Friday, 26 May 2017

The Blog Squad: A Blogger Collaboration - Part 11


We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions. 

 A MAGICAL WORLD OF WORDS - AmyNikita 
 BOOKS.BAGS.BURGERS - Uma K 
 BOOK REVIEWS BY DI - Di Hewlett



What is the best blogging advice you've ever been given? 


To remember WHY I started book blogging in the first place and to always remember that I blog because I LOVE READING, and not the other way around. I think it’s always important to keep this in sight and remember to keep doing what you love.



I’ve received loads of advice from my fellow bloggers ever since I started my blog and most of them have been extremely useful advice that have helped me a LOT. To state the best, I think one of the advice that MOST bloggers gave me was to stay true to who I am and not try to copy or imitate any other blogger. This is VERY important. There are so many bloggers who are extremely inspiring but it’s never okay to imitate their blogging style. It’s important to be true to yourself and keep doing what you love. Don’t do something because someone else is or jump onto a bandwagon because everyone else is; do it only if you believe you will enjoy it. And don’t refrain from doing something because it’s not the ‘it’ thing in the blogosphere; go ahead and start something new if you enjoy it!


What's the worst/most misleading blogging advice you've ever been given? 



This is a tough one, because I haven’t actually received any BAD advice per se but there’s something that’s often talked about in the blogging world that I think needs to be addressed here. And that is, BLOGGING CONSISTENTLY.

 Now yes, as a blogger you DO need to be consistent, but there’s consistent and there’s consistent.

Don’t rush in and create hundreds of posts and try to post every day, - you’re going to burn out or at least wonder how on EARTH do I keep doing this? You might start posting every day, then go down to every other day, then once or twice a week.

By the same token it can also be difficult to sit down every day/every other day to create your content and rinse and repeat. After a while (possibly even years) you will wonder, how on EARTH do I keep doing this?

The answer is to find your rhythm - what can you realistically expect of yourself on a weekly basis. You need to both be able to create content but also have actual breaks. If posting every day still works for you - that’s amazing! But if it doesn’t, don’t feel pressured!

Blogging consistently is also completely different to blogging a lot. You do NOT need to post content every day - you just don’t! Nor do you need to have such a rigid blogging schedule that your posts go up on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:25am. If your content is good/unique/interesting it’s going to get read regardless of whether or not you post at the same time every week.

You also need to consider the fact that you need to have a balance between posts and engagement on posts - especially in the beginning. I don’t think that posting on a daily basis will increase your traffic but in fact it could divide your traffic between all your content when you could have maximised engagement and page views by posting less!



I don’t think I’ve ever been given ‘bad’ advice but like Di, I want to talk about something that is seen often in the blogosphere. Following blogs just so they will follow you back and unfollowing them when they don’t. This follow only to unfollow phenomenon is very common in Social networking sites especially Twitter and Instagram and has now infiltrated the blogosphere too. It’s a popular belief that following as many blogs as you can will help increase your followers as at least 50% of them will follow you back. While no one gives this ‘advice’ outright, this is something many do. I am NOT saying don’t follow blogs. I’m all about making wonderful friends in the blogosphere. I’m saying don’t follow blogs just for the ‘follow back’.  

Follow a blog you truly think you would be interested in. I admit when I first started my blog, it felt like it was all about the numbers - followers, pageviews etc. But truly it’s not. Ask yourself, do you want someone to follow your blog just because you followed theirs or do you want someone to follow your blog because they truly enjoy the content you post? I love it when I get a new follower ; I love it even more when a follower reads my posts and interacts with me; and that they will do only if they enjoy my content. So don’t get caught up on follower count but focus on doing what you love and trust me you’ll end up making wonderful friends through your blog!


If you could only give one piece of advice to an aspiring book blogger, what would it be? 



I think if I could only give one piece of advice, I’d have to remain in the same vein of the great advice that I was once given - Remember WHY you blog and the love that you have for books. Don’t make this into such a chore that you don’t enjoy it anymore. Keep reading the books that you love and if you want to read that book that doesn’t necessarily fit into your usual genre/category or whatever - DO IT! Don’t ONLY read for your blog - blog because you are reading.



