Monday, 26 December 2016

REVIEW - THE MAGDALEN GIRLS BY V.S. ALEXANDER

So Christmas Day has been and gone. You've rushed around doing everything for any guests and family you had round, now treat yourself to a book to curl up on the sofa or in bed to read. Indulge yourself with a fantastic, realistic read.

Title: The Magdalen Girls
Author: V.S. Alexander
Genre: Historical, Literary, Contemporary
Release Date: 27th December 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
Dublin, 1962. Within the gated grounds of the convent of The Sisters of the Holy Redemption lies one of the city’s Magdalen Laundries. Once places of refuge, the laundries have evolved into grim workhouses. Some inmates are “fallen” women—unwed mothers, prostitutes, or petty criminals. Most are ordinary girls whose only sin lies in being too pretty, too independent, or tempting the wrong man. Among them is sixteen-year-old Teagan Tiernan, sent by her family when her beauty provokes a lustful revelation from a young priest.

Teagan soon befriends Nora Craven, a new arrival who thought nothing could be worse than living in a squalid tenement flat. Stripped of their freedom and dignity, the girls are given new names and denied contact with the outside world. The Mother Superior, Sister Anne, who has secrets of her own, inflicts cruel, dehumanizing punishments—but always in the name of love. Finally, Nora and Teagan find an ally in the reclusive Lea, who helps them endure—and plot an escape. But as they will discover, the outside world has dangers too, especially for young women with soiled reputations.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I have read other books similar to blurb of this one. It seems totally wrong to say I enjoy reading this type of story, as what has been done to these women truly is horrific. I do however believe that these books need to be written and read so that these awful acts are addressed publicly and officially (and loudly) apologised for. I think that there should be some form of amends made for the suffering these women underwent at the hands of those running the establishments.
The cover of the book fits the book very well. It features a young women about to become a Magdalen. We don't seethe young woman's face which represents the fact when entering the convent all the young girls are stripped of their previous identity, clothes, possessions and even their hair!
My thoughts throughout reading this book were on a continual tidal wave going up and down as the young women journeyed through their lives as best they could and their experiences were revealed. I find it a crazy concept that so many were forced to give up babies they could have supported with a little help. In comparison in this day and age young women in this situation have life a lot easier. In fact nowadays it sometimes seems that young women are being rewarded for having a child out of wedlock and with a father who has no way and no intention of supporting their offspring. As I am writing this section of my review I am only a few percent into reading this book and already I firmly believe an apology is way, way overdue for those whose lives were broken by such an horrific act of removing a woman's child so quickly after birth and for the treatment these women had to put up with in the laundries within convents and other similar establishments. Yes, its a subject I feel quite strongly about!"
I'm at around half way through the book and find myself really routing for the three main Magdalen's this book is centred on, to escape. Then again I wonder what would they or could they do if they escape. What help is there available to them if they do manage to get out of the convent. Society looks down on these women. If an escapee Magdalen is spotted, the majority of people won't help, they'll just call the guards. (Police)
I'd say that the genre this book falls into is realistic, women fiction. In a book store this book would be placed in the "romance and saga" section of the fiction department.
I guess I should give you a bit of an overview of the book. Basically we witness two different girls that though from similar backgrounds find themselves being shipped off to the nuns. To be more specific the nuns at The Sisters of the Holy Redemption. Neither of these two girls are actually pregnant, in fact they haven't even had sex at the time they are sent away. The two girls, naturally protest their innocence to their parents, and we the reader the reader know the girls are not guilty of anything but perhaps a little naivety. With each girl it is the father that is the main instigator that ensures they are sent away for good. 
Teagan Tiernan is accused of "making eyes" or "attempting to seduce" the new priest visiting the parish. Sure she finds the Father Mark attractive, he is after all the youngest Priest she has ever seen. The Priest seems pretty flattered by the attention he is receiving from the women of the parish himself. Teagan has a crush on a local boy, Cullen Kirby, only her heavy drinking father does not approve of him as Cullen is Protestant and the Tiernan family are a good Catholic family. 
Nora Craven is accused of "cavorting"with her boyfriend Pearse, who is somewhat older than her. Her father loses it when he catches Nora kissing Pearse in their family home.
Both girls receive a similar welcome at The Sisters of the Holy Redemption convent from the Mother Superior, Sister Anne. Sister Anne prides herself on showing the girls the error of their ways using love. Her love and the love of God. In fact Sister Anne has individual blocks with the letters LOVE on them in a prominent place in her office. Though as you read the book you quickly realise that Sister Anne's version of love is very different to that of a "normal" person. 
