Book Review: Almost Dead by Kaz Delaney

Almost Dead

Title: Almost Dead
Author: Kaz Delaney
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Ghosts, Paranormal, Mystery, Young Adult
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: January 2014
Pages: 400
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Macey’s life has been turned upside down. Her mother has left, her father is absent and her two best friends (her brother Seth and his girlfriend Willow) are MIA. On top of that Macey is being visited by ghosts who need her help to ‘move on’. But as wild as all that sounds, it’s all under Macey’s control until a rakish, good-looking spirit called Nick turns up … in her bedroom!

Nick’s a spirit with spirit who insists he’s not dead, he’s astral travelling and has a message for Macey: someone is out to get her. Macey’s biting wit has got her in trouble before, so she’s not surprised but when the threatening notes start turning up, she’s seriously shaken. Does someone want her dead?

It’s all rather disturbing but she’s finding it hard to focus on who could mean her harm with the annoyingly handsome surf god Finn turning up at the most inopportune times and a father with a rather large surprise of his own.

Is it a case of bad timing? Or are these things somehow connected? And if they are, what on earth should she wear when she’s solving the mystery?

My Review:

Power, love, hate, bad language tears and great shoes. Just another day at RTHS, really…

Macey Pentecost is getting used to seeing ghosts. When the spirit of a cute almost rock star Nick appears in her bedroom, Macey learns that is more than just ghosts out there. Nick isn’t dead. He’s had an accident and is in a coma but feels that he needs to protect Macey from something out there. Threats aside, Macey’s family life is in turmoil. Her mother has abandoned her and her father has some secrets of his own. Lucky for her, Macey meets Finn – surfer god extraordinaire who is willing to help get to the bottom of who is tormenting Macey and just how Nick is connected to it all.

I thought Almost Dead was a fun read. There is mystery, ghosts and romance topped off with plenty of high school drama. Macey is a privileged and feisty seventeen year old (on first impressions, she’s a bit of a mean girl) who has many vulnerabilities deep down. When creepy things start happening to her, she doesn’t run and hide but uses all the resources at her fingertips to try to track down the villain. It took me a while to warm to Macey. She’s blunt and (dare I say) a tad spoilt but after getting into the story and coming to understand her I realized that her frank ways are a defence mechanism. She’s loyal to her friends and (after a while) acts rather maturely in very difficult family circumstances.

The secondary characters are interesting and I liked how they interacted with Macey – I adored how Nick didn’t bow down to Macey and didn’t allow her to dismiss him. Felicity, Finn and Madame Zordastramus all add something extra to the story and I enjoyed getting to know more about them as Macey’s story unfolded. The mystery in this book was great. It’s one that I didn’t see coming till right near the end but once everything was explained it made perfect sense! The supernatural elements of ghosts and spirits was handled with humour and were entertaining to read.

Almost Dead is a companion novel to Dead, Actually (also by Kaz Delaney) and as such shares a setting and many characters but you don’t need to have read Dead, Actually in order to enjoy Almost Dead.

 

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: The Vanishing Moment by Margaret Wild

The Vanishing Moment

Title: The Vanishing Moment
Author: Margaret Wild
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Publication Date: September 2013
Pages: 182
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
A moment. That’s all it takes.
A moment when everything changes…

Arrow is still haunted by a childhood tragedy that shattered her safe, happy world.

Marika is caught up in a nightmare from which there is no escape.

Two girls, dislocated, looking for answers. When they encounter a mysterious ‘magician’, they are tempted by the possibility of a way out…

My Review:

Arrow, Bob and Marika – three very different people whose paths crossed in the small town of Shelly Beach. Each of them have their own personal misfortune which has shaped who they are.

Arrow has finished high school but now has no idea what she wants from life. Her mind keeps taking her back to her childhood and the aftermath of a heartbreaking tragedy. Marika is grieving and can’t find a way to fix something she lost and Bob… well he’s a bit of a mystery. I don’t want to go into too many details and ruin the story.

It’s a short read but a highly enjoyable one. The writing is beautiful and I loved the way Wild managed to capture Arrow and Marika’s emotions as well as the gorgeous way she described Marika’s sculptures. The ending is not one that I was expecting but it was perfectly fitting and beautifully bitter-sweet.

