READ IN: February

February, you’re a cruel month with your petty little 28 days! Despite that, I still enjoyed you quite thoroughly, having read a total of 19 books! Also big thanks for introducing An Endless Summer, Better Off Friends, Of Beast and Beauty, Three, Ignite Me, Cress and Into the Still Blue to my favourites shelf! What’s really bittersweet though is the fact that come tomorrow, I will most likely have to cut back on my reading a lot, considering March will be my study month. Alas, it has to be, but I already miss my free time spent perched on my bed with a good book in my lap and yes, you too, February! I hope everyone had a great reading month, if you feel like checking out any of the books I devoured in February, just click on their respective names below and you’ll be directed to their Goodreads pages! 🙂

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5 Stars
Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay, Three by Kristen Simmons (ebook), Cress by Marissa Meyer

4 Stars
An Endless Summer by C.J. Duggan (ebook), Better Off Friends by Eizabeth Eulberg, Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney, Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi, Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

3 Stars
The Boys of Summer / That One Summer by Duggan (ebooks), Avalon by Mindee Arnett, I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella, Tangled by Emma Chase (ebook), Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, Alienated by Melissa Landers

2 Stars
Holy Frigging Matrimony by Chase (ebook), Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

1 Star
White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout (ebook), Staking His Claim by Tessa Bailey (ebook)

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BOOK REVIEW: White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

whitehotkissSeries: The Dark Elements #1
Publication Date: February 25th 2014 by Harlequin Teen
Genres: Young Adult, paranormal, romance
My Rating: 1 Star
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One kiss could be the last. Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses. Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever. Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul. But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

So, I’ve debated long and hard if I should even publish this, but I feel like it’s important to be honest and since I planned to write this review for today even before I finished the book, I decided negative reviews are just part of the whole reviewing deal. You can’t sugarcoat it all, and there will be books you won’t like as much as others, and that’s okay. It’s okay to have your opinion. But alas, read with caution nevertheless. It feels more of a rant than a review.
After finishing White Hot Kiss, I’m pretty sure this book series was only picked up for publication for one and one reason only: riding the hype of Jennifer L. Armentrout to its fullest. Now, I love Armentrout. Her Lux series has been one of my favourite paranormal romances, and she’s a genuinely lovely human being and writing machine, but with this book, disappointment couldn’t be avoided. The more of an author’s works you read, the more you compare the earlier releases to the newer ones, and with White Hot Kiss, I was surprised this actually came out of Jennifer’s pen (or keyboard, you know what I mean), because it was such a let-down compared to her other works. I used to enjoy her books immensely, but damn, White Hot Kiss was an utter mess. There were no lovable or redeemable characters, the “banter” between the love interests was off and cringe-worthy, and dear God, “Roth’s chuckle was as dark as the tunnel.” pretty much sealed the deal of a 1-star-rating for me with that kind of writing.
52ca7940db7c1ebebec26a016a3abb27Let’s start with where it all went wrong in the first place: the world building. None whatsoever. Nothing in this story made sense. Gargoyle Wardens came out to the world so they could protect humans from demons, but the existence of demons had to be hidden because of some bullshit free will mantra everyone kept repeating in this book, which made absolutely no sense. None. Let me repeat myself, none. This world read like a cheap copy of The Demon Trapper’s Daughter series, and it really irritated me, because the atmosphere of the setting didn’t feel right, and I kept thinking, is this all there is to this? It was such an anticlimactic read that had me rolling my eyes every other sentence. I love me some The Lesser Key of Solomon and Lilith and all, but really? If you feature a plot to kickstart the apocalypse, at least make it epic. This read so infinitely tedious I had to force myself through the last 70% of the debacle. That has never happened to me with any Armentrout release before.  I get that she foc.uses on romance more than on action, and gargoyleI’m cool with that, otherwise I wouldn’t have read all her other books, but this is my second major complaint:
