Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Review: The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

 The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

Author: Amalie Howard Website|Twitter
Published: 2 January 2014 (Strange Chemistry)
Format: Kindle e-book (ARC)
Pages: 416
Buy the paperback: Amazon|Hive|BookDepository

Source: Received free copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks Strange Chemistry!

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. Coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

My Review:
The Almost Girl follow Riven who has been sent to Earth to track down one of the heirs to the throne of her home planet Neospes, only when she meets Caden she discovers that all is not as it seems.

The book started out okay for me. There's a snappy prologue which features a chase scene set three years before the main story, and it did a great job at hooking me in with the action. Then it jumps into part one which is three years later and sees Riven taking up her place in a new school on Earth. I did like the beginning because it had me intrigued. I wanted to know more about that world we'd been introduced to briefly in that opening to the book, and how that related to what Riven was doing in her present situation. Usually if a book has me asking questions that early on then it's a good sign.

Soon, however, what started off as curiosity turned into plain confusion. I quickly felt like I was rushing to catch up with the story. It seemed like every character wasn't what they seemed or who they seemed, which made it hard to keep track of who they really were and what their relevance to the story was. I also had problems with the world building and exposition. Even up to 80% into the book things were still having to be explained and new people introduced so I never quite felt settled in that world.

I think one of the problems I had which made it difficult for me to follow what was happening is that Riven herself is so knowledgeable and smart, which means everything described from her point of view is done so as if it's really obvious. I mean at times I really admired her as a character because she is intelligent and is great in those action packed fight scenes, but I couldn't warm to her when the self-assured nature turned started to come across as cocky and arrogant.

The main focus of the story is that Riven must find Caden and return him home. When I reached Part Two of The Almost Girl I started to warm to this plotline a bit more, because we get to see Riven and Caden bonding. Up until that point I had been struggling to connect with the characters at all which was really starting to spoil my enjoyment of the story, but the survival element of this part of the book did give me something to cling onto.

Whilst there were bits of The Almost Girl that I liked, I spent most of the book feeling confused about what was going on, and then that confusion lead to disinterest as I struggled to keep up. There were plenty of plot twists, but instead of drawing me back into the story I found a lot of them to be over-dramatic and one step too far. It felt a bit like a soap opera trying to keep up with who was really who and whether they were good or evil or just what ridiculous twist would happen next.

I think this book would appeal to certain readers for example people who like their books action packed with lots of fight and escape scenes. And I think sci-fi fans will love some of the ideas in there, for example I liked the idea of the Vectors, reanimated human slash drone things that Riven spends a lot of her time escaping from. Overall I just don't think enough things clicked for me and it couldn't really hold my attention. This is the first book in a duology but unfortunately I didn't enjoy this one enough to carry on with the second book.

Rating: 2*
What to read next: Waterfell by Amalie Howard
Books like this: Project 13 by Nicole Sobon, Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Monday, 30 December 2013

December's Book of the Month and Books of the Year 2013!

Each month I pick a favourite book from those I've reviewed and award it the title of Book of the Month. As we're approaching the end of the year I'm also going to look back over all my Books of the Month so I can see my favourite books from throughout the year.

Firstly to December's Book of the Month. I haven't reviewed as many books this month as I'm finishing up a bit earlier than usual, which makes it an easier choice. My favourite book that I reviewed in December is....

 Frostbite by Richelle Mead!

This was the first joint review I did after reading it with my friend Daisy. It also seems a very appropriate December book with the winter theme! I loved it even more than this first VA book and it makes me even more excited to carry on with the series. Read the full review here.

Books of the Year!

So let's take a look back at all my books of the month for 2013 to see my pick of the crop for this year! Not all books were necessarily released this year. These are just the months I happened to review them.












Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Looking back I'm pretty happy with my choices! I think I've got a good mix of genres in there (although lots of dystopian - you can tell it's my favourite thing to read!). There were books that had me on the verge of tears (Code Name Verity, Falling Through the World) and books that gave me a good giggle (Spy School, Geek Girl). There were new releases and debuts (Fearsome Dreamer, Geek Girl) as well as books that had been around a while (Frostbite).

