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Friday, 31 May 2013

Guest Review: God Save the Queen by Kate Locke (The Immortal Empire #1)


Sarah from Feeling Fictional has very kindly offered to let me use her review of God Save the Queen as a guest review here at Once Upon a Series. Thank you very much Sarah, and for those readers who haven't checked out Sarah's blog before... go do it now!


Publisher - Orbit
Publication Date - 5th July 2012
Paperback - 384 pages
Genre - Urban Fantasy

Source - Received from publisher for review


Book Info - The Year is 2012 - and Queen Victoria still rules with an immortal fist.

She's the undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where technology lives side by side with magic, where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath) and Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day.

Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it's her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But things get complicated when her sister goes missing. Xandra will not only realise she's the prize in a dangerous power struggle - but she'll also uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire itself.

Sarah's Review - As soon as I saw the cover I knew I wanted to read God Save the Queen - it was the combination of the steampunk style outfit with modern London buildings in the background that raised my curiosity. You've got to love a heroine with bright red hair too! Reading the blurb and discovering Kate Locke has created an alternate history where Queen Victoria didn't die - she was actually infected with the plague and became a vampire - just sealed the deal and moved this onto my 'must read' pile of books. Imagine a world where Queen Victoria is celebrating her 175 year on the throne, a world where the British Aristocracy were all infected with a plague that turned them into vampires. The same plague that turned the Scottish Aristocracy into werewolves but didn't really have any effect on the main population. You have a world full of steampunk technology, where women wear corsets and where your heritage dictates your place in society. You also have a story that is a mixture of urban fantasy, alternate history and steampunk - in other words a story that is full of awesome.

Our heroine is Xandra, a 22 year old halvie who was born of a vampire father and a human courtesan and who now works for the Royal Guard protecting the Aristocracy. When her sister Dede goes missing and is presumed dead Xandra is the only one who doesn't believe what she is told, she is convinced that her sister is still out there somewhere and is determined to find out what happened to her. Even Xandra's brother Val and her other sister Avery believe that Dede is dead so she is on her own when it comes to the investigation. The more Xandra starts digging into Dede's disappearance the more she starts to uncover about her own past and the secrets those she is closest to have been keeping from her.

Xandra is the kind of character I find it easy to care for, she is strong and independent but she is also caring and she knows when to accept the help that is offered to her. She has been kept in the dark for her whole life and everything she thinks she knows is completely turned upside down throughout the story. I can't say much more without giving spoilers so I'm just going to say I was impressed with the way she coped with the revelations that were thrown at her. I really found myself liking her family unit, particularly the relationships she has with her siblings but some of the characters I'm most interested in finding out more about are Vex (the Alpha of the British werewolves) and the Goblin Prince. I have a feeling there are a lot more secrets still to uncover and I'll be interested to see how the story develops in the next book.

Considering God Save the Queen was written by an American author it had an authentic British feel to it that I really enjoyed. Add in a great cast of characters, a mystery that kept me guessing and some fabulous world building and this is a book you won't want to miss out on. I can't wait to get my hands on the next instalment and will definitely be adding Kate Locke to my list of authors to watch out for.

Other books in the series:
1. God Save the Queen
2. The Queen is Dead

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Review: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

 
This is the first review by new Once Upon a Series blogger, Maddie. So please give her a nice warm welcome.
 

Publisher - Headline
Publication Date - 4th April 2013
Hardback - 404 pages
Genre - YA Contemporary Romance

Source - Received from publisher for review

Rating - 4 out of 5: I really liked it

Reviewed by - Maddie
 
Book Info - Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don't tell each other everything; Graham doesn't know the major secret hidden in Ellie's family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles.

When the location for the shoot of Graham's new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie's mom want her to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

My Thoughts - With the state of teenage romance (vampires, werewolves, ghosts, aliens and fairy tales are all nearly ruined for me by the genre called 'dark romance') I tend to stay away from love stories but I am so glad I read This Is What Happy Looks Like, even if it wasn't quite perfect.

This book begins with an adorable email exchange between Ellie and the mysterious GDL824@yahoo.com. I say mysterious.... but you can guess in three seconds who he's meant to be. Well I could, but my friends instantly assumed he must be a creepy internet stalker. Ah the modern age. 

