Saturday 31 May 2014

Review: Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore book cover image

Title: Magic Under Glass
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore
Series: Magic Under, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 3.5 - 4 / 5

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Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act - singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets stir.

Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry's involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton's stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.

My Thoughts

I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I haunt Amazon every now and then looking for second hand books that seem interesting. I remember stumbling across Magic Under Glass and thought I’d try it. I don’t read too much steampunk, so I took a chance with this book and I’m really glad I did! I really liked it.

The book is quite short at 225 pages, and a lot happens within those pages. I thought Nimira was a great main character and with the “we need diverse characters” campaign that took place recently this is exactly what I wanted to read now. We aren’t given specific locations in relation to our world, and all the names used are fictitious, but the impression I’m left with is Nimira is of Middle Eastern descent, and the world that’s described in the book is more of English origin, set in a historical backdrop.

Nimira, or Nim, is an entertainer who has left her home country to find her fortune. She wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps, but after her death she decided to make a new start for herself. Nim meets Hollin Parry at one of her stage shows, and he offers her the opportunity to sing in an act with an automaton that plays the piano. Rumours are rife that the automaton is haunted, and Nim soon finds out that the rumours are true. They manage to find a way to communicate, and we begin to learn of Erris’s plight. He is a fairy prince who has been trapped within the automaton, and Nim is determined to set him free.

I really like Nim. She realises she is classed as lesser than those she is surrounded by, but she doesn’t let this define who she is as a person. It increases her determination to prove herself. I really like that she stands up for herself and those around her and won’t let anything put her off her opinions.

I loved the concept that the characters fall in love without falling for appearances. It didn’t matter about the different backgrounds or what each physically looks like; they fall in love with the person, not the body. In YA these days, the focus is so often on the descriptions of the characters. When a book is narrated by a female, more often than not the book has a tendency to revolve around how swoon-worthy the guy is. This was so refreshing to see a character fall in love with a soul of man trapped inside an automaton. It stripped away the physicality aspect, and focused on important things, like friendship and personality! And to make an automaton appealing shows has to show great skill on behalf of the author.

I liked the way the romance is woven into the story and the magic and sorcery doesn’t come second place, or overpower the story. But a big problem I have is I feel the book was way too short. I feel that the 225 pages weren’t enough. We didn’t get to see much of a backstory for any of the characters. With such a short book, I’m impressed with the emotion the author has managed to put in the pages, but the story is crying out for more detail. I want to know the characters a little better, Erris in particular. At times it feels like things are skimmed over, and when more detail would have added so much to a scene, we get very little. The plot is very fast moving, and I think it would have benefited with a slightly slower pace, and about an extra fifty or sixty pages. It’s not often I ask for more detail or more pages!

Overall, I really liked this book, but I do feel like I read a short story rather than a full length novel. I think there is a sequel and I’ll definitely consider continuing on.

Friday 30 May 2014

Feature and Follow, #7 -- Epic Characters Vs. Awesome Writing

Feature and Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. The goal is to increase blog followers and to make new friends. If you want to take part, answer the question posted and add your post to the linky, follow the hosts and the featured blogs, and hop from blog to blog leaving a comment to say hello, follow new blogs that take your fancy, and return the favour if someone follows you.

This Weeks Question:

How important is good writing to you?

In an ideal world, a book would be beautifully written AND have great character development, plot, etc. But in the real world, which do you prefer: (1) Great characters and plot with lousy writing or (2) Middling character development and plot but gorgeous writing.

This is a tough question. Writing is so important, and awesome writing can help me start a book, but I will admit it won’t hold my attention for the long haul if I hate the characters. I love gorgeous writing just as much as the next person, but I do end up judging a book on its characters and plot. If I don’t connect with them, I don’t usually like the book. So my choice is definitely characters and plot.

However! It depends on how crap the writing is. I can forgive some spelling and grammar mistakes. Heck, I know I don’t have perfect spelling or grammar, so I can be quite lenient at times. If I connect with the characters and enjoy the story overall, I can and have overlooked mistakes in the past.

The Night Circus is the perfect example for me. The writing is absolutely beautiful. I can’t deny that. But the characters were just about as interesting as dirty dishwater. I felt nothing toward them. The plot was equally annoying to me. It was billed as an epic duel between two magicians. I was hoping for a whirlwind of spells and curses flying everywhere, and all the characters caught in the balance of life or death! I got a sappy love story featuring two uninteresting star-crossed lovers going all goo-goo for each other. That was not exactly the battle I had in mind!

