Browsing Tag



Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford

August 1, 2019

It was always going to be one of the identical twin sisters, Zadie or Nor, that was going to be chosen in the ceremony to become the next princess, but an accident that left Nor scarred took her out of the running. Or so she thought. Events unfold in unexpected ways, and Nor is soon standing in for her sister, and sent away from her beloved ocean town of Varenia to marry Prince Ceren, whom she quickly learns is cruel, and has anything but her, or Varenia’s best interests at heart.

While I found the story predictable, with little in the way of surprises, I still enjoyed it all the same. The world building, including the maps at the start was fantastic, and I immediately found myself drawn into the world that Mara Rutherford has woven between the pages. I enjoyed the sisterly bond between Nor and Zadie, even if I also found myself strongly disliking Zadie. Instead I preferred the bold, courageous and honour bound Nor. With enough of the story left open at the end, I’m very much looking forward to a sequel. It will be high on my list to read.

4 out of 5 stars.

* This eBook ARC was provided by Harlequin Australia through NetGalley for an honest review.


To Be Perfectly Honest by Jess Vallance

June 26, 2019

After uncovering a family secret, Grace Dart has had enough with lying and has dedicated the next fifty days of her college life to telling nothing but the truth, no matter how hard, or insulting, or at times, hilarious it might be.

I hadn’t read the first in the series, but I didn’t actually feel it impacted negatively on my reading experience, I didn’t feel like I’d missed out on anything by not having done so. I did find it hard to like Grace at first, she was selfish, rude, self absorbed, and at times the things she said to people could have caused a lot of harm, and she seemed almost entirely oblivious to it for the first half of the book.

But as the story was told, we start to see Grace realising, if a little belatedly, the impact her ‘truths’ were having on the people around her, and seeing her trying to fix and make things right with the people she’s hurt along the way was heart warming.

All and all, a fun and delightful read.


Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

May 6, 2018

Estranged best friends, Zorie and Lennon, fell out a year ago after she was stood up by him at the homecoming dance and Zorie’s father is only too happy that the pair are now best enemies instead. Struggling socially, reluctant Zorie (who had a perfect plan for summer) is given a bit of a nudge by her step mother to step outside of her comfort zone and attend a glamping trip away with the popular kids. Little does Zorie know, but Lennon too will be there. And after said kids desert them in the middle of the national park, leaving her alone with Lennon, she finally learns the truth about why Lennon stood her up all those months ago and they both starts to gradually heal old wounds.

I picked up Starry Eyes because I desperately needed a light and fun read, and a break from the heavier books I have been reading lately, and it delivered this in spades. A few pages in, and I was delighted to read, “Astronomy is my holy grail. Stars, planets, moons, and all things space. Future NASA astrophysicist, right here.” I’m something of a science geek myself, and loved to not only feel a kindred kind of connection with Zorie, but just simply seeing the field represented in print meant everything.

So many science fields are male dominated and it’s so important that movies, novels, comics, media, represents and reflects girls in these roles, so that we get more young women dreaming and believing that they too can build a career in science.

But even once we step past my initial appreciation of Zorie’s astrophysics interests, I found the story a delightful and heart warming read. I found myself easily connecting with her, and having spent a few weeks out camping myself, enjoyed that aspect of the novel too. The growing reconciliation between Zorie and Lennon was sweet, and had me hooked and I appreciated the nod to safe sex practices tucked in there too.

And if that wasn’t enough, we also had the loving relationship between Zorie and her step-mom showing that love extends far beyond genes and biological ties. And throughout it all, Zorie learns some important lessons about how planning can’t save you from everything. That change is inevitable and uncertainty is a given.

* This eBook ARC was provided by Simon & Schuster (Australia) through NetGalley for an honest review.


Heart of Iron (Heart of Iron #1) by Ashley Poston

April 17, 2018

Portrayed as a sci-fi retelling of Anastasia, this novel takes you on a swash-buckling adventure with Ana and the outlaw crew of the Dossier, as they try to find a way to fix her failing robot, D09, commonly called Di. Secrets are gradually unraveled and the stakes are risen, as An learns more about her past, and her best friend, Di.

For a book that has gone to print, there were a surprising number of typos throughout the book, and even some wrongly printed names that made a confusing world all the more difficult to navigate. The world building is one of the aspects that definitely fell short in this novel with so many things referenced with little to no explanation or context as to what they meant. I found myself having to re-read several passages and even chapters just trying to get an understanding of what is going down.

The story is told from multiple points of view, and at times the frequent shifts between them really seemed unnecessary, and I feel that the story could have benefited by dropping some of them. It was very jarring and it made it difficult to relate and connect with many of the characters.

