Monday, 10 July 2017

The Glittering Court - Book Review


The Glittering Court - Book Review
Richelle Mead
Historical Fantasy
UK Publisher: Razorbill
(The Glittering Court #1)

Synopsis:

The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian Countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the new world. But to do that, she must join the Glittering court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the new world. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin, and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise - first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

Btu no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An Attraction that, if acted on, would scandalise the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

Review:

I have always been a big fan of Richelle Mead, but for me THE GLITTERING COURT was a big let down. Although the book dazzled me in the beginning, the story soon turned into a repetitive, longwinded tangle of plots lines. I really had to force myself to read through to the end. 

When Adelaide is forced into an arranged marriage, she seizes the first opportunity to flee by taking on the name of her maid servant and joining the glittering court—a type of finishing school where young women of the working class are trained in the ways of high society—before journeying across the seas to  the new land of Adoria . There, they are guaranteed rich husbands, but Adelaide must keep her identity a secret at all costs, or she will be forced to return home to life she no longer wants.

Adelaide was a strong character but I didn't understand her motives at all.  She fled an arranged marriage for the opportunity to go to a hostile country, where another arranged marriage was waiting… only to toss all her careful plans into the wind when she falls into the arms of  a man who was by her side the whole time…

Honestly while I liked the adventurous side of this book, the story fell flat. The whole plot rode on Adelaide’s whims and fancies, and with all the twists and turns, I’m just not sure what this book was trying to be. While I did enjoy the beginning— the initial set-up and premise of the story were really strong— this story just goes on and on and toward the end, my attention was definitely wandering. 

Not only were the conflicts in the story resolved too quickly, but Adelaide never really suffered any consequences. She got everything she wanted in a nice tidy bow and as a reader, I just kept waiting for something more to happen. 

The romance at least was sweet and I did cheer for Adelaide’s chosen man. I liked all the secondary characters and the world itself was beautifully depicted. The book though should have been half the size it was. 

It jumped from high society to finishing school, to ship, then  onto the wild west with Scottish style savages. It tried to be so many things, go in so many directions that the story felt thin. And although labeled a fantasy, there is nothing fantastical in this book. Despite being set in a made up world, the most magical things were the place names. 

All in all, this book was a huge disappointment for me. 2 stars!

Have any of you read this book? Curious to know, what did the rest of you make of it?

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Love & Gelato - Book Review



Love & Gelato
Jenna Evans Welch
YA Contemporary Romance
UK Publisher: Walker Books

Synopsis:

The dying wish of 16-year-old Lina’s mother was for her daughter to live in Tuscany and get to know her father, whom Lina has never met.

“Howard is the best man I’ve ever known,” her mother says, “he’ll keep you safe.” Why did her mother wait so long to tell her about him? Lina has a happy life in Seattle and doesn't want to leave. Shortly after she arrives at Howard’s home, Lina meets Sonya, who gives Lina a diary that belonged to Lina’s mother, the one she had kept while she was a photography student in Florence. While Lina is living her life and exploring Tuscany with her handsome neighbour, Ren, she follows in the footsteps of her mother and gets to know her as never before. She also finds out the truth about her father. Mostly she finds out about herself.

Review:

Love & Gelato is the perfect summer read! The writing is smooth, using all five senses to draw you into a breathtaking world of heartache, new love and the magical country that is Italy. I must admit though that I thought parts of the end were a little cheesy, but in good way that left me smiling, even if I was shaking my head. Still I enjoyed every page of this book, cheesiness and all!

After her mother’s untimely death, Lina is forced to spend a summer in Italy with the father she has never met. Plotting her escape back to the states, her days are only made bearable by the amazing food, and a sparking friendship with a boy named Ren. But when she is gifted an old diary of her mothers—detailing the eighteen months of her mum’s own Italian adventure—Lina discovers a side of her mum she never knew. A side full of secrets that are about to rock Lina’s whole world, all over again. 

Romance, beautiful scenery, a story within a story… along with mouth watering food descriptions, this book has it all. It also left me with a huge yearning to fly to Italy immediately… and the biggest craving for pizza and gelato! 

Lina is a very honest character. Her feelings are very raw and as a reader, you can’t help but feel bad for her situation. She is very relatable as a person, however her restraint toward reading her mum’s diary drove me a little crazy. I really wanted to know what happened next!

Thanks to the dairy, this was also a story within a story, allowing the author to seamlessly flow between mother and daughter's POV. This gave us an in depth look at both characters, and their relationship. It made for a thrilling yet heart-wrenching read.

