Book Review: Gun Honey Volume 1 by Charles Ardai and Ang Hor Kheng @CharlesArdai @ComicsTitan

Synopsis

The award winning Charles Ardai, co-founder of Hard Case Crime, brings his noir expertise to the fore in his debut graphic novel about a sexy weapons smuggler.

She’ll get you the weapon you need, when you need it, where you need it – no matter how impossible.

But when a gun smuggled into a high-security prison leads to the death of dozens and the escape of a brutal criminal, Joanna Tan is suddenly forced by the U.S. government to do a job for them: find the man she set loose and bring him down.

Collects Gun Honey #1-4.

Purchase Link: https://titan-comics.com/c/1744-gun-honey/

My Review

Joanna Tan, also known as Gun Honey is an accomplished woman. She can deliver to her clients any weapon that they need at any time no questions asked. When one of her jobs goes wrong Joanna is recruited by the US government to fix a situation that she has created. As Joanna tries to resolve the situation, hidden secrets and agenda’s come to light.

I really enjoyed this read. The main character is fierce and does not take any orders from anyone. Joanna is quite detached from the role that she plays and the work that she does, until she realises how her work affects innocent bystanders. This definitely gave me Pulp Fiction vibes which I really liked. The storyline was interesting and engaging. I liked the twist to the storyline because I did not see that coming at all. The illustrations were colourful and graphic when it came to the gory scenes. This book does include violence and mature content so definitely for an older audience.

If you like your graphic novels and comics action packed then this is the read for you.

Author Bios

Charles Ardai’s writing has appeared in mystery magazines such as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, gaming magazines such as Computer Gaming World and Electronic Games, and anthologies such as Best Mysteries of the Year and The Year’s Best Horror Stories. Ardai has also edited numerous short story collections such as The Return of the Black Widowers, Great Tales of Madness and the Macabre, and Futurecrime.

His first novel, Little Girl Lost, was published in 2004 and was nominated for both the Edgar Allan Poe Award by the Mystery Writers of America and the Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America; his second, Songs of Innocence, was called “an instant classic” by The Washington Post, selected as one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly, and won the Shamus Award. Both books were written under the alias Richard Aleas and were optioned for the movies by Universal Pictures.

Ardai previously received a Shamus nomination for the short story “Nobody Wins” and he received the Edgar Award in 2007 for the short story “The Home Front”. In 2015, he received the Ellery Queen Award for his work on Hard Case Crime. Ardai’s third novel, Fifty-to-One, was published in November 2008. It was the fiftieth book in the Hard Case Crime series and the first to be published under Ardai’s real name.

In 2010, he began working as a writer and producer on the SyFy television series Haven, inspired by the Hard Case Crime novel The Colorado Kid by Stephen King. The first episode of Haven aired on July 9, 2010 and the last aired on December 17, 2015. In 2016, he wrote a novel based on the Shane Black movie The Nice Guys.

In addition to his writing and publishing activities, Ardai serves as a managing director of the D. E. Shaw group.

Ang Hor Kheng is an illustrator based in Ipoh, Malaysia who works primarily with traditional media rather than digitally. His inspirations include Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson, Peter Konig, Jim Lee, and John Buscema. He has been drawing since he was 3 years old.

Book Review: The Junction by Norm Konyu @JunctionNovel @ComicsTitan

Synopsis

When a missing child, Lucas Jones, reappears on his Uncle’s doorstep in his hometown of Medford after an absence of 12 years, the brief moment of joy is clouded by mystery. Where has he been? Where is his father who disappeared at the same time? And how is it possible that Lucas is still 11 years old?

As Lucas is uncommunicative, it is left to Detective Sergeant David King and child
psychologist Jean Symonds to attempt to find some answers from the few belongings Lucas returned with; little more than four Polaroids and a personal journal which speaks of his time in a place called ‘The Junction’.

The story unravels through interviews, medical and police reports, and ultimately, through visits to The Junction via the pages of Lucas’ diary, jumping back and forth in time, revealing pieces of the puzzle in a mystery that keeps the reader guessing right up until the end.

