Thursday, 24 November 2016

A (Long Overdue) Update!

So, you may have realised that I don't post very often anymore. In fact, I've left it so long that it's been almost a year! This was not on purpose, I was supposed to post my review for Join Up months and months ago, and I actually finished one or two more reviews around 4 months ago, although I forgot to post (quite honestly, posting reviews is the most laborious and boring part of the review processs. I tent to post my reviews on several platforms so do a lot of copy and pasting).

Anyway, I've finished my second year of university! I have a part time retail job.

The biggest thing that has changed for me is discovering ice skating! I am very much committed to skating, and also volunteer at competitions and such. Unfortunately, this has taken me away from horse riding. :( My reasoning behind this is that figure skating must be done while I am young! But horse riding can be done when I'm a bit older. Who knows what will happen... I would still very much like to own a horse one day, even if it was just a companion horse.

It's become a bit difficult to keep up with all my hobbies outside of skating... Sometimes I get lazy and just stay at home and watch TV, haha. I find this quite sad, because there are so many things that make me happy, but I will never have the time and money to commit to them all fully.

I still read a fair bit! I recently finished Something In Between by Melissa De La Cruz and enjoyed it! I really must review it and stop being lazy, haha. 

I read less often now. I often reread books on my kindle app when I am on public transport (so a lot), but I don't read new books as often. I think that sometimes I find it a bit harder to get into books nowadays. Don't get me wrong, I can still fly through a book that I love, but sometimes I buy new books and abandon them not too long later due to a lack of interest. :/ I feel like I have always done this a bit, although it may be a bit worse now.

I feel like as I've gotten older, I've become a slightly more levelheaded, fair, and less profane person in my reviews. I think that I analyse books better and also understand how to be fair to the authors that I review. Hopefully I continue to get better at this. I am actually a bit embarassed about my old reviews! Some of them were so bad... And some of them were so angry and basically trashing the book! I still write negative reviews and don't think there is anything wrong with an honest, negative review. However, I don't think I will type as angrily as I used to. I feel like a lot of my old reviews could be a bit too harsh.

Anyway, my life is good! I am very happy. University is coming along great, I have some amazing friends, and I've really found a passion in ice skating. Reading and writing will forever be a much treasured part of my life... I just don't have as much time and energy for it like I did a few years ago.

You can still see me around Goodreads and my blog! I'll be continuing to read and review, although it will probably be more sporadic from now on. :(

Faults by Tudor Robins (Review)

Release date: November 2016

Publisher: Tudor Robins

Number of pages: 260

My rating: 4.5/5

The fourth book in Tudor Robins’ Island series, Faults, offers a fresh perspective on The Island. I was expecting something quite different to what I got. The first two books of the series were centred around Meg and Jared. The third was centred around Lacey, who appeared regularly in the first two books and is Jared’s cousin. This one takes a step away from the usual characters in the first three books and chooses to focus on two new characters, Austen and Rand. It follows the two characters as they work through the summer and explore their budding relationship. Oh, and there’s a horse, too. There’s always a horse. :)

Austen is the ultimate good girl. With two overprotective parents and a sick sister, she always has to be available for her family. She always does what is best for her family, even if she doesn’t want to. Rand, after getting in trouble back on Toronto, gets sent to The Island for the summer to live with his uncle and find a job. They both find work for Meg and Jared. Austen is also given a horse, Mac, to work on.

I was quite surprised when I began reading the book and realised that the two protagonists were entirely new. I had to admit, I’ve grown comfortable with Meg, Jared, and Lacey. I was even more surprised when I discovered that the book was told from an alternating POV. Austen was a fantastic character. She’s the typical good girl, but certainly not a boring one. She tries her hardest to take care of her family and do what is right. I really liked Austen, and she proved to be funny, strong, and not boring at all.

I liked Rand equally as much as Austen. He’s a bit rougher and has some attitude issues at times, but I found him relatable and likable. As usual, Tudor does a good job of creating likable, realistic characters. The issues that Rand and Austen faced were quite genuine.

I feel that the main focus of Faults is on Austen and Rand, rather than on horses. This is not necessarily a bad thing, although if you’re looking for a book that focuses heavily on horses and competing, you might feel a little disappointed. There is a fair bit of horse stuff in there, with Austen being offered a horse to work with as well as working at a horse riding camp, but the book mainly focuses on the characters and their problems. Lacey, who was the main character in the previous book, Join Up, also worked at a horse camp, although Tudor does not focus as heavily on the camp in Faults.

