Book Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Side Effects May Vary

Title: Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murphy
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Cancer, Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 26th March 2014
Pages: 335
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Written from the perspectives of both Harvey and Alice, in Side Effects May Vary, Julie Murphy weaves a compelling story of friendship, relationships and love, with a little bit of death thrown in for good measure; at least for a while.

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs. So she convinces her best friend Harvey, who’s loved her forever, to help with compiling a crazy just-dying-to-do bucket list, that’s as much about revenge as it is about redemption. But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission. Now she must face the consequences of all she’s said and done and discover just what happens when we say our ‘final’ words, only to find that life isn’t through with us yet.

Sharp, witty and poignant – this is a book written for all ages.

My Review:

Alice has been battling leukaemia for over a year but she’s getting weaker all the time. She’s sure that her time is coming to an end and as a result enlists her oldest friend, Harvey, to help her complete her unfinished business.  But this is a bucket list with a difference. Alice wants to get revenge on those who have wronged her before it’s too late. Harvey knows that what Alice is doing is wrong but he’s loved her since before he knew what love was and can deny her nothing. When Alice gets the news that she is in remission it should be a happy time but now she has to deal with the fall out of her actions.

I loved reading this debut novel by Julie Murphy. I started reading it thinking that I’d read a few chapters before bed and before I knew it – I was finished the book and only a few hours until I was supposed to wake up.

Alice isn’t like a lot of characters I’ve read before. She’s angry and mean but I felt like she was a very honest character. Life has wronged her and she wants to get her own back. She’s bitter what life has thrown at her. Having cancer hasn’t changed her – she hasn’t all of a sudden become a better person. I loved reading about her. There were times when I wanted to shout at her (What are you doing Alice?!) but as much as her actions didn’t always make sense to me – it made sense for her. They felt authentic for the girl I had gotten to know over the course of this novel.

Harvey is Alice’s partner in crime as she completes her revenge list. He was a character I wasn’t a fan of for a huge part of the novel. He’s a bit of a doormat and whilst that is good for Alice’s plan – I wanted him to stand up for himself. For him to be worthy of loving and to stand up and be someone Alice couldn’t walk over and ignore. That said, he did grow and change over the course of the book and by the end he started to be a character I enjoyed reading.

This is a book about life. About being hurt and surviving. Alice has a lot going on in her life. There is parents drama, the fickleness of friendship, relationship problems and her medical crisis. And whilst I don’t approve of how she dealt with it all – she did manage to cope and come though it all. Her actions all had consequences and no matter what she had been though – she didn’t get an easy out. I admire how Julie Murphy handled the situations she put her characters though and loved this different view of a teenage cancer story.

Side Effects May Vary was one of my most anticipated reads of this year and it did not disappoint. It’s not just a romance but a touching and compelling story about a girl coming to grips with what life throws at her – and the consequences of getting even.

Thanks to Penguin Australia and NetGalley for the review copy. 

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Nymph by Tonya Alexandra

Nymph (The Love Oracles #1)

Title: Nymph (The Love Oracles #1)
Author: Tonya Alexandra
Genre: Mythology, Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Publication Date: 1st February 2014
Pages: 432
Rating: 3 stars

Please feel free to check out my interview with Tonya as a part of the Nymph blog tour hosted by Walker Books Australia!

Synopsis (from goodreads):
An idyllic Greek island. Obsessed demigods. A fallen nymph. A mortal boy. Merope, a beautiful but faded star nymph, is banished to Earth for displeasing the gods. She tries to fit in, go to school and live a normal “human” life. And then she meets Lukas … but relationships between men and goddesses are forbidden. Will their love grow? Or will Merope and Lukas feel the wrath of the gods?

