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Review: Hard Knox by Nicole Williams

Received from AToMR

Received from AToMR

Title: Hard Knox
Series: The Outsiders #1
Author: Nicole Williams
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: Aug 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Knox Jagger. The name inspires resent in every male at Sinclair University, want in every female, and contempt in Charlie Chase.

Charlie can be summed up in three words: independent, independent, and independent. To Charlie, Knox epitomizes everything that’s wrong with college males: prolific one-night stands, drunken senseless fights, and a body that hints at prioritizing gym time over study time.

As an up-and-coming writer for Sinclair University’s newspaper, Charlie’s tasked with getting to the bottom of who’s been dropping little white pills into girls’ drinks at parties. In an ocean of All-American boys sporting polo shirts and innocent smiles, Knox is the obvious suspect. As evidence piles up against the bad boy of Sinclair, Charlie becomes more and more certain it isn’t Knox. But when her drink is dosed at a party and she wakes up on Knox’s couch the next morning, Charlie’s left with more questions than answers when it comes to Knox Jagger.

How can Charlie ever hope to uncover the truth behind a guy so closed off he’s become . . .

Hard Knox.

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It’s no secret that I love Nicole Williams writing. One of my favorite things is her ability to write the cutest, sweetest bad boys there are (yes I know it’s an oxymoron but it’s true). Knox Jagger is the product of all my fantasy book boyfriends all rolled into one, think Jude Ryder and Lucas Maxfield mixed together *fans self* OH MY ;)

I’m not going to go into details about the plot because it would seriously spoil it for you, lets just say that not everything is as it seems. There are so many things going on below the surface, both with the characters and the nuances of the plot. The clues are there to pick up on, don’t forget that information can be manipulated ;)

Told in first person narrative from Charlie’s point of view. Boy did I love her, she is exactly my sort of female character. Strong, independent, snarky and sarcastic :)  She knows who she is and doesn’t make apologies for it; she is a WYSISYG girl. Despite the differences between Knox and Charlie they truly bring out the best in each other. You can’t help but become invested in their relationship as well as them as individuals. With Charlie targeted as a victim of ‘roofies’ and Knox as her unlikely protector the tension is high throughout the book.

As a parent the whole concept of the ‘date rape’ culture was even more frightening, add in the fact that it can be put in anything not just alcohol added to my anxiety. In fact it made me want to ban my girls from ever going to parties :(

I’ve got to be honest and say that there was one aspect of the plot that I didn’t particularity like – in fact it caused me to have an eww moment – not to give to much away but it has to do with Charlie’s resemblance to a person from Knox’s past, for me felt a bit skeevy.  However, it was a minor detail and one I can overlook in respect to the story as a whole.

Believe me when I say that I’ve had my fair share of hard knocks in my life but if they were HARD KNOX then I would be a happy woman :) This is the only kind of Hard Knox you want in your life ;)

Review: Linked by Imogen Howson

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Linked
Series: Linked #1
Author: Imogen Howson
Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date:
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

For years, Elissa has suffered nightmarish visions and unexplained bruises. Finally, she’s promised a cure, and an operation is scheduled. But on the eve of the procedure, Elissa discovers the truth: she’s seeing the world through another girl’s eyes. A world filled with wires, machines and pain. Elissa follows her visions, only to find a battered, broken girl. A girl who looks exactly like her. A twin she never knew existed. Elissa and her twin Lin go on the run, but even after changing their looks and clothes, they’re barely a step ahead of the government agents who are ruthlessly tracking them down. For Lin and Elissa are too valuable to let go, and the dark truth at the heart of it all is too shocking to risk exposing..


This is by far the best book I have ever read. The genre of this book is thriller with elements of sci-fi and romance. We follow the story of a teenage girl who is suffering extreme nightmares and bears scars from them. We find out how these affect her life and how she resolves the terrible position she is in.

What first attracted me to this book were the intriguing front cover.

Elissa wakes each morning, having suffers terrible nightmares which she is physically scarred from and finds herself on a mission to find out why this is happening to her. This book thoroughly intrigued me, the tense moments in the story gripped me and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Born a twin Elissa’s identical sister was given away at birth as a spare. Elissa was unaware of this until her nightmares worsened. Her twin is being tortured for experiments in a space programme. Her fate would be to follow all the other ‘spares’ in the world ie unwanted children.

Elissa’s brother and his friend Cadan are on a space training programme and assist Elissa in her mission to save her and her twin from a deadly fate.

The hint of romance in this story kept me intrigued. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the sequel ‘UNRAVEL

Review: Constable and Toop by Gareth P Jones

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Constable and Toop
Author: Gareth P Jones
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: Oct 2012
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Sam Toop lives in a funeral parlour, blessed (or cursed) with an unusual gift. While his father buries the dead, Sam is haunted by their constant demands for attention. Trouble is afoot on the ‘other side’ – there is a horrible disease that is mysteriously imprisoning ghosts into empty houses in the world of the living. And Sam is caught in the middle – will he be able to bring himself to help?

Blue Peter Award winner Gareth P. Jones has woven a darkly comic story, a wonderfully funny adventure that roams the grimy streets of Victorian London.


Constable and Toop is set in 1884 when Queen Victoria was half way through her reign. There is a horrible disease that is mysteriously imprisoning ghosts into empty houses in the world of the living.