Purchase Link: https://titan-comics.com/c/1750-the-junction/

My Review

In 1984 11 year old Lucas and his father disappeared without a trace. Fast forward to 1996 when Lucas reappears without his father but there is mystery surrounding Lucas’ reappearance because Lucas is still 11 years old and hasn’t aged a day. The only potential clues as to Lucas’ whereabouts are contained in a diary he kept in an exercise book which was found in his belongings. As Lucas won’t speak his therapist asks him to continue writing in his diary and drawing pictures so his movements during his time away can be pieced together. Lucas does indicate that he has been living in Kirby Junction, but that place doesn’t exist. What happened to Lucas? Where has he been? Why has he not aged a day? Where is Lucas’ father?

As a child I loved to read comics and graphic novels and recently I’ve wanted to start getting back into reading more of them. When the invitation arrived to review The Junction and it was pitched as something fans of Stranger Things would love I jumped at the chance to read it. The story sounded interesting and the illustrations that I saw were intriguing. As soon as I picked it up it reignited my love of comics and graphic novels. I absolutely adored this read and after I had finished reading I found myself flicking back through the pages to appreciate the story and artwork further.

From the outset there was this eerie atmosphere around Lucas and where he’d been. That eerie feeling stayed with me until I’d finished the book. I was a little sad when the book was over because I wanted to see what would happen to Lucas next. The story included a mix of intrigue and a dash of the thriller genre thrown in. I could have never guessed the ending and it’s a graphic novel with a storyline that I don’t think I’ll easily forget. One thing I liked about this graphic novel was the section at the end which explored the scenes behind The Junction where the author talked about the artwork and story process.

If like me you love graphic novels or want to read one for the first time then I would recommend The Junction as it is perfect for established fans of the genre or those who are discovering it for the first time.

Author Bio

Norm Konyu has been a professional animator for more years than he cares to remember, working for companies such as the BBC, Dreamworks, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network. He was Lead Animator on BAFTA and International EMMY award-winning preschool series Hey Duggee!. A Canadian, he currently resides in the UK. The Junction is his first foray into the world of comics since being a teenager.

Book Review: Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl by Joya Goffney #ConfessionsofanAllegedGoodGirl @joya_goffney @HotKeyBooksYA @rararesources

Synopsis

Monique lives a perfect life as a preacher’s daughter, and girlfriend of the town’s golden boy. But its not that simple. She’s torn between her parents, who want her to remain their pure, virginal daughter, and her boyfriend, Dom, who wants to explore the more intimate side of their relationship.

Tired of waiting, Dom breaks up with Monique, spurring her to discover she has a medical condition that make her far from perfect. With the help of Sasha, an overly zealous church girl, and Reggie, the
town’s bad boy, she concocts a plan to win Dom back. But along the way, she must face some home truths: maybe she shouldn’t be fixing her body to please a boy, maybe Sasha is the friend she needed all along and maybe Reggie isn’t so bad after all…

Purchase Link – https://lnk.to/ConfessionsAllegedGoodGirl

My Review

Monique is the preacher’s daughter and she’ll be the first to admit she struggles to find the balance between being the preacher’s daughter and being herself. When Monique’s boyfriend Dom dumps her because she isn’t able to take their relationship to the next level, Monique is determined to do whatever it takes to get Dom back. Even if that means changing herself, teaming up with Sasha (who is more of a preacher’s daughter than she is) and Reggie (the local bad boy). Will Monique find the answer she is looking for?

I knew I’d like Monique from the first page because she was funny and witty. At the same time I sympathised with her character because it’s hard enough growing up and being a teenager, but it’s even harder when you’re being torn between different worlds i.e. the expectations of being a good daughter, the expectations of being a preacher’s daughter, the expectations of her boyfriend. I really loved the bond between Sasha and Monique. Initially Monique thinks that Sasha is a little square because she goes to church, her parents see her as an ideal role model and wish Monique was more like her, but when Monique needs someone to talk to Sasha is there for her and they form a sisterly bond. This book portrays perfectly how looks can be deceiving. Dom, also Monique’s father’s protégé, appears very clean cut and the perfect boyfriend for Monique. In contrast Reggie is considered a bit of a bad boy, a troublemaker and someone who Monique should stay away from. However, looks can be deceiving and it’s only when Monique gets to know both Dom and Reggie better that she realises who is the better person. I must say that I had a few choice words for Dom after I’d finished the book, none of which I can put in this review but it’s safe to say I found him very unlikeable. By putting pressure on Monique to take their relationship to the next level, Monique was putting pressure on herself to please him.