The Vanishing Moment is a lovely novel about the choices we make in life and whether, given the opportunity, we would choose a different path. Interesting character and great writing, I thought this book was thought-provoking and interesting.

 

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review + Giveaway: The Rig by Joe Ducie

The Rig Blog Tour banner

Title: The RigThe Rig
Author: Joe Ducie
Genre: Thriller, Young Adult, Action, Mystery
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: September 2013
Pages: 368
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Fifteen-year-old Will Drake has made a career of breaking out from high-security prisons. His talents have landed him at the Rig, a specialist juvenile holding facility in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. No one can escape from the Rig. No one except for Drake…

After making some escape plans and meeting the first real friends of his life, Drake quickly realises that all is not as it seems on the Rig. The Warden is obsessed with the mysterious Crystal-X – a blue, glowing substance that appears to give superpowers to the teens exposed to it. Drake, Tristan and Irene are banking on a bid for freedom – but can they survive long enough to make it? Drake is an action hero to rival Jason Bourne and the CHERUB team in this debut author’s fantastically imagined sci-fi nightmare.

My Review:

Will Drake has already escaped from three maximum security juvenile detention facilities. But he’s seen nothing like the Rig. Located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean at a former oil rig, it’s not just the conditions that are brutal. With a tracker accounting for each inmates every move and guards who are crueller than the weather – it seems like there’s no escape for Will. But he’s determined. With a techno-genius for a cell mate and a girl who helps Will discover some of the secrets the Rig holds, there’s nothing going to stop Will escaping… not even the mysterious Crystal-X.

From the first page of The Rig I felt like I was watching a movie. There’s so much cinematic potential for this book. From the helicopters landing on one of the five old oil platforms now turned prison for criminal youth to the brilliant sport Ducie came up with “Rig Ball” – I felt like I could see all the action playing out like a film.

Will is a great character to let us into the secrets of the Rig. He’s street smart and practical but he’s nobodies fool. We get to find out as we read that whilst he may be an inmate of one of the world’s toughest juvenile facilities, he’s not a bad guy. That said – he can hold his own even against super enhanced bullies. There’s more than meets the eye to Will – and we get to see that as hardened as prison has made him he still cares for his family and friends. Tristan – Will’s cell mate – is an oddly likeable guy. He’s a quiet guy who just wants to do his time and get out – the opposite in many ways to Will – but he’s willing to stand up for his friends no matter the consequences to himself. I liked him. His interaction with Irene, a female detainee on the other side of the Rig, was somewhat adorable to read as it unfolded and added a little to the comic relief for what is a mostly serious novel.

The action is this novel is brilliant. There’s a lot going on and Ducie has come up with some great concepts. The idea for his magnetized lacrosse game – known as Rig Ball – is as fun as it is absolutely brutal. The trackers which not only detect location but also keep track of how much the inmates owe the establishment for their stay is an interesting design that I thought was pretty cool. The plot around Crystal-X is something that I wish was developed a little further. There’s a lot about the blue crystal that I thought had a lot of potential however it felt a little out of place. This book is suspenseful and a great contemporary thriller up until about half way though when the Crystal-X is introduced and it brought me out of the story a little. The alien mineral gave the novel a paranormal element which just felt a little odd considering the rest of what was going on.

I enjoyed reading this book. Great characters with a setting so vivid I felt like I could be there on the Rig with Will and the others – this book was a brilliant read.

Thanks to Five Mile Press for the review copy

Purchase the Novel From: 
Amazon| Booktopia | Book Depository

GIVEAWAY!

Thanks to Five Mile Press, as a part of this blog tour I have 1 paperback copy of The Rig to giveaway. Open to Australian residents only.

To Enter:

Leave a comment at the bottom of this post and then click on the link below and fill in the form.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

Entries close 14th October, 2013.

Winner will be drawn via random.org and will have 48 hours to reply or another winner will be chosen.

 

Book Review: Every Breath by Ellie Marney

Every Breath

Title: Every Breath 
Author: Ellie Marney
Genre: Contempoary, Mystery, Suspense 
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: September 2013
Pages: 352
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Rachel Watts is an unwilling new arrival to Melbourne from the country. James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old genius with a passion for forensics. Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist Mycroft when he wants her help investigating a murder. And when Watts and Mycroft follow a trail to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion’s den – literally.

A night at the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again…

My Review:

If Sherlock Holmes can have a Watson, then stands to reason that James Mycroft can have a Watts. Right?

