Review: Willow Harbor Series

4 AUTHORS, 4 BOOKS, 1 TOWN

It sounds like one of those 90s horror films at first, where you hear them talking about x amount of bad guys vs x amount of good guys, only one will survive kind of thing but it really isn’t. I just love the idea of explaining the series in that manner.

Let’s break this down further.

4 Authors:

  1. Alyssa Rose Ivy
  2. Jennifer Snyder
  3. Juliana Haygert
  4. Sarra Cannon

All four of these ladies are amazingly talented. From the group, I am more familiar with Sarra Cannon having read many of her previous releases and also planning to read more of her upcoming books too, however after reading this series I have an overwhelming urge to go out and buy books for all the other ladies (although I don’t think my bank balance would cope).

4 Books:

  1. Shifter’s Fate (Amazon UK Plug Here)
  2. Vampire’s Descent (And Here)
  3. Hunter’s Revenge (Again here)
  4. Triton’s Curse (And of course, also here)

So, before I go any further, make sure you save those links in your browser so that when you’ve finished reading my review you can go and buy them all. Buy all the books. Buy all the books. Buy all the books. (Did you feel the mind control then?)

1 Town:

Strange Neighbors. Hidden Desires. Small-Town Charm
 
Welcome to Willow Harbor, where everyone has a secret.
 
What’s Yours?

(Visit the official website here)

So, I will start by saying a big thank you to Sarra Cannon, who not only offered me her book (Triton’s Curse) in exchange for an honest and fair review but ALSO access to the other three books in the series. I feel very honoured to be part of the review team for these books.

The series is written, as explained above, by FOUR separate authors and as I have already mentioned, Sarra is the one that I am most familiar with. Also, as above, the series consists of FOUR books (so far).

The similarities between the books:

  • Each book consists of TWO main characters, one male and one female.
  • Each story takes place in a town called Willow Harbor
  • Each story has reference to or inclusion of Supernaturals (people of a supernatural nature – this could be anything from vampires to witches etc – the list goes on as to the types of supernaturals mentioned within the stories)
  • There are recurring characters in the background, for example, you may see someone appear in story one, but also appear in story three – this goes to show the authors have really taken the time to collaborate with each other

Now onto to the main differences (before I get started on the actual stories)

  • Each story is different
  • Each story approaches a completely different way of life while remaining completely believable
  • There are differences in the writing styles, as to be expected, but this does not affect the continuity of the series in any way

 

22181605_10213985607579504_7736588579832622963_oShifter’s Fate by Alyssa Rose Ivy

Mattie and Pierce. Human and True Shapeshifter. Mattie arrives in Willow Harbor following her quest for a working reference from a genuine employer. Pierce has lived in Willow Harbor for most of his life and time is running out for him to find a mate. What will become of Pierce and Mattie in Willow Harbor?

22137223_10213985608899537_3822091479504488075_oVampire’s Descent by Jennifer Snyder

Claire and Mason. Shifter and Vampire. When Claire’s twin brother supposedly commits suicide she returns home to Willow Harbor to assist her father in a few family duties, however, she has plans of her own as she starts investigating the events surrounding Danny’s death. Mason was forced into a vampiric lifestyle when he was turned unwillingly. Seeing Claire in Willow Harbor, the one person he really wanted to get to know, he worries whether a family death is the right time to do it. How will Mason get on with Claire? Will they become friends?

22136993_10213985609859561_7807561843299680549_oHunters Revenge by Juliana Haygert

Landon and Tessa. Humans. Landon is a Hunter, trained to keep the ‘bad’ supernaturals in line. Tessa is a college student. When Landon has to inform Tessa that he dad has passed away a battle of wits and wills begins. Tessa wants revenge. Landon doesn’t want her to be involved. Tessa has decided otherwise. Will the pair of them ever get along and work together?

22254747_10213985610779584_4705898862101843837_oTriton’s Curse by Sarra Cannon

Nik and Eva. Triton and Witch. Both Eva and Nik have known captivity. While one has escaped the other remains enslaved. Will both be able to gain their freedom?

