Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Apocalypse Has Landed, Who Can Save Our Souls?

First Paragraph:

"She wasn't exactly sure what drew her back to the spot day after day. Apprehension? Anticipation? Reality check? As Cameron rounded the corner of the dimly lit hallway and saw the door, she felt a small tug of disappointment that it was still closed. Of course it was closed. The only time it had ever been opened was the day they entered the underground bunker. It was one of her earliest memories."

 Amazon /

Twisted Souls is the second book in the Twisted Souls Trilogy by Cege Smith. There will be spoilers of the first book in this review, but if you're interested you can check out my review of the Soul Garden (first book) on my blog here:
If you haven't read it I strongly urge you to. It's a great book, hence why I'm continuing the series.

Last warning spoilers of the first book start now. Twisted Souls takes place 9 months after the ending of the Soul Garden. Our small group of protagonists (comprising of Malcolm, Samuel, Bishop and Cameron) have been living in an underground bunker, whilst Chim (and a mind-controlled Marius) reap the world of its souls. In the previous book it was mentioned that certain crimes result in soul extraction as a punishment, but that there are extensive rules to make sure it's done safely. In this book, when Chim orders Marius to take a soul, it is ripped out forcibly from the person, leaving them a flesh-hungry zombie.

As with the last book, the story is told through more than one person's point of view. The three in this book being Cameron, Samuel and Marius.

At the end of the Soul Garden Cameron was just 6 months old, but it seems that with the soul she received, she ages rapidly and is now 18 years old. She has never been outside the 10 room bunker and learns everything from Samuel- who is training her to be the Champion. Her mind ages as well, so it's not a case of a 1 year old mind in and 18 year old body. I can only assume she aged so quickly, because the Champion is needed as soon as possible and actually waiting 18 years wouldn't have been very efficient.

Meanwhile, Marius is in and out of consciousness as the souls inside him threaten to tear both his body and mind apart. He is desperately seeking release, but is forced by Chim to gather more and more souls, adding to his pain even more.

With his own magic and Marius to fight with, Chim has completely taken over, leaving hordes of zombies in his wake. After Before, all guns were destroyed, so any survivors are forced to improvise to stay alive.

There is also a little romance added in, which is hardly surprising. Nothing like an apocalypse to bring people together.

Filled with suspense, I'm on tenterhooks waiting for the final book. Twisted Souls sets up the characters for the inevitable showdown that will eventually take place. Fighting for the side of Light, we have Cameron (whose never even seen the sky), Samuel (the new Head Master), Malcolm (the protective father grieving for his wife) and Bishop (the gardener). An unusual team, but the only hope humanity has.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Could You Overcome Your Fear to Be What You Dreamed?

  First Paragraph:

"She's done it then," said Sarah in that matter-of-fact way of hers, as if our employer committing suicide was an everyday occurrence."

      Amazon /

Love of Shadows by Zoe Brooks is the second instalment in the Healer's Shadow trilogy, I was lucky enough to win a copy of the first book, Girl in the Glass, in a member giveaway on Librarything and, once I'd read that, I had to keep going.

This review will contain spoilers of the first book, so if you haven't read Girl in the Glass yet, (and don't like spoilers) stop here and go read it. I have a review of the first book, so please check it out if you're interested: This link goes to a copy of the review on my blog. Final warning, spoilers start now.

The start of Love of Shadows begins where the first ended. Judith struggles to stay stay afloat whilst dealing with Elma's death and the consequences and difficulties that follow. Her demons threaten to destroy her and anyone she cares for. The law is advancing and persecuting healers everywhere and all the while Judith tries desperately to listen to her calling, knowing she will be hanged if found guilty.

But as disease and violence threaten her world, it becomes harder for her to deny herself. Harder to hide the truth. Can she heal and keep her secret safe and hidden? Tragedies befall her and darkness threatens to overcome and engulf. Old characters return, new ones appear. This time Judith is older and dealing with issues the first book raised, but hadn't yet addressed.

There are also a few more details revealed about the mystery surrounding Shadows. While the full reveal will no doubt be in the next book, we do learn quite a bit more. Some questions are answered, more are raised and I'm really intrigued to see where it all ends up in the final book.