Tudor focuses on some difficult issues in this book. They are not confronting or graphic or anything, but they are difficult issues that are not necessarily have clear cut solutions. Austen’s sister’s illness is portrayed incredibly well. Tudor addresses the complexity of the situation from Austen’s family’s point of view, as well as addressing how Austen’s sister herself feels. I found the conflict that both characters faced to be really interesting and definitely the biggest selling point of the book.

As usual, I love how Tudor portrays “the Island”, where the Island Series is based on. All of the books in the series, minus Join Up are set on the Island, which is based on Wolfe Island (I read Tudor’s blog as well :) ). Tudor describes the island beautifully, and she makes me feel like I’ve literally been transported to this awesome, summery, country island. The author includes little details which make the island seem like a real, tangible place. Interestingly enough, because the Island series has been told from so many perspectives (Meg’s, Lacey’s, Austen’s, and Rand’s), the island is viewed differently from each person. Which is actually great, because the Island isn’t really shown as a perfect, unrealistic place. Throughout the series, it’s also been described as a “hick” island, as a place where gossip travels fast, and even proves to be isolating/boring at times. Tudor really captures the intricacies of living in a rural area as well as its impracticalities.

I do wish that Faults was a little more cohesive with the rest of the series though. The first two books were told from Meg’s point of view, the third was from Lacey’s (who was a fairly major character in Meg’s books) point of view. Austen and Rand do not appear elsewhere in the series… They just appear and end up renting Meg’s family’s cottage. I understand the reasoning behind this, as perhaps there was not much more to be explored with Meg and Lacey. However, I wish Austen and Rand had linked in a little better with past characters, or had appeared in one of the previous books. It’s a little jarring to change characters completely, but have the same setting and feature old characters. I did end up loving Austen and Rand, but I did wish that Faults was told from a more familiar character. I would have loved to see something from Bridget, Carly, Slate, or even Lacey or Meg again.

I very much enjoyed reading faults, with the characterisation and the issues that both main characters face to be the best parts of the book. The book has a lovely setting and does feature a fair bit of horse related stuff. I only wish that the book had tied in with the other a bit better. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for a horse book or a contemporary novel.

(BTW who else is looking forward to the next book in Tudor’s Downhill series?)

A copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Join Up by Tudor Robins (Review)

Release date: 19 December 2015

Publisher: Tudor Robins

Number of Pages: 224

My rating: 4/5

I am a colossal idiot. I was sent this book for review months and months ago. I read it, and I've re read it several times since. I had almost completed my review.... And then I forgot to finish and post it. *sigh* Well here it is! My last re read was a week or two ago, so it's still fresh in my mind.

Eek, this was what I thought was going to be the last book in the Island Trilogy! But according to Tudor Robins’ blog, she’s realised that maybe it shouldn’t be a trilogy. Score!
And furthermore, this book isn’t about Meg and Jared anymore, it’s about Lacey! She’s definitely my favourite character in the series. 

Join Up follows Lacey as she works at a posh riding camp over the summer with her friend, Carly. The hours are long, the pay is bad, plus there’s this guy called Fitch… Oh, and a horse called Night. 
I have to say that I really did enjoy this book! I really liked the fact that the book was about Lacey and that there was a significant time jump. I felt that Meg and Jared’s story didn’t really have anywhere to go after Wednesday Riders... I mean, we had already seen how they met and got together… and then their troubles and their resolution. Not much more after that point! I always loved Lacey’s kindness and enthusiasm. And also her temper and impulsiveness. I have to say though, sometimes it didn’t feel like I was actually reading this from Lacey’s perspective. Lacey was always so enthusiastic and excitable in the previous books, and this Lacey wasn’t. I get that she grew up and went through some troubles in this book, but sometimes I just didn’t feel like I was reading from Lacey’s point of view. I felt like I was reading from Meg’s, who is much more levelheaded than Lacey. Saying that, at times I actually preferred reading from Lacey’s POV rather than Meg’s.

Fitch was a bit “eh…” for me. I liked the guy and his banter with Lacey, but he came off as a bit of a jerk sometimes and wasn’t the most interesting guy in the series so far. Fitch was generally likable, though. 

