Over the last 3-4 months I've been a pretty crappy blogger. Our family went through a tough time and I've been spending more time with friends and family recently than reading and blogging. I also have an unhealthy obsession with Grey's Anatomy which I'm currently binge watching. Again.
I'd really like to get back into blogging and get my reading mojo back in the next year so for now wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2016
Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to
dig. An adult sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been
taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood
Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a
spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.
But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home,
disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on
the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.
As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they
strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own
past before it’s too late?
This is Angela’s first novel and it’s also the first crime
thriller I’ve read in about 10 years. To say this is not my typical genre is a
gross understatement. It seemed like every other review being tweeted was a
raving review of one of Angela’s D.I. Kim Stone novels. So like the book crowd
follower I am I took myself straight to Amazon and downloaded Silent Scream.
This book is set in the Black Country and focuses on kick
ass detective Kim Stone and her pursuit for justice.
One of the things that drew me to this series, along with
the great reviews I’d read, was the female lead. As I’m new to this genre I
thought I would more easily identify with a female main character than a male.
Kim Stone is a strong and seemingly fearless woman. She’s headstrong, stubborn and
damn good at her job. Although her stubbornness sometimes lands her in hot
water with her boss her instincts and the way she worked through the crimes in
her head completely drew me to her.
I had immense respect for Kim by the end of the novel.
Alongside the main storyline we get a glimpse of Kim’s past coming through in
her moments of reflection, brought on by the closeness of the case to her own history.
As the story unfolds and as the body count goes up the story
of the past and present is interwoven. At some points I thought I had the
murderer pegged but it turned out I was completely wrong. For the most part Kim
tells the story however there are scenes from the murderer’s POV too which were
unnerving but had the effect of keeping me turning the pages. Just when I
thought I was starting to work things out, learn what to expect, Angela through
a complete spanner into the works in what has to be one of the best character
twists I’ve read ever.
There were so many twists in this novel that my head was
spinning by the end. I was a little bit apprehensive about finishing this when
I was in the house myself… and when it was night time! It’s cleverly written,
completely unpredictable and gripping to the very end. Reading this has definitely
ensured that I want to read more not only from this author but in this genre –
starting with 24 Hours written by one of Angela’s fellow Bookouture authors
After the crazy six months she’s had, if there was a ‘clear history’
button for your life, Tess Brookes would be the first in line to press it.
When the opportunity arises to join her best friend, Amy, in New York
for Christmas, Tess jumps at the chance. The only slight hitch is that Nick,
the man who broke her heart, lives there. And Charlie, the man she turned down,
has just started talking to her again. And she has just four days to take a
photo for a competition that could save her career.
But aside from that, everything is going to be great: it’ll be the best
Christmas ever. Won’t it?
I, like all of Lindsey’s other fans, was looking forward to
this book immensely. I couldn’t wait to get back into Tess’s crazy life and
finish the whole Team Nick/Team Charlie debate – although Nick will always be
my guy – makes love-heart-in-eyes face.
The prologue threw me for a loop. At first I was like wait,
wait just one minute what’s going on here?! But then it all became clear! After
those first few pages I was effortlessly engrossed in Lindsey’s writing once
again. Every other page had me laughing and at times I was on the verge of
tears. Tess’s life has one big chaotic whirlwind from assuming her flatmate’s
identity and job to making a name, her own name, for herself and completing her
adopted family circle. One thing missing was her man – but which man was the
Tess finds a way to make Christmas in New York happen. I’m
so glad that this story was set in New York primarily because Lindsey and
writing about New York go so well together. Lindsey’s I Heart series begins in
New York and I loved going back there with her. I also loved the fact that we
got to catch up with I Heart series main characters Angela Clarke and Jenny
Lopez. If ever there were three characters who were destined to be besties it’s
As usual chaos reigns where Tess is involved but she just
about manages to turn things round for herself. The ending to this book is
probably one of my favourite endings of all times. It just seemed absolutely
perfect although I don’t want to ruin it by revealing anything more about it.
There are a few things that keep me coming back to Lindsey’s
writing over and over again. Firstly the fact that every single time I read a
new book of hers I am completely transported to wherever the location is. I
never feel like I’m just reading about a place, I can visualise it and I feel
like I’m experiencing it first-hand. Secondly is Lindsey’s sense of humour and
sharp wit. It feels so aligned with my own and my sister’s that it makes me
want to be BFFs with her main characters. I would love to meet Tess in real
life, Angela and Jenny too. I can’t wait for whatever’s next from Lindsey.
Livvy is on the run. And she’s escaped to the one place nobody will
ever find her.
But the isolated cottage isn’t empty. Her refuge is home to a troubled
stranger, Tom, there for reasons of his own.
In the intimacy of the abandoned cottage, and the remote wilderness of
the island, the electrifying connection between them is impossible to ignore.
Both running from their histories and shielding dark secrets, their pasts catch
up with them and collide in an unimaginable way.
Deep emotions and powerful chemistry face a painful battle with the
tangle of lies, and scars of the past. When the truth emerges, hearts will be shattered.
Firstly, thank you to Headline Eternal for sending me a copy
of this book for review. I’d never read anything by Natasha Boyd before but I
would definitely read more from this author based on this book.
This story is all about Livvy and Tom. Livvy is seeking
refuge in her Grandmother’s cottage in South Carolina but when she turns up
expecting the cottage to be empty she finds she is isn’t the only one seeking
There is not a single emotion left uncovered by this book. I
felt raw after reading this because every single page I turned the words on the
next one seemed to hit me right in every single feel. Livvy’s running away from
her life but you don’t find out for a while exactly what’s happened to her that’s
made her run. She recognises Tom but is never sure until much, much later in
the book where she recognised him from. She’s skittish, plagued by nightmares
and completely unsure of herself and who she is. The transformation in her
character throughout and the journey she takes is heart-wrenching. At times I
could empathise with her and at others I was at a complete loss to what Livvy
was feeling as I couldn’t possibly imagine myself in her situation.
