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: 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: Never Tear Us Apart – Monica Murphy

Synopsis: never tear us apart cover

Perfect for readers of Colleen Hoover, Jay Crownover, and K. A. Tucker, the first novel in this darkly sexy contemporary series from bestselling author Monica Murphy kicks off an emotionally powerful two-part tale of forbidden love.
 
A long time ago, when I was fifteen and a completely different person, I saved a girl’s life. I spent only a handful of hours with her, but somehow, we connected—and I’ve never been the same. No one understands what we went through. No one knows what it’s like to be us. We survived, yet I don’t feel like I’m really living—until now. Eight years later, I find her. I want to make her mine. I need to make her mine.  But she’ll hate me forever when she finds out who I really am.


I received a free copy of this book courtesy of  Headline Eternal via Bookbridr in exchange for an honest review.

This was definitely a slow burn romance. Or as slow burn as the circumstances allowed it considering the potent link between the two protagonists, their connection as well as palpable chemistry made this book a pleasant read.

The characters separately left me with some conflicted emotions.

Ethan whilst a surprisingly mature adolescent (man, I’m not 100% sure any guy my age (or at least that I know of) would act the way he did in that situation, which could render it slightly improbable in real circumstances to some readers; however I thought it was greatly commendable and I  am somewhat thankful for it too), turned out to be a bit of a chicken as an adult. I felt that he kept his identity secret for wayyyyyyy too long; if he hadn’t done so, I think that the book may have just flowed a little better and lost a bit of length, which it totally could have without detracting from the story itself. I felt like shaking them both by the shoulders at parts.

urge to kill rising.gif

However, generally, I have to say that Katie annoyed me much less.

More importantly though, this book dealt with incredibly difficult subject matter in a way that was tactful and not overly showy. I felt it was a good representation of what rape can do to a person, and what sort of effects it has on its victims years after it happened.

It also illustrated (and I’m going to sound like a mum saying this – which is great, considering the fact that I’m definitely much too young to be one) the dangers of today’s world, especially for children who have not been educated about them. I think that if Katie’s parents had at least warned her of the so-called “stranger danger” in a more, uh, explicit manner – she would have possibly not ended up in as much trouble as she did.

Structurally, I very much enjoyed the mixture of flashbacks and present. But in saying that, some chapters were shorter than my nonexistent…. I’m not going to finish that sentence, but you can probably tell where it was going; and I feel as though that unfortunately ruined it a little bit for me. Some of them were just not developed enough for me to completely grasp what was happening within them just to be launched straight into the present/past/completely different POV.

However, whilst the length of the chapters bothered me, I do have to say that Murphy did it much better than some of the previous titles that I had read earlier this year so it didn’t really take away that much from the overall reading experience, so kudos to her.

I do not think I will be returning to this book for a while at least, but not because I did not enjoy it as such, but because the format of it, as well as its contents are very much the type of book that gets slightly worse because you know exactly what is going to happen, the element of surprise you have the first time reading it is completely taken away and the experience just isn’t as good which may alter your opinion on the book. And I do not want that to happen with this particular title – so for now, it is going to rest safely on my shelves.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

“There are no take-backs in life”  

Katie

ARC Review: More Than Lies – N.E Henderson

Shortened Synopsis:more than lies cover

Will one too many lies be the final end…

NO ONE IS PERFECT.
I wish I could scream it at them, but they won’t listen. No one will listen. My parents ignore me. They expect me to be someone I’m not. I try to make them happy. I try to make everyone in my life happy, but I’m tired of it because no matter how hard I try it’s never good enough for my parents. For him….

When tragedy strikes Taralynn Evans in the worst way, she finds herself bargaining in distress, trying to find reason and rationality in what’s set before her, but will he give in when in most cases the good girl never gets the bad boy?

(Continued on Goodreads…) 


 

I received an eARC of this book from Patchwork Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I can’t really say anything bad about this book, it had nothing wrong with it but it also lacked something.

Perhaps it was the lack of maturity displayed by the two MCs… I mean it took a bloody tragedy for the two to actually talk like adults. And even then they spent a good portion of their time stuck in the same old cycle of sexual tension and silent treatment which obviously work wonderfully when put together and get the characters very far in life. shaking head

However I did like the split POV as for once it was executed well and actually added to the story as when one of the narrators was being a vague prat the other usually filled in the gaps which was nice to see. Also, we don’t really see nearly enough romance novels written from the guy’s POV and dear book gods, that needs to change please (with seven cherries on top).

Also, Tara actually wasn’t the typical moping and easily diverted female we sometimes see in NA novels with similar happenings, she was quite resilient and actually knew what she wanted most of the time. Shawn was another story but his character development made up for it. The “bad boy” player type changes into a somewhat mature guy who actually admits the fact that he’s been in love with a girl for absolute years and has been a complete douche about it for that period of time.

