Sunday, 28 June 2015

Review: The Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing Synopsis:
The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

The cover screamed at me to read this book, it was simply so sparkly and pretty, but I definitely blame it for my decision to pick it up. I mean the beginning of this book was amazing, and I really thought it could end up being one of my favourites! Until we hit the romance…

Up until that point (which might have been around half way; so close yet so far) I was fascinated by the plot because even though the whole idea behind the surrogates being treated as property and no longer their own person disgusted me, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t keep me riveted to the story. I’d have loved to see more of the background to this and why surrogates were needed in the first place because there seemed to be a lot of mystery behind the Auguries. I saw these as kind of magical powers but again more explanations would have helped.

Often I’ve seen this book compared to The Selection by Kiera Cass and the comparisons are easy to see when reading it, though while I grew to love the romance in The Selection *cough*Maxon*cough* and didn’t mind not seeing much of the dystopian world, The Jewel was the complete opposite.

I simply couldn’t get behind the romance and every time Ash opened his mouth I had to stop and roll my eyes because I wanted to throw something. Like a vase. Ideally at his head. He wasn’t an arrogant bastard and so that wasn’t the reason (and even if he was, I’ve got my fair share of book boyfriends who are exactly this and it may have even improved his character) but while I can’t completely put my finger on it, he felt fake and too convenient.

They say “I love you” after only a few interactions; granted the author skips 4 weeks of them being together which is never the way to make us fall in love with characters and their relationship. It reminded me a lot of Juliette and Adam in Shatter Me; she only “fell in love” with him because he was the first person to look at her as a person with feelings, before she realised more interesting people existed *cough*Warner*cough* and I can’t help but hope this exact same thing happens in the sequel.

This book holds a lot of promise for the sequel and the author, though I'm not sure if I'll be reading on to find out for myself.
Favourite Quotes:
“Hope is a precious thing, isn’t it,” she says. “And yet, we don’t really appreciate it until it’s gone.”

Friday, 26 June 2015

ARC Review: Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams Synopsis:
A spine-tingling debut about the ultimate game of cat-and-mouse in reverse as a teen struggles to retain hope—and her sanity—while on the run from a cunning and determined killer.

Ruth Carver has always competed like her life depends on it. Ambitious. Tough. Maybe even mean. It’s no wonder people call her Ruthless.

When she wakes up with a concussion in the bed of a moving pickup trick, she realizes she has been entered into a contest she can’t afford to lose.

At a remote, rotting cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ruth’s blindfold comes off and she comes face-to-face with her captor. A man who believes his mission is to punish bad girls like Ruth. A man who has done this six times before.

The other girls were never heard from again, but Ruth won’t go down easy. She escapes into the wilderness, but her hunter is close at her heels. That’s when the real battle begins. That’s when Ruth must decides just how far she’ll go in order to survive.

Back home, they called her Ruthless. They had no idea just how right they were.

***I received the ARC ebook free as a review copy from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review***

A thrilling, suspenseful book that had me holding my breath, gasping and every other reaction that came from the torrent of emotions I felt right alongside Ruth. This book took everything out of me and just writing this review is bringing it all back, leaving me reeling. So much went into it because it was more than just another thriller and the psychological aspects worked perfectly in that I didn’t know what to think!

It’s impossible to imagine myself in a situation similar to Ruth’s (god knows I don’t want to) but I do know that it’s rare to be so strong. She had plenty of moments when everything became too much and the easy way out was right in front of her, but after reminding herself why she fought; not just for herself too, the path was clearer. Metaphorically speaking since dark, treacherous woods do not make for an easy getaway…

The descriptions of the atmosphere added to the overall feeling of disaster that carried through this book, and reminded me to check out what else Carolyn Lee Adams has written. She writes so vividly, and the flashbacks to Wolfman’s past were great (if disturbing) additions to an otherwise amazing book.

A more mature read, that is sure to keep you on your toes!
Favourite Quotes:
“My life has been filled with countless mistakes, but also success. I have been a coward at some points but brave at others. I have loved and been loved; I have failed to love and to accept love. Above all else I have tried my best, every step of the way.”

“Hopelessness is not an emotion to be indulged. On the heels of hopelessness comes defeat, and even though everything seems pointless and impossible, I still want to win.”

“I am Ruthless, and I’m no one to be trifled with.”

