Monday, 15 January 2018

REVIEW - THE BUTCHERS - BREEDERS SERIES BY KATIE FRENCH

Title: The Butchers
Series: Breeders Series
Author: Katie French
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Release Date: 9th December 2017

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I’m not a mother. I never will be. But when my adopted daughter, Mo, turns sick, I’ll do anything to save her. That includes going back to the very people who want to use her to as a living science experiment. With Clay, Auntie, and Ethan at my side, I know we can save her. But when we come up against the most barbaric group we’ve ever encountered, all our lives are forfeit. Can I save Mo? Can I save anyone?


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REVIEW
As soon as I realised that this book was available I knew I just had to read it as soon as possible, even though I'm feeling sad to think its the final book and the end of The Breeders Series.

The cover matches the rest in the newer covers series very well, meaning they'll look fantastic on a bookshelf! I'd say the face featured on this book is most likely one of the new characters we meet in the book. I would say it is a good likeness to the description of Desdemona, or Desi for short. A brilliant character! 

For genres this book falls into I would say Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Fantasy and Post Apocalyptic with a little genetics thrown in too! I think it should appeal to a wide variety of people from teens upwards. I am definitely not in the YA/Teen category but I have absolutely loved reading this brilliant, brilliant series.

At the very beginning of the book there is a section that recaps what has happened to the characters so far which I really enjoyed. I had remembered the books quite well but a section to refresh your memory is really good and it certainly pulls you right back into the book which picks up straight after the ending of the last book.

The butchers begins with Riley trying to patiently teach Mo her letters but Mo then has some sort of fit or seizure. These seizures have been happening more and more often as well as lasting longer each time too. Everyone around Riley can clearly see that Mo is ill and possibly even dying but she refuses to accept the probability. Riley has been through a lot and having the possibility of ever having any children has had its emotional toll on her and she has become so attached to Mo as if the half human, half creature is her own daughter.
It is decided that they desperately need to get help for Mo even though it may be a dangerous journey. After a discussion they realise the only people that may have the facilities and medical supplies are Nessa Vandewater or Corra. So its a case of which is the lesser evil....they decide on Corra and that they'll escape with Mo when she is well again. 
Whilst searching for fuel to enable them to travel to Corra, Riley, Clay and Ethan come across a fuel station that has been burnt out. They also discover a family tied up and burnt to death. This is the first inkling and distance connection they have with the new tough men who call themselves "The Butchers".  It is Ethan that finally finds some horses they presume belonged to the burnt family that they can use to get to Corra.

When they do contact Corra she agrees to help, keen to get her hands on Mo again but says she will only help if Clay stays away, she will not allow him into the bunker at all. So Clay and Auntie are directed to a "safe" place that is in an old fairground/theme park. It's here that Clay meets what he thinks is a young man possibly a bender. When Clay has to fight a couple of the Butchers scouts, it is the young male with a crossbow that helps him defeat them. 

In the meantime knowing the Butchers Scouts are heading for Clay, Riley borrows a solar car and goes to help Clay and Auntie. Clay, Auntie and the mystery young make all go back to the bunker. Doc gives Riley some sort of injection supposedly to help her relax and sleep. It's whilst she is asleep that things go wrong. A member of her family group actually betrays her and it cuts her very deeply. It is Betsy who explains what has happened, when Riley finally wakes up.

There's so much going on in this book. Clay and Riley meet the hardest group of survivors they have ever met, The Butchers. The Butchers are a groups of heavily tattoed, bald men who are collecting women, girls and medical supplies and the people to use them. These men are brutal and there's no second chances with them. The Butchers live in what is described as a stone fortress. In an attempt to defeat them, Riley and Clay's group will have to infiltrate The Butchers and their home and attempt to overthrow their leader.

There is still a very taught tension between Clay and Doc. Doc is a bender who does look a lot like a girl but he wants to be treat as a male, and is in love with Riley. However Riley only has eyes for Clay. Her heart and soul are in love with Clay. Clay is the love of Riley's life, whereas Doc is her best friend. The two males do end up coming to some sort of truce in this book, where Doc does something that Riley finds hard to believe let alone forgive. Clay tries to look at things from Doc's point of view and does end up feeling a little empathy but he certainly is not giving up on his relationship with Riley to make Doc feel better. Though Clay does attempt to speak up on Doc's behalf a little when Riley refuses to speak to him. 

