Saturday, 16 December 2017

Blog Tour & Excerpt: ROLL THE DICE by Wayne Avrashow

Happy Saturday everyone! Today I'm delighted to be participating in the blog tour for what looks like a fierce political thriller. Read on to find out more about the book and enjoy an excerpt...

Published: November 28, 2017 - Fiery Seas Publishing
Genre: Political Thriller

What happens when one of America’s biggest rock stars leaves the Las Vegas stage to run for the United State Senate? The ultimate celebrity candidate, Tyler Sloan is no stranger to politics – his estranged father was a California governor who narrowly lost a Presidential campaign. He runs as a political independent, refuses campaign contributions, and dismisses special interests and lobbyists. Sloan is caught in a political campaign fraught with; sexual scandal, corruption and conflicting loyalties. Will he be able to navigate through political turbulence and his own past to win the race?

Goodreads / Amazon / Kobo / iTunes / Barnes & Noble /

Wayne Avrashow was the campaign manager for two successful Los Angeles City Council campaigns and a Deputy/Chief of Staff to those two elected City Council members. He served as a senior advisor for a successful city-wide referendum in the City of Los Angeles, co-authored ballot arguments on Los Angeles County-wide measures, served as Chairman for a Los Angeles County ballot measure, and was a Los Angeles government Commissioner for nearly twenty years. He currently serves as a Board Member of the Yaroslavsky Institute, a public policy institute founded by long time Southern California elected official, and now UCLA professor, Zev Yaroslavsky. His background in politics, government, business, and law provides unique insight into the machinations and characters that populate political campaigns. Wayne is a practicing attorney who specializes in government advocacy, real estate, and business law. Formerly, he was an officer in two real estate development firms. As a lawyer-lobbyist, he has represented clients before numerous California municipalities and in Nevada and Idaho. He has lectured at his law school and taught at Woodbury University in Los Angeles. He has also authored numerous op-ed articles that appeared in daily newspapers, legal, business, and real estate publications. In addition, he is the author of a self-published book for the legal community, Success at Mediation—10 Strategic Tools for Attorneys.

Primm, Nevada, was an instant city—almost an illusion as it magically rose from the desert on the Nevada-California border with three casinos and a shopping outlet mall. The Back Country Conference held at Primm’s Whiskey Pete’s Hotel was created to lure tourists to Nevada’s cow counties; to many, they were just vast masses on Nevada’s map.
            Several attendees at the conference turned to shoot glances at Sloan as he conversed with Bree in the rear of the ballroom. He never failed to recognize that fame was his hole card.
            “This speech the aides drafted is recycled gruel,” Sloan muttered as he skimmed the bullet points of a speech listed on a series of index cards. “Do you think I need this?”
            Bree responded with a silent nod.
            “No nods. Talk to me. I didn’t hire you to nod,” he said firmly.
            She leaned closer to him and covered her mouth with her hand. “I’m just the go-between, Martino had me give these to you. My view? It’s beyond this stack of cards they gave you; this staff is draining the life out of you. I’d give you one card with a few points and let you wing it. Look at them, half of this crowd is staring back at you. You know want they want.”
            Sloan smiled at the obvious reminder; this group wanted Tyler Sloan. “I’ve got it.” He handed the briefing cards to Bree. “Put your sweet lips on these and kiss them goodbye.”
            Sloan walked to the stage, fueled by the Game’s speedball rush of adrenaline. He likened it to emerging from backstage to start a concert. He grinned broadly at the adulation.
            “Use me!” Sloan opened with a suddenness that appeared to jolt the audience. “I’m visiting each of Nevada’s seventeen counties. I can handle a mountain bike, done a little river rafting, and love to hike. Post those photos on the net, link your social media to mine, and together we’ll spread the word about all of Nevada!”
            Many in the crowd stood and clapped appreciatively.
            “Do you really think the Democrats, Republicans, and their special interests care about Ely?” he asked in a mocking tone. “Have they ever set foot in Fallon?”
            The response was loud. “Nooo!”
            “Have the Democrats or Republicans and their special interests stimulated the economy in your town?” Sloan reveled in the give-and-take. “I can’t imagine you want more needless, senseless, big-government regulations hamstringing your businesses.”
            Others joined those already standing to shout their agreement. The applause dial was spinning madly.
            “Let’s take it back!” Sloan shouted. “Let’s take our government back!” Sloan visualized the crowd’s energy in his palm. He gave it a gentle squeeze by raising his voice. “The two parties think they’re too good for rural Nevada! Not me! We’re united! Let’s take it back!”
            “Take it back!” A number of voices rang out. “Take it back! Take it back!”
            “Take it back,” Sloan commanded with a full smile. “You’ve got true grit—let’s show it! The two parties have no clue! Let’s take it back! Take it back!”
            “Take it back! Take it back!” the room echoed.
            Sloan concluded his speech and nearly dove into the crowd, exchanging high-fives, hugs, and handshakes. He looked among the faces for Bree, and his eyes settled on her. She was mouthing, “Viral.”

