Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson | Review

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson | ReviewWalk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on September 22nd 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 432
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.

What I thoughtI’m going to start this review by saying that this is the first time I’m reading one of Rae Carson’s books. Her previous series has been on my wish-list for a while now, but I never got around to reading it. That being said, I was so excited for Walk on Earth a Stranger. I mean, helloooo, it’s about the gold-rush! I’ve always been intrigued by this period, and I jumped at the chance to read this early (thank you, thank you, thank you HC International).

I was hooked from the very first page. Which says a LOT, because I felt like it moved a bit slow at times. Most of the story is the characters’ journey to the west, and besides that (and what happens on the road) nothing really happens. However that slower pace seemed to suit the story. Also, it was easy to overlook, as Rae Carson’s writing is absolutely stunning. There’s this easy flow and comfortableness to the writing, it flows seamlessly. If I didn’t have other responsibilities during the day I, without a doubt, would’ve read this book in one sitting.

The plot was so well thought out. The beginning was incredibly strong. View Spoiler ». Then, as I mentioned before, most of the book is all about the journey. There must’ve gone so much time into research to write this book, the tiny details, it felt like I was part of history. So well thought out and a great amount of world building. I sucked up every ounce of information and I loved every part of it.

There’s a fantasy aspect to this story (Lee being able to sense gold and all), but it didn’t take over the story. Rather it took a bit of a backseat, which REALLY worked for me. This way we got to focus on the journey Lee is on. We get to focus on her  epic journey across the nation, her chance at a new beginning, and not so much on her ability (though I feel like it’ll play a MAJOR part in the next instalments).

We meet lots of different characters with lots of different backgrounds. Lee’s best friend, and love interest, is half native-American and half-Caucasian. The company she travels in includes French-Canadian immigrants, German immigrants, a slave owner and his slave, ‘confirmed bachelors’ (another, smart, name for gay men), and others I might be forgetting. This gives Rae Carson the chance to explore the racial tensions, but she includes gay rights and feminism as well. Incredibly smart and interesting! The protagonist, Lee, I have so much respect for. She’s such a strong character. Lee faces her trials and hardships with incredible strength and determination that will be hard not to admire. Loved it. I mentioned that Lee’s best friend is the love interest in the story, and it was a good kind of romance. Slowly building. It’s barely there, but it’s visible enough for the reader to notice the subtle nudges that hint at a budding romance. I can’t wait to see it develop further in the next book! One thing I did think was missing was a little more depth to the secondary characters. Although I liked them well enough, I felt like they were a little on the flat side. But that too, I hope to see change in the next book!

Final verdict IRISJEXX!I think this books was incredibly well written, absolutely fantastic. Great writing, incredibly interesting characters, and a very well-thought out and enjoyable plot! Such a great start to a series! Can’t wait to read the sequel. How long do I have to wait again? *winces*

four-half-stars

Every Last Breath by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Review

Every Last Breath by Jennifer L. Armentrout | ReviewEvery Last Breath by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: The Dark Elements #3
Published by Harlequin Teen on July 28th 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 400
Goodreads
five-stars

Some loves will last ’til your dying breath

Every choice has consequences—but seventeen-year-old Layla faces tougher choices than most. Light or darkness. Wickedly sexy demon prince Roth, or Zayne, the gorgeous, protective Warden she never thought could be hers. Hardest of all, Layla has to decide which side of herself to trust.

Layla has a new problem, too. A Lilin—the deadliest of demons—has been unleashed, wreaking havoc on those around her…including her best friend. To keep Sam from a fate much, much worse than death, Layla must strike a deal with the enemy while saving her city—and her race—from destruction.

Torn between two worlds and two different boys, Layla has no certainties, least of all survival, especially when an old bargain comes back to haunt them all. But sometimes, when secrets are everywhere and the truth seems unknowable, you have to listen to your heart, pick a side—and then fight like hell…

What I thought

I have a so much love for Jennifer Armentrout’s books. If only for the fact that they make me laugh so much. Her books have every ingredient to make for a fantastic binge read. I pondered on the rating for a bit, but in the end, there is just no flaw in this book (or the entire series for that matter), so 5 wholly deserved stars it is.

Every Last Breath made me laugh. The dialogue, as in the previous two books, is absolutely great. Layla has a great personality and it shines through in everything she does and says. The dialogue is absolutely top-notch. There’s stories that are character-driven, but Jennifer Armentrout writes books that are dialogue-driven, and she does it flawlessly!

The characters are still awesome. I haven’t made it a secret that I have a big BIG thing for Roth. I think he challenges and pushes Layla to be the best person she can be, and his personality continues to shine in this final instalment. Layla was badass, we saw her grow throughout the first two books and we got to see her at her best in Every Last Breath. Strong, witty, and relatable characters, what’s not to love?