Remember to be yourself and keep blogging because you love to - NOT to get more followers, NOT to get more pageviews but because you enjoy doing it. And intereact! When you find a blog post on the blogosphere you enjoy, leave a comment saying so; if someone comments on your posts, reply to them. Most of all, have fun! Don’t get so crazy about blogging that it feels like work.



Come check out my answers over at their collab posts!: 




 We hope you’ve enjoyed the first in our series of discussion posts! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

THAT NIGHT - by Chevy Stevens

THAT NIGHT - Chevy Stevens.
Published: 2014 - by Sphere.
Pages: 466.
Genres: Adult / mystery / thriller / romance
Source: Bought.
Eighteen-year-old Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were wrongly convicted of the murder of her younger sister. Seventeen years later, she's out on parole and back in her hometown, but she's struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Ryan is convinced he can uncover the truth; her mother still doesn't believe Toni's innocent; and the former high school girls who made Toni's life miserable may have darker secrets than anyone can imagine. Before Toni can move forward, she must take a terrifying step back to her past to find out the truth and clear her name, before it's too late.



I was INCREDIBLY excited to read this book. One, the cover is SO THRILLING AND ATMOSPHERIC; two, the premise sounds SO SCARY AND DARK; and three, I love love love thrillers.
So you can imagine my HUGE disappointment when I found myself extremely unimpressed after flipping the last page. It was such a let-down.


The writing isn't amazing. Toni's first person narration feels numb and disconnected, and not in a chilling or skillful way; her character just doesn't feel invested in the story, and I found it hard to sympathise with her as her emotions didn't feel real, vivid, or wholehearted. The writing is also amateurish, dry, and extremely mediocre. There're no beautiful phrases or chilling subtext - it's just flat. In addition, the dialogue is very uninspired and boring.
For most of the book it doesn't even feel like a thriller. The incidents in the story are random and weak, and most of them don't even add anything to the main plot or characters. That made me feel cheated; it wasn't like I was faced with a shocking revelation and could go back to see the hints of it previously in the story. There isn't any proper foreshadowing, and I found the ending underwhelming.

Everything Toni goes through - the bullying, the relationships, the prison sentence - all feels very unrealistic. Does the legal system - for example -  really work like she describes it in the book? I didn't find those situations or experiences credible at all.

I didn't love any of the characters and none of them felt incredibly well written or three dimensional. I did, however, rather like Toni's romance with Ryan; I really enjoyed their chemistry and relationship arc (the most three-dimensional aspect of the novel). But the other characters didn't win me over. Nicole feels stereotypical and predictable, Toni's parents unoriginal, the mean girls vague and boring, and just...meh.



That Night is a mediocre thriller with disconnected narration and a boring, predictable plot- line.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #34: ROAR - by Cora Carmack


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Breaking the Spine and now taken over by Wishful Endings that highlights upcoming book releases we're excited to read. On my blog, I include movies as well.




Release Date: June 13th 2017. 


In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them. Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people. To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters. Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

The cover is AMAZING and this book sounds absolutely epic. Aurora sounds like such an awesome heroine.  Hopefully I'll be able to get a copy soon!!!



Anyone else excited for Roar?! 


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

A COURT OF MIST AND FURY (ACOTAR #2) - by Sarah J. Maas

A COURT OF MIST AND FURY - Sarah J. Maas.
Year Published: 2016 - by Bloomsbury Children's.
Genre: Young adult / Fae / romance / high fantasy
Pages: 626.
Source: Library.
Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people. Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.




(Please be aware that this book contains graphic sexual content and that I'll be discussing that in this review.)

WELL. I guess it goes without saying - if you've read my reviews of other Maas books - that I have a love-hate relationship with this author. I'm always left angry, confused, broken, and electrified after putting down her books, and reviewing any of her books is a nightmare.
I will try make this logical. Try.


