Thursday, 26 February 2015

Review: Atlantis Rising by Gloria Craw (DNF)

Atlantis Rising

I am different. I have always been different, but no one can know or my life will be in danger. So I hide in plain sight, wearing drab clothes and thick glasses and trying to be invisible. I’m so good at hiding, no one has ever noticed me. Until Ian…the mysterious and oh-so-cute boy I know I need to avoid.

Now I have been seen. And more terrifying still, I am wanted—by those who would protect me and those who would destroy everything and everyone I love. But if they’re all terrified about who I am, wait until they see what I can do…

I really desperately wanted to love Atlantis Rising, but unfortunately it just didn't do much for me. In fact, I tried so hard to get into it over the past month but I had to just admit that it was not for me - not at all. I managed to push through to about half way through the book before I gave up and skimmed the last half. It's difficult because I so don't want to DNF this book, but I don't want to review a book in full when I haven't read it in full.

I feel like so many characters were thrown at us in the start and the plot seemed very rushed that I feel like I was left behind at the start. However, despite the rushed start the writing felt very simplistic and long winded. I just couldn't find anything to get a hold on, which isn't a great start for me.

I can't really say much more - if you like cliche paranormal (and that isn't necessarily a bad thing) - this is a book for you to try. For me though, it wasn't really my thing.

Overall Rating: DNF

Book released 6th January 2015 by Entangled Teen
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Review: A Work of Art by Melody Maysonet

A Work of Art

Shy, artistic Tera can't wait to attend a prestigious art school in France to prove to her famous artist father that she can make something of herself. But Tera's hopes for the future explode when the police arrest her dad for an unspeakable crime. Her father's arrest must be a mistake, so Tera goes into action, sacrificing her future at art school to pay for his defense. Meanwhile, she falls head over heels for Joey, a rebel musician who makes her feel wanted and asks no questions about her past. Joey helps Tera forget her troubles, but he brings a whole new set of problems to Tera's already complicated life. Then, to make matters worse, as her relationship with Joey deepens and as her dad's hotshot lawyer builds a defense, fractures begin to appear in Tera's childhood memories--fractures that make her wonder: could her father be guilty? And whether he's guilty or innocent, can she find a way to step out of the shadows of her father's reputation and walk free? Can she stop him, guilty or innocent, from tainting the only future she ever wanted?

A Work of Art was an interesting read, but I didn't feel that it was terribly unforgettable. It was gripping as I read it, but now that I come to review it I realise that it wasn't the most gripping, memorable book in the world.

That being said, I did enjoy it. Maysonet's writing is raw as she delivers this story which is not the easiest to tell. The story sits in the middle of something which is not furious and angry and not forgiving and simple. The story is one which takes no sides, even though it is clear to the reader that Tera's father is guilty, we don't get angry at Tera's blindness of the matter because she isn't oblivious. She has just accepted things that she shouldn't have accepted. The premise is gritty and it is delivered well and Tera's story is one that I loved to follow.

I did feel like Tera accepted things too quickly at the end - it did warrant more stages of guilt and denial, however I think the ending needed to be quick.

Overall, A Work of Art was a great, gripping read but it isn't something that I will remember in the long term. It delivers a strong message and delivers it well, but it wasn't the most poignant and strong of all reads. 
Overall Rating: C-

Book released 1st March by Merit Press
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Monday, 23 February 2015

Review: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2)
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

2016. 2016! That is how long I have to wait for book 3 of this series. Where is the freaking justice. Why do I choose to start incomplete series and let my whole entire life revolve around that series and then have my hopes and dreams dashed when I have to wait a unfair amount of time for the third book. Marie Rutkoski, you are not human, nobody human could write a book as awesome as The Winner's Crime, so if you are a robot or an alien from the planet Write and you have super awesome writing skills, why can't you write superhumanely fast?

None of that top paragraph makes sense does it? Oh well...

But seriously, in my review of The Winner's Curse I stated that I was worried that book two wasn't going to live up to my standards. I was so worried that it was going to be a victim of second book syndrome, but that was definitely not the case. Actually, I think I may have enjoyed this one more than the first (if that is even possible). It was full of intrigue, full of passion, full of meetings and misunderstandings and tactics and... well, it was just full of awesome.

Arin and Kestrel spend this whole book dancing around each other, which make the parts where they are together so much tenser, because tense is the only word for it. Their relationship here is nowhere near romantic, it's all need and regrets and disgust and I just could not get enough of it. Seriously, this book ended on the worst cliffhanger ever and I need book three because if  Arin and Kestrel don't get their well needed happy ended  I swear I might cry and give up reading forever.

I seriously don't think I have shipped anything this hard in a very long time.

Marie Rutkoski is an amazing author and she really brings this series to life. I cannot wait to see how she concludes this series. Just wow. This book left me breathless. 

Overall Rating: A+

Book released 12th March 2015 by Bloomsbury Children
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
It is so very rare for me to finish a book and immediately want to read the second in the series. Usually I like to switch between series and genres, but as soon as I finished The Winner's Curse I immediately started The Winner's Crime, which I got as an eGalley from NetGalley a few days ago. It's weird, because I hadn't actually had massive expectations. I had been let down by The Shadow Society, Rutkoski's last YA offering, and overlooked this one for a while.

I nearly made a serious mistake.

Honestly it is so rare for me to love a book as much as I loved The Winner's Curse. Don't be nervous because of the girly dressy cover because Kestrel was an amazing character. She isn't the world's best fighter, but she is sly and tactical and wow, she was just a fantastic character to follow. Arin was also amazing, because he wasn't the typical doting YA man, he has his own agenda, he is almost a bad guy and the end gave me such mixed feels because of what he does and how ruthless he is. That being said, I loved the two of them together and I really feel like this is the start of a romance which is neither predictable or one hundred percent good. I cannot wait to read more about them.

The story gripped me pretty quickly. Despite the slow start, the writing was so good that I read on and it really did pick up soon. The political side of things could have used more expansion, however when books get too political I tend to lose interest so it worked for me. 

Ugh I could gush and gush, because that's what I feel like doing. But my time could be spent doing much better things, like reading the second book RIGHT NOW.

Guys, seriously. This may be one of the best books I will read this year, you can quote me on that.

Overall Rating: A+

Book released 3rd July 2015 by Bloomsbury UK
Book purchased by myself

Friday, 20 February 2015

Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

My Heart and Other Black Holes
Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner. 

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

This was a great read that really dragged me in and had me feeling for all of the characters, but off the bat I need to say that I never really connected the way other reviewers seem to have. I was expecting a soul-wrenching, life-changing kind of book and in that way I feel like this book fell short. However, it was a good, emotional read and I would have really thoroughly enjoyed it if my expectations hadn't been so bleeding high.

Aysel was the type of character that everyone can relate too. She is going through a tough time, struggles to talk to anybody, she's struggling her way through life with the thought that in a matter of time it will all be over. Roman was another character who was so imperfect that he shone through, I loved him even though he was selfish and unempathetic. Their story is woven with sadness and dark humor and I absolutely adored Jasmine Warga's writing style - flawless.

The story itself had a lot of unfulfilled potential - I felt that we could have had some big, revealing moment where we find out about Aysel's past, but instead it sort of comes ot in bits of pieces which mean that it doesn't seem as important as it is. Everything seems to be written in this lyrical, closed-off way which helps us get inside Aysel and Roman's heads, but makes it hard for us to really get gripped.

Don't get me wrong, My Heart and Other Black Holes was a great read. I did enjoy it and I think that Jamine Warga's writing style is amazing, she built fantastic, relatable characters and wrote them in a gorgeous way. That being said, I feel like this book could have been much more. it didn't touch me in the way I had really hoped for, so I can't give this book tha 'A' rating it really deserves.

