Thursday, 12 May 2016

The Problem with Forever Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway


From #1 New York Times Bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER-a young adult title about friendship, survival, and finding your voice being released on May 17th, 2016! Read more about this stunning new novel below and be sure to pre-order your copy today to receive an amazing FREE fan pack while supplies last!

Check out my review of The Problem with Forever below, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Title: The Problem with Forever
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Release date: May 17th 2016
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: eARC
Pages: 492

Source: Inkslinger PR
Purchase links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Indiebound

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.

The Problem with Forever reminds me why I love Jennifer Armentrout's books. I normally don't read much YA contemporary, especially with premises similar to this, but I wasn't nervous at all going into this book because it's written by one of my favourite authors. And I wasn't disappointed at all! Armentrout's writing will make you fall in love with her characters, no matter how flawed or broken they are.

After everything she'd faced as a child, Mallory has been homeschooled for the past few years, but she's decided it's time to rejoin the real world by spending her senior year of high school in a public school. She's terrified, obviously, but her emotions get all jumbled up when she meets the last person she'd expected to see at the school - her best friend and the boy she grew up with, Rider. They'd been through a lot together in the foster home they'd lived in, but after the incident that brought Mallory to her current adoptive parents, she'd never heard from Rider, until now. They begin to reconnect, and as Mallory gains the confidence to fight for herself, she realizes that she wasn't the only one affected by her past, and along with Rider being her rock, she may have to be his, too.

Mallory is very different from Armentrout's other female protagonists, and also very different from any YA female protagonist I've read about, really. She takes quite to a whole new level - to the point where people are actually speechless when she does end up saying something to them. But Mallory has reasons for it. Her entire childhood depended on her ability to stay quiet. She was conditioned to never make a sound. Of course that impacts who she grows up to be! I'm amazed at the steps she takes in this book to come out of her shell and change who she was forced to become. It's a very different kind of bravery, but just as important as anything else. Mallory doesn't need anyone to stick up for her anymore, she does just fine on her own, and I was proud to see that happen.

Rider is also pretty different from most YA protagonists. We don't get his point of view in this book so it's a little harder to figure him out, but I loved him. I loved seeing how much he cared about Mallory, and about his adoptive brothers. Rider is a good guy, no matter what he thinks or feels. He's kind and compassionate and though he has a lot of issues to work through, he's strong-willed. I found it a little annoying at first how he'd keep trying to protect and coddle Mallory when what she really needed was to be able to stand up for herself without anyone's help. But Rider understands later, and gives her space.

I wouldn't say there's much romance in this book - it's mostly about Mallory and Rider discovering themselves and becoming the people they want to be. There is romantic tension, for sure, and the slow-burning connection between them is really sweet. What I found interesting is that the story would've worked out great even if there was no romance between them at all! They already have such a deep connection, which definitely would've been enough. But it's a YA contemporary so I guess romance is inevitable. Not that I'm complaining - I really liked it!

There are quite a few shockers in the book, and a few emotional moments too - especially towards the end. I won't say anything about the specific details, but we do find out what happened in Mallory's past. Not as much as I'd expected to know, but still enough. To anyone who enjoys JLA's books - you need to read this one! And also anyone who liked YA contemporary in general. The Problem with Forever is one book you most definitely cannot miss out on. It's touching, captivating, and just overall a great story.

*Thank you to Inkslinger PR and Harlequin TEEN for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 4/5


Register your preorder of THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER by May 20th to receive a FREE fan pack! Includes inspirational wall art, a colorful poster, and flag-as-you-read stickers. You will also get immediate access to an extended excerpt from the book.


“The intensity between Mouse and Rider is palpably sizzling… romance aficionados [will] lose themselves in Mouse and Rider’s smoldering glances and steamy kisses.” -Kirkus

“Armentrout’s effort to gradually coax her protagonist from her shell via a supportive, loving community succeeds, and readers looking for an inspirational comeback story will find Mallory’s to be satisfying and hopeful” –Publishers Weekly


About the author:

Author Photo--JLA_J. Lynn# 1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.

She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Be sure to check out all the stops on THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER Review Tour!

May 9
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Saturday, 7 May 2016

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

Title: And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1)
Author: Kiersten White

Release date: June 28th 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eARC
Pages: 336

Source: NetGalley

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

I can't speak for any historical aspects of this book because I'm not familiar with it, but I really enjoyed the direction the story took! And I Darken is a re-imagining of sorts, where Vlad the Impaler is a girl - Lada. Kiersten White takes us through Lada's journey of growing up and becoming who she's meant to be.

Lada isn't at all like other girls of this time period. She's not demure or soft-spoken or feminine in any way. She's the complete opposite! Lada is more like a feral animal than anything else, at least she was as a child. That definitely made it hard to connect with her, even later on in the novel when she's older. All Lada wants is the approval of her father, who, as it turns out, doesn't really care about his children. At least, not as much as a father should. Lada and Radu only have each other, and they need to stick together to survive in an enemy empire.

I liked the world-building in this book, and loved that White included everything we need to imagine the scenes in our heads. I truly felt like I was there with them, and that's why I love White's writing. We get to see how the royals of the Ottoman Empire lived, as well as the complications and politics going on throughout.

The book started off quite slow for me, though. When I said White takes us through Lada's years of growing up, I really meant it. We see her at age five, and twelve, and thirteen, and some in between. I think it took about half the book for us to finally see Lada as a young adult. That's when things got really interesting, but it was annoying that it took so long to get there. I mean, it really shouldn't take half the book for the actual important parts to begin! If I wasn't such a huge fan of White's books and of fantasy in general, I might've even stopped reading about a third in.

Everything in Lada and Radu's lives changes the moment they meet Mehmed. Mehmed is the son of the sultan, and the heir to the throne. The three become fast friends immediately, but after they grow up their relationships start becoming complicated. There is romance and I quite liked it, but that's all I will say.

My favourite character, surprisingly, turned out to be Radu instead of Lada. He's Lada's younger brother, but only by a year, and he's everything Lada is not - gentle, calm, soft-spoken, and kind of a wimp when he was a child. But Radu grows up to realize he has a life of his own that doesn't have to revolve around Lada, and the relationship between the siblings changes too as they get older.

This is really a novel mostly about the characters' growth and personalities. The plot does progress quite a bit, and the ending was well done with no cliffhanger but still with that feeling that I needed the next book. It was interesting to read about the family dynamics in this period, especially how patriarchal the society was. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more about these three great characters and how things turn out!

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Release Day Blitz: The Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

I am so excited that THE ROSE & THE DAGGER by Renée Ahdieh releases today and that I get to share the news, along with an awesome giveaway!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Renée Ahdieh, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a paperback of THE WRATH & THE DAWN and a hardcover of THE ROSE & THE DAGGER and an awesome candle from The Melting Library’s Etsy Store, US Only!  So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

 Title: The Rose & the Dagger
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 432
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iBooks

The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking The Wrath and the Dawn, lauded by Publishers Weekly as "a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance."
I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

Praise for The Rose and the Dagger:

“Above all there is the shattering, triumphant catharsis of love… In a story about stories, love is ‘the power to speak without words.’ Thrillingly full of feeling.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Fiery romance, a spirited heroine, shifting loyalties… With more than a few heartrending twists and turns.”—Booklist 


About the author:

Renée lives in North Carolina (Go Heels!) with her husband Victor and their dog Mushu. Her YA fantasy novel, THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, will be published on May 12th, 2015. In her spare time, she likes to cook, dance salsa, and wreak havoc on the lives of her characters.

She’s also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, as well as an active member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

Find Renée on:

Monday, 25 April 2016

Review: Warrior Witch by Danielle L. Jensen

Title: Warrior Witch (The Malediction Trilogy #3)
Author: Danielle L. Jensen

Release date: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Angry Robot
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eARC
Pages: 328
Source: NetGalley

The thrilling conclusion to the breakout Malediction Trilogy by Goodreads Choice finalist Danielle L. Jensen.

Cécile and Tristan have accomplished the impossible, but their greatest challenge remains: defeating the evil they have unleashed upon the world.

As they scramble for a way to protect the people of the Isle and liberate the trolls from their tyrant king, Cécile and Tristan must battle those who’d see them dead. To win, they will risk everything. And everyone.

But it might not be enough. Both Cécile and Tristan have debts, and they will be forced to pay them at a cost far greater than they had ever imagined.

Warrior Witch is the conclusion to the trilogy, and while it was definitely intriguing with surprising twists, I did have a few issues with it. I was definitely glad to see Cécile stepping up and actually doing things, although she could have done a lot more. Regardless, it was quite a thrilling book overall!

The curse on the trolls has been lifted, and they are now on their way aboveground, to Trianon. Roland, Tristan's twisted brother, needs to kill him so he can be the only heir, and since Roland is still under Angouleme's control, it's clear who the real enemy is. But to defeat Angouleme, Tristan may have to ally with the one person he's always been against - his father.

Cécile and Tristan are apart for a lot of this book as well, which disappointed me since they were apart for most of the previous book too. This time, it's because they both have important jobs to do in different areas, and Tristan can't really leave the palace for certain reasons. And even when the two are together, they're mostly arguing or debating on what the best course of action is. Where is the chemistry we saw in Hidden Huntress? It seemed to have disappeared in this book, unfortunately.

I liked the fact that Cécile began to act like a leader and make her own decisions. Yes, some of them didn't pan out well at all, but she took the initiative to do something, which is commendable. I wish she could've done more with her powers, though. She's supposed to be an incredibly powerful witch, and yet we barely see her using those powers.

It took me a while to get into this book, because the first third was really slow-paced. It was all talk, no action, and I really don't like excessive discussion about battle strategies and politics and whatnot all laid out in text for us to read. So I did end up skimming parts of it. But after a while, the plot starts to pick up and things start happening. Lots of things! The Winter Queen and Summer King in particular were characters I was really intrigued by.

I don't want to say much about the ending, but it was definitely unexpected. And quite bittersweet - more bitter than sweet, actually. I just really didn't see it coming, and I don't know if it was the right choice for the author to make. You'll see what I mean when you get to it. If you've read either of the previous books in this trilogy, I definitely encourage you to continue on and pick up this one. Warrior Witch is packed with a lot of plot info but also lots of action and suspense and little snippets of romance, too.

*Thank you to Angry Robot for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 3/5

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Review: The Hunt by Megan Shepherd

Title: The Hunt (The Cage #2)
Author: Megan Shepherd

Release date: May 24th 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Format: eARC
Pages: 284

Source: Edelweiss

They’ve left the cage—but they’re not free yet.

After their failed escape attempt, Cora, Lucky, and Mali have been demoted to the lowest level of human captives and placed in a safari-themed environment called the Hunt, along with wild animals and other human outcasts. They must serve new Kindred masters—Cora as a lounge singer, Lucky as an animal wrangler, and Mali as a safari guide—and follow new rules or face dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, Nok and Rolf have been moved into an enormous dollhouse, observed around the clock by Kindred scientists interested in Nok’s pregnancy. And Leon, the only one who successfully escaped, has teamed up with villainous Mosca black-market traders.

The former inhabitants of the Cage are threatened on all fronts—and maybe worst of all, one of the Hunt’s Kindred safari guests begins to play a twisted game of cat and mouse with Cora. Separated and constantly under watch, she and the others must struggle to stay alive, never mind find a way back to each other. When Cassian secretly offers to train Cora to develop her psychic abilities—to prove the worthiness of humanity in a series of tests called the Gauntlet—she’ll have to decide fast if she dares to trust the Kindred who betrayed her, or if she can forge her own way to freedom.

I enjoyed this one a lot more than The Cage - the characters have more depth, the plot is advancing, and though the book mostly seemed like a set-up for the final book, I found myself really engrossed in it. I read it all in one sitting since the length is perfect and there's always something happening, something that makes you want to turn the page.

The Hunt picks up where the previous book left off, so Cora, Lucky and Mali are in the clutches of the Kindred again, placed in a different habitat than Nok and Rolf. Leon, in his freedom, finds a place with the Mosca. Cora's job isn't too terrible - she's a singer in a bar. Lucky takes care of the animals being hunted, and Mali is a guide in the safari. Though they have different jobs, the three of them team up to figure out how they're going to get out of there, and get the other humans out too. To do this, Cora needs to find it in herself to trust Cassian again after he betrayed her, or at least pretend to. She also has to deal with figuring out her newfound perceptive abilities, a.k.a. telekinesis and telepathy, and decide whether to take part in the Gauntlet to save humankind. Yes, that's a lot riding on her shoulders, but ultimately she's the only one who can make the decision.

I have to say I really enjoyed getting to know the characters in this book. I know we met and got to know them in The Cage, but there the place messed with their minds and twisted them until they were utterly unlikeable. In this, we get to see who they really are. And I've got to say my favourite is Lucky. I still cannot accept how he acted in the previous book but then again, they weren't really his actions. We get to see the real Lucky here, and he's a kind, brave, and compassionate guy. Good-hearted, strong, willful... someone who really shouldn't be there amongst all that twisted hate.

I did like Cora too, and sympathized with her a lot due to her situation. She doesn't deserve to have the fate of all humanity resting on her shoulders! She's tough, though, and we see that in this book. I liked her interactions with Cassian especially, because though she tries to hate him, she really can't. Cassian cares so much for her, even loves her, and Cora would have to be blind not to see that.

Speaking of Cassian, I wish we'd got to see more of him uncloaked, because that's when we see his emotions. Otherwise, he's mostly a blank mask. Okay fine, even uncloaked he's hard to read, so basically I just want to know more about him. He's done a lot of things he regrets, but I think he more than makes up for them in this book, especially towards the end.

I found myself liking Leon a lot - mostly because he finds a moral code within himself that clearly he didn't know he had. And he definitely lightens the mood of the book, which is pretty dark because of everything that's happening. There is so much danger at every turn, and so much suspense! Rolf and Nok, I'm kind of unsure about. They're better in this book, but they still really annoy me. I'm definitely curious to see how Nok's pregnancy pans out, though.

The plot is a lot darker, with some pretty messed up things happening, especially on Cora's side. The animals, the humans, everything about the Hunt. And some new characters who are particularly creepy. There are a lot of plot twists too, some I saw coming and some I didn't, so thankfully the book wasn't predictable. I don't want to say much about the ending, but, well, it was cruel! And with a huge cliffhanger, too. After an explosive concluding chapters, I was eager for the final book anyway, but the ending just makes me want it even more. For those of you who read The Cage and felt a bit iffy about it, you need to pick up this sequel - trust me. You won't regret it.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 4/5