Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Review: Chasing Ravens by Jessica E. Paige

Chasing Ravens
Orphaned at a young age, 15-year old Anouk’s punishment for being too outspoken is an arranged marriage worse than any she could imagine. Fleeing on horseback, yet without a sense of where to turn, she stumbles upon an idyllic village where she finds safe haven. Could this be home?

When a curse threatens to kill the villagers she’s come to love, Anouk takes on the dangers of the natural and magical worlds to save them. Her journey takes her deep into the Dark Woods where she must draw on all her strength to survive, but will come to realize that these magic woods hold the key to discovering a gift she never knew she had.

Ultimately, it will lead her to confront the very face of death, yet amidst the danger and darkness, she meets a handsome woodsman and finds a glowing blue flower with power beyond her wildest dreams.

Inspired by Russian fairytales and steeped in ancient folklore, Paige’s novel is ripe with fantasy, love, and courage.

The first thing that I have to say is that Chasing Ravens is absolutely beautiful. The writing is gorgeous, the storytelling is fabulous and I could just imagine the rich Eastern European settings in this book as they were described. If there is one thing that I must say about this author it's that she is a very talented storyteller.

That being said, I am pretty torn with this book. The start and end were both fully engaging and I was so intent on following Anouk's story because I grew to care for her very quickly, but there is this clump of story in the middle when Anouk enters the Dark Woods where things are happening but the pace is so slow that it doesn't really feel like much is going on, and if it hadn't been for that I would have been babbling about this gorgeous book. 

I also feel like the magic side of things and the romance were thrown in where they really didn't need to be, and if they did they should have been a little more established. I think that the reason I enjoyed this book so much was to do with the fact that it's a pure fantasy and the romance isn't the main focus - as much as I love a good love story - that being said, I would rather have had no romance than the little bit that we got.

Overall though, I can't say much more than that Chasing Raven's was a beautiful fairytale tying in parts of Slavic and European mythology seamlessly. Despite the issues with pacing, this is definitely a recommended book.

Overall Rating: B

Book released December 2014 by Booktrope publishing
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Monday, 25 May 2015

Review: Forsaken by Kristin Day

Forsaken (Daughters of the Sea, #1)

Abandoned by her parents as an infant; seventeen year old Hannah spent her childhood wading through countless foster families until being adopted by the Whitmans three years ago. 

Unfortunately, Atlanta’s high society wasn’t quite ready for Hannah…or the strange events that plague her.
Chilling visions of murder, unexplained hallucinations, and a dark, mysterious guy who haunts her nightmares all culminate to set in motion a journey of self-discovery that will challenge everything she’s ever believed; not to mention her sanity. 

Sent to live at The House of Lorelei on Bald Head Island, NC for ‘kids like her’, Hannah quickly realizes things are not what they seem. Her fellow ‘disturbed’ teens are actually the descendents of mythical Sea Gods and Goddesses. And so is she.

But when Finn, the ghost from her dreams, appears in the flesh; her nightmares become reality and her dark visions begin coming true. Inexplicably drawn to him, she can’t deny the dangerous hold he has on her heart. The deadly secrets he harbors will ultimately test her courage and push the boundaries of her love. 

She must decide if she is ready to embrace the ancient legend she is prophesied to be a part of. The fate of all the descendents will forever depend upon it.

Boarding school for 'special' kids, check. Handsome brooding guy who might be bad, but is irresistable, check. Dark mysterious background and secrets that nobody tells the MC about, check. This book was just a ball of cliches, bouncing between one trope and another. Not that I'm saying Forsaken was bad, but as afar as un-originality goes, this takes the cake.

I was taken aback by the start of this book because everything happens so quickly and before we know it, Stasia is at Hogwarts the magic mermaid/siren/mythology school (I don't know what it was), and we're suddenly thrown into this world of magic and secrets and brooding boys. I felt that the storyline itself was good, if pretty predictable, but the pacing seemed very off - at the start it's fast and then it sort of slows down to a snails pace which makes this book difficult to stay focused on about a quarter of the way in, so as far as feeling engaged with this book I can't say it succeeded with me.

That being said, I did enjoy the storyline - these tropes are popular because they work, so despite the fact that it was clear what Finn was and what he does, and it becomes pretty obvious that Stasia is some sort of chosen one, it was still a decent read for the most part. I don't feel like it met any conclusion though, so I wish a little more thought had gone into the ending. 

Would I read the sequel? Maybe, depending of the size of my TBR pile at the time. Would I go out and buy it on release day and devour it right away, definitely not.

Forsaken takes on the typical YA recipe and to an extent it works. That being said, it didn't add much to the mix, so there wasn't a whole lot to set it apart from other similar books.