The storyline was punchy, engaging ad filled with humour. One of my favourite sevens included Monique, Sasha and Reggie causing havoc in Target. What I found fascinating about the story is that it was unlike anything I’d ever read before and is very relevant to teenagers/young people today who may be in the same situation as Monique. At the same time the story deals with quite a difficult and sensitive subject in Monique’s medical condition which I think the author has done a fantastic job in highlighting and creating a discussion point for people of all ages.

A coming of age rom com that I’d highly recommend.

Author Bio

Joya Goffney grew up in New Waverly, a small town in East Texas. In high school, she
challenged herself with to-do lists full of risk-taking items like ‘hug a random boy’ and ‘eat a cricket,’ which inspired her debut novel, Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. With a passion for Black social psychology, she moved out of the countryside to attend the University of Texas in Austin, where she
still resides.

Social Media Links –
https://twitter.com/joya_goffney
https://www.instagram.com/joya.goffney/

Book Review: The Making of Mila and Blake by Estelle Maskame #MilaAndBlake @EstelleMaskame @inkroadbooks

Synopsis

The Making of Mila and Blake is the fireworks finale to international bestselling author Estelle Maskame’s addictive MILA trilogy.

It’s been two years since Mila and Blake last saw each other. Much has changed for both of them and Mila’s on a mission to put the past behind her before heading to college. Goodbye family drama, Hollywood crises . . . and Blake. 

Until she finds out Blake is also back in their hometown for the summer, with his troubled father and a brand-new girlfriend in tow. With no way of avoiding each other, it’s impossible to forget what happened between them, and buried feelings soon erupt to the surface. 

Has enough time passed that they could try one last time, or has it been too long since they were on the same path? Will this be the making of Mila and Blake . . . or their undoing?

Full of heart and drama and set to the beating pulse of Nashville nights, it’s a summer you won’t forget.

My Review

At the end of Trusting Blake, an unconscious decision made by Mila had a devastating impact on her relationship with Blake. After that night she never saw or heard from him again despite reaching out to him. Fast forward two years and Mila, now 18 years old and with her father is on her way to Fairview to spend her last summer before she starts her nursing degree at San Diego State University. Mila has never forgotten Blake so when they come face to face how will they both react, especially as Blake now has a girlfriend. Throw in Teddy, the handsome new ranch worker and some unexpected news about Popeye and this is a summer that Mila will never forget.

When I really like a book or fall in love with a series I find myself racing through the book. When I picked up this book I found myself reading it slower than I normally would. That wasn’t because I didn’t connect with the book rather it was because I knew that this was going to be the last book in the trilogy and I didn’t want it to end. I can honestly say I loved the storyline. Although it picks up two years after the events of Trusting Blake, the story didn’t feel disjointed and felt more like a smooth continuation of what happens to Blake and Mila. When we meet Mila two years later she has grown up and matured. That first meeting between Mila and Blake was sad. Blake was very cold and Mila was surprised by his reaction. When Blake shut out Mila completely I thought he was a little unfair and slightly immature. But despite the frosty reception Mila initially received, the chemistry between them had never gone away and Blake realised he’d made a big mistake. In addition to Blake there is also Teddy, another love interest for Mila and it’s clear that Teddy likes Mila more than as a friend. It was good to see that Mila has more of a relationship with her father because that relationship was quite fractured in the first and second book.

I was anxious to see what the ending would be but I was really really pleased with how everything was wrapped up and it was the ending I would have wanted for the characters.

The MILA trilogy has become one of my favourite trilogy’s which I will be reading again. I would highly recommend this trilogy and reading all three books back to back because this is a trilogy that you won’t want to miss.

Author Bio

Estelle Maskame started writing the DIMILY trilogy when she was 13; it was first published by Black & White in 2015. The series has now sold over one million copies worldwide in nineteen different countries. Estelle was the winner of the Young Scot Award 2016 (Arts) and shortlisted for the Young Adult Romantic Novel Award 2017.

Book Review: Trusting Blake by Estelle Maskame #TrustingBlake #MilaAndBlake @EstelleMaskame @inkroadbooks

Synopsis

The electrifying sequel to Becoming Mila… following Blake and Mila through the heat-filled days of a tempestuous summer.