My Review:

Merope has lived for thousands of years as a star nymph in the land of gods, Olympus. But life isn’t always easy for the faded star nymph. She’s been exiled to Earth and has had to leave her sisters behind. Living like a mortal is worlds apart from her other life but Merope is starting to see that there might be benefits to a human existence. One of which is the gorgeous and kind Lukas, a farm boy with exquisite imperfections. Romantic relation between a goddess and a mortal are forbidden but the way Merope feels is like nothing she’s felt before in all her immortal existence. Is a chance at forbidden romance worth the punishment the gods met out?

I’ve read quite a few modern takes on classic myths but never before have I read one about star nymphs. I was intrigued by the idea and the romance angle drew me in. Merope is ancient in comparison to mortals but rather naive about so many things. She’s lived in the shadow of her sisters her entire life and would prefer to hide in corners than take centre stage. But she has some spark to her. Rejecting a god who has been after her for centuries and then living with the consequences of her actions. For a nymph who has only ever called Olympus home, being exiled to modern-day Greece is such a shock but Merope does try to make the most of things. She enrols in a local school to learn as much as she can about humans. She makes some friends and she even goes as far as trying to embrace technology.

And then there’s Lukas. He’s hideous perfection in Merope’s eyes. The son of a local farmer with whom Merope falls for at first sight. I’m not usually one for instalove. But their initial chemistry works for me because if I can suspend belief and believe in mythological gods on Earth wearing Nike and driving sports cars, then I can believe in love at first sight within the world this book exists in. I would have liked to see rationale behind their fierce feelings been built on throughout the book (some kind of moments where despite already being in love, have causation behind falling deeper) but they do have some tender scenes and I can barrack for them as a couple.

Along for the ride on Earth – we get to see other Greek heroes experience life the mortal way. Merope’s Uncle Pro (Prometheus) is helping her adapt in the foreign place and I liked his presence in her life. Merope’s mother is an interesting character who I do hope we get to see more of in the series but the character I wanted to read about most was Hercules. Herc isn’t anything like the hero Disney made him out to be. He’s arrogant and conceited and has a proclivity for nymphs but he’s so entertaining. Gorgeous and vain, he is everything Lukas isn’t – and he knows it. A hero in the legends of old, his presence in the mortal world shakes things up a bit. I love reading his interactions with the modern world and how Merope reacts to him. He brings the a fierceness out in her and made her a little more real to read.

Nymph, the first book in the Love Oracles series, is an entertaining read. It’s surprisingly funny in parts and the romance is sweet and pure. There’s friendship and the pressures of family all coexisting in a lovely re-imagining of ancient Greek mythology. An easy read, this book is suited for younger teens and older readers who enjoy stories about true love and soul mates.

Thanks to Walker Books Australia for the review copy. 

Purchase the novel from:

Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty

Cracks in the Kingdom (The Colours of Madeleine #2)

Title: The Cracks in the Kingdom (The Colours of Madeline #2)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Genre: Fantasy, Contemporary, Magic, Young Adult
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: February 2014
Pages: 544
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Time slides around the world so strangely …

It’s not easy being Princess Ko. Her family is missing, taken to the World through cracks in the Kingdom, which were then sealed tightly behind them.

Now Princess Ko is running the Kingdom, and war is looming.

To help her find her family, she gathers a special group of teens, including Elliot Baranski of the Farms. He’s been writing secret letters to a Girl-in-the World named Madeleine Tully – and now the Kingdom needs her help.

Madeleine and Elliot must locate the missing royals, convince them of their true identities, and figure out how to unlock the dangerous cracks between the Kingdom and the World.

All before their enemies can stop them.

My Review:

One of the best things that has happened to me in the past two years of blogging is discovering Jaclyn Moriarty’s books. She has a beautiful way of telling stories and this second book in the Colours of Madeline series did not disappoint.

Elliot Baranski, a boy who lives on a farm in a Kingdom named Cello, and Madeline Tully, a girl from the world we know in a city called Cambridge, are still communicating though a crack between the Kingdoms. A broken TV turned art installation and a malfunctioning parking meter allow the two to pass messages to and fro from Cello to Cambridge. Madeline is still not completely sure she believes the boy is real and the tales he tells about colours harming and seasons with minds of their own – but she lets best friends Belle and Jack in on the secret. Elliot is entrusted by the Princess to try to work out how to use the crack to bring her family back… that is if they are even there to begin with.