Clay and Riley have to come face to face with Nessa, Clay's mum once again. Nessa isn't in great shape as she has had a visit by the butchers so all her female subjects have been taken away along with her equipment. Nessa has been badly injured but its the fact she seems even more unhinged than ever. So much so she wants to destroy all records of her work and if she can take some people down with her she will do that too.

Characters I loved were of course were Riley and Clay, but I also loved Auntie and Ethan. Ethan does a lot of growing up in this one. He really looks up tp Clay who continues to treat him like a younger brother yet is willing to teach him to fight, use guns etc whereas Riley seems, quite naturally to want to keep Ethan protected and safe. She doesn't want him to see all the horrors of the world they live in. Betsy is a bit of a surprise in this book, though she still speaks in rhyme and is always giving Clay those puppy dog eyes, she actually comes through and is a big help at one point in the book. People seem to disregard Betsy as "not all there" or "away with the fairies" but she actually listens much more than anyone thinks she does.

New characters I loved were Desdemona, another female who is as tough as Riley and can fight. Desdemona has never been in the Breeders program so doesn't have the ankh tattoo that Riley has. Desdemona joins in the fighting and is part of the group that infiltrate the butchers stone fortress in an attempt to rid the world of the butchers leader Barrage. At one point in the book Barrage shows how evil he is in his attempt to make Riley reveal the whereabouts of Mo. Barrage wants Mo so he can use her blood/DNA to find the formula that has made her mature faster in the hopes of using that to create himself a strong army. Barrage basically wants to rule whats left of the world.

There are more women rescued that become part of Clay and Riley's group that Clay feels he has to protect. I thought that the Nanny Grace was a similar tough, smart, forthright character, like Auntie. Nanny Grace tries her best to look after the other two females with her. Nanny Grace tries her best to shield the young girl Sissy from the horrors of the world around them, rather like Riley with Ethan. 

I could seriously go on and on about this book but I don't want to spoil the reading experience for everyone. Lets just say this book is so super action packed. The Butcher's really keeps you at the edge of your seat with lots of nail biting scenes. There are also some poignant scenes that have you sniffling and reaching for the tissues, specifically a certain scene with Riley and Mo. There's lots of ends tied up in this book, but I would still love even more. We met some new characters in this book and it seems such a shame to be saying goodbye to them already. 

I have honestly loved this series from the first word to the last! Now I need to find another fantastic dystopian/post apocalyptic series to read. I'm sure this series will remain one of my favourite ones that I will always recommend to fellow book lovers. This series is a must read!

My immediate thoughts at the end of this book were, Wow! I love, love, loved it! . . . but that's the end!  

Thursday, 11 January 2018

REVIEW - FINAL 7 - CELL 7 TRILOGY BY KERRY DREWERY

Described as "The electric and heart stopping finale to Cell 7 and Day 7"

Title: Final 7
Series: Cell 7 Trilogy
Author: Kerry Drewery
Genre: Sci-Fi, Teen, Fantasy
Publisher: Hot Key Books, Bonnier Zaffre
Release Date: 11th January 2018

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Martha and Isaac have escaped, but are now on the run - the government has branded them rebels and a danger to the public. Despite the rewards being offered for turning them in, Martha and her friends are safe in The Rises, the area of the city full of the poor and the powerless. But then the Prime Minister orders a wall to be built around The Rises. Is it for the the safety or the poor - or is it to imprison them? Martha needs to act, and to act fast, in a tale of breathtaking treachery that reaches right to the heart of government...


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REVIEW
I had mixed feelings about reading this book, on one hand I really really couldn't wait to read it, yet at the same time I also didn't want the story to come to an end. I was really looking forward to catching up with Martha and Isaac after the ending of Day 7. In fact my immediate thoughts as I finished reading Day 7 were: Could there be a book three? Please tell me there's more to come from this dystopian/futuristic society? There's so much more, there has to be!

In keeping with the rest of the series this cover has The backdrop of the cover is a brick wall which fits well with the theme of incarceration the focal point of the cover is as eye-catching as Cell 7, and Day 7, though this time the colour is red. In the centre of the "eye" or maybe a "camera lens" though in this book it could also represent the idea of a target because the “Rises 7” are all wanted felons in this book Then there is the tree again, which I would say represents the tree Martha used to try to catch a glimpse of during her incarceration. The tree with the bird flying away from it is once again prominently featured, and I still think that maybe the tree represents the growth of something? Perhaps a banding together of those against this present justice system. The bird may represent hope and freedom. I’m looking forward to finding out more in this final installment of the Cell 7 Trilogy.

