Caroline’s Top Reads 2014

Hi readers, it’s that time of year again when Tina and myself have lots of fun going through our reviews of the past year and choose our favourites to share with you! And, wow, there are so many it is difficult to narrow them down!Australian xmas card (2)

This is the end of our second full year and we cannot thank you all enough for following us and sharing our posts. We have made so many friends, be they authors, bloggers, agents, publishers and more, it has been overwhelming. We have received our first Christmas card from Australia (pictured), which was an absolute pleasure to receive. It’s amazing to see the sun and summer holiday reminders when the usual card for us is full of snow, log fires and dark evenings.

We hope that you have had a great year and are looking forward to the festive season. We are looking forward to sharing it with you. And I hope that you enjoy us sharing our favourite reads. Tina’s Top Reads will also be coming your way very soon. And here are mine!

Please click on the titles for my full review and much more info!

Contemporary Romance

Books of this genre and some contemporary rom-coms have been a big hit for me this year, and Helena Fairfax’s The Silk Romance was an absolute pleasure to read. It was written so beautifully, powerfully and thoughtfully, and certainly a read you will not forget! It is a Cinderella-type story that is highly intense and completely grips the reader. I have also likened it to some high-profile romance movies in my review as some aspects are similar and captivating!

TheLoveofMarisol_WP2014The Love of Marisol by Christos Toulouras is a short story of love and loss, but with the possibility of finding new love after. It is, again, very powerful and emotive, beginning as quite a dark and realistic read (although fiction). Taking only around an hour to read, it was one of my favourite reading hours of the year!

Contemporary Rom-Coms

Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda's Story)As well as the serious side of romance, it is always uplifting and refreshing to read some fun reads, even though they still hold a serious undertone. The book that enlightened me in this manner is C.J. Pinard’s Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda’s Story) (Duty & Desire #3). It is my favourite book of the Duty & Desire series. It is a light-hearted, fun and cheeky read. And I love how C.J. Pinard follows both Miranda’s career, as well as her romances, and at the same time the reader sees a different side to the friendship that Miranda has with Cara.

An Autumn CrushWanting to read a seasonal book at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed An Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson. It was a Bridget Jones style read, with plenty of humour and a real feel-good and refreshing feel that really captured the time of year. And with some sombre storylines for some characters it has an awful lot going on, but is still relaxing and fun to read.

Historical Romance

Summer in RyeLucy Oliver’s novella Summer in Rye is an incredibly intense short story, with power and the ability to grip the reader. Following a new governess to children that have been badly affected by smallpox, and a master that is tyrannical, Eva only has one choice: to turn to the master’s brother, who was once engaged to her. Passion reignites between these two, but after he lied before, can Eva really accept him back?

Paranormal

Vampire Flappers (Samantha Carter #1.5)To top off my favourite paranormal reads is Tim O’Rourke’s Vampire Flappers (Samantha Carter #1.5). Last year the first of the series, Vampire Seeker, was one of my favourites, and again this series has really thrilled me. It has everything from vamps, shifters, action/adventure and time travel! The romance and passion is also very intense, making for a very HOT read! This is a series not to be missed, and I cannot wait to review Vampire Watchmen (Samantha Carter #2) in the new year!

And, not always a huge fan of short stories, this year has certainly changed my point of view. I used to think that to create great characters that full novels would be more fulfilling. However, there are a number of short stories in my top reads this year and a certain series of short stories really blew my mind – Alisa Woods’ True Alpha series. There are six shifter stories, which follow Mia and shifter Lucas, their attraction and heat for each other! Yet, the dilemma is that Lucas lost his last mate, and being to close to another is just not an option. But, when rival shifters kidnap Mia, Lucas has to face his true feelings. Each story is complete with action, heat and intensity. Shifter fans will LOVE this series. Here are the links to each review:-

Desired (True Alpha #1)

Guarded (True Alpha #2)

Hunted (True Alpha #3)

Captured (True Alpha #4)

Sacrificed (True Alpha #5)

Claimed (True Alpha #6)

I am also hoping to review another short A True Alpha Christmas over the coming days before the big day. And, in the new year Alisa Woods will be releasing her Dark Alpha short story series!

