Saturday, 4 July 2015

Review: The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

The Stars Never Rise (Untitled Series, #1)The Stars Never Rise

Author: Rachel Vincent
Series: Untitled
Pages: 368
Publisher: Delacorte Pres
Release date: 9th June 2015

Synopsis (Goodreads): Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she's too busy trying to actually survive. Her town's population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.

When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she'll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie's sin has put her in serious trouble.

To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?

Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can't survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her.

Review: 4 ½ out of 5 stars

I was a little hesitant about starting The Stars Never Rise, I really enjoyed Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamer series but her Shifters series was a BIG miss for me so I was a little reluctant but I am pleased to say this book is a fabulous start to the series and I can’t wait to read the next installment.

Our MC is sixteen year-old Nina Kane, living in New Temperance her main focus is to provide for her sister by keeping food on the table and a roof over their heads by doing whatever it takes while their deadbeat mother is seemingly oblivious to what is going on. Nina was a character I instantly liked and sympathised with, things weren’t easy for her but she remained strong and determined.

When Melanie, Nina’s fifteen year-old sister announces something that will cause them a lot of drama because it is considered a sin, Nina will do anything possible to keep her safe. Now wanted by the Church and hunted by dark robed exorcists, Nina meets a group of teens eager to help her transition in to her new abilities and tell her the truth about what she is and also about the life she had come to believe in.

The world-building was creative and unique, it’s a world that has been ruined by soul-eating demons and degenerates, their lives are now strictly ruled by the Church, this book was heavy on the religion which I usually don’t enjoy but it was a pivotal aspect in this book. It was a fast-paced read that kept me flipping the pages eager for more.

I think what makes this book wonderful is how Rachel Vincent doesn’t forget to make the secondary characters stand out just as much as Nina. I was so fascinated and quite baffled by Finn and enjoyed the bond shared between Devi, Maddock, Reese and Grayson. I still have so many questions!

Overall, The Stars Never Rise is wonderfully written, it’s a dark blend of Dystopian and Urban Fantasy that worked really well. With a great plot line and fantastically drawn characters it makes it all the more enjoyable.



Rachel VincentAbout the author: A resident of Oklahoma, Rachel Vincent has a BA in English and an overactive imagination, and consistently finds the latter to be more practical. She shares her workspace with two black cats (Kaci and Nyx) and her # 1 fan. Rachel is older than she looks-seriously-and younger than she feels, but remains convinced that for every day she spends writing, one more day will be added to her lifespan.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Review: The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward

The Potion DiariesThe Potion Diaries 

Author: Amy Alward
Series: The Potions Trilogy
Pages: 320
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
Release date: 2nd July 2015

Synopsis (Goodreads)

When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news.

No big deal, then. 

Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I hadn’t heard of The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward but I was quite curious about it when I received a copy from Simon & Schuster Australia, described as The Hunger Games meets The Princess Diaries, I was intrigued but I didn’t feel any similarities at all unfortunately.

Told in dual POV’s from Princess Evelyn and an Alchemist apprentice, Samantha Kemi it’s a story about a poisoned princess and the race to find a cure to save her between the alchemist societies.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Princess Evelyn unfortunately; she has poisoned herself by swallowing her own love potion which inadvertently made her fall in love with herself. She came across as self-absorbed and boring, I much preferred Samantha’s POV, she was more entertaining and felt more believable and I liked her reasoning for being involved in the hunt; there was also a small amount of romance between Sam and her competitor Zain Aster.

The Potion Diaries was an odd book for me at times, I never quite understood what was going on and some parts were quite repetitive. The modern day setting with magic still being prevalent felt strange and unusual. What I did enjoy about this book was the element of surprise, I never could quite grasp what was going to happen which I appreciated. I also really liked Sam as a character, she felt genuine and her involvement in the hunt for the ingredients for the antidote was entertaining, she was a resourceful character and talented as an alchemist.

The Potion Diaries is a light-hearted read and despite the few problems I had I still liked the adventure, the unique story-line, the battle with the evil Kings sister and the humour. It was written well and despite the strange setting and not being able to take it seriously it was enjoyable.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for the opportunity to read and review The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward.



Amy AlwardAbout the author: Amy Alward (nee McCulloch) was born in Kingston-upon-Thames, UK, and moved to Ottawa, Canada, when she was 11. She attended Immaculata High School, where she developed a love of geeky things like science fairs, yearbook, RPGs and The Lord of the Rings. After high school she started studying at the University of Toronto, where she graduated with a B.A. (Hons) in English, specializing in Old English and Medieval literature (her love for Geoffrey Chaucer will never die).

After a year out backpacking around Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia (you can read her travel blog here), she moved back to London, UK, to find a job in publishing. After three years at HarperVoyager, where she worked on some of the top SF&F brands in publishing, she moved to Penguin Random House Children’s Books to be editorial director.

At the beginning of 2011, she signed with the amazing Juliet Mushens of The Agency Group for her debut YA fantasy-adventure duology: The Oathbreaker’s Shadow and The Shadow’s Curse.

