Rating: 5 STARS!
How I got this book: Bought
Tessa has major attitude and an impossible dream—not a greatcombination for success. But she believes that fate has delivered the ungainly horse Buffoon to her, and Tessa is determined never to be separated from him. What's more, she intends to one day become a jockey and ride Buffoon in the Grand National. But how can a girl with a violent temper and a “can't do” philosophy gain the physical strength, courage, and money needed to become a jockey—especially when her stepfather would like nothing better than to see her fail? Determination and grit may not be enough—but Tessa's not going to let go without giving it her all.
TW: Alcoholism, abandonment, domestic abuse, violence, attempted murder, mental illness, depression, grief, loss and neglect.
You guys, I have so many emotions about this book but no words to express them. End of review.
Just kidding, there are lots of words, it's just getting them into coherent sentences that's presenting a challenge. Truthfully, I've even considered just filling the page with crying and heart emoji's and the occasional knife for good measure (you'll get it if/when you choose to read it!)
I should probably start by saying that this is a re-read but that I haven't read this book since I was a young teen (so around 12-16 years ago) and when I did I loved it SO MUCH because:
1. I love horses.
2. It's set in England/Ireland with authentic characters.
3. It's a gritty YA that deals with some really challenging themes.
4. Did I mention the horses??
Honestly, I was terrified of reading it again, afraid that it just wouldn't be the same because of how much I've changed since reading it the first time and I've put it off for quite a long time just in case, but it finally felt like the right time and I'm so overjoyed to report that it was, and somehow, it was so much more!
It felt as though I was reading it for the first time all over again. The emotions, like the characters, are wild and unruly in this book. They're so strong, compelling, addictive and the ride is thrilling despite being so painful.
'Tessa stood and stared, shaking. She was numb, seeing it, never having known death before. Not like that, in the middle of brilliance, the light going out like the sun falling from the sky without warning. So fast the passage from life to death, she could not cope with it.'
I devoured the book from start to finish, revelling in the story, it's dark twists and turns and the characters. At the end I was an emotional wreck, having suffered through pain and grief, with the characters but holding out that uncrushable hope throughout that everything will work out and that despite all the bad, things will come good in the end.
Despite the incredible number of trigger warnings at the top of this review, this is a book of hope, of the power of love and how sheer, unwavering determination and handwork can overcome surmountable odds.
The main character Tessa is such a strong and compelling character. Because of her past, she's dealing with loss, grief, parental abandonment and a tempestuous home life that's shaped her into a girl with a violent, turbulent nature, a hate-the-world attitude and a bone-deep refusal to do see the good in anything. That is until a horse comes along who might just change everything for better and for worse.
Blind Beauty follows Tessa's journey from a young child to a young woman and it's a moving journey.
Tessa goes through so many challenges and we see a really harsh side of her, something that's been forged at the hands of others through their abuse and neglect but despite her nature, I couldn't help but feel drawn to her character, to root for her, to desperately wish for her happy ending, even if she doesn't believe in it herself.
The characters in this book are colourful and unique with clashing personalities asunder. The writing is unusual, a bit jarring almost as the author gives a glimpse into the mind of almost every character, even those that aren't human, but it's so gripping and I couldn't put the book down, lost in this horse-crazed world.
Side note: If you love horses, you'll either love or hate this book as the horses suffer just as much as the humans in various ways.
This book is easily one of the most touching and painful books I've ever read. It has feminist undertones, which shine through at key moments, something I love to see in YA fiction.
"...And fourteen-year-old Buffoon! And a girl - a girl-"
As if the rider were an ostrich, or a monkey. A girl!
It's such a heartbreaking, powerful story about how loving someone (in this case a wonderful horse) with your entire being can either make you or destroy you entirely.
At the end of this book, I was a bit of an emotional wreck but I almost instantly wanted to re-read it, which, is the mark of a truly good book, if nothing else.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
Rating: 4 STARS
How I got this book: Read for free on Wattpad.com
They were naturally disposed to hate each other. And for a while, they did.
Bite Me is a YA, m/m paranormal romance that's currently available for free on Wattpad.com (just click the image to read!)