Overall Rating: C-

Book released January 28th 2014 by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly 
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: Made For You by Melissa Marr

Made for You

When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.


Made For You was a pleasant surprise for me - I have read a lot of Marr's previously book and one thing I have always noticed is that I never really get gripped by her writing, but Made For You had me gripped within the first 10 pages and I had to finish the whole book in one night. It was exciting and chilling and dark. The only thing that I struggled with was the multiple points of view - the killer's chain of thought definitely added to the creep factor, but I did feel like it made it quite easy to guess who the killer is half way through the book.

That being said, I still enjoyed this book enough to recommend this book to my mother and she agreed with all of my points - this book is reminiscent of The Body Finder, or Clarity, and it's a tried and tested premise which works almost every time - this is, thankfully, one of those times. Eva was a great character, she did make some stupid moves, but those were because she trusted people that she shouldn't have which I can forgive because it only seems stupid to the reader because by the n we've guessed who the killer is.

I also found that Marr's writing was so much more immersive this time around, and I was absorbed into both the mystery side of things and the relationships in the book. I would definitely feel more confident reading another book by Marr now. That being said, I did feel that the end seemed a little abrupt - there was so much build up and it all just sort of... fizzled out, I guess.

Still, Made for You was an engaging and exciting book full of mystery, romance and with a touch of the paranormal. Definitely one worth check out, I'd say. 

Overall Rating: B+

Book released 26th March 2015 by Harper Collins Children's Books
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Review: Bittersweet by Kimberly Loth

Bittersweet

Every Sunday Savannah Ray gets an email from her dead dad. She doesn’t know how the emails work but she’s finally ready to start looking for answers. To find those answers she has to go to the one place she swore she’d never set foot in after he died—Haunted Valley, the amusement park. Once there and on the hunt for answers she is distracted by the charming Dallas and falls hard for him. When the answers she finds aren’t what she expected and Dallas betrays her, Savannah must make a choice—succumb to the insanity that destroyed her father or find the strength to rise above it.


Bittersweet has me torn, because the writing was heartbreaking and it dealt with a lot of issues, albeit not in entirely the best way, however the main character (Savannah) was whiny - also she is described as nothing like the blonde, innocent looking girl on the cover. Therefore, as much as I loved Loth's writing and definitely would read anything else she writes, I didn't exactly rate Bittersweet.

Savannah was an extremely annoying character - sure, she has a bad life and her Dad is dead and her mum is awful and she gets bullied, but she doesn't make life easier for her, she is rude and mean and rejects anyone who tries to get close to her, I hate characters that bemoan their life and don't make any efforts to change it. Then of course there is the obligatory troubled but overly-cheery best friend (Julia) that Savannah opens up to and handsome-older-desired boy Dallas (Dallas and Savannah, I see what you did there!) who gets under Savannah's skin and then betrays her but maybe it was a misunderstanding! Because of course the emo girl is undeniable but betrayable. Ugh.

But as I said, I did actually enjoy this book for the writing - sure there were issues, mainly that I felt I spent so long learning about the mechanics of the rides and that was valuable page space that could have been dedicated to more back story, and that the end, whilst emotional did seem abrupt to me - I did find that the dialogue flowed well and the writing style was absorbing. Loth is definitely a talented writer, but I think she needs to think more about back story and building realistic, relatable characters.

Overall, whilst I did enjoy Bittersweet to a point, I did feel that it had too many flaws to really be recommended, so I wouldn't shout about it.


Overall Rating: C

Book released 21st March 2015
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Friday, 8 May 2015

Review: Dancing With Molly by Lena Horowitz

Dancing with Molly
Before, I was never the life of the party. I was the reliable one. The one no one had to worry about. The one no one had to think about. I was the one that everyone could ignore.

Until that night, when everything changed and I finally became someone.

Someone special.

Someone noticeable.

Someone Carson might actually care about, as much as I cared about him.

But the cost of being someone is more than anyone can imagine. For every moment, there’s a price to pay. For every party. For every choice made. For every kiss.

Ultimately, living a life of PURE ECSTASY might be no different from not living at all

I wish this book had been better. It had such an amazingly perfect plot, and I so desperately wanted to see this book show someone spiral into a really dark place. Problem books can be so mesmerizing, but this one was just... not good.

I feel like in a way this book was supposed to show the dangers of ecstasy/MDMA, but that only happened at the end. The majority of the book was just the main character taking loads of drugs and getting involved with the wrong crowd and making mistakes and then writing in her diary about how she regrets it. She's supposed to be this good girl, but peer pressure gets to her and she falls into this hole and that could have been the point where they showed the regret, but all the way through, when she makes these crappy mistakes and she says 'oh I regret it' and she does it all over again?

It just seemed to me that this book was not acting as a deterrent from drugs, but rather as an advocate. The main character is so happy and makes it sound so amazing, and sure, some bad things happen right right right at the end, but until then it just comes across more as a "YAY DRUGS ARE GREAT" message to me.

Also, I so did not like the way this was written in diary style. It was so immature and the character sounded more like a 12 year old on MSN back in the day than a modern day teenager. I just could not get my head around it and I couldn't relate.

Overall Rating: E

Book released 2nd June 2015 by Simon Pulse
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Friday, 1 May 2015

Review: Bomb by Sarah Mussi

Bomb
When Genesis goes on an internet date she is only anxious that this latest guy won't be 'The One'. She's not at all worried about meeting a dodgy bloke or getting in too deep. And when her date appears she texts her best mate, Jackson, to let him know that she thinks this time, he just might be 'The One'. And he texts her back with a huge: I LIKE.

It's the one all right. But not in the way she expects.

For when Genesis wakes up the next day, she can't remember a thing. She can't remember where she is, or how she got there. And she can hardly move because she is strapped into some kind of body armour ... and then a voice sounds in her head: 'Get on to the 37 going north. You are strapped to a vest made entirely of explosives. At the push of one button I can detonate you right where you stand.'


To her horror, Genesis has become an agent of mass destruction. The countdown to detonation begins now...
Oh my god.

Oh my god.

If there is any book that has had my heart in my mouth and my fists clenched so hard it made my knuckles white, it is Sarah Mussi's newest offering, Bomb.

Now I have to admit that I was not sold on Sarah Mussi after I read her 2012 offering Angel Dust, but the plot of Bomb just had me absolutely absorbed from the first page to the last, it was un-put-down-able. I refilled the water in my bath like four times so I didn't have to put this book down to get out of the bath. I ignored my boyfriend when he got home from work, I even read the acknowledgements so I didn't have to face that awful feeling when you close a book on your kindle and have to move on.

Bomb is a highly relevent book these days, and it has a highly relevant main characters. The plot is simple; an everyday teenage girl living in a world where terrorism rules is kidnapped, has a bomb strapped to her, and is sent on a twisted scavenger hunt where her life is on the line. All the way through the book, I felt like there was no way Genesis would survive at the end, and I'm not giving anything away but the ending had me rereading it multiple times. The story was so fast paced where not a lot happens, but the fact that the main character has freaking bomb strapped to her chest keeps the suspense up anyway.

There have been quite a few negative reviews for this book, and usually I can comprehend at least why someone might have disliked a book, but in this case I can't. Bomb was hands down the most suspenseful book that I have read in a long time. Both reminiscent of Speed as well as very relevant with today's world issues. A fantastic read that is well thought out and keeps you guessing all the way through... Bomb was awesome.

Overall Rating: A+

Book released 7th May 2015 by Hodder Children's
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Dude. DUDE!

This book though! This book!!!

Sarah J. Maas's world must have turned on it's head when the amazing Throne of Glass series got as big as it did, and rightly so. In a world where the YA market is saturated with fantasy books which are honestly a little bit meh, this author is one that brings back the magic that made authors like Robin McKinley and Kristin Cashore and Maria V. Snyder as great as they were. Sarah Maas just has this fantastic way of building a world and characters that we really care about. From step one of this book I loved Feyre and that is the key for me. I cared about her future and her love life and what she goes through. She was such a strong independant character but she is thrown into this world where that isn't enough.

Enter Tamlin, a high fae that made me swoon and urgh and mmmm! In his fae form he is a handsome man with a mask covering his face - the result of an awful curse on his world - but he can transform into a beast and beastly men make me go phoar. The love story, for once, is a simple progressive one where you get to see it develop on both ends. It was magic, and whilst the love triangle is there in the latter part of the book, it didn't bother me too much because Tamlin is perfection and there is sexy-times and Feyre and Tamlin forever.

The plot of this isn't altogether very original, it is a spin on the story we see in a lot of fairy YA books, but Maas's writing is so fantastic that it doesn't feel like you're reading the same book again. Man, this woman can write.

Do you see that I am absolutely typing diarrhoea over this book? This was a book that made em melt and gasp and awe, and whilst maybe it wasn't as amazing as Throne of Glass, it was definitely amazing nonetheless.

Sarah J. Maas proves over and over again how worthy she is to be known as one of this generation's queens of fantasy, and I will forever bow to her.

(All hail Queen Sarah).


Overall Rating: A

Book released 5th May 2015 by Bloomsbury
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review