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Thursday, 16 July 2020

Review: Court of Miracles


The Court of Miracles - Kester Grant

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I was really excited when I got the approval for this one. One of the rare books I knew right away was going to be an epic once I started reading. Seeing “Six of Crows” comparisons tend to make me roll my eyes as it usually involves a break in to some impossible place of some sort. It was really the “Les Mis” comparison that drew me in for this one.


Though it took a while for me to spot anything resembling Les Miserable. I thought the world building was absolutely fascinating. I didn’t really get much of a sense of 1800s Paris though, it was more about the Courts and the characters, but the sense of place, the gloom and grittiness came through as the story progressed.


There was a dark sense of foreboding and dread throughout the whole thing, and something morbidly fascinating about it as well. Beautifully written and evocative, the novel was impossible to put down. I’m really looking forward to more from this series.


Thank you to HarperCollins UK, Harper Fiction for approving my request to view the title.

Original post: sunsetxcocktail.booklikes.com/post/2840760/review-court-of-miracles

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Review: Nocturna


Nocturna - Maya Motayne

I received a copy from Netgalley.


Short review because I read this one some time ago and can’t remember much about it. I’d forgotten I requested this one, and it was book of the month in one of my book subscription boxes so I got a pretty signed hardback with sprayed edges and an exclusive cover.


It took a while to get into the plot, I liked the world building, I found the setting quite unique and interesting with its Spanishy feel to the language of the magic and descriptions of the country. I did get quite annoyed with the use of the world “maldito” which I personally felt was overused. Other than that, the use of language added nice dimension to the flavour of the novel.


It was quite some time into the novel before the two main characters even met. It was like two separate stories and where was this going to go? The plot was interesting enough, two very different people from very different lives find themselves thrown together and having to work together to solve a problem with an outcome that would be mutually beneficial.  But it did include as part of the plot a break someone out of impossible to break into or out of prison. Which is something I’ve seen recurring in a few fantasy books. That type of plot is getting a tad bit eye rolling. It did add some nice action to the novel and seemed to also add some dimensions to the characters.


One thing I really did like was there was little to no focus on romance until just hinted at right at the end. The relationships focused on were more friendship style. The two main characters just seemed to annoy the hell out of each other. Though as the novel progresses they seem to empathize and start to trust each other more building to a solid foundation of a decent friendship. There may be something more to that in the follow up.


Not one of the best fantasies I have read but definitely an interesting one with a different take on magic building. I am looking forward to more from this series.


Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for approving my request to view the title.  

Original post: sunsetxcocktail.booklikes.com/post/2840681/review-nocturna

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Review: The Inheritance Games


The Inheritance Game - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I received a copy from Netgalley.


It’s been a long time since I’ve started a book and finished it in the same day. I’ve only rated three books five stars this year and this was one of them. I love rich people stories and even more ones about regular people who are thrown into that over the top glamorous world.


In this book teenager Avery, a studios, smart girl is just looking to finish high school and earn a college scholarship. She lives with her older sister Libby and Libby’s questionable asshole boyfriend Drake. While she adores her sister she hates the boyfriend who’s cruel and manipulative in that making you think everything wrong is your fault when it’s not way.


Then everything changes when Grayson Hawthorne shows up with a request for Avery and Libby to attend his grandfather’s will reading. His multi billionaire grandfather. Avery is dumbfounded. She’s never heard of the man. And yet finds out she’s been left his fortune. From sleeping in her car she’s suddenly the richest teenager in the world.


Much to the chagrin on the Hawthorne family, the four grandsons, their mother and her sister. Naturally they’re furious. Avery has to now figure out how this all happened, and no one in the Hawthorne family is happy she’s there. There’s a complex mystery to solve, clues are left for Avery and the boys.


This is one of those compulsive you have to know what’s going on mysteries. I can’t say much for character development, everything felt a little generic and seen a million times before in the family dynamic. I didn’t get much of a sense of personality from Avery other than resourceful, smart and determined. Though her reactions to the situations she found herself thrown into were very believable.


What drove this novel forward for me was the mystery. It’s impossible to recap without being spoilery, the plot is so twisty turny. It has a brilliant narrative that makes the reader keep guessing. While the characters aren’t very fleshed out, there was some delightful banter throughout, the relationships grew more complex throughout the characters. I didn’t guess who the baddie was and it’s one of those…why didn’t I see this coming from a mile away?!?!? reveals. The tension builds wonderfully throughout to the final climax…which was almost in a weird way a bit anticlimactic. It does however, leave on a cliffhanger. I need more.


