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.”

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ARC Review: Frostblood – Elly Blake

Synopsis:frostblood-cover

The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.


I received a free proof copy of this book courtesy of Chapter 5 Books in exchange for an honest review.

If I’m to be honest, got slightly lost at the beginning of this book, it launches straight into some action and changes setting so much that it was quite hard to get a grip on things, but luckily that slight confusion only lasted for about 2 chapters and during, I wasn’t put off reading which is really commendable on Blake’s part. And I was definitely hooked after I managed to grasp what was going on fully and the story slowed down slightly.

Albeit in saying that, the story progressed at a comfortable pace for the majority of the novel. There was no dwindling upon things for unnecessary periods of time as per YA Fantasy tradition. There was always something happening, which was really pleasing to read.

I loved the characters, Ruby was definitely a great personification of fire – she could be brash and rather impulsive when it came to some decision making, and definitely argumentative. Which brought an entirely new dimension to the romance within the story.

Arcus and Ruby were a perfect forbidden couple, against all beliefs of the world around them (albeit very much predictably to me) they managed to get past their differences (and Arcus’ icy composure) and their arguments to form one of the most fun romances to watch unfold that I have read recently. There was just so much flirtatious (and otherwise) banter, and some of their later encounters really made my heart ache – but I will leave you to find out why. I can’t wait to see their relationship develop further, and can only hope that Blake won’t decide to throw in a love triangle in book two… Because this book was gloriously free of my biggest reading pet peeves, and I really hope that it continues.

And okay, maybe the plot itself was quite similar to many other fantasy novels around currently, but I think that Blake’s execution of the genre was particularly effective. Her writing carried the story and its tropes and really engaged me, which cannot be said for a lot of other titles, so surely that cannot be a totally bad thing?

I also quite liked Gladiator feel the plot adopted towards the end of the book, some scenes were brutal enough to be difficult to read, which was definitely a fresh idea in the YA Fantasy genre. Which personally, worked.

The world building was definitely a huge plus too, the world was wonderfully fleshed out and each setting was different – there was no inadvertent merging of settings based on their blandness. Each of the places explored in the novel was given at least a little backstory and of course, plenty of myths and legends surrounding some of the locations.

Overall,  I can quite safely say that I  enjoyed this book quite a lot and will definitely be reading book two as soon as it comes out. I’d say it’s a great read if you enjoy the familiarity of fantasy novels with some new ideas thrown into the mix.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

ARC Review: Sanctuary Bay – Laura J. Burns, Melinda Metz

Synopsis:sanctuary bay cover.jpg

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.


I received an eARC edition of this novel courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I – I need a sequel. That cliffhanger ending, well; that well-developed “cliffhanger” ending was just too much for my brain to handle. If this turns out to be a standalone novel I am going to be greatly disgruntled because I just need to know where the story went after the words ran out in a very Hazel Grace Lancasteresque way.

It took  me a while to warm up to the idea of the story however, I’m not particularly fond of the tropes which it held within itself . The whole poor girl in school full of rich people thing didn’t bode well with my dislike of similar stories and I found that the sliight love triangle sort of thing that I smelled very early on in the story didn’t help at all.

BUT, these rich kids weren’t the usual arseholes that we usually meet in these sorts of novels – they were actually quite nice to the MC which I found rather surprising.

I also really liked how dark the story got at times, it was captivating and mildly terrifying but the odd combination of feelings actually worked in favour of the book .

The mystery part of the novel actually worked; there were countless plot twists which managed to catch me off guard. And if that isn’t a sign of a successful book of this genre, I don’t know what is. The suspense definitely built up during the course

The suspense definitely built up during the course of the novels thanks to the MC’s unawareness to what was going on around her. I actually really liked her voice, Burns and Metz had a pleasant to read writing styles which weaved flawlessly together to make a story I enjoyed.

