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Book Review: ‘Aaru’ by David Meredith

Title: Aaru (The Aaru Cycle Book 1)

Published: 10th July 2017

Author: David Meredith

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DavidMeredithWriting

 

Synopsis:

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure.

A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model. Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.

What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book by a male author. A book about death, childhood loss and finding new ways of coping with changes happening around you. What if you didn’t need to say goodbye? Would you like your mind to live forever in nothing more than a computer world you can create things in if it meant you could stay – in a way – with the ones you loved?

Rose is sixteen and has almost come to terms with the fact that her time is almost up. She has leukemia and with time running out she needs a miracle of some sort. Her younger sister Koren, just a child herself at thirteen, isn’t ready to let her go, let alone their parents. The miracle they have been looking for comes in the form of Mr. Adams. He wants to help Rose in a way others haven’t managed before. She is reluctant at first but agrees to try one last thing. If it fails then she’s ready to let go, as she is just so tired of fighting and wants some peace. He starts with scanning her brain and then having sensors put on her head while she’s asked to think of happy thoughts. Her emotional output is key for this to work. She’s not sure what this will do but gives it a try hoping he will explain later. It’s not long before she feels herself left in the dark, quite literally, her fight with her body might be lost but what comes next?

When Rose’s mind wakes up she is in a virtual world and is greeted by Lady Hana of Tenkoku, who calls Rose her Veda. Within this world she soon sees that if they think of something it happens – like clothes to change into, buildings or plants to grow. The kingdom is a blank canvas for them to create a world to live in. There are ten kingdoms within Aaru, each with a Lord and Lady. Lord Mikoto of Tenkoku deals with security in their kingdom. His new Veda Franco seems to have been forgotten a little by him so he gets Hana to train him alongside Rose. It’s not long before other Vedas start to appear, all creating more within their kingdoms waiting for residents to arrive when the system goes live. Is all really happy in this make believe world though?

The Aaru world seems unbelievable to most outsiders and none more so than Rose’s family, especially her sister Koren who hasn’t been handling her sisters death very well. They are brought to the facility to be shown that they did “save” Rose. Her mind was essentially downloaded – memories, thoughts, emotions etc – into Aaru as a way to cheat death. Will it really be her though? Koren is asked to go towards a computer and call out her sister’s name. When Rose comes to the screen it’s enough to knock them all over, this is the proof that Elysian Industries needed them to see. Now that they have they want to use Koren to help sell the idea of Aaru to the US market. A young pretty face that they can doll up to their own means to get the job done. But how far are they willing to go to sexualize this child for their product? What will be the consequences for when they do?

Aaru seems like the perfect place to live in but there are those that are troubled by what it means to be there. They are told to be happy and most seem to be but when they have thoughts or memories that turn darker they seem to be stopped. You can think of them like a story but not really feel the emotions that go with them. Almost like the system won’t allow you. With this being a programme you have to wonder what fail safes are in place, not only to protect its residents mental wellbeing but also their safety. Computer programmes can always be hacked, dangers are out there that can’t always be seen.

These dangers come in the form of Magic Man, a character used to create a darker side to the story. He is an online predator who takes an unhealthy obsession with Koren. Hacking into systems to get videos and images of her to feed his needs. That’s just the start with his plans. If he can hack a live feed how long before he tries to get into Aaru? The system might have many fail safes in place but is anyone really safe when predators are at bay?

There was an interesting twist with a character at the end that you won’t see coming. Setting it up for what’s to come and how both worlds will collide are an interesting concept. The story was well written with interesting ideas but I felt that some of the content turned me off the story. Had I been more aware of the darker theme content to begin with then I might have been better prepared. I do feel because of this that there should really be a content warning due to sensitive subjects within like stalking, paedophilia, child pornography and exploitation.

3 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Loving Storm’ by Carian Cole

Title: Loving Storm (Ashes & Embers Book 5)

Published: 10th October 2017

Author: Carian Cole

Facebook: www.facebook.com/cariancoleauthor

Twitter: @CarianCole

 

Synopsis:

Evie

I met him in a snowstorm…
We spent forty-eight hours trapped in the back of his pickup truck.
We fought.
We touched.
We fell.
Hard.

