Month

July 2015

The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh (Review)

the wrath and the dawn

4 Stars (4 / 5)

I couldn’t help but love this re-telling of a thousand and one nights. I have read a few versions of this fairytale and this one was my favourite.

In the kingdom of Rey there is a king who takes bride after bride, marries them, and murders them before the sun rises the following morning.
After her best friend is taken and murdered, Shahrzad decides she will get revenge and rid the world of this horrible king. She sacrifices herself and volunteers to marry him, with a plan to murder him. Meanwhile her father and Tariq, the man she loves – who were not aware of her quest, plot to save her. But all is not what it seems.

Beautifully written. Wonderfully atmospheric. I was taken into an Aladdin-like world of magic carpets and Arabian dancers. I was waiting for the genie in the bottle!

Shahrzad is feisty and funny, her handmaiden Despina was entertaining. The king Khalid was a bit of a bore, but I still liked him. And Jalal and Tariq were loveable.

I love the concept of stories within stories. My favourite parts of the book were when Shahrzad was telling Khalid the stories in an attempt to save her life. I found myself getting lost in the magic. I wish there was a bit more of that in the book.

The romance was lovely, yet somehow unsettling.
Most romance books have this intensity to them. An all consuming type of thing. The typical “I will die without you, I need you to live” dribble that makes me want to throw my book (or kindle) at the wall. However this is not how I would describe the romance in this book. The intensity was lingering in the background, but it did not detract from the story or the relationship between the characters. It was sweet and lovely, yet fierce and possessive. I loved it, yet found it frustrating at the same time. But surprisingly not in a bad way. I found myself going a bit ga ga and taken away.

As much as I wanted to give it five stars, and as much as it probably does deserve five… There was one thing that was a let down for me most of all, and it’s purely my issue, not a fault of the authors at all… And that is that it’s the first in a BLOODY SERIES!!! Is the whole world going series MAD???!!!!
I keep finding these fantastic books and then having to wait another year for the next one! What happened to someone writing A NOVEL. Full stop, the end…
I understand that the authors have an amazingly long and complex story to tell (and contracts signed and dollar signs in front of them) and I am the first to encourage they tell it. But some stories (like this one in my opinion) shouldn’t be dragged on. This was a magical tale and I absolutely dread the next one taking it downhill.

However it is worth the wait for the next one… Thoroughly recommend it!

If you enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn, you may enjoy:

Uprooted    An ember in the ashes    the darkest minds    cruel beauty

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Tangled – Emma Chase (Review)

tangled

2 Stars (2 / 5)

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about Tangled… There is a lot of fuss about this book…

Just looking at the reviews, I don’t seem to see much under 4 stars. And I see a lot of “OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS BOOK!!”

Well I didn’t love this book. I less than liked this book. Two stars for me is pretty poor, to get one it’s got to be a train wreck.

Ok what did I LIKE about this book?

The totally male POV was definitely a different perspective for the romance genre. It had it’s moments where it worked really well. Moments mind you…

It was extremely easy to read and I thought it was well written, that and the knowledge that this is the authors debut is what pushed it up to two stars for me. Yes UP to two stars.

What I hated about the book?

Drew. Yes I said it. I hated the main character! Aside from having an obvious sex addiction, he is a total moron. A completely horrible person. But of course Kate falls hopelessly in love with him… Of course…

What is it with some romance books? I love a good romance don’t get me wrong, but why do these girls who are supposed to be intelligent and self dependent, fall for these egotistical jerks? And people love reading this crap!???

When Drew first meets his love interest Kate, he had just finished getting a blow job in the bathroom of a club, from a women who he treats like garbage. Classy. Isn’t that how we all want to meet the love of our lives?

Oh but she “CHANGES” him!! He stops sleeping with anything with a pulse (eventually mind you, it takes him a fair while to stop) and wants to be with her and he gives her multiple orgasms and it’s so “ROMANTIC”….
Kate finds she is in love with him.
In the real world I think Kate would find that all she has is chlamydia.

I get it, it’s a book… A romance book. It’s not meant to be the real world. But I just can’t help but be scared for the young women reading this, who think that this is ok. That the sex crazed bad boy is going to fall hopelessly in love with them, suddenly become monogamous and live happily ever after.

And don’t even get me started on the obsessive “I want her back so bad I’m borderline stalking her at work and at home” section of the story. Cause of course that’s what any girl dreams of..?? Sigh…

Still beats 50 shades and twilight I suppose…

Do I recommend? NOPE

If you enjoyed Tangled, you may enjoy:

My Stepbrother the Groom    Search for the Truth

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An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir (Review)

An ember in the ashes

5 Stars (5 / 5)

What do you think when you hear of a book that’s just been released that was highly anticipated, and already has a goodreads rating of 4.22 after just a few days?? I automatically think “(GROAN….) A hyped up book that young people are reading and getting obsessed about, too good to be true, I’ll hate it…”. Well that is what I thought I would think about An Ember in the Ashes.

Well in this instance I am thoroughly thankful that I was wrong, and will gladly eat my slice of delicious humble pie.

I haven’t read such a wonderful book in a long time.

The empire has taken over the land and has forced its inhabitants into submission. When Laia’s brother, the last person alive whom she holds dear in this world, is kidnapped by a vicious masked warrior, she manages to flee and track down a bunch of resistant fighters. They make a deal with her that in return for them helping her brother, she has to be a spy for them in the military academy, gathering information from the commander of the academy, the greatest masked soldier who has ever lived, and who is an absolutely evil saddistic bitch. The story is told by Laia, and also Elias, a masked soldier who is about to graduate from the academy.

Now don’t let my poorly written brief synopsis of this book turn you off it. It is one of the most gripping books I have read. One of those books that you just can’t stop reading and then you find yourself looking at the time and it’s 3am!

I loved the characters. I was fearful that the characters were going to be your typical YA annoying characters that drive you batty with their incredibly stupid behaviour and dumb choices. So I was absolutely refreshed when I discovered that all of the characters had an awesome depth to them that I wasn’t expecting.
Sure, there was a love triangle… Two love triangles in fact… But they were well written and actually fit the story really well. I didn’t cringe once and it didn’t put me off in the slightest as I was so invested in the characters.

The world and atmosphere that Tahir has created is mesmerising and terrifying. I can’t really make an accurate comparison in my mind to any other books, but think “Throne of Glass” meets “Game of thrones” (both of which I enjoyed) but much more enjoyable.

I am also anticipating this book to be BIG, and would be extremely surprised if it doesn’t get the hype like such series as the hunger games or divergent etc. And well deserved too.

Loved it!

Now I’ll leave you with a quote that took my breath away…

“Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after.”

If you enjoy An Ember in the Ashes, you may enjoy:

The Threat Below    Return Once More    Melophobia    the wrath and the dawn

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The Child Thief – Brom (Review)

the child thief

5 Stars (5 / 5)

What I was expecting when I started reading The Child Thief was a Peter Pan retelling. What I wasn’t expecting was a horrifically dark and thrilling masterpiece.

This ain’t no children’s story!!! I will not be reading this one to my kids at night!
Our story, like all peter pan stories, begins at a child’s windowsill. Peter coaxes a poor child to follow him to Neverland (Avalon), with promises of taking her away from her wretched life and never grow old. But Peter is not exactly the fun loving Peter Pan in the Disney movies and children’s fairytales. There is a reason he takes the children. And Avalon is not exactly Neverland…
It is filled with evil monsters, bloodthirsty witches, flesh eating pirates, and a whole range of other terrifying creatures. There is a war in Avalon, and Peter is in the centre of it. The author does not skimp on the blood and gore. This is not a light hearted book with a happy ending. But WHAT A RIDE!

I admit I haven’t read any other peter pan retellings, or the original which apparently is itself quite dark. But Brom has created something amazing here. I would actually say this is the best fantasy novel I have ever read.

There are a wide range of characters in this book and they are all written so well and have such depth to them.
From Peter and his “lost boys”, to the murderous flesh eating captain who will stop at nothing to kill them. They all have such amazing and intricate back stories. Even the minor characters who are only fleeting, have a depth to them that the author should be commended for achieving.

Was there anything I didn’t enjoy about this book? Sometimes the book would jump back and forth between the past and present and I would lose my bearings a bit. This was a MINOR problem for me and didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story at all. Also I love maps in fantasy epics like this. But this map lacked a lot of detail for me. I’m one of these people that like a really detailed map that shows where everything is, not just the basic outline of the place. However this is obviously MY problem!

Do yourself a favour and spend a few extra dollars for the paper version of this book. The illustrations at the beginning of each chapter and in the middle of the book add a whole new depth to the book that I feel would be lost on a black and white kindle or in a digital version. There was something magical about turning each page of this book. An experience I have not had since I was a little girl marvelling over picture books of magical forests and fairies and princesses.

It wasn’t a graphic novel at all, but it almost had that feel to it, reminding me slightly of the tone of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman novels. Which I adored. So its of no surprise I enjoyed this.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all lovers of fantasy, fairytale re-tellings, and all things dark, depressing and FANTASTICALLY written!

 

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The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell (Review)

the sparrow

5 Stars (5 / 5)

I wrote this review back last year, before I wrote reviews on every book I read… I wanted to write this so that I could look back and remember why I loved this book so much. Although I don’t know if I will need a reminder. I’m sure it will stay with me.

I won’t delve too much into the synopsis, humans hear music from another planet, send team to investigate, only one survives and returns to tell the tale.

I loved the before and after layout of this book. The author did extremely well to give you only parts of the story and enabled it to come to a riveting and emotional climax that brought it all together. Finally everything becomes clear. Every horrific detail.

The characters in The Sparrow are fantastic. The development of the characters and their relationships were an absolute highlight of the book for me. My favourite character was Ann. Often I re-read the dialogue between her and other characters, letting the depth of her words sink in and resonate with my own thoughts. I found her death (even though you knew it was coming) such a sad shock. (This is not a spoiler, you know only one of them survives right at the start).

Emilio himself was such a multidimensional character. Such a difference between his former self and the broken man that returned to earth. His journey to find God is the glue that holds the story together.
I am not a religious person, yet still found his struggle to be settled in his faith extremely compelling. He had such conflicted feelings towards celibacy and his determination to stay faithful to his beliefs. His apparent loss of faith in the turmoil of the end of his time on the alien planet I found resonated with my own experiences with faith and God.
And when I discovered the source of the music… my heart DROPPED. Everything that seemed so right from the start was now horribly wrong and I felt real pity for Emilio and the humans. All they went through, for this…

Another aspect of this book which I found extremely clever and almost totally realistic was the way in which the humans came into this alien world and in some direct or indirect way, stuffed everything up. Like a comedy of errors.

I was almost put off because the book almost sounded religious, but am so glad I read it. It is not religious at all even though it deals with faith and god. This was absolutely one of my favourite books. I am excited to read the sequel but need a bit more time for this one to sit first.

 

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White Hot – Sandra Brown (Review)

white hot

5 Stars 5 Stars!!

White Hot was the first Sandra Brown book that I ever read and was the one that started my obsession with her books! To this day it remains one of my favourite books of all time.

Huff is a manipulative tycoon with the town of Destiny Louisiana in his pocket.
Sayre, Huffs estranged daughter, returns to Destiny following the death of her brother Danny. There she must confront her father, her remaining brother Chris, and the new family lawyer Beck Merchant, after there is suspicion to believe her brother was murdered. So begins Sayre’s quest to find the killer while trying to stay clear of her father.
Despite vowing to despise Beck because of her affiliation with her hated family, she finds herself drawn to him. With typical Sandra Brown style, there are many twists and turns and a touch of romance, until the ultimate conclusion – which I never saw coming!

I have read other reviews of this book saying that it is not one of Sandra Brown’s best novels, but I totally disagree. The characters that she has created in this book have moved me more than her others. Huff! What a character! I have never loved to hate a character so much! And the tension between Sayre and Beck is so palpable and fantastically written that every time I read it I get goosebumps!

Sayre’s past comes out gradually throughout the book and in the end you completely understand why she hates Huff so much and her family, and totally understand why she would distance herself from them.

Yes, I admit it does have moments where it moves slightly slowly, but even that cannot have me deducting a star from a book that means so much to me.
I must have read this book at least 20 times and it still gets me every time.

