Friday, 14 September 2018

{Review} Poison Princess (Arcana Chronicles #1) by Kresley Cole

20759393Posted by Donna
Release Date: October 2nd, 2012
Finished Date: August 28th, 2018
Publishers: Simon & Schuster 
Source: Own
Format: Hardback 
Pages: 384
Buy : Amazon UK / Amazon USThe Book Depo

Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.
But she can’t do either alone.
With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?
Who can Evie trust?
As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side….

The Review: This was my first book by author Kresley Cole and honestly she couldn't have done it any better. She had me compelled from the very first page with her amazing talent for storytelling and also for her intense and incredible scenes. It's safe to say, Poison Princess is a gripping page turner! 

This story follows the life of teenager Evangeline 'Evie' Greene. She's a popular girl, with a loving boyfriend and awesome friends, but even though her life appears to be normal, it's anything but. Evie experiences hallucinations but mostly they are disturbing and horrifying. Not only that but Evie also gets visions of people that she's never met and they come with warnings. But soon it's to late for Evie to figure these warnings out because her hometown - including the rest of the world has been hit by an apocalyptic event called 'The Flash' where most people are wiped out. 

Evie is among the survivors and soon enough she finds out that the one person she hates is alive - Jackson. Evie needs answers about her visions and decides she needs to travel to see her grandmother - who she thinks is still alive. Jackson agrees to protect Evie on her mission but as her visions get worse, she soon comes across other people who have been having the same call, and she realizes she is not the only who is meant to play out their destiny. 

Let me tell you right now, this book is so unique! Twenty-two teens who all have special abilities based on their characteristics of their Tarot card so they can play their part in an ancient game made by the Gods and Goddesses. Honestly, I've not read anything like this book before and I'm still in awe with how brilliant it really is. 

Evie is a strong protagonist - one I instantly loved. She has the weight of the world on her shoulders and still she tries to remain upbeat, happy and generally tries to stay sane. Even after the flash, she tries to remain the same even though as Jackson points out on a number of occasions, she can't hunt, start fires or protect herself - but you know there's something bubbling under the surface of Evie and it's just waiting to be unleashed. At time's my heart broke for her because whatever is happening to her, she has no control over and at times it is very scary. I'm glad she had a person like Jackson to lean on because without him, I think she would have struggled. 

Now Jackson, oh gosh, he's a complete bayou boy through and through. However, he can be so harsh and mean sometimes and yes, he does do stupid things but really, you can overlook everything because he's a total sweetheart at heart. It was pretty clear from the start that he was attracted to Evie - despite how he acts and even in the end, he'll always go to her. Their relationship is pretty intense and I was just waiting for something to happen. 

Then, that ending comes in and no sooner than you started....it's all finished...I could have cried. This book is simply unputdownable and I couldn't stop reading until I knew the how the book would end and it was absolutely breath-taking and heart-breaking all at the same time! 

Overall, Kresley Cole has leaped into the YA market by a storm and it's left me wanting more of her work. 

Saturday, 18 August 2018

{Review} Top Ten by Katie Cotungo

33799302Posted by Donna
Release Date: October 3rd, 2017 
Finished Date: August 15th, 2018
Publishers: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Contemporary, Romance 
Source: For Review
Format: eARC 
Pages: 320
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of friends. Introverted, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ryan is a star hockey player who can get any girl he wants—and does, frequently. But against all odds, they became not only friends, but each other’s favorite person. Now, as they face high school graduation, they can’t help but take a moment to reminisce and, in their signature tradition, make a top ten list—counting down the top ten moments of their friendship: 

10. Where to begin? Maybe the night we met.
9. Then there was our awkward phase.
8. When you were in love with me but never told me…
7. Those five months we stopped talking were the hardest of my life.
6. Through terrible fights…
5. And emotional makeups.
4. You were there for me when I got my heart broken.
3. …but at times, you were also the one breaking it.
2. Above all, you helped me make sense of the world.
1. Now, as we head off to college—how am I possibly going to live without you?