Both girls are given new names when they enter the institution, Teagan Tiernan is told she is now called Teresa and Nora Craven is given the new name of Monica. They are also now known as Magdalen's. The girls are taken to Sister Rose in the cuttery, as all Magdalen's are given a short hair cut, apparently to avoid accidents from long hair becoming caught in any machinery. The girls are also given a grey rough fabric shift style dress to wear. A white apron completes their uniform. The young women/girls are set to work in the laundry, which means sorting the laundry,washing it, stain removal, drying and ironing as well as any mending that needs to be done. The majority of the Magdalen's work in the laundry. Other more fortunate ones can be put to work making and repairing lace. 
There is other main Magadalen's we learn more about are Betty, an older woman who has long since become resigned to her montonous life of drudgery at the hands of the nuns. Then there's Patricia, a greedy, similar aged to Teagan and Nora, a petty Magdalen, who regularly snitches on her fellow Magdalen's to the nuns to gain favour. Patricia plans on becoming a nun as soon as she is able. From what we see of her character within this books pages, she would fit right in with the majority of the nuns featured in the book. The last Magdalen who plays a large important part within the book is Lea. Lea is a considered a "good magdalen" by the nuns and does not work in the laundry. She has her own task which is reproducing a copy of the "Book Of Kells". 
In one scene in the book Teresa, Monica and Lea are being punished made to lay as if on the cross like Jesus. they are instructed they may not eat, drink nor soil themselves and will stay there until Sister Anne deems them to have learnt their lesson. The girls react different during the punishment. Teresa is silent, Lea mutters a prayer and the still confident at this stage Monica spits on Sister Anne!
Another more favoured punishment is being put in the penitent's room. Which from the description is more like a cupboard, with a small stool in it and nothing else. Once the door is closed and locked the penitent is left in the dark to think on their sin. Whilst in the room, Sister Mary-Elizabeth sneaks the "guilty party" a drink, a slice of toast or for a visit to the jacks (toilets).
Sister Anne, the Mother Superior comes across as a very nasty piece of work who actually seems to almost enjoy the punishments she doles out! Though later in the book we learn that she has her own inner demons and her own family history to deal with. In fact that very family history that pains her literally once again lands on the doorstep of The Sisters of the Holy Redemption for her to deal with!
Though I really loved all the characters of Teagan/Teresa, Nora/Monica and Lea, I found Lea fascinating. She seems to exist in her own little world in her head. She wants everyone to be happy and be nice to each other, and that's her wish for the Magdalen's and the Nun's. So sadly it is something that is unlikely to happen within the book. I guess you could say one of the three girls is vindicated and eventually escapes The Sisters of the Holy Redemption for a new life. Though I doubt her memories of her time with the Nun's is something she will ever forget, nor be able to fully forgive. Another of the three girls escapes briefly, but seems doomed to stay at The Sisters of the Holy Redemption forever, and seems to have lost all hope of ever having any kind of "normal" existence. The last girl of the three does a selfless act, that sadly fails having a tragic end outcome for more than one of the Magdalen's. 
I did enjoy reading the book, and think the circumstances covered in the book that actually really did happen to many girls, needs to be something told and retold and passed down the generations. I was both surprised and shocked to read that institutions such as the one featured in this book where still in existence and operational in 1996!
The subject of babies being taken away from their mother and put up for adoption is touched upon in this book, though is not the main theme. I think there are many people, in fact I'd probably go as far as saying, many more people than we may realise that were affected by all the different aspects that this book touches on. It is imperative that these displaced children and parents be reunited if they wish.
It is truly truly horrific when you think about the families that have been torn apart. That sure this actual book is fiction but I feel I should stress it is based on real events!
I have already recommended this book to my mum, and daughter, insisting they must read it. My heart genuinely goes out to anyone that has either been through what is depicted in the book either themselves or a family member or friend they know has suffered in this way. My mum and I have read other similar titles and watched movies on the subject. How could I describe this book in only two words? "Thought provoking" kind of horrific to learn the book is a depiction of what was really going on behind those convent walls.
A subject I feel strangely fascinated with it all. Would like to read more on the subject n totally agree with the Author and her reasoning why this has been kept quiet even in the present date. I cannot believe that these institutions were still in existence in 1996, just twenty yrs ago!!!
I could go on and on about this book and others I have read similar to it but I will force myself to limit myself to one last sentence to sum up my final thoughts on this book. I found the book a very emotional and moving read.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

