Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Review: Elora of Stone - Jaime Lee Mann

Elora of Stone by Jaime Lee Mann
Children's Adventure Fantasy

My Rating : {★★★☆☆}
Published December 2nd 2014 by Blue Moon Publishers
Source : Blue Moon Publishers via NetGalley

Four-year-old Asher Caine vanishes while playing near the woods one day with his twin sister Ariana. Eventually, his family believes him to be dead. In the Kingdom of Falmoor, twins are cursed. Ever since the evil sorcerer Larque turned the good witch Elora to stone, all twins in the Kingdom are doomed to be separated, either through death or mysterious disappearances.

Now about to turn thirteen, Ariana learns that her brother is alive, and she must find him in order to save Falmoor. With their magic blood and powerful bond, the Caine twins must release Elora from her stone imprisonment. Only then will Larque be stopped from spreading darkness throughout the kingdom.

Will the twins find each other in time? Can they save Falmoor from evil and remove the curse of the twins forever?

Actual rating 2.5 stars

For the most part this was not a bad book - it just wasn't anything to rave about. I was wanting something a little more complex - not in plot per se but rather in the writing style and diction: everything was a little too simplistic even for this book being aimed at middlegrade readers.

The plot in itself was not a bad one and in fact, told in the right way this story could have been extraordinary. Unfortunately it was flat - there was no intricate foreshadowing or ah-ha! moments and no sense of a great atmosphere being built even though we have everything required in the story itself.

It was a purely expository narrative and I think even younger readers enjoy using their imagination and gleaning little bits of information here and there as the author drops tid-bits along the way. But here, using both third person and first person narratives in the present tense we only seem to get given what little information we require to build the plot the author wishes us to know and what should have been a 'twist' at the end is actually far too expected and underwhelming. The final 15% of the book is a massive info dump explaining the entire plot and motives that have come before.

If you are wanting to read this book to your children I would recommend reading this yourself first and deciding if this story is for you. It's difficult to provide an age rating as each child is so individual and it really depends on what they can deal with emotionally. I think I would have enjoyed this as a young girl as it has a fairy-tale like quality with pixies, fairies and magic and adventure.

I would like to continue the series to see if the writing style improves and grows along with the story.

Into Coraira (Legend of Rhyme #2)→
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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Review: These Dark Wings - John Owen Theobald

These Dark Wings by John Owen Theobald
Young Adult Historical Fiction
My Rating : {★★★☆☆}

Published February 11th 2016 by Head of Zeus
Source - Head of Zeus via Netgalley
After her mother is killed in the Blitz and her father in the North Sea, 12-year-old Anna Cooper is sent to live with an uncle she has never met - the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London.

Amid the Tower's old secrets and hidden ghosts, the ravens begin to disappear and Anna must brave the war-torn city to find them.

With Nazi forces massing on the other side of the Channel, the fate of Britain might be at stake, for an ancient legend foretells that Britain will fall if the ravens ever leave the Tower.

This is written as a first person narrative in present tense. I have struggled to find a present tense narrative that has really been written well and the only books I have ever really been able to get past this and fully immerse myself in without thinking about it has been The Hunger Games series.

In a book about a young girl orphaned in WWII that doesn't have a compelling plot, you should want to build some very complex characters with which to build your novel upon and using present tense is really not conducive to building in-depth and complex characters. Instead there are a lot of trivial details that don't actually add anything to the plot.

This is a historical fiction aimed at younger readers but it does include a lot of actual history and, to the best of my knowledge, accurate facts from the time. This is the reason I upped my rating to three stars because I actually enjoyed the historical part of this story - the rationing, the Blitz, the legend of the ravens themselves. These details were truly interesting. However for the most part I feel that while this book had such a promising premise everything just fell short.

I couldn't connect with the characters, I didn't enjoy the attempts at intrigue and there just wasn't enough atmosphere built for book that should have been some parts exciting, some parts terrifying.