If you read my last blog post, you'll know that I've been spending a fair amount of my time discovering Wattpad. For those of you that don't know, Wattpad is a social storytelling community made up of readers and writers. Writers post stories for free on Wattpad for anyone to enjoy, vote and comment on - and it's completely free to join!
Bite Me is the first story that I've read via Wattpad and I truly enjoyed it!
It's full of vampires, werewolves, teen angst, insta-hate and an enemies-to-lovers style slow-burn romance that's packed to the brim with drama and lust.
There were a few problematic things about the book in terms of editing (i.e spelling and grammar and a couple of sections that were a little confusing) and there was a fairly big issue with the way that one character described another (that a lot of readers picked up) so (as is the beauty of Wattpad's edit functionality), I'm hoping the author will change this in future.
Other than that, I truly enjoyed my first Wattpad read. There were moments of humour, tension and plenty of chemistry between the two main characters.
I enjoyed the author's new take on Vampires even though I felt that the concept of 'trading your immortality' could have benefited from a little more development and backstory. '
I particularly liked Kieran who, despite being a grade A jerk from the offset is likeable, relatable and witty. Mason is a sweet, puppy dog with the best intentions even if he comes across a little strong and makes so many bad, impulsive decisions.
The book contains a nice mixture of contemporary/paranormal and, whilst I would have liked to see a little more paranormal 'stuff', the romance was sweet and kept the story moving.
Have you read any stories on Wattpad? What would you recommend?
Rating: 4/4.5 STARS
How I got this book: Bought
You’ll make it out of here, Brian. I swear.
I had everything—school quarterback, popular with girls, and my dad was proud of me. I told myself it didn’t matter no one knew the real me. And then I nearly died. Landon saved my life. He’s the bravest guy I know. He came out a few years ago, proud and fierce, and he ran into gunfire to help others. Me, I’m a mess. Can’t even stand to be in a room with the curtains open. But here’s the thing about losing it all: You get a chance to start over and be someone new. Only how can I move on when the two shooters who attacked our school were never caught? And why do I feel like I’m still in the crosshairs?
Will you kiss me?
When I came across Brian Marshall,the hottest guy in school, dying on the cafeteria floor, I did what anyone would do. I tried to save him. His request surprised me, but I figured he needed comfort, so I kissed him on the forehead. When he survived and came back to school, he was broken in body and mind. He still needed me, and soon we were unlikely besties. But what I saw at school that day woke me up. I want to demand action on gun control, lead protests, raise my fist. I’ll tear the world down if I have to. And if I can get the man of my dreams and save the world at the same time? I’ll take it. Only I didn’t understand that the horror at Jefferson Waller High wasn’t over.
Trigger warnings: Mass shooting, PTSD, depression, homophobia, graphic violence.
Just from reading the synopsis I could tell that this book wasn't going to be an easy read.
I've only seen information about mass shootings and school shootings on the news and on Twitter. The coverage is always quite brief, giving only the details of what occurred, the death toll, and speculation about the shooter(s).
Boy Shattered went so much further by providing a completely vivid view of life as a survivor of a mass shooting that was incredibly painful and almost unbearable to read, but at the same time, so completely relevant and necessary that I urge you to read it.
This book is overflowing with heart-ache and tragedy, focusing on how the shooting affects the two main characters of the story in very different ways with one character retreating into himself and the other becoming an activist against gun violence.
It is a romance novel but there's a great deal of sadness, pain and angst between the two characters that makes the relationship feel raw and extremely powerful. It is a YA and so, whilst there is sex involved, it's much more character and plot driven.
To me, the book felt like a suspense novel. With the hunt for the shooters ongoing and Brian's PTSD, the pace was fantastic and the story completely engrossing.
Coupled with the tragedy, another painful aspect of this book is the homophobia which is rife in Brian's life, so much so that he's completely in the closet and terrified of making a wrong move that could reveal his secret.
I love how the characters' natures contrast and compliment each other. Brian is troubled, hiding who he is and constantly terrified, whilst Landon is compassionate, determined and supportive.
Overall, Boy Shattered is completely heartbreaking and the title couldn't be more accurate. Feeling Brian's pain and terror, experiencing Landon's fear and his need to do something about it, watching the seeds of their relationship take hold - it was beautiful, gripping and exceptionally painful.