Rachel Watts and James Mycroft – neighbours, friends and now amateur sleuths. When the pair stumble upon a crime scene, Mycroft’s inquisitional nature and passion for forensics urge him to investigate further – and drag Watts along with him. In a quest to find justice for their friend Homeless Dave, Watts finds herself falling deeper into the deadly mystery and makes her question her relationship with the secretive boy who lives next door…

As a Sherlock Holmes fan I was excited to read this book. From Arthur Conan Doyle to the BBC show, Sherlock, I love the stories about the famous fictional detective. And whilst I was expecting this to be a modern take on the classic story, I was thrilled by Ellie Marney’s debut novel. This is no retelling but rather it’s an exciting new story about Mycroft and Watts – two teens who both don’t quite fit in. Watts is a recent transplant from the bush and hates every moment she spends in the city. Mycroft is a little eccentric and has problems with mainstream society. But somehow they fit each other perfectly. I loved the references to Sherlock Homes sprinkled throughout the book – like Diogenes and Baker Street.

I liked Watts and Mycroft as characters. They are so different and yet rather similar. They are both a little angry and hurt and are frustrated by their family situations and their ways of coping are vastly contrasting. And the chemistry between the two is great to read. Somehow they are friends and they both go ahead with the other’s schemes and as a result they balance each other out perfectly. Mycroft is slightly insane. And his antics? Crazy. But overall he’s a well-meaning and likeable lead. Secondary characters like Watts’ family, Mai and Gus are interesting enough and help the story along as Watts and Mycroft get deeper and deeper into the mystery.

I love a good whodunit murder mystery and Every Breath delivered an entertaining plot. There’s a lot of action but also a lot of character, humour and even a dash of romance to keep things flowing. I also enjoyed how Melbourne was utilized as the setting. The streets, the trams and the Zoo were all fantastically incorporated to add to the whole Australian vibe of this novel.

This was a great read and I loved Marney’s take on the murder mystery. Every Breath kept me hooked until the last page. I couldn’t wait to find out if my suspicions of who did it were correct! Zany characters, great plot and a fantastic setting in the city of Melbourne. I loved this book and there is no doubt – I will definitely be checking out the two sequels, Every Word and Every Move when they are released in 2014 and 2015.

 

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

 Book Depository

PS. I love Melbourne Zoo. My parents used to take me all the time when we lived down there and I went when I was in Melbourne just after Christmas last year. As I love any chance to show off my awesome photography skills (wink wink) I thought I’d share some of my favourite Melbourne Zoo photos to help get you into the vibe for this book!

Sleeping Lion. I have a copy of this picture on my bedroom wall!

Reptile House! I love the colours in this lizard. And yes – I did try to talk Parseltongue at the snakes…

That’s me in front of some Giraffes and Zebras. 🙂


Book Review: Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

Flirting in Italian (Flirting in Italian #1)

Title: Flirting in Italian (Flirting in Italian #1)
Author: Lauren Henderson
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Europe, Mystery
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 12 June 2012
Pages: 336
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!

My Review:

The cover is cute, the blurb – adorable. The novel? Something I didn’t expect. (Note: The blurb I’m referring to on the back of my copy is a quote from one of the girls about super hot boys – nothing about mysteries, danger and castles)

I wanted to read this book because when I was sixteen, I spent the summer in Italy – an Australian summer which turns out to be a very freezing European winter. But none the less – I read this book to reminisce and I feel a little cheated. I was expecting a fluffy but fun read about teen romance, boys and the Italian sun. What I got was a contradictory heroine, a bizarre mystery and boys that I found to be a little more creepy than charming.

The story starts with Violet (whose name we don’t find out until page 25 and that’s after a rather long deep and meaningful with mother… names just never came up. Weird, huh?) browsing a museum. When she comes across a painting where the subject is her doppelgänger – Violet is flawed. This is not just a case of slight similarity… the woman in the portrait could be Violet’s identical twin! That is – if Violet lived hundreds of years ago and came from Tuscany – where the painting is said to have been originally painted. Feeling like she never really belonged in her family – but apparently too polite to ask her mother if she was adopted, Violet manages to get her absent father to fund her trip to the Italian country side so she can go to a finishing school. Why you might ask? Because the castle where the painting of Violet’s spitting image apparently originated from is not open to the public – except, that is, for the students at the cultural course that Violet is enrolled in. And by culture course – I mean finishing school complete with flower arranging.