As for the romance, it was delicious in its slow burn and friendship building way. Ren is instantly likeable and quickly proves himself as a great guy. Watching him and Lina flirt was super cute and they were the sort of couple you're just begging to hurry up and kiss already :)

I did have a couple of gripes with this book though. As I mentioned, I thought parts of the end were a little cliche, but still cute and fitting with the story. However Lina could be a little naive at times and she doesn't always make the best choices. Ultimately though these were all small things and I still turned the last page, completely satisfied with the story.

All in all I can’t wait for this authors next book - I just discovered it will be set in Ireland - which I’m super excited for! Jenna Evans Welch is definitely a writer to watch out for.

Swoon-worthy, emotional and full of colour, I give Love & Gelato 4 stars!

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Have any of you guys read this book? If so what are your thoughts? Any more summery reads you would recommend?

Monday, 19 June 2017

The Forever Court - Book Review


The Forever Court
Dave Rudden
MG Fantasy
Knights of the Borrowed Dark Books #2
UK Publisher: Puffin Books

Other books in the Series:

Synopsis:

Life is retiring to normal for Denizen Hardwick. Well, the new normal, where he has to battle monsters in quiet Dublin bookshops and constantly struggle to contain the new powers he has been given by Mercy, the daughter of the endless King. But Denizen may need those powers sooner than he thinks - not only are the Tenebrous stirring again but the Order of the Borrowed Dark face a new threat from much closer to home…

Review:

I liked this book but felt it was a heavier read than the first. The characters have matured, new enemies were introduced but for all the subplots and intriguing undercurrents, sadly, I felt this story lacked the spark that made the first book so unforgettable. 

Denizen is now an official knight in training. Struggling to contain the power given to him by Mercy, the daughter of The Order’s greatest enemy, the endless King - he lashes out at those closest to him, isolating himself away before he can hurt someone. But when a new threat rises, and the Knights are called to action once more, Denizen will need all his wits if he is to defeat the evil that is rising, and rising with a power that matches his own…

A lot of new characters were introduced to the story, and at times the switching POV’s were a little confusing. However I liked the new, fire-wielding bad guys, but missed the variety that the Tenebrous (and their mishmash bodies) brought to the previous story. Unlike book one which really excelled at creating a creepy atmosphere, I found these pages pretty lacklustre. 

Having said that Dave Rudden’s beautiful writing remains intact, and I liked the sarcasm and humour threaded through the story. The Epitaphs on the gravestones really made me smile, as did the witty banter between fights.

 Denizen though has done some significant growing and comes across older, and much more mature. He has begun to develop an interest in girls, but is closed up about his feelings. Whenever it came to building bridges with his mother, he turned into a typical petulant teenager, which although entertaining to read, took up a lot of his thoughts making this story less action based and more emotional.

I also felt that many of the original characters didn't get much page time. While everyone was present, most were given fleeting appearances meaning we got no more backstory, or character development from them. Mostly I just really missed the teamwork aspect that played such a significant part in the previous book - this novel read like a Denizen solo. 

As for the plot, it really picked up toward the end, and  it was engaging enough that I will read the next book. Despite the negativity of this review - I did ENJOY this book, I just didn't connect to this story the way I wanted to. I’m crossing my fingers the next book will feature more evil Tenebrous!

3 stars!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Last Duchess - Book Review



The Last Duchess - Book Review
Laura Powell
MG Historical Fantasy
UK Publisher: Macmillan children’s books

Synopsis:

Pattern is only thirteen, but is already rising through the ranks at Mrs Minchin’s Academy of Domestic Servitude and seems destined for a life below stairs. But fate intervenes when she is packed off to the small and secretive Duchy of Elffinberg, to serves as lady’s maid to the lately orphaned Grand Duchess.

Pattern’s young new mistress is excitable and paranoid, yet despite their differences the two girls forge an unlikely friendship that quickly turns into a battle for survival. For picture-perfect Elffinberg hides an extremely dark and deadly secret…

Armed only with her trusty sewing basket, a bottle of smelling salts and J. Bulcock’s inestimable guide, The Duties of a Lady’s Maid, Pattern will need all her wits and resourcefulness when dealing with above-stairs conspiracies and below-stairs intrigue. Darning stockings has never been so dangerous.

Review:

This was a super cute story, and one I think fans of Katherine Woodfine and Holly Webb will enjoy. Very character driven with vivid, old worldly descriptions, The Last Duchess was a lovely book with which to while away an afternoon.