Monday, 22 June 2015

Review: Going Down in Flames (Going Down in Flames #1) by Chris Cannon Synopsis:
If her love life is going down in flames, she might as well spark a revolution.

Finding out on your sixteenth birthday you’re a shape-shifting dragon is tough to swallow. Being hauled off to an elite boarding school is enough to choke on.

Since Bryn is the only crossbreed at the Institute for Excellence, all eyes are on her, but it’s a particular black dragon, Zavien, who catches her attention.

Zavien is tired of the Council’s rules. Segregated clans, being told who to love, and close-minded leaders make freedom of choice almost impossible. The new girl with the striped hair is a breath of fresh air, and with Bryn’s help, they may be able to change the rules.

At the Institute, old grudges, new crushes, and death threats are all part of a normal day for Bryn. She’ll need to learn to control her dragon powers if she wants to make it through her first year at school. But even focusing on staying alive is difficult when you’re falling for someone you can't have.

After what felt like a little bit of a cliché start with the whole runaway parents and sixteenth birthday thing, this book picked up dramatically and I found myself flying through it. Originally it reminded me a lot of Firebolt by Adrienne Woods (which was my first dragon book) and what set Going Down in Flames apart was the world building.

It’s safe to say that no matter how awesome it would be to be a dragon, I would not want to live in this society under the Dictators sorry I meant Directorate… Learning about their beyond strict rules and prejudices was enough to make my stomach turn! Bryn felt much the same and we follow her as she tries to get by in a school run by people who hate her for no other reason than the fact she’s a hybrid of two different dragon clans - which are awesome by the way with their different colours and affinities.

Bryn’s character is simply brilliant. Through being bombarded by information at the start you’re immediately in the same boat and her reactions were so genuine that it was impossible not to like her. The added snarky attitude and ability to give out as much as she got in respond to bullying sealed the deal.

Of course not everyone had it out for Bryn and she made some great friends along the way. Ivy and Clint had personalities that jumped from the pages and their presences always brightened the scene. Zavien is another matter with very hot-and-cold behaviour that meant it took a while for me to warm up to him. By the end of the book I could kind of understand why Bryn was interested and now can’t wait to see how their relationship progresses (or doesn’t?) in the sequel.

With a kick-ass heroine, villain you love to hate, interesting society and did I mention dragons? Going Down in Flames is a book you do not want to miss.
Favourite Quotes:
“Nothing relieves stress like setting things on fire.”

“I threatened him with bodily harm. He promised to bring me cake for the rest of my life.” 

“Ferrin looked at her like she had two heads. “You don’t want to marry my son?”
“Hell. No.” He resumed his seat.
“That’s the first sensible thing I’ve heard you say.”

“Did her dragon nature make her more violent? She’d never fantasized death for anyone before. Then again, she’d never met someone like Ferrin.”

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Combined Beautiful Blogger Award & One Lovely Blog Award

First today I have the Beautiful Blogger Award nominated by my truly amazing friends Erkia @ Books, Stars, Writing. And Everything In Between , Reviews of a FearStreetZombie , Cody-Leigh @ Literary-ly Obsessed and Rekha @ Million Book Mill . It always means so much when I see comments on my posts, and nominations like this make my day each and every time :)

1) Link to the blogger who nominated you.
2) List seven random facts about you.
3) Nominate seven, creative, beautiful bloggers, and notify them.

I've combined this with the One Lovely Blog Award nominated by Gabs @ My Full Bookshelf Reviews (make sure to check out her blog because it's amazing!)

1) Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2) List the rules and display the award.
3) Add 7 facts about yourself.
4) Nominate 15 other bloggers (or however many you like) and let them know on their blogs!

Facts About Me:
1) I've already listed 10 random facts on my versatile blogger award if you want to check them out.
2) There are many more...
3) For example, I am terrified of snakes. No idea why.
4) My favourite colour is purple <3
5) Everyday I have to pick up a book at least once, or it won't feel complete.
6) Reading slumps are the bane of my existence. Though they don't usually last too long, they are annoyingly frequent.
7) I don't finish books if I'm not loving them and the biggest turn off is insta-love because, well, just no.

