Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

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

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn HamiltonRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Published by Faber & Faber on February 4th 2016
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bol.com
Goodreads
five-stars

"Tell me that and we'll go. Right now. Save ourselves and leave this place to burn. Tell me that's how you want your story to go and we'll write it straight across the sand."

Dustwalk is Amani's home. The desert sand is in her bones. But she wants to escape. More than a want. A need.

Then a foreigner with no name turns up to save her life, and with him the chance to run. But to where? The desert plains are full of danger. Sand and blood are swirling, and the Sultan's enemies are on the rise.

What I thought

Rebel of the Sands is MAGICAL. As one of my most anticipated releases it is always a bit scary to start reading it, because what if you don’t enjoy it, at all?! Crisis averted, because it lived up to every single expectation I had and smashed the ones I didn’t know I had! It was awesome.

Amani is the embodiment of a tough woman

The main character, Amani, managed to surprise me from the very beginning of the story. Amani is the embodiment of a tough woman. We all know how I like my heroines to be kickass, well, Amani takes kickass to a whole new level. She’s mouthy (she’s got a serious case of speak first and think later going on, and that smart mouth of hers lands her in quite some trouble every now and then), she’s got heart, and has a beautiful wild spirit. Her amazing personality and sheer determination not to bow down to society will have you rooting for her in no time. Her character development throughout Rebel of the Sands is such a big part of the book, I loved how much she changed and matured after leaving Dustwalk behind.

Full of action and adventure

Combine great characters with a FANTASTIC plot, and you’ve got me hooked. Rebel of the Sands is fast paced; full of action and adventure throughout the whole book. There was always something going on, and this will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time you’re reading. An extraordinary setting with vivid descriptions of the Maraji and their traditions, filled with folklore (I LOVE FOLKLORE) that will teach you the stories of the Djinni, ghouls, and magic. I am in love, this story is so incredibly authentic that you won’t be able to do anything else but fall in love.

Sweet and subtle romance

Mysterious foreigner? Check, and boy do I like him! Jin and Amani’s fun banter are a big part of why I enjoyed Rebel of the Sands so much. A slow-building romance, yes that’s right a slow-burner peeps! No insta-love, just a relationship that slowly builds, has bumps along the way, and evolves into something beautiful. The romance isn’t the whole story; it’s not hot and heavy that it becomes the center of the book; it’s subtle and sweet, slowly creeping up on you (I’m getting all the feels again just thinking back to it!).

Final verdict IRISJEXX!

Rebel of the Sands is a GREAT debut. It has everything you need and more: a strong heroine, a FANTASTIC plot, great world-building, and a sweet and slow-burning romance! It’s an amazing start to a series and so so promising for the books that will follow after it. Only thing I have left to say is: READ THIS!

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | Book Review

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | Book Review

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

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | Book ReviewWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Published by Delacorte Press on May 13th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
five-stars

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

What I thought NEW“What if we could stop being different colors, different backgrounds, and just be in love?” 

― E. Lockhart, We Were Liars

We Were Liars was my first E. Lockhart book I’ve read, and judging on this book alone, I have been missing out! That being said, it was the cryptic blurb that pulled me in and made me want to read this book so bad. So, when I started reading I really had no idea what to expect from this book… and this ended up being exactly what made this story so powerful.

I have been pondering what to write in this review, because I do not want to spoil this story for anyone! And frankly, I think that ‘less is more’ goes for this reviewing this story! If I would want to give you any advise before going into reading this book, it would be to go in as ‘blind’ as possible. Please don’t let anybody spoil this story for you, because the less you know, the more of an impact it will have on you.

The gradual pacing was so good! It added to the suspense that kept building and building until the end. Those very first pages I felt the suspense creeping in. It crept in and stayed with me all the way to the moment when the plot unfolded and left me absolutely breathless.

The writing was beautiful. While it took me a chapter to get used to, once it did, the poetic writing never failed to blow my mind!

This story is truly beautiful. The pacing, the suspense, and the poetic writing made the story extremely powerful. It’s a story that will stay with me for a long time to come (and will probably become on of my favourite reads of this year!). Go in ‘blind’ and let the story speak for itself!