These emails were quick and sparky and kept the novel moving at a fast pace. I was a little sad sometimes when the writing went back to a normal format because the emails were so entertaining. I'm not a very soppy person but the emails where they talk about 'What happy looks like' (I love this title!) were so... cute? I'm really not one those people to call a book 'cute' but it's the right way to describe this book.

The subtler sides of Ellie's character were revealed in these emails. Compared to the normal chapters where she was just a nice, normal girl the emails let me finally start caring for her by showing me how funny and clever she could be. 

It was even harder for me to care or understand Ellie's best friend Quinn. She deserts Ellie for most of the novel because Ellie kept a secret from her. A secret. One secret! Well, it was actually two kind of massive secrets, but still! It was really selfish and strange, especially as Quinn was supposed to be such a friendly person and her leaving Ellie to deal with her own problems made no sense.

And then there is Graham. I don't care if he was a little too perfect to be a normal teenage boy, I thought he was great. He was a high school pupil who did good and loved his family. Even when he kept on telling us how hard it was to be a famous teen heartthrob, I could forgive him.

If this was all the book consisted of I would have enjoyed it but I would have not been impressed. Sorry, I'm fussy. If it wasn't for Ellie's relationship with her mother, her back story and how Jennifer E. Smith dealt with the Graham's new found fame.

Summary - This book talks about celebrity love, hidden pasts, what happy looks like and other ridiculously cheesy things yet, unlike normal romance stories, I love it. I was reading with fast pace page turning and a wide a grin on my face. Even though it is slightly ruined by such a cheesy ending I still would like to give this book four stars. Definitely a great summer read.

Monday, 27 May 2013

It's Monday! What are you Reading? (27th May 2013)


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey that gives us all a chance to list the books that we read last week and what we hope to read this week.

Books We Read Last Week:
Chrissie - One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean (Rules of Scoundrels #2)
Maddie - This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith







 
Books Reviewed Last Week:
Zelah Green, Queen of Clean by Vanessa Curtis (Zelah Green #1)
One More Little Problem by Vanessa Curtis (Zelah Green #2)








Books We're Currently Reading:
Immortal Eclipse by Sherry Soule








Books Up Next:
Bare It All by Lori Foster (Love Undercover #2)

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Stacking the Shelves (25th May 2013)


Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! I didn't get a chance to do Stacking the Shelves last week, so this is my haul from the last two weeks.

For Review:

Desire's Edge by Eve Berlin (Pleasure Dome #2)

Kara Crawford doesn't expect to find anyone who can fulfil her dark fantasies until she experiences one of the most incredible nights of her life with a man she's always admired from afar.

Dante De Matteo may be a master of control now, but his troubled past means he won't let anyone ever get too close...

Leopard's Prey by Christine Feehan (Leopard People #6)

From a tough stint in the armed forces to stalking the unknown as a bayou cop, leopard-shifter Remy Boudreux has been served well by his uncanny gifts. And right now, New Orleans could use a homicide detective like Remy.

A serial killer is loose, snatching victims from the French Quarter with pitiless rage and unnatural efficiency. But something else is drawing Remy into the twilight - a beautiful jazz singer bathed, night after night, in a flood of blood-red neon.

Sultry, mysterious and as seductive as her songs, she's luring Remy deeper into the shadows than he ever imagined possible. And as their passions swell, his keen instinct for survival will be challenged like never before. By a killer - and by a woman.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Review: One More Little Problem by Vanessa Curtis (Zelah Green #2)

Publisher - Egmont Books Ltd
Publication Date - 5th July 2010
Paperback - 240 pages
Genre - YA Contemporary

Source - Library

Rating - 4 out of 5: I really liked it

Reviewed by - Amy

Book Info -Warm, winning and real, Zelah Green is back!

My name is Zelah Green and I'm a Cleanaholic. It's the summer hols and I'm on major Flirt Alert. I've joined mysortaspace.com and ever since I've been getting emails from loads of boys.

Boys are Dirt Alert AND Germ Alert. Don't even talk to me about kissing...

The rest of my life's a bit rubbish too.

My Thoughts (contains spoilers for Book 1) - So...? Not being resilient characters, are we?