The atmosphere sparkles and writhes with a pulsing energy and life. Every scene is vivid, every detail tangible and exquisite, and everything comes alive on the pages. The world building is epic, and also so extraordinarily intricate.
The language is beautiful and the descriptions are delicious, but there's also a lot of repetitiveness and melodrama.  Maas uses too many words when only one or two will do, and phrases like "I was smoke and mist and ash" have become infuriating. I rolled my eyes a lot.
It's occasionally boring, but so addictive. I can get through a Maas book in about two to three days, and that's got to say something. They're incredibly more-ish.

I hate Tamlin. Hate is too mild a word, actually, but I don't like swearing, so it'll have to do. BUT GOSH, I freakin' hate his guts; his relationship with Feyre is downright abusive, and what was horrific sexual violence in the first book now escalates to controlling, domineering psychological assault. Thankfully Tamlin's behaviour is, for the most part, seen for what it is, and Feyre turns against him (to an extent).
Rhys is fantastic. I love his relationship with Feyre (again, to an extent, but I'll get to that in a bit) and I love how he sees her strength, respects her, and treats her as an equal. I love his attitude towards her and how he encourages her to embrace her potential.
So many new awesome characters are introduced in this book. I don't exactly love any of them, but they all come through vivid and rounded and with strong personalities. And I like and appreciate that so much.
Diversity is glaringly absent from Maas's books, and ACOMAF is no exception. I want to see disabled people, people of colour, and I hate how literally everyone is a sex god or goddess! Life isn't like that, and it's about time we saw some underdogs and - *gasp* - "ugly people" in the Fae world.

Character development is a huge part of this book, and I love that more than anything else. Feyre undergoes some incredible development; she grows so much as a character, and while I still don't particularly like her, I do adore her development.
But. I don't like how Maas makes her into the girl every guy wants to sleep with. In the first book, she was average and plain, but suddenly in the sequel she's hot and sexy. I hate that, and yet there's still some epicness from Feyre; lines like this:
“I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal. I was a survivor, and I was strong. I would not be weak, or helpless again I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.”
YES YES AND YES. I NEEDED THAT IN MY LIFE.


This is where I may start ranting. You've been warned.
What gets me every time with Maas's books is her treatment of sexual behaviour, lust, and "romance". Tamlin and Feyre are bad enough (although I'm glad Feyre's seen through him), but now it looks like Rhys and Feyre are entering into that abusive territory. AND IT KILLS ME, OKAY, because when they're not ogling each other's bodies and making out, their relationship is brilliant: mutual respect, equals, blah blah. But as soon as sex comes in, I want to tear the book up and hurl it across the room.
Rhys: "I want to stay in that bedroom and f*** you till we're both hoarse."
Rhys: "I want you splayed on the table like my own personal feast."
OH. EXCUSE ME IF I'M NOT SWOONING HERE.

I don't see how there can be another way to interpret this particular scene. When they have sex, he's abusing her; the definition of abuse is "cruel and violent treatment of a person", and Rhys is definitely violent. In this case, it's sexual violence against women and it's horrific. I don't see that as sexy, hot or romantic, and I certainly don't believe it's loving. It's violent, it's possessive, and it's revolting. There's nothing healthy or beautiful about it. Rhys was awesome before this sexualness between him and Feyre crept in, and now I'm so furious and bewildered and torn. Maas has just ruined a brilliant relationship.

Not to mention.......the crude sexual innuendoes just get too much. Every gorgeous character (oh wait, they're all gorgeous) is sexualized to a degree it almost overwhelms their personality. And when that sexuality comes in the form of crude comments, lusting like animals, and violent sex, then NO IT'S NOT RIGHT. It's abominable and perverse. The Fae are more animal than human, and I hate how the males act like sex-crazed beasts.
"Rhys came back the next morning, and when he learned what had happened..." She laughed under her breath. "We try not to talk about the incident. He and Cassian... I've never seen them fight like that......I know Rhys wasn't p***** about my virginity, but rather the danger that losing it had put me in. Aziel was even angrier about it - though he let Rhys do the walloping. They knew what my family would do for debasing myself with a bastard-born lesser Fae...They were right."