All four of these books can be read as stand-alone stories. If you don’t fancy reading the whole series, then just read the ones that you want. You won’t lose anything by reading just one, however, if you choose to read all four then your lives will be enriched by knowing the wonder that is the eight main characters and Willow Harbor.

We see Willow Harbor from EIGHT different viewpoints. Two in each book. Each character gives us a different perspective on the very same town. The fact that each book was written by a different author makes this even more fabulous because the descriptions of the buildings within the town are more or less identical. It is actually possible to believe we are in the same town with them, having seen it from so many different people and it always being described as looking the same. It isn’t identical as in word for word, but visual descriptions provided by each author come together to paint a three-dimensional image in your head.

The things that I loved the most about this series is that NONE (yes, I actually mean NONE, ZERO, ZILCH) of the books have the dreaded CLIFFHANGER ending that happens so often in books of this genre. This makes it totally possible to read one, two, three or four of the books without worrying about “what happens next” – There is no next, the next has already happened, it’s finished. Then again, with the books having “final” endings, it does make me sad to think that there is no more. (Although the authors have said that there will be more standalone Willow Harbor books released in the future).

Each book falls approximately somewhere between the 130-150 page mark, which makes them quick and easy reads. This would probably be my main gripe as well as a positive though, its one of those where it definitely works both on the good and bad side of my feelings. I love that they are shorter, quicker reads. I managed to turn around four books in little more than a week (which at the moment is unusual for me), but I also feel like I want more. Overall, as much as I do want them to be longer, I do feel that the four ladies managed to get the length for these particular stories just right.

More than the characters and the stories, I am in love with the town. Willow Harbor sounds like an amazing place to live, if only it was real. I love the community feel that it has. Mainly, the privacy (nobody ends up in Willow Harbor by accident) that the town holds is fascinating. Here we have a small town (full to the brim of supernaturals and humans, coexisting peacefully for the most part), and we have EIGHT (yes, eight is quite a big number) big town characters yet nobody ever gets into each others business. Having recently watched the TV show, Midnight, Texas all I could think about was how much I would watch a Willow Harbor TV Show.

I’ve rated each book 5/5 stars in this series, I don’t always do that, there will sometimes be a mixture of ratings but each and every book deserved this accolade.

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Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book off the back of a very high number of positive reviews from my fellow reading friends over at Book Club on Facebook.
I was really excited to start it, purely based on the number of people that rated it highly AND that a friend that doesn’t read very often had read it 3 times in a very short space of time.
I.Was.Not.Disappointed. And I don’t think you will be either.

Meet Wade, or Parzival as the majority of people know him. He lives and breathes the OASIS. The OASIS is a worldwide interactive virtual universe. People do everything within the OASIS.
As for the main story, Parzival and a million other OASIS users are in direct competition, solving challenges looking for an easter egg left by the games creator when he dies. That’s pretty much it. It may sound simple but the way that Cline managed to make the world work, whilst also pulling gaming and 80s references from left, right and centre is fantastic. A simple idea couldn’t be more complex in its appearance.

Based in America, a lot of the references to 80s gaming, music and films were Amercian BUT they weren’t that American that non-Americans (like me, a Brit) wouldn’t understand them. Some of the games weren’t released over here but I still had enough “gaming” knowledge to know exactly what was meant.

This was an absolutely fabulous read and one that I am glad I bought.

View all my reviews

Why Amazon’s Free Books are Dangerous

As I have said in many other posts I have always read books. When the eBook phenomenon hit the world I was originally dead set against it, would rather have a physical book. I couldn’t ever see me actually reading an eBook.

Then one day, something happened and I bit the bullet. I bought myself a Kindle. At the time (somewhere around circa 2012) there wasn’t much choice available, in fact, if my memory serves me right, there was only the Kindle Keyboard 3G. So that was what I bought. Within the first few days, I went on a mission downloading FREE books. I was in heaven. Books for FREE. Who doesn’t want FREE books? That you get to keep. Not rentals like the library, but completely and utterly FREE to own. This was how my life went for months on end. Actually, make that years.

