Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Wednesday Catch-Up 16th August 2017

Every Wednesday we are linking up with WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is hosted at Taking on a World of Words and asks 3 questions: What are you currently reading?, What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you'll read next? You can click any of the images to go to the Goodreads page for that book!

Currently Reading:

WantedA Beautiful Poison
I am currently reading two books - which is fairly unusual for me. I started Wanted which is an ARC I got at YALC (although it actually is already out now) and a sequel/companion novel to Spelled which I read and enjoyed last year. And I am buddy reading A Beautiful Poison with Vera @ Regal Critiques - I am about 50 pages into this one currently and am enjoying it although its a little more depressing than I had anticipated. 

Recently Finished:

Pretty FierceBeing Miss NobodyPowerless
Pretty Fierce was a fun and exciting read, a little implausible at times but otherwise a good read. My full review can be found here. Being Miss Nobody was a very moving, very relatable account of social anxiety in secondary school and of cyber bullying. I found it to be a difficult read at times (as someone with social anxiety) but definitely worthwhile, my review for this will be going up tomorrow. And Powerless was a really great and exciting superhero/villain read. I would have liked more world building perhaps and could have done with a lot more explanation and backstory for where heroes and villains came from and what the actual difference between them is but I really enjoyed it and very much want to read the sequel. My review for this should go up on Saturday!

Planning to Read Next:

Shifting Sands: Tradecraft: Phase OneInvictusWater in May
My next planned read is Shifting Sands which I received for review recently. It looks like a good adventure/action read which is a kind of novel that I absolutely love so I am excited to get started on this one. I will then be reading Invictus which I got at YALC (and then got signed) it's time travel and a tight knit crew doing potentially not very legal things and I love that combination! And then I will be reading Water in May which I know very little about but everything I do know is good. 

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Monday Highlights #19

The idea is to just link your favourite blog post from the past week (for example a post you're very proud of or just had a lot of fun making) and then I, and hopefully others, can discover new blogs to follow and interact with and discover more posts from blogs we may already follow!

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Reading Quest Sign Up

Through a spectacular display of forgetfulness combined with procrastination I forgot to schedule this post to go up before sign-ups closed! I'm a genius. But this is such a fun idea and I was so excited to take part that I'm gonna go ahead and do the reading for it anyway - although obviously without being eligible for prizes! 

This challenge was created by Read at Midnight (sign up post and details here) and the artwork was created by 
CW of Read, Think, Ponder. The quest runs from August 13th to September 10th. 

This is a reading quest inspired by video games and as I am hugely into video games (particularly RPGs) this whole thing has fascinated me since I first heard of it. The first step is to choose a character class - which will dictate the books you will need to read during the readathon. This is a simple one for me because I am always a rogue. Stealth, daggers, archery - its 100% my deal and the book prompts for this suited me as well.

The Reading Quest Character Classes
Reading Quest Board 


A Banned Book: 
Annie on My Mind
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden. Because OMG I have been meaning to read this for such a long time. 

A Book Cover With a Partially Obscured Face:
The Treatment
The Treatment by C.L. Taylor. I got a signed ARC of this at YALC and whilst my review for it wont go up until October I'm just way too desperate to read it to leave it that long!

A Book With <500 Ratings on Goodreads
Wanted by Betsy Schow. Another YALC book. This is the sequel/companion to Spelled, I am a huge fan of fairy tale retellings too so this should be a good one!

A Book Published By A Small Press
Powerless by Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs. OK I struggled with this category because I'm not 100% on what does or does not count as a small press? I think Sourcebooks is a smaller press and I'm going with it for now. 

A Book With a One Word Title:
Invictus by Ryan Graudin. Another YALC book (seriously YALC was amazing)! This is one of my most anticipated books of the year and I cannot wait!

Of course me being me I am likely to get lost in the side quests before I manage to complete the main quests but I am super excited to level up my character and see how this goes!!

