Tuesday, 26 June 2018

{Review} War Storm (Red Queen #4) by Victoria Aveyard

War Storm (Red Queen, #4)Posted by Donna
Release Date: May 15th, 2018
Finished Date: June 2nd, 2018
Publishers: Orion
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Source: For Review
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 672
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
VICTORY COMES AT A PRICE.

Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power… for all will be tested, but not all will survive.

The Review: War Storm is the final book in the Red Queen series by author Victoria Aveyard and if like me you have been following this series from the start then you will be seriously excited to know this finale didn’t disappoint!

I was really excited to read War Storm because even though I don’t want it to end, I do want it to end so I can see what happens. Catch 22! The Red Queen series has been one full of danger, deception, betrayal and sacrifice and let’s not forget the romance – because that’s what we’re all really here for, or I am. 

Plot wise War Storm was very slow to start with but it definitely picked up towards the 200 page mark and from then on out, I was glued to see what would happen. I laughed, I cried and I really felt every emotion each character was going through. Aveyard’s words are very compelling it’s hard not to love them. 

Cal & Mare have been through so much turmoil during this series and I desperately wanted a happy ever after for them. Not only that I wanted all my favourite characters to get the ending they deserved as well. The secondary characters are second to none throughout this series, Farley, Mare’s family, Kilorn to name a few. And even some characters that I hate to love like Evangeline. But Mare really has come on so far from the little lightning girl she was in Red Queen. And I’m really glad she finally discovers more about herself during this book.

I bet you’re wondering why I only rated it 4 stars even after I loved it so much? Well, that ending. Seriously? After four books waiting to find out how things end for Mare & Cal and that’s the ending we get? No epilogue? No ten years later? Completely gutted. I’m not one for open endings, I need closure and this ending did not provide that for me when it comes to Mare and Cal’s relationship. I guess it’s up to the reader to decide what happens next but me, I need an epilogue and I really hope the author considers writing one. 

Thank you to Orion Publishing or giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, 14 June 2018

{Blog Tour} Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy #1) by Laura Sebastian

37766209Posted by Donna
Release Date: June 14th, 2018
Finished Date: June 10th, 2018
Publishers: Macmillan Children's Books 
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Source: For Review
Format: Paperwork 
Pages: 448
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
The queen you were meant to be
The land you were meant to save
The throne you were meant to claim

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed Ash Princess. 

When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can't ignore her feelings and memories any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser's warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn't expect to develop feelings for the Prinz. 

Forced to make impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she's willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she's willing to sacrifice to become Queen.

From author Laura Sebastian comes Ash Princess, a nail-biting YA fantasy debut full of daring and vengeance.

The Review: I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Ash Princess because it sounded like something I would enjoy and I am so pleased that I exceeded my expectations because it was simply amazing. 

Ash Princess is about Theo, a teenage girl who has lost her kingdom, mother and people to a tyrant king who invaded Astera ten years ago. In the ten years of Astera being ruled by the The Kaiser, Theo has endured pain and brutal punishments but no matter what Theo knows she has to remain strong. She cannot show weakness and must pretend to be loyal to the Kaiser no matter what. But it’s now Theo’s time to help her people regain all that has been taken from them even if that means betraying those closest to her. 

What a promising start to a new fantasy trilogy! As I said before Ash Princess definitely exceeded my expectations because I was hoping it would be great but it was better than great. I was thrown into Theo’s world from page one and couldn’t put it down, admittedly it is a little bit of a slow started but that did not stop me from enjoying this book as much as I did. I loved discovering the facts about each kingdom with their customs and I definitely cannot wait to find out more. 

Theo is such a good character that you can’t help but connect with her immediately. For a character that has so many bad things done to her from bullying and beatings she remains completely strong willed and determined and I really admire that about her. I could understand why she would become docile under the Kaiser care because she had no other choice, it was down to her survival but what I loved was that when help comes for her, she is 100% committed to help her people. This is her time for revenge for all the things she has lost and I was so glad she had loyal people helping her. 

