Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Merchant's Daughter - Book Review

The Merchant’s Daughter – Book Review
Melanie Dickerson
YA Historical Romance
An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice.
Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, Is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumoured to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of the Lord Ranulf’s bailiff – a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past. Believing that in a nunnery is the best way to escape escalation of the bailiff’s vile behaviour, and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf’s future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.
Anyone who reads this blog will probably know that I’m a big fan of fairytale retellings. Therefore you can imagine my delight when I learned that this book had been loosely based around the story of Beauty and the Beast… although a slightly more historical/Christian version, and even though I’m not religious myself, I still found this book pleasantly enjoyable.
The story begins when Annabel - denied of her dreams to join a convent, is forced to pay her family’s debts by becoming an indentured servant in the house of Lord Ranulf. A man, who rumour states, has a monstrous temper and a cruel heart to go with his scarred, wolfish face.  Yet as Annabel soon learns, life at the Lord’s castle isn’t nearly as horrible as she feared.
After Lord Ranulf himself rescues her from the unwanted attentions of the repulsive, old Bailiff Tom, the two slowly get to know each other through evenings spent together reading the bible.  It is here that Annabel learns that although on the outside Ranulf appears gruff and short-tempered, she finds that beneath his wild appearance he is really a noble gentleman, whose hard exterior hides a bruised and tender heart – as well as a very traumatic past. Yet after an event where Annabel is attacked and a man is found gravely injured, their new found relationship is put to the test when Ranulf’s fate – and his heart - are left in Annabel’s undecided hands...
 I have to admit that I really did enjoy this book. It wasn’t absolutely amazing and honestly there were probably many flaws in it - but it still left me with that warm, satisfying feeling that comes with finishing a nice story. Also while I probably wouldn’t read again I’m really glad I picked it up.
Still, having said that I know from reading other reviews that the constant references to Christianity spoiled the story for some readers.  Personally, they didn’t really bother me at all as I thought it all matched up to Annabel’s and Ranulf’s characters, both of whom are devotedly religious. During times of trouble and conflict I thought it was their nightly readings of the bible that gave the characters the advice and courage they needed for the story to progress – and also helped bring them closer together. I also think the religious aspects fitted in well with the medieval, historic setting of the 1300’s.
So overall I thought ‘the merchant’s daughter’ was a nice, average read that kept away the boredom of a Sunday afternoon. Also despite some of its overly religious tones, this is a good story with a sweet romance that I think other fairytale lovers would enjoy. I look forward to checking out Melanie Dickerson’s other works J

Monday, 20 February 2012

Winner of The I Heart Y/A Giveaway

Hey guys, I just want to say a really big thank you to everyone who entered this giveaway. IF you didn't win please stay tuned as I'm hoping to have another one real soon :)

So without further ado the winner is:

#348 Lexie M

Congrats Lexie an email is on its way to you!

Anna and the French Kiss - Book Review

Anna and the French Kiss – Book Review
Stephanie Perkins
YA Romance

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?

I really, really enjoyed this book – so much so that I finished it all in one sitting by being bad and reading well into the early hours of the morning! It was however, totally worth the lack of sleep as it was an extremely delicious read.  A mix of Sweet, romantic and funny, ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ is filled full of underlying tension and amorous suspense that simply makes it an incredibly hard book to put down.
When Anna is suddenly shipped off to a boarding school in Paris, her only thought is that she will spend the next ten months homesick and miserable. Leaving behind her best friend, adorable little brother and a blossoming relationship with the hot guy she’s been crushing on since, like, forever,  all Anna wants is to get on a plane back home to Atlanta – Until she meets Etienne St. Clair. 
Sinfully gorgeous, charismatic and utterly charming with his British accent, St. Clair captures Anna’s attention from the moment they meet, and it is soon obvious their attraction is mutual expect for one problem… St. Clair already has a girlfriend, and Anna is still unsure of her own feelings for Toph, the hot guy she left hanging back home. However romantic tension between Anna and St Clair soon starts to rise as she falls into his circle of friends and they find themselves growing inevitably closer.
I can honestly say that Stephanie Perkins writes such a great a compelling romance. Each scene between Anna and St. Clair is so real and heart-racing that just reading it gave my tummy butterflies. You basically spend the entire book just WILLING them to get it together as not only is their relationship constantly jeopardized by outside influences, but both are subject to misunderstandings and jealousy that test the limits of their friendship on quite a few occasions.
Overall I couldn’t help but fall in love with ‘Anna and the French Kiss’. With the story set against a back drop of Paris, and a drawn out romance steeped in friendship and trust – this book was truly a pleasure to read. Also while I am the first to admit that I’m not much of a fan of contemporary young adult, this has to be one of best books I’ve read in a long while with one of the greatest love stories. I would have to recommend it to every girl from teenage years upwards. Stephanie Perkins has written a book that is simply divine.

Monday, 13 February 2012

I Heart Y/A Books Giveaway Hop - Int (14th - 20th Feb)

I'm taking part in this Giveaway Hop as a way to say thank you to all the lovely people who visit my blog, and to all the amazing people who have been gernerous enough to host giveaways in the past.  You guys are great! 

Open to anywhere the Book Depository ships to, I'm offering the winner the choice of 1 book from the picture below (or any sequels or prequels if its a series).
Also although its appreciated, you don't have to be a follower to enter. Just simply fill in the Raffle Copter below and Good luck!

