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Test Shoot with Model Lewis Holland Clarke, Photographer Georgina Martin and Stylist Natasha Lyons 

White Tiger (Dark Heavens 1) - Kylie Chan

The cover sold the book to me, it looked like a Jet Li extravaganza!

The story is of Emma an australian teacher in Hong Kong who is persuaded to become a full time nanny for a very strange family. Then follows the revelations of why they are a bit odd (no spoilers though…) although it was obvious anyway, quite how she didn’t know for so long I don’t know! 

The writing was a little odd, I actually went to look up to see if it was translated into english, as at times it did appear to be. The same phrases were repeated alot, either to hammer the point home or because of Chan’s lack of descriptive ability, I’m not sure which. My particular favourite was about Emma being cold blooded, I am presuming this is hinting at her being Chen’s other half, his lost serpent but again, I presume that was for later books. 

The romance between Emma and Chen was unbelievable and far too sudden, they went from longing glances to true love in a few pages, it was far too fake for my liking, and took alot away from the story, which should of been more about the Gods. There was also too much in the book, it went from plodding along to a sudden rush of events, seemingly squished together, just to fit them into one book.

I’m a little torn with the starring for this one, I did give it three, but then when writing the review I changed it to two. The poor writing pushed me to amend it, the story was interesting, the information about the Gods and demons was fascinating, but the love story overwhelmed it, and ruined all the good about it. 

Such a shame as its put me off reading further books in the series, as I know the same old phrases will be used.

Ashes (Ashes Trilogy 1) - Ilsa J Bick

Ashes is the story of Alex, a 16 year old girl running from a monster. A metaphorical monster (at the beginning anyway). Alex has had a pretty shit life. She’s lost both parents (although they died being hero’s so thats ok..), she’s then diagnosed with a tumour (the monster) thats killing her and is subjected to endless chemo and treatments (which don’t work), she tries and fails to kill herself, and this is all  before the book has even started! The phrase ‘sucks to be you’ really does apply here. 

We meet Alex when she’s run away from her aunts to lay her parents ashes to rest in the wilderness (one presumes that the real motive is to kill herself, but its never put in writing). She meets up with an old man and his granddaugter, Ellie and this is when things go wrong (for every one this time!). The old man drops dead, the animals go crazy and alex gets the mother of all head aches. Its just Alex and Ellie and they set off to find a ranger station, presuming this was an isolated incident, and they were the only ones impacted by it. WRONG. Along the way they discover various dangers, the primary one being the 'changed’ teens that have changed into zombie, cannibal-like monsters (the monster is not so metaphorical any more). They also meet Tom and the story follows the three of them, in this mismatched band of survivors. 

Its not long before they discover the truth - an EMP type device went off, crashing all electronics (which is why Ellie’s granddad died, he had a pacemaker), causing everyone between about 20 and 60 to drop dead, and the teens to change. The only 'unchanged’ were the youngsters, the oldies and a few 'spared’ such as Alex and Tom. 

There is the usual end of the world incidents (meeting up with bandits, hunters, those upto no good), the desperate need for food, the confusion etc - but what would a good disaster book be without these things.

There’s alot more to the story too - most of which I cant tell you for fear of spoiling it. Ashes is a great book, Alex is not self-pitying (although most would be) and seems to handle things well, there is some great twists, some you can see coming, others not and the ending leaves your jaw dropping.

Theres nothing spectacular about ashes, but its compelling and you want to come back and find out what is happening to the character. I gave it 5 stars for the pure entertainment factor, it was exactly what I want from a YA book, fast paced, complex characters, thrilling plot and twists and turns at every corner. 

Eden - Keary Taylor

I have just finished writing a review about Taylor’s Branded - I wasn’t that nice about it either. So I figured I’d balance things about and come right a review about Eden. Eden was the whole reason I picked up Branded in the first place (perhaps I should remove a star for it lulling me into a false sense of security…presuming I’d like all of Taylors books!). But this isn’t about Branded, its about Eden.

I can be MUCH nicer about eden. I can’t really be mean about it. Except that it was too short, BIG error there Keary…

So a summary: The aptly named Eve has no memory before arriving in eden. Eden is a safe haven for humans, hiding as the whole world was taken over by terminator style cybermen (or is that doctor who..) who assimilate (oh that the borg…) humans, converting them into pat machine/part human cybertronic things (really technical there…), so its a BIG red flag when she cant remember anything but no the village just take her in anyway.  There’s a whole set of circumstances which leads to them leaving Eden, providing Eve with two hunky men to choose from (Dangerous West and ever faithful Avian)

Eve’s a great character, shes everything a lead should be, if you’ve read any of my other reviews you’ll know I like imperfect characters, the more human ones, and thats exactly what eve is.  You don’t know her past, and you learn about it as she does, and trust me, its not what you think…..

