Mini Series Review: All Souls Trilogy – Deborah Harkness

 

Synopses:

A Discovery Of Witches: Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. 

Shadow Of Night: Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realize that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

The Book Of Life: After travelling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.


So I need to get back into the swing of things, and I thought that starting with a mini review would be best for that particular purpose – especially given that my thoughts on this series can be summarised quite easily. As this is my first mini review, I thought I’d try the: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE VERDICT format – and see how that is received and if it actually works for both you and me. 

THE GOOD:

  • The story wasn’t quite your typical romance, it actually felt informative in terms of its content – I found the prominent historical aspects really enjoyable to read.
  • Book 1 and 3 moved at a comfortable pace, I felt like the storyline flowed nicely.
  • The characters were, for the most part, padded out – although I have to say that neither Diana nor Matthew were my favourites of the lot – I just found the rest so much more compelling.
  • scienceLike okay, if I looked more deeply into things, I’d probably find some problems with some of the concepts, but I think all in all these books were rather well researched.

    THE BAD:

  • THE SECOND BOOK….. Literally all my problems with this series lie within the second book. It was slow, there were too many bloody characters, it spent too much time in places which didn’t deserve it and just overall irked me.
  • (THE NOT SO BAD BUT STILL ANNOYING) Diana got on my nerves at some points, but then really – most of that occurred yet again during the second novel. Middle book syndrome anyone??

    THE VERDICT:

    Overall, I’d definitely say that this series is worth a read, books 1 and 3 make a compelling argument to oppose the crimes committed by the middle novel, so as long as you can actually get through Shadow Of Night – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars 

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Book Review: A Summer Like No Other – Elodie Nowodazkij

Synopsis:a-summer-like-no-other-cover

She’s his best friend’s little sister. He’s the biggest player of them all.

They shouldn’t be together. But this summer’s just too tempting.

Sixteen-year-old Emilia Moretti’s goal for the summer is simple: forget her brother’s best friend—Nick Grawsky—ever existed. It should be easy: He’s spending his summer in the Hamptons, adding girls in tiny bikinis to his list of broken hearts. Guarantee he won’t be telling them they’re like his little sisters. This summer, Emilia won’t stay awake at night thinking about him. She’ll need flawless ballet movements to have a shot at next year’s showcase, and she’s finally ready to search for her birth parents. But when Nick decides to stay in the city, Emilia’s resolve disappears in a pirouette. Maybe it’s the spin they needed to be together. As long as she doesn’t get stuck believing in happily ever after…

Nick is tired of pretending to be the happy, let’s-have-fun guy. His father wants him to change his career from professional dancer to…lawyer. He needs to put all of his focus on dancing to prove to Daddy Dearest he’s good enough to make it big. And he may have a case of the bluest balls in history courtesy of Emilia. She’s off-limits: The bro code with Roberto even forbids the dirty thoughts he has about her. Besides, he’s not boyfriend material. He only has time for flings, for girls who don’t expect much, for girls he doesn’t want to kiss goodnight. He knows he should resist her, but he’s not sure he wants to…


I received an e-edition of this book courtesy of Victory Editing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book left me feeling disappointed. It wasn’t awful, don’t get me wrong but there just wasn’t much that I could hang on to when it came to things that I actually could say I loved about it.

In fact, the best thing about this entire book was probably the fact that it was in split POV between Emilia and Nick and after reading many reviews where people have enjoyed books more solely because of this factor, you’d think authors would have gotten the gist by now and would have provided us with more of these sorts of books… But no, we are still left with the same (rather low at that) number of these novels and it’s a darn shame because it’s good to have the guy’s perspective in a romance novel – a lot of the time there’s a lot more to their characters than a singular girl POV let’s on and a lot of their motives and actions are explained better in their own words (which makes total sense of course.)

However, on the other hand – this romance missed the point of belonging to the romance genre. I felt no chemistry between the characters – their relationship was as bland as plain crackers (and we’re talking the salt-less kind here as well) which didn’t bode well with the fact that it seemed to be based on primarily physical aspects. And while I respect the fact that both of them being dancers would have provided them with quite attractive bodies… it just didn’t work for me.

In saying that, the ‘romance’ took over the story almost entirely which was a shame because Emilia’s quest to find her parents was probably the only remotely interesting thing about her character and that was taken away by her constant desire for all things Nick related… However, I did admire her resilience when it came to that particular issue – on the rare occasion that she remembered that she should be actively looking for them she did actually manage to get a few things done which was really commendable as she stuck through the hardships of it all.

The supporting characters were pretty good and I feel like they did a decent job at keeping our heroine on track when she was down (which of course would happen as a result of baggage which came along with the fact that she was adopted) which was quite nice to see despite the fact that she didn’t seem to acknowledge the fact herself.