Have you read any of these books? What were your top picks of 2013? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish and this week's top ten - unsurprisingly as it's Christmas Eve! - is books we wouldn't mind Santa bringing us. Now this list was hard to put together because I've already sent off my Amazon wishlist to Santa, and I couldn't double check it in case some of the books had been purchased and disappeared and I like surprises so I didn't want to sneak a peak. I'm not expecting many books this year because I already have such a backlog to read, and the ones featured below are books I haven't read, but I've also asked for a few that I have already read because I didn't own physical copies. Anyway, here's a random selection of books I wouldn't mind finding under my tree!

Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle
Deception by C. J. Redwine
Shadowlark by Meagan Spooner
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Acid by Emma Pass

The Elites by Natasha Ngan
Tinder by Sally Gardner
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

What books have you asked Santa for this year? And Merry Christmas!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas Traditions & Blog Schedule for the Festive Season

So now my presents are bought and Christmas is round the corner, I'm really getting into my festive swing. I thought to carry on that festive feeling I'd share a few of my favourite traditions!


Duhhh! I'll have some time off over Christmas which means time to curl up with a good book. I usually try and squeeze some Harry Potter in and I have a copy of The Gift by Cecelia Ahern which I read last year and it helped me feel a bit more festive!


So the films that I must, must watch over Christmas are Love Actually (which is my favourite film ever, not just for Christmas!) and The Holiday. A slightly more guilty pleasure film is The Santa Clause which is best watched on Christmas Eve.

Norad Tracks Santa

On Christmas Eve we'll have the Norad Tracks Santa website up on the computer all day. If you haven't checked it out then you should, because it's so fun. You get a map showing where Santa is and how many presents he's delivered so far, as well as little games to play. I mean my house is full of adults but I think this brings back all those childhood memories of waiting up for Santa


Christmas is all about the food! I love mince pies. I bought a box for myself because nobody else in my house eats them. They're even better warmed up in the microwave! On Christmas Day itself we do turkey and all the trimmings, followed by Christmas pudding and custard. Yum! In the evening a little slice of Christmas cake goes down pretty well. On Christmas Eve we have a buffet of party food which is the best thing ever.

New Year

New Year is my absolute favourite time because I love looking back on my achievements and then starting  afresh for the year ahead. I always go into a new year feeling motivated! My new year tradition is spending time with my best friend. We're not going out people so we stay in, watch DVDs, pig out on food and play board games instead!

The blog over Christmas and New Year

I believe this time of year is a time to be spent with close ones and not glued to my laptop or iPod, which is why the blog will be going a bit quiet. I will still be posting a Top Ten Tuesday tomorrow, as well as December's Book of the Month and 2013's Books of the Year post.

My reading has slowed down a bit whilst I've been busy sorting out Christmas shopping and learning to drive, so I don't think I'll have any more reviews this year, but once I have some free time over the holidays I'll be flying through books ready for a new year filled with book reviews!

Thank you for reading and following over the past year and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and a very Happy New Year!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Weekly Book Round Up! 21st December

Welcome to my latest Weekly Book Round Up! Depending on how busy I am, this may be my last one of the year. I'm hoping I'll squeeze another one in next week to catch you up on my holiday reading, but as it's a time where I tend to stay away from my laptop and spend time with family, I'm not going to worry myself too much about blogging for the next week or so. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and here's what's been happening on the blog and in this news this week!

In the News

The film adaptation of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars now has a poster! You can see the poster which features Hazel and Gus below.

Some concern has been raised over the tagline but John Green addressed the issue on his Tumblr page.

John Green has also been busy launching this year's Project For Awesome campaign in which Youtuber's create videos of support of their favourite charities. Get involved over on projectforawesome.com.

A new clip from the upcoming Divergent adaptation has been released. The footage features Four showing his tattoos to Tris. Watch the clip below:

And J. K. Rowling has announced that a stage production focusing on the early years of Harry Potter's life is in development. Read the full statement on her website.

On the Blog
It's been a slightly quieter week for me on the blog as I gear up for Christmas, but I still managed to get up some exciting posts. On Monday I shared my review of Secret Lies by Amy Dunne which had a great love story. Tuesday saw my Top Ten New-to-me Authors of 2013 post, and on Wednesday I posted my review of Frostbite by Richelle Mead which was a joint review with Daisy from FangirlDaily.

What I've Been Reading
I've just finished Champion by Marie Lu so my review of that will go up sometime after Christmas. I've just started Red by Alison Cherry which comes out at the start of January, so keep an eye out for that! I'm also excited to announced I'll be featuring a guest post from the author.