What the hell just happened?! One cheating dad, one furious mom, and Mila stuck in the middle.

Enter chaos. Hit by an onslaught of revelations, Mila’s life is turned upside down. And when her A-list parents jet in from LA, they bring nothing but conflict, leaving Mila feeling betrayed and her Tennessee fun at a standstill.

But Blake is still there – with his easy smile, comforting touch and his guitar – and Mila turns to him more and more. Things are heating up between them and the pressure is becoming intense.

As the drama unfolds between their families and life starts to unravel, can Mila and Blake keep it together as summer draws to a close?

My Review

I read Becoming Mila in May 2021 and so before reading this book and the third book in the trilogy I decided to listen to the audiobook to refresh my memory. Trusting Blake picks up immediately after the ending of Becoming Mila when Mila discovered that her father was having an affair with his co-star and Mila’s world collapsed around her. Now that the news regarding her father is everywhere, her parents with Reuben in tow arrive in Fairview with the press hot on their heels. Not only does Mila have to process what is happening with her father, but summer is nearly over and very soon Mila will return to LA and Blake will remain in Fairview. Will their relationship survive the distance especially with the appearance of Blake’s ex-girlfriend who is trying to put a wedge between Mila and Blake. As Mila and Blake’s parents come face to face for the first time in years more secrets come to light. With the press camped out on their doorstep, Mila’s family crumbling under the pressure of her father’s actions and Mila and Blake’s parents trying to separate them, will Mila and Blake still be able to be together.

Trusting Blake has been one of my most anticipated reads since I finished reading Becoming Mila and it ended on a cliff-hanger. I was eager to find out what happened next. I absolutely loved the continuation of the storyline in this book. It was like picking up the story where I’d left off. There was some irony in the situation that Mila and her parents found herself in. In the first book Mila is sent to Fairview because of her behaviour to minimise press attention. However as it turns out its Mila’s father’s behaviour that they should have been worrying about all along. I have to say that as much as I found Reuben annoying in the first book he was so much more annoying and dislikeable in this book because he tries to co-parent Mila and order people around.

As for character development Mila does grow as a character as the story unfolds and we meet a new Mila. She becomes more outspoken, rebellious and she is verbalising how she feels and what she wants for the first time. Despite the issues with her father things don’t feel as bad to Mila with Blake around. That is until her father finds out and she’s instructed not to see him anymore, but that won’t stop Mila. The more time they spend together things definitely heated up between them and their feelings grew stronger and intensified.

The book did not end how I expected and as I read the last sentence my first thought was ‘no no what just happened’ and then my heart just sank. However, it did set up perfectly the third and final book in the trilogy which was within arm’s reach, so I could continue Mila and Blake’s story.

If you loved Becoming Mila then Trusting Blake is not to be missed!

Author Bio

Estelle Maskame started writing the DIMILY trilogy when she was 13; it was first published by Black & White in 2015. The series has now sold over one million copies worldwide in nineteen different countries. Estelle was the winner of the Young Scot Award 2016 (Arts) and shortlisted for the Young Adult Romantic Novel Award 2017.

Book Review: Rainbows End in Ferry Lane Market by Nicola May #rainbowsendinferrylanemarket @nicolamay1 @rararesources @HodderBooks

Synopsis

Book Three in bestselling sensation Nicola May’s gorgeous new series – catch up with Book One, WELCOME TO FERRY LANE MARKET, and Book Two, STARRY SKIES IN FERRY LANE MARKET, now!

39-year-old Glanna Pascoe – also known as ‘the Rainbow Painter’ – runs the Hartmouth Gallery in Ferry Lane Market in Cornwall. She is just getting her head and broken heart around being single, childless, and sober when Cupid flies in, shooting arrows all over the place.

Meeting the mysterious and fascinating Isaac Benson, famous local artist, and recluse, allows Glanna’s disillusioned heart and attitude to soften, and she begins to learn more about herself than she ever thought possible. Confused by her growing feelings for Isaac, Glanna throws herself into organising a life-drawing class at her gallery, using both male and female nudes – and setting local tongues wagging.

A theft from her gallery and the return of ex-love Oliver Trueman cause Glanna to wonder if a pot of gold will be appearing at the end of her rainbow. And will it bring her the happiness, she has sought for so long?

