Wednesday, 26 February 2014

White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout ~ Review

White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1) 
By Jennifer L. Armentrout

Rating: 5

'"You've never been kissed before, have you?"

"That's so not your business." I folded my arms as Roth waited for an answer. "I think it's obvious. I can't kiss anyone. You know, the whole soul-sucking thing makes it difficult."

"Not if you're kissing someone who doesn't have a soul." 
I made a face. "And why would I kiss someone who doesn't-"

He moved unbelievably fast. 

I didn't even have a chance to react. One second he was standing a good three feet away from me and the next his hands were gently clasping my cheeks. There was an instant when I wondered how something so strong and deadly could hold anything so carefully, but then he titled my head back and lowered his own.'

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Some people say kisses are life-changing. Layla's are death-inducing.

At seventeen, Layla carries a heavy burden - she craves the taste of souls. 

Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has never fit in anywhere. Raised by gargoyles - formally known as Wardens, whose job it is to keep the world safe from demons and the like - Layla has grown up hating the side of her that has made her an outcast. Having a place amongst the Wardens means controlling her demon side, not matter the cost.

Losing control is not an option.

Neither is kissing anyone, ever, for fear of taking their soul. Especially Zayne, her friend and protector. Who just so happens to be a Warden. And totally off-limits, leaving Layla to crush on him from afar.

Never trust strangers with candy. Or demons with tattoos and wicked smiles.

After a lifetime of being kept in the dark, Layla gets a rude awakening when she meets Roth - a smexy demon who comes bearing bad news.

The short story? Layla is in terrible danger. With half of Hell out to capture her for nefarious reasons, and the other half out to maim and possibly kill her, she's running out of time and luck. The up side? Roth seems intent on protecting her, and helping her put a stop to whomever - or whatever - is behind this demon uprising. 

But can you ever truly trust a demon? Especially one who you're in danger of falling for?

The end of the world is coming. The question is: whose side is she on?

Where do Layla's loyalties lie - with the Wardens, or with Roth?White Hot Kiss is another addictive, hilarious and thrilling novel from J Armentrout, with a fearless female protagonist and a gorgeous demon to rival Lux's Daemon.

How to Get Over Your Ex by Nikki Logan Review

How to Get Over Your Ex 
By Nikki Logan

Rating: 4.2

'It dawned on her in realisation as blazing as Cappadocia's sunrise that her way just wouldn't include Zander Rush. He'd come into her life bearing the gifts she needed to find herself again. Perhaps his cosmic role was now complete and the last twenty-four hours were just the most amazing swansong.'

Lessons on love and living are plentiful in a romance novel that teaches female readers the importance of self love.

My thoughts on the book:

True, this book projects the image of 'romantic' love - from its cutesy book cover, to its chick flick movie-worthy title. But looks can be deceiving. How To Get Over Your Exshould be re-named How To Stop Letting Men Rule Your Life, or, How To Start Living Your Life Anew. Either of those would better express the unique angle on romance this book has to offer.

Because, as this book points out, how can we begin to love others (and establish lasting relationships) without first knowing and loving who we are? 

Our female protagonist starts off on rocky ground - unsure, loveless, saddened. And I'll admit, I thought the general storyline to be a little cheesy at first. But it gradually built up to become something much rawer than I expected. The female protagonist, Georgia, ends up realising who she is, and more importantly, what she wants. And in that typical NA/YA scene where the guy begs for her to give him a chance, Georgia shines. She stands up and refuses to back down. She had standards, dreams, desires. And she isn't letting him steamroller over her.

"I'm not negotiating, Zander, I'm explaining. I'm telling you why I'm choosing nothing, because everything is not on the cards with you."

The ending was slightly predictable. But hey - I can appreciate a happy ending just as much as the next female! I'm just glad that Georgia got her happy ending on her own terms. She didn't cave. She didn't change herself to win the guy. She didn't wallow. She thrived and won what she wanted, how she wanted it. 

So if you've got an ex book boyfriend (or, you know, a real ex boyfriend)...or you just want to experience a great book, I recommend taking a look at How To Get Over Your Ex. Hopefully you'll find it just as refreshing as I did :)

Sunday, 16 February 2014

My Life From Hell ~ ARC Review

My Life From Hell (The Blooming Goddess Trilogy #3)
By Tellulah Darling

Rating: 5

'Sophie's Top Ten of Final Showdown Terrors (...)

1.) Me getting it all so wrongThe prophecy about me being the saviour of humanity will be totally off-base and the one about me being an instrument of destruction will nail it. 

