Friday, 25 March 2016

Brianna Reviews // Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Published: 26th May 2015
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Format: Kindle
Synopsis:  Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighbourhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.


This wasn’t an easy book for me to read, not because it’s bad of anything, just because the theme of the book hits close to home. If I’m honest if I had read anything more about Nowhere But Here than an excerpt from Oz’s POV, I might not have read it. I considered a few times putting it down, but I couldn’t, I was hooked.

Emily reluctantly visits her Mother’s home town for the first time in order to pay her respects to her Grandmother on her biological Father’s side. She doesn’t want to be there and she doesn’t want to see her biological Father. It turns out there is a reason she’s never been to snowflake – she’s not safe there. The Riot a rival Motorcycle Club to her Father’s club Reign of Terror turn up at her motel room, she’s told that they are targeting her to get to her Father because of a business rivalry. Oz takes an instant dislike to Emily the moment she turns up, he’s doesn’t like the way she hurts the people close to him and definitely doesn’t appreciate the chaos her presence brings. Oz is ordered to stay close to her and keep her safe; there is a physical attraction between them from the start, and slowly they begin to like each other, at the same time that Emily starts to learn piece by piece that everyone has lied to her and with a little bit of help from Oz, starts to find out the truth.

I found it very easy to relate to Emily, throughout the book. From my point of view  Katie McGarry got Emily’s thoughts and feelings about Eli, Jeff and Meg spot on, especially her reluctance to be curious about Eli for fear of hurting Jeff’s feelings or seem ungrateful for everything he has done and the love he has given her. 
Despite all the confusion and hurt that Emily comes across in this book I still think the most heart breaking part though the book is watching Oz lose Olivia and trying to deal with that fact. 

I loved Oz, and if I hadn’t already I fell in love with him the way he was at the football match with the kid with Cerebral Palsy, I don’t know anything about American Football so I don’t really know what it is that Oz helps him do, but never the less it’s heart warming. I also like the way he is with Stone too, making the effort to try and boost his confidence.

I think it would have been nice to see a little bit more of Chevy, Razor and Violet throughout the book, because they obviously played a big part in Oz’s life and Emily’s too when she was a baby, and it just seems like they should have been in it a bit more especially as Emily is meeting and finding out about her family and Chevy is her cousin. Although if the thunder road series follows a similar pattern to the breaking the rules series I think we will see more of them in the future – hopefully.

There are a few things that bugged me a bit though:
Firstly Jeff’s attitude to Emily being in danger from the Riot. He tells her that he thinks she’s not in danger and that everyone else is inventing a danger that isn’t there, he pretty much calls them delusional, and I could understand his stand point that the Motorcycle Club isn’t dangerous if he didn’t know that Eli had served time for attempted murder. It’s unclear if Jeff knows who or why, and I have to assume he doesn’t (because if he did then his words practically make him insane), but still.
 Secondly at the end it’s mentioned that the Riot agreed to leave Emily alone, when it was pointed out that she lived in a world that included restraining orders. Why was that never thought of before she turned 17, restraining orders were always there, if they were that worried about her safety surely that would have been thought of earlier?

Like the other Kate McGarry books I’ve read this is book is strongly about Identity and family and working out where you stand, and as always about not judging someone from there outward appearance or in this case from what you hear from other people.

Despite it being uncomfortably close to home for me I did enjoy reading Nowhere But Here – If I didn’t I would have put it down. And there is absolutely no question of whether I will read Walk the Edge, the next in the series which focuses on Razor.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Brianna Reviews // Killing Floor by Lee Child

Published: 15th September 2009 (Originally: 17th March 1997)
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Format: Kindle
Synopsis:  Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He's just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he's arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Jack knows is that he didn't kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn't stand a chance of convincing anyone. Not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.

I was recommended this book by a friend after I had spent 10 minutes admiring the books on her bookshelf (I was a little surprised to find out we had similar tastes). She asked if I had read any of the Jack Reacher books, which I hadn’t, although I had seen the Jack Reacher film, which I enjoyed but it hadn’t made me want to read any. She assured me that the books were far better and that the film wasn’t even based off the best one. 

So Killing Floor literally starts with Reacher being arrested for murder. He’s in Margrave a small town in the middle of nowhere. Reacher is strangely calm about the whole thing, mostly helped by the fact that he knows he didn’t do it – although even if I knew I hadn’t done it I still don’t think I’d be that calm. Eventually and inevitably Reacher starts trying to solve the murder – especially once the victim is identified – and ends up solving more than just one murder.