Action all around. The plot was filled with lots of action that made for one fast-paced read. I read it in ONE sitting. There were some moments where we could take a breath, when the characters were resolving an issue, or talking things through, but for the most part the plot was everything and more I wanted from this book.

Final verdict IRISJEXX!I’ve been looking forward to Every Last Breath for a long time. I couldn’t wait to see how the story unfolded (and who Layla ended up with!). The anticipation was enormous, and it lived up to every expectation I had. It had all the feels that come with reading a Jennifer Armentrout book, and all the feels and more after having read the final instalment of a series you love! Explosion of feels!

five-stars

Air Awakens by Elise Kova | Book Review

I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Air Awakens by Elise Kova | Book ReviewAir Awakens by Elise Kova
Series: Air Awakens #1
Published by Silver Wing Press on August 27th 2015
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 377
Format: ARC
Source: the Author
Goodreads
five-stars

A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond...

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

What I thought

When I first heard about Air Awakens I was told it would be THE book for people that love the Throne of Glass series. Since Sarah J. Maas is one of my all-time favourite writers I was most definitely intrigued, but also a tad hesitant. If you start a book expecting so much, it is my experience that they end up a disappointment most of the time. Boy am I glad I didn’t let that hold me back, because Air Awakens was a pretty damn epic read.

I’m a pretty big fan of character driven stories, and Air Awakens was just that. The protagonist, Vhalla, was a great character. I loved that I could relate with her. Her obsession with books, a bit of a must if you are a library apprentice, is something I think we can all relate to. Vhalla developed so much throughout the story. She grew into this fierce woman and I really admired her strength and determination to keep going. There was this one point where somebody pointed something out to her View Spoiler », and that EXACT realization is one I had at one point a few years ago as well. It probably was one of my favorite moments in the book. Scratch that, it was my favorite moment in this book (I actually wrote a post about that, so if you’re interested in checking it out just click here)

The world presented is really intriguing. The Solaris Empire and the aspect of elemental magic is so SO good. I loved how I gradually learned more about the empire and its history. Vhalla knew next to nothing about the elemental magic and its history, so I learned more about this world with her and I gradually fell in love with it. I love the magical aspect. I am so anxious and excited to learn more about it!

Then for the romance. The romance plays a pretty big role in the story. And it is a GOOD romance. It gradually builds into something more, there’s struggles along the way, which makes it realistic. Both Vhalla and the love-interest have lots of depth and grow throughout the story, which made the romance so good in my opinion. So many feelings.

Final verdict IRISJEXX!

I am in love with the world Elise Kova created and its characters. I can’t wait to see where the second book will take Vhalla! (Well, I know where she’ll go… but I want to know how she’ll do, if she’ll develop further, and if the budding romance will bloom into something more). Air Awakens made me feel all the feels. My expectations were pretty high (that’s what a comparison to Throne of Glass will do to me), and the story lived up to every single part of it. Air Awakens is a beautiful tale and I can’t wait to see where it’ll go next. If it wasn’t on your wishlist yet, you should add it, because ALL THE FEELS!

five-stars

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas | Review

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on May 5th 2015
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 416
Goodreads
five-stars

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

What I thoughtHoly shit, this book is a masterpiece, absolutely and utterly mind-blowing. I love what Sarah did with the original Beauty and the Beast story. I usually don’t really know what to do with Fae stories, but the combination of the Fae with the Beauty and the Beast story worked perfectly. It made the story creative and original, and the plot complex.

The characters were complex and had a lot of depth! Feyre is a great character. She was the underdog amidst the Fae, but that didn’t stop her from fighting what she believed in. She’s something fierce. In a way she reminds me of Celaena, they definitely have some traits in common, but that’s where it ends, because Feyre is definitely a character on her own. Tamlin and Lucien. Gosh I love those two! Tamlin has so much depth! A bit rough around the edges, but he tries, and he’s awesome. I loved Lucien’s wit. He’s a bit snarky, but I love him for it. I love how his and Tamlin’s relationship was all about friendship. And then there’s Rhys, whom I haven’t fully made my mind up about (and I can’t delve into that more… because spoilers and all). His character is extremely complex, there’s a part of me that wants to dislike him, but another part that kinda likes him, and GAH it’s so frustratingly good.

As I’ve come to expect of Sarah’s writing, the world-building is epic. It’s so damn good. My imagination ran wild with the vivid descriptions she gave of the world of the fae. Even though some of those vivid descriptions were a bit gruesome, I was there experiencing everything along with the characters 100%.