Tom is a very real character. Real in his guilt, real in his
attempts to rectify everything he feels guilt for and real in his need to fix
everyone around him. He allows Livvy the room she needs to heal and to find herself,
although in doing this he doesn’t fully disclose who he is and all the way
through the book I had an awful feeling about what was going to happen between
the characters. I quickly deduced who Tom might be to Livvy and was on
tenterhooks waiting for the big reveal. I love Tom’s part in her recovery and
how his feelings develop for her.
I cried, I smiled and then I cried again. I am not exaggerating
the level of emotions in this book because they are absolutely clear to anyone
who reads this. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of K.A. Tucker
and Samantha Young. Yes. Pass me the next one!
When he's not working at the club, Craig Lanaghan looks out for his
mother and little sisters. So when it comes to women, all he wants is a good
time. But once Rain Alexander walks into his life, there's no denying that this
woman could be worth much more than a one-night stand . . .
Rain's lifelong regret is having left her sister Darcy alone years ago
with a guardian who turned out to be abusive. So when Darcy's boyfriend
publicly humiliates her in a cruel way, Rain's overprotective instincts kick in
and she follows him to Club 39 - where she meets a guy who just might be her
The chemistry between Rain and Craig is explosive, but Rain is out for
revenge, and refuses to be sidetracked by flirtation. As things between them
heat up, she'll have to make a heartbreaking choice between giving in to the
man of her dreams or putting her sister's happiness first . . .
I feel like I’ve been waiting for this for ages – more so
since Samantha posted a teaser on her Facebook of an excerpt of the story
written from Craig’s POV. I’ve loved the little re-imagined excerpts from the
On Dublin Street series told from the hero’s perspective that Sam has posted on
her website so I knew she could nail this!
I love reading from both male and female perspectives in a
book, especially in a novella when you have less time to get to know the
characters and their stories. We have already met Craig as he worked alongside
Joss & Jo at Braden’s night club but Rain is a brand new character. I was a
little confused at first but quickly realised that One King’s Way is set way
back between the first and second books in the On Dublin Street series.
Craig and Rain meet in the night club and although Craig is
his usual charming self, Rain is too distracted to notice. Although she’s
caught up in her own business I love that her level of distractedness meant
that Craig had to double his efforts to win her attention.
Over the course of this short read we learn more about each
character and their loyalty to their families and what drives it. The
relationship between Rain and Craig is sexy and intense but there was always something
in the back of my mind that thought the heat and the passion was masking the
real issues that Rain was harbouring.
I didn’t quite expect the ending but I loved the both usual
and unusual tie in that the title had, as with the rest of the series this
novella belongs to. Sam is one of those writers whose work I could read over
and over again and this is no different. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . to fall in love
The temperature is dropping, snow is on its way and Hayley Walker is
heading for New York with one wish on her mind…to start over.
With her nine year-old daughter Angel, Hayley is ready for an
adventure. From hot chocolates and horse-drawn carriage rides in Central Park,
to ice-skating at the Rockefeller Centre, and Christmas shopping on 5th Avenue
– they soon fall in love with the city that never sleeps.
But there’s more to New York than the bright twinkly lights and breathtaking
skyscrapers. Angel has a Christmas wish of her own – to find her real dad.
While Hayley tries to fufil her daughter’s wish, she crosses paths with
billionaire Oliver Drummond. Restless and bored with fast living, there’s
something intriguing about him that has Hayley hooked.
Determined to make her daughter’s dream come true, can Hayley dare to
think her own dreams might turn into reality – could A New York Christmas turn
into a New York Forever?
Travel to the Big Apple this Christmas and join Hayley and Oliver as
they both realise that life isn’t just about filling the minutes…it’s about
making every moment count.
Firstly, thank you to Bookouture for approving me for a copy
of Mandy’s latest read via Netgalley. One Wish in Manhattan is all about
Hayley, her 9 year old daughter and Oliver.
The story is told from both Hayley and Oliver’s POV. I love
this in a story anyway, but it works well in this one because there are a lot
of different things happening for each character. Hayley is very family focused
and is trying her best to fulfil her daughter’s Christmas wish and on the other
hand Oliver shies away from commitment in general but also from being part of
his family. They are an unlikely match but there is something that just works
with them both. Hayley brings out Oliver’s good qualities almost unbeknownst to
him and by the end he is the genuinely great guy he is capable of.
Both Hayley and Oliver have a lot of time to reflect in the
novel and there is a lot of self-discovery for each of them. The biggest change
though, remains with Oliver in all aspects of his life right down to learning
his employee’s names.
I absolutely loved the setting. Mandy brought New York to
life in this book and I loved that Hayley’s New York treasure hunt took her and
Angel beyond the usual sight-seeing hot spots. It felt like an insider’s guide
to New York and I loved that she and Angel kept thinking of reasons why New
York was better than home.
Just like the cover says, this is an uplifting read. It’s
about going after what you want, going after what you deserve and living life
to its fullest for you and for your family. Mandy had my emotions all over the
place throughout this book but one thing is for certain – her writing reels you
in, wraps you up and invests your heart in her stories. More please!
Noah Drake was that guy--the one always on the lookout for his next
adrenaline high, so it was no surprise when he took off across the world,
seeking adventure as a travel writer. But one thing he could never escape was
Piper Bellini, the girl who got away--the girl he let get away, a fact he's
never let himself forget.
When he returns to Echo Lake to see if there's any chance the flame between
them can be rekindled, he never expects to spend the night holed up with Piper
in a roadside diner while a blizzard rages outside. It's exactly the kind of
situation that sent Piper running years ago. But this time, Noah may have been
handed a Christmas miracle, and he intends to make all of his and Piper's
wishes come true...
