Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Release Date: April 10th, 2018
Read: January 28th- February 15th, 2018
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Series: The Shadow Game, #1
Format: ARC, 400 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review

Description from GoodReads:

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn't have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne's offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. 

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi's enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.


   Don't trust unless you must.
   Like everyone, I too, was excited to get my hands on Ace of Shades. A book of gambling your money, and your life? WITH powers? How couldn't I be excited? But of course, the anticipation was short lived when I actually picked up the book.

   You'll notice I have two strong opinions when it comes to Ace of Shades. The first being about the world building, and the second being that I couldn't shake the feeling of having read it before.

   Amanda Foody's world building was exceptionally marvellous, you couldn't help but be in awe when it came to the society, as well as the gang groups and wealthy families. Amanda had them so well put together that when I walk by someone with white hair in the streets I can't help but be a little more cautious. The rankings of the groups, the way the gang's bloodline was still a major focus as it is in reality, but with special abilities, you couldn't help but be amazed at it all.

   The biggest flaw to Ace of Shades was that it wasn't published earlier. If the novel had been published maybe two, three years earlier I'm sure it would have been a huge hit with me. But unfortunately I had already read The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell, and heard so much about Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo before reading this one. I couldn't help but compare everything, and I mean everything from Ace of Shades to The Last Magician. It was actually kind of ridiculous how similar they were. Even the plot twist in Ace of Shades was predicable because the plot twist in The Last Magician was the exact same thing. It was because of this, that I couldn't stand the book. That and the  character Enne, literally drove me mad with all her whining.

   I really wished I could have loved Ace of Shades, but it ended up being a wrong place at the wrong right situation. Since it was the story rather than the writing that ruined the book for me, I still look forward to reading Amanda Foody's debut, Daughter of the Burning City


Favourite Quote:

"People do not play this Game to win, my dear. They play this game not to lose."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Fantasy, Powers, Gambling, The Last Magician, Six of Crows

Friday, March 9, 2018

Book Review: Fireblood by Elly Blake

Release Date: September 12th, 2017
Read: August 22nd-23rd, 2017
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Frostblood Saga, #2
Format: ARC, 416 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Description from GoodReads:

   All hail the Fire Queen.

   Against all odds, Ruby has defeated the villainous Frost King and melted his throne of ice. But the bloodthirsty Minax that was trapped inside is now haunting her kingdom and everyone she loves. The answers to its demise may lie to the south in Sudesia, the land of the Firebloods, and a country that holds the secrets to Ruby’s powers and past…

   Despite warnings from her beloved Arcus, Ruby accompanies a roguish Fireblood named Kai to Sudesia, where she must master her control of fire in a series of trials to gain the trust of the suspicious Fire Queen. Only then can she hope to access the knowledge that could defeat the rampaging Minax—which grows closer every moment. But as sparks fly in her moments alone with Kai, Ruby no longer knows whom to trust. The fates of two kingdoms are now in her hands.


   The last thing I want is to smother you
   I didn't adore Frostblood, the first book in the series, that much is known if you read my review. But in the end I requested the ARC since the author is Canadian and I wanted to give her another chance. 
   All the problems that occurred in Frostblood that I did not enjoy, reoccurred in Fireblood. Everything from the similarity to Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, to the book being a walking cliche of everything Young Adult. The Deja Vu factor had returned in full force.
   In complete honesty, the cliche factor was a deal breaker for me. I thought I could get over the fact, but in the end I just couldn't bring myself to enjoy really anything about Fireblood. Especially not when the only memory I still have of the novel is me groaning every five minutes. 

   Although, saying all of this, I do still believe that anyone just starting to read YA books should give the Frostblood saga a chance. If you haven't read a ton of YA yet, then I could certainly see Fireblood as an interesting and fun read. Because of that fact, I would still recommend it to people. 

   Fireblood was a walking "ugh" for me, so I probably won't pick up Nightblood, the final book in the series, unless someone shoves it in my face. 


Favourite Quote:

"You’re quite amusing when you’re not lashing me with that sharp tongue."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Old Time YA Books

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Book Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Release Date: January 18th, 2018
Read: August 15th-21st, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Series: Standalone
Format: ARC, 368 pages
Source: McNally Robinson

Description from GoodReads:

   Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

   Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.


