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The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

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The Other CountessIt’s 1582 and eighteen-year-old Will Lacey’s family is in trouble. After years of wasteful spending, his late father has run Lacey Hall to near ruin. Tasked with marrying his family back into fortune, the new Earl of Dorset is all set for a season at court to woo not just the Queen but potential brides with his jousting skills. But when Ellie – a strong-willed girl with nothing to her name but a worthless Spanish title – catches Will’s eye, he faces a bigger battle than he could ever have anticipated. (From Goodreads)

I really enjoyed the storyline in this book. It wasn’t that heavy on the history although the setting was well done. It was the characters that did the trick with this book and the romance. Now I’m not a romance type of reader but the romance aspect of the story was nice and sweet and went well hand in hand with the story as well.

There’s lots of chemistry between the main couple really helped this book come along. Besides Ellie and Will, the other characters were very memorable (Jane and James, Diego are great examples).

Usually with this type of historical fiction you have a nice blend of political intrigue, this story, doesn’t have that – but it’s good, because it’s not needed. However Edwards adds in the conflict between Catholics and Protestants to give it a more historical feel to it but not so overwhelming on the history lesson – which is great since this book caters to Young Adults.

Wonderful read, and with a beautiful ending. I know there’s two more books after this so I’ll be sure to pick them up. This was a great read with characters that are well done and memorable. It’s a sweet romance without it being cheesy and silly. It’s worth reading even for those who aren’t into romances like I am.

I give it a 10/10

Written by Karoline

January 21, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Review of Secrets of the Crown by Adam Jay Epstein

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Secrets of the Crown

Secrets of the Crown

When every bit of human magic disappears suddenly from Vastia, it falls on the familiars—Aldwyn the telekinetic cat, Skylar the know-it-all blue jay, and Gilbert the gullible tree frog—to find the Crown of the Snow Leopard, an ancient relic that can reverse the curse. They learn that the only way to do this is by following in the paw prints of Aldwyn’s missing father, who went searching for the Crown several years earlier. This magical spirit trail extends into the Beyond, where our heroes encounter new enemies and danger, while Aldwyn learns about his mysterious past. (From Amazon.ca)

I’m so glad this series just keeps getting better! I’ve really enjoyed the first one, but this one is even better!

It’s still an adventure, and it’s certainly more focused on Aldwyn and his friends. It’s certainly more focused on Aldwyn and his past, and provides a little more on the background information to make the world building more comprehensible and easy to picture.

I’m also glad to see Gilbert still hasn’t lost his touch on being the funny one of the group. I was also surprised that Skylar is still a know it all but she’s not as annoying and has turned out to be more friendly and supportive. I still love Aldwyn and he will always be my favorite.

The plot is still just as good, I liked the riddle/puzzle element to it, it’s reminiscent of the Redwall books (they’re always filled with those) but with a much more adventure flavor to it. The thing I like about this is the writing style of the plot. It’s easy to picture, and if possible, could very well be made into an animated feature film. The illustrations provided are also fun to look at and is a great addition for younger aged readers.

I’m looking forward to the next book in this series and can’t wait to see what happens to them next! most definitely recommended to Middle Grade readers, but all ages will have fun reading this one.

Note:It’s best if you read the first before this one.

I give it a 10/10

Written by Karoline

April 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

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Blood Red Road

Blood Red Road

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back. Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she’s a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization. (From Goodreads)

I had trouble with finding a good book in the Dystopian genre that was on par with The Hunger Games. I thought to myself, nothing will be able to compare. I finally found its’ match. It’s this one. For sure. People who ask for other books like Hunger Games, I yell out Blood Red Road and nothing else.

Remember Mad Max? well the world is something like this. Dry, desert, hot. Blazing hot. The setting was so descriptive and rich you can feel the heat, the sweat, and the dryness. It sure seems like a very desolate lonely world, but the world building is wonderful and so rich and detailed. It’s a perfect setting for this type of novel and it’s extremely well done.

I loved Saba. She’s tough, she’s gritty, she’s not afraid to get dirty and to fight tooth and nail to get to Lugh. She treats her little sister like dirt, and yes I did find the little kid annoying, I would have hated to be in her shoes if she ever got Saba angry. But, you have to give credit to Emmi, she does talk back. As the story progresses, Emmi does grow on me and she’s definitely got the same strength Saba’s got. I love the bantering between Jack and Saba. There was chemistry there and with Saba’s bad temper it just made their interactions absolutely fun to read at times. The characters overall in this book were excellent. There was nothing to dislike! I also loved the Free Hawks. It was just awesome reading a girl gang who are able to survive on their own!

The action scenes are also really good (there’s worm like creatures! it’s like the sandworms from Dune except evil and really really aggressive!!! I squeed when I read this part!) the entire plot of this book was engaging, interesting and could not stop you from reading. It was literally, a page turner.