Firstly thank you to St Martin’s Press for approving me for
a review copy of this title. I’ve read one other book of Maggie’s so far,
although I have more on my TBR (shocker), and I really enjoyed her writing.
When I saw this Christmas shorty I knew I would want to read it. I think it’s
perfect for fans of Paige Toon too.
I LOVED Noah. I mean really what is there not to love - he’s
handsome, he’s fit and adventurous and he’s the one that got away. Or rather
he’s the one that went away.
The end of this story is predictable and a happy ever after,
but the journey to the ending was unexpected. Piper and Noah separated when Noah
followed his free spirit back across the world not caring about what it could
cost him. There are a lot of unresolved feelings between the pair of them and
their connection is rekindled almost as soon as they see each other.
I liked that the story had them going on a trip together.
Being stuck together during the story allows both characters to work through
their feelings about each other and their relationship. The journey back also
shows Noah’s heroic side and Piper’s ability to overcome her fears.
I am looking forward to more from Maggie’s Echo Lake series
after this lovely, wintery read.
Happy publication day Holly! The final installment in The Sentinel series is out today!
The bit on the back...
After the Oraculum orders Eve’s execution, she has to flee her home in the fort as those that have been guarding over her are forced to turn against her. Amongst the chaos, a new Sentinel is named. Adam, Eve’s half-brother.
Adam has spent his life incarcerated by the Oraculum while Eve was allowed to grow up with a family and friends. Now he is hell bent on revenge. He rules over his Guardians and his new kingdom with arrogance and a cold heart, but his one ambition is to make Eve’s life a living hell. Nowhere is safe from him, not even her dreams.
With the threat from the Putarians moving closer, her own Guardians betraying her, the survival of the world hinges in the balance.
Above all else, Adam must be stopped. But when Eve has a prophecy of her and Adam saving the world together, she quickly realizes she needs to work with him not against him.
But can Eve get through to Adam before it’s too late? Or will Adam’s evil heart result in the destruction of all?
The first time I read this book it consumed me! I had been in a bit of a reading slump and decided to step outside my usual genre and straight into Holly's fantasy world. Everything about this is just filled with a crazy amount of imagination. On the eve of the release of the final book of the series read on for a look at the first chapter of The Sentinel...
horrific squealing of brakes snatched me from my dreams. As we swerved, my friend Julia smacked her
head painfully against the window. With
a deafening bang, the coach lurched heavily onto its side. The lights went out. Metal screeched as it buckled along the
ground. Windows popped and
splintered. The coach suddenly tipped
forward over what could only have been the edge of a cliff and our driver
smashed into the front window. Silence
fell over my classmates as we watched in helpless horror, somehow knowing what
was going to happen next. With a
sickening cracking sound, the glass shattered.
He scrabbled frantically in the air and his grass green eyes, filled
with despair, found mine as he tumbled into the dark abyss below. I knew that moment would be permanently
seared on the inside of my eyelids, when fifty six people sat and watched our
coach driver die. And then the screaming
started again. It quickly intensified as
the coach wavered precariously on the knife edge between our salvation and our
still and unmoved amongst the chaos Mr Kennedy, my English teacher, was
suddenly by my side. He tore me easily
from my seatbelt, as if it was only made from paper, and swung me up into his
arms so fast it was just a blur. Leaping
through a window into the icy black night, he landed on the road in one swift,
gigantic, impossible movement. Mr
Curtis, my Science teacher, was holding onto the back of the coach with one
hand. A terrifying realisation engulfed
me. He was the only thing that was
stopping the coach from toppling over the sheer drop and killing all my friends
Kennedy put me down and gestured to the coach. ‘Let it go, they’ll be too many
questions otherwise. Eve is the only one that matters.’
stomach twisted violently as Mr Curtis released it.
gravity slowly took hold of the coach, pulling it over the great precipice, I
shrieked with horror. Without thinking I
flung out my hands to stop it, clinging onto the bumper. The coach stopped tipping immediately, though
the screaming inside did not. My eyes
widened in shock as I realised that I
was now singlehandedly preventing the coach from falling. I looked back at my
two teachers in disbelief.
me,’ I screamed.
Curtis joined me at the bumper.
if we do this, you will have to lie to everyone. This never happened, the coach nearly slid
off the cliff but somehow stopped before it did. You were never rescued by Guardians, we never
had this conversation.’
nodded, numbly; anything to save my friends.
the loud, screeching sound of metal grinding against the rocks, Mr Curtis
started pulling the coach back, as easy as if he was pulling a sheet off a
bed. He pulled it back just a few feet
but it was enough that the coach wouldn’t topple over the edge.
I could say anything I found myself in Mr Kennedy’s arms, whooshing through the
air again. I was lying back in the
darkness of the coach a second later; a darkness that was filled with screaming
and fear and pain.
Kennedy’s voice was calm as he whispered in my ear. ‘Remember to lie Eve; it’s
more important than anything that no one knows about you or the Guardians.’ He
flicked open his phone and his voice changed to one of panic. ‘Hello is that
the emergency services...there’s been an accident, oh please get here quick,
the children, please...we’re on the mountain road between .....’
I lay numb in the darkness, waiting for the emergency services to come, I
listened to the sounds of Mr Kennedy and the other teachers, trying to calm
down the screaming teenagers. The sticky
wet feeling of blood trickling through my hair was a sure indication that I had
banged my head at some point. But I was
alive and so were the other fifty five passengers. My teachers, the Guardians, had saved
swallowed, uneasily as I accepted the unwanted truth. No, they hadn’t saved us, they had saved me.