EXCUSE ME? This sounds a awful lot like the guys were fighting over her virginity, despite Mor saying, "I know Rhys wasn't p****** about my virginity, but rather the danger that losing it had put me in". Well. I don't buy that denial, and even if it is true, then it still doesn't sit right with me. To me, the whole exchange comes across like Rhys and Cassian are acting like territorial animals about what Mor's done with her body, and SINCE WHEN IS THAT OKAY? I hate how the males act like feral beats; it's disgusting.
I read that scene so many times to try unscramble what Maas actually meant by it. I'm still unsure. But what I've typed above is what I keep coming back to.



A Court of Mist and Fury is exhilarating, brilliantly written, and improves upon the first book in just about every aspect. It's dark, chilling, action-packed, and packed with strong characters and excellent development. 
But I hate hate hate Maas's portrayal of all things sexual, and there is no excuse for the violence against women that is inflicted by males who are glorified as heroes. 


Monday, 22 May 2017

ICE KISSED (Kanin Chronicles #2) - by Amanda Hocking

ICE KISSED - Amanda Hocking.
Year Published: 2015 - by St. Martin's Press.
Genre: Young adult / urban fantasy / romance
Pages: 309.
Source: Thank you to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Bryn Aven refuses to give up on her dream of serving the kingdom she loves. It’s a dream that brings her to a whole new realm…and the glittering palace of the Skojare. The Skojare people need protection from the same brutal enemy that’s been threatening the Kanin, and Bryn is there to help. Being half Skojare herself, it’s also a chance for her to learn more about her lost heritage. Her boss, Ridley Dresden, is overseeing her mission, but as their undeniable attraction heats up, their relationship is about to reach a whole new level—one neither of them is prepared for. As they delve deeper into the Skojare world, they begin to unravel a long-hidden secret. The dark truth about her own beloved Kanin kingdom is about to come to light, and it will change her place in it forever…and threaten everyone she loves.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Frostfire. Since it ended with a lot of unanswered questions, I was eager to know what happened and looked forward to the second book.
But unfortunately, Ice Kissed just felt like a halfhearted filler to get the characters where they needed to be for the final book.
I was so disappointed.


The story is marginally fun, and it easily sweeps you along. It's relaxing, easy-to-read, and I loved the ice/snow aspects - I'm such a sucker for snow scenes; they're fascinating and leave so much potential for tantalising writing.
I loved the setting and atmosphere. The world building is also very strong.

The writing isn't brilliant. The sentences are too long, there's a lot more telling than showing, and there's explanation after explanation; "because" is used too often, and it's just plain patronising. I have a brain and imagination, and I don't need to have everything explained to me when it's actually glaringly obvious in the scene.
It's very boring. As I said further up, this instalment just felt like it was there to get the characters in place for the next book. Not much happened, although I was relieved to have a lot of the main questions answered; the mystery part of the series that had gone unexplained and unresolved in Frostfire, is explained in this book.

The secondary characters easily blur into the background with weak personalities. Bryn is still a terrific heroine, Ridley's still swoony, I loved Linnea and Ember, but characters like Kasper and Kennet are extremely dull. No one left a great impression on me.


The romance goes downhill. I ship Bryn and Ridley like crazy and I love them together, but in this book their relationship felt rushed, random, and pushed to the side. Ridley is such a strong character, but in Ice Kissed he's reduced to a rather dull, stereotypical hero. He's still lovable and I still want him and Bryn to get together, but his character development is skimped and dry and basically nonexistent. I feel like Hocking's shoved Ridley to the side so as to nudge Bryn and Konstantin together. And my shipper heart boils with rage and screams no.
Ridley's page time is also extremely minimal. I hated how he hardly features during the whole book, especially during the climatic ending.  His character now feels like "just another love interest".
I don't like what Hocking's done to him.

Then there's the sex scene. Just to put it out there, I hate the way Hocking writes sex scenes: they're so cringy and awkward.
Anyway. Ridley and Bryn's sleeping together felt completely forced and out of character. Not to mention how Ridley has the disgusting audacity to add afterwards: "And there's Juni... She's not my girlfriend, but she deserves better than this."
Okay. This annoys the heck out of me because Bryn and Ridley slept together knowing it wouldn't mean anything and knowing that Ridley's with someone else ("not my girlfriend" my $&#@%; Ridley and Juni are definitely together, I'm sorry).
In the space of this scene, my opinion of both Bryn and Ridley dropped drastically. My darling characters deserve to be written better than this.