Roll the Dice - Wayne Avrashow

Hope you enjoyed the excerpt! Does this book look like something you'd love to read? 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

I AM WATCHING YOU - by Teresa Driscoll

I AM WATCHING YOU - Teresa Driscoll
Published: October 2017 - Thomas and Mercer.
Genres: Adult / thriller / contemporary / mystery
Pages: 300.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Frequent sexual innuendo and sexual themes / infrequent, mild violence / incidences of self harm / strong suicide themes / mature content / themes of child abuse
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
What would it take to make you intervene? When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared. A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life. Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own. Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

Ever requested a book to review, never received a reply, forgot you requested it, and then it arrives on your doorstep? That's what happened with me and this book. And wow, am I so glad I got the chance to read it!

The writing is immensely profound. The language is simple but strong, and the attention to detail is brilliant. Driscoll is incredibly perceptive when it comes to human relationships and relatable, human struggles. There are a lot of details she digs into, but it's never boring. I adored every minute of her tantalizing story.

The suspense is to-die-for. The information of the mystery is revealed so seamlessly, and the shocks and twists are constant and unpredictable. I literally did not know what to believe or who to root for. Driscoll manipulates the reader beautifully, and when the climax finally comes, the final revelation is shocking. I was gaping and my mind was whirling - in the best way possible.

It is so odd that you can stand in a space - a place in which you normally feel so happy and safe - and then suddenly you can stand in precisely the same spot and feel like this completely different person.    I don't want to be this person. I hate this new person.

The characters are excellent. Everyone is so twisty and three-dimensional and damaged. I love how you literally do not know who to trust right up to the last quarter of the book. Everyone has motives, everyone has secrets, and their stories are gorgeously woven together. It is a big cast, but it's handled so well. You soon get a grip on who everyone is and they're all so vivid.
I love everyone's unique contributions to the story. Everyone has a vital role, and while Sarah's probably the only character I truly, wholeheartedly like, I still appreciate the other characters for who they are and for what they give to the story. They're well-drawn people.

I Am Watching You is as chilling and unsettling as its title. The characters are vivid, human, and everyone is hiding something. The mystery is shockingly clever, and the twists are astounding. 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Mini TV series reviews

If you're expecting a Weekly Round-Up post today, this post is instead of that. I'm actually away at camp at the moment and so scheduling a "fun review post" seemed more appropriate than a Weekly Round-Up, which I would've had to write up on Thursday before I left and thus it would be a bit outdated and I wouldn't have had much to say about the week.

So! Here we are.

Please feel free to chat with me in the comments and let me know if you've seen any of these shows!

Cast: James Spader / Megan Boone
Date: 2013 - present
Content Advisory: PG16 for frequent violence and gore, sexual innuendo, and mature content.

The Blacklist // A new FBI profiler, Elizabeth Keen, has her entire life uprooted when a mysterious criminal, Raymond Reddington, who has eluded capture for decades, turns himself in and insists on speaking only to her. 

I've watched most of the first series, and to be honest my feelings about it are mixed. The acting is good, but Boone has no chemistry with her onscreen husband and more with her character's fellow detective. Also, while the stories are exciting, they're too romanticised and frequently riddled with plot holes. It's a bit hard to suspend disbelief.
Overall, it's a decent crime show, but not anything amazing.

Cast: Amybeth McNulty / Geraldine James / R.H. Thomson
Date: 2017 - present
Content Advisory: PG13 for mild suggestive content and infrequent violence and threat. Mature themes are raised.

Anne with an E //  The adventures of a young orphaned girl living in the late 19th century. Follow Anne as she learns to navigate her new life on Prince Edward Island, in this new take on L.M. Montgomery's classic novels. 

This series is one of those TV shows I think would be more successful as an original show than a remake. The cinematography is stunning, but the acting of the kids isn't great and the story takes huge liberties with the original Anne of Green Gables story. Anne also comes across mean and downright cruel at times, and her friendship with Diana feels forced.