Soul RebelNow, for my second entry of author C.J. Pinard we have Soul Rebel. This is my favourite novel of C.J.’s. With plenty of action, suspense and romance it really does have it all. The characters and storyline are brilliant. Nolan loses his soul during a kiss with a female succubus in a nightclub and he only has 7 days to claim his soul back! Time constraints cause the tension and really make the pace quick. Plus there are many surprises which make it an exciting read.

Blue Moon (The Blue Crystal Trilogy #1)Recommended for the younger adult (15yrs+) Blue Moon (The Blue Crystal trilogy #1) by Pat Spence is an enchanting and fairytale-like read with supernatural mystery and horror. It is highly recommended to fans of the Twilight saga, but without the vamps. It follows the idea of eternal youth, ancient links and an attraction between Emily (17) and the handsome Theo. It is highly emotive, with a great eerie atmosphere as the reader gets sucked in to the mystery. Blue Moon is a fantastic beginning to this trilogy.

Horror

Moonshine (The Moon Trilogy, #3)This year saw the final instalment of Tim O’Rourke’s Moon trilogy, Moonshine (The Moon trilogy, #3). A paranormal horror series that has it all; action and adventure, vamps, weres, heart-warming moments and plenty of surprises. The running theme through the trilogy is whether or not vamps and weres can exist in peace together. Or, will they both have to try and annihilate each other? Will the love of Winnie be enough to hold it all together? (Clicking on the links for books 2 and 3 may spoil the storyline for those who haven’t read book one.)

Moonlight (The Moon Trilogy #1)

Moonbeam (The Moon Trilogy #2)

Crime Thriller

COLD CALL BOOK COVER - with blood SAFE COPYCold Call by Colin Llewelyn Chapman, was an instant like for me. After being likened to author Martina Cole, Luther (BBC tv series) and with a pinch of Fifty Shades, Cold Call proved to be a gritty, well-planned read that follows both the suspect and the police with their investigation into the deaths of several women from seedy backgrounds. This is another read with surprises along the way that will keep you gripped until the end.

21 Hours - Dustin Stevens_1Dustin Stevens’ 21 Hours is full of action and suspense as an uncle and ex-con is attempting to save his two year old niece after she has been kidnapped. Being an ex-con he is not entirely trusted by the authorities, but he is so desperate that he will do anything! I have likened it to some action movies, such as Lethal Weapon, Commando, Ransom and Con Air as there are some elements of these in the book and especially in they way it left me feeling after I had read it. It is also another read that is quick-paced, partly due to the time that it is believed that the young girl has left!

Ooh, and now for some Festive Contemporary reads

As an added treat, and because they were brilliant reads, I thought I would share the following two festive reads:

CANDY CAIN by C.L. Scholey - Click Image to CloseC.L. Scholey’s Candy Cain is a short 55 page read that is festive, hot and full of suspense. After being snowed in during a blizzard and left on a desolate road, with only the stranger that she dislikes after briefly bumping into him earlier, the only way they can keep warm is by body heat! Hmm, I wonder where this will lead and what the outcome will be for them? There are also heart-warming moments and an underlying storyline about helping those in need.

All I Want for ChristmasAnd finally, a full-length story with a Christmas build-up, new friendships and a new romance in Amy Silver’s All I Want for Christmas. Beginning from the fourteenth of December, the story is written with each chapter being a new day in the lead up to the big day, when there are plans at The Honey Pot café for people of the neighbourhood to meet for a party of food and friendship for the lonely.

I have read many more great reads that I cannot possibly add due to the amount I have here. Crossing many genres, I always hope that there are reads in here to suit many, and I feel that there is a great mix of both published and indie authors.

I hope that you enjoy our posts and would like to thank each and everyone of you for following and supporting us. I sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and an absolutely brilliant New Year!

Caroline Barker 🙂

If you would like to check our Top Reads of 2013 to recap on our previous year, you can do so here:-

Caroline’s Top Reads 2013

Tina’s To Reads 2013

 

 

Recommended Halloween Horrors for Young Readers, Teens and Young Adults (11yrs+)

PumpkinThis weekend we are looking at our recommended reads for Halloween. With little than a week to go, and with half term holidays here in the UK, it is a fantastic chance to check out some reads for this season and hopefully read them over the hols! Today we are focusing on our younger readers (11yrs+), but of course the reads are just as much fun for mature readers too. Tomorrow we will be checking out some Halloween horrors for our adult readers (17yrs+). Be sure to come back then!

