Seren was born on a spaceship and, along with her entire family, she knows it is where she will die. Her ancestors volunteered to take part in a deepSeren was born on a spaceship and, along with her entire family, she knows it is where she will die. Her ancestors volunteered to take part in a deep space mission expected to last over 700 years in order to investigate a signal received by earth and hopefully make first contact with a new alien species. Life on the spaceship is strictly regimented, jobs are assigned according to skills and even your future partner is selected by a computer program designed to ensure genetic diversity. Children aren't conceived naturally which enables them to control the number of boys and girls that will be born to each generation and life partners are expected to do their duty and procreate as required. It's not a life that many people would choose to live but it's all Seren has ever known and the only option she has.
Everything starts to change when Seren falls in love with Dom, a young man who isn't her assigned life partner. The couple fight back against the system that wants to keep them apart but they have no idea how much danger they are facing. Their attempts to be together start a chain of events that nobody could have predicted and nothing will be the same for the couple ever again.
I have really mixed feelings about The Loneliness of Distant Beings, on one hand it makes some really interesting observations about free will and being able to choose your own destiny but on the other it has one of the worst cases of insta-love I've come across in a long time. I wasn't the biggest fan of the relationship between Seren and Dom, it happened so quickly that I never fully believed in it and because of that I was never fully invested in them as a couple no matter how much they went through to be together. Seren can be quite childish at times and she was also quite selfish and uncaring about the effect her actions would have on the people around her. While I could understand her fight for the right to make her own choices I didn't like the way she was so negative about people who had managed to make peace with their path in life and find happiness where they could. She was particularly mean about her sister when as far as I could tell her sister had never done anything to deserve it.
Although I wasn't completely invested in the relationship side of things I did find this an incredibly quick and quite addictive read. I whizzed through it in no time and I did really like the way the author tackled issues like the lack of free will the citizens on board were given. It was such an interesting concept that your ancestors could have signed up for a deep space mission and given up all sense of freedom for many generations to come. They are on a mission following an unknown signal that they still haven't been able to decode over 90 years after first receiving it and they know it's going to take them at least 350 years to reach the source of the signal and can hope to get any answers. I'm really not sure what to make of that ending either. It wasn't the outcome I was expecting and if this turns out to be the first book in the series then I'm definitely going to have to buy the sequel to see what happens next.
The Loneliness of Distant Beings is an interesting read and I do think it has potential as the start of a series, I just wish the author had taken more time developing the relationship between Seren and Dom so I could give it a higher rating.
Source: Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review...more
Second Lives is the second novel in Scott K Andrew's time travel series and I would definitely recommend reading these books in order because there haSecond Lives is the second novel in Scott K Andrew's time travel series and I would definitely recommend reading these books in order because there has been a lot of devious plotting on the author's part that will be completely lost on you if you don't. While the first book was more about introducing our three protagonists Dora, Jana and Kaz, and talking us through the rules of time travel the sequel is all about trying to find ways to break those rules.
We've all seen Back to the Future so we all know that a small change in the past can have a huge impact on events in the future but what if things weren't quite so clear cut? What if there was a small loophole that might allow you to make changes to things in your own personal timeline without affecting everything else? Well, our trio already know that a disaster is going to occur in 2155, a disaster so huge that it destroys not just the future but also the past and now they're desperately trying to find a way to stop things. The trouble is they aren't 100% sure what causes things to go wrong in the first place so they're working in the dark and just trying to make the best choices they can. And if they're wrong about that loophole? Well then they might just be the ones who destroyed the world in the first place!
If you thought that the first book was fast paced you haven't seen anything yet, Scott K Andrews pulls out all the stops in Second Lives and he has masterfully interwoven past, present and future into a story that will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Every time you think you have something figured out he throws a curve ball at you and changes it all up again. Friends are keeping secrets, enemies go from bad to good to worse again, loved ones are both lost and found and friendships are changed forever.
I honestly don't want to say too much about the plot for this because I feel this is one of those series that is much more fun if you go in knowing as little as possible. What I will tell you is that the characters are brilliant, they've all grown and changed due to the things they've witnessed but they still make mistakes and struggle to make the right choices, these characters are real and incredibly easy to relate to. The plot will take you from 1640 through the present day all the way into 2155 and you'll travel from England to Beirut, through America and on to Mars. There is literally no predicting where events will take us next or what Dora, Jana and Kaz will be forced to deal with next but I can't wait to get my hands on the next instalment to find out!
