Ads 468x60px

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

NICOLE'S REVIEW: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Title: The Fill-In Boyfriend
Author: Kasie West
Publication Date: May 5 2015
Publishing House:  HarperTeen
ISBN: 9780062336385


When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend - two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that she can win back to real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favour and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party - three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Out of all the contemporary books Kasie West has published, this has got to be my least favourite. Why? Maybe because the character is boy obsessed? She's more concerned with appearances which makes her come off as really shallow. And don't get me started on her obsession with social media and the validation of strangers. The number of likes your photo on Instagram or that picture you tweeted of your hipster coffee does not make you.

These are the characters I cannot relate to. I just can't wrap my mind around not ditching people who aren't good for you or for being too concerned about what other people think. I'm super chill, I don't get worked up over boys and what people think. I don't find myself losing sleep over tossing toxic people to the curb or for not being on top of the social hierarchy. I couldn't relate to the obsession with social media too. I'm known to delete photos on Instagram though, not because of the number of likes but because of the overall quality of the photo. (Sometimes I don't because I'm lazy and I have way too much nail ideas.)

So maybe this is why as I was reading the book I found that it contained way too much unnecessary drama. Also the whole fake boyfriend trope isn't really my thing. I hate it with a vengeance. And Gia's friends - all I have to say is what kind of friends are they? I'd insert a few cuss words here but I'm not allowed to swear. Pffffff.

That's not to say the book was a total disappointment. I did finish it in one go and while the romance wasn't the best, it wasn't the worst too. After reading The Distance Between Us and On the Fence though, I kind of expected more from Kasie. I did notice that there was more character development in this book seeing as how Gia goes from shallow, flighty popular girl to someone more mature. Not perfect, never perfect, but way better than how she was at the beginning. And as for the fill-in boyfriend? Cute. He's probably my favourite out of this cast of characters. Different from the type you normally find in contemporary novels.

Overall, in my opinion, this isn't one of Kasie's best works. A bit of a let-down but that doesn't mean I'm giving up on her books. If you want to try her contemporary books may I suggest The Distance Between Us? That one was so cute I find myself reaching for it from time to time when I'm in need of fluff in my life.

Thank you to Harper for an advanced copy of this book.



Monday, August 3, 2015

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Shadow of the War Machine by Kristin Bailey

Title: Shadow of the War Machine
Author: Kristin Bailey
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: February 3 2015
Publishing House:  Simon Pulse
ISBN: 144246805X
Source of Copy: Edelweiss


Meg has come a long way from her days as a lowly housemaid, driven to learn the truth behind her parents' murder. She's since discovered that they were part of the Secret Order of Modern Amusementists - an underground society of inventors. Determined to reclaim her heritage, she joined the Amusementists as an apprentice, but that hasn't brought her closer to the person responsible for the loss of her family: the man in the clockwork mask.

Now he is coming for her. But Meg is tired of being hunted and intends to become the hunter. With help from Will, the boy who holds her heart, Meg embarks on an adventure that takes them far from the cold London winter and into the heart of France.

But the City of Light is filled with dark shadows. There's a plot afoot that could turn the tides of a terrible war, and cost the lives of millions - that is, if it doesn't take the lives of everyone Meg holds dear, including her own.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Before I even begin to review this book I just want to say sorry for being MIA the past few months. I've recently moved to Vancouver and it was a bit hard for me at first, having to uproot myself from friends and family but it was something I needed to do. Thank you to everyone who's still checking out the blog and for not abandoning us. You guys rock. Anyway, now that that's over with it's on to the review! (Hopefully I get to blog more often now.)

It's time for the hunted to become the hunter. Meg is sick and tired of living in constant fear and worry, she's determined to put an end to the man in the clockwork mask's diabolical scheme and his reign of terror. 

Let's cut to the chase. The ending? Lacklustre. Anticlimactic. I seriously did not expect it to end this way. The villain turned out to be textbook, a little boring and one-dimensional. I mean having read the first two books and finding myself quite invested in the story, this is just incredibly disappointing.  

The romance? Meh. The truth is, after the first book the romance kind of just sizzled out and I couldn't bring myself to cheer for the Meg and Will any longer. It was like now that they're together the tension and sparks and heat between them just disappeared. Woohoo! Together forever, who cares about keeping the sparks/love/lust alive? Don't get me wrong, Will is Meg's rock, her pillar of strength, but he kind of had more similarities with a rock than with an actual human being. He was that boring! I can't even remember what role he played anymore.

The characters? I would have liked them to be fleshed out more. I mean it's the last book in the series! Better end it with a bang, right? But as I was reading this, I found myself slowly losing interest in everyone.

One thing I might have slightly enjoyed were the twists the author introduced in the story. And the battle scenes. Although truth be had the battle scenes were kind of wrong, like they didn't quite fit the story. It's like when you're playing tetris and you get the Z shaped block and you're going all "This should fit here but somehow it doesn't ohmygosh I don't get it!!!!" Well. That's just me probably but seriously there was just something strange about the battle scenes, like they were somehow forced so characters could be killed off and voila! They lived happily ever after.

So to sum this review up -the last book in The Secret Order series was very disappointing. I wish it would've ended with a bang, but I guess not. The characters were boring, the villain was textbook and everything was wrapped up in a cute little bow. 

