One, Two, Three by Elodie Nowodazkij | Review

Author: Elodie Nowodazkij
Release Date: June 26th, 2014
Rating: 5 Stars
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, this does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review in any way.
Description from Goodreads:

When seventeen-year-old Natalya’s dreams of being a ballerina are killed in a car accident along with her father, she must choose: shut down – like her mother – or open up to love. 

Last year, seventeen-year-old Natalya Pushkaya was attending the School of Performing Arts in New York City. Last year, she was well on her way to becoming a professional ballerina. Last year, her father was still alive. 

But a car crash changed all that – and Natalya can’t stop blaming herself. Now, she goes to a regular high school in New Jersey; lives with her onetime prima ballerina, now alcoholic mother; and has no hope of a dance career. 

At her new school, however, sexy soccer player Antonio sees a brighter future for Natalya, or at least a more pleasant present. Keeping him an arabesque away proves to be a challenge for Natalya and his patient charms eventually draw her out of her shell. 

When upsetting secrets come to light and Tonio’s own problems draw her in, Natalya shuts down again, this time turning to alcohol herself. 

Can Natalya learn to trust Antonio before she loses him – and destroys herself?

I absolutely adored this book. I have a serious soft spot for ballet, I am in no way a dancer, but a girl can dream. One of my favourite all time films is Center Stage, a ballet film following the lives of students at the ABA, and it got a mention in this book!! There’s no point trying to hide it, I had a full blown fangirl moment to my mum and sister when I got to that page! Now of course the ballet element to this novel is not the reason that I gave it 5 stars; sure it totally added to my enjoyment, but the book was just something else!
Natalya has a whole lot to deal with at only seventeen years-old, her father died in a car crash with her in, her mother turned to alcohol, her uncle has cut communication with her, and she has a serious injury that could call an end to all of her plans as a prima ballerina.

It’s safe to say that Natalya struggles with everything that she is going through, and quite rightly too. Not only is her life changing around her, her outlet has been taken away from her. Natalya has to go to normal school and negotiate this totally new life, she reconnects with an old friend, and makes some new ones along the way. I loved the fact that Natalya endured some real struggles through this book, she one hundred per cent went through her fair share of ups and a lot of downs, but I think going through all of that with her only made me feel for her more.

I felt really connected and invested in Natalya and her story. I loved this book and highly recommend!

‘One, Two, Three’ by Elodie Nowodazkij
5 Stars

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Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas | Review

     Title: Heir of Fire
     (Throne of Glass #3)

      Author: Sarah J. Maas

      Release Date: September 11th,
      2014

Description from Goodreads:
Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can’t bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She must fight back…


The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the King – for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her?

I thought that the ending of Crown of Midnight finished with a cruel cliffhanger (read my review here), but oh no, Sarah J. Maas upped the ante with Heir of Fire. It left me blown away and more than a little stunned with a whole load of questions.
I am definitely of the opinion that the books in the Throne of Glass series just keep getting better (and longer). I pretty much read Heir of Fire over one weekend, I found that I just did not want to put it down, and it had me reading long into the night!
In Heir of Fire Celaena is no longer in Adarlan in the King’s palace. I really liked that we got to see a new country, a whole new setting that just shows how great Sarah J. Maas is at world building. The introduction and exploration we as readers were able to experience of Wendlyn in my opinion added greater depth to the world that the Throne of Glass books are set in. Wendlyn has a key element that Adarlan does not posses, and that is magic. There has been talk of magic throughout the first two books, but after magic was banned and disappeared completely there was no real sight of it in the previous books. Heir of Fire saw the use of magic and Fae forms and I loved learning about it all!
Heir of Fire introduces new characters and new POVs. We get a whole new set of characters in the form of witches, in particular Manon. Manon is the heir to the Blackbeak clan and follows form as another strong female character crafted by Sarah J. Maas. I really enjoyed reading Manon’s chapters, they definitely served to create a greater understanding of what the hell is going on with the King and they wyrdstones. 
In addition to Manon, we also meet Aeidon and Rowan, both Fae males. The dynamic between Aelin and Rowan was enjoyable to read, I could sense the chemistry between the two and I’m looking forward to seeing their relationship develop further in Queen of Shadows. I liked Aeidon. I liked him more than Dorian and more than Chaol. I want more Aeidon, and I’m not ashamed to admit it! 
I am really looking forward to reading Queen of Shadows very soon! What do you think of the series so far? Let me know in the comments!
‘Heir of Fire’ by Sarah J. Maas
5 Stars

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han | Review

    Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

    Author: Jenny Han

    Release Date: January 1st, 2014

Description from Goodreads:
Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her.

