An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir

SYNOPSIS

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
 
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

REVIEW

This book sat on my TBR shelf for ages and for some reason I kept putting it off. I’m so glad I’ve finally read it because I truly enjoyed it and cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

I love the characters and the plot itself. The only thing that I did find a little irritating was the odd love triangles going on. One of them was understandable, but the other made no sense to me. It seemed awkward and forced.

The novel starts off straight by jumping into a really extreme and scary scenario which sets the pace of the book and the descriptions were great. The world building could have been a bit better but overall it was unique and interesting. I hope that throughout the series the authors goes into some of the characters backstories as it would be interesting to understand how certain characters became how they are in the book.

RATING – 4,5/5 STARS

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Goodreads – Katerina Turner

The Hospital – Barbara O’Hare

Synopsis

The Sunday Times top ten bestseller…

‘Nobody knew what was going on behind those doors. We were human toys. Just a piece of meat for someone to play with.’

Barbara O’Hare was just 12 when she was admitted to the psychiatric hospital, Aston Hall, in 1971. From a troubled home, she’d hoped she would find sanctuary there. But within hours, Barbara was tied down, drugged with sodium amytal – a truth-telling drug – and then abused by its head physician, Dr Kenneth Milner.

The terrifying drug experimentation and relentless abuse that lasted throughout her stay damaged her for life. But somehow, Barbara clung on to her inner strength and eventually found herself leading a campaign to demand answers for potentially hundreds of victims.

A shocking account of how vulnerable children were preyed upon by the doctor entrusted with their care, and why it must never happen again. 

Review

It’s not often that a book has made me cry, but the last few pages of this made me bawl my eyes out.

I have an enormous amount of respect for Barbara O’Hare for being strong enough not only to survive the horrific events that she did, but too also have the courage to share it with the world and stand up for all the others at Aston Hall that may have never been given a chance.

It makes me physically sick that the people responsible for such horrific abuse will never be brought to justice but I hope that everyone and anyone who suffered at Aston Hall can seek comfort in knowing that the world knows what happened. They were just children. They were innocent. They weren’t liars.

Everyone should read this book because it will open their eyes to a very real and very terrible crime that still occurs to this day, on a global scale. We see shocking news everyday and we’ve become desensitised to it but too read something that is so real, so raw and affected so many people… children, is well and truly eye opening.

5/5 STARS ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Goodreads – Katerina Turner

Insanity – Cameron Jace

SYNOPSIS

After accidentally killing everyone in her class, Alice Wonder is now a patient in the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum. No one doubts her insanity. Only a hookah-smoking professor believes otherwise; that he can prove her sanity by decoding Lewis Carroll’s paintings, photographs, and find Wonderland’s real whereabouts. Professor Caterpillar persuades the asylum that Alice can save lives and catch the wonderland monsters now reincarnated in modern day criminals. In order to do so, Alice leads a double life: an Oxford university student by day, a mad girl in an asylum by night. The line between sanity and insanity thins when she meets Jack Diamond, an arrogant college student who believes that nonsense is an actual science.

REVIEW

Insanity by Cameron Jace is both an amazing book and also a confusing one. On one hand I thought that the plot was incredibly interesting and well crafted but on the other hand the characters confused me and seemed to be random.

The relationship between the Pillar and Alice was great and very comical. The history behind the Cheshire was great and I really enjoyed the twists in the book.

I can’t seem to understand Jack Diamonds role in this book. He honestly seemed like a really random character and completely useless. Perhaps he is spoken about more in the later book, but I don’t think I’ll be reading them to find out.

Alice’s backstory is still unclear which is interesting and I loved how all the Wonderland characters were human characters that reflected their true selves.

Overall I would give this book 3,5 stars!

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Goodreads – Katerina Turner

Asking For It – Louise O’Neill

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Synopsis 

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

Goodreads Rating –   4.09/5 stars

Review 

I reviewed Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours in August and put Asking For It straight on the top of my TBR. I knew it was going to be difficult, powerful and much-needed even before I started. It’s the perfect choice for my book club because we’re all sure to have a lot to say.

Asking For It is about what happens to eighteen-year-old student Emma O’Donovan after she is raped at a party by a group of boys on the school football team. She doesn’t understand what’s happened to her, until photos of that night are shared on Facebook. I thought Asking For It was going to be straightforward, but Louise O’Neill makes Emma an unlikeable character. She’s vain, self-centred, hurtful and judgemental. She’s not someone you would want to know, let alone be friends with. Most – sadly, not all – people would be outraged to discover that a boy had attacked an ‘innocent’ young girl on her way home, especially if she was in a private school uniform; if she was covered up. But what if she was wearing a short dress? What if she was drunk? What if she was over 18? What if she made a move first? Would we say she was asking for it? This is what Louise O’Neill wants to fight against.

