REVIEW: Under Different Stars (Kricket #1) by Amy A. Bartol

Under Different Stars by Amy A. Bartol
Series: Kricket #1
Published by 47North on 9th December 2014
Pages: 296

Kricket Hollowell never wished upon stars. She was too busy hiding in plain sight, eluding Chicago’s foster care system. As her eighteenth birthday approaches, she now eagerly anticipates the day she’ll stop running and finally find her place in the world.

That day comes when she meets a young Etharian soldier named Trey Allairis, who has been charged with coming to Earth to find Kricket and transport her to her true home. As danger draws close, he must protect her until she can wield the powers she cannot use on Earth…and he soon realizes that counting a galaxy of stars would be easier than losing this extraordinary girl.

Kyon Ensin knows the powerful depths of Kricket’s gifts—gifts he’ll control when he takes her for his tribe and leads the forces that will claim Ethar and destroy his enemies, starting with Trey Allairis. Now, Kricket faces the most difficult choice of her life: whether to wage a battle for survival, or a fight for love.
This was addictive. And exactly the sort of novel I needed to get me out of my long reading slump. I love this cover! It is just beautiful! And you should see the whole series cover's below, just, wow. Although, if I had not had read the synopsis, I would have been expecting a different genre and storyline to what it was.

 

Kricket has been in hiding from Chicago's foster care system for a while, desperately waiting for her eighteenth birthday when she will finally be free and can stop running away. But Kricket is soon captured by Etharian soldiers, and taken from Earth to her real home; where Kricket finds out things about herself and her biological family that she never knew.

I found the whole relationship in this novel uncomfortable. I feel like Bartol tried to make it as though Kricket had become friends with her captors, but it just did not feel right. The relationship between Kricket and Trey did not feel natural, it happened too fast and under strained circumstances. However, I loved Kricket as a character. She was strong, independent, and stood up for herself. She had a bit of sarcasm and sass, but she spoke truth. Kricket said what she needed to say, and did not rely on those around her; she fought for her voice to be heard. It was just the relationship that I found rather uncomfortable.

I really liked the secondary characters. One of my favourite things when reading is when authors really explore their secondary characters. Jax and Wayra were brilliant and hilarious, they brought humour and fun to the novel, and truly I do not feel it would have been the same without them.

The world Bartol created was unique and intriguing. The plot was so addictive and fast-paced, it was really refreshing and intriguing to read. The imagination that had gone into this was brilliant, I was able to truly visualise everything, I was also rather surprised as some of the scenes were quite violent, but it did added to the suspense of the novel. The only thing I did struggle with was the different words and names. Sometimes there were far too many introduced at once, and so it was very difficult to remember who was who. Similarly with places, objects and animals, I feel like the reader needed a key at the start of the book so one could go back and forth, as it really did become rather confusing at times.

Overall, Under Different Stars was fast-paced and addictive; it is highly likely I will try the sequel Sea of Stars.



REVIEW: Haven (Chronicles of Warshard #1) by Katherine Bogle

Haven by Katherine Bogle
Series: Chronicles of Warshard #1
Published by Patchwork Press on 10th March 2017
Pages: 208
Source: *Received from Patchwork Press through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Princess Haven was never meant to be Queen. 

Her immortality has saved her time and time again, but when the last of her royal family dies at her feet, she is next in line to rule a nation on the brink of war. With no formal training on how to be Queen, Haven must rise to the occasion with the help of her best friends, and personal guard, or risk losing everyone she has ever loved. 

With war to the west, and no escape to the east, the evil tyrant Kadia sets her sights on the six kingdoms. Haven's neighbors are quick to fall under the swords of Kadia's shadow soldiers, leaving a sea of bodies and a clear path to Haven's only home. Haven must make a choice; take her people and flee to the foreign Republic across the sea or lead a last stand against a powerful dictator.
Wow. Haven really was not what I was expecting. It was raw, dark and emotional; and I really enjoyed it. This is definitely a case of don't judge a book by its cover, I was expecting this novel to be a lot lighter than it actually was.

Princess Haven has now been made Queen, it was unexpected, but after Kadia murders her whole family, the immortal Princess Haven is left to protect her people and kingdom. But as Kadia moves ever closer, Haven must begin training to protect her people and the other kingdoms, before she is the only one left with Kadia.

Our main protagonist Haven is a brilliantly likeable protagonist; Haven was strong and powerful, yet kind and compassionate. What Haven had to go through was shocking and awful, but she uses those experiences to help others and drive her to save them. Haven also used her immortality to help save and spare the lives of her people, she showed bravery and strength, and is a character that will be admired by the reader. Our antagonist, Kadia, made a big impact. Usually with villains, you remember them when reading, but afterwards you forget them. But I am still thinking about Kadia now. She was such a disturbing and vile character, who subjected people to horrendous things, including when she wanted to test the lengths of Haven's immortality. It was so disturbing and dark, yet you wanted to carry on reading to ensure you saw Haven save her people. These characters really made the novel come alive, helping the reader to become immersed in the world.