The novella read at a pleasing pace thanks to Nowodazkij’s style which I think saved it, and while I think that it sets the scene quite well for the next novel. I don’t think that I will be reading the sequel in the near future, solely because I think I can tell what will actually happen within it and so don’t particularly see the point. Albeit I think it’d be a pleasant surprise if I turned out to be wrong so I guess we shall see.

My Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

ARC Review: Rikki – Abigail Strom

Synopsis: rikki-cover

Ever since junior high and an ill-fated game of seven minutes in heaven, Rikki Eisendrath and Sam Payne have hated each others’ guts. But when they end up at the same college—and the same dorm—they figure it’s time to declare a truce.

They even become friends . . . sort of. But when Sam asks Rikki to model for his sculpting project, they start spending more time together—and her feelings for him get more complicated.

She tries to focus on the guy she’s been crushing on instead. But Sam’s the one she can’t stop thinking about, even though their arguments are starting to heat up as much as the chemistry between them.

With antagonism and attraction this intense, there’s bound to be an explosion. But when the dust settles, will Sam and Rikki be enemies, friends . . . or something more?


I received a free e-edition of this book courtesy of the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a pleasantly light read, which was definitely helped by its short length. At just over 200 pages, this book was barely over the length of a novella. And yet it contained enough storyline development to appease me which was good to see  – although some things would have definitelly benefitted from more development, I can’t really complain as the majority was developed to a good standard. I also really liked Strom’s writing style, it gave the story the kick it needed at points and definitely was a big bonus of the book.

There were concepts in the story that didn’t sit quite right with me – for one, a person basically a year older than me admitted to sleeping with over 20 individuals… and NO-ONE was even the slightest bit concerned? This is freshman/ first year of university we are talking about, these people are barely adults – when or how have they found the time to do that?? Unless of course they were partial to one night stands, and even then… why did no one question that?

The heroine bugged me at times, but the hero was quite a pleasant addition to the story and made it all the more bearable.

This book was actually quite innocent as far as New Adult novels go, there was the right balance of angst and romance (which was gloriously slow burning unlike many other books of this genre, it was given plenty of page time to develop which made it all the more realistic and pleasing) which created the basis of a good story.

The story did fall apart at one point, when Sam decided to do something that really didn’t seem to fit in his character’s description but Strom managed to pull it back together enough for me to want to pick it back up after throwing it into the corner of despair and shame after a certain event happened.

Whilst I hadn’t really found many bad things in this book, it was much alike to other books in the NA genre and maybe that was where the majority of my problem lay, I feel like I have burned out reading this particular genre and would benefit from a break from it in order to provide more objective reviews.

Overall, I think that the book set up hope for the rest of the series and I will probably look into reading its successors to see whether the story develops complexity wise as more characters are introduced.

My Rating: 2.5 /5 Stars

Book Review: Unforgettable: Always 2 – Cherie M. Hudson

Synopsis:unforgettable-always-2-cover


My name is Brendon Osmond. I’m a 25 year old post-graduate student who knows three things with absolute conviction. I know damn near everything there is to know about keeping in peak physical shape. I have a plan to make a lot of money from that knowledge. I’m an optimist who’s not easily rattled. But then the girl I fell in love with almost two years ago texts me out of the blue and everything I know is thrown out the window.

Am I rattled? No. Not until I fly to the other side of the world and discover the girl I fell for has kept a very big secret from me.A secret that mocks all my knowledge of the human body and how to keep it healthy. A secret that shatters my plans for my own personal training business. A secret with my eyes. A secret who needs me more than I can comprehend. Ask me again if I’m rattled.Now ask me if I’m still in love.


I received an e-edition of this book courtesy of Momentum Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book was a pile of feels mixed with heartbreak, there were definitely moments when I thought I would require a box full of tissues to mop up my tears. But there were also moments of laughter and slight annoyance with Amanda scattered throughout.

One thing that I really enjoyed about the novel was the fact that it was written completely in a male POV. We don’t get that enough in romance, we really don’t and I wish we did because it’s interesting to be able to get inside a guys head. Hudson did a great job at creating Brendon’s voice which kept my attention for the entire length of the story.

The contents of this book are one huge spoiler minefield so I cannot disclose much without ruining their effects. Be warned though there are definitely some difficult matters brought up throughout.

Although it is part of a series, I read this book as a standalone and didn’t feel like I required more background information than was provided so I wouldn’t say that you MUST read the prequel, although given the fact that Hudson has a pretty good writing style and hell, any story with similar characters by the same author who writes well is bound to be pretty good – so I’d say go for it if you wish.