My head was buzzing with the thoughts crashing round it. How had I managed to hold the coach? All laws of physics dictated that what Mr
Curtis had done, what I had done, was impossible. And who or what were the Guardians? Why had
they saved me? What did they want from
me? ‘Eve is the only one that
matters’. I tried to catch my breath,
but it stalled in my throat. This didn’t
make any sense. What was so special
about me? Why was my life so much more
important than anyone else’s? My life
had been pretty unremarkable. I hadn’t
saved any lives, I hadn’t done anything that was special, certainly nothing
that could rank my life over anyone else. A sick feeling of panic prickled my
scalp as I tried to breathe normally.
make matters worse, my struggling to breathe alerted my two Guardians
again. How they had heard me above the
screams of my friends was beyond me.
Amongst the cries of genuine pain from my fellow students, my Guardians
stood unmoving by my side.
she hurt?’ Mr Curtis asked quietly.
Kennedy bent down to touch my head, a surge of electricity shot through me and
he stood back up again. ‘She’s had a bang to the head, but it’s just a lot for
her to take in. She’s beginning to
understand how important she is and she doesn’t want to believe it.’
looked up at them, at their grass green eyes that glinted in the moonlight; the
exact same eyes as the driver who had fallen to his death. The same eyes as my
was no accident,’ Mr Curtis said. ‘There
were small explosives rigged to the tyres.
They were deliberately trying to kill her.’
or someone after the bounty. We will
have to intensify the guard.’
are already hundreds in her servitude; Eve’s teachers, doctors,
neighbours. She’s never alone now
without a Guardian. There are four that
live in her house…’
Guardians that lived in my house? My parents, aunt Jada and uncle Silas, they
were Guardians too? My throat was dry.
of my life suddenly filled my mind, like a film played too quickly to make any
sense of it. The flashes were of tall,
powerful people with grass green eyes.
They had followed me throughout my life; they had seemingly watched me
as if nothing else existed. My
family? My teachers, next door
neighbours, doctors, dentists, shop keepers, flower sellers? I had never been
alone. Even in seemingly innocuous
situations the Guardians had never left me.
All of them shared one thing in common, that intense look in their eyes,
that single minded ferocity that I had to be kept alive, that it was their job
to protect me at all costs.
there surrounded by broken glass in the debris of the coach crash, the
realisation of what the Guardians were came crashing down on me. My heart was racing, my skin humming with
wasn’t supposed to find out this young.
She’s only seventeen. She’s not
ready for it yet. She certainly
shouldn’t have found out like this. But
still, the secret cannot remain at the cost of her life.’
we had to save her,’ agreed Mr Kennedy.
we can modify her memory.’
felt a fresh wave of panic surge through me.
Finding out about the Guardians had horrified me. The possibility of this knowledge now being
taken away from me and the bubble of unawareness being refastened over my eyes
and my mind was even more terrifying. I
had to find out answers not have what little I knew removed from me. I shivered violently.
can try.’ Mr Kennedy was doubtful as he bent down again to touch my head, then
leapt back as if he had been burnt. He looked at Mr Curtis and shook his head. ‘She’s
becoming more aware of her powers, maybe subconsciously now, but she is
defending her mind against me.’
powers!? My heart was roaring in my
must say, I was very surprised to see her holding the coach earlier. The strength isn’t supposed to kick in for a
good few years yet. Isn’t she supposed
to be around twenty before she can do that?’ Mr Curtis muttered, as he shrugged
out of his jacket and placed it over me.
always hoped she would be physiologically advanced, but no one could have foreseen
suddenly, as if all this wasn’t enough to deal with, a tall man with a scar
down his left cheek and golden eyes appeared between them, as if the air had
just spat him out. The two Guardians
didn’t even flinch, as if people appearing from the thin air was the norm. He glared at them as if he blamed them
entirely. He knelt by my side and put a
hand to my head. With a surge of energy
from him the welcome dark of unconsciousness consumed me.
lay in bed, in my home, thinking of the night of the crash and what it all
meant. Five days I had been back in
England now. Five nights of restless
dreams, filled with super strength beings following my every move. Five days where I couldn’t talk to anyone and
no one in the know would talk to me.
I had woken in hospital from the relief of the empty unconsciousness, my Dad
had been impossibly by my side. How he
had got to the French hospital in such a short time was a mystery. I tried to talk to him about the Guardians,
about what it all meant, but he had denied all knowledge of such things. He tried to convince me that it was the bang
to the head that had caused these hallucinations.
Mr Curtis and Mr Kennedy denied what had happened that night. And there was no one else I could talk to
about it, because who would believe it.
What would any of my friends say if I started talking about Guardians and
how supposedly important I was. I can
imagine the reaction actually; I’d imagine it would end with me sitting in a
padded cell. I couldn’t even tell Seth,
my best friend, which hurt me the most, as I told him everything. But it just sounded so unbelievable; I was
having a hard time believing any of it myself.
Why would anyone else believe me?
Every time I started forming the words to tell him, my mouth would go
dry with embarrassment.
annoying thing was Seth should have been there on the coach with me. Seth had come on the school skiing holiday
with us, but had seemingly broken his ankle a few days before the end of the
trip and was flown home. Though once back
home he’d text me to say it was nothing more than a bad sprain. I was so grateful in one way that he wasn’t
there, so he didn’t get hurt in the crash.
But if he had been with me, he might have seen what had happened with Mr
Curtis and Mr Kennedy and I wouldn’t be doubting my own sanity right now.
got up and felt Quinn, my golden retriever, stir next to me on the bed. My throat was dry and the air was thick with
heat. The last few days had been warm
despite the lateness of the year but the top of the house was always hot at
took a long sip of water, opened the window and climbed out onto the roof. My Dad hated me sitting on the roof and he’d
nearly beat me once when he caught me out here.
But Uncle Silas had thrown him against a wall when he raised his hand to
Silas had been weird towards me since I came back from France. Whenever we had been alone he would mutter
things like, ‘trust no one’, or ‘just because they have green eyes it doesn’t
make them safe’.
