Review: Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Princess Elisa is a disappointment to her people. Although she bears the Godstone in her navel, a sign that she has been chosen for an act of heroism, they see her as lazy and useless and fat.

On her sixteenth birthday, she is bartered off in royal marriage and shipped away to a kingdom in turmoil, where her much-older and extremely beautiful husband refuses to acknowledge her as his wife. Devastated, Elisa decides to take charge of her fate and learn what it means to bear the Godstone. As an invading army threatens to destroy her new home, and everyone at court maneuvers to take advantage of the young princess, Elisa becomes convinced that, not only is her own life in danger, the whole world needs saving. But how can a young girl who has never ridden horseback, never played the game of politics, and never attained the love of a man save the world? Elisa can't be sure, but she must try to uncover the Godstone's secret history before the enemy steals the destiny nestled in her core.

I have been excited to read this for months and so I was extremely excited to receive an ARC from Orion books in the post last week. I have just finished it and wow, I enjoyed it!

The original reason that I wanted to read this was because I've seen it compared to Tamora  Pierce and Kristin Cashore, and I love Cashore's writing. These reviews were right, in a way similar to Cashore, Rae Carson's debut novel really is a true fantasy, with heroes, bandits, a princess and magic. I was really taken in by the unique story and writing style and the fantastic characters. The pacing is pretty good as well, part 1 is pretty slow but bearable and in part 2 and 3 it picks up and becomes amazing!

What I absolutely adored about this book is how Carson writes a main character who has to deal with the big issues, like political issues and threats to her life as well as the little issues, like how people perceive her and how she sees herself, Carson captures teenage insecurity and mixes it in with a fantastic new world. I did enjoy seeing how Elisa transforms from a shy, overweight girl to a strong, secure leader, though I was annoyed at the way that Elisa's weight was referenced on every page and I found it annoying that she was actually happy to lose so much weight, I was thinking that this book was giving off a 'Beauty is only skin deep' message but the ending changed that.

There's also a fantastic cast of characters, I particularly loved Cosme, who starts out unlikable but becomes a good friend, and Humberto who was totally swoonworthy! I loved the romance as well, how the book starts with Elisa wanting her husband's love, but in the end is developing a new relationship, with the novel ending on a note of hope.

The world building is great, the world could be compared to a historical Spain, with references to a holy language which would be comparable to our Latin and a holy book (the Bible), but don't let this put you off,this book is not religious fiction and is suitable for all religions, the religious aspects are well hidden and as a non-religious person myself I didn't find it offensive or pushy at all.

An absolutely fantastic debut that any fantasy lover will devour! I would recommend this to anyone, but particularly fans of magic and romance.

Overall rating: A

Stand alone/series: First in a series

UK Release: September 2011
Publisher: Gollancz
Book obtained via: Sent by Orion Books in exchange for an honest review

Many thanks to Freya and Jonathon at Orion for sorting out this copy for me, look out for my interview and giveaway with the author!

Review: Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin

Jenna & Jonah's FauxmanceFans of romance don't need to look any further than the fauxmance brewing between teen idols Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers—known on their hit TV show as Jenna and Jonah, next-door neighbors flush with the excitement of first love. But it's their off-screen relationship that has helped cement their fame, as passionate fans follow their every PDA. They grace the covers of magazines week after week. Their fan club has chapters all over the country. The only problem is their off-screen romance is one big publicity stunt, and Charlie and Fielding can't stand to be in the same room. Still, it's a great gig, so even when the cameras stop rolling, the show must go on, and on, and on. . . . Until the pesky paparazzi blow their cover, and Charlie and Fielding must disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realize that there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.

Wow, this book was just amazingly cute! 
This book beats most YA books in the way it really provides great escapism, the book is contemporary but in the same time the crazy situations and super awesome celebrity lifestyle means that it really is just as out there as any YA paranormal.

What I really loved about this book was the way that the relationship developed. This whole book is based on the development of Charlie and Aaron's relationship and this is delivered so well. The characters have known each other for years before the story starts and have been faking a relationship for almost as long, meaning that the relationship didn't seem like it happens too quickly. I loved the gradual move from hatred to love, which seems realistic and not too fast.

I also really loved the characters, I loved how Charlie is introduced as a total dive but in time she becomes really down-to-earth and likable and I loved how witty and yet so caring Aaron is! I also found that I really loved the narration, because the book is written by two authors, you can tell the difference between the characters narration, also the dual perspective was very fluent and didn't seem jerky at all.

A few people have criticised the book for ripping off existing TV shows - for exampled the TV show which Charlie and Aaron act in seems like a rip off of Hannah Montana, but I think this just adds to the book. How can we imagine how corny and childish the show is if we can't compare it to something, so this is actually a good thing to me.

The only problem that I had was that the books seemed a bit slow at parts. the book never really has you so excited about something happening, the pace is quite slow throughout the book, which didn't stop me from enjoying it but did slow down my reading time. 

This is a book that would work much better as a rom-com movie, but is still a quick, cute and quite fun read for people after a romance.

Overall rating: B

Stand alone/series: Stand Alone

Paperback Release: March 7th 2011 (UK)
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Book obtained via: Swap

Away for a few days!

Hi guys,

Just a quick post to say that I'm going to be away for a few days, I'm going to London with college! Taking books though, for the 5 hour journey there and back so expect some reviews up on Thursday!



Review: Wood Angel by Erin Bow

Wood AngelPlain Kate lives in a time afraid of magic. 

She has a gift for carving ‘lucky’ wooden-charms. Known as Witch-Blade, her unusual gift attracts dangerous attention in a place where witches are burned. When her village falls on bad times, suspicion falls on Kate. Scared for her life, she seeks the help of a mysterious stranger. 

In exchange for her shadow, the stranger will assist her, but Kate becomes part of a terrifying plan, darker than she ever dreamed. 

This book was first published as 'Plain Kate' in the USA.

I can't really think of how to start this review so I'm going to start by saying that this book is very unique. The book itself, in my opinion reads like a fairytale. It has the right levels of fun, adventure and darkness to make this book a great reading experience for young (though not too young) or old. Think the real Brothers Grimm fairytales, with all the darkness and depth and a little bit of blood and violence, that is exactly how this book reads.

Erin Bow's prose is very simple, she tells the story in a matter-of-fact way, but somehow the words she uses and the way she describes things really makes the narration read beautifully. She draws out the emotions in the characters meaning that you really empathise with them. 

I loved Kate, the heroine. Despite everything she goes through she never gives up, but at the same time she does come across as vulnerable, she comes somewhere between kick-ass and whiny and I really loved that. The bad guy, Linay wasn't all bad either, he had depth and reasoning behind the way he acted, which had me suffering from some sort of fictional Stockholm Syndrome (I really, really wanted him to turn out to be a really good guy in the end).

Taggle the cat really steals the show though, he's exactly how you'd expect a cat to be, a bit selfish, witty, sly and very loyal. Words can't explain how much I loved everything that Taggle said, without spoiling the story, Taggle is an extremely loyal companion!

This book is really great plot and pace wise, with a fantastic story. The tones are actually quite bitter, the book is set in a world with fear everywhere and Erin Bow really builds up this atmosphere very well.

The only thing that bothered me was that despite the tones being dark and there being some pretty scary goings on, Wood Angel reads like a childrens book and not the YA the content would suggest!

Don't mistake this book for a really happy fairytale because it really is not! I did really enjoy this book and would highly recommend it!

Overall rating: B+

Stand alone/series: Stand Alone

Paperback Release: March 7th 2011 (UK)
Publisher: Chicken House

Book obtained via: Given for review purposes by Chicken House 
Many kind thanks to Claire from Chicken House for getting this book to me!
Pages: 270

Author Interview & Giveaway - Mary Hooper (Fallen Grace)

Today I have the pleasure to welcome the fantastic Mary Hooper to my blog. Mary is the author of a plethora of books for both children and young adults. Her books really do bring history to life.
I recently reviewed Fallen Grace here.

Enjoy the interview.

Hi Mary, thanks very much for being here today!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I started writing short stories for teen magazines about twenty-odd years ago, and then progressed to serials and then, eventually, books. I live in Henley, about forty miles outside London, with husband, cat and piles of books.

You started out with contemporary books but your more recent stuff has been historical, what motivated this change in genre?
I ran out of “modern” ideas. Anything that can happen to a fifteen year old girl had happened in one of my books. Also, the whole technology thing was a bit of a turn-off. I didn’t want to write books which had i-phones and blackberries and texting and all that stuff in them. Neither did I want to go down the fantasy route.

Writing historical novels must take a lot of research, especially books like Newes of the Dead, which was based on a real life incident, do you enjoy researching or does it bother you?
I think researching is the best thing about being a writer. It’s where you find out all those little bits and pieces that will make your book come to life. Also it gives you guidelines: you’re writing about things that really happened – and truth really is stranger than fiction. Queen Elizabeth I really DID have a magician at her court who purported to speak to angels; a girl in the 17th Century really was hanged, almost dissected and lived to tell the tale; in Victorian times there really WAS a steam train running on a line called the Necropolis Railway upon which you could travel with your coffin in First, Second or Third Class.

I'm not embarrassed to gush about the fact that everything I have ever read by you I have loved, but I'm going to have to ask, do you have a favorite out of all of your own books?
That is like asking a mother which is her favourite child! Um...I think possibly it would be between FALLEN GRACE and THE REMARKABLE LIFE AND TIMES OF ELIZA ROSE.

And what about the characters, do you have a favorite character?

If you could have tea with any author (dead or alive) who would you pick?
The obvious one would be Shakespeare, but I’ll go for Byron. I rather like the idea of tea with someone “mad, bad and dangerous to know”.

Do you have anything to say to your fans?
Please join my Facebook page - and do keep reading!

Thanks very much for your time Mary! It's been fantastic having you!
It’s a pleasure! Look out for VELVET coming in September.

It's giveaway time!
Fallen Grace cover

Mary has kindly offered me one SIGNED copy of Fallen Grace to a lucky UK winner.

To enter the giveaway just fill in the form at the bottom of the post.

Her are the rules:

  • The winner must be from the UK, as Mary is kindly sending out the prizes.
  • You must be a follower to enter (yes, I am shamelessly recruiting followers.)
  • The giveaway is open until Midnight on the 6th July, the winner will be notified later that day and must respond within 48 hours.

There are a few ways to get extra entries;

  • Follow Mary of Facebook here (+1)
  • Advertise this giveaway on your blog/twitter/facebook (+1)

Here is the form


In My Mailbox (26/6/11) + Week In Review

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, in which you post all of the books/e-books/audio books that you have recieved/bought/won this week and link 'em all up!

I have got some absolutely amazing books this week! 

From swaps:

The Hollow  Angel (Angel Trilogy, #1)Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance

The Hollow by Jessica Verday
Angel by L.A Weatherly
Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin



Chalice  Mistwood (Mistwood, #1)

Chalice by Robin McKinley 
Mistwood by Leah Cypess, 
both won from Sassy Book Lovers

For Review:

Wood Angel  Scavs  Dreamer Ballerina  Pretty Bad Things  Rockoholic  Undead  

From Chicken House:
Wood Angel by Erin Bow
Six Days by Philip Webb (ARC)
Dreamer Ballerina by Sarah Rubin (ARC)
Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse
Rockaholic by C.J. Skuse
Undead by Kirsty McKay (ARC)
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner


From HarperCollins:
Hereafter by Tara Hudson

From Orion:
Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (ARC) !Yes, i saved the best until last!

From Orchard:
Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton

Week in review:

Feel free to follow! Link up your posts and blogs and I'll stop by!

Review: Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens

Heavenly (Heavenly, #1)I met someone who changed everything. Matthias. My autistic sister's guardian angel. Honest. Inspiring. Funny. Hot. And immortal. That was the problem. What could I do? I did what any other girl would do-I fell in love with him. Zoe's sister darts in front of cars. Her brother's a pothead. Her parents are so overwhelmed; they don't see Zoe lost in her broken life. Zoe escapes the only way she knows how: partying. Matthias, a guardian sent from Heaven, watches over Zoe's autistic sister. After Zoe is convinced he's legit, angel and lost girl come together in a love that changes destiny. But Heaven on Earth can't last forever.

I really was a bit dubious about this book as I was really worried that it would just be another book about a human falling in love with an immortal, full of angst about how they can never be together, with another whiny heroine crying over a guy she met two days before.

Okay, so Zoe is a bit whiny but in all fairness she has every right to be, her sister is autistic, her brother is addicted to drugs and Zoe feels like she's got to deal with everything. I'd be whiny in her position as well. Aside from that, I actually loved the character of Zoe, I didn't agree with her decisions, as at some points she does dangerous and stupid stuff, but rather than this just being a plot device to have the hero come and save her the author actually builds it up so we can understand why Zoe does these things.

The story was great. While it does carry the concepts of a lot of immortal/mortal love stories it's also original and isn't all about Zoe and Matthias, there is a lot of background story. I loved the way Zoe's character developed from partying hard and getting drunk to being this great responsible sister. I also loved the way that Zoe's brother Luke developed, this book has some amazing morals without being preachy. Can I just say; The ending! Oh my days, I have to get the sequel now! 

I loved the romance as well; what I love about angel books is that, while I do like reading a bit of hot, steamy romance I also love a cute and sweet romance which is pretty hard to come across these days. The author is amazing at creating a beautiful and sweet romance without having the characters shoving their tongues down each other's throats every two pages and that's really why I loved this book. Despite the fact that Zoe is very... experienced... the romance was so sweet and not steamy at all. Pure, sweet, celibate romance! 

The only problem I had was how easily Zoe accepted what Matthias was, I think it was a little too fast and didn't seem very obvious.  

The ending is not what what I expected but I actually was glad it ended that way, that's all I say for fears of spoilers!

All in all, a pure and sweet love story with some fantastic underlying morals. A story of a broken family coming together.  

Overall rating: A

Stand alone/series: First in a series

Paperback Release: August 15th 2009
Publisher: Grove Creek Publishing
Pages: 280
Book obtained via: Swap

Review: Wolf Blood by N.M. Browne

Wolf BloodA Celtic warrior girl is held captive and enslaved by a rival tribe. When fever takes her only friend she knows she must escape, but she runs straight into the path of two Roman foot soldiers. Thinking they will kill a warrior instantly, the girl disguises herself as a beggar and asks to share their fire. Using her gift as a seer she discovers that one of the soldiers is not what he seems. Celtic blood courses through his veins too, but there is something else. He is a shapeshifter. He shares his soul with that of the wolf. The girl needs to reach the leader of her dead friend's tribe, and the boy must escape the Romans before they discover his true nature. Their only chance of survival is to help each other. But what will happen when their powers are combined?

 I have to admit that I was sent this by Bloomsbury at the very beginning of this month and I've been putting off reading it since then, I've been picking it up, reading a few pages and then putting it down, not because it's a bad book but because I just haven't really been absorbed and because I kept getting other books that I wanted to read instead. Today I sat down and told myself that I was not reading anything else until I finished Wolf Blood. Now that I've finished it I'm sort of annoyed at myself that I put it off for too long.

Wolf Blood is a book that takes teen fiction to the basics; a hero, a heroine, an adventure and a bit of fantasy. The book was simple and unique in the market that we have for teen and young adult fiction now and that in itself was great. The book takes place in the first century, but don't let that put you off because, despite the narration having hints of that historical and tribal concept, the writing itself is modern. The author has obviously done their research as well because the story was convincing for that time. 

The characters are great, Trista is a strong heroine, she is a warrior and I would compare her to Katsa in Graceling in how kick-ass she is, Morcant is sweet and tough and really comes off as a convincing Roman soldier. The story is told in the point of view of both of them through switching between chapters and I could tell the difference between the voice of each character. Many of Morcant's chapters are told through his eyes as a wolf and I like this twist, we could really see the loyalty and strength of the wolf that seemed so convincing.

One massive problem was that I wasn't really absorbed until about the middle of the book and while I would still recommend this book I do point out that i myself struggled to get interested in the book, the pacing until about halfway through was really slow going and I found this hard to deal with. 

Overall a fantastic twist on the werewolf story with convincing setting and characters, despite a few pacing issues.

Overall rating: B-

Stand alone/series: Stand alone

Paperback Release: July 4th 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 368
Recommended for: Anyone
Book obtained via: Given for review purposes by Bloomsbury
Many kind thanks to Bloomsbury for getting this book to me!