REVIEW - PAPER BUTTERFLIES BY LISA HEATHFIELD

Title: Paper Butterflies
Author: Lisa Heathfield
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Release Date: 30th June 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
June's life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one – and a secret one. She is trapped like a butterfly in a net. 

But then June meets Blister, a boy in the woods. In him she recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away from her home and be free. Because every creature in this world deserves their freedom . . . But at what price?


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I have read another title by this author, Seed which I thoroughly enjoyed and found very interesting, yet different to my normal chosen genre. So when I saw this one I knew I wanted to read it. After finding myself in a bit of a reading rut, having a dilemma not knowing what to read next, I flicked through some older books on my kindle/tablet. I decided to read a few pages of this book, and I'm glad I did as I immediately felt drawn in and wanted to know more about the main character June.
The cover is a close up image of the main character of this at time harrowing book. June is mixed race, so is darker skinned and in looks favours her late mother, rather than her "Mr Average" father. The title of the book is displayed prominently on the book along with the byline of "Can you fly with broken wings?" which so aptly fits this young innocent girl, who has to adapt to the loss of her mother, a "new mum" being brought in by her father and a step sister too. I can't honestly say I love the cover and that's what attracted me to the book as it wasn't. I was compelled to read the book because of the blurb.
I think I could perhaps describe this book as disturbing in certain sections, the awful, vindictive abuse poor June has to put up with from her step mother whilst still plainly distraught with grief from the loss of her own mother. June's mother drowned in a nearby river whilst swimming. . . or did she? Could it be that June's mother discovered something about her husband that drove her to feel unable to carry on and take her own life, leaving him and their daughter behind. Kathleen is the new mother June's father brings into the family home along with her own daughter Megan. Kathleen take the role as wicked step mother to the extreme, and Megan seems to be the evil step sister too. The things Kathleen does to June range from plain spiteful to being horrific. From forcing so much fluid down a young June, denying her use of the toilet before school therefore causing June to wet herself on the bus. Kathleen also forces June to eat large portions of stodgy food causing the young teen to gain weight. Kathleen manages to do all of this without June's father ever noticing anything at all. Kathleen also coerces her own daughter Megan, who is a year younger than Kathleen to help her carry out the spiteful acts, and vicious attacks on June. To make things even worse June is also bullied at school for being different to the norm. The other children do not attempt to take June under their wing to offer solace or any comfort at all,they just belittle her, calling her names, saying she smells and in one particular incident being racially abusive. For the most part the adults at the school are either ignorant or choose not to see what the increasingly isolated June is going through. there are many occasions where June almost tells an adult exactly what is going on in her home. ...there are also occasions where she hints quite heavily at being unhappy at home but sadly she is neither heard nor seen until its far too late.
The one bright light in Junes life is her friend Blister. I loved Blister as a character, and how he came by his nickname too. Blister comes from a large family, his parents adopt children and are immediately welcoming to June. It is with the Wick's family that June has glimpses of what a real loving family should be like. How parents are supposed to react with and around their children. Though the Wick's family don't have lots of money they have love and are more than willing to share that with June whenever she can escape from her own home of torture. The Wicks children don't attend main stream school, they are home schooled by Mr & Mrs Wicks, and June so longs to be taught this way, to escape her poor school life. Another safe haven for June is the abandoned caravans, where she first met Blister. They soon become firm friends, supporting each other. Blister has a brother called Tom who is ill and well his health is slowly deteriorating. June knows this and enjoys helping Mrs Wick's, Blister and his family care for Tom. June keeps Blister and the rest of the Wicks family a secret as long as she possibly can because Kathleen and Megan spoil everything for her. June has a box hidden in her bedroom containing items that are precious to her, some origami Blister has done for her, a treasured scarf that belonged to her mother, that if she closes her eyes tightly and sniffs it still smells of her too. So she can pretend for a few stolen seconds that her mum is still with her. It is the destruction of this hidden box and its beloved contents that finally pushes June to retaliate. Sadly that first, small act of vengeance, has accidental, tragic consequences for June. Finally someone has to take notice of June, but it's not necessarily what you can say in a good way. However June at last has someone to talk to, a Reverend, ultimately someone who believes her. As she gains the Reverend and the final release of speaking about the horror of both her home and school life, it means she loses the unrestricted access to her best friend and now boy friend Blister. June had confided in Blister some of the awful acts Kathleen and Megan had done to her. The Wicks family learn the whole story, and though found guilty and locked away they still stand firmly by June whenever and however they can. 
I loved the characters of June and Blister, I so wanted a happily ever after for them. One of my "Thoughts Whilst Reading" comments was mainly centered on the character of June and was "What an awful life June is having. It's like June is more than one person. She loves alone time with her father yet doesn't tell him how awful Kathleen n Megan treat her. She is bullied at home and at school. June is 'more herself ' with Blister but she doesn't tell him the true horror of her treatment at home....but knows some of what happens at home, and most of what happens at school."This book however is much more realistic, and incidents occur, punishments have to be given out and accepted. During the interactions between June and an older woman called Mickey who is featured in the latter section of the book both crushed my heart, took my breath and made the tears roll down my cheeks all at the same time.
This book is written from the prospective of June, from "Before" when she is a young child having lost her mother, getting used to a new family dynamic when her father brings in a new mum and sister, and from "After" when she is a young woman finally revealing the true horror of her life to a Reverend. I have to say I found this book amazingly written, it didn't just make me tear up, I really cried and finally sobbed at the ending. Then at the very end of the book there is a small "letter" style chapter from the point of view of Blister. . . and just as he gave June hope and a reason to go on, he gives the reader that sliver of hope, that chink of a light at the end of the tunnel.
I could go on and on about this book, it horrified me! At times I was internally shouting and screaming "How can you not realise how unhappy this girl is?" at some of the adults June is around. I also had strong feelings towards June's father. . ."Why couldn't he see how upset his daughter was?" Then something is revealed about his relationship with Kathleen that made me wonder. . .maybe he can see how upset June is but he doesn't want to handle it. . .preferring to turn a blind eye and deaf ear. Wanting to play happy families with Kathleen and Megan. At times during the book I admit I hated Megan, not just for what she did to June, but the fact she kept silent about it, and never seemed to even attempt to comfort June. Then during a conversation between an older June and Megan, she reveals the reasons for her behaviour, whilst not making her actions forgivable, they do explain them a little. At the very end of the book June totally isolates herself from those that love and desperately want to support her, she also forgives those that quite literally made her life a living hell, yet seems unable to forgive herself. The scene where she is given a photograph which shows the people supporting her and petitioning for her totally broke me. I had to stop reading, calm myself, then continue to the end of the book. 
This book is an amazingly powerful, highly emotional, at times crushing, disturbing but also a very thought provoking book. Lisa Heathfield is an amazing, talented author and I will once again be on the look out for any other books by her.