The pacing slow at a number of points, but the ending certainly picked up the pace, but I found that most of the plot twists were predictable with little in the way of surprises throughout. Things progressed exactly how I thought they would, and that made it difficult for me to continue to the end.

What I did love though was the characters and the representation, the building relationship between Jax and Robb was adorable and fun to see. And I while I did love Di and Ana individually, I wasn’t sold on the whole insta-love and I would have loved to have seen a bit more of a build there, and got a few more glimpses about what makes their relationship what it is.

For me, this was a 3 out of 5 stars. Maybe 3.5.


Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence by Michael Marshall Smith

April 1, 2018

Inspired by Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence, here are my selection of the stories I’ve starred in my younger years: The Tale of a Ten-Year-Old Witch, The Story of Having Untameable,  Frizzy White Hair, The Weirdo Chronicles of an Avid Reader, and The Saga of Eleven Schools in Thirteen Years.


This coming of age story stars an eleven year old girl, Hannah Green, and begins just as her family is starting to fall apart. With her mother having run away to London, and her father left struggling to cope, Hannah is sent off to live with her grandfather. And there, she meets her father’s employer, the Devil himself, and suddenly her mundane and routine existence starts to change, and she’s taken on a journey with them to attempt to fix the machine her Grandfather, the Engineer, built some several centuries earlier.

I am not entirely sure what I was expecting with Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence; the blurb about it on Goodreads was brief. But sometimes, the best sort of books start out that way, with no idea as to the direction the story will take, and this was very much the case with this story. I found it to be incredibly well written, and I particularly enjoyed the Devil’s dialogue. The plot was relatively fast paced for most of the story, though I did find it slowed down towards the final quarter of the book. It was often amusing, and dabbled in themes of good and evil, balance, family, morality, and fate.

* This ebook ARC was provided by HarperVoyager through Edelweiss+ for an honest review.


The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

March 26, 2018

Born illegitimately, with an unknown father, and her mother dead, Brienna is raised by her grandfather until she turns 10, when she is handed over to Magnalia House to be educated in one of the five passions. And she tries them all, before finally settling on Knowledge. Her indecision costs her though, and she has considerably less time to prepare for Solstice, and things do not go according to plan. Left without a patron, Brienne unexpectedly finds herself in the middle of a dangerous plot to overthrow the King of Maevana.

That I found myself awake till two in the morning, unable to put the book down, and needing to finish the last couple of chapters, is likely indication enough that The Queen’s Rising for me was a five star read. It was incredibly well written, and it was easy to imagine all the little details of the characters and the world as the story is told.

I loved that Brienna is far from perfect, her failures surprised me, and it made her all the more relatable and believable. I adored her friendships with the other girls at Magnalia House, particularly with her room mate. And of course, her Master, Cartier. While the romance side of things, definitely did have a bit of a slow burn, it did feel like a bit like she fell in love with him near instantly at the start of the story. But that doesn’t really take into account the 7 or so years she spent with him being taught ‘off-screen’.

For me there was plenty of action going on to keep me reading, and struggling to put this book down every night, but towards the end, things seemed to wrap up just a little too perfectly, which doesn’t leave much room for a sequel, given the book is the first in a trilogy. I would loved to have seen a few more unexpected twists and perhaps just a couple more things going wrong at the end.

5 out of 5 Stars.

* This ebook ARC was provided by HarperCollins Publishers Australia through NetGalley for an honest review.


Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

March 19, 2018

Starfish tells a story about a young half Japanese woman Kiko, and her emotional journey of self discovery and strength as she struggles to cope with being rejected from her dream art school, Prism. With her best friend, Emery, leaving town, Kiko loses her crutch and starts to make the first steps into the world on her own, and her less than understanding, and self absorbed mother doesn’t make it any easier for her. Gradually as the story is told, Kiko learns about the true meaning of beauty, friendship, and family and finds a strength in her she didn’t realise she had, but was there all along.

“I feel weird just standing there listening. Do other people do that? Move from circle to circle, socialising with everyone like they all know each other? It seems invasive. I don’t know the rules.”

This novel is told from Kiko’s point of view, which I absolutely loved. So much of what she said resonated so strongly with me, particularly when she describes and draws about her experience with social anxiety. The anxiety was represented beautifully, and there were so many points in the book where I felt it was echoing exactly the sorts of things I’ve felt. In my head, I was mentally saying. “This is me. This is me. I’ve been there,” so many times, which made the whole story all the more poignant and personal.

I love the little descriptions of her sketches at the ends of the chapters an seeing how they evolved as Kiko grows as a person and learns about how to be strong and deal with her hideous mother which has had such a strangling and suffocating effect on her, and her siblings.

I adored that as the story progressed, she was self aware enough to realise that she needed to do a bit of healing, on her own. That Jamie can’t ‘save’ her, and before she can let people into her life, and love them, she needs to learn to accept and love herself,

This book is just beautiful and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

* This ebook ARC was provided by Black & White Publishing through NetGalley for an honest review.


5 / 5 stars



Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of Starfish (Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster) and Summer Bird Blue (Fall 2018). She’s a proud Ravenclaw and Star Wars enthusiast, who served in the US Navy for five years and has a BA in social sciences from UNLV. Originally from Las Vegas, she currently lives in England with her husband, two children, and their Pekingese mix.

She is represented by Penny Moore of Empire Literary.


Blog Tour

Blog Tour for Phoenix Fire by S.D. Grimm

March 15, 2018

This is my first blog tour thing, so I feel ever so lucky to be invited by Entangled Publishing, after being offered an ebook copy of Phoenix Fire to review.

After spending her life in foster care, Ava has finally found home. But all it takes is a chance encounter with hot nerd Wyatt Wilcox for it to unravel.

Now, things are starting to change. First, the flashes of memories slowly creeping in. Memories of other lives, lives that Wyatt is somehow in. Then, the healing. Any cut? Gone.

But when Cade and Nick show up, claiming to be her brothers, things get even weirder. They tell her she’s a Phoenix, sent to protect the world from monsters—monsters she never knew existed. It’s a little hard to accept. Especially when they tell her she has to end the life of a Phoenix turned rogue, or Cade will die.

With Wyatt’s increasingly suspicious behavior, Ava’s determined to figure out what he’s hiding. Unless she can discover Wyatt’s secret in time and complete her Phoenix training, she’ll lose the life, love, and family she never thought she could have.

My Review:-

“If I didn’t start pushing them away soon, they’d push me away. I couldn’t take that again. Not from another family.”

At first, Ava is all prickles and porcupine spines, eager to push her new found family away, refusing to believe that they might possibly be the family she’s looking her, to love her, all of her, despite her flaws. After years of rejection, she wants to do it first. Because it just hurts less that way.

And slowly, as the story is told, her walls, her defenses are gradually destroyed and she starts to open herself to them, and the others around her. And like moth to a flame, she can’t help feel drawn to Wyatt, the hot new geeky guy at her school, who slowly untangles her, getting beneath her skin and seeing a side of her she normally keeps hidden from most.

So, firstly the bit that I didn’t love so much: The story shifts point of view frequently, with Cade, Nick, Ava and others taking turns at narrating and providing views of events through their perspective. The story jumps often from past to present as they gradually remember what happens to the past, and deal with the consequences in the future. Especially in the first quarter in the book, this did feel very jarring, and it was, at times, very difficult to follow what was going on from one chapter to the next. But it does improve, and for anyone who is having trouble in the first few chapters, I recommend sticking with it, as it does get easier. There was a little bit of insta-love, which I’m not really a fan of, I prefer a slower burn when it comes to such things.

And what I did love: the story feels original, and the characters are detailed and intricate. The cover is gorgeous, and premise on which the book is built on, the warring of these dark and light phoenixes through cycles is unique from most of the YA fantasy books in the market. I kind of like that the main character makes mistakes, and is a bit prickly, and slow to trust. Nothing grates on me more than a ‘perfect’ Mary Sue protagonist.

So overall, Phoenix Fire is definitely worth a read if you want a YA fantasy that’s just a little bit different.

* This ebook ARC was provided by Entangled Publishing, LLC through NetGalley for an honest review.


S. D. Grimm’s first love in writing is young adult fantasy and science fiction, which is to be expected from someone who looks up to heroes like Captain America and Wonder Woman, has been sorted into Gryffindor, and identifies as rebel scum. Her patronus is a red Voltron lion, her spirit animal is Toothless, and her favorite meal is second breakfast. Her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog.You can learn more about her upcoming novels at

Author Links:-

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Newsletter


Excerpt from Phoenix Fire:

He shrugged. “I should have expected Danny to warn you about me.”

“It’s not like you made a habit out of beating people up, right?” I offered a smile.

The way his gaze locked onto mine, suddenly easier to read though the moonlight was blocked by branches here, made me think he might be staring deep into a memory, too.


He sucked in a breath. “Right. I don’t go around hurting people.”

“No. You let them pick on you.” I released his hands.

His small laugh seemed to drip bitterness. “Well, I can’t exactly fight back—I’d be in so much trouble if I were to have another…incident—and they know it.”

That ignited a fireball in my stomach. That’s why they picked on him? “How can people be so cruel?” I pointed my flashlight on the path ahead. “Can I show you something?”

“Of course.”

Within a few minutes, we’d arrived to my favorite place on the run. I stepped through the thinning dune grass and out onto a sandy cliff of the top of a dune. From here we could see over Lake Michigan. But the sun had already set, leaving nothing but darkness in front of us.

Here, at night, the best view was looking up.

I sat down and motioned to the stars. “I looked up Andromeda after you came over.”

“Yeah?” His voice carried the hint of awe and surprise mingled together.

“But I don’t know which constellation it is.”

He sat beside me and leaned close enough that his shoulder brushed against mine. “There.” His fingers traced an outline of stars. “It’s been said that she’s a beautiful princess.”

“I read that, too.” I chuckled. “But like all princesses, she got into trouble.”

He laughed. “Yes. She got herself captured.”

I made my voice mock-dreamy. “But her handsome prince—what was his name?

Perseus!—saved her. I can only imagine they lived happily ever after.”

He didn’t respond, so I tore my eyes away from the night sky and found Wyatt already looking at me.

“Thank you,” he said, turning his attention back to the sky as a breeze off the lake muffled his quiet words. “For not making me feel like a monster for what I did.”

I wanted to touch him again, but I refrained. “You’re hardly a monster, Wyatt.”

Something in his soft smile made my heart beat faster.



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I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

March 6, 2018

I Have Lost My Way follows the lives of three individuals as they collide into each other in a very literal way when Freya falls from a bridge, only to land on Nathaniel, with Harun there to witness. Freya is an up and coming singer, who has lost her voice. Nathaniel is a small town boy who has just arrived in New York with little to his name, and Harun is a homosexual Muslim son, destined to leave home and find a wife and recently lost the love of his life, James.

The story follows their lives over the next twenty four hours as they find themselves connected in more ways than they imagine, each dealing with loss, and grief and struggling to cope. These three beautifully written and diverse characters band together, working to help each other overcome their obstacles and in doing so, realizing that they are no longer alone.

I have not read anything by Gayle Forman before, so I wasn’t at all sure what to expect in I Have Lost My Way, and was more than pleasantly surprised to find myself immediately hooked from the first few pages. It was a light and easy read, and it wasn’t long before I felt invested in the characters, eager to see how things turn out. It was an emotional read and I loved the themes of empathy and loss, and seeing how important sometimes even the little things can be to someone.

* This ebook ARC was provided by Simon & Schuster through NetGallery for an honest review.


Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1) by Amanda Foody

February 22, 2018

Ace of Shades is a dark fantasy novel set in the deviant and twisted City of Sin where casinos, magic, crime and gangs are rife. Enne, more used to being a proper lady, is more than a little out of her depth. Finishing school did not prepare her for this! Still she is determined to find her missing mother and unravel the secrets of her past.

The story begins with Enne’s arrival in the port of the City of Sin, after having spent a couple of weeks at sea. At first, she has only her tourist’s guidebook, ‘The City of Sin, a Guidebook: Where To Go and Where Not To,’ to aid her, but it isn’t long till she enlists the help of bad boy Crime Lord, Levi and his people.

And right from the first chapter, you’re dropped into the thick of the action that rarely seems to let up in the 400 or so pages that the story unfolds in.

Enne starts off as a somewhat whiny proper young lady, that struggles with the onslaught of everything that is this City, but over the course of the book we get to see her harden up, and really develop and grow as a character, becoming more bold, sassy with a bit of bad-ass, which I absolutely loved.

Levi is not your typical bad-boy. He is bisexual, has emotional depth, friendships, his own goals and desires. He’s not quite as hard or as seasoned as some of the other Crimelords in the story, and has a strong relationship and bond with his mate Jac, a fellow Iron, which was great to see play out. I loved his aura-reading ability and I very eagerly imagined all the bookish candles that could be created to reflect the scenes and colours that he sees with everyone he’s close enough to depict an aura of.

The world building was phenomenal, with an amazing amount of detail that was just very casually distributed throughout the story, from the drinks, to the food, the streets, and the buildings, you could tell the story was very much a labor of love for Amanda Foody.

There’s a bit of a hint of romance, but it wasn’t the main focus of the story. Certainly there was no insta-love, but rather, the sparks are flying and it is a slow burn, developing slowly as the story progresses, and I can’t wait to see where things end up in the sequel between them.

All-in-all, I absolutely loved this book, enough that I’m going to be going out to get a hard-cover copy as soon as it hits the shelves and will be eagerly waiting the sequel.

* This ebook ARC was provided by Harlequin Teen through Edelweiss+ for an honest review.