Well, perhaps that is a good thing (we don’t want people to have the resilience to be difficult- especially Zelah). No, not just Zelah- I mentioned (last review) the (ex)stepmother, a character in Book 1. I kept thinking she’d pop up & I was generally thinking she’d be developed. Why? She just sounded interesting; recently I’ve been reading some books with very developed adults & whole families. And now she’s the missing piece of the jigsaw. she really is missing so maybe it’d be best if I had read the second book first (*cough* mystery read-book-2-in-a-series-as-a-standalone library book borrower *cough*) & knew nothing of her...

I’d have missed lots though & I wouldn’t want to miss any of Zelah even if the books aren’t flawless (in my opinions). So, let’s delve into Zelah Land- as I said I would:

Teen Green (sounds more normal Ze?) thinks she isn’t a difficult child but perhaps this is because at Forest Hill she was the easiest a lot of the time- she really did go through a lot though & in the end Zelah probably reckons that’s the reason Mr Green came back. He can turn his back on a difficult daughter but not so much a perfect(ish) one? As you can tell he’s flawed, like Zelah.

Boom. Character Arc score.

But does that mean there’s room for the flawed Caro (I actually forgot until afterwards that I wanted more Lib- that makes up for the “where’s stepmother?” as Caro is just... --->)



GOSH, it’s a misunderstanding! We know Zelah wanted wanted a Forest Hill person to come into her life but she’d have preferred a certain quieter one (just a heads up, there are no quiet people whose name begins with ‘L’, or ‘C’ for that matter, in this book). We know who! It’s summer, why wouldn’t it be a Summer romance (hello blurb & first few pages... not cover, duh!)? She may forget a high quantity of her to-do’s... Yes, well- that’s what I expected! I’m not going to say what got added/taken away from her to-do’s but let’s just say it involved watching lots of (laugh out laugh) debates between Caro & those who dare cross her path. There was a serious depth underneath that- I may have laughed & wondered if anybody else could argue like that- they can’t- but I did feel empathy.

Relationships were built, broken (that’s the only insta thing by the way, don’t let the blurb make you think of the moment when eyes meet & hearts bonds eternally...) and other elements of OCD were examined in one chapter. It wasn’t preachy but I liked how we came to see how the rituals developed, and are fluctuating. We also get to see other things those with OCD may do & how they feel about it. It was short but I was reminded about why I picked up, and really enjoyed, this series.

Summary (no spoilers, if you just want a general opinion...) - If that isn’t enough for you I’ll say this: it was slightly different from the first book- it wrapped up even better & that is why it has the same rating, others parts didn’t seem quite as excelling. I must admit I expected it to either be better than Book 1 or really not. It wasn’t either of them; I was satisfied & laughed (well... tried not to laugh) a lot more! The characters definitely shone (FYI: My Mum wants a third book with Liv in*) & I am glad I read this in conclusion.

*she actually told me to type that :L

Other books in the series:
1. Zelah Green, Queen of Clean
2. One More Little Problem

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Book Excerpt: Fire by Heather James


Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Heather James to Once Upon a Series, who will be sharing an excerpt of her YA fantasy novel, Fire, with us all today.

About the book:
Is control over the elements a gift, or a curse?

Enter a world where it's normal to spark flames in your fingertips, or produce gale-force winds with a flick of your wrists.

Roxy thinks that she is in control of everything: with flames flaring at her fingertips and an equally fiery attitude, what more could she need? But then she meets Brae, a prince from a rival Realm, who turns her assumptions of superiority upside down.

Jasmine has none of Roxy’s confidence or intensity. But she does have a secret - and Brae - and she’s not going to give either up willingly.

Excerpt:
Fire rose high into the trees on either side of me, closing in much faster than I'd anticipated. The air was thick with heat and smoke. I had to keep moving, fast. My heart hammered against my chest, keeping time with my feet as they pounded across the uneven ground. Above me, both suns hung high in the air, shining down mercilessly and adding more heat to that of the blaze.

I heard, rather than saw, the ball of flames whizzing through the air behind me, branches crackling to dust as it went. Moving on instinct, I threw myself to the ground, feeling the gritted earth graze my already filthy face and arms.

Only one thought ran through my mind: they were getting closer.

I pushed myself to my feet and set off again, faster than before. As I ran, I pushed a loose strand of hair - as red as the inferno surrounding me - away from my face. It had fallen out of its tie hours ago, but I hadn't stopped for long enough to fix it.

