Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

The Afterlife of Holly Chase

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she'd become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.
She didn't.
And then she died.
Now she's stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge--as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.
Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly's afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

I liked this book. It was sassy and the voice was so true to life and young. It was full of a lot of the wit that one would expect from Cynthia Hand - one of the amazing Lady Janies - it was sometimes a little slow, but it was a fun book to read.

Or at least, the first half was.

I was so interested in this book and the story and the world building and our sassy, selfish main character that when things started to get a little bit more dramatic and life or literal death, it felt like a full turn from where we were. I kind of started to feel like I was reading a completely different book. It was still a good book and I was still completely invested in where it was going but it was just... different.

I loved the voice and the story and the character growth that we see Holly go through throughout the story, and I was crying by the end of it, so it can't have been bad. But to say that tears were shed, by the time I closed this book and moved onto the next I was sort of over it. It didn't sit with me for too long.

I'm torn and conflicted, because I want to call this book shallow and fun but it's also poignant and heartbreaking at times (like the ending) and I'm not sure where to go with this book, so I'm going to say read it. It won't blow you away, but maybe it will be a positive surprise. 

Book released 24th October 2017 by HarperTeen
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Can't Wait Wednesday - 27th June 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted here, at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. If you're continuing with WOW, feel free to link those up as well! Find out more here.

The Raging Ones (The Raging Ones, #1)
The Raging Ones - Krista and Becca Ritchie - August 14th 2018 
In a freezing world, where everyone knows the day they will die, three teens break all odds.

Franny Bluecastle, a tough city teen, dreams of dying in opulence, to see wealth she’s never known. Like the entire world, she believes it’s impossible to dodge a deathday.

Until the day she does.

Court Icecastle knows wealth. He also knows pain. Spending five years in Vorkter Prison, a fortress of ice and suffering, he dreams of life beyond the people that haunt him and the world that imprisoned him.

Mykal Kickfall fights for those he loves. The rugged Hinterlander shares a frustrating yet unbreakable connection with Court—which only grows more lawless and chaotic as their senses and emotions connect with Franny.

With the threat of people learning they’ve dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet to survive. But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people far smarter, who’ll live longer, and never fear death the way that they do.

 My thoughts:
I don't need to give a reason. This just sounds soooooo good!

Top Ten Tuesday - Series I Gave Up On

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This weeks topic is: Series I have given up on

1. The Red Queen Series by Victoria Aveyard
Now call me controversial, because I know that many people will, but I absolutely adored the first book in this series. However, the second book was a very clear DNF for me... it just dragged and nothing really happened I just could not get into it so I just had to give up on this series.

2. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Oh my gosh, I was blown away by book one in this series but as soon as I started reading the second I just knew it was going in a direction that I would not like. Have to say that Delirium's last page is still one of my all time favorite book endings. 

3. The Cage by Megan Shepherd 
This book just did not really grip me, and I just have no further interest in this series. 

4. Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Jennifer Stohl
I really loved book one, it had that kind of southern gothic feel and was so atmospheric but for me it really works as a standalone, and I like to be ignorant to all of the sequels that have been brought out for it.

5. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The writing is gorgeous in this series and it has such an amazing storyline but the pacing for the first book just sort of put me off, and whilst after finishing it I really wanted the rest of the series, the interest has kind of fizzled for me now.

6. Everlife by Gena Showalter
I so wanted to love the first book in this series but I just couldn't. It was so tropey and the love triangle just didn't work for me and I just knew that this was not a series I was ever going to buy into.

7. The Mortal Instruments series and prequel/sequels by Cassandra Clare
I read the Moral Instruments books when I was in my young/mid teens and I really enjoyed them, but that was the first three books. It should have been left there, but now the series just feels like a cash cow to me. Sorry Cassie Clare, I'll read other stuff from you but please let go of the shadowhunter world!!

8. Shatter Me by Taherah Mafi
Ugh this is a weird one for me because although I adored the first book, when I reread it like 4 years later it just feel very try-hard for me. I re-read it prior to buying the sequel and I just decided not to. Maybe one day - I won't say never - but the purple prose because incredibly annoying.