Pattern’s ordinary life is turned upside down when she suddenly finds herself shipped away from London, back to the country of her birth to serve as a ladies maid to a young and orphaned duchess. But the land of Elffinberg holds many myths, and Pattern is about to discover that the palace sits on top of the biggest secret of all.

As the residents of the castle gossip, bribe and attempt to plot their way to the throne, Pattern will need all her skills if she is to help her new mistress survive. But first Pattern must gain the duchess’ trust, or be sent back to London in disgrace… 

I couldn't help but enjoy this book. In a merge of history and fantasy, Laura Powell brings to life a small country faced with one very big problem. A dragon. And like in any good fairytale, the only way to appease the dragon is to offer him a princess to snack on…. But the characters in this book are no helpless maidens.

Pattern is hearty heroine. Although mousy on the outside, she is quick thinking and practical, winning her battles through sheer will and kindness. A loyal servant, she is a good balance for the hot tempered duchess, and together the two spark a heart-warming friendship.

However the book is set in a fantastical country, and I was a little sad we didn’t get to visit more of it. Most of the book takes place within the palace, with only short jaunts into the countryside. But the village itself teems with life and I hope in the next book we get to see more of Pattern’s world. 

The story is also full of plot twists and I often found myself surprised. Between each page and the next I would suspect one thing only to find myself proven half-right, which left me with just the right amount of smugness, yet still enough intrigue to delight in the truth. 

All in all, a sweet MG read. 3 stars!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

YA in Japan

(View from Kawagushi Shrine)

YA Set in Japan 

Hey lovely people!

 So while I was in Japan, I put together this post on all my favourite YA books that have a Japanese theme or setting. 

These are the same books that first seeded my desire to see Japan, then later became even more enjoyable when I started to recognise and relate to the words and culture now so familiar to me. 

I want to share these book with you today because each story is beautifully unique, and they all capture the real flavour of Japanese life. Everything from the culture, scenery, customs, food, etiquette… even the folklore. 

I hope you will enjoy these as much as I did. Now in no particular order, here they are:



The Ink Trilogy 

Amanda Sun

YA Fantasy - but with a modern-day setting!

I really enjoyed the imagination behind this book. The main character is western girl whose life is suddenly up-rooted to Japan and I found her reactions to be really relatable. She of course meets a gorgeous Japanese guy… but he has dark secrets and an even darker power…

You can find my review of the first book HERE


Shadows on the Moon 
&
 Barefoot on the Wind 

 Zoe Marriott

YA Fantasy/ Retelling

These books are simply beautifully and are re-tellings of the classic fairytales, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. Given a Japanese twist, and set in a fantastical version of feudal Japan, they are a definite must read!

Find my reviews HERE and HERE


The Name of the Blade Trilogy 

Zoe Marriott

YA Fantasy with modern day setting!

Yes, Zoe Marriott gets a second mention because her books are just that awesome! And although this trilogy is actually set in London, the main character is of Japanese heritage and her adventures are something straight out of a manga. Another must read!

My Reviews for the first all three books are HERE and HERE and HERE


The Red Winter Trilogy

Marie Annette

YA Fantasy with modern day setting!

I only recently discovered this series, and am desperately waiting to get my hands on the last book. Its got everything! Romance, Demons, a heart-pounding plot and so much page-turning goodness!!

I’ve reviewed Book’s one and two HERE and HERE.


Tales of the Otori
 (Across the Nightingale Floor)

Lian Hearn

YA Fantasy

It’s been a few years since I’ve read this series (back in my pre-blog days) but there was a lot to like about it. In fact… I think its time I gave this one a re-read myself!

Chat to me!


Any that I’m missing? If you know of any more great Japanese themed books please shout them out to me in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for more - whether they be Middle Grade, YA, NA or Adult :)

Take care guys and happy reading!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

May in Review


(Kamloops - Road-tripping in Canada!)

May in Review

Hey lovelies - how is life treating you all? Can you believe May is over already? I don't know about everyone else, but for me 2017 is passing by super super fast.

 Here are my May highlights:

(One Star for everyday of writing!)

  • I HIT 50K ON MY MIDDLE GRADE WIP! I’m finally writing again, and this month I took my WIP from 35K to 50K. Thanks to some handy tools and V.E Schwab’s awesome star system (You can find more info on that on my post: WRITING HACKS & TRICKS) I’m well on my way to hitting my 60K goal and should have my first draft finished soon! Exciting!! 

  • I READ ELEVEN BOOKS! Not only did I hit my reading target for this month, but I’ve reached 50/100 books on my Goodreads Challenge, which puts me eight books ahead of schedule! … That’s never happened before. 