It’s in Italy that Violet meets Luca – a local boy with whom she feels an instant connection. And he’s got a vespa – what more could an English girl want? Oh that’s right. He also happens to be the son of the castle where her carbon copy’s painting is from. Convenient, right? Oh – we’re just getting started!

I wanted to love this book. I was so excited when I finally got my hands on a copy. And it’s possible that I would have enjoyed this story had my expectations not been so high but I don’t think this is the case with Flirting in Italian. Violet got on my nerves from the beginning. By page 12, she had already contradicted herself and she continued to do so right though the novel. She’s very intolerant of others and I thought she had quite a few double standards. I have to admit I was rather annoyed at her for how she treated her mother throughout the novel. I think that Henderson was trying to capture the teenage state of mind whenever she started in on embarrassing parents or fashion but in the end – it felt out-of-place.

And then there’s Luca. The oh-so-hot Italian local that Violet finds an instant attraction with. So much so that she finds herself in a passionate embrace with him within minutes of meeting him. Now – don’t get me wrong. I’m not a prude. My problem lies with Violet and her considering her behaviour to be perfectly okay because they’re like… soul mates – but for the other girls attending the Cultural Course with her – flirting with boys they just met – what hussies! See – Violet has many double standards. And the chemistry between Luca and Violet? I didn’t see it. I kept wanting to like them as a couple and hoping that something would happen to them relationshipwise for me to get behind them as a couple. But it never happened. It probably would have been easier to like them together if Violet didn’t keep switching between hating him and wanting to slap him and then daydreaming about him and how amazing he is in the space of a heart beat. MAKE UP YOUR MIND ALREADY! I don’t need a romance to like a book and I think I’d prefer no relationship at all to one that is this high maintenance and confusing.

As for the enigma of the girl in the painting? It was a confusing storyline. To be honest – this entire novel felt a little undercooked. I get that it’s only the first novel and that things need time to brew and develop but there’s a bit too much mystery and not enough solving.

This book is the first one in a trilogy and I think that potentially, the things that irked me in it could be straightened out by reading further. But to be honest I feel like the marketing people were a little dishonest. The blurb, the cover – none of this really show what this book is going to be about. In fact I think they were deliberately misleading readers as to the contents of this novel. Considering the second book is called “Kissing in Italian” I’m not sure I’m going to be pleased with where this leads. I will not be reading any more of this series.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon || Book Depository 


Guest Post: Reaper’s Rhythm by Clare Davidson

Today I’m lucky enough to be sharing a guest post by Clare Davidson – the author of Reaper’s Rhythm! She’s written a guest post about why she hopped genres. Don’t forget to check out the tour wide giveaway at the end of the post.

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Why I hopped genres? 

My first novel, Trinity, was a straight up YA fantasy. Other than a couple of short stories I played around with for my degree, it’s all I’ve ever written. But my second novel, Reaper’s Rhythm, is a YA urban fantasy, or a YA contemporary paranormal thriller (try saying that several times quickly!). Yes, they are both subgenres of fantasy, but there’s a massive difference between those two genres and straight up fantasy.

So, why did I genre hop?

For the challenge. I’m a big believe that you should always stretch and challenge yourself. A good way to do that is to play outside of your comfort zone. With Reaper’s Rhythm, not only did I hop genre, I also switched to a first person point of view.

My muse told me to. Seriously. My muse doesn’t care about genres, or the advice that it’s not productive for an author to hop genres, because not all of their readers will follow them. My muse gave me a flash of inspiration, which got so stuck in my head, I had to get it out on paper.

It was fun. Reaper’s Rhythm began life as a “just for fun” throwaway project. It was my experimental project in the down time between finishing the first draft of Trinity and editing it. Only I finished that very first draft in three weeks. Yup, you read that right. The first draft of Reaper’s Rhythm was a very different novel to the one I’ve ended up with. It was lighter and aimed at a mid-grade audience. Honestly, it wasn’t very good, but it was definitely fun to write. So was the very different second draft (but that’s another story).

What are your thoughts on genre hopping? Have you followed a genre-hopping author? Have you found a new author’s work because they genre hopped? I’d love to hear your views.

