Book of the Month: May 2017

It’s the last day of May which means it’s time for me to choose my favourite book from the past four weeks. I have to admit that this month’s choice was pretty easy as I ended up reading a rather large number of less than average books. I blame it on Kindle Unlimited. It turns out a book habit like mine can get rather expensive so I opted to do a free trail of Kindle Unlimited where you pay a monthly subscription and then get access to hundreds of books. Unfortunately the young adult selection provided is rather shocking. I gave up before the end of the month and bought a book that I knew would not disappoint. And I mean, not to toot my own horn or anything, but boy was I right.

So, drum roll please… Dum, DUM, DUM!

May’s Book of the Month is… Bad Blood (The Naturals Book 4) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Yeah, I know, the cover photo kind of gave it away, shush)

Ever since I heard that Jennifer Lynn Barnes was writing a series about genius kids who hunted serial killers for the FBI I was hooked. Then I read the first book and I was a goner. Somehow it was even better than I imagined (and I have a pretty healthy imagination on me). Think Criminal Minds but with teenagers.

There are five teens on the team each with a natural ability they can use to help catch serial killers; Sloane is a straight up genius with a shit tonne of emotional baggage and a brain that doesn’t understand how to process it. Michael can read emotions, an ability he gained thanks to an abusive father. Lia is a pathological liar who no one can lie to, she can spot a lie from a mile away but no one can call out hers. Dean is a natural profiler, he can get into the head of the killer a trick which can come in pretty handy when you’re chasing them. Oh and he’s the son of a serial killer that their FBI mentors put away. Then there is Cassie, the latest addition to the team and the book’s narrator. Cassie is also a profiler although she tends to get into the mind of the victim, making her and Dean the perfect team, well, once she’s knocked down his walls that is.

Cassie is an awesome protagonist. There’s no two ways about it. She’s spunky and fun, reckless and protective, strong and so very vulnerable. Throughout the series she’s pulled through a web of emotional and physical torment and the final book Bad Blood brings this all to a wonderful and devastating end.

So here’s a little taster of Barnes gorgeous writing:

“I love you.” [He] lifted the words from my mind. “Today, tomorrow, covered in blood, haunted and waking up in the middle of the night screaming – I love you.” 

So what are you waiting for, stop reading this and start reading The Naturals!

 

Book of the Month: April 2017

The astute among you will have no doubt twigged what this post is about. Each month I am going to do a post about the book I enjoyed most from said month. Given that I go through about twenty books a month this isn’t going to be an easy task. In fact I’m going to break the rules from the off set as this April’s ‘Book of the Month’ is a series. I’m sorry, I just couldn’t choose.

Okay, ahem, drum roll please. (Exaggerated pause for dramatic effect to send you guys insane)

And… This month’s ‘Book of the Month’ is…

The Savant Series by Joss Stirling!

The series consists of six books in total which I read in ten days. That may seem like a short amount of time in which to read six books but I must admit I did little else. I have fallen in love with the Savant world. Each book, although they are all linked, is narrated by a different character. At first I wasn’t sure I’d like this as I grow so attached to the characters in my books that I just want to read more about them but Stirling does a wonderful job at linking back to the characters in previous books so you never feel like you’ve let someone behind. What you get, instead, is to meet six fiery and passionate girls. Each with their own personality so striking and imperfect that you can’t help but connect with them.

The stories all follow the same premise of seeking the main characters ‘soulfinder’ (a person who shares the other half of their savant gifts) and yet Stirling somehow makes sure it never feels repetitive. They have the perfect combination of romance and drama; kidnappings scattered with first kisses. One of the things I love about the series is that the relationships are never smooth sailing. Despite the ‘soulfinder’ connection it isn’t always love at first sight and although there are the same ups and downs across all the books the individuality of the characters and their issues break through to stop the stories being too predictable.

To top it all off Stirling’s writing is beautiful but don’t take my word for it, here’s a sentence from the first book in the series ‘Finding Sky’ :

“Mist drifted off the mountain slopes, cutting the sunlit summits off from the dark green base like an eraser rubbing out a picture.”

If you like what you’ve read then click here to find more about the Savant Series.

Enjoy your adventures with Sky, Phoenix, Crystal, Misty, Angel and Summer. (I couldn’t finish the post without sharing the characters’ names, I’m a little bit in awe of Stirling’s naming abilities.)

 

 

YA for Adults: How to find the right books

I think I was seventeen-years-old when I lost my love of reading. Determined to study English Literature at University I put down my kid spy and vampire books and picked up the classics. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the classics are bad, there were a few that I did really enjoy – Huckleberry Finn being one of them. But I realised one day that I was having to tell myself to read at least ten pages a day. A few months later I was in hospital and I bought myself a YA book (YA stands for young adult btw (btw stands for by the way fyi (fyi stands for for your information umt) Okay you got me, that last one doesn’t stand for anything. Back to the point in hand, I read that YA book in under a day. I finished the last page and was filled with that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you’re reading a good book. I hadn’t lost my love of reading, I’d just been reading the wrong books.