The genres I have seen listed for this book are YA, Sci-Fi & Fantasy & Teen. I totally agree that this book fits all those categories but I personally would also add dystopian and futuristic too. I should also confess to most certainly not falling into the category of being a Teen or Young Adult either but I have truly loved reading this brilliant book series.

This book starts with a prologue kind of refreshing your memory to where you are within the book series. It all begins with Martha panicking as to whether Isaac is breathing or not, she can hardly see through the tears in her eyes and her hands are sticky with blood. Gus is with Martha and he places his hand on Isaac's chest and tells Martha that Isaac is breathing. The car they are travelling in is hurtling towards the boundary between "the haves" in the city and the "have not's" in the rises. As they approach this once, invisible boundary they notice lots of lorries ahead and what looks like some sort of wall being constructed. Though at the time they don't know what to think about it. Martha quietly murmurs wondering what it is for, To keep us out? Control us? Then whispers Berlin, Israel, Belfast, Korea and Gus replies "And now London"

I really enjoy how the chapters vary from being from the point of view of the different characters such as Martha, Max, Eve, Cicero and the TV broadcasters too. It makes the book feel fast paced and you feel you are there watching the broadcasts that are churning out the stories as the government wants people to see them. Martha Honeydew, Isaac Paige, Eve & Max Stanton, Ex-Judge Thomas Cicero, Ex-presenter Jerome Decker and Gus Evans are being labelled as terrorists and the media has given them the name of the "Rises Seven". Martha is still being blamed for planting a bomb at the old TV Studio's and it keeps being reported if Patty Paige dies, Martha will be back on death row. The show, Death Is Justice is still being produced and the prisoners are now being kept at The Old Bailey. It's certainly a case of the "show must go on" with Joshua out of favour its out with the old and in with new. So the new presenters are Kristina Albright always in her pristine suits and immaculate looking and is now the main studio presenter. Then there's Gerome Sharp, the man "on the scene" or within the scene and part of it in this book, There's a few times Gerome finds himself in a predicament being in close quarters to prisoners and at the receiving ends of items being thrown! Throughout quite a lot of the book, the general public are led to believe that Martha is in fact in prison. So Martha spends lots of her time being afraid of being discovered and having to use various disguises such as a large hood and even a wig at one point. Martha, Isaac and Gus were helped to escape by a "mystery" woman who is very pivotal in this book as she has inside information that helps the "Rises Seven" And mostly Martha gather documents needed to reveal all the underhand deals and the biased trials the government have been a part of. The government and Prime Minister Rennard show what they think of the people living in the Rises by contructing a wall and staffing it, so that all those that live in the Rises but work elsewhere have to have a pass to get out of the Rises to get to their jobs. Things rapidly become worse until only the privileged few with special passes are allowed through the wall border. It is lucky for Martha she seems to have help from such a high ranking person and that means she can get in and out of the Rises. Not that it easy, as she has to disguise herself. 

In this final book the whole voting on who lives and dies escalates even more than in the other books. As the "Studio" is moved to the Old Bailey that is a historical building as it is where those sentenced to death were kept years and years before. Gerome Sharp loves going on about historical cases, and what it must have been like to walk along the corridor called "Dead mans walk". He goes into great detail about a section of the corridor that is open to the elements above being where those in the olden days would gather to pelt the convicted with rotten fruit and vegetables!

Among my favourite characters in this book were Eve, especially the very last scene she is in. (It will make sense when you read the book). We do see a totally different more cunning and sly side to Max in this book too. He goes through a phase of not knowing who to trust or what to do to attempt to help his mother gain her freedom. We also learn in this book that though they haven't initially told each other that Eve and Cicero are in love with each other. 
Of course I love the character of Martha who once again shows her bravery, though she probably would see it as that. Martha has to put trust into a mystery woman who seems to want to help her and the Rises Seven clear their names and change the whole justice system. Though what is in it for the mystery woman? Does she stand to gain anything? Or could it all be some bizarre trap.