Purchase Links
UK – – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rainbows-End-Ferry-Lane-Market-ebook/dp/B09LLLD89V
US – https://www.amazon.com/Rainbows-End-Ferry-Lane-Market-ebook/dp/B09LLLD89V

My Review

Glanna is the owner of Hartmouth Gallery in Ferry Lane Market and is an artist herself. In Hartmouth Gallery you’ll find pictures created by other artist but Glanna too. Glanna found herself the owner of the Gallery after she sabotaged her relationship with her long term boyfriend Oliver because he wanted to have children and she didn’t. However, Glanna does like children but doesn’t understand the reason why she doesn’t want children of her own and has mixed feelings on the subject. When an artist that Glanna is meant to collaborate with lets her down her path crosses with the famous and mysterious artist Isaac Benson. When a painting that Isaac lends Glanna for the Gallery goes missing and fate brings Oliver back into Glanna’s life again, Glanna is forced to take stock of her life and some difficult subjects.

There’s something about the Ferry Lane Market series that I truly love. Like the other books in the series I loved the storyline. It was absorbing, heart-warming with relatable characters at the heart of the story. So to know that this was the last book in the trilogy made me a little sad as I would have happily carried on reading books in this series until the end of time. The Ferry Lane Market series has definitely become a comfort read for me and a place I look forward to visiting with the turn of each page.

It was nice to meet a completely new character in Glanna but also to catch up with established characters that have already appeared in Ferry Lane Market. One of my favourite things about Glanna is the fact that she’s just obsessed with rainbows because I am too. Every time she sees a rainbow she’d take a picture of it on her phone and then would try and replicate/incorporate it into her art. What I also liked about Glanna as a character is that she doesn’t try to be perfect. She owns her flaws and learns from her past. She’s not had it easy even though she comes from quite a privileged background. She’s made some big mistakes, some of which were very serious and had issues with alcohol but she’s overcome these. So although Glanna sees her mistakes as character flaws and that she’s wasted her life because of alcohol and a misspent youth it’s those same things that are her strength and make her into the person she is today.

Although this is a story about Glanna finding herself there is also a second chance romance storyline running parallel to the main storyline. As soon as I was introduced to Oliver, how he met Glanna and their interactions it was clear that they were meant to be together. The only subject that tore them apart is the subject of children. The more Glanna explores the reason for not wanting children she finds herself on a journey questioning the reason behind her decision but also that it is tied to her own relationship with her mother.

The Ferry Lane Market series is a trilogy that I would highly recommend and is one of my favourite series. The books can be read as standalones but I would recommend reading all the books because it’s hard not to fall in love with Ferry Lane Market and its inhabitants.

Author Bio

Nicola May writes ‘chick lit with a kick’ and is the internationally bestselling author of
eleven romantic comedies. All have appeared in the Kindle bestseller charts. The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay became the best-selling Kindle book in the UK across all genres in January 2019 and March 2020 respectively. It was also the second best-selling eBook of 2019 in the UK. Nicola’s books have also been sold in many languages.

Social Media Links – @nicolamay1 @hodderbooks – Twitter
@author_nicola @hodderbooks Instagram

Book Review: Hook, Line and Sinker by Tessa Bailey #HookLineandSinker @mstessabailey @Harper360UK @RandomTTours

Synopsis

In the follow-up to It Happened One Summer, Tessa Bailey delivers another deliciously fun rom-com about a former player who accidentally falls for his best friend while trying to help her land a different man…

King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time—in bed and out—and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost. 

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?

My Review

Hannah and Fox are best friends. Although Hannah is based in LA and Fox in Newport they still text each other on a regular basis if not everyday. Those text messages include banter and an underlying attraction that’s never been spoken about. When the movie that Hannah is working on relocates to Westport and there is no room at her sister’s home Hannah becomes Fox’s new roommate. Fox has a reputation for being something of a player and that reputation has always followed him around. As Hannah and Fox spend time together in the same house will their friendship develop into something more? Is Hannah really immune to Fox’s charms and can Fox overcome his own demons and show how he truly feels about Hannah?