What do you think? Do you prefer awesome characters, or perfect writing? Leave a link to your post so I can visit and/or follow back =)

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Thursday 29 May 2014

Review: Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan book cover image

Title: Little Beach Street Bakery
Author: Jenny Colgan
Series: Standalone
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 5 / 5
Setting: Cornwall, England

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Polly Waterford is recovering from a toxic relationship. Unable to afford their townhouse, she has to move miles away from everyone, to the sleepy little seaside resort of Polbearne, where she lives alone above an abandoned shop.

And so Polly takes out her frustrations on her favourite hobby: making bread. But what was previously a weekend diversion suddenly becomes far more important as she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, and each loaf becomes better and better. With nuts and seeds, olives and chorizo, with local honey (courtesy of local bee keeper, Huckle), and with reserves of determination and creativity Polly never knew she had, she bakes and bakes and bakes . . . And people start to hear about it.

Sometimes, bread really is life . . . And Polly is about to reclaim hers.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

Little Beach Street Bakery was a little different to what I was initially expecting. Yes, the title gives a good outline of happens in the book – Polly opens a bakery – but so much more is woven into the plot as well. I think it’s safe to say the majority of us have suffered great losses with the recession, and this is one of the main themes running through the book.

Polly started a graphic design business with her partner of seven years, Chris. She knew the business was struggling since the recession and tried to do everything she could with her marketing background to keep the business afloat. Chris handled the majority of the finances, and she was unaware of the extent of the problems they were having. Her relationship with Chris suffered as a result, and they had to declare bankruptcy. The one solace that Polly had was baking: it was her stress-relief and escape.

Polly lost everything bar a few items during bankruptcy proceeding. She had no home and no job, and she couldn’t find anywhere to live in Plymouth. By chance, she stumbled across a run-down loft apartment in Polbearne - an island accessible across a tidal causeway in Cornwall – on one of her many searches that she could afford the rent. She takes a chance and moves in above an old abandoned bakers shop. The story follows Polly’s struggles to make ends meet, how she copes with leaving everything behind, and most importantly, how a new beginning doesn’t have to end in heartbreak if you try hard enough.

I loved Polly’s character. She is strong-willed, courageous and very witty, and I loved seeing the humour sprinkled throughout. Some of the locals were resistant to her when she moved in, and I know it’s probably a little cruel of me to say, but I liked that things were not all plain sailing. I loved seeing her slowly become part of the community, and manage to forge out an income following her passion which is making bread. And Neil (not Muffin, even though that would have been incredibly cute!), that little puffin, I loved him. He brought such a nice balance to everything else that was happening in Polly’s life

Huckle, Tarnie and the rest of the characters are equally likeable. I can’t find fault in any of them, I really liked them all. Everything blended so well together, and I was transported over to Cornwall and feeling all warm and fuzzy every time I was reading. There are quite a few serious threads woven into this book, but I love that the main focus in not on the negative or the heart-breaking: it’s on the bonds formed between people and how they overcome things if you get a little helping hand and support from those around you. The sense of community was so strong and I loved it.

This is my second Jenny Colgan book, and I’m becoming a really big fan. I love her writing style, and how she blends the characters and world-building so seamlessly. It grips you right from the first couple of pages and makes you want to keep reading and getting to know the characters and how they are progressing. This is exactly what I love seeing in a book, and Colgan does this effortlessly. I can’t recommend her books enough. I loved it!

Wednesday 28 May 2014

WoW #12: The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

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

Is it bad to want to read a book based on a character name? Zephyr. Erm, The Zephyr Song by Red Hot Chilli Peppers... *Shrugs* Seems like a good book though!

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

Expected publication: June 10th 2014

Genres: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Dystopian

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An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

-- As seen on Goodreads

What books are you waiting for? Leave a link to you blog, or tell us in the comments :)

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My Top Ten Young Adult Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme run by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, it's a freebie week. We get to choose our own topic. I've chosen to list My Top Ten Young Adult Books, as I don't think I've ever done this before, on the blog or elsewhere.

I know Young Adult isn’t really a genre by itself. As I want need to include books from several different genres, this is the one bracket they all fall into. I’m limiting myself to books I’ve read (or reread) within the last two years. I actually got stuck on eleven books, and I’m going to list all eleven. I couldn’t choose one to remove from the list. If it was a Top Twenty list, things would be a lot easier!

