Monday, 31 July 2017

July Wrap-Up: #BookReviews of My July #BookHaul

In July, there were two books that I was really looking forward to reading; the first was This Was a Man by Jeffrey Archer, the seventh and final book in the Clifton Chronicles (from my local library):




And the other was A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3). I bought the entire trilogy from Amazon so I could re-read books 1 and 2 before delving into the third novel:



 
I started with the library books first, since I had a limited time to get through them, and wasn't disappointed (click on the cover images for info on these books).

This Was A Man (Clifton Chronicles #7) by Jeffrey Archer. Start with Book 1, Only Time Will Tell:

 



This Was A Man is the Clifton Chronicles series finale, so I can't say too much about this book as I'd be spoiling the previous 6 books for you, but I can say that this is a family saga which follows Harry Clifton and his family and friends over several decades.

My Rating: 3-stars

On top of love, family, friendship and relationships, this series ~ and this book in particular ~ touches on business takeovers, investments/trading, banking and politics. It has baddies that you will love to hate and the writing is so easy to follow even though the narrative is from several different perspectives.

This finale isn't my favourite book in the series ~ I loved books 1 to 3 the best, I think ~ but I feel like I've been on a very long journey with the Cliftons and would recommend this series to anyone who likes a good family saga. Books 1 to 3, I would highly recommend.


The other library book I borrowed in July was To All The Boys I've Loved Before (To All The Boys I've Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han

 

I picked this up because I've heard good things about it on BookTube. According to the blurb on my copy, some love letters that weren't meant to be sent to, or read by, the boys our young protagonist Lara Jean has loved before, get sent out! Oops. And this has both romantic and comic consequences for our lovable heroine.

My Rating: 4-stars

It's a sweet, sweet YA contemporary romance novel which I finished in two sittings! It's not a tiny book but the writing is so clean and the narrative so easy to follow that I was addicted. Lara Jean's relationships with her two sisters and widower dad is so cute and her love for baking is so endearing. 

I enjoyed this book so much that I went and downloaded the entire trilogy on my iPhone straight after reading book 1 (I didn't think my library would have the other two books in the series, especially not the recently released book 3, and I just couldn't wait to find out what happened next) and I re-read book 1 as well! That's how much I loved this book. I haven't done that in a long, long time, where I've read a library book (or a free series opener) and then downloaded the follow-up novels.

I just loved everything about the first book ~ so cute and sweet and addictive ~ and I'll go as far as saying, having read the other two books in under two days, that this is probably the sweetest YA series I've ever read. I don't read a lot of sweet romances, but still :)

Though my fave is book 1, I rated book 2 (P.S. I Still Love You) and book 3 (Always and Forever, Lara Jean) 4-stars also. If you read YA contemporary romance and haven't read this series yet ~ Why not? Do it now. It's that good!

I'm so glad I read this series; it's exactly what I needed after the reading slump in May.

Because only two library books caught my eye, I thought I'd catch up on some of the e-books I've downloaded in the last few months but never got around to reading. And these are as follows:

Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowlands #1) by Sarah Fine

 

My Rating: 3-stars

This YA urban fantasy is about a young girl's journey into hell to rescue her friend. I enjoyed this book, actually, and it had a lot to be admired. It was a bit on the long-ish side for me, considering the plot, but still kept me hooked. I would recommend this book to fans of YA that are looking for something a bit different story-wise.

Next, The Concealed (Lakewood Series #1) by Sarah Kleck

 
  
My Rating: 3.5-stars rounded down to 3-stars on Goodreads

This is another YA urban fantasy, and this time, its related to Arthurian legend. I haven't read much about King Arthur or Merlin, so I was looking forward to getting through this.

I thought it was a slow-burner, but there was enough intrigue and mystery to keep me coming back for more. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes YA novels about myths and legends, and it's something a bit different, too.

The reason I'm rounding it down from 3.5 to 3-stars and not rounding it up to 4-stars: The ending felt a bit rushed to me and I wasn't completely taken with how it ended. However, I'm noticing a trend here in certain YA fantasy novels, where they start off really good and then sort of lose it at the very end (remember my review of Fallen by Lauren Kate?)

