Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Review: Red Winter - Annette Marie


Red Winter
Red Winter by Annette Marie
Series: Red Winter Trilogy #1

My rating: {★★★★★}

YA Fantasy
Published October 21st 2016 by Dark Owl Fantasy Inc.

Source: Xpresso Book Tours

In a few short months, Emi's mortal life will end when she becomes the human host of an immortal goddess. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess—and not once has she doubted her chosen fate. Shiro is a spirit of the earth and an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command—whether she wants him or not. On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate—but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope … and hope is all she has left.

A huge thank you to Lindsey for first bringing this series to my attention and making me curious enough to request it from Xpresso Book Tours. It's quickly become one of my very favourite YA series EVER.

This book (and series) was unlike anything I had read before. THIS BOOK IS A GEM THAT SHOULD BE ON YOUR TBR. It's amazing. Seriously.

Go read it.

Not only is the COVER divine but guys there are gorgeous illustrations included in the book making the whole thing a truly wondrous piece of art.


I haven't read a lot based on Japanese mythology and folklore and yet I was never too confused - Annette Marie managed to explain the setting well and while the first few chapters (probably the first six?) were mainly world building and relatively dense the plot quickly takes over and I didn't feel as though it was too info dumpy, especially in retrospect.

I LOVED the richness of this world and the fantasy brought to life: Magical creatures that you don't hear about very much in YA literature - kitsunes, various other yokai and a whole wealth of legendary creatures and gods and goddesses.

Not only was the world building both rich and immense, the CHARACTERS were incredible too and the illustrations that were provided really helped to bring a richness and depth to both.

Emi is a Kamigakari which means that she is the mortal host for a Kami (god/goddess). She has known since she was eight years old that she would be the host for the goddess of the wind, Amaterasu. She isn't a warrior or particularly skilled in any way, she is naive, somewhat of a damsel (especially in the beginning), and she's sacrificed a lot in her life to become the perfect vessel for the descension of Amaterasu. I loved that her character was so believable, so layered and that there was so much room for the development we got to see both over this book and the entire series, and yet this was never implausible.

Shiro is a Kitsune, a fox spirit of the Earth who is morally ambiguous, sly and enigmatic. He was a character that I adored getting to know and the swift peeks that I had at his softer side just melted my YA fantasy loving heart.

Yumei is a raven spirit of the Earth. He is also the lord of crows and harbinger of war. His character was incredibly well portrayed with a wonderful depth and very true to the nature of a Yokai: He never deviated from being ruthless, unrelenting or selfish and yet he showed loyalty and some glimmers of human emotion. I was truly intrigued at his character and where the story would take him in future books.

While this book isn't really romantic, I have to say that I loved what little there was included here and the complete slow-burn and anticipation. The aspect of the forbidden romance and the promise of what is to come is just so enticing and delicious that it's totally worth it.

“Because you are more to me now. Because you keep secrets like a kami and I’m curious what you hide. Because you are lonely and scared and I don’t understand why. Because you trust me when you know you shouldn’t. Because I believe you when you say you will keep your word.”

There's quite a few action sequences that are really written coherently and choreographed seamlessly. The plot, while a little slow in the beginning (and rightly so) is propelled along nicely with great pacing, a perfect climax and ends with a definite need for MORE and yet there is hope and friendship blossoming.

There's a good sprinkle of mysterious antiheroes, forbidden romance, enchanting characters and action packed fantasy with just enough of the real world to make it relatable.


Please do yourself a favour and ADD THIS TO YOUR TBR IMMEDIATELY

“Don’t forget me, Shiro,” she said hoarsely. “You’re not allowed to forget me.”
He blinked slowly and something shifted in his gaze. His lips curved in his familiar crooked smile.
“You’ll forget me someday, little miko.” His voice was even hoarser than hers, rough and coated in a hint of an animal growl.
“I’ll never forget you,” she told him. “I’ll remember you to my last day.”
“Do you promise?”
Her heart gave an odd little flutter. “Yes, I promise.”

AAAANNND!!! For those of you who like book trailers, this one is pretty excellent!