 

Storm

She literally crashed into my life…
The last thing I wanted was a relationship. Especially with a quirky chick who drove me insane. But something about her got under my skin, and into my heart.
And I had to have her.
All of her.
Now.

Falling in love in the back of a truck, just the two of us, was easy.
Dealing with psycho fans, jealous exes, and demons from the past….not so easy.

 

Please note: Loving Storm is a novella that gives an extended look into Storm and Evie’s future. It is best read after reading Storm (and also Vandal, Lukas, and Talon, as those characters have short cameos in this book)

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book from your Goodreads ‘to-read’ list. Short, snappy, fun, sexy read.

Had this on my TBR list for a little while and had almost forgotten to go back to it. Only when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to read next did I have a sudden urge to go back over the Ashers & Embers series. Love our guys Storm, Talon, Lukas and Vandal – four very different men who would do anything for their women. Re-reading is fun, more so when you race through to get to the good parts. It’s after this that I then remembered about the short Loving Storm. A book to show you what happens after the ‘happily ever after’ and beyond.

I just loved how it started. You have just the right amount of naughty, crazy, saucy stuff from Storm to get Evie’s pulse racing. He knows what buttons to press and when to hold back to get just the right reaction from the woman he loves more than anything. The feeling is completely mutual from Evie:

“At least once a day I ask the universe how I got so lucky to have Storm in my life. Much like a storm, he blew into my life, created a bunch of unexpected turmoil, and then whisked me away from it all toward sunny skies.”

Reading the book was like coming back to old friends. Remembering why you loved them so much the first time round. Storm and Evie are such a great couple. Coming together in chaos to find what they were both looking for. Love is strong and so is the chemistry between them. Hot, hot, hotter when they get close enough to touch. It all started with her hands touching his, from that moment on he was hooked. He just needed to push her a little for her to confront what she was feeling. To get to be in a true loving relationship and not stuck like she was almost wasting away with Michael, and as she later finds out, his cheating ways.

Now we know our two lovebirds are getting married but there are a lot of things that need to get planned first. Theme being the starting point and what other one than Winter would they have chosen. I mean it matches perfectly with how they met in the middle of a winter blizzard. Getting lost in that blizzard was the best thing to ever happen to either of them. So perfect together, love them!

Planning a wedding can be stressful but planning one when crazy fans are out to cause trouble is a nightmare. Evie has done better with trying to ignore it all but sometimes they get to her. Her anxieties coming back every now and then but at least Storm knows how to handle her when she has her moments to bring her back to herself. Social media sure knows how to stir up a frenzy with the bands fans. If they weren’t bad enough to deal with their ex’s and demons from the past want to play a part in trying to cause trouble for our lovebirds too but they can just sod right off. No-one is messing with this love storm. They’ll have me to deal with first!

Can the wedding go off without a hitch so they can start the rest of their happily ever after? Well as Storm has always said, he always gets what he wants. From the moment he saw her she was his. So this is the start of forever. Not that she’s complaining one bit. She’s so ready to be Mrs. Storm Valentine.

Loved all the cameos from the characters from the other books. Talon and Asia, Vandal and Tabi, Lukas and Ivy, Storms parents, Grams, his other brothers Asher and Mikah, sister Rayne, and their friends Finn and Amy. All intermingling together creating a fun world to be a part of.

Loved it from start to finish, definitely one for the fans to see how their love story continues. Broke my heart a little when Storm opens up about his past, so glad he shared it with Evie so she could show him that he does deserve love. Get a cool time jump at the end to check back with how their life plays out. Also making me want to find out Asher’s story so much more now. He always turns up at just the right moment, knows so much about love and loss but we need to know why. Also feel the need to check out when Mikah gets a story. Now him and Amy could be interesting? Time will tell. Can’t wait for more to the series.

5 out of 5 stars

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Book Review: ‘Realm of Mindweavers’ by Marianne Ratcliffe

Title: Realm of Mindweavers (Book One – Tales of Golmeira)

Published: 16th January 2017

Author: Marianne Ratcliffe

 

Synopsis:

A ruler is betrayed and his young daughter is forced to flee or die. 