I reached a point where I had over ONE THOUSAND eBooks waiting to be read on my Kindle, I would go through the FREE bestseller lists and download everything with an interesting cover. I also signed up to two websites – Kind of Book and Daily Free Books. Both websites send daily emails with FREE and Bargain books. Well, that just added to my total soaring to somewhere near the TWO THOUSAND mark. (See the bottom of page for links to both sites).

Also, as I dislike using the cloud, I prefer to have all UnRead books already downloaded and only the ones I have read (or attempted to read) in the cloud. This, on more than occasion, has broken my Kindle, resulting in Amazon sending me a new one as it stopped downloading books. Read about my ordeal here.

I used to read, on average, 2-3 full length (300+ pages) novels in a month but was downloading easily over 50 each month. That’s when I realised I had a problem. I was downloading books that I would probably never get around to reading and as the majority of the FREE books were only downloaded based on the cover. I didn’t read the blurb or reviews so am going in completely blind. I have also noticed that some of them have had the cover changed by the author, and after looking at the revised cover I wouldn’t have downloaded it in the first place.

A few months ago, I made the decision that enough was enough. I vowed to only download FREE books if they were something that was on my wishlist. So now, when I come across a book I really want, rather than buying it I add it to my wishlist and wait until it has dropped in price or until I get to a point where I am running out of books. At the moment, my Amazon cloud stands at 1899 books and around 1600 of those are WAITING TO BE READ. I also made the decision that I will not worry if I don’t like a book or don’t want to finish one, purely because I have too much to read. I wrote about abandoning books here and am logging books I didn’t finish, here.

If you want to receive emails for FREE and Bargain books, check out both of these sites. The links are for the UK site but they can be changed to various different countries.

KIND OF BOOK

DAILY FREE BOOKS

 

July 2017 Reading Summary

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I read 6 books in July 2017. It was a somewhat slow month for me. However, on a brighter note, I did manage to reach and beat my Goodreads Reading Challenge for this year. I am currently deciding whether to increase it or leave it as it is.

I’ll talk a little about each of the books, ranked according to my favourites.

Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages

This was a book of short stories that I stumbled upon by accident, whilst browsing my local libraries app. I’m glad I did because it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I even managed to convince someone else to read it so I must have done a good job at writing my review.

Memory Man by David Baldacci

This is the first crime thriller that I have read in a long time and I must say that I really enjoyed it. David B managed to grab my interest very early on and keep me enthralled right until the end. This is why this one makes my number 2 for this month.

Paper Girls #1 by Brian K. Vaughan

This series of graphic novels has been on TBR pile since forever. I was super excited when the first issue became available for free via Amazon Kindle. I really enjoyed this and have now added the second issue to my TBR pile (who knows, maybe that one will end up free).

Gotham Academy Second Semester Volume 1 by Brenden Fletcher

This series has also been on my TBR pile for a while, further down than Paper Girls but still there. However, I was unsure whether I’d like it, so when this version was available through Netgalley I decided to go for it. As this is the second semester, I plan on going back to the beginning and reading them all.

Dark Screams: Volume Seven by Brian James Freeman

This is another short story collection, from Netgalley this time. Falling within the horror category there was a good mix of decent stories. I like short stories at the moment as they are quick to read, usually at the most taking only a couple of days to read each one. 

The Rage For Life by David Taransaud

This book was created as an aid for psychologists and councillors when approaching difficult subjects with children. The only reason that it is at the bottom of the list is that it is the one that I connected with the least. It was a complete blind download, again free from Amazon Kindle.

Stay tuned for more posts soon, I’m on a go slow at the moment at the kids are at home for the summer holidays

 

 

 

The Kindle Fire Saga – Random Wittering #2

I upgraded my Kindle Keyboard 3G (which had died a slow and painful death) in December 2015. Being a bit short of cash but really wanting (needing) a Kindle device, opted for the cheapest at the time which was the Kindle Fire 7. It only cost me £35, which was a lot cheaper than my original Kindle (R.I.P Sweet eReader 😦 ) and I was impressed with it for the most part. I made the decision to only use it as a kindle (apart from having Netflix installed for emergency TV binges) rather than its intended use as a tablet.