Avian is a little wet for me, but he grows on you, and West has everything you shouldn’t be drawn to, but are. You know he’s keeping secrets, you know he’s a little dangerous, yet you still hope that he turns out to be good (no I’m not going to tell you whether he does or not!)

As you can tell by the way I’m raving, I loved Eden - I’ve since read Partials by Dan Wells which has some similarities, but overall they head in different directions. 

All I can say is :Read it….Now….. :)

The Selection - Kiera Cass

I wanted to hate this book, I really, REALLY did. The blurb appeared to use women as things that could be bought and sold. But I got it free on audio book so I had nothing better to do on a four hour car journey, I put it on. 

Whilst the ‘set up’ of the story is unusual, revolving around a world where you are in a 'number’ class - ones being the rich and famous, 8s being the drifters - what number you are dictates what job you can do, how much you have to eat, what you wear etc. Then a lottery is called, all the girls of a certain age from every class can go into a lottery to be part of the selection, the best girls chosen to meet, and woo the prince. Its kind of like the X factor with prince charming as the prize.

But there is nothing really unique about the characters. America is a feisty, head strong young woman, in love with a boy who she cant be with.  Maxim is a misunderstood prince (who america judges based on his status, ironically something she has major issues with when people do it to her), and Aspen is the wronged love, left behind because of a misunderstanding, who may have come back too late to win America back.

Having said that, whilst they are not original, they are written around a tried and tested formula, and it works because they get the reader to invest in them. You don’t always like America, she’s very dramatic (especially the running into the garden scene) and she’s a bit of a brat when it comes to her relationship with Maxim, the other girls and with Aspen to some degree. 

The story moves on quickly, there is plenty of action, and the rebels are a good addition to the story, it gives it more dimension. Maxim’s change in awareness of the REAL world is handled well, and its not an overnight transformation, the reader is also left with a sense that he really doesn’t get it yet - he’s doing and saying the right things but its all a little confusing to him.

I didn’t want to like it. But I did, as I’ve said, nothing overly original character-wise, but that doesn’t matter when the world is so interesting and its very well written. I’ve heard whispers that the CW are looking to pick this up as a show and I think it’d work well, and I’m looking forward to book 2 - where hopefully some more depths to the supporting cast will be revealed (Marley in particular is a puzzle)

Darkness Falls - Jessica Sorensen

This was my first Sorensen book (I’ve gone on to read her Fallen Star series too), and I was pleasantly surprised. So often the free or cheap kindle books are terrible, with no decent story lines. Darkness Falls was one of the rare gems. 

Based around the rather unlikeable Kayla, Darkness Falls is set in a world where vampires are destructive, viscous creatures and the human race is the prey that hides in built up fortresses. But its not just the vampires that have changed the world, human society has changed too, there are different levels and you begin to suspect, each power level has its own secrets. 

Kayla is an interesting individual, as I said she is rather unlikeable, she lies constantly, to everyone and doesn’t seem to learn that it does her no favours, she doesn’t trust anyone and is incredibly selfish. But The story revolves around her, so like her or not, you are tied to her. I like the fact that the main character is so awful, you still care about what happens to her, but you can also see her grow and change then rebel against that change. She’s in a sense, human - she’s not prefect and many of us can identify with that. 

The book follows her journey outside the city, her friends, allies and helps her uncover the truth behind her past. 

An excellent read, different, engaging and gripping - and best of all the vampires definately do not sparkle.

Ashfall - Mike Mullins

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Ashfall was recommended to me by a friend, so I added it to my kindle and promptly forgot about it. A few months later I found it and thought I’d give it a go. I presumed it would be along the same lines of Bick’s Ashes or Baggots Pure: world ending in one big disaster, teens left to pick up the pieces…
Ashfall follows a male lead, which makes a change in this genre, Alex and his journey to find his parents after the supervolcano in Yellowstone blows. The world hasn’t ended, there are no zombies (although there are some cannibals) and the book takes a new look at the ‘what if’ world. 

Alex’s world is destroyed, for the first few chapters both Alex and the reader don’t really know whats happened, nor how far the damage has gone. The scene setting chapters are thrilling, and you really start to get to know Alex as he realises what the world has become, then the journey starts - I put in spoilers as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone else, so I’ll keep it vague. Alex’s prioity throughout the book is finding his family (who were at his uncles farm at the time of the eruption, leaving alex at home alone), and the majority of the book is about this journey - the people he meets (good and bad), the state of the US following the disaster (and the politics that it creates) and young love. Everything you could need in a book.

Twists and turns are kept to a minimum, Mullin doesn’t need cheap tricks to keep the reader interested, the story unfolds as you’d expect it to, but that is a good thing here. Its a story that you really can imagine happening, no sudden paranormal abilities or zombies, just the good and bad in every individual. 

A fascinating story, and one I hope to continue to enjoy in book two!