I knew Asking For It was going to be a difficult read, but I also knew that it was extremely important that I read it. Asking For It addresses so many aspects of our lives that are often left unquestioned. It tackles how awful and judgemental people can be towards each other, even when we as readers can see who’s in the right and feel it should be evident. How people struggle to understand consent and what exactly constitutes rape, especially as Emma herself doesn’t realise she’s been raped until the teacher suggests it. I thought it was interesting to see the portrayal of social media and traditional media, both shown as a tool for abuse and as a tool to give people a voice. Support for rape victims on social media seems wonderful and essential. But if you’re the victim, it can be intrusive having people tell your story for you, and this isn’t something that had ever occurred to me. Would Iwant everyone talking about me, even if what they were saying was supportive?

Asking For It will make you angry, and rightly so. Louise O’Neill doesn’t shy away from reality and, as with Only Ever Yours, doesn’t tie up Asking For Itwith a happily ever after. Perhaps, instead of arguing about which classics should be taught in schools, we should be arguing that Asking For It should be taught alongside them. Even after so many years of education – from school to college to university – I have never within education participated in a conversation about rape. This must change. Let’s talk.

Rating –  5/5 Stars 

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The Seduction Expert – Saya Lopez Ortega

SYNOPSIS

She’s cold, narcissistic, conceited and she has no redeeming qualities. 

She doesn’t care, she’s gifted. 

She doesn’t care, she’s the seduction expert.

Women contact her to take over their love lives. She steps in when they’re lost, she’s supposed to succeed where they failed. She handles their single status, their relationships, their breakups, and very often their partners’ affairs. Her job is a life priority, she spends most of her time at the office or between two flights in business class and the fact of having a sports car that can reach one hundred kilometers in less than six seconds often make her feel like a superheroine in service to women.

Anyway, take her card.

You’ll see, it’s much better than spending holidays in St Barts.

REVIEW

***I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review***

I did not know what to expect with this book. I scoured a few reviews that mentioned ‘ A Devil Wears Prada’ so I thought The Seduction Expert would have a bit of lighthearted humour and some uptight female characters.

However whilst reading it I realised that the main character, Baroness, was just simply rude, arrogant, selfish and frankly incredibly annoying to read about. The dialogue made me cringe because it was so cliché and rude. This book just irritated me and I could not understand the purpose of it.

The next thing that irritated me was the amount of spelling and grammar mistakes within this book. For example:

“That’s why I meet our wedding planner today”.

The book just seemed unprofessional. The only good thing I can say about it is that the author seems to have truly researched into different tactics of stalking people. It was a good way to create tension throughout the plot, however it did not make up for all the flaws.

2/5 ⭐️’s

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Constellations – Nick Payne

Synopsis

Suppose that life exists in a multiverse — a set of parallel existences that contain infinitely different futures. The possibilities in our lives are, quite literally, endless. Every possible event that could happen, does happen, in one universe or another. And if two lovers meet — are drawn together in every version of existence — every possible happy ending and heartbreak that could befall them, will.

Marianne, a physicist, and Roland, a beekeeper, meet at a party. They hit it off, and go for a drink. Or perhaps they don’t. They go home together, or maybe they go their separate ways. Perhaps Marianne is engaged to someone else, perhaps Roland is. Maybe she breaks his heart, maybe he breaks hers. Perhaps they come together and their love story can finally take root and grow, or perhaps it will be tragically cut short. Nick Payne’s beautiful play, Constellations, explores how even the smallest change in our lives can dramatically alter the course we take. It is a spellbinding exploration of love, science, quantum theory, and infinite possibility for heartbreak or for hope.

Review

My lecturer recommended this play and it became on of those books you place at the back of your bookcase and forget about. During a recent clear out… I came across this play and decided to give it a go. I deeply regret not reading it sooner!

I have read numerous reviews that focus on the repetition throughout the play as something they disliked and found irritating to read, however without it, the play would not make sense. I loved the idea of having multiple universes and possibilities. The concept that free will may not exist is not something that we often think about therefore it created an interesting twist.

The two characters, Roland and Marianne, are quite a normal couple. They fall in love and fight. They make up and marry. Each time a new chapter of their lives begins we see the situation not only from both perspectives but also with differences in personality. They have an argument throughout the play and in one case it was Marianne in the wrong. In a parallel universe, it is Roland who is in the wrong. The interesting thing was that in each scenario the outcome was either the same or similar.

The dialogue throughout this play carries so much emotion that you cannot help but want to know what happens to both the characters at the very end. I believe this play is like marmite – you either love it or hate it!

Rating -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads – Katerina Turner 

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Only Ever Yours – Evie O’Neilll

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Synopsis 

In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.

For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.

Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. ..
And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.

Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known. . .

Goodreads Rating 3.84/5 Stars

Review

A friend of mine recommended this book to me, so I just jumped straight into it without much thought only to go through an extreme emotional roller coaster and heartbreak. Even though this dystopian novel in set in another lifetime, there are many aspects and character traits that relate to our own, which make this novel that much more painful and horrific. 

Freida and Isabel are our two main characters. They are waiting to see whether they will be selected to be wives (companions) and bear sons or whether they will become concubines or chastities. The school teaches them that appearance is the most important thing in the world and that girls that cry or are fat, are worthless.  

