Monday, 24 April 2017

April Wrap-Up: #BookReviews of reads from my April #BookHaul

So, these were the books in my April book haul, and my little spoiler-free reviews are below. (This is actually my 100th blog post, wow!)



[All but one of these books are from my local library, which is amazing, and you can click on the cover images below to learn more about these books.]

First up, Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, Book 1) by Cassandra Clare

This is a follow-up series to the bestselling Mortal Instruments books and follows a new set of characters which we were introduced to towards the end of the MI series. It's in the same Shadowhunter universe of course and, say what you will about authors writing loads of books based in the same 'world', but I think it's more than fine if you have a good story to tell.

To be honest, I don't see why Ms. Clare has been criticised for setting her novels in the same universe ~ don't crime writers write about the same detective over and over? Don't authors of contemporary fiction set their books in the real world over and over? So why can't Cassandra Clare write as many books as she wants exploring the Shadowhunter world, since it's such a massive and rich world and has so much potential?



Shadowhunter fans went crazy for Lady Midnight so I was really looking forward to this book.

My Rating: 4-stars

I really enjoyed this book and it answered a lot of the questions I had about a certain Shadowhunter law and I was glad we got to explore this concept in detail. The lead characters are likeable and the dynamics of their relationships with the secondary characters are very interesting.

The story unravelled slowly (it's a very big book!) but in a way that kept you glued to the pages. It was really nice that some of our favourite characters from previous books made cameo appearances and exciting to see how their lives have panned out since we finished their story arc.

It's not a quick read by any means, but I didn't find it a struggle to get through like I did with some of the other books based in this Universe. In fact, it was a pleasure getting to know these new sets of characters, and as usual with Ms. Clare's books, there were a lot of heartbreaking moments that drew you closer to them and their lives.

You do have to read all... 9 books that preceded Lady Midnight, or else you'll be a little lost at times and be spoiled for the previous two series if you decide to read them after Lady Midnight. The author suggests (in a BookTube interview) that you should read her books in the order they were published, so start with the first trilogy in the MI series, rather than The Infernal Devices series, even though that's set in an earlier time period (the 1870's).

I also tucked into The Bane Chronicles by the same author. It's a collection of short stories based on one of the characters in Ms. Clare's Shadowhunter books, Magnus Bane, a fan favourite.

 


My Rating: 3-stars

This was a fun read, and I enjoyed getting to know a little more about Magnus's adventures.


Next, another YA novel, The Selection by Kiera Cass 
 
 

I've heard some good things about this book and its sequels on BookTube and when I saw it in my local library, I picked it up.

My Rating: 3-stars

I finished this book in one day and enjoyed it. It's not a tiny book, but it is a quick, easy, fun read, and I appreciated that because I'd finished a very long Lady Midnight before starting this one and I think I needed something short and sweet following that.

This isn't a spoiler because the blurb makes clear the plotline, but essentially, I'd describe it as The Hunger Games of the beauty pageant kind, without deaths, that is.

It was reminiscent of this docu-soap thing I watched a while back where a fake Prince Harry is looking for an American bride. He lives with a bunch of girls in this secluded cottage, dates them and eventually whittles them down to just one girl to 'marry'. Of course the girls didn't know he was a fake, and they had to do all kinds of silly challenges too, but if a book were to be written around that series, The Selection would be that.

I do want to read the next two books because of the little twist at the end, which I'd predicted, but it will make things interesting.

Another fantasy novel in my April book haul was Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

This book, which is the first of a trilogy, came highly recommended by one of my favourite BookTubers and so I was excited to read it. 

 

It's about a mysterious girl that has bright blue hair growing out of her scalp and strange gifts.

My Rating: 4-stars

I was sucked into this world and story from the first page. It has magic, mayhem and romance, but not the sloppy kind. The writing style is great and I lapped it up. The characters were complex and the plot gripping. It has a more grown-up feel to other YA books and though it has one or two themes that are quite common in angel romance, it didn't feel like a cliche.

I always keep an open-mind when starting a new book and try not to know too much about what it's about. I like to be surprised and I like it when the unexpected happens and this book succeeded in doing that. It's a first in a trilogy, which I feel is going to have an explosive conclusion, so I'm looking forward to reading more.

The other fantasy novel I read in April: Fallen by Lauren Kate, which wasn't in my book haul post because I downloaded it to my iPhone after I'd published that post:

 


My Rating: 3-stars

This book has been one that I've been meaning to read for ages. It's been made into a movie and has a huge fandom. I read the first three quarters of this book a chapter at a time every now and then ~ basically when I couldn't sleep at night and couldn't read any paperbacks as turning the light on would disturb my husband's sleep ~ and looked forward to picking it up each time. I enjoyed the little chunks I got through every couple of days. I had high hopes for it because of that.

The writing style is very simple and clean, which I don't mind at all ~ some books have way too much description of forests and mountains and even if the writing is beautiful and poetic, I do find myself skimming through those passages to get to the story, what the characters are doing and feeling ~ and I got the feeling its for a younger YA audience. If I had to use one term to describe this book, it would be build-up. This book is all build-up, until the final few chapters when we got to the climax.

And that's what I had a problem with.

Until everything came out ~ the back-story, the explanations of secondary characters' odd behaviour etc. ~ I'd been enjoying the set-up and excited as to how it would end. Unfortunately, the ending left me confused and slightly annoyed, because the build-up to the finale had been very good. A lot of it was vague, which I guess isn't a crime (there are four more books in the series, I think, so everything probably becomes clearer soon) but a lot of it just didn't make sense and felt like a mess. It was all over the place, if I'm brutally honest.

Now, I'm sure a lot of Fallen fans will say that it'll make sense and come together in the next few books. I'm sure it will, but the way book 1 ended, I don't really feel like continuing with this series, and I don't think I will, even though I've seen my local library stock subsequent books in the series (they just didn't have book 1). 


Next up, a crime novel, The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

This was be the second book I read by this author, and about Dr. Ruth Galloway, a forensic archaeologist, and is the latest in this series (the 8th book I believe). I'd read the very first book featuring Ruth, The Crossing Places, on my iPhone and really enjoyed it.


 

My Rating: 3-stars

I enjoyed this mystery. It was well-written and cleverly composed. I really like Elly Griffith's writing style in these Ruth Galloway novels, and will definitely pick up more of her work from my local library. As you know, I like a good crime thriller ~ it's my most-read genre overall ~ but when an author throws in a bit of history, some archaeology and a nod to religion and secret cults, then it just takes the book to a whole new level. I love authors who add different dimensions to crime novels, and Elly Griffiths is fast becoming a go-to author for me in this genre.


Also this month, I tried out debut author Rebecca Done's This Secret We're Keeping

 

This book deals with the controversial topic of student-teacher 'romance'. Here the student bumps into the teacher she had an affair with 17 years after the scandal broke out and we get to see how that affects both their lives. This novel had seemed to me like the kind of book I can group together with my very own Soulmates Saga, in that it's a contemporary romance with a serious edge to it.

And I was right to a certain extent. The main difference (apart from the storylines, which are completely different of course) is that my characters are in their early to mid-20's when you first meet them in Chasing Pavements (Soulmates Saga, Book 1), whereas the characters in Ms. Done's book are in their 30's and 40's, though you get to go back to the past and explore the pupil-teacher relationship as it developed and blew apart.

My Rating: 2.5-stars rounded up 3-stars on Goodreads

It started off really well, and I was sure that I was going to love it by the end. However, the pace dipped in the middle of the book and lost my attention. I thought it was well-written in general, but I wasn't in awe of the writing and didn't find it too riveting. Also, there were a few cliches that I'm sort of bored of (I won't say which, so not to spoil you) and I found myself thinking, "Why does every character that does X always have to be Y?" Sorry if that didn't make sense at all, but I hope you can appreciate my efforts in not spoiling you :)


Finally, How to Fall in Love by Cecilia Ahern

I've watched Love, Rosie and PS. I Love You, which are based on this author's books, and when I saw this title, I thought to myself that I should finally get around to reading one of Ms. Ahern's books.

  
 
My Rating: 2.5-stars rounded up to 3-stars on Goodreads

Occasionally, I like to try books in genres I don't normally read. Just in case they surprise me. Chick-lit and lighthearted women's fiction isn't my favourite, but every now and then, I decide to give it a go and hope for the best. I have liked one or two chick-lit books, The Dating Detox by Gemma Burgess comes to mind, and anything that's really funny and uplifting can't be a bad read, right? So, with that in mind, I picked up How to Fall in Love

The idea behind this book was good and I knew where it was going ~ you can't read the blurb to this book and not predict the ending ~ and I was hoping that the journey from the beginning of the story to the end, and the characters, would be amazing. For predictable boy-meets-girl romances, the journey and the characters have to really grab you and touch you and make you care about them and what's happening to them. And I'm afraid that did not happen for me with this book.

It might just be the fact that this isn't my cuppa tea when it comes to genre but after (struggling) a third of the way in, I just found myself skimming through the pages, rushing to the end just to see how the two main characters get it together in the end, and that wasn't all that amazing either, in my opinion. In my opinion. I have to reiterate that. This author has a good fan-following and has over 10 books to her name, and film adaptations too, so she is clearly doing a lot of things very right and very well for her genre and her audience. So, if this is your scene, I will not be discouraging you from checking it out.

By the way, the covers for my Poison Blood, Books 1 and 2 have been updated; you can check them out by clicking the links below:

PB1: New Cover
PB2: New Cover

As always, do let me know if you have any thoughts on the covers or on this post.
 
Thank you for reading this post. If you're interested in my debut novel, click the image below to learn more about it:
 


Like all my other books, it's also available on:
iBooks   |   B&N Nook   |   Kobo |   Smashwords 


Book Details

Length: 110,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Clean Romance / Diverse Romance / Interracial Romance / Romantic Drama / Women’s Fiction

Mood: Inspirational / Feel Good / Coming of Age / Dark
Content: Sexy but No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: New Adult & College / Adult / Female Readers

Recommended for: Readers that enjoy romance novels with serious issues and characters with depth. This is a story about life, love, friendship, family, music, art, destiny and soul mates.


And the first two books in my teen urban fantasy/YA paranormal romance series, the Poison Blood series, can be downloaded for free via:

Amazon USAmazon UK|   iBooks US & UK   |   B&N Nook Store   |   Smashwords




PB1 Book Details

Length: 29,000 words
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance / Teen Vampire Romance / Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy / Teen & YA Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy / Supernatural Romance / Fantasy Romance
Mood: Dark / Humorous / Coming of age
Content: No violence / No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: Teen / Young Adult / New Adult / Adult
Recommended for: Readers that love all things vampires, slayers and witches!