The flames kept coming, attacking me from both sides so that I had to duck and weave as I went. As I darted right, my feet stumbled on the uneven terrain. I couldn't keep this up for much longer; I needed to stand and fight.

"Come on then. I'm ready for you," I whispered to myself as I came to a stop. I wheeled around just in time to see a cloaked figure emerge from the trees to my left. The cloak gleamed with glittering red swirls that made it look as though it were aflame.

Where there should have been a face, I saw nothing but darkness.

Slowly, the figure raised his hands out towards me, toying with me; he thought I was beat. Flames sprung up at his fingertips and danced across his hands, gradually increasing in intensity.

But he was being complacent. He was nowhere close to winning this fight. While he put on his pyrotechnics show, my own fingertips burst into flames, burning faster and fiercer. Before he realised what was happening, I cast my hands out in front of me, sending a ball of fire straight at his chest. Thrown back by the force of the hit, he lay on the ground, motionless.

One down, two to go.

The flare receded from my fingers but the tingling sensation lingered; I was ready to attack as soon as I needed. Bending over the unconscious figure I pulled a shining silver ring from the index finger of his left hand. Shoving it into my pocket I set off again, but this time I headed left, in the direction the cloaked figure had emerged from.

I'd had enough of being hunted.

About the author:
Heather James is a young-adult author who writes about heroines with amazing powers, heroes who will break your heart and fantasy realms that you will want to move to.

She works in the attendance office of a South-East London secondary school and spends her school holidays writing, reading, playing flag-American football and using Pinterest and Goodreads.

You can find out more about her over at her blog.

Heather is also holding a 100 follower giveaway on her blog. To be in with a chance of winning one of ten e-copies of Fire, just follow Heather James' blog and enter here.

To start reading straight away, you can purchase Fire from:
Amazon / Kobo / Barnes and Noble

Thank you Heather, for taking the time to share your novel with us all today. It sounds amazing, and I for one can't wait to start reading it. So everybody, head on over to Heather's blog for a chance to win a copy of Fire, or if you can't possibly wait that long, visit one of the links above to purchase a copy!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week my "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead (Age of X #1)
In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military's most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Review: Zelah Green, Queen of Clean by Vanessa Curtis (Zelah Green #1)


This is the first review by new Once Upon a Series blogger, Amy. So please give her a nice warm welcome. You can also check out Amy's blog which is dedicated to UK YA here.

Publisher - Egmont Books Ltd
Publication Date - 5th July 2010
Paperback - 256 pages
Genre - YA Contemporary

Source - Library

Rating - 4 out of 5: I really liked it

Reviewed by - Amy

Book Info - My name is Zelah Green and I'm a Cleanaholic.

I spend most of my life on Germ-Alert (Germ-Alert is for when people forget to wash their hands and then try to touch me.) It's a miracle I ever get to school. But then my stepmother packed me off to live with a bunch of weirdos at Forest Hill where everyone has their 'little problems' too...

There's Alice, who lives on a yoghurt a day; Caro, who's all attitude and heavy metal music... Lib- I don't even want to think about her problem... And then there's Sol... Sol, with his deep brown eyes and olive skin. Sol, who won't speak, but has the cutest smile. Sol, who... Uh oh, FLIRT ALERT!...

Maybe, just maybe, something good could happen here...

My Thoughts - Zelah Green was a really interesting look at life for a variety of “issues”. I’m only saying issues not characters cos although the characters were different this isn’t as rare as them all pretty much having issues.

Like OCD. Welcome Zelah and her rituals which are just beyond belief. Some things I really believed; I squirmed, cringed, giggled ‘aww’ed, ‘Gah’ed and was like,



I empathised slightly too much. In OCD the important letter is the ‘O’. Obsessive. Sometimes, I kid you not, I feel like my life is unbalanced (cos of my slight ‘O-’cd-, well probably not just that but for me it’s not the biggest thing, anyway... this isn’t about me). OCD, and unbalance which is all too likely to occur, for Zelah means disaster! Yes, it’s the BIG thing in her life.

But can skipping dozens of jumps change your life? You’ll see if ritual cutting down can change her life or if it’s Forest Hill. In the end the stepmother didn’t properly seem real. Disappointing as she was a main character (even more than Sol, aka. the love interest). Yup, guys- this is a hardly a romance. Chances are you’ll love the characters even though and curse the stupid person who took Book 2 out of the library I want to have the next one now. There wasn’t a major cliff-hanger (if there was you’d have seen depressed tweets). However once again I have a book leaving me wanting more information. Like NOW.