They aren’t love letters than anyone else wrote for her, these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved – five in all. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

I finished reading To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before a couple of weeks ago now and I can’t get it out of my mind. In fact, as soon as I finished reading this book I went onto Amazon and ordered the sequel.
To begin with I didn’t think I was going to enjoy To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lara Jean struck me as immature, young and definitely gave the impression that I was going to be getting annoyed. I was wrong. It didn’t take me long to fall for Lara Jean, what I once saw as childish and annoying  became charming and endearing. She was such a relatable character!
It’s scary when it’s real. When it’s not just thinking about a person, but, like, having a real live person in front of you, with, like, expectations. And wants.
In my opinion she came out of her shell when her sister Margot left for university in Scotland, and when Margot came back it was pretty damn clear that Lara Jean had matured.
Okay, let’s move on to OTP. I did not ship Lara Jean and Josh, at no point did I want them to end up together. Firstly, it’s not cool to date you sister’s ex. Secondly, he only becomes interested when there’s someone else in the picture. He acts on jealousy and that not’s fair. If you’ve read the book then you’ve probably guessed that I was a Peter fan. He’s absolutely lovely with Kitty, and if you ask me the way into a girl’s heart is by being lovely and sweet to her younger siblings.
I really enjoyed how Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship came about, both of them with ulterior motives, trying to prove that they’re over people. The purely platonic start to their relationship allowed for the much coveted slow-burn romance. Through fake dates,  sweet notes, teasing and spending a crap tonne of time together they get closer and start to realise that maybe it might not be that fake after all. I could have jumped up and down and screamed hallelujah.
I really loved To All The Boy’s I’ve Loved Before, my Lara Jean and Peter shipping was strong, which is always a good thing! My review of P.S. I Still Love You will be up soon!
Have you read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ by Jenny Han
5 Stars

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neil | Review

      Title: Only Ever Yours

      Author: Louise O’Neil

      Release Date: July 3rd, 2014

Description from Goodreads:
In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become ‘companions’, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful. 

For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.

Best friends frieda and isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight…

And then, into the sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.

frieda must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known…

Well, I don’t think a book’s left me feeling this way in quite a long time (not since The Winner’s Crime, to be precise). I’ve been blown away by Louise O’Neil’s dystopian masterpiece. I’m in awe of the story telling and world building, the plot decisions she made. I spent most of my time reading Only Ever Yours with my jaw hanging slack, forming an o of astonishment and wonder. There are so many different elements I loved I don’t know where to begin. 
Part of the reason I loved this book so much is that it was so abundantly clear just how thought out everything was, just how much time and consideration had gone into the book. From the female’s names being in lowercase, to the ‘rainbow’ gene. It was these small details that really took Only Ever Yours from a pretty damn good dystopian novel to something else entirely. 
In this world, ruled by the Father, women are created purely for men, for marriage, enjoyment or education of the younger females. They have no real valueless society, and they certainly have no say or importance. It was such a scary alternative I would never whish to encounter, I felt exceedingly sorry for these girls, whose lives are determined by a group of young boys. The girls, or eves as they are called, have always been taught that the men are superior, that they must follow man’s command and do whatever he wishes. Ultimately, they have no control over their lives or bodies, they are terminated at forty, and adultery is punishable by death (and something else which is just unimaginable). Although that adultery rule? Yeah doesn’t apply to the men, not when they have a multitude of concubines to choose from. I suppose you could say I was outraged at this world, where women are subhuman, have no rights and ultimate purpose in life is to please man. I will not be signing up, thank you very much. But that outrage, the wonder and utter shock, that’s part of why I loved the book oh so much, because it conjured up a world I would before have never fathomed to imagine. O’Neil made it seem so real, especially towards the latter third of the book, I was very vocal in my reactions to what went down, there was more than ‘WHAT?!’ and ‘NO!!’  

I love that throughout the novel females were not distinguished with an upper case letter at the beginning of their names, it was a small little thing that really illustrated the vast difference between the males and females, they even have design numbers for crying out loud!
I suppose I should discuss the plot, which in my opinion took more than a few twists and turns. freida is our protagonist, but whether or not she’s likeable is a different matter entirely. All freida wants is to marry a man and have his sons. She strives to fit in and please others. Meanwhile her best friend is slowly self-destructing, she’s jeopardising her future, and we all know what happens to girls who break the rules, they get sent Underground. freida works so hard to fit in with the other girls to get megan (ugh) to like her and accept her as a friend. She’s actually pretty desperate for her friendship and it got the point I had to put the book down and walk away before I threw the book across the room in frustration. She’s self absorbed, selfish, shallow and we see her slowly unravel. isabel flitted in and out of the story, not a constant presence but always within speculation. I found her so intriguing, I would read a book from her perspective happily, she’s aloof and mysterious. And ultimately she is lovely and lovable. 
One character who certainly isn’t lovable is chastity-ruth. Excuse my French, but what a bitch. I didn’t like her from the get go, and when she let rip she showed her true nasty. But what I did gain from chastity-ruth was a new perspective on freida, she revealed another side which was always there, lurking behind the pity and hope and longing for it all to turn out rosie. 
During their last year at the School, the eves meet the Inheritants, the boys who will choose the wives, and who shall become concubines. I felt the stirring of a ship when Darwin met freida, and honestly I loved how it all planned out. Maybe I didn’t expect everything that happened along the way, but ultimately I am happy with how it ended. 
I am still as I write this review undecided with how I feel about freida, I think that I will be mulling this one over for a long time to come. Only Ever Yours stood out to me as brilliant, I loved and now I’m on the look for more Louise O’Neil. 
Have you read Only Ever Yours? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
‘Only Ever Yours’ by Louise O’Neil
5 Stars