I love the characters in this series. They’re as vibrant as the colours which wreak havoc in the realm of Cello. Madeline is inquisitive and unwilling to take things on faith. She needs to find things out for herself and disbelieves things – even things in front of her very eyes – without some kind of scientific proof. Elliot is almost her opposite. He gives his all for everything he does and doesn’t do anything half-hearted. His belief in his family and himself is strong and he would do anything, sacrifice anything, for his loved ones. Where Madeline is theoretically based, Elliot is physical and spontaneous. They work well off each other despite being worlds apart – both physically and metaphorically.

This book is a great addition to the series. Elliot being inducted into the Royal Youth Alliance causes much drama. He has to covertly carry out secret missions for the Princess whilst at the same time pretending just to be there for the sake of uniting the Kingdom. His liaisons with Madeline grow strained under the pressures of the missions but throughout it all they are there for each other. Getting to experience what the different parts of the kingdom of Cello have to offer though Elliot’s eyes was interesting and I loved the trip to the Lake of Spells. Cello is a world that is full of magic and yet it feels believable because of how similar it is to the World Madeline inhabits.

At over 500 pages, this is a long book but it never felt that way. I couldn’t wait to find out what was next for Elliot and Madeline and their friends. The plot took me places I wasn’t expecting and I enjoyed the journey. There are surprises and a lot of questions still to be answered. What happened to the Royal Family? Will they come back? Why are the cracks between the worlds? What’s the deal with the rebels? And whilst many of these questions were not either fully or partially answered – I felt so involved in the story that I didn’t mind not knowing.

The ending was one I wasn’t anticipating but perfect. That said – I’m incredibly eager to find out what Jaclyn Moriarty has next install for Elliot, Madeline and the people of the two Worlds they come from. I enjoyed every step in this novel and recommend the series for fans of well written and exciting young adult literature.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan for the review copy. 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Also by Jaclyn Moriarty:

A Corner of White (The Colours of Madeleine, #1)

A Corner of White (The Colours of Madeline #1)

Book Review + Giveaway: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Today I get to share with you all my review for the third and final book in the Juliette Chronicles, Ignite Me. Allen & Unwin have generously offered on copy for me to giveaway (open to residents of Australia and New Zealand) so please be sure to check out the end of this post for more information on how to win. 

Title: Ignite Me (The Juliette Chronicles #3)Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Dystopia, Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: 1st March 2014
Pages: 416
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The exciting and chilling conclusion to the internationally successful Juliette Chronicles series. With Omega Point destroyed,
Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for
all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. He
promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world … but that’s not all he wants with her

My Review:

Juliette is more determined than ever to stop the Reestablishment. Her friends are missing and she presumes them to be dead. Her only ally is Warner – the same man who imprisoned her and caused her no end of psychological trauma only a few months ago. But with his military resources and belief in her, Juliette is stronger than she has been before. And her resolve to bring down the Supreme is as strong and determined as her powers.

I think enjoyment from this book comes down to expectations. I have read both the full length novels in this series (Shatter Me and Unravel Me) and I liked them. Juliette as a character has grown so much. She was fragile and let the world trample on her but now she is strong and holds all the power. Nothing can hurt her unless she lets it. I thought it was great to see her grow and evolve throughout the series and I liked how the writing itself displayed her development. No more things she wishes she was brave enough to say aloud any more. She is in control.

But I was expecting more than a romance. And for most of this book – that’s what I got. Juliette finds herself in a situation where she finds she has feelings for her former tormentor, Warner. The same man who kept her against her will and forced her to unwilling harm a little boy. While all the bad things he does are explained and despite Juliette being able to forgive him – I couldn’t. But I also couldn’t quite correlate the behaviour of Adam Kent from previous books to now. Whilst I liked that this book is different. It’s not just the first boy she sees is her one and only, the progression didn’t feel right to me. It was a little convenient that the Adam of Shatter Me had disappeared completely just when Juliette found herself having feelings for Warner.

