Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ARC Review: Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez


Slow built tension, growth, romance and suspense
Title: Kiss Kill Vanish
Author: Jessica Martinez
Publisher: Harper Collins, US
My ratings: 5 out of 5 stars
Releases: 7th October, 2014
I read this book about two months ago and somehow I really enjoyed it. However, I’m a little disappointed to so many below average reviews for Kiss Kill Vanish.

I do realise that my ratings may have come as surprise and it do think the rating are somehow justified but I did enjoy this book thoroughly. Valentina Cruz is on the run. She ran away from home after she realised that her boyfriend is the enforcer of her father who is not an art dealer but in fact a drug lord. Homeless and broke, Valentina manages to get a gig as a model with a rich son to pay off her bills. But soon her past comes rushing in she is on the run again.

I felt sympathy towards Valentina’s situation. She was pampered girl and never gave a second thought to all the money her father showered her with but now that she knows where it all comes from all, she blames herself for playing a part in it. The murder she sees her boyfriend Emilio committing opens her eyes and it gives her night mares. The emotions were realistically portrayed. Yes Valentina was full of self-pity but coming from the upbringing she has had it is easy to see why. It coloured the way she saw the world and how buttered croissants were more important to her that simple bread.

Even if she was horrified by the crime see witnesses she still can’t stop loving Emilio and keep playing the Mandolin in his memory. I fell a little in love with the Emilio Valentina seemed to miss. The way she described Emilio’s beautiful dark fingers playing the mandolin and caressing the instrument made me swoon a little.

However, the cherry in the cake was how slowly Marcel and Valentina fell for each other. It was slow as molasses but they fell in love with each other’s real personalities brought together by grief and necessity.

Valentina grows leaps and bounds through the book and it ends with Valentina finally finding her footing as an independent and strong woman who led an honest life. The writing may not have been for everyone but the relationship between Marcel and Valentina took me by surprise and I found myself stealing time to read and find out how these two people who despised each other manage to turn their feelings around.

Overall, Kiss Kill Vanish may not have the most imaginative name but it was a suspenseful thriller which included character growth and romance in equal doses. For fans of Goths, cartels and weird artists.

ARC received from Harper Collins via Edelweiss

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Review: Beautiful Oblivion (Beautiful #3) by Jamie McGuire


Disappointed and angry. Sort of.
Title: Beautiful Oblivion
Series: Beautiful
Author: Jamie McGuire
Publisher: Simon and Schuster, UK
My ratings: 2 out of 5 stars
Released: 1st July, 2014
The wait for this book almost slayed me. I had been waiting for Beautiful Oblivion since the day I finished Beautiful Disaster which I absolutely loved. I finished it ans started rereading it straight away. Yes, that's how much I loved this book and since then have been looking high and low amongst the New Adult title but in vain.

When I picked up Beautiful Oblivion I was not expecting a Beautiful disaster. In my mind that book is difficult to surpass but regardless I wanted something explosive. Something which will blow my mind nevertheless. And blow it did. More on that later.

So the premise goes like this, Cami is fiercely independent after being smothered by her large family of brothers and a difficult father but her waitressing job is paying for her tuition and she has carved a life for herself. Trenton suddenly seems to be interested in Cami but she already has a boyfriend but even she is slowly struggling to ignore her attraction for the handsome devil.

Beautiful Oblivion had the characteristic charming writing that sets t apart. There is tension, sexual attraction, chemistry, connection and wonderful, wonderful banter. While it is no beautiful Disaster and Trent is no Travis, he was still a compelling character. I may not love him as much as I loved Travis, who was volatile, angst and ready to explode at any minute but Trent made it up with his charm and complexity. He is older than Travis so it makes sense that he was mellow and resolved which was why Beautiful Oblivion lacked the explosive and intensity compared to its predecessor. I enjoyed how this story was set in the same timeline as Travis and Abby's story and I loved how Travis would make small appearances and reminds you of the crucial turning points in his story.

Now, let's put the ghost of Beautiful disaster behind and talk about Beautiful Oblivion on it own merits. Cami was strong and fierce and I respect the way she dealt with the fact that while she already had a boyfriend and still fought her attraction for Trent. She tried to be as honest as possible with both he parties until she realised she was stringing both of them around. Her family was full of scum and she had my sympathy. The romance between Trent and Cami was sweet at first and intensely sexy towards the end. The angst was tuned at just the right frequency and the chemistry and banter which Jamie McGuire is well known for made up for the rest until the last page.