So without further ado here are some great reads for the younger and coming-of-age audience! (Please check recommended ages as there are some for 15/16yrs+.)

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Caroline and Tina 🙂

WaysToSeeGhost CvrWays to See a Ghost by Emily Diamand (reviewed by Caroline and Tina)

Teenagers Unite to Combat Evil in Explosive Paranormal  Thriller              

For ages 11+

Isis, the daughter of a charlatan psychic, can see ghosts – including that of her dead little sister, Angel. Gray is the son of a UFO-chasing conspiracy theorist. The two teenagers are forced together when their parents start dating. After a reluctant start, a friendship develops and Isis confesses her secret ability to Gray. But when Isis’ mum is inducted into an elite psychic society, run by charismatic Philip Syndal, Isis discovers there are sinister intentions beneath Philip’s charm. She and Gray find themselves in grave danger and Isis is forced to use her considerable powers to save them both.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

WolfstoneThe Wolfstone Curse by Justin Richards (reviewed by Caroline and Tina)

Thrilling Paranormal Adventure

For age 12+

If Death were an animal, she would be a wolf…

Welcome to the historic town of Wolfstone, where dark secrets lurk in the shadows and strange beasts stalk the land. Can teenagers Peter and Carys uncover the real truth behind the legend of the werewolf and will they survive the Wolfstone Curse? Read on, if you dare…

When Peter joins his archaeologist father in the strange village of Wolfstone, he has no idea what dark secrets the village and its manor house hold. From ancient standing stones, to the genetically engineered Wolfen SS soldiers, he uncovers the real truth of the werewolf myth in this action-packed adventure. The plot is interjected with ‘source documents’, letters and other ‘authentic’ material.

Exclusive interview with author, Justin Richards

Justin Richards Bio

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Blue Moon (The Blue Crystal Trilogy #1)Blue Moon (The Crystal Trilogy #1) by Pat Spence (reviewed by Caroline)

Supernatural, spellbinding horror

For ages 15yrs+

“Forget vampires,” he laughed dismissively.

“Who wants to drink blood for eternity? What we have discovered is far more seductive and a great deal more dangerous…”

When 17-year old Emily Morgan meets beautiful but strange Theo de Lucis, there is an immediate attraction between them. But what is his secret? What ancient link ties him to Emily? And what is the significance of the Blue Moon Ball?

As Emily is drawn irrevocably into the glamorous and mysterious world of the de Lucis family, so she is forced to change every perception she has ever had about life, love, aging and death. The truth is terrifying and the consequences unthinkable…

A supernatural horror story, based on society’s obsession with aging and the desire for eternal youth, Blue Moon is the first book in the ‘Blue Crystal’ trilogy…

“For all ‘Twilight’ fans who want a change from vampires, this is the book for you.”

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Keira Hudson Series 1, 2, and 3 by Tim O’Rourke (reviewed, or to be reviewed, by Caroline)

Paranormal horror adventure

For ages 15yrs+

When 20-year-old police recruit Kiera Hudson is posted to the remote town of The Ragged Cove, her life is changed forever. Investigating a series of horrific murders, grave desecrations, and missing persons, Kiera uses her unique ability of seeing, and soon realizes her own life is in danger. When Kiera falls for police officer Luke Bishop, not only are her mind and heart opened to a terrifyingly new world, she comes to suspect that Luke might be involved in the killings. In a race against time to unearth the truth, Kiera must discover the identity of who – or what – is behind the gruesome deaths on her Vampire Shift.

Vampire Shift (Keira Hudson series One, #1) is available at Amazon for FREE at the time of writing. (Please be aware prices are subject to change). Check it out at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

The latest release, Keira Hudson & the Creeping Men (Keira Hudson series Three, #1) is also now available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

All titles in the Keira Hudson series are mentioned below, with either a link to our review or to reviews on Goodreads. We do intend on reviewing the remaining books in the not so distant future!