Tell me more about Lib, Curtis. Pleeease.

Summary - The thing that made this book comical and serious effectively was the fact you could believe both and it was pretty much: that’s LIFE. I really enjoyed it & I may’ve mentioned that it wasn’t a romance- not all books are, not all I enjoy & not all on this blog. I may have been expecting it to be but, it was lovely as it was with awesome characters & an equally epic place. I love Forest Hill & I just wish I knew it existed (not for me, but just for general awesomeness). It seems so real so maybe there are places like that. I hope they are as wonderful as this book was- it really didn’t disappoint.

Other books in the series:
1. Zelah Green, Queen of Clean
2. One More Little Problem

Monday, 20 May 2013

It's Monday! What are You Reading? (20th May 2013)


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey that gives us all a chance to list the books that we read last week and what we hope to read this week.

So last week was absolutely crazy busy so I didn't get to finish either of the books I was reading. But if all goes to plan I will hopefully get them finished up this week instead *fingers crossed*. I definitely have plans for a much quieter week!

Books We Read Last Week:
None

Books Reviewed Last Week:
Forbidden Fruit by Eden Bradley








Books We're Currently Reading:
Immortal Eclipse by Sherry Soule
One Good Earl Deserves Another by Sarah MacLean (Rules of Scoundrels #2)








Books Up Next:
Bare It All by Lori Foster (Love Undercover #2)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Review: Forbidden Fruit by Eden Bradley

Publisher - Black Lace
Publication Date - 6th December 2012
Paperback - 320 pages
Genre - Erotic Romance

Source - Received from publisher for review

Rating - 2 out of 5: It was ok

Reviewed by - Chrissie

Book Info - While Mia Curry's university students cram into her class on sexuality, Mia has always kept her own private fantasies carefully under wraps - until now...

Jagger James is everything Mia wants and everything that is taboo: he's young, gorgeous - and a student.

But how can Mia resist?

My thoughts - I recently read another book by this author writing under a different name (Pleasure's Edge by Eve Berlin) which I loved, so I was very excited to be starting this book. But unfortunately, I just didn't enjoy this book as much.

I love this author's style of writing. It's clear and easy to read and it's easy to get swept up in her words. In particular, the sexy times in this book are very very hot. If there is one thing this author knows how to do it's write a sex scene that will leave the reader feeling hot under the collar.

However, my main problem with this book was the ratio of sex to storyline... it was weighted far too heavily on the side of sex, leaving me with a feeling that the little plot that was there was rushed and used only to lead onto the naughty bits. I know that this is an erotic romance and that there will be a lot of sex in it... that's fine by me. But I still want to feel as though I know the characters. I want to feel as though I've connected with the them and that I actually care about what happens to them. But in Forbidden Fruit, that just wasn't the case. As far as I could see, there was a small amount of introductory story, lots of sex and then a very rushed and convenient feeling happy ever after, which I didn't really find all that satisfying.

The story goes backwards and forwards between two couples - Mia Rose and Jagger (teacher and student) and Karalee and Gideon (two other teachers at the same school) and although there is some background given for the main couple, very little is learnt about Karalee and Gideon. In fact I struggled to see why their story was included... other than to allow the author the opportunity to write about more sexy times. Now this is purely a personal gripe, but in Forbidden Fruit, one person in each of the couples has had a partner pass away which isn't a plotline that I particularly enjoy. Having been through that kind of experience myself I just feel that it is difficult for an author to handle that kind of grief effectively and realistically. And in this book, especially in the case of Gideon, it felt as though it was just mentioned in passing as an excuse for fearing commitment rather than actually being used for any real kind of character development.

Summary - Despite the author's writing style and the hot and steamy sexy times in this book, I will admit to having struggled to finish this one. I just didn't connect with the characters and I found it to be pretty unsatisfying overall.

Monday, 13 May 2013

It's Monday! What are you Reading? (13th May 2013)


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey that gives us all a chance to list the books that we read last week and what we hope to read this week.