Brace yourself going in and you'll quickly find yourself immersed.
Rating: 4 🔥🔥🔥🔥
How I got this book: This novella is available for free exclusively at tjklunebooks.com
When he sees Satan stuck in a rut, God provides a little divine intervention, suggesting the Devil get back to basics.
Taking God's advice, Satan answers a summons to a crossroad on Earth, hellbent on brokering a deal in exchange for the soul of the human who summoned him.
The problem with that is the summoner is a deviant twink named Jimmy who immediately falls in love at first sight, much to Satan's dismay.
Blasphemy! Where God is a frat bro who wants to get his brother laid, Satan absolutely does not have time for this shit, and Jimmy wants to climb the Devil like a tree.
Important note: If you are extremely religious or find religious satire offensive, this is NOT the book for you!
First off, I want to say:
1. How awesome is the artwork above? The banners were designed by members of TJ Klune's Facebook reader group and I love each one!
2. The author provided this novella for free on his website. It's available to read on the site or you can download the PDF or Mobi files to your devices!
If you've read some of TJ's other work, specifically the Tales of Verania series, you'll be very familiar with the authors' brand of satirical, twisted humour. If you haven't, think like a really vulgar (but in the best way) Terry Pratchett but with waaay more sex, swearing and generally outrageous behaviour involved.
Blasphemy! was a really short read (around 20,000 words) and is a tale about the lord of the underworld and his growing loneliness. Throw in some help from his (and I quote) "brother-dad" God who's incredibly interfering, and a very naive young human who falls head over horns in love and you have a classic, hysterically funny TJ Klune story that will keep you laughing out loud from start to finish.
"And while Satan had never been too fond of labels, he sometimes wondered if he was a bear now, like the type who could be called Daddy."
Featuring appearances from a Demon named Derek, a man named Carl, and a very teenage Jesus Christ this story is pretty much un-quotable but I did manage to find this little snippet to give you a taste of what's in store:
"Jesus! Jesus Christ, you better not be making a mess in the kitchen. We just had it cleaned!"
A surly response came crackling through the monitor. "I'm not! And don't tell me what to do! You're not even my real dad. Joseph is! When he and Mom get back from their vacation, I'm going to tell them you never let me do anything."
As I said above, this book is really not intended for anyone who's highly religious or easily offended, but if that's not you, and you're looking for a quick-paced read that promises some heavy belly laughs, go and grab this book!
Enjoy 🤣 and once you read it, feel free to leave your comments below!
Rating: 3.5 STARS
Series/Standalone: Standalone (Collection)
How I got this book: Bought
Slow burn romance that quickens the heart. From sweet & light-hearted to raw and emotional - this collection contains eight contemporary gay romance novellas previously published individually between 2013 and 2016.
“Noticed Me Yet?”
“The Douglas Fir”
"It Could Be You"
"Bird Meets Cage"
You can catch my separate mini review of DJ Dangerfield here.
The stories in this book are short and sweet, perfect if you're looking for something to read before going to sleep.
I won't talk about every single story, because I don't have a huge amount to say about some of them. They were nice, sweet stories that delivered the promised HEA.
I'm going to talk about my favourite story first, which was 500 kisses. This is a very fun friends-to-enemies-to-lovers romance that I couldn't stop smiling over. The two characters are fun, witty and their verbal sparring sessions are perfect. Add to the mix several amusing teenage campers, a very risque bet and some drama from their past, this story was easily my favourite of the whole collection.
The Douglas Fir was another sweet story which took a rather unexpected turn. I'm not going to give too much away here but I did enjoy the plot twist. This isn't your typical romance, but it was nice, sweet and very tender. A great story for Christmas.
Bird Meets Cage was a much heavier story than the others. It features a slight age difference between the two lead characters and lots of emotional drama. What I loved the most though were the secondary relationships from family members and friends which added a lot more depth to the story.
If you haven't yet read anything else by Anyta Sunday but you're thinking of trying out her work, this collection of novella's is a great place to start!
Rating: 5 STARS!!