A great sequel to the first book that leaves me on the edge of my seat for the final instalment. If you loved the first book (and for some reason haven't yet read this one) definitely continue with Love of Shadows. I'm eagerly awaiting the last book and conclusion to the Healer's Shadow Trilogy.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What If Souls Were Given and Could Be Taken?

First Paragraph:

"There was Before and then there was Now. Do not grieve the loss of Before. It was a wicked time when people turned away from the Light, and for their sins they were punished. Rejoice in the Light and Rejoice in the Now for it is your salvation."

  Amazon /

Set in the very distant future, The Soul Garden is the first in a new series by Cege Smith. We are only given a few details about this world and the rest is left pretty ambiguous. The past is know as Before, where some apocalyptic event occurred that humanity had to drag itself out of, or so I imagine from what we're told.

In this world, babies are born soulless. When a human has no soul their appearance is different; they have grey skin, don't smile, don't generate warmth and have red-rimmed eyes that get redder with age, eventually taking over the entire eye. For babies (or adults) to get a soul they must go through the Soul Distribution Day, where the lucky chosen receive a soul from the Soul Fountain. Souls can also be extracted and this is often a punishment for criminals. Murder results in soul extraction, but as souls are in short demand the extracted souls are "rehabilitated" and re-used.

This era is very "protocol" heavy, adults are assigned jobs at a ceremony, women are expected to give up their jobs once married and even having children is heavily monitored. Couples are selected out of a lottery. Any couple that wants a child applies and then hopes for the best. The population is regulated because there is a shortage of souls. If a couple disobeys the rules and have a child outside of the system, their souls are extracted and the child is left, soulless, in the Soulless Asylum.

An interesting concept for a book. There are aspects of the Soul Ceremony that I found similar to baptism. I'm not sure if it was intended, but before the ceremony at the fountain, babies are soulless, unloved and are seen as unnatural. Then a visit to the fountain with a gathering and incantations gives them a soul. It was an interesting similarity that I saw, maybe just me though.

The story is narrated from the points of view of five people and (given the amount of time we get we each of them) they are relatable, we care for them and the switching of characters adds to the tension that starts to build when we realise the inevitable.

I enjoyed the start of the Twisted Souls series and look forward to the next part. I recommend this to anyone interested in apocalyptic worlds, the supernatural, magic or anyone who is intrigued by the synopsis.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. My opinions are 100% my own.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Famous Five Meets Tintin

     Amazon /

The Mystery of Smugglers Cove by Paul Moxham is the first in his new The Mystery Series. Set in 1950's England, we follow a group of four children (Joe, Amy, Sarah and Will) on their adventures.

The first book starts it all off. Three siblings meet a fourth member and together they explore the local caves and get a greater adventure than even their imaginations could have thought of.

Reading the first book is very reminiscent of the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. The author himself states that he took inspiration from it and it really shows. I was a huge fan of the 1995 tv series and it was a large part of my childhood, so reading this book has the rosy tint of nostalgia added to it. Anyone familiar with the Famous Five will know what to expect from these books. Great childrens' adventure stories that never disappoint.

However, this story is not nearly as well-written as their inspiration source. The children are just a little off, and the characters all make nonsensical decisions. They're nowhere near as likeable, and their 'adventurous spirit' mostly comes off as stupidity or foolishness. 

I don't think this is a terrible book. I think comparing it to what it so obviously tries to pay homage to is expecting too much. 

Overall, it's not a book that will become a children's classic, but that doesn't mean it's not worth reading. Perhaps the other books in the series are better done.

This series could be good for any younger readers, any readers nostalgic for the good old days and especially any fans of the Famous Five series, but maybe just go for that series instead.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

For All Those Who Have Ever Doubted Themselves

First Paragraph:

"Hey guys! We should be there in about ten minutes. Start gathering up any trash, and make sure you have all your stuff with you when you get out of the van. I may have to park a little distance away from the school, and you will not be waking me up at midnight to go looking for the iPod you left under the seat."

           Amazon /

Girl on a Mission by Cindy Ellis

Starring Emery Craig, our 13-year-old leading lady (or girl), this story revolves around helping those less fortunate and showing what a difference someone can make to another's life, with just the smallest actions. 

On her first mission trip, going to Crawley, West Virginia, Emery starts out as a shy girl who eventually grows into her skin and gains confidence through people she meets, situations she's put in and confirmation of her beliefs. She watches real suffering, feels real pain and experiences her first real romance.

