Friday 30 June 2017

Friday Reads 30th June 2017

Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice and Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader. The idea is to share a sentence or so from the first page and the 56th page of the book you are currently reading!

Summer at Hope Meadows
Book Beginning:
"Home. As the car swooped over the narrow bridge beside the woods, Mandy Hope had the feeling she was back where she belonged."
Friday 56:
"As Mandy flicked through the glossy pictures, she couldn't help feeling a bit overwhelmed." 
Summer at Hope Meadows is the first book in a series that follows on from the Animal Ark series. As a child I loved those books. No, really, I was obsessed. So I'm pretty excited to see where Mandy is now. So far I'm just loving being back with the characters. Even if you never read Animal Ark you'd probably still enjoy this if you like cosy, country reads.

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Thursday 29 June 2017

5 Reasons to Love Why I Loathe Sterling Lane

Why I Loathe Sterling LaneTitle: Why I Loathe Sterling Lane
Author: Ingrid Paulson
Format: E-Arc
Source: Received via Netgalley for an honest review
Pages: 287
Rating: 4.5/5
Blurb: Per her 537 rules, Harper Campbell keeps her life tidy—academically and socially. But the moment Sterling Lane transfers into her tiny boarding school, her twin brother gets swept up in Sterling’s pranks and schemes and nearly gets expelled. Harper knows it’s Sterling’s fault, and to protect her brother, she vows to take him down. As she exposes his endless school violations, he keeps striking back, framing her for his own infractions. Worst of all, he’s charmed the administration into thinking he’s harmless, and only Harper sees him for the troublemaker he absolutely is. 
As she breaks rule after precious rule in her battle of wits against Sterling and tension between them hits a boiling point, she’s horrified to discover that perhaps the two of them aren’t so different. And maybe she doesn't entirely hate him after all. Teaming up with Sterling to save her brother might be the only way to keep from breaking the most important rule—protecting Cole. 

Our main character Harper loves rules and lists. And hey, so do I! So I thought I'd tell you the 5 reasons I enjoyed this book. A lot.

1) You can identify with the main character
Like I said. Love lists. And whilst I haven't gone so far as to write 537 rules for life, I do have a notebook full of random lists from everything including wishlists and TBRs to things I need to do, to god, everything. I'm obsessed with lists. So it was so satisfying to see her a) be someone I could identify with and then b) also be able to change and grow.

2) Character Growth
Harper, as I mentioned, grows from very stiff rule keeper (which actually I wasn't so familiar with) and list maker to prankster and rule breaker and the growth was totally natural and felt realistic to me. Sterling, on the other hand, was more of a character reveal. I feel like he was always who he said he was, more or less and we just grew to love him more as more of his character was revealed. BUT also they both stay true to who they are. And I loved the emphasis on that.

3) If you're a Ravenclaw...
Then you will love Harper. She was big on hard work and intelligence. I'm not a Ravenclaw but that's fine cause (as a Slytherin) I had Sterling's morally dubious ways to fall in love with instead. 

4) Adorable Hate-to-Love romance
My favourite kind of romance!!! I really, really enjoyed the progression from I-kinda-hate-you to well, you know the opposite. There were many toe-curlingly cute romantic moments and a few utterly swoonworthy ones and if you love hate-to-love as much as I do then read this.

5) Sibling Relationship
Possibly my favourite part of the whole book actually was the sibling relationship. I am the eldest of four and I would do anything for my siblings - but that doesn't mean we don't bicker or fall out. So I adored reading about Harper and Cole because they felt so real to me. They would (and often did) drop everything to support each other - Harper is even late to class *gasp - but they also had arguements and disagreements and silly sibling rivalry. And god I just love great sibling relationships in books.

So there are my 5 totally important reasons for you to read Why I Loathe Sterling Lane. Are you convinced? I've somehow managed to convince myself and now want to re-read it. If you're looking for your next summer-contemporary read then this could very well be it. 

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Wednesday Catch-Up 28th June 2017

Every Wednesday we are linking up with WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is hosted at Taking on a World of Words and asks 3 questions: What are you currently reading?, What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you'll read next? You can click any of the images to go to the Goodreads page for that book!

Currently Reading:

Summer at Hope Meadows
Lucy Daniels wrote the Animal Ark series and I LOVED THAT SERIES. As a kid I was totally obsessed. So I'm excited to see how a Lucy Daniels adult contemporary turns out. It looks cute and summery!