Hot damn, this book is STEAMY. I think the last YA book I read that was this steamy was Unravel Me. There’s great chemistry that flies of the pages. The sexy times had me swooning and fawning myself (yes it was THAT good).

View Spoiler »

Final verdict IRISJEXX!I love this book! I adore this book! And I want ALL OF YOU to read it. Books like these are the reason I read. The reason I love reading so much. A Court of Thorns and Roses is everything I could have wished for and everything I wanted it to be. I’m trying to reign in the fangirling, but it was just that good. If you haven’t read it yet, go get yourself a copy!

 

five-stars

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor | Review

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor | ReviewDaughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1
Published by Brown for Young Readers on September 27th 2011
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 418
Goodreads
five-stars

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

What I thoughtI started reading Daughter of Smoke and Bones in the car on my way to Sweden. And I HATE myself for not reading this book sooner, because this book is absolutely phenomenal. Flawless writing, beautiful storytelling, and so incredibly original. I am in love.

The prose was beyond a doubt one of the strongest features of this book. Beautiful imagery and descriptions, absolutely gorgeous! The words were just strung together, seemingly effortless. I was immediately hooked. I have been in Prague, a long time ago, but this story has me wishing I could go back, and maybe (hopefully) soon I will.

Incredible world building. Beautiful descriptions of the city and the political tension just seeps through the pages. The idea of the wishes and how everything revolved around teeth had something magical, albeit a bit horrific, to it. I love how we learn more about Karou’s ‘other world’ through her artwork. It was just beautiful. There’s really no other word to describe the world Laini Taylor has created in this book. Absolutely beautiful.

The characters were fantastic. They are flawed and full of depth, which makes it so easy to connect with them. I love how complex, but relatable, Karou is. She has so much wit and a great sense of humour. And the romance. Ah, the romance. So damn addictive.

Final verdict IRISJEXX!

Great plot. Great heroine. Great love interest. Great and addictive romance. Great EVERYTHING. The originality of this story about knocked my socks off. An absolute new favorite fantasy read! I can hardly wait to read the other books!

five-stars

The Invisibles by Cecilia Galante | Review

I received this book for free from American Book Center in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Invisibles by Cecilia Galante | ReviewThe Invisibles by Cecilia Galante
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 4th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Source: American Book Center
Goodreads
three-half-stars

In the vein of Meg Donohue and Jennifer Close, comes Cecilia Galante's adult debut about the complicated and powerful bonds of female friendship--a compelling, moving novel that is told in both the present and the past.

Thrown together by chance as teenagers at Turning Winds Home for Girls, Nora, Ozzie, Monica, and Grace quickly bond over their troubled pasts and form their own family which they dub The Invisibles. But when tragedy strikes after graduation, Nora is left to deal with the horrifying aftermath alone as the other three girls leave home and don't look back.

Fourteen years later, Nora is living a quiet, single life working in the local library. She is content to focus on her collection of "first lines" (her favorite opening lines from novels) and her dog, Alice Walker, when out-of-the-blue Ozzie calls her on her thirty-second birthday. But after all these years, Ozzie hasn't called her to wish a happy birthday. Instead, she tells Nora that Grace attempted suicide and is pleading for The Invisibles to convene again. Nora is torn: she is thrilled at the thought of being in touch with her friends, and yet she is hesitant at seeing these women after such a long and silent period of time. Bolstered by her friends at the library, Nora joins The Invisibles in Chicago for a reunion that sets off an extraordinary chain of events that will change each of their lives forever.

The Invisibles is an unforgettable novel that asks the questions: How much of our pasts define our present selves? And what does it take to let go of some of our most painful wounds and move on?

What I thought

The Invisibles starts, as my literature professor would demand me to call, ‘in medias res.’ You jump right into the story, and as it progresses we find out that something has happened those years ago that the protagonist hasn’t fully dealt with. What it is you won’t find out until the end of the story, but as you get deeper into the story you start to crave the answer to this question. It’s this answer that has you turning pages faster and faster, until you finally finds the answer you’re looking for (bonus points: the answer is most definitely not a letdown!).

The characters were well-developed. The flashbacks to when they were in high school were welcome insights to how much the girls have changed over the course of fourteen years.

I really like how this book raises the question: How much of your past defines your future. I do think, however, that the author may have focused a little too much on this aspect. We slowly learn about all of the girls, and what their lives are like now, and to me it was a bit too much. A little bit too extreme here and there.

Final verdict IRISJEXX!

All and all, I flew through The Invisibles. It’s the kind of read where you can put your mind on zilch and just read until you’ve reached the end of the book. Although it wasn’t the kind of book I’d normally go for, it was most definitely very enjoyable and a great book to bring with you on holiday!

three-half-stars