I was very fascinated with the character of Mr.Suitor. He is so very human and his story is deeply moving and well told. For me, this book has two main characters, Emery and Mr.Suitor. Together they carry the story well and, once into the second half of the book, they really shine. The plot is simple enough, but written so that you feel what the characters do, you experience the same fear, dread, happiness, love and it's all down to the writing.

Now the religious elements were done well enough. I myself am not religious and older readers or those like myself (without religion) may find certain parts of the book a little preachy or even condescending. However, I enjoyed this book, so it's not distracting enough that I couldn't appreciate the storyline. 

I would say this book is aimed at younger readers, just in their teens or tweens, because the main character is more relatable, but mostly because it's very moral heavy. There are a lot of them wedged in there, so older readers may not enjoy that aspect so much, but overall it's a nice, feel-good story about growing up, overcoming obstacles and accepting yourself. I recommend it to anyone who never really felt like they fit in, who may be afraid to let their true personalities shine through, any younger readers who just want a nice read, any older readers who want to recapture memories of their youth or anyone (especially younger readers) who doubts their belief in God. Whether or not this will help your faith I can't comment on, but it's always good to get someone else's perspective and to know you're not alone.

Disclaimer: I was sent this book through a Librarything giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own. If you want to learn more about Librarything, you can do so here:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Highschool, Romance and the Trusty Old Battle Between Good and Evil

     First Paragraph:

"As the day began, I didn't know it would change my life forever. No one prepared me for something like this. Not parents, teachers or guidance counselors. Walking through the front doors and down the hallway of Millennium High School in New York City, I thought today would be just like any other ordinary day. Long, boring and dreadful. Take your pick. I wasn't anyone popular. There was nothing special about me that made the guys drool.

She Speaks to Angels by Ami Blackwelder is the first in a trilogy of books surrounding 17-year-old Allison (Ali) Maney. Kicking it all off in the first book is the death of a popular quarterback from her school. Together with her friends Molly and Jennifer- and a passion for journalism- they investigate the events surrounding and leading up to his death. Then things start to get interesting.
I won't give any spoilers, so I can't be too detailed with the plot, but Ali finds herself torn between two men, a battle between light and dark and truths that plunge her into the deep end and will change her world forever.

There were moments that (dare I say) were a little reminiscent of the Twilight series- emphasis on a little. There were a few a few characters and situations that had vague similarities, but I wouldn't compare them, especially once you get deeper into the story.

The writing style was what kept me hooked. Ami Blackwelder has a way of phrasing things that keeps you gripped and I found myself reading through it in a day. I just couldn't put it down. I would call this first book more of a set-up for the coming two, where we learn about the characters, the world they live in and are given enough information to get into the heavier stuff.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes young fiction, romance or the supernatural. A great read and I look forward to the next instalment.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Book That Has You Wondering, "What Would I Do?"

Fifty/Fifty and Other Stories by Matthew W. McFarland is a collection of 11 short stories. The plot of each of these ranges from a very short story of a man's love for his trumpet, a man's final thoughts as he plummets to Earth and a policeman trying to convince someone not to jump and everything in between.

The stories themselves range from only around 3 pages to 15 or so. Each one is worth reading, no matter how short. I was pleasantly surprised by this short book. The descriptive writing is fantastic and, as most of the stories can be a little ambiguous, it's the description that carries them. Even the characters themselves are ambiguous, with only 3 or so characters given names and most not even given a specific gender- though I would guess that most of the characters are male.

The tie-in that connects all the stories would be their tone. With a few exceptions, most of them deal with quite dark or disturbing topics. Not dark enough to be horror, but certainly not light-hearted. A few of them will make you laugh and a few will make your blood run cold.

A short read I would definitely recommend. Fantastic writing and realistic characters, with a very thought-provoking look into the human mind and the way we deal with different situations.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

A Quick Introduction and Explanation of Librarything

So since a lot of the books I've been reviewing lately came from Librarything, I thought I would do a quick post on it.