In Final 7 we see the general public living in the Rises banding together to support someone that has helped many of them. It is these people from the Rises that together with some of the city people finally see clearly at what is wrong with their current justice system. Martha manages to provide documents that make them think about what they have been led to believe currently and in the past. There really is strength in numbers in Final 7.

I really don't want to go into the plot in more detail as I think that would spoil the reading experience of others. Just be prepared with the tissues as there were a couple of parts that had me tearing up. There is love, sadness, loss, family, the kindness of strangers and the betrayals of those once thought to be so reliable. There really is so much packed into this book I absolutely hated having to put it down. In  fact I ended up reading the book in just three reading sessions. One of the things most disturbing about this book is that it isn't all that much of a big leap away from our present reality. There's so much reality TV these days, and there always has been a fascination with courtroom drama and serial killers etc. It doesn't take that much imagination to visualise the plot and contents of this book happening in our near future at all!

My immediate thoughts upon finishing reading this book were . . . wow! . . . only one word needed to describe this book and the same word to describe the whole series. . . brilliant!

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

BLOG TOUR - BETWEEN THE BLADE AND THE HEART BY AMANDA HOCKING

Described as Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin's Valkyries, Malin's greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.

Title: Between The Blade And The Heart
Series: Valkyrie
Author: Amanda Hocking
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Mythology
Publisher: St Martins Press
Release Date: 2nd January 2018

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Valkyries have one great responsibility: to return immortals to the afterlife by slaying them. As a Valkyrie, Malin has always known that the balance of the world rests on her ability to carry out orders. But when Malin discovers that her mother spared the life of an immortal who was destined to die, her world is thrown into chaos. 

Malin not only wrestles with the knowledge that her mother might not be who she thought—she’s also thrust into the path of a gorgeous blue eyed guy named Asher who needs her help slaying the rogue immortal who destroyed his family. The balance of the world is at stake. And, as Asher competes with Malin’s ex for her love and loyalty, so is her heart.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