The plot of Haven truly shocked me. It was very dark and disturbing at times, and one felt like the visualisation really brought this novel to life, you couldn't help but imagine the scenes occurring, many of which made you go all cold. There is certainly a very serious side to this novel, but there is a lot of action including sword fighting and magical beasts. There was also a great focus on female empowerment, which will truly appeal to the reader, and it was explored brilliantly, especially because of the environment they were in. The plot was fast-paced and engaging, and one cannot wait to see how the plot progresses in the sequel!

Overall, Haven was a pleasant surprise, and I cannot wait to read the sequel Savages and the prequel Fyre.

REVIEW: The Dark Light by Sara Walsh

The Dark Light by Sara Walsh
Published by Simon Pulse on 28th August 2012
Pages: 483

Mia is torn between two guys—and two worlds—in this epic, romantic fantasy.

Mysterious lights have flickered above Crownsville for as long as Mia can remember. And as far as she’s concerned, that’s about the only interesting thing to happen in her small town. 
That is, until Sol arrives. Mia’s not one to fall for just any guy, but she can’t get Sol—or the brilliant tattoo on his back—out of her mind.

Then Mia’s brother goes missing, and Mia’s convinced that Sol knows more than he’s sharing. But getting closer to Sol means reevaluating everything Mia once believed to be true. Because Sol’s not who Mia thought he was—and neither is she.
This novel has taken me quite a while to read, I must say partly due to my studies having taken over a bit, but also the fact that I just found this novel really rather slow. I do like this cover though, yet I was certainly expecting more of a mystery than what I got.

Crownsville is a small town in the middle of no-where, nothing happens in Crownsville, but over the past year, young boys have been disappearing. The only information they have is that they disappear into a bright light, that flickers randomly around the town. When Mia's brother goes missing, she goes after him, but the truth is far from what she was first expecting.

The characters in this novel were great. I did not love them, but Walsh explored their personalities just enough for the reader to be able to connect with them. I liked our main protagonist's fire and determination, she was courageous and kind, certainly a character whom you will root for. Sol is a bit of a quirky character, I liked him, he too was kind and caring, which I find in young adult novels they sometimes seem to lack, either because the author is trying to make them too courageous or too powerful.

However, it was the whole relationship that was going on. Going into this, the summary does give the away the fact that there is a love triangle, so I was fully prepared for it... yet I am happy to report that it really was not much of a love triangle! Thank goodness! Mia got over the over guy only a few chapters in, in favour for Sol. But this is where I did get a bit frustrated. They spent three quarters of the book denying their attraction towards one another, then BAM! "Oh I love you, I have always loved you!" Whoa, where in the world did that even come from?! It just felt far too forced, and just seemed to be there in order to please the reader, which was such a shame.

The plot of this novel was certainly unique, and refreshing. I have not read a novel in a long time about alternate worlds and so it really was brilliant and addictive. Walsh did a brilliant job in the imagery throughout this novel, at times I could close my eyes and just imagine the scenes happening! I was also pleased to see quite a few fast-paced action scenes, as it really brought the novel to life. I think the main issue I had though with the plot was that it could be very slow, and certainly sometimes it felt rather repetitive; the inner monologues felt repetitive and certain scenes just seemed to go on and on doing the same thing.

It was the ending. I mean really?! Really?! I just could not comprehend how they could just let them, without any thought... I just don't know, and obviously I do not want to give spoilers, so I will stop here.

Overall, I did enjoy The Dark Light and am pleased it is a stand alone, as I have started far too many series. The world building was amazing and the characters were great, but it certainly had areas that really slowed down the novel and made one sit back and question what they had just read.


REVIEW: No Normal (Ms. Marvel Vol. 1) by Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

No Normal by Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
Series: Ms Marvel Vol. 1
Published by Marvel on 30th October 2014
Pages: 120

Marvel Comics presents the new Ms. Marvel, the groundbreaking heroine that has become an international sensation! 

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she's suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she's comin' for you, Jersey!
I have not read many graphic novels, but with my reading having slowed down dramatically over the past six months, it was certainly nice to be able to read and actually finish a book in a couple of hours. I did enjoy this graphic novel, however I felt like the storyline was lacking a little, although the artwork is absolutely phenomenal! I mean, just look at the cover!

Kamala lives in Jersey City. She is great in school and has great friendships, yet she feels too 'normal'. That is, until she wishes to be someone else. But Kamala soon realises, once her wish is granted and she develops extraordinary gifts, she holds a great responsibility to help the people of Jersey city, and that being someone else just isn't who she is.

The artwork in this graphic novel is absolutely amazing! So vibrant and detailed, I love just looking at all the art, as there is always something else going on in the background. However, the one thing I struggled with is the storyline. The story line was okay, however it moved too quickly meaning one struggled to to really get invested in the story, consequently meaning one certainly struggled to connect with the characters. I was really looking forward to the humour aspect of the graphic novel as well that I had heard so many speak about, but I just could not see it. One would certainly say this novel is for a much younger audience, as it certainly is a brilliant diverse book with a great message, but it just did not capture my attention like I had hoped.

To be honest, I really do not think I will carry on with this series as I do feel rather disappointed as I did have high expectations due to the quantity of the high ratings.


REVIEW: Unearthly (Unearthly #1) by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly #1
Published by HarperTeen on 4th January 2011
Pages: 435

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees...
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.
*Please note: there are a few spoilers*

Oh how I really, really wanted to love this!! So disappointing, especially as so many people seem to love this trilogy!  It was okay. But that's it. I think I enjoyed to some extent because it has been a long time since I read an easy, paranormal romance. But otherwise, it was just that, okay. But these covers 😍 They are so beautiful!!!

I realised what really stopped me from feeling immersed in the novel and that made dislike this novel the most,  was our protagonist Clara. I still cannot quite put my finger on what it is I really did not like about her. I found her rather selfish and immature. And she was obsessed with appearance; you were either pretty or not; she didn't believe in everyone being beautiful in their own way. There was this quote that made me think, what? I'm sorry, but your at high school, pretty sure nearly everyone wears a t-shirt and jeans, what did she expect, everyone to be in smart dresses and suits!? Thats how I constantly felt throughout this novel, nothing was ever good enough for her, she had an expectation that everyone wanted to know her, and be her friend. She expected everyone to think she was pretty and amazing. It was like she was in her own fantasy world.

Then the romance. The love-triangle, I knew about this going in, but had heard positive things about it. But what a sadly boring love triangle. She wanted Christian, who she just stared at all the time and felt they were 'meant-to-be' even though they hadn't even spoken to one another. And she would obsess over him then suddenly she is declaring her love for Tucker, then went back to Christian! I much preferred Tucker. Tucker all the way!

The plot was okay. It was addictive, I will give it that. I just felt as though it dragged on too much, there was too much there that did not need to be. Though it was certainly fast-paced and I liked the ease of it, it was easy to understand, nothing complicated and made for an interesting plot. But I would not say: "WOW". There was nothing there for me to think that.

Overall I am rather disappointed in this first novel to the trilogy, and sadly one I imagine I will not be continuing.



REVIEW: Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #2
Published by Orion on 11th February 2016
Pages: 464

If there's one thing Mare Barrow knows, it's that she's different.

Mare's blood is red - the colour of common folk - but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from the prince and friend who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by the Silver king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red and Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat. Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?
A great sequel to an explosive first novel. These covers though! 😍

I am not going to give a summary on this one, simply because it is a sequel, but also because so much went on I feel it would be best to just direct you to the summary given above 😊

As a character, I found Mare to be very different in this novel, but also to those I have read before. It was strange, Mare seemed to understand what she was doing was not right and unfair to the lives of others, yet she carried on. It was as though we were reading about her internal self challenges, as she  attempts to justify and proceed under the pressure of others to do what she believed she had to do. I came to the conclusion I didn't really like her in this sequel. She succumbed to pressure too easily, yet one might say on the other side, like herself, that she had to do it to help save the lives of thousands. Although, all she kept going on about was how she was the strongest, that they were after her, and how she is, of course, the only one able to defeat them because SHE WAS THE STRONGEST 😒. Goodness. I don't know how many time she told the reader that, but it was certainly way too much. It was also strange though, all the things the reader would think or question, like 'Mare has just left her family, did not say goodbye or anything, and just ditched them after she had only just seen them for one day, disappearing again', Mare would then question it herself, almost as if it has just been put in to satisfy the reader instead of having a page of her saying goodbye or similar situations like this; it was frustrating and as the reader, it felt like the easy way out of a situation.

As a reader, I have always appreciated when authors don't forget the secondary characters, and actually give them a voice, making them a key aspect of the novel. And my wish was granted! Some of our secondary characters got their own voice in this sequel. It felt more like a team this time, instead of everyone just fighting against one another. And the relationship between Mare and Cal really took a backward step and, although spoken about, it didn't take much of the attention, it was more of them arguing all the time which got rather annoying.

Otherwise, I did enjoy this sequel. Before I started this sequel I felt it could go one way or another due to how much I enjoyed the first book, and the level of hype surrounding this one. The plot was addictive and action-packed. I loved the description and visualisation, and as the reader I was really able to picture the places and events occurring and was really impressed by Aveyard's imagery. It admittedly took me ages to finish, but this was mainly due to me not wanting to read the curve-ball that was going to be thrown in at the end! The action and strategic elements incorporated in this novel was intriguing and you really got to explore more about it making you, as the reader, feel more involved, as though you are sitting round the campfire with them. The only issue with the plot I had was that sometimes it felt as though I had missed big chunks of action and information, leaving you feeling as though you had accidentally missed a chapter, yet you hadn't. On multiple occasions I had gone back to check if the chapters and page numbers aligned, simply because of this reason. It was especially apparent a particular scene involving the Queen, as it swiftly moved on to the next chapter with little explantation, as though they just cut it out to make the novel shorter. This was disappointing, especially because it was a key event within the novel. Otherwise, the plot was dangerous and thrilling, and I was pleased that I did not get confused with all the new characters coming and going throughout.

Therefore, Glass Sword is certainly worth the read if you enjoyed Red Queen, however one would say this this has the 'middle book problem', so fingers crossed the third book redeems it for us! Also, I didn't realise this is a series, not a trilogy, so I am very intrigued as to how that will pan out! 😄


[BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY] REVIEW: Olivia Decoded (Olivia Twisted #2) by Vivi Barnes


Olivia Decoded by Vivi Barnes
Series: Olivia Twisted #2
Published by Entangled: Teen on 6th September 2016
Pages: 320
Source: *Received in from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

This isn’t my Jack, who once looked at me like I was his world. The guy who’s occupied the better part of my mind for eight months.

This is Z, criminal hacker with a twisted agenda and an arsenal full of anger.

I’ve spent the past year trying to get my life on track. New school. New friends. New attitude. But old flames die hard, and one look at Jack—the hacker who enlisted me into his life and his hacking ring, stole my heart, and then left me—and every memory, every moment, every feeling comes rushing back. But Jack’s not the only one who’s resurfaced in my life. And if I can’t break through Z’s defenses and reach the old Jack, someone will get hurt…or worse.
Oh. My. Goodness. This is honestly the fastest I have read a book in a
long time. Thank you Vivi Barnes for getting me out of my incredibly long and frustrating reading slump! I thoroughly enjoyed this. This series is unlike one I have read for a long time. I love novels about hacking and problem solving, maybe its the maths geek in me, but I get so addicted to novels like this. I was not sure how Barnes was actually going to do a sequel as the last novel felt as though it finished at a good place. But my goodness. The mystery, intrigue and emotion! I am so hoping there is at least novella! And these new covers! Love them!

Liv has not seen Jack for eight months. But when Valentine's day comes around, she finds a rose on her bed, and an expensive bracelet in her car, whilst simultaneously on Monroe street they find a bill for a bracelet matching the same description. Yet they did not buy it. And Liv cannot find out who gave them to her. As Liv continues to receive creepy pictures and messages, whilst money is stolen from bank accounts on Monroe street, the mystery stalker slowly brings Liv and Jack back together one last time to find out who the stalker is that is pushing them back together.

Barnes' characters feel so real. Liv is a strong and persistent protagonist, who shows true emotions and doesn't just brush it all under the rug. And for once, the characters actually tell the police and her family! THANK YOU! I cannot tell you how many novels I have read where they do not tell the police or their family about the creepy and unsettling things that are happening to them, especially because someone is stalking Liv. I really think it is the relationships in this novel that got me addicted. They are complicated, but they are built on, and not just thrown in. It feels like they are real. Then we have Liv's relationship with Jack... man, the angst! But their chemistry was amazing, and I really enjoyed reading about them reconnecting with one-another, and Liv with her old friend Sam.

The plot! Holy moly. I was addicted from the first chapter. It was very creepy and eerie, and I felt rather nervous just reading it; it was unnerving. I did know, and figured out who was behind the stalking pretty quickly, however it was intriguing to find out why and how it came about. Barnes really tackles some topics in this novel, the awful past Liv has been through, and she handles them well. Although the novel is a great story, it is emotional and really makes you think; there is certainly a serious side to this novel and not one to think of as an 'easy, simple read'. But I really thoroughly enjoyed it, it added depth to the novel. It was so creepy, the mystery was laid out carefully and made for a very addictive novel.

This was an emotional yet thoroughly addictive novel, that is creepy and a little unnerving, making you really think. I cannot wait to read Barnes' future works.




ViviBarnesVivi Barnes was raised on a farm in East Texas where her theater-loving mom and cowboy dad gave her a unique perspective on life. After college, she convinced her supportive husband to
move with her to be part of the sunshine and magic in Orlando, Florida. On a good day, she manages to divide her time writing, working, reading, goofing off with her three kids, and avoiding dirty dishes. Vivi is a proud member of SCBWI and attends conferences whenever she can.