Now most people will want to know if there is a love triangle and yes there is. We have Soren and Blaise but for me I think I’m wholeheartedly team Soren. I do really like Blaise but I much prefer Soren because I think the things that Theo and Soren could do together would make their world that much better. 

In all, I really enjoyed Ash Princess and I am already eagerly awaiting for Lady Smoke to release.

Thank you to Macmillan Children's Books for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Laura Sebastian on ‘unlikeable’ heroines

The word unlikable has become ubiquitous in talking about heroines, used to describe everyone from Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games to Lada Dragwlya in And I Darken to Princess Katherine in Three Dark Crowns. You see it pop up in reviews and discussions, and it’s usually meant as a good thing, a way of saying “this character is not easy to digest, they have flaws, they’re sometimes difficult to root for, just as any real person would be.” But I’ve long been bothered that it’s only ever used to describe female characters. Male characters with the same traits are termed “well-rounded” or “fully fleshed out.”
Maybe it’s because for so long, heroines weren’t complex or layered or flawed—they were merely pretty, hollow, wholly likable cutouts who existed only in relation to the hero. They didn’t have to make difficult choices or reckon with consequences—those journeys were saved for their male counterparts. They simply had to support the male protagonist along the way or be there waiting for him at the end. There was no opportunity for them to be unlikable because there simply wasn’t enough of them on the page to dislike.
But we aren’t talking about disliking them, are we? After all, most people like Inej and Nina from Six of Crows and Mare Barrow from Red Queen—but not everyone does. Just as no person can be universally liked, it stands to reason that no well-developed character should be, either. And that is what we’re talking about when we call a female character unlikable. We’re saying that they’re real, that they’re relatable.
These girls tend to be ambitious and desperate and bitter and reckless and stubborn, and they have the audacity to want things and the grit to take them. They make mistakes, they trust the wrong people, and sometimes they outright fail, but they wouldn’t be nearly as compelling—or human—if they didn’t.
There’s nothing inherently unlikable about so-called unlikable female characters, and we should stop pretending that there is.

Laura SebastianAUTHOR BIO
I write YA books and I'm also entrusted with taking care of other people's children. I write books about girls who are strong in all different ways, usually with a healthy dollop of magic and a few dragons.
I live in NYC with my extraordinarily fluffy dog, Neville.

You can find out more at http://www.laurasebastianwrites.com 

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

{Review} The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby

35820001
Posted by Donna
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Finished Date: April 1st, 2018
Publishers: HarperTeen
Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary
Source: For Review
Format: eARC
Pages: 320
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
Girl Online meets Wild in this emotionally charged story of girl who takes to the wilderness to rediscover herself and escape the superficial persona she created on social media.

Mari Turner’s life is perfect. That is, at least to her thousands of followers who have helped her become an internet starlet. But when she breaks down and posts a video confessing she’s been living a lie—that she isn’t the happy, in-love, inspirational online personality she’s been trying so hard to portray—it goes viral and she receives major backlash. To get away from it all, she makes an impulsive decision: to hike the entire John Muir trail. Mari and her late cousin, Bri, were supposed to do it together, to celebrate their shared eighteenth birthday. But that was before Mari got so wrapped up in her online world that she shut anyone out who questioned its worth—like Bri.

With Bri’s boots and trail diary, a heart full of regret, and a group of strangers that she meets along the way, Mari tries to navigate the difficult terrain of the hike. But the true challenge lies within, as she searches for the way back to the girl she fears may be too lost to find: herself.

The Review: Summer is the perfect time to read contemporary books and Jessi Kirby’s books always manage to leave me satisfied and The Other Side of Lost is definitely one to read this summer. 

