Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mini-Reviews (15): Maid-Sama! Vol 3 & 4, Underneath Everything, The Immortal Heights

So sometimes I fail at writing reviews for the books I've read, and 2016 has me failing spectacularly (as did 2015). And because it's been AGES since I read these, I'm just gonna do mini-reviews of them, so as to clear my need-review shelf (cause it's humungous, it's not even funny).

Title/Author: Maid-Sama! Vol 3 & 4 by Hiro Fujiwara
Publisher/Date published: VIZ Media LLC, November 3rd 2015
How I got this book: bought a pretty finished copy

So I've been slowly seeing what the world of manga has to offer and Maid-Sama! is just so much fun! I really enjoyed the 3rd and 4th volume, seeing more of Misaki and USUI and exploring their world and getting into all the funny moments with the whole class. And the tension between Misaki and Usui! YES! I totally ship it and if you're looking for a fun gateway into manga, you should definitely pick this up!

My rating: 4 stars

Title/Author: Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul
Publisher/Date published: Balzer + Bray, October 27th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

Man, I did not love this book. While reading it and now thinking back on it, I'm seriously wondering why I even finished this. And it's probably due to the fact that I was just waiting for things to get amazing and for the big reveal to make my head spin and that just failed to happen. Basically nothing really happened in this novel and I have this vague sense of what it was about and that's also what I felt while reading it, so it's not just the time that's passed that made it so in my head.
I could for the life of me not feel much sympathy for Mattie, I mean, at first I was feeling sorry for her for what happened with her friend and her love interest, but well, then she makes some seriously weird decisions and I'm like, yeah, nope.
I've seen people raving about this, and maybe it's just me and I'm just missing the point of it all, but I could not get into this.

My rating: 1 star

Title/Author: The Immortal Heights (The Elemental Trilogy #3) by Sherry Thomas
Publisher/Date published: Balzer + Bray, October 13th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

I have all the love for this series and the last book in the trilogy definitely did not fail me! I do think that one day I need to go back and reread the whole thing in one go, because there are some subtle things that get a bit lost when there's a year between reading each book.
But The Immortal Height was amazing and mostly everything I wanted and I was constantly on the edge of my seat because there was all this impending DOOM and OMG I just needed to know how it would end and if everyone would still be alright at the end and if my ship would make it through! I get all feelsy again just thinking about it right now.
Sherry Thomas has some amazing storytelling skills and you should just go read this for yourself. Like right now.

My rating: 5 stars

Monday, March 28, 2016

Review of The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Title/Author: The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows
Publisher/Date published: Katherine Tegen Books, March 10th 2015
How I got this book: bought the beautiful hardcover!

Goodreads summary: Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

OBVIOUSLY I needed this! I mean, I loved Incarnate (still need to finish that series...) and Jodi Meadow's writing style and just LOOK AT THAT COVER!! I mean, YES! So I went in and was very much not disappointed!

I LOVED Wilhelmina. She's strong and fierce and so loyal to those she loves, but not so much that she doesn't call them on the things she thinks aren't right. And she can also take someone not agreeing with her and still be their friend, that is a sign of maturity right there. I loved how skilled she is with forgery and can basically copy anyone's handwriting. And I really liked that she doesn't lose herself in a romance, obviously she would like for things to work out, but she's also realistic as to the chances of that happening and that there are more important things going on.

I'm very much intrigued by the world that Jodi Meadows has created for this series, I'm not really sure I really get the magic system just yet, but the wraith is both VERY creepy and VERY interesting and I'm very curious to see if things will be a little further explained in the second book.
What I also loved is that Wil and Melanie are truly friends, they may not always agree with each other, but they have each other's backs and I think they also passed the Bechdel test (which I only reference because it was featured on Jane the Virgin's last episode and it made me laugh), so that's a solid yay for friendship!

But now let's talk about the boy. Because the BOY. I had very swoony feelings about the boy and I applaud Wilhelmina for keeping her head straight, cause I'm not sure I could have. I could feel the struggle and them both trying to be sensible about all this and I KNOW that there are so many obstacles, but seriously, my ship better sail in the second book!
I figured out the identity of Black Knife pretty early on for obvious reasons, but it was totally fine, the only things I wasn't sure about is WHY Wilhelmina didn't figure it out before he flat out told her. I mean, super spy anyone?