I cannot tell you how much the last page annoyed me. I don't understand the point of it. all the angst about the 'secret' and the relationship hurdles which was set around the secret was this?. I liked Came but after the secret was revealed I don't know who disgusts me more Cami or TJ. I sort of do understand how they tried to resolve the matter in a mature fashion but it was still sneaky and underhanded and I am surprised that Trent was OK with it in the end. I cannot say much about this more as I don't want to spoil the book for anybody else but after this new fact came to light the story took a completely different shade for me and even after a few days, it only made me angrier.

While this is a great story with excellent character, which will keep any New Adult reader fixated to their seats, immersed in the captivating story of Cami and Trent who find each other after facing so many difficulties. This has got everything you could ask of a well written New Adult title. I'd recommend it to all Beautiful Disaster fans and New Adult readers. Alas, this book was not for me.

ARC received from Simon and Schuster, UK via NetGalley

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Audio Book Review: The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren Destefano


Brilliant, morbid, desolate and fascinating

Series: The Chemical Garden
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: HarperCollins /Recorded Books
My ratings: 4 out of 5 stars
Released: December 2013

This is a review of The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano.

The Chemical Garden Trilogy is the debut series written by Lauren DeStefano. To be honest, while I may have heard a lot about this series I had not picked it up as the reviews had been quite conflicting. I decided to pick up the audio book on a whim, as this series has been widely read and that is the reason why there has been so many opinions about it. My curiosity got the better of me and I gave in.

The series consists of three books called Wither, Fever and Sever and they have been aptly named. The premise goes like this. In the near future, with the developments in technology and medicine, diseases like cancer and the likes have been cured making human kind almost immortal. However their children were not so lucky as due to some side effects, their off spring contract a 'virus' and perish at the age of 20 of the girls and 25 for the boys. The older generations are called First Generation and the newer kids called New Generation. In a society like this, where human lifespan is so short, people tend to get married and have children as soon as possible. Basically try and live as much as possible before their expiry dates.

Rhine is kidnapped and sold to the rich House Master, Vaughn, where she is married off to his son along
with 2 other girls. Polygamous marriages are common for the wealthy and girls are kidnapped on a daily basis. She is held within an mansion with the constant fear of rape and torture, Rhine yearns to be free again and live in Manhattan with her twin brother, Rowan.

Rhine was an empathetic character. The story is being narrated by her and she is a strong, resilient and determined character. Even while she is trapped in this impossible situation, she does not lose hope and sits like a duck to await her fate. The mansion provides security and luxury bit Rhine knows she is a bird in an gilded cage. The audio book narrator, Angela Lin put a fair amount of work in order to bring the right emotion to the character. There was always this sense of hope and desolation in her voice which convinced me of the longing Rhine felt for her freedom.

Before I go any further, I have to hand it to Lauren DeStefano, the lady knows how to write.The plot is spread quite thinly across the three books and the dystopian world while being terrifying, hopeless and desolate was not quite convincing. There were many plot holes with the world building and I just wish that there was more depth and complexity to it. Regardless, I was mesmerised with Rhine's story. It wasn't complex or with lots of twists or turns or many surprises. Furthermore, the bigger picture was bleak and not very well explained but I was sucked into Rhine's world. The writing makes the reader almost blinded to everything except Rhine's emotions and her quest for freedom. Rhine at first felt a little whiny but over the course of the series we get to see how strong and determined she really is.

The side characters were really interesting, including Rhine's sister-wives Cecily and Jenna. The three girls forge a bond in this unusual circumstances which was beautiful to witness. The House Master Vaughn is the villain of the story, as he is the one holding the girls and trying his experiments on unwitting subjects, trying to find a cure for the virus. Then we have Linden, Rhine's oblivious husband and the love interest Gabriel who is an attendant. Gabriel was sweet and caring and looks after Rhine and becomes her friend when she needs
someone the most. While it's clear he is the love interest he felt flat for me. There was so much potential for him as it's clear the author knows how to write beautiful romantic relationship, Rhine and Gabriel failed to instill any excitement in me. There romance was boring and round the mill. Linden on the other hand was another story. There was so much wrong with Rhine and Linden's situation as the reader was supposed to hate him for having three wives but all I felt for him was pity. He was deeply in love with his first wife Rose and Rhine. He comes to love all his wives in his own way ( that statement in itself is so wrong) but I felt deep sympathy for him. He is timid and quiet but he cares about Rhine very much. Yes, he has marital relationship with a 13 year old girl, which is gross on so many levels but I still cannot hate him.