Also on my Kindle App is Touched (Touched #1) by Elisa S. Amore



You've guessed it, another young adult fantasy series opener. From the stunning cover, you can tell it's about angels. But not any old angel ~ the angel of death! This series is a huge self-publishing success, and I recently read an article about how the author, before she started writing this series, couldn't afford a laptop. Her husband bought one for her as a Christmas present, for which he had to pay in monthly instalments. And now, a famous actor of her choice is doing the audio-books for this series. How cool is that?

Unfortunately, I stopped reading this book in the middle of chapter 4 (the chapters are extremely long, though; the Kindle App says I was 17% into the book when I stopped reading it) but seen as it's so popular, I might pick it up again in the future. In the meantime, it's not been able to capture and hold my attention and make me want to go back for more.

It's one of those books with pages and pages of description of forests and surroundings, slowing down the pace of the story and making me wonder, "when is the interesting stuff going to happen?" But like I said, this series has a huge following, so it must appeal to a certain type of reader, which I am not at the moment, but I'm sure I will pick it up again some time in the future and give it another go. Just not sure when...

Next up, Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram

 

My Rating: 2.5-stars rounded up to 3-stars on Goodreads

This is a young adult slash new adult modern-day retelling of Cinderella ~ a contemporary romance, in other words ~ so I knew what to expect from it. A lot of its fans are calling it a "sweet" or "cute" story, but it's nowhere near Jenny Han's aforementioned novels, which excel in the sweet and cute department and have more to them than just fluffiness.

Oram's take on the Cinderella story is good but I didn't think this novel was anything special. Sometimes it felt a bit blah. Sorry, I can't use a more formal description! I managed to finish it though, as I was determined to not repeat what happened in May when I left quite a few books unfinished due to the reading slump I was suffering from, but looking back, I'm wondering how I managed to get to the end of this book....


More Than This (More Than #1) by Jay McLean is New Adult contemporary romance

 
 

This was a coming of age story and oriented more towards new adult readers. I had to check out the book description on Goodreads for this one to remind myself what it was about and whether I'd liked it for this review ~ I'd read it pretty early on in the month ~ so I guess it's one of those forgettable NA contemporary romances?

Reading the blurb, I remembered what this book is about. The summary of the blurb can be split into 4 points:

1. Mikayla's prom night ends in disaster, leaving her completely alone in the world.
2. Jake, who she has just met and who witnessed her loss, takes her in and tries to take care of her.
3. Mikayla and Jake grow close but she's determined to keep her distance to protect her heart, after everything she's been through.
4. Will Jake succeed in gaining her trust and will they live happily ever after?

Now, here's a reason I've gone through the effort of splitting the blurb this way:
Points and 1 and 2 take place within the first 5% of the book.
Point 4 occurs in the final 5% of the book.
So the remaining 90% was point 3 and point 3 alone.
And it was a very long book, where the only thing that seems to happen is the two characters getting close and then stepping back. No twists and turns along the way, no drama, just a lot of sexual tension between these new adults.

So, for that reason, My Rating is: 2.5-stars rounded up to 3-stars on Goodreads

I don't mind a love story where the majority of the book sees the two lovers get to know each other, grow close, and then get together in the end. But there has to be plot twists, drama, something, anything, in the middle to make it more interesting. Make it be more than just a boy-meets-girl story. In Cinder & Ella, at least the author threw in some twists and drama in the middle...

There are a lot of positive reviews online for More Than This, though, so I guess it's right up some readers' streets, just not mine, I'm afraid. Again, I powered through to the end because I didn't want my 'did-not-finish' pile to grow further after May.

And now, finally:

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court Of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas

I left this one to read till last, as I was looking forward to reading this one the most. This is a fantasy series focusing on Fae and faeries, and book 1, A Court of Thorns and Roses, was the first Maas book I'd read. I read it last year and rated in 3-stars. It was a very slow burner but got so good in the final 20% and the ending left me wanting to get my hands on book 2 straightaway.