Source: Received from Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for an honest review...more
Containing over 400 photographs from 46 well known photographers there is no doubt this book contains something for everyone. A lot of these photos arContaining over 400 photographs from 46 well known photographers there is no doubt this book contains something for everyone. A lot of these photos are erotic and the book is full of nude or semi nude guys but I think you'll be surprised at the variety of men included. They aren't all what you'd consider typically handsome guys and you'll find men from all walks of life: different ages, races, shapes and sizes, from body builders to guys with loads of piercings and anything in between. Not all of these men are conventionally good looking (in fact some are quite the opposite) but the way they have been captured by the photographers tends to make them shine with confidence.
Not all of the shots are explicit, there are a lot of fully or partially clothed pictures or photos that focus on one part of the body like a face or torso that are really artistic and actually quite beautiful. The pictures are featured in collections by photographer and while some artists were more to my taste than others I think they all had something unique to add to the collection.
This book is a celebration of the male body and all the many forms it comes in and I have no doubt that there is enough variety included to keep anyone coming back for more.
Here are just a few examples of the kind of pictures you'll find (obviously I went with non-explicit ones for this review!):
Life isn't easy for Rose, she's only 16 but she's also the only person in her family that is even slightly responsible when it comes to money and she'Life isn't easy for Rose, she's only 16 but she's also the only person in her family that is even slightly responsible when it comes to money and she's definitely the only one who doesn't dabble in illegal activities. For months her father has been held hostage by criminals he owes money too and Rose is being blackmailed into paying a ransom fee for his safety. It's a good job she's extremely intelligent and has a knack for playing the stock market but that is only going to get her so far and things are about to get a whole lot worse. Damien is visiting fellow member of the YDA Joe and his family in New York when he meets their kooky next door neighbour Rose. Rose intrigues him but he can tell she's keeping secrets and it's not long before the boys start meddling in Rose's business trying to find out exactly what is going on. When things quickly go downhill Damien is determined to help Rose solve her problems but will she be willing to trust him when he already betrayed her once by sticking his nose in where it wasn't wanted?
I love Joss Stirling's books, they're always such fun and quick reads and a brilliant way to keep myself entertained for a few hours. You do have to suspend believe a little (what 16 year old would really be capable of raising millions of dollars in just a couple of weeks by buying and selling shares on the stock market?) but as long as you can just go with the flow and have fun with it I'm sure you'll enjoy these books. I love the idea of the Young Detective Agency, it's a school for teens that aims to teach them everything they need to know to go into a future career with law enforcement so it's at least somewhat believable that the students would be good at problem solving and investigations.
Damien is a character we've seen in the previous books and he's always been fun but definitely not a boy who is looking for a serious girlfriend. He's actually quite horrified that two of his best friends are now in a relationship and he makes a big point of telling Joe that he's planning on playing the field for a while longer. Of course everything changes when he meets Rose, she's nothing like the girls he normally goes for and he finds her all the more fascinating because of it. Rose is incredibly smart but not so good with people, she spends so much of her time looking after her father and brother and holding the home together that she doesn't have much left for anything other than studying so her social life is nonexistent. She would love to fit in but she just doesn't have the same interests as most of the people in her class and she's so focused on passing her exams and heading off to uni that she lets everything else pass her by. Damien pulls her out of her comfort zone a little which is really good for her, he finds her social awkwardness endearing but he won't let her hide away from the world. They actually fit together surprisingly well and I enjoyed seeing the friendship build between them.
There is plenty of action in the story, Rose is determined to do things her own way and although she does make a couple of really silly decisions they were forgivable because of her age. She wants to solve her family's problems and she has a dangerous plan but I had to admire the way she was so determined to do the right thing even when it meant putting herself in harm's way. Damien makes a couple of mistakes too but he steps up when she really needs him and that's the most important thing. I also enjoyed getting to know Joe a bit better so I'm really hoping he's going to be getting his own book too.
Source: Received from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review...more
This book is a limited edition hardback that was given out in the goody bags at the Terry Pratchett Memorial event at the Barbican Theatre in London oThis book is a limited edition hardback that was given out in the goody bags at the Terry Pratchett Memorial event at the Barbican Theatre in London on the 14th of April 2016. I did wonder if it was even worth writing a review for it since I don't think the book will ever be available to purchase but since I mainly write my reviews so that I can look back at them in years to come I'm just going to do what I always do.
I was lucky enough to be one of the fans who was given tickets to the Terry Pratchett Memorial and the whole evening was a wonderful tribute to Terry, there were some incredibly emotional moments but overall the theme of the evening was definitely laughter. I wrote about the event on my blog (HERE) so you can read all the details there if you're interested and for now I'll just focus on the book.