Thanks Clare! I often follow authors I love wherever they go – even when it’s genres I don’t normally read. I’ve discovered new genres that I now adore because of following an author wherever they go. I loved the chance to read about why an author – like yourself – might choose to genre hop.

We’re also lucky enough that Clare decided to share a teaser from her new book, Reaper’s Rhythm.

 

Charley’s lying on the bed, her blond hair fanned out over the pillow. Her arms are spread wide, palms up. Crimson blood drips from deep slashes on her wrists. Her blue eyes are open, staring at the ceiling. But they don’t see. They’re dull, empty.

Dead.

The room spins. My stomach lurches and bile rises up my throat. I swallow and clap my hand to my mouth. Sagging against the doorframe, I can’t tear my gaze from the single lock of hair resting over Charley’s porcelain cheek. What should I do?

Charley would know what to do.

As I stumble down the stairs, my mind clicks into gear. A scream rips out of my throat, eclipsing the pounding music. My foot slips on the beige carpet, sending me tumbling down the remaining stairs. My shoulder and back slam against the wall. I scramble to my feet, screaming, sobbing, then stagger into the hallway, colliding into a young man with the darkest eyes I’ve ever seen.

My own force knocks me backwards. His strong grip clenches my arm, preventing me from falling. I try to scream again, but the sound is trapped within my constricting chest. My sister is dead. A stranger is in my house.

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Title: Reaper’s Rhythm

Author: Clare Davidson

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/ Mystery

Book Description:

When everyone thinks your sister committed suicide, it’s hard to prove she was murdered.

Kim is unable to accept Charley’s sudden death. Crippled by an unnatural amnesia, her questions are met with wall after wall. As she doubts her sanity, she realises her investigation is putting those around her in danger.

The only person who seems to know anything is Matthew, an elusive stranger who would rather vanish than talk. Despite his friendly smile, Kim isn’t sure she can trust him. But if she wants to protect her family from further danger, Kim must work with Matthew to discover how Charley died – before it’s too late.

Author Bio:

claresmall

Clare Davidson is an independent writer, based in Lancaster. Clare is a high school teacher, mother and character-driven fantasy writer. Clare was born in Northampton and lived in Malaysia for four and a half years as a child, before returning to the UK to settle in Leeds with her family. Whilst attending Lancaster University, Clare met her future husband and never left. They now share their lives with their young daughter, a cranky grey cat and an insane white kitten.

She published her first novel, Trinity in July 2012. Trinity is a young adult, fantasy novel, which currently has seventeen five star reviews on Amazon UK.

Her second novel, Reaper’s Rhythm, is due to be released on the 26th July 2013. Also aimed at a young adult audience, Reaper’s Rhythm is an urban fantasy with a dash of mystery.

Ways to connect with Clare Davidson:

Website || Twitter || Facebook || Goodreads

Click Here to join Clare’s new releases mailing list

 

Purchase Links

America:
Kindle || Paperback

UK:
Kindle

Paperback:
Amazon || Waterstone’s

Giveaway:

Click on the rafflecopter link below to enter a tour wide giveaway to win a fantastic swag pack!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal: Reaper’s Rhythm by Clare Davidson

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Blurb

When everyone thinks your sister committed suicide, it’s hard to prove she was murdered.

Kim is unable to accept Charley’s sudden death. Crippled by an unnatural amnesia, her questions are met with wall after wall. As she doubts her sanity, she realises her investigation is putting those around her in danger.

The only person who seems to know anything is Matthew, an elusive stranger who would rather vanish than talk. Despite his friendly smile, Kim isn’t sure she can trust him. But if she wants to protect her family from further danger, Kim must work with Matthew to discover how Charley died – before it’s too late.

Excerpt from Reaper’s Rhythm

The warm light seeps through the closed sitting room curtains when I step into the drive. The muffled thump of dance music grows louder as I approach the familiar front door. I push the key into the lock, but the door swings open on its own. My breath catches in my throat, but I force it into a growl. Not only has my sister, Charley, not bothered to lock the door, she hasn’t latched it. Whatever she rushed home for must have been important.

I step over the threshold and a blast of warm air hits me, enveloping me like one of Mum’s overprotective hugs. My wind-chilled face tingles, as I close and lock the door.

“Charley, I hope you’ve set the table.” My voice competes with the din of the deep bass of my sister’s music.