Books We Read Last Week:
Chrissie - Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson #7)
Amy - One More Little Problem by Vanessa Curtis (Zelah Green #2)








Books Reviewed Last Week:
Pleasure's Edge by Eve Berlin (Pleasure Dome #1)
Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich (Lizzy and Diesel #2)








Books We're Currently Reading:
Immortal Eclipse by Sherry Soule








Books Up Next:
Bare It All by Lori Foster (Love Undercover #2)


Saturday, 11 May 2013

Stacking the Shelves (11th May 2013)



Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

For Review:

Things We Never Say by Sheila O'Flanagan

Abby Anderson is the last person to go looking for change. Yes, it's tough that she barely sees her mother these days - but in San Francisco she has great friends, a fun relationship and a job she enjoys. Then she's contacted by Irish lawyer Ryan Gilligan and learns in an instant that everything she believed about her roots is a lie.  She must travel to Dublin to find out more - and to meet the family who had no idea that she existed. In Ireland, thousands of miles from home, Abbey faces a choice that will affect everyone she knows. How can she be sure she makes the right one? And can life ever be quite the same again?

Fire by Heather James

Is control over the elements a gift, or a curse?

Enter a world where it's normal to spark flames in your fingertips, or produce gale-force winds with a flick of your wrists.

Roxy thinks that she is in control of everything: with flames flaring at her fingertips and an equally fiery attitude, what more could she need? But then she meets Brae, a prince from a rival Realm, who turns her assumptions of superiority upside down.

Jasmine has none of Roxy’s confidence or intensity. But she does have a secret - and Brae - and she’s not going to give either up willingly.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Review: Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich (Lizzy and Diesel #2)

Publisher - Headline
Publication Date - 20th November 2012
Paperback - 352 pages
Genre - Paranormal/Mystery

Source - Received from publisher for review

Rating - 3 out of 5: I liked it.

Book Info - After the mysterious death of Harvard University English professor and hopeless romantic, Gilbert Reedy, Lizzy Tucker's once normal life as a pastry chef in Salem, Massachusetts is turned upside down. Following in Reedy's footsteps, Lizzy and her very attractive - but very unobtainable - partner, Diesel, take up his twenty-year quest to find the Luxuria Stone, an ancient relic believed by some to be infused with the power of lust.

But soon Lizzy and Diesel discover they are not alone in their search for the stone. Diesel's cousin, Gerwulf Grimoir, also wants to wield its power to fulfil his own wicked plans, and will stop at nothing until he finds it.

Treasures will be sought and the power of lust is undeniable in this ancient quest that is full of twisted riddles and high-stakes hide-and-seek.

My thoughts - Okay, so I've said this before and I'll say it again... the best thing about Janet Evanovich's writing is the humour. It is impossible to read one of her books without laughing out loud - a lot! That makes this book a perfect light-hearted read to relax with after a busy day. Something that doesn't tax the brain too much but is sure to cheer you up and make you laugh.

The other thing that Ms. Evanovich excels at is creating loveable and very colourful characters. It's absolutely impossible not to love all of the characters in this book. Even the villain of the piece is so over-the-top evil that she's funny. In Wicked Business, even a monkey and a broom become characters in their own right, and that takes a lot of skill.

The one main downfall of this book, and I have found the same to be true of most other books I've read by this author, is that the plot is fairly predictable and simple. There were no real twists along the way and there were no really exciting events either. So, all-in-all, the plot was pretty bland.

Summary - Although the plot leaves a fair amount to be desired, the characters and the humour do make this an enjoyable read. If you are looking for a light and humourous read to make you laugh out loud, while not making you have to think a whole lot, then this is the book for you.

Other books in the series:
1. Wicked Appetite
2. Wicked Business

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Author Interview: Jaimie Admans


Today, we at Once Upon a Series are very lucky to have indie author Jaimie Admans here to promote her new novel, Afterlife Academy. Jaimie is also starting her blog tour tomorrow so the stops for the tour will be at the end of this post so that you can stalk her if you so wish! Just don't tell Jaimie it was me who sent you!

About the book:

Even being dead isn’t enough to get you out of maths class.

Dying wasn't on sixteen-year-old Riley Richardson's to-do list. And now, not only is she dead, but she's stuck in a perpetual high school nightmare. Worse still, she's stuck there with the geekiest, most annoying boy in the history of the world, ever.

In a school where the geeks are popular and just about everything is wrong, Riley has become an outcast. She begins a desperate quest to get back home, but her once-perfect life starts to unravel into something not nearly as great as she thought it was. And maybe death isn’t really that bad after all...