   My love he wooed me. My love he slew me.
   It's been roughly seven months since I read The Hazel Wood, and I still remain bitter about the story and the hope I had for the book being crushed. I had such a strong anticipation for The Hazel Wood before it released; the cover was gorgeous, the synopsis was everything I needed from a fairy tale novel, but in the end it let me ever so down.

   I found the lead up to the Hazel Wood to be a complete mess, to me nothing made any sense at all. It was clear that everything was done in anticipation of heading to the Hazel Wood, but it was just filler to me. Not to mention we were constantly told about how all the Hinterland stories were oh so important to saving the mother as well as other things, but we basically got a list of their names and were told the stories later on when the novel was basically almost done. It was later announced after The Hazel Wood was written that there'd be a bind up of all the Hinterland stories, but I honestly think they were needed to comprehend this novel.

   I also found the protagonist and friend were completely bland characters, nothing about them stood out and at times I was even annoyed at hearing their voices. It didn't matter what happened to them in the novels, I could care less about what happened to them.

   I wanted a unique new fairy tale story, but what I got was a bland mess. I still don't understand the hype to the book after having read it, and I'm still so disappointed that a book with such a gorgeous cover could be such a mess underneath.

   The Hazel Wood was a disaster, and under no circumstances will you see me picking up it's sequel in the future.


Favourite Quote:

"If you're not with the book you want, you might as well want the book you're with."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Fairy Tales, Retelling, Cities, Murder, Blood

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Book Review: Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Release Date: September 5th, 2017
Read: October 18th-29th, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Series: Even the Darkest Stars, #1
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Source: McNally Robinson

Description from GoodReads:

   Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.

   But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister, Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means cimbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then, Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.

   The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and other dangers at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth about their mission and her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.


   Why do you fear me, brave one.
   At work we have this shelf of Advance Readers Copies that us booksellers are allowed to take to read and keep. That was how I first encountered Even the Darkest Stars. Unfortunately by the time I had finally decided to pick the book up and read it, someone had already taken the copy. I found that by not being able to read it anymore, it made me want to read it all the more. Long story short, I went out the next day and bought my own copy to read.

   Even the Darkest Stars was one of my favourite fantasy books of 2017. After reading it in 11 days, I could not stop talking about it to people and I still can't. I even went on about it WHILE reading it to all my book friends. The book had all my favourite elements of a fantasy; witches, kingdoms, magic, mountains and dragons. They were all blended together beautifully to create a magical world of mystique and adventure.

   I couldn't be happier with how Heather Fawcett wrote her story in a setting of hard cold and snow. I live in a setting where we are known for our harsh winters, we even have nicknames relating to how our only season is winter. Most YA novels take place in biomes that have warm temperatures or just don't have to deal with the same kind of weather as we do. It was fantastic to finally have a story where I could relate to the elements, I hope that other writers take the hint and start to have their own stories be set in a similar element.

   Even the Darkest Stars is the adventure that'll make you realize that even on the the most dangerous adventures, not everything and everyone is who they seem.

   And with that, I begin my countdown to the release of All the Wandering Light, the second and final book in the Even the Darkest Stars duology. 


Favourite Quote:

"Your soul is rich like honeycomb. Like strawberries."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Fantasy, Witches, Magic, Mountains, Shapeshifters, Adventures

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Book Review: The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin

Release Date: November 7th, 2017
Read: November 16th-December 1st, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers
Series: The Shaw Confessions, #1
Format: ARC, 384 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review

Description from GoodReads:

Everyone thinks seventeen-year-old Noah Shaw has the world on a string.

They’re wrong.

Mara Dyer is the only one he trusts with his secrets and his future.

He shouldn’t.

And both are scared that uncovering the truth about themselves will force them apart.

They’re right.


   Only play the games you can win.
   When I first encountered the Mara Dyer trilogy, four years ago, I was shocked and completely unprepared. The series was unpredictable, and constantly made me double think everything I thought I knew. It was a thrill to read, and I couldn't have been more excited to pick up The Becoming of Noah Shaw, when I first heard about it. That was until I had the book in my hand, then everything changed.