Action wise, I was a little disappointed too. There is a lot of build up. Lots of training and getting things in place. But when everything finally kicks off in the last fifty pages or so, it is a little anticlimactic. I was expecting a lot and felt it didn’t live up to my expectations. So much more could have happened and I felt a little let down by the execution of the ending.

Whilst this book didn’t live up to my expectations – I can see why others would enjoy where Mafi takes the story. There’s romance and character development and some great comic relief in Kenji. Ignite Me is well written and creative.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

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GIVEAWAY!

Thanks to Allen & Unwin

I have

1 print edition of Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi to giveaway

**Open to  Australian and New Zealand Residents only**

Please leave a comment on this post to enter and then

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

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Book Review: Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

Unbreakable ( The Legion #1), Kami Garcia

Title: Unbreakable (The Legion #1)
Author: Kami Garcia
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Ghosts, Young Adult
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: October 2013
Pages: 320
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Kennedy Waters didn’t believe in ghosts, until one tried to kill her.

When Kennedy finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that evil forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into her house and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon – a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon – battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Suspense, romance, and the paranormal meet in this chilling urban fantasy, the first book in a new series from Kami Garcia, bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures novels

My Review:

Kennedy lives in her safe little world with her mother, her best friend, her cat named Elvis and a room full of art supplies. But one day after her cat runs away, Kennedy finds herself in a graveyard and everything changes. Her mother dies mysteriously and Kennedy sees things that shouldn’t be there – ghostly things. When brothers, Jared and Lukas Lockhart show up, Kennedy is drawn into a world of paranormal spirits and the Legion – a group of five seemingly unconnected individuals with ghost hunting skills being passed down from generation to generation.

Kennedy isn’t the most likely person to become a ghost hunter. She’s content with her life. Her mother loves her and makes her pancakes. Her best friend Elle takes care of Kennedy’s social life organizing group outings and double dates. Her dad might be out of the picture and her boyfriend may have recently broken her heart but over all – things are good for Kennedy Waters. And then a ghost tries to kill her and her mother is murdered by a demon. In many ways this book feels like it’s trying to pick up the Supernatural TV show vibe but it misses the mark with me.

Unbreakable reads a little young at times. Kennedy is seventeen but someone could be forgiven for thinking she’s several years younger for most of the book. But she does grow up – somewhere between first meeting the girl in the white dress and joining the Legion – and the story gets more enjoyable.

The rest of the characters are fun to read. There are the Lockhart twins, Lucas and Jared, both with an interest in Kennedy, the technological genius Priest, and Alara – the privileged goth girl who bankrolls the adolescent ghost hunters. Each come with their own unique set of skills and interesting back stories for the reader to discover as the novel unfolds. There’s interesting plot that develops but at times it felt unplanned and hurried. The way the teens find each piece of the puzzle often felt bizarre and almost accidental. The love triangle felt convenient and not a situation where I cared which way Kennedy decided.

Overall this is an interesting read but I won’t be continuing with the series. I didn’t feel emotionally involved with what will happen next nor with the characters themselves. In many ways I felt like this book was trying to imitate the first season of Supernatural the TV show but fell a little short.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster and The Reading Room for the review copy. 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: The Queen’s Choice by Cayla Kluver

The Queen's Choice

Title: The Queen’s Choice (Heirs of Chrior Trilogy #1)
Author: Cayla Kluver
Genre: Fantasy, Fae, High Fantasy,  Young Adult
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: 28th January 2014
Pages: 500
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
My life is no longer mine to control. By a single deed, I have become something more than I wanted to be.