The wonderful bloggers I'm nominating for both awards:
Cari & Hayley @ My Addiction: Books
Megan & Catherine @ Books of Fascination

I'm looking forward to seeing your posts, and thanks again to the people who nominated me! Happy reading everyone <3

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Review: The Sin Eater's Daughter (The Sin Eater's Daughter #1) by Mel Salisbury Synopsis:
I am the perfect weapon.
I kill with a single touch.

Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has it's price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla's fatal touch.

Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla's chilling role to the girls she truly is.

Yet in a court as dangerous and the queen's, some truths should not be told...

After I finished this book my emotions were all over the place from devastation to heartbreak to I NEED THE NEXT BOOK IMMEDIATELY! What it boils down to, is the fact this book blew my mind.

I didn’t go into The Sin Eater’s Daughter knowing much, except what the synopsis says, which was unusual for me and meant that I experienced everything first hand. So often you’re unconsciously influenced by reviews and through missing that the reading experience was simply that much better.

From the very start I was drawn in by the stunning writing but it was the story behind the world that was the turning point when I thought “there’s no way I’m putting this down now” and ended up reading it in one sitting. The fast pace kept the plot moving along well and the twists thrown in were perfect.

My one problem – the romance. It felt so sudden and forced, well it felt like insta-love! To be honest it didn’t take me long to realise Leif was never going to be my favourite character, so I was a little shocked when Twylla was all over him. In a way it reminded me of those instances in YA where the first boy to treat the protagonist as a human being is the one she’ll fall in love with; until someone better comes along *cough*Merek*cough*.

Originally Twylla was very naïve which was understandable in her circumstances, yet her emotions were so well portrayed that you didn’t realise until everything finally clicked into place and she had to look at the world, and herself, from a different perspective. That’s when she showed true strength. Her story is not something I’ll be forgetting anytime soon.
Favourite Quote:
“In the stories of old, a hero is the one who sweeps in with a drawn sword and noble face, to kill the Dragon and free the princess. In the stories of old it never seems to dawn on the princess that she should be careful not to put herself at mercy of those who would do her ill in the first place. 
I don't live in the stories of old.”

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Review: Shadow Study (Soulfinders #1 / Study #4 / Chronicles of Ixia #7) by Maria V. Snyder Synopsis:
Once, only her own life hung in the balance…

When Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. She survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia.

Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek.
Suddenly, though, dissent is rising. And Valek’s job—and his life—are in danger.
As Yelena tries to uncover her enemies, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked.And now she must find a way to keep not only herself but all that she holds dear alive.

I was terrified to read this book. Honest to god terrified. Because while I love the Study series with all my heart, I also loved the ending to what was originally the last book, Fire Study, and while I would never say no to another book with Yelena and Valek (after all I’m not crazy) there was always the chance it would disappoint. It didn’t help that I couldn’t get into the Glass series which is set in the same amazing world…

BUT I should not have worried! From the first page I was drawn in and it was one of those moments where you forget what you’re missing until suddenly all the emotions come rushing back. Maria V. Synder once again brought the world to life and I’m so grateful. It needs to be said that her writing is breathtaking with the perfect mix of adventure, romance, relationships, tension and humour – I can’t fault it.

In Shadow Study we see from 3 perspectives and while originally my heart rebelled at the thought of not seeing everything through Yelena, I quickly fell in love with the idea as it means we learn more about Valek’s past and– well that’s reason enough for me! Their relationship is so great because while they’d protect each other with everything they have, they also respect the other’s strengths and the level of trust is beautiful.

Janco’s editions to the book looked to be created more for the plot and seeing it develop than anything else; especially since the three characters were more often than not long distances apart (much to Yelena/Valek shippers chagrin). The added hilarity of his character and interactions with others made his chapters a welcome edition.

It’s near impossible to pinpoint my favourite thing about this book because I loved it all! And if you haven’t already picked up any of Maria V. Synder’s books, well, you should!
Favourite Quotes:
“Valek had learned the best way to distribute information was to classify it as secret.”

“We should make a list of who doesn’t want to kill you, love. It’d be shorter.”
I’d be offended, but it was actually a good idea.”

“Emotion gives us strength.”
At the right time and place.”

“I always remember the faces and names of my enemies. I don’t want to forget to kill anyone.”