The Review: I was excited to start Top Ten by Katie Contungo because I’ve read a couple of the author’s other books and have always come away happy. This is no different from Top Ten, I enjoyed it but I definitely thought it could have been better.

Best friends Gabby and Ryan have always had a connection. Their friendship has never made sense to either of them because they are the complete opposite. Ryan is a popular Hockey player and Gabby keeps to herself because of her social anxiety. When one night their friendship changes into something more, this story tells us their story from becoming friends to everything that happens in between being told through their top favourite moments of their friendship. 

I really liked the idea of the story being told through the character’s top ten moments. It was definitely interesting but I have to say it was slightly confusing because the story jumps from different moments in the past in no particular order. So one moment could be from Junior year, while the next could be Sophomore year or Freshman year. It was honestly a little hard to keep track of the story this way. For me I felt like the story would have worked better had they had alternative chapters from past to present. Because in all honestly, it was the present story I was more interested in. 

I liked both characters, Ryan more so than Gabby who struggled with several issues and refused to do anything about it all the while putting pressure on Ryan to deal with his own issues. There was some really sweet moments through the story but also some moments that really made you connect to the characters. 

The ending, really? Can I even say it was an ending? I hate open endings and unfortunately Top Ten provides no conclusion to what actually happens to the characters – did they get together? Did they remain friends? I guess it’s down to each person to decide but after spending the last 320 pages reading about these characters I was really disappointed by this ending. There isn’t even an epilogue. 

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

Saturday, 11 August 2018

{Review} Fire in You (Wait for You #6) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

32613692Posted by Donna
Release Date: November 28th, 2016 
Finished Date: August 12, 2017
Publishers: Hodder & Stoughton 
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Source: For Review
Format: Paperback
Pages: 392
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
From the # 1 New York Times bestselling author of Wait for You and Be With Me, comes a richly moving story about heartbreak and guilt, second chances and, most of all, hope...

Six years ago, Jillian Lima's whole world was destroyed. The same night her childhood love Brock Mitchell broke her heart, her life was irrevocably altered by a stranger with a gun. After years spent slowly rebuilding the shattered pieces of her life, Jillian is finally ready to stop existing in a past full of pain and regret and is determined to start living. The one thing she never expected was the impossibly handsome Brock walking back into her life...

Brock can't believe that the breath-taking woman standing before him now is the little girl who used to be his shadow growing up. Unable to stay away from each other, their tentative friendship soon sparks into something more and the red-hot chemistry sizzling between them can no longer be denied.

But falling for Brock again risks more than just Jillian's heart. When the past resurfaces, and a web of lies threatens to rip them apart, the fallout could lay waste to everything they've ever cared about...

The Review: Being one of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s biggest fans I just knew I had to finish reading her Wait for You series because as much as I didn’t want to say goodbye to these characters, I still wanted to see how all their stories ended.

Like all the previous books in the series, Fire in You features a different couple Jillian and Brock. These books can be read as standalone but because all of the characters’ lives intertwine I would highly recommend reading them in order.

Jillian and Brock’s story was a great way to end this series. Their story not only has struggles in their present story but it also has struggles from their past which makes this a very suspenseful read. I’ve always had a soft spot for stories where the character already know each another and Jillian and Brock’s story didn’t disappoint. Their story is a little heart-breaking because Brock feeling obligated to Jillian’s father for taking him in when he was a teenager felt like he could never be with Jillian. He broke her heart to protect her. But with Jillian struggling with her life changing trauma where she believes that Brock let her down in a serious way and the events of that night kind of leave Jillian broken, it’s only Brock that can help her overcome these struggles even though she really is trying on her own.

I loved these two character. I loved reading their back story and seeing what the present and future held for them. They were great characters to get to know and even with their struggles their story was very addictive. As a reader I could definitely relate to Jillian who loves reading books as much as I do so it was really nice to connect with her that way.

And of course all the other characters popping up through the story it definitely was a great way to end this series. Jennifer L. Armentrout really is a fantastic writer and I really need to get myself up to date with all of her other books. 

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

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.