When sixteen-year-old Anya learns that her aunt — Queen of the Faerie Kingdom of Chrior — will soon die, her grief is equalled only by her despair for the future of the kingdom. Her young cousin, Illumina, is unfit to rule and Anya is determined not to take up the queen’s mantle herself.

Convinced that the only solution is to find Prince Zabriel — who long ago disappeared into the human realm of Warckum — and persuade him to take up his rightful crown, Anya journeys into the Warckum Territory to bring him home. But her journey is doomed to be more harrowing than she ever could have imagined…

My Review:

The Fae Queen is dying and wants her sixteen year old niece, Anya, to be her successor. Ruling her people is not something Anya thought she would be doing and instead decides to venture into Human lands and find her wayward cousin, the Queen’s half-human half-fae son and true heir to the Chrior throne, Prince Zabriel. Misfortune favours Anya as she journeys through the human realm of Warchum but she needs to complete her self-appointed mission before it’s too late for the Queen and her son to reconcile.

Anya is a very interdependent and strong young woman. Having to face horrors with an alarming frequency but somehow she manages to emerge slightly damaged but still with a fighting spirit. She’s gone though so much and despite having lost so much somehow she has even more taken from her. She does tend to feel sorry for herself at times and whilst it’s entrely understandable, it doesn’t make her the most enjoyable character to read. This story really gets going once Anya meets Shea. Shea is every bit as strong as Anya but without the street smarts and a little more naive about the darkness of human (and fae) nature. The camaraderie between the two was a pleasure to read and I loved how they supported each other.

There is a lot going on in this book. A gorgeous pirate and his mischievous crew, faeries with an innate connection to the elements, political unease between the Fae and Humans, an adventure and a quest and a lot of hidden motives. And I enjoyed reading Anya’s journey throughout the Human realm. However I almost didn’t finish this book. I was a hundred pages in and I didn’t feel a connection to the characters and found the book to be a little convoluted and monotonous. The writing is very descriptive but a little long-winded. This book would have benefited from being a little more direct and to the point. I’m so glad that I didn’t give up because after the first 20% this book is great. It’s still a little slow at times but the characters Anya meets on the way and the way events play out were well worth it. One thing that surprised me was how much I enjoyed the romance – or lack there of. Anya is betrothed to a lovely young fae man but it doesn’t overwhelm the story. This is not just a book about a girl choosing the man she wants to be with. It’s about so much more. Duty to one’s people and family. Risking everything to do what you believe is right. And to never give up no matter what hardships have been bestowed upon you.

I’ve not read a Cayla Kluver novel before but I am delighted to have finished the Queen’s Choice. There are twists I didn’t see coming and have me eagerly anticipating the next books in the series. I have so many questions but they are the good kind of questions where I can’t wait to see just where Kluver is going to take Anya, Zabriel and the unrest between the two realms next.

 Thanks to Harlequin Teen and for the review copy. 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Rock It by Jennifer Chance

Rock It (Rule Breakers #1)

Title: Rock It (Rule Breakers #1)
Author: Jennifer Chance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult, Musician
Publisher: Love Swept (Random House)
Publication Date: March 4th, 2014
Pages: 240
Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Lacey Dawes is a total pro at the talent agency where she works, and it doesn’t hurt that IMO Worldwide Media represents Dante Falcone. The rock god has starred in her fantasies since she was sixteen—and remains her secret crush to this day. So when Dante picks her to be the interim manager on his Dream It tour, Lacey can’t believe her luck. Handling Dante is sure to be the most exquisite, spine-tingling, nerve-wracking mix of business and pleasure ever.

Although Dante is grateful for the adoring fans who scream for one more of his full-throttle, soul-searing songs, being surrounded by a cadre of corporate types backstage is wearing thin. Then Lacey shows up. Yeah, she’s organized, smart, quick to get him what he wants before he knows he wants it—but Dante senses there’s something else going on with sweet, sexy Lacey. One kiss tells him what that “something” might be . . . and makes him hungry for more.