But OMG YOU GUYS THAT ENDING!!! I cannot. I just cannot. That is seriously no way to end a novel and now I'm REALLY glad that I waited so long to start this, because the second book is almost out and YAY I WILL READ THIS SOON! I think waiting a year would have surely killed me. Go hurry and read this if you haven't already!

My rating: 5 stars

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Mini-Reviews (14): These Vicious Masks, Night Study, Spinning Thorns

So sometimes I fail at writing reviews for the books I've read, and 2016 has me failing spectacularly (as did 2015). And because it's been AGES since I read these, I'm just gonna do mini-reviews of them, so as to clear my need-review shelf (cause it's humungous, it's not even funny anymore).

Title/Author: These Vicious Masks (These Vicious Masks #1) by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas
Publisher/Date published: Swoon Reads, February 9t 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

So obviously I'd pick up a novel that's described as Jane Austen meets X-men. I mean, holy wow, two of my favourite things! And I was not disappointed, I really enjoyed These Vicious Masks!
The heroine is spunky and definitely has no idea what this thing is they call 'giving up'. She's hindered by society's expectations, and more specifically her mother's expectations (wow, that woman annoyed me), but she manages to get around this beautifully. I loved the idea of people having a specific super power and how it's sometimes not even all that clear to the person themselves what that super power is exactly. I loved how loyal Evelyn is to her sister Rose and how she's just willing to do everything she can to save her. And that she has two handsome gentlemen with her doesn't hurt. There's lots of lovely banter that made me smile and not so much of a love triangle that it bugged me, it felt pretty natural.
And OMG THAT ENDING!! I need the next book right now!

My rating: 4,5 stars

Title/Author: Night Study (Soulfinders #2) by Maria V. Snyder
Publisher/Date published: Mira, January 26th 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley and also bought myself a shiny copy of it!

As you may know, Maria V. Snyder = <3 basically. I haven't read a book by her that I didn't enjoy and Yelena and Valek hold a very special place in my heart, along with all the other characters in this world. And just when I thought she couldn't top what she'd did with them before, Night Study comes along and may just be my favourite out of all these books! It's Yelena and Valek as I love them best, and finally getting Valek's whole backstory and diving a little bit deeper into the mystery of his immunity to magic and I just LOVED it! I was so feeling for both of them through everything that happens in Night Study! I'm trying really hard not to say anything that might be a spoiler, but I just would love for everyone to pick up this series, starting with the original Study Trilogy and then just continue on and be immersed in all this awesomeness! I both dread and can't wait for the next book, because it will be the last! My rating: 5+ stars

Title/Author: Spinning Thorns by Anna Sheehan
Publisher/Date published: Gollancz, December 10th 2015
How I got this book: bought a shiny copy

So I was the only one of my book club to enjoy this. And I really did, it's far from perfect and I did struggle a bit to get into it, but then I was feeling it and second half was much better than the first in my opinion. I liked this twist on Sleeping Beauty, seeing what happened to our original Sleeping Beauty as she becomes the queen and has children of her own, mainly I just liked Willow. She's not much of a traditional princess, she's interested in magic, even though she's not really allowed to be and she's a bit too trusting at first and because of this and because of the unfairness of punishing a whole clan for the deeds of one fairy, things are getting set into motion.
It's a bit dark and there's a lot of build-up and also there's a really annoying sister and her fiancé who are like Barbie and Ken annoyingly 'perfect'.
But I really liked the story and the thing that grows between Willow and the unnamed fairy and I was rooting for the romance and towards the end had many feels about this.

My rating: 3,5 stars

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Review of The Hidden Twin by Adi Rule

Title/Author: The Hidden Twin by Adi Rule
Publisher/Date published: St. Martin's Press, March 22nd 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

Goodreads summary: For eighteen years, Redwing has lived in hiding in a city of hissing pipes and curving temples perched on the side of Mol, the great volcano. Her father hoped she would grow up to be a real human girl and not a wicked creature out of mythology, so he secretly spared her life as an infant.

But when two priests track her down and attack, she calls forth fire to protect herself, and her secret is out. Redwing soon catches the attention of a cult with a thousand year-old grudge, a group of underground rebels, and the son of the Empress. And when Redwing’s sister goes missing, she uncovers a greater plot to awaken Mol and bring his lava down upon them all.