The only thing I had an issue with is Saba’s narration. It’s different, and took me a few tries to follow but you do get used to it as you read through the story.

Other than that, fans of the Hunger Games would LOVE THIS! and SHOULD READ THIS! drop everything else and give this one a try. It’s one of the best dystopian books I’ve read that definitely should share the pedestal that the Hunger Games is on.

I give it a 10 out of 10

Written by Karoline

January 15, 2013 at 7:09 pm

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

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A Million Suns

A Million Suns

It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He’s finally free to act on his vision—no more Phydus, no more lies. But when Elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Their success—or failure—will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous, the ship more chaotic, and the love between them more impossible to fight. (From Goodreads)

I loved the first one and this one was just as good. The plot carries where it left off from Across the Universe (it’s strongly recommended you read it before jumping into A Million Suns).

The plot was really good and there was another mystery Amy had to solve. I loved the little clues dropped in throughout the book and Amy was just picking them up like breadcrumbs. What I loved about the book was just when you were getting comfortable and watching Amy pick up the pieces to put the puzzle together, you’re blindsided with events. These aren’t just any sort of events this is more like mind blowing What in the World OMG events where you either pull your hair or you just wanted to do a huge face palm moment (readers of this book will know what I’m talking about).

It not only stops there. These blindsiding moments really pack it in towards the end of the book which makes it so exciting and enjoyable to read. I absolutely loved her writing style in this plot. Another aspect of the plot that I really liked was the chaos Godspeed was under. It’s like watching cabin fever explode onto the ship.

Character wise, I’m enjoying how they’re developing. Elder’s really taking the reigns of the ship and I liked his development. He’s growing up (that dear dear boy. *wipes tears* haha) and it’s nice to see he’s finally taking charge and getting what he’s been trained for all this time.

Ending is left in a cliffhanger and I’m ready to jump into the third one (can it be released NOW? please?) lots of questions asked! and hopefully they’re be answered soon! it’s a great series so far, most definitely recommended for YA readers (sci fi geeks most welcome!)

I give it a 10 out of 10

Bonus points to beautiful cover, and to the word ‘frexing’ :D

Written by Karoline

December 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Review of The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

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Girl of Fire and ThornsOnce a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one.But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake. Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. Most of the chosen do. (From Amazon.ca)

Wow. I absolutely loved. No. LOVED. This book. So, what did I like about it? first of all, the setting. It’s got some influences of the Spanish court, but with a lot of fantasy elements as well. The fantasy elements are pretty good and unique there is magic involved but not your standard magic you would be used to reading in the usual fantasy novels. I thought the setting and fantasy elements were pretty different and unique. It’s a great blend of historical fiction with fantastical elements in between. There is magic to not too much to put off the anti-fantasy readers out there. The action and intrigue elements are also well written in this book. It certainly does add more substance and also adds a bit more variety to the reading.

Elisa is a wonderful character. She might not be the most sexiest one I’ve ever read, but what I loved about her is her inner strength and her intelligence is featured throughout the book. Those qualities she had within her made her character development very enjoyable to read. She certain did develop especially during the latter part of the novel.

The other characters in the books are also well done. I didn’t care much for Alejandro though I thought he was pretty weak (plus, the way he treated Elisa, especially after her change in appearance really didn’t sit well with me). Also, it seems some characters in the book just disappear from the novel. Yes, there is a second one after this, but it might help to find out what might have happened to them just so the reader won’t forget about these secondary characters.

Still, it’s worth the read. I loved the setting, and the nice blend of fantasy and historical fiction. I definitely recommend this to other YA readers who are into the fantasy genre.

I give it a 10 out of 10.
PS: HECTOR!!! OMG…LOVE HIM!!!!

Written by Karoline

October 30, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Die for Me by Amy Plum

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Die For meWhen Kate Mercier’s parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life–and memories–behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.
Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate’s guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he’s a revenant–an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again. (From Amazon.ca)

I absolutely loved this book from cover to cover (the cover is nice too so that’s another bonus). What was really nice was it was set in Paris and the descriptions of the setting was absolutely beautiful. They were well written and very descriptive, it really helped in imagining the setting and made the reading a more richer experience.

The plot itself was interesting and something different that I have not read before. It was good with a nice mixture of action and romance. The romance part of the book was nice. Vincent is someone to drool over (he’s a good competition against Patch from the Hush Hush series. Hmm wonder who would win?) ah! but Jules is also worthy of attention because he’s such a flirty cad. I’d have to say, this book had quite an extensive list of rather memorable characters, each with their own personality so they can be easily distinguished between each other. The secondary characters are just as fun to read as the main characters (Georgia has her moments).

