romance

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

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken by Kiersten White

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

3.5 stars

And I Darken is the first in a new trilogy by Kiersten White, whose Paranormalcy I have previously read and enjoyed, but just didn’t carry on with. It follows Lada Dracul, the gender-swapped version of Vlad the Impaler. Pretty awesome, right?

I loved the concept of this novel from the outset, and knew I just had to read it. I love Dracula, and I love alternate histories.

The novel begins with Lada’s birth and childhood, which I really enjoyed seeing – we rarely see the background of a character, and this beginning felt very different. We’re dropped into Wallachia, gaining an insight into the upbringing of Lada and her younger brother, Radu, from whose perspective the story is also told. Lada is boistrous and violent, whilst Radu is quiet and timid, and these were fun roles to explore.

We slowly see Lada and Radu grow up, and soon they are traded and betrayed by their father to the Sultan, whose son, Mehmed, they soon grow close too. I actually really liked the character of Mehmed, who struggles with politics and power. The only problem with Mehmed is that everyone and their dog appears to be in love with him. The romance between Mehmed and Lada is interesting, simply because she struggles with wanting to be her own woman, and also with jealousy of Mehmed’s wives and concubines, which I thought brought an original and refreshing twist on a typical romance. She also rebuffs his advances which I liked – many girls in YA simply fall for the handsome prince when he dares to look their way.

My problem with Lada is the same problem I had with Celaena Sardothien in the first Throne of Glass novel – for a character advertised as cutthroat, murderous and ravenous for blood, she doesn’t do much killing. In fact, she’s left behind while the men go off to fight, and she never kills except for in self defence. I think there’s a hesitation with authors to write a character, and especially a female character, who actually is a bit evil, and does actual killing without remorse. Lada really did show promise at the beginning of the novel, but she just didn’t live up to her promise.

Another problem I had – and this is perhaps my own fault – is there were so many characters in this, and I forgot who they were and what had happened previously to them. I did put this book down about 1/3 of the way through in early June and pick it back up to finish it a few weeks later, but some of the characters just weren’t memorable, and then became important. I loved almost all of the female characters, but I just became confused about who a lot of the male characters were and when they had been introduced.

What this book really needs at the beginning is a map and a timeline – I got confused when time skipped ahead quickly, and had no idea what year it was or how old the characters were, although this would have been easier with a real life copy of the book.

What ultimately led me to give this book 3.5 stars was the voice – this book is written in third person limited, and so we don’t really get to see the feelings and motivations of the characters, and I felt a bit disconnected from them.

This book did however inspire me – I really want to see more alternate (or not) historical fiction, especially in unusual time periods and locations like this one. It genuinely is an original book, and I’d love to see more books like this on the market. I also really appreciated the inclusion of religion in this book – it’s a topic often shied away from, and it certainly wasn’t here.

Overall, a really refreshing read with an original concept, but that fell a little short of excellent.

View all my reviews

Annalise x

YALC Reading List Part SIX!

It’s already time for Part SIX(!) of the YALC Reading List and it’s another cracker.

Catch up or re-read the first five parts here – one, two, three, four, and five!

The YALC Reading List is updated every Sunday evening.

44. Emerald Fennell

Book to read: Monsters

You might recognise Emerald from her roles in Call the Midwife or Anna Karenina, but when she’s not acting, she’s also an author. Her first and second novels, Shiverton Hall and The Creeper, were both shortlisted for the Waterstones Childrens Book Prixe, and her latest novel, Monsters, is an adult novel that was released last September. Monsters has been billed as darkly comic murder thriller, focusing on two twelve year olds who decide to investigate and re-enact some recent murders in Cornwall. This one sounds interesting and has some amazing reviews.

45. Natalie Flynn

Book to read: The Deepest Cut

The Deepest Cut is Natalie Flynn’s debut novel, and centres around Adam, a boy who blames himself for his best friend’s murder and subsequently attempts suicide. Put in the care of a local mental health facility and too traumatised to speak, he starts to write notebooks in an attempt to move on. This book came out recently (May 24th) so expect to see it in bookshops now.

46. Sally Green

Book to read: The Half Bad series

I feel like a lot of people have read this series and loved it so I’m sure it needs no introduction to many of you. Based in a world where humans and witches live together, Nathan, the son of the world’s most powerful and violent witch, Marcus, must escape his cage and track down his father to receive his powers. The third and final book, Half Lost, was released earlier this year.

47. Julia Gray

Book to read: The Otherlife

Another multi-talented author on this list, Julia Gray is an author and singer-songwriter, having released five albums. Her first novel, The Otherlife, is the story of Ben, who has visions of The Otherlife, where gods and monsters roam. Hobie, the school bully, fascinated by Ben’s visions, befriends him. But when, years later, Ben’s best friend and tutor Jason dies, Ben can’t help but feel Hobie has something to do with it… This book sounds like a really cool concept, and it is released on July 7th.

48. Lisa Heathfield

Book to read: Seed/Paper Butterflies

You can find my reviews of Seed and Paper Butterflies here and here. Both of Lisa’s novels tackle difficult issues – Seed is about a girl raised in a cult and struggling with her identity, and Paper Butterflies is about a girl who suffers child abuse. Both these books are hard-hitting and, at times, difficult to read. Seed is out now and Paper Butterflies will be released 30 June.

49. Claire Hennessy

Book to read: Nothing Tastes As Good

This one is one I’m really excited about. Claire’s debut YA novel follows Annabel, a recently deceased anorexic teen, assigned as a helper to Julia, who also has a difficult relationship with food. This one comes out July 14, so I might pick this one up at YALC.