The team who organised the event obviously put a huge amount of effort into creating this book, aside from the iconic silhouette of Terry in his trademark hat on the front you also have the Roman numerals for his birth and death years (1948 - 2015) on the back along with a bee to represent the Venerable Order of the Honeybee which is an award Terry created to thank the people who most helped him during his writing career. Then on the inside you'll find a large image of the Pratchett family crest along with their motto "Noli Timere Messorem" (which translates rather appropriately to "Don't Fear the Reaper").
This is a fairly small book and has less than 100 pages but the contents are incredibly personal and very moving. After an introduction from Terry's long term personal assistant Rob Wilkins it includes several pieces of writing by Terry, from The Hades Business, the first story he ever sold (when he was just 13 years old!), to nonfiction pieces about his thought process and his love of hats, a very fitting excerpt from the last Discworld novel The Shepherd's Crown (I'm not going to say what it's about but I think anyone who has read the book will have a pretty good idea) and finally "A Little Advice for Life" from Terry that made me laugh and cry in equal measure.
It also includes a piece about Terry written by Neil Gaiman (that he actually read out at the memorial and I don't think there was a dry eye left in the whole theatre), this was written as the introduction to Terry's non fiction book "A Slip of the Keyboard" but was also posted on the Guardian website so anyone interested can read it in full HERE. If that wasn't enough to bring on the waterworks you'll also find Terry's daughter Rhianna Pratchett's obituary (that she also read to the audience on the night of the memorial) that was again posted online after Terry's death and can be read HERE.
This book is a wonderful keepsake from the event and it's one that I'll always treasure.
I'll leave you with a couple of appropriate Discworld quotes
“DON'T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.” - Good Omens
No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away - Reaper Man
This series is going from strength to strength and I now have a new favourite hero in Jenner. If you like your heroes dark and brooding with a side ofThis series is going from strength to strength and I now have a new favourite hero in Jenner. If you like your heroes dark and brooding with a side of protective alpha and incredible skills in the bedroom you're going to fall for him just as hard as I did. We've all seen in the previous book that Jenner is a vampire with large appetites, he is fighting for control and coming close to losing it so he is absolutely terrified of getting close to Bria in case he hurts her. From the moment he sees her she tempts him more than any other and even the return of his soul, thanks to their tether, isn't enough to make him trust himself to keep her safe. Jenner sees Bria as everything that he isn't, she's from a privileged background and led a very sheltered upbringing so he is sure he'll never be able to give her what she needs.
What he doesn't realise is that Bria is sick of being treated like a prized possession by her family and she has no intention of letting her mate do exactly the same thing. She may have been sheltered but she knows exactly what she wants and needs and that's the freedom to be herself and to explore the world around her, she spent her whole life trapped in a gilded cage by her uncle and she never wants to feel that way again. What she wants from her mate is a man she can share love and passion with but also someone who will treat her like an equal in every way. She is sick of being seen as weak and she's determined to stand on her own two feet for once. I really liked how strong Bria was, she stands up to Jenner when she needs to and she won't let him intimidate her with his caveman routine.
These two make a great couple, Jenner has very good reasons for being worried about hurting Bria but she knows him better than he knows himself. She can see exactly what he needs and she's not afraid to let him have it. Jenner was the right amount of protective alpha mixed with attentive and adoring lover, it took Bria a long time to break through his walls but once she did there was no stopping him! This was definitely the hottest book of the series so far but I love that Kate Baxter really takes time to develop the emotional connection between the couple alongside the physical one.
I'm really enjoying seeing where this series is going, it has similarities with several other popular paranormal romance series but enough differences to stand out from the crowd in it's own right. I'm a little nervous that the next book might end up being about Siobhan and Christian but I'm hoping I'll be proved wrong on that since I'm not much of a fan of either of their characters. I really want to see more of Chelle, Lucas and Saeed though so I'm hoping we'll get on of their stories next and Siobhan can continue to have her story told in the background of each book. Either way I'll definitely be continuing this series, I'm enjoying the world and I want to see what happens to the characters I already love as well as the ones we're only just being introduced to.
Source: Received from Headline Eternal in exchange for an honest review...more
I'll warn you now that this is one of those reviews that is going to get bumped on a fairly regular basis so if that's something that bothers you feelI'll warn you now that this is one of those reviews that is going to get bumped on a fairly regular basis so if that's something that bothers you feel free to unfollow me. I can't really give this book a rating and mark it as read based on making one of a possible forty types of cake so I'll update this with each new recipe I try and I think I'm just going to rate the cakes as I make them.