I have a couple of January review books line up to read over the holidays including The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard and The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos. I also want to finish Throne of Glass. Fingers crossed I get lots of reading done!

What have you been reading this week? Any news stories caught your eye? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Sarah & Daisy's Review of Frostbite (Vampire Academy, #2) by Richelle Mead

Spoiler warning! This is the 2nd book in the Vampire Academy series and so this review will contain spoilers from book one. You can read my review of Vampire Academy here instead.

Frostbite (Vampire Academy, #2) by Richelle Mead

Author: Richelle Mead Website|Twitter
Published: 1 January 2008
Format: Paperback
Pages: 328
Buy the paperback: Amazon|Hive|BookDepository
Buy the e-book: Kindle|Kobo

Source: Gifted from Daisy!

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
It’s winter break at St Vladimir’s, and a massive Strigoi vampire attack has put the school on high alert. This year’s trip away from the academy to the wintery peaks of Idaho has suddenly become mandatory.

But Rose’s troubles seem to follow her wherever she goes—dealing with the pain of knowing that her relationship with her tutor Dimitri can never be, things get even more complicated when one her closest friends admits his feelings for her.

The glittering winter landscape may create the illusion of safety but Rose—and her heart—are in more danger than she ever could have imagined...

Sarah: So this review is a little different because I am reviewing Frostbite with the lovely Daisy from FangirlDaily and AThousandLivesofDais. Daisy very kindly bought me the book for my birthday so that we could read it together and taking part in the readalong was so much fun! So here is our review of the book.

Frostbite is the second book in the Vampire Academy series and I think it’s safe to say we both enjoyed the first! I was a big fan of the prologue which recapped a lot of the first book (because I have a memory like a sieve!). What did you think of the recapping?

Daisy: So much happened in Vampire Academy that it was hard to remember, however the recapping covered all the details that were huge plot points, as well as those little niggly things that slip your mind. The continuation into book two was skillfully done. Plus the action in the first chapters really drew me in!

Sarah: I agree. I was worried going in because I hadn’t had chance to re-read but that prologue got me right up to speed. And things definitely got underway quickly! What I loved was that there was a mystery element pretty early on as well. That had me hooked and wanting to find out what was going to happen!

Daisy: That is something I really enjoy from Richelle’s writing, you glide into the world with ease. It helps that a lot of time hasn’t passed between both books, not only for the action but character development. There didn’t seem to be any moments where you question “hey, what happened between these two?” Both sets of Rose/Dimitri and Lissa/Christian got focal points throughout it. But what would a YA book be without a love triangle?!

Sarah: Oh yes, the relationships were one of my favourite things about Frostbite. I basically shipped everyone! Of course I love the chemistry between Rose and Dimitri, but I also loved the other relationships dotted throughout the book. I love Rose and Lissa (I kind of ship them. A lot) but seeing Rose and Mason together was interesting too. One thing I noticed in Frostbite was all the jealousy! Did you feel that too?   

Daisy: The teenage hormones (minus Dimitri, that man has a hold of his emotions!) were rife in this book. Which is accurate to the situation. For those who are yet to read the book, the academy has had threats made against the moroi race, so take sanctuary in a ski resort over the Christmas period so that the families can spend time together. Hormones on top of scary threats and in close quarters with all sorts of new characters makes for Frostbite having an emotional side to it more so than the first book.

Sarah: Ooh you make a good point about the setting! I get nervous sometimes that sequels will feel repetitive, but because Frostbite transports you somewhere new - in this case the ski resort - it still felt fresh. I definitely preferred this book to the first. I think because the world and characters had been established and you were more involved in the relationships.How about you, did you prefer Vampire Academy or Frostbite?

Daisy: Frostbite has to be my favourite of the series so far. There was growth in the characters, where Rose is starting to grow up a bit. She had a level head at times throughout the first book but was very quick to jump in to action. Seeing through her eyes and genuinely seeing the improvement and how hard she is training made it take the top spot for me. I liked Rose in the first book but loved her in this! Was there characters for you that you felt really changed?

Sarah: I agree about Rose! I loved seeing her take on that extra responsibility but she still stayed her same hilarious, badass self. I also loved seeing her relationship with her mother develop.

Daisy: Bless Rose, she has such a dysfunctional relationship with her mother. We never really got a proper scene between them in VA, yet they get a more page this time around. Along with understandings being met, she gets more of an insight into the guardian world and it really isn’t as easy as it seems.

Sarah: Ooh yes I loved learning more about the role of a guardian and I think there’s even more potential to explore that in later books. Speaking of which, that ending! Obviously no spoilers, but Frostbite kind of broke my heart towards the end of the book. How about you?

Daisy: Oh man, I’m still torn up about that ending. Just when you think you’re on solid ground, Richelle can whip the rug out from beneath your feet. The one thing that Frostbite isn’t lacking in is action. When strigoi are around, there will never be a dull moment! But then she gives all the fluttery feelings in your stomach again. It is hard to know what emotion you should have.

Sarah: I definitely had all of the feels during this book! One thing I forgot to mention already was the foreshadowing. All throughout the book there were these moments that hinted at bigger things to come. Did you feel that too?

Daisy: I do like a bit of foreshadowing. Sometimes having no hints makes a surprise not make sense, as you have no idea what led up to that moment. Otherwise you have to whip out your detective skills! I felt that it was stronger in Frostbite and that bigger things are still to come in the series.

Sarah: I totally agree. I hate it when you get plot twists that make no sense and that you could never have worked out. The writing in these books is so clever and sharp that you don’t have to worry about it! So I have a lot of love for this book. The writing, characters and plot all blew me away and now I’m settled into the series I can’t wait to read more. Rating this book was easy - 5* all the way! What’s your final verdict?

Daisy: 5* for me too. I thought the book was truly fantastic, is miles apart from any other academy novels surrounding vampires, *cough* House of Night *cough*! I really enjoyed this installment and will be picking up the next books promptly so I can see how this world develops. I think our ship of Lissa and Rose - Rissa(?!) is one of the things I’m most excited to read. If our lovely readers have read Frostbite, please let us know what you thought of it! Or if you agreed with any of our points, the discussion can still continue :)

Rating: 5*
What to read next: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
Books like this: Evernight by Claudia Gray

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish, and this week's top ten is authors that are new to you after reading this year. I read quite a few debut authors this year, but I've decided to stick to some of the more established authors who I was happy to finally cross off my list!

1. Sarah Rees Brennan
I just read Unspoken and really enjoyed it. I'll definitely be checking out Untold, plus I have the whole Demon's Lexicon series to dive into. I love discovering authors who have so many books!

2. Keris Stainton
I absolutely adored Jessie Hearts NYC and I'll be readign Emma Hearts LA over Christmas (even though it's not the most festive sounding book!).

 3. Rainbow Rowell
I was lucky enough to win a copy of Fangirl which was one of my favourite books of the year. I also read Eleanor & Park which I wasn't as keen on, but it had been on my to-read list for ages and I think it's become one of those "must-read" titles.

4. Jennifer Lynn Barnes
I really enjoyed The Naturals which was my first book by Barnes, and I loved it so much I went and bought the entire Raised by Wolves trilogy to read!

 5. Elizabeth Wein
Wein was at Leakycon in the summer which prompted me to read Code Name Verity which I loved so so much (even though it broke my heart). Rose Under Fire had pretty much the same reaction.

 6. Sally Gardner
Another Leakycon author! I adored Maggot Moon which I read before I knew Sally would be at Leakycon, and when it was announced she was a guest I read and loved The Red Necklace too. I have I, Coriander on my TBR so that's up next!

7. Meg Cabot
I know, I know, how has it taken me so long to read a Meg Cabot book? I worked my way through a couple of audiobooks over the course of the year, with How to be Popular coming out favourite.

 8. Cat Clarke
I used a gift card I got last Christmas to buy Entangled at the start of this year which was so, so good. I've since read Undone and Clarke is definitely an author I'll continue reading.

9. Gayle Forman
I'd lways seen people praising Forman on Twitter so one day the curiosity got the better of me and I plced a hold on If I Stay which was such an incredible book! The library doesn't have the sequel but I'll definitely be reading it at some point, and Just One Day is high up on my wishlist.

10. Stephanie Meyer
And yes, I also read Twilight this year! For the first time. I'll probably try and read the rest of the books and I also own a copy of The Host.

Which authors did you read for the first time in 2013? Let me know in the comments!
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