Tuesday, 22 May 2018

{Review} Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

36515061Guest Review by Jess from Jess Hearts Books
Release Date: May 29th, 2018
Finished Date: May 17th, 2018 
Publishers: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: YA, Romance, Fantasy
Source: For Review
Format: ARC
Pages: 416
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

The stunning sequel to the Sunday Times bestselling Caraval

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn't yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend's true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend's identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more - and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets . . . including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can't fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend's name, she'll lose everything she cares about - maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . the games have only just begun.

The Review: Caraval was one of my favourite books of 2017 so when I heard that Stephanie Garber was writing a sequel this time from Tella’s point of view it quickly became one of my most anticipated releases of the year.

Legendary starts where Caraval left off with a new game about to begin to celebrate Elantine’s Day, only this time the stakes are much higher because Tella made a dangerous bargain that her mysterious friend intends to collect on and what he wants is Caraval Master Legend’s true name. To discover Legend’s identity Tella needs to win the game. With her life and the future of those she cares about on the line Tella must navigate Caraval once more.

Reading Caraval was like visiting the most fantastical circus and with Legendary we step inside the fortune teller's tent as we enter a world of tarot cards, destiny and fate. I loved the direction that Stephanie Garber took this series in and I felt like we got some much-needed expansion on this world and its history. However, I didn’t feel like the game of Caraval was as exciting the second time around. Like a magic trick you’ve seen before, some aspects felt a little repetitive and I felt like Legendary lost some of the sparkle and wonder that the first book had. Whereas the plot in Caraval felt enchanting and exciting, in Legendary it felt all too predictable. 

Reading from Tella’s perspective was by far my favourite aspect of this book. She was my favourite character in Caraval and I loved getting to know her better in Legendary. I love that she’s a flirt and very feminine and sensual yet also incredibly strong and independent. Her character busts a lot of YA heroine stereotypes and I find her a total breath of fresh air.

Overall I thought that Legendary was a solid follow up to Caraval. Although it perhaps did not live up to all of my very high expectations I still thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this book. However I think that in finale we need to step off the Caraval merry-go-round and explore the world behind the magic for this series to reach its full potential.

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, 12 May 2018

{Review} Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

36514923Posted by Donna
Release Date: May 17th, 2018 
Finished Date: May 2nd, 2018
Publishers: Simon & Schuster Children's UK
Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary
Source: For Review
Format: Paperback
Pages: 432
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
From Jenn Bennett, author of Night Owls and Alex, Approximately comes a sizzling, starry romance, perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and John Green.

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best-friends-turned-worst-enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day version of the Montagues and Capulets. But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to try to make their way to safety. But as the two travel deeper into the rugged Californian countryside, secrets and hidden feelings surface. Soon it's not simply a matter of enduring each other’s company, but taming their growing feelings for each other. 

The Review: Starry Eyes is the third book I’ve read by author Jenn Bennett and with each book that has been released I find myself excited to see what she has in store for us because so far, she hasn’t disappointed me and I always look forward to her awesome story telling.


In Starry Eyes we see best friends Zorie and Lennon who have suddenly turned enemies but we don’t actually know why they are no longer best friends. Not only were they best friends but most recently had become involved in a secret relationship with each other. When Zorie is offered to go on a glamping trip, she takes the chance to get away from her family but she soon finds out that Lennon has also been invited which means spending the whole week with him. And after much drama with the other members of their group, Zorie and Lennon find themselves camping alone in the wilderness.

I really enjoyed Starry Eyes and I really enjoyed stories that have best friends/romance as I always find them the best types of reads. I think mainly because the characters already know each other so well and it’s fun to watch them discover their love for one another. Zorie and Lennon really have their issues and I liked that we didn’t find out what had gone wrong for them straight away because it added the right amount of suspense to the story that keep me turning the pages. Their relationship is definitely complicated and they don’t really know what went wrong because they haven’t communicated and I really felt sorry for them. They clearly have deep feelings for one another and I was completely rooting for them from the start. And Zorie’s father? I hated him. I wanted to like him but no, just no way.

I honestly don’t think I’ve read many books about camping experiences in the past and then suddenly I’ve read two in the space of two months. I definitely enjoyed Starry Eyes more than the other book I’ve read but I did feel the story was a little longer than it needed to be. It didn’t quite live up to Alex, Approximately which is still one of my favourite reads from last year but still, Starry Eyes is great read with a hot romance and plenty of drama.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Children's UK for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

{Review} Puddin' (Dumplin' #2) by Julie Murphy

35887533
Posted by Donna
Release Date: May 8th, 2018
Finished Date: April 25th, 2018
Publishers: Harper 360 
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Source: For Review
Format: ARC
Pages: 448
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
It is a companion novel to Dumplin', which follows supporting characters from the first book in the months after Willowdean's star turn in the Clover City pageant. 

Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.

The Review: Dumplin’ was such a refreshing and fun YA contemporary read that I couldn’t help fall in love with when I read it a few years ago. And now with the movie that will be releasing soon, I definitely felt this was the right time for Julie Murphy to write a companion novel. As you can imagine I had really high hopes for Puddin’ but this one fell a little short for me which I’m really sad about. 

Puddin’ is told from alternative points of view about two girls who couldn’t be more opposite. Every summer Millie has gone to fat camp while Callie is on the dance team. It’s when a prank goes wrong that these two girls come together. 

Even weeks after reading this book I’m still contemplating why I couldn’t connect to it as much as I was hoping to and I think my main reason was the alternative points of view. Although both of the girls from the story are complete opposites, I sometimes found getting lost in their points of view and forgetting who was who. I wasn’t a big fan of Callie – I found her the hardest character to like and I felt like maybe I would have enjoyed this book if it had been in Millie's point of view. I was already familiar with Millie from Dumplin’ but I honestly don’t remember meeting Callie before or if she was a completely new character.

I was definitely hoping for more Willowdean since she is the reason I loved the first book so much but, she didn’t get much time in this book which, I kind of understand but definitely felt like she could have been around more. I also felt the story was slow at times with not much happening along the way until the end,which was a little underwhelming. And the book was way too long for the amount that happens in the story. 

The book wasn’t all bad there was so good moments – the romance – not only one but two different romances which I loved and I enjoyed seeing each girl’s relationship develop. And also the friendship that forms between the two main characters. The solidary that develops between them is fierce and something we should all want from our own friendships. 

Julie Murphy’s books no matter what are always enjoyable reads. I’ve enjoyed all her books and even though Puddin’ wasn’t as good as I was expecting, I still think everyone should read them because her writing reflects the perfect example of staying true to yourself, no matter how you look, no matter what colour skin you are, and to accept who you are and I love that this message is loud and clear from the very first page. This is the real beauty of Julie's books. 

Thank you to Harper 360  for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, 3 May 2018

{Review} The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

39127492
Posted by Donna
Release Date: 3rd May 2018
Finished Date: April 28th, 2018
Publishers: Penguin UK
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: For Review
Format: ARC
Pages: 512
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict. 

In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?

The Review: The Smoke Thieves is the first book in a new YA fantasy series by author Sally Green and as soon as I heard about this book I was intrigued. As you know I am always on the lookout for new fantasy books to read and so this immediately went on my TBR list. If you’re a fan of Six or Crows and Falling Kingdoms then I’d definitely suggest you taking a peak at this book. 

The story follows five different characters – a princess, a traitor, a thief, a soldier and a hunter whose lives are all woven together, even though they don’t know it yet, until fate steps in and they all eventually meet. 

The story is told from five different points of view which is a bold move to make when writing a book like this because of how complex this fantasy world is especially with so many different worlds which all have their own rules and traditions. It could at times can get slightly overwhelming and some characters parts where a slower than others but it’s clear from the first couple of chapters that you know which characters you favour most. For me that was Tash and Catherine. I would happily just read a book about these two characters because I wasn’t as invested in the other characters so much. 

The story moves at a slow pace and with not much action until the last part of the book which is the bits you don’t want to miss. But just as the story is starting to get interesting, when all the characters finally meet, it finishes. As a reader we are seriously left hanging and I have to say I am intrigued to see what happens next. 

Thank you to Penguin UK for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, 30 April 2018

{Review} Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

28524058Posted by Donna
Release Date: September 17th, 2017
Finished Date: April 8th, 2018
Publishers: Harper 360
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Source: For Review
Format: Hardback
Pages: 400
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

The Review: When I heard Jodi Meadow’s had a new series coming out I was over the moon. I really enjoyed her The Orphan Queen series and so I couldn’t wait to dive into something else by her, however, I hate to admit I couldn’t finish Before She Ignites. 

I hate not finishing a book. It’s definitely the hardest part about being a blogger especially if you have to review the book as well and even more so when you see other people around you enjoying the book. You can’t help but think, what did I miss? But I will try and explain why I couldn’t connect with this book like I was hoping to.

The story follows Mira who is a Hopebearer who is the centre of everyone’s attention until one secret lands Mira the worst place the Pit – where she is sentenced to remain as a prisoner for the remainder of her life. 

