romance

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

23197837

The Belles is a book that is completely up my street – it’s a thrilling court fantasy, with mystery and intrigue at every corner. I absolutely devoured this book – the language and writing is deliciously moreish, with vibrant descriptions unfurling the world of the Belles.

The Belles is the story of Camellia, one of six sisters who bring beauty to the fantasy kingdom of Orleans (based on New Orleans). The citizens of Orleans are born grey, and the Belles have the job of carrying out beauty treatments, changing the appearance and temperament of the citizens of Orleans at will. At the beginning of the book, the sisters are assigned a location where they will tend to the citizens – and Camellia is desperate to be favourite, assigned to the Royal family.

I raced through this book, desperate to know more about the Belles – I had (and have!) so many questions and can’t wait for the next book in the series. There are so many mysteries set up in this first book, and yet I still found the ending satisfying and unexpected.

This book wasn’t without its faults though – I’ll let other reviews talk about the treatment of queer characters in this book – and for me some of the characters were a little one-dimensional. For me, I didn’t find the flowery language too much, although other readers may find it a little grating. I must say I’m not the biggest fan of the cover design – I love the cover image and the design inside, but the back cover and title font feel a little childish to me. The blurb also contained spoilers for events that happen quite a way into the book.

If you’re looking for an exciting new court fantasy reminiscent of Red Queen or Everless, this is one for you. If you’re not, you should probably pick it up anyway.

annalsie

Advertisements

Review and Blog Tour Stop: Dare to Fall by Estelle Maskame


**Disclaimer: Review Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**


First things first… that cover. It’s amazing and beautiful and the kind of book that should be facing outwards on your bookshelf, no?

Thank you to Ink Road Books for sending me a beautiful finished copy of Dare to Fall and for letting me host one of the stops on the blog tour!

Dare to Fall is the fourth book by Estelle Maskame, who is still a teenage writing sensation, and author of the DIMILY (Did I Mention I Love You?) series. I’ve read the first book of that trilogy, with books 2 and 3 on my TBR – but when Dare to Fall landed on my doorstep, I couldn’t resist diving into Estelle’s new novel.


Dare to Fall is the story of MacKenzie, who only last year was falling in love with the gorgeous Jaden Hunter. Then his parents died in a horrific car crash, and MacKenzie walked away from what could have been, Jaden and his sister Danielle – because she knew grief, and she couldn’t cope with being around two grieving friends. Now, one year later, she ends up bumping into Jaden for the first time in months, and Kenzie has to face her fear of being around Jaden – but will she dare to fall for him?

I loved this book – Estelle’s writing is wonderful, really easy to read and the perfect ‘guilty pleasure’ romance but in depth enough that I felt sucked into Kenzie’s world. I was impressed that Estelle tackled some really serious issues in this book – grief, alcoholism, death – without this book being too depressing – and the romance was still great, too. These topics were really well written. This book reminded me of The Truth about Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout – except this one was much better.

If you’re looking for a beautiful book covering romance and some more serious issues, look no further. I look forward to Estelle’s future novels and need to get reading her previous books!

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: Copy received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

Whew, where do I start with this one? I loved it.

When Dimple Met Rishi has been on my must-have releases of 2017 since I first heard of this book. This is the story of Dimple, an aspiring coder, who finally convinces her parents to let her go to Insomnia Con, a 6 week programme for coders, before she heads off to Stanford in the autumn. What Dimple doesn’t know is that her parents have only let her go so she can meet Rishi, a boy they approve of and wish for her to marry.

First things first, I loved the Indian references in this book – Dimple and Rishi are both Indian-American and I feel like I learned a lot about their culture just reading this book, from Bollywood references to the expectations placed on Dimple and Rishi by their respective families. And talking of their families, this is one YA book with realistic and present families throughout.

Dimple is a great character – she doesn’t conform with society’s expectations of her, shunning makeup and even traditional Indian clothes, and she is confident that she doesn’t want a boyfriend and wants to focus on her career. Rishi is also fully fleshed-out – he’s a hopeless romantic and traditionalist who has his heart set on marrying Dimple before he’s even met her. He’s also destined to study computer science, despite his love for comic artistry.

I loved the fact that this book is the older end of YA – Dimple and Rishi are both spending their summer before college/university at Insomnia Con. I loved the feel and tone of the book; it’s really something special, and it has that summery first-taste-of-freedom element to it.

If you like YA contemporary, this is a gorgeous summer romance that brings something new and refreshing to the YA table, and it has to be one of my favourite releases of the year so far.

View all my reviews

annalsie

Review: If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

If Birds Fly Back
If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: advanced reader copy received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

If Birds Fly Back is the story of Linny and Sebastian, set in a Miami summer at an old folks home called Silver Springs. Linny is still coming to terms with her older sister Grace’s disappearance and dealing with the pressure her parents are putting on her to become a doctor, and Sebastian has just found out who his father is, and has trekked from California to Miami to finally meet him. And then, Linny and Sebastian’s paths cross.

This book is written in dual perspective between Linny and Sebastian, which I really liked, and it’s sweet and adorable and nerdy – Sebastian dreams of being an astrophysicist and Linny wants to be a filmmaker, and we see physics quotes and film scripts throughout which up the cute factor.

Other reviewers have written about reading this book super quickly – I didn’t, I read this on the tube on my phone in the few moments I could get to a book and found the chapters the perfect length to dip in and out of. I will however say that this book is compelling, and the mystery element works really well here. Both Sebastian and Linny have really interesting premises, and I can definitely understand the addictive quality of this book.