Come spring equinox, I, Sophie Bloom, will personally destroy the Earth and everyone on it. Probably including myself.

Good times.'

My thoughts on the book:

The only thing missing in this book was a narration by The Muses. And maybe a song number or two!

I love this series so much. It's the kind of series that steadily grows over time, becoming better and better with each book - the characters gaining more depth, and the storyline becoming more layered and intense.

And for all you Kai fangirls out there, I will end your misery for you - yes, there is plenty of Kai to swoon over. Let's just say that Sophie really, really wants to talk things out with him, but Kai thinks that talking is overrated...leading him to resort to other more hot smexy subtle methods of silencing her!

But all super-mega-foxy-awesome-hot gods aside, this book carried a very important message.

In a Frozen-esque reveal, readers discover that the ultimate message Tellulah Darling is trying to send out is not love is important in the 'smoochy-poo-make-out' way. But that self love is important. Vital, in fact.

"It's not about being the best Sophie and Persephone, or even the best Sophie or Persephone. Just the best person. And for the first time in my life, I love that person. All of her."

Sophie comes to understand that the highlights and hardships of love pale in significance to self love. That loving the person she is, and accepting that person, gives her more power than 101 Kai relationships.

And I think that is immensely important lesson for everyone to grasp, and to live out in their daily lives.

Onto other news, this book carries a much-repeated theme, which I've dubbed: The Appreciation of Theo's 6 Pack (The Non-Alcoholic Kind)

From Festos' understandable admiration, to Sophie's slightly disturbing fixation during near-death experiences, we get a lot of Theo's abs-appreciation...which is not appreciated too much by Theo himself!

"I'll have you know I am more than my six-pack."

Mmm hmm. Sure thing, Theo dear. ;)

Aaaaaaand...Demeter is still a massive itch with a capital b.

I don't understand why nearly every single book that incorporates mythology concepts needs to make Demeter horrid. She's the Goddess of Wheat, guys. The worst she can do is flingWonder White loaves at you!

But Demeter gets up to some pretty bad stuff in this series. This book will definitely make every female reader re-evaluate their mother-daughter relationship. Demeter's blackmailed, stabbed and snubbed her kid. So the next time you and your mum fight over who's doing the dishes...just thank the gods she's not holding a poisoned blade to your throat!

And to make the whole thing sweeter, Theo gets this dumbass plan that they should ask Demeter for help. By this point I was like:

But like any good book, it would be completely pointless if our main protagonists used common sense.

There will be many parts in this book when you will undergo something like this:

There will also be times where Sophie jumps head-first into danger and you'll prepare yourself to sing:

Yet, you'll come out the other side of the book feeling like you've won a $1 000 000.

So hold onto your togas, strap on your sandals, and prepare for an amazing adventure :)

ARC Review ~ Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine

Best Kind of Broken (Finding Fate #1)
By Chelsea Fine

Rating: 4.8 (NA Romance)

'I've made my decision and sure, my heart is broken, but it's the good kind of broken. The kind that leaves you branded, so you never forget, and heals over time, so you can see how far you've come.

It's the best kind of broken.'

As fierce and beautiful as a midnight storm, Best Kind of Broken is the kind of novel you just can't put down.

The story of Pixie & Levi is one that will make you consider that decades-old question: how do we, as humans, begin to heal? And, more importantly, how do we fix what we can't see?

Death is a part of life. So is grief. But you don't have to face it alone.

Best Kind of Broken will have readers captivated by the contrasting yet complementing characters of Pixie & Levi - and their undeniable chemistry - as well as the finesse with which Chelsea Fine has created what can only be described as a work of art. Emotions, layered like colours on a canvas, shine through the story and make it a NA read you don't want to miss.

If you want something bad enough, you have to fight for it.

Can Pixie & Levi find a way to let go of the past? 

To find out, be sure to grab your copy of Best Kind of Broken when it comes out :)

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A Noble Prize ~ Ana Bastow's 'Hypothesis'

Hypothesis (Hekapolis Trilogy #1)  
By Ana Bastow 

Rating: 4.7

"I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul...'

My thoughts on the book

The story of Gabrielle Bridge is a winning combination of fantasy elements and brilliantly executed humour.

The highlight of this book for me, was the rawness - the way the situations the story was comprised of felt real, and lacked the forced nature of many YA stories one comes across today. Gabrielle is a charming, geeky heroine, who is extremely easy to relate to.

Yet the real highlight of this book was William.

William brought entertainment to every single page he appeared on. Especially with his ability to get on our heroine's nerves:

'"We've already determined that you need a boyfriend. Given the circumstances, if you are really this desperate, then I'll just have to sacrifice myself for the cause."

I (Gabrielle) gaped at him.'

But the best character - or should I say characters - were Gabe, Brie, and Elle.

These 'voices, or 'alter egos' of Gabrielle's elevated the storyline and added complexity to Hypothesis' heroine. They present the good, bad and the ugly of Gabrielle - reflecting her flaws and assets and helping to 'flesh her out' as a character. It was like watching a movie with three voice-overs, each one sporting a different personality. They definitely made for quite the fun reading experience, with their indignant exclamations and aversion to The Flintstones-esque treatment of women!

Ana Bastow gives readers real characters with real troubles, submerged in a dangerous and thrilling adventure.

I highly recommend giving Hypothesis a read. From its unique concepts (e.g. memory photography, which I would love to have!) to its ability to make you smile, Hypothesis is a YA treat for lovers of fantasy :)

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Author Interview ~ Vanessa Garden, Author of 'Captivate'

2014 has brought many brilliant books into our local bookstores and onto our bookshelves. One of these is the amazing Captivate by author Vanessa Garden - the first book in the Submerged Sun series.

You can view my review of the book by clicking here

Here's a little bit about Captivate:

'In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems...

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko...the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets...' 

(Blurb from Goodreads)

I was recently blessed with the wonderful opportunity to interview Ms. Garden on her novel. A big thank you to both Ms. Garden and to Ms. Polina Madorsky, Harlequin's Digital & Marketing Executive, for making this interview possible.

I hope you enjoy the interview, and that it gives you all an insight into this new and - pardon the pun - captivating series!


Booknut: What gave you the idea for Marin - a secret civilisation which exists underwater?

Vanessa Garden: I think there are three things that contributed to the idea of Marin. I grew up by the ocean, so I was always swimming and imagining secret underwater worlds and wondering 'what if?'. Also, my great-grandfather swore that he once saw a merman in the Adriatic Sea - I used to love listening to this story as a child! And lastly, a vision of Marin came to me while listening to a song. It was the garden scene with Marko and Miranda, one of my favourites.  

Booknut: What inspired Captivate's plot?

Vanessa Garden: The garden scene came to me first, along with many questions. Who were these two people? What were they discussing? Right away I got the feeling that Marko was at home in this underwater world and that Miranda wasn't. Then I started wondering how she got there and why. The story started to write itself from that point on, which was so exciting! I could hardly keep up with the many conversations and scenes playing out inside my head. 

Booknut: Give us an insight into Captivate's main female protagonist, Miranda. What is it that makes her different from other YA heroines?

Vanessa Garden:  I guess what makes Miranda different is that she is very ordinary and much like most of us. She has no superpowers or specific strengths to help her out of the dangerous situation she has found herself in. But, over time, and after a few mistakes, I like to think that she does gain confidence in herself which then helps her to grow from page one through to the end. 

Booknut: Do you have a favourite part of the book?

Vanessa Garden: Can I have two? I love the scene where Marko discovers Miranda in his grandfather's room. It's where they share their first spark, so to speak. Also, I love Miranda's first look at the city of Marin, and I absolutely adore the way Robbie takes care of her after the shock of standing beneath an ocean sky begins to seep in.

Booknut: Who is your favourite character - Miranda, Robbie, or Marko?

Vanessa Garden:  This is such a difficult question to answer (they are all my favourites) but I'll have to say Marko as his backstory is so interesting and out of all of the characters I find myself wanting to know more about him.

Booknut: Miranda is faced many times with the following decision: to leave everyone she loves behind and stay in Marin, or to return home. Do you think this decision will become any easier for her over time? Or will there always be a small amount of indecision?

Vanessa Garden: Great question! I've just completed book two and I can say (without giving too much away) that Miranda will face newer and even tougher choices concerning her family.

Booknut: The cover is gorgeous! What inspired the design?

Vanessa Garden: Well Harlequin are just amazing with their covers so I knew I was in good hands. And I always dreamed the cover of Captivate would have an underwater kiss, so when they sent me the cover I simply died with happiness! It is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined :)

Booknut: Do you have any future books planned for this series?

Vanessa Garden:  Yes. I have planned for two more books to follow Captivate and also a prequel.

Booknut: Finally, do you any parting words of advice for aspiring authors?

Vanessa Garden:  Write the story you would love to read and don't be shy of 'weird' ideas. If the story thrills you, then it is likely to thrill and entertain a reader :)

Booknut: Thank you so much for your time! 

Vanessa Garden: Thanks for having me! It was an absolute pleasure :)


To find out more about author Vanessa Garden, feel free to check out any of the links below:
And don't forget to get your copy of Captivate via Amazon today! 

Without Magic or Miracles ~ The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay Review

The Sea of Tranquility
By Katja Millay

Rating: 5+

"If we had a telescope, I could show you the Sea of Tranquility." She points up at the sky. "See? Up there on the moon. You can't really tell from here."

"Is that why you have a picture of the moon in your bedroom?" At this point I'm an expert at going along with her tangents.
"You noticed that?"
"It was the only thing on the wall. I thought you were into astronomy."

"I'm not. I keep it there to remind me that it's bullsh**. I thought it sounded like this beautiful, peaceful place. Like where you'd want to go when you die. Quiet and water everywhere. A place that would swallow you up and accept you no matter what. I had this whole image of it."

"Doesn't sound like a bad place to end up."
"It wouldn't be, if it were real."

Like the purest note of a melody, The Sea of Tranquility will pierce your heart and soothe your soul.

The story of Nastya is one that every single person needs to read at least once in their life. To me, it's up there with The Fault In Our Stars, in that its author manages to create such a vivid, and accurate, insight into the human mind and heart. This book is truly a gift - a gift that teaches us that second chances are open to all, love cannot be controlled, and to (forgive the cliche) never judge a book by its cover.

And I think the last one was the one that stuck with me the most. 

So many of us are books. Honestly. We have a wealth of stories within us - filled with intricate emotions. These stories make us who we are. And we choose what our covers look like. Whether we choose to put on the appearance of 'the girl next door', or, 'the bad boy', or even 'the nerdy bookworm'. But all of these are just that - covers.

How often do we let the cover fall? How many times have we honestly opened up and let someone read us - to allow someone else to see who we truly are and what makes us who we are?

Nastya is the perfect example of this.

I think the reason I teared up so much reading this, is because I get Nastya. I think we all do, on different levels, depending on the paths we've travelled in life. 

She feels like someone else. She feels like she needs to be someone else, for everyone else. That the people who love her expect her to help them love her, and to be the 'her' that they love. They fail to see what is right in front of them. They don't see her hurting. They don't look beneath the cover she's wrapped herself in. They let her hide.

It reminded me of the lyrics to a song called Girl Disappearing by Tori Amos:

'With girl disappearing,
What on earth's occurring?
'Cause she's right in front of me.
A girl disappearing
To some secret prison
Behind her eyes,
She whispers:
"Big surprise there was,
No protection by this urban light.
So I'm running to,
A constellation where they can still see you.'

And Josh holds the key to the 'secret prison' that Nastya has locked herself in.

Not because he's 'that guy'. You know the type - the NA/YA hero, who makes the girl feel all swoon-y, and manages to also be tortured and brooding. Josh is perfect for Nastya (and this is the truth), because he's just as complicated as she is. 

He gets her. He gets that her problems can't be solved with the wave of a magic wand. He accepts her problems and all. 

That in itself is a miracle in modern society. In most cases, when people discover that a person has issues - e.g. mental health issues - this discovery sets off a chain reaction. The immediate result: change. 

A change in image. A change in interaction.

Suddenly this person is glued to their issues. They're not 'the girl next door'. They're 'the depressed girl next door', or, 'the boy whose parents are dead', or even 'the girl who goes to therapy.' Small things arise - people treat them like their made of glass, they hesitate to talk about 'sensitive' topics. Basically, they cease to see the person behind the issue.

Josh isn't like that.

True, he finds it hard at first to deal with Nastya. After all - Nastya is Nastya! Those who have read this book know what I mean :)

But when he discovers why she is the way she is, it doesn't change the way he approaches her. He still sees her. Her. He looks beneath the cover...accepting, not judging.

The biggest lesson this book offers? Life ain't a fairytale - so stop expecting one.

This doesn't mean you should start writing sad poetry, or go get a chip on your shoulder.

It means you need to start looking at life realistically.

We need to stop pretending that all our problems will dissolve. That every day will end in fireworks, and begin with rainbows. Instead, we need to appreciate the good moments. We need to take responsibility for our actions, and deal with our issues, rather than avoid them. 

Sometimes we can't save ourselves. Sometimes we need to save each other.

With the most beautiful descriptions - and characters - The Sea of Tranquility should be your next read...or re-read! 

Grab a tub of ice-cream, some of Nastya's peanut butter cookies, and settle back with a book that is sure to change your life in more ways than one :)
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