   I basically hated everything about The Becoming of Noah Shaw. The first, basically starting with the first page. At the beginning of the novel there was a warning for the readers, this warning contained a warning that the novel contained death, self harm, as well as a few other things. Where this should have been a pro thing, the wording of the end of the letter was terrible and completely contradicted the purpose of the letter. The final warning was to warn the reader that the book contained a lot of sex. Which once again, is completely fine, but the final sentence said something along the line of: " but if you need a warning, then you're probably reading the wrong book". I understand that the sentence was directed towards the sex warning, but the placement and wording made it seem like it referred to the entire warning, thus leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

   The Becoming of Noah Shaw can not be read on it's own. I read the final Mara Dyer novel, The Retribution of Mara Dyer, back in 2015, roughly three years ago. With this, I have forgotten many things that had occurred in the series. With this being a new, but connecting series, I had thought that not remembering everything wouldn't be a problem, that Michelle Hodkin would probably recap what had happened. Of course I was wrong, and so everything was so confusing when reading the book.
   From what I did remember from the previous series, it felt as if the entire novel was just erasing all the progress that had happened when the original series had completed. Every little progress that had been made, all erased because the author had no idea what to make the story about.

   Then the final straw that occurred, that made me officially done with the novel, was that the villain of the book was suicide. And before you say anything, it wasn't the villain in the way you think it would be. Michelle Hodkin made suicide the villain in a way that it was as if one of the main characters was messing with the other characters heads in a way that made them kill themselves. The way it was written was as if the characters should be scared that they'd eventually kill themselves too. It honestly felt like such a joke. Why, out of all the different villains you could have used or created, you decide to choose a problematic topic. I hope that anyone with any sort of tendencies, who has picked up the novel, reads the warning and decides not to continue with the book.

   The Becoming of Noah Shaw was a problematic mess, one that I will never be picking up any of it's sequels. The novel has even left a foul taste in my mouth when I think of The Mara Dyer series. I hope for better in the future, from the author. 


Favourite Quote:

"The scars you can't see are the ones that hurt the most."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Paranormal, Horror, Abilities

Monday, January 15, 2018

Guest Review: The Siren by Kiera Cass

The Siren by Kiera Cass

Release Date: January 26th, 2016
Read: December 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 336 pages

Description from GoodReads:

   Kahlen is a Siren, bound to serve the Ocean by luring humans to watery graves with her voice, which is deadly to any human who hears it. Akinli is human—a kind, handsome boy who's everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love puts them both in danger . . . but Kahlen can't bear to stay away. Will she risk everything to follow her heart?


  We were stars. We were music. We were time.
   I love The Selection series, so when I found out Kiera Cass had a standalone book I was dying to   read it. 

   I received The Siren for Christmas and about a week later started to read it. I was really fascinated in the beginning when she was becoming a Siren, because I've always been more interested in books that have interesting beginnings right from the start.  As I read, I became interested in the whole concept of a siren, how they lived, how a siren’s voice was poison,  and how her singing could kill.  I really enjoyed where the ocean would come in to hear about how a siren lives and have such a deep connection to her sirens, especially Kahlen. I do wish there was more about the history of the sirens, it would help to really understand them, and the ocean, because at times the ocean was a bit confusing.

   I was fond of the story between Kahlen and Akinli, but I wish things moved slower between them. Like how did Kahlen grow to like him so fast if she knows people easily fall for her? Like, what? I would have really loved to read behind how Kahlen first became a Siren, as well as more about the sirens that had left the ocean, like Aisling who was originally there for 100 years. 

   Besides that, I really did enjoy The Siren and was I was satisfied with the ending.


Favourite Quote:

"He saw me not just as a mysterious beauty, but as a girl he wanted to know.”  ~Kahlen

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Fantasy, Mermaids, Romance, The Selection

Friday, January 5, 2018

Ohana Reads 4th Blogiversary!

   For the first time since starting my Blog, I missed my Blogiversary. The last year has been almost completely different than any other year, I continued on with University, I got a job as a bookseller at my favourite place on earth, and I completely neglected Ohana Reads.

  When I first started to notice the gap between the blog and I, I blamed it on University. If this past year has taught me anything, I would say it taught me that I have changed as a person, as along with me, my determination towards the blog. With this realization, I've come to understand that I will never be like I was when I first started Ohana Reads, so this upcoming year will have some changes.

