Friday, 29 April 2016

REVIEW: Here Be Dragons by Sarah Mussi

Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Vertebrate Publishing
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: September 1st 2015
Buy The Book: Amazon UK

Ellie Morgan wants a boy who’s all hers. Just for once, it would be nice to meet someone that Sheila the cow hadn't got her claws in to.

A remote farmhouse on Mount Snowdon is hardly the ideal setting for meeting anyone – unless, of course, you count her best friend George or creepy Darren (which Ellie doesn’t). But when a boy, glimpsed through the mist and snow, lures her up to the Devil's Bridge, Ellie realises the place she knows so well still has its secrets ...

The stronger her feelings for this strange boy become, the more she is in danger: a battle as old as Snowdon itself has been raging for centuries and now Ellie’s caught in the middle.

Something has left its lair.

It’s out there stalking her.

Who ever said true love was easy?

My Thoughts:
I adore Mount Snowdon. It’s one of my favourite places. (I climbed it two years ago and it was the most beautiful experience ever.) So imagine how excited I was to read a YA story set on the mountain itself! Here Be Dragons is an exciting mixture of mythology and romance, following Ellie as she discovers a strange boy on the mountain. Curious to learn more about him, she ignores his warnings to forget about meeting him. As their connection grows and Ellie find out more about his life, she becomes determined to free him from the difficult situation he’s trapped in. 

Ellie was such a fun protagonist and I loved her witty comments throughout the story. She had a chatty way of narrating that made her relatable and endearing. The texts between Ellie and her friends were really fun. Rhiannon and Shelia are very different from each other, so I enjoyed seeing the contrast in the style of their texts. It was a bit of a shame that Shelia had to be a catty character, always trying to steal boys from other girls. I actually felt a little sorry for her, and I’m keen to know if there’s more to her character than what this first books allows us to see.

When Ellie meets Henry and they get to spend more time together, I enjoyed the conversations that happened between them. They do seem to bond rather quickly, but it’s not all smooth sailing for the two of them. I look forward to seeing how things move forward after that ending!

I’ll admit that Ellie’s best friend, George, was completely my favourite. As intriguing and lovely as Henry was, I know which guy I’d choose if I was in Ellie’s situation. He was just full of wit and enthusiasm, not to mention he was willing to do literally anything in order to keep Ellie safe. I couldn’t help but find him utterly adorable. I don’t exactly blame Rhiannon for constantly trying her luck with him! 

The best aspect of this story for me was the plot itself. I was drawn in by the history and the mythology of the mountain and its dragons. Learning the legends was fascinating, and I loved the modern and romantic twists added into it for the sake of this story. It’s gotten me excited to learn more. The setting was also awesomely epic and vividly described. I felt like I was up on that mountain with Ellie most of the time. 

This was a thrilling read that got more and more action packed as it reached the end. I’m eager to see what this world has in store for these characters next!

Royal Rating:

  

Thursday, 21 April 2016

COVER REVEAL: Shadow by Christi J. Whitney

Hey everyone! Today I'm excited to share with you the gorgeous cover for SHADOW by the awesome Christi J. Whitney!


Isn't it beautiful? This is the second book in the The Romany Outcasts series, and it's due to be released this June. Be sure to check out my recent interview with Christi here, and read the blurb for the book below!
The second volume in this incredible YA trilogy.

When stone hearts break they shatter.

Sebastian Grey used to be a normal teenager. Now he’s a creature whose sole purpose is to be a guardian for secretive gypsy clans.

When the Romany gypsies claim him, Sebastian is given a second chance to protect Josephine Romany – the girl he loves. But some clan members would rather see a gargoyle in a cage than have one by their sides.

If Sebastian is to keep Josephine safe from the shadow creatures attacking her people, he might have to embrace his changes. Even if that means choosing between his humanity and becoming the monster everyone believes him to be.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

REVIEW: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

Pages: 322
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Release Date: February 25th 2016
Buy The Book: Amazon UK

I was brave
She was reckless
We were trouble


Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.
  

My Thoughts:
I feel like I’ve been waiting to read a story like this one for a while. A YA novel that is purely focused on the importance of platonic female friendships. I was already majorly excited before I even turned to the first page. 

This story follows protagonist Caddy as she approaches the age of sixteen. At the start of the book she talks about how she feels to be reaching this age without having experienced any Significant Life Events. (Something I remember thinking about a lot at that age, so I was relating to Caddy merely six pages in!) So she wants to do something exciting, she wants some sort of turning point to happen in her life. Little does she know she’s about to get just that, only not in the way she ever expected. 