Rhine of course is conflicted about her feeling for him and at one point it is attributed to Stockholm Syndrome but I think it was more than that. I did not like how Lauren progressed his character over the course of the book, especially in the last book. Sever. It made me slightly angry to think that a shortcut was taken but , it did resolve the story well.

The story deals with polygamous marriages and possible rape and underage pregnancies which are serious taboo/serious topics to write YA dystopia on, but Lauren DeStefano does a splendid job of it. I loved how small Rhine's perspective is, as often dystopian books are usually about the bigger picture. While it may be criticised for it, I also enjoyed how Rhine's narrative was like a candle in the dark and the reader could only see and feel what this candle was illuminating.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Chemical Garden Series. The world building may leave something to desire but the writing, narrative, characters are brilliantly written and I was gripped by where the story will take me next. It was morbid, sad, unilateral sorrowful and yet utterly brilliant, evocative and fascinating. I think it is a must read of every YA fan as it has a dark, serious tone which will make you keep turning the pages until you can barely see.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review: The Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing


Hooked,and left wanting for more
Title: The Jewel
Series: The Lone City
Author: Amy Ewing
Publisher: Walker Books, UK
My ratings: 4 out of 5 stars
Released: 4th of September, 2014
T he Jewel was one of those coveted books which reviewers where raving about. When this book was sent to be me I actually let out a squeal, seeing how beautiful the book looked. The purple inside jacket was exquisite and the cover picture was eye catching.

I jumped into The Jewel straightaway and it hooked me right in. Violet has lived her life training as a surrogate to bear children for the Royal families, when she will be sold to them. She was loose all her identity, live in a beautiful mansion, enjoy a blissful life until she bears the children for her owner. That would be the sole purpose of her life. Violet is bought by Duchess of Lake and soon she is embroiled in the court politics of families and the reigning families. Her owner wants to use her for her own agenda and Violet is simply helpless navigating the rough waters of the storm that is slowly brewing around her.

I really enjoyed Violet's story. The auction, the magic powers, the dystopian world, the politics were intriguing and to my own surprise I was flipping the pages eagerly, wanting to know more about it. It was strangely gripping and I felt that Violet was a relatable character and soon her little adventure into the Royal's world was daring and extraordinaire. While she was stubborn, she was also determined, strong and had this innocence to her which at last was her undoing. The book had me utterly hooked until the love interest appeared.

The Jewel has one of YA many ill used troupe, which is fondly known as insta-love. Ash is a royal companion and him and Violet soon confess to their feeling in a matter of a few meetings. After his appearance the story slowly lost it's hold on me. Violet became irrationally and reckless and her decisions making skills became poor. I just wish the author had decided to take that side of the story a little more slowly as I know she is capable of it.

My favourite character and by far the most interesting of them all was Garnet and I hope the second book gives more insight into him and his personality. Dare I say I ship him and Violet together.

Regardless of my few misgivings, The Jewel is a cracking read, with elements of a dystopian world, with a few strings of magic and romance thrown in, it will appeal of all readers who like fiction and fantasy. Highly recommended for fans of The Selection, and Reckoning.

ARC received from Walker Books, UK

Thursday, September 18, 2014

ARC Review: Frozen (Heart of Druid #1) by Melissa De La Cruz and Micheal Johnston


Frustrating dystopian which made no sense
Title: Frozen
Series: Heart of Druid
Author: Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston
Publisher: Orchard Books, Hachette UK
My ratings: 2 out of 5 stars
Releases: 2nd October, 2014
A Las Vegas which is frozen. A dystopian where everything is frozen like an ice age, pulled me right in. So much in fact, that I dropped the book I was reading to pick it up when I received this book.

It started off well enough. Natasha Kestral is Marked. She has different colour eyes and hidden powers which regular people are afraid of. If she is discovered she will be killed but the voice in her mind keeps calling her, showing her a place which is warm and pleasant. In order to reach her destination, she hires Wes, a mercenary who will help her make the treacherous crossing into the famed land. But everything is not so easy as soon they run into trouble.

I enjoyed the start. The world building was intriguing and the characters were forming there niches but then slowly everything fell apart. Characters acting out of character, too many mythical creatures and worst of all dues ex machina. It went all over the place. The plot holes, the inconsistencies and incomprehensible scenarios were too much for me. I tried very hard but I was skipping pages together and it made no difference to how much I enjoyed it.It was a right mess.