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | Book Review

Stargazing from Nowhere| Book Review

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

Stargazing from Nowhere| Book ReviewStargazing from Nowhere by Isabel Thomas, Marilyn Thomas
Published by Do Art Publishing on July 22nd 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 448
Format: Ebook
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Kristen Morgan's blog is about to get her into trouble. Deep trouble. Online, she is known as "Stargazer" from the popular Stargazing from Nowhere blog, while in real life she is a regular fifteen-year-old high school student. This online anonymity is quite liberating, allowing her to be completely honest with her readers. Through a twist of fate, Rising Tide, the band she has bashed the most online, ends up in her small town, which sends Kristen into an excited panic. To continue gathering fresh material for her blog, she poses as a Rising Tide fan. After sneaking into the band's private party, she comes face to face with the band's drummer, Michael Stevens, who happens to be even more gorgeous in person than she cares to admit. Something unexpected also happens to her when she meets him: she becomes giddy, nervous, and inarticulate, leading Kristen to realize that her interest in Michael has nothing to do with her blog, but everything to do with her heart. As Kristen and Michael grow closer, does she have to make a choice between blog or boyfriend...Or is the choice made for her?

What I thought NEWTo just come out and flat out say it, I had mixed feelings about this book… The premises of this book where really interesting.  A small town girl Kristen, also an anonymous blogger (can you see the irony?), meets the drummer of a famous band called Rising Tide, the same band she’s thoroughly trashed on her blog.

Kristen had me laughing and grinning most of the time. Honestly the girl got herself in the oddest situations, the awkwardness and embarrassment never failed to make me snort and laugh uncontrollably most of the time. These situations where highly unlikely to happen most of the time, but hey, it isn’t called fiction for nothing right?

The running theme about online anonymity and negativity was a definite plus. I can see how a person could start out blogging about their passion, in Kristen’s case music, and then lose themselves in the negativity and pessimism. I love that the authors of this book shone a flashlight on the idea that the negativity of other people can sweep you along and how people can get caught up in it. As a blogger myself, I really appreciated the theme and I see the importance of paying some attention to the subject. I can see how people might get stuck in negativism. It’s a subject that I haven’t seen discussed a lot, and I definitely think that it should be discussed more. While giving an honest opinion about something is okay, trashing somebody is definitely not. It easy for the lines to get blurred.

The hilarious and awkward scenes, as well as the theme were really positive aspects of the book, However, there were quite some other aspects that I was less enthusiastic about.

For instance, the story was really predictable. I don’t mind figuring out parts of the plot, but the whole plot? and knowing how its going to end? Nah, that’s kinda a no go for me. View Spoiler »

I also had a little problem with Kristen… While at first she was easy to like. Easy going and very good-natured, but she started to get under my skin, to the point of prompt reading pauses because I was really really annoyed with how she acted… she knew that not telling Michael was going to blow up in her face, she knew it, her best friend knew it and told her repeatedly, but she still didn’t tell him. Then when things did blow up, as expected, she was so down and miserable, and I was like WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? She was downright mean and snarky about the band, of course that isn’t going to sit well. She should’ve told them who she was in the beginning, at least that would’ve been honest and she would have spared herself a lot of trouble and hurt.

I do know Kristin was just a teenager, scared of how the guy she liked was going to react to her, not so great, second ‘secret’ identity. I’m not heartless and I think we all can relate to the nagging feeling, and knowing, that you have to tell someone something that you know they’re not going to like and is probably going to hurt them, especially if its the guy you like, but still… A little bit of common sense would’ve been nice. Not telling Michael was pretty selfish and something that pretty much irritated me throughout the book. (Michael, however, was a pretty cool and dreamy guy!)

In the end, this wasn’t a horrible read, but unfortunately I didn’t really like it either. Characters are what make a good book for me, and Kristen wasn’t my favourite character by a long shot.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | Book Review

The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry | Book Review

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

The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry | Book ReviewThe Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry
Published by Albert Whitman Teen on March 1st 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Jolene Perry's THE SUMMER I FOUND YOU, about a teenage girl trying to cope with her new diagnosis of type one diabetes and a teenage male veteran who is learning how to embrace his new life after losing an arm, who come together by using each other as an escape, only to discover through love and struggle that your life is what you make of it.