Under the Never Sky book cover

• Under the Never Sky

by Veronica Rossi

I love this trilogy so much. Each book was so strong, but if I had to choose a favourite, Through the Ever Night would probably take it. Aria and Perry will always be among my favourite couples, and who could forget Roar!

The Hunger Games book cover

• The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins

This is the series that introduced me to the dystopian genre, and I haven't looked back. I love this trilogy so much, but the bar has been set so high for all the other books, I find there are few books in the genre that match up to it.

Night School cover image

• Night School

by C.J. Daugherty

The Night School series keeps getting better. I've read the first three, and I love each one a little more than the last.

Angelfall cover image

• Angelfall

by Susan Ee

Angelfall completely ruined any book I can ever read involving angels. I don't think anything will ever top it. It's not just on my top YA list, it would be very close to the top of my all time favourite books list.

Obsidian book cover

• Obsidian

by Jenifer L. Armentrout

I had such a love/hate relationship with this book when I read it, or more specifically with Daemon. I wanted to strangle him in this book, but the rest of the series has made me do a 180. I love when this happens actually, and I love the series.

Nevermore book cover

• Nevermore

by Kelly Creagh

Nevermore is a very new addition to my favourites lists. It completely blew away all my expectations. Everything about the book surprised me, and I absolutely love how the characters developed.

Starcrossed book cover

• Starcrossed

by Josephine Angelini

This is another book that surprised me. I love mythology and retellings, so I was expecting great things. And it delivered. I loved it.

Forbidden book cover

• Forbidden

by Tabitha Sazuma

Is Forbidden classed as Young Adult or New Adult? I think I'd class it as YA, but I'm probably wrong! This book crushed me. It ripped my heart into little pieces, and shattered me for days after I read it. Absolutely incredible!

Divergent book cover

• Divergent

by Veronica Roth

I remember when I read Divergent, I was completely in love with the series. It was so insane and fast paced, I loved it. Unfortunately, Insurgent has tainted my love of the series, but I try to push that aside, and just remember how much I loved Divergent when I read it.

Poison Study book cover

• Poison Study

by Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study has had a similar fate to Divergent in my eyes. I loved the first two books in the series, but Fire Study was a let down. So, once again, I try to push that aside and remember how much I loved Yelena and Valek in Poison Study. And Ixia! I found it so much more interesting than Sitia.

Amy and Rogers Epic Detour book cover

• Amy and Rogers Epic Detour

by Morgan Matson

I think this list needs a little more contemporary to balance it out, and Amy and Rogers Epic Detour is such a feel good book. I love road trip books and it's my favourite of any I've read.

What topic did you choose this week? Feel free to leave a link to your post so I can stop by :) Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Monday 26 May 2014

Review: Forgiven by Carly Fall

Forgiven by Carly Fall book cover image

Title: Forgiven
Author: Carly Fall
Series: Angels of Affection, #2
Format: eBook, received for review
My rating: 3.5 / 5
Setting: Lake Tahoe, CA

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The next assignment for Angels of Affection, Liam and Adela, takes them to snowy Lake Tahoe, California. As they search for the next people they are to help fall in love, they are told they will be receiving some assistance from a third angel.

As she watches an argument between a man and woman in the cabin across the way, Adela believes she has found their next mission. As Liam and Adela work to bring the couple back together, a series of dramatic events tears the angels apart, and sends Liam to Eternity—a place with no beginning and no end.

As Liam’s past and present collide and Adela struggles on Earth with the fallout from the events, it becomes very apparent that things aren’t always what they seem, and sometimes an angel needs to realize the answers are right in front of him.

My Thoughts

Forgiven is the second book in the Angels of Affection series and it continues on from where Betrayed leaves off. I liked this book a lot more than Betrayed. I do have a few things that bothered me, and that prevented me from rating it higher, but by the end I did like it. I’m not going to write a summary as I think you need to go into this book with as little knowledge as possible to enjoy it fully.

The book started out on shaky ground for me. We get quite a detailed summary of things that happened in the first book, and this would be extremely beneficial if you have a gap between reading both books. The down side to this is if you’ve read the first book recently or are reading both back-to-back, everything is already familiar.

I’ve said this several times, both in reviews and elsewhere: I really don’t like repetitiveness in my books, more specifically back-tracking. Unfortunately, for my tastes, the writing style is a bit too prone to back-tracking and it gets under my skin all too often. I find myself rolling my eyes and thinking, “Yeah, I already know this!”