Vampire Shift (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 1)

Vampire Wake (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 2)

Vampire Hunt (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 3)

Vampire Breed (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 4)

Wolf House (Potter’s Story) (Kiera Hudson Series 1 Book 4.5) – novella

Vampire Hollows (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 5)

Dead Flesh (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 1)

Dead Night – Potter’s Secrets (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 1.5) – novella

Dead Angels (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 2)

Dead Statues (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 3)

Dead Seth (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 4)

Dead Wolf (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 5)

Dead Water (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 6)

Dead Push (Keira Hudson, Series 2, Book 7)

Dead Lost (Keira Hudson, Series 2, Book 8)

Dead End (Keira Hudson, Series 2, Book 9)

Keira Hudson & the Creeping Men (Keira Hudson, Series 3, Book 1)

In addition to the above, please check out:-

Vampire Shift – The Graphic Novel (Volume One) (Keira Hudson Series One) –  illustrated by Craig Twyman

CursedCursed by Georgina Hannan (to be reviewed by Caroline)

Scary and suspenseful horror romance.

For ages 16yrs+

A young adult story about a group of four friends who emark on a holiday together to the georgeous countryside of Dartmoor, Devon. Each of them hoping for an adventure, something they will always remember. However, it isn’t long before they get what they want.

The group are plagued by noises after hearing the myths and legends of the area. Is it just overactive imaginations or is there a visitor in the spare room who is trying to get their attention?

Join the group on a spectacular journey as they discover what Dartmoor has to offer.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Amethyst's incredible journeyAmethyst’s Incredible Journey by Lisa Bland (to be reviewed by Caroline)

Fantasy adventure

For ages 11yrs+

Amethyst is a witch with extremely evil and powerful parents. Amethyst is terrified that if she don’t stop her parents soon it will be too late, and they will gain control of Golden Dragon City and the Fountain of Magic. Amethyst knows that she has only got until her next birthday to stop them!.Amethyst has to travel through different realms to collect the blood red rubies that she needs to stop them.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US(Please note that this book is showing as currently unavailable. We do hope that it is available as soon as possible.)

WHEREWOLVESWherewolves by John Vamvas and Olga Montes (to be reviewed by Caroline)

Horror thriller

For ages 16yrs+

Using a fun, explosive style, full of new slang and fresh dialogue, WHEREWOLVES is the story of a group of high school seniors, most “military brats”, who are headed for an army-type survival weekend.

The underdogs, Jeffrey and Doris, do not want to go as they fear for their safety among the disdain and cruelty of the popular students. Sergeant Tim O’Sullivan, their teacher, as well as their dysfunctional parents pressure them into going, but it is an unforgivable act by their peers that propels the pair to go. Likewise, Elie, a student resented because of his Arab roots, is even more determined to prove himself this weekend. In the background, a news report cautions of a wanted couple with alleged super-human strength supposedly brought on by a new drug on the streets.

In the woods, the students hike, hunt, camp, and soon act in unity as the forest brings them closer together. But does it? O’Sullivan leaves them alone for the night. The students bond, chant, tell campfire tales, and quickly lose their fears and inhibitions. HOO-AH! Though sexual tensions are high, it soon turns to violence and everything quickly turns sour.

When the kids start disappearing one after the other, the remaining begin to unwittingly “act like the natives” carving spears, ready to face whatever is out there. What has gotten into them?

Amid the blood-curdling growls and the gruesome deaths, the story’s underlying layers are revealed. We see how misconceptions, prejudice, greed, fear, and hatred bring out the worst and best in them.

What is out there? Can it really be werewolves?

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

For more great reads and best sellers in the horror genre for teens and young adults please visit Amazon UK or Amazon US.

And be sure to come back tomorrow for our recommended reads for mature/adult readers, 17yrs+!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

 

 

Blue Moon (The Blue Crystal Trilogy #1) by Pat Spence (blurb, review & GIVEAWAY)

Blue Moon (The Blue Crystal Trilogy #1)

Not only do we have the pleasure in reviewing the latest book published by Hashtag Books, the brilliant supernatural horror Blue Moon (The Crystal Trilogy #1) by Pat Spence BUT we are also giving away 2 ebooks! For a chance to win one all you have to do is add your name in the comments list below (or on our Facebook page)! The two lucky winners will be randomly selected on Sunday 13th April 2014. Good luck, guys 🙂

BLURB: “Forget vampires,” he laughed dismissively.