Mira is a beautiful young lady who doesn’t deserve the punishment that has been handed down to her and while I really liked the premise of this story, it was really slow to get through. I’m really not a patient reader and while I can handle some slow books, if it doesn’t drag me in within the first 100 pages then I do start to lose interest. I wasn’t really a fan of the whole before and after back and forth chapters either. It found I wasn’t really all that interested in what happened before and I felt disconnected to the characters. 

I had a lot of issues with Mira which I wish I didn’t. I liked that her character was different and struggled with everyday problems like anxiety and panic attacks but I didn’t think it fit right with this particular story. I also found her sometimes vain and self-centred due to her being worshipped by everyone. Her love for Dragons is also never really explained. And the Dragons? There isn’t really many parts with the Dragons in this book, so I was also disappointed. 

In the end I skimmed the last 200 pages of the book which is a lot especially considering this book is almost 500 pages. I really wanted to love this book but I just couldn’t.

Thank you to Harper 360 for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, 28 April 2018

{Review} The Course of True Love (and First Dates): A Magnus Bane Story

The Course of True Love (and First Dates): A Magnus Bane StoryPosted by Donna
Release Date: February 1st, 2018
Finished Date: April 10th, 2018
Publishers: Walker Books
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Romance
Source: For Review
Format: Hardback 
Pages: 96
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood might fall in love—but first they have a first date. 

When Magnus Bane, warlock, meets Alec Lightwood, Shadowhunter, sparks fly. And what happens on their first date lights a flame...

A Magnus Bane story set in New York. Both new readers and those already familiar with the world of the Shadowhunters will enjoy this collectable hardback gift edition

The Review: Put your hands up if you love Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood? I do! I love these guys from the books and I love them even more from the TV series and, I love that Walker books have started publishing these collectable gift novellas because not only are they so lovely to look out but, they really are the perfect gift for any fan. 

I really enjoyed getting inside Magnus’s head as this novella is told from his perspective. I haven’t read The Bane Chronicles so this novella was something completely new for me and gave me a different outlook at how Magnus and Alec’s relationship develops –which of course you don’t see in the Shadowhunter books. 

It’s a good look at their first date and how wrong it can go but because everything isn’t perfect, that makes it all the more special and definitely strengthens their bond. 

My only complaint is there was too much telling and not showing which as a fan of this world, I want to see it all for myself. 

Thank you to Walker Books for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

{Review} Lure of Oblivion (The Mercury Pack '3) by Suzanne Wright

35228099
Posted by Donna
Release Date: November 1st, 2017
Finished Date: April 6th, 2018
Publishers: Montlake Publishing
Genre: Adult, Romance, Paranormal
Source: For Review
Format: eARC
Pages: 333
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US / The Book Depo 
 
Gwen Miller may be a human, but she has no problem taking a stand against her own kind. She’s going to testify against the teenage boy she saw viciously assault a lone shifter female—and no amount of pressure from the boy’s wealthy family will make her back down. But when the harassment turns violent, help comes in the form of a lean, toned wolf with winter-gray eyes.

As a guest at Gwen’s inn, shifter enforcer Zander Devlin can’t help but notice that the fierce and leggy brunette is in serious trouble. Since she’s putting herself at risk for one of his kind, keeping her safe is the least he can do. That’s not the only reason Zander wants her close. He desires her, even as the wolf inside him backs away from her. But his feral instincts are hard to keep down, and as they take shape, they’re harder for Gwen to resist. Then again, embracing them could be the only thing that could save her life.

The Review: I love The Phoenix/Mercury Pack series. I love them both and I don’t really see them as different series because they are linked in so many ways still but after a little break from this world, I’ve finally read Lure of Oblivion and it was really good. 

Lure of Oblivion follows shifter enforcer Zander Delvin and human Gwen Miler. Zander and Gwen meet while Zander is staying at Gwen’s family Inn in Oregon after his Uncle passes away and has to be present for the reading of his will. However while staying at the Inn, Zander quickly comes to realise that Gwen has problems because she is trying to help a female shifter who was recently drugged and beaten by a group of local boys. Now Gwen is paying the price for standing up to the family. 

This was so good. I really enjoyed this book! Mainly because I loved that the romance was drawn out – there was no insta-love or instant connection etc. It takes a while for things to heat up between the two characters, not ages but it gave the story the suspense to make it very enjoyable. I really like Zander and Gwen as characters, they certainly weren’t expecting each other and I loved seeing their reactions as the story unfolds. Even though Gwen is human she is far from weak and definitely the perfect match for Zander.

It will be interesting to see where this series goes next and whose story will be told as well. So hopefully we won’t have to wait long for some news! I can’t wait either way. 

Thank you to Montlake Publishing for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review.