Just after the half-way point, I really began liking the story. Things progressed a lot quicker in Forgiven, and it was a welcome change of pace. The ground work was taken care of in Betrayed, and we could move forward with the story. Part of me feels if both books were incorporated into one, I might have enjoyed it better – minus the back-tracking ;)

When Gunnar appeared in the novel, I was dreading a love-triangle forming. That really would have been a big negative, and thankfully, it did not occur. This book focused on Liam and Adela and establishing them as characters, and exploring their feelings that have built since the first book. I liked the way this progressed and how it was handled. It felt like a natural progression which is a big plus. I liked both Liam and Adela a lot more that I had previously, and I feel we actually got to see them a bit clearer as they are now, without having to establish a background.

Out of the two books in the series, I prefer Forgiven. Both the main and supporting characters appealed to me more, and the story flowed a lot better. It was easy to see what was going to happen, so there weren’t any real surprises, but I did enjoy what happened and the ending suited the story. I will be honest; my hang up with both books is the writing style. It’s not really my cuppa, but if you have read the authors other books and liked them, I think you’ll love this series also.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Sunday Post #2: May 19 - 25

The Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news, recap what has happened on the blog, what is upcoming and anything everything in between.

Anyone can participate as long as you:

-- Enter your link on the post- Sundays beginning at 12:01 am(CST) (link will be open all week)

-- Link back to Caffeinated Book Reviewers blog

-- Visit others who have linked up

May 19 - 25 Re-Cap

After Bout of Books last week, I took things a little easier this week. I read two and a half books, pretty much my usual amount. I had mixed results: one I loved, one I liked and one I didn't like at all. The one I loved was Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan. My review will be up on the blog at some stage next week, so expect a little gushing! I’ve been working on a couple of cosmetic changes to my blog. I don’t have much design experience to draw from, but it’s kind of fun playing around with a few things I like the look of.

In non-book related news, this week was pretty much dominated with the Champions League final. It’s no secret I love football, so this is one match I always like watching. It’s pretty much equivalent of the Superbowl for European football. Congrats to Real Madrid, but… hey, I wish my team was there ;)

On the Blog this past week

Monday: Review: Life Eternal by Yvonne Woon -- Dead Beautiful, #2
Tuesday: Teaser Tuesday
Wednesday: Review: Die for Me by Amy Plum -- Revenants, #1
Friday: Five Not-So-Favourite Fantasy Books
Saturday: Review: Girl with Guitar by Caisey Quinn -- Kylie Ryans, #1

Books I read this past week

They go in order: The one I loved; the one I liked and the one I didn't like (and won't be reviewing.)

Up Next

I've just started The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna, and I am loving it so far. I really want to read both Hex Hall and Matched and I keep overlooking them, so hopefully by including them here, it'll make me commit to reading them next!

Posts I loved

The Notebook Sisters: Negative Reviews: I ask the Publicists . I loved this post, and it's great to hear what the publishers opinions are.

Parajunkee: Building Confidence as a Blogger I definitely get insecure about blogging. I know I don't have a great design and it's something that plays on my mind. It's nice to see what others think and that we all go through similar feelings.

Books. Blog. Bake. Gendered Reading & Growing Up. Definitely read this if you haven't. It's amazing how unconsciously society influences our opinions.

Icy Cold Reads: Investigated - Is YA mostly geared toward females? This ties in with the above post too.

Soundtrack for the Week

Oceans by Pearl Jam

Have a great week, and thanks for stopping by!

Saturday 24 May 2014

Review: Girl with Guitar by Caisey Quinn

Girl With Guitar book cover image

Title: Girl with Guitar
Author: Caisey Quinn
Series: Kylie Ryans, #1
Format: Kindle, owned
My rating: 1 / 5

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New Adult. MA 17+ Content.

After Kylie’s dad dies in a freak accident, he leaves her with nothing other than her crazy step-mother, Darla, and the ability to play guitar. When Darla kicks Kylie out and she loses her job all in the same day, she hops a bus to Nashville determined to make her late father’s dreams come true. Waitressing and saving her pennies to record a demo, her big break comes when she’s asked to join a tour going down the tubes with once platinum album-selling country music superstar Trace Corbin. But touring with Trace is hardly a dream come true since he’s pretty much drinking his career down the drain. If Kylie can’t pull Trace out of his rut, he’ll pull her and her dreams down with him.

My Thoughts

I’ve seen Girl with Guitar floating around for a while now, with lots of praise attached. So, I was expecting a really good NA read for a change. Unfortunately, I didn’t work for me. At all! I feel like I’ve read a completely different book to everyone else.

Things started out really well, and I could see where all the praise was coming from. Kylie has lost her job and got kicked out of her step-mothers home on the same day. She has dreams of becoming a country singer, and she has signed up for an open mic night taking place in a bar in Nashville. She makes her way to the city, and is at the right place at the right time to land a waitressing job in the bar hosting the show. After her performance, she gets an offer to go on tour with Trace Corbin, an established country star who is singing in the bar the same night.

I was rooting for Kylie at this stage. She had personality, fight and backbone, and I wanted to see her journey into the limelight. I wanted to experience the highs, lows and the struggles of getting up on stage the first time and life on the road… But we didn’t. All of that was skipped! I really, really, really, don’t understand why! Isn’t that the point to reading a book involving music, bands etc? Well, it’s certainly one of the things I look for anyway.

All of this was before the 20% mark, and I rapidly lost interest. I will be the first to admit country music is not very high on my loves list, but I’ve read country music books before and liked them enough, so I didn’t see any reason why the music genre would be a negative. And it wasn’t. With NA books, I need to connect with the characters very quickly, and have some sort of empathy with them. I did like Kylie in the beginning, until she regressed and became a whiny, immature, dependent little girl. It came out of nowhere! She got on my nerves suddenly and I wasn’t expecting it.

I disliked Trace from the start, and he didn’t regain any favour whatsoever over the course of the book. He’s an arrogant, alcoholic asshole that treated Kylie and everyone around him like crap, yet thinks he can tell her what to do! This is a no-go for me. I can’t take anyone telling me what to do in real life, so I don’t like reading it in book form either.

“As much as she didn’t want to concern herself about him, she was still feeling pretty grateful that he’d cared enough to punch a guy out on her behalf . Even if it was totally unnecessary.”

This quote pretty much sums up what I found hard to digest. Overreactions are one thing, and yes people overreact all the time. But to actually feel grateful for Trace punching an innocent guy for no reason is another thing altogether! I can’t accept or like it. Also, maybe I’m weird, but alcoholism is not sexy. Personally, someone smelling like they’ve been fermented in a distillery isn’t attractive to me. *shrugs*

Everything was so tame! If you are going to have a bad boy, make him really bad! It’s all about the delivery, look at comedians. They get away with so much, and it’s HOW they say things, not WHAT they say. Apply the same thing to bad boys. Here, what the characters say completely irked me. The way things are approached, I didn’t find it appealing, interesting or attractive in any way. It swung from creepy, to annoying to corny.

With fantasy or sci-fi books, I tend to be a bit more open minded with the way things are described. In contemporary books, especially books involving music, bands and touring, I expect some sort of believability. Ok, the characters live in a tour bus: they have everything you would expect to find on a tour bus, and three bedrooms. Huh? THREE. BEDROOMS. On a tour bus?? That seems a little unrealistic to me. Bunks, yes, they are a tour bus staple. I can’t suspend disbelief enough in contemporary to accept how some things are described. This is not the only thing that bothered me, but it was the one that annoyed me most. Little things like this, as well as disliking the characters, jumbled together to put me off the story.

On the surface, Girl with Guitar should have been a book I liked, but it ended up being not right for me at all. I held great hopes for the first 20%, after that I really should have just given up, but I held onto hope that things would improve.

Giveaway, Excerpt and Book Blitz: Mary Hades by Sarah Dalton

Welcome to the Book Blitz for Sarah Dalton's new YA horror book, Mary Hades. This book is very close to the top of my wishlist, so I'm very excited to be taking part! Keep scrolling to take part in a giveaway for a swag bag, a signed Sarah Dalton paperback, and a choice of three ebooks. I also have an ebook of Mary Hades to giveaway. Both giveaways are open internationally. If you scroll a little further, there is an excerpt from the book. The tour is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. Enjoy!

Mary Hades by Sarah Dalton book cover image

Mary Hades by Sarah Dalton

Series: Mary Hades #1

Genres: Horror, Young Adult

Not many seventeen year old girls have a best friend who’s a ghost, but then Mary Hades isn’t your average teenager.