After enjoying the entertaining, romantic adventure that was Frostfire, I sadly found Ice Kissed dull, boring, and rushed. I hope the third book will redeem Bryn's story. 


← Frostfire

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Weekly Round-Up: Reading and holiday


I'm away on holiday at the moment (Friday to late Sunday), so apologies for not visiting your blogs this weekend! I'll be catching up on posts and comments tomorrow :) 

Posts of the week: 

Book Review: THE HATE U GIVE
Book Review: LETTERS TO THE LOST


I've not completely won over by The Diabolic yet, but it is mystifying :) 




I finished two books this week (reviews to come): 




I've heard mixed things about both these books, but they do look interesting. The Cruelty, especially, sounds very thrilling! 






Caitlin encourages Young Writers: Don't Give Up

Alyssa reviews Roar



How was your week? What are you currently reading? 

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Blog Squad: What We've Done So Far

We hope you’ve enjoyed our Blog Squad posts so far! We’ve really enjoyed answering the questions and reading your responses in the comments - it’s so awesome to hear everyone’s different experiences.

We aren’t finished with The Blog Squad posts, but we thought we’d do a wrap-up just to show you what we’ve done so far and let you read posts you might have missed.   




The Blog Squad: Part I - Friday 10 February

  • What made you start your book blog?
  • Have you received any books to review from publishers or authors?
  • If an author has taken the time to research your blog and is asking you to review a book in your scope, should you say yes?

The Blog Squad: Part II - Friday 17 February

  • Do you have to get ARCs to be a "proper" Book Blogger?
  • What's your ‘review process’?
  • Do you write a review of every book read (including negative reviews?)

The Blog Squad: Part III - Friday 24 February

  • What is more important? A high number of followers OR a smaller number but more interactive followers?
  • Do you expect a comment back on your blog when you go comment on someone else’s blog?
  • Do you think bloggers should always reply to comments on their blog?

The Blog Squad Special: Friday 3 March

The Blog Squad: Part IV - Friday 10 March

  • Do you need a Twitter and/or Facebook and/or Instagram account if you have a blog?
  • Which blogging platform do you think is the best/ Why do you use Blogger?
  • What comment system do you prefer to use?

The Blog Squad: Part V - Friday 17 March

  • What makes you follow a blog?
  • Where do you find the blogs that you are currently following?
  • What makes you comment on a blog post?

The Blog Squad: Part VI - Friday 24 March

  • Blog scheduling - Do you do it?
  • Is there an acceptable number of posts per week for a book blog?
  • Book Blitzes and Blog Tours - Your take

The Blog Squad: Part VII - Friday 7 April

  • Book Ratings - what’s your system?
  • What things make you lower your rating for a book?
  • Have you ever looked back on ratings and reviews and needed to change them?

The Blog Squad: Part VIII - Friday 14 April

  • Should reviews have spoiler alerts? Or be spoiler free?
  • Do the endings of books affect your rating or overall opinion?
  • How long should a review be?

The Blog Squad: Part IX - Friday 21 April

  • What do you think is important about blog layout? How did you decide on your particular one?
  • Is there one thing you wish you’d done differently to your blog from the start? One thing you regret?
  • What is the next item on your blogging ‘To Do’ list?

The Blog Squad: Part X -  Friday 28 April May

  • What is your reading schedule like?
  • How much pressure do you put on yourself to meet your bookish goals?
  • How has blogging changed your reading habits?

The Blog Squad Special: A Tag -  Friday 5 May

  • Is there a particular blogger that inspires you?
  • What is your blog’s niche?
  • What is your top bookish confession?
  • What are your top 3 bookish pet peeves?
  • Name 3 books you would recommend to anyone.


Check out Di and Uma's posts!:


We hope this wrap-up has helped you catch-up on some of our topics! Please share your answers to any of the question above in the comments, and let us know if there’re any other questions you’d like us to feature.  

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for Part 11 next week!