Wow, I think I just found one of my new favourite reads with tropes including friends to lovers, forced/close proximity. My intention when I first picked up the book was to read a few pages but those few pages turned into reading the whole book in one sitting. This is a fun rom com read, with a great storyline with lots of flirting and chemistry between the main leads and a happily ever after that will make you smile. I adored this book and I’ll definitely be reading it again. It’s so obvious from the outset that there is something between Hannah and Fox that is definitely more than friendship. They both see it, feel it but they don’t want to admit it. When they interact in the book it was like actual heat was rising from the page. There was so many sweet things that I loved about this book from the text messages between Hannah and Fox, Fox making Hannah’s room cosy, the scene outside the bingo to the piggyback scene which melted my heart. I did like Hannah as a character because she sees something in Fox that other people don’t. She sees beyond the player label and that he is someone who might be the one for her. Fox definitely falls hard for Hannah but his reputation stops him from showing how he truly feels and so he plays up to his reputation of being a player. As for the spicy scenes wow just wow.

If you’re looking for a fun flirty rom com, with characters that you’ll fall in love with then this is the book for you.

Author Bio

Bestselling author Tessa Bailey aspires to three things. Writing hot and unforgettable, character-driven romance, being a good mother and eventually sneaking onto the judging panel on a reality show baking competition. She lives on Long Island, New York with her husband and daughter, writing all day and rewarding herself with a cheese plate and Netflix binges in the evening. If you want sexy, heartfelt, humorous romance with a guaranteed happy ending, you’ve come to the right place.

Book Review: The Blood Trials by N. E. Davenport #TheBloodTrials @Nia_Davenport @HarperVoyagerUK @RandomTTours

Synopsis

It’s all about blood.

Blood spilled long ago between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor, ending all blood magic.

Now there is peace in the Republic – but there is also a strict class system, misogyny, and racism. Her world is not perfect, but Ikenna survived in it. Until now.

With the murder of her grandfather, Ikenna spirals out of control. Though she is an initiate for the Republic’s deadly elite military force, Ikenna has a secret only her grandfather knew: she possesses the blood magic of the Republic’s enemies.

Ikenna throws herself into the gladiatorial war games at the heart of her martial world: trials that will lead her closer to his killers. Under the spotlight, she subjects herself to abuse from a society that does not value her, that cherishes lineage over talent – all while hiding gifts that, if revealed, would lead to execution or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all to find out who killed her grandfather…

So she can end them.

My Review

When we meet Ikenna (Kenna as likes to be called) she’s not in a great place. She’s still grieving after losing her grandfather who was the only family she had. She shared a special bond with her grandfather who taught her to become the warrior she was destined to be but also because he helped her to harness her blood gift. A gift that her grandfather told her must be kept a secret. Kenna’s coping mechanism to deal with her grief is to drown her sorrows in alcohol and brawling. When Kenna is told that her grandfather was murdered, this sparks a fire in her. So Kenna signs up to take part in the Praetorian Trials with her main focus to become a Praetorian, infiltrate their inner circle, find the person who murdered her grandfather and seek her own vengeance. But the Praetorian Trials are brutal and Kenna can only achieve her goal if she survives which includes being pitted against her fellow candidates. As Kenna starts her training and the candidates are whittled down a bigger picture emerges of what happened to her grandfather, who was involved and why. Can she survive the Praetorian Trials, fulfil her mission and harness her blood gift at the same time.

I loved the front cover of this book and this is what I imagined Kenna would look like. I have been looking forward to reading this book since I read the synopsis and it was an amazing read. The storyline is full of history, action, battle scenes and full of feelings. Kenna has to deal with her grief of losing her grandfather and at the same time she is learning who he is and how to manage her powers. The training scenes and the tasks that Kenna she has to go through are not only brutal but sometimes near impossible. I can honestly say that I don’t think I would have even survived the first task never mind the ones that came later. Although the tasks start off difficult but mild they then become even harder so that Kenna has to not only fulfil the task but also prove herself worthy of joining an elite group. At the same time there is the death board looming over her which tells her which of her fellow candidates are still part of the competition and those that have been eliminated. There were some scenes not for the faint hearted which for me included the scene where Kenna met the Accursed, who were very unsettling.

As a character I liked Kenna from the beginning. She is fiery, fearless, doesn’t hold back and is the first one to get involved in a fight or throw herself into the action. I love the fact that she says what she thinks and feels and doesn’t mince her words even if that means swearing. The chemistry between Kenna and Reid was very very intense and their scenes were very spicy which I loved.