How I got this book: ARC from the author
In the spring of 1995, Nate Cartwright has lost everything: his parents are dead, his older brother wants nothing to do with him, and he's been fired from his job as a journalist in Washington DC. With nothing left to lose, he returns to his family's summer cabin outside the small mountain town of Roseland, Oregon to try and find some sense of direction.
The cabin should be empty.
Inside is a man named Alex. And with him is an extraordinary little girl who calls herself Artemis Darth Vader.
Artemis, who isn't exactly as she appears.
Soon it becomes clear that Nate must make a choice: let himself drown in the memories of his past, or fight for a future he never thought possible.
Because the girl is special. And forces are descending upon them who want nothing more than to control her.
You're going to have to forgive me if this review turns out to be incoherent because sometimes there just aren't words to describe how amazing a book is, but I'll do my best!
I want to start by saying that the only other book I've read by TJ Klune so far is The Lightning Struck Heart which is a hilarious, outrageous m/m fantasy romance that I adored. This book is NOTHING LIKE THAT BOOK - but that's in no way a bad thing! From the synopsis, I expected a romantic suspense novel and so I was not prepared for all of the awesome shit that goes down in this book.
Fear not, you know this is a spoiler-free review site, so I'm going to give you my reactions, without giving anything away because honestly, this book is one of the best books I've ever read and I want you all to read it without knowing what to expect!
The plot is fantastic, I absolutely love the authors writing style and was instantly swept up into the story and into Nate's head, seeing this story through his eyes was perfect! I love Nate, and Alex and Art, three completely individual characters who's pain, suffering and love was so vivid that I felt connected to them, desperate for things to work out.
"...somehow we're all made of dust and stars."
Nate is sweet, kind and haunted by his past, Alex appears tough and strong but has a much deeper core, and Art...well, I'll let you discover how amazing Art is by yourself.
I love everything about The Bones Beneath My Skin, the way it makes me smile and laugh, the way it warms my heart, the way it sends my heart racing or just stops it dead, the way it has me holding my breath and even the way it has me on the verge of tears, afraid to keep reading but unable to stop. The pacing, the writing, the realistic dialogue, the genuine, evolving connections be they romantic, sexual, friendly or familial, were all perfectly portrayed.
The enemies-to-lovers style romance itself is such a fantastic, realistic portrayal of an m/m romance, focusing less on the sex and mostly on the chemistry, tension and bond between these two complex characters.
To try and sum this up simply, I couldn't get enough of this book, I read and read for hours, never wanting to put it down and whether you like romance, action, or adventure, I urge you to read this incredible story about oppression, standing up for what matters, appreciating the smaller things in life, and dreaming of an impossible future.
"You can fear what you don't understand, but in the end, you can still be brave. You can still stand up for what's right."
It's a story of laughter, love, caring, anger, pain, suffering, denial, belief, and a whole shed load of bacon.
"Are we going on an adventure?"
Trigger Warnings: There are some dark topics that are explored in this book including; suicide, mental illness, grief and homophobia.
Rating: 4 STARS
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Standalone/Series: Man Hands #3 - (Can be read as a standalone)
How I got this book: Bought
The moment Sadie Matthews walks through the daycare center door, I feel my world tilt in her direction. Again. I fell for her when I was fourteen, and I'm still not over her. Problem: she still thinks of me as a teen she used to babysit. But I've learned a few things about pleasing a woman in the last fifteen years. I can't wait to show her how good it could be. I need to move quickly before I lose her again. This is more than a game to me, but I still plan to win.
I've just survived the worst year of my life. As a single mom of twin toddlers, I don't have time for a man. I barely have time to finish a thought. Who knew that Liam McAllister would grow up to be so devastating? He's everything my husband was not: tall, built, and willing to have a tea party with my girls.
I can't possibly get involved with him. He's too young for me. Too handsome. But he's so persuasive...
I'm so happy! This book really broke me out of my recent reading slump and I am eternally grateful!
This is the first book by these two authors that I've ever read and I haven't read the previous two books in this series. I really enjoyed this book as a standalone and at no point felt as though I'd 'missed' anything from previous books.
Boy Toy is sweet and lots of fun. There were plenty of moments where I giggled aloud as I devoured this book in just two short sittings.
My absolute favourite part of this book is when teenage Liam makes his little appearances. He's definitely the reason I laughed so much whilst reading this.