Scarred physically and mentally from a fire, her parents decide a holiday to an idyllic village in North Yorkshire will help her recover. Nestled in the middle of five moors, Mary expects to have a boring week stuck in a caravan with her parents. Little does she know, evil lurks in the campsite…

Seth Lockwood—a local fairground worker with a dark secret—might be the key to uncovering the murky history that has blighted Nettleby. But Mary is drawn to him in a way that has her questioning her judgement.

Helped by her dead best friend and a quirky gay Goth couple, Mary must stop the unusual deaths occurring in Nettleby. But can she prevent her heart from being broken?

The first in a series of dark YA novels, Mary Hades follows on from the bestselling Kindle Single My Daylight Monsters. A spine-tingling tale with romance, readers will be shocked and entertained in equal measure.

Friday 23 May 2014

Five Friday Favourites: Five Not-So-Favourite Fantasy Books

Five Friday Favourites is a weekly event hosted by Amanda over at Book Badger. Each week she chooses a subject and everyone is welcome to join in and answer the question. Check out this link for more information and the future subjects.

This week the topic is Five Not-So-Favourite Fantasy Books. Any sub-genres can also be included in the topic, which is a big help! My choices don’t fall into just the fantasy genre, most blend into paranormal and urban fantasy.

Five Not-So-Favourite Fantasy Books.

Something that is guaranteed to get me looking at a book in a less than favourable light is repetitiveness. This can be in several ways, but the main annoyances I have is when a book follows the plot of another book very closely, or if there is back-tracking over things that happened within a book.

Sealed with a Curse
by Cecy Robson

Carrier of the Mark
by Leigh Fallon

Four out of the five books on this list are guilty of being incredibly similar to other books or TV shows. Carrier of the Mark is a Twilight rip-off. Evermore and Finding Sky follow the same structure we see time and time again in Young Adult paranormal without bringing anything unique to the genre. Sealed with a Curse is a mish-mash of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood and Charmed. None of these worked for me. I can live with and overlook a little familiarity, and let's be honest with the amount of books out there it's inevitable we will come across something that seems familiar at some stage. What really gets under my skin is when it's constant throughout the book. Or what's even worse: when you can put the timelines of two books side by side, and they are virtually identical!

by Alyson Noel

Finding Sky
by Joss Stirling

The writing in The Night Circus is absolutely beautiful, and this to me is its saving grace. But, I need more than pretty words to make me fall in love with a book. The characters were not developed as well as the world, and I remember struggling to finish reading the book. I didn’t care what happened to them, and that's the point when I begin to think it's time to give up and move on. It was such a let down.

The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern

Have you read any of these books and what did you think of them? Is there any books you'd include on your own non-so-favourite lists?

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Review: Die for Me by Amy Plum

Die for Me by Amy Plum book cover image

Title: Die for Me
Author: Amy Plum
Series: Revenants, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 3 / 5

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In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

Straight off, I suspect my general indifference toward Die for Me is down to timing. Before I get into the review, I’ve already ordered the second book in the series, and yes I plan on reading it! Ok, back to the review. Everything was either just ok or good. Nothing really blew me away, and I don’t know if I’m becoming more nit-picky, or if some books are becoming very repetitive, but little things bothered me more than they really should!

Kate’s parents died in a car accident and her sister decides that both of them should move to Paris to live with their grandparents. Kate takes a long time to settle in, even though she is fluent in the language and familiar with the country. Since both sisters are fluent, I don’t understand why they were signed up to an American and not a French school. At Kate’s age, she should be just starting lycée for her bac’s, so I don’t fully buy the reason that was given in the story.

Everything involving school and education was cut out of the book, and this just seems very strange to me. At sixteen, school is a pretty big part of a teen’s life, so I feel at least a little emphasis should be put on it to make the characters believable. Kate showed no effort to integrate only when it comes to Vincent and the other revenants.

I couldn’t fully empathise with Kate or connect with her. I’m very character focused, and it’s a bit weird when I connect with the secondary characters more than the main characters. Jules was much more interesting and we didn’t get to see much of him. I thought Kate was a little too self-absorbed and full of self-praise. She congratulates herself on her decisions quite often which I found a little weird. I understand what she is going through, but I felt it was a little overdone and that ended up pushing me away rather than helping me feel any emotion toward her.