Social Links
Author Website 
Twitter 
Facebook 

EXCERPT
ONE
The air reeked of fermented fish and rotten fruit, thanks to the overflowing dumpster from the restaurant behind us. The polluted alley felt narrow and claustrophobic, sandwiched between skyscrapers.
In the city, it was never quiet or peaceful, even at three in the morning. There were more than thirty million humans and supernatural beings coexisting, living on top of each other. It was the only life I’d ever really known, but the noise of the congestion grated on me tonight.
My eyes were locked on the flickering neon lights of the gambling parlor across the street. The u in Shibuya had gone out, so the sign flashed SHIB YA at me.
The sword sheathed at my side felt heavy, and my body felt restless and electric. I couldn’t keep from fidgeting and cracked my knuckles.
“He’ll be here soon,” my mother, Marlow, assured me. She leaned back against the brick wall beside me, casually eating large jackfruit seeds from a brown paper sack. Always bring a snack on a stakeout was one of her first lessons, but I was far too nervous and excited to eat.
The thick cowl of her frayed black sweater had been pulled up like a hood, covering her cropped blond hair from the icy mist that fell on us. Her tall leather boots only went to her calf, thanks to her long legs. Her style tended to be monochromatic—black on black on black—aside from the shock of dark red lipstick.
My mother was only a few years shy of her fiftieth birthday, with almost thirty years of experience working as a Valkyrie, and she was still as strong and vital as ever. On her hip, her sword Mördare glowed a dull red through its sheath.
The sword of the Valkyries was one that appeared as if it had been broken in half—its blade only a foot long before stopping at a sharp angle. Mördare’s blade was several thousand years old, forged in fires to look like red glass that would glow when the time was nigh.
My sword was called Sigrún, a present on my eighteenth birthday from Marlow. It was a bit shorter than Mördare, with a thicker blade, so it appeared stubby and fat. The handle was black utilitarian, a replacement that my mom had had custom-­made from an army supply store, to match her own.
The ancient blade appeared almost black, but as it grew closer to its target, it would glow a vibrant purple. For the past hour that we’d been waiting on our stakeout, Sigrún had been glowing dully on my hip.
The mist grew heavier, soaking my long black hair. I kept the left side of my head shaved, parting my hair over to the right, and my scalp should’ve been freezing from the cold, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel anything.
It had begun—the instinct of the Valkyrie, pushing aside my humanity to become a weapon. When the Valkyrie in me took over, I was little more than a scythe for the Grim Reaper of the gods.
“He’s coming,” Marlow said behind me, but I already knew.
The world fell into hyperfocus, and I could see every droplet of rain as it splashed toward the ground. Every sound echoed through me, from the bird flapping its wings a block away, to the club door as it groaned open.
Eleazar Bélanger stumbled out, his heavy feet clomping in the puddles. He was chubby and short, barely over four feet tall, and he would’ve appeared to be an average middle-­aged man if it wasn’t for the two knobby horns that stuck out on either side of his forehead. Graying tufts of black hair stuck out from under a bright red cap, and as he walked ahead, he had a noticeable limp favoring his right leg.
He was a Trasgu, a troublemaking goblin, and his appearance belied the strength and cunning that lurked within him. He was over three hundred years old, and today would be the day he died.
I waited in the shadows of the alley for him to cross the street. A coughing fit caused him to double over, and he braced himself against the brick wall.
I approached him quietly—this all went easier when they didn’t have time to prepare. He took off his hat to use it to wipe the snot from his nose, and when he looked up at me, his green eyes flashed with understanding.
“It’s you,” Eleazar said in a weak, craggy voice. We’d never met, and I doubt he’d ever seen me before, but he recognized me, the way they all did when their time was up.
“Eleazar Bélanger, you have been chosen to die,” I said, reciting my script, the words automatic and cold on my lips. “It is my duty to return you to the darkness from whence you came.”
“No, wait!” He held up his pudgy hands at me. “I have money. I can pay you. We can work this out.”
“This is not my decision to make,” I said as I pulled the sword from my sheath.
His eyes widened as he realized I couldn’t be bargained with. For a moment I thought he might just accept his fate, but they rarely did. He bowed his head and ran at me like a goat. He was stronger than he looked and caused me to stumble back a step, but he didn’t have anywhere to go.
My mother stood blocking the mouth of the alley, in case I needed her. Eleazar tried to run toward the other end, but his leg slowed him, and I easily overtook him. Using the handle of my sword, I cracked him on the back of the skull, and he fell to the ground on his knees.
Sigrún glowed brightly, with light shining out from it and causing the air to glow purple around us. Eleazar mumbled a prayer to the Vanir gods. I held the sword with both hands, and I struck it across his neck, decapitating him.
And then, finally, the electricity that had filled my body, making my muscles quiver and my bones ache, left me, and I breathed in deeply. The corpse of an immortal goblin lay in a puddle at my feet, and I felt nothing but relief.
“It was a good return,” my mother said, and put her hand on my shoulder. “You did well, Malin.”

Copyright © 2018 by Amanda Hocking in Between the Blade and the Heart and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.



Friday, 5 January 2018

REVIEW - BLOOM - THORN TATTOO STUDIO BY LESLIE NORTH

Title: Bloom
Series: Thorn Tattoo Studio
Author: Leslie North
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Release Date: 22nd August 2017

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From the boardroom to the bedroom, Antonio DeRose is a man who always gets what he wants. And Antonio wants Evie. 

Antonio took a risk when he purchased Bloom Tattoo. The studio is a “fixer-upper” that could pay off in spades...or cost him Thorn, the family’s studio. He knows the key lies in making Evie Stuart, the tattooed sex kitten, head artist. He can see that beyond her beauty, that the fiery girl has some serious brains too. 

Evie, on the other hand, is more than happy to continue being a tattoo artist. She likes being free to follow the wild creativity of her imagination without risking the livelihoods of other artists. Because even though Evie can’t stop thinking about his scorching touch, she has no desire to share a boardroom with him. 

While pride brings them together it’s their shared desire that has them entangled. At first, Evie thinks that their head banging sex will keep her career change at bay—but when their shared passion begins to bleed over into the business, can either pull away from their love without losing everything? Or will they finally realize that you really can have it all?


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REVIEW
After reading Rose and Thorn I couldn't possibly not go straight on to read the third and final Thorn Studio book, Bloom.

This cover once again is dominated by a hunky but more sparsely tatooed male. This time the male is clean shaven and is the final DeRose brother. This time the font is in a light blue colour. I have to say the covers of the Thorn Tattoo Studio are done in a cohesive way and fit very well together. I think they would look great together on a book shelf.