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Moonbreeze (The Dragonian Series #4) by Adrienne Woods


Moonbreeze (The Dragonian Series #4) by Adrienne Woods

The life or a star-studded royal has not been kind to eighteen-year-old Elena Watkins. With a Council breathing down her neck and a dragon that refuses to accept her as his rider, she must convince everyone that she is ready to rule Paegeia like her parents before her. Bust she has made a promise to her father, King Albert, that she will not go looking for him and free the people of Etan. Elena has promised to never truly fulfill her destiny.

However, situations out of her control will soon force her to confront herself and the evil that seeks to destroy her. Elena must look inside of herself to discover if she can defeat the approaching darkness, be accepted by the people of Paegeia, bring her dragon back to light and fulfill the destiny written in their stars.

Expected Publication: September 2015

Author Bio:
Adrienne Woods was born and raised in South Africa, where she still lives with her husband and two beautiful little girls. She always knew she was going to be a writer, but it only started to really happen about four years ago. In her free time―if she gets any because moms don't really have free time―she loves to spend it with friends, whether it's a girls night out, or just watching a movie. She's a very chilled person. Her writing career started with Firebolt, book one in the Dragonian series. There will be four books in total, including a further two to three books, which will be stories that take place within the Dragonian series. Her other series, Dream Casters, will be released mid 2015. She also writes in different genres, and her woman's fiction, The Pregnancy Diaries, will be published under a pseudonym. And then, she has a paranormal series by the name of the Aswang series, which will consist of about ten novels. And if that wasn't enough, there is another series, Guardians of Monsters, which will be released in 2016.
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Monday, 8 June 2015

Review: Fire Study (Study #3) by Maria V. Snyder

6114921Goodreads Synopsis:
The apprenticeship is over-now the real test has begun.

When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder—able to capture and release souls—spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena's unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena's fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before....

Honour sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself—and save the land she holds dear.

Update 6/4/15:
Love, love, LOVE! Added an extra star to make it 5, and if possible I'd give it more in a heartbeat.

Original review 12/4/15:
I had incredibly high hopes for Fire Study and can honestly say that I was not in the slightest disappointed. The journey to the end is fraught with tension and difficulties. It does pain me to say this but near the beginning I did feel it drag on a bit and a lot seemed unnecessary, but I eat my words because the final conclusion was breath-taking. It tied all of the loose ends together beautifully and made you backtrack to look for the subtle details you may have overlooked. It is impossible to read this book only once and I for one will be coming back to it.

You witness the return of all our beloved characters from the Study series and their conclusions were perfect. I could dance with joy from the fact that Maria V Snyder ended her series well! Recently I have faced the most excruciating endings where the writer has followed a different route (that was wrong in my eyes) and it has killed the series through its overshadowing, but this is not among them. THANK YOU MARIA V SNYDER!

I can safely say that it wasn’t my favourite book in the series, the title has to belong to Poison Study, but the ending made it worth reading and you can guarantee that I will be on the waiting list for its spin off series in January.
Favourite Quotes:
“He was the test I hadn’t studied for, the quiz I was bound to fail. Out of my depth.”

“As I stared at the dancing flames, I wondered what other surprises waited for me. The answers would be revealed in time, but my ability to deal with them remained uncertain.”

“Nothing like a warrant for your execution to get a girl motivated.”

“When I failed to move, Valek pushed me off the mat and curled in my place under the covers. “Ahh. Still warm.”
“You’re evil,” I said, but he feigned sleep.”

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Review: Magic Study (Study #2) by Maria V. Snyder Synopsis:

With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be reunited with the family she'd been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But though she has gained her freedom, she can't help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways—and her newfound friends and relatives don't think it's for the better....

Despite the turmoil, she's eager to start her magic training—especially as she's been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia's throne for a lost prince—and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians.

If that wasn't bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with all her new enemies....

Update 5/4/15:
My original rating for this book was 3 stars... but after re-reading it I don't understand why! I seem to remember it being because of Valek's limited appearances however it meant I anticipated, as well as enjoyed, the scenes that much more the second time around <3

Original review 11/4/14:
I’ve got mixed feelings towards this book. As Yelena is faced with even more problems you see her strength shine through even more and I know I’ve said this before but it takes a lot of character to pull through to the other side still standing after everything. It was hard watching her struggle because when she hurt you hurt with her, and when she felt joy you did too; and this provided so many feels!

