Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review: Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Gilt by Katherine Longshore
Series: The Royal Circle #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's (UK)
First published: February 28th, 2013 (UK)
Source: Received from publisher
Format: Paperback
Pages: 398
Goodreads Summary:
In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free—and love comes at the highest price of all.

When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men—the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

My Rating: 4.0 / 5

First thoughts:
As someone who is incredibly intrigued by the Tudor era, I had wanted to read Gilt ever since I first found out about it. And it completely met all of my expectations, pulling me into a world of intrigues, back-stabbing and beautiful dresses. If you've been looking for a great historical read, be sure to add this to your list of books to buy.

More detailed:

... the plot:
While I definitely read way too few historical novels, I tend to enjoy them a lot whenever I pick them up. Having watched the TV show The Tudors, I already knew certain things that would happen to the king's fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Nonetheless I was very intrigued by the main character Kitty's story, who tells us her point of view. Her life doesn't turn out to be as glamorous and happy as she and Cat had hoped it might be by coming to court. It actually just gets a lot more complicated and makes her wish she would have stayed behind. But these complications are exactly what makes Gilt a very unputdownable read.

... the characters:
As a book full of backstabbing, Gilt has many characters that you never want to meet in real life. Certain people are behaving so disgustingly, which makes it very hard to feel any sympathy for them. Luckily this is the charm of historical novels like this and I had lots of fun guessing whom you could trust, unless I already knew the character's story.


Our main character Katherine "Kitty" Tylney has to face many situations that make her develop from a naive young girl to a grown-up woman, who had to solve too many problems in too little time. While she might not be the most relatable character in the beginning, I've grown to like her a lot throughout the story. Her best friend Cat, the queen, is probably the most tragic character - someone who gets to live the dream many young girls have, but who also has to realize that it can be taken away from you too fast. While I sometimes wanted to hate her and her attitude, I could only feel sorry for her.

... everything:
All in all, Gilt lived up to my expectations and makes me look forward a lot to the second installment of this series, the companion novel Tarnish. If you like historical novels that will pull you into a different time and make you feel part of its world, add this to your to-read list.




I'm very sorry that the blog's fairly quiet at the moment, but with my everyday-internship, my job and learning for university, I just don't seem to get around to blogging. I really hope that this'll change soon, although I already know that the next semester will be very busy, too. At least I still get to read a couple of books, so I can write some reviews for you!

Have you read Gilt? If yes, what did you think about it?
If no, do you plan to read it?
Carina
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review + Excerpt: Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally (Blog Tour Stop)

Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #3
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
First published: March 1st, 2013
Source: NetGalley
Format: eARC
Pages: 304
Goodreads Summary:
Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt…with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…

My Rating: 3.5 / 5

First thoughts:
As the third companion novel in one of my favorite series, Things I Can't Forget turned out to be a great addition even though it didn't completely meet my expectations. Its very prominent religious undertones made it a little bit hard for me to identify with the characters. Nonetheless it was just as addicting as the previous installments and I can't wait for the next book.

More detailed:

... the plot:
Having just finished High School, Kate Kelly gets a summer job as a camp counselor before starting college. After her best friend had an abortion and Kate actually helped her to do so, this summer doesn't turn out the way she wanted it to. Facing her guilt and loneliness, Kate has to figure out some things about how she wants to live her life and whether she can respect other attitudes than her own. The experiences she makes during the seven weeks of camp are very diverse and change her attitude toward a lot of things.

... the characters:
Like I already mentioned above, I had a hard time connecting to Kate. Her love for her religion and God can be all-consuming at times and makes it hard to believe that she could ever feel equally intense for anything else. Luckily she proves otherwise, which makes her a more relatable character for me. Nonetheless I was confused by her changing attitude at times as certain things happened slightly too fast and unexpected.

Apart from Kate, we get to meet a couple new characters and some of my old favorites - Parker and Will, Jordan and Sam. These reappearances of former main characters never fail to make me happy and give us a great idea of what happened after their "ending." But I was just as content meeting new characters, especially Kate's love interest who is a wonderful, heart-warming guy, whom you'll probably love just as much as I did. There are also quite a few other secondary characters who add dimension to the story, but usually don't play an important part - except maybe Emily, Kate's best friend, whom I'd have loved to see more often.

... everything:
All in all, Things I Can't Forget is a great addition to this wonderful series of companion novels. My lack of connection to Kate is solely based on my dislike of too religious novels, which I usually try to avoid. But luckily I enjoyed it nonetheless and am very happy to have read this story. Can't wait to get my greedy little hands on the fourth installment!


 This review is part of Things I Can't Forget's blog tour,
hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.



EXCERPT
Girls like me do not buy pregnancy tests.