I have to admit that it wasn’t what I had expected, not that I could explain what I had expect, I just know that it wasn’t it. Apologies that I don’t have too much to say about it and due to the ‘mystery’ angle of the book I don’t think I should say too much about the plot, I wouldn’t want to ruin it for anyone.

Overall I found Reacher likable; I think Lee Child did a good job in making Reacher a realistic and believable hero. He is just the right balance of honourable and complete ass. This is why I said that he is overall a likable character because there are a few times when I’m not sure I like the man but it all balances out.

The book it’s self was well balanced between introducing Reacher as character, the mystery of who did it and what was going on and of course the action. It flowed well between the three thing unlike some books where the mystery and action almost get put on hold while the author introduces the character or delves into the past, in Killing Floor the character development and history fit naturally in around and with both the mystery and the action. It’s also quite well paced, with little revelations and new clues.  I didn’t really guess who was involved (Part of it was obvious, but others not so) I had loads of theories but they all fell flat.

I really enjoyed Killing Floor and was hooked from the start. I would definitely recommend to anyone who likes detective novels and a bit of action. and in case you were wondering, yes I picked the next one up as soon as I finished this one. Unlike Reacher, I can’t just walk away.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Caragh Reviews // The Island by Olivia Levez

Published - 3rd March 2016
Publisher - Oneworld Publications
Format - Paperback
Synopsis Frances is alone on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. She has to find water and food. She has to survive. And when she is there she also thinks about the past. The things that she did before. The things that made her a monster. Nothing is easy. Survival is hard and so is being honest about the past. Frances is a survivor however, and with the help of the only other crash survivor, she sees that the future is worth fighting for. The Island is a gripping and thoughtful story about a girl who didn’t ask to be the person she is but is also determined to make herself the person she wants to be.

 Truly thankful to Rock the Boat for sending me a copy of this to review!

I wasn't really sure what to expect when I started reading this. The main character is sixteen year old Fran, who has done something so terrible, she's being sent away. But that's all the information we're given straight away. It was such a difficult situation for me, because Fran is horribly unlikable right from the start. She is standoffish, judgemental, unkind and just downright bratty. However, I persevered and wow, that was the best decision I could have made.

The Island is beautifully written and engaging. There aren't 'chapters' as such; mini ramblings is more what I would call them. They pass from Fran's past to the present so often that you kind of have to speed read to really make sense of things. This worked really well for me though. As each 'section' was so short, I was propelled to keep going. Just one more little section. Oh go on then, i'll do another couple. And on it went until i'd read the entire thing within a couple of breaks at work and an accidental all-nighter.

As time goes on, we experience a lot of trauma and adventure through the eyes of Fran. We watch her risk her life over and over just to survive. Fran frequently refers to herself as 'medusa' or a 'rock' because she is emotionless and can withstand anything but the longer Fran is on the island, her cracks start expanding and she lets the reader in, to begin to understand her. She is not a regular teenager and although I wouldn't go as far as saying she is easily forgivable, I can certainly admit to sharing her emotions and feeling a lot of anger myself.

On the subject of anger though, WHAT THE HELL IS WITH THAT ENDING?
Obviously i'm not going to go into detail here, the books barely even been released. I can say though with my hand on my heart, that I have never been as angry with a book ending as I was with this one. I watched this girl struggle and face her traumatic past whilst she fought to stay alive in her traumatic present. I appreciated her, I went from detesting her to wanting to cuddle her. And yet THAT is my reward? I'm afraid not. I fully expect some kind of answer to be released one day and I will not give up hope.

Until then, if you don't like resolution, this one may need some consideration before reading. In all other respects though, a wonderful, enlightening book that will definitely do great things in the future.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Caragh Reviews // Midnight Bites by Rachel Caine (Spoilers for MV!)

Published - 1st March 2016
Publisher - Allison & Busby
Format - Paperback
Synopsis - MIDNIGHT BITES includes a total of more than 50,000 words of brand new content, which makes me very happy indeed (and I hope will also make you happy, too). From stories featuring our favorite bunny-slipper-wearing mad scientist to a mystery solved by police chief Hannah Moses, I think you'll find this is a diverse group of stories that will shine a little more light in the murkiest corners of Morganville.

Oh my gooooooooood! There are literally no words to describe how excited I was when I heard that there was going to be a collection of Morganville short stories. Morganville has been such a significant part of my life over the last *insert number* of years and I found it really hard to come to terms with it being over. BUT! My prayers were answered, at least for now. Please be aware that this review will contain spoilers for the main book series.