Like in many schools across the world (sadly) popularity comes with being the most pretty and skinny girl. Eating disorders are encouraged at the school and the girls are given pills and other medication to make them throw up their food in order to main a ‘perfect weight’. The girls constantly judge each other and themselves which at times was absolutely heartbreaking. There was class ‘comparisons’, where two girls would strip and get into glass tubes so that there classmates could critique them. 

‘Only Ever Yours’ is beautifully written. The plot unfolds when Isabel can no longer live up to what society wants her to be – a skinny mini barbie doll. We watch as her best friend and sister of many years –  Frieda, struggles to deal Isabel’s disobedience and depression.She battles between staying a good friend to Isabel who is rapidly spiralling into oblivion and getting ahead of the game in order to score the perfect husband. 

All of the Eves are created the same, so when you see personality differences between them, it’s refreshing and gives you hope that things are going to get better. Isabel is presented as someone unique from the very start, however we are kept in the dark about why she is so special until the end of the book.  The ending broke my heart and in a way I can say that it was predictable, but it made me incredibly angry. 

Overall, I thought that this book was absolutely incredible! I certainly surprised me and at times I wanted to throw it across the room and cry at how horrible some of characters were, but I’m glad I read it. It is an absolute must read for all teen girls and women, but also for men, because it doesn’t exactly portray them well. It portrays domestic abuse and rape as being a acceptable, which it isn’t. 

Amazing book!!! GO READ IT!!!

Rating  – 5/5vStars

Goodreads – Katerina Turner 

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One Wish Away (Djinn Empire #1) – Ingrid Seymour

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Synopsis 

Faris is a Djinn with a secret and Marielle the first master to give him hope. Will she be the one to break his curse? There is no telling. All he really knows is she’s ONE WISH AWAY from breaking his heart.

When Marielle was little, she used to believe Grandpa about his wish-granting Djinn. But now that she’s older, her beliefs have changed, and things like lousy ex-boyfriends and alcoholic fathers have become her reality.

Life isn’t done shattering her truths, though, and when Grandpa dies and the Djinn he warned her never to trust shows up at her doorstep, the world becomes a dangerous, magical place she never knew existed. Reeling for her once-normal life, Marielle soon realizes there’s no going back—not when she’s become part of a mortal conflict between two spell-bound Djinn. Faris—her handsome slave. And Zet—his vengeance-hungry brother. They both want something from her. One, her love. The other one, her life.

Now she’s afraid she will die in love.

One Wish Away is a young adult paranormal romance that will appeal to lovers of Hush Hush, Twilight, and the Fallen series.

Review 

**Disclaimer: I received this ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review**

This book is due to be released in Feb 2017 and I cannot wait for more people to read it so that I have someone to fangirl with! I had zero expectations heading into this, but the concept sounded interesting and reminded me a little bit of The Assassin’s Curse, which I absolutely adored. 

The plot was captivating from the first 10 pages of the book. There was so much going on alongside the character introductions and world building. The authors writing is beautiful and portrays emotions incredibly well. There were quite a few creepy moments throughout the book that made me feel scared for the main protagonist – Marielle. 

Marielle is a great character. She is very realistic in terms of her emotions. Rather than being portrayed as a typical overdramatic teenage girl, she is presented as an adult who is both allowing herself to grieve and pushing herself past her grief. In lots of YA novels, the authors add in a tragic event, yet they never seem to mention the emotional aftermath that occurs after said event. 

Faris, the jaw-dropping Djinn is the perfect guy. For once, I’ve read a book where the male protagonist isn’t cocky, arrogant and debonair.Faris happens to be polite, kind and realistic… for the lack of a better word. I couldn’t help but fall for his charm. I loved the way the author made him see old fashioned and not a typical 21st-century teen, as it added an edge of mystery to the character. 

The antagonists of the novel were also very well portrayed. If you’ve read some of my previous reviews before, you’ll know that I love novel with positive underlying themes. I personally believe that in our day and age they are very important, which is why I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this book revolved around the idea of forgiveness. 

I have previously reviewed Keeper by Ingrid Seymour and loved that book! At this point, I think that It is safe to say that I definitely a fan of her writing and look forward to reading more of the novels.

Rating  5/5 Stars

Goodreads – Katerina Turner 

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Vixen’s Fate – Natalie Erin

Review 

**Disclaimer: I received this ARC from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review**

This book is due to be released in 2017 and is the fourth book in the Creatures of the Land series that I have been reviewing. Therefore there is no synopsis nor a book cover as of yet. That being said, I must say that this series is getting better and better with each book. 

I may be biased since this book focused on my favourite character, Allie, which is why I devoured it. Allie is an incredible character that has so much sass and dimension, that you can’t help but fall in love with her. She is also loyal and kind to those she loves, which combined with her fiery personality make her the most perfect badass heroine. 

I was relieved that this book focused on the characters that I was already familiar with, rather than throwing another 20 characters into the mix. The plot was fast paced and very entertaining. 

I have high hopes for this series, can’t wait to see how it ends, but I also don’t want it to end!

Rating – 4/5 Stars 

Goodreads – Katerina Turner 

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