Saturday, 10 December 2016

BLOG TOUR - DOMINION - THE END OF ALL THINGS SERIES BY LISSA BRYAN

Title: Dominion
Series: The End Of All Things
Author: Lissa Bryan
Genre: Sci-Fi, Post Apocalyptic, NA.
Publisher: The Writers Coffee Shop
Release Date: 3rd December 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
A generation has passed since the pandemic known only as the Infection ended the world as we know it. In a little town in the Appalachian Mountains, Taylor has known only a harsh and brutal struggle for survival in a land littered with the rusted-out remnants of a lost world. By day, she labors in a coal mine. In the evenings, she tends a secret collection of beehives, and uses the honey to pay for lessons in survival skills, such as hunting, fishing, and collecting herbs. Her home is a single room in a crumbling old motel, and her only companion is a pet box tortoise named Go she’s had since she was a child. 
When her town is destroyed by a vicious gang of raiders known as the Nine, Taylor escapes with Dylan, the son of the mayor. Their only plan is to head south and escape the Nine’s vast territory, avoiding areas contaminated by meltdowns and industrial pollution where mysterious illnesses plague the residents. 
Dylan has never known hunger or hardship and struggles to learn survival skills. He’s never known a woman like Taylor either. He tries to pay her back by teaching her to read and telling her the stories passed down from the world of Before. 
They certainly didn’t plan on falling in love. Taylor fights it every step of the way, because in her world, any emotional attachment is dangerous. She’s been taught since childhood that love slows you down, makes you weak. But the feelings growing between them cannot be denied. 
Taylor finds herself slowly breaking every one of her hard-learned rules of survival. She discovers that perhaps some of those things she’s always fought to avoid are the very things that make life worth living. 
. . . And death shall have no dominion . . .


PURCHASE LINKS

EXCERPT

“In the old days, fat women were considered to be very beautiful.”
“Really?”
“Yeah. I had this book of pictures of paintings that used to hang in museums. All of the great beauties immortalized in those paintings were plump. And usually naked.”
Taylor laughed. “I suppose if youre going to take hundreds of hours to paint a picture, it might as well be of something guys want to look at.”
“I wonder what happened to all of those paintings.” Dylan lay back against the sleeping bag beside her and tucked his arms beneath his head. The poncho crinkled as he moved. “Theyve probably crumbled away now with no one to take care of them.”
“But you had them in your book, right? So theyre not lost.”
“The original is.”
“I honestly dont understand how that matters. As long as you still have the picture in the book, it still exists. A painting is an idea, right? So as long as the idea survives, thats the important part.”
“Thats one of the reasons why I think reading and writing are so important,” Dylan said. “So ideas can be preserved, passed down. You said you used to save your valuables so you could trade them for knowledge, to learn how to make something or find the resources you needed. Reading is another one of those skills that would help you find knowledge.”
She smiled at him. “Okay, you win. Its important, and Ill try harder to learn it.”
He took out the notebook hed found in the childs backpack and selected a charred stick from the fire. He touched the tip to make sure it was cool and handed it to her. Slowly, she traced out the letters TATOR.
He took the stick from her and wrote below it TAYLOR.
“But I like TATOR better,” he said. “Its cute. Tater.
She made a face at him, but she wrote her name correctly below. She began his, but she only got as far as “DYN,” and then admitted she couldnt remember it.
He put his hand over hers and wrote the word. DYLAN.
He hadnt let go of her hand. Taylor looked up at him, and saw him gazing down at where their hands were joined. Taylor released the stick. He twined their fingers together and stroked his thumb over the back of her hand, a soft stroke from the knuckle on her index finger down to the soft webbing where her thumb joined her palm. He caressed that little curve of skin, and a shiver ran through her. She noticed she wasnt breathing and cleared her throat. He looked up at her, those blue eyes connecting with hers in a jolt she felt deep within her.
She licked her lips. “I—I better . . .”

He kissed her. The notebook fell off her lap into the dust at her feet, but neither of them noticed.

This Tour was done in conjunction with:
The Writers Coffee Shop

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

REVIEW - ASSASSIN - INSURRECTION SERIES BY A. DEEN

Title: Assassin
Series: Insurrection
Author: A. Deen
Genre: Sci-Fi
Release Date: 3rd October 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
Mankind has heard the voice of the Albatross speak against the Establishment for years. The resistance sees him as their leader, their symbol of freedom from oppression. No one knows he was once an assassin, a shadow of fear and torment wielded by the Establishment as a weapon of death. Until now. But there are secrets more horrifying than the Albatross’s past, deceptions interconnected with the Establishment and the alien enemy that humanity believes it defeated.