As I read the last sentences of this book all I could think was wow, when can I read the next book. This book is the first in a duology and I cannot wait to see what awaits Kenna next.

If like me you enjoy the fantasy genre with a strong female character this is the book for you.

Author Bio

Nia “N.E.” Davenport is the Science Fiction/Fantasy author of The Blood Trials and its sequel (Harper Voyager). She attended the University of Southern California and studied Biological Sciences and Theatre Arts. She also has an M.A. in Secondary Education. She teaches English and Biology to amazing students. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys vacationing with her family, skiing, and being a huge foodie. She’s an advocate for diverse perspectives and protagonists in literature. You can find her on Twitter @nia davenport, or on Instagram @nia.davenport, where she talks about binge-worthy TV, killer movies, and great books. She lives in Texas with her husband and kids.

Book Review: Dating Dr Dil by Nisha Sharma #datingdrdil @Nishawrites @Harper360UK @Harper360YA @instabooktours

Synopsis

Hi! I’m Kareena Mann. As cheesy as it sounds, I’m looking for my soulmate. In four months. And he must gain the approval of my meddling aunties.

Kareena dreams of having a perfect love story like her parents did. That’s why on the morning of her thirtieth birthday, she’s decided to suit up and enter the dating arena. When her widowed father announces he’s retiring and selling their home after her sister’s engagement party, Kareena makes a deal with him. If she can find her soulmate by the date of the party, he’ll gift her the house, and she’ll be able to keep her mother’s legacy alive. 

Hi, I’m Dr. Prem Verma, host of the Dr. Dil Show. Prem means love, Dil means heart, and I’m a cardiologist. Don’t let my name fool you. I only fix broken hearts in the literal sense.

Prem doesn’t have time for romance, which is why it’s no surprise when his first meeting with Kareena goes awry. Their second encounter is worse when their on-air debate about love goes viral. Now Prem’s largest community center donor is backing out because Prem’s reputation as a heart-health expert is at risk. To get back in his donor’s good graces, he needs to fix his image fast, and dating Kareena is his only option.

Even though they have warring interests, the more time Prem spends with Kareena, the more he thinks she’s might actually be the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. In this Taming of the Shrew re-imagination, for Prem and Kareena to find their happily ever after, they must admit that hate has turned into fate.

My Review

On the morning of her 30th birthday Kareena wakes to the news that her father is retiring and selling the family house. Everyone seems to know about this but her and she’s devastated. It’s not just any home it was her late mother’s dream home. Kareena offers to by the house from her father but she knows she doesn’t have the money. However, Kareena is aware that there is a wedding fund with her name on it, but she is single with no man in sight. So her father puts forward a proposition: if Kareena can find a fiancée and get engaged he will give her the wedding fund money so she can purchase the house. Now Kareena isn’t averse to love or marriage. She believes in true love but after not meeting the one she put her legal career first.

At the same time Prem on the other hand doesn’t believe in love and his main focus is building a community health centre. A real life Dr and the host of The Dr Dil Show, Prem is well known and loved. However, when his path crosses with Kareena they have a very public argument on his show which jeopardises the funding for the centre. The solution to both their problems; pretend to date and fall in love. Kareena can get the house and Prem’s reputation will be saved. When two worlds collide will Prem and Kareena find true love and their happily ever after.

I have been looking forward to reading this book as soon as I saw it promoted by the author. I had high hopes when reading this book and those hopes were definitely met. When a book includes your favourite tropes; enemies to lovers, love/hate relationship and fake dating I knew I was going to love it. The storyline was brilliant and engaging. I read the book within 24 hours. I adored the characters. Kareena is smart, strong and independent. She knows what she wants and goes for it. Prem definitely hides his true feelings behind his confidence and cockiness. When they first meet there’s instant chemistry and I loved the banter between them. Especially when they would try and wind each other up calling each other Rina and Dr Phil. There were some spicy scenes between them which confirmed their chemistry was off the scale.

One of my favourite scenes was the food fight. I adored Kareena’s aunties as they are not what I would describe as typical aunties and I wish mine were like them. The WhatsApp group that they have with Kareena was hilarious. They sound like a fierce crew and Kareena’s biggest cheerleaders who just want the best for her.