Book Choices:

 To see a list of all the other participating blogs, Click HERE.

You Against Me - Book Review

You Against Me

Jenny Downham
YA Contemporary

If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If you’re brother’s been accused of a terrible crime and you’re the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn’t that what families do?
When Mikey’s sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie’s brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn’t do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting into a new school begins to unravel.
When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skilfulness and almost unbearable tension. It’s a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But most of all it’s a book about love – for one’s family and for another.
When I picked up ‘You Against Me’ I really didn’t know what to expect.  From the blurb I thought that behind the darkness and drama the book sounded very much like a modern day Romeo and Juliet - and in some ways, it was. Yet at the same time it was uniquely its own story. Based around a crime of rape this book explores the themes of loyalty, trust and first love as the two most unlikely of characters are brought together in an unexpected romance.
When his sister Karen is raped, Mikey is determined to bring justice down on her alleged rapist Tom – and he is more than willing to use Tom’s little sister Ellie to do it. However Ellie is also out searching for the truth of what really happened on the night Karen was raped, and despite their own hidden agendas; the two find themselves reluctantly falling for each other. Yet when both their loyalties are tested, they are forced to face the ultimate choice and decided between their families, or the possibility of true love.  
 However, not only does this book have a great plot full of intrigues and complexities but Jenny Downham portrays every issue with care and sensitivity. She reveals both sides of the coin, exploring how the crime of rape affects not just the victim and the assailant – but their families as well.
For example through Tom’s family you see their blind faith in him, the pure denial of that he could possibly be guilty of such a crime, the pressure of the media and how Ellie is bullied in school because of her relation to him. While from Karen’s side of things, you see how easily her cry of rape is discredited due to her style of dress and the poor social class of her family – a family who are trying everything to support her and find her justice. You also see the affects the rape has on Karen herself, her solitude and depression as well as the sheer fear that no one will believe her.  
 Honestly overall I have to say that the author really did this story justice. It was a very moving and thought provoking read and the contradicting beliefs of both families will you keep you guessing right up until the end. Total praise for Jenny Downham ! :)

Monday, 6 February 2012

Shadow Heir - Book Review

Shadow Heir – Book Review

Richelle mead
Paranormal Romance
(Book 4 of The Dark Swan series)
16+ Readers
Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land’s prophecy-haunted queen, there is no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born-children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the otherworld…

The Spell-driven source of the blight isn’t the only challenge to Eugenie’s instincts. Fairy King Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can’t trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can’t – or won’t – reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon – and risk the ultimate sacrifice…

I have to say that since the Dark Swan series began, I’ve been a big fan of Eugenie and have loved every minute of her story - particularly her hit and miss romances with shape-shifter Kiyo and Fairy King Dorian.  However while the third book ‘Iron crowned’ left me a little disappointed, ‘Shadow Heir’ has left me thirsting for more… however as this is supposed to be the last book of the series, I’m not sure that’s a  good thing.

Yet as always, Richelle Mead delivered a plot that was full of unexpected twists and turns – all of which had me completely hooked until the very end. This was especially true when a certain, long kept secret was revealed that had me so shocked and happy that I actually had to put the book down so I could have an ‘OMG, Squee!’ moment J (No spoilers but it involves Dorian and to those of you who have read the book – You’ll so know which bit I mean).

Not only does this story resolve most of the issues brought about in previous books, but it brings about a whole new bunch of problems for Eugenie to contend with. Not only are her new born twins in danger but a mysterious blight is plaguing the fairy lands with a never ending winter.  

Fast paced and exciting, ‘Shadow Heir’ was a real page turner that I found hard to put down.  Although while all the original questions and loose ends were tied up, I couldn’t help but feel like many new ones had arisen and that the ending itself had been left rather open. Whether this was deliberate on the authors part I cannot say but I would like to think that one day in the future another Eugenie story/spinoff might arise from it.

So if you haven’t read the Dark Swan series yet I would really recommend that you do, or even just try any of Richelle Mead’s books in general. They are all fantastic and filled with charming and witty characters who will keep you entertained for hours.  I’m particularly a huge fan of her Y/A series, Vampire Academy which if you haven’t checked out already, I must insist you go do now (I mean forbidden love, drama and a hot Russian guy – yes please!).

Sunday, 5 February 2012

IMM #2 January and RAKS (Plus a little bit of Florida)

January has been such a great month for me! Florida was fabulous and I got plenty of reading done in-between queuing for roller coasters and travelling to and from places. Also despite the cold nearly killing me upon returning to Newcastle, it was nice to find several parcels waiting for me when I got home. Check it out:


A signed copy of City of fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare from Aime @welcometomyworld
Touch of Power by Marie V Synder from Mel @melsrandomreviews
RAKs Received

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Entice by Carrie Jones both from Vickie @comacalm
Need by Carrie Jones from Amy @turnthepage
Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon from Bex @armchairbythesea
RAKs Sent
I sent out a copy of Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton to Kate @katesbooklife

Swaps and Other

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
Siren by Tricia Rayburn
Matched by Ally Condie
A Witch in Winter from Emma @UKbooktours
Thanks so much to all you guys who sent me books this month! It’s really, really appreciated!
And now, just want to share with you all my favourite moment in January…

Later guys