It is a short enough read though and for the most part the writing is easy to get through. Maybe I just missed the entire point of this book. If you love historical fiction and books about WWII I'm sure you will enjoy this more than I did and maybe you will find something that I missed? If so, let me know!
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It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Monday 29th August


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date and is a great chance to interact and of course to add to your TBR list (because it's never long enough!). 

Oops! Late again to the Monday round up! I blame travelling overseas with a two year old! Everything is suffering - my reading, my sleep schedule, my reviewing and obviously my blogging! Sorry for that. Not long now and I'll be back to my normal schedule.

What I read last week:

Lady Midnight - Cassandra ClareThese Dark Wings - John Owen Theobald
Poison - Adrienne Woods13185316

I managed to get through the Epic Reads #ReadingDecathlon (ten in ten!) by reading a number of short stories and Novellas.

My final count was
Novels : 3
Novellettes/Novellas : 2
Short Stories : 5
Total read - 10!!!

I haven't managed to finish the reviews - I'm still left with These Dark Wings but I'll try to complete it and post this week.

What I am currently reading:


I'm about halfway through Elora of Stone and I'm still plodding along with Outlander which I'm really enjoying at the moment so I hope to be able to find more time to read it, although I still have a number of ARCs to get through and I like to concentrate on those.

Up next:


I've been excited about this one since I saw Alyssa's Review over at The Eater of Books and I saw it available on Netgalley and couldn't help myself but to press Request and it wasn't long before I was reading an acceptance email! I'll be reading this one ASAP both to get the review out as soon as I can and because I'm just really looking forward to reading this one. 

Falling Kingdoms is one from deep in my TBR pile that I keep telling myself I will read. I've actually checked it out of the library twice now and still haven't got to it! But I;m promising myself this time will be the one and I am going to pick it up!

What are you reading this week?
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Sunday, 28 August 2016

Review: Lady Midnight - Cassandra Clare


Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
My Rating : {★★★★☆}

Young Adult Fantasy
Published March 8th 2016
In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.

This was a great addition to the Shadowhunter universe.

I love the world that Clare has built, and I love that she is continuing to build upon it. It's hard to be impartial here because I have read EVERYTHING else and I know the history of the Shadowhunters. It's like I lived through the Magister's Clockwork Army, the Dark War and the Cold Peace. I've loved so many of her beautiful characters and I've rooted for so many of her ships.

I really, truly love the way that Clare treats all of her characters. Everyone is important to her and is so well developed. It's not easy to keep up with all the Blackthorns and this large cast of characters in this book - and yet each of them is an individual with their own unique voice and own unique arc and development.

Because of this wonderful way that each character becomes special to the reader, I am still incredibly attached to characters from the previous series and so the reappearance of them and catching up with some of them is so nostalgic and each mention of them is significant to my life.

In this new series I particularly love the character of Emma Carstairs and have found myself drawn to her ever since she was introduced in City of Heavenly Fire. I love her relationship with Julian and I love the way that the Blackthorns have managed to stay as a family unit even though they have suffered some critical losses and certainly faced unlikely odds.

I also have always loved the Parabatai relationship. It's something both rare and awe-inspiring. But to play with my feelings on this relationship and bring Julian and Emma into it was just....... Amazing.

Entreat me not to leave thee,
Or return from following after thee—
For whither thou goest, I will go,
And where thou lodgest, I will lodge.
Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.
The Angel do so to me, and more also,
If aught but death part thee and me.

And it came to pass... that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul... Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

This book was beautiful and tragic and heart wrenching in all the right ways I can't really write anymore without being horrifyingly spoilery because there is just too much I want to discuss here. But all I can say is that I hope that Clare's 'true love always comes out on top' streak holds with this series.

“There is nothing more important than love. And no law higher.”
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Thursday, 25 August 2016

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two - J.K. Rowling


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling
Young Adult Fantasy Fiction
Published July 31st 2016 by Little, Brown UK

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

My Rating : {★★★★☆}

How do I even choose a number of stars for this? I think whatever I put it's almost irrelevant.

I was so scared when I heard about this latest instalment being released into the Harry Potter universe - I didn't want to ruin something that was just so perfect and I'm so glad that this was a script and not a novel because it was completely different and complimentary.

This play was completely charming, nostalgic and fun and I loved it.

I can see where a lot of fans have problems though and I can see why there are so many conflicted reviews of this release. I guess it is what you were expecting/wanting from this 8th Harry Potter book.

I had a lot of issues with the plot - it was definitely not as well thought out as the original books and I found a lot of things questionable. I also had some issues with the characters - I know this is set 19 years later and the characters that we knew and loved have all grown and changed but I sometimes felt as though they were no longer the wonderful complex characters we spent ten years growing up with.

But this is a script and is meant to be seen on stage which would create an entirely different atmosphere for the audience. I mean, it was entirely impressive that the dialogue was so well written that it could read like a book and that we are able to dive back into the world of Hogwarts and witchcraft and wizardry.

I laughed and I cried, I met new characters that I fell in love with and I caught up with so many old characters that I hated reaching the last page. I definitely want to see this one on stage - now to book the tickets and get to London!
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Monday, 22 August 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 22nd August 2016


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date and is a great chance to interact and of course to add to your TBR list (because it's never long enough!). 

Hi everyone! I hope you all have a fantastic week ahead. Still travelling here and I'm currently doing it alone with a two year old, so blogging is a little tricky! 

I've been doing the Epic Reads #ReadingDecathlon for the past 4 days. I'm only 3 books down though so I have some catching up to do! 

What I read last week:

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I finally got to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! My review will be up this week. I'm not even sure what to say about it but I did enjoy it a lot. 

Venom is a Dragonian Novelette (I read this series in June after getting the first book from Netgalley) and The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story published in 1892 and is about a woman's descent into madness and is a protest against the medical and professional oppression against women at the time. I will not be posting full reviews on these but I'm glad that I picked them up, particularly The Yellow Wallpaper as this is an eye opening and creepy little story that is well worth the time. 

What I am currently reading:


I didn't exactly read in order this last week (because...... Harry Potter! Need I say more?) so I managed to finish my 'Up Next' and last weeks 'Current Reads' are still on the same shelf. I'm just over halfway through Lady Midnight and I'm loving it! These Dark Wings was a slightly slow started for me but I'm actually thoroughly enjoying it now that I'm about 30% through.

Up next:

I'll be reading Elora of Stone next on my list. It's one that I was contacted about via Netgalley and I'm excited to give it a try. 

What are you reading this week?
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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Review: And I Darken - Kiersten White


And I Darken by Kiersten White

Young Adult / Historical Fiction / Retelling

Published June 28th 2016 by Delacorte Press

Rating : {★★★☆☆}

From Goodreads:
NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets. Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion. But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point. From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

Take yourself back to the Ottomans just before the rise of the Ottoman Empire - before they conquered Constantinople and this is where our story begins.

Imagine if Vlad the Impaler had been a female - not allowed to inherit, not considered important or worthy other than to be used as a political pawn; a gamepiece to marry off or hold hostage to your best advantage - image how difficult it must have been for her to fight and sacrifice for Romania. There you have our anti-heroine.

Imagine ruthless ambition, impossible love, heartbreak, betrayal and political intrigue.

It sounds next to perfect, right?

I don't even know what happened. I opened this book full expecting to LOVE it. In fact, the first couple of chapters were so gritty and compelling that I was already raving about it! And then... I'm not sure. Somewhere along the line I fell off the 'And I Darken' wagon.

I do hate it when books compare themselves/are compared to other books - this one says it reads like Game of Thrones and I just can't see it. Yes, both are brutal in their own way, but I truly could not reconcile the two.

There are so many wonderful parts to this book - so many things to love.

I enjoyed all of the characters a lot - they were all well developed and you got a real sense of who they were and what they were made of. There was a lot of information that could be gleaned off minuscule observations. The political stratagems were also brilliantly written.

I connected with Lada on all the right levels. I truly had no idea how deep I was willing to follow her character down the rabbit hole before wondering where along the way I lost my innocence. This book is vicious in all the right ways.

This book is also complex, with so many strands interwoven it can be difficult to keep track of. This is a good thing though! The setting and retelling of our history feels authentic and well researched. There's a wonderful use and description of religions and this is not done in a preachy way. It's all non-judgemental on the part of the author. There's also a fantastic integration of different sexual orientations.

Now for the cons: There are some pacing issues - the book for me was great at the beginning and really picked back up at the end, but there were a lot of slow patches, particularly all of the middle. This was probably around the time our three main characters hit puberty and there was a lot of brooding and angst.

I really couldn't understand the fascination with Mehmed but perhaps we are supposed to feel this way? The romance in this very strange love triangle felt genuine and was well written on all accounts, but I just couldn't get behind it. Was it because I know a little of this history and I know of The Night Attack? I'm not sure. But I am interested to see what White does with this and how things are portrayed.

One thing I can say for sure that I did not like about this book was Lada's complete and unwavering disdain for women, even though she is one. She never really came to terms with this fact. Powerful women and the power of being a woman is presented to her over and over again and she still fails to accept that she is one of us. If you're going to rewrite history and make Vlad the Impaler a woman, make her a total kickass one that can celebrate that fact sometimes! Maybe this is a setup for character growth in the future books in the series, who knows, but personally I like to see a little growth in each instalment.

There were just so many elements that I enjoyed but I'm conflicted about how things came together. Yes, I will continue the series and I'm looking forward to reading more.

"Souls and thrones are irreconcilable."
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Waiting on Wednesday: Ever the Hunted - Erin Summerill

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I am featuring one that I'm sure a few of you are already excited to read. Kickass bow wielding heroines may be heavily used YA trope these days, but I'm still in and have high hopes for this one.

24846331Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms #1)


From Goodreads:

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer. However, it’s not so simple. The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.
Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms, #1)
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Sunday, 14 August 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 15th August 2016


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date and is a great chance to interact and of course to add to your TBR list (because it's never long enough!). 

Happy Monday everyone! It's a short one from me as I'm away overseas. I'm still reading and reviewing as much as I can though and I hope you are all well and that you have a great week.

What I read last week:

Rated  {★★★☆☆} 

This one was actually really enjoyable, It had some issues for me, hence the 3.5 star rating I eventually settled on, but I would recommend trying it!

Rated  {★★★☆☆} 

I'm pretty shocked to only be rating this one 3 stars. I fully expected a five star read. Review is still to follow.

What I am currently reading:


I've been waiting to read Lady Midnight for a while so I'm thrilled to finally have this one on my Current Reads list! I haven't actually opened it yet, but I'm fairly convinced I'm going to love it!

These Dark Wings is a NetGalley read that I requested last week and it's a WW2 Historical Fiction set in London. It sounds so interesting and absorbing so I'm also looking forward to sinking into this world. 

Up next:

Guys! I finally get to read this one! No more studiously ignoring EVERYONE else's reviews! No more wondering and waiting! It's here! Eeeeeeeee!!!!
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Friday, 12 August 2016

Review: Immortal Writers - Jill Bowers


Immortal Writers by Jill Bowers
Rating : {★★★☆☆}

Young Adult Fantasy
Source: Netgalley

From Goodreads:
Young up-and-coming author Liz McKinnen has no idea that her life is about to change forever when she comes home from her first book tour. When she's kidnapped and told by her captors that she has to kill her fantasy book's antagonist, she thinks that she's fallen into the hands of crazy, dangerous fans... until her antagonist sends a real, fire-breathing dragon after her. Liz is quickly initiated into the Immortal Writers, a group of authors from throughout time whose words have given them eternal life, and whose prose is so powerful that it's brought stories over from the Imagination Field into the Reality Field. As Liz meets authors such as William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen, she has to learn how to control magic, fight dragons, and face her own troubled past before her power-hungry villain takes over the world. Will she survive the ultimate battle against the dragon lord whom she created?