The story is also a lot darker - with bullying and PTSD coming in - and I hate how they've somehow "taken the hope" out of Anne's story. They've altered characters and personalities, and changed huge elements off the original plot. If this was an original show, those elements would probably work perfectly. But as it is, Anne with an E feels like a betrayal of the beautiful origin tale.

Cast: Michelle Dockery / Jack O'Connell
Date: 2017 - present
Content Advisory: PG16 for gore, violence, and one scene of strong sexual content (rape).

Godless // Frank Griffin, an outlaw terrorizing the 1880s American West, hunts down Roy Goode, his partner turned enemy. Roy hides out at a ranch as Frank's chase leads him to La Belle, New Mexico - a town mysteriously made up almost entirely of women.

This was not what I was expecting. It's supposed to be about this Western frontier town dominated by women, but I'm on the 5th episode and there's hardly any women! All I'm getting is men's stories, dialogue between men, and the focus on men men men.
The cinematography and direction are excellent, and the acting is decent, but when men are getting 85% of the screen time and lines in a self-proclaimed "female dominated show" I have an issue with that. Not to mention the story's also extremely tedious and it takes a while for anything to happen.

Cast: Ashley Benson / Lucy Hale / Trojan Bellisario / Shay Mitchell
Date: 2010 - present
Content Advisory: PG13 for infrequent violence, constant peril, and sexual innuendo.

Pretty Little Liars // Four friends who band together against an anonymous foe who threatens to reveal their darkest secrets, while also investigating the disappearance of their best friend. 

This show has the characters we've seen a dozen times before on other teen shows. The stereotypes are bent slightly, but even then the characters are flat and the acting contrived. There's little real suspense, and the dialogue and stories are weak. It's an overhyped series that's cool for light, relaxing watching, but has no real depth or substance. I also found it extremely boring.


What TV shows are you watching at the moment? Have you seen any of these? What do you think of them? 

Friday, 8 December 2017

The Blog Squad: Part 30

We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions. 


What is one thing you’d like to see more of in the book blogosphere?

Hmmm. This is actually a really tough one because the book blogging community is already one of the best Internet communities out there (IMHO). There’s such amazing support and reciprocation in the book blogging community it’s hard to ask for something more!

If I HAD to say anything I’d probably say something like a more grouplike conversation base - instead of chatting one on one commenter to blog owner it would be cool to be able to open the floor more and really discuss. I’m not sure if this means commenting on other people’s comments or if it means opening up to a different platform entirely… Goodreads threads? I don’t know. Is there something out there that I don’t know about?

I 100% agree with Amy on this one! I’d love to see more bloggers speak out about the topics they feel passionate about. I know the blogosphere is a wonderful place to be and most of us are also afraid to post about controversial topics and unpopular opinions. I myself have been very hesitant about posting unpopular reviews or talking about controversial bookish topics so I honestly understand the fear about it. But all those who read this blog, if you’ve been planning to write such a post, let me know when you do! I’ll get there at your post to show my support!

What is one thing you’d like to see less of in the book blogosphere?

As I said, this community is amazing so there’s nothing terrible that I’d like to see less of in our little corner of the blogosphere.

I guess the thing I’d like to see less of is blogger insecurities. It’s something that we’re all guilty of - thinking that our blog isn’t big/popular enough, pretty enough, that we don’t read enough, review well enough etc.

Well here’s that little reminder that we sometimes all need:

YOU ARE ALL AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Keep doing what you are doing. Keep getting out there and discussing and commenting!

I’m gonna agree with my squad members and say #bloggerinsecurities. ALL OF YOUR BLOGS ARE AWESOME MY DEARIES!! Don’t ever doubt that. It makes me so sad when some bloggers stop blogging because they feel no one is reading their content or their blogs aren’t good enough. I’ve been through that myself when I first started blogging and would see so many big bloggers getting ARCs, doing interviews with bestselling authors, and have so many followers and comments! Truth is, we bloggers ought to be comfortable being who we are and be patient while we grow. The blogosphere is such a wonderful place to make friends from all around the globe so let’s enjoy the experience rather than making it feel like a chore!

Because we all LOVE book bloggers, name 5 lesser known blogs you think everyone should visit.

Geybie has been a long time follower of The Blog Squad posts and has an amazing blog. I really enjoy her ‘Recommend Me Books’ topics and you can pick up a whole hoard of ideas for your TBRs from her blog.

Suzanne is another AMAZING blogger and I’ve picked up some awesome reads on her recommendations! Her reviews are always thoughtful and in depth and she reads a great variety of books.