When Everett awakens on an abandoned outpost in the asteroid belt, he is desperate to find Ellie and warn the resistance of the Locusts’ impending return. Neither may be possible, especially when Everett faces an old adversary who knows he’s hiding more than just a savage past. But when intruders enter the outpost, they’ll have to work together to escape with their lives or lose everything they’ve fought for.


PURCHASE LINKS

INITIAL THOUGHTS
As this is the fourth book in this intriguing series I was looking forward to reading it. I really wanted to know what had happened to Ellie, one of my favourite characters in this series.

THOUGHTS WHILST READING
Still loving the characters, thinking the Albatross aka Everett will make gret book boyfriend material. Then again so would Gemson!

COVER THOUGHTS/COMMENTS
This cover perfectly matches all the others, with just the different novella/episode changed.

REVIEW
This book starts with Everett aka the Albatross hearing his name being called out in the distance. At first the voice calling seems far away to him but as he regains full consciousness it becomes closer. Then the pain hits along with the memories of what happened with the Butcher. Once totally aware, Everett can feel an IV in his arm. Not being one to lay and wait for answers to come to him he sets about finding out what, where and who he is with. As he discovers he is in some sort of large hangar type building, his memories all come rushing back and he is filled with terror as he recalls what the butcher told him he would do to his beloved Ellie. Everett is filled with a sudden urgency but is equally torn. His head demands that he needs to warn the resistance of the locusts attack plans, where as his heart is urging him on to find Ellie!
The torture he underwent in the last book (no spoilers!) is still affecting him very badly, it’s a struggle to think and even harder to get his body to obey his instructions to move. So when Gemson arrives in the hangar directing a barrage of questions at Everett, he decides he needs to co-operate. The first question Gemson barks is to demand to know “What he is?” a difficult question but Everett replies honestly that yes he is human but a human changed. Again I can’t reveal much more of their conversation as it would reveal spoilers. Gemson then leads Everett to believe that Ellie has been mortally wounded. 
This novella covers a lot, there’s the brotherly protectiveness of Gemson, the hurry to contact the resistance. . .that’s if the resistance will even believe him now they know the full truth of his past as an assassin. . .can he make the new leaders of the resistance believe him?
Asassins are sent to kill Everett, his former “brothers” M-Six, L-Nine and Eight-Zero. It doesn’t matter that the human in them agree the Everett (formerly One-Seven-Five) though they fight their implants as much as possible there are some great fight scenes within the book. Also though not totally human there are some brilliant emotional scenes between the Assassins, their resignation at what has to happen. One of the assassin reveals a vital piece of information to Everett which make him meeting up and getting the resistance to believe him vital if earth is ever to fight and win against the alien locust intruders.
We get to meet Yaren in this novella too, whom Gemson refers to as a cyborg. His attitude is to look down on Yaren as non human and some sort of freak. His mind set soon changes as they all have to fight together against the establishment to escape to a hidden place to meet up with General Ortega.
I loved the dialogue, and verbal sparring between Yaren and Gemson. Yaren is prepared to sacrifice everything to fly her passengers to safety and to take them to meet General Ortega.
Everett also finally has some time alone to talk to someone he really cares for. He is concerned at what she will say about hi idea to bring down the locusts. It’s pretty sad really as they have quite literally only just found each other. Though they are both determined to make the very most of what little guaranteed time together on their journey to the rendezvous with General Ortega.

FINAL THOUGHTS
So to sum up here are just a few of the questions I have for the next novella.
I am eager to find out if General Ortega will believe and welcome Everett back into the resistance. Will the resistance get organised quickly enough to fight the locusts? Can the resistance win? What will he think to Everett’s idea to fight the locusts, what could well end up being a suicide mission. I found this novella Another engrossing episode! Certainly leaves you wanting more! 

THE INSURRECTION SERIES




Tuesday, 29 November 2016

REVIEW - MONSTER ISLAND: THE NOOSE - MONSTER ISLAND SERIES BY KATIE FRENCH

Title: Monster Island: The Noose
Series: Monster Island
Author: Katie French
Genre: YA, Action, Adventure, Thriller
Release Date: 12th November 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
My name is Kat Voss. 
I was kidnapped, along with other teenagers like me, and dropped on an island where creatures stalk us in the night. 
Then someone hung my twelve-year-old baby sister from a tree like bait. 
The voice on the other end of the camera tells us we have one hour to find her. 
What if I’m too late? 