I feel like I've been hitting a lot of 3 star 'meh' reads lately. But this one (apart from the first 30%) wasn't like that. I really did enjoy this. It's still a 3.5 star read, but 3.5 entertaining and highly enjoyable stars.

I just love this concept. I mean, seriously - "authors from throughout time whose words have given them eternal life, and whose prose is so powerful that it's brought stories over from the Imagination Field into the Reality Field." What bibliophile is not going to jump at this!?

What I also found likeable about this it that Bowers has written a book about a book (and I've read a few of these lately!) and she's done it well. We get to see the worlds of both of these books, and both are well developed and believable.

The main character's world of Shethara is richly imagined and described as are the characters from these books. In fact, Liz's books are something I would love to read myself. The world of the Immortal Writers was also really well developed and thought out and (of course) I loved the characters that Bowers introduced here. Shakespeare, Hemingway, Roald Dahl, Tolkien!

This quote in particular made me wish I was right there in the castle:

“Chocolate?” Liz repeated. “Not exactly the hors d’oeuvres I was expecting for a fancy party like this.”
“It’s not just any chocolate,” Hemingway said. “Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka made it.”
As I mentioned I had a few issues with the first 30%. There were some info dumps which could have been handled better and too much convenient special snowflakiness for our MC.

On learning to use magic:
"The fact that you were already able to throw magic at me means that you’re unusually proficient, so it probably won’t take you very long to master this."

On learning to sword fight:
"I’m impressed with how quickly you picked up the techniques I showed you. You just need practice."

There's a lot of action in this book - training and battle scenes. Mostly I thought this was a good thing and it was easy to visualise exactly what was happening. I also enjoyed the different fantasy world's colliding at some points and if you're even remotely a Tolkien fan you will enjoy the use of his works here. Clearly Bowers is a Tolkien fan, and it's highly possible she knows elvish fluently!

I wasn't particularly a fan of the romance in this book, but each to their own. The setup felt too predictable and even after things in general picked up after the first 30% the romance still made me roll my eyes a lot.

While it was definitely entertaining and the premise original, I did find the book predictable and there wasn't anything that really surprised me. So for this, and the first 30% not being as good as the rest of the book I stand by my 3.5 stars.

“We’re all just stories,” Liz said, looking down at him. “Wonderful or horrible, we’re just words and actions and plots and characters. Just stories... "
Read more »

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Three Dark Crowns - Kendare Blake

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm highlighting another book from BUZZ BOOKS 2016: YA Fall/Winter edition. It's been on my TBR since I read about it and is about to be released in September. I haven't actually read anything by Kendare Blake before but she's on my TBR pile.

This one sounds particularly fascinating. There's three sister princesses (triplets) who are all in line to become Queen, but it's not just a matter of becoming the Queen - it's a fight. The last one standing is Queen crowned. And while two of the sisters haven't grown into their powers yet the other is rumoured to be crazy. It sounds dark and twisted and a little bit creepy. I can't wait!

Expected publication: September 20th 2016

Three Dark Crowns (Untitled #1) 

by Kendare Blake

Young Adult Fantasy

From Goodreads:

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.
Three Dark Crowns (Untitled, #1)

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?
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Monday, 8 August 2016

Review: Replica - Lauren Oliver


Replica by Lauren Oliver
Rating : {★★★☆☆} 

Young Adult Fantasy Sci-Fi
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals since she was born. 'A sickly child', her lonely life to date has revolved around her home, school and one best friend, Alice. But when she discovers her father's connection to the top secret Haven research facility, currently hitting the headlines and under siege by religious fanatics, Gemma decides to leave the sanctuary she's always known to find the institute and determine what is going on there and why her father's name seems inextricably linked to it. Amidst the frenzy outside the institute's walls, Lyra - or number 24 as she is known as at Haven - and a fellow experimental subject known only as 72, manage to escape. Encountering a world they never knew existed outside the walls of their secluded upbringing , they meet Gemma and, as they try to understand Haven's purpose together, they uncover some earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls forever...

I really did enjoy this book and I found it to be a very entertaining and thought provoking read. but there's just a few issues that I had that is keeping this rating at only a 3 star.

The concept of having two interlinking books and being able to literally flip from one book to the other was fantastic, and I appreciate how difficult it was to ensure that both timelines flowed well independent of one another as well as being able to join cohesively.

I read Replica alternating between the two stories, and I think I got more out of it this way as there are slight reveals between chapters that connect both stories. Little bits of foreshadowing and insight that really help build the plot. If you want to read one book and then the next, you can do that too as both books have their own full arc and can stand alone, independent of the other but together they give you a much richer world. I would recommend always starting with 'Lyra' - that's just the way I found it best.

It's a completely ambitious format. While making these two narratives revolve on the same timeline and making sure the reader is able to flip between books, Oliver was successful in producing two (three?) comprehensive stories, but that doesn't mean to say that these stories didn't suffer a little in the process. I think if I hadn't read the books alternating between chapters I would have found each one lacking somewhere. Keeping each narrative on the same timeline to allow for the alternating chapters meant that sometimes things felt rushed on one side or slow on the other. That's not to say it wasn't successfully done and a lot of my enthusiasm for this book comes from the format and cleverness of it.

The main characters of Lyra and Gemma were written well enough. The secondary characters I found to be a one dimensional and I didn't connect with them well at all which disappointed me. The plot is somewhat predictable and could have been a lot meatier in both separate narratives, but overall was still enjoyable.

What I did truly enjoy was the way that Oliver manages to make the reader question the way the world is and the ethics of the human race. This was stimulating and stirring and has stuck with me long after I closed the book.

Monsters weren’t made, at least not by birth or fate or circumstance. Monsters chose to be monsters. That was the only terrible birth, the kind that happened again and again, every day.

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8th August 2016


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date and is a great chance to interact and of course to add to your TBR list (because it's never long enough!). 

And it's Monday again! How does that happen every single week? Last week was an extremely busy work week for me and this week I am off overseas for a few weeks but hopefully I will be able to keep up with the reading and manage to get some more reviews out!

In the meantime - here's my #IMWAYR roundup for last week.

What I read last week:

Cover: Sun and Moon - Desiree Williams
Rated : {★★★☆☆}

This one was a lovely book and a fast and amiable read. If you are looking for something light and quick and full of happily ever afters this is a good one! My review was posted last week.

Cover: Replica - Lauren Oliver
Rated : {★★★☆☆}
I received this ARC last week (thanks NetGalley and Hachette Australia!) and I just had to get started on it ASAP. Not only did I want to get it done and the review up prior to publication, but I already had this one on my TBR and I was looking forward to reading it!
It's a difficult one to read digitally as the ARC was a 'ready to print' PDF and one half of the book is upside down! However I did manage to read the book as I would have had I been holding a physical copy - alternating chapters between books. I'm thrilled that I did - I think it gave me far better perspective. I rated it 3 stars when I closed it but I'm still considering increasing this to 4 stars. I just can't decide. When I publish my review I will make a final decision.

What I am currently reading:


Still working on 'And I Darken' - unfortunately I've just had to keep setting it aside in favour of books I need to review. Hopefully I can get it off my 'Current Reads' shelf soon. 

Immortal Writers I will pick up tonight and read a few chapters. Looking forward to this one!

Up next:

I have been wanting to read this one since it was released in March. In fact - I've been waiting for it's release since October 2013 (when I first added it to my GR shelf)! I held off because I wanted to finish the 'Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy' novellas and then, when I finally did that I just got too busy with other books. But enough is enough - I've heard too many good things and I love this world so I am going to pick this one up next. 
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Friday, 5 August 2016

Flashback Friday: Matilda - Roald Dahl

Flashback Friday: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
Flashback Friday celebrates books from our past - anything published more than 5 years ago counts! 

It is hosted by Swoony Boys Podcast & Fiction Fare and I love it because it's not only the new releases that deserve our attention. 

You guys - who HASN'T read a Roald Dahl? His books are just amazing and he is/was always one of my favourite authors and he created some of my most beloved childhood books. 

Matilda in particular was a favourite of mine when I was growing up - she loved reading; she was a genius; she had terrible parents and yet managed to be an incredible person and she stood up for who and what she believed in. 

Have you read Matilda? What did you think?




If you have read Matilda and you were a fan here's a link to a quick quiz on the book. 

Matilda Quiz

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Thursday, 4 August 2016

Review: Sun and Moon - Desiree Williams

Sun and Moon by Desiree Williams Cover

Sun and Moon by Desiree Williams

Young Adult Fantasy

Rating : {★★★☆☆}
Source: Xpresso Book Tours

There is nothing in life that eighteen year old Zara craves more than her freedom. Stolen from her home in Cadrebia at the age of eight, Zara has spent more years than she cared to admit as a slave to the Tankadesh courts. Her days are filled with protecting the princess, while she spends nights entertaining the king and his officials with her mastery of weapons. Any spare moment in between, she plots escape.
Yet her hopes for freedom come to a crashing halt when a stranger arrives bearing the mark of her assigned lifemate, and he threatens war if she isn’t turned over into his care. But a lifemate is not part of the plan. Her dreams, of choosing her own path and being the master of her own will, weaken as her Moon seeks to claim his Sun.
Is it possible that this stranger, with gentle blue eyes and a ready smile, didn’t come to be her new master? That there could be more to his tale?
Zara soon finds that neither her captivity nor her parents’ deaths were mere random attacks. And by returning to Cadrebia, she may have put the future of the royal line—and her Moon—in jeopardy. While Zara breathes in her first taste of freedom, her enemies move in, seeking to rob Cadrebia of its blessed prophecy.
To keep what she holds dear, Zara must rise above the pain and uncertainty to claim the lifemate assigned to her, or more than her freedom will be stolen this time. 

Actual Rating - 3.5 stars

I'm not sure where my expectations truly lay when I received this book. In truth I think I expected a lighter version of a 'Loveswept' novel and this was both more than that and less than that. This is such a wholesome story - there's no graphic sex scenes or even innuendo which is sweet and refreshing. In fact - the whole novel was sweet - perhaps a little too much so.

This is not a long book but it does manage to combine a unique fantasy world into a primarily romantic novel. It has fearless women, resilience, love, magical abilities with a healthy sprinkling of action and I thoroughly enjoyed that Williams embraced the political intrigue and power plays that come with ruling a nation and used them in her plot.

The main problem I had with this book was that everything fit just a little too well into its pigeon-hole. To make this a brilliant novel it needed more depth to the characters, more sharp edges and grit to make it more real. It needed a little more suspense and intensity instead of everything feeling a little too sugar coated.

Jaedon was a little too patient, a little too perfect and sweet and Zara was just a little bit too special. The remaining 2 of Jaedon's 4 minors just happened to find their lifemates within the pages of this book; everyone had a happily ever after.

Regardless the romance was sweet and gentle and grew believably throughout the story. The climax, although it came and went too quickly, was still satisfying.

It was just a little too fairy tale ending. But sometimes that is what you want in a book - total escapism from the real world where everything works out perfectly.

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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire - Rosamund Hodge

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm putting Bright Smoke, Cold Fire in the spotlight. I haven't yet read a Rosamund Hodge but Cruel Beauty is one of the very next on my TBR list.

Everything about this intrigues me, from the cover to the premise. This book is inspired by Romeo and Juliet - but this story begins near the end of the play and I've heard that Hodge's take on it is very interesting, so I can't wait to get my hands on this release!

Are you excited to read this too? What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Expected publication: September 27th 2016
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire (Untitled #1)

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.
The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.
Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.
Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.
Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . . 
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire (Untitled, #1)
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