Lindsey is another longtime follower of our Blog Squad posts and she has an awesome blog where I have again, picked up some awesome recommendations and in fact some of my favourite books of all time.

Verushka has a very cool blog over at and does weekly 5 Books Recs posts that I love and her reviews are insightful and honest.

Wooly Cakes and Wooden Spoons is run by the very cool and awesome Stefanie who blogs about books, arts and crafts and the most delicious looking, mouth watering foods!

Dani at Perspective of a Writer has one of the most gorgeous blog designs I’ve ever seen and I LOVE her non review posts so much! She’s a brilliant writer and I love her About Me page so much!

Camillea at Camillea Reads along with having a gorgeous name also has a gorgeous blog! I love her non review posts too. She has such great thoughtful discussion posts I’m really enjoying!

I’ve been visiting Readers in Wonderland for a while now but Bec deserves special mention for her absolutely gorgeous bookish pictures and her fun book posts! I love how she so many of “5 reasons to read this book” posts that are so fun!

Tasya at The Literary Huntress has a pretty neat blog with great reviews! Also she loves Supernatural, food and she’s also a science student like me! Yay Tasya!!

Vera and Ruzi at The Regal Critiques are amongst my favorite book bloggers! Their reviews rock and they both have such a sassy way of writing that I love! Also fellow diverse bloggers!!

Come check out my answers over at their collab posts!: 

 We hope you’ve enjoyed Part 30 in our series of discussion posts! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

KEEPER - by Kim Chance

KEEPER - Kim Chance
Published: January 2018 - Flux Books
Genres: Young adult / urban fantasy / romance / paranormal / contemporary
Pages: 408.
Format: eARC
Triggers/Content Advisory: Sexual innuendo and violence.
Source: Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
When a 200-year-old witch attacks her, sixteen-year-old bookworm Lainey Styles is determined to find a logical explanation. Even with the impossible staring her in the face, Lainey refuses to believe it—until she finds a photograph linking the witch to her dead mother. After consulting a psychic, Lainey discovers that she, like her mother, is a Keeper: a witch with the exclusive ability to unlock and wield the Grimoire, a dangerous but powerful spell book. But there’s a problem. The Grimoire has been stolen by a malevolent warlock who is desperate for a spell locked inside it—a spell that would allow him to siphon away the world’s magic. With the help of her comic-book-loving best friend and an enigmatic but admittedly handsome street fighter, Lainey must leave her life of college prep and studying behind to prepare for the biggest test of all: stealing back the book.

I felt - still feel - so honoured to have been accepted as a member of Kim Chance's street team, but with the overwhelming excitement came initial hesitation. What if I didn't like her book? What if I really, really didn't like it?
For those reasons, I was equally nervous and excited to start reading this novel.

I absolutely love Chance's writing. It's effortless and easy-to-read, and the descriptions are gorgeous and tangible while - thankfully - staying un-flowery. The dialogue is also rich, and the characters' voices come through clearly.

The story is so exciting. It's fast-paced, and the structure is impeccable. The plot twists are shockers (even if other scenes are a bit predictable) and there's constant action from start to finish, keeping your adrenaline pumping and your heart racing with scenes ranging from swoony kisses to raging physical fights. It's the kind of book that when you put it down you immediately want to pick it up again. It's the purest kind of magical fun I've read in a long time - the story sucks you into a world you never want to leave. It's the most beautiful, thrilling, absolutely breathtaking kind of escapism.

While there are also a number of tropes in the book, I think Chance handles them brilliantly and makes them her own. She twists them enough so that the story feels fresh, and I found myself loving common tropes I'd usually hate, simply because she makes them work. For example, Ty is the kind of hero we've seen many times before, but Chance counters that with Lainey's personality so that their romance isn't stereotypical and Ty's still swoony, hot, lovable, and Lainey's a strong, capable girl. Likewise, with scenes like the festival, it feels original for urban fantasy because of the nature of the scene. We've seen festival drama in small town urban fantasy stories before, but we've never seen it like this.

Unfortunately the story gets a bit cheesy at times. I also feel like the comic book references are overwrought (even though a Marvel geek like myself totally related to Maggie's fangirling); it's like the author was trying too hard.
But again, since I was enjoying the story so much, these little things didn't really make a big difference in the long run. They certainly don't make or break the book.

“It’s just so rare to find someone who actually understands that Gwen Stacy was Peter Parker’s one true love."

"Sorry, but I’m not a ‘knight on a white horse’ kind of girl.”                                             “I never thought you were,” Ty said, his brow furrowed. “And it’s not like that. Being my Calling doesn’t mean I fight your battles for you. It means I stand beside you.”