I haven’t even mentioned Valek yet; who I admit I have a major crush on. After reading Assassin Study which is Maria V Snyder’s novella that occurs before this book I saw him in a whole new light. His devotion was blindingly clear for the ones he loved but he didn’t need recognition to fuel this and it made him even more impressive in my eyes. This followed through in Magic Study but my problem was that you didn’t see this again until like halfway through the book! The beginning was great and thoughtful but something was missing, and he didn’t return until you’d given up hope that he would make an appearance at all.

He came just in time for the complicated plot to unfold with so many unexpected twists and mouth-gaping revelations. It would have meant nothing if it weren’t for the characters though, who all have a place in this thrilling story. Whether it was to complicate Yelena’s life or complete it is up to you to decide, and only once you’ve read this book.

While Magic Study was not as good as Poison Study I still enjoyed it, and if you haven’t read any of the books you need to NOW! You won’t regret it and I guarantee that you will love them too.
Favourite Quotes:
“My plans had seemed straightforward, then my road kept dipping and turning and I kept getting caught in its traps. No I felt mired in mud in the middle of nowhere. Lost.”

“Living is a risk,” I snapped at him. “Every decision, every interaction, every step, every time you get out of bed in the morning, you take a risk. To survive is to know you’re taking that risk and to not get out of bed clutching illusions of safety.”

“He made a weak attempt to look innocent, but I knew better. “Should I guess how many concealed weapons you have or should I strip search you?”
“A strip search is the only way to be absolutely certain.” Valek’s deep blue eyes danced with delight.”

“How touching,” Janco said, pretending to wipe his eyes. “Get going, Yelena. I don’t want you to see me cry.” He faked a sniffle.
“I’m sure your ego can handle it,” I said. “Or will you need to beat up some trainees to feel like a man again?”

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Review: Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder Synopsis:
Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison...

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear...

Update 4/4/15:
My opinion hasn't changed much since the first time I read this last year - Yelena is still awesome, Valek is still swoonworthy and the book is still fantastic! It was such a relief, I'll be honest, and remains one of my favourite books of all time.

Original review 10/4/14:
So many good things have been said about this book by different bloggers and of course that means I had high expectations going into it, which were easily met I have to say.

Clear your day’s plan this is a one-sit read and you will love every second of it! I have just found myself a new favourite series and if you love a mysterious book full of terror and devious plans - you will too.

After reading the synopsis I got the impression that Yelena is a trained assassin (I mean she has murdered someone...) but in reality she is just an ordinary girl who did something desperate to get out of a desperate situation. This didn’t degrade from the book as I expected, because while she’s not an assassin she’s an amazingly strong in her character and it also makes her more “relatable”. She is also one of the bravest heroines I have ever read, admittedly she may not seem like it at the beginning but it takes a lot of courage to make it through what happened to her and everything after that; seriously she cannot catch a break.

On the other hand, a lot of the time with the other protagonist, Valek, you don’t always know where he stands. At the beginning I didn’t expect Yelena and Valek to get together in a million years even though I’d heard bloggers gushing over him. So let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised. It turns out that he is another variation of the hard on the outside soft on the inside male characters (which I love) but he is amazingly unique leaving all the other male characters in the dust. Janco and Ari who are side characters are great themselves, a little one-sided but still great. However I think I have found a new favourite male protagonist/book boyfriend in Valek.

A warning though, is that the romance is not even close to the main focus of this book, and is instead an extra to satisfy readers who like a little romance in an otherwise action-packed book. Therefore it should not be read because of it; especially since it doesn’t come to light until a little over halfway through the book.

The world, which is made of districts and from a version of the past is simple to grasp but complicated to truly understand, because of the leaders who all have their own agendas and Maria V. Snyder writes of a beautiful but scandalous tale where just about no-one is as how you originally perceived.
Favourite Quotes:
“You look stunning,” I blurted. Mortified, I blushed as a rush of heat spread through my body. I must have swallowed more brandy than I’d realized.”

“Trusting is hard. Knowing who to trust, even harder."

“Yelena, you’ve driven me crazy. You’ve caused me considerable trouble and I’ve contemplated ending your life twice since I’ve known you.” Valek’s warm breath in my ear sent a shiver down my spine.
“But you’ve slipped under my skin, invaded my blood and seized my heart.”
“That sounds more like a poison than a person,” was all I could say. His confession had both shocked and thrilled me.
“Exactly,” Valek replied. “You have poisoned me.”