I definitely liked the realness of the book – the issues were not sugar-coated and the mixed feelings Brendon had throughout really shone through. I could understand why he was so hurt by Amanda and what she had done because her actions weren’t really understandable (although, don’t get me wrong I felt bad for the girl nonetheless because no one deserves to go through what she did ) and I heavily disapproved and wished at points that Brendon would leave before he was really hurt, which caused me to be annoyed as I couldn’t sympathise with some of the decisions that she was making as they seemed quite irrational.

Aside from the fact that I couldn’t connect with the female in this book,  I still definitely would say that this is a great read for fans on NA romances full of angst but with a plot that will make you feel all of the emotions throughout.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Book Review: Imperfect Love -Isabella White

Synopsis:imperfect-love-cover

At 24 years old, Holly Scallanger has the perfect life. Everything a girl could want; a beautiful man, a stunning home, as well as being in the midst of preparing for the wedding of her dreams. This all vanishes the night she catches her fiancé, Brandon Morgan, in bed with her worst nightmare, Donna Sinclair, just a week before Holly is set to walk down the aisle.

Attempting to recover from his betrayal, Holly swears off the affections of men in order to pick up the pieces of her crumbling life. Unfortunately, meeting Jake ‘Hooligan’ Peters is not part of her plan. The tall, dark-haired and handsome as hell med student, sweeps Holly away from the pain of her past and reveals to her the bright future that lays ahead. That is until she falls pregnant just as Jake begins his internship at P&E; his family’s hospital.

Will this love at first sight  lead her to the fairytale she has always craved? Or, will she fall victim to a betrayal of the heart yet again?


I received an e-copy of this book courtesy of Fire Quill Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The beginning of this book almost made me DNF, it dragged so so much due to Holly’s breakup and her inability to get over it, although I can’t really blame her for that – the circumstances in which that happened really weren’t great… but they did nothing to move the plot of the book along at a good enough speed for me to remain focused and willing to read.

I should have seen it coming, should have… It says right there in the synopsis – “love at first sight” – my number one foe. And okay, I didn’t actually mind how quickly their relationship came to be; that seemed quite realistic given Holly’s state and their general chemistry. What bugged me was the idea of how quickly it progressed until they were what seemed to be irrevocably in love with each other – that didn’t seem natural in the slightest.

I liked some of the supporting characters – Bernie being a particular favourite due to her sense of humour and supportive nature. That woman was an angel to Holly and honestly deserved the very best for that. However, some of the other characters didn’t sit right with me, Jake’s mum, Mara being the prime example. She was to put it gently – a bitch… And alright, I understand that as a mother her number one duty is to act in her child’s best interest – but when the child is in their mid/late 20s… you sort of expect them to be allowed to make their own decisions sans parental control. Yeah, no. Mara was overly protective which ended up being incredibly damaging at certain points of the story but I shall leave the details of those fiascos for you to discover.

One thing that I can really commend White for keeping is the plot. So many romance novels lose any ideations of plot and all things plot related when the MC falls in love. But this book managed to avoid that to a pleasant degree – there was still a story being told, even though it did involve a lot of romance.

However that being said, it did follow a lot of contemporary romance tropes and didn’t really offer much when it came to originality; but I guess that isn’t really a thing I can blame a book that follows its genre for doing so it may just be me seeking a romance that offers something new.

Another thing I (surprisingly) liked was the ending, it was emotional and despite myself I did end up attached to the characters enough to cry which is saying something seeing as it has become considerably harder for me to cry at works of fiction in recent days.

Overall, I’d definitely say that this was a decent book and I will be looking to read the sequel to see where the story progresses.

My Rating: 2.75/5 Stars

Book Review: The Way We Fall – Cassia Leo

the-way-we-fall-cover

Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo comes a twisted and passionate love story that pushes the boundaries of loyalty.

Maybe we shouldn’t have fallen so fast and so willingly.

Maybe we shouldn’t have moved in together before we went on our first date.

Maybe we should have given our wounds time to heal before we tore each other to shreds.

Maybe we should have never been together.

Houston has kept a devastating secret from Rory since the day he took her into his home. But the tragic circumstances that brought them together left wounds too deep to heal.

Five years after the breakup, Houston and Rory are thrust together by forces beyond their control. And all the resentments and passion return with more intensity than ever.

Once again, Houston is left with a choice between the truth and the only girl he’s ever loved.


I received a free copy of this novel courtesy of Gloss Publishing LLC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This book was… complicated. And so are my feelings towards it.

For one, I honestly cannot remember for the life of me the majority of the plot… and it hasn’t even been remotely long since I’ve read it – which does bring up a few red flags in my mind already and deeper thought about the novel hadn’t even commenced.