Although the book is the first in a series, it’s also perfect as a stand alone. Sure, there’s questions to be answered and asked but the ending itself was just so perfect I absolutely loved it (plus it drove me to tears). I definitely recommend this to YA lovers, it’s a perfect book to read and enjoy.

I give it a 10/10

Written by Karoline

August 21, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

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GlowThe Empyrean is the only home 15-year-old Waverly has ever known. Part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space, she and her boyfriend Kieran will be pioneers of New Earth. Waverly knows she must marry young in order to have children who can carry on the mission, and Kieran, the handsome captain-to-be, has everything Waverly could want in a husband. Everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Still, there’s a part of Waverly that wants more from life than marriage, and she is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth. Suddenly, Waverly’s dreams are interrupted by the inconceivable – a violent betrayal by the Empyrean’s sister ship, the New Horizon. The New Horizon’s leaders are desperate to populate the new planet first, and will do anything to get what they need: young girls. In one pivotal moment, Waverly and Kieran are separated, and find themselves at the helm of dangerous missions, where every move has potentially devastating consequences, and decisions of the heart may lead to disaster. (From Amazon.ca)

At first, this book reminded me of Across the Universe. However it wasn’t at all the same. The only thing that would be considered similar is it takes place out in space, on a ship. That’s it. And I was so very very glad it came out much more different because I thoroughly enjoyed this book and practically devoured it in one setting. Yes. It was THAT good.

The plot was very well done. It took you on several twists and turns you sort of had an idea on what to expect, but you just didn’t know how it was going to be planned out. I think that was what made the book so enjoyable to read. There are two main story arcs, and I can’t decide which one I liked better, because I liked reading about both. I’d have to say though, the one that drew my emotions out more had to be Kieran’s story. It was almost like reading Lord of the Flies, but on a spaceship. That particular story arc made me want to gnash my teeth in anger at how Kieran was treated.

The characters were well done. I liked Waverly, I wasn’t sure what to make of her at first, but as the story progressed, she grew increasingly stronger and I loved that about her. Kieran is the same and I think that’s why they just go so well together. I’m concerned about Kieran though. He’s definitely misguided and I’m hoping Waverly doesn’t rely too much on that evil horrible character Seth (oh I really hated him, Kieran,why did you have to be so nice??!!!) because I really didn’t like the way the story was headed in the end (not that I didn’t like reading it, more like, I am hoping Waverly doesn’t make bad decisions here). However, I still loved the book. The ending was a cliffhanger, which makes you want to anticipate the second book even more!

So, read this! seriously! pick this book up! and enjoy like I did!! I can’t wait for the second book (which is due out soon). Definitely recommended if you like Sci-fi YA or if you liked books like Across the Universe.

I give it a 10 out of freakin 10! (see? that’s how much I liked it) :D

Written by Karoline

July 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm

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Hate List by Jennifer Brown

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Hate ListFive months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life. (From Amazon.ca)

The writing in this book is amazing and well done. There are flashbacks, and it goes back and forth. We get when Valerie and Nick are in love, and they share their hate list. Then, fast forward to the present, and Valerie deals with the consequences of the hate list, memories, and tries to overcome her guilt. It doesn’t help that her life at home isn’t so great either. Overall throughout the book it just felt like Val’s got the real short end of the stick here. It’s hard not to be against her, instead you feel sympathy towards her even though her behavior was frustrating at times.

Nick, although understandably hated because of what he’s done, is somewhat painted in a sympathetic light. He was bullied, just like Val, and some of the treatment he gets does make you want to punch his tormentors in their faces. However he’s a very explosive individual and you can feel his anger and resentment.

It’s hard not to feel angry towards Nick and Val’s bullies. Some of them were just so nasty a small part of you feels they deserve a good slap in the face (Christy was the one I hated the most she was a horrible nasty creature) even after the shooting, some of Val’s classmates still acted like jerks to her you’d think they get the hint and just leave her alone. Apparently, they don’t and you’d have to wonder if the cycle would repeat.

I also hated Val’s dad. Wow, what a selfish chit. I’d understand it’s probably really hard to go through something and realize your child could possibly be a cold blooded killer, but he just did a complete turn around and was more preoccupied with himself and his nice new trophy girlfriend. It was just sickening. This was where I really felt for Val. She just lost her entire support network and had no one to rely on. On the other hand, this is where I really admired Jessica’s behavior. Despite being a previous tormentor of Val’s, she realized her actions and attempted to reach out to her, which I thought was the right thing to do and very brave of her to do so in front of her peers and the rest of the community.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone it’s a great read, it’s so well written you feel the emotions of the characters and it brings out a lot of conflicting emotions within the reader. It’s well worth the read considering the subject matter.