For those who don't know, Librarything is a book review website. Anyone can sign up (and yes it's free) and anyone can post reviews. Now, here's the best part. Every month they have a batch of books (hundreds of titles) up for grabs (in what they call the Early Reviewers section). All you do is go to the page and then you can request any books you're interested in. There is no limit to how many you can request, but be aware that you may have to review a lot of books if you win them (this is mostly true for the member give ways- more on that in a second). All they ask in return is that you review the book. You have 2 months to do so after you've received it. Reviewing the books will give you more chances of winning books in the next batch, but the content of your review will not. In other words, honest reviews. As long as you follow their guidelines -such as, no bad language, no one word reviews, etc- it won't matter to them if your review is positive, negative or neutral. You don't get paid for your reviews, you just get the satisfaction of a free book and (hopefully) a good read. What more can you ask for really.

Now onto the member giveaway section. It works in much the same way, except this time those giving away the books are members. A lot of the time it will be authors wanting to share their newest books or sometimes it will just be members who want to get rid of books or just want to give back. These books will each have their own closing date, so you can check back regularly for new giveaways. From personal experience I have found that I win more from the member giveaways than from the early reviewers. This is probably just because the member giveaways are more frequent and don't generally last as long.

The format of the books you can win will be either; physical; e-book or audiobook (though these are few). Most of the early reviewers section consists of physical books, but I have yet to win one. That doesn't stop me from requesting them, but I also make sure I put in requests for e-book copies too. Sometimes a book you want in physical form will also be available in e-book form, so you have two chances at winning a copy. Member giveaways tend to vary depending, but I would say they lean more towards e-books. However, for all those out there who are not a fan of e-book (I definitely prefer the physical thing) you have much more chance of winning them than the physical books for one simple reason- numbers. Yes, e-books are generally cheaper and there are no shipping costs involved in sending them out, so publishers/authors can giveaway more copies of that book than those giving away physical copies. So, e-books win that argument I'm afraid.

Anyway, if you're interesting in the website the link is But remember, this isn't just a site for free books, you do HAVE to review them.

Librarything is also a great community for book lovers. It is a fantastic way to find out about great books, to meet like-minded people and to meet authors as well. If you have any other queries just ask me and I'll do my best to answer any and all questions. And just for the record, I am not affiliated with Librarything (just obsessed), this is not a sponsored message, all opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Delicious Food, Romance and a Sardinian Mystery

First Paragraph:

"Clara had long suspected that Paolo was going to propose soon. They'd been together for four years, and recently he'd been trying to tell her something, but always postponed at the last minute. He would get nervous, his hands would go cold and sweaty, and his words would get tangled. This was a clear signal that what he wanted to say was important, but perhaps, he didn't quite know how to say it. Clara had decided to make things easier for him, so she's suggested, on this occasion, that they ought to go for a romantic walk by the mountains. He loved being outdoors, and particularly hill walking."

  Amazon / 

A Deal with a Stranger by Marina Munzittu is set in Sardinia, in the city of Cagliari, we follow the story of 25 year old Clara, as -day by day- her world destabilises a little more, starting with meeting an old man in a forest.

The plot is an interesting one, varying between predictable and completely new. Or rather there are elements that are predictable. I would say the romance was a little, just because we've seen it a million times, but that doesn't mean the plot or writing is bad. I'll come back to this in a second, but I want to talk about the plot itself first. The concept is fantastic. I think the idea of a stranger coming into your life and making this kind of deal with you (not giving anything away) is original and thought-provoking and this mixed with the consequences (and some bad luck) lead to an unusual turn of events. The nonsensical logic and unlikeliness of it all are still realistic and kept me hooked.

Back to the romance. Anyone who loves a good, light romance novel will like this. It's nothing new, but mixed with the plot it works. And no one says it has to be new to work. There's a reason the old formulas are used.

The characters themselves- I have to admit, I didn't like at the start. They seemed a bit stereotypical and could sometimes be unnecessarily cruel and harsh, but they do grow on you and become more human as the story progresses and more is revealed about them and we see them deal with the good, the bad and the ugly.

Something of a side note here, but I also enjoyed the description of the foods mentioned. Our protagonist had a bit of a weakness for delicious food and doesn't spare the details when describing them. But be warned, you will want something delicious to munch on when reading this book.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. I wasn't immediately pulled in, but I'm glad I kept reading as I got a good read out of it. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Italy or a lover of romance novels. If you're travelling to Italy soon and want a light, holiday read, why not try this one out.

Disclaimer: This was sent to me by the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.