There was nothing believable about the romance between Layla, the half-demon/half-Warden female lead, and demon Roth. I have no idea what happened with these characters, but if Armentrout manages to fail to sell me on her guy characters, something is definitely not right. I know that this book was written prior to most of her other stories, and that Roth was inspiration for Daemon in Obsidian, but what the hell? That doesn’t excuse the fact that he sounded and acted like a prepubescent sex-craved fifteen-year-old. Sorry, not so hot. His snake named Bambi? Also not funny. The chemistry between him and Layla was non-existent, and the only thing that drove their relationship was the fact that aw, they could make out and have some horizontal fun, something Layla hadn’t had before because her kiss sucks out a person’s soul. (And guess what? They had biology class together. So original.) She pretty much threw everything away, even her “great love” Zayne, whom she’s been in love with since forever apparently, to dally with a demon, someone she’s only known for a couple of days. She was gullible and naïve, and it grated on my nerves. And please don’t get me started on Zayne, who is the biggest ass in the history of Armentrout’s guy characters. I have never hated a guy this much so early on in the story. I didn’t see what Layla saw in him at all, all he kept was disappointing her and then making her feel like it was her fault, when it was clearly his, and the airhead actually apologized to him over and over and over again. Layla had no backbone whatsoever. Her character was as see-through and pale as her supposedly gorgeous white-blond locks. In no situation was she fierce or loyal or relatable, like other female leads Armentrout has written. All she kept doing was whining over the two boys in her life, over her mother and father abandoning her and about how she was lusting after souls nonstop. Well boo you, any other heroine would’ve risen above it and stood strong. Not Layla. Layla only does a little bit of strong at the very end of the whole book, and it was anticlimactic and felt out of place. Her character development was horribly executed and incredibly unbelievable.
IMG_7699Now, don’t get me started on the plot of the novel, because you could pretty much tell what exactly was going to happen 10% into the story, but that ending? Cheap and lazy writing. All the chapters prior to the “big finale” were emotionless and just crept along, and then I’m supposed to believe the one sentence in the entire book I liked – “I lost myself the moment I found you.” – was a fit for this character that showed no dimensions whatsoever? No. That’s not how it works, and I’m pretty shocked that this book even made it through an editor without serious rewriting. The whole pace was off, and it resulted in a lack of connection between the reader and the story that actually had me think “Please just end this agony now and be over, book.” Don’t even get me started on the villains either, because I actually laughed at how ridiculous they all were. Armentrout might not draft her books, but she’s grown as a writer, and it doesn’t hurt her stories now, but then, damn, it hurt her story. There was no tangible red thread in there anywhere.
I really hope the second book will see some improvements, but I’m still utterly speechless over the fact this book is actually one of Armentrout’s. And apparently people have enjoyed it as much as her other works. Considering I thought everything about White Hot Kiss was nothing like her other books, this really, really shocked me. Now, I would rather have quality over quantity than the other way around, and as awesome as it is to have a book release every month, I hope Armentrout has taken her time improving this world and its characters with the sequels. I was so excited to read about gargoyles, but damn, was I taken for a ride. And not one that I enjoyed. I’d just rather watch the cartoon series, frankly, and pretend it’s what White Hot Kiss should’ve been like, because I was super excited for this series, but alas, it just wasn’t meant to be.