 

If you enjoy White Hot, you may enjoy:

mirror image    Kakadu Sunset    Black Hills

A Gathering of Twine (Spirals of Danu) – Martin Adil-Smith (Review)

3 Stars 3 Stars

There are three types of cheapo Amazon kindle books. Firstly is the one you regret spending 99c on because it’s just so bad you don’t make it through the whole thing or get through it painfully with your one star rating ready to dish out. The second is the average book that you are relieved you only spent 99c on, but enjoyed all the same and you are content with your purchase. And then you have the 99c books that are so wonderful that you congratulate yourself that you only spent 99c and discovered a masterpiece…

Unfortunately this is not one of those masterpieces, yet is absolutely not one of the cruddy ones. This was an enjoyable book… But I didn’t love it.

Picture this, an old man named Freeman has been writing a conclusion to a number of popular books he wrote years ago. Finally after missing deadline after deadline he takes his almost finished manuscript into his editorial office and confesses he has totally changed his viewpoint. He now believes in a creator, when his books have been totally the opposite. Unconvinced, his publisher goes through the evidence with him about this creator. And so begins this tale. It is a collection of stories, all intertwining with each other. All supposedly leading to the proof of a creator, but not in the traditional sense.

I admit It is really well written. It weaves in and out of situations and times, the characters are mostly interesting and there are so many different atmospheres in the book. It is creepy at times, other times funny or engrossing. However the next minute it drags on needlessly and you feel yourself just wanting to get through it.

I liked the mythology of it, and did get swept away in the “where does this all come from” aspect of it. I also think it’s clever that the author took real events and shaped them in a way that it fit his story.

Silly me not really researching this Amazon purchase was not a stand alone novel, and the story actually continues into another book. Not sure if it captivated me enough to read the conclusion to be honest. The need for an answer does not necessarily outweigh having to read another novel.

Although I have read some reviews of his other work and it is all well received. Perhaps another time.

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Dangerous Girls – Abigail Haas (Review)

Dangerous Girls

3 Stars (3 / 5)

I liked Dangerous Girls. Although I am not so sure I completely understand all the hype its been getting. Perhaps its because of the ending, which is a bit of a shocker…

The story is centralised around Anna, and hovers around her boyfriend Tate and her best friend Elise. Elise is discovered dead while they are all holidaying in Aruba, and Anna is imprisoned as the prime suspect… And so begins the who-done-it.
Weaving back and forth in time we discover how Anna became friends with Elise, how Anna and Tate’s relationship blossoms, how they make other friends in the circle, and ultimately leads to the reveal about Elise’s demise.

What I appreciated about this book, and I imagine what every young person appreciates as they read this, is that you can relate to the characters in some way.
Reading about her story made me reflect on my own life when I was her age. At the time when you are going through that time of your life, everything is life or death. Your friendships, your relationships, decisions on what you are going to do with your life… When you are betrayed its like you are being stabbed in the heart. When you find someone you feel so close to, you soar through the clouds. Like nothing will ever come between you. Haas did a great job of making the characters relatable in that way. These are your typical teenagers, the only difference between them is their passion led to murder! But still, reading it I could relate to events of my past and realise that when you are that age you are so fragile. Everything feels life or death. I think that was the strongest thing about the book for me. These kids could have been anyone.
I enjoyed the other characters, the evil prosecutor, the friends, the parents… They were all extremely well written.

Having so much enjoyed the characters, I am going to talk about what didn’t work for me in this book. I got a bit tired of the book jumping back and forth in time so much. Before the trial, the trial, WAY before the trial, years before the trial, the trial, before the trial… It wasn’t difficult to keep up with or anything, I just didn’t enjoy it so much.
It was also SO QUICK to get through! I literally finished it in 3 hours.

I think I need to step away from the young adult genre for a while I think. I seem to be disappointed of late.

3 stars from me ***

 

If you enjoy Dangerous Girls, you may enjoy:

the sacred lies of minnow bly

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly – Stephanie Oakes (Review)

the sacred lies of minnow bly

4 Stars (4 / 5)

Absolutely an enjoyable read. Yes I know I know, I was going to get away from Young Adult for a while… But seriously everything is Young adult right now. There is no escaping it!