As usual, Tudor Robins writes some great coming of age content! Lacey’s situation with her friend’s boyfriend was believable and also kind of tricky. I really felt like I knew where Lacey was coming from with her concerns on the issue. Friendship and crushes can be tricky things (believe me, I know. Probably a little too well, haha). This is probably one of my favourite parts of the book, because I actually felt really sorry for Lacey! I really understood how she felt and why she was a bit stuck. Who hasn’t been in a super awkward situation with a crush and a friend?

I was really excited to read about Lacey’s situation with Night, but it kind of let me down a bit. I expected Night to be more of a complex horse, such as Jessie from Wednesday Riders, who was very sensitive and sore at times. A green broke horse doesn’t necessarily mean that the horse is unrideable, but I expected more of a challenge when it came to Night. Lacey seemed to be able to work with him quite easily, which I find to be a little hard to believe… I have known riding school horses (relatively quiet) that have been a bigger challenge than Night is in this book. Some green broke horses might be really spooky and shy at everything. Maybe they’re super sensitive and require a quiet rider and some gentle guidance (like Jessie, Meg’s horse from Wednesday riders!). Or maybe they have some vices under saddle. A lot of green horses might have trouble staying balanced, listening to aids, or picking up the right lead. I found Lacey’s situation with Night to be a little unrealistic.

Lacey’s troubles with her love life, camp, her family, and her finances are very realistic and well portrayed. I thought that Lacey’s concerns echoed a lot of other people’s around her age. Heck, I could even relate it to my own concerns. 

There was a bit of action happening in the book. I miss The Island, but I loved reading from Lacey’s perspective in a different setting. This is the first time that the series has really been away from the island, and while I missed the atmosphere I enjoyed the change of pace from the previous two books. The Island is mentioned a fair bit anyway, which is pretty cool. Julianne Hills is still a great setting, and once again Tudor Robins does an excellent job of setting the scene. I can easily picture it in my head. :)

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book for someone looking for a good horse or contemporary novel. As usual, Tudor does a great job with the location of this book, as well as the characters and their issues. If you are expecting a story highly focused on working with a green horse and its difficulties, you might be disappointed. There is a lot of horse related stuff in this novel, as well as some great coming-of-age issues. I feel that Join Up is a very well balanced book, and I very much enjoyed reading it. :)

A copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Showdown by Brittney Joy (Review)

Release date: December 19 2014

Publisher: Brittney Joy (via Createspace)

Number of pages: 222 pages

My rating: 4.5/5 stars

Wow, I finally got around to reviewing this after, um… like two months? Oops… I did love this book but I got flooded with homework and work commitments for a while. (And then I got lazy). But really, I couldn't put this book down until I finished! I read both of them in one night, sacrificing sleep.

Lucy goes along with Taylor to a large horse show over a weekend. The two girls did not get along at all in Lucy’s Chance (the first book), but Lucy ends up being Taylor’s helper over the weekend. Taylor is determined to win, and Lucy is just determined to survive the weekend. The book is told from both Lucy and Taylor’s point of views.

Lucy is just as awesome as always. She’s the typical hardworking girl who loves her horse but isn’t really into the whole show scene. She and Chance have a really great relationship, and as always, I really loved reading about her and her horse.

Honestly, I like Lucy, but I really think she was outshone by Taylor this time around. Taylor is just an incredible character. I really loved reading from her perspective. She’s quite wealthy and is very much into showing. I know that sounds like the recipe for one of those typical spoilt rich horse show brats who can’t really ride at all (ugh) that seem to frequent most horse books, but I felt that she very different. Sure, she can be a bit of a jerk sometimes, but she genuinely cares for her horse Star. She’s not above taking care of Star and realising her own mistakes in regards to her riding. She makes some bad decisions and can be really mean to others, but I liked her as a character. She’s flawed, but it’s a realistic kind of flawed. She’s super competitive but also has a bit of compassion.

While Lucy kind of blends in and helps Taylor at the horse show, I feel like Taylor’s role in the book stands out a bit more. Not only is she actually competing, she goes through a lot more than Lucy does in the book.

A new character who I really love is Tiera. She’s so adorable and super sweet, and was the perfect friend to the girls. 

There are plenty of ups and downs in this book, and the horse show stuff was very interesting to read about. There’s plenty of excitement in there as well as a different environment from Red Rock Ranch. I really started to fall in love with the characters and the locations themselves.

