Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book Review #559 - A Storm of Swords, Part Two: Blood and Gold (A Song of Ice and Fire #3.2) by George R.R. Martin


George R.R. Martin's superb and highly acclaimed epic fantasy A 

Song of Ice and Fire continues with the third in the series A Storm 

of Swords. There is passion here, and misery and charm, grandeur

and squalor, tragedy, nobility and courage. Unabridged and split

into two parts. The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and 

blood feud, and winter approaches like an angry beast. Beyond the

Northern borders, wildlings leave their villages to gather in the ice 

and stone wasteland of the Frostfangs. From there, the renegade 

Brother Mance Rayder will lead them South towards the Wall.

The men of the Night's Watch are ready for the coming of a great

 cold and the walking corpses that travel with it. But now they face

 a horde of wildlings twenty-thousand strong - hungry savage

 people steeped in the dark magic of the haunted wilderness - 

poised to invade the Kingdom of the North where Robb Stark 

wears his new-forged crown. But Robb's defences are ranged

 against attack from the South, the land of House Stark's enemies

 the Lannisters. His sisters are trapped there, dead or likely yet to 

die, at the whim of the Lannister boy-king Joffrey or his depraved 

mother Cersei, regent of the Iron Throne. Cersei's ambition is 

unfettered while the dwarf Tyrion Lannister fights for his life, a 

victim of treachery. And on the other side of the ocean, the last of 

the Targaryens rears the dragons she hatched from her husband's 

funeral pyre. Daenerys Stormborn will return to the land of her 

birth to avenge the murder of her father, the last Dragon King on

 the Iron Throne.

My Rating: 5/5

I read this book immediately after finishing part one and I would recommend that as the best way as they really compliment each other very well. 

Unlike part one, this book is full of action and death. 

Dany is a character that I have enjoyed so far throughout the series especially due to her dragons but in this book I found her chapters too full of speech and nowhere near enough action. 

The story lines are slowly starting to merge and a feel of the real grand scheme plot is beginning to develop. 

I would have really loved a chapter or two from Cersei's persective especially during the middle portion of the book. 

The more I read of this series the more I can feel myself being swallowed up by the shear magnitude of this world.   

This was by far my favourite book so far in this series and I am already reading the next one. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Book Review #558 - A Storm of Swords, Part One: Steel and Snow (A Song of Ice and Fire #3.1) by George R.R. Martin


Winter approaches Westeros like an angry beast.

The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud. Beyond the Wall, a horde of hungry, savage people steeped in the dark magic of the wilderness is poised to invade the Kingdom of the North. Throughout Westeros, the war for the Iron Throne rages more fiercely than ever, but if the Wall is breached, no king—or queen—will live to claim it.

My Rating: 4/5

This series just keeps on surprising me. It was not a series I expected to be able to keep up with let alone love (which I definitely do). 

I love how many aspects this series has that are normally things that turn me off books such as the massive amounts of characters that are involved. 

There were certain narrators that I found more interesting than others and so having to wait 100 or so pages at times to get back to favourite characters made the book seem slower paced than what it was. 

What I loved most about this book was that it finally started hinting at merging storylines. 

I loved the inner look at the wildlings which is the reason I wasn't too happy with how the book ended (spoiler - Jon Snow escaping them means there is no longer a narrator with them). 

The amount of characters hasn't bothered me (yet). I still get some of the minor characters confused but that has no impact on the story. 

Dany is by far the most under used character. I feel like we haven't had enough of her narration across the books I have read so far. I am hoping this changes as when her dragons grow her role in the war will only grow also. 

I would have also liked to have had Robb Stark as a narrator. It would have been interesting to have his perspective on his role in the war rather than seeing it through his mother. 

Jamie Lannister was the character that I felt developed the most in this book. Now that he has gotten away from Cersei he is also starting to become likable. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Book Review #557 - Existence (Existence #1) by Abbi Glines


What happens when you're stalked by Death? You fall in love with him, of course.

Pagan Moore doesn't cheat Death, but instead, falls in love with him.

Seventeen year old Pagan Moore has seen souls her entire life. Once she realized the strangers she often saw walking through walls were not visible to anyone else, she started ignoring them. If she didn't let them know she could see them, then they left her alone. Until she stepped out of her car the first day of school and saw an incredibly sexy guy lounging on a picnic table, watching her with an amused smirk on his face. Problem is, she knows he's dead.

Not only does he not go away when she ignores him, but he does something none of the others have ever done. He speaks. Pagan is fascinated by the soul. What she doesn't realize is that her appointed time to die is drawing near and the wickedly beautiful soul she is falling in love with is not a soul at all.

He is Death and he's about to break all the rules.

My Rating: 3/5

I read this book on my iPad in less than a day. The main reason why I finished it so quickly was because it had long chapters and I hate stopping mid-chapter. 

I loved the paranormal element in this book. Even though I have read plenty of books about the ability to see spirits this book presented that idea in a totally unique way. This is the aspect I am most interested in seeing developing throughout the rest of the series. 

The biggest problem I had with this book was the characters. They were all bland and without real personalities. The relationships between them were too rushed especially the romantic ones. 

Dank was the character that I felt the least connected to. Next to nothing about him is known until the end of the book and it felt unrealistic that Pagan would be completely in love with a guy she knows nothing about. 

I loved that this book was quite short as I was able to read it very quickly but I also feel like the length is the reason why I found so many flaws with it. Had it been longer then characters and their relationships could have been developed further. 

Given the way the book ended I am definitely going to be looking out for the sequel. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Book Review #556 - After (After #1) by Anna Todd


Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. 

She’s got direction, ambition, and a mother who’s intent on 

keeping her that way. 

But she’s barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into

 Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, tattoos,

 and lip ring, Hardin is cute and different from what she’s used to. 

But he’s also rude—to the point of cruelty, even. For all his

 attitude, Tessa should hate Hardin. And she does—until she finds

 herself alone with him in his room. Something about his dark 

mood grabs her, and when they kiss it ignites within her a passion 

she’s never known before. 

He’ll call her beautiful, then insist he isn't the one for her and 

disappear again and again. Despite the reckless way he treats her,

 Tessa is compelled to dig deeper and find the real Hardin beneath

 all his lies. He pushes her away again and again, yet every time


pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper. 

Tessa already has the perfect boyfriend. So why is she trying so

 hard to overcome her own hurt pride and Hardin’s prejudice about

 nice girls like her? 

Unless…could this be love?

My Rating: 4/5 

I had never heard of this book before when I got it for free from iBooks. It was a completely random purchase and I had absolutely no idea how popular it was. For this reason, I had no expectations for it nor did I portray Harry Styles as the male protagonist. 

For those supposedly living under a rock like I was, this book was initially a One Direction fanfiction on Wattpad and became insanely popular that after a few name changes got a publishing deal. 

I don't usually read books that are purely romance nor do I ever read smut but something about this book grabbed me from the very first page and I found myself absolutely captivated by the story. 

Clearly, the writing was a little immature and flawed but I thought it conveyed the story well particularly for a first time author. 

I found some aspects of the book a little repetitive. I mean how many times can Hardin make the exact same mistake and Tessa forgive him? It got a little ridiculous towards the end. 

I have read a few books now in the "New Adult" genre and am wondering why all the males are ALL the same? They are all bad guys who treat the girl like crap and then come good and mature by the end. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Book Review #555 - Still Alice by Lisa Genova


Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At 

fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard 

and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful 

husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly

disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life--and 

her relationship with her family and the world--forever.

At once beautiful and terrifying, Still Alice is a moving and vivid 

depiction of life with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease that is as 

compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as unforgettable as Judith 

Guest's Ordinary People.

My Rating: 3.5/5

I received this book for review from **

I found this book a lot more interesting than I thought I would. Contemporary novels about serious issues are not usually my type of book but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. 

Alzheimer's disease was an illness that I had limited knowledge about prior to reading this book. I wouldn't say I am an expert on it now or anything but I am definitely better informed than I was before. 

What surprised me the most though was how quick the disease took hold and how quickly she went downhill. The way that Alzheimer's just completely took over her life was frightening. 

Because this book is told from Alice's point of view, we (the reader) are given front row seats to the deterioration of the unforgiving disease. 

On top of Alice dealing with her shocking diagnosis and learning how to live with it she also had to deal with the family reactions of her career orientated husband and her youngest daughter. 

The husband irritated me from the very start. He wasn't supportive at all and was selfish the entire time. He would liked to have just pretended that everything was fine as long as it didn't effect his life. 

Lydia, Alice's youngest daughter was the most intriguing character for mine. She wanted a life different from the one her parents had expected of her and wasn't scared of failure. 

I am now looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Book Review #554 - Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell


We're waiting for you to come and play. Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind...Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lilias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there's her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn't be there. The girl that died.

My Rating: 4/5

I read this book on my iPad and it took me about a month to read. If I had read this in physical format I probably would have finished it in an hour or so. 

This book was very engaging, suspenseful and had a cliff-hanger at the end of just about every chapter making it a quick and easy read. 

The descriptions of settings, characters and the Frozen Charlotte dolls themselves were a little vague and I would have loved some more depth in this area. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Book Review #553 - I Was Here by Gayle Forman


From the bestselling author of If I Stay - this summer's YA blockbuster film.

This characteristically powerful novel follows eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend's shocking suicide.

As Cody numbly searches for answers as to why Meg took her own life, she begins a journey of self-discovery which takes her to a terrifying precipice, and forces her to question not only her relationship with the Meg she thought she knew, but her own understanding of life, love, death and forgiveness.

A phenomenally moving story, I Was Here explores the sadly all-too-familiar issue of suicide and self-harm, addressing it in an authentic way with sensitivity and honesty.

My Rating: 3.5/5

I received this book for review from **

Like with her previous novel If I Stay, Gayle Forman writes about death in an unique way. 

My favourite aspect of this book was the mystery. Why did she kill herself? Who knew about her plans? It was for that reason the ending fell a little flat for me. 

The romance between Cody and Ben was nothing but distracting. I have never been as disinterested in the romantic element in a book than I was with this one. 

I really liked the development of character relationships particularly between Cody and her mother. 

Overall, this is a book about serious and sensitive issues that are a common threat in today's society but in a honest and smart way. 

I also found this book really informative as I now feel better educated on these topics that I previously didn't know too much about or had stereotypical views about. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Book Review #552 - A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) by George R.R Martin


The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros are plagued by civil war, while the Night's Watch mounts a reconnaissance force to investigate the mysterious people known as wildlings. Meanwhile Daenerys Targaryen continues her quest to return to and conquer the Seven Kingdoms. All signs are foreshadowing a terrible disaster that is to come.

My Rating: 4.5/5

This is the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series and is the sequel to A Game of Thrones. 

I loved this book more than the first because they story, settings and the characters were already familiar to me. The only issues I had were trying to keep track of where the characters were as they travel frequently. 

Whilst I do like Tyrion as a narrator, I felt like there was perhaps too much of him especially in the middle portion of the book. 

The chapter from Tyrion's perspective of the battle was my favourite chapter in the series so far. It was gripping and so well written. 

Arya continues to develop and I still consider her my favourite character. I didn't like that the end portion of the book had very little of her narration. 

Dany was another character that developed significantly and her dragons were an interesting dynamic. 

I still found it hard to remember who the minor characters were but so far this hasn't impacted my enjoyment or understanding of the story as a whole.