The majority of the stories in Midnight Bites happen simultaneously with the storylines in the MV series. Being a UK reader and a little bit of a stalker, I had actually read quite a few of them before in various places. You really do get your moneys worth with the new stories though.

Some of them take place after the events of the main series. Yep, that's right. It was SO incredibly weird reading Shane refer to Claire as his wife. I mean, of course I knew it happened but if nothing else it just makes me extremely aware that even my book friends are settling down way before i'm ready to! Haha ;)

Another of my fave things about this book, also comes with downsides. I loved the 2 stories that were in direct relation to the death of Alyssa. One came from Shane's POV and another from Eve's. I'm not too proud to say that I bawled my eyes out, reading through their emotions in that moment. It was such a catalyst for the events in Shane's life, and therefore Michael, Eve and Claire's too that as emotional as it was, it was greatly enjoyable to get some perspective on where they came from.

It was wonderful in every single way to spend time with Myrnin too! He's such a multi-dimensional character that it is always a pleasure to bare witness to what he's getting up to. This time around, there were quite a few sad moments that really show Myrnin's character in a new light and it was beautifully done. There's yet another layer added to his brilliance that will only serve as more of a reason to love and care for him.

The collection in general was everything I wished for when I knew it was happening. Rachel has done herself, her fans, and the residents of Morganville proud. I truly hope that this isn't the last time I get to review a Morganville related book!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Caragh Reviews // Match Me If You Can by Michele Gorman

Published - 14th January 2016
Publisher - Avon
Format - Kindle
Synopsis - Meet best friends Catherine, Rachel and Sarah. Yet to find Mr Right, they’ve been settling for Mr Right Now. But when Catherine, London’s finest matchmaker, gets the girls to join her dating site where they can recycle their ex-boyfriends, they soon realise that anything could happen.
Rachel's office romance James was a big fat mistake and she's more than happy to upcycle him… Or is she? Homebody Sarah hasn't had a date in years but when her transformation finds men falling at her newly-pedicured feet, will her popularity be worth the sacrifices she’s making? And Catherine falls asleep more often on her desk than on a man, so when she builds the perfect partner who ticks all her boxes, surely it's a recipe for love . . . not disaster? There’s someone for everyone, right? These best friends are about to find out for themselves . .

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but if not here's a quick...thing.
I'm usually an avid YA/Fantasy reader and very rarely step outside my nice and snug little box. However, this year I'm going to try and read some more 'older' reads and more books set in the 'real world'. I use those annoying ' __ ' because i'm a firm believer that books have no age limit...but I digress now.

Match Me If You Can had such a crazy premise that it wasn't really an option - I HAD to know what on earth would happen if you recycled your ex. Living vicariously through fiction, as always, I had a hell of a time.

It was a pretty quick read and I fit quite a chunk of it into breaks at work and it was actually a lot of fun. There were real issues going on between the covers but it never felt too heavy. The focus switches between the 3 friends with alternating chapters which kept things interesting. I thought it might break up the story too much but it really worked. I really connected with Sarah but as much as I looked forward to the focus being on her, Rachel and Catherine brought their own enjoyments for me. I would have liked more discussion regarding the actual dating website side of things, just because I find it such a hilarious prospect but that would have made the book last forever.

I know it's 2016 and we spend our lives on the internet, but I still find it so strange to come across a book that at it's core is based on technology and the way our lives have changed over the years. It was an enjoyable read and it made a refreshing change from my usual types.

If anyone has any recs for internet based books, please let me know!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

When I met Rachel Caine....again!


If you've read my blog at all before, then there's a very high chance that you've heard me express my love and adoration for the Morganville Vampire series by Rachel Caine. As well as the MV series, Rachel has written a multitude of books that I have devoured and loved almost equally. Morganville will always hold a special place in my heart though. I even have a (VERY slight) personal connection. Myrnin, an insane yet loveable vampire, hales from none other than Conwy, North Wales - just like me.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Rachel twice before but have only managed to get a handful of books signed due to time constraints and huge queues. This time was so different though, and so wonderful and lovely! We browsed the shelves of Waterstones for a while where my enabling boyfriend bought me copes of All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider :) After a bit too much browsing, I noticed a whole bunch of people taking their seats so we had to rush over. Thankfully, my as above wonderful boyfriend took charge of getting my stuff together so I could run over in time! All the signing events that i've attended before have been rush jobs. Queue, put books in front of author, sign, leave. This was a whole different experience for me and I loved it!