The story follows Mari whose days are filled with taking ‘fake’ daily life photos for Instagram page which include fake boyfriends, fake special birthdays, so pretty much fake everything. But since her cousin passed away Mari realises she needs to stop hiding behind her online persona and start journey in with the real world. When the opportunity arrives for her to go hiking in her cousin’s place, hesitant as she may be, Mari decides to take the plunge and do the one thing her cousin always wanted to do, the 200 mile hike that she died training for.

I really enjoyed Mari’s story. She was an easy character to connect to and as really likable. As a blogger and Instagrammer I could totally relate to her feelings about trying to make photos/reviews perfect and it was really refreshing to read about a character I could relate to and the pressures you can sometimes feel by using social media. 

Mari’s story really starts when she starts the hike that her cousin was supposed to do. I think it was such a nice idea for Mari to this seems as her cousin could no longer, however, it was totally unrealistic. Mari had no training, she’s inexperienced, she didn’t know the terrain and she didn’t have a clue how to hike. For me this was my major gripe about this story because every time something came up relating to the hike it didn’t feel real enough. Especially considering her cousin died while training for this. 

I did like however when Mari meets a group while hiking and I enjoyed their scenes together more than when Mari is on her own walking in her cloud of grief. This group helped her overcome things or deal with her issues better. There is a hint of a romance which I really wanted more of – seriously more and I also wanted an epilogue. 

Thank you to HarperTeen for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, 4 June 2018

{Review} Smoke in the Sun (Flame in the Mist #2) by Renee Ahdieh

36010223Posted by Donna
Release Date: June 5th, 2018
Finished Date: May 20th, 2018
Publishers: Hodder & Soughton
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Source: For Review
Format: ARC
Pages: 432
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
The highly anticipated sequel to Flame in the Mist—an addictive, sumptuous finale that will leave readers breathless from the bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn.

After Okami is captured in the Jukai forest, Mariko has no choice—to rescue him, she must return to Inako and face the dangers that have been waiting for her in the Heian Castle. She tricks her brother, Kenshin, and betrothed, Raiden, into thinking she was being held by the Black Clan against her will, playing the part of the dutiful bride-to-be to infiltrate the emperor's ranks and uncover the truth behind the betrayal that almost left her dead. 

With the wedding plans already underway, Mariko pretends to be consumed with her upcoming nuptials, all the while using her royal standing to peel back the layers of lies and deception surrounding the imperial court. But each secret she unfurls gives way to the next, ensnaring Mariko and Okami in a political scheme that threatens their honor, their love and very the safety of the empire.

The Review: Smoke in the Sun is the finale in the Flame in the Mist series by author Renee Adhieh and while I really enjoyed Flame in the Mist along with the free novellas, I didn’t quite think Smoke in the Sun lived up to my expectations but it was still a pleasant conclusion to the series. 

After the nail-biting cliff-hanger in Flame in the Mist, Mariko and Okami are now headed to the Heian Castle after Okami is captured by Mariko’s betrothed and brother. However what they do not know is that Mariko didn’t need rescuing and she was with Okami and his clan of her own free will. Now she will do anything to protect Okami from being killed even if that means heading into the lion’s den herself to free him.

I couldn’t wait to start this book knowing that Mariko Okami were both heading to the same place even though one was a prisoner. I was eager to see how the story would play out and of course I was looking forward to more special moments between my two favourite characters. But the characters hardly had any time together which was disappointing. I could understand the difficult situation the characters were in but I was hoping we’d get more time of them together than we actually did. 

While I did enjoy some parts of the story such a Mariko’s character development, Okami realising who is really is along with the pleasant ending, I still felt like something was missing from the story. It was very slow paced with not much happening plot wise until the very end. I was expecting for Mariko to do more than she actually did to help saving Okami which unfortunately was very little. She didn’t have enough power at the Heian Castle to be able to do more which was frustrating. And while I enjoyed the story, I will admit there are plenty of plot holes that have left a few unanswered questions. 