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BOOK REVIEW: Alienated by Melissa Landers

Alienated-newcvrSeries: Alienated #1
Publication Date: February 4th 2014 by Disney Hyperion
Genres: Young Adult, science fiction, romance
My Rating: 3 Stars
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Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them. Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket. Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking. But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara’s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class. Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

Autumn LeavesThere are so many books out there that are never as good as the cover or synopsis make them out to be, but luckily, Melissa Landers delivered everything I expected with Alienated. Honestly, forget that new The CW show StarCrossed, because it has nothing on Lander’s debut on an intergalactic exchange program-turned-sour. Alienated is a fast and fun read, and even though it’s a little on the fluffy side of things, I found myself enjoying it immensely. Landers has convincingly portrayed an intergalactic Romeo & Juliet type of a story, and both her leads – Cara and Aelyx, respectively – are both well developed and had great chemistry from the start. Yes, Landers’ writing is definitely aimed at the younger folks in young adult, but I still felt attached to the characters and their struggles throughout this read, and absolutely loved the pace and timing of the romance. Frankly, Alienated was quite the perfect book, in its genre.
eye-of-god_1Cara, an ambitious redhead, is given the option to host one of the very first L’heir exchange students in order to strengthen the relations between Earth and the new alien species’. Cara accepts after much debate because she is promised a free card to any college she desires to attend and can write the very first blog on L’heir, their people and customs, to further her dream towards becoming a journalist after graduation. Secretly, Cara is motived to say yes because the L’heirs’ cancer medicine saved her mother prior to the books storyline. Aelyx, her rebellious and linguistically gifted exchange student, is sent to Earth with two of his best friends, and does everything in his power to sabotage an alliance between humans and L’heirs, even against his leaders wishes. At first, both Cara and Aelyx clash over their different cultures and worldviews, but with Cara facing prejudices because she’s simply a host to the alien, and Aelyx being threatened by radical L’heir hate groups, the two strike up a friendship that slowly and steadily turns to romance. When a horrible event upheaves everything they both believe in and reveals a devastating truth about Earth’s environmental status, Cara and Aelyx both have to make a tough choices to protect themselves and their respective worlds.
IMG_7650Lately, I’ve been pretty fed up with redhead heroines because they’ve become the new paranormal young adult trope somehow but I loved that Landers wrote it for reasons that were 100% legitimate. Cara perfectly encompasses everything Aelyx begins to love about Earth, even though he’s not fully aware of it at first, while Aelyx is everything Cara is fascinated with, and more. Cara features her world’s colours, and Aelyx’s his, and it’s super easy to have these two become the spokespersons for two very, very different stages of human (or alien) nature. While paranormal love stories can turn annoying once the leads finally get together, Cara and Aelyx’s relationship was such a gradual development that it never felt contrived or forced. It made absolute sense for these two to find companionship in each other. Cara’s best friends were utter shits, excuse my language, and I could’ve done without them, because they were too one-dimensional for my taste even as secondary characters, but I enjoyed how Cara stood strong for what she believed in and never let other people dictate her moral values. Aelyx was quite a character himself, and though I didn’t truly sympathize with him up until the end, he realized his wrongs and started making amends, which mirrored where he came from convincingly. The ending was a little too anticlimactic, considering how it was all set up, but it was more of a writing flaw than anything else. Since this is Landers’ debut, I can’t really fault her much, because I did enjoy reading all the way through. I’m very excited to see where Landers takes her characters and story next and how her intergalactic exchange program turned intergalactic political feud solves itself in the next instalment.

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WAITING ON WEDNESDAY: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo‘s The Grisha series was a lucky find for me. I found the first two books, Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm, on Amazon by chance and fell in love with the covers, so I ordered myself those hardcovers and 14 hours later had read both of them. The reading experience I had with Bardugo’s universe reminded me so much of when I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was 11, and both books quickly made it on my favourites shelf. I am so excited to see how Alina, Mal and The Darkling’s story ends, and will be a nervous wreck until the finale, Ruin and Rising, releases on June 17th 2014 through Henry Holt and Codebut. It’s my favourite Waiting On Wednesday pick so far! (Also, will you look at that cover? EPIC!)

ImageThe capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army. Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18667954-between-the-spark-and-the-burn

Rewind! Your Favourite Authors!

toptentuesdaySince this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is Top Ten Tuesday REWIND! I thought listing my Top Ten Favourite Authors would be the best choice for me considering I’ve only just started blogging! Note that destpite their numbering, authors are not in any particular order since it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to rank them due to the fact that most of them write completely different genres and age categories!

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1. J.D. Salinger
2. J.K. Rowling
3. John Green
4. Maggie Stiefvater
5. Katie McGarry
6. Fyodor Dostoyevsky
7. J.R.R. Tolkien
8. Rick Riordan
9. Rainbow Rowell
10. Carol Rifka Brunt

TEASER TUESDAY (#5): Unteachable by Leah Raeder

MyTeaser Tuesday  pick of the week is from Leah Raeder‘s incredible debut Unteachable, which I devoured last year. If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to check out Maise’s story! She’s a kickass Lolita of her own! Even if you’ve read some student/teacher books, this one is a gem among them!

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two “teaser” sentences from that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists!

ImageBut The Guy only smiled. “I don’t want your parents to think I’m some creep.” He could have said, I’m a teacher, and everything would have been different.

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STACKING THE SHELVES (#5): February 16 – 22

This week has been a chicklit filler, no doubt! Whenever I have to do a lot of academical work in my free time, I tend to burry myself in my bed at the end of the day with a bag of M&Ms and a cute romance novel. So I pretty much only bought books this week that I could just dive into without having to analyse every teeny tiny bit and was able to just enjoy as they were intended. Surprisingly, I’ve almost read all of these already, and they were all super fun and lovely! So here’s my Stacking of the Shelves for a week when my nerves are still running amok because of uni, ha! 🙂

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Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay, Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead, I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

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Tangled / Holy Frigging Matrimony by Emma Chase, Lifers by Jane Harvey-Berrick