Friday, January 29, 2016

Book Review: Blackhearts

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Release date: February 9, 2016
Read: December, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: ARC, 384 pages

Description from GoodReads: Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.
   Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.
   Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England?
   From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

Review: This book was not the swash-buckling tale I had expected, and I am perfectly happy it wasn't. Instead it had a "Downton Abbey"-esque feel to it, with the whole upper class vs. lower class struggles.
   Oddly enough, the beginning was slow in a good way, because it didn't introduce characters so quickly that we forgot about them, like other books do. Instead it took its time and made sure we cared just the right amount about everyone. The plot sped up and unraveled at the right pace throughout the book and became high-paced at the end, which astounds me. How do you manage that tempo?
   One of my favourite things was Anne's character development. At first she was snarky and cold, but after falling in love with the handsome Edward, she grew more attuned to her emotions and was willing to let him in. Their entire love story was amazing, especially how flustered Anne could get by realizing they were alone at times.
   The bad guys were believable, the plot was amazing, and I cannot wait for the release! I sincerely hope it gets the attention it deserves.

Quotable Quotes:
"You've just spent a year at sea, encountering untold dangers, and you find me interesting? I've never been anywhere. I've never seen anything."

Rating: 8/10

Read if you liked: A Madman's Daughter, This Dark Endeavour, romance, Downton Abbey

Optimistically yours, Ola

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Book Review: The Dark Days Club


The Dark Days Club by Allison Goodman

Released: January 26th, 2016
Read: January 2016
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Format: Paperback ARC, 496 Pages

Description from Goodreads:
London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

Where do I begin? Being a historical fiction and fantasy fan, this book grabbed my right from the start. I love Lady Helen herself. She is a strong woman in a time when being unladylike was frowned upon. Although there is a slow start to the main plot point (just under a hundred pages in) it's well worth it. The way Goodman writes about how Helen gets/realizes her powers is interesting- not at all cheesy. You end up urging her to realize her full potential, rather than roll your eyes. But my favorite character was Lord Carlston. He's dark, handsome and the epitome of every fictional love interest. In the synopsis, it says something along the lines "... his bad reputation." Boy does he ever have one! This makes the tension between the two of them even better! My one critique was that some of the lines sounded sort of fake- like the line didn't fit with the character. It was odd, but this book has the perfect blend of the supernatural with historical fiction that it was still a great read!

Favorite Quotes:
"You have far more courage than you think you do." - The Dark Days Club by Allison Goodman

Rating: 8.5/10

Recommended for people who like: paranormal, supernatural, fantasy, historical fiction, romance

Happy Reading,

Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Review: Cruel Beauty

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Released: January 28th, 2014
Read: December 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages

Description from GoodReads: Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
   With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
   But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.
   As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Review: I've always loved the sort of mystical Arthurian time period of books like Grave Mercy or Fairest, and Cruel Beauty just clicks with it.
   The story is well-paced and keeps you interested by twisting the story a little further and further (not unlike the staircase on the cover) until it unravels at the end. Which was a little confusing. Actually scratch that, it was very confusing. Maybe the next book will clear things up a bit.
   Familial relationships in this book are seen as very important, including the awfully taut ones that Nyx has with her father, sister, aunt, and even her dead mother. Even though she hates them throughout the book, she still feels a sort of obligation and love to them, which doesn't seem to be requited. 
   Altogether, it's a pretty great book!

Quotable Quotes:
"Where you go, I shall go; Where you die, I shall die, and there will I be buried."
"He is a monster, and maybe I am a monster for pitying him."
"From nothing into nothing how swiftly we return."
"... Lose myself in the embrace of the one person who had ever seen my heart and claimed to love me after."

Rating: 9/10

Read if You Liked: Grave Mercy, Ella Enchanted, Beauty and the Beast, Graceling

Optimistically yours, Ola

Friday, January 15, 2016

Book Review: The Girl from Everywhere

The Girl From Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig

Released: February 16, 2016
Read: January 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Format: ARC, 464 pages

Description from Goodreads:
    Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.
    Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.
    In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance. 