   The first being, I will no longer have a set schedule when it comes to posts, but you can still expect the odd post from me. The second, that I've somewhat gained a co-blogger. My cousin Sarah has slowly been dragged into the crazy book life along with myself, and with that I asked her if she'd like to post some reviews on Ohana Reads, and she agreed! So expect a few reviews from her in the future, and maybe a few other things!

  Anyways, time for me to tell you about my 2017!

This is my Break Down of the Year:

Over 176, 943 Total Page Views
238 Published Comments
439 Published Posts
My Top Series Enders of 2013 being my most viewed 47,317 views
The Ohana Reads 3rd Blogiversary Post being my most viewed post of 2017... at 1092 views
23 GFC Followers
54 People have me in their Circles
1,138 Twitter Followers
92 Facebook likes
446 Instagram Followers

   With my total number of posts not even being close to the number I had last year, a bunch of my numbers dwindled this year. It was to be expected, and so there can't really be any hurt feelings on my part. I did however spend a lot of time on Twitter, so I'm not really surprised at how much larger that number got.

   Like always, the year wouldn't have been anything with out amazing friends and amazing people in general. Here are the people that made my year great. (Definitely give them a follow)

People Who Made 2017 Great:

Kristie from Lost in Ever After

Ola and Lauren from The Autumn Bookshelf
I can always rely on the three girls above to talk about the latest and greatest teen novels, new book covers, as well as anything really. I can't wait to see what our group chat has in store for 2018!

Learning a knew job is always tough, and so I'm so glad to have this girl help with all my ridiculous questions as well as suggest and shove new contemporary teen novels in my face. I look forward to our Outlander and gossip nights in the future!

Of course no list would be complete without mentioning my online sister and name twin, Steph. It was a long and tough year for you, especially with the heart transplant, but I'm so happy to have been there alongside you, even if it was only through a phone screen. I can not wait to see your face in person again in July! 

and finally

 Sabrina from Behind the Book Reviews
I literally would not have been able to get through this year without Sabrina, she helped me get through University classes by taking them with me and making them actually interesting, as well as joining me with my insanity and obsession of books. You're so much more than just a book friend now, and I can't wait to spend the next year fingerling over books, clothes and so much more, with you!

Highlights of Ohana Reads 2017:

   1. Half of 2017 was my new job at McNally Robinson, and the job was definitely my #1 highlight for the year. I've made so many new friends, and who would have thought that someone could actually enjoy working for 8 hours straight? Along with being able to work with books constantly, the job itself has kept me mentally sound with all the other craziness that has happened in my life. I look forward to the upcoming years at McNally Robinson!

   2. As part of working at McNally Robinson I've learned a bunch of new things about the publishing industry. One of those new things, being how bookstores decide what to carry in their stores. One of my managers knew how fascinating I find the industry, as well as the fact that I'm going to school to work in the industry, and so she let me sit in on a few buys. In the end I got to see a Simon and Schuster buy, as well as a Raincoast one. I can not wait to be apart of the next buy!

   3. This one isn't really that book related, but a highlight of my year was being able to see Stephanie finally get a heart transplant. I've known her for longer than my blog was even a thing, and so I know how much of a big deal this was for her and her family, and I couldn't be happier for her.

Goals for 2018:

   1. This is a weak goal, but my top goal is to at least have one post every week or second week. It doesn't sound like much, but I'd really love to at least try and get back into a routine.

   2. I want to mentally prepare myself and be able loosen the reigns for Ohana Reads. I'm very obsessive when it comes to possession, and so I want to be able to not freak out when my cousin starts posting on Ohana Reads.

   3.  Then finally, my final goal as well as my new years resolution. I want to read all my ARCs before their publication date. So far I'm already behind by one, but I really hope to stick to this and actually read them all.


To celebrate another year passing, I have a giveaway for you all. The giveaway features my favourite 2017 releases that I read in 2017! Good luck!

- Ohana Reads Giveaway Policies apply. (Check out the policies page)
- Open to any country that can receive books from Book Depository!
-Price of book limited to $25 Canadian.
- Winner gets to choose from any book pictured or any book from one of the series pictured.
- Must have followed @OhanaReads on Twitter, and had Retweeted the Tweet. (I will be checking)
-Giveaway closes February 6th, 2018!

To enter the giveaway click the link below.

   Thank you guys, always, for your continued support for Ohana Reads. Hopefully 2018 will take it easy on us all, and that it'll be a good one!