The book is once again set around the family owned Tattoo studio previously owned by the patriarch of the DeRose family, then when he passes the business is run by the three brothers. The youngest brother is Giovanni DeRose who found love in bk1 Rose. The middle brother Luciano who lived to travel around to conventions and guest tattoo at other studio's, his story was told in Thorn. This book is the centred on the oldest and possibly quietest brother who would probably be perceived as the serious or even boring brother.

Once again continuing the theme of for every hunky tattooed DeRose brother there is a feisty yet secretive woman on hand to tame them and fall in love with them. This time the feisty female is Evie who herself is a rather talented tattooist. Antonio DeRose presents a serious all business attitude but can't help looking over the cute tatooist he thinks should be made head tattooist of Bloom. However Evie has her own secret reason in her past that is the reason she will do anything to avoid the job. Evie ends up being the spokesperson for the rest of the tattooists that worked together when the studio was called Richochet, which makes Antonio all the more determined that she is the right person for the head artist job. Evie has noticed how Antonio's gaze lingers on her and her figure even though she wears clothes that cover her up and tend to hide her shape. Evie decides to use this to her advantage as if she and Antonio are in a relationship or having a fling it would be perceived as favouritism if she were head artist. So things certainly don't run very smoothly for Evie and Antonio. 

I loved Evie in this book. When you find out her secret that is preventing her committing to being the head tattooist your heart really does sink for her and it makes her refusal completely understandable. I think Evie and Antonio have quite a few reservations about their prospective relationship, both are a little afraid to commit, and have a fear of being hurt. So its totally believable that their relationship has lots of hills and troughs to go through before they come to any sort of understanding of each other.
I feel I should also admit that during the other two books I honestly didn't like Antonio much, he seemed like the stuck up brother who was only interested in the profit margins for the tattoo studios. Though he shows he has a softer, more creative side too. He can also tattoo but as he is more business minded and has a knack for investing he chooses to be the "brains behind the brawn".

Again I have read reviews that have complained about these books being very similar. I readily admit that I found that this book does have similarities with Rose and Thorn but once again I would put this down to the main characters being three brothers. It also has a very similar romantic theme throughout the series that some could say is made up of the same formula. I would say that is also true but as a series there need to be certain similarities running through each book to keep the books as a cohesive set. The only negatives I had were the cover could have depicted Antonio as the least tattooed brother a little better as at the beginning of Bloom he only has an unfinished tattoo on his back where the cover model has tattoos on his chest and arms. The other negative is its a shame its the last book so not a bad negative! I would love more of the DeRose family (not just the brothers), perhaps we could have the other artists stories, and/or a continuation of the DeRose brothers relationships set a few years in the future.'

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were that this was another great installment in the Thorn Tattoo Series. It's a shame to see the series end. I'm not usually into contemporary romance but I have really enjoyed reading about the DeRose brothers.


Wednesday, 3 January 2018

REVIEW - THORN - THORN TATTOO STUDIO BY LESLIE NORTH

Title: Thorn
Series: Thorn Tattoo Studio
Author: Leslie North
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 22nd August 2017

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Luciano DeRose is looking to get the hell out of town. He’s been absent from his position of Head Artist at Thorn Tattoo since the day he watched his future go up in flames. However, the bonds of family are strong and he’s dragged back into town as a favor to his younger brother. But Luciano isn’t staying for long and certainly not for the anniversary of the day his life went to hell. 

Melanie Noel has spent most of her adult life fixing Luciano’s. She’s his virtual assistant, organizational guru, and problem-solver extraordinaire. However, this ex-hippie chick wants her boss, and secret crush, to see that he can finally move on. Melanie thinks that this anniversary is the perfect time for Luciano to face his grief, let go and finally be free to see what’s been waiting for him all along. 

When Luciano decides to do everything in his power to leave, Melanie sees that she needs more than logic to make him stay. Risking her heart to save the man she’s loved from afar, Melanie gives into her desire for Luciano—sparked by a world-rocking kiss. The heat between them has the power to heal all wounds or it may set both their lives up in flames.


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REVIEW
Quite strangely for me after just having read one contemporary romance genre book which happened to be Rose, the first book in this Thorn Tattoo Studio book by Leslie North I fancied reading the next one straightaway, hoping for more of Giovanni, Riley and the tattooists that work at the Thorn Studio.