Thank you to Penguin Random House Children’s UK.

Original post: sunsetxcocktail.booklikes.com/post/2840599/review-the-inheritance-games

Monday, 27 April 2020

Review: The Beautiful


The Beautiful - Renee Ahdieh

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I really, really, really wanted to love this. I was so excited to see vampires starting to make a comeback in YA fiction. I was thrilled when my review request was approved, then it was hinted at it would be in one of my YA subscription boxes – so I got a pretty signed hardback with sprayed edges. I did wait until the hype had died down a bit before delving in.


There were parts of it I really enjoyed, parts of it that were eye-rollingly stupid and parts that were just boring. The end was wholly unsatisfying (though thankfully I have pre ordered the sequel and had my review requested granted). Though there was enough of a what the??? To want to know more.


The 1800s New Orleans setting is vividly described. The main character, Celine is running from a terrible incident in her past in Paris and sets sail for the US with a convent, whose aim seems to be helping young women find suitable husbands. There were times I loved Celine’s character – she was strong willed, sassy and smart. Despite her worries about her past catching up with her she seemed very confident and together. She also came across as highly opinionated.


One thing I did like was the female friendships – Celine bonds with one of the other convent girls, Pippa, who becomes a real friend. As a former dressmaker – Celine’s stitching work for the convent catches the eyes of the beautiful and mysterious Odette who hires her to make a gown for a masquerade. Odette appears flippant and over the top, but she embraces Celine and seems keen for Celine to join her rather than head back to the convent.


Odette is part of a group of dangerously beautiful and alluring people, none of which seem quite normal. There’s something distinctly different about them, curious and bordering on frightening. Naturally Celine is intrigued by them. I found the male love interest, Sebastian, to be rather bland and uninteresting. A very typical stereotype – rich, well spoken, devious, and charming with a sense of darkness and foreboding. Nothing I haven’t seen in vampire novels before. He and Celine rub each other the wrong way yet unsurprisingly are annoyingly attracted to each other.


Doesn’t help when the bodies start turning up with strange symbols, and the police officer heading the investigation clearly has some sort of history with Sebastian and Odette and their group. Doesn’t help either that Celine seems to keep getting in his way. And she’s got things to say as well. Some of the mystery aspect was quite interesting and the plot did get more and more interesting as the novel progressed.


One thing that drove me up the wall though was the chapters from the killer’s point of view. To me they sounded just ridiculous. I think they were trying to sound like a sophisticated creature who has been around for centuries plotting his revenge against some perceived wrongness. It sounded woe is me over the top and stupid. Though to be fair, I didn’t actually guess who the culprit was.


This was a mixed bag of a novel, with good things and bad things. However, enough of a grip in the story telling that I need more from this world.


Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for approving my request to view the title.



Original post: sunsetxcocktail.booklikes.com/post/2381009/review-the-beautiful

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Review: A Curse so Dark and Lonely


A Curse So Dark and Lonely - Brigid Kemmerer

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I’m a black sheep with this one. All the bloggers I follow and Goodreads reviewers seem to absolutely love this book. I’ve read the author before and I have loved everything I’ve read by her, but I didn’t love this one. I did get a Netgalley kindle copy I tried reading before the book came out, but the formatting was terrible so I decided to wait until I got a physical copy.


It was book of the month in one of my Fairyloot subscription boxes so I got a nice shiny hardback. I sort of waited until the hype died down a bit, but then the sequel came out – which I did get (another Fairyloot exclusive) just in case I loved the first and had to have the second one.


And turned out I was just sort of meh about the whole thing really. It was an interesting parallel for the Beauty and the Beast retelling, but frankly, the beast character Prince Rhen irritated the hell out of me. I found him completely unsympathetic, annoying, selfish and whiny. I did however, really like the female character Harper. She was what made the book come alive for me. She was strong, sassy, level headed, and smart. Not blown over by the opulence of the fantasy world she suddenly finds herself thrust into.  The other character I really liked was Rhen’s loyal guard, Grey who was much more likeable – a bit of a stick in the mud at times, but with a sense of honour and loyalty. I was routing for him and Harper to hook up – they had a love/hate relationship turned into friendship and mutual respect.


However, given it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling, it’s obvious where the romance was going to happen. I found the plot predictable, and tedious at times, for long stretches nothing seemed to happen other than Rhen whining about his curse and Harper trying to figure out how to escape and get back to her home, the normal human world. They would dance around just forming a connection and something would happen sending them back to square one of distrust and frustration. I found it repetitive and annoying.