‘secret passage’ was the strangest thing at the back of the garden. He had showed me this hidden gate, with some
special release button two days before. The alley, that must have cut across
the backs of many of our neighbours’ gardens, led to a small side road. Parked immediately outside the second gate
was a black Range Rover, the keys to which were hanging on the back of the
gate. It was all very cloak and
dagger. I wouldn’t be surprised if the
car had some kind of laser gun attached to it like something from James
Bond. It was almost laughable.
you need to run, you run. No one knows
about this, no one. Don’t look back,
don’t take anyone with you, just run if you have to.’ That’s all he said and
despite me badgering him for more information, he never said anything
else. Had Silas gone delusional? What would I need to run from? But then Mr Curtis had said that someone had
tried to kill me by rigging explosives to the coach tyres. But who would want to kill me and why were
hundreds of Guardians in charge of my protection? Was any of that even real? The doctors at the hospital, the ones with
the grass green eyes, had said a bang on the head could cause
hallucinations. It was easier to believe
in hallucinations than super strength beings and murderers.
stirring inside caught my attention through the window but he slept on. I sighed as my eyes shifted to my reflection
in the glass.
was quite unremarkable in many ways. My
hair was a rather boring shade of brown, my nose, I always felt, was a bit too
big for my face. I was thin, but not in
a willowy and graceful way, in fact I was quite short. I had a strange birthmark on the inside of my
left elbow; it looked like a small pair of wings. I always wore long sleeved
tops to cover it up as much as I could.
The only part of my body I liked was my eyes. They were big but what I liked best about
them was I could never put a colour to them.
Where other people would say they had blue eyes or brown, I could never
decide. Some days they looked grey, some
they definitely looked blue, some days I’d say with absolute conviction they
were green, but the next I was leaning towards hazel, or maybe a bluey
green. I loved the uniqueness of my
eyes, but that was definitely the only unique thing about me. Which just made
what happened that night of the crash even more unbelievable.
certainly not unique, I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a freak, a bit
of an outcast. I have never been one of
the really cool kids, or really clever or really sporty. I am distinctly average. I think my friends, well my classmates, will
look at our class photo, years from now, when they find it covered in dust at
the back of the cupboard, and after laughing at their younger selves, they
might pick out their friends and laugh at them too. And then their eyes might drift to me,
standing second from the left on the third row and they’d say, ‘who was that,
what was her name, was it Eve something, Eve Jones that was it.’ Then their eyes would slide away from mine to
find a much more interesting memory. As
far as my class mates are concerned, I’m just Eve, nice, plain old Eve. But that’s what I want them to think. I would hate them to know any different.
had become glaringly obvious to me very early on that I was different to the
other children. I hated it. I had stopped talking to my friends about my
weekends many years ago, when my experiences stood stark apart from
theirs. Now I have to pretend that my
weekends are normal. I make up tales of shopping, going to the cinema, going to
London to the theatre. How I long for
those tales to be true.
go to school, get good grades, run for the school cross country team, and read
my books and play on my computer whenever I have any spare time. But that is where the similarities end. Where my friends spend the warmer weekends
and school holidays, camping with family and riding their bikes through the
woods, I have spent most of my spare time learning to shoot a multitude of
frightening weapons, to fence with swords so sharp that the slightest slip
would be fatal for me or my opponent. I
can speak three different languages, fluently.
Where my friends are learning how to play the flute or piano after
school, I have learnt hand to hand combat and have become a black belt in three
different martial art disciplines. Where
my friends have just started to learn to drive, I had already accomplished this
by the time I was thirteen. Now looking
back, it kind of feels to me that I was perhaps in training for something,
though I’ve never figured out what.
only saving grace in my training was Seth was present for all of it, his Dad
apparently as keen for him to learn how to kill someone as much as my Dad was
for me to learn it. Seth took to the
training like a duck to water, like he had been born to fight. The bruises on my body and the way I spent most
of my younger years aching, were a clear indication, at least to me, that I
wasn’t really built for such brutality.
I looked out into the dark garden, my heart started pounding angrily. With the coach crash, the training, in trying
to make sense of my life, ‘freak’ didn’t even come close to describing me. The Guardians had made me an outcast. With the training they had forced me apart
from my friends. But what was worse was
I’ve never been told what it was all for.
Knowing I was different was one thing, but not knowing why was the
the last few days I had seen the Guardians everywhere, parked outside my house,
following me to the shops, over the park when I walked Quinn and so many of
them at school, all silently watching me, or watching over me. Their very presence was a painful reminder of
this other world that I wasn’t allowed to know about, but somehow integral to.
It annoyed me so much that they think I’m stupid enough not to notice
them. Though I was more annoyed with
myself that for the last seventeen years I hadn’t. It struck me now that the grass green eyes
was the marker of these Guardians, but there had been so many of them
surrounding me, that it had long since become the norm, though clearly not just
for me, for everyone.
angered me that they held me in such reverence. How could they be so callous to
let nearly sixty people die, just to preserve this stupid secret, to preserve
me? Their continual watch was
oppressive, almost claustrophobic.
heard Quinn bark inside and I cursed inwardly that the bark would draw the
attention of my Dad again. I scrabbled
back inside glaring at him treacherously but he was standing near the door, his
heckles raised. He growled then barked
coughed. The air was so dry in here.
barked again and I felt my blood turn to ice in my veins. Something was wrong. Was someone here?
grabbed my baseball bat and stood in the darkness behind the door. Running was not an option from the third
was pacing in front of the door whimpering, as I coughed again. Why was it so hard to breathe?
I noticed the tendrils of smoke trickling through the crack at the bottom of
the door and realised what Quinn had been so upset about.
opened the door and ran out onto the landing.
The roaring sound that filled my ears was almost deafening. Flames
covered the stairs, licking up the walls in a frenzy to consume the whole
house. As I looked on in horror, at the
photos that were bubbling and curling up in the heat and the carpet melting
just a few feet from where I stood, Quinn tugged on my pyjama top, gently but
forcibly pulling me back into the bedroom.