Once again this cover is dominated by a strong male with a heavily tattooed torso, this time it is the turn of a different DeRose brother, the one we have heard the least of in Rose, Luciano DeRose. The Title font matches that of Rose but is in and orange/red instead of the green colour. 

The book is set around a family owned Tattoo studio previously owned by the patriarch of the DeRose family, then when he passes the business is run by the three brothers. Oldest brother Antonio DeRose who takes care of the financial side of the business. Middle brother Luciano DeRose who has worked at the Thorn Studio but at the moment is travelling around being a guest artist at conventions, shows and other studios. The last and youngest brother is Giovanni DeRose and he is the brother who runs and works at the Thorn Tattoo Studio along with his new wife..

So this book centres on the ever wandering tattooist brother Luciano. Luciano once thought he had everything and had bought a house ready to settle with the love of his life, Cassandra. Tragically Cassandra is killed in an accident and Luciano has neither faced his loss, nor gotten any where near dealing with it. It's like he is stuck in limbo, only partially living whilst at the same time avoiding Las Vegas where the accident occurred as much as possible. However when his brother Giovanni and his new wife go on tour round various tattoo conventions and guest tattooing rather like he has been doing he is drafted in by the oldest and it seems most level headed DeRose brother, Antonio. Luciano is needed to step in and do tattoo's that Giovanni would be doing if he where there as well as manage the shop. Luciano is much like Giovanni who has no head for financial figures. In  fact at the beginning of the book Luciano has no time for any sort of figures even female ones! He is used to travelling a lot and having his PA Melanie sort out his paperwork and quite literally carry his baggage in her car whilst he travels light on his precious motorbike. Melanie decides its time that Luciano faced up to what he lost and try to get on with his life and she is determined to at first gently push him in that direction and then when he refuses she pushes harder by making deliberate mistakes meaning he has to face people and reality to sort them out. When Luciano realises he is being "played" he sets about an elaborate plan to get Mel to go back to being his buffer between him and reality by faking an email to his brother Antonio suggesting they fire Mel. Instead of sending it to his brother Luciano "accidentally" sends it to Mel!! When he see's Mel's reaction and hoe upset she looks when walking out of Thorn Studio, Luciano is shocked, and then left alone to lick his wounds. It's then he realises how much he depends on Mel and soon misses her being around. Feeling totally sorry for himself around the anniversary of Cassandra's death he goes out drinking and has only one person to call to pick him up . .  he turns to Mel. Will Mel help him? If she does will Luciano apologise for his previous actions.

Though this book series has a central theme of hunky tattooists don't let it put you off. As when you read the series you soon find out for everyone of the hunky, quiet, brooding DeRose brother there is a feisty kick butt female waiting for them to open their eyes and see her and prove themselves worthy of her too. Again I enjoyed the book. There are quite a few of plot similarities between Rose and Thorn but then again they are both romances and the main male characters are brothers so there was bound to be a little repetition wasn't there? The only other fault I could possibly find is there was no Riley or Giovanni in this book!

Immediate thoughts upon finishing this one were that the book had been another enjoyable great read. That in Thorn it had been the turn Luciano DeRose to find love. Also after reading two out of the three book series I just had to read the third and was presuming it would be the turn of Antonio the financially minded DeRose brother to find love and happiness.

Monday, 1 January 2018

REVIEW - ROSE - THORN TATTOO STUDIO BY LESLIE NORTH

Title: Rose
Series: Thorn Tattoo Studio
Author: Leslie North
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 24th July 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Giovanni DeRose only came back to Las Vegas to work with his brothers in the legendary family tattoo studio. Instead, he’s found himself the leader of a sinking ship, thrown together with a gorgeous woman who won’t back down. But with the threat of closure if he doesn’t turn a profit ASAP, working alongside her may be his only option. Gio can do just about anything with his talented hands and bare skin, but this bad boy will need something different if he’s going to save Thorn... 