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Sunday, 21 May 2017

Weekly Round Up #32 : The One Where My Computer Died



Here's my weekly roundup. I'm linking to The Sunday Post hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and #IMWAYR hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.


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Please leave a link to your blog (if you have one) in your comment or make sure your Disqus profile has your address so that I can visit you back! 


I have been a bad bad blogger - and while travelling and jet-lag and catching up on work was a whole big thing, even WORSE was the fact that my computer (my faithful old laptop!) decided to give up on me and absolutely refused to turn on. Luckily I have a desktop at work  (to which I returned last week) so it wasn't the complete apocalyptic event that it could have been, and luckily enough I also managed to revive my laptop after a fashion (meaning I've completely formatted and started from scratch). However it did put me another week behind in my blogging, completely derailed my schedule and I'm floundering around trying to get my digital life back on course. I'm getting there people! I'll be visiting your blog SOON!

One of the last things that I did before I involuntarily went offline was participate in The Blog Squad's own TAG about blogging! Check out the TAG post here and please join us if it's the sort of thing you like to do.

We've also most recently posted a Round Up post detailing everything we've done up to date if you need to catch up!

Outside of my digital life we acquired a new horse (#4 for us if anyone is counting), I had to get back to work after almost two months away (yeouch) and I'm NINE books behind on my Goodreads challenge for the year... NINE!!! I am slowly coming around to the fact that I may never catch up... In fact I'm going to go and change my goal for the year...

Our new baby: Venus

What I read last week:



Rogue

I'm honestly still trying to collect my thoughts after ACOWAR... I'm not sure what to think. My love of all things SJ Maas had me wanting to leave a 5 star rating but I've left it at a 4 star for now. More on that in my review (when I eventually get to it). 

What I am currently reading:


Flame in the Mist

Oh my gosh this is so good so far! Definitely helping to pull me out of any residual hangover I may have been suffering after ACOTAR marathon reads.

Up Next:


2973936125558608

I'm still pretty tightly on a reading schedule at the moment but I would love to pick up one of these sequels soon. I know that both series have more books releasing next year but I did read the first in the series for both of them relatively recently (neither of my reviews have actually gone up yet!!) and I can't wait to see what happens next.  

New Arrivals:

The Dragon Orb

This one looks super interesting and I'm looking forward to getting to it soon!


And that's my week! How did yours go?
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Friday, 19 May 2017

The Blog Squad: Special - What have we discussed so far?



We hope you’ve enjoyed our Blog Squad posts so far! We’ve really enjoyed answering the questions and reading your responses in the comments - it’s so awesome to hear everyone’s different experiences.

We aren’t finished with The Blog Squad posts, but we thought we’d do a wrap-up just to show you what we’ve done so far and let you read posts you might have missed.

 


The Blog Squad: Part I - Friday 10 February
  • What made you start your book blog?
  • Have you received any books to review from publishers or authors?
  • If an author has taken the time to research your blog and is asking you to review a book in your scope, should you say yes?

The Blog Squad: Part II - Friday 17 February

  • Do you have to get ARCs to be a "proper" Book Blogger?
  • What's your ‘review process’?
  • Do you write a review of every book read (including negative reviews?)

The Blog Squad: Part III - Friday 24 February

  • What is more important? A high number of followers OR a smaller number but more interactive followers?
  • Do you expect a comment back on your blog when you go comment on someone else’s blog?
  • Do you think bloggers should always reply to comments on their blog?

The Blog Squad Special: Friday 3 March

The Blog Squad: Part IV - Friday 10 March

  • Do you need a Twitter and/or Facebook and/or Instagram account if you have a blog?
  • Which blogging platform do you think is the best/ Why do you use Blogger?
  • What comment system do you prefer to use?

The Blog Squad: Part V - Friday 17 March

  • What makes you follow a blog?
  • Where do you find the blogs that you are currently following?
  • What makes you comment on a blog post?

The Blog Squad: Part VI - Friday 24 March

  • Blog scheduling - Do you do it?
  • Is there an acceptable number of posts per week for a book blog?
  • Book Blitzes and Blog Tours - Your take

The Blog Squad: Part VII - Friday 7 April

  • Book Ratings - what’s your system?
  • What things make you lower your rating for a book?
  • Have you ever looked back on ratings and reviews and needed to change them?

The Blog Squad: Part VIII - Friday 14 April

  • Should reviews have spoiler alerts? Or be spoiler free?
  • Do the endings of books affect your rating or overall opinion?
  • How long should a review be?

The Blog Squad: Part IX - Friday 21 April

  • What do you think is important about blog layout? How did you decide on your particular one?
  • Is there one thing you wish you’d done differently to your blog from the start? One thing you regret?
  • What is the next item on your blogging ‘To Do’ list?

The Blog Squad: Part X -  Friday 28 April May

  • What is your reading schedule like?
  • How much pressure do you put on yourself to meet your bookish goals?
  • How has blogging changed your reading habits?


The Blog Squad Special: A Tag -  Friday 5 May

  • Is there a particular blogger that inspires you?
  • What is your blog’s niche?
  • What is your top bookish confession?
  • What are your top 3 bookish pet peeves?
  • Name 3 books you would recommend to anyone.


Check out the other posts:



We hope this wrap-up has helped you catch-up on some of our topics! Please share your answers to any of the question above in the comments, and let us know if there’re any other questions you’d like us to feature.  Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for Part 11 next week!  

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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Review: The Rose and the Dagger - Renee Ahdieh


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The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #2

My rating: {★★★★★}

YA Fantasy
Published April 26th 2016 by G.P. Putnam's Sons

Source: Purchased
I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse-one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

"What do you want?”
“To live … fiercely.”


I find I adore duologies. There's something so inherently different about their makeup, their entire structure compared to a trilogy. Not to mention the fact that there's far less commitment issues when it comes to a duology. In this particular series though I would have been more than happy to read more!

After finishing The Wrath and the Dawn I found I just HAD to dive straight into The Rose and the Dagger. It probably had something to do with the cliffhanger, but Ahdieh definitely had me ensnared in this story and so invested in the plot that I just had to know what happened next.

I don't want to talk too much about the plot and give anything away but I really enjoyed where Ahdieh took this story and the wonderful secondary characters that we got to know and care for and the fact that they are all unique and flawed, sometimes to the point of frustration!!! But that is what life is.

The romance was again a huge YES PLEASE for me. I know that there's rumours of a love triangle but I don't rate this series as having one, or if it does, THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE DONE - yes, there is a third party involved who has romantic feelings for one of the MCs however these feelings are not returned and there is no angst or conflict. I love Shazi and Khalid's relationship and their love and trust and understanding in one another is truly beautiful. I also enjoyed the side romances of the secondary characters and in particular Irsa's arc.

“May I kiss you?”
“Why are you asking permission?” Irsa murmured. “Doesn’t that—ruin the moment?”
“No.” He smiled, but its edges wavered with a deeper meaning. “Because it’s not just a kiss.”
“Why is that?”
“Because when I kiss you, I want yours to be the first … and last lips I ever kiss.”


There's a wonderful variety of strong women in this series and I enjoyed the twists and turns and the 'girl power' vibe. Again, Irsa was a wonderful character to follow - she was more timid, less brash, not as confident in herself as her older sister and yet she still found the strength to be fierce when it was required of her.

It's a lush fantasy filled with well developed, diverse characters, romances you can get behind, a kingdom on the brink of war, flying carpets, magical creatures and a roller coaster of emotions. The series ends on a very profound and powerful note and I was more than happy to leave a five star rating. If you haven't picked up these books yet - do it now!

In the end, there is only time for love.


The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath & the Dawn, #1)
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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

I'm Back!!!



I'm back online after the harrowing experience of having my laptop absolutely FAIL at turning on! I'll be busy catching up on all things bookish this week and will be bloghopping and responding to all comments ASAP!!! Bear with me while I go through my two week setback please!

Normal scheduling will recommence this week :)


















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Sunday, 7 May 2017

Weekly Round Up #31 : The One Where I'm Travelling



Here's my weekly roundup. I'm linking to The Sunday Post hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and #IMWAYR hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.


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Please leave a link to your blog (if you have one) in your comment or make sure your Disqus profile has your address so that I can visit you back! 