Rachel began by telling us a lot about herself, her aliases, how she got started etc. I did know most of it as I'm a bit of a Rachel-stalker but it was nice hearing it from herself. She then held a Q&A which again, I really enjoyed. I was even brave enough to ask my own question - Rachel loves Myrnin & Shane the most too! It was such a relaxed atmosphere and though it was extremely girl-heavy there was a wonderful mix of ages. Following this, we were treated to a reading! Rachel read a chunk of the short story Vexed, featuring Myrnin and Oliver. Is there anything better than hearing a story read by the person who created it? You get a real sense of the intention and meaning behind the words.

Once the reading was finished, we began the queuing to get our books signed. This was the part I was most nervous about. For once it wasn't even because I was nervous to meet her; it was the sheer amount of books that i'd brought with me to get signed. 16 in total. The staff at Waterstones and Rachel were actually so nice about it. I had to queue three times but it was absolutely worth it. As is typical, we had a chat about my name (it tends to be what gets me noticed most often!) and lots of other random things. We were also given goody bags which I may still be fangirling about. The bag itself is a red tote with Midnight Bites on it :)

Though I never have much trouble picking up a book and reading it - the whole experience reminded me of just how much I love to read and how much a part of me it is. We are so lucky that we get to meet the people behind the words and actually learn from them. Rachel was so open and honest about writing and publishing. I'm sure there were more than a couple of people who left the building that night, inspired and ready to write.

Me though? I'm not a writer. I just love to be immersed in the worlds and imaginations of others. So with that, keep an eye out on my upcoming review of Midnight Bites. I've been so looking forward to the day I could return to Morganville and it's finally here.

Friday, 4 March 2016

BLOG TOUR! // The Woman Who Upped and Left by Fiona Gibson

Published - 25th February 2016
Publisher - Avon
Format - Paperback
Synopsis - Forget about having it all. Sometimes you just want to leave it all behind. Audrey is often seized by the urge to walk out of her house without looking back – but she can’t possibly do that.
She is a single parent. She is needed. She has a job, a home, responsibilities…and a slothful teenage son’s pants to pick up. But no one likes being taken for granted – Audrey least of all – so the time has come for drastic action. And no one’s going to stand in her way…


Hello! Whether you're a regular here or just stopping by for the blog tour - welcome to Loaded Shelves :) Today we're celebrating the release of Fiona Gibson's latest book The Woman Who Upped and Left. It's been available for a week now so i'm sure you've heard lots about it. My copy of the book was sent by Avon, so thanks for that!

Fiona Gibson has released a lot of books but strangely, she's an incredibly new-to-me author. I'd seen the online buzz associated with the new book and was so excited to be involved. I don't read an awful lot of 'chick lit' (please let me know a better term for this) but I'm really trying to delve into more 'real life' contemporary reads in 2016. So let's talk about the book, shall we?

What I love most about this book, and others like it, is how comfortable and easy the writing style is. As I said before, it's really down to earth and understandable and absolutely perfect for a relaxing post-work read in the evening. The main character, Audrey, has an awful lot going on in her life. She's been a dinner lady for ten years, has a side job as a carer and is practically single-handedly raising her layabout teenage son on very little funds. Audrey strikes it lucky when she wins the prize of a lifetime, and takes the opportunity to attend a French Cookery course in a Michelin star hotel/restaurant.

Yeah, okay... It did read a little predictable but it really felt like a journey that Audrey took us on. Throughout her various encounters and experiences, she begins to discover herself and what it is she wants from her life. For the most part, I enjoyed the book. I swallowed it up within 2 sittings and found it to be a real page turner as Audrey Pepper is a memorable woman. There were a few points that had me shaking my head though and I think the book would have faired better without them. 

Stevie is Audreys 'sort of' boyfriend. He calls, and Audrey goes running to overnight service stations for some rough 'n tumble and then...nothing. About half way through the book, there's an incident at Audrey's hotel that really had me thinking 'WHAT?! THAT IS NOT OKAY!'. I obviously won't go into detail, no spoilers here, but i'm really surprised at the way it was handled. It was an awful situation that was never really explored in the book. It made a passing comment and came off as though it was trying to be a joke, but to be honest I found it shocking and a huge deal. It should have been left out, or at least discussed to assure readers that this behaviour is really NOT okay.

In addition to this, I related to Audrey as a hard working woman who barely scraped by and enjoyed the smaller things in life. Audrey is portrayed this way throughout the book. I found it so interesting though that at various points Audrey is blindsided by the responsibility of money. At the end of the book, a debt that she has racked up is resolved but in the mean time, she goes out and gets her hair done professionally and intentionally delays the payment. A minor thing of course considering it is fiction after all, and didn't make that much difference to the book in general, but in terms of its 'realness' and relatability, it seemed irresponsible.