Teenage Zastra is a big disappointment to her father, Leodra, ruler of Golmeira, because she hasn’t got what it takes to become a mindweaver, one of the highly valued few who can manipulate the thoughts of others. Things get much worse for Zastra when she is roused from her bed to find that Leodra has been betrayed and her beloved Golmer Castle overrun with enemy soldiers. She escapes via the castle’s ancient underground tunnels, only to be faced with a terrible choice. Hunted across the turbulent landscape of Golmeira, Zastra must rely on her wits and the help of strangers as she tries to outrun the powerful forces set upon her trail.

 

Realm of Mindweavers is the first book in the Tales of Golmeira series. If you enjoy page-turning adventure stories with strong female protagonists such as Trudy Canavan’s Black Magician series or Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, you’ll love these books.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book by an author new to you.

Zastra is the daughter of the Leodra, Grand Marl of Golmeria, and he hopes that she has the mindweaver power, one needed to protect their realm. She was young to be tested at 13 and first thought is that she doesn’t have any powers. She might not have mindweaver power but she does have the ability to resist the power being used on her. A new power that could be of some use in times of need but not so good from her fathers point of view as he needs more mindweavers to be able to protect them against their enemies. He may look down on her a little after this but its not like he has any powers, her mother Anara on the other hand can sense the fears and emotions of others. His hopes might have to be saved for his baby twin’s Kastara and Findar.

Zastra has people on her side to help her. Dobery a mindweaver was the first to sense something different with her mind. Could help her develop her abilities to be able to detect and block other mindweavers. Could she help others too? Martek the master at arms fighting skills teacher and mindweaver could come in handy with what he might teach her. There is also Teona, a high master, teacher and mindweaver. She seems intrigued that Zastra’s skill is different, wanting her to train it. Zastra might be wary of her as a teacher to begin with but she is a great help in a time of need.

Enemies are what her father is worried of but maybe he should look closer to home. All the Marls are coming to Golmeria for a summit, her father wants to pass new laws but others seem apposed to them. Could this be the start to a coup from dangers unseen? He thinks that by having his brother Thorlberd Marl of Bractaris, along with his young son Rastran, stay for months that they can figure out what his enemies, the Kyrg who fight for coin, plans are. Will he figure things out too late?

Figuring out the dangers the Kyrg cause brings together one of Leodra laws he wants to change. It seems that old wars between two sets of land have caused nothing but trouble for years. To try to find a way of peace he invites Mendoraz, Lord of Sendor, and his children Kylen and Zadorax to talks about how to move forward. With troubles brewing it looks like blame is being focused on them rather than who is really at the helm. Especially after a Caralyx creature gets within the castle grounds heading for an attack on the children. Good job that Zastra is handy with a bow. Slow on the uptake on seeing things clearly and it might be too late with what comes next.

Zastra is going to need to be strong for her siblings when dangers come calling. Can she keep both of them and herself safe? She just needs to be careful whom she puts her trust in. Sometimes strangers might actually be best to help get somewhere safe. She needs to find people who are still loyal to her father to create a resistance. To do that she first has to outrun her enemies chasing her. To do this she has to make a difficult decision to keep them all safe. Hiding in plain sight might work for a while but she vows to return to put things right. Trouble and danger follow her on her journey, she must always stay on the move to keep everyone safe.

Interesting start to the series, sets things up nicely for how the world might evolve around them. War and battles are coming so she needs to look further afield to find those that will help. She always has those true to her father that will step in when needed. Can they be pulled together to overthrow the evil powers that have taken control? Continue the story to find out.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author via Instafreebie for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Dance Like You Mean It’ by Jeanne Skartsiaris

Title: Dance Like You Mean It

Published: 10th February 2017

Publisher: Black Opal Books

Author: Jeanne Skartsiaris

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Jeanne-Skartsiaris-Author

 

Synopsis:

What if you wrote a steamy, erotic novel that was so hot bookstores couldn’t keep it on their shelves? What if you couldn’t tell anyone you wrote it?