Starting Point:

Class: Rogue
Experience Points: 10XP 

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading. 

Sunday Post 13th August 2017

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader. As always you can click on any of the pictures to be taken to the Goodreads page for that book if you're interested in finding out more about it or click the title to go to the review.

Last Week on the Blog:

Books We Got This Week:

Seeing RedSwearing Off StarsThe Girl Who Wasn't DeadBlack Bird of the Gallows
Seeing Red by Sandra Brown: Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a copy of this book for review! I was very excited when it arrived in the post because Sandra Brown books have always been fun when I've read them in the past!
Swearing Off Stars by Danielle M. Wong: Received via Netgalley. This is an LGBTQ Historical novel which I don't see often so I basically just auto-requested it. I don't know much more about it but I am loving the cover and am excited to read it!
The Girl Who Wasn't Dead by Samantha Boyette: Received via Netgalley. This sounds like One of Us Is Lying meets Pretty Little Liars with an LGBTQ protagonist! I will be reading this very soon because I am buddy reading it with Vera @ Regal Critiques.
Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel: Received via Netgalley. This is one of those books that I wasn't that interested in but the more I hear about it and the closer it gets to release the more enticing I find it. 

Reading Update:

The Epic Crush of Genie LoThe ArsonistPretty FierceBeing Miss Nobody
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee: 4.5 stars, Really fun and exciting with some amazing characters! Full review here
The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes: 4.5 stars, Really inspiring and emotional read - I felt like a different person having read this. Full review here
Pretty Fierce by Kieran Scott: 3.5 stars, Fun but a little ridiculous. I did like the main character a lot. Full review here.
Being Miss Nobody by Tamsin Winter: My full review for this will go up on Saturday. One of the most relatable books I think I have ever read!

Next Week on the Blog:

  • Monday Highlights #19
  • Wednesday Catch-Up
  • Clare's (Very Late) YALC haul!
  • Friday Reads
  • Clare Reviews: Being Miss Nobody by Tamsin Winter

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading. 

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Clare Reviews: Pretty Fierce by Kieran Scott

Pretty FierceTitle: Pretty Fierce
Author: Kieran Scott
Format: ARC
Source: Received for an honest review
Pages: 320
Rating: 3.5/5
Blurb: Kaia has been on the run her whole life. The daughter of professional assassins, she knows true danger—and she’ll do anything to survive. After her parents vanished during a job gone bad, Kaia’s spent the last year in hiding, trying to blend in as an ordinary teenager, and there’s no one who makes her feel more normal or more special than her boyfriend, Oliver.
But when she’s jumped by a hit man, and Oliver catches her fighting back, Kaia’s secret is exposed. In a split-second decision, she flees the small town, taking Oliver with her. With professional killers stalking their every move, can Oliver and Kaia protect each other long enough to uncover the mysteries of her past?

The premise of this story totally grabbed me. Kaia being the daughter of assassins was super intriguing to me and, luckily, that part of the story definitely followed through. We didn't really get to see much of her previous life - presumably so we wouldn't dislike her parents although I can promise you I wouldn't have disliked them at all. But I really enjoyed seeing what Kaia had learned from this lifestyle. 

The fact that she was in a relationship from the start was both a draw and a worry for me. I actually love when relationship drama is resolved really early on and then the love interests work together for the rest of the book so I was excited for that. But I was worried that Oliver might prove judgmental or a liability - that he would hold Kaia back as she fought for survival. Oliver was not my favourite character - I liked him - but I definitely preferred Kaia. That said, Oliver didn't hold her back. He pulled his own weight in the survival stakes and it was great to watch him come out of his shell and be more badass by the end of the book.

The thing that really held this story back for me was that certain parts just didn't add up or make sense particularly - this is definitely a book you need to go into willing to just go with it. Don't think too hard about the mechanics of it, don't start thinking about all the ways their escape could go wrong (and there were many - their escape procedure was seriously faulty) just enjoy the ride and you'll be fine. 

I mentioned that I like my relationship drama solved early and we mostly got that here. Mostly. For some reason both Oliver and Kaia, despite being in a pretty solid relationship, found excuses to act in increasingly stupid and relationship damaging ways. Some of this made sense - Oliver did just find out a whole chunk of Kaia's secret past so he has a lot to deal with. But sometimes I just wanted to shake them. However I really liked that no matter how bad you thought things were getting with them their love for each other never wavered and they always did their best to understand and support each other - even when they had no idea why. 

Overall, if you want something fun and exciting with a sweet romance and two compelling characters then definitely give this a chance. It's not a book I'll be thinking about for days afterwards and I might not re-read it but I do not regret the time I spent reading it - it was enjoyable. 

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Friday Reads 11th August 2017

Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice and Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader. The idea is to share a sentence or so from the first page and the 56th page of the book you are currently reading!

Being Miss Nobody
Book Beginning:
"I was first diagnosed as Officially Weird two years ago, when I was nine years old."

Friday 56: 
"It was only my second day at Manor High, but already I had become The Weird Girl Who Can't Speak. And the chair next to me was Permanently Empty."

I am 62 pages into this so far and am absolutely loving it. I wasn't aware before starting that the main character was only 11 and that probably would have put me off - so I'm glad I didn't know. I wish I had a book like this when I was 11 and going through pretty much the same thing. My transition from Primary to Secondary school was very much like this. My "weirdness" was vaguely accepted in primary school but secondary school was hell. Also loving the capitalisations - that's 100% how words felt inside my head at times. Just really loving this right now. 

My review for last week's Friday Read (The Comfort of Secrets by Christine Nolfi) is now up and you should definitely check it out!

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Clare Reviews: The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

The ArsonistTitle: The Arsonist
Author: Stephanie Oakes
Format: ARC
Source: Received for an honest review
Pages: 493
Rating: 4.5/5
Blurb: Molly Mavity is not a normal teenage girl. For one thing, her father is a convicted murderer, and his execution date is fast approaching. For another, Molly refuses to believe that her mother is dead, and she waits for the day when they'll be reunited . . . despite all evidence that this will never happen.
Pepper Al-Yusef is not your average teenage boy. A Kuwaiti immigrant with epilepsy, serious girl problems, and the most useless seizure dog in existence, he has to write a series of essays over the summer . . . or fail out of school.
And Ava Dreyman--the brave and beautiful East German resistance fighter whose murder at seventeen led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall--is unlike anyone you've met before.
When Molly gets a package leading her to Pepper, they're tasked with solving a decades-old mystery: find out who killed Ava, back in 1989. Using Ava's diary for clues, Molly and Pepper realize there's more to her life--and death--than meets the eye. Someone is lying to them. And someone out there is guiding them along, desperate for answers.

I went into The Arsonist pretty much blind. All I knew was that it was about a girl whose father was imprisoned for arson. I knew nothing of Ava's viewpoint or Pepper's or just how emotionally intense this book would wind up being. 

The Arsonist is the sort of book that consumes you. The difference from first page to last wasn't just character growth - I feel different too. And I love when a book can do that. This wasn't a quick read at all. It's a fairly long book and the intensity of it meant that I put it down a few times to breathe. But it was an experience of a book. And those are one of my favourite kinds.

In The Arsonist you read from three different perspectives. I struggle to pick a favourite to read from because they were all excellent and distinctive but I definitely related a lot to Ava. I've never been in her situation obviously, but her character and her beliefs and her actions resonated so strongly with me and I absolutely adored her sections. I admired Molly and Pepper in a different way. They were both so unique and so brave in their own ways and it broke my heart a little every time they had to go through something awful. There were a couple of scenes where I had a lump in my throat - the kind where it's too sad even to cry.

The central mystery I found very compelling. True the "Who killed Ava" mystery was relatively clear but it was so exciting and interesting to watch the connections fall together. It felt a little like one of those crime maps on TV with all the pins and string? I was adding every clue to that board inside my head all the way through and by the end it felt so satisfying and complete to have all the connections make sense. And there were plenty of things, even towards the end, that took me by surprise. 

I mentioned that this isn't a one-sitting kind of read and I will admit that once I had put this book down it took me a while to pick back up. The truth being that at times it just felt too heavy for my brain. So this probably isn't the book to choose when you're in a reading slump. It is however, a book I think you should definitely read. It taught me and changed me and emotionally tore me apart and I am so grateful that I had the chance to read it. 

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Wednesday Catch-Up 9th August 2017

Every Wednesday we are linking up with WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is hosted at Taking on a World of Words and asks 3 questions: What are you currently reading?, What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you'll read next? You can click any of the images to go to the Goodreads page for that book!

Currently Reading:

Pretty Fierce#GIRLBOSS
I'm pretty close to the end of Pretty Fierce and I've found it mostly enjoyable. There are a few moments where I became frustrated with the characters' actions or just felt like something straight up didn't make sense but if you can suspend disbelief for a bit this is a fun read. I am also currently reading #Girlboss which is inspiring me a lot!! I admire Sophia Amoruso so very much (and if you haven't already seen the Netflix series definitely watch it) and I'm enjoying reading this!

Recently Finished:

The Last MagicianHuntedThe Comfort of Secrets: A Sweet Lake NovelThe Epic Crush of Genie LoThe Arsonist
I was in an almost-reading-slump this time last week and The Last Magician did a pretty good job of getting me out of it! It was a very intriguing first book in the duology although I do wish it had been a bit more original? Hunted was just as good as I had hoped and better than I had expected which was lovely - and such a good Beauty and the Beast retelling! My review for The Comfort of Secrets went up yesterday (I loved it), it was a great follow up to Sweet Lake and I genuinely love these characters so much! My review for The Epic Crush of Genie Lo also went up yesterday and it was another much loved read! And finally I read The Arsonist which was a powerful and intriguing read - my review for this will go up tomorrow!

Planning to Read Next:

Stealing CandyBeing Miss NobodyPowerless
I am hoping to read Stealing Candy next which I know very little about. I got an ARC of it at YALC because I was intrigued by the kidnapping angle but I don't know much else beyond that and I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Being Miss Nobody is a book that's been on my radar for a while and I'm really intrigued to read it. And Powerless sounds right up my alley, with superheroes (and supervillains).

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Clare Reviews: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

The Epic Crush of Genie LoTitle: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo
Author: F.C. Yee
Format: ARC
Source: Received for an honest review
Pages: 310
Rating: 4.5/5
Blurb: The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo's every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.
Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.
Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…

This was such a fun read! I was thoroughly gripped the entire way through and it was all just very, very enjoyable. I've seen this compared to Buffy and I definitely get that - although Quentin was far more appealing than Angel ever was. (Sorry). 

Genie was the best part of this book. She was tough and funny and determined. I felt everything she did - there was one part of the story where my heart cracked a little bit and I realised just how invested in her life I was! Quentin was also great - he made me laugh a lot (and I rarely laugh out loud in books) and by about halfway through I was full-on in love with him! Side characters play an important part here and I definitely enjoyed reading about them all. Yunie especially I would love to read more of.

There is quite a lot going on in this book and a fair amount of lore to catch up on but you learn alongside Genie and I never felt like there was info-dumping or that the historical/mythology parts were slowing the story down at all. In fact they just made the whole story feel deeper. I really enjoyed learning about Quentin's past, and it definitely coloured my view of what was happening in the present. I would have liked more background on Guanyin because she seemed like a very intriguing character.

The ending wasn't a huge surprise to me, I kind of saw the plot twist coming from very early on in the book but here I definitely didn't mind all that much. I would have loved to have a proper gasp-worthy reveal but the tension and the resolution in this felt natural anyway. There was a point where I worried there weren't enough pages left to properly resolve the story but somehow Yee pulled it back and delivered an action packed and exciting ending to the story - although there is definite room for this to become a series. And I really hope it does.

I highly recommend The Epic Crush of Genie Lo - it was a fun and action packed read with humour (and a little heartache) and I can't wait to read more from F.C. Yee!

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Clare Reviews: The Comfort of Secrets by Christine Nolfi

The Comfort of Secrets: A Sweet Lake NovelTitle: The Comfort of Secrets
Author: Christine Nolfi
Source: Received from the author for an honest review
Format: Paperback
Pages: 316
Rating: 5/5
Blurb: Cat Mendoza needs a win. After a business failure and years of dating the wrong men, she’s ready to turn things around.
First she must convince the residents of Sweet Lake, Ohio, that she’s taking her responsibilities seriously. As the events director of the newly restored Wayfair Inn, she has the support of her best friends, Linnie and Jada. But everyone else—including her overprotective mother and the well-meaning Sweet Lake Sirens—can’t help but chime in with advice about her plans, her apparently too-tight clothes, and her undeniable attraction to Ryan D’Angelo, the charming ad exec hired to promote the inn.
Cat knows she should keep Ryan at a distance, but she’s drawn closer by the heartbreak he tries to hide. Will uncovering his secrets derail the new life Cat hopes to achieve…or will she gain something to cherish forever?

"Family is about the people we choose to hold close in our lives."

When I came home to this book in the post I was beyond excited. I started it straight away (which I almost never do because my TBR is too ridiculous) and it did not let me down. Cat was a character I already loved, having read Sweet Lake, but I fell for Ryan from the moment he first appeared and my love for them as a couple just kept growing.

There were plenty of cute romantic moments and I loved how open both Ryan and Cat were about their attraction to each other, and eventually their love for each other. It's rare in romance to have so little miscommunication between the main pair and I adored it. The relationship development felt natural and realistic, perhaps as a result. And I was able to believe wholeheartedly in every stage of their relationship. As well as the romance there were, of course, the family and friend relationships of the close-knit town. I still love Cat, Jada and Linnie's friendship, the three are so different from each other but their friendship is so strong! And in this I loved getting to see Cat's relationship with her Mother which was just lovely.

And of course there are the Sweet Lake Sirens who are absolute goals for life! Their bonds and interactions made me laugh and smile and even tear up a little so whenever they appear on page I get excited - there's no knowing what will happen with them next!!

Plot wise there was plenty of tension and build up and I read it in almost one setting (with one break for food) because I just had to know what would happen next. Unlike in the first book, Sweet Lake, I had no sympathy whatsoever for the primary antagonist. I loathed him. So so much. In Sweet Lake part of my love for the book was my underlying sympathy for Linnie's brother but here it was nice to have someone to dislike. And the ending was suitably dramatic (and then very romantic).

Christine Nolfi is fast becoming one of my favourite romance authors. Sweet Lake and The Comfort of Secrets are both great reads with amazing characters - and can I please just be a Sweet Lake Siren already? If you like romances - particularly healthy, realistic but still sexy and romantic ones - then definitely pick up these books! 

Trigger Warnings:

In The Comfort of Secrets, Christine Nolfi has dealt with some very serious issues. Including domestic abuse and depression/anxiety. Domestic abuse was, to the best of my knowledge, well handled. I really appreciated getting Julia's viewpoint in this especially and understanding why someone would stay in a situation like that as well as how they deal with the after effects. I would say that this is potentially very triggering for some people so do read with caution if abuse is a trigger. 

The anxiety side of things I could go on about all day. I have social anxiety and depression and the perspective on that here, though different from my personal experience in many ways, felt very realistic and was almost comforting to me. Not just to see someone with many of the same problems as me in a book I loved but also to see how those who loved and supported her felt - which is often a worry for me. 

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.