Riley Bryne is an Irish lass that’s as smooth as whiskey—if you don’t mind the burn that comes along with it. As Thorn’s new co-manager she’s desperate to pull it back into the green to clear her own debt, but her numbers-focused tactics throws her up against her Gio’s art-centered direction. Challenging the tattooed hunk is easy, but stopping herself falling for his smouldering touch? The odds don't look good. 
Riley is business savvy and a little bit bossy—something Giovanni finds frustrating in the studio and hot as hell when he’s got her pinned to their office desk. But if Thorn Tattoo is going to survive they’ll need to combine not just their bodies, but their talents outside the bedroom, too. 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I came across this book by accident when I found Thorn, bk2 & Bloom bk3 pf The Thorn Tattoo Studio Series available on Netgalley. After reading the blurbs for those two books I went on Amazon UK and purchased this book, Rose bk1 in The Thorn Tattoo Studio Series. I don't know about everyone else but I like to swap around the genres I read and was in the mood for a lighter, maybe more romantic read and this series seemed to fit the bill. Although my intention was to read Rose first and then get around to reading the other books later. Leslie North was also an author I hadn't read before and I do enjoy trying out books by authors new to me or even debut authors.

The cover features a rather hunky looking, guy with some neat facial hair and quite an extensive array of tattoo's. The guy has his head tilted downwards which to me suggests he could be a quieter type of guy maybe even a little shy. I love the font of the title "Rose" which after beginning to read the book I presumed came from the Tattooist family name DeRose. I did initially jump to the conclusion that the lead female character must have been called Rose at some point rather than Riley but the source of the title became clearer as the book went on. 

The book is set around a family owned Tattoo studio previously owned by the patriarch of the DeRose family, then when he passes the business is run by the three brothers. Oldest brother Antonio DeRose who takes care of the financial side of the business. Middle brother Luciano DeRose who has worked at the Thorn Studio but at the moment is travelling around being a guest artist at conventions, shows and other studios. The last and youngest brother is Giovanni DeRose and he is the brother this book centres on, he is also the DeRose brother featured on the book cover. The Thorn Studio isn't doing as well as it could. Antonio is sick of bringing up the subject with Giovanni who has no head for figures and financial aspects of the business. So Antonio finally takes matters into his own hands and hires Riley Byrne, a rather bossy young woman of Irish descent to co-manage and take care of the studio front desk, so bookings, taking money, doing the stock checks etc etc. One of the first things Riley does is implement a computer booking system, and look at ways that Thorn Studio can increase its turnover. Giovanni, is set in his ways using an old tattered appointment book and has a more relaxed attitude to timings and such so initially hates the new computerised system. In fact he sets his mind to hate everything Riley suggests such as the courses she wants Giovanni to give. He eventually relents and agrees to do them and takes Riley to see a conference room he has managed to book for the first one that is part of a hotel/casino complex. Its whilst they are there that Giovanni relaxes and as Riley hasn't been in a casino he talks her into letting him show her around. He bets and plays poker well, something we later learn during the other Thorn Studio books that all the DeRose men have a talent for. The Hotel/Casino complex offer Giovanni a complementary suite in the hotel, and that's where sparks fly when cajoled into going to take a look at the suite and its luxuries Giovanni & Riley kiss and . . . .

The character I loved the most in this book was Riley, she was an independant woman and not scared of standing up to the big burly males that frequent a tattoo studio. Riley certainly isn't afraid to stand her ground against Giovanni, and it's one of the first things that attract him to her. Then when he kisses her originally to kind of prove the point that he can, his feelings continue to grow. Giovanni then accidentally discovers Riley's secret and she soon learns what it feels like to be pushed into suggestions you may not be so comfortable with. Rather like the way Riley has been pushing Giovanni into changing the way things run at Thorn Studio. I also like Giovanni, for all his bustle and tough guy image, he soon gives his heart to Riley even if at first he doesn't want to admit it. Passing it off as a bit of fun to begin with. 

I enjoyed reading the book, learning the different characters and names for the tattooists at Thorn Studio. Giovanni being the head tattooist, then the brief appearance of "The News" who soon leaves after his work not being up to the requires standards of the increasingly popular Thorn Studio. There's also characters who use their own "normal" names such as Jaime Ritter, and Ben Mendez who also does piercing at the studio. I'll be totally honest I know very little about tattoo's and tattooists but you really didn't need to in order to thoroughly enjoy this book.

If you are looking for a fairly short, light romantic read, then this could be just the book you are looking for. After finishing reading this book I knew I wanted to read the next one in the series. Which was quite new for me as I usually only read the occasional contemporary and romance book sandwiched in between other genres, but I enjoyed Rose so much I wanted to read more by Leslie North.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this one were that it was different than my usual genre comfort zone. Yes, it has some steamy scenes. I did really enjoy the book. Loved all the different characters within the Thorn Tattoo Studio.