The Gods of Love – Nicola Mostyn

38333559._SY475_When a strange man bursts into Frida’s office claiming that she is a descendent of Eros, the god of love, and destined to save the world, Frida has him removed by security and laughs the whole thing off. But after a weird meeting and an attempted kidnapping, Frida starts to think that maybe the man calling himself the Oracle was telling the truth.

Usually, I love any book based on mythology, but this one really wasn’t that great. I think it was the comparison to Bridget Jones and Neil Gaiman that got me: it’s really nothing like either. Granted, The Gods of Love would fall under the same genre as Bridget Jones, being a typical comedy/romance novel with a feisty female lead, but it simply doesn’t have Jones’ heart and wit. The comparison to Gaiman honestly makes no sense to me whatsoever. So it has some gods and some mythology in it; it takes a lot more than that to be anything at all like one of Gaiman’s books.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with what it is, once the false comparisons are removed. As far as books of this genre go, this one certainly wasn’t bad, but it could have been so much better.

The story is fun and fast-paced, with a good amount of magic and fantasy thrown in there. Despite love being a prominent theme throughout the book, the romantic element between the characters is quite slow-build and not overdone. I liked that the story wasn’t all about the relationship between Dan and Frida, largely because I struggled to feel the chemistry between them a lot of the time. It rather felt like they were forced together for the sake of having a romantic story-line in a book about love.

Frida herself, I didn’t love. She was clearly supposed to be a strong, kick-ass female, but to be honest I found her a little bit annoying.

The Gods of Love is a light and decent enough read. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t special.

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The Red Address Book – Sofia Lundberg

4354190796-year-old Doris lives alone in an apartment in Stockholm. She gets very few visitors, looking forward instead to her weekly Skype calls with her grandniece, Jenny. Looking through the names in her old address book, Doris decides to write down the stories of her life – working as a maid in Sweden, becoming a live mannequin in Paris, falling in love and heading to America before the Second World War. There are so many stories to tell, and not much time left for Doris to tell them.

To begin with, I found this book quaint and interesting enough, but it didn’t really grab me. Doris and her stories did grow on me as I read on, and I did get more drawn in. The Red Address Book is a really sweet story; the actual plot isn’t very exciting but Doris is a strong and genuine character who made it a worthwhile read. It wasn’t 100% my cup of tea, but engaging and emotional nonetheless.

I do have to say that I was consistently put off by the mild obsession with beauty, but Doris and Jenny were both models and had their beauty celebrated so it did make sense at the same time as being shallow.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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To Kill a Kingdom – Alexandra Christo

37541225.jpgPrincess Lira is siren royalty, feared and revered throughout the ocean but living in the terrifying shadow of her mother, the Sea Queen. Prince Elain is heir to the golden throne of Midas, dedicating himself to hunting down the elusive Prince’s Bane – a siren known for stealing the hearts of princes all over the world. The pair’s paths cross when the Sea Queen curses Lira with humanity, banishing her from life in the sea until she returns with the heart of the great siren hunter.

To Kill a Kingdom is inspired by The Little Mermaid, which I didn’t realise until I started reading and picked up on all the similarities. The story is very different, but some aspects are clearly taken from The Little Mermaid (Lira’s red hair, the Sea Queen’s tentacles, Lira being turned human and losing her ‘song’, etc). This was actually a really exciting feature for me because, although fairy-tale inspired books are common, The Little Mermaid is quite a rare one.

The book is generally well-written, but I did struggle to picture one or two aspects. I found it really difficult to visualise the difference between sirens, mermaids and mermen, but I’m not too sure why. I’m not going to blame the author’s descriptions, because it could simply be that the image of mer-people is one so ingrained in my brain that I can’t visualise an alternative. However, this didn’t hinder my overall enjoyment of the story.

There are a lot of great characters. Lira and Elain are both decent enough protagonists, but the side characters really stole the show. Elain crew, especially Madrid and Kye, are fantastic and entertaining while even much smaller characters like Khalia play important roles within the plot.

It’s not perfect, but the excessive sassy banter that fills this book really makes up for it’s flaws. The flaws are minor and difficult to pick out; there’s just something about this book that stops it being a work of genius, but it’s a good read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Empress of all Seasons – Emiko Jean

41435393.jpgIn this Japanese inspired fantasy, a competition is held every generation to find the next empress of Honoku. The winner will be the woman who survives all four seasonal rooms: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Al are eligible to compete, except Yokai – supernatural beings whom the emperor is determined to destroy. Mari is a Yokai with the ability to transform into a monster, and she has spent a lifetime training to become empress. As the competition progresses, Mari finds herself torn between duty and love.

Empress of All Seasons is a very strong YA fantasy. I absolutely loved that this is a standalone novel, not part of a series. Every YA fantasy I read seems to be part of a series these days and it was wonderful to be able to read a full, complete story in just one book for a change. It has potential to grow more stories in the same world with some of the same characters, but this particular story, at least, is finished.

I liked the concept of the seasonal rooms and the competition. It’s quite Hunger Games-esk, but the contestants only have to survive, rather than kill each other. I actually would have liked more of the book to have been focused on the competition instead of the wider rebellion.

My other favourite aspect of this book was that the Japanese features were so fully integrated into the story. I recently read another Asian-inspired fantasy – The Girl King – and was sorely disappointed by how western it actually was. In this book, the world is filled with words, creatures and scenery that are clearly inspired by Japanese culture. It was fantastic.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Blog Tour: The Caged Queen – Kristen Ciccarelli

Welcome to my stop on a tour that I have been very excited about: The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli. I hope you enjoy my review, and do remember to check out the other stops on the tour (which you can find details of at the bottom of this post).


40873495.jpgIn the second instalment of the Iskari series, Roa and Dax are the new queen and king of Firgaard. Far from home and married to a weak king who doesn’t keep his promises and was responsible for the death of Essie, her beloved sister, Roa feels alone and frustrated. Trapped in bird-form for years, Essie’s time is finally running out and Roa will do anything she can to bring her back; even kill the king.

I love this series. The world and the characters are fantastic, and I enjoyed reading from a new perspective. However, I did find Roa quite annoying with how indecisive she was and I didn’t enjoy reading about her as much as I did with Aasha in The Last Namsara. Dax, on the other hand, was a fantastic character. He was much deeper and more layered than romantic side-characters usually are, which really added something to the story.

The plot contained multiple love triangles which usually wind me up, but the story and the writing were good enough that I was able to get past these easily. The romance between Roa and Dax was very organic and lovely to read.

As in the first book, there are short chapters inserted throughout the story describing a mixture of past events and folklore which were probably my favourite parts of this book. It’s such an effective way to include background information without interrupting the narrative.

Final comment: There weren’t enough dragons.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway – Rhys Thomas

35078788Sam Holloway has lived through one of the worst experiences in life: losing his family. But his life is quiet and meticulous, and not really living. With one exception: he is a superhero. To escape the reality of his life, he dons a costume and ventures into the night to help those in need. He feels invincible, but his acts of heroism don’t always go according to plan. Then, he meets Sarah and his safe life begins to shatter around him. Is he brave enough to take off the mask and learn to love again?

The story is quite sweet, but overshadowed by unlikable characters and an unromantic love story. I didn’t feel any connection to Sam which made it difficult to be fully engaged with the story. I also didn’t like Sarah at all. She came across as selfish and uncaring, seemingly oblivious to the fact that she was stringing both Sam and Francis along and I actually didn’t really want them to end up together. Considering that this is supposed to be a romance, that didn’t work for me.

The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway is a story of grief, friendship, and learning to let go. It sounds heavy but is actually quite light and fun in many ways. However, this kind of story has been told before, and told better. For a similar but truly excellent (as opposed to distinctly average) reading experience, I would much sooner recommend Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine over this.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

29748925Lazlo Strange, junior librarian, has always dreamed of seeing the lost city of Weep. For years he’s been obsessed with the Unseen City, so he can’t believe it when a hero known as the Godslayer arrives and offers him the opportunity, not only to see Weep, but to save it.

The dream chooses the dreamer. Not the other way around.

Strange the Dreamer is magical and magnificent. It delivers everything a reader could possibly want from a fantasy story. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was so emotional about a book. Laini Taylor broke my heart with the ending.

This book is filled to the brim with wonderful characters (especially Lazlo, Sarai and Sparrow) who were really well developed and endearing. Even the ones we don’t actually get to know that well (like Eril-Fane and Azareen) and aren’t supposed to like (like Thyon Nero) are interesting and obviously complex.

During the first half of the book, I was completely entranced by Lazlo’s side of the story. However, Sarai’s parts were a little bit uneventful and the language was too flowery. Although description and scene-setting is important, I do like stories to get to the point a little quicker than they do in this book. But once things finally got going, wow, it was worth the wait. Immersive, romantic and completely irresistible.

It’s long, but I never lost interest and Laini’s writing is truly mesmerising. Book #2, The Muse of Nightmares, has already been pre-ordered.

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The Beast’s Heart – Leife Shallcross

36273241In this retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the focus is on the Beast’s side of the story. A lonely beast, cursed and isolated, has a chance encounter with a lost traveller. In return for saving the man’s life, the Beast gains the company of his daughter, Isabeau, for a year, during which he finds both love and his humanity.

For the first half of this book, I felt a bit cheated. It wasn’t so much a retelling, but rather an almost identical version of the Beauty and the Beast story we’re all familiar with, from the point of view of the beast. To me, this felt like a bit of a cop-out and was a little disappointing. Fortunately, the second half of the book and the details of Isabeau’s sisters did take the story in a new direction.

The magical elements are enchanting. The book is very descriptive and beautifully written with a flowing plot and complex characters. Plus, how stunning is that cover, right?

It’s a classic story, and very well-written, if a little unoriginal. I enjoyed it a lot.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Black Notebook – Isabelle Snow

37420549.jpgSeven is the queen of giving advice and keeping secrets. Everyone at school comes to her with their secrets and, although she loves that people trust her, she struggles to remember who told her what. In order to keep track, Seven starts writing down all the secrets in a little black notebook. But things take a disastrous turn when the notebook falls into the hands of prankster, Colin Stillman. Seven does everything she can think of to get the notebook back, but Colin won’t give it up.

Genuine, sweet high-school romance stories are hard to find. For the most part, they’re cliched and irritating. The Black Notebook is one of the few that drew me in and made me wish I was a teenager again. I really enjoyed the relationship between Seven and Colin. It felt organic and realistic, completely believable and not at all forced. Although, it still has the usual will-they-won’t-they relationship build up, it actually makes sense to the plot and isn’t just plain annoying.

The only aspect of this book that I didn’t get was Seven’s obsession with getting the notebook back. Colin had a hold of the notebook for months and he never spilled a single secret. He actually comes across as very trustworthy and I didn’t understand why Seven was so determined to get in back, rather than realising that he wasn’t going to tell anyone anything.

Nicely written and very engaging, The Black Notebook is a sweet and enjoyable teen romance.

I received a copy of this book via Inkitt in exchange for an honest review.

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I Was a Bitch – Emily Ruben

32585553.jpgAfter a serious accident, Lacey Jones wakes up from a two-month coma, only to discover that she’s lost her memory of the last two years. In that time, she has somehow become the stunning, sexy queen bee of high school, dating a super-hot footballer and best friends with the most popular girls in school. But if Derek is her boyfriend, who is Finn, the sweet, perfect guy who seems to know her better than anyone else and claims to love her? Lacey now has to figure out who she is and put her life back together, without revealing to anyone that she’s forgotten the past two years of her life.

Okay, so, this book was pretty enjoyable, but seriously flawed. Firstly, the entire premise is questionable. I don’t know how realistic it is for someone to lose such a random and specific time period from their memory, but it doesn’t feel very believable in this book. It was frustrating to read because Lacey creates every problem for herself by refusing to tell anyone (except her extremely unhelpful parents – more on that later) that she’s lost her memory.

Secondly, the writing is very rudimentary. It is basic, and very, very repetitive. This made it quite tiresome to read at times. It was also difficult to make any connection between post-coma Lacey and pre-coma Lacey. In the two years that she’s lost, Lacey seems to have developed an entirely different (and kind of awful) personality that has no bearing on the person she was and is again now.

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, Lacey’s parents are unbelievably useless. To begin with, Lacey doesn’t even really recognise them which makes no sense because in her head she has only forgotten two years and her parents have been there her entire life. Then it turns out they’ve split up and even live apart but they never at any point think it might be a good idea to mention this to their daughter, who they know doesn’t remember their split. As some of the only people who know Lacey has lost her memory and who love her and care for her, you’d think they might try to help fill in some of the gaps in her memory, even if they can’t help her with everything. Instead, they are barely around. They don’t even take her to physical therapy. Like, come on parents, your child nearly DIED, where are you?

Basically, this book has a lot of problems. However, I liked it. I Was a Bitch is very enjoyable, in a trashy, teen kind of way. And there is definitely a place for those kinds of books.

I received a copy of this book from Inkitt in exchange for an honest review.

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