Goodreads Link

PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK

REVIEW
I received a free copy of this book directly from the author in exchange for my honest review.
I was certainly eager to read this one, wanting to know more about Kat, Lucca and Dev. As well as being super curious about the reasons why the teens were where they are and who had kidnapped them and taken them to this island. I had so many other questions after finishing reading Monster Island: Taken.
The cover of this book is very similar to Monster Island: Taken other than obviously the title "The Noose". This time we have a brown hue for the background colour. The trees are still there and this time though the title font has remained the same the colour is blue. Could this be suggesting the teens situation is improving? Is more light being shed on their situation?
I think specified genres of YA, mystery, thriller are still right but personally I feel it also has a bit of a dystopian, and horror edge to it aswell, maybe thats just me or because I have read other books by Katie French that are dystopian. I'll be interested to read what other readers would say on this. 
Monster Island: The Noose instantly picks up where Monster Island: Taken had left us and a certain character quite literally hanging! I felt immediately pulled back into the mystery, intrigue, and horror of the book as well as the characters dragging my back into their feelings of confusion and disbelief that they are in this situation at all. So we know that one of the younger characters is dangerously suspended from a tree in the forest somewhere. Kat and Lucca watch in horror as she is lowered towards whatever monsters are circling below her. Obviously petrified of being mauled by the animals she does as she is instructed to do, which is to look straight into the camera and scream hers sisters name whilst crying.  The electronic voice informas the teens they have on hour before the girl is lowered to the forest floor and the awaiting beasts!! Kat's reaction is naturally to run right out into the dark wilderness they are in, to attempt to find her sister. Lucca tries to use a more reserved common sense approach, that they need weapons, warm clothes etc.
We also get some flash back scenes from Lucca in The Noose. We learn he and his mother have recently been forced to leave and sell their beautiful home and most of their treasured possessions because "things have gone bad" for Lucca's father where he works. Lucca is annoyed as the move has of course upset his mum, whom he loves dearly and as his father is away for the majority of the time feels very protective towards. Lucca's relationship with his father is what at best I would call poor. 
In this book we have chapters from the point of view of four out the five characters featured in it. Five chapters of the story are told from Lucca's point of view so it makes sense we learn more about him, his interests, his family and begin to see he may have had a small clue or two that can explain just a little of clues that are being left around for the teens to find. We, the reader, also have two chapters from Kat, one from her sister Joslyn and a rather disturbing chapter from the perspective of Dev as he is tricked by a new character the teens meet on their search for weapons to defend themselves. Dev finds himself in the postition of meeting one of the teens captors, though not discovering their identity as they are masked. We do leave Dev in a really precarious situation, so we now have two characters lives "hanging" in the balance and their fates in the hands for the prople who kidnapped them. 
Again I found my favourite characters to be Kat, who continues to be a strong teenaged girl even in the face of the horror of seeing her sister being dangled above strange beasts in the forest. The other character I have taken most to is Lucca, you really do feel his emotions during his flashbacks. As we meet Lucca's family in the flashbacks, it also makes you think about what his mother may be going through, has she realised he is missing yet? Or because Lucca was allowed to leave school early, is his mother still oblivious to the danger her son is in?
Some of the questions I had from bk one, Monster Island Taken were answered, some of the answers are still fascinatingly obscure. I think for ever little clue to an answer the reader is given there are maybe another five questions that arise. So yes aspects in Monster Island: The Noose are still shrouded in mystery and secrecy.
I read this book in just one sitting and as I came to the end have to admit to shouting (silently in my head) "You cannot be serious! You can't be leaving this book here, now?" So to say Monster Island: The Noose left me wanting more is an understatement!! 
What else can I say about this series other than I am enthusiastically, though a little impatiently awaiting more! I certainly recommend this series so far!




Tuesday, 22 November 2016

REVIEW - MONSTER ISLAND:TAKEN - MONSTER ISLAND SERIES BY KATIE FRENCH

Title: Monster Island: Taken
Series: Monster Island
Author: Katie French
Genre: YA, Action, Adventure, Thriller
Release Date: 29th October 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
My name is Lucca DiVitas. I woke up in a burlap sack in a dark shed, and outside someone is screaming. 

In my pocket is a note: Pay for your sins. 

Escaping my bonds, I realize I’ve been kidnapped. Tall trees and snow-capped landscapes tell me I’m far from suburbia. And then there’s the ocean crashing angrily against the rocks. I’m on an island with no way off. 

Rushing toward the screams, I find Kat Voss, a scared teen, who claims she’s running away from a “snake with arms.” I decide she’s in shock until we find cages large enough to fit the world’s most dangerous animals. The cages are open, and they’re empty. 

We uncover more mysteries—an observation room with cameras, a bloody operating table, and a fully stocked torture chamber. 

Then we realize we aren’t alone. 

A voice over the loudspeakers begins directing us, like a guide on the world’s most sadistic tour. The voice tells us to smile for the cameras. Blood is good for business. 