I drag my pencil down the paper, drawing tears rolling from her eyes.
 Girls like me sing in the church choir. Every spring break, I go on mission trips to Honduras, where we renovate houses for the underprivileged. I do all my homework every night, and before I go to bed, I kiss Daddy’s cheek and tell him I wish he’d go to the doctor about his blood pressure and start getting more exercise than walking Fritz and scooping his poop.
I’ve only kissed one boy my entire life.
Emily called that day, crying. “Kate,” she said between sobs. “You can’t tell anyone. Not even your mom.”
I drove to Walmart two towns away, over in Green Hills, so no one would see me buying the test. I trembled as I carried the box to the self-checkout lane. I scanned, bagged and paid, and bit back tears, because my best friend of fifteen years—since we were three years old—might have accidentally gotten pregnant by her long-time boyfriend.
I didn’t even know they had had sex. It’s not something they would tell. If anyone found out that Jacob, son of Brother Michael—our preacher at church—got a girl pregnant out of wedlock? Chaos.
It wouldn’t look good for Emily either. She’s like me. Always wears clean T-shirts and none of her jeans have holes or loose strings. She would never even think about smoking a cigarette. She doesn’t go over the speed limit. She plays the violin and has a scholarship lined up to attend Belmont University in Nashville.
But Emily made a mistake.
I use my black coloring pencil to shade her hair. My red pencil fills in her lips, turned upside down in a frown.
And then I made an even bigger mistake: I helped her.
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Sunday, February 24, 2013

New Distractions #23


New Distractions is a weekly feature on Fictional Distraction, inspired by various memes that make us share the new books we got during a week, e.g. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, This Week in Books by Pop Culture Junkie and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews.


The books I received this week:



Bought:
Indigo Spell

For review:
Scarlet | Girl of Nightmares
Night School | Transparent | The Eternity Cure

Huge thanks to Puffin (Penguin UK), Hachette Children's Books UK, HarperCollins (via Edelweiss), and Harlequin Teen (via NetGalley).


I got all of these über-awesome books during the last three weeks and already read and loved Scarlet (read my review here) and The Indigo Spell. Of course I also can't wait to start reading the other four books, although I have to admit that I'm most excited for The Eternity Cure - I was more than just a little bit happy to find out it was available on NetGalley.

Which books did you get last week?
Carina

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #86


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.



This week's pick is SPELLCASTER by Claudia Gray.
It's going to be published on March 5th, 2013 by HarperTeen.

Goodreads Summary:
When Nadia’s family moves to Captive’s Sound, she instantly realizes there’s more to it than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia senses a dark and powerful magic at work in her new town. Mateo has lived in Captive’s Sound his entire life, trying to dodge the local legend that his family is cursed - and that curse will cause him to believe he’s seeing the future … until it drives him mad. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl—Nadia—from a car accident come true, he knows he’s doomed.

Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his family’s terrible curse, and to prevent a disaster that threatens the lives of everyone around them. Shimmering with magic and mystery, New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray’s new novel is sure to draw fans of the Hex Hall and Caster Chronicles series, and fans of the hit CW TV show The Secret Circle.

Even though I own two of Claudia Gray's books I have yet to read any of them. But since I've only heard great things about her books and love the sound of Spellcaster, I really hope to get to read this one - especially since its release isn't that far away.


What are you waiting for this Wednesday?
 
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles #2
Publisher: Puffin (Penguin UK)
First published: February 7th, 2013
Source: Received from UK publisher
Format: Paperback
Pages: 424
Goodreads Summary:
This is not the fairytale you remember.

But it’s one you won’t forget.

Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. The police have closed her case. The only person Scarlet can turn to is Wolf, a street fighter she does not trust, but they are drawn to each other.

Meanwhile, in New Beijing, Cinder will become the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive – when she breaks out of prison to stay one step ahead of vicious Queen Levana.

As Scarlet and Wolf expose one mystery, they encounter Cinder and a new one unravels. Together they must challenge the evil queen, who will stop at nothing to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner . . .
The following review might include spoilers for the first book.
Previos review(s): Cinder (#1)

My Rating: 4.5 / 5

First thoughts:
After loving the first book, I couldn't wait for its sequel. And luckily my expectations were met. With lots of action and a wonderful world-builing, I'd recommend this series to everyone who is looking for something different and unique on the Young Adult market.

More detailed:

... the plot:
Still craving to know more about the Lunar Chronicles' mysteries after having read the first book, I was very excited to finally pick up Scarlet. To be honest, I was slightly scared as this seemed to be more like a companion novel since it introduces new narrators; but we still get to experience the world from Cinder and Kai's perspective a couple of times. 