Hi guys - I'm travelling this whole week on my way back to the hubby and HOME SWEET HOME! So I'll be catching up on all things bookish and bloggish NEXT weekend and the following week. I have a lot of comments to read, respond to and a lot of blogs to visit back and I WILL GET TO YOU! I'm sorry I'm so far behind but I will catch up!

What I read last week:


Wild MagicA Court of Thorns and Roses

My ACOTAR rereads are not going as quickly as I would like - I've been busy with my family every spare moment! I haven't had a chance to look around the blogosphere lately anyways so I'm not in danger of ACOWAR spoilers yet! Hopefully I get to read it before I hear ANYTHING about it.

What I am currently reading:


23168406ACOMAF


Up Next:

ACOWAR

Squeee!!


New Arrivals:

NOTHING UNTIL I CATCH UP


And that's my week! How did yours go?
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Friday, 5 May 2017

The Blog Squad: TAG Special


We are a group of three bloggers from different continents who have been bringing you “The Blog Squad’ - a series of discussion posts about book blogging! We have always enjoyed reading your comments and views at these posts and this time around, we have a special post in which you could participate too! We present to you ‘THE BLOG SQUAD TAG’ where we answer five questions about having a bookish blog and hope you would join us too!



Is there a particular blogger who inspires you?


There’s a lot of amazing book bloggers out there and to be honest anyone that even puts their opinion out there on the Internet is pretty inspiring to me! I love the bloggers that take the time to give back - responding to their comments and visiting other blogs and there are A LOT of excellent ones out there.
The ladies that I do The Blog Squad posts with are also pretty darn inspiring and I love the relationship that we’ve built by being in contact all the time! Thanks for making blogging the most awesome experience for me!

What is your blog’s niche?


I mainly review Young Adult books from the fantasy genre because that is what I read the most of. I don’t think I have a real niche yet?

What is your top bookish confession?


I have an extremely good imagination and have spent a lot of time wishing that the line between reality and fantasy could be blurred! I may or may not have tried a lot of the Harry Potter spells under my breath! Where the heck is my wand when I need one?

What are your top 3 bookish pet peeves?


The Interrupter - when someone assumes that just because you are reading you aren’t busy
The Long Wait - Either being on the ‘hold list’ at the library OR waiting for a sequel to be published
Predictability - When I knew it before it happened

Name 3 books you would recommend to anyone


This is actually tough because not everyone likes the same books…. But I always like recommending books that I love (because everyone should read them!).


I’m loving this series and I THINK EVERYONE SHOULD TRY IT!! It might not be for you, but if you do enjoy it, you will LOVE it!


Vampire Academy was another AMAZING series that I adored and I think anyone interested should get started IMMEDIATELY.


It might be an obvious one, but I think EVERYONE should try this series at least ONCE in their life!

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this tag! Please feel free to take part on your own blog, and do tag us on Twitter or elsewhere if you decide to participate. We’d love to see your answers! 
Check out the other answers here: 

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Sunday, 30 April 2017

Weekly Round Up #30 : The One Where Everything is Outback Style



Here's my weekly roundup. I'm linking to The Sunday Post hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and #IMWAYR hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.


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Please leave a link to your blog (if you have one) in your comment or make sure your Disqus profile has your address so that I can visit you back! 


This week was a busy week for us! On Tuesday we had our ANZAC day memorial to get ready for which involved setting up the town hall and doing a bit of audio work.

Our local show was also on yesterday which, as only the outback can do, was full of whips cracking, dogs jumping, horses doing their ultimate, a helicopter lolly drop and a bullorama to finish it all off!

Some of the entertainment for the kids (the crackup sisters and jumping castles!)

The lolly drop (aka kid stampede)

Bullorama

What I read last week:


Crooked KingdomThe Kingmaker

Amy and I finished up our buddy reads of the Six of Crows duology with Crooked Kingdom and we both really enjoyed this series! I also finished The Kingmaker, an indie novel that is the part of a tr

What I am currently reading:


23168406A Court of Thorns and Roses

I'm just finishing up Rogue and then I'm starting in on my rereads of ACOTAR. I CANNOT WAIT.