I was too shocked to even put up a fight. Our only escape route had been cut off.
closed the door behind me and silence descended on the room. The door was thick
and heavy, but it would only stop the fire for a few minutes and the smoke was
already consuming me, making it difficult to breathe. Quinn whimpered as he paced the room. I ran to the window, but as I looked out I
knew that jumping from the loft window, three storeys up, would be almost
at least standing next to the window, I could breathe cool, clean air, though
the heat of the room was intense. I knew
I only had minutes left before me and my beloved pet was burnt alive. What of my parents, my aunt and uncle, had
they managed to escape but couldn’t get to me?
I turned to get Quinn to the window so he could breathe too, but through
the smoke I couldn’t see him. His whimpering was coming from the far side of
‘Quinn! Come on, here boy.’ I knelt trying to see his shadow in the gloom.
whimpering suddenly stopped and I wondered if this was the end, if the smoke
had already consumed my dog and I would soon succumb too. I suddenly decided that I wasn’t going to sit
here and die, I would try to escape, and if I died trying that was going to be
better than dying whilst doing nothing.
stood and as I cast desperately around for Quinn one last time, a shape appeared
from the haze and I realised with a new sick horror, that I wasn’t alone.
was a man in the room with me, a young man I had never seen before. The bedroom door was still closed so where
the hell had he come from? He moved towards
me. I backed away from him, willing to
take on the fire rather than comprehend where this man had come from and for
what reason. He grabbed my arm to stop
me from running back out the bedroom and I instinctively fought him off. I had spent my life learning martial arts and
when it mattered most, my body reacted without thinking. He clearly knew martial arts too, as he
easily deflected my first few punches. I
didn’t have time to get into a proper fight.
Desperately I kicked him in the shins and as he staggered back I flew
out onto the landing.
fire had reached the top of the stairs now.
please, I’m trying to help,’ said the man from my room, approaching me slowly
like you might approach a wild animal. ‘Don’t
be afraid.’ His voice was croaky, like he
hadn’t spoken for some time. His eyes
were so familiar, deep pools of melted chocolate. I’d never seen him before, I would have
remembered someone so beautiful, but somehow I knew that face. A distant memory clawed at my mind, but it
was gone a second later.
backed against the wall as he came closer and he reached out tentatively to
take my arm. The stench of petrol hit my
nose and I knew with horrifying clarity that this was no accident.
yelled a voice from below and the man with me looked down through the
I’ve got her. What the hell’s going on?’
stared at the man in shock. Quinn. This was Quinn?
He looked back at me. ‘You’re…my dog?’ Even with the heat almost burning my
skin, with mere minutes left before I died, I was still embarrassed about
voicing my insanity out loud. He was
tall, with shaggy blond hair, the exact colour of my dog’s fur. The brown eyes were so familiar because I had
stared into them for the last seventeen years.
man nodded, reluctantly. ‘Yes, I’ll
explain everything later, but now we need to get you out of here.’
shrunk back against the wall. ‘You’re my
the air spat out another man at our side.
He was huge and towered over Quinn, ferociously. Muscles seemingly screamed from every part of
him. He had the grass green eyes of the
Guardians but they were fiercely angry filled with hate. Uncle Silas’s warning came back to haunt me,
‘not everyone with green eyes is safe’.
For reasons I didn’t know, I didn’t trust this man.
thank god!’ muttered Quinn. ‘Where’s David and Marie?’
parents. Eli didn’t say anything but the
look that he gave Quinn sent ice to my heart.
Something was very wrong.
Eli started the fire? Was he here to
kill me? There was a smell of petrol about him too.
parents, are they here, we need to help them,’ I said.
no one here Eve, only you and Quinn.’
another word Eli grabbed me up into his arms and marched back into the bedroom.
come back for you in a second,’ he said to Quinn as he walked purposefully to
worry about me, I can just fly down.’
think seeing you naked once you’ve shifted is one shock too many for her
knelt and gracefully stepped out onto the roof and without hesitating he leapt
off into the darkness.
screamed, knowing we were both plummeting to our deaths, and braced myself for
the impact that never came.
later I felt the man’s hold lessen and I was placed on the floor. I stood in horror as he leapt back up in the
air, landing easily on the roof. He
ducked back through the window again to get Quinn.
tearing through my veins I eyed the secret gate at the back of the garden. Eli couldn’t be trusted. My dog that had spent every night since I was
little lying on my bed was actually a man.
I felt sick and I knew it was time to run.
looking back I fled. I hit the button
behind the bird house and tore through the gate that flew open. Silas had seen this coming and I thanked him silently
for the precautions he had put in place.
I heard Eli roar behind me.
hit the other button to release the second gate, grabbed the keys and was out
on the street a second later. I jumped into the car, started the engine,
slammed it into first and flooring the accelerator I shot up the road.
my immense surprise, by the time I had reached the end of the road, a silver Land
Rover was closing the gap between us. I
looked in my rear view mirror and saw Eli leap onto the side of the Land Rover
like he was windsurfing. The silver car
didn’t even slow down as Eli opened the door and climbed into the passenger
pushed the car to go faster. As I
approached the traffic lights at the end of the road, the red light threatened
me to stop, but I shifted the car into fifth gear and sped through them. The car behind me didn’t stop either, easily
keeping up with my renewed speed. I
turned left into a smaller side road and then turned right and right again to
head back onto the main road, in an attempt to shake them off, but they were so
close they didn’t lose sight of me for a second. Speeding along the dark and empty streets,
the silver car was suddenly joined by a police car, blue lights flashing
furiously as it drew level with me.
could I explain this to the police? ‘Hi
officer. The man chasing me in the car
behind has super strength, I think he started the fire in my house to kill me
and for reasons I don’t understand, this is the second attempt on my life in
the last week. There’s also a shape
shifter in on this madness and he’s slept on my bed for the last seventeen
years. If you can find them there are
Guardians somewhere who are here to protect me.