Recently Finished:

Beauty QueensA Drop of NightWhy I Loathe Sterling Lane
I didn't hugely feel like reading this week (I got caught up in Dragon Age) but I did enjoy all the books I read so that's a win! Beauty Queens was a re-read and remains one of my all time favourite books. A Drop of Night was a lot of fun, there were plenty of unanswered questions but I loved the traps and the mystery and the group dynamics and I do wish there was a sequel. And then finally I read Why I Loathe Sterling Lane which was a cute (and sometimes stressful) contemporary hate-to-love romance!

Planning to Read Next:

Almost a Bride (Destination Love, #2)Seven Days in SummerFire in You (Wait for You, #6)
I'm currently trying to focus on review books so I can get all my July reviews sorted and can spend the rest of the month preparing for YALC. Almost a Bride is one I'm really excited for because I love the fake-romance trope and the cover is so cute and summery. I've forgotten most of what Seven Days in Summer is about plot-wise but it looks (again) very summery which is definitely what I'm in the mood for at the moment. And then I want to read Fire in You which should be great because I generally love Armentrout's books! 

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Top Ten Books Of 2017 (So Far)

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted at The Broke and the Bookish and you can find a list of past and future topics here. I'm not limiting myself to books published in 2017 although I think most of the books I've read this year have been new releases so it may well work out that way anyway. These are in no particular order. 

1) The Smoke Hunter by Jacquelyn Benson
The Smoke Hunter
If Lara Croft meets Indiana Jones hasn't already hooked you then I don't even know what I could say. Honestly this book was like all my favourite things rolled into one and I just adore it!

2) My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meados and Brodi Ashton
My Lady Jane: The Not Entirely True Story
This was hilarious. I studied the Tudors-Stuarts in college so I was fairly familiar with the story of Lady Jane Grey but OMG this was such a funny and cute take on it (not words I ever thought I'd use in reference to Jane Grey). I cannot wait for the other Jane books!

3) Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
I loved how positive and interesting this book was. The romance made me swoon and then cry and then smile so much.

4) Dreamfall by Amy Plum
Dreamfall (Dreamfall #1)
Definitely better than I was expecting. The nightmares in this were super creative and genuinely scary in places plus the whole concept actually felt way more real to me (and therefore more frightening) than I was expecting. 

5) This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
This is Not a Test (This is Not a Test #1)
One of the best zombie books I have ever read. And there weren't even that many zombies in it. Mostly this focused on the human tensions and problems during the zombie apocalypse with plenty of in fighting and drama and tension over supplies and mistrust and it was just so great.

6) The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
The Diabolic (The Diabolic #1)
Nemesis was badass. All the characters were compelling and unique and I actually kinda loved the romance. The whole concept of this was great and I am excited/nervous for the second book because I don't know where Kincaid will take the story from here!

7) Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan
Holiday In The Hamptons
Sarah Morgan's books are always a delight. This was super romantic and sweet and funny and sad. The characters were realistic and awesome. 

8) Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon
Done Dirt Cheap
AMAZING girl friendship and two very different but totally awesome romances. Just writing this makes me want to re-read the book. It was also really tense and exciting.

9) Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3)
My favourite Lisa Kleypas book so far (which is saying something). I loved the tie-ins with the Wallflower series and the romance itself was just the sweetest. 

10) Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley 
Dating Sarah Cooper
I've already re-read this book. Twice. And am planning to re-read it again in the next couple of months. I'm obsessed. Just. Everything about this book. I loved it so much.

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Monday 26 June 2017

Monday Highlights #12

The idea is to just link your favourite blog post from the past week (for example a post you're very proud of or just had a lot of fun making) and then I, and hopefully others, can discover new blogs to follow and interact with and discover more posts from blogs we may already follow!

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Sunday 25 June 2017

Sunday Post 25th June 2017

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader. As always you can click on any of the pictures to be taken to the Goodreads page for that book if you're interested in finding out more about it or click the title to go to the review.

Last Week on the Blog:

  • Monday Highlights #11
  • Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning to Start
  • Wednesday Catch-Up
  • Clare Reviews: Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee
  • Friday Reads: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
  • July Releases

Books We Got This Week:

The First Days  (As the World Dies, #1)Fighting to Survive (As The World Dies, #2)Siege (As The World Dies, #3)Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy, #1)
The First Days/Fighting to Survive/Siege by Rhiannon Frater: ZOMBIES! Because apparently I'm super into zombies (literally two months ago I said I hated anything with zombies and now look at me - so fickle!) plus I adore these covers.
Feed by Mira Grant: See. More. Zombies. It's a problem. This actually has quite mixed reviews but it's so hard to find YA zombie books (you THINK they're more common than they are) and so I thought I'd take a chance.
A Drop of NightRoar (Stormheart, #1)Going BovineAn Act of Silence
A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann: Already super engrossed by this one. Whenever a new book arrives I read the first sentence as soon as I open the package and I did that here but couldn't stop reading so I'm three chapters in now. 
Roar by Cora Carmack: I've been really excited about this one because I love the colours on the cover and I'm really intrigued by elemental magic so this just looks great. 
Going Bovine by Libba Bray: This is somehow the last of Libba Bray's published books that I haven't read and I obviously NEED to read it. 
An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth: Received for review from the publisher. This sounds intense and intriguing and I am very excited for it. 