Up Next:


Flame In The Mist

I'm having a scheduling dilemma since this one was pushed back to the 16th so I've decided to read it AFTER A Court of Thorns and Roses. Hopefully it can also pull me out of an inevitable book hangover?

New Arrivals:

None this week! My schedule is too full to add anything else right now!!!


And that's my week! How did yours go?
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Friday, 28 April 2017

The Blog Squad: A Blogger Collaboration Part X


We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions.


BOOK REVIEWS BY DI - Di Hewlett




What is your reading schedule like?


Uma says...

Right now my reading schedule is pretty much unpredictable as my semester exams are going on! I’m working through a couple of books this month but keeping it light. Hopefully I’ll have more free time next month and I can catch up on my Goodreads Challenge (I’m currently 15 books behind!!)

There are some series I’m really excited about starting finishing (hopefully) in the summer holidays! Namely, The Mortal Instruments (I’m FREAKING EXCITED about this one!), and Six of Crows (I’M EVEN MORE EXCITED ABOUT THIS ONE)


Amy says...

   
My reading schedule typically consists of review copies and reading them in the order I receive them - and if it’s an ARC that has to be read and reviewed within a time frame, that’ll obviously come first.

Occasionally, I’ll fit in a library book, but only if it’s one I really want to read.  Books I’ve bought myself come last, but sometimes - if it’s one I’m DESPERATE to read - I’ll squeeze it in among review copies.

How much pressure do you put on yourself to meet your bookish goals?


Uma says...

So I used to put A LOT of pressure on my reading goals! I’d even make pretty impossible goals and push myself to go get them! Of late I’ve learned to let go of that...or more like forced to let go of that due to exams and more academic stuff. Whatever the reason maybe, I’m glad to have slowed down. When I put too much pressure, reading starts to feel like work and there’s no fun in that is there?

But I still do care about my Goodreads Challenge on which I’m currently A LOT behind. But hopefully I’ll catch up to that! I think it’s absolutely okay to have bookish goals as long as they don’t drag you out of your comfort zone. Books = Comfort , so trying to read books just for the sake of numbers at the cost of comfort is no fun.


Amy says...

Hmmm...
I don’t really have many bookish goals (except from my Goodreads challenge, obviously, and that’s the whole year. SCORE!), and so I don’t really pressurise myself too much with that.

The only bookish goal I can think of right now is making sure I finish a book within a month. In the next question I explain more about that, but basically I don’t like a book or its review to “overlap” into another month. That’s the only bookish pressure I put on myself.


But if the book I’m reading is a review copy - or an ARC - then I won’t allow myself to put it down until I’ve read a decent number of pages per day. I’ll read the book regularly until it’s finished, and definitely within a month.

How has blogging changed your reading habits?



Uma says...


Blogging has definitely changed the way I read. Back before I started blogging, I read purely for entertainment value. Now I’ve started looking at books with a more critical eye and started seeing things I’d ignored before. Before I started blogging, I didn’t even know how important diversity in books are, how sexist some books were and such. After starting to blog and exploring the bookish community on the internet I’ve learnt so much!

Also since I started blogging I’ve started prioritizing my TBR pile a lot differently than I used to. Earlier it was about books I wanted to read the most but now i have to take into consideration ARCs, review copies and make sure I’m posting reviews close to the publishing date. This has of course caused my TBR pile to explode but oh well, no one said blogging was easy :P

Amy says...

Blogging about books has definitely made me analyse what I’m reading more thoroughly, and look at it with a critical eye. I also don’t read just any book I want to, because ARCs and review copies come first and I have to find time to review them all.
I’ve also cut back drastically on getting library books.

Because I like to have things “neat and tidy”, I always make sure I never read a book over two months. I like to wrap the month up cleanly by being able to say, for example, “I read Six of Crows in April. I read it and reviewed it then.” So that means I won’t start a new book on like the third last day of the month, because it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be able to read and review it by the time the next month’s rolled in! I don’t like overlapping, so to speak. It’s kinda like a pet peeve for me, but it’s what I’m comfortable with.      



To see my answers make sure to visit the other collab posts!


We hope you’ve enjoyed our discussion post! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!

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