“Who wants to drink blood for eternity? What we have discovered is far more seductive and a great deal more dangerous…”

When 17-year old Emily Morgan meets beautiful but strange Theo de Lucis, there is an immediate attraction between them. But what is his secret? What ancient link ties him to Emily? And what is the significance of the Blue Moon Ball?

As Emily is drawn irrevocably into the glamorous and mysterious world of the de Lucis family, so she is forced to change every perception she has ever had about life, love, aging and death. The truth is terrifying and the consequences unthinkable…

A supernatural horror story, based on society’s obsession with aging and the desire for eternal youth, Blue Moon is the first book in the ‘Blue Crystal’ trilogy…

“For all ‘Twilight’ fans who want a change from vampires, this is the book for you.”

REVIEW:

To say I LOVED Blue Moon is an understatement. I was spellbound from very early on in the story as the characters and mystery captivated me. The intensity is ongoing as the heartbeat keeps pounding through the supernatural mystery and horror. Blue Moon is likened to ‘Twilight’ without the vampires, and to begin with that is the feel of the story as the main character Emily Morgan first meets with Theo and Violet de Lucis. However, Blue Moon took me on a nostalgic journey as Enid Blyton was mentioned, albeit a more mature read. As Emily secretly tries to find out more about Theo and his family she puts herself in grave danger at times as she explores Hartswell Hall alone, with the risk of being caught.

 

The language and descriptions throughout Blue Moon are very powerful, allowing the reader to feel every sense of fear that Emily experiences. Pat Spence creates amazing atmosphere, some moments are eery and dark, whilst other scenes are touching and warm. The story was so profound that one scene in particular had me almost in tears!

 

Two examples of the language and the power it has over the reader are extracts from early on in the story when Emily first encounters Theo and her thoughts on meeting him:

 

Extract 1 (the encounter)

 

Gazing into his eyes, I was lost in their intensity. It was like looking into the bluest sky and carrying on to infinity. I felt mesmerised, hypnotised and transfixed all at once.”

 

Extract 2 (Emily’s reaction)

 

This was like nothing I had ever encountered before. It was all consuming, all-powerful and quite simply beyond my sphere of experience. Some deep inner instinct warned me it might almost be dangerous, but this simply added to his attraction and, if I’m honest, gave me the greatest thrill of all.”

 

The reader can relate to Emily on many levels. We all feel love, and her love for Theo is deeper than any other. She is drawn to him and has a connection that only they seem to sense, Theo even moreso. Emily is confused at times, not knowing whether to believe Theo’s story as some parts make sense but it is all too fairytale-like! Is he just a fantasist or is there meaning behind what he says?

 

Firstly, there is the sheer beauty of the whole of the de Lucis family. One finds it impossible to overt their gaze. And how soon do they rebuild Hartswell Hall and it’s grounds to an impeccable level? Surely that cannot be! The reader truly becomes more and more surrounded by strange happenings, incredible characters (including Dark Ones, shapeshifters and reptilia) and questions with few answers. You become absorbed into the story just as deeply as Emily is.

 

As the story begins to touch on the idea of eternal youth, or the alternative, that is when the secrecy and mystery begins as well as the horror. I found the horror scenes to be horrendous, hideous and more psychological than gory. They certainly encourage you to think about the ageing process and the lengths that some go to in order to retain their youthfulness.

 

Emily’s family and friends are the characters that keep her truly grounded and help her to feel ‘normal’. Living with her mother and grandfather provides Emily with the support she needs from a loving family who only wish the best for her. And being able to speak to her friends, Tash and Seth, allow Emily the outlet she needs by being there for her when she feels she needs to talk and seek reason. However, Theo just has this hold over her and Emily can’t let go.

 

I recommend Blue Moon for readers 15yrs+ due to the subject matter and horror. Readers will be as captivated and drawn to Blue Moon as I was. I cannot wait for the second instalment.

 

A copy of Pat Spence’s Blue Moon (The Blue Crystal Trilogy #1) was provided by Hashtag Books for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

 

You can find ebook and paperback versions on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

 

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY FOR THE CHANCE TO WIN A COPY (2 copies up for grabs)! CLOSING DATE IS SUNDAY 13TH APRIL 2014 – just add your name in the comments below or on Facebook!

 

Reviewed by Caroline Barker