In all, although the series doesn’t quite live up to The Wrath and the Dawn series, I’m still glad I’ve read it and I will continue to read more books by Adhieh in the future. 

Thank you to Hodder & Soughton for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, 27 May 2018

{Review} Wild Hunger (The Phoenix Pack #7) by Suzanne Wright

37975248Posted by Donna
Release Date: May 29th, 2018
Finished Date: May 10th, 2018
Publishers: Montlake Romance
Genre: Adult, Romance, Paranormal
Source: For Review
Format: eARC
Pages: 320
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
When half–wolf shifter Frankie Newman receives an e-mail from a family member she didn’t know existed, a secret is revealed: as a child, Frankie witnessed her father killing her mother…and then himself. Frankie was torn from her pack by her mother’s human relatives, and the trauma was erased from her memory. Realizing that she’s been lied to her entire life, she’s never felt more alone. Until she catches the scent of an old friend—warmly familiar and intoxicating.

Trick Hardy, enforcer of the Phoenix Pack, can sense the rush of mutual attraction when he sees Frankie again. He knows immediately that she’s his true mate. But he also knows that, given her fragile state, he needs to tread with care—no matter how fierce his surging desires.

As aroused as Frankie is by Trick’s darkly dominant air and simmering desire, her priority right now is her past—not her future, no matter how tempting. But as more secrets emerge and Frankie’s life is threatened, Trick must do everything he can to keep her close and safe. After all, it’s their destiny

The Review: Wild Hunger is the seventh book in the Phoenix Pack series by author Suzanne Wright. I adore this series and I always look forward to reading a new book featuring these awesome characters.

The story follows Frankie Newman, a half shifter, who has always known her shifter father murdered her human mother and then himself, however what Frankie doesn’t know is the extended family she was forced to leave behind when her grandparents took her in. When she is contacted by Lydia, her aunt and who is also a member of the Phoenix Pack its then she realises her life has been a lie and she desperately wants to discover the truth. And it’s there she is reunited with Trick Hardy, an enforcer of the Phoenix Pack. Trick instantly knows that Frankie is his mate. The problem is the connection is blocked from Frankie’s and Trick knows he needs to tread lightly if he wants to keep Frankie in his life. So as Trick works his way into Frankie’s life its then dark secrets start to emerge. 

I enjoy Suzanne Wright’s books regardless of enjoying some more than honest. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the last book and I’ll be honest with you, Wild Hunger failed to appeal to me as much as her recent Mercury Pack books did. 

I’ve been desperately waiting for the author to write a story where the characters know their mate from the first meeting. I’ve been waiting for what feels like ages and I have to say now that I have it, I’m kind of disappointed. I just can’t understand why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was hoping. It might have been because the story suspense between the two main characters, or maybe it was because the story was just a little bit predictable, and I can’t help feel like while I enjoyed getting to know these characters more, the plot of the story just felt a little bit too convenient and it was very easy to work out who the real bad guy was in the story. 

I have to say I was glad for once that Greta wasn’t her usual normal annoying self. I complained about her in my last review and I’m glad my prayers were answered. She was much more bearable in this book and I’m hoping we can see more of her like this. 

In the end, while Wild Hunger wasn’t a favourite, I still look forward to more books in the series. I understand I’m not always going to enjoy every book but I can still be hopeful that I will.  

Thank you to Montlake Romance for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

{Review} Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

36515061Guest Review by Jess from Jess Hearts Books
Release Date: May 29th, 2018
Finished Date: May 17th, 2018 
Publishers: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: YA, Romance, Fantasy
Source: For Review
Format: ARC
Pages: 416
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

The stunning sequel to the Sunday Times bestselling Caraval

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn't yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend's true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend's identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more - and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets . . . including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can't fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend's name, she'll lose everything she cares about - maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . the games have only just begun.

