Monday, 10 August 2015

Review: A Malmont Summer by Joshua J. Johnson Synopsis:
Set in Santa Monica, A MALMONT SUMMER follows four girls who attend St. Malmont—a boarding school for the teenagers of the extremely rich, located between golden sands and sparkling waters, raving nightclubs and fast cars—as they go about enjoying their summer.

But when a difference in views arises between Heidi and Danielle, their typical summer they had been expecting is turned upside down—almost literally, as they end up flitting to the other side of the globe to Australia, where their summer truly kicks off.

With their two other friends, Lottie and Hannah, the four girls make a plan to follow two very different bucket lists, based on two very different sets of opinions, in order to be able to settle their argument once and for all. 

Along the way, however, their summer becomes much more eventful than they ever anticipated—secrets are revealed, love lives are tangled, and crimes are committed…and that’s just the start.

Because, when you’re the daughters of extremely rich families, the sky is the limit when it comes to proving your points…

***I received the eBook free as a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review***

It’s unusual for me to enjoy a book when I don’t connect with any of the characters (and there’s 5 of them including Daniel!) though I could understand why they are the way they are. The impact money has had on the girls’ characters plays a major part in the story and conveys some strong messages about what it can do to people.

Also nothing would have actually happened if they didn’t have the money to hop on a plane to Australia! With the title I was expecting the girls to spend more time in the school St. Malmont which would have been interesting, that said the location descriptions were incredible. I love visiting new places across the world through books!

One thing the girls did do was appreciate the different places, if not experiences (for the most part). One thing the girls didn’t do was get along much… They caused so many arguments between themselves that escalated beyond belief when a simply apology might have sufficed. It did showcase their individual personalities and contrasting beliefs though, which was important for me as a reader.

Overall, A Malmont Summer is a great summer read with enough drama to keep me coming back to the pages. The romance was a nice addition.
Favourite Quotes:
“You really didn’t need money to be happy with a person who just so happens to be the person who makes you happy.”

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Review: Semester Aboard (More than Magic #1) by Elizabeth Kirke Synopsis:
College student Jen Maddox is a few days into her summer study abroad program and has loved every moment. She just left Mexico and is back on her cruise ship campus, ready to sail to Panama. Everyone tells her that the experience will change her life, but none of them realize just how right they really are.
One night Jen goes out on deck and encounters five other students. She knows Charlie from one of her classes and he's a funny, friendly, regular guy. Picture-perfect Dani and his gorgeous wife Mariana live right down the hall from Jen. And she has seen TS, who's built like a truck, around the ship and recognizes the cute, but quiet Thomas as well.
Then Jen sees something that isn't humanly possible. Jen would have thought that it was all a dream, if not for the fact that Charlie, Dani, Mariana, TS, and Thomas are making every effort to cover it up. Suddenly, the five of them are everything but normal and Jen is determined to figure out what they're hiding.
When she does, her life really does change. Jen expected to spend her summer studying the cultures of Latin America, she never dreamed she'd learn about a magical culture instead. 
But Jen's childhood fantasy come true is about to turn into a nightmare; there's something on the ship. Something dangerous. Suddenly, everyone on board is threatened by a creature that Jen never even believed existed. Jen and her new friends might be the only people who can stop it!
Now Jen has to learn everything she can about her new world before it kills her. And her friends. And maybe everyone on the entire ship.

***I received the paperback free as a review copy from the publisher by being part of their social media team in exchange for an honest review***

After what I realised was nothing more than a slow start in order to introduce the characters, I couldn’t put this book down; mainly because those characters are incredible! Originally it was overwhelming (after recently reading books with less than 3 side characters you can’t blame me for taking a while to get my head around 5) but their vivid personalities jumped off the pages and it takes no time at all for you to get to know them.

Of course that doesn’t mean you won’t be continually surprised by the revelations about their pasts… One of my favourite things about this book was the character development we both see and don’t. It’s clear the author knows her characters exceptionally well along with the world she’s created.

The magical beings in this book are similar, yet so different to the ones from movie/novel lore. It really emphasises the point to not believe everything you read, something of which Jen is regularly reminded when facing vampires who do not burn in the sun and werewolves who love to be petted. Her lack of magical knowledge meant the reader could learn alongside her as well as unravel the mysteries surrounding the cruise.

Being a very character orientated story meant there were plenty of fun banter scenes, but action was not to be missed out. The second half of Semester Aboard flew by in a whirlwind of tension and life-threatening fights until I was at the final page catching my breath and with heaviness in my heart that can only come from not having the sequel in my hands (something I plan to remedy, immediately).

It’s safe to say I definitely enjoyed this book and believe fans of YA paranormal/fantasy will to. But only if you’re ready for something without a love triangle which I’m pretty sure we all have been for some time!
Favourite Quotes:
“The summer had been like a dream, some parts of it a nightmare, but overall a good dream. Magic.”