She and her best friend Rosie go to separate schools. Rosie is in a mixed high school; Caddy attends a private all-girls school. Despite this, they’ve managed to remain the very best of friends throughout the years. Then Suzanne arrives as a new girl at Rosie’s school and the friendship dynamics soon begin to change. Caddy fears that her and Rosie’s friendship may begin to drift apart as Rosie spends more and more time with Suzanne. But as the story progresses, Caddy discovers more about Suzanne’s past, and the pair begin to bond. 

The characters in this book are so beautifully written and utterly believable. I adored the contrast between Caddy and Suzanne, both having completely different upbringings and home lives. The dialogue between the girls was great; funny at times, but heartfelt when it needed to be. I highly enjoyed the night-time conversations between the two of them. 

The plot was perfectly paced and never rushed over any details. I enjoyed slowly discovering more about Suzanne’s past as the story progressed and seeing how it affected her in different ways. Whilst this particular story is fictional, there are all too many teenagers that have suffered the same situations as Suzanne, and this book touched upon them sensitively but without sugar-coating anything. That is one of the reasons why this is such an important YA story. 

As much as I wanted things to work out happily, I knew that trouble was brewing. Suzanne is dealing with a lot of problems that Caddy doesn’t fully understand, and whilst she tries to help Suzanne through it to the best of her ability, sometimes she’s not aware of what is best for her friend. Seeing Caddy’s willingness to defend and protect Suzanne was touching and demonstrated just how important friendships can be. This is one of those rare novels that shows how romantic relationships during teen years are fleeting, but friends are there to see you through not just the fun times, but the painfully hard times as well. These are characters that stay with you long after putting this book down.

Special thanks to Maximum Pop! Books for sending out a copy of the book! Discover what more readers had to say here.

Royal Rating:

Friday, 8 April 2016

REVIEW: Race Girl by Leigh Hutton

Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Series: The Go Girls Chronicles #3
Genre: Romance, Sports
Release Date: April 3rd 2016
Buy The Book: Amazon - Amazon UK

Fresh on the heels of Michelle Payne’s historic Melbourne Cup win, comes a blockbuster Australian story about a Queensland girl and the ‘race that stops a nation’ . . .

Tully Athens has always dreamed of following in the footsteps of her hero Michelle Payne. Of living up to the Athens name and becoming the third generation of women from her family to rule the track. But Tully’s never been sure she’s got the nerve, and when her mother is killed in a horse racing accident, her whole world is shattered.

Six months later, in the heat of a Queensland summer, sixteen-year-old Tully is ready to face her fears. But getting back in the saddle leads to a whole lot more than she bargained for, with an out of control crush on the boy from their rival thoroughbred farm – the gorgeous but cocky larrikin Brandon Weston – and a forgotten filly with stardom in her eyes . . .

When faced with the most difficult decision of her life, will Tully choose to train and race her new filly in Melbourne? Or will she sacrifice it all to fight for love on the land that feeds her soul?

It’s only when tragedy rips everything from her that Tully finds a strength and courage she never knew she had, in this action-packed novel of passion, adventure and determination.

RACE GIRL is the highly anticipated third book in The Go Girls Chronicles - bestselling stories of gutsy girls in action sports, by Leigh Hutton!

*A PORTION OF EVERY #RaceGirl book sold goes to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, and to horse-welfare charity, Equine Action Qld*

My Thoughts:
Tully’s life hasn’t been the same since her mother tragically died during a horse racing accident, and her father has forbidden her from riding competitively for fear she could also end up injured or worse. However, she and her father are strapped for cash and the Weston family want to buy their property, Avalon Downs. Then Tully ends up getting a deal on Dahlia, a young horse in need of some serious TLC. If Tully can save Dahlia, then Dahlia might just be able to save Tully and her father in return. 

This is the third book in Leigh’s The Go Girls Chronicles series and after highly enjoying the first two, I was much looking forward to reading this latest edition. I wasn’t disappointed. Leigh has a wonderful way of telling a story that utterly draws you in and makes every moment believable. 

I adored how this story made references to the other books in this series, Rev Girl and Jump Girl. The scene in the hospital in which Tully gets to meet Clover was so awesome because I loved reading Clover’s story and to get a little update on her was great!

The characters in this book are beautifully written. Tully is a strong and determined protagonist, and I loved getting to see her grow and develop throughout the course of the story. Her passion for the horses and for racing was touching, as was her willingness to do whatever she could to save Avalon Downs. 

She meets and starts to fall for the gorgeous Brandon Weston, but being a Weston makes him forbidden fruit for Tully, so their relationship has challenges from the very start. This was an interesting aspect of the story and I enjoyed seeing how it affected these two characters. The chemistry between them is undeniable and the scenes that they shared were excited to read. 