So what if technically I’m an adult? So what if the books are ‘marketed’ at teenagers? When I was ten I was reading books way above my age range. Adults all around the world are obsessed with Harry Potter – a ‘children’s book’. Writing is writing, a story is a story. If you enjoy it, read it.

There is a slight problem with this though. YA bridges a wide range of topics and writing styles. There are those that, for me, aren’t as enjoyable, not because the story isn’t as good but because the writing is closer to that of Middle Grade. This can make finding the right books for you tricky.

It sounds simple but I’ve found that the best guide for finding young adult stories with adult level writing is looking at the main characters age. For me, if the main character is under fifteen then the book will be too young. This isn’t an absolute but it’s a good guide.

If you want to avoid any sexual elements then stick to characters seventeen and under. Amazon also does a good job at high lighting when I book might not be appropriate for younger readers.

If, on the other hand you want something with a bit more romance and the sexy stuff that comes with i, then look for characters aged nineteen and above. Also try looking for New Adult books. I haven’t entirely figured out what this genre includes but I know romance is often a key part of it.

If you’re struggling to find a book then Goodreads is a great website. You can search for a book you’ve read and it will recommend others like it or you can find your favourite authors and discover others that write in the same style or genre. Once you’ve built up a bit of a list through ordering, then Amazon also does a good job at recommending books for you. Oh and always remember, whichever site you’re using, to add books to your reading lists otherwise you’ll find yourself in the dreaded purgatory of searching through your browsing history to find that one book you know you wanted to read but can’t remember the name of… trust me, you don’t want to go there.

Now that’s an ending

If you’ve ever tried your hand at writing then you’ll know that endings are notoriously hard. You have to walk the fine line between giving the reader enough but not too much, giving them what they want but not being predictable and you have to do this all whilst avoiding the dreaded anti-climax. But this post isn’t about the big endings which means of course it’s about the small ones. For me, the most satisfying last lines come at the end of the first chapter. It’s the line that can make or break a book, it’s the line that has the power to leave you grinning at yourself because you’ve just realised you’ve won the book lottery. It’s the line that can send excitement bubbling through your veins and it’s the line that can make it impossible to put a book down, no matter how sleep deprived you are.

Last night my self-appointed bed time was sucked into the new book I started at half eleven (never a good idea), chewed up and spat back out. It sat discarded on the floor knowing full well that I wouldn’t be getting to sleep any time soon. I still cannot help but smile when I remember the last line of the first chapter of Michelle Hodkin’s The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Which, if you think about it, is rather disturbing given that the last line reveals the death of two teenage girls.

I’m going to give you some context because the build up is often what makes the ending. Not to mention that I’m a generous person and when I win the book lottery I feel bound to share my winnings. You’ll have to give me a second whilst I back track my Kindle to the beginning of the book (I wasn’t kidding when I said my bedtime went out the window, I’m already over half way through.)

Right, here you go, the final lines to chapter one of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer:

‘Rachel relaxed, but I didn’t. For her sake, though, I tried to swallow my anger and unease as we settled in to watch the movie. Rachel popped in the DVD and blew out the candles.

Six months later, they were both dead.’

Well shit. If that doesn’t make you want to read more then I haven’t done the book justice. The only times I’ve put that book down today have been to talk to you lovely people and to make breakfast (reading is important, but so are pancakes).

Talking of last lines, I now need to think of one for this post. I’m afraid it won’t be as dramatic as Hodkin’s as I’m hoping that in six months, Sasha and I will both be very much alive.

 

Books that make you laugh out loud

Do you ever look up to find everyone in the room staring at you? This happens to me and no, thankfully, I am not naked. I’m simply chilling out, reading my book, in my own little world. That is until I laugh. The majority of the human race learn – once they pass childhood –  to read in one’s head. With this skill comes the socially acceptable behaviour associated with reading – silence.  I reckon it’s something to do with us human’s need to mirror our surroundings. You know, how you enter a room that’s dead silent whilst talking and it’s like the rest of your sentence is sucked into a black hole. Or how when one person is whispering your immediate reaction is to whisper back which leads to the inevitable “Why are we whispering?” whisper. My point is you know you’ve found a good book when, against all self preservation instincts, a sentence makes you laugh out loud.

I found one of these treasured lines last night whilst reading Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore. Great book by the way, one of those ones where you read the first few lines and feel connected to the protagonist on a soulful level. Amy Goodnight is headstrong, sassy and very funny. Her sister, Phin, is smart, bubbly and crazy. Put the two together and you get the cause of my late night hysterical outburst. Having just been woken up by a ghost in her room Amy and Phin are none too thrilled when someone starts a-knockin’ at their front door – cue tension fuelled humour…

“Oh my God,” I blurted, grabbing onto Phin as we faced the open bedroom door. “It’s the axe murderer.”

“I doubt he would knock,” she said.

HA! That my dear readers is what made my cat look at me like I’d sprouted a second head because I didn’t just laugh, I cackled, a short, harsh, rather loud cackle.

Never has the written embodiment of laughter – HA! – been more apt.