I toss my keys into the wicker basket on the hall table. As I peel my coat off, I see Charley’s in a crumpled heap on the floor. Rolling my eyes, I scoop it up and hang it, then place her discarded boots in the shoe rack beside my own. Why am I the conscientious sister? I’m only sixteen. Charley will be heading off to university next year.

Stomach rumbling, I snatch up the Chinese takeout I’d picked up on the walk home and wander into the kitchen. Frowning, I flick the switch to light up the pristine room. Mum is a clean freak now that Dad doesn’t live here. The table isn’t set, even though Charley promised she would do it before she rushed off ahead.

“Charley,” I call out and then dump the bag on the kitchen table and stomp across the hall to the sitting room, shoving the door open.

The music hits me first, making me jerk my head back, then the smell. An odd odour, metallic and rich, overpowers the air freshener on the mantel.

“Charley?” She must be trying to scare me. “Charley, stop messing around.” I grit my teeth, expecting her to jump out at any second.

My body shudders and my flesh tingles as if an army of ants is marching beneath my skin. I back out of the empty sitting room and bolt upstairs. The smell is stronger, snaking down my throat, making me want to gag.

“Charley?”

I shove her door open, hard.

Charley’s lying on the bed, her blond hair fanned out over the pillow. Her arms are spread wide, palms up. Crimson blood drips from deep slashes on her wrists. Her blue eyes are open, staring at the ceiling. But they don’t see. They’re dull, empty.

Dead.

The room spins. My stomach lurches and bile rises up my throat. I swallow and clap my hand to my mouth. Sagging against the doorframe, I can’t tear my gaze from the single lock of hair resting over Charley’s porcelain cheek. What should I do?

Charley would know what to do.

As I stumble down the stairs, my mind clicks into gear. A scream rips out of my throat, eclipsing the pounding music. My foot slips on the beige carpet, sending me tumbling down the remaining stairs. My shoulder and back slam against the wall. I scramble to my feet, screaming, sobbing, then stagger into the hallway, colliding into a young man with the darkest eyes I’ve ever seen.

My own force knocks me backwards. His strong grip clenches my arm, preventing me from falling. I try to scream again, but the sound is trapped within my constricting chest. My sister is dead. A stranger is in my house.

I writhe against his grip, lashing out with my foot. My toes crumple and sting when they hit his shin. I’m thrown off balance, but he holds me fast.

He raises his thumb to my forehead and applies gentle pressure, as he sweeps his thumb towards my brow and then hooks it back up.

“Sleep.” His quiet voice acts like a sedative.

My head flops forward until my chin touches my chest. A new scent replaces the sickly metallic tang of Charley’s blood: freshly cut grass. Inhaling it makes my head fuzzy and my heartbeat slow.

I want to see his face, memorise every detail. The contours of his cheeks and jaw, the shape of his nose, the colour of his hair. The police want to know those things, don’t they? The only feature I can see for sure is the impossible darkness of his eyes.

My own eyelids droop, my limbs turn liquid. A strong arm loops round my back and lowers me to the floor. I fight against sleep. Each time I force my eyelids open, they flutter shut again.

“Forget,” he says. The word is nothing more than a whisper at the edge of my hearing. “Sleep.”

Author Bio:

Clare Davidson is an independent writer, based in Lancaster. Clare is a high school teacher, mother and character-driven fantasy writer. Clare was born in Northampton and lived in Malaysia for four and a half years as a child, before returning to the UK to settle in Leeds with her family. Whilst attending Lancaster University, Clare met her future husband and never left. They now share their lives with their young daughter, a cranky grey cat and an insane white kitten.

She published her first novel, Trinity in July 2012. Trinity is a young adult, fantasy novel, which currently has seventeen five star reviews on Amazon UK.

Her second novel, Reaper’s Rhythm, is due to be released on the 26th July 2013. Also aimed at a young adult audience, Reaper’s Rhythm is an urban fantasy with a dash of mystery.

Ways to connect with Clare Davidson:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | New releases mailing list

Book Review: The Camp by Karice Bolton

I’m delighted to be a stop on the Karice Bolton blog tour! I’ve read many of her books and adored them. (Lonely Souls is currently free on Amazon). Today I’ll be posting a review of her new novel, The Camp, which is a contemporary suspense set in the Alaskan wilderness!