All of the various relationships within this book were interesting to learn about. There were touching but also heart-breaking scenes between Tully and her father. Their relationship is tested over the course of the story and I was rooting for them to work things out for themselves and their life at Avalon Downs. I also highly enjoyed Tully’s friendship with Tam. The two girls had some hilarious moments and I loved the dialogue between them.

Race Girl is fast paced throughout with some epic racing scenes that will leave you on edge! The story was wrapped up in a perfectly satisfying conclusion that left me with a huge smile on my face, and it has definitely made me excited for the upcoming stories that this series has to offer.
 
Royal Rating:

 

Monday, 4 April 2016

BOOK BLITZ: Race Girl by Leigh Hutton





Race Girl
Leigh Hutton
Series: The Go Girls Chronicles #3
Publication date: April 3rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Fresh on the heels of Michelle Payne’s historic Melbourne Cup win, comes a blockbuster Australian story about a Queensland girl and the ‘race that stops a nation’ . . .

Tully Athens has always dreamed of following in the footsteps of her hero Michelle Payne. Of living up to the Athens name and becoming the third generation of women from her family to rule the track. But Tully’s never been sure she’s got the nerve, and when her mother is killed in a racing accident, her whole world is shattered.

Six months later, in the heat of a Queensland summer, sixteen-year-old Tully is ready to face her fears. But getting back in the saddle leads to a whole lot more than she bargained for, with an out of control crush on the boy from their rival thoroughbred farm – the gorgeous but cocky larrikin Brandon Weston – and a forgotten filly with stardom in her eyes . . .

When faced with the most difficult decision of her life, will Tully choose to train and race her new filly in Melbourne? Or will she sacrifice it all to fight for love on the land that feeds her soul?

It’s only when tragedy rips everything from her that Tully finds a strength and courage she never knew she had, in this action-packed novel of passion, adventure and determination.

RACE GIRL is the highly anticipated third book in The Go Girls Chronicles – bestselling stories of gutsy girls in action sports, by Leigh Hutton!

*A PORTION OF EVERY #RaceGirl book sold goes to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, and to horse-welfare charity, Equine Action Qld*


EXCERPT:

Tully scanned the shadows as she reached the shimmering water. He didn’t turn up . . . She thought with a stab of panic. He’s playing me!

I’m an idiot!!

She’d spun around, ready to bolt back to the house, when a rustling in the tall, dead grass around the jetty made her heart stop. Bear bounded out, barking and grinning like mad.

OMG!

‘Shhhh, mate—please!’ Tully whispered, cursing herself for forgetting to pull the wooden back door shut when she’d left the house. Tully scooped up the warm, wriggling body, rushing down the slope to the bank of the wide dam where she prayed they’d be out of sight from the house or the cottage on the far side of the track. She collapsed on the bank, cradling Bear in her lap, her arms wrapped around him.

‘Nice dog,’ a deep, rough voice said from behind her.

‘Holy—sit!’ Tully grabbed the front of Brandon’s T-shirt and pulled him down next to her. Bear leapt up, licking his face.

‘Whoa, whoa!’ He chuckled, leaning down to help Tully contain Bear in her lap. ‘I was hoping for that kind of reception from her—’ he nodded down at Tully.

‘God, shush!’ Tully pushed her face against Bear’s smooth head, her eyes drifting across the sparkling dam to the violet outline of the mountains, and up into the silver diamonds – bright and full across the sky. Tully took a long breath to calm her thumping heart, when suddenly her whole body was swirling like wonderland – her mind lost, struggling to comprehend what that rich-wonderful-earthy-soapy-manly-scent could possibly be. Oh, she realised, opening her mouth so she could block off her nostrils. Him; of course he’s got the best cologne . . .

Just get down to business . . . ‘So,’ Tully said, clutching to Bear’s smooth body. ‘Brandon, did you know your dad’s trying to buy our farm out from under us?’




Author Bio:
Leigh Hutton is a former Courier-Mail journalist, dirt bike racer and horse show jumper. Leigh was born in Canada and lives on rural property in southeast Queensland, Australia, with her husband and three young children. When she isn’t writing, managing the relocation and restoration of historic ‘Queenslander’ homes, wrangling the kids or swilling coffee, she loves to read, watch smart TV and movies, ride her motorbike and daydream about gorgeous horses. Her family spell racehorses at their property and making friends with each one is also a favourite pastime of Leigh and her children. Leigh is especially passionate about promoting the growing number of girls and women in all action and equestrian sports, and is thrilled to be drawing on her experiences to bring you the exciting novels of The Go Girls Chronicles . . .

Book one, REV GIRL, OUT NOW!

Book two, JUMP GIRL, OUT NOW!

Book three, RACE GIRL, out April 3rd, 2016!

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