all there is the awareness that tragedy awaits, as these stories are all interlinked through the medical magic of transplant surgery. It was quite a surprise as to who would be the one to die so that others could have life, but at the same time it gives all the characters a shared quality that is on a deeper level to mere gratitude.

I particularly liked how Mansell introduced all the characters to each other, as it was subtle and coincidental, with no attention being paid to it until the transplant links are introduced. Then there is the added link of Flo having read Hallie’s blog, in which she offers some very good advice to some of the people in similar situations to herself. It was this vulnerability mixed with strength that made Hallie a likeable character, as she is so strong when it comes to helping to others and giving advice, but for herself she is almost content to be on the sidelines despite the sadness in her heart. She was very selfless and admirable, making her an even more deserving candidate for organ donation.

Similarly, I think Tasha and Flo were developed at just the right pace with their new relationships, as we get to see the whirlwind of Tasha and Rory as well as the slower burning connection between Flo and Zander. They made for a nice contrast to each other, as their characters were so different and yet they are both experiencing the growth of love. For Tasha, she has finally found a man whose faults she can see past, as before she could always find some grievance that signalled it wasn’t true love. In contrast, with Flo it was like she was finally taking time out for herself and finding someone who liked her for who she was, even she did have her initial doubts about Zander’s intentions.

On the whole, I thought it was the sensitive way in which transplant surgery is handled in this book that was excellent, as we are made to feel empathy with both the donor family and the recipient of the organ, highlighting both sides of the operation. I wasn’t anticipating this to link in with all three perspectives, but I think Mansell handled it beautifully and I couldn’t have asked for more from a novel. I loved all the characters’ quirks, with their development throughout the course of the novel leading to a perfectly fitting conclusion, even given the tragedy that hits one of them. I think this novel only served to reaffirm Mansell’s glowing reputation, and I can’t wait to read another of her novels in the future.


A fantastic novel of love and loss, this book will have you laughing one minute and sobbing the next as Mansell outlines the trials of modern medicine. The characters from all three perspectives are developed in such detail that they feel familiar from the beginning, which only serves to heighten the emotions attached to each one’s story. I was hooked from the beginning and couldn’t put this book down until I’d reached the end, which only serves to reinforce my high opinion of Mansell’s novels. I’d definitely recommend giving this novel a read, especially if you’ve never read anything by Mansell before.

Rating: 5 Stars

Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell
Contemporary Romance
Headline Review (15 Jan 2015)
Ebook: 384 pages

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WEEKLY ROUNDUP – 1st March 2015 Sun, 01 Mar 2015 14:00:53 +0000 Weekly Roundup Banner

Hi Guys! Hope you’re having a great weekend. Here’s the low down on what happened at BCC this week…



Driven by FatePride comes before a fall, so they say, and going by my reading level in the past couple of weeks, it’s true. However, I did manage to get some reading done, and what I read was uniformly good – so it’s not all bad. I read Driven by Fate by Tessa Bailey which might have been so good as to distract me at work. I also read The Master by Kresley Cole which I enjoyed but wasn’t certain about – I think the serial form worked for the previous title in the series and that releasing it as an outright novel removed some of the impetus behind the storyline. I also read Just One Day by Gayle Foreman,and started to read Just One Yearalthough I haven’t got very far yet. Last but not least I read The Duff by Kody Keplinger.

Next up I’m going to finish Just One Year,and also I Was Here - I’m on a bit of a Gayle Foreman kick at the moment.


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