Welcome to Afterlife Academy, where horns are the norm, the microwave is more intelligent than the teachers, and the pumpkins have a taste for blood.

Amy (Once Upon a Series): For the readers, what’s your name & where do you call home?
Jaimie: Hello! I’m Jaimie Admans, much too close to being 30 for my liking, and home is a tiny, boring village in South Wales, UK!

Amy: What three words would you use to describe Afterlife Academy?
Jaimie: A paranormal romantic comedy! Or death after life - that’s three words and that’s really what the book is all about!

Amy: How long did it take you to write Afterlife Academy?
Jaimie: It was about a month to get the first draft down, but that’s the easy part. I do quick and messy first drafts and worry about fixing them later! It was another four months to get it edited into readable shape, and then another couple of months of final tweaks and preparing it for release!

Amy: Where did you get your inspiration for the Afterlife Academy? Was it simply just from thinking about going to school when you were dead?
Jaimie: That’s it. It’s often hard to pinpoint where the inspiration comes from as it’s usually just a fleeting thought or seeing something written somewhere or a picture or watching the news, any small thing can spark off a snowball effect of thoughts that end up being a book plot. For Afterlife Academy, I was just thinking about teachers and how strict they are, and I thought ‘I bet they’d even make you finish your education if you were dead!’ – Lightbulb moment! Things snowballed from there – the idea of a previously popular girl being dumped in a school where suddenly no one likes her, being stuck with the uncoolest guy she knows, classes specifically for dead kids, etc. Things quickly spiral when you start thinking about them!

Amy: What were your school experiences like? Did you ever skive like Riley did when she was alive?
Jaimie: Very much so, I’m afraid! I skived whole days rather than the odd lesson here and there though like Riley does, so I was pretty much worse than her! And, like Riley, maths was my most-hated subject! We had a horror of a teacher for maths, and all she ever accomplished was to give everyone in her class a life-long hatred of maths!

Amy: What made you want to write Riley as a once popular character and Anthony unpopular but then vice versa in 'Afterlife Academy'? Or did they do this themselves?
Jaimie: They did a lot of it themselves. I started with the idea that Riley would experience the opposite in death than she had in life, and that this geeky boy who she thought was a loser would become the popular one while nobody liked her. Everything else the characters did by themselves. I never intended the relationship between Anthony and Riley to develop as it did, I never intended that she was the main person who bullied him in their previous life, all that backstory made itself up as I went along!

Amy: So, you find characters end up leading the novel to places you hadn't predicted?
Jaimie: The theme is usually in place before I even start writing, so it generally stays the same, no matter how many characters try to derail it! So often, you write in what was supposed to be a minor character and they end up taking over the whole book and getting a sequel written about them! You can’t argue with the characters though, once they start leading, you just have to follow!

More about Jaimie: True or False!

True...
She likes goats (and sheep) as friends... "You can't live in Wales and not!"
Jaimie Admans isn't a pen-name... "If I was using a pen name, I would have chosen something much easier to spell than this!"
She owes a lot to caffeine (and also edible goodies... perhaps some food contains caffeine too?)... "I owe everything to tea and chocolate!"
She loves the ‘bad guy’ in novels... "Particularly if they’re not outright evil and you find they do have a not-so-bad side too."
She's done research for novels... "I’d like to meet a writer who hasn’t! Reindeer pregnancy was probably my weirdest, unexpected, research topic!"

False...
She's good at angry birds... "I'm rubbish at it! That's why I play it so often - only to get better at it, honest!"
She's written (includes writing now) one YA novel... "I’ve written a few, some to be released later this year!"
She dislikes natural hair colours... "I don’t dislike them, I just haven’t had a normal hair colour for years now! In fact I’m considering whether to dye mine back brown and just leave parts of it pink. I’d have to leave pink in there somewhere, I wouldn’t be me otherwise!"
She's published traditionally... "I’m all indie and proud! Like most writers, I would love a traditional publishing deal..."
She finds editing easy! "I can get a first draft done in a few weeks – it’s the editing process that takes much, much longer! I hate editing with a passion, but there's also a great satisfaction in it because you know you're making a better book! But it never gets any easier to cut sentences you love or scenes you thought were really clever! My novels usually get re-written four or five times before they go off to a professional editor..."