50. Rhian Ivory

Book to read: The Boy who drew the Future

This is Rhian’s fifth novel, and focuses on two boys who live in the same village 100 years apart, but who have the same gift – they can draw the future. Set in the 1860s and the 1960s, this sounds like a cool historical novel, and it has some amazing reviews on Goodreads.

51. Lauren James

Lauren’s first novel The Next Together (review here) is the story of a couple, Katherine and Matthew, who exists in several timestreams but appear to be always doomed. This is such an interesting concept and take on historical romance, and I loved that it featured so much science. Lauren’s next book, the sequel to The Next Together, The Last Beginning, is due out in October.

That’s it for this week’s installment – which books should I be reading immediately? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

Annalise x

Review: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Problem with Forever
The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: Received from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

I love Jennifer L. Armentrout books (in particular, the Lux series which are wonderful), and so when I saw her new contemporary novel, The Problem With Forever, on NetGalley, I knew I had to pick it up.

Mallory “Mouse” Dodge suffers from PTSD after a traumatic, abusive childhood with dreadful foster parents, where she was protected only by her foster brother, Rider. After an incident, Mallory and Rider were separated, and Mallory found loving and understanding foster parents in Carl and Rosa, two doctors who lost a daughter to natural causes years ago. After three years of homeschooling, Mallory decides she wants to go to school for her senior year to gear her up for the social pressures of attending college. Battling her social anxiety and speech difficulties as she goes to school, she soon bumps into a familiar face…

This book was such a quick read for me, and unlike any book I’ve ever read – it’s a romance, perhaps even a twist on Romeo & Juliet. Rider and Mallory moved into two very different backgrounds, united by a past that they’re both trying to move on from. Mallory is set on college, perhaps even medical school, whilst Rider really isn’t too bothered about school – he hardly even does his homework, too focussed on his art. I liked this unconventional love interest, and the subplot that is his new family and their lives. However, Mallory really does try to mould him into a ‘better’, more academic person – which is understandable but kind of grated on me – he was an interesting character to begin with, and doesn’t need to be pushed into the typical love interest mould.

Most of the characters were developed and had full back stories – especially Mallory and Rider – but I felt Mallory’s school friends were way under-developed, something chronic in YA. Mallory’s best friend Ainsley, however, was fun and had her own storyline – which I believe will be explored further in the next book.

Whilst this story definitely stands out from most romances, it was actually the romance that didn’t quite gel for me. I know a lot of people loved it. It reminded me a lot of my ex-boyfriend in a cringey way (my ex-boyfriend was VERY cringey). It was not discussed at all that Mallory and Rider were foster siblings, and were brought up, for ten years, as brother and sister (albeit in a very messed up household). This was particularly surprising to me as Mallory’s parents do object to the romance (I loved that the parents were realistic and got involved!).

There are some really dark and serious topics in this book (child abuse, drugs, grief, loss, the poor/rich divide,etc.) which I really did like – but the romance and the characters just didn’t click for me. This book has all the ingredients for a great YA novel, but the execution didn’t do it for me – but it did for a lot of other people.

A hard-hitting romance with dark tones but ultimately, a story of survival.
View all my reviews

 

What did you think of The Problem With Forever? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

Annalise x

Cover Reveal: Tuned Into You by Cindy Dorminy

Today, I’m stoked to be hosting Cindy Dorminy for the cover reveal of her young adult romance Tuned Into You! Stay tuned for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

About the Author

569c45_005fa26e151d45318f00dce401a6e8e6

Cindy Dorminy grew up on a steady diet of popcorn (the kind you pop in a sauce pan), Tab (pre-Diet Coke), and movies for teenagers. She can’t let a day go by without quoting a line from one of her favorite films, so quirky dialogue is a must in her stories. When she’s not at her research coordinator day job, Cindy is writing funny love stories, walking her dog, or slinging iron the old-fashioned way. She shares her house with her musician husband, her awesome daughter, and a cool, four-footed child that would eat all the cheese if she could figure out how to open the refrigerator. Cindy is a member of Romance Writers of America and Music City Romance Writers. She resides in Nashville, TN where live music can be heard everywhere, even at the grocery store.

Find her online!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CindyD-Writes-870161859757429/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/48430676

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cindydorminy

Website: www.cindydwrites.com

About Tuned Into You

A summer party is the last place Lydia Flowers wants to be. Beer pong? Stupid, foot-wrecking shoes? Random hookups? No thanks. Lydia would rather be in her cleats practicing her bat handling skills.

Enter Abe Fischer, the Nashville Teen Idol superstar. He’s a lip-syncing party animal with a short fuse; or at least that’s what the tabloids say. Except, Abe turns out to be nothing like the guy Lydia’s read about online. He’s sweet, and the way he talks to his horse…sigh.

Then life throws Lydia and Abe a curveball. They are wrongfully arrested for destruction of property. Their choices? Either work on the Fischer Farm for the summer earning nothing more than blisters and a sunburn, or have the arrest go on their records, which would ruin Lydia’s shot at a softball scholarship. It’s a no-brainer. Lydia picks up a pitchfork, pulls out the SPF 40, and prepares for the worst two months of her life.

When the press gets wind of a big secret Abe’s family has been keeping, things become even more complicated. Now Lydia has another choice to make: stick around for Abe’s messed-up life in the spotlight, or go for the scholarship of her dreams.

Add Tuned Into You to your Goodreads TBR list!

And now…


The Cover!

Tuned Into You_Cindy Dorminy_Cover

Isn’t it gorgeous? Anita at Race-point did the artwork, and she’s one of the best in the business!

Pre-Order Tuned Into You

…and here’s the giveaway

Hope you’re as excited for this YA novel as I am!
Annalise x