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Review: The Fire Sermon (The Fire Sermon #1) by Francesca Haig Synopsis:
Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair one is an Alpha - physically perfect in every way - and the other an Omega burdened with deformity, small or large.

With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other. Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side by side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

So much potential, yet this book fell flat.

Now, I’m writing this review for myself as much as anyone because I want to figure out where everything went wrong.

Nothing particularly sticks out to me as the reason that I gave The Fire Sermon only 2 stars – there wasn’t anything which immediately put me off like insta-love or infodumps etc. Quite the opposite really, I found there were things which could have pulled me into the story – the thing is they didn’t.

Everything was so… impossibly… slow… that whenever something of interest happened it was dragged out until it felt unimportant and I lost the initial spark of hope that the story would pick up. So much of it was spent running from one place to another without any climax. From a critic’s point of view I could admire Francesca Haig’s writing, but as someone looking for a good read; not so much. To be honest I was bored. My attention kept drifting to the most menial things and my eyes would roam over words but skip more.

Reading became a chore and all I wanted to do was finish. Books don’t have to contribute on a major scale to your life for them to be good; they could simply take you away from it for a few hours or be an enjoyable read. The Fire Sermon did none of these things for me.

The concept (learned through the synopsis) drew me in and it was reading about it that didn’t hold. It also didn’t help that the characters were very one-dimensional with unimpressive arcs that felt unnatural. If some of the characters didn’t exist, there would have been very little difference to everything as a whole (this includes one of the main protagonists, Kip, whose name I had to look up even though I finished the book less than a day ago).

In the end, I have to come back to my original point: there was potential here for a mind-blowing story but alas it was not.
Favourite Quotes:
“A history written in ashes, in bones. Before the blast, they say there'd been sermons about fire, about the end of the world. The fire itself gave the last sermon; after that there were no more.” 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Author Interview: Joshua J. Johnson

In celebration of his latest book being released yesterday I have an interview with the lovely Joshua J. Johnson <3

1) Hi Joshua, thanks for sparing some time for this interview, can you tell us a little about your book A Malmont Summer?
Thank you for having me on your blog! Essentially, A MALMONT SUMMER follows four girls who attend a boarding school for the daughters of the rich in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, but when they have a clash, they decide to flit across the world to attempt to prove to each prove to one another that they're right. Basically, we have exciting locations, interesting characters, and some intriguing storylines!  

2) You’re very active on social medias (including youtube), has this in any way affected your writing process and the way you approach it?
I think it's made me more open about my writing process, and be honest about how writing can be difficult sometimes, but being active online showed me that all writers do their own thing, so I do approach writing in the way that I want to rather than the way I think I should be doing. 

3) Can you name one of your favourite movies, and could you see your book as a movie?
It's got to be either THE FAULT IN OUR STARS or THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER. Both films were made really well and really did the books justice, and I'd love for A MALMONT SUMMER to have the same experience! Out of the books I've written, this one would make the best movie I think—wealthy characters so some interesting costumes, private jets, beautiful locations; I'd love it!

4) What scenes were your favourite and least favourite to write?
My least favourite was the ending! Although they'll be a book 2, this book I've been planning for a very, very long, and I wrote it as I was struggling with some things outside of writing, so the book became a nice place to go to de-stress. I really didn't want it to end! As for my most favourite, probably the arguments! They were so fun to write since there are four main characters with four different set-in-stone views.

5) What was the first creative piece you remember writing that led to your journey as an author?
My short story "Trespassing". I made a blog in Summer 2012 and started releasing short stories on it. Then, in November 2012, I secured a book deal which actually fell through. My audience really liked the sound of the book however, so in October 2013 I self-published it. 8 books and nearly 3 years after my first story, I'm still here and still writing—I'm a lucky boy and very grateful!

6) Do you have any more projects in the works or can you share some ideas for future ones?
MALMONT SUMMER which is due out in Summer 2016, and another secret book that is very peculiar and very strange, and very unlike anything I've ever written before, so I'm very excited to see where this little idea takes me! :) 

Quick Questions
Fan fiction yay or nay? Yay! I used to write Harry Potter fan fiction myself and I think it really helps to develop your writing skills, and can encourage others to write! 
Ebook or paperback? I like the convenience of ebooks, but prefer paperbacks, but ideally I'd own all my books in hardback! 
Tea or coffee? Tea!
Zombies or vampires? Vampires!

About the Author
Joshua J. Johnson currently lives in England with a serious case of wanderlust and a wardrobe full of books.

He started writing as soon as he discovered that book didn't randomly appear, and that they were actually written by people. After growing up writing short stories by hand for his brother and his family-- including a weekly family newspaper-- he created a blog where his writing has been captivated, treasured, and enjoyed by thousands of people in nearly eighty countries around the world.