The things that are happening in this futuristic world are getting worse with almost every chapter and make it hard to put down this book. I was captivated by both, Cinder and Scarlet's stories and soon found myself crossing my fingers for both of them. The only thing that annoyed me sometimes was the change of perspective after chapters that had me dying to find out more - but in the end that's the charme of Scarlet and makes it even harder to put down.

... the characters:
Along with Kai and Cinder we get to meet some old characters again. Most of them aren't exactly the people I missed, but considering they play a crucial part in the story I didn't expect anything else. I'm still hoping for this lovely couple to get their happy ending, but certain parts during Scarlet almost make me doubt that this could be possible.

Scarlet and Wolf are the two new narrators that are introduced, though we get to see more from Scarlet's point of view. Their love story is both, different and similar to Kai and Cinder's and already includes quite a few heart-breaking moments. Both of them are very likable characters, even though they didn't win me over as much as Kai and Cinder did. Of course we get to meet quite a few other new characters, too, who mostly play a smaller part. I love this variety of characters as it continues to surprise me.

... everything:
All in all, Scarlet is a wonderful second installment in this amazing series. These books definitely don't focus solely on romance, but incorporate many different elements to weave a story of heart-break and mysteries. Sometimes I honestly hoped for some more romantic moments, but I'm willing to wait - or rather hope - for these to make me happy in the third installment.




Have you read this series yet? What did you think about them so far?
If you haven't read any of the books yet, do you want to read them?

Carina
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Monday, February 18, 2013

Fictional Distractions of the Week #57

Welcome to Fictional Distractions of the Week. It is inspired by Book Journey's It's Monday! What are you reading? and Fiktshun's My Reading Pile and it will show you what I'm planning to read during the next week.


The books I plan to read this week:


Before I actually started reading Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally, I finished reading The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead today, which means that this contemporary has a lot to live up to. I really enjoyed the previous two companion novels a lot, but am a little bit scared so far (I'm 10% into it right now) that it might be a tiny bit too religious for me.

Afterwards I'm hoping to read Gilt by Katherine Longshore which I've been wanting to read for the longest time. It's been sitting on my shelf for about one or two weeks and I'm finally going to get around to reading it. I definitely have to read a lot more historical novels and since I love the Tudor era, this is a very good opportunity to do so.

And maybe I'll even get around to start reading Wicked Kiss by Michelle Rowen, which is the second book in the Nightwatchers series. I enjoyed the first installment surprisingly much and am therefore hoping to like this one just as much.


What are your Fictional Distractions of the Week?

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #85


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.



This week's pick is THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US by Kasie West.
It's going to be published on July 2nd, 2013 by HarperTeen.

Goodreads Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

In the past weeks I've been reading many more contemporary novels than usually, so of course I fell in love with one for this week's Waiting on Wednesday. I just love the sound of this story and really hope it's as different from our usual contemporaries as it sounds.

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?
 
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: A Witch Alone by Ruth Warburton

A Witch Alone by Ruth Warburton
Series: Winter #3
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books (Hachette UK)
First published: February 7th, 2013
Source: Received from publisher
Format: Paperback
Pages: 422
Goodreads Summary:
Where do you go when your heart has been ripped out?

For Anna there is only one answer; into her past, where the truth about her mother, her power, and her real identity lie hidden.

But as Anna delves deeper into her history, she begins to fear that the truth about what set her mother running may be darker than she ever suspected. With the witches of the world on the brink of war, Seth gone, and her friend Abe wanting more from her than she can possibly give, Anna is in crisis.

As the clouds around her gather, Anna is torn between friends, family and rival tribes of witches and – at the last – between love and magic.
This review might include spoilers for previous books of this series.

My Rating: 4.5 / 5

First thoughts:
As the conclusion of a wonderful series, A Witch Alone has many moments that broke my heart. At the same time there happened many other things that could make me smile again, even though I was constantly hoping for a happy ending, which I could never expect at any moment during the story. If you were hoping for an exciting last installment, don't hesitate to finish reading this amazing series.

More detailed:

... the plot:
I was already dying to get my hands on a copy of A Witch Alone after the ending of the second book. Therefore I couldn't wait long to read it once I finally had it and am very happy I did so. There happened so many things that I definitely didn't expect. Twists and turns had me guessing and I'm sure I'm not the only one. While I'm still not completely sure what to feel about the ending, which lacked a certain spark in comparison with the rest of the book, I'm still happy with the conclusion of this series and would love to re-read it one day.

... the characters:
Oh Anna, selfless little Anna. My heart definitely broke for her more than once while reading A Witch Alone. But sometimes I wanted to shout at her nonetheless to try to make her see that accepting help can be the better solution. Not wanting to endanger the people she loves, she ends up in situations that aren't better than the ones she feared and has to realize that she can't do everything on her own.