Liam is pretty much the perfect guy. He's sweet, considerate, kind, caring, handsome and he adores kids. Sadie is fun, insecure and a fantastic mum to her twin girls.
I loved getting to know these two characters, their chemistry was great, Sadie's friends are fantastic and I loved every minute of the book.
Fans of Tara Sivec's romantic comedies will love Boy Toy!
Welcome to my stop on the Between Frost and Fury Blog Tour!!
I have been ridiculously excited for this book ever since I read book one, Amid Stars and Darkness last year and so I just want to say a huge thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for letting me join in the fun and to Swoon Reads for the gorgeous ARC.
Feel free to check out my review of Amid Stars and Darkness and keep reading for my review of Between Frost and Fury!
Rating: 5 STARS!!
Standalone/Series: The Xenith Trilogy #2
How I got this book: ARC from Swoon Reads
Delaney might have done her job a little TOO well…and now her life has once again been turned upside down by aliens, this time by a deadly (and devastatingly handsome) alien prince in this explosive second installment of Chani Lynn Feener’s The Xenith Trilogy.
Delaney has been kidnapped by aliens. Again. After only a month back on Earth with her hot new alien boyfriend Ruckus, the deadly and devastatingly handsome prince Trystan has dragged her right back to his planet.
While some girls may dream of winning a prince’s heart, Delaney just wishes this one would leave her alone. Instead, she finds herself at the center of both a tense political battle between two alien kingdoms and Trystan’s romantic attentions, both of which are absolutely ruining the life she’s built on Earth. Not to mention the fact that she’s about to be crowned queen of a planet she’s barely even visited. Just another day in the life of an ordinary human girl.
Readers won’t want to miss Between Frost and Fury, the compelling, fast-paced sequel to Chani Lynn Feener’s Amid Stars and Darkness.
Okay, so what I LOVE about this book is that it literally jumps right back in where the previous book finished, there's no missing time in between, no catching up to do, you're just immediately immersed back into the action and carried through the story by the amazing pace.
The book actually starts with a brand new P.O.V from Ruckus, and I love that we get to hear from both him and (mostly) Trystan throughout this book.
If it wasn't already clear, am I totally in this for Trystan! ?? I guess I have a thing for bad boys with hidden depths...
Delaney is fantastic. No matter what happens to her, she still manages to keep her composure and her sharp tongue.
"I'm not afraid of you," she told him, holding up a finger when he opened his mouth to argue. "I'm not. I'm afraid of the things you might do, yes. But of you personally? What's to be afraid of? Is it the scared little boy who'd rather steal someone else's toy than fix his own broken one?"
I also can't help but smile in every scene where she purposefully goes out of her way to annoy Trystan! It's too cute, and it's great to see the new depths to these characters.
I could not put this book down, and when I was forced to, I couldn't stop thinking about the characters. They made me smile, swoon and worry. My heart raced, and almost stopped altogether right at the end.
Brace yourselves for another amazing, cliffhanger-style ending! ???
It's strange, because two things I'm generally not a huge fan of in books are cliffhangers and love triangles. This series has both and I LOVE them! I can't get enough of the tension, the drama, the conflict and ALL THE FEELS!!
This is one of my absolute favourite series' so far. In this book, we get to explore more of the author's world, I absolutely loved the new wintry location and the introduction of some fantastic new characters, and foods!
After the jaw-dropping ending, I can't wait for book 3 - I desperately need to find out how this ends, even if I don't want it to end at all!!
What do you think? Remember that you can click on the cover photo above to add Between Frost and Fury to your Goodreads TBR!
Thanks again for stopping by and joining me on my leg of the tour! Click here to follow the rest of the tour!
You can also enter below for your chance to win a print copy of Between Frost and Fury (US/CAN only - giveaway hosted by Xpresso Book Tours)!
Rating: 3.5/4 STARS
How I got this book: FairyLoot April 'Whimsical Journeys'
The ancient land of Éirinn is mired in war. Ciara, Princess of Mide, has never known a time when Éirinn’s kingdoms were not battling for power, or Northmen were not plundering their shores.