My Review:

Ever been obsessed with a rock star? Lacey Dawes has – and she has the scrapbooks to prove it. She’s been in love with musician Dante Falcone for as long as she can remember. When she was a teen she sent him a letter every day for a hundred days and she isn’t completely over her first crush. Now, in her twenties, Lacey’s talent agency has signed Dante Falcone as their number one client – and he wants her to go on tour with him. It’s a dream come true – or is it? Trying to keep her personal and professional lives separate, Lacey struggles as she gets to realize that the man behind the guitar is just as incredible as she always thought.

Rock It reads a little like well written fan fiction. What would you do if you got the chance to get up close and personal with your fantasy musician? Lacey gets to experience just that – however it felt a little odd at times. We get to see Lacey the junior talent agent – willing to do whatever it takes to keep clients and her employers happy. She will do the grunt work that no one else wants to and does all the little jobs her boss Brenda passes down. When she catches Dante’s eye and he requests her, Lacey is determined to be as professional as possible. And yet, it doesn’t take much for uber-competent and businesslike Lacey to be quite sensual and sexual. I found it a little odd and (disregarding the incident with the champagne) could not quite work out why she behaved as she did  – except if it was just her lingering feelings as a fangirl spurring her on. Dante is every bit the rock star. He’s been in the spotlight for a long time and wants to break out and do what he wants to do and not what his record label expects. His reputation with the ladies is legendary and it felt natural that he would embrace Lacey’s sexual side. His realization of his true feelings towards Lacey felt abrupt and uncharacteristic.

These characters have quite a bit of sexual chemistry with each other but as a reader I didn’t connect with either of them. Lacey spent a lot of time worrying that she was going to lose her job (despite the big boss nearly always saying how great she was doing) and daydreaming about how amazing Dante is. I’m not sure what set Lacey apart from the other groupies Dante had and the two didn’t appear to have much of an emotional connection.

This book was a steamy read and not for those who don’t enjoy down and dirty romances. The idea that dreams really can come true is very sweet however I would have liked to have seen more emotional maturity from Lacey and Dante. There are some humorous moments throughout the novel but ultimately this isn’t a story that will stick with me.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Barnes & Noble

About Jennifer Chance

JenniferChance

I come by romance honestly, having spent several years writing adult romance and entering romance contests through Romance Writers of America–including finaling twice in the prestigious Golden Heart contest and winning once. But despite these and other contest wins, my first published novel came not in adult romance, but as a writer of YA historical fiction (you can read all about my Elizabethan spy girls stories, the Maids of Honor, here.)

Still, despite my love of Elizabethan spies, I could never quite give up those super Alpha contemporary romance heroes. So, in the summer of 2013, I decided to see if perhaps I might still have a romance or two up my sleeve.

I wrote a tale about a girl whose biggest high-school and college crush–a rock star–suddenly becomes her biggest client, only now she has to be professional and not betray the fact that she’s completely in love with the guy. It was a fun, sexy, romantic fantasy, and I suggested the idea to my agent… who asked what other ideas I had in addition to this story. Shortly after, the Rule Breakers series was born.

To separate these books from my historical work, I adopted the name Jennifer Chance. I am now pursuing my dreams (pretty much round the clock as it turns out) and am THRILLED to be able to have four e-books coming out in 2014 and early 2015, all with Random House LoveSwept’s New Adult romance line.

As to what will happen from here, who knows? But as long as there is a story to be written and an HEA to be had, I’ll be the one over in the corner, tapping away on my keyboard.

Connect with Jennifer at her Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 RockItBlogTourButton

Book Review: The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4)

Title: The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Vampires, Boarding School
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 432
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn’t over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there’s still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure—and re-education—looms larger than ever.

Pulses will race throughout this thrilling fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.