Still, my favorite character of this series is Abe. I fell in love with him during the first book and loved every scene with him ever since. He sometimes reminds me a tiny bit like a rougher version of Adrian (Vampire Academy / Bloodlines), which would definitely explain why I like him so much. His love for his friends is unconditional even though I didn't like some of his reactions toward the end.

Of course I cannot forget to mention Seth, who is the origin of many painful moments, which I'm happy about though. A love story like Anna and Seth's can never be easy and I'm very satisfied with Ruth's approach throughout the books. Both of them make many mistakes, but that's what makes them so wonderfully realistic.

... everything:
All in all, A Witch Alone is an amazing and satisfying last installment, even though I still would have preferred a more exciting ending scene. I loved reading this series and can't wait for Ruth Warburton to write more books for me to read. If you want to delve into a world of magic and mysteries, I'm sure you'll enjoy this series!
 



Have you read this series? If yes, what did you think about it?
If no, do you plan to read it?

Carina
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Sunday, February 3, 2013

New Distractions #22


New Distractions is a weekly feature on Fictional Distraction, inspired by various memes that make us share the new books we got during a week, e.g. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, This Week in Books by Pop Culture Junkie and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews.



The books I received this week:


For review:

Huge thanks to Hachette Children's Books UK and Simon & Schuster UK.


I definitely freaked out a little bit this week with these awesome books arriving in my mailbox. I've been super excited to read all three of these and am actually already reading A Witch Alone. The only hard thing to do will be to put off reading Fractured until the end of March, so I can publish its review closer to its release date. Not sure if I'll be able to wait so long.

Which books did you get this week?
Carina
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
First published: January 15th, 2013
Source: NetGalley
Format: eARC
Pages: 240
Goodreads Summary:
Anna remembers a time before boys, when she was little and everything made sense. When she and her mom were a family, just the two of them against the world. But now her mom is gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage, bringing home the next stepfather. Anna is left on her own—until she discovers that she can make boys her family. From Desmond to Joey, Todd to Sam, Anna learns that if you give boys what they want, you can get what you need. But the price is high—the other kids make fun of her; the girls call her a slut. Anna's new friend, Toy, seems to have found a way around the loneliness, but Toy has her own secrets that even Anna can't know.

Then comes Sam. When Anna actually meets a boy who is more than just useful, whose family eats dinner together, laughs, and tells stories, the truth about love becomes clear. And she finally learns how it feels to have something to lose—and something to offer. Real, shocking, uplifting, and stunningly lyrical, Uses for Boys is a story of breaking down and growing up.
I'd recommend this for an older audience (16+).

My Rating: 2.5 / 5

First thoughts:
Turning out to be completely different than I expected, Uses for Boys still was a fast and easy read, but had many moments and scenes that disturbed me. Considering the almost explicit sexual content in some parts, I'd definitely recommend this for older teens.  

More detailed:

... the plot and the narration:
Even before I started reading Uses for Boys, I knew that it wouldn't be a light contemporary read. I had heard that it can be slightly depressing and heart-breaking, but since I knew what to expect I didn't mind that. Of course I felt very sorry for Anna, who was simply trying to find someone she could call family. The first person narrator tells the story from her point of view and while it focuses very strongly on her thoughts and less on dialogues and "action", I found it quite easy to read.

Nonetheless I was very surprised by the amount of sexual content in Uses for Boys. I'm definitely not a prude and usually prefer more "grown up" Young Adult novels, but at times I was a little bit disturbed by certain scenes in this story. Considering Anna's life circumstances it's somewhat easy to understand that she's looking for love and approval in people she should have just ignored, but I'm not sure whether this is the right reading material for younger teens.

 ... the characters:
Anna thinks back to the first years of her life very positively, remembering a mother who loves her more than anything. But with her mother's continuous quest to find the love of her life, Anna starts to feel left alone. This makes her try to find love again, searching for the perfect boyfriend. While I definitely felt sorry for her, I sadly couldn't connect with her completely. I'm not sure though whether this is because of the slightly unusual style of narration or Anna's naivety. Sadly I could connect even less with the secondary characters, who we don't get to know very well thanks to the focus on Anna's point of view and emotions. To be honest, I wanted to hate most of them since only very few seemed to really care about the poor girl.

 ... everything:
I'm not exactly sure how to categorize Uses for Boys. Considering Anna's age and the coming-of-age feeling to the story, I'd call it a Young Adult novel. But the sexual content is a little bit hard to ignore and would rather make me think of this as a mixture of Young and New Adult. All in all, it was a very easy and fast read, but it's definitely not one of my favorite books. Though if you're looking for something unconventional and unique to read, you should definitely give this a chance.



Have you read Uses for Boys? If yes, what did you think about it?
If no, do you plan to read it?
Carina
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