The characters made this book difficult to read. Not because they were badly written, but honestly their character traits were far from favourable and I did come to the conclusion that I indeed pretty much hated Houston, and only felt bad for Rory because of her experiences and not because I genuinely cared about her. Houston was the typical douchebag of NA romances… full of himself, with some deeply-set issues (much unexplained) that he clearly wasn’t ready to let go of in order to get his shit together and treat the woman that really loved him right. I honestly had so many other issues with his character I could possibly write my own novel about them, but a lot of them would involve spoiling bits of the story and that isn’t the purpose of a review.

And Rory, well there was nothing particularly wrong with Rory as a person, just I found myself not caring about her as much as I possibly should have. I did think, however, that at points it would have been quite nice if she grew up a little and gotten her act together – and perhaps gotten over Houston. But at no point did that happen.

And so the book was a giant rollercoaster of their relationship and its ups and downs – although if we’re being honest, largely the down as there were only brief intermittent happy scenes scattered through the novel.

Their romance wasn’t developed enough, we really aren’t given much back story other than the whole “they got together as kids” thing – and even then that fact is glossed over so quickly my head was left spinning at the speed.

However, I did like the pacing and Leo’s writing style made the book quite a manageable reading experience. It wasn’t too long, nor too short – it felt just right (I feel like Goldilocks 2.0 after saying that) which helped it not to fall down into a 10-foot deep hole with no point of return.

Also, I quite liked the intensity of everything that was happening within the story. It was almost as though every single emotion that the characters were feeling was ramped up and amplified at least thrice, and I think that worked really well in the context of the story and conveyed the angst-filled, on-off relationship pretty well.

Furthermore, the supporting characters? Solid A grade effort for those – I actually have to say I preferred them to the protagonists and cared for them more too… which may not have been the point of the book??

The cliffhanger end killed me inside, though… it wasn’t a pleasing one and it left me largely disgruntled. To the point where I am willing to read the next book to see if the situation is resolved at all, or if I will continue to be as annoyed with the story as I was.

However, I do have to say that a lot of the problems that I came across whilst reading this novel were probably of my own making and I do realise that others may not experience the same problems and so definitely do encourage others to read it.

My Rating: 2.25/5 Stars 

Book Review: Carry On – Rainbow Rowell

Synopsis:carry-on-cover

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.


I receieved a free e-edition of this novel courtesy of Pan Macmillan via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I did NOT expect to love this as much as I did.

It was a perfect mixture of magic (and boy, was there a lot of magic, there were spells for anything and everything, some of which seemingly a lot more useful than others – there were definitely a few I wouldn’t mind having at my own disposal), humour, snark and Harry Potter vibes (which were admittedly fanfic level at the start of the novel, but it worked in favour of this particular novel)- oh, and THE OTP. I shipped the ship even before it sailed. So, so, so much. It is definitely now one of my favourites to ever set sail.

However, the beginning was a bit slow, and it was largely an info dump which made me enjoy the story a bit less than I would have. Oh… and Agatha… yeah – she posed a few problems as well, I outright despised her and groaned internally whenever she appeared throughout the story…

The book was narrated by so many characters, but somehow I managed to deal with that for the entirety of its length – and it was a lengthy length but after the beginning third or quarter or so whilst we were exposed to Simon’s relationships with everyone in the book, and the entire backstory, the pace picked up to a bearable speed and before long I was so absorbed in the story I didn’t really register the length of what I was reading at all!

The characters in this book… were goshdarn brilliant! Apart from the aforementioned Agatha. I honestly loved everyone else – and their interactions. I definitely thought friendship was a key theme of this book and played a huge part throughout. I really liked Penelope’s characters, she was like the Hermione of the group – but personally, better? I don’t know how that is possible, but I do know that I preferred her that way.

I loved the fact that the romance didn’t overpower the entire plot, it was also a very tasteful mix of teenage angst and tangible love. The balance was struck between the love and hate of Baz and Simon. Baz was also such an interesting character by himself, definitely complimenting Simon’s slightly more mopey and dependent side which really did balance out the story a lot more.

Rowell has a writing style that is incredibly hard to dislike, it is so easy to read and engages with you. More often than not I laughed throughout -there were so many deviations from the norm of fantasy novels, and from Harry Potter on which the book was based. It was truly an original take on fanfics.

I was sceptical of this book at first, but I am so glad that I have – and I can definitely say that I will be returning to it in the future.

My Rating: Solidest of 4/5 Stars

“You have to pretend you get an endgame. You have to carry on like you will; otherwise, you can’t carry on at all.”