I’m sure they’ll explain everything to you, or maybe not as they
certainly won’t tell me anything.’
hesitated for a moment. Was Eli one of
my Guardians? He had rescued me from the
fire. But his eyes had been filled with
so much anger. And then there was Quinn,
my dog, definitely not a Guardian, he wasn’t big enough nor did he have the grass
green eyes. Eli knew him, were they in
on this together? Silas had always
looked at Quinn with hatred and suspicion.
Had he known that he wasn’t really a dog at all? I looked across at the policeman who was
waving at me to pull over, but as we drove the street lights lit up the grass
green eyes of the officer and I knew he was one of them too. I slowed a bit; if he was a Guardian he was
here to protect me, to save me from Eli. I looked back towards the policeman
and was thrown by the look of furious hatred from him. The police were with
Eli, they wanted me dead.
put my foot back down on the accelerator again and took off through the
town. The cars followed, only inches
from me. Soon the town was left behind
and I was speeding through the quiet country lanes. A third car, a large red Audi, pulled out in
front of me, slowing down, forcing me to do the same. The patrol car drew level with me, boxing me
in and the sense of claustrophobia added to my fear. There was no escape.
police car slammed into my car, causing me to wobble dangerously as I fought to
gain control. The occupants of the red
car were clearly not happy with this and swerved in front of the police car,
taking out half of its bonnet as it did so.
The police car didn’t show any signs of slowing down.
advantage of this distraction I veered violently to the left, I swerved off the
road and ploughed across a field. The
car responded beautifully, it was built to be off road. Unfortunately so was the silver car that was
still following me. The two other cars
chased me too. I’d lost their immediate
proximity but they were soon catching me up.
I tore down the hill, flooring the accelerator. There was another road at the bottom and I
aimed for it.
the hill flattened out and I neared the road, the moonlight glinted off the
surface and my heart crashed into my stomach as I realised it was actually a
river that I was about to drive into.
There was no time to stop, and as the car hit a small bank and took off,
I had time to pray that my uncle had fitted the car with some kind of
wings. The river was easily six or seven
metres wide and I held my breath as I waited for the car to crash into the icy
water. To my upmost surprise the car
landed slickly on the other side and I swerved quickly to avoid the approaching
trees. I sped along the river, my three
car entourage keeping level with me on the opposite side; clearly none of them
were stupid or brave enough to try jumping it like I had done.
realising the river had given me the advantage, I slammed on the brakes. The other cars were travelling so fast that
when they all did the same they stopped a few hundred yards up the field from
where I had come to a stop. The
policeman was already out the car and in an impossible move leapt high in the
air and landed on my side of the river.
made to get out the car but Eli was already by my side, appearing from the
air. He slammed the door shut, his
weight buckling the car door and breaking the glass. Other men leapt across the river as easily as
if they had stepped across a small puddle. But instead of running for me, they
ran for the policeman. My
Guardians? But was Eli one of them? Not
waiting to find out, I scrambled to the other side. I leapt out the car and burst into the woods,
running as fast as I could through the darkness. I was a fast runner; this much I knew, and
with the adrenaline coursing through me, I pushed myself faster than I had ever
wove through the trees and jumped over bushes.
The trees whipped against my face, the fingers of the branches grabbing
my clothes and pulling me back, but I ran on.
I leapt over a small stream and scrambled up the bank on the other
side. I paused for a moment, listening
to see if I had anyone following me and despite the speed I had torn through
the woods I could distinctly hear at least two different people fast
approaching my location. This was
hopeless. There was never going to be
any escape from them.
could feel the anger, the shock, the fear boiling inside my chest, a burning
ball of rage that seemed to suddenly consume me. My fingers twitched and for a second a flash
of blue light seemed to flicker in my hand.
But I was distracted from this as the next second two men broke the
trees on the opposite bank of the stream, Eli was one of them.
I screamed in fury, instinctively putting my hand up. A blue bolt of lightning shot from my hand
and exploded in a sphere across the stream.
The men were blown back from the force of the explosion and I staggered
away from what I had done, not sure how I’d even done it. I ran on into the darkness, but running for a
different reason now, running to get away from the shock of what had just
disbelief I heard the men still running after me. I looked back over my shoulder to see how
close they were, when suddenly I slammed into a body so hard I would have
fallen over if a pair of strong hands hadn’t held me. I screamed and struggled against my captor
but the grip only tightened. A hand
pressed over my mouth…
If you enjoyed this first chapter check out the links below for your chance to get The Sentinel for FREE this week only!
So excited about this post! Today I have the fantastic author lady Holly Martin to welcome to the blog. I read Holly’s fantastic YA Fantasy novel The Sentinel, first in The Sentinel series, at the end of last year and I had a whole bunch of questions that I was desperate to ask Holly about the characters, the story and her freakin’ awesome imagination! Here is the interview!!
Q1 – Tell us about your novel The Sentinel
It's a fast paced, action packed, fantasy adventure with great twists and superpowered beings. It's a story about Eve and her destiny to save the world, a story of friendship, loyalty and love.
Q2 – Why fantasy, what inspired you to write in this genre?
I love writing fantasy because anything and everything can happen. The only limits are your imagination. The Sentinel is filled with super powered and super strength beings, amazing stunts and shape shifters and I love that when writing fantasy the impossible becomes possible.
Q3 – Eve is the main character from The Sentinel. Was it natural that your hero would be a female character, did you ever contemplate having a male lead?
Great question. When I wanted to write a book like this, I looked around at the other teenage fiction books in this genre and realised that most of the leads were men or boys. Alex Rider, Young James Bond, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, there seemed to be a distinct lack of strong female characters. The girls I taught all loved these books, the action, stunts, the fantasy as much as the boys did and I wanted to write a book that had a good role model for girls. I started writing this book about five years ago. Thankfully there are a lot more books with female leads now and I think this is a great thing. Also, as far as I was concerned, there had to be a love story, one of those love lasts for eternity type loves and I felt this could only really be portrayed properly from the girl's point of view.