The characters are vivid and easy to love. I love Lainey's personality and her character arc, although I do wish she'd had more flaws. Maggie, Try, Gareth, Serena and the Master are equally brilliant characters (I especially love Serena), although again I would've loved to have seen more dimension to them. They are amazing, but I feel like they're a bit too "boxed in their story roles". I wanted to know more about them outside of the story's mission - as human people with more than one interest, and backstories, etc.

And GUYS!! We have amazing female friendship!! And it passes the Bechdel test!! And we have girls saving girls!! There's this one scene (no spoilers) where Lainey is attacked and Maggie jumps at her attacker to try save her AND I KID YOU NOT I SQUEALED OUT LOUD AND COULDN'T STOP GRINNING. Don't get me wrong, I adore boys and girls saving each other, too, but I am such a sucker for "girls supporting girls."

And the romance!! There's a beautiful, swoony romance, people!! Ty and Lainey's relationship is the perfect balance of swoony hotness and friendship. I love how close they become and how sweet they are with each other, and I LOVE LOVE the scenes where Ty saves Lainey while never reducing her to a damsel in distress - which she most definitely is not.
I can't wait to see more of these two in the...sequel, Kim?!

Keeper is a story you'll find yourself dying - begging - to stay lost in. It's an atmospheric, thrilling, and truly heartfelt adventure with vivid characters, swoony romance, strong friendships and bloodcurdling action. 
An exciting, charming debut from a magical writer. 

FYI: If you preorder Keeper you can get amazing, signed swag from Kim! (Open international!) Find out more HERE  

Monday, 4 December 2017

SPIDERMAN: HOMECOMING (film) is fantastic entertainment

Cast: Tom Holland / Robert Downey Jr. / Zendaya / Michael Keaton / Marisa Tomei / Jon Favreau
Director: Jon Watts.
Content Advisory: PG 13 for violence and some language.
Source: Rented.

Peter Parker balances his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens with his superhero alter-ego Spider-Man, and finds himself on the trail of a new menace prowling the skies of New York City.

I've been a big fan of Spidey ever since I saw Andrew Garfield in the role - and with him Emma Stone as Gwen. Those two just won my heart so absolutely that I've adored their characters ever since.
But I also love Tom Holland.

The story is great. The plot's packed with fun and excitement and every action scene is fantastic and well-choregraphed. The quieter moments are beautifully written, too, and the whole story comes as a lighter, refreshing breather in the midst of Marvel's usually catastrophically, universally high stake, dark stories.

The humour is amazing. More than anything, I think this film is just pure fun. It's endlessly entertaining with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and the actors' comic timing is genius. I laughed so much. The dialogue is strong, but it's totally made by the humour.

The direction is excellent. There are a number of perfect touches which add so much depth to the characters and the story and are constantly popping up. For example, I particularly adore that scene where Peter helps the shop keeper out of his store when it explodes and carries the cat out, too. That's just so Peter - of course he would save the cat as well - and I love it for its subtle but honest reflection of character.

The cast is brilliant, diverse, and incredibly effortless in their roles. Tom Holland is so natural and lovable (and hot...) as Spidey, and he highlights Peter's human side with relatability and vulnerability. I just love how he portrays the character
Jacob Batalon as Ned and Laura Harrier as Liz are equally strong in their roles, and I love Ned's friendship with Peter. I also adore how Liz is intelligent, driven, and the popular girl but not mean. How unusual is that?!
And then there's Zendaya. She's incredible. Her chemistry with Tom is stunningly genuine, but unfortunately they get very little screen time together. Still, her role as MJ is refreshing, and her acting is superb.  She steals every scene she's in.

RDJ and Jon Favreau are as brilliant as always, and I love the surprise appearance of a certain character at the end. That made an amazing movie even more perfect.
This is probably an unpopular opinion, but I don't like Tomei's take on Aunt May. I know they gave Tomei a blank slate to take on the role, but I don't think she's well cast or fully realised as Peter's slightly wacky but well-meaning Aunt. It doesn't quite work.

Michael Keaton is exceptional as the villain. He's perfectly cast. But as a villain, I don't think his character was the strongest it could've been. I would've liked to have seen his motivations fleshed out a lot more.

Spiderman: Homecoming is pure entertainment. The characters are a delight, the actors become their roles, and the humour is on point. I only wish the villain had been more fleshed out.
The film is energetic, vibrant, and one of the best to come from the MCU.