Reading Update:

Shadow Run (Kaitan Chronicles, #1)Liberty: The Spy Who (Kind of) Liked MeEliza and Her MonstersFalse Hearts
Shadow Run by Adrianne Strickland & Michael Miller: 4 stars, So, so badass. The characters were deep and interesting and the plot was so compelling and then towards the end it was proper heart pounding action - it felt very Star Wars dramatic which I loved and I can't wait for book 2!
Liberty by Andrea Portes: 2 stars, I'm a fan of sarcasm. I'm at least 50% sarcasm. But god, Paige/Liberty was 100% sarcasm. Not even remotely kidding she was never ever serious and it drove me up the wall. I get defense mechanisms but it was so hard to connect with her character when she didn't seem to care about anything? Plus she just came across as super immature which didn't exactly seem realistic for the whole covert op thing she had going on.
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: 4.5 stars, Very accurate mental health rep and some very compelling characters. I loved the drawings as well, they added a lot of detail to the story.
False Hearts by Laura Lam: 3 stars, This was very entertaining and I thought it was very good, however I always struggle a little with Sci-Fi (unless its space pirates. I love space pirates). 

Next Week on the Blog:

  • Monday Highlights #12
  • Top Ten Books of 2017 (So Far)
  • Wednesday Catch-Up
  • Blog Tour: Why I Loathe Sterling Lane by Ingrid Paulson
  • Friday Reads
  • Clare's June Wrap Up & July TBR

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Saturday 24 June 2017

July Releases I'm Excited For!!

The DisappearancesBecause You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of VillainyThe Dragons of Nova (Loom Saga, #2)The Last MagicianThe Library of FatesThe Ends of the World (The Conspiracy of Us, #3)Lucky in LoveDaughter of the Burning CityFirst We Were IVChanges in Latitudes
The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy: Releasing July 4th 2017. If I'm honest I'm a little vague on the actual plot details of this. But there is a chain of literary clues (my favourite kind of clues) and a mysterious location and it sounds eery and wonderful. 
Because You Love to Hate Me edited by Ameriie: Releasing July 11th 2017. An anthology from basically all my favourite authors entirely centered around villains?? Uh, yes please! Basically this sounds amazing and I am so, so excited for it!
The Dragons of Nova by Elise Kova: Releasing July 11th 2017. The sequel to the wonderful The Alchemists of Loom. Arianna became an instant favourite for me and I can't wait to read more of her. 
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell: Releasing July 18th 2017. The more I hear about this book the more excited I get to the point where it's getting ridiculous. The cast of characters sound almost Six of Crows levels of awesome and I'm seriously missing the Dregs so that couldn't be a better hook for me.
The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana: Releasing July 18th 2017. This is one I've only recently seen around so I don't know a whole lot about it. But anything recommended for fans of The Wrath and the Dawn or The Star Touched Queen is something I want to read. 
The Ends of the World by Maggie Hall: Releasing July 18th 2017. The third and I think final book in The Conspiracy of Us series. I have only read the first one so far but it was super exciting and compelling. A little cheesy but in a way I enjoyed. I only held off on reading the second book because I was wary of cliff-hangers so once the series is complete I can hopefully jump back in.
Lucky in Love by Kasie West: Releasing July 25th 2017. I recently discovered Kasie West (or recently discovered my love for her books) and so am now eagerly anticipating this one. It sounds a lot like Windfall in the whole winning-the-lottery premise but I'm super ready for a cute summer read!
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody: Releasing July 25th 2017. I have a review copy of this which I'm super excited to dive into soon because CIRCUSES. Circuses are basically my kryptonite. Plus, I believe this is LGBT which is exciting!
First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy: Releasing 25th July 2017. Secret societies. That is all. Secret societies fascinate me so, so much. AND it has revenge in it. My favourite.
Changes in Latitude by Jen Malone: Releasing 25th July 2017. "A road trip romance that takes place at sea." I'm sold. Doesn't this just sound like the perfect summer read? I've never read anything else by Jen Malone but this is definitely going on my wishlist!

These are the ten most exciting releases (for me) in July - I'm interested to see which books you are most anticipating? And if you're lucky enough to have read any of these already let me know what you thought of them. 