   Filled with action and devilishly handsome characters,  the Girl from Everywhere takes place literally everywhere and at every time. Aboard the Temptation, Nixie has a troubling role to play. She tries to help her father bring back his dead wife, even though there's a chance she might not exist if her mother lives.
   The novel took me by surprise. I honestly didn't know what to expect at first; the description on the back of the ARC was extremely vague. All I knew was that it involved a time-travelling ship and was from the perspective of the captains daughter, but the novel turned out to be about much, much more.
   Only having Rotgut, Bee and Kashmir as friends, Nixie lives a seemingly lonely life. All she wants is to learn how to navigate (travel through time), and run away. She doesn't care if her mother comes back to life, or about finding a map to get to her. She's a strong character and has a personality that is her own. She has opinions, an attitude and makes witty remarks. Nixie is well developed and is someone people can compare themselves with.
   Kashmir and Blake are my favourite to read about. Their perspectives of life are mesmerizing and the way they act is cute and funny. Kashmir is romantic without trying to be, even if he is just giving gifts he stole from other people. He is graceful for a pirate, and reminds me a lot of Puck from the Iron King. He has a sort of mysterious air about him. Well, whatever it is, I'm glad he has it.
   And then there's Blake. Siggggghhhhh. He is definitely unlike the other characters; he has self confidence, and wants to stay in one place instead of travel the world. He is balanced and knows what he wants to do with his life. He's the guy you wait your whole life to meet, because everything is more fun when you're with them.
   Anyways, both Blake and Kashmir have unique personalities that leave you dying to meet them.
   Overall, the Girl from Everywhere teaches you a lot about history and how far people will go to change the past.

Favourite Quote:

  • "I don't need help looking good. All you're doing is making it seem like I keep unfashionable company." -Kashmir, (Heidi Heilig) 

Rating: 8/10

Recommended if you like: time-travel, learning about history, witty banter, strong female leads, reading about family issues, love stories

A recipe for disaster,


Monday, January 11, 2016

Book Review: Front Lines


Front Lines by Michael Grant

Released: January 26th 2016
Read: December/January 2015/16
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Paperback ARC, 576 pages

Description from Goodreads:
Perfect for fans of The Book Thief and Code Name Verity, New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant unleashes an epic, genre-bending, and transformative new series that reimagines World War II with girl soldiers fighting on the front lines.
World War II, 1942. A court decision makes women subject to the draft and eligible for service. The unproven American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled, the armed forces of Nazi Germany.
Three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves. Each has her own reasons for volunteering: Rio fights to honor her sister; Frangie needs money for her family; Rainy wants to kill Germans. For the first time they leave behind their homes and families—to go to war.
These three daring young women will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, they will discover the roles that define them on the front lines. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.

This book is quite simply amazing. Grant’s writing style is wonderful- it’s easy to follow, it’s vivid and it shines even through the sad parts. The storyline itself is also terrific. Being a historical fan as well as a fiction fan, it is the perfect blend. This alternate re-telling of the Second World War is brimming with strong female characters that are fiercely independent. They come from different places, and have different backgrounds, but they are all united in the Allied cause. They really keep you rooting for the whole way through. The way Grant weaves all their stories together keeps you on your toes, and keeps the plot moving forwards. While reading, I never really felt as if there was a “slow part” or a part devoted to set and character development. I loved how every woman wins their fight to be apart of the war. The sexism and misogyny is depicted quite well, unflinching and honest. There was (quite frankly) never a dull moment. I would recommend it to people who love stories from the 1940’s, and who like the espionage, and underdog stories. 

Favorite Quotes:
"She's fighting for her country." (This is actually the tagline, but I love how epic it sounds!)

Rating: 8/10 Stars

Recommended for people who enjoy: adventure, strong female characters, military stories, WW2, hints of romance

Happy Reading,

Friday, January 8, 2016

Book Review: The Killing Jar

The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth

Released: January 12, 2016
Read: December 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Format: ARC, 352 pages

Description on GoodReads
“I try not to think about it, what I did to that boy.”

Seventeen-year-old Kenna Marsden has a secret.

She’s haunted by a violent tragedy she can’t explain. Kenna’s past has kept people—even her own mother—at a distance for years. Just when she finds a friend who loves her and life begins to improve, she’s plunged into a new nightmare. Her mom and twin sister are attacked, and the dark powers Kenna has struggled to suppress awaken with a vengeance.

On the heels of the assault, Kenna is exiled to a nearby commune, known as Eclipse, to live with a relative she never knew she had. There, she discovers an extraordinary new way of life as she learns who she really is, and the wonders she’s capable of. For the first time, she starts to feel like she belongs somewhere. That her terrible secret makes her beautiful and strong, not dangerous. But the longer she stays at Eclipse, the more she senses there is something malignant lurking underneath it all. And she begins to suspect that her new family has sinister plans for her…

   The Killing Jar was nothing like I expected it would be. It completely took me by surprise. When I first saw the cover, I have to admit, I thought it would be a typical love story with a twist. Oh, I was sooo wrong.
Constantly battling her inner demons and pushing her emotions to the side, Kenna had a troubled childhood. She couldn't fully enjoy any situation and was always at risk of killing someone. She had to grow up by the time she was ten, and take care of not only herself, but her twin sister who was dying from many different conditions. Her family life was a mess; between barely knowing her mother and the chance of her sister falling dead at any moment. It's details like these that set the stage for a fantastic novel.
   As soon as Kenna arrived in Eclipse, I knew something weird was going on there. How was Anya, Kenna's mom, so familiar with the town? Why didn't they want visitors there? What were they hiding? Why did Jennifer Bosworth describe everyone with a wide age-range?
   All my questions were answered in the end, but slowly, over time, which made me all the more intrigued in finishing the book. I haven't read anything that compelling in what has felt like ages, and I am extremely glad that I had the chance to read this novel. 