Two thirds of the novel was prepping for one huge battle when the beast finally appeared. And when it did it was almost like everything happened in a rush. Which of course ended on a cliff hanger. There were a few twists hinted at throughout (and again, completely predictable) If I hadn’t already bought the second book before I read this one I wouldn’t have bothered, but as I have and quite liked Grey’s character, I’m curious to see where his story goes.


Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing PLC for approving my request to view the title.

Original post: sunsetxcocktail.booklikes.com/post/2293040/review-a-curse-so-dark-and-lonely

Review: All The Forever Things


All the Forever Things - Jolene Perry

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I came across this one in my Netgalley TBR from a few years back and started reading it, not remembering anything about what it was about or why I had requested it. I think it must have appealed to the ‘Six Feet Under’ fan in me.


The main character Gabe (short for Gabriella) parents’ own a funeral home in a small town, she lives there with her younger sister, has an eccentric aunt, a BFF and a love of all things vintage. One boy made a joke about her being Wednesday Addams so she makes a point of making herself look like Wednesday (which made me like her even more). The novel starts with Gabe and her BFF paired for a school project with ultra popular guy Bryce and cool new guy Hartman. Bryce was the one who for years compared Gabe Wednesday Addams and also nicknamed her Graveyard Gabby which has stuck with her. He also ruined her first kiss with a boy she really liked. So Gabe is less than thrilled.


Even worse when her BFF Bree starts to click with Bryce and before long they’re dating. Gabe is mortified, and understandably so. She’s struggling to adjust when she’s so used to having Bree to herself, and this the jerk who made her an outcast. So naturally it’s completely logical that she wouldn’t be thrilled. Yet she’s willing to at least try for her friend’s sake. It’s not easy. Having been in a similar position personally, when a friend you’ve had for years starts ignoring you for someone else – it’s not easy. So Gabe’s reactions and ways of handling this felt very authentic and believable.


She’s grumpy and annoyed, especially when Bree starts ignoring her texts and calls, ditching her to hang out with Bryce and his popular friends and their girlfriends who both Bree and Gabe have always dismissed as airheads. Bree’s family situation is complex, and it doesn’t help that Gabe is moaning about her own responsibilities. She does some work in the family business and has to pick up her sister from the eccentric aunt. Normal things. Yet she doesn’t understand why Bree gets mad when she whines about it.


While Bree certainly wasn’t a favourite, or even that memorable of a character, you can empathise with her, especially with her miserable home life. Parents are MIA, separated and with little interest in her, so she lives with an elderly grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Grandma barely seems to know what planet she’s on. She’s got a hot new boyfriend and the popular girls aren’t so bad after all once you get to know them and her only other friend seems determined to hold a grudge and whines about stupid things and doesn’t seem to appreciate how lucky she is.


 At least for Gabe, the cool new guy starts paying more attention, and they start forming a tentative friendship with the potential for something more. Hartman seems like a nice enough guy, he has plenty of baggage and drama of his own. Then everything comes to a dramatic point on prom night. Gabe is talked into taking Bree, Bryce, and their friends in the family hearse. The group head off for an after party. Gabe has gone with Hartman as her date, and while the others want to explore some abandoned building, Gabe and Hartman wander off together. There’s a tragic accident.


And everything changes.  The event has a major effect on Bree who goes AWOL. Rattled with grief and guilt Gabe realises she has to put aside her grudges and prejudices and do whatever she has to to find her missing friend. Which means reaching out to some of the other girls who were there that night. There’s a touching sense of togetherness as the group come together to deal with the incident and Gabe realises that Bree might have been right after all – these girls and even the boys aren’t so bad after all. They’re just people. Like them, with flaws, complex emotions. Coming together in a difficult time forms new bonds which lead to new friendships and a whole change on life’s perspectives for Gabe.  There’s positive changes for Bree as well. The novel concludes in a believable way, without being overly emotional or dramatic.


It’s a well written, enjoyable book, and the characters are easy to understand and identify with.


Thank you to Netgalley and Albert Whitman & Company for approving my request to view the title.

Original post: sunsetxcocktail.booklikes.com/post/2292759/review-all-the-forever-things

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Snakes and Ladders 2020 Master Post

I'm in a big reading slump at the moment, so as we're on self isolation in my house this game seems like perfect timing and will hopefully get me out my slump :) 




Start at square one

1) Author is a woman dice roll 6 - square 6 Title has a colour word in

For 1 I will be reading Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin 

For 2 I will be reading The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon 

Original post: sunsetxcocktail.booklikes.com/post/2123364/snakes-and-ladders-2020-master-post