Something that bothered me, and I couldn't shake it off: Kate was locked in a room in a strange house, yet she falls asleep?! My reaction would not be along the lines of ‘Ohh lookie, a nice comfy pillow, I’ll just have a nap instead of screaming my guts out or trying to break down the door to escape! Such a good idea! I’m glad I thought of it, mmkay?’ It’s these things that didn’t help me connect with her at all. I can deal with far-fetched! But this was a stretch too far even for me.

Vincent wasn’t much better, he felt like a shadow character and I didn’t see much depth to him at all. The romance between him and Kate was a bit dull and lacklustre. I love when a romance feels organic and grows naturally, but I didn’t get that sense here. I didn’t feel much of a connection between the two, and I think I need more convincing of their real intentions and feelings. It’s great to be told about their love, but it’s a complete other thing to believe it and feel it!

Die for Me is set in Paris but I didn’t get any sense of the city or country at all. I could change any of the streets or building names and it could turn into any other European city. It doesn’t have that French vibe I was hoping to see. The characters that are French didn’t seem very authentically French either.

The Revenants. So, I think I have this straight: they are resurrecting-zombie-guardian angel-ghosts? Well, I can honestly say I have never read anything quite like them before! On the other hand, it feels like too much is crammed into one creature. I don’t understand why a zombie would want to repeatedly kill themselves to save a humans life. It’s describes like a compulsion to do it, but I had one of those “Huh?” moments when I read it.

I’m conflicted. I like spacing similar sounding books out as much as I can. I just read Life Eternal before I started Die for Me. Both books have versions of zombies, and French-speaking characters. One is set in Montreal and the other is set in Paris. So I feel a little Frenched-out at the minute in honesty! This was totally my fault, as I expected Life Eternal to be set in Maine like the first book in the series, not Canada, and I’d already committed to reading Die for Me next.

I’m trying to come up with the things I loved or adored about the book, and I’m struggling a little. Everything that happens sort of falls into the same framework that we see constantly in the YA paranormal genre. The book has that wonderful addictive quality that makes you keep reading, and it did spark my curiosity. I hope the second book turns out better, just like Life Eternal did, and I’ll use it as a better guide if I actually will love the series after all.

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: May 19th

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser: Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Tarnie chucked the bird under the chin. "Well, you're obviously smitten," he said. "Got a name for him yet?"
"No," said Polly dubiously. "The vet told me not to give him one."
"You can't just call him "the puffin". What about Pete?"
"Peter Puffin?" said Polly. "Not sure. Sounds a bit like a newsreader. What about Muffin?"
"MUFFIN?" said Tarnie. "I can't believe you'd inflict that on the poor thing. All the other birds will laugh their heads off at him."

-- Little Beach Street Bakery, page 69

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan


Polly Waterford is recovering from a toxic relationship. Unable to afford their townhouse, she has to move miles away from everyone, to the sleepy little seaside resort of Polbearne, where she lives alone above an abandoned shop.

And so Polly takes out her frustrations on her favourite hobby: making bread. But what was previously a weekend diversion suddenly becomes far more important as she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, and each loaf becomes better and better. With nuts and seeds, olives and chorizo, with local honey (courtesy of local bee keeper, Huckle), and with reserves of determination and creativity Polly never knew she had, she bakes and bakes and bakes . . . And people start to hear about it.

Sometimes, bread really is life . . . And Polly is about to reclaim hers.

Add to Goodreads

What do you think? What's your teaser this week, leave a link you your post, so I can stop by, or tell us in the comments.

Monday 19 May 2014

Review: Life Eternal by Yvonne Woon

Life Eternal by Yvonne Woon book cover image

Title: Life Eternal
Author: Yvonne Woon
Series: Dead Beautiful, #2
Format: Paperback
My rating: 4.5 / 5

Add to Goodreads

Renee Winters has changed. When she looks in the mirror, a beautiful girl with an older, sadder face stares back. Her condition has doctors mystified, but Renee can never reveal the truth: she died last May, and was brought back to life by the kiss of her Undead soul mate, Dante Berlin.

Now, her separation from Dante becomes almost unbearable. His second life is close to an end, and each passing day means one less that she will spend with the boy who shares her soul.

Just when Renee has almost given up hope, she learns of the Nine Sisters--brilliant scholars who, according to legend, found a way to cheat death. She can't shake the feeling that they are somehow connected to her dreams, strange visions that hint at a discovery so powerful, and so dangerous, that some will stop at nothing to protect it.