My Review:

It’s no secret that the Bloodlines series is one of my favourites. And despite my reservations about the cover (I’m not a fan of Sydney’s hair….), The Fiery Heart is my favourite so far! There’s a lot going on – romantically, magically – and the extra pressure of family dynamics are wearing on Sydney. Things seem to have finally worked themselves out with her and Adrian having admitted their feelings for each other and attempting some kind of relationship. But when Sydney’s little sister now inked as an Alchemist and being tasked with helping Sydney with the vampires, the new couple are going to have to keep their romance under wraps. Adrian has his own problems – it seems impossible for him to find a happy medium between being spirit and sanity.

I was impressed with how well the dual point of view between Sydney and Adrian worked. I wasn’t sure I’d like changing things up from how the series had been going so far but it was a refreshing change to get to see what was going on from someone different. Not only that but it’s the first time in the Vampire Academy/Bloodlines series where we have had a narration from a Moroi and I liked getting to see the impacts of spirit first hand. Getting to see Sydney from Adrian’s point of view was lovely. For all the cockiness and sarcasm he may try to project to world, it was clear to see just how much he loved her and how hard he was trying to be the best person he could be – not just for her but for himself as well. We may have had to wait three books for these two to get together but it was worth it to get the interactions and beautiful dynamic that we get to see in The Fiery Heart.

There’s a lot going on but all the different story lines manage to fit together perfectly. In this book, Sydney is feeling the pressure of her family. Her sister wants her to spend more time together but between discovering her witchy magic, spending time with Adrian and sorting out the antics of her vampire charges, there never seems to be time for Sydney to breathe never mind have some girl time with Zoe. It’s never apparent to me just where Ms. Mead is going to take things next – from romantic relationships to just what the different sects of society (the Alchemists, the Warriors, the Coven)  are up to. I loved the ties in with characters we have not seen much since Vampire Academy – with Lissa asking Adrian for help and getting to see the rest of the group now a little older and wiser interacting with a more evolved Adrian.

This book has everything that I love about this series. Chemistry between the leads, interesting plots, a secondary cast of characters who add to the overall story and are entertaining to read, and dialogue that makes me feel so many different emotions. I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Silver Shadows (July 2014) and am desperately eager to find out what happens to Sydney next. This book does end on a cliffhanger that’s left me anxious to see what’s ahead for these characters.

Favourite Quotes:

“Escape plan number seventeen,” I told her. “Run away and open a juice stand in Fresno.”
“Why Fresno?”
“Sounds like the kind of place people drink a lot of juice.”

“It’s Adrian Ivashkov logic. Don’t try to understand it. Just roll with it.”

“An image of Sydney’s face appeared in my mind’s eye, calm and lovely.
I believe in you.
My anxiety faded.
I took a deep breath and met the gazes of all those watching me in the room.
Who was I to do this?
I was Adrian Ivashkov.
And I was about to kick some ass.”

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Half-Blood by Jennifer L Armentrout

Half-Blood (Covenant, #1)

Title: Half-Blood (Covenant #1)
Author: Jennifer L Armentrout
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult, First in a Series
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Publication Date: September 2011
Pages: 281
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi pure bloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals–well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn’t her biggest problem–staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

My Review:

Alex has been on the run from daimons since she saw them murder her mother. After another attack, and nowhere to go, Alex is taken to the Covenant – a boarding school for Hermatoi, offspring of the gods – and the very place where she and her mother fled from three years earlier. Alex was not the best student and her past behaviour record threatens to have her expelled before she is even a student again. She has a choice – to train with the gorgeous pureblood, Aiden St Delphi, or become a servant in her stepfather’s mansion.

I’ve wanted to read this series for a while. I have a weakness for books with strong heroines and magical boarding schools. I’d heard that this series has a lot in common with Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy books and there is a lot that feels familiar (the forbidden romance, the class system, even the boarding school itself). However there is enough different about these stories that I wasn’t constantly comparing the two.

Alex is the kind of girl who acts first and deals with the repercussions later. But she isn’t blindly rebellious. She knows when to pull her head in and when to break the rules. Her loyalty to her mother and her friends is fierce and there is logic behind her decisions. The forbidden romance between Alex and Aiden is fun to read but it did feel a touch like déjà vu.