I’m not going to lie, this book was really trippy at times, it was largely a case of having to figure out things along with the protagonist, which was difficult as things weren’t always what they seemed and even when she was sure of something, something else proved to be true/ messed up what she thought and it was just so incredibly suspenseful in a really cleverly crafted way, the story was honestly full of so many dark and unexpected secrets!

I can safely say that I enjoyed this book and would definitely be willing to read its sequels if any were to arise (which would put my bookish needs to rest).

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Book Review: The Star-Touched Queen – Roshani Chokshi

Synopsis:the-star-touched-queen-cover

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only se
venteen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.


I received an eARC edition of this novel courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

I find it really difficult to wrote reviews of the hyped books. Especially when I have nothing nice to say about them which has somehow turned out to be half of my looked-forward-to list this year. Luckily, this particular book was not the case.

me likey.gif

I know I usually moan about insta-love. I know…. but I somehow bought this one. And that’s a real rarity because I’m incredibly annoyed with most cases of it. I think it was mainly because it seemed rather appropriate given the cultural situation in which the protagonist was placed in and given the fact that destiny and fate played such a huge part of the novel, and because I thought it was going to happen at one point or another anyway; it didn’t irk me as much as it usually does.

I loved Maya’s voice, she was resilient and headstrong and just things that I love in a main character, especially in these sorts of novels where some of the female characters really lack in the characteristics department.

The story flowed almost magically. It definitely made my 2 hour flight pass by in no more than a blink and I think that itself deserves praise because I was surrounded by rowdy children.

The animal side kick yet again stole my heart . She was the ideal mix of sarcasm and sweetness, and was honestly probably my favourite character despite none of the characters being particularly unlikeable. I really loved her part in the story, and the fact that she was allowed to live unlike many other animal sidekicks I have had the chance to read about.

Chokshi’s style is something magnificent, full of metaphorical language it left me largely intrigued. The descriptions in this book were wonderful, and intricately crafted, and I loved the idea of mythology within the story – I thought it worked really well with the plot.

Whilst some people were annoyed by the unclarity which was caused by the writing, I can’t say I particularly minded, I think the fact that the reader is kept in the dark about quite a few things (especially when it comes to the world within which the book was set) was a good move on the author’s part.

Only fault I could find really was the fact that the “BIG AND BAD” was quite predictable. I was screaming at the protagonist not to go in her vicinity . But of course, that didn’t quite go to plan and the protagonist fell head first into trouble – but I guess that is custom of fantasy novels really, so it isn’t something that Chokshi can be blamed for.

If you want a story full of culture, deceit, love (or was it really?) and intrigue written in an almost magical way , then this book may just be for you.

My rating : 4/5 Stars

“A memory is a fine legacy to leave behind.”
Roshani Chokshi, The Star-Touched Queen

 

ARC Review: City in Embers – Stacey Marie Brown

Synopsis:

city in embers cover.jpg

Zoey Daniels has been tossed from foster home to foster home, where she grows up fast and tough. When she is placed in her “last-chance” home, she finds a reason to stay and turn her life around: her foster sister, Lexie, who is paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Zoey will do anything to keep her safe. After high school, Zoey is hired by a special government agency, the Department of Molecular Genetics (DMG), where she meets the other reason to remain: Daniel, her co-worker. The man she loves.

But there is something unique about Zoey. She can see fae. Because of this, the DMG hires her to work as a Collector: catching, researching, testing, and using the fae to save human lives. The work never registers on her sympathy radar. She was raised to think of fae as beasts that feed on humans and want to destroy them. (cont. on Goodreads)


I received an eARC edition of this novel courtesy of Mark My Words Publicity via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was actually a really solid book compared to some of my other summer reads, and I’m really glad to say that it wasn’t a disappointment… With action, fairies, hunters, weird and dangerous associations, and a kick ass heroine I can safely say that I thoroughly enjoyed this particular title.

I probably shouldn’t admit the fact that one of the only reasons I requested this book was because of the beautiful cover, the colour and the way the book’s subjects were presented truly drew me into reading it. I  was nearly mesmerised by the patterns on (what I assume is) Ryker’s back contrasted by Zoey’s shadow.

Speaking of the devil, Zoey was a great protagonist, I liked her ‘voice’ and of course the author’s well thought out descriptive style only added to that. At no point did she turn into a great big pile of “oh no, what shall I dooooooooo, I’m such a poorly girl, someone come and save me…..” which I really appreciated because she had every reason to along the course of the novel, but yet chose to move past everything that happened and carry on trying to do her job as it should be done.

fight the fairies.gif

I apologise  I will not apologise for the use of this semi-relevant gif in this situation. 

I don’t know what it is about side-kicks in books but yet again, much alike other similar books, I absolutely loved Sprig and have to say he was probably my favourite character despite playing a seemingly small part in the story. I needed more of him…. Like a whole novel worth if it is possible, please?

The romance was actually well written. The absence of my number one foe: insta-love meant I got to really enjoy the characters’ chemistry and I cannot wait to see where the story goes in the next book. To be fair, I preferred Zoey’s second love interest of the novel much more than the first which, if I’m being perfectly honest, made me largely uncomfortable despite maybe not being a totally messed up match… I just didn’t buy it.

One of the things that irked me slightly was how slow the beginning of this book was. But thankfully it got better and I was flying through the pages until I read the whole thing in 3 hours which I didn’t expect to do upon finding and requesting the novel.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

“I missed Starbucks. There were no caramel flavoring or whipped cream options in purgatory.”

Zoey

ARC Review: The Secret Fire – C.J Daugherty, Carina Rozenfeld

the secret fire coverSynopsis:

A battle against fate. A race against time.

Taylor Montclair is a regular girl from the quiet backwater of Woodbury, England.

Sacha Winters is a darkly mysterious boy from the City of Lights – Paris, France.

While Taylor’s focussed on her dream of attending Oxford University, school couldn’t be further from Sacha’s mind . . .

Sacha knows exactly when he’s going to die. Because he’s done it before.

On the appointed day, Sacha’s time will run out. And his death will fulfil an ancient destiny that could unleash chaos and catastrophe.

Taylor is the only person who can save him.Neither of them knows that yet.Because they haven’t even met.Hundreds of miles and a body of water separate them.Deadly forces will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

They have eight weeks to find each other and unravel an ancient web of mystery and danger.

The clock starts NOW.


 

I received an eProof  copy of this book from Little Brown Book Group UK via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I need to read much more fantasy. I read The Secret Fire after a looong streak of nothing but contemporary reads which disregarded my love for them completely and had put me into some sort of an almost book slump (tip: unless you’re an avid reader of one particular genre and despise all others do try to mix up your reading sometimes to avoid this sort of situation)…

I do love meself (such a British thing to say) a story set (partially) in France… Paris was described almost magically and made me want to teleport there to be with Taylor and Sacha. I actually love books that transport me to their worlds with the detail and care put into their descriptions and this was definitely one of those books.

Speaking of characters, they were wonderfully thought out and actually sort of mature for a Young Adult book apart from a few mishaps which were mostly explained by their difficult circumstances – I mean you can’t expect teenagers their age to deal with things 100% rationally as not even adults would come to terms with what Sacha was destined to do – and I honestly don’t think I know anyone who wouldn’t flip out if they found out they possessed the power to save him, along with the entire world. I mean I know I’d look something like this

confused shock

for at least a few hours… If not days if we’re being realistic. So let’s give it to them, they behaved as well as they could have at that time – plus I’ve seen worse in YA… much worse… *shudders*.

Sacha quickly became my favourite of the two, I mean Taylor wasn’t too bad considering the fact that she had literally no flaws whatsoever like the all-typical YA heroine, but I’ll forgive her because she wasn’t annoying – but Sacha really took the cake with his sweet behaviour and the absolutely gorgeous interactions with not only Taylor herself, but his mother and little sister, it was just lovely to read about if I’m honest.