I really enjoyed Showdown and would recommend it to people looking for a short-ish, fun, middle grade read about horses.

A digital copy was provided free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Lucy's Chance (Red Rock Ranch #1) Review

Release date: April 15 2015

Publisher: Createspace

Number of Pages: 186

My rating: 3.5/5

I really enjoyed this book. It was a little bit choppy in some places, but it was definitely a really fun summer read.

Lucy gets summer job at Red Rock Ranch. She meets Casey, a handsome and kind cowboy. Unfortunately, Taylor Johnson, rich and talented, has her claws in him. When a wild horse comes out of nowhere, Lucy makes it her mission to whip him up into a ranch horse.

Lucy and Casey were pretty sweet characters. Both were hard workers and great people. Both are determined to save the black horse.

Unfortunately I had a bit of a problem with Taylor for most of the book. Taylor is a talented rider who is very competitive. She’s really possessive of Casey and is just cruel to Lucy for no reason. I really didn’t see the reasoning behind her behaviour in this book. I actually grew to like Taylor in the second book, but that’s another story. I wish that we were given a little more insight into Taylor a little earlier in the book. We do get to explore her character a little more later on in the book, but I would prefer to do this a little earlier on. In my experience, usually mean people have a reason for the way that they behave. Very rarely do you find someone who is truly cruel to others for no reason (and then there are chronically stupid self-centred people, but those people are a different story). Despite Taylor’s bad attitude, I found that I couldn’t really hate her. Joy does a good job of introducing a little depth in her later on, and her relationship with her horse Star is really lovely.

I really enjoyed the horse content in the book. There is definitely some jargon used in this book, so it might be a bit more challenging for non horsey people to read, but it’s definitely not impossible. Each horse had their own personality and Lucy’s relationship with the black horse was nice. There are definitely ups and downs but I think that it was rather realistic.

I loved the atmosphere of the ranch, but wish that there was a little more description about some of the guests (you can meet some very colourful people working with the public...). I can tell that Joy has spent time on ranches in real life.

The climax of the book was really exciting. I was glued to the page! I think that this part was nicely written and fun to read about. 

The ending of the book was a little bit abrupt and I did spot a few minor typos. I think that those things can be worked out with a little more editing.

All in all, I enjoyed Lucy’s Chance quite a lot. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good, middle grade horse book.

A copy was provided free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Frost Fire by Olivia Rivers Review

Release date: November 20 2012

Publisher: Red Sparrow Press

Number of pages: 335

My rating: 2/5 stars

I’m sad to admit that I did not enjoy this book. I really enjoy a good paranormal series and Olivia Rivers is a very young author, so I guess I wanted this one to be good.

I apologise for my poor synopsis. I did not pay enough attention in the beginning of the book and it flew over my head.

Allai is a part demon who lives in some kind of mansion under a secret society for paranormal creatures. She does not possess any special powers or forms, unlike the others she lives with. Allai’s life is in danger and she becomes intrusted in the hands of Drake, a demon who once tried to harm her.

Allai was my biggest problem with this book. Look, I understand that not all female characters have to be badasses. In fact, I oppose that. A strong or developed female character does not necessarily have to be some kind of highly trained combat fighter. But I do expect the female characters I read about to be developed and to be… useful. I think that Hazel Grace Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars is a good example of some of the characteristics I expect from a female character. She has her own opinions and does not lay down and die. She’s developed and has interests. She’s not going to save the world anytime soon and she’s not extraordinary (although I do enjoy characters who are those things). Okay, I’m being pretty vague here, but these are the things I expect from EVERY character.

Allai does not have any of these things. She is so amazingly useless that I’m not even sure how someone like that could exist. She seems to put herself in dangerous situations just to get in the way. She seems to flop down and give up many times in this book while others drag her around.

I do not expect Allai to kill every demon in sight. I do not even expect her to be brave. But I expect her to have some kind of common sense and a will to live.
Drake was not any better. Just some moody, brooding guy. Pass.

Luke was just an overprotective jerk. Yawn. For some reason he never wears shirts, which might have been some kind of vague attempt make him interesting and hot. Yeah no. Describing the overprotective jerk as being shirtless just makes me think that he’s weird and has no consideration for others.