It was good to live through all of the realisations with him, I was sort of doing a happy dance when he came to his final conclusions at the end because by that time I was unfortunately somewhat emotionally invested in what was happening. I just wanted it all to end happily, or as happily as the circumstances allowed for it. Surprisingly though, I didn’t actually cry at any point during the course of the novel which was a strange sensation seeing as it’s usually incredibly easy to make me turn on the waterworks.

Unfortunately, some of the supporting characters fell a bit flat, there wasn’t enough explanation behind them (and their actions in some cases) which was disappointing, but I think it’s fair to say that the main characters made up for that fact.

The story itself was largely realistic , it definitely wasn’t sunshine and rainbows, but of course it wasn’t all terrible – some books don’t get that balance right, it’s one or the other so Henderson did a really good job in creating the plot. However, I did have a slight problem with the prologue seeing as it depicted a 6 year old Shawn saying things like “freaking”… and having a younger brother I can almost certainly assure you that little children do not speak like that – it bugged me to read words that belonged in the brain/mouth of a teenager coming from a little boy  but that problem was luckily resolved as soon as the book switched to present time in which the description was more acceptable.

All in all, I quite enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a NA novel which deals with not-so-perfect lives and weaves in some rather quality romance throughout.

 My Rating: Strong 3.5/5 Stars

“There is nothing like the time we have with those we love the most. Every moment is precious because we aren’t promised tomorrow. Hold on to them tight and cherish them while you’re given the chance.” 

-Taralynn Evans

ARC Review: This Raging Light – Estelle Laure

Synopsis:this raging light cover

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 received an eARC edition of this book from Hachette Children’s Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Oh how I hate reviewing books with a lot of hype surrounding them, mainly when they didn’t quite reach my expectations… and whilst this book did have a fair go at it, it simply wasn’t everything I hoped it would be – but that isn’t to say that I didn’t like it.

The poetic writing was incredible, honestly – as stated in my 2015 End of Year Survey  it was definitely one of the most beautifully written books I had read last year. Whilst the language wasn’t particularly difficult (I’d say that the book was aimed at the lower end of the YA scale) it was impeccably chosen to weave a story that tugged at my heartstrings.

I empathised with Lucille, she was forced to grow up wayy too quickly, but somehow she didn’t get too messed up in the process (SEE! Dear YA heroines, it is possible!). I wanted to slap her mum silly for causing literally nearly all of the events in this book…. it just made me quite mad that it all came down to her actions… like, REALLY mad. Albeit all in all I was quite proud of Lucille for handling everything in the way she did, I don’t think I would have been able to keep so calm about the situation she was in, or balance work with school and home to care after her sister, and so incredibly too! I don’t think there was a moment where her love for her sister didn’t shine through which was wonderful and definitely one of the highlights of the novel.

However, this book had some downfalls and unfortunately the protagonist was one of them… especially when around Digby; the rational girl we meet has been somewhat thrown out of the window and replaced by a melodramatic, overly-hormonal almost fangirl. And the guy wasn’t even that swoon-worthy. Although “his long feet” were apparently worthy enough to make an appearance in the story (WTFF??)  nothing else that actually would have warranted her swooning over him in the way she did made the cut. Which was confusing as well as disappointing because I really could not understand why she would react in that way to an indecisive, immature boy who may I mention, kept cheating on his girlfriend (please tell me I wasn’t the only one who actually thought this was all kinds of wrong, especially when Lucille nearly encouraged him to do it and acted morose when he was doing what he should have been in the first place and spending time with the girl he was actually dating).

The ending… let’s just say I didn’t completely buy it for numerous reasons I cannot disclose without literally spoiling the whole book. But the number of coincidences that made it up was simply too high for me to be able to say I fully agreed with it. Also, Laure left a lot of endings untied which was annoying because it seemed as though something rather major would have definitely been answered at some point during the novel, and my bets were on the ending… but that plot hole just kept on existing, and expanding which really wasn’t great and I just wished less questions were left without answers because the book had quite a lot of potential. Perhaps it was intentionally left like that, but my brain just wasn’t feeling quite satisfied with the information which it accumulated and wanted much more.

On the whole though, the book was a quick, light read and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for something short and rather sweet, perhaps to bring them  out of a reading slump due to its bookling length at only 288 pages.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Explain to me what the point of living is if you aren’t willing to fight for the truths in your heart, to risk getting hurt

-Lucille Bennett

 

ARC Review: Flawed – Cecelia Ahern

Synopsis:flawed cover

The stunning YA debut from internationally bestselling author Cecelia Ahern.

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In this stunning novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.


I received an eARC of the novel from HarperCollins UK via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book had an awfully long start, those who surrounded me whilst I read it will definitely know that I felt the need to close my Kindle a few times to take some deep breaths and count to ten, to be able to start reading again…

However, after the initial slow incline it wasn’t too bad of a read…. I guess? I mean, have you ever just finished a book and thought: well that wasn’t bad… but something wasn’t quite right, and the more you think about it, the more flaws (isn’t this a great coincidence) you find?