Link up to Monday Highlights

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Friday 23 June 2017

Friday Reads 23rd June 2017

Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice and Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader. The idea is to share a sentence or so from the first page and the 56th page of the book you are currently reading!

Beauty Queens
Book Beginning:
"This book begins with a plane crash."

Friday 56:
"It's such a tragedy that those sweet girls who follow the rules set down for women through the ages while also learning to walk in bathing suits and heels are the ones who are now missing."

This is actually one of my all time favourite books and I am re-reading it! It's so funny and the characters are amazing and just seriously, read it if you haven't already because this book is amazing. 

Link up to Monday Highlights

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Thursday 22 June 2017

Clare Reviews: Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee

Broken BranchesTitle: Broken Branches
Author: M. Jonathan Lee
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from publisher for an honest review
Pages: 294
Rating: 4/5

Blurb: A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.
There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

If this weren't a book I was sent for review I would, honestly, probably never have picked it up. I'm a certified wimp so anything that looks remotely creepy is going on my NOPE pile. But I was intrigued enough about this to brave it and I am so glad I did.

Firstly, it's not actually that creepy. There are some creepy elements to it and there are definitely moments you don't want to be reading at night but for the most part I would describe this as more atmospheric than out and out scary. The perspective of the book switches between Ian of the past  (growing up in the house) and Ian of the present whose marriage is suffering after "an incident" and is desperately seeking answers about the family "curse".

Ian wasn't a hugely likable character at times but he felt so relatable to me that I just couldn't stop reading and rooting for his life to get back on track. He is struggling but his struggle felt real and it just made everything so intense. Even day to day activities suddenly seemed incredibly important whilst I was reading them. We do get a little bit from his wife's perspective but it's always quite vague and I definitely didn't get inside her head in the same way. One of the great things about this book is how it plays with perspective. I, as a reader, made so many assumptions and accepted so much as fact because it came from Ian and I know I am going to re-read this at some point and try to see how much I trust his viewpoint in the future.

But the real standout quality of Broken Branches was the writing style. This isn't a hugely plot driven book. The entirety of the book is set in one location for the most part and you're following just a handful of characters so a lot of what I was reading was just general daily activity. And yet the writing style, how crisp and important every single word felt, kept me compelled the whole way through. Ian answering emails could be an interesting paragraph purely by virtue of how well Lee wrote it. 

If you need plot driven action and excitement in your books or you were hoping for something very creepy then this probably isn't for you. But if you want a book that will make you hold your breath and doubt your own perspective and just blow your mind with great writing - then definitely give this a try. I now want to read more by M. Jonathan Lee and I can say with confidence that I don't even care what genre or plot it is because it's the writing that enthralls me. 

Trigger Warnings:
Grief, Suicide

Link up to Monday Highlights

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Wednesday Catch-Up 21st June 2017

Every Wednesday we are linking up with WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is hosted at Taking on a World of Words and asks 3 questions: What are you currently reading?, What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you'll read next? You can click any of the images to go to the Goodreads page for that book!

Currently Reading:

Beauty Queens
Beauty Queens is just incredible and I love it. And I really feel in the mood to re-read it (again) so here I go. Again. God this book. 

Recently Finished:

The Sandcastle EmpireTruth or DareShadow Run (Kaitan Chronicles, #1)Liberty: The Spy Who (Kind of) Liked MeFalse Hearts
The Sandcastle Empire is a book I have mixed feelings for. I felt like the first half was incredible and I loved the complex dynamics and the survival and discovery aspects - it was exciting and engaging. And then halfway through it turned into romance/dystopian and we lost that which wasn't as good for me personally. Truth or Dare again was a half and half book. I liked the first half but the second half after you flip over felt almost skippable in places. Shadow Run was really good. I love space adventures and politics and it definitely got way darker than I was expecting which I kind of liked. There isn't a cliff-hanger but I am desperate for the next book because this was awesome. Eliza and Her Monsters was really sweet for the most part and then suddenly gut punches you with emotions and I was not prepared (TW: Suicide ideation and anxiety). I loved all the graphic novel drawing sections as they really added to the feel of the story. Finally I read False Hearts which I did enjoy. I wasn't totally blown away but I did like the diversity a lot and I am definitely interested in reading the next book which I believe is a companion novel not a direct follow on?

Planning to Read Next:

The First Days  (As the World Dies, #1)Fighting to Survive (As The World Dies, #2)Siege (As The World Dies, #3)
I really want to read the As the World Dies series next because I love zombies. I mean zombie stories. Not actual zombies. This is described as Thelma & Louise meets The Walking Dead and boy does that appeal to me!! 

Link up to Monday Highlights

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.