Why the hell does Allai need so many people taking care of her all the time? She can’t seem to do anything for herself. These two guys are her protectors, her way of gaining knowledge, and pretty much keep her alive.

I know nothing about Allai. I just read an entire book on her and I have no idea about her personality, her interests, what she does in her spare time, etc.
On another note, what is up with the whole paranormal society? There are French ambassadors who are evil and kind of stereotypical… Why are the French boss of the paranormal society? I just don’t understand…

Not a lot happens in this book. To be honest, it felt more like a prequel. There is a big reveal, but this doesn’t really come into play seriously.

Frost Fire is ultimately a rather uninteresting book, topped off with a weak protagonist and controlling, aggressive side characters. It wasn’t completely awful, but it definitely wasn’t good. I do have respect for Olivia Rivers for having the courage and dedication to self-publish her book at such a young age, but for me it isn’t about the age of an author, it’s about the book itself. I’m glad that she has courage and commitment (something that young people tend to lack) so I hope she keeps going!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Fall Line by Tudor Robins

Publishing date: 11 June 2015

Publisher: Tudor Robins

Number of pages: 204

My rating: 4/5

I really enjoyed Tudor Robins’ books about horses so when she contacted me about reviewing her latest book about skiing, I just had to say yes! Even though I don’t ski I really enjoyed reading about skiing and Chris and Tilly’s lives. So much training! Sigh, I wish I could ride/skate as much as they ski. Chris and Tilly have an incredible friendship in the book, and the skiing elements seem very authentic. However, the main disappointment of the novel was Jenna, who distracts Chris from his training, causing him to fall back.

The skiing season is approaching for Chris Myers and his best friend Tilly. They’re both competition skiers and Chris has a chance to make the district ski team. All is going well until Jenna comes along. Jenna is a major distraction to Chris and he begins to fall behind his teammates. He makes a lot of bad decisions and begins to lose Tilly in the process.

Chris and Tilly were incredible! Their passion for skiing was incredible as well as their relationship with each other. There’s a lot of good banter and friendly stuff between them. It felt totally authentic and was great fun to read about.
Tilly was a very lovely character but knew when to get upset as well, which I liked. Far too many authors try to create the perfect good girl character, only to have the character themselves to turn out meek and uninteresting. It was great to see that Tilly knew how to stand up for herself.

Unlike Tilly, Chris was a little more frustrating. His constant bad decisions in the middle of the novel got a little annoying. I have to admit that I really hoping that Chris would get a grip, especially after others had already had a good talk to him about it. He definitely went on a bit of a downward spiral where he acted out of spite and ignored those around him. While his bad decisions seemed a little excessive at times, I think this is relatively realistic for a 15 year old. What 15 year old hasn’t ignored their parents/coach and done something bad?

My biggest problem with this book was Jenna. I couldn’t stand her. She was so fake and clingy. I totally understand that she’s the antagonist, and I’m not really supposed to like her, but I felt that she was rather one dimensional. She was the typical trashy girl with revealing clothes, annoying friends, and way into partying. Meh. Very uninteresting, really. She seemed completely evil and bitchy. There was never really a reprieve from this, even at the end of the novel. She seemed like an empty shell placed in the book only to act as a distraction for Chris.

I really wish that Jenna was fleshed out a little more. She doesn’t really have to change and become like Tilly or anything, but I would have liked to learn a little bit more about her and her intentions. I have trouble believing that she is a truly malicious person for no reason. Jenna had a lot of potential as a character, because even though she’s a party girl (the most evil character of all in YA books!) it doesn’t make her a horrible or boring person.

I liked the skiing plot as well, and reading about their training and competitions was great fun. There is some light skiing jargon used in this book, but it is not difficult to understand. The coaches and the program itself seemed realistic and I especially liked the way the coaches dealt with Chris and his training.

The content in this book is probably suitable for readers 14 years and over. There’s nothing too explicit, but there’s some swearing and some other themes that would be unsuitable for very young readers. The themes in the book are definitely suitable for the young adult genre and I believe that they are commonly dealt with by teenagers in real life.

All in all, I did really enjoy Fall Line. Tilly and Chris’ relationship is the cutest thing ever and the pressures that Chris faces are realistic and well written. You definitely don’t need to be a skier to read this, because the book is very light on jargon. I’d recommend it to people who enjoy reading about sport. 

A copy was provided by the author free of charge in exchange for an honest review.