Minnow escapes from a cult and is put into juvenile detention. She knows something about what happened to the cult leader, and about who set their community on fire. During her stay she is interviewed by an FBI officer who attempts to get the truth out of her. But she is not willing to share all the details. She has secrets to keep about the cult, even though she had her hands hacked off her wrists by them as a punishment. So she has to deal with life in juvie, the friendships, the enemies… All while dealing with the fact she doesn’t have hands anymore. And over time her story is relayed, about her childhood within the community, and her love for an outside boy.

What a debut by the author!! Can’t believe this is her first book! Exceptionally written, excellent characters, fantastic plot! Thoroughly engrossing!

The description of the cult and the members was eerie. Unbelievable how people could live like that and do things like that to each other. That these sorts of cults actually exist is a scary prospect.

The main character didn’t annoy me like may main characters in recent young adult books have. Yes she was only 17, but she was extremely naïve and likeable. Yet she seemed more mature from the beginning. While other main characters in recent YA books make stupid decisions and are so focused on the life or death of love, Minnow is focused on actual life or death, and the realisation that her life has been a lie, she has to learn everything again!
One of my favourite parts of the book is when she is delving into science and she begins to grasp how big the universe is. That what she was always told was tiny and finite was larger than she could even comprehend. I can relate to that AHAAAA moment.

I loved her outlook, loved her realism. Definitely one of the better YA main characters I have read about in recent times. I will absolutely be looking forward to this authors next book next year.

Although it was wonderful, I can’t give it more than 4 stars. The mystery was a bit of an anticlimax and I just didn’t feel that the book overall deserved to be on the elite 5 star list… However don’t let that discourage you from reading it! I would definitely recommend it!

4 Stars! ****

“Jude taught me what love was: to be willing to hold on to another person’s pain. That’s it.”

 

If you enjoyed The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, you may enjoy:

Heartbound    image

 

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The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken (Review)

the darkest minds

The Darkest Minds

4 Stars (4 / 5)

WOW! Great book! 4 Stars!!

Don’t know why I had never heard of this one before I began browsing on goodreads. It feels like it should be up in the popularity stakes with The Hunger Games or the Divergent series.

So, basic synopsis… The world goes a bit to crap when the majority of children start developing these psychic powers. The children are gradually taken away to camps, some escape and form gangs, and others are, well – killed…
The story is seen through Ruby’s eyes. A 16 year old girl who has been living in a camp for 6 years or so, after she developed her powers. In the camps there are different colours which represent the different type of powers that the children possess. For example the yellow kids can manipulate electricity, the blue kids can move things with their minds, and the orange and red kids, well lets just say they can do a lot more…
Ruby (classed as a green) manages to escape and meets up with a small group of kids of all different colours, and they have many dangerous adventures.

Firstly, The Darkest Minds was SO WELL WRITTEN!!! The synopsis itself made me want to potentially skip this book, special powers, teenagers… Not exactly what I like to read… But I am so glad I did! Alexandra Bracken has some talent! Great characters and character development! Extremely original story despite the not so original, basic plot… Loved the twists and turns! Intricately weaved together. Thought it was fantastic!

The characters were great. As I said I generally don’t really go for these young adult fantasy/sci fi/dystopian books, because the characters annoy the crap out of me. But the characters in this were so well imagined! Ruby, our damaged heroine was extremely likeable. Liam the handsome love interest, also somewhat damaged, was easy to route for. Chubs, the brainy, grumpy tag along was my favourite character. Loved to hate him, and then loved to like him…

Loads of excitement, adventure, action and violence!

The only thing I didn’t like about this book, was the typical 16 year old romance “How am I going to live without you?” crap that every YA book seems to be reeking with. But, I remember what it was like to be 16, and I suppose things were very much life and death back then when it came to love… And that was without it actually BEING life or death due to people chasing you and hunting you, and wanting to kill you… Still, that’s where my deduction of a star goes. If I was a teenager things would be different, I would be able to relate more and I probably would have rated it a solid 5.

Overall, read it! Its a great way to waste away a few hours and it stays with you in the background for a while after! Thoroughly enjoyed it and I will absolutely be reading the sequels.

 

If you enjoy The Darkest Minds, you may enjoy:

The Threat Below   Melophobia    image    An ember in the ashes

 

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