The plot is interesting. There’s an Apollyon, some mythical half-blood with the power of the elements and super daimon fighting skills. Mix with that some great fight scenes, some mean girls, evil stepfather, ominous and mysterious uncle and a heartbreaking decision. Armentrout is not kind to her characters and I admire Alex all the more for what she goes though in this novel.

I’m curious as to what happens next for Alex now she knows a little more about herself and I intend to read the next books in the series but it’s not a priority. I like the characters and the plot yet there are other series I want to catch up on first. 

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Forever by Karen Ann Hopkins

Forever (Temptation, #3)

Title: Forever (Temptation #3)
Author: Karen Ann Hopkins
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Culture, Last in a series
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: January 2014
Pages: 336
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
All I want is my happily-ever-after.
That’s all I’ve wanted since meeting Noah Miller.

From the day we met, the world has tried to keep Noah and me from being together, but now that I’m carrying his child, no one will be able to tear us apart. Or so I hope. But Noah and I have made some mistakes along the way, and the consequences are impacting the people we love. Worse, there’s a storm on the horizon, and it’s sure to cause serious devastation.

If we can get through this, we’ll finally be Rose and Noah; a family, forever.
But first we have to survive the road ahead. And happily-ever-after is a long way off.

My Review:

Rose and Noah have overcome so much – their cultural differences, their families and now they may have a chance at happily ever after. Except that for these young lovers, the course of true love never did run smoothly. It might seem a little odd that after the low rating I gave the previous book (Belonging) that I have continued on with this series but there is something oddly compelling about Rose and Noah’s story. They may have a selfish and tumultuous relationship with a lot of emotion however I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next for the star-crossed pair.

With Rose finding out she’s pregnant, everything is different. She is confused. After experiencing Amish culture for six months she’s not sure that it would be the best place for her baby. Trying the keep the secret from her father and Noah isn’t easy but at least she has her big brother Sam and her best friend Summer to help her though. With the point of view shifting between Rose and Noah and the occasional chapter being told by Sam and new narrator, Noah’s sister Sarah, Forever is an interesting read.

I wasn’t entirely happy with Rose finding out she was pregnant. And for the most part I found Rose’s story in Forever to be fairly boring because of this. She spends a lot of time trying to hide her pregnancy and apparently considering her options. But I never really felt like she was weighing up any decision. She was understandably scared but I doubt anyone was the slightest surprised by what Rose finally decides. Noah’s story was more interesting with a lot of drama unfolding from his decision to break his engagement with Constance – an Amish girl he courted and proposed to just to hurt Rose. I’m still not a fan of his actions in the previous book but I liked that there were repercussions. And not just for Noah – but for his entire family and friends.

This novel has heartbreak and I was shocked by one of the storylines. I was surprised by how much I had grown to anticipate a certain relationship and was a little devastated when events came to pass. However for the most part I thought this book was fairly predictable but I was never quite sure when the things I was expecting to happen would occur.

Overall – this hasn’t been one of my favourite reads. The characters are overwrought by emotion and the idea that no sacrifice is too large when it comes to love. The two main characters spend most of the series trying to convince the other to give up their family and beliefs for their relationship and neither seem to be all that understanding about anyone else’s’ feelings. The ending of the series is a little… too happy with everything somehow working out so very neatly and somewhat unbelievably. I don’t believe that this book shows off Amish culture in the best light and I’m still curious about this group of people. If you are looking for an emotional read about all-consuming young love and who will do anything to be together then I recommend this series. On the other hand if you like a bit more realism to your relationships and don’t enjoy selfish characters maybe this series is not for you.

 Thanks to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for the review copy. 

Purchase the novel from:

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Other books in the Temptation series by Karen Ann Hopkins

Temptation (Temptation #1) 

Temptation (Temptation, #1)

Belonging (Temptation #2)

Belonging