As many of you know, Amazon have this thing called the “Cloud”. For those who don’t know, it’s like your very own personal library where all your purchased and downloaded books are stored for you to read whenever you want. The KK (or Kindle Keyboard) didn’t have the cloud feature, all your books were downloaded to the device and when you had finished it you could remove it from the device and it would be stored on Amazon’s servers until such a time that you might want it again. This was my favourite feature, it made it simple to keep track of all the books that you hadn’t started and which ones you had read – if it wasn’t on the device, you had already read it. This is where my issue with the KF (or Kindle Fire) comes in. The KF has a live running version of the Cloud on the device. You can swap between a downloaded or cloud list, but the cloud is always there, so if you delete the book from your kindle then it still appears on the KF under the cloud. I understand that (amongst other reasons) this was done so that users didn’t have to go to Amazon to download their next read from the website, ease of use and all that, but I don’t like it. They (Amazon) support and promote the use of creating collections on your device to keep track and sort books into groups depending on your individual needs, so you could have a “Finished” group, a “To Be Read” group or even a “Strong Female Characters” group if that was what you wanted. However, whether its pure bad luck for me or karma for something I’ve done wrong, my (attempted) collections don’t update and sync properly. Amazon have investigated and said there is nothing wrong so I really do think its my fault.

Finding it difficult to keep track (without having to check an external website such as Goodreads) of what I have already read I decided (on 12th May 2017) to manually download ALL 1879 of my eBooks to my device then I could delete it once I’d finished it. I had purchased and installed a 64gb memory card to my KF and according to the information online this should easily accommodate my books. I set about the download. It went swimmingly for a while, I managed to download 1072 of the 1879 books. Then it stopped. It would download them, they would appear on the device as downloaded (with the “new” banner across the corner and the “tick” mark) but within a maximum of 5 minutes they would remove themselves from the device and have an “!” on them along with a “Unable to download book. Please try again or contact Amazon Customer Services” message. After re-trying the books for a while, I gave in and contacted Amazon.

I contacted them via the live chat on their website and spoke to V. It was very early and after a quick chat, they did something that seemed to kick start it. I left the chat to take the kids to school and left the KF downloading at home. Upon my return (around 3 hours later) I found the same issue had occurred, so again I set upon the live chat. This time I spoke to someone called S. They were extremely helpful and I/We were on the chat for around 2 hours 10 minutes. They tried various things but it was still doing the same thing. At the end of the conversation, they offered me a replacement KF (even though my warranty ran out in December 2016). I immediately went to facebook and sang Amazon’s praises about how helpful they were.

My new (refurbished) KF arrived the very next day (13th May). I contacted Amazon again via live chat and spoke to A. I asked them to manually force through ALL of my Amazon purchases, they told me that it couldn’t be done (I already knew it could from my conversation the day before with S). After a bit of to’ing and fro’ing, I went off to check my email for the name of the person I spoke to who had already said it could be done. When I returned to the chat it had been disconnected (through my own fault as I was on my phone browser and not the laptop). So, for the 4th time, I contacted them through the live chat and spoke to V (this could have been the same V from the first conversation but I couldn’t remember their name so I’m not entirely sure). I explained what I needed doing and V said they would do it. That was that. The books started coming through and I left the KF plugged into the mains, right next to the router to make sure it had the strongest wifi connection possible. A short while later I noticed it had stopped, upon checking, they’d only sent through the first 72 purchases from the cloud list. I was heartbroken but determined to see this through, so I set about manually downloading the remaining 1807 books. Again, it worked without a problem, but then I started noticing it was doing the same thing it had done before. I checked and had managed to successfully download 1030 books this time. I decided not to contact Amazon again purely because they must be fed up of me and I didn’t want them to think I had broken another KF (oops!).

Now I’m starting to wonder if it’s my memory card that’s the problem. It worked fine when I had it in my phone and even after the books start to display the error message, the ones already downloaded work fine. I’m really confused and seriously contemplating buying a Kindle Keyboard from eBay (but then my Graphic Novels won’t work correctly). Needless to say, I’m feeling a bit disheartened by the whole situation at the moment.