Thanks Jaimie for taking the time to answer our questions today. It has been great learning more about you and your writing process! Now for the readers... here are the dates and destinations for Jaimie's blog tour that starts tomorrow. Please go forth and stalk!


10th May:
11th May:
12th May:
13th May:
14th May:

15th May:
16th May:
17th May:
18th May:
19th May:

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Beautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week my "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Beautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren (released 6th June 2013)
Escaping a cheating ex, finance whiz Sara Dillon's moved to New York City and is looking for excitement without a lot of strings attached. So meeting the irresistible, sexy Brit at a dance club should have meant nothing more than a night's fun. But the manner--and speed--with which he melts her inhibitions turns him from a one-time hookup and into her Beautiful Stranger.

The whole city knows Max Stella loves women, not that he's ever found one he particularly wants to keep around. Despite pulling in plenty with his Wall Street bad boy charm, it's not until Sara--and the wild photos she lets him take of her--that he starts wondering if there's someone for him outside of the bedroom.

Hooking up in places where anybody could catch them, the only thing scarier for Sara than getting caught in public is having Max get too close in private.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Review: Pleasure's Edge by Eve Berlin (Pleasure Dome #1)

Publisher - Black Lace
Publication Date - 3rd January 2013
Paperback - 320 pages
Genre - Erotic Romance

Source - Received from publisher for review

Rating - 4 out of 5: I really liked it.

Book Info - Alec Walker should come with a warning.

A man who lives on the edge, he is famous for his love of dangerous sports, kinky sex and independent women.

Dylan Ivory has come to interview him for her latest book but instead he issues her with a challenge - and the perfect way to do her research.

My Thoughts - As soon as I got this book through the post I knew that I really really wanted to read it. And it didn't disappoint in the slightest.

I fell in love with the characters from the very first page. Dylan is a great character and as the reader learns more about her past and her terrible experiences with her mother, it becomes clear that she is incredibly strong and brave. She has always had to be in control of her own life, and often responsible for others, so when she first meets with Alec to do research for her new erotic novel, she believes that she has dominat tendencies. However, Alec has many years experience as a Dom and he can see her natural submissiveness from the start. This leads to Alec setting her a very interesting challenge - one that she couldn't possibly refuse. I loved reading about the struggle that occurs inside Dylan as she comes to realise that she does have a submissive side and eventually comes to accept that part of herself.

Alec is another character that I enjoyed reading about. He is a very experienced Dom and this dominance is obvious through his every word and action (please excuse me while I fan myself). He also cares deeply for Dylan and takes care of her, which just made me swoon even more. The only thing that I didn't like quite so much is that he is a self-confessed commitment-phobe and the reason that the author gives for this just didn't seem enough for the extent of this fear that he feels. But even so, I still fell a little bit in love with Alec.

What I really liked about this book is how it doesn't just focus on the sexual aspects of BDSM. A lot of the emotional side is explored too through talking about issues such as subspace and subdrop. And the sex in this book is seriously hot, although if I were being picky I would probably say that for a BDSM novel the sex felt pretty "vanilla". It was only the very frequent spankings that gave it a BDSM feel and I even felt that the spankings were over-used a little, to the point where I became a little bored with it. I would have liked a little bit more variety. But this was only a minor gripe I had with the book - it didn't hinder my enjoyment of it at all.

Summary - A great novel that explores the world of BDSM, while giving the reader characters to fall in love with and a very sweet romance. This is a must-read for fans of erotic romance

Other books in the series:
1. Pleasure's Edge
2. Desire's Edge
3. Temptation's Edge

Monday, 6 May 2013

It's Monday! What are you Reading? (6th May 2013)


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey that gives us all a chance to list the books that we read last week and what we hope to read this week.

Books We Read Last Week:
Chrissie - Run the Risk by Lori Foster (Love Undercover #1)
Amy - The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones #2)







 
Books Reviewed Last Week:
Neferet's Curse by P.C. & Kristin Cast (House of Night Novellas #3)
Love Undercover by Lori Foster (Love Undercover #1)







 
Books We're Currently Reading:
Chrissie - Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson #7)
Amy - One More Little Problem by Vanessa Curtis (Zelah Green #2)







 
Books Up Next:
Immortal Eclipse by Sherry Soule
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