What I thought NEWLet me start of by saying that this story had so much potential. I expected a heavy emotional heft from this book, which is to be expected if you read the synopsis. Unfortunately, while this was not a bad book, it just didn’t live up to expectations. While it has a lot of potential, it really needs some work in my opinion…

The hero Aiden (or Aidan, because yes it actually varies in the book) Conelly suffers from PTSD and lost an arm during his tour in Afghanistan. While the heroine, Kate Walker, was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. While the plotline was pretty good, the missing arm/diabetes storyline added a very different aspect to the typical romance genre, the rest of the story was unfortunately a bit typical… The boy and girl fall in love, have a falling out, make up and get back together. I just think some variety would have been nice.

While the characters where okay, there was a lack in character development. Both characters didn’t really grow throughout the story, and somehow I found that I just didn’t connect with them. Sure I felt for them because they obviously were going through a lot, but the connection just never properly happened. I would have liked for them to have some more depth.

While the title seems okay enough, it is a bit odd that it says ‘The Summer I Found You.’  Especially since it doesn’t actually take place during the summer.

I really hope the version I read isn’t the final edited version. As stated above, the hero actually seemed to have two names throughout the story. I’m confused, is it Aiden or Aidan? The grammar and punctuation where also a bit hard to get through, and I normally go really easy on those since I am no expert on those (not by a far shot). The mistakes were a bit juvenile and overall added to my disappointment.

Overall, this book wasn’t bad. I’m pretty disappointed because it had so much potential, however, things just seemed off for me and I couldn’t get into the book. It was an okay read, but unfortunately not what I hoped it would be.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | Book Review

Defy by Sara B. Larson | Book Review

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

Defy by Sara B. Larson | Book ReviewDefy by Sara B. Larson
Series: Defy #1
Published by Scholastic Press on January 7th 2014
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-stars

A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

What I thought NEWThe premises of this book were awesome! I mean, it reminded me of Mulan. A story that I absolutely love and have loved since I was a little girl. That being said, I think that when I first heard about Defy it just had this big READ ME stamp all over it. The story seemed pretty original and it interested me right away. Thus I started reading.

For me the characters where one of the things that made this book. The characters were great, Alexa was badass and really easy to connect to. I adored her twin brother Marcel, and their banter. Rylan was this all time good guy that every girl would love to have as a boyfriend, and the Prince… Darn, my love for these kind of guys! (He turned out to be more than the bored and spoiled prince though! A bit cliché, I know).

However, about halfway through the story, about when they’d found out Alex was actually Alexa, her character lost her strength. I understand that what she’s going through is really hard, and that she must be really confused. But it just seemed as if she forgot that she was a fighter. At times that started resurfacing but most of the time Alexa’s character seemed to be not even half of the girl we met at the beginning of the book.

What I really liked less about this books is that about halfway in the book the main focus shifts and starts focussing more on Alexa’s feeling instead of the danger they were facing. I loved this book so much because in the beginning, you have the struggle of Alexa keeping her real identity a secret, there is an intriguing political aspect and there are lots of little (and big!) plot twists. But when the love triangle, that I didn’t even mind because Alexa makes her choice right away and sticks with it, came the focus on Alexa’s feelings. Which is fine… but it is as if the impending danger that keeps growing is less important than her mood swings. The rest of the plot isn’t overlooked or something, but it becomes less important and gets second place to Alexa’s feelings. I would’ve liked to see that different.

The world Sara B. Larson created was vivid. I loved the jungle setting, I haven’t read anything with this kind of setting in a while so it was refreshing. The writing was very descriptive, I remember the trip to the ‘breeding houses’ all to well *shudder*.

All and all I did like this book! The writing, the characters and setting are great, original and fresh. The plot was good. Though, in the end I do feel the need to say, that I very much preferred the first half of the book over the second half.