I give it a 10 out of 10

Written by Karoline

July 3, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

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Bitter EndWhen Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole — a handsome, funny, sports star who adores her — she can’t believe she’s finally found her soul mate . . . someone who truly loves and understands her. At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her close friend Zack, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all her time with another boy? As the months pass, though, Alex can no longer ignore Cole’s small put-downs, pinches, or increasingly violent threats. As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose “love” she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose — between her “true love” and herself. (From Amazon.ca)

This is one of the few contemporary YA books I’ve read and really enjoyed. (Usually I go into Paranormal or Fantasy). But the subject matter of this book got me curious as to how they address them for Teen readers. It really tackles the subject well. Alex is a great character, and thought she found everything she wanted in Cole, and I nearly fell for it too, he was very well done and his charming manipulative manner was something any girl could possibly fall for. It wasn’t until later when the reader does see his darker more violent side, that all of sudden he becomes so ugly and horrible that the reader wonders what was so great about him in the first place.

I felt for Alex, although I didn’t take too kindly how she just managed to drop her friends just like that for Cole – then again Cole sometimes did not give her much of a choice and at certain times, are we not guilty of doing that at least once in our lifetime once a boy/girlfriend moves into our lives? so in that sense, Alex is made into a very realistic character.

There were moments where you were just frustrated with Alex for still being with Cole – especially after such horrible treatment but you also sympathize with her, the isolation and helplessness can certainly be felt throughout the novel. I was very surprised at Alex’s sister. I didn’t like her at first but when she gave Alex a significant present it made do a complete turn around and I thought differently about her.

The plot was very well written. It had a nice pace and timing. All the characters were also well done which made this book a great reading experience. There was only one thing that did not sit well with me and that was the lack of history behind Alex’s mom. Something bad happened, and she just left…ok…but there has to be more than that right? there really was not much to this part of the story and I wonder if it really was all necessary to begin with?

It’s a hard subject to write about, but this book was well done and it’s worth reading. You do eventually support Alex with her decision and hope for the best for her on her road to healing and recovery. The ending is somewhat open ended but it was good enough to leave it the way it was. I recommend this for all YA readers, not just for a good read, but also to become aware of this sensitive subject and possibly help others they might know who might be going through what Alex did.

I give it a 10/10

Written by Karoline

June 26, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Spartacus by Ben Kane

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SpartacusBen Kane’s brilliant novel begins in the Thracian village to which Spartacus has returned, after escaping from life as an auxiliary in the Roman army. But here he quickly falls foul of his overlord, the Thracian king, who has set his heart on Dionysian priestess, Ariadne — later to become wife of Spartacus. Betrayed again to the Romans by his jealous king, Spartacus — and with him Ariadne — are taken in captivity to the school of gladiators at Capua. It is here — against the unbelievable brutality of gladiatorial life — that Spartacus and Crixus the Gaul plan the audacious overthrow of their Roman masters, escaping to Vesuvius, where they recruit and train a huge slave army — an army which will keep the might of Rome at bay for two years and create one of the most extraordinary legends in history. Spartacus: The Gladiator takes the story up to the moment when the slave army has inflicted its first great defeat on Rome. (From Amazon.ca)

Curses to my old age, I wanted to keep reading but my eyes just couldn’t stay open. That’s how good it was. It was filled with action, a bit of love on the side, but well written that I now have to go look for other books by Ben Kane to keep reading them. They’re just THAT good.

Spartacus was good, and well written, the plot was well done and the action scenes were fun to read, and filled with blood that you’d expect in a novel such as this (not as gory as the TV show, thankfully.) Characters are also well done here. Although I’m biased towards Crixus. That’s because I’ve watched the show before jumping this this book (both are not related, and have nothing to do with each other!) and I hated him from the start, so that polluted my opinion of the Crixus in the book. Although I’d have to say, he’s still not likable and extremely abrasive as you’d expect.

I like the relationship between Ariadne and Spartacus. Ariadne was like the strong, but silent supporter of Spartacus and I liked the role she played (snake as a secret weapon??? that’s just awesome!) in the novel. She was like the other half of Spartacus and they both fit well together. Spartacus himself was also fun to read, and with his personality done in the book it’s no wonder others were willing to follow him. He had all the qualities to become a leader of an uprising. The villains in the book were also well done and so hateful you feel like jumping in and throttling them. Ariadne though, had a great way of fighting back at one of them which I enjoyed reading immensely.

The historical aspect of the book was pretty good, although I’m not quite familiar with how accurate it is. The author’s note at the end was very informative and helped. There’s even a glossary at the back, and that helped as well to make the reading more easier to read (plus, you get to learn something new as a bonus).

I’m definitely going to read other books by Ben Kane. I’ve read other historical fiction by male authors and he’s up there with Bernard Cornwell in my opinion. Definitely worth a pick up and read through!

I give it a 10 out of 10.

Thank you Virtual Author Book Tours for letting me host this book tour!

Written by Karoline

June 11, 2012 at 7:00 am

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