Title: The Camp
Author: Karice Bolton
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery
Publisher: self-published
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 250
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
‘Emma has always tried to be perfect in her almost eighteen years of existence, but it has never been good enough. As she finds herself counting the days until she’s officially free from her parents’ reins, her stepfather hands her a plane ticket explaining that she must attend the Re-Boot Camp in the wilds of Alaska.

Once she lands in the middle of nowhere, she realizes the camp is nothing like she imagined, and she wants out immediately. That is until she meets Liam.

The camp is full of teens with dark pasts, but she finds herself drawn to Liam’s ability to see who she really is and who she wants to become. While Emma and Liam begin adjusting to a place neither wants to be, frightening events begin to unfold. When people begin disappearing, it becomes apparent they can only trust one another as they fight for survival.

My Review:

Emma never dreamed that the wilderness camp she agreed to attend is actually a place for juvenile delinquents to spend time in order to escape community service – or worse, prison. But as the tiny plane lands in the Alaskan wilderness, Emma realizes that there can’t be much worse than being exiled to the middle of nowhere with only perverts and wild bears for company. Oh – and Liam, the very handsome camp handyman with exceptional forearms.

For me this book was Dear Cassie meets Harper’s Island – teen criminal boot camp with a fatal twist. There’s suspense and drama and the added bonus of waiting to see if Emma would get eaten by a bear! Conceptually – I loved it. Books set in Alaska are a guilty pleasure of mine and I love reading about its landscape and natural wonders. Having a girl who doesn’t belong amongst the wayward teens – brilliant. And with each Karice Bolton novel I read, I like her style more and more.

But for some reason The Camp just didn’t gel together for me. I thought Emma was a little too trusted and trusting (after saying “hey guys, I don’t really belong here,” the others agree and treat her like an honorary team leader), Liam is just a little too perfect (although his back-story is still a little mysterious and open for a potential sequel), and I didn’t quiet understand how the camp worked in terms of rehabilitating the rebel teens. I think the ideas to make this a great story however it just fell a little short for me.

I had fun reading The Camp and recommend it for fans of Karice’s other novels and anyone looking for a suspenseful story set in a beautiful location!

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Book Review: The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

Title: The S-Word
Author: Chelsea Pitcher
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Galley Books
Publication Date: May 2013
Pages: 320
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
‘First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.
But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie’s looping scrawl.

Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she’s caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie’s own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.

My Review:

In one of the biggest scandals Verity High has ever seen, the preacher’s daughter is found in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend. On prom night. And instantly good girl and “untouchable saint” Lizzie Hart is branded the S-word. People have covered her locker, her notebooks, her book bag – and even her car – with a single word. The S-word. Slut.

A week after Lizzie takes her own life the words “Suicide Slut” start appearing all over the school – in Lizzie’s own distinctive handwriting. Lizzie’s former best friend, Angie, sets out to find out the truth. The truth behind prom night, the graffiti on Lizzie’s possessions and Lizzie’s death.
This is a book about the power of labels. As Angie investigates the circumstances Lizzie we get to meet a cast of colour characters. There’s a boy who wears women’s fashion with a certain flair, borderline alcoholic cheerleaders, the straight A students who would do anything for a glowing reference and slightly creepy computer nerds. But they are all so much more than who they first appear at a glance. They have layers and yet most people never get to see beyond the superficial front.
I liked reading about the characters – Angie is a fantastic lead. She’s trying to repent for the apologies she can never make. Like a dog with a bone she won’t give up the search to find out who’s responsible. The mystery angle was an interesting take to a novel that’s about some rather serious issues. Lizzie – who we never get to see in person – makes an impression from her diary entries and memories Angie shares throughout the novel. I found her harder to relate to – in many ways she felt unrealistic. Her diary entries were awkward in their style and took me out of the story slightly. That said – there were lines and passages in this novel that were beautifully written and really got to me. The ones that make you think about how applicable the message in this book is to real life and situations.
Overall I enjoyed reading the S-Word. I found the characters engaging and dynamic. The plot contained so many of those issues that people don’t talk about for whatever reasons – abuse, neglect, racism, bullying and teen suicide – and I felt like most of these were dealt with in an appropriate way.
The S-Word is a novel that deals with the darker side of high school. I recommend this book for anyone looking for a YA contemporary novel that’s a bit edgier than the usual and doesn’t mind touching on serious issues.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an eARC for me to read and review.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository