J.A. Belfield

Author of the Holloway Pack Stories and other tales ...

The In-Between

Have you ever finished a book and have no idea how to review because you're not even sure you fully understood the depths of the story? That's about where I am now. 

Because this book is convoluted-ly creepy, and often confusingly portrayed in a series of scattered journal entries, and I spent most of the book wondering if it actually was all how the MC believed it to be or was she mentally ill ... Yet, at the same time, the book is also so compelling that I couldn't stop reading. And I didn't even feel particularly let down upon reaching the end and feeling as though all of the answers weren't provided to my satisfaction. 

In other words, it wasn't wrapped up with a nice big bow. But I didn't care, because it's the kind of story I will likely spend some days musing over--just as I did after watching the likes of Donnie Darko and The Butterfly effect. Which I think must make this speculative fiction pretty damned fine, in my mind. However, I''m still deciding on that. 

And as for giving a rundown on the plot for the review? I can't do it. Not without fully explaining the book in it's entirety, and, dang, that would take some doing. Besides, I think the blurb pretty much says it all. 

If you like riddles and creepiness and books that leave you scratching your head and thinking a little too hard, then you'll most likely enjoy this one, too.

#HollowayPack News + Cover Reveal

So, if any of you have ever visited my website and had a mosey around there, then you've probably come across the POV-Switch Scenes I have up on there (from Sean's POV), and the free shorts I had (<

Well, it's bugged me for a little while now that I've only ever had my free shorts available to my readers that way, so I've been thinking over how I can make them more accessible and in easy to read formats. After chatting to my editor with my plans and figuring everything out, I've decided what to do and I'm pleased to announce those plans.

I've always liked the idea of free short stories for readers of the Holloway Pack, and in order to gain them a wider audience, as well as make them available in the best way possible, I've decided to venture into a little bit of self-publishing.

So I've currently removed the free sample reads from my website because A) I plan to either edit/rewrite/modify each short and hopefully add to the collection over time, and B) as a result, each free short will be allocated a new spot to showcase it on my website (probably even their own page(s)). Below is a list of what I'm planning to modify and self-publish (for now, at least).




What: A short story telling the history of Gabe Lewis (Resonance/Caged/Unnatural) and Shelley Lewis (Resonance/Caged/Unnatural), told from Shelley's POV--this story is pre-Holloway Pack, but will be listed (for Goodreads purposes) as Holloway Pack #2.7 (to fall between Resonance and Caged).

When: I have set a release date of August 2014 (more details on this below)

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22130612-hereditary


Halloween Hunting


What: A short story dating back to circa Ethan and Kyle's 'coming-of-age', which also highlights the very beginning of when Ethan began to get his rep. This is told from Ethan's POV, and shows how very little his and Kyle's relationship has altered over the years, as well as Kyle's flirtatious personality in his younger self. Series placement number: #3.2 (tentatively).

When: I hope to begin modifying this tale by September for (fingers crossed) a December 2014 release.

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22438225-halloween-hunting


Spontaneous Combustion


What: Well, the heading above is fairly self-explanatory ... right? Okay, I'll elucidate: it's about Kyle and Brooke. To be more specific, it will highlight their very first 'date' (or secret meet-up) after Caged's ending, and describe their very rapid relationship evolution from casual to heated. This will be told from Kyle's POV. I'm looking forward to exploring it in more detail. I'm also looking forward to the chance to give my readers a fun scene they missed out on due to the starting point of Unnatural. This is NOT a short already written that I plan to modify, but one I will be beginning from scratch. Chronologically, this will fall between Caged and Unnatural, and so I've decided to place this one (for Goodreads purposes) as Holloway Pack #3.7

When: I've LOVE to have this one ready for Valentine's Day--however, that is currently a tentative date (depending on my progress with Cornered)--so: TBD

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22438233-spontaneous-combustion


But wait ... there's more.


Yup, as Hereditary is all set to release NEXT MONTH, I have ALL the lovely details of that one for you below.

Behold ... HEREDITARY:



The trouble with one-night stands: you never know who—or what—you’re sleeping with.


Being a parent isn’t an easy ride. Even more so for single mum Shelley Lewis.

When her thirteen year old son’s hormones kick in, she’s faced with his immense growth, insane sweat, and ridiculous hairiness, not to mention all the normal teenage issues.

Discovering her only son isn’t human on top of those is the shock of a lifetime, and Shelley knows she’s the only one to blame.

It may be too late to save her son from her mistakes, but she can still try to save Gabe from himself.


For fans of J.A. Belfield’s Holloway Pack series, Hereditary is a look back at the origins for characters met in Resonance.


Release Date: August 13th 2014

Hopefully, these will tide you guys over whilst you patiently (or not so) await Dan.

Cheers for sticking with me. ♥

The Girl in 6E

The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre is a freaky book. Say you’re walking through the Red Light District of Amsterdam and you want to look because you’re curious as heck but you’re not sure you’re going to like what you see if you do, so you just peek out the corner of your eye because you’re brain’s convinced it’s safer than a full frontal … yeah, well, that kind of sums up most of The Girl in 6E and how I felt about it. Yet, for some bizarre reason, it was this curiosity that kept me reading.


So, we meet Deanna. Introvert? Extrovert? Who knows? I don’t think she even knows. But she is 100% an intriguing soul who easily lures the reader into listening to her tale. This MC is a webcam gal—sells virtual sex for money and makes a packet doing so, and doesn’t even have to leave her apartment (like ever) to pull it off. Why does she this live this way? Because she has murderous tendencies—a strong desire to kill and maim and create blood to fill her mind’s dark cravings. So, why do we like her? you ask. Well, because she pretty much fights those urges every step of the way, and goes to great lengths to keep the outside population safe from herself. And she pretty much succeeds in maintaining her distance. Until the postie blows her carefully built fortress to pieces.


Jeremy is the postman’s name. Usually, he sticks to the routine he’s adopted with Deanna: he fakes her signature as the receiver of her deliveries when she shouts at him to just leave it, and then leaves any packages outside her door—and there are a LOT (she never leaves the house, remember?). But the more parcels he’s delivered to there, the more intrigued he’s grown. A natural progression. This is probably the kind of scenario that, if you’re the sort of person who likes to chat about your work over a few beers with friends, you’d be trying to figure out with said friends who—or what—might be hiding behind that door. Except he refuses to believe it’s anything bad, because he becomes enraptured by her voice—to the point he begins looking forward to hearing it and yearns for a glimpse at the woman behind it. And he finally gets his chance—because, whilst he’s always been respectful of Deanna’s privacy, he can’t help but feel he has to step in when he hears strange noises (I’ll leave those to your imagination) coming from inside the apartment, and worries about the mystery woman, and lo and behold, upon trying the door he finds it unlocked, rushes in, and voila, he’s suddenly face to face with her. However, the encounter ain’t all peaches and cream. Because Jeremy is the first in-the-flesh person Deanna has seen in quite a long time (because of those abovementioned reasons).


However, that is all I’m giving you on those two at this point, because I hate spoilers, so I’m going to move on to the other parts of the story. Like I said, Deanna is a webcammer, and so meets (via her webcam) ALL. KINDS. Of FREAKY. CLIENTS. I’m sure you can imagine. And the bigger part of the first half of the book is spent with her showing us glimpses into her created world and the work that she does. We meet her clients. Get to understand all of the fetishes she has to cater for. However, not all fetishes are simple, and not all of them leave innocents unharmed. So, when Deanna gets a really bad feeling about the fetishes of one of her clients, every warning system her body holds starts blaring. More so, when she realises the client she’s been catering to is no long play acting and has moved onto acting out his fantasies for real. But she’s the only one who knows—so she ventures out. For the first time in years. Because she believes that only she can stop him.


Now, I could waffle on more about what Mr Postie has to do with any of this, or how said venturing out works for Ms Dark Desires, or if she stops the creepy and paedophilic (there, I said it) client from pulling off his plans … But I won’t. Because I’ve already given out way more in a review than I normally would, though this one would have been hard without giving at least some kind of warning. So, I’ll try and sum up my feelings about the book instead.


In The Girl in 6E, we see plenty of sex, but it isn’t really erotic and sensual but more educationally enlightening and intriguing; we see some dark themes and fantasies (paedophilia has already been mentioned, but we aren’t given too much on that angle to repulse the reader—the MC very much DOESN’T condone it); we are given a mystery that needs solving, a child that needs saving, both of which turn this book into a thriller of a ride; we are given a hint at a most unusual romance with a very endearing knight in shining armour (though he only gets to save her when and from what SHE dictates); AND we get an MC who fights an internal battle against urges she has but doesn’t want to carry out, with a slowly unveiled history to help us understand her, both of which ENSURE we emphasise with someone who should probably send us running away; we also get a multi-faceted story AND MC, with more than one plot angle to follow and cheer for—man, even the writing style was intriguing … so, yeah, this one held my interest for sure.


The only minus I have is the ending. The very, very ending—not the wrapping up of the crime mystery but the wrapping up of the mystery of Deanna’s character. Because it felt too neat. Too much of a turn around. And I think that could have been resolved with something as simple as her having a slightly twisted thought right at the end. But that was just me—I love a good speculative ending. So, go read it.

Thirteen by Tom Hoyle

In Thirteen by Tom Hoyle, we experience the dangers and extremism of cultism and fanatics. I wasn’t wholly sure this would be a cult-based book heading into it; however, this soon came pretty clear.


I’m not sure whether to call Adam the MC due to the POV used, though it definitely seemed to revolve around him the most. And despite the POV used, the author did a good job of providing a decent connection with Adam and making me like him and root for him. He also did a good job of creating a ‘hero’ out of this supposedly ‘normal’ teenage boy, without it seeming contrite or forced. And his best friend/almost girlfriend/girl next door is also a great addition to this book.


That said, Thirteen definitely had a healthy balance of pros versus cons.

In its pros column is Adam, as already stated. In fact, it would be wrong of me to only place his character in there. Because whilst I didn’t necessarily ‘like’ all of the characters in the story, it would be amiss of me not to give credit to their distinct personalities and quirks and vibrancy, which made each and every player unique and identifiable as themselves, ensuring the reader constantly knew which character we were focused on at any given time.


And then, in its con column is definitely the POV used—which is what made having to keep track of who everyone was such an important job. I couldn’t help but wonder how this one would have fared if the POVs had been restricted a little. Not necessarily the ‘amount’ of POVs displayed, but maybe a use of third person limited, and scene/POV switches, might have brought a new seasoning to this dish. Because the constant flicking, from one character’s head to another, definitely took the most getting used to in this book. To the point that the narration almost read as erratic, like the ranting recap of a madman so excited by his tale that he had to get it out of his head before implosion.


However, this particular style of narration also then leads to another pro: the pacing. The fact that we didn’t ever have to wait to see all of the opposing sides of the story meant that the story flew by—in, like, rapid speed. And it was this that kept me going as I was getting used to the writing style—because once it had me by the short hairs, it certainly had no intention of letting go.


Okay, so let’s get to the actual story itself. I’ve never studied cults, nor do I know an awful lot about them beyond my own preconceived notions. Which makes Thirteen a definite eye opener, as well as extreme to the point of absurdity. However, I can’t discredit it. Despite hating every time we got a mass glimpse of the antagonist’s mind and motivations; despite hating ‘him’, even; despite all of that, this book still managed to hold a level of believability, even down to the expansive reach of the cult, and the pies they had their many fingers in. I think Thirteen did a great job of highlighting the horrors, the dangers, and especially the manipulation that comes with a following of such powerful devotion and dedication. It’s a terrifying thought, for sure.


Intrigued? Then check it out. This high-speed chase to an indefinite finish line will keep you entertained whilst worrying the c*** out of you. Oh, and bonus: I think there might even be more to come in future book.

Echo Boy

**Warning: Contains Some Spoilers**


I was excited to receive a copy of Echo Boy by Matt Haig as the concept sounded intriguing, and it turned out to keep me as entertained as I hoped.

MC, Audrey is distraught over the murder of her parents and needs support and guidance. However, nobody is who or what they seem, and support doesn’t always come from the places she expects it to, and help comes from the last place she’d imagined.

Alongside her is Daniel, an Echo—intelligent robots designed to fit in with humans as assistants to their lives, their work, or whatever else the population decides they need them for. However, it was an Echo that murdered Audrey’s parents, and her instant distrust to these ‘beings’ is a huge hurdle that must be overcome—especially if they’re both to survive.

Expectedly, it takes a while for Audrey to understand that Daniel isn’t like other Echoes. He’s a prototype, the first and only of his kind, and the first and only Echo to feel. And he does feel. He feels something for Audrey that he doesn’t understand.

Okay, the good points:

The writing style. I loved how this was told through what was referred to as ‘Mind-Logs’, so the reader basically gets all of the information stored by and processed by the brain of the POV—which was either Audrey or Daniel as it was dual POV, though Audrey definitely dominated this book with her chapters.

Audrey’s character. Her pain and confusion and entire attitude toward the death of her parents felt real and believable. Her voice appeared authentic to her age and intelligence level. And from the very beginning of the book, I found her easy to connect with and cared about what happened to her.

Daniel. His chapters tend to hold a more common solemnity that sets the tone for his character from the off, and the reader just knows his journey won’t be an easy one, and that something bad is most probably going to occur.

The plot—it was easy to follow, despite the sci-fi elements of the book which I usually struggle with), and I know always what was happening. It was also different to anything else I’ve read, and I love a bit of uniqueness in my reading material.

The character cast. From the off, we’re guided into assessing every single character we encounter via Audrey or Daniel, measuring them, their intents and purposes and which way they will steer. I always enjoy characters who force me to figure them out, even when I turn out to be correct.

The outcome. It wasn’t an easy outcome, and occurrences took place in order for it to be reached that left me saddened, or worried that the end goal might slip from their sights. And whilst the book was wrapped up tightly enough to be a standalone, I’ve enjoyed spending time with these characters enough that I would truly love to see a follow-up book release, with further details of their journey I expect would be ongoing, as well as the developments within this unusual relationship.

And finally onto the not so good points:

The romance. Whilst it wasn’t all hearts and flowers and snogs behind the bike sheds, this was ultimately a definite romance. But I felt this happened to easily. The feelings built far too easily and far too fast without enough substance to back them up. I could perhaps excuse this where Daniel is concerned, seeing as he isn’t an actual human, but with Audrey, I believe there should have been a lot more to support this element of the story than we were given.

But overall? Yeah, Echo Boy is definitely worth checking out as it’s an enjoyable read. In the meantime, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that Mr Haig produces a book 2.

Donna of the Dead

Donna of the Dead by Alison Kemper came highly recommended, and so I was very excited to delve into this tale of zombies, guts, and gore. All I knew prior to peeking within the pages was that it was a ‘refreshing addition’ to the genre. What I hadn’t anticipated was the humour.


My husband isn’t a reader, and I drove him nuts whilst reading this book, with all my tittering and snickering and, often, laughing out loud—even more so when I tried explaining why I was laughing and he just deadpan stared at me like I’d lost the plot. If I had, I didn’t care, because I was enjoying myself too much.


Donna of the Dead is fast paced and full of the usual zombie horridness and goofy, gorified fun, plus twists and turns, hints at ‘wrongness’ to amp up our suspicions and leave us squinting at certain characters waiting for them to make a wrong move. There’s also some great tension in here, some seriously cute and sweet scenes, and a whole host of characters who all have unique personalities and traits that set each of them apart in their own right.


Though, of course, I have a niggle to make, otherwise I’d have rated it five stars, right? Well, there were a few things left unexplained, or dangling longer than a ball of infinitesimal string. Like a certain character who stays behind but we don’t know what happens to him—I want to know, dammit! Or a certain character’s mother and her work and what is really happening in that, AND how that ties into what was happening in Donna’s hometown and to her—I want to know, dammit! Or the outcome of research we know will happen after the book has ended, due to certain samples being taken—I want to know, dammit!


So, as you can imagine, I’m rather hoping there will be a follow up. Because there are questions I need answering and threads I need tying. So … Ms Kemper???? Please????


**Warning: Contains Mild Spoilers**


As soon as I saw the cover for Melissa Landers’ Alienated, I wanted the book, so I was stoked when I received an ARC. To be honest, I haven’t read very many books containing aliens, and I was concerned the romance of this one would steer along the same path of the ones I have read. However, the concept of this one, whilst not particularly original in basics, was original in its execution, as was the ‘student exchange’ idea (in my experience, anyway).

I enjoyed that we weren’t given a hot and arrogant d*** of an alien that every girl in high school wants to drop her knickers for, just because he’s hotter than every human guy in school.

Oh wait! Okay, so Aelyx was hot, but mostly nobody wanted anything to do with him due to realistic human reservations about the species’ true intentions.

Also, he was a bit of a d***. But, in his defence, this was far less to do with his arrogance and self-assurances of his hotness, and way more to do with his breeding, upbringing, and social expectations of his own planet.

On the downside, the reasons behind his attitude also kind of hindered the believability of the romance aspect of the book. Because, due to his inbred attitude, Aelyx keeps an emotional distance from Cara—until he researches kissing and suddenly is thinking of this human girl (one who has stuck by him from the beginning despite everything it costs her) in a wholly new light.

Though, in all honesty, it takes a bit of time to get to this point, and … well, they’ve only kissed twice when she’s deciding she’s in love with him and is prepared to spend the rest of her life with him, as well as perhaps jet off into the stratosphere.

So, for me, it didn’t quite ring true. Which means, I mostly was really enjoying the book up until the first kiss, after which it all felt somewhat rushed and forced. Also, I think the unbalance of content between the two different POV’s didn’t help this either. Because so much of it felt one-sided. From Cara’s POV, we get her reaction to him from the off, and are shown her feelings most steps of the way. Yet, from Aelyx’s POV, his much more subtle (due to his alien ways) thoughts on Cara are so understated, it’s almost as if he’s indifferent in his opinion of her, and even once he begins to have slightly more romantic thoughts toward her, his seeming lack of enthusiasm just makes it fall almost flat, because girls want guys to be fighting their emotions—which could have worked well in this story, I feel—rather than squashing them so thinly the reader can barely see them.

On top of this were a couple of moments of whiplash behaviour from two of the characters. One of them was the female MC, Cara—one second she’s crapping herself about Aelyx’s assumption that they will move to his planet, and the next (when her hand is forced) she’s rushing out the door with little consideration or argument. And then we have her dad’s behaviour—because he goes from a No way is she going! kind of reaction to coming up with the idea for her to do a runner with Aelyx and practically shoving them out the door.

So, as you can see, my opinion on this one is kind of a mixed bag, but I think it’s fair to say I enjoyed it up until the point when I realised the romance wasn’t hitting the mark. I’d say it’s still worth a read though, as the following book promises a whole lot of conflict—especially with the pertained to second-interest we see at the end.


Ruined by Jus Accardo

As a fan of Jus Accardo’s Denazen series, I’d been looking forward to Ruined ever since being a part of the cover reveal. And when I read it, I enjoyed it as much as I’d hoped I would.

Jax is the highlight of the book, in my opinion. He brings a whole new level, and then some, to the phrase ‘tortured hero’. But I guess living with a demon, who craves violence and rage, inside him is the biggest contributing factor in that. Despite this, he believably fights the temptation of succumbing to the demon’s needs—which he secretly enjoys, too—pretty much every moment of the book. Combine this with the fact he’s hot, and considerate, and hot, and bada$$ and strong, and hot … and you have one wicked MC.

He’s not the only dude between these pages, though. Because Jax comes with a brother—Chase. From the off, we kind of get his number where Jax is concerned. From the off, I decided he was a selfish sleeze. Also, from pretty early on, I figured out he was somehow involved in the whole affair that Jax and his lady friend had gotten hauled into. However, I had by no means guessed just how involved he was—because this dude is in the thick of it, for sure.

And then alongside these two is the third point of the triangle, Samantha. She’s the balance to the wonkiness, yet the wonkiness to the balance. She’s the pinnacle of the moment, and the catalyst for disaster. She’s also easily as strong a character as Jax is, and a great counterpart to his tormented soul; plus their history is solid and relatable.

If you’re now picturing some kind of love triangle, you’d be scarcely right and mostly wrong. Because it’s only a love triangle when the love is aimed in more than one direction. And it’s only a love triangle when one of the sides isn’t twistedly warped and a danger to humanity and enough to make you run for the hills (cue the Iron Maiden music).

But then, on top of these three and their story, we also have other, smaller-played but just as important characters, who were obviously well thought out and vibrantly displayed. Rick, though we didn’t see that much of him, felt ‘real’. And I loved the addition of Heckle, the role he portrayed, and the revealed secret he came with at the end.

If I had to gripe about something, it would mostly be that the hotness of the book and what repetitively took place regarding that started to get a little … well, repetitive, thus slowing the pace down at points. And again regarding the hotness, when we finally get to the point that something might happen, there were quite a few continuity boo-boos in my ARC that should have been caught in editing, which stalled from the words giving as clear a picture as was needed and made it hard to follow in parts. These weren’t the only editing boo-boos I spotted, but this was an ARC, and hopefully, those have all been caught before going to print.

But those aside, I enjoyed this a lot. I respect the author for not wrapping it up with a big fat bow and giving the reader what they might have wanted, but I agree with what she probably already knew in that it would have been sickeningly contrite and unrealistic to have done that. In fact, all this ending has succeeded in doing is to leave me extremely curious about what’s to come—like how they’re going to overcome what they need to, what’s the deal with Sam, what’s going to happen next because, ya know, it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings, and all that jazz. So, yes, defo a decent read that makes me want to continue on.


The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith is so filled with sweetness and cuteness, I felt like I’d been munching on Easter Eggs whilst wrapped in the warm and snugly embrace of a giant Easter bunny. Seriously. To be honest, I’m not sure what to say other than that without giving everything away. I mean, we have Hadley, who ends up on the later flight due to missing her original flight to UK for her father’s wedding (her parents are divorced), and so just happens to end up paired with a cute British guy, who’s been studying in the States, on his way home for a date with family. And she has phobia issues, but because said cute British guy is CUTE, he helps her through them just because he’s nice, and the rest, as they say, is history.


Pretty much everything that happens in this book is as expected as you expect it to be. The romance unfolds exactly as you expect it to. All the twists and turns are exactly what you expect them to be. Yet, it still felt VERY fresh. And I think it was all of the surrounding details that made it as such. The fact that her parents aren’t bitter toward one another after their divorce, and her mother isn’t resentful of her dad getting remarried or of Hadley being a bridesmaid at the wedding—instead encouraging her, guiding her. And the fact that the woman Hadley’s father is marrying isn’t the evil stepmother Hadley wants her to be, but is actually really nice. So often, stepmothers are made out to be complete ogres. Makes a change for someone to portray us as nice (I’m a stepmother, can you tell?).


And on top of these is Oliver. Yes, he’s kind of predictable throughout most of the book. However, whilst he’s not in-your-face-swoonworthy, he’s definitely, definitely just … something special. And it ain’t even the hot British guy angle, because, hey, I’m British, so I don’t get butterflies in my tummy at hearing a British guy speak. Nope, Oliver doesn’t need all hearts and flowers or tattoos and piercing or a motorcycle or guitar to draw you in. Oliver just is. He’s enough, all on his own.


Added to these attributes was the ‘voice’ of the book. Sure, there were a good few moments in the narration where I felt Hadley waffled a bit too much, but this didn’t take away from the pacing, and it certainly didn’t take away from the authenticity of the teenage tone that dominates this story from start to finish.


In short: I really enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to read The Geography of You and Me.

Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Hmm, what to say about Katie McGarry’s Take Me On without, yet again, sounding like a blathering fool over one of her books …. because, really, I’ve yet to read anything by this lady that hasn’t swept me along, broken my heart, and made me fall head over heels in love.


Though, let me just add the disclaimer: no matter how much I appear to have fallen in love with West at any point during this review, Isaiah and Noah and still my men. MINE, I tell you!


Anyhoo, moving on. Meet Haley. She’s tough, she’s independent, and she loves fiercely, making her one relatable and admirable chick. From the very first glimpse we get inside Haley’s head, I liked her. Her character, her personality, her attitude. Her family situation pretty much sucked, but rather than create a divide that could create competition amongst siblings/peers, she and her brother and cousin seemed to have formed an incredible bond. This was only one of the refreshing aspects of this book. Too often when there is a bully in the household, the bullying gets mimicked by younger members and one-upping becomes the norm in order to gain the totally wrong kind of glory. However, in Take Me On, we see a solid support structure built from it, and I loved the relationship(s) that have been created from that. So, not only do we connect instantly with Haley, but we also almost want to be a part of her sucky-situated family, just so we can experience this relationship, too. Because (just so you know) her cousin and brother are freaking awesome characters also—Ms McGarry, they NEED their own book!


And running narration around Haley’s side of the story is West. We meet him in Crash Into You, in which he is portrayed as Rachel’s older jerk-face of a brother who is self-centred and whorish and only likable for his roguishness and pretty much nothing else. HOWEVER!!!! As they say, there is always more than one side to a story, and West has a whole lotta sides to his! Because, so often, there can be ugliness marring the depths of a person’s world that those on the outside will never know of, and things often aren’t as they seem. It’s human nature, though, I guess, to preconceive the reasons behind a person’s personality or behaviour or attitude, and those preconceptions can be just as rife when reading. All I can say is, all of those who thought you had West’s number? Trust me, you don’t. He is NOTHING like we thought he was. And everything we thought he wasn’t. To add to that? His inner turmoil over what happened to Rachel in Crash Into You, plus the unfolding emotional torture Ms McGarry has thrust upon the poor dude in this book, is heartbreaking. I wanted to cuddle the poor dude to my bosom, stroke his hair, and promise to make everything right for him again. And his commitment to making himself a better person? Admirable, for sure (even though occasionally idiotic, too). Oh, and he’s hot. Hot always helps us readers to fall in love, right?


So, if you love stories about unlikely pairings, fighting for survival and pride and (mustn’t forget) for love, and couples who meet by happenstance with a bang!, then you will love Take Me On, for surez! If you love Katie McGarry’s other books in this series, then you will love Take Me On, for surez! And if you love tough chicks and impossible situations and heartbreak and family turmoil and strong female leads and HAWT dudes with swagger and attitude, then you will most certainly love Take Me On, for surez!


Read it. You know you want to.


I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion.

Pure by Julianna Baggott

Pure by Julianna Baggott is a post apocalyptic-come-dystopian gem. I headed into it blind and with no expectations and found myself immediately drawn into this well-crafted world. After a ‘detonation’ has left the earth a shadow of its former self, the residents still left standing—none of them (at least, those outside of ‘the dome’) intact—are left to fend for themselves in a new order of life. And said new order involves adhering to rules and regulations, teenagers being rounded up once they ‘come of age’, killing for sport, hunger and desperation, manipulation, and living in fear but also in hope.


It ‘appears’ that the only ones who’re safe are those living within the dome—a structure created prior to the blast that ‘some more fortunate’ characters managed to reach in time to save themselves from the fallout. And of those existing outside of the dome? There isn’t a perfectly human specimen left amongst them. Some have merged with the earth, some with animals, some with inanimate objects. It’s a refreshing read indeed where pretty much every character, bar one, that the author wants the reader to fall in love with is scarred/deformed/mutated—even more so as, other than the references to their physical imperfections, those unnatural aspects of them are so much a part of the character that the reader 100% sees the character as a whole much more than concentrating on their irregularities. And I loved this. I loved that we’re given a bunch of folk who are disturbingly ‘messed up’, yet I still loved them, still found myself endeared or attracted to them, still found them (*cough* Bradwell *cough*) beautiful in my mind’s eye—and I definitely found them intriguing. It’s a great reminder that beauty comes from within, and within the pages of Pure, it’s also very well handled.


Oh, and those abovementioned mutations? They’re horrifying. Like, scary horrifying.


So enough about the characters, what about the world building? I can’t praise it enough. It’s well thought out, well woven, seriously well described, and not a moment passed within the book that I didn’t understand what the author was trying to plant in my head. Think Hunger Games level of world building and you’ve about hit the nail on the head for that in Pure.


And the plot itself? Well, I’m not actually going to delve into that other than to say it’s a goodie. Because there are (as stated above) manipulations and double crossing and family secrets and twists and turns, and whilst this isn’t a fast read by any means—what book with big world building ever is—I found the closer I got to the action, the faster I ploughed through the pages, and the closer I got to the end and the reveals, the more eager the pace became to keep nudging me along.


In short: great world building, great descriptions, great characterisations, great twists and turns, and I’m really looking forward to reading Fuse.


I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion.

The Dead Girls Detective Agency

It took me a while to get into The Dead Girls Detective Agency by Suzy Cox, and I think this is mostly due to how little connection I felt with the main character Charlotte. I spent a good portion of the book trying to figure out if it’s because we weren’t given a chance to get to know her prior to the circumstance she found herself in—because the book pretty much commences from the moment she dies—or if it’s just that she wasn’t very likable to begin with. Even as the book progressed, there wasn’t really much character development from her either. And around that, the ‘wit’ tossed in throughout the story just fell a little flat, for me. I mean, it was there—the humour was definitely there in an ironic kind of way—but I just didn’t click with it and it ended up being more irksome than funny, which created an even bigger barrier against that reader-MC connection I always need when reading.


That said, I continued reading, and whilst it might sound above like I hated it, I actually didn’t. Because there are other characters besides Charlotte for the reader to connect with. And there are other factors that hold the readers interest.


For one, I liked how the perfect portrait was painted of David, the solemn and grieving boyfriend left behind by a very dead Charlotte. And I liked the subtle shift of information and glimpses we get of him, and how it slowly unfolds that he’s not as awesome as Charlotte, or the reader, thinks.


I like the other three girls in the ‘Agency’. They all have such differing personalities, and those all shone through really well. And whilst I didn’t love Tess as a ‘person’, her character was still well portrayed.


Not to mention Edison. He’s the spanner in the works. He’s everything Charlotte shouldn’t and doesn’t want in a boy, and yet he’s there whether she likes it or not. I’ll admit, I’m a little tired of the old ‘spark of electricity on first contact’ deal that way too many books now have in them, and that irked me in here a little, but we’re definitely given more on which the grounds for their ‘relationship’ (if it can even be called that) can be built. I also liked how we are left wondering if there’s more to Ed than meets the eye, or if he was up to something, if he could be trusted—and whilst I had my suspicions, I was still disappointed in him, though at the same time felt sorry enough for him to hope he redeems himself in the next book.


Okay, onto the plot and the story as a whole. The plot in itself was actually kind of cool. Girl dies. Girl has to solve her murder before she can ‘move on’. It had the potential to be all shades of awesome. And whilst it wasn’t naff, the concept wasn’t pushed wholly into the spotlight to shine, either.


On top of that, I think a lot of the book was spread out much more than it needed to be, and it slowed the pace down a lot. I thought David’s character development post-Charlotte-death was fairly ridiculous and unbelievable. And I thought the murderer was even more unbelievable and, quite frankly, a bit silly.


That said, I also think this entire book is meant to be taken as a little tongue in cheek, and it’s not meant to be treated as serious murder-solving tale of whodunit.


Not to mention, I read to the end—which I don’t if I’m not enjoying—and so it deserves credit for that. Plus, I have book 2: Dead Girls Walking, and I fully intend to head in soon and find out the deal of Ed’s and Charlotte’s future—so I guess it deserves credit for having done its job.


In other words: I’m interested. So maybe you will be, too.

Whisper Falls

I was looking forward to delving into Whisper Falls by Elizabeth Langston after reading the blurb when I participated in the cover reveal. The idea of two eras coinciding intrigued me, having steered clear of any of these kinds of book/shows/films before, and I was looking forward to seeing how the author handled the difference in knowledge between the main characters.


Speaking of which, we follow the two sides of the story from the POVs of Mark and Susannah. Both of them were likable characters. Both of them easy to connect with and relate to, and begin to care about the relationship between them. However, Susannah gave us a whole lot more to care about and intrigue us with than Mark did, and she/her plight was definitely the driving force of this story. Her circumstances, the life she faces, are heartbreaking and provide great focus for the reader—a focus that eventually bleeds over into Mark’s side of the story also, as he decides to make ‘saving’ Susannah his mission. Sadly, aside from his connection to this times-apart female, and his small ventures into ‘her time’, Mark doesn’t really have a whole lot of story to tell, and this is certainly where the pacing of the book began to fail a little. I mean, we have the addition of his sister ‘issues’ that his family seems to revolve around, but I couldn’t help but feel as those this was added merely to give his POVs ‘something’ more than because it contributed to the story, because the other ‘sister’ angle AND his best friend pairing up with Mark’s ex even could have been dismissed without hurting the story. And I think these additions not really interesting me very much were a big contributor to the dragging pace patches. In fact, the story went from quickly grabbing the reader interest to pretty slow, and only finally began to relocate its momentum on its final furlong toward the finish line. This is truly when I began to fully enjoy this story, and this is when I became 100% engaged and urging them toward their happy ending, whatever that might happen to be. And the happy ending was fulfilling. Not slammed closed too soon, and not dragged out for too long either. It definitely left me feeling somewhat satisfied.


So other than the dull pacing for a big section of the middle of the book, and Mark’s overuse of the word ‘dorky’ to describe Susannah rather than showing her to us (which actually resulted in me forgetting for most of the story what either of them looked like), and the rather large issue I had with Mark’s research (he spent a LOT of the book researching Susannah’s ‘world’/background, but didn’t ONCE research the potential of ‘portals’ in Whisper Falls, which would be the FIRST thing I’d have Googled if this happened to me—so I consider this a plot hole)—yeah, other than those, I enjoyed this clashing of ‘times’, and felt content with the ending and happy enough to read on just as soon as I have time. 

Animal Attraction by Jill Shalvis

Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis was just an okay kind of read for me. Did I enjoy it? Yes. But did it grab me by the short and curlies and leave me seeking out moments of solitude just so I could delve back into this world whenever I put the book down? No, not really. But like I said, I did enjoy it. So, I guess, really, the book did its job.


The story focuses on the dual POV between Brady and Lilah. Both of them are likable. Both of them have nice enough personalities. Actually, I think that might be the point: they were both ‘nice’, and nice is such a nondescript way of stating an almost indifference when giving an opinion.


From the off, we see the attraction between these two, but for some reason, I didn’t quite ‘feel’ it. However, I stuck in there, because I was new to Ms Shalvis’ writing, and so wanted to see where she’d take me if given a chance. Hats off for not tossing this couple into bed too early on in a way that screamed of contriteness, even if we *could* already guess this was where the story would eventually end up. As a result of dragging it out a little, the situation that led to them getting some alone time felt natural, even if the manoeuvring of said initial scene seemed a little bit forced. Also, once the first deed was done, aside from plenty of narration from the duo telling us exactly what they felt when they saw the other—Brady more so than Lilah because Lilah just appeared to be permanently sex starved and horny—the chemistry between them seemed seriously toned down outside of the bed (or anywhere else they got hot and heavy). Which meant that almost every successive intimate scene between the duo also felt forced—until the final one. Because the final one was easily the most believable.


Okay, let’s focus somewhere other than the sex, then.


We have Brady, whose buddies (who just happen to also be Lilah’s buddies, but Lilah and Brady had never met due to Brady being away and serving his country) want him to stick around, and so buy a helicopter that needs fixing up because they know, with his background, he won’t be able to resist. This angle of the story, I really liked. It was a solid, believable angle, and Adam and Dell’s relationship with Brady, and their brotherly-ness, dragged me along with them until I, too, wanted Brady to stick around. Wanted him to create some roots, some connections worthwhile sticking around for. In fact, Dell and Adam may well have been my favourite characters of the book. Their loyalty to Brady, their protectiveness toward Lilah. They added a LOT to this story and created great flavour, with a decent job done of setting up the potential romance for book two.


And on the other side of the main coin, we have Lilah. In all honesty, her romance gone bad didn’t quite ring true for me, and certainly didn’t hold any uniqueness—to the point, I don’t believe it added an awful lot to the story. I also kept searching for a really solid reason for the watchfulness and caring attitudes of Dell and Adam, but didn’t really find one, especially as Lilah had no issues with ANY guys in her hometown and even her exes still treated the woman like she was a saint.