Constable and Toop, an undertaker’s in Honour Oak on the outskirts of London, is home to Sam Toop, one of the main characters. Sam helps his father and Mr Constable with the funerals, acting as the ‘mute’ who walks wordlessly with the procession. But Sam has a secret. Walking with him, all too often, is the ghost of the dead person, who stares mournfully at those he’s left behind. These restless ghosts sometimes ask Sam to do them a favour. Sam doesn’t mind the ghosts so much. Its favours for the living, like his creepy Uncle Jack, he can’t abide…

The living and dead must work together if they intend on overcoming the horrible disease known as the Black-Rot before it destroys both ghost and human worlds. Will they be able to survive?

I would say this book is good for people who like non-horror ghost stories. All the delightful characters, the history, the genuine sorrow and the fantastic world-building make an excellent story.

Review: Rival by Penelope Douglas

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Rival
Series: Fall Away #2
Author: Penelope Douglas 
Publisher: Piatkus Books
Publication Date:
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Madoc and Fallon. Two estranged teenagers playing games that push the boundaries between love and war . . . 

She’s back.

For the three years she’s been away at boarding school, there was no word from her. Back when we lived in the same house, she used to cut me down during the day and then leave her door open for me at night.

I was stupid then, but now I’m ready to beat her at her own game . . .

I’m back.

Three years and I can tell he still wants me, even if he acts like he’s better than me.

But I won’t be scared away. Or pushed down. I’ll call his bluff and fight back. That’s what he wants, right? As long as I keep my guard up, he’ll never know how much he affects me . . .

Received from Publisher

Received from Publisher


OMG! I don’t know where to start with this book. Dude, it’s seriously messed up; don’t go into it expecting a hearts and flowers romance ‘cos you aren’t going to get it. More like soul crushing, heart breaking, fall to the floor mass of emotion romance here. It’s addictive, compulsive and unbelievably twisted yet true love.

The main characters, Fallon and Madoc, are deeply flawed; they lash out with pent-up emotions fueled by deception and misunderstandings. Although, you can’t help but root for them all the way through. Their relationship tests the boundaries of all the things I’d want in a romance YET I couldn’t help but be completely invested in both them as individuals and their relationship.

Nothing is conventional about them. Fallon for all her rebellious behaviour/appearance while complementing her personality also provides a barrier to hide behind. She craves acceptance and love, something she has only been able to get fully from one person. Can you guess who that person is ;) While Madoc plays is part of rich douche to perfection, maintaining his expected role. All the while craving the same things as Fallon, knowing she was the only person to give him what he craved.

Add in the fact that they are step-siblings nothing about their story is conventional. Forced apart 2 years previously by their parents, deliberately told heart-wrenching reports from the people who were supposed to protect them, Fallon and Madoc are fuelled by tangled emotions, anger, hurt and betrayal at the forefront. Intent on revenge their actions and words cut like daggers. You can feel their pain pouring through the narrative.

I have to be honest, there were times when I literally wanted to strangle both of them OR knock their heads together. Rival certainly draws out strong emotions within the reader. It’s a credit to Penelope Douglas’s writing that she can capture the head and heart of the reader to that extent.

As the story develops, revelations fuel the tension in more ways than one ;) Their family dynamic adds fuel to the fire. The character development both as individuals and a couple is phenomenal – especially in Madoc’s case. Although the idiot took long enough about it ;) I felt that he had never really lived his life for himself and therefore, didn’t really know who he was until Fallon :)

There is some seriously f’d up crapolla going on within the plot. Honestly, I think I had to pick my jaw up off the floor on more than one occasion. I have to say I cannot wait for Jax’s story, OMG that ending – just WOW (I know I’m a tease)

Rival proves that soul mates do exist. A love of a lifetime may not be pretty, in fact it may shred you to tiny pieces along the way BUT ultimately that depth of love will shine through.

Review: Insignia by SJ Kincaid

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Insignia
Series: Insignia #1
Author: SJ Kincaid
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: July 2012
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?


Insignia is based on the life of a boy named Thomas Raines and the drastic turn of events that occur, these are life changing for him.

Tom is fourteen years old and like so many other teenagers struggles with his schoolwork. However, there is a big difference. World War III is raging above the planet fought by ships in space and the there are two alliances fighting over them. The Indo-Americans and the Russo-Chinese. Tom lives in America but he is constantly moving around.  He does not live with his mother, and he and his dad Neil, are always travelling to new places because Neil hasn’t got a job. Neil gambles at different places every so many weeks and Tom has to earn money to pay for hotel rooms if his dad hasn’t won any. He has a lot of responsibility for someone his age.

There is quite a slow build up to the main plot but once there the book has a lot more action and draws you in very quickly. The plot takes a look at the idea of a self-fulfilling prophecy in the way that the lifestyle that Tom leads may result in him turning to gambling as this is what he knows, weaving elements of nature versus nurture into the story.

The plot takes a dramatic turn when a very important figure arrives needing help. Tom’s expertise at virtual combat are just what they’ve been looking for. Tom has been offered the chance of a lifetime, but Neil isn’t too pleased about the idea. He believes that Tom will just get used by the military, then get kicked out when he isn’t so useful anymore, denying him of a good career. He thinks that Tom will be another piece of equipment to them and won’t be doing anything to truly help his country. Will Tom be allowed to join the military? Read Insignia to find out.

The book was an excellent read and I enjoyed the story throughout. It was interesting and kept you guessing on what would happen next, giving some clues but not so many that it would be given away. There are several twists to the plot, many of which take you by complete surprise.

This book was great and had a lot of elements that teenagers could relate to.