A Kiss by the Book by Christy Hayes | Review

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, this does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review in any way.
Description from Goodreads:
College senior Zach Chamberlain’s charmed life has always gone according to script:
Date the prettiest girl in high school, check.
Football scholarship to a division-one school, check.
Heisman contender, check.
Buy engagement ring, check.
On track to graduate with donors, check.
There’s just one glitch. Hi girlfriend is in love with his younger brother and breaks up with him in the middle of his senior season. Shocked, betrayed, and embarrassed, Zach turns to the only woman he can trust: his nerdy tutor.

Tutoring college athletes at Southeastern State University is more than a job for Jenna Peterson; it’s a way for her to pay it forward after long-ago tragedy struck too close to home. SE State’s golden boy, Zach Chamberlain, isn’t the first jock Jenna’s tutored with cover-boy good looks, and he won’t be the last. When he asks for her help with statistics, Jenna assumes he’s as egocentric as the other athletes on her roster. A wildly inappropriate and lackluster kiss at the worst possible time doesn’t do much to disprove her theory.

Zach will do anything to save face in front of his family, and he uses Jenna’s bleeding heart and unfortunate circumstances to enlist her help over the holidays. Jenna begins to realise Zach is more than a pretty face as his storybook life begins to unravel. When a sprig of mistletoe provides the perfect opportunity for Zach to affirm his skill, the searing kiss pits the playmaker against the rule maker in a kiss to the end. When secrets are revealed and the game’s on the line, will they follow the script, improvise, or throw the book out the window?

I’m going to start this review off by saying that I was a HUGE fan A Kiss by Design, and when I say that I mean it kick-started a new adult college awkward relationship binge. I was team Dylan and Emily, I didn’t think much to Zach, he seemed very self-absorbed and not a good boyfriend. I suppose that makes it rather awkward when the second book in the series is following Zach and Jenna’s relationship.
The book kick’s off with the breakup of Zach and Emily, it overlaps with A Kiss by Design, showing us Zach’s perspective on how things went down. Definitely a very clever idea of Christy Hayes, seeing it from Zach’s side made me warm to him immediately, although I did still prefer Dylan and Emily. 
Zach is the star quarterback at his uni, he’s great in school but feels that he needs support with Statistics. Enter Jenna, his tutor. We briefly met her in A Kiss By Design when Zach launches himself at her in Emily’s kitchen. I liked Jenna, although in my opinion she got a bit too involved in the Emily/Dylan/Zach situation. That leads onto my next point, it felt like Zach did not stop bitching and moaning about Emily. I liked her in the first book, so that didn’t sit well with me. Obviously being dumped for your younger brother is going to hurt, but he actually acknowledges that they weren’t working out that well! 
If I cast aside the moaning about Emily and Dylan, Zach is actually a pretty nice guy. A Kiss by the Book changed my opinion of Zach, turns out he’s caring and compassionate, he just needed the right girl.
That girl turned out to be Jenna, she’s intelligent and hard working, she also has a family past that involves football. She held this information back from Zach, and nearly ruined everything. I’m not sure I understood her reasoning behind this, but hey-ho it is how it is. Christy Hayes paired two people together that didn’t sound like they’d aesthetically fit together, Zach is a blonde god-type, while Jenna fits more into the realm of the small brunette with a boyish figure. By doing this Hayes illustrated that Zach’s a lot deeper than some might think, he doesn’t just care about appearances, and I liked that.
Christy definitely delivered once again with A Kiss by the Book, I’m not sure if there’s going to be anymore books in the series, but if there is you can count me in!
Have you read any of Christy Hayes books? Let me know in the comments!
‘A Kiss by the Book’ by Christy Hayes
4 Stars