At night, nurse Cassie Calabria pens a bodice-ripper novel, using an alias. She sends it to a few agents, then forgets about it. She’s more than surprised when she gets an offer for a publisher to include her book, Wild Rose, in a “summer-of-love special.” Wild Rose becomes a blazing bestseller. Suddenly she realizes she can’t let anyone know that she wrote it. What would her children think? Or her own mother, who “taught her better,” and, worse, her husband who would question her made-up fantasies of sex on the beach. How could she be thrown into the “red-light district” spotlight and still be a good mom?

Unless she went incognito.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book you can finish in a day. Well this was a fun read to storm through in a day, almost like a two for one deal too.

So Cassie is middle-aged ER nurse supervisor who feels like she needs a change. To do something new and exciting comes to mind after seeing an article in a newspaper saying that everyone has a story in them but few write them down. Looks like she is about to.

The starting point is always the most fun as its where you decide who the characters are and what they do. She is building a life for her characters to do things that she may not have had the confidence or will power to do in her real life. Almost like her main heroine is her alter ego coming to life. Rosemary is a fun, strong, carefree, adventurous character who lives life by the day but still wants that connection with the right someone. Can she find it or will tragedy strike? Well I guess that all depends on how Cassie feels. She gives Rosemary a few options to choose from, will you guess correctly?

‘Wild Rose’ is the name of her book, set in the 70s where sex and being carefree was the norm. Rosemary’s a photojournalist, which just happens to be something Cassie always wanted to be. It’s interesting to have parts of ‘Wild Rose’ put within the ‘real’ story itself so you can see how Cassie grows as a writer. It’s like a story growing within another story. These parts are what Christine is proofreading for her, along with giving notes. Theirs is a great friendship, one where you can see how she will be there for her when she needs her most, and not just to do with the book.

Her writing became a form of escape to get away from her relationship with Mitch. They used to be so close when they were younger but have grown apart in the last few years. She doesn’t see it at first so is completely blindsided when he says he wants to separate, all because he’s not her sole focus. Selfish prick comes to mind. You have a family to look after and you are feeling left out because you’re not the sole focus of your wife’s life. He took her and their children for granted but can he make it right? He might not be their only problem either with trouble brewing around their daughter.

Now to begin with writing the book was just something that she wanted to do for herself with her friend Christine proof reading the result. She fears that if the book got picked up and people found out that they would look down on her for writing a sexy romance book. She solves this by writing under Cardia Loving. Fears at the ready when her book gets added to a trilogy set, one that happens to take off like a rocket with the focus turning to her. Get ready for a bit of fame and people wanting to know you’re now a writer. Shock to see the book in shops, so much pride but also worry that someone will find out she wrote it. Seems a book tour is in her future so be ready for it. An extra load of make up and hair gel might be a bit of a disguise but not for long.

Fun well rounded characters that draw you into both stories. You are drawn to Cassie and how she creates Rosemary. Evolving her character and letting her grow to the person she is truly happy with. Cassie’s life has a few twists, turns and heartache along the way. The story was therapeutic in a way and gave her the outlet she needed. When all is revealed she almost wonders why she kept it hidden for so long. Coming full circle and seeing things with fresh eyes old feelings come to the surface and renew what was once thought lost. Seems trying something new and exciting was the best decision she ever made, for her and her family. Mitch showed his true nature after fearing he would lose it all. Ashley was the classic stroppy teenager but did grow after all she went through and Gabby was the innocence childlike energy needed. Interesting humorous read that you should check out.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author via PR contact for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘You’ve Got Male’ by Lila Monroe

Title: You’ve Got Male (Chick Flick Club Book 2)

Published: 14th January 2019

Publisher: Lila Monroe Books

Author: Lila Monroe

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lilamonroebooks

Twitter: @lilawrites

 

Synopsis:

All’s fair in love, war, and breakfast waffles in the hot and hilarious new standalone novel from USA Today bestselling author, Lila Monroe!

Zoey Rafferty dreams of becoming the food truck queen of San Francisco. She’s building an empire whipping up delicious brunch treats – until the (annoyingly handsome) Breakfast Bandit starts stealing all her customers with his devious tactics and smoldering charm.

Cam Newsom never backs down from a fight. As far as he’s concerned, let the best chef win. And so what if Zoey looks sexy as hell when she’s all riled up? He wants a woman he can connect with – not have whipped cream spray fights in the middle of the street. A woman like his mysterious online pen-pal, who shares his culinary ambition, and burns up his screen with her flirty quips.