  • MOUNTAINS, LAKES and LOG CABINS! My boyfriend and I took a drive across Canada. Not only was the weather gorgeous but the scenery was simply stunning. Although I think my boyfriend was rather worried by how many pictures I took of ducks and gofers… *So much cuteness!*

  • I’M GOING BACK TO ENGLAND! Yep, I finally booked my ticket home. I think my mother had lost all hope of me ever returning! But on the 5th of July I will be back on home soil :) … Now I’ve just got to keep my fingers crossed that my brother has managed to keep his hands off my easter eggs!

  • 88 CUPS OF TEA - And no, that’s not a one-day achievement of mine, but a podcast I recently discovered. Ran by the amazing Yin Chang, it features interviews with bestselling YA authors like V.E Schwab, Victoria Aveyard, Alexandra Bracken, Angie Thomas, Louise O'Neill and so many more. Packed with writing & publishing advice, plus fun facts and laughs I really urge you guys to check it our HERE.

And that pretty much wraps up my month. Aside from reading, writing and hitting the gym, May has been pretty quiet for me. I’m massively behind on book reviews, and the blog in general, but since I’ve made finishing my WIP my priority hopefully I will catch up with it all soon.


Books Read

  1. Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas ****
  2. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater ***
  3. Spindles Fire by Lexa Hillyer **
  4. The Last Duchess by Laura Powell ***
  5. Newts Emerald by Garth Nix ***
  6. The Winners Crime by Marie Rutkoski ****
  7. Duels and Deceptions by Cindy Anstey ***
  8. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch ****
  9. The Weight of Feathers by Anna Marie McLemore *****
  10. Ruined by Amy Tintera ***
  11. The Winners Kiss by Marie Rutkoski ****

I ticked so many books off my TBR list this month - Thank You North Vancouver Library! My favourites though were:

 THE WINNERS CURSE Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski - her writing just flows so beautifully. 

Then there was LOVE AND GELATO which has made me crave a holiday to Italy - such a fab summer read. 

However the WEIGHT OF FEATHERS was my most unusual read. I hated the first 75 pages but soon found myself hooked by the spell binding world Anna Mclemore created. If you like magical realism it is definitely one to check out!

Books Reviewed


Other Posts:


And that wraps up my May. How was it for the rest of you? Is life treating you all well?

SARAH
x

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Frogkisser! - Book Review



Frogkisser! - Book Review
Garth Nix
YA Fantasy / Fairytale
UK Publisher: Piccadilly Press

Synopsis:

The last thing she needs is a Prince. The first thing she needs is some magic.

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land — and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

Review:

This has been on of my favourite reads this year! A unique and original fairytale that has no romance, doesn’t try to take itself too seriously, and isn't afraid to make fun of the outdated notions of old school fairytales. It was a really unexpected read that I throughly enjoyed.

Princess Anya is second in line for the throne, and as such, cares only about reading books and practicing her sorcery. But when her evil step-step-father takes over the kingdom, transforming any who defy him into warty-amphibians, Anna is forced to flee the castle.

Now with a talking dog at her side, and accompanied by a boy/newt and an otter/maid, Anna sets off on a quest to create a magical lip balm - the only thing with enough power to transform each frog back to its human state. But the search for the ingredients is full of perils, and with her step-step-father’s minions shadowing her footsteps, Anya will need all her skill and cunning if she is to survive and win back her castle…

I adored this book and I think anyone from the age of eight upwards would enjoy it too. With a cast of unique characters - who come in all shapes and sizes -  this book is not your typical fairytale. 

Anya is a delicious, if reluctant heroine. Practical in her thinking, she uses her wits to defeat her opponents, yet is still naive enough about the world around her to learn some big, life-changing lessons along the way.

Nothing about this story is stereotypical. Each character comes with distinct personalities and together they really help drive this book forward. You never know who (or what) you’re going to meet next. 

What I liked most about Frogkisser! though was the humour in the writing. It's a book that isn't a afraid to make fun of the villain’s laugh, or roll its eyes at the swooning princess and her “true love”. 

The plot was also very imaginative and I was never bored. Admittedly I did figure out a few of the plot twists and guessed the direction the story was heading, but I still enjoyed the journey nonetheless. 

Overall a super cute fairytale that deserves to be gushed over! 5 stars!

Chat with Me!

Have you read this book? If not I hope you check out this one, along with Garth Nix's fabulous Abhorsen Series! Happy reading!