July Mini Reviews

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Disclaimer: Whilst these books were provided by publishers as NetGalley E-ARCs, all opinions remain solely my own.

Fantasy


Now I Rise ★★★★

Conqueror’s Saga #2
Kiersten White

I really enjoyed this sequel. Without giving anything away, I found it to be more political, with a pinch of deception and stabby-ness (is that a word? If not, it should be).
Lada really comes into her own, becoming even more independent and kick ass. She definitely becomes wiser and more mature as she explores the world.
Radu is the bigger focus of this book, or he felt like it, anyways. He becomes smarter with his emotions and decisions, and I cannot wait to see him develop more in book 3.
A fast paced, action filled sequel which I loved.

Unraveling ★★★★

Unblemished #2
Sara Ella

Unraveling started slowly but the pace quickly improved and kept me moving through the story. The plot is full of adventure, twists and turns, and I really loved where the story went,
It still has that fairytale feel but I definitely felt that this sequel was more action packed than book 1. We see El develop and grow into her new role, but we also see her doubts and struggles.
I really enjoyed the multiple perspectives of this book as it really opened my eyes to the events surrounding other characters.
The world is expanded in this book and I can’t wait to see where they go in book 3.

Daughter of the Burning City ★★★★

Amanda Foody

Whilst this novel started slow, the evocative language and intriguing characters soon sucked me into a whirlwind of flipping pages.
Throughout the entirety of the book I was drooling over liquorice cherries and kettle corn, and picturing every aspect of the burning city in detail.
Every plot twist had me absolutely shocked and I definitely didn’t see the end coming.
This is like Caraval, but infinitely more unique and captivating. 4.5/5 stars.

Sovereign ★★★

Nemesis #2
April Daniels

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first in the series, Dreadnought. However it was still a satisfying sequel and I’m excited to continue with this series.
The pacing was a little slow and inconsistent, and made the reading experience a little bit more tedious. In saying that, I loved seeing Danny’s character development and that alone made me want to keep reading.
The way that the plot is set out is layered and there were definitely a few twists that I didn’t see coming.
All in all this sequel was good but I hope that book 3 improves upon the story even more.

Dystopian


True North ★★

True Born #2
L.E Sterling

After reading and loving the first book in this series, the sequel was a bit of a let down.
It had a strong beginning which recapped book 1 and helped you get settled back into the world. After that however, I felt that everything went downhill. The pacing was incredibly slow, and there was no real character development that I could tell. The plot of the novel hinged on one small event, which we didn’t see until the very end, and the other ‘events’ in the plot made it feel as if virtually nothing happened. Even the romance, which I hoped would develop more, didn’t.
Overall I wasn’t impressed by this sequel, and it just wasn’t for me. 2/5 stars.

Contemporary


180 Seconds ★★★★★

Jessica Park

This book shattered my heart and made it whole again.
I was delighted by the romance in this novel, entranced by Allison’s story and her personal development, and ripped to shreds by the ending.
I went into this novel blind, for some reason expecting it to be a cute fluffy romance. And I’m not denying that it had cute and fluffy moments, but 180 Seconds was so much more than that. The characters were fleshed out, real and relatable, and Allison’s introversion was deftly explored, explained, and eventually overcome.
The main couple in this book is so perfect and amazing, and I’d love to see more of them.
It’s the perfect exploration of family, friendship, trust and opening up.

Moonrise ★★★★

Sarah Crossan

Heart-breaking, insightful and brilliantly executed.
I went into this novel completely blind, knowing only that it was written by Sarah Crossan. Sarah Crossan is an author that I trust wholly, who never neglects to make my heart ache and my tears flow. In Moonrise, her writing is unfailingly beautiful, and her story told through a cast of unusually lovable characters.
Every aspect of this novel appealed to me, As a highly opinionated individual with eyes open to the world around me, I really appreciated Sarah’s exploration of the American justice system and its failings. I enjoyed seeing a family dynamic where all the family were present in the narrative, if not directly on the page. Joe’s family has fallen apart around him, and still he persists in trying his hardest and not giving up. I loved Joe, and I would love to see more of him in the future (as unlikely as that is).
I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves Sarah Crossan and fast, intoxicating reads.

The Names They Gave Us ★★★★

Emery Lord

The Names They Gave Us is a genuine, heartfelt novel about faith, family, friendship and grief. Beautifully written with an amazing cast of characters, I enjoyed every single page of this novel.
The writing and story was easy to slide into, and our main character is super easy to love and follow.
I gave this one 4.25 stars, with my only problem being the open ending.

Signed

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Obsidian and Stars – Review + Giveaway

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book cover.jpgObsidian and Stars (Ivory and Bone #2)
Julie Eshbaugh
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

In the sequel to Ivory and Bone—the prehistoric fantasy novel that New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman described as a “richly crafted world of life-and-death stakes”—the story shifts to Mya’s viewpoint as vengeful adversaries force her to flee the life she once knew.