I honestly adored this book because it was everything I was hoping for and more. A book I would highly recommend. If you’re looking for a book with instant chemistry between the leads which includes an enemies to lovers trope then this is the book for you.

Author Bio

Nisha Sharma is the award-winning author of YA rom-com MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE, and contemporary romance drama, THE SINGH FAMILY TRILOGY. She grew up immersed in Bollywood movies, eighties pop-culture and romance novels so it comes as no surprise that her work features all three. Her writing has been praised by Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue, Buzzfeed, Hypable and more. She lives in New Jersey with her Alaskan-born husband, her cat Lizzie Bennett and her dog Nancey Drew. You can find her online at http://www.nisha-sharma.com or on Twitter and Instagram @nishawrites.

Book Review: The Balloon Thief by Aneesa Marufu #theballoonthief @AneesaMarufu @chickenhsebooks @ninadouglas

Synopsis

Burn the flame. Seek the night.

For Khadija, the only escape from her father’s arranged betrothal is the sky.

When she spots a rogue hot air balloon fighting against its ropes, she leaps at the chance for adventure. Khadija soon finds an unlikely ally in a poor glassmaker’s apprentice, Jacob.

But Jacob is a hāri, and Khadija a Ghadaean. The hāri are oppressed and restless – their infamous terrorist group, the Hāreef, have a new fearsome leader. And the ruling Ghadaeans are brutal in their repression.

Soon, a deadly revolution threatens their friendship and their world. The Hāreef use forbidden magic, summoning jinn – wicked spirits made of fire – to enact their revenge, forcing Jacob and Khadija to choose what kind of a world they want to save …

My Review

Khadija lives in Qasrah and is a Ghadaen making her very high up in the hierarchy structure of the place she calls homes. She was born into a society where women aren’t permitted to read or write and their only expectation in life is marriage. However, Khadija wants more than marriage. She wants to progress and learn. Her brother taught her how to read and she is a budding artist. When her father decides that it is time she was married and begins the search for a suitor, Khadija seizes an opportunity and escapes in a hot air balloon. When she lands unexpectedly she meets Jacob a Hari who tries to help her. The Hari are very lower down in the hierarchy, considered the lesser race and downtrodden. When Khadija saves Jacob from his master they both find themselves on the run and then Khadija’s path crosses with Darian. However, when members of the Hareef which consist of Hari members try to overthrow the hierarchy can Khadija and Jacob’s unlikely friendship survive especially when it transpires that Jacob may be involved with the Hareef.

When I was first sent the synopsis of this book I was fascinated. The synopsis promised a storyline filled with fantasy, a new world, adventure and friendship. By the end of the book that promise had been fulfilled.I read this book and listened to the audio book at the same time. This is the first time I’ve done this and thoroughly enjoyed it. This is Khadija’s story of finding freedom, breaking the norm, forging relationships through choice and not through status. But ultimately this is Khadija’s story of working out who she is and taking control of her own life. The world building was amazing and very immersive. At the same time it was easy to follow.

As characters Khadija and Jacob were fascinating. Although from different worlds, fate and a series of events brings them together. They are two very different people but at the same time they are very similar and are bound by one word: oppression. Khadija is expected to marry and based on society’s norms the only roles expected of her are wife and mother. Yet Khadija wants to learn and break free. For Jacob his birth as a Hari means that he will never be able to progress, be independent or be on equal footing with a Ghadaen. Both Khadija and Jacob are a little naïve as to what the other has personally experienced as they belong to different worlds. It’s only when they start to spend time together that they realise that they have a lot in common. When Khadija meets Darian there is definitely chemistry between them which I loved and it was the right amount for the storyline but also added another human aspect to the story.

Although this is a YA fantasy novel the author has done a brilliant job in intertwining themes of race, misogyny and discrimination which play a predominant part in the story. At the same time the author has created a beautiful story that draws on South Asian folklore and intertwines this within in story.

An epic YA fantasy that will transport you to a new world!

Author Bio

Aneesa Marufu lives in Manchester. When she isn’t running around after her toddler, she’s hunting for a new book to escape into. The Balloon Thief, her debut novel, was the winner of the KimberleyChambers Kickstart Prize in 2019. Follow Aneesa; t: @aneesamarufu / i: @aneesa.marufu