9. The Maze Runner series by James Dashner
I read up to book 4 and then I just couldn't be bothered anymore - it all kind of felt like the same thing was happening in each book just in a different setting. I want to know how it all works out I just don't want to have to read to find out... maybe I'll just watch the movies.

10.  The Selection by Kiera Cass
I make a prediction that this will be on many people's lists as it just had that kind of build up and then... poof, it just becomes predictable and irritating. 

Now don't get me wrong, most of the series above are series where I enjoyed the first book or two but I have a real issue for 'second book syndrome' and most of these books suffered from that.

What do you have on your list? Do we share any series? Leave me a comment and let me know.

I'm also returning back from a hiatus to find that a lot of the blogs that I followed are now dead, so please drop me a link to your blog I would love to pop over and check it out!

Review: The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross

When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron. Growing up in the southern kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, the solstice does not go according to plan, and she is left without a patron. Months later, Brienna’s life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Though she’s suspicious of his intent, she has no other option, and must accept. But she soon discovers that he has big plans for her future. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the rival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. The question is, who will be that queen?

Before I even begin this review I want to state that I did enjoy The Queen's Rising. It kept my interest for a long train journey and despite a rocky start - it took me a good 70 pages or so to really get reeled in- by the end of the book I sort of didn't want it to end.

That being said, on a completely critical note, some parts of this book just sort of fell flat for me. For example, at some points the dialogue just got a little bit too casual and didn't seem to fit the world that Rebecca Ross was trying to build. It pulled me out of the story a bit. On the other hand, sometimes the prose went a little too old-fashioned and it just didn't work, like a six year old trying to write a Shakespeare play.

That all being said, I did so love the plot of this book. The whole Anglo/Celtic style background and the flawed main character. I loved Brienna because she starts of the book not knowing what she wants in life and finishes it with a family and a life and a purpose. Despite the initial ickiness of the relationship between her and Cartier - which to be honest could have been erased just by getting rid of the scene where they first meet (she's ten, he's an adult) - I began to care about the two of them. I think the whole thing stemmed from the age difference because it's only around halfway through the novel that it becomes clear that he's not like fifty and is only like seven years older.

I would have liked more explanation on the magic side of things, and a little bit more time to get used to the Maevana side of things because everything felt a little too fast in the second half of the book, but I still connected with the people who really mattered on the plot.

Overall, The Queen's Rising was a good book with some twists and turns and some fun characters. I loved the world, but felt that the lore and characters were not as fleshed out as I would like. Because of some iffy prose and bad pacing, I was a little pulled out of this book but will still definitely read the sequel!

Book released 6th February 2018 by HarperTeen
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

The Final Six (The Final Six, #1)

When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.

For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.

To say that this is the book that encouraged me to start reviewing again after a hiatus of over a year says a lot about it's awesomeness.

I've not really been into sci-fi books for quite a while, to be honest I've found them so samey recently and I've just not managed to find one which grips me and keeps me the way The Final Six did. From the very first chapter when we meet Leo and Naomi to the final line I was gripped. I reran my bath water like five times and finished it in a matter of hours. It was such a page-turner.

What really impressed me about this book was the whole air of suspense and mystery in it. You know there's something secret going on, but you never completely guess it. You make some hazardous guesses along the right lines, so when it is revealed it doesn't feel out of nowhere but it's still enough of a shock to leave a reader reeling.

I loved Leo as a character, he was so warm and caring and the development of feelings for Naomi felt so organic and realistic. Naomi was such a lovely person as well - driven in her mission for the truth but not so much that she completely shuts herself from any real interactions with other people. I genuinely just loved reading about these two and came to rally care about their wellbeing and relationship.

If there's just one thing that I would say brought this book down, it was - to a small degree - the writing. I could never really tell the difference between Leo's chapters and Naomi's so sometimes I would think I was reading Naomi's point of view and it was actually Leo. Also, some of the dialogue felt a little pushed and not really what anybody in that scenario would say.

Nonetheless, I still absolutely adored this book. The ending has left me wanting more and more, and I am so excited for the next in the series!

Book released 6th March 2018 by HarperTeen
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review