Favourite Quote:
  • "I walk the world alone without fear." -Jennifer Bosworth

Rating: 9/10

Recommended if you like: thriller, murder scenes, mystery, supernatural (I mean beings, not the TV show, even though you can still read the book if you do ;) ), music, aliens

A recipe for disaster,


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Most Anticipated Reads of 2016

Welcome to the new year, guys!! And with a new year, comes more amazing books to read and review!! This week we wanted to list our most anticipated reads of 2016. Sadly, we don't know any of the books Ola's looking forward to because she's in Cuba and doesn't have wifi. Well here they are folks, we hope you take our advice and read the following!! (P.S. The books are just randomly numbered and in the brackets are the day each book is supposed to be published.)

Marianne's Picks:

1.The Siren by Kiera Cass  (rewritten)                               (Winter 2016)                                            
2.The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin                 (Sometime 2016?)
3.Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman (I think Ola will review this soon!) (February 9. 2016)
4.Stilleto by Daniel O'Malley                                             (June 14. 2016)
5.The Last Star by Rick Yancey                                         (May 24. 2016)
6. The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman                      ( January 26. 2016)

Lauren's Picks:

1. The Crown by Kiera Cass                                               (May 3, 2016)
2. The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye                                (May 17, 2016)
3. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer                                       (February 2, 2016)
4. Heartless by Marissa Meyer                                            (November 8, 2016)
5. Ruined by Amy Tintera                                                   (May 3, 2016)
6. The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele                            (June 21, 2016)
7. Change Places with me by Lois Metzler                         (June 14, 2016)
8. True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan     (June 7, 2016)
9. Unplugged by Donna Freitas                                           (June 21, 2016)
10. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab                          (June 7, 2016)

-xoxo Gossip Girl
(I'm just kidding of course. -the three Puppet masters behind the Autumn Bookshelf)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Book Review: Sword and Verse

Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Released: January 19, 2016
Read: Early December 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Format: ARC, 384 pages

Description from Goodreads:

   Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

   Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.


   Raisa ke Comun is caught in the midst of a storm. Her loyalties whisk between the Resistance and her beloved, Prince Mati, never fully committing to either.

   Her relationship with Mati begins as a mere crush, but quickly, too quickly, strings into a series of hook-ups and heart-to-heart conversations. While dating, you don't really get the feel of their relationship, and separate from one another, Raisa's personality is unknown to me. She seems brave at times, but is mostly shy given her past.
   The History of Qilara is well thoughtout. Slaves being the key to the functioning of the society, they play a major role in the book, as Raisa is one herself. I believe Kathy MacMillan has handled this subject well, accurately describing the feelings of the slaves, the relationship between slave and master, and how they were raised.
   The plot, however, was my favourite part to read about. In a world where Raisa is one of the four people allowed to read and understand the higher order symbols, she must decode a letter written by her deceased father while battling her emotions for Prince Mati, and secretly helping the Resistance. It's enough to keep your mind occupied and completely interested in the topic. I just couldn't put the book down.

Favourite Quote:

  • "I was not foolish enough to think that the situation had changed... but I had changed. I knew how it felt for my heart to lie dormant, and now that it had been reawakened it would not go silent again." -Kathy MacMillan
Rating: 7.5/10

Recommended if you like: fantasy, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, books set in other eras, slavery (if you like reading about it), forbidden love, overthrowing the government

A recipe for disaster, 


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Book Review: The Impostor Queen

The Impostor Queen
The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

Release Date:January 5. 2016
Read: November 2015
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Paperback ARC, 336

Description from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.
Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.


I was really excited for this book. I love high-fantasy, and after reading the synopsis, I got really pumped. The world building was amazing. Fine payed incredible attention to the details of this new world. You could picture the world in your mind as you read. I also really
loved the concept of the Valtia, and the magic she wields. The whole magic idea that surrounds the world they live in is perfectly thought out. What I had problems with was the main character. Elli's problems don't come across as heroic and tragic, but slightly whiny. While her story arc is an interesting one, she herself really isn't. Luckily it got better after the halfway point, because that's when the plot itself got really good! Another part that was interesting was the intrigue surrounding the Elders- and what they REALLY do in the Temple (very creepy). It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire book long. Although it had a slow start to it, it was an interesting read, and I'll watch for the sequel.

Favorite Quotes:
"Our lives aren't ours, darling," she murmured. "We are only the caretakers of this magic. We don't use it to protect ourselves - we use it only to protect the Kupari. They call us queens, but what we really are is servants." The Impostor Queen

Rating: 3.75/5 Stars

Recommended for people who enjoy: fantasy, romance, adventure stories, magic

Happy Reading,