All relationships in this book were actually really well thought out so huge kudos to the authors but as a side note – some of the stuff that happened???? THAT was a low blow and my feels deserved none of it and it still hurts… a lot, man.

The pacing of the novel worked really well, I wasn’t bored at any point and the story flowed really nicely throughout which just added to all of my emotions because the authors left just enough time to dwell on the bits that should be dwelt upon and built up tension before something major happened which worked wonderfully.

If the second book is going to continue in this romancey, non-love-triangular, non-insta-love, science and magic filled way then sign me up for the wait till September 2016.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

“Sacha straightened hurriedly, remembering that English teens didn’t kiss each other quite as frequently as French kids. ” 

– A quote which is vaguely relevant to a recent event in my life 

Book Review: The Letter – Kathryn Hughes

Synopsis:the letter cover

Every so often a love story comes along to remind us that sometimes, in our darkest hour, hope shines a candle to light our way. Discover the Number One bestseller that has captured thousands of hearts worldwide…

Tina Craig longs to escape her violent husband. She works all the hours God sends to save up enough money to leave him, also volunteering in a charity shop to avoid her unhappy home. Whilst going through the pockets of a second-hand suit, she comes across an old letter, the envelope firmly sealed and unfranked. Tina opens the letter and reads it – a decision that will alter the course of her life for ever…

Billy Stirling knows he has been a fool, but hopes he can put things right. On 4th September 1939 he sits down to write the letter he hopes will change his future. It does – in more ways than he can ever imagine…

The Letter tells the story of two women, born decades apart, whose paths are destined to cross and how one woman’s devastation leads to the other’s salvation.


I received a copy of this book  from Headline Review via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

This book, I don’t even know where to begin… it made me feel a lot… and by a lot I mean my book journal (yes, I have one of those – a beautiful Leuchtturm 1917 ExLibris Journal… and it’s my baby) references to “feels” the majority of the time (aren’t I eloquent)…

By page 11, I was gripped and slapped with the cold, hard reality of this book. Hughes wasn’t going to beat around the bush, she wasn’t going to sugarcoat things – instead we are thrown into a horrifying tale straight from the beginning. Those triggered by domestic abuse should probably stay away from the book because the topic does feature for quite a large part of the story…

I really liked how the two stories interlinked by the end of the book. I anticipated that they would, but it was done quite well. Only objection I would have to the way in which Hughes executed that part of the novel, was that it depended very much on accidental happenings, and I was struggling to see all of it realistically occurring… Nevertheless, that ignored, it was heartwarming to see everything come together in that way. Especially after the introduction of William’s character.Whilst it took his image a while to establish itself in my mind and at best he was only 2.5 dimensional, I was rooting for him more than I had ever done for a character in this particular genre. I really admired his resilience in the whole situation as I’m unsure whether I’d be able to demonstrate the same frame of mind – especially with so many setbacks.

I was also largely affected by Tina’s story… and I prayed to god that she would come out in one piece. And whilst initially that wasn’t distinctly so, I’m glad that Hughes brought out her sewing kit and stitched Tina back together.  I would have been very angry had it not been the case.

Hughes did something remarkable during her book… Whilst I cried because of a dog at one point of the story; it was largely expected as dogs always turn on the waterworks in novels and films for some reason – even more easily than humans do which could be slightly concerning if one dwells on the fact… But she also managed to make me pity a truly evil man, for a split-second… but I felt deeply sorry for what had happened to him a few moments prior – it was like a punch to the gut… which was a strange sensation to feel due to his vile nature. However, any positive feelings I may have had for his character had largely disappeared by the end of the book, even when he tried to redeem himself.

I would recommend this book to fans  of historical romances with a modern twist and wonderful parallels but would definitely give a heads-up to those triggered by miscarriages and abusive situations as I think it would be unfair not to give a warning when writing about this particular book which centered around both of these topics.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

“Everything belongs somewhere”

-Ava