First Impression Friday | The Jewel by Amy Ewing

First Impression Friday is a weekly feature created here at Alexandra Florence Books. I’ve been finding that what I think about a book changes a lot from beginning to end, so I thought it would be really fun to share my first impressions of a book, and hopefully read yours too! If you want to join in all you have to do is link your First Impression Friday in the linky, grab the picture, and make sure you link back to me!
The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Huge apologies for the lack of a First Impression Friday post last week, as I mentioned briefly in the Cursed By Fire blog tour last week was crazy. Friday was the deadline for a particularly difficult and confusing assignment, so the latter half of the week was spent concentrating on that. I’m in the post assignment chill, which will hopefully last a while as my next and final assignment of the year isn’t due until the end of May. Safe to say everyone is loving this turn of events. 
Anyway, back to the book. The Jewel, you’re probably wondering how I managed to do any reading with all that going on. Well, The Jewel was originally scheduled to be last week’s featured First Impression Friday book so I actually started this book during the Easter break. 
I love YA dystopian books, I genuinely adore them, like I might have a problem. So The Jewel was a no brainer.
I’m really enjoying The Jewel, it’s a take on the dystopian genre that I haven’t seen before. Violet is a surrogate so she’s been sold to a rich and powerful woman who’s baby she will carry. Being forced to carry another woman’s child is not something I would want to endure, and it’s not something Violet wants either. As in she’s genuinely terrified. This makes her even more appealing, got to love a girl who goes against the system!
Know what I really like about The Jewel? So far there is no love interest for Violet, I’m pretty certain someone will emerge later on in the book, but for now there’s no one. I really like that Amy Ewing’s given Violet the chance to develop as a character without a boy hanging around.
The woman Violet’s been sold to seems a little cuckoo, it will be interesting to see how she gets out of her control.
So far, so good. I’m really glad I picked up The Jewel in Waterstones, I’m really enjoying reading an actual book for a change!
What are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments!

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All Broke Down by Cora Carmack | Review

Description from Goodreads

Dylan fights for lost causes. Probably because she used to be one.

Environmental issues, civil rights, corrupt corporations, and politicians you name it, she’s probably been involved in a protest. When her latest cause lands her in jail overnight, she meets Silas Moore. He’s in for a different kind of fighting. And though he’s arrogant and infuriating, she can’t help being fascinated with him. Yet another lost cause.

Football and trouble are the only things that have ever come naturally to Silas. And it’s trouble that lands him in a cell next to do-gooder Dylan. He’s met girls like her before fixers, her calls them, desperate to heal the damage and make him into their ideal boyfriend. But he doesn’t think he’s broken, and he definitely doesn’t need a girlfriend trying to change him. Until, that is, his anger issues and rash decisions threaten the only thing he really cares about: his spot on the Rusk University football team. Dylan might just be the perfect girl to help.

Because Silas Moore needs some fixing after all.

I was in the reading zone and was craving a bit of New Adult college/sport reading action. So I turned to Cora Carmack, because she’s never done me wrong before. I’ve read the first book in the Rusk University series, they’re all stand alone novels so don’t feel you have to go out and buy it, but it was amazing so no pressure. I thoroughly enjoyed All Lined Up, but you know what? I loved All Broke Down even more.
Silas and Dylan’s relationship has an interesting dynamic, they both find each other attractive but don’t want the commitment that comes with being boyfriend and girlfriend. They have a bit of a help me I’ll help you deal going on. Silas needs to sort himself out for the football team and Dylan wants to cut loose and find out who she really is. Silas introduced Dylan to his friends as a friend, though his protectiveness shone through and showed his true feelings. I loved that Silas was so protective of Dylan, it made for a really swoon worthy character. And there’s nothing I like more than a swoon worthy character.
Cora Carmack is hilarious, I genuinely laughed out loud so many times. There’s so many brilliant one liner’s and references to popular culture that had me cracking up.

the biggest jackass this side of wherever Shia LaBeouf is currently standing

I loved the humour running throughout All Broke Down, it’s one of the reasons I love Cora Carmack’s writing so much, and why I’ll be reading more of her work.

But that’s not the only reason, she also writes pretty great characters. Dylan is sweet and kind, she’s rich and her parents are important people. On paper she should stay away from Silas, but turns out he actually brings out the best in her, and vice versa.

Stella is a supporting character but boy does she make a mark. She’s one of the few people at the university that actually understand Silas, she’s a football junkie and she’s pretty damn hilarious.

Naked apology. Works every time.”

That’s what makes what happens so shocking and awful, but I’m not about to say anything because spoilers, and I’m not about that life. But here’s to hoping we get a book in Stella’s POV. She definitely deserves one.

The third book in the Rusk University series All Played Out comes out in May and features Dylan’s roommate, she wasn’t featured in All Broke Down all that much but, and I don’t mean to brag, I guessed straight away that she was going to be getting a book. I can’t wait for All Played Out to be released, I love me some college football romance fiction.

Have you read any of the Rusk University series? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

‘All Broke Down’ by Cora Carmack
5 Stars