After surviving the chaotic battle that erupted after Lo and the Bosha clan attacked, now Mya is looking ahead to her future with Kol. All the things that once felt so uncertain are finally falling into place. But the same night as Kol and Mya’s betrothal announcement, Mya’s brother Chev reveals his plan to marry his youngest sister Lees to his friend Morsk. The only way to avoid this terrible turn of events, Morsk informs Mya when he corners her later, is for Mya to take Lees’ place and marry him herself.

Refusing to marry anyone other than her beloved, and in an effort to protect her sister, Mya runs away to a secret island with Lees. And though it seems like the safest place to hide until things back home blow over, Mya soon realizes she’s been followed. Lurking deep in the recesses of this dangerous place are rivals from Mya’s past whose thirst for revenge exceeds all reason.

With the lives of her loved ones on the line, Mya must make a move before the enemies of her past become the undoing of her future.

About the author:
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Julie Eshbaugh is the author of Ivory and Bone (HarperCollins, 2016). She used to have trouble staying in one spot, having lived in places as varied as Utah, France, and New York City. Julie eventually returned home to the Philadelphia area, where she now lives with her husband, son, cat and dog. Her favorite moments are when the unexpected happens and she cheers loudest when the pitcher gets a hit.
The Giveaway
Win a finished copy of Obsidian and Stars (US ONLY). Giveaway ends June 17th.
My Spoiler Free Thoughts:
Last year I was highly anticipating the first book in this duology, Ivory and Bone. I was so disappointed when I read it and it didn’t completely blow me away.
I decided to pick up Obsidian and Stars anyways and I’m SO, SO, SO GLAD that I did.
I adored it so much! If you had doubts about the first book, I’d highly recommend you read it and pick this one up. I related so much more to Mya, who tells the story in first person, and my attention was held the entire way through the book. There is so much more action, emotion and all-round greatness packed into this sequel.
Despite originally being marketed as a trilogy, this book definitely wrapped things up perfectly to complete the duology.
What I Liked:
  • Mya is a great perspective to read from. I loved her internal conflicts and thought processes, and I could really relate to her
  • The plot. There was way more action in this book than the first, and it definitely kept the story flowing.
  • I read this in just two sittings. It was so fast-paced and the pacing was super consistent throughout.
  • A really thorough conclusion to the duology. I loved the ending.
  • It explores responsibility/duty, friendship, love and family in a great way.
  • The world-building was really good, and I could picture the landscapes and villages easily.

 

What I Disliked:

  • I really struggled to picture the characters in my head. It’s probably due to the fact I read the first book over a year ago, but I found it difficult to see what each character looked like.
  • That’s it. That’s all that I disliked.

 

All in all, this was a fantastic conclusion to the Ivory and Bone duology, with just the right mix of action, adventure and super cute romance. I gave this book 4 stars.

Signed

Caraval: The ultimate deception

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I was sent an ARC of Caraval by Hachette Australia, but this did not impact my opinion in any way.

Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever. (Goodreads)


Published in January 2017 by Hachette Australia, Caraval is Stephanie Garber’s debut novel. Full of magic, deception, romance and incredible writing, Caraval is sure to delight and confound every reader.

To start with Caraval was a bit slow. We meet Tella and Scarlett, and the handsome Julian, and debate going to Caraval for a few chapters. Quickly though, the pace picks up, and we are immersed in beautiful, descriptive writing that drowns us in the sounds, smells and sights of Caraval.

Every chapter explores new aspects of Caraval, and you’re never quite sure what is real, and what isn’t. The entire book is a maze of deception and trickery, magic and romance, and I loved every second of it. I really enjoyed following Scarlett’s perspective, and seeing her love for her sister, and watching a potential romance bloom.

Caraval is a beautifully written trick of a novel with a cliff-hanger style ending that has me wanting more. Loved it so much. 5 stars.

 

~Find Caraval on AMAZON and BOOK DEPOSITORY ~

Frostblood – Elly Blake

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The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love. (Goodreads)

Published in January 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton, Frostblood is a fantasy story following Ruby, a strong-willed, independent girl with a unique power to wield frost and snow. In a world where Firebloods rule, her power can only get her into trouble.

I gave this novel 2.5 stars. I adored the writing style and pacing from page one, but the plot took about a third of the novel to pick up. The beginning, whilst slow, did give great background info about Ruby and the world she lives in.

The plot twists throughout really didn’t surprise me, and the entire story felt familiar (think Red Queen). Ruby felt bland as a character to me, and I really struggled to connect with her.

Overall, whilst I didn’t love this novel, it was still a solid fantasy story involving powers, royalty and fighting, so if that’s your ‘thing’ then this might be a worthwhile read for you.

~Find Frostblood on Amazon and Book Depository~