Now, Redwing must draw a line between myth and history and prove herself more than a monster if she is to save both her sister and her home.

So before starting this I'd seen people LOVE it and also people who REALLY didn't like, so I was curious where I'd fall on this spectrum. And I'll have to say that I fall somewhere right in de middle.

There's not a lot explained about the world that The Hidden Twin is set in and things start happening before I really had a grip on the people and the places we were seeing. And I felt a bit like I was floundering about, not really seeming to catch myself and really get a sense of what was going on, which detracted from my enjoyment of the story a bit. But Adi Rule set the scene eventually and I was able to get into it then.

I'm thinking there's a LOT of backstory actually there for this world, but the sad thing is for me, that we're not really getting shown a lot of it. I mean, there's all this mythology and also the faith of the people that gets mentioned, but not fully explained and because of this, I just barely got a glimpse of the interesting things that Adi Rule's come up with and it could have just been so much more! I mean, the redwings and the Others are SO interesting, but I'm not really sure who or what they are and I've definitely read the whole thing. I found myself checking multiple times that yes, this really is a standalone and yes, it's also really just 242 pages. It felt more like the summary of a story than the whole story.

But that's not to say that it wasn't entertaining, I mean, the main character, who is nameless (seriously, WHAT IS UP with her family??), is feisty and while not interacting with people all that much before the events in The Hidden Twin get going, she manages to come up with all the snappy comebacks and I liked it. The only thing is, that it was a bit hard to believe that she could be so natural with all these people when mostly she's only been interacting with her father and sister, so it seemed a bit improbable. But she was funny, so I went with it.

I really liked the idea of redwings and the hints of the mythology and even the tiny romance part of it. But what kept bugging me was that it was just too much of a plot for the amount of pages, so it just lacked depth for me. It could have been so much more if there'd just been more room for the story to unfold and to really understand what was going on. I mean, the big finale takes less than 10 pages. I mean, what?

I still think that this story and the idea behind it has a lot of potential, I just wish it had been fleshed out a bit more, because now parts of it just fell flat.

My rating: 2,5 stars

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mini-Reviews (13): How Willa Got Her Groove Back, The Shadow Queen, Reign of Shadows

So sometimes I fail at writing reviews for the books I've read, and 2016 has me failing spectacularly (as did 2015). And because it's been AGES since I read these, I'm just gonna do mini-reviews of them, so as to clear my need-review shelf (cause it's humungous, it's not even funny).

Title/Author: How Willa Got Her Groove Back (Creative HeArts #2) by Emily McKay
Publisher/Date published: Entangled Publishing, February 22nd 2016
How I got this book: received if from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

So I hadn't figured out before starting this that it was not only the second in a series, but that each character in the series basically has ther own little mini-series, so at the end I was like WAIT WHAT? This is not how it ends right?? And it's not, there's only a bit of a wait before the next part of Willa and Finn's story.
In this part of their story we mainly see what a mess Willa's dad is making of everything and how much he's not being there for his daughter and how much this upsets Willa. There's the of a potential romance between Willa and Finn, but not much of it there yet and while I enjoyed How Willa Got Her Groove Back, it was a bit disappointed not to have more fuzzy feelings for the romance just yet. I'm probably picking up the next instalment, but I would have liked it better if it had just been one books, cause it's only 240 pages and could have easily fitted in a bit more and just have it out all at once.

My rating: 3 stars

Title/Author: The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire #1) by C.J. Redwine
Publisher/Date published: Balzer + Bray, February 16th 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

I REALLY liked The Shadow Queen! I'm always in when it comes to fairytale retellings and this one of Snow White did not disappoint me in the slightest! I loved the backstory and OMG SO CREEPY with the apples! That's just plain awful. Come to think of it, I haven't had an apple since reading this book *shudders*. I loved the worldbuilding and the magic system and how and when it has a cost and why there's a difference to it. I also really liked Lorelai, she's a strong kickass girl who just needed that final push to get her to challenge Irina and now she's determined to take her down, even if it costs her her life. She's been training for years to get her full set of skills and it never feels like she's just naturally good at everything she does.
Also, I really liked the BOY. Kol is just awesome. And I love that he and his friends can turn into dragons, because dragons are the best thing ever. I loved seeing them both struggle with this attraction growing between them and I was really rooting for them to get together.
That ending is just OMG WHAT NO! And I NEED the next book. Like now.

My rating: 4,5 stars

Title/Author: Reign of Shadows (Reign of Shadows #1) by Sophie Jordan
Publisher/Date published: HarperTeen, February 9th 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

Reign of Shadows was a bit of a disappointment for me, because I'm used to LOVING Sophie Jordan's books and this one didn't quite work for me. It wasn't really bad, but I had just expected a bit more. Mostly, I was a bit bored while reading it, cause I feel like not a lot happens and found myself wondering where this story was even going? I mean, obviously if she's the hidden princess we need to get some action at some point, yes? Well, it didn't quite happen for me.
I did very much like the twist at the start of the novel, which I won't give away, because that part was awesome and I hadn't figured it out in the slightest. I did kinda wonder at all the skills that Luna has, seeing as she's been living in the tower with overprotective guardians her whole life.
The romance was just doing nothing for me, and that's one of the things that really bugged me, cause I LOVE Sophie Jordan's historical romances and I know that she can give me all the swoons, but with this it just sorta fell flat.
Towards the end things started to get set in motion, and there's a cute furry sidekick getting mixed into the story, but there was just too much build-up for me.

My rating: 2,5 stars

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Mini-Reviews (12): The Earl Next Door, Burning Glass, Into the Dim

So sometimes I fail at writing reviews for the books I've read, and 2016 has me failing spectacularly (as did 2015). And because it's been AGES since I read these, I'm just gonna do mini-reviews of them, so as to clear my need-review shelf (cause it's humungous, it's not even funny anymore).

Title/Author: The Earl Next Door (The Bachelor Lords of London #1) by Charis Michaels
Publisher/Date published: Avon Impulse, March 1st 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

I'm sorry to say that I did not very much care for The Earl Next Door. I think I finished it because I was waiting for things to get better and for the romance to grab me and because I REALLY wanted to like it, but it fell a little short of my expectations. The main reason for this is that with my historical romances, I kinda need to cheer for the couple to get together and with Piety and Trevor, I was basically wondering what in the world they were doing with each other. I mean, I felt a bit of insta-love, at least from Piety and Trevor wouldn't admit it, but I think it was there for him as well. And there's just lots of awkwardness and REALLY annoying family member and Piety's mother who for the life of me I cannot understand, because WOW you just cannot try to do that to your daughter. So much wrongness.

I did like Trevor's dry humor and the lady across the street who keeps meddling in everything, but the romance wasn't really what I was looking for.

My rating: 2 stars

Title/Author: Burning Glass (Burning Glass #1) by Kathryn Purdie
Publisher/Date published: Katherine Tegen Books, March 1st 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

This is another one of those instances in which I wonder why I finished it. And it's probably because the premise is interesting, but then the execution failed to deliver. I mean, Sonya's ability to sense what other people are feeling puts her in a pretty special position and in this case puts her right beside the emperor. The fact that she also takes over whatever other people are feeling makes that I'm still wondering about her personality, because all I could see was what was projected on her by other people and that bugs me.
The other thing that was a major issue for me was the romance. I'm ALL about the romance, but in this one it really annoyed me because HELLO love triangle and Oh, the country is in danger, but WAIT I can't get my priorities straight because I have lusty feelings for both brothers. UGH. Sonya just acted so impulsive and immature and irresponsible, I just could not get myself to like her.

My rating: 1,5 stars

Title/Author: Into the Dim (Into the Dim #1) by Janet B. Taylor
Publisher/Date published: HMH Books For Young Readers, March 1st 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

I'm always down for a good timetravel story and after seeing some mixed reviews on Goodreads, I was a bit hesitant, but it turned out ok. So this books is over 400 pages and for pretty much the first 100 or 150 nothing much happens. At least, nothing exciting. And the heroine seems a bit clueless, cause she only really seems to have booksmarts and not stuff she can actually put to use, like how to tell if someone is being creepy. But I got over this when they went back into the past to save Hope's mother, which she's determined to do, having to overcome some fears while doing so. I liked that they went back to the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine, because she's such an interesting historical figure! So that was entertaining. The things that I liked less at this point were the romance, because I wasn't really feeling either potential love interest and the mindless cruelty of the villain. I mean, there's not really a point to her evil and I like it when I can actually understand what drives the people working against the main characters.

