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Review: Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

Review: Wish You Were Italian by Kristin RaeWish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
Series: Wish You Were...
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's on May 6th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 323
Format: Paperback
Source: Given From Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Pippa has always wanted to go to Italy … but not by herself. And certainly not to sit in art school the entire summer learning about dead guys’ paintings. When she steps off the plane in Rome, she realizes that traveling solo gives her the freedom to do whatever she wants. So it’s arrivederci, boring art program and ciao, hot Italian guys!

Charming, daring, and romantic, Bruno is just the Italian Pippa’s looking for—except she keeps running into cute American archeology student Darren everywhere she goes. Pippa may be determined to fall in love with an Italian guy … but the electricity she feels with Darren says her heart might have other plans. Can Pippa figure out her feelings before her parents discover she left the program and—even worse—she loses her chance at love?

*I was given this book for review, but it in no way affected my review or opinions–honest!*

This book. Man the cover is so cheesy I can’t get over it! It’s as bad as the old covers for Anna and the French Kiss (y’all who know what I’m talking about understand). However, this book has a lot to offer and I really enjoyed reading it!

Pippa doesn’t have the best relationship with her workaholic parents. For Summer they send her to attend an art course in Italy–something she’s not interested and doesn’t want to do. However, her mother told her about it a week before she was due on the plane. Her friend Morgan gives her a list of all the things she needs to complete for these 3 months (like the premise in Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson), and one includes: Fall in Love with an Italian. As Pippa arrives in Italy, she realises she utterly does not want to do this course…and she has a lot of money from her parents, so she decides to screw it, and travel Italy by herself.

I loved the self-discovery aspect of this novel, how the relationship with her parents developed, and the adorable romance. These Summer books are my favourite. I adore reading about travelling, and the fact that this was set in Italy, makes me yearn to go there myself. The list element of things she had to do was fun and exciting, it gave Pippa the push she needed to reach outside of her comfort zone.

The romance in this wasn’t sizzling or particularly amazing, but it was sweet in a way that is not always easy to find! Despite the fact that it wasn’t anything majorly exceptional, the romance was a really great addition to the story and fit nicely. I loved how his curly hair was a running joke between them!

I had a brilliant time reading the amusing and entertaining adventures Pippa goes through, along with the characters she meets and how she develops as a character in her 3 months in Italy. It’s amazing how something like this can make a person grow. It’s not an emotional romance or gritty or anything like that, it’s just a simple, pretty story to read in the sun. It’s feel-good, sweet, and a great Summer book. It will be going on my Summer recommendations pile!

Wish You Were Italian is the second book from the series Wish You Were…, however it can be read as a standalone, as I have not read the first. The cheesy covers are really off-putting, however I’m really interested in the other books now!!

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Rating: 3.5 Stars

three-half-stars

Review: Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass 0.1-0.5)

Review: Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass 0.1-0.5)The Assassain's Blade by Sarah J, Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's, Bloomsbury Children's on March 4th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Source: Given From Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars
Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

I want to congratulate the person who designed these covers, they are freaking amazing!

Okay so this review is months overdue and all I can do is apologise and breathe a sigh of relief that it’s finally Summer. After requesting a copy of Throne of Glass last year on a whim, it has fast become one of my favourite YA series. That’s a tough feat. I adore reading about Celaena’s antics and these short stories were fast-paced, intriguing and had my constant attention. Maas is able to bring out every emotion possible from me including laughter, fear for the characters and sadness. I am not afraid to say I cried a little at the end, that was emotional shiz.

Celaena is the kind of protagonist I love reading about because of her awesome fighting skills and attitude (heellooo, Hardcore Heroines); whilst at the same time I openly wish I was as badass as her. Maas craftily weaves the romance, tension and intrigue together, leaving plenty of room for the interesting sub-plots and back-story. What with that and consistent character development, you’ve got yourself a winner.

I don’t know what to tell you if you haven’t read this series, apart from that it continually amazes and rarely (if ever) disappoints. I’ve read three of this series now and not once have I been let down, which I don’t think has happened to me before with such an intense, Fantasy world. I urge everyone to read this, even if you’re not a major fan of Fantasy because it’s really a fantastic series that offers a lot. It’s the kind of series that will be right at the top of my recommends pile yet I will hand out with caution to my friends in case they spill something on it. (I’m looking at you, Lois).

I want to be Celaena’s best friend, talk books with Dorian and learn to fight with Chaol. I cannot wait for what’s in store for Heir of Fire. I have no reservations on whether it will disappoint as Maas has proved her reliability and each book gets better and better.

Rating: no less than 5 Stars!

Tell me what you think of the series in the comments!

**This book was sent to me by Bloomsbury, however this didn’t affect my review or thoughts on the book one iota’s worth**

 

five-stars

Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish DollerWhere the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's on September 24th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Goodreads
Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

I did enjoy Where the Stars Still Shine, but didn’t think it lived up to expectations. Everyone I’ve heard reviews from loved it–where as I was a bit disappointed. Callie was kidnapped by her mother as child and has been on the run for as long as she can remember. She only has distant, snapshot memories of her past life, but she knows she was kidnapped. Callie’s mother has a mental disability, and has not taken her prescribed tablets in years. Something happens that causes Callie to be re-united with her father and she has to dramatically change her lifestyle quickly and is expected to abide by a certain set of rules that weren’t in place before. This of course, causes issues.

Callie’s father, Greg, was such a sweet guy and I really loved him for it. They’re strangers to each other, Callie is 17 and grew up without a father figure. Callie has also grown up with abuse from her mother’s boyfriend/s. This is really the heart and trauma of the book. It affects Callie’s perception of men, and herself involving men. Callie adapted to this new lifestyle really well, but obviously she makes a lot of mistakes and has the tenancy  to run when things get hard.

Callie annoyed me in a lot of ways, because I felt she never tried to help herself. I could never, ever, understand the torrent of emotions and what she’s going through. However, sometimes she made things harder for herself and that frustrated me. Also, I never got a strong impression of her personality. She felt quite two-dimentional to me, because a lot of the book is obviously focused on her reaction to her situation, she felt a bit plastic. I’m not sure if this is intended though, because Callie’s never really had the opportunity to have a personality. Anyway, the whirlwind of emotions that tore through her was written beautifully and felt spot on–despite never having been in this situation myself. Callie’s torn between her wanting to love Greg, but wanting to be loyal to her mother; and even though she kind of hates her mother, her mother’s all she’s ever known.

There is romance, which I think added to the growth of Callie, because it caused her to overcome a lot of issues. Alex was a lot more sweeter than I thought he would be, but at the same time their relationship annoyed me. I thought they should have taken it slower, right from the beginning to contrast to her other relationships and show that it was different. I felt like she never really learnt anything, even though Alex helped change her perception of men.

Overall, I’ve never read anything like this before and enjoyed it originality the set-up. Even though I didn’t think it was outstanding, it was still a pretty amazing book and I would recommend it!

Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #2)

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #2)Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's on August 27th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 420
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
five-stars
After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

Usually, if I enjoy the first in a series, the second one can be all kinds of disappointment, but not Crown of Midnight. This book is filled with moments of gripping excitement, an intriguing plot and complex characters you want to be best friends with. Seriously, Dorian and I could talk about books all day long.

I started Crown of Midnight when I was in a reading slump. I got a third of the way through and I was not in the mood at all, so I stopped reading it. I didn’t want to trust my judgment quite yet, because I wasn’t at a reliable time to review it or even rate it. I’m so glad I didn’t continue reading it otherwise the experience would have been thoroughly ruined. As I picked it up for the second time, I was reminded how awesome this series is and thrown into a world of intrigue and so many different delicious plots.

I adore the complexity of the novel, it has so many aspects to it, and there are many things going on. Not only that, but the characters also have issues individually, and it is not a case of the entire world revolving around our main heroine. Although Celaena is pretty dang awesome. She is undoubtedly a Hardcore Heroine, fighting for her life, her beliefs and her friends. I am in Celaena’s corner, cheering her on!

I have to say though, she is the most peculiar blend of infuriating, amazing and strong heroine I have ever read. On one page I understand her completely, on another I don’t understand her at all. She’s freshly unpredictable and keeps me on my toes whilst reading; because when I read these, my eyes glued in captivation and braced for Maas to break my heart. Needless to say she does at the end. I was left staring at the page in awe and a slight feeling of betrayal. WHY? Why do this to me Maas? I thought we had a deal that you wouldn’t hurt me like this. I guess some authors like to cause their readers pain.

Celaena’s quite different in Crown of Midnight, because we see her darker side in a lot more depth. I was beginning to think that perhaps Celaena wasn’t believably as an assassin, because despite her badarse tendencies, she well, didn’t assassinate anyone. In fact, she downright refused! I’m not saying I want all my heroine’s to be killing everyone, but the entire series is set upon this fact. Anyway, it worked itself out quite well.

There’s also a bit of romance and I love romance, so I was a major fan of this development. Overall, Crown of Midnight is an amazing read and one of my favourites of this year. I truly loved it and I can’t wait until the next one releases!

Rating: 5 Stars!!

five-stars

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Review: After Eden by Helen Douglas (After Eden #1)

Review: After Eden by Helen Douglas (After Eden #1)Aften Eden by Helen Douglas
Series: After Eden #1
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's on November 7th 2013
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 228
Format: ARC
Source: Given From Publisher
three-stars
Eden Anfield loves puzzles, so when mysterious new boy Ryan Westland shows up at her school she's hooked. On the face of it, he's a typical American teenager. So why doesn't he recognise pizza? And how come he hasn't heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden the most, however, is the interest he's taking in her.

As Eden starts to fall in love with Ryan, she begins to unravel his secret. Her breakthrough comes one rainy afternoon when she stumbles across a book in Ryan's bedroom - a biography of her best friend - written over fifty years in the future. Confronting Ryan, she discovers that he is there with one unbelievably important purpose ... and she might just have destroyed his only chance of success.

*A review copy was very kindly provided by Bloomsbury Children’s , but this in no way affected the review*

After Eden is written in the perspective of a 16-year-old girl called Eden who starts becoming friends with the new guy in school–deliciously attractive Ryan. Sometimes I found Eden to be a tad one-dimentional. Sure, I related to her in quite a few ways, but she wasn’t the kind of character I admire for her complexity. However, I did like her and thought she was really funny at times.

I don’t want to give out to many spoilers, but Eden starts discovering things about Ryan that don’t add up–he’s never had pizza, and he doesn’t know who Hitler or Ghandi are. Soon she discovers Ryan’s from 100 years into the future and traveled back in time on a mission to save the world.

After Eden was a really intriguing read because I adored the time-travelling aspect of the story. I found it so interesting and I hope Douglas explores this area more in the next installment.  I wasn’t sure I bought that Ryan didn’t know what pizza was or who Hitler or Ghandi were. I understood there was likely to be a colossal culture shock, but they are key people in History and world renown. Surely, there must be some kind of education that informs us who Hitler was 100 years into the future? Of course, we can’t know what happens 100 years from now and I liked the way Douglas kept a mystery about the future and what it held. Eden couldn’t be told about anything because it could change the future and it went against certain laws. This just made me desperate to know more, and I really hope that at some point in this series we will see what becomes of Earth in the future, or be given more information.

I really liked that the romance was not massively insta-love, I had a feeling it was going to be, but thankfully I was proved wrong. I thought Ryan and Eden together were so funny together, but I didn’t feel like their romance had a spark. It was all very cute at times, and Ryan was romantic, but it wasn’t a love I was desperate to see survive. However, I love the trope of forbidden love, and I was interested to see how Eden and Ryan were going to overcome the 100 years that force them apart.

Some things were admittedly quite cliché and predictable. There was a girl antagonist that went to Eden’s school trying to steal the guy. This cheesy plot line usually annoys me a lot, but she played a small role and it didn’t bother me. In fact, it made for entertainment.

It pleased me that the setting was Cornwall! It’s such a lovely place, and it was awesome to read about a UK setting, and people in the same school year as me! There were really nice scenes at the beach and gazing at the stars, and I found the scenes about astronomy especially interesting.

I did really enjoy After Eden, I liked the occasional humour, the setting and the entire idea of  time travelling. However, at times I felt the characters were not complex enough and the romance was lacking in a bit of spark.

Rating: 3 Stars

three-stars

This Northern Sky

Review: This Northern Sky by Julia Green

This Northern Sky by Julia Green
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's on July 4th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 230
Format: Paperback
Source: Given From Publisher
three-stars

  • Source: Bloomsbury–thank you very much, this in no way affected my honest review!
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon UK
  • Kate’s parents are taking her on holiday with them to a cottage on a remote island in the Hebrides. Kate can’t imagine anything more boring. But underneath her sulkiness, Kate is scared. Her parents have been fighting and she knows that for her parents this holiday is make or break. Once at the cottage, Kate escapes – outside, anywhere. And there she meets the warmth of the islanders, who are prepared to accept her and to listen to her. And possibly fall in love with her . . 

I was expecting a sweet YA chick lit when I picked this up, and I think the synopsis is very misleading. It says ‘And there she meets the islanders, who are prepared to accept her and listen to her. And possibly fall in love with her.’ Emphasis on the word Possibly, because actually, it’s quite clear 1/3 of the way through, that’s never going to happen. They love her, but nobody falls in love with her, which I was disappointed with. However, this is a YA novel, and the focus wasn’t particularly on Kate’s love life, but making new friends and noticing her parents that are growing apart. It was also very nice to read some UKYA!

Other than that, This Northern Sky by Julia Green was rather enjoyable, and quite a small, easy read. It didn’t take me long to finish, because this isn’t an action book or anything, it’s a quick contemporary.

A lot of teenagers could relate to This Northern Sky because Kate faces her parents rocky relationship, and turns to the solitude of the island to keep her centred. There were many questions asked wondering if Kate was to blame herself or if things were different, could her parents still love each other? I really liked the idea of leaving everything behind and finding new friends, and there was a quote in it that was my favourite, and very true:

‘You have to think about why people move over here,’ Isla says. ‘Quite often they’re running away from something. People who aren’t so good at getting on with others, they don’t understand how a real community works.’ She laughs. ‘They forget that they bring themselves with them, where ever they run.’

This was not the deepest or grittiest of books, for me. However it’s a great book for teenagers with divorced/divorcing parents to relate to, and quite a touching novel in that respect.

The ending was nice, and left me satisfied, but it didn’t leave me with a huge imprint. Overall, I’m going to give it 3 Stars.

three-stars

ThroneofGlass

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's on 2nd August 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Source: Given From Publisher

Paperback: 432 pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens (2 Aug 2012)

ISBN-10: 140883233X

Source: Bloomsbury–thank you! This has in no way affected my honest review!

Goodreads

Amazon UK

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. 

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

This entire world is entrancing and amazing. I was gripped all the way through, which doesn’t usually happen, I get slightly bored at some places. Not with Throne of Glass, plot threads linked seamlessly together and complex characters kept me entertained.

I got so invested in all the characters, not just Celeana. Although Celeana was badass and completely my type of heroine. She’s independent, witty, and has a vulnerable side to her past. She’s the type of character who pulled me in instantly and I rooted for all the way through. She was actually really funny, not what I was expecting from a master assassin. Which is fantastic, I like characters who don’t take themselves too seriously and make me laugh.

Chaol is so mysterious, we are kept in the dark a lot about him, so of course that makes me desperate to know more about his character, and I hope he’s explored more in book 2. He’s the kind of character who doesn’t access his feeling easily and I was kind of frustrated with him!

Prince Dorian reads. I don’t know how many times I have to say how much I love a guy that reads. He’s also an expert swordsman, but he prefers to hunker down with a thoughtful book. He constantly had witty back and forth with Celeana which proved entertaining. I found him so charming!

I adore the character development, how Celeana learns to trust, and actually have friends. She sets in wanting to win this competition, but she’s very loyal, despite how determined she is. Chaol also becomes a little more open, though not as much as I’d hoped! Also, Prince Dorian stops being so fickle!

This love triangle is excruciating, because I don’t have a favourite. I thought I did, at parts I’d be sure it was one person and then I realised I love the other as well. This hardly ever happens, I always have a definite favourite! It’s completely thrown me off!

There were a couple of antagonists to keep things interesting, I get bored with the entire focus being on destroying one bad guy. Some of them are undoubtedly going to cause trouble in the next book.

The world itself is captivating, it’s set in a castle, in a historical time period, which I always enjoy. I honestly loved this book sooo much, and completely recommend it to anyone who enjoys strong heroines (who doesn’t?) and amazing worlds!

I am now mourning this world, and desperate to read the next one!

Rating: 5 Stars!

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Release Day Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (All Our Yesterdays #1)

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Series: All Our Yesterdays #1
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's on 1st August 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Given From Publisher
four-half-stars

 Amazon|Goodreads

  •  
  • “You have to kill him.” Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside. Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was. All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

After I read this my head was left spinning—as anyone who follows me on Twitter will know. I tweeted about this…a lot. All Our Yesterdays is a time-travel Dystopia, and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but it did not disappoint.

There are mainly two points of view, Em and Marina. Marina is Em’s past self. Em goes back in time to stop the making of Cassandra (the time machine) to a time where Marina is inhabiting. I loved the way they were very different, yet ultimately still the same person. Marina is far more superficial and trying to fit in with her friends, having a teenage love for James. She doesn’t get enough attention from her parents and is trying to be a ‘normal’ teenager.

Em is far more grounded, she has figured out how to love herself, but she’s haunted. She’s been through so much after the making of Cassandra. She’s been tortured and left in a cell. Em doesn’t want Marina to have to go through what she has gone through, and sets out with her partner to stop the making of Cassandra. Em’s love interest is hilarious, he’s the perfect blend of cockiness and sexiness. Such a great addition to my fictional boyfriends! Which there are shamefully many of.

We also got flashbacks from the time when Em was running away from the corruption, and the awful memories of what happened to those she loved. These flashbacks filled in the blanks and made the story a lot more interesting.

I went in All Our Yesterdays without knowing anything at all, I didn’t even read the blurb! Instead of confusing me, it actually made everything more interesting. The plot twists are shocking, delightful, and at times cry-worthy. Seriously, read page 364 and get back to me, because that was the most awful thing in the entire book.

I wanted to see more of the Dystopian world, when most of the book is set in today’s world. It was enforced many times throughout the novel how corrupted the world had become with the making of Cassandra, yet we didn’t see it as much I would have liked. I’m hoping this is going to be in the next instalment.

I definitely recommend this book to Dystopia lovers, or even people starting out with Dystopia! I’m left empty without the next book, which is not out until 2014!

Rating; 4.5 stars

four-half-stars