This book also had a good dose of parents and complicated parental relationships, which is something I haven’t seen too much of in YA, and I loved the focus on where the characters will go after school, which is something so important and life-changing for many teens that we don’t always see in YA. I really liked Linny’s flawed friendship with Cass – I’m a big fan of friendships which aren’t perfect and unrealistic and Cass was a really interesting character in her own right. Sebastian also had a great (and realistic) friendship with his best friend back in California.

What I did notice throughout this book were the numerous bird references which were a really nice touch and not overdone.

If you loved Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s The Square Root of Summer, you’ll love this. The perfect summer read and a sure-fire summer hit.

View all my reviews

annalsie

Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Frostblood
Frostblood by Elly Blake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a proof of this book in a Fairyloot box last year and can’t believe it took me so long to pick it up!

Frostblood is the story of Ruby, a Fireblood. The Firebloods and Frostbloods have been at war for as long as anyone can remember, and the Frostbloods are currently in power. The Firebloods have been hunted and killed, and Ruby has to stay hidden to stay alive. When her safety is compromised and her mother is killed, Ruby has to work with rebel Frostbloods to topple the throne.

This is an absolutely stellar debut novel from Elly Blake, with beautiful world-building and compelling characters. I really submersed myself in this world and loved the storytelling. The book definitely has elements of the Throne of Glass series and other YA fantasy novels, but it’s all done so well. I was gripped by the romance and there were so many twists and turns that made the story shocking and exciting.

The romance was done particularly well in that it wasn’t the main focus of the story and was pretty swoony. I really enjoyed the romance and the main characters were fleshed out particularly well.

If you’re looking for a YA fantasy with a fully immersive world, definitely check out this debut by Elly Blake. I can’t wait for the second book, Fireblood, which is due out in September 2017.
View all my reviews

Annalise x

Review: Inferno by Catherine Doyle

Inferno
Inferno by Catherine Doyle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I finally read Inferno in anticipation for Mafiosa (coming January 2017) and now I wish I’d waited a little longer because I need to get my hands on the third and final book…

Inferno. What can I say? (No, seriously, it’ s been SO LONG since I last reviewed because I’ve been super busy with my job…)

Inferno is the second book in the Blood for Blood series by Cat Doyle (the first book was Vendetta), and this series is a genuinely refreshing take on teen romance. Set in mafia-run Chicago, in the first book we saw Sophie Gracewell fall for Nic Falcone, who just so happened to be a member of one of Chicago’s notorious mafia families.

Now, most YA series would leave it there. Boy meets girl, boy and girl overcome challenges to be together. But what’s great about Inferno is that Sophie realises that Nic is not this perfect dreamboat, and he is actually a bad guy. And not a bad guy in a sexy ‘oh, so this guy so happens to murder people but oh my god he’s so good looking in his leather jacket’ kinda way, but in a ‘yep, this guy is a bonafide murderer’ way. These were the vibes I was getting in Vendetta, and it’s so satisfying to see an author run with it – Sophie and Nic’s story was perfect for me (trying so hard not to be spoilery but I think this was all clear in Vendetta).

Inferno is full of shocking revelations, action-filled sequences and enough bad guys to fill a whole season of Vampire Diaries. Honestly, I spent the book not knowing what was going to happen – Inferno wasn’t predictable or clichéd and it was a genuine rollercoaster of emotion.

I’m really looking forward to Mafiosa and how Sophie’s story will tie up – Inferno wasn’t a soggy second book in the series, and the stakes are now higher than ever. Definitely a recommendation for me, even if you weren’t the biggest fan of the first book.

View all my reviews

Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Under Rose-Tainted Skies has to be my favourite debut of the year so far – and it will definitely feature on my Top Books of 2016!

I was lucky enough to win a copy of the US ARC from Louise herself – so many thanks to Louise both for writing this book and for sending me a copy!

Under Rose-Tainted Skies is an #OwnVoices novel about agoraphobia and OCD. Norah suffers from extreme anxiety which means she can’t leave the house, and this is her story as she deals with what life throws at her – namely her mum gets involved in an accident, and when a boy moves in next door who takes an interest in her.

What I loved so much about this book (and it was something I was genuinely worried about) was that Norah’s mental illness doesn’t magically go away when confronted by a hot boy. Her behaviour is still frustrating and self-destructive, she doesn’t magically improve because she has a crush on the boy next door, and this was so refreshing and felt realistic. The entire book felt real to me as it is an OwnVoices book, and this really is something special that should be on your TBR list.

Norah’s agoraphobia is all-consuming, and this really shows throughout the book. There isn’t a single scene where Norah’s mental illness doesn’t play a role, and this really is an unflinching and realistic depiction of living with agoraphobia and OCD. I particularly enjoyed how Norah’s mental health affects all of her relationships – especially with her mum. I honestly believe YA needs more parental figures who have actual wants and hopes and dreams and personality, and Norah’s mum is definitely one of those characters. There were a lot of interesting family dynamics in this book, which I enjoyed a lot.

On to the love interest – Luke is a really interesting (and attractive) character, who really seeks to care for and understand Norah, and, best of all, he’s human. He gets frustrated with Norah and her behaviour, which is understandable and realistic, and that’s what made him a great love interest – he really was human.

If I haven’t persuaded enough to drop everything and buy this book now, Louise’s writing is drop dead gorgeous. Like seriously, this book is so beautifully written, it gave me The Wrath and the Dawn vibes (and that book is seriously good too!).

Also, the cover is gorgeous. The UK edition comes in three shades of pink which are all seriously gorgeous. Go buy them!

Under Rose-Tainted Skies is a beautifully raw #OwnVoices depiction of agoraphobia and OCD, and my favourite debut of the year so far. Not one to miss!

View all my reviews

Also Louise will be at YALC this year!

annalsie