In 2014, she signed with Simon & Schuster for Mi> Madly (US/Canada)/The Potion Diaries (UK&Comm), which is due out in Summer 2015.

She continues to be addicted to adventure, coffee and really great books.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2015 #TTT

 
June 30: Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. It is a chance for everyone to share lists and get to know fellow bloggers.

I am keen to see everyone’s lists this week, to be honest there have been very few five star amazing reads for me this year, the books listed below have been the most memorable (in no particular order).

*****

** The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent (review still to come) - Goodreads
** Burn, Rephaim #4 by Paula Weston (review still to come) - Goodreads
** Eternal, Shadow Falls After Dark #2 by C.C. Hunter - Goodreads

The Stars Never Rise (Untitled Series, #1) Burn (The Rephaim, #4) Eternal (Shadow Falls: After Dark, #2)

** End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3) by Susan Ee - Goodreads
** Conspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson - Goodreads
** A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas - Goodreads

End of Days (Penryn and the End of Days, #3) Conspiracy Girl A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

** Refuge (Relentless #2) by Karen Lynch - Goodreads
** Under Different Stars (Kricket #1) by Amy A Bartol - Goodreads
** Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1) by Jennifer Estep - Goodreads
** The Return by Jennifer L. Armentrout - Goodreads

Refuge (Relentless #2) Under Different Stars (Kricket, #1) Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1) The Return (Titan, #1) 

What is your TTT?

Friday, 26 June 2015

Discussion: Young Adult book gripes/annoyances - what are your thoughts??


Young Adult book gripes

I was chatting with a friend recently about ‘my perfect YA novel’ and what I’d include and exclude in a book should ever I decide to draft one which to be completely honest would never happen because I don’t hold that talent. I have to admit my exclusion list was pretty extensive! There seems to be a lot of things I don’t like despite YA being my genre of choice – same plot, same characters just with a new setting etc.. seems to be a common theme these days.

I’ve shared a few below and would love to know your thoughts?

Love triangles

I think this point would be at the top of almost everyone’s list, it has been done to death unfortunately, I’m not a huge hater of love triangles if it is done right but to be honest, they rarely are and someone is always bound to end up hurt. It also always seems to be the girl who gets two guys, I read a heap of young adult novels and I have never read about two girls wanting the same guy?

I’m not sure if this will be a new trend (I’m hoping not) but JLA’s Dark Elements series even has us, the reader voting to select who the MC Layla will end up with in the last book Every Last Breath, it’s a baffling concept to me because you would think from book one a decision would have been plotted and obvious and made by the author and not us.

A few love triangles I whine about – Edward & Jacob (Team Jacob), Peeta & Gale (Team Gale), Dmitri & Adrian (Team Dmitri), Aiden & Seth (Team Aiden), Lucas and Derek {Team Derek); do you notice I most always get it wrong.

An MC has ‘special’ abilities but has no idea what is going on.

I have read quite a few books where the MC has no idea that they are ‘special’ or of another kind or species, I mean they know that there is something going on, for example in a book I read recently the MC could burn things with her hands but she couldn’t ask anyone, including her secretive controlling parents about it, wouldn’t you stop and panic just a little bit and worry about why you’re burning things just by thinking about it – it’s very obvious something is going on. Clueless! It seems to be something that is all too common and the main character is always shocked but adjusts seemingly well into their new role of whatever it is they are.



Absolutely Perfect characterizations

Some characters aren’t realistic at all, they are drop dead gorgeous or unnaturally handsome with model like good look with fabulous violet eyes or some other strange colour plus on top of that they have perfect senses, are amazing athletes, fighters, academics, influencers etc… the list is endless how perfect some of these characters are and I don’t mind if they have a few positive attributes but to be perfect at everything is a little far-fetched. There are some very crafty ways to defy and subscribe to common beauty ideals.




Covers - Disembodied girls or close-ups of body parts on book covers

A little off topic because it’s not within the book but I find it annoying when I see a girl's body part - an eye, portion of her face or a semi-obscured picture of her in a gorgeous dress or it is a darkened silhouette, it’s quite rare we’ll see a completely ‘normal’ human.
  
Why can a book not stand alone?

Does that make sense? I mean why do we need an endless number of series, sure a book at time needs to be carried out but some stories that start as stand-alone, end up as a duology – trilogy etc etc etc. It’s terribly annoying and I must admit by the time the sequel has usually been released, unless I have loved it, is an author I adore and it has been memorable I won’t pick it up. I would love each book to tell its own story.

Orphans? Parents/guardians etc..

Why do a majority of characters have no parents present or they have left them or a deceased? I love reading books that have a strong family dynamic, where there are boundaries and realistic themes but it seems to be lacking in YA.

What are your thoughts on this subject?? Are there any gripes that annoy you in the YA genre?