The people of Mide have thankfully always been safe because of Ciara’s unearthly ability to control her enemies’ minds and actions. But lately, a mysterious crow has been appearing to Ciara, whispering warnings of an even darker threat. Although her clansmen dismiss her visions as pagan nonsense, Ciara fears this coming evil will destroy not just Éirinn, but the entire world.
Then the crow leads Ciara to Leif, a young Northman leader. Leif should be Ciara’s enemy, but when Ciara discovers that he, too, shares her prophetic visions, she knows he’s something more. Leif is mounting an impressive army, and with Ciara’s strength in battle the two might have a chance to save their world.
With evil rising around them, they’ll do what it takes to defend the land they love…even if it means making the greatest sacrifice of all.
I received this book as part of the April ‘Whimsical Journey’s box from FairyLoot, it’s quite a chunky book compared to a lot of the YA I’ve read recently, and I’m a big lover of mythology, so I was really excited to dive in and lose myself in the world that Jessica Leake has created.
First impressions were great, the book itself has a gorgeous cover. The first chapter was immersive. It was mysterious and tense and made me want answers to a lot of questions, which drove my need to keep reading.
I love the medieval period and the Irish landscape is stunning to imagine.
The first chapter presents us with Ciara, Princess of Mide, who isn’t an ordinary princess at all. She’s a battle-honed warrior, currently overseeing her father’s keep and tasked with protecting her people from Northman raiders.
Ciara at first seems strong, determined and gifted, although how isn’t immediately clear, except that people seem to fear or shun her. She loves her sisters more than anything, hates the Northmen with a passion and we learn of the great loss that fuels her hatred.
Even this early in the book there’s a very epic, almost Game of Thrones like feel and that only increases through the symbolism used and the very graphic, bloody battle sequences.
“I'd been in many people's heads, seen their darkest thoughts, been in battles that were gruesome and violent, but nothing was as soul-crushingly terrible as the Morrigan's vision.”
As you can gather from the synopsis, Ciara is forced to ally with her enemy, a young Northman warrior, Leif.
I love the circumstances behind their meeting, which successfully flips the usual gender roles.
Leif is almost the typical YA hero with his smouldering good looks, impossibly perfect hair, and his skill in battle. Yet he is also on a path of revenge, fuelled by his own hatred and suffering, and he hides a few secrets of his own.
I really enjoyed the mythical creatures portrayed in this book and there are quite a few to discover from mythical horse creatures to gods, sea creatures and ancient queens, and so many more in between.
So much happens in this book that, even though it is quite large at 421 pages, I was never once bored. I never once drifted away or lost interest in the story finding myself wrapped up in the journey and all that they must face and overcome.
As well as the mythology, there’s a lot of pretty cool magic in Beyond A Darkened Shore. I loved the symbolism and imagery behind the magic, particularly in a very striking ‘resurrection scene’.
There are three main reasons that I’m rating this book 3.5-4 instead of 5 stars (I kept going back and forth between 3.5 and 4...), and they’re just things that I personally had a problem with. (I still hugely encourage you to read the book and form your own opinions. If you already have, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!)
First is the relationship between Ciara and Leif, which at times felt a little ‘forced’ and lacking in chemistry. The relationship just jumped a little too quickly for me, and in places, I felt that it overshadowed Ciara’s better qualities. I guess I was just more invested in the mythology and adventure.
Secondly was that Ciara doesn’t seem to learn what I feel is the most important message in this book; that no one benefits from war. There will always be innocent people who suffer, and I felt that after everything the characters had suffered by the end of their journey, that this almost obvious message would have been received a little harder.
Last of all, I found that whilst both characters had motives for revenge there was some hypocrisy behind how each was handled, and whilst I don’t want to give anything away by going into too much detail, I personally just felt that this was quite contradicting and could have been explored a bit better.
Overall though, I did thoroughly enjoy this story. I enjoyed the characters, I absolutely loved the Norse and Celtic mythology, the creatures, the magic and the gorgeous Ireland landscape, and I’d highly recommend this book to other lovers of epic fantasy who want to be swept away on a quest of gigantic proportions.
Beyond a Darkened Shore is officially released in the UK tomorrow (17th May 2018), just click the photo above to add it to your Goodreads TBR.
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Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, aspiring writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
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