Q4 – Eve has super strengths that she wasn’t even fully aware of. How did you come up with all of her powers, did anything inspire them?
I used to watch Charmed when I was younger; I loved that show, so I was inspired by that. I did some research into super powers and super heroes and found out there was a huge range out there to choose from. I wanted Eve to have them all.
Q5 – The thing that marks Eve out as different is that she has little bits of every other character’s powers. Did you decide that you would create her character like this at the start of the process, or did she get more powers as the writing process progressed?
She was always going to be really powerful, that was important. She had been created to be more powerful than any other living thing. The Oraculum, the council of nine that created her, had foreseen the end of the world and they knew that they themselves, the nine most powerful beings on this planet, would not be enough to stop it so they created Eve. So she had to have some incredible strength and powers. She does get more powerful as the books progress and she becomes more adept at using them
Q6 – Eve has the weight of the world, almost literally, on her shoulders. That’s a lot for someone of 17 years of age to deal with! How did you make sure she was strong enough to cope with that?
I just ensured she was surrounded by people that loved and cared about her. Her relationship with Seth is very important here, she knows she has to fight for a world with him in. Having Quinn and Persia and her Guardians around her to support her and cheer her on helps with the huge transition that she goes through.
Q7 – Which character do you identify most with?
I'd like to say Eve as I always thought that I was destined for great things when I was a child, saving the world type things, not just winning the 100m relay or getting ten out of ten on a spelling test. I always thought that there was some big secret and that one day my destiny would be revealed to me. I'm still waiting.
Q8 – If you could chose a favourite part of the story, what would it be?
The end of book 1 between Seth and Eve made me cry, I love the part with Edward and the part with the cat. Can't say more than that, it would spoil it for those that haven't read it yet.
Q9 – Do you have a favourite character?
Seth, definitely Seth, I just love him so much. I want my own Seth. The love he has for her, that 'I would die for you' type of love, I love that.
Q10 – We’ve already discussed a dream cast for Eli (Chris Hemsworth), Seth (Liam Hemsworth) and Quinn (Jesse Spencer). What about the girls? You have some kick ass characters to cast there, is there anyone that comes to mind?
Oh that's so hard, Eve would be very hard to cast. I like Saoirse Ronan, but the actress that plays Eve would have to have some serious balls, the tricky part is Eve being so young too, she's 17. Persia could be played by the same actress who played Ginny Weasley; she's sweet but fiery too.
Q11 – At the end of the story you let us have a look at what’s next for the characters – talk about a tease! Can you tell us anything about the second in the series?
Eve becomes stronger in her power and can achieve some amazing things but her new gifts draws the attention of The Oraculum, the council that created her and they're not particularly happy about the way she uses her powers. When she is summoned to their castle to answer for her actions she becomes aware of a rift between them that could not only endanger her life but the whole planet too. Her love for Seth grows too and we see their relationship blossom. But the book is also full of darkness. Not everyone Eve loves will survive.
Q12 – Did you always know that this was going to be a series or did it start to take form when you were writing The Sentinel?
Initially when I started writing it, it was going to be a trilogy, but there was so much going on that I couldn't possibly finish it in three books, so it is now a four book series.
Q13 – When can we expect the second book to be released?
April I hope.
Q14 - You already know I absolutely loved this story, what would you say to other readers thinking about reading this story?
I’d say what are you waiting for!
So many people have said to me that fantasy or Young Adult books are not their sort of thing at all but how much they loved The Sentinel anyway. People are put off by the Teen label but if you enjoyed Harry Potter then I think you will love this. Read the first few chapters which is free on Amazon, if you like what you see, then read the rest.
Q16 – You have a chick-lit novel coming out, The Guestbook – can you tell us a little about that?
I love The Guestbook because it’s a very different way of telling a story. The story unfolds solely through the messages left in the guestbook of a holiday cottage. Annie Butterworth owns the cottage and lives next door, it is her story told through her interactions with the guests, plus we get a snapshot into the unique and unusual lives of the guests too.
Q17 – How has the writing process differed, if at all, between The Sentinel and The Guestbook?
The Sentinel is fantasy so anything can happen, people can fly or shoot flames from their hands. The Guestbook is set in the real world, so no super powers unfortunately. The writing process was very different in The Guestbook, because its not a traditional story, so I had to think carefully about the type of information that could be portrayed in the book. It was quite liberating because all the stuff that normally makes up a book like the setting or the descriptions of people or what they were wearing didn't really appear in this story.
Now for some Holly questions!
Q18 – What do you get up to when you’re not busy writing?
I work long hours, sometimes I'm out the house 14 hours a day so anytime I have, that's not taken up with work is normally dedicated to writing. I'm on Twitter way too much. Seeing friends at the weekends. I love going to the cinema, that's probably my favourite thing to do, meals out with friends. I used to scuba dive a lot but unfortunately a terrible seasickness put a stop to that.
Q19 – Do you have a favourite book?
That's way too hard, one book, just one. I loved The Host and Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, loved Shadow Forest by Matt Haig, love Winter Wonderland by Belinda Jones, Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella and On the Edge , Richard Hammond's autobiography after his car accident was so honest and raw.
Q20 – What authors/genres do you typically enjoy?
Chicklit, but the Happy Ever After type, the light hearted, rose tinted type, not the miserable sort that makes you cry buckets. I love fantasy, dystopian YA too.
Q21 – What are you most excited for in 2014?
Sherlock Holmes, can't wait for that. Oh and the publication of The Guestbook that's very exciting eeek!!!
Thanks again to the wonderful Holly. You can read my review of The Sentinel here.