If we can’t figure out who is doing this and why, it’ll only be a matter of time before one of us, or ALL of us, ends up dead. 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I don’t normally read this genre but have read other titles by this author and loved them so decided to give this one a go.
The cover has tall trees, a forest with a dark background to represent the night. So not a place you’d like to be in the dark. The title is in a bright green, so you’ll see this one on the bookshelf, and you really don’t want to miss this one!
I agree with the description of "action, adventure" but think that there are some spooky, scary, horror bits in there too!!
When you start reading this one you are pulled straight in, and held there until the last word on the last page. I hated having to put the book down to do other things and would have loved to have had the time to sit and read it all the way through. The book is from the point of view of the two main teenage characters within the book, Lucca and Kat. I thought the way the author builds the tension slowly is really great, it keeps you on the edge of your seat and guessing along with the characters themselves. I was pleased by the fact that as a reader we only know what the teens know, so we are as puzzled as them as to where they are and why they are there. 
The book begins with us meeting Lucca, a brown eyed, long haired rock and roll type of guy, into music such as Jim Morrison. Lucca wakes up or should I say regains consciousness and soon concludes he isn’t where he is supposed to be. The last thing he can remember is taking his last exam and his teacher Mrs Knight allowing him to finish school earlier than normal so he could “rest his brain”. As he moves about he works out that he is in fact in a sack! How on earth did he get there? Whilst he is attempting to fathom his strange situation out, he hears a girl screaming! It sounds like she is in danger or like someone is trying to murder her! Lucca quickly wriggles and struggles out of the sack to discover he is inside a shed. Before he gets chance to take much of a look round the girl is screaming again. He immediately decides he needs to help this screaming girl and runs out of the shed to find himself in the bitter cold weather and standing in snow. . . the exact opposite weather conditions to those he was in earlier at school in Michigan. Lucca runs towards the screams and finds a girl attempting to claw her way up a tree! The girl is Kat, a green eyed crimson haired teenage girl and she is screaming because she is in danger of being attacked by what initially looks like an Amazonian Snake, but it turns out to be something even more unusual and bizarre. Kat panics, and sets off running blindly in the opposite direction to the snakelike creature. She suddenly feels an arm grabbing her and pulling her back. She thinks she is going to be attacked but Lucca was merely saving her from toppling over the edge of a steep cliff. Kat pulls away and runs off again, but Lucca persists in following her, wanting to know if she knows where they are and why? Lucca puts his hand in his pocket searching for his phone but finds a mysterious note with the peculiar message of “Pay for your sins”. He shoves it back in his pocket and continues after Kat. The two teens don’t get off to an easy start with Kat thinking Lucca is going to attack her. Both of them are scared, they don’t know where they are, or how they got there either. As he looks back up from his pocket he sees Kat has suddenly stopped and is transfixed by something in the distance. Lucca follows her gaze and sees what she is staring at. There are eight large cages, the metal doors to them are wide open. The two teens discuss what could have been in the cages and where it or they could be now. Worried about being out in the open they notice a cinder block building and head towards that hoping for some way to contact someone, anyone that can help them solve this unsettling position they both find themselves in. The building is dark but they brave going into it. They compare stories. Kat was snatched from her home where she had been alone with her younger sister Joslyn. Neither of the teens are dressed particularly appropriate for the environment or weather condition of this mystery place. They find a room that is full of monitors, each with different dark fuzzy images on them. Then they notice a boy on one of the monitors, and he is running, he is being chased by something, and the two stare in silent horror as a large. . . no really large animal of some sort catches the boy! They are horrified and begin to think at least they are safe inside. . . when they hear a door creaking.. . .and that’s the only the beginning of their problems. 
I liked how both Lucca and Kat try to think if they have done anything bad enough to warrant them being kidnapped from their homes and dumped in this isolated, potentially dangerous place that shows no signs of civilisation.
The teens do discover cryptic sayings or quotes in the same handwriting as the note Lucca found in his pocket such as “If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not REVENGE?” Kat instantly recognises it, not that it really reveals anything to the two teens.
I should say I grew quite fond of both of the main characters Lucca and Kat throughout the book, they both seem like normal individuals. Neither comes from an especially wealthy family, so at this stage I personally don’t think they have been kidnapped for ransom money. I am still perplexed on what anyone could do to warrant the punishment or revenge of being put on such a dangerous, horror filled place.
If I had to choose just one favourite character it would have to be Kat, she is quite secretive and so cautious around Lucca to begin with. Then she seems to really warm to him, after all they are both stuck here together, but I think there is a lot more to learn about her. What is she hiding from Lucca? . . 
I really enjoyed this book a lot! Which being 100% honest with you I wasn't sure I would, as this book is not my in any of my usual favoured genres. I can't wait to read more. . . I’m wanting to know what is going on, and why it is that Kat thinks she may have done something to deserve this level of punishment? What could a teenage girl have done to deserve this revenge? Love the almost immediate friendship between Lucca and Kat (though Kat took longer). I have so many questions!!
I’m looking forward to learning more about the weird, exotic monsters/animals. As well as fathoming out what they are, they could be animals from a foreign land, or maybe some eccentric scientist has played with genetics and created hybrid monsters!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

REVIEW - ALPHA - MACKENZIE GREY SERIES BY KARINA ESPINOSA

Title: Alpha
Series: Mackenzie Grey
Author: Karina Espinosa
Publisher: Black Quill Press
Genre: Paranormal,Werewolves, Vampires, Witch's, Roomance
Release Date: 15th November 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
It’s hard being a Princess.

Mackenzie Grey never felt as vulnerable as she does now—but that won’t stop her from getting what she wants: revenge. Kenz and her friends journey to a new land where everyone has a motive and everyone is a suspect.
The Lunas find their voices after the massacre but question still stands—who is the real enemy? If Mackenzie wants to free herself, she will need to free them all; and it won’t be easy. As she approaches her 24th birthday—in the middle of a web of lies, deception, and murder—Kenz has to weave her way to the truth before she’s next on the chopping block.