The Review: Caraval was one of my favourite books of 2017 so when I heard that Stephanie Garber was writing a sequel this time from Tella’s point of view it quickly became one of my most anticipated releases of the year.

Legendary starts where Caraval left off with a new game about to begin to celebrate Elantine’s Day, only this time the stakes are much higher because Tella made a dangerous bargain that her mysterious friend intends to collect on and what he wants is Caraval Master Legend’s true name. To discover Legend’s identity Tella needs to win the game. With her life and the future of those she cares about on the line Tella must navigate Caraval once more.

Reading Caraval was like visiting the most fantastical circus and with Legendary we step inside the fortune teller's tent as we enter a world of tarot cards, destiny and fate. I loved the direction that Stephanie Garber took this series in and I felt like we got some much-needed expansion on this world and its history. However, I didn’t feel like the game of Caraval was as exciting the second time around. Like a magic trick you’ve seen before, some aspects felt a little repetitive and I felt like Legendary lost some of the sparkle and wonder that the first book had. Whereas the plot in Caraval felt enchanting and exciting, in Legendary it felt all too predictable. 

Reading from Tella’s perspective was by far my favourite aspect of this book. She was my favourite character in Caraval and I loved getting to know her better in Legendary. I love that she’s a flirt and very feminine and sensual yet also incredibly strong and independent. Her character busts a lot of YA heroine stereotypes and I find her a total breath of fresh air.

Overall I thought that Legendary was a solid follow up to Caraval. Although it perhaps did not live up to all of my very high expectations I still thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this book. However I think that in finale we need to step off the Caraval merry-go-round and explore the world behind the magic for this series to reach its full potential.

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, 12 May 2018

{Review} Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

36514923Posted by Donna
Release Date: May 17th, 2018 
Finished Date: May 2nd, 2018
Publishers: Simon & Schuster Children's UK
Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary
Source: For Review
Format: Paperback
Pages: 432
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
From Jenn Bennett, author of Night Owls and Alex, Approximately comes a sizzling, starry romance, perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and John Green.

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best-friends-turned-worst-enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day version of the Montagues and Capulets. But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to try to make their way to safety. But as the two travel deeper into the rugged Californian countryside, secrets and hidden feelings surface. Soon it's not simply a matter of enduring each other’s company, but taming their growing feelings for each other. 

The Review: Starry Eyes is the third book I’ve read by author Jenn Bennett and with each book that has been released I find myself excited to see what she has in store for us because so far, she hasn’t disappointed me and I always look forward to her awesome story telling.


In Starry Eyes we see best friends Zorie and Lennon who have suddenly turned enemies but we don’t actually know why they are no longer best friends. Not only were they best friends but most recently had become involved in a secret relationship with each other. When Zorie is offered to go on a glamping trip, she takes the chance to get away from her family but she soon finds out that Lennon has also been invited which means spending the whole week with him. And after much drama with the other members of their group, Zorie and Lennon find themselves camping alone in the wilderness.

I really enjoyed Starry Eyes and I really enjoyed stories that have best friends/romance as I always find them the best types of reads. I think mainly because the characters already know each other so well and it’s fun to watch them discover their love for one another. Zorie and Lennon really have their issues and I liked that we didn’t find out what had gone wrong for them straight away because it added the right amount of suspense to the story that keep me turning the pages. Their relationship is definitely complicated and they don’t really know what went wrong because they haven’t communicated and I really felt sorry for them. They clearly have deep feelings for one another and I was completely rooting for them from the start. And Zorie’s father? I hated him. I wanted to like him but no, just no way.

I honestly don’t think I’ve read many books about camping experiences in the past and then suddenly I’ve read two in the space of two months. I definitely enjoyed Starry Eyes more than the other book I’ve read but I did feel the story was a little longer than it needed to be. It didn’t quite live up to Alex, Approximately which is still one of my favourite reads from last year but still, Starry Eyes is great read with a hot romance and plenty of drama.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Children's UK for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review.