The characters lost their connection to me and the plot was all over the place. It felt like there hadn’t been a lot of thought put into writing the story, the world or the book in general. It felt like the authors, grabbed anything they could find to make the story exciting and added cheap thrills and slapped it together to make the story acceptable.

ARC provided by Orchard Books via NetGalley

Monday, September 15, 2014

Giveaway : Day 21 (The Hundred #2) by Kass Morgan

While looking for ideas for new posts, I realised that I haven't done a giveaway for a long time. So just like that (and to reduce the number of books I'm currently struggling to store) I'm giving away a copy of the second book Day 21 of the series The Hundred by Kass Morgan. This series has been made into a TV series which I love.

The TV series was a thrill ride but if you want more of the world read the books. The second book of The Hundred series comes out on the 26th of September and I'll be posting a review soon. Until then, enter away for a a chance to win a copy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 14, 2014

ARC Review: Trial By Fire (The Worldwalker Trilogy #1) by Josephine Angelini


A Fantastical  read with magic, mayhem, romance, rebellion, love and hatred
Title: Trial By Fire
Series: The Worlwalker Trilogy
Author: Josephini Angelini
Publisher: Macmillan's Children's Books
My ratings: 4 out of 5 stars
Released: 28th August, 2014
Trial by Fire is the first book in this series by Josephine Angelini, author of the bestselling Starcrossed series. Admittedly, I have only read the first book Starcrossed from her first series nut I have enjoyed her writing before. When I picked up Trial by Fire, it had already received many rave reviews from bloggers and friends and I was keen to dig into this new world. I'm pleased to say she doesn't disappoint.

Trial by Fire starts off with Lily, our protagonist being a sickly teenager who gets ill from the smallest thing in her vicinity. She suffers from severe allergic reactions and hence is on medication all the time. After a heartbreaking incident with her childhood friend Tristan, whom she is in love with, she somehow transports to another dimension. Here is the the mirror reflection of Lillian, the powerful witch who rules over present day Salem. soon in her quest to find a way back to her own world, Lily is embroiled in a war against herself and caught up between good and evil where the lines between them are blurred.

With a premise like this, it is hard to resist this book. I loved Lily. Even if she was physically weak in her own world, she was more than made up for it with her personality. She was head strong, determined, funny and sensible. It is difficult not to like her. At first, all she wants to do is go back to her own dimension, but as she learns more and more about the New Salem, her connection with it increases. She is immensely powerful in this new world and I enjoyed how she was discovering her new abilities.

The world building is painstakingly done and detailed. I love the concept of the 13 cities and the forest in between. Like Lily, I also could not help but compare the various bits of New Salem to Lily's own World. I particularly loved how the willstones worked and not unlike Lily, I'm curious as to what other abilities they may manifest. The relationships between the characters were well crafted and slowly built with solid character building around each one. Watching Lily and Tristan from the new world and their dynamics were interesting making me wonder, where is Rowan in Lily's own world? Speaking of Rowan, he is the love interest in the story. He and Lillian used to be in love but when she breaks his heart, he is bitter and angry and takes it out on Lily. I loved how their relationship was slowly unravelled. At first he is hostile and them slowly he melts away to show his real awesome self. Tension abounds between these two which I happily licked away making me wish for more. No insta-love in sight and their attraction is a slow burn. Delicious.

so why the 4 stars you ask? Well, I adored this book at the start. I was ticking all the boxes but after half way through, it felt slightly less. Some scenes were glossed over and I'm not sure I liked how Lily and Rowan resolved their issues. I can't quite put my finger on it but it felt like the author ran out of steam towards the middle portion. Moreover the underlying issue of 'save the environment' message that was subtle at first but annoyed me towards the end. How Lillian is convinced that science and technology will doom her world and the Lalidah. I'm all about saving the environment but reading a whole series with that message may be too much for me.

Regardless of my misgivings, Trail by Fire was a fantastical read, with magic, mayhem, romance, rebellion, love and hatred where shady characters abound. The book ends with a sort of cliff hanger which is more of a 'I cannot what for the next book.' and less of ' Why the heck it it stop here?'. It is definitely deserving of all the accolades that it's been getting from early reviewers and it's a must read for any fantasy YA reader. Unmissable.

Arc received from Macmillan Children's Books via NetGalley.


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