Thank you to Simon Pulse for the advanced copy.




Monday, June 29, 2015

[BLOG TOUR] MICHELLE'S REVIEW: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

Title: 5 to 1
Author: Holly Bodger
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Publishing House: Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9780385391535


In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.

Sudasa doesn't want to be a wife, and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa's family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable - and caged. Kiran's family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Kirann thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


In 2054 Koyanagar, Sudasa has five boys competing for her hand in marriage. The new norm brought about by the disparity between the ratio of the sexes in India that aims to champion fairness and equality amongst the classes, never mind the fact that they were trampling on freedom and independence. But as the tests go on, Sudasa and Kiran, one of the boys forced to compete for Sudasa's hand, slowly start seeing the cracks and fissures of the new system, and both teens suddenly find themselves in a battle that's bigger than the both of them.

Because going with what society deems as the wrong choice may be their biggest undoing yet.

As soon as I opened the page and was met with Sudasa's poetry, I must admit that I immediately closed the book. In my opinion, poetry is tricky - you either love it, or you feel indifferent about it, and that night, I was not in the mood for angsty poetry that teenage characters are notorious for. But in the end, my curiosity won out as to how the author could possibly make this work, and so I found myself turning the page.

Until I found myself at the last page and being all, "Woah."

While Sudasa might come off as just another pretty, rich airhead, she is actually subtle in her rebelliousness which makes her all kinds of awesome. She isn't in your face about it because that could spell serious repercussions for her family, but she is very self-aware of herself and the events that are happening, and I liked her immensely. Sudasa is not only at war with what society expects from her, but from what she expects from herself, and that is understandably confusing for anyone.

Kiran, on the other hand, doesn't want to be chosen as some girl's husband. He's not interested in a lifetime of play and pleasure if he won Sudasa's hand. All he wants is to keep a low profile and hopefully find his mother. But when the unfairness of the competition becomes too glaring for him to ignore, Kiran - or #5, as he is called all throughout the process - starts trying to level the playing field by pulling up a few tricks and helping out his competitors.

I loved that these two teenagers were different as night and day, but there was something about these two that just worked. Sudasa finds herself intrigued by Kiran's disinterestedness not because she's vain and thinks that she's a prize or anything, but because she finds it refreshing that he doesn't see her as his golden ticket out of a life of poverty. Kiran, on the other hand, is surprised when he finds that the seemingly vapid girl was apparently not unaffected by the unfairness of the competition as well.

Bodger's 5 to 1 is a clean read in the sense that it is practically faultless in its continuity. I was skeptical as to how poetry and narration could work, but it does, and the execution is unbelievable. 

In the end, Bodger reminds her readers that there are no such things as good choices and bad choices. In the face of despair, the true power lies in making that choice for yourself.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

[Blog Tour + Giveaway] NICOLE'S REVIEW: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J.Maas

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: May 5 2015
Publishing House:  Bloomsbury
ISBN: 1619634449
Source of Copy: Blog Tour


When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin - one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled the world. 

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it...or doom Tamling  and his world - forever.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


A Court of Thorns and Roses took me by surprise. Truth be had, you guys, I wasn't Maas' biggest fan but thanks to this book I'm now a convert. I cannot wait to get my hands on an actual copy of this seriously rocking book. Seriously. Seriously.

It's winter and Feyre's family is running low on food. Times are hard so she heads deep into the forest to go hunting. She comes upon a wolf and, because she's totally desperate, she shoots it down with her arrows not knowing that the wolf was faerie. Soon this beast-like fae comes knocking on her door demanding restitution and sweeps her away to his castle in the woods. Okay maybe there was more of the threatening and the roaring as there was the sweeping and there wasn't much knocking either. Feyre soon realizes that an ancient evil is enroaching on fae territory and might, if not stopped, creep into human lands soon.

Can I just say that Feyre is the luckiest girl? I mean she has all these beautiful men to look at. There's Tamlin and Rhys and Lucien and ohmygosh how is a girl to choose? But hot men is not all this book has to offer, it's got Feyre who is a kickass heroine in her own right. She's fearless and bold and cares deeply. She's probably got a better heart than I do despite her rough exterior. 

I loved the relationships in the book. Feyre and her sisters, Tamlin and Lucien, and even Rhys. Maas has such interesting characters I just want to find out more about them, peel them back layer by layer so I can understand them and fall deeper into love with them. And the romance? It does not fail to titillate (it seemed appropriate) and I just want to smoosh Tamlin and Feyre together all the time. 

I do have a bone to pick with Amarantha, the villain, she seemed to be so textbook villainess for me. Doesn't mean she wasn't scary and slightly disturbing but she just felt a little one dimensional for me. Impossible challenges? A riddle to solve? I even felt a little cheated when Fayre had a little help with the tasks. But you know, I enjoyed myself so much so I'm not gonna complain. Much. And another thing, this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, yes? So why wasn't Tamlin more...beast-like? Oh sure he has a mask stuck to half of his face and he can shift into some sort of lupine creature but come on, I thought he would be more physically monstrous. 

ACOTAR is a retelling of beauty and the beast, