Waiting on Wednesday (30th December 2015)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Anyway, here is my WOW pick, let me know what you think and link me to yours!

Riders by Veronica Rossi
Feb 16th 2016 by Tor Teen

Riders (Riders, #1)

For eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake, nothing but death can keep him from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.

Recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can't remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen--Conquest, Famine, and Death--are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.

They fail.

Now--bound, bloodied, and drugged--Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he's fallen for--not to mention all of humankind--he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.

But will anyone believe him?

Four horsemen of the apocalypse?? Male protagonist?? Veronica Rossi?? I need this like... yesterday! 

Top Ten Anticipated Books from the First Half of 2016

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

This Week's Topic
Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2016

For the sake of being fair, I am not including books I have already read or have eArcs for :)

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

The first in this series was absolutely amazing so I can barely wait for this - it comes out the day after my birthday too. It can't be a coincidence... must be fate ;D 

The Unexpected Everything

I think contemporary books are overlooked on this list and this is one of my best expected contemps of next year - also day after my birthday :D

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands, #1)

I love books in settings like this and I've heard good things from the lucky people that have had the change to review it and that cover is verrrrr gorgeous...

Bookishly Ever After (Ever After, #1)

Another cute looking contemp read - a girl taking happy ever after advice from books - what an awesome concept :D

The Star-Touched Queen

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshari Choksi (May 3rd 2016)

This looks like such a lush, gorgeous fantasy (I love lush, gorgeous fantasies). Definitely one on the top of my wishlist for the year.

After the Woods

Oh wow this sounds so interesting and amazing and totally like a read for me! Definitely adding it onto my wishlist.

The Heir and the Spare

Mixed reviews out for this one but for me it looks like a cute read it the vein of What a Girl Wants and the Princess Diaries.

The May Queen Murders

I love spooky, mysterious premises like this one and that cover just draws me in even more - May is going to be an amazing month! 

Not at all keen about that cover, but the plot sounds so amazingly fun (maybe like Rockaholic by C.J. Skuse) that I can't wait to give it a go. 

Heir to the Sky

So I was actually a little let down with Sun's Ink, but this sounds so amazing that I could not leave it off the list!

So what is on your Top Ten Tuesday? Link it up in the comments and I'll be by to check it out!

Review: What's Broken Between Us by Alexis Bass

What's Broken Between Us

A year and a half ago, Amanda Tart's brother got behind the wheel drunk and killed his best friend. Today, he's coming home from prison.

Amanda's been the one living with the fallout, made worse by her brother's recent unapologetic TV interview. People think he's a monster. Still, she loves him. It's her dark secret, until she starts getting close to Henry again--whose sister is paralyzed from the accident.

A year and a half ago, her brother destroyed his life. Now Amanda has to decide if she'll let his choice destroy hers.

I feel so confused right now, because on one part What's Broken Between Us was quite a gripping read that I felt portrayed some real emotions pretty well, but on another part I absolutely hated pretty much everyone in this book.

Backtrack - let me elaborate on that. This is a book that really got me - I felt sorry for Amanda, she gets all the judgemental looks and questions even though it's her brother that drives drunk and kills somebody, this is a character that for the most part doesn't deserve the treatment she gets. She has to deal with the fact that she still loves her brother and is excited for his release, but also that she feels wrong for feeling that way. Its written very well and it makes for some emotional reading.

On the other hand, despite the fact that I felt for the protagonist because of the stuff she has to go through, this doesn't mean that I liked her. This girl cheats on her boyfriend and barely even thinks about it. Okay, so she uses the excuse that he's only with her because she needs someone, but it doesn't come across to me. She uses the excuse that she loves the other guy, but she should break up with her boyfriend. Don't ever try and explain away unfaithfulness, it just comes across as not thought through and desperate.

I felt completely thrown by the fact that we're supposed to like Jonathon - to keep this blog family friendly I will refrain from saying how I felt about him, but seriously, he deserved the ending of the book. 

Overall, What's Broken Between Us is a well written book battling some issues in an engaging way. Unfortunately I just couldn't connect with any of the characters, which made this book difficult to read at times.

Book released 29th December 2015 by HarperCollins
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine

The Impostor Queen (Untitled, #1)
Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

I haven't had a good time for fantasy recently, but after reading The Imposter Queen  and Sword and Verse (another upcoming January release) back to back, I have hope again. This was one of those books that took a while to grab me, mostly because the first 20% or so is worldbuilding and not much happens, but after that I was gripped and I just devoured this book. The world is so rich and the magic is so... well written, I had flashbacks to the first time I ever read Poison Study, one of my all time favourite books ever.

Now this book doesn't stand up to Poison Study or Graceling, but I think it could stand alongside series such as Red Queen and possibly even Throne of Glass to be one of the best current ongoing fantasy series. I loved the rich world that Fine developed, with the Valtia and the Saadella and the Suurins and all of these parts of this world that made it so very special. Fine has a way of giving us the information that we need whilst also avoiding the much-dreaded 'infodump', and that is commendable when developing a world as intricate as the one in The Imposter Queen.

Elli was a brilliant character, naive because of how she has been brought up but also mature in so many other ways. I loved watching her personal development, as well as the growth of her relationships with other people - the girl goes through a lot and it really shows her sincere reactions.

I loved the romance with Oskar, but I did feel somewhat let down - the beginning of the book had references to a possible lesbian loveline between Elli and her handmaiden, but this all amounts to nothing. I had been so excited - lgbtq is quickly becoming a key genre in YA contemporary but in fantasy and paranormal it's still widely ignored, I thought this book may make some waves, but despite subtle references the end romance is completely heterosexual. Don't get me wrong, Oskar was absolutely perfect and is totally going on my book boyfriends list and I loved the romance between him and Elli, but I would have liked this book to be a little more daring with the gay route.

Overall, I can honestly say that this is going to be one of my new favourite series. The first one hasn't even been released and I am totally gagging for the next one. Fine, you have definitely impressed me with this rich, beautiful and exquisite fantasy. Yes, it didn't feel absolutely perfect because of the slow start, but the rest of it was flawless.

Book released 5th January 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Shelf Spotlight + Week in Review - 26/12/15

Shelf Spotlight is my weekly haul meme where I talk about all of the books that I have got this week in print and ebook format!

It's based on Stacking the Shelves hosted over at Tynga's Reviews and The Sunday Post hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

So obviously it was Christmas this week! I just want to wish you all a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays if you don't celebrate Christmas. I hope everyone had some time off to wind down and read - I didn't but I have four days off now so it's time to get cracking on all of these amazing books.

I got an Amazon gift card (£20) so I'm going to spend that tonight and have some pretties for this week!

Review - NetGalley + Edelweiss

Gena/Finn   The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game, #1)   Even if the Sky Falls

Frannie and Tru   Queen of Hearts   Ruined (Untitled, #1)

The Last Time We Were Us   This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1)   The Marked Girl (Marked Girl, #1)

Spark   With Malice   Afterlight

Love & Gelato   Unhooked


My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Winter Romances  The Accident Season

This Week in Review

What did you guys get this week, any goodies for Christmas?

Post me a link and I'll be over to check it out


Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up

What an absolutely brilliantly original idea - I mean did you read that blurb? Did you read that and ask yourself 'how can this character be written in a good light?'. I know I did when I first requested this book - how could Mercedes be written as a relatable, likeable character if she's sleeping with boys knowing that they have girlfriends - knowing who those girlfriends are, knowing that she's misleading her friends. Somehow, though, I liked Mercedes and I came to really care for her. I really began to care about her relationships and I really began to see her for who she really is beneath that fearless front that she puts on.

Seriously, I wasn't expecting so much depth in a book about a girl who has a lot of sex, but there was. It became something completely different to anything that I ever expected and yeah it was enjoyable and meaningful. I love the way Flynn attacks this plot and the stigma that comes with teen sexuality, addressing double standards in a way that actually gets the message across.

That being said, the whole thing was a little.... cringy. There were numerous points where I had to stop and think "Really? That's how this thing would go down?". I get The whole freedom of sexuality that Flynn is wanting to put across, but at the same time I had to look at how Mercedes was treating Zach and I just wanted to yell at her that she was ruining a completely good thing! There have been books which have put across similar messages but in a way that didn't feel as... wrong - look at The DUFF, which is very open about sex and having sex and doing the sex a lot but also did it in a way that made you feel like it was okay.

So yeah, I'm a little conflicted - one one hand I found the whole thing quite well put-together and I did like the characters much more than expected. On the other hand, the whole thing felt quite hypocritical and sleazy... so I'm going to go right down the middle on my rating here.

Book released 5th January 2015 by St. MartinsGriffin
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Waiting on Wednesday - 23rd December

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Anyway, here is my WOW pick, let me know what you think and link me to yours!

Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
March 10th 2016 by Bloomsbury Childrens

The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3)

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it, with the East as his ally and the empire as his enemy. He’s finally managed to dismiss the memory of Kestrel, even if he can’t quite forget her. Kestrel turned into someone he could no longer recognize: someone who cared more for the empire than for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she cared for him. At least, that’s what he thinks.

But far north lies a work camp where Kestrel is a prisoner. Can she manage to escape before she loses herself? As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover unexpected roles in battle, terrible secrets, and a fragile hope. The world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and Kestrel and Arin are caught between. In a game like this, can anybody really win?

I devoured the first two in this series earlier this year and now I am in stasis waiting for the last. Note: I absolutely love this cover :) The dress is so pretty and it will match the other pretties on my bookshelf! 

Remembrance by Meg Cabot
February 2nd 2016, William Morrill

Remembrance (The Mediator, #7)
In REMEMBRANCE, the seventh installment of the Mediator series, all Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva).

But when she stumbles across an ancient murder, old ghosts—and ex-boyfriends—aren’t all that come back to haunt her.

I used to write post #6 fanfiction about Suze and Jesse I love love loved them so I neeeeeeeeeed this like yesterday.

Review: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

A Whole New World (A Twisted Tale #1)
When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

Call me boring, but I don't really see the charm in rereading the story of Aladdin down to a tee when I know the movie basically by heart. I really struggled with A Whole New World solely for that reason - the first quarter of the book was just a retelling of Aladdin - the Disney move - the last three quarters  was sincerely lacking in any development, expecting us to be familiar with the characters automatically. This meant that I really just had to push myself through this book.

I'm sure Liz Braswell is a wonderful author when she is working with original material, but she certainly didn't show that talent in just rehashing a 20 year old movie and not having any original characters to develop, that's why this book just succeeded in completely falling flat for me.  

Book released 1st September 2015 by Disney Press
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

This Raging Light

Can the best thing happen at the worst time?

Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she's about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend's brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure's soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.

I wasn't expecting great things from This Raging Light - I expected it to be a pleasant read, something to pass the time with. About 20% into this book I realised just how wrong I had been - this was a brilliant book that really had me thinking. I cared so much about Lucille and Wren and Eden and Digby that I simply could not put this book down. I wanted things to work out for them so much.

I think most of my enjoyment stemmed from Laure's writing - she has such a unique, poetic and sometimes raw way of writing which sometimes comes across as quite harsh and sometimes comes across as quite purple prose-y, but the balance between these made the book a sheer pleasure to read. Despite the subject of the book not actually being that happy, I was sucked into the book and Laure made sure that this wasn't a 'problem' book, this was about Lucille and Digby's budding romance and all of the obstacles in their way -  one of them being Lucille's difficult life.

That made this book stand out from other contemporary books - there was something so unique about the tone set by Laure that I was smiling and laughing and sad all in one - she's definitely going onto my must read list.

At first, I felt that the whole Digby/Lucille thing felt very rushed and stereotypical and I was setting myself up to be disappointed, but 20% in I realised that I had misjudged this and I was so engaged. It was just great.

If I had just one thing that lets this book down, it's that we weren't giving much of the set up - why did their mother leave them and never come back, it seemed totally out of the blue and this rocked me for a bit. I also felt that the ending did feel too sudden, like Laure had though 'well Wren and Lucille are looked after and Lucille and Digby are together, I can't be bothered to resolve the rest of the plot so I'll end on a note of hope and leave it be'. Like one second we are in full story mode and the next it just jolts to a halt.

Overall, This Raging Light was such an enjoyable novel. Estelle Laure has such a unique voice and I completely was sucked into her writing. The characters and relationships were great, but development and ending definitely felt a little lacking for me.  

Book released 22nd December 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore

Thicker Than Water
Cecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated.

Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills.

Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome.

Oh wow. What a book.

Seriously, I'm struggling to scrape up the words to describe the way Thicker Than Water hit me - I was so amazed that I even had to read the acknowledgements because Fiore's writing was so amazing that I didn't want to stop reading it, and that made me even more amazed because I learned that this book to some degree was based on the author's own experience with a drug addict brother and that was why the book felt so unbelievable raw and real.

I started Thicker Than What somewhat nervously. 'Problem books' like this are a bit hit or miss for me and they can either kick me right in the feels relentlessly or leave me feeling a little bit numb and let down, thankfully this book came into the first category. I mean, I cannot write this review without firstly commending Kelly Fiore - this woman is an outstanding writer with the ability to write a damaged, flawed character with just the right amount of character development that has me cheering her corner. This is a book about a girl who makes some absolutely idiotic decisions that lead to disastorous consequences, but it's also about the same girl realising that it wasn't just her actions that led to this, but a culmination of others; actions, the story was engaging, raw, heartbreaking and most importantly real as were all of the characters.

I love this writing style - the combination of flashbacks and the present day and the journal entries could have felt chaotic but in this book they stitch together seamlessly, creating this story so rich with background and development, and allowing a glimpse into the world through CeCe's eyes. We can see why she came to make the choices she did and how she became the girl we first meet in the present day.

Seriously though, I can't find a single flaw in this book. I was gripped from the first page until the end and when I put it down I just couldn't stop thinking about it - that is the highest praise I can give, because I have a very low attention span most of the time....

Book released 5th January 2016 by HarperTeen
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Happy ever afters are like, the best thing ever, and there was no way that after investing myself in Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and even Winter's stories so much I was going to settle for anything less. I just need to read Fairest now, and yes I am completely obsessed with this series. Let me try and find coherent thoughts...

Okay, I think I've got it. Let's get onto the actual review. Now, Winter was actually my least favourite of the Lunar Chronicles, but I still loved it. The book is quite long and this meant that there was quite a bit in there that was quite irrelevant and repetitive. I also just didn't connect with Winter the same way I did the other girls so I didn't support her budding relationship with Jacin as much as I did the other romances in the series. On it's own, Winter was a good book, but comparing it to the others makes it seem a little less engaging.

Still, Meyer's writing is absolutely flawless and I just love what she brings to the genre. There's something totally original and engaging in her tone and the storylines are so well thought out and the way each individual storyline intertwines is so brilliant. I love how witty and individual each character and their dialogue was and despite the fact that Winter was a ittle underwhelming, I can't say it was a bad ending.

In fact, the end of Winter brought me to tears - I was so emotional because I have been so engaged in this series for so long and the ending brought me all of the things that I wanted to see. Awww, I'm getting teary eyed even thinking of it now!

Book released 10th November 2015 by Fiewel and Friends (US) and 12th November 2015 by Puffin (UK)
Book purchased by myself