Luckily, my local library had A Court of Mist and Fury and so I was able to read it last year too, the year it was released, and as I mentioned earlier this year, that book was my favourite of 2016.

 

I loved ACOMAF. It was a million times better than book 1 and I'm so glad the series opener finished so strongly, else I wouldn't have read book 2 and I would've missed out on one of the best books published last year. That book was also voted by Goodreads users as the best of 2016 in the YA Fantasy & Sci-Fi category.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I bought the entire trilogy to re-read the first two books before starting the series finale. And surprisingly, I enjoyed book 1 a lot more this time around. Book 2 was just as good as the first time I'd read it.

Now for my thoughts on book 3:





A Court of Wings and Ruin

First of all, I have to say that this is a big, big book. My (UK paperback) copy is 704 pages long, the text is not the nice medium-to-large size, but quite small and there's a lot of text jammed into each page. I don't know how many words that is, but it's a very long book. I don't mind long novels, though. I'm not intimidated by them at all. In fact, if a really long book doesn't feel at all long, it means I've really enjoyed it.

If a lengthy book feels long... does that mean I didn't enjoy it? Well, I didn't enjoy ACOWAR as much as I enjoyed book 2. ACOMAF was just in a league of its own.

My Rating: 3-stars

This book felt as long as it was. It took me a long while to finish it ~ lucky it was the last of my reads for the month, otherwise it would have held up the others on my to-read pile.

I can't fault the writing, the world building, the character development. SJM is an excellent writer, and her characters are always intricate and complicated and easy to root for. She is one of those authors that really takes care of her supporting cast of characters, too, their pasts and backgrounds rich and intricate, their development just as well executed as that of the leading characters. When the secondary characters are so badass and interesting and complicated and likeable, you know you're being treated to a good piece of storytelling.

So much magic and wonder in this book! The worlds (or rather, the courts) so intriguing and mesmerising. But the book was very slow to get going. As slow as I found the first book in the series to be. Nonetheless, I powered through ~ albeit slowly and not always eagerly, not as enthusiastically as I'd done with book 2 ~ because I knew that if anyone can finish a book really strongly, it's SJM.

And it did get better towards the end, though the finale, in my opinion, wasn't as epic as the endings in book 1 and book 2. Other readers have absolutely loved this conclusion to the trilogy, though, so it's definitely worth the read.

All in all, this is a great fantasy series that fans of the genre must read. If you're someone who reads an eclectic mix of books, then give this series a go, too; book 2 is worth it, and SJM's writing is world class.



Thank you for reading this post. If you're interested in my debut novel, click the image below to learn more about it:
 


Like all my other books, it's also available on:
iBooks   |   B&N Nook   |   Kobo |   Smashwords 


Book Details

Length: 110,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Clean Romance / Diverse Romance / Interracial Romance / Romantic Drama / Women’s Fiction
Mood: Inspirational / Feel Good / Coming of Age / Dark
Content: Sexy but No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: New Adult & College / Adult / Female Readers

Recommended for: Readers that enjoy romance novels with serious issues and characters with depth. This is a story about life, love, friendship, family, music, art, destiny and soul mates.


And the first two books in my teen urban fantasy/YA paranormal romance series, the Poison Blood series, can be downloaded for free via:

Amazon USAmazon UK|   iBooks US & UK   |   B&N Nook Store   |   Smashwords






PB1 Book Details

Length: 29,000 words
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance / Teen Vampire Romance / Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy / Teen & YA Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy / Supernatural Romance / Fantasy Romance
Mood: Dark / Humorous / Coming of age
Content: No violence / No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: Teen / Young Adult / New Adult / Adult
Recommended for: Readers that love all things vampires, slayers and witches!

2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for your review of "A Court of Wings and Ruin"! I loved "A Court of Mist and Fury," but the sheer size of ACOWAR intimidated me when I've got so much on my TBR pile and my own writing projects going on. I decided not to invest the time in ACOWAR, but I'll revisit that decision on the basis of your review. Thanks again!

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    Replies
    1. You're very welcome. Let me know what you think of ACOWAR if you end up reading it 😊

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