Renee thought she knew the truth about life and death. But there is a secret woven through history that holds the only hope for Dante and Renee. Unless they find answers soon, their time together is doomed to be cut short.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

I can’t believe the transformation! I read Dead Beautiful recently, and I was on the fence on whether I want to continue the series. I really liked the idea behind the undead, and this is what eventually swayed me to give book two a chance. I haven’t come across anything similar to it before and it really appealed to me. The big problem was half of the book reminded me of a certain saga beginning with “T”. I’m so glad to say Life Eternal was so much better than Dead Beautiful! It broke away from the familiar and the author completely ran with her own ideas and built on the unique things she created in the first book.

Renee is back at her grandfather’s house in Massachusetts for the summer break. After the events that happened at the end of Dead Beautiful, she is different. Her senses are dull; she has little appetite and is sleeping like the dead. (*grins* sorry, had to do that) Renee has to transfer to a new academy in Montreal – St. Clément – after her grandfather is brought back to take over as headmaster at Gottfried Academy, and it is to only accept Undead students.

The story has continued on in Life Eternal, introducing new concepts and challenges to the overall story. I loved the introduction of the nine sisters and how that theme was slowly incorporated. We gain a lot of additional information, and the story focuses more on Renee and establishing her as a character, with Dante taking a slightly lesser role. We are introduced to new characters as well, and it allows us to see a different side to Renee. I really connected with her, and I could understand her viewpoints and why she chose the things she did.

Renee completely came into her own. She is in love with Dante which is never in doubt, but she is objective. She doesn’t automatically believe everything she learns; she questions things and uses her own judgement and beliefs as a baseline. It’s awesome to see this in a YA novel, or heck, in any novel! It came completely out of the blue as I wasn’t expecting her to have grown so much since Dead Beautiful.

I loved the ending! I doubted everything and questioned everybody, and I really liked the way things wrapped up. There is a cliff-hanger, but I didn’t find it terribly bad – as I said in another review, I think I’m becoming numb to them as they happen so often now!

Second books in trilogies are often associated with “middle-book-syndrome” and used as a bridge between the beginning and the end. Life Eternal doesn’t suffer, and I think it blew Dead Beautiful away, it’s so much better. I highly recommend giving this series a chance, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that after just reading the first book. I was so surprised to see a change, I loved it.

Sunday 18 May 2014

The Sunday Post #1, May 11 - 18

The Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news, recap what has happened on the blog, what is upcoming and anything everything in between.

Anyone can participate as long as you:

-- Enter your link on the post- Sundays beginning at 12:01 am(CST) (link will be open all week)

-- Link back to Caffeinated Book Reviewers blog

-- Visit others who have linked up

May 11 - 18 Re-Cap

This is my first time doing this meme, and it’s the perfect way to wrap up what happened this week. I’ve taken part in Bout of Books 10 and it’s been a lot of fun. I didn’t read as much as I’d hoped. But I’m going to look on the positive, I’ve read a lot more so far this month than I did in April. So that’s a big plus!

I’ve just managed to shake off a reading slump, and now I’m battling a review slump! I sit down at the computer with every intention to get up to date, but before I know it, three hours have flown by and I haven’t even started on one review. This coming week I’m going to have to step away from the lovely interwebs and concentrate on catching up. Chances are since I’ve actually wrote this down, I’ll end up doing the exact opposite!

On the Blog this past week

Monday: Review: Looking for Alex by Marian Dillon
Tuesday:TTT - Ten Books I Almost Put Down But Didn't
Tuesday:Bout of Books Day 2 Updates and Challenges
Wednesday: WoW - The Merciless by Danielle Vega
Thursday:Review: Thirteen by Tom Hoyle

Books I read this past week

Posts I Loved

Feed Your Fiction Addiction: How Soon Do You Review? -- I loved this post. I tend to procrastinate, and leave my reviews until the last minute. I do write up a few notes when I finish a book and I usually write a review based on them, and I find it helps me to distance myself from that just read high.

Fictional Thoughts: 12 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging -- I started up at the beginning of this year, and I wish I knew all of these things back then!

Notebook Sisters: Honest YA Covers, Part 2 -- I was laughing so hard after reading this post. Definitely check it out if you haven't read it! And even if you have, read it again, so worth it.

Soundtrack for the week

Everlong by Foo Fighters. No real reason, I just love the song =)

I’ll be taking part in a book blitz on Thursday, and I have an ebook to give away so be sure to check back and enter the giveaway then! Have a great week, and happy reading.


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