With her companions, Mackenzie will make her final stand and change the course of the Lycan world forever…
 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

REVIEW - PENNSYLVANIA - PENNSYLVANIA SERIES BY MICHAEL BUNKER

Title: Pennsylvania
Series: Pennsylvania
Author: Michael Bunker
Genre: Sci-Fi
Release Date: 3rd April 2013

BLURB from Goodreads
Jedidiah Troyer just wants to start a farm and homestead on some affordable land in a new Amish community, but... what if the only good, cheap, available land was on another planet? So now Jed has signed up for an emigration program that is intent on colonizing the distant planet of New Pennsylvania. He faces a despotic government agency at war with rebels, the caprices of interstellar travel, a shadowy futuristic insurgency on his new planet, and more mysteries than he can count as he tries to fulfill his dream of owning his own farm. Space pioneering isn't as easy as it sounds when you're "plain." Things might work out for Jed... if he can ever get to his new home.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
This series was recommended to me by another author after I read and enjoyed his book. As Phillip Harris’s book The Girl in the City is set in the society/world created in the Pennsylvania Series by Michael Bunker. So I decided to give reading the first part of the series a go. I am quite fascinated with the Amish culture so that was another point that drew me to the book.
I was quite quickly drawn in and my attention was definitely held throughout this book. I really didn’t want to put this book down and read very late into the night on a few occasions.
The cover depicts quite a barren looking isolated landscape, and there’s the Amish carriage on the winding road. 
The genres I’d personally say this book falls into are dystopian, and science fiction with some post apocalyptic aspects thrown in as well. It will be interesting to see how the Amish featured in the book cope with the genre aspects within it. On one hand their plain ways, and self sufficiency should make it easier for them to do without technology, however on the other hand there are science fiction parts in the book so how will they deal with what technology may be forced upon them. Will they continue to isolate themselves and keep to their own kind or will they reach out and help the non plain/Amish community.
So the actual book is a great introduction to what I personally hope will be a fascinating series. The setting is sometime in the future with advanced technology such as airbuses and the colonisation of other planets than earth. Earth has become over populated with less and less land to be purchased and worked. The Amish have to an extent been exempt from certain rules in this society such as having compulsory TRID’s fitted. TRID’s are an identity chip that is installed and does away with the old identification, passport papers. The Amish went to court and won their appeal against having them having them compulsory fitted like the English and rest of the society. The Amish also do not use the new currency that is placed on a card. This system is explained in detail within the book and was originally called Unilets which were derived from LETS. LETS = Local Exchange Trading System. The English keep their LETS on a card and pay for things electronically. Which to be totally honest is not a million miles away from our own contactless credit card system. Another popular technology that is widely available is B.I.C.E. which is a Beta Internet Chip Enhancement or as Jed refers to it as the “Internet in your head”. Not everyone is rich enough to pay for this chip and some still have to go to a place called an “Insta” where they can access the internet. Quadrille is a popular, and legal drug that the English seem to take in large quantities on a regular basis. 
The book begins with the main character of eighteen year old Jedidiah Troyer (Jed) who is attending to the chore of milking a cow on his family’s farm with his fourteen year old brother Amos Troyer. Amos asks for what must be the hundredth time if Jed will tell him about the journey he will be beginning later today. Jed is a patient older brother and it seems he is secretly pleased to tell his younger brother what he wants to know over and over again. Jed goes on to explain the whole journey or as they call it a pilgrimage and the colonisation process too.. 
Jed is going to inhabit a new planet called New Pennsylvania which is almost the same size as earth, and lots of the Amish people are making this move, which when you think of the Amish culture means that even they are having to adapt to continue their way of life.
Saying that the whole trip does not go to plan is somewhat of an understatement! First there seems to be something wrong with the amount of LETS on Jed’s card but a Transport station operative conveys that he should not question this, so he rather naively just goes with the whole situation that becomes more strange as his pilgrimage progresses. The book covers the small mindedness and discrimination of the English as Jed is bullied on one of the airbuses he travels on. It is nothing for them but when another English man named Jerry comes to his aid he feels warmed by the actions, not all are prejudiced against the Amish. 
Unfortunately for them it seems that Jed and Jerry have been unknowingly pulled into a much larger plan of resistance against the government. They also discover that New Pennsylvania id not as idyllic as they have been told.
I love the character of Jed, the brave and curious eighteen year willing to leave everything he knows and loves at a chance of working hard and eventually purchasing his own land. Jed is described as being a younger version of his father who believes in hard work. Working on the farm has made Jed a strong, lean and sturdy man, prepared to work hard for the prospect of a new life. He has long term plans, hoping that when old enough his younger brother will come out to join him on his land in New Pennsylvania. I did also like the younger character of Amos, and hope to see him, featured somewhere in the future of the series. Jed shows he is adventurous going to a new country but that he dearly loves and will miss his family and their love. There are some quite poignant, emotional moments within this book. One is the moment when Jed thinks back to the old barn window he broke when he was younger and the punishment his father gave him was to fix the window. Jed did fix it, just not with glass. He found a tin can and flattened it our filling the gap the glass breaking had created.
I loved reading this book and can’t wait to read even more of it soon! I really liked the mix of the society and cultures. I could go on and on about this book! Oh wow! what a place to end! What a cliff hanger! loved it, loved it, loved it! I want to read more... much more of this series.