Got a bit heavy there didn't it? I apologise. The Woman Who Upped and Left was a fab read and I can imagine a LOT of excellent children buying a copy for Mother's Day at the weekend. Not gonna lie, i'm definitely passing my copy on to my own mum! Lots of important issues are raised and discussed throughout the book and it's great to see things being talked about in Women's Literature.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

February - March

Happy March, everyone!
With March comes even more rain, beautiful bright daffodils (I live in Wales), a lot of steaming hot tea and.....Easter chocolate!

In comparison to January, February was a really slow month for reading.For the month of Feb, I joined a third team at work which meant a lot of extra hours, changing shifts and complete exhaustion so in hindsight, i'm quite happy I got through anything at all! That role has finished for now so i'm hoping March will be somewhat more productive :)

What I Read:

Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Match Me If You Can by Michele Gorman
How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne

Sadly, because i've been so busy, I didn't actually get any reviews up on the blog during February. I am working on this, so expect a lot more action over the next few weeks. There's also two guest posts from Brianna due to go up this month too so keep an eye out for those!

I was WONDERFULLY spoilt with books in February, despite my lack of reading. I can't actually remember everything but i'll try and do a little round-up of what I can remember :)

What I Got:

Swan Boy by Nikki Sheehan (Sent by Rock The Boat)
The Island by Olivia Levez (Sent by Rock The Boat)
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick (Sent by MIRA)
The Woman Who Upped and Left by Fiona Gibson (Sent by Avon)
This Raging Light by Estelle Laure (Sent by Hachette)

How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Illumicrate: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Brianna Reviews // Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs

Published: 3rd July 2003
Publisher: Arrow Books
Format: Paperback
Synopsis:  During one of the hottest summers on record, Dr Temperance Brennan is haunted by a string of horrifying events. First, the bones of a newborn baby are discovered in a wood stove. The mother is nowhere to be found. Next, a plane flies into a rock face. The dead pilot and passenger are burned beyond recognition, and covered in an unknown substance. And then a store of bones is found in a remote corner of the county. What has happened, and who will be the next victim? The answers lie hidden deep within the bones - but Tempe must find them in time to stop further disaster.

Bare Bones gets off to a sort of promising start and even answers the question of who she went on holiday with (hint: I’m happy) but personally for me it starts to go downhill, in the nicest possible way (because I honestly don’t think it’s a bad book I did enjoy it, and I still gave it 4 stars on goodreads) I think this is the worst Brennan book so far.

So this time Brennan is at home, she never went on holiday, work got in the way. She has just discovered that the bones in the stove are as feared from a newborn baby, she’s working alongside a local cop to try and find the mother. And Ryan is coming down to stay with her. Oh and she discovers human remains at a BBQ – or Boyd does. Turns out most of the bones are actually bear bones. And she stumbles nicely into a hunting, animal parts smuggling operation.

It’s not the main crime or investigation in Bare Bones that made it a less enjoyable read although it wasn’t the most thrilling. No it was Brennan herself that made this not so fun to read. This is a long running series, you expect a bit of character progression, and we’ve had that, she’s loosened up a little on the prospect of dating etc. but you would think that after 5 books she would have made a connection between running off on her own without telling anyone and her being in life threatening danger… but it seems that she hasn’t learnt any such lesson, and it annoys me as I’m sure I have gone over before… as I feel like I might have mentioned this in the last 3 reviews, if not then I should have! And I think if I’m honest my view on this entire book story, plot, characters and all is tainted by my utter exasperation and weariness over her yet again running into a clearly dangerous situation without telling anyone. Or maybe it’s just because she has a complete disregard for her own safety  in general; she receives threats from someone in the form of photos of her and Katy taken through a scope of a rifle and a warning telling her to back off (she doesn’t know what as she is working more than one case). These photos rightly scare her and they also worry Ryan, yet despite this she still runs off into danger on her own.

It was quite nice to see Ryan making an appearance while off duty, and to see Brennan being nice to him as well, it’s all very civil, almost normal. Proof that she can change and learn stuff. It’s a nice reward after so many books of them irrationally making it difficult (mostly Brennan).

So in summary, it wasn’t bad the case was actually okay, it’s just the damsel in distress thing is running thin -  I will of course continue reading the series but I hope she learns something sharpish.
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