Disclaimer – A majority of the YA books I read have these annoyances but I still find myself completely drawn to them. Sometimes it can be overlooked if it is done well at other times they may end up on my DNF shelf.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Review: Eternal (Shadow Falls After Dark #2) by C.C. Hunter

Eternal (Shadow Falls: After Dark, #2)Eternal

Author: C.C. Hunter
Series: Shadow Falls After Dark #2
Pages: 386
Publisher: St Martins Griffin
Release date: 28th October 2014

SynopsisAll her life, Della's secret powers have made her feel separated from her human family. Now, she's where she belongs, at Shadow Falls. With the help of her best friends Kylie and Miranda, she’ll try to prove herself in the paranormal world as an investigator—all the while trying to figure out her own heart. Should she chose Chase, a powerful vampire with whom she shares a special bond? Or Steve, the hot shapeshifter whose kisses make her weak in the knees? When a person with dark connection to her past shows up, it’ll help her decide which guy to choose–and make her question everything she knows about herself. 

From bestselling author C.C. Hunter comes Eternal—a must-read for fans of the Shadow Falls series—and the sequel to Reborn.

Review: 4 out of 5 stars

Eternal is the second book in the Shadow Falls spin-off series, Shadow Falls After Dark and begins where the first book, Reborn left off. I read the most recent novella before reading this book so there were a few spoilers I was anticipating but I was still quite surprised by it all.

I love the mix of paranormals we get in this series, vampires, witches, shape-shifters, fae etc. The mystery element is always done well and the characters are wonderful!

Storyline – I don’t want to give too much away to avoid spoilers from the first book but Della is trying to prove herself as an FRU investigator. When a case comes up and sees her working alongside powerful vampire Chase she is reluctant but also eager to prove herself. I loved the way she handled herself, we see her confidence grow as she works the case and understands more about her abilities as well as about the ghost whispering.

Characters – Della is such a kick butt snarky character, I wasn’t her biggest fan in the first series because she never seemed to let anyone in but we are seeing more vulnerability nowthat she has her own series and I am really enjoying her wit, sass and complete devotion to those that she is closest to – my heart breaks for the relationship she has lost with her family. I love the friendship that she shares with Kylie and Miranda and the respect she shows for Burnett and Holiday. Chase I really liked, I didn’t trust his evasiveness but I did enjoy his interactions with Della. We don’t get to see much of Steve in this book unfortunately.

Romance - I was so nervous going into this book because there has been a lot of Chase hating but I was more peeved at Steve and with love-triangles being a huge YA gripe of mine this is where I was let down with this book. The Shadow Falls series followed the same formulaic story with Kylie, Lucas and Derek so I am surprised that C.C Hunter recycled this same storyline; I don’t feel it was necessary. I liked Della with Steve in the first book but now that we know more about Chase I am thinking I prefer her with him.

Writing – A few things were repetitive but otherwise C.C. Hunters writing is engaging and holds my attention, I fly through these books; the dialogue, humour and the banter always keeps me amused and flipping the pages. We were left with a cliff-hanger ending though and it was a bit of a shocker.

Overall – Family, relationship, ghost and bonding drama! Eternal was highly entertaining.

Up next – The next book in the series is Unspoken which is due to be released by St Martin’s Griffin on the 27th October 2015. This book will definitely be a pre-order, I can’t wait!



C.C. HunterAbout the author: C.C. Hunter grew up in Alabama, where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and regularly rescued potential princes, in the form of Alabama bullfrogs, from her brothers. Today, she's still fascinated with lightning bugs, mostly wears shoes, but has turned her focus to rescuing mammals. She now lives in Texas with her four rescued cats, one dog, and a prince of a husband, who for the record, is so not a frog. When she's not writing, she's reading, spending time with her family, or is shooting things-with a camera, not a gun.

C.C. Hunter is a pseudonym. Her real name is Christie Craig and she also writes humorous romantic suspense romance novels for Grand Central. www.christie-craig.com

C.C. would love to hear from you. Because of deadlines, it may take her a day or so to get back with you, but she will reply. cc@cchunterbooks.com
 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep and Unspoken by C.C. Hunter

 
Hi everyone!! thank-you so much for stopping by today.

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I have two WoW’s for this week - Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep and Unspoken by C.C. Hunter

Dark Heart of Magic (Black Blade, #2)
 Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Black Blade
Amazon pre-order
Publisher: Kensington
Release date: 27th October 2015


Synopsis. (Goodreads)

Something Wicked This Way Comes...

As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there's no escaping the spotlight—or the danger.

Even though he's my competition, Devon Sinclair thinks I have the best shot at winning what's supposed to be a friendly contest. But when the competitors start having mysterious "accidents," it looks like someone will do anything to win—no matter who they hurt.

As if I didn't have enough to worry about, mobster Victor Draconi is plotting against Devon and the rest of my friends, and someone's going around Cloudburst Falls murdering monsters. One thing's for sure. Sometimes, humans can be more monstrous than anything else...
 

Unspoken: Shadow Falls: After Dark
 Author: C.C. Hunter
Series: Shadow Falls After Dark
Amazon pre-order
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Release date: 


Synopsis. (Goodreads)

Not available as yet J it is going to be amazing!!