Soon, their competition is heating up the kitchen – and the bedroom. But when the famous foodie TV show Truck Stop rolls into town looking for a new reality star, all bets are off, as Zoey and Cam compete for the prize. But will their rivalry blow both their chances?

And what happens when they find it’s not just their food on the line – but their hearts, too?

Find out in this sexy new twist on ‘You’ve Got Mail’, from USA Today bestselling author, Lila Monroe!

The Chick Flick Club series:
1. How to Choose a Guy in 10 Days
2. You’ve Got Male
3. Frisky Business (May 2019)

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book by an author you love but haven’t read. Back to our Chick Flick group to see what these girls can get up to next.

Zoey owns the Little Red Wagon food truck, which serves inventive brunch creations. Being part of the food truck family they seem to have an unwritten rule when it comes to territories, namely you stick to your own patch and don’t poach another’s. Soon changes when the Brunch Bandit comes to town. Seems this new food truck doesn’t want to follow the rules. Wouldn’t be as bad if they both weren’t selling brunch creations. Bacon at dawn, it’s time to fight for the best spot in town.

With her sole focus be on her food truck the whole relationship aspect of her life has taken a back seat. Halloween changes that for a moment when she is drawn to a guy dressed up as a famous cook, Guy Fieri. A connection brought to boil when she loses her nerve about what to say next and instead just kisses her hot new stranger. Well when words have left you what better way to move forward. Not completely though as she then turns and leaves without getting his real name, not that she gave hers either. Seems he made quite the impression as she’s still thinking about him months later. Could he be thinking about her too?

Now with the title being ‘You’ve Got Male’ you have a good idea that the theme is going to run along side the same as the film with how they might be talking to each other online. In this version Zoey is a member of an online Truck Stop food forum, username Wafflegirl7. So you just know that the guy she’s talking to, BetterWithButter, is her mystery guy, she just doesn’t know he’s also the Brunch Bandit. Seems she is giving him a rom-com film education where they start to watch them ‘together’ while online chatting. Food and films what better combo. Funny to see them put smiles on each other’s faces when in reality it’s them making the other crazy lol.

Seems fate wants these two to meet again and what better place than a food market. Very clear that they are both happy about bumping into their Halloween kiss companion, so its good that Cam asks for her number. Things swiftly turn south when he helps her out with her stuff and they realise that they are each other’s competition. Food trucks close together, do they want to get close too? Well not so much as he has no intention of giving up his trading weekend spot, even after she talks of the truckers code. This means baking war. Let the best food win.

Cam can’t believe the nerve of Zoey for saying that he needs to move location and pretty much declares war by implying if its too hot get out of the kitchen. He wants to play dirty to win, though she has her ways too. A little salt and sugar switch from him and fresh and rotten fruit and veg swap from her. This turns into a bit of a game, one they both kind of like playing with each other. How long before the fire tension explodes out of the kitchen? A fairest wheel ride seems to be a start, close quarters with a beautiful view, tension bubbling right until they get back down to ground. The Halloween kiss still plays a part when they are close to each other, hot enough to feel the tension building around them.

You can see that they both really like each other but don’t know how to handle that along with their food war going on. Kissing each other senseless also puts heads in a spin. Glad it didn’t take that long before they both figured out who they were really talking to online. That way the chemistry has somewhere to bubble up to before it boils over. When they go head to head in a big food festival event, FoodFest, that could make them big, are they going to play fair or dirty? Are all players going to take notice of a truce?

Do you want to go someone to get sweaty and dirty? Paintball it is then – lol. Not what she was thinking when he said it but memorable all the same. Cam can be so sweet when he wants to be. Together they just work, great chemistry right from the start. It started with a kiss, then rivalry banter that turned them on more than they’d admit, until finding out they are who they were falling for online. Can these cooks make it work in the kitchen or will things get burnt?

Another fun, flirty read that had me laughing at the crazy things they were putting each other through. On to the next in this awesome Chick Flick Club series I say. If you love classic rom-coms then these are the books for you.

5 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from the author for my honest review.

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Filed under Humour, Reading Challenges, Reading Nook Blog Posts, Romance