However, I’d imagine most readers of Ms Shelvis’s books are mostly interested in the romance, and she does deliver well enough on that angle, and there are some decent moments within the sex scenes that will keep readers returning for more, as well as the very sweet happy ending. Not to mention how refreshing it was for the man to show his eagerness for a relationship with far more vibrancy than the female. So, all in all, an enjoyable enough read, but I would have liked to see a little more substance to the plot.

The Fallen by Keri Lake

Okay, I originally wrote a teeny-tiny review for The Fallen by Keri Lake that went along the lines of:


*Le sigh*

*Le swoon*

*Le Xander*


But then I realised that, as much as it’s an accurate description of my thoughts on this hot dude, it barely scratches the surface of my thoughts on this novel as a whole.


So let’s evaluate.


Okay, is The Fallen a romance?


Well, the author claims not. Me? I’m going to argue the case.


Whilst Xander’s initial interest in Karinna is definitely infatuation bordering on obsession, the feelings he has toward her, and the development of those feelings, should still be treated with equal respect. Because when a tough dude suddenly finds a human worth breaking the rules for, you can bet your butt she means something to him, and this is 100% what we see from Xander in this book. Just because a dude doesn’t understand his feelings, doesn’t mean they’re not there. After all, love needs no rhyme or reason. Love just … is.


And then, alongside this slightly deranged dude, we have Karinna. She is easily the most surprising element of this book and a VERY multi-faceted character that will demand you struggle to get a handle on her. Normally, this kind of character would be frustrating to me, and risk the danger of hindering a reader connection. However, Karinna is such an intriguing soul that you can’t help but want to get to know her just to unravel her mystery.


Because Karinna is definitely the mystery of this book. And you’d better ensure you have a strong stomach if you’re to take this feisty chick on. Not only is her story terrifyingly familiar, it is also as heartbreaking as one should expect it to be, and just about as damaging as it gets. Though, the reader doesn’t learn immediately just how damaging her experiences have been. Which only adds to the enigma of this woman. I’m not going to say any more than that, because I’m not one for spoilers, but her carefully-unfolding tale, and the twists it made, most certainly took me by surprise—and I love to be surprised by a story.


So, what about the ending? Well, you’d expect a tale of a couple binding over death and circumstance, and a male trying to save a female who doesn’t even realise she needs to be saved, would come with a happy ending of final relief … right?




But nor does it necessarily come with a bad end—although, that opinion would likely differ depending on the POV.


Man, how to word this without giving it all away?


Okay, here goes: this story is full of sadness and badness, and commitment, and sacrifice, and quite possibly some of the darkest horror any female can possibly image … with a bitter sweet ending that is full of sadness in and of itself whilst being the best possible outcome anyone could hope for, given how everything plays out.


In short: you may go into this one expecting a hot dude and a whole lot of BDSM, but The Fallen truly is so very much more than that. You definitely want to add this one to your TBR. 

Rags & Bones

Most anthologies are a mixed bag, a taste of new-to-the-reader authors, a little bit of something for everyone, and Rags & Bones is no different. Did I read all of the stories? I’ll admit that I didn’t. However, I did read the opening of every story in there, and then continued on if my interest and intrigue was piqued. And whilst I’m going to decline from rating this book, as my opinions of the stories differ too much to judge, I have included my thoughts on each of the tales I read. See below.

That the Machine May Progress Eternally

This was a thought provoking tale, not only about a man’s reliance on technology becoming ever greater, but also on the willingness to ‘follow’ a belief. Parts of this story reminded me, albeit obscurely, of Wall.e.

The Sleeper and the Spindle

I went in expecting another Sleeping Beauty retelling, but this adaptation had a nice twist on the overall story and the outcome, as well as an interesting intertwining of fairy tale characters.

The Cold Corner

A somewhat bizarre tale. To begin, I was kind of enjoying it because it intrigued me, but then the fact that the resolution wasn’t really any kind of resolution at all, and there being no explanation for the oddness of what was happening, left me feeling somewhat unfulfilled. As a result, my thoughts on this story are still a little unsure.


I loved this story. The haunting quality, the unfolding awareness of the situation and characters, everything that was pertained to (because none of it was confirmed outright) …. Loved the voice and the style in which it was written. I haven’t read any Holly Black before, but I shall definitely be checking out more by her now.


Bizarreness merged with normality, and a curse that lacked a decent explanation for what the curse actually is or where it originated from, left this one feeling slightly unresolved.


I loved the writing ‘voice’, the main character, and Robert, and I felt Eden’s plight from start to finish. Though, it did make me think of Sleeping with the Enemy quite a lot (could’ve just been the setting, maybe).

New Chicago

This was a gripping tale, with great world building done with so few words. Also, the post apocalyptic slant seemed to heighten the modern approach to this adaptation. BUT … in all honesty, I’d expected to enjoy it simply because it’s a Kelley Armstrong.

The Soul Collector

I really enjoyed this one. The dark undertones set a great atmosphere, and the twist at the end takes it from a tale of sad truths to the bittersweet edge of romance. A great read.

Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy

Another one I enjoyed, from the underlying messages to the inner strength of the MC. Even though the world building was minimal and the explanations almost nonexistent, it didn’t detract from the story or hinder the delivery of its message within in any way.


So, as you can see, my thoughts have varied, but I’ve definitely enjoyed getting to visit the minds of this collection of authors. If I had to pick a favourite from the anthology, it would be a pretty close call between Millcara and The Soul Collector.

Have you read it? Which was your favourite?

Currently reading

Fuse by Julianna Baggott