So why don’t we start off with the good bits:

Celestine’s family was definitely something that saved this book for me, her mother’s development was HUGE, I mean, maybe not totally groundbreaking – but for a “perfect” supermodel… that was some cray stuff, but VERY commendable considering the circumstances.

Speaking of perfect, this book made me think quite a bit about the meaning of that word, and its impact. I mean, some of the characters seemed to have been labeled as flawed for petty (and sometimes even mundane) things… which I’m pretty sure a lot of people are also ‘guilty’ of having done at one point or another, or would choose to do the same in the characters’ situations. And I mean, surely we aren’t flawed for being human? But of course, that isn’t to say that we are perfect either, because perfection doesn’t exist, and whilst it is something to strive for (hopefully in order to improve yourself and nothing else) it DEFINITELY cannot be achieved. And that isn’t really an easy concept to come to terms with, but it’s the truth. The images of “perfect” people aren’t true… yes, there are some attractive people out there but the media still feel the need to apply a brick wall of photoshop onto them – which of course isn’t right, but it’s how our society has worked for a couple decades now, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be changing anytime soon despite efforts.

Okay, little monologue over and done with, this book gave me feels at a moment I thought wouldn’t come… I thought Celestine – better not carry on with that really, but let’s just say that Ahern threw me off my tracks for a while. I also really enjoyed the protagonist’s relationship with her sister at the end of the book – that also hit a few feels and I may have even teared up slightly.

But a few things also bugged me:

The protagonist fell a bit flat… at least at first, there wasn’t much to her other than her rather narcissistic views, and of course her slight obsession with her ONE AND ONLY… I mean the guy himself wasn’t too bad (if you don’t take into account his bland personality)… but I do prefer her second interest in the love triangle which of course just HAD to be part of the story, because a dystopia isn’t complete without it in most cases… and of course the love triangle had to be completed by INSTA-LOVE

big-wow

Yeah… I wasn’t very impressed.

Although Celestine got a bit of character development throughout the novel and actually delivered some very well constructed speeches, it all happened too quickly for me personally, it felt rushed and unfinished and I just wished that it wasn’t the case as she did have some potential, even as her ‘old’ self…

I have quite mixed feelings about the ending. On one hand I’m overly anticipating the release of Perfect next year, but I don’t think that would have been the case had it not been for the huge cliff-hanger, because just when everything started to come together the story was cut short… Also, am I the only reader who thought that the snow globe had a VERY important role at the end? Am I wrong… am I right? I guess I will have to wait and see.

I would recommend this book to fans of dystopia, and Ahern and her impressive writing style (although of course this is very different from her usual works) who are open to experiencing society in a way that hasn’t really been seen before.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

“I am a girl of definitions, of logic, of black and white. Remember this.”

-Celestine

 

ARC Review: Chained – Suzanne Valenti

chained cover

Synopsis:

Terrified of the contamination and the creatures it has created, humanity hides behind The Wall. No one knows what lies beyond the wasteland. Maya has never thought much about what might still be out there, lurking in the forgotten places. But when she’s thrust into the unknown, she is forced to question everything she has ever been told. Not everyone outside died, some of them became something… else. As her heart is torn in two, every choice she makes is harder than the last. What she discovers will change her forever. She knows she will probably die, but Maya has seen enough of death and she won’t let it have her without a fight.


***SPOILER FREE*** 

– So first off, I’d like to say a very big thank to Suzanne, for not only being an incredibly lovely and talented author, but also kind enough to provide an ARC copy for me to review –

I have to say that at first I wasn’t sure what to think of the book, it is on rare occasions that I actually like dystopia books as they all seem to bear similarities which often irk me, but this wasn’t the case with Chained – it was a largely compelling, exciting read.

The characters were well developed, Maya was relatively easy to relate to and I really appreciated her relationship with Taylor (even though I felt he was slightly uhm… forgotten during a good part of the plot itself which in turn made me question indeed how strong it was, but I guess the fact that Maya was trying to fix the situation they were in made up for that fact) and the bonds she forms with certain characters later on in the novel (*queue slight fangirl dance and squealing*).

Of course, being me – I got more attached to the dog (or maybe I’d be better off describing her as a wolf as she would probably be offended by such description) in the story than the other characters because it was probably the least predictable of the characters Maya associated with having no previous experience of animals.

I liked the idea of The Wall, although obviously, I predicted it was largely the government’s way of keeping tabs on everyone and everything inside instead of just a ‘safety precaution’ as it was often described.It added to the sense of adventure present during Maya’s exploration which really quickened the pace of the book to the point where I was able to finish it in two days despite being overloaded with school work and other menial tasks.

I would definitely say this is a wonderful debut novel that is worth the read if you have the chance, particularly if you like dystopia novels.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars (Pushing 4 with one or two issues)

“Striving forward together, for the good of the population.”

Citizens of The Wall