Overall Rating: B

Book released 10th February 2015 by Balzer+Bray
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, 19 February 2015

CALLING ALL BLOGGERS: Your opinions needed

About a year ago, I started a weekly feature on my blog which featured blogger tips and tricks. You can see the existing posts here:

So far, I have done guides on what ARCs are, how to request them, how to use NetGalley and Edelweiss and how to go about DNF and negative review. What I was trying to do was put together a comprehensible guide addressing all aspects of book blogging, not just talking about my opinion but also talking to authors, publishers and especially other bloggers to get their opinion.

Then I went on a semi-involuntary hiatus and have only just got back.

Now I am looking to pick this feature back up, and I need your help!

Here are the topics I want to look at in the next few weeks:
  • How to format a book review.
  • How to stay organised when running a book blog and having a life.
  • What makes a good blog?
  • How important is social networking when running a book blog?
  • Reading slumps, what they are and how to escape them?

And as well as putting my own opinions out there, I want your thoughts on these topics, so below is a list of questions. If you could answer even just one of these, I would be very happy. Please also make sure I can access your blog so I can link to you in the post.

1. What do you think makes a good book review? Format and structure wise as well as any 'turn offs' in book reviews you may have.

2. Bloggers, do you schedule your reviews? How do you keep on top of your TBR to review pile? Do you list? Etc.

3. How often do you blog, how often do you want to blog. Does real life keep you from blogging as much as you would like to?

4. For you, what makes a good blog design? What makes a bad blog design?

5. What do you think should be the most visible things on a blog?

6. How often do you social network (for your blogging, not personal).

7. Do you feel like social networking benefits you as a blogger? Why?

8. When is the last time you had a reading slump? How long did it last and how did you get out of it?

9. Is it important to you that reading stays something fun for you?

Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonne

The Testing (The Testing, #1)

Every year, the United Commonwealth invites top graduates from each colony to participate in The Testing. Successful candidates will go on to the University and help the government work to rebuild our war-stricken world. This process is not optional.
Disclaimer: The United Commonwealth is not responsible for candidates' psychological or physical heath during The Testing.

The Testing is the type of book that is always going to be a good read for me. It has all of the things that I love in dystopian world books, but it also has the touch of originality that I really appreciate. Now, I'm not going to say this was the most innovative or original read in the world, because the Divergent/Hunger Games/Battle Royale influence is definitely there, but I think that the dystopian genre is so well tried and tested these days that it is so hard to find anything original, and if you want an action-packed, psychological adventure style dystopian, like this is, there is no way to avoid similarities to well-known books. 

So yeah, this book is similar to other books in the genre, but it was also gripping and exciting. I read it in one sitting and couldn't bear to put it down. Cia was a strong character and I really appreciated that - to start with I thought Tomas was a little flaky but towards the end we learn some things about him that make him stand out as a stronger character. It wasn't until the very end of the book that I started to support their developing relationship, which is strange for me since usually I get dragged into romance very quickly.

That being said, we don't see a whole lot of Tomas/Cia interaction for much of the first book, and what we do see is holding hands (seriously, there is a lot of "Tomas took my hand", seriously Cia!). Thankfully there is very little romantic competition so we have (so far) avoided the inevitable love triangle.

The plot was gripping, I was dragged in from the first chapter, through Cia's hopes that she would be picked for the Testing. Then I was even further gripped when her father delivered the all-is-not-as-it-seems speech and by the time they reached the university I was hooked. From there it was a mixture of heart pounding tension and action until the very last page, I loved it.

Overall, The Testing stood up to the hype and whilst it sin't the most original YA dystopian around, it definitely kept me gripped. A heart-pounding thrill ride of a book, I'm almost nervous to read the second one as this was so good!

Overall Rating: A-

Book released 1st August 2014 by Templar
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review