My rating: 2,5 stars

Friday, March 18, 2016

Review of The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

Title/Author: The Great Hunt (Eurona Duology #1) by Wendy Higgins
Publisher/Date published: HarperTeen, March 8th 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

Goodreads summary: When a strange beast terrorizes the kingdom of Lochlanach, fear stirs revolt. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona — kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage.

Princess Aerity knows her duty to the kingdom but cannot bear the idea of marrying a until a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention. There’s no denying the unspoken lure between them... or his mysterious resentment.

Paxton is not the marrying type. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand — ridding the kingdom of the beast — but the princess continues to surprise him, and the perilous secrets he’s buried begin to surface.

So I haven't read anything by Wendy Higgins before, even though 3 of the 4 Sweet Trilogy books (which is weird cause there are 4 books) are on my shelf. I should get on that, because I really enjoyed The Great Hunt!

At the start I was a teensy bit concerned that this would be a case of insta-love and the romance being more important than the rest of the plot, but I'm glad to say that my worries were for nothing, because I fully supported this part of the story and the character themselves realise there's something more important than this romance.

Princess Aerity has always known that she's going to inherit the kingdom and there are certain responsibilities that come with this and with being the eldest sibling. And she doesn't fight this, she has a very mature sense of her duty and though obviously she isn't always happy about it, she really tries to do what's best for her kingdom. And I really admire this, a lot of times you see a character be whiny about the things that are expected of them and sometimes about things that have a lot less impact on your life than having to marry a the random person who slays the beast instead of someone you love like you've been told all your life. While it's obviously devastating, she takes it in stride and tries to make the best of it and I loved how she realised how far the risks and sacrifices of the hunters went and that she genuinely tried to get to know a bit about them.

There's a great deal of mystery about this beast that is terrorizing the land and one of the things about it was something that I figured out pretty early on, but one other twist that I'm not even going to hint at took me by surprise, but it made SO much sense looking back at some of the things that had happened earlier. I'm really curious to learn more about the magic system, but this fear and hatred of the Lashed is a bit horrifying. I mean, wow, I get that there's been a madman who was Lashed, but you can't just go around banning or killing anyone who happens to have the same powers! Imagine all the good they can do with it!

But let's talk about the ship for a bit. There's this instant attraction, but over time as they get to know each other, it grows into a little something more and I liked it. I also liked that there's staring at attractive and sometimes half naked men, because well, I'd also be staring if there were some physcially fit hunters running around flexing muscles and the like, so this seemed very healthy to me. But I really liked my ship together, and they knew that there was a big chance that he wouldn't be the one to slay the beast and she's have to marry someone else, but they just couldn't help it and I was like YES KISS!

With how Wendy Higgins left things, I really NEED the next book because holy wow, there are some things that definitely need to be fixed and there's a build up to even more trouble from a crazy woman and I just need closure. Very much.

My rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Spring TBR!

As always, TTT is hosted by my other blog The Broke and the Bookish!

I'm gonna go ahead and list 10 shiny new releases that have caught my eye!

1. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows: OMG I NEED THIS!! LIKE NOW!! I'm SO jealous of the people who managed to snag it off of Edelweiss because it was only up for a short time and I didn't check and AAAAAH! But I'll just pre-order it, so no problem.

2. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson: So I fell in love with Morgan Matson's writing last year when I read Since You've Been Gone. Obviously I need to read this ASAP.

3. Dream On by Kerstin Gier: the first book in this series was my first read of 2015 and it was AMAZING! So I need this sequel in my life! I totally love Kerstin Gier's writing style.

4. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh: I think this will be on LOTS of lists. Because holy wow, the first book was beyond amazing and THAT ENDING!! Also, can we take a minute to appreciate the brilliance of these covers?

5. Once Was a Time by Leila Sales: I love Leila Sales. So this time travel book and me will get along very well if there's any logic in the world.


7. The Skylighter by Becky Wallace: The first book was perfection and I'm betting this will be as well!

8. Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn: Julia Quinn is amazing, she always brings the funny and the romance with all the feels and I'm just so ready for more of her genius.

9. The Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris: YES MORE FLUFFLY GOODNESS! This will be a perfect sit outside in the sunshine read.

10. The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye: This just sounds like all kinds of exciting fantasy goodness and I am SO in.

So, that's my TBR for this Spring, let me know if we share any or if I need to add more books to my list (YES PLEASE)!