What I will say is that so far this is proving to be a very easy book to use, each recipe has a clear ingredients list and simple, easy to follow instructions (even for baking novices like me!). It also has gorgeous full colour pictures of what your finished cakes are supposed to look like even if you never quite achieve it LOL.
1. Iced Madeira Cake
Made: 19th March Occasion: Dad's birthday Rating: 4.5 stars
This cake was incredibly easy to make and tasted absolutely delicious, it actually reminded me a lot of the lemon cakes my nan used to make when I was a kid which brought back lots of happy memories. It took less than half an hour to prep, about an hour to bake, and again less than half an hour to ice (although you'll probably have to wait at least a couple of hours for it to cool first after it comes out of the oven). I followed the recipe to the letter until it came to the icing, I used the book's suggestion of using icing and lemon curd marbled together for the topping but added a layer of lemon buttercream and lemon curd in the middle which made it even nicer. I think the only thing I didn't get quite right was the icing on top of the cake, I probably needed it to be a little runnier when I put it on the cake so that it was easier to spread but I'm sure the next one I make will look smoother.
The cake went down very well with both of my parents and it didn't last long once we started eating it. In fact, they loved it so much that they've put in a request for a second one for Easter so I'll be using this recipe again tomorrow!
2. Grasshopper Cake
Made: 25th March Occasion: Easter Rating: 3.5 stars
This is a really rich & decadent chocolate cake, layered and coated with peppermint buttercream icing. The recipe includes an alcoholic version which uses Creme de Menthe in the icing but I went with the standard version using peppermint extract. Once again the recipe was incredibly easy to follow and the results were really tasty. I was impressed by how moist the chocolate cake is and the flavour combination with the chocolate and mint is delicious.
As much as I liked the cake I'm not sure that I'd make it again though, I think it was a little too rich for our tastes and the addition of double cream to the icing made it quite sickly. This definitely isn't the kind of cake you can eat seconds of which is probably a good thing but unless you're making it for a larger family gathering you're going to end up with a lot of leftovers. I've actually cut what was left into slices and frozen them since the fresh cream means this won't last long even in the fridge but it remains to be seen whether it's still edible after defrosting. I much prefer the Iced Madeira Cake recipe, in fact I've already made that for a second time because it was such a hit with the whole family. The Grasshopper Cake certainly looks impressive though and I can't fault the flavour.
Cruel Crown is an anthology containing 2 prequel novellas in Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen series: Queen Song and Steel Scars. Technically these storieCruel Crown is an anthology containing 2 prequel novellas in Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen series: Queen Song and Steel Scars. Technically these stories are both set before Red Queen (Steel Scars actually has a little bit of crossover time wise but Queen Song is set well before the start of the series) I would actually recommend waiting until after you've read the first book before picking this up.
I'm going to talk about each story separately but I wanted to warn you that just over 50 pages of this 200 page book are an extract for the second book Glass Sword so this book is even shorter than it looks. Luckily this does seem to be reflected in the price but I was shocked when the stories came to an end only three-quarters of the way into the book so it's worth mentioning! Although I thought this anthology was okay I don't think it added a huge amount to the series and I don't think you'd be missing out on much if you decided to skip it.
Please note that when I'm writing the rest of this review I'll be doing it assuming that you've already read Red Queen so if you haven't look away now or you'll end up seeing spoilers.
Queen Song - 3 stars: This story is set years before the main series starts and gives us the chance to see how Cal's parents first met and fell in love. There were a lot of rumours flying around in the first book that Coriane had used her abilities as a kind of mind control to make Prince Tiberias fall in love with her but this gives us the chance to see what really happened. It also gives us a glimpse of a younger Julian and shows quite how far Elara was prepared to go to get what she wanted. I don't think this actually gave us any information that we didn't find out in Red Queen anyway but it was nice to see things through Coriane's eyes and we get to meet baby Cal which was cute.
Steel Scars - 2 stars: The second story is told from the point of view of Captain Farley and starts just before Red Queen with some overlap in the timeline which the main reason I think you should read the full length book first. I was really excited about this story and getting more of an inside track on the Scarlet Guard but I have to admit I was a little disappointed. We get to see a few familiar faces but nothing much actually happens so I found myself getting bored during this one.
I also wasn't a fan on the format of the coded messages sent between Farley and her point of contact, not only were they hard to understand at times but the text used for these messages was VERY repetitive which got irritating really quickly. At one point you had the phrase "The following message has been decoded. Confidential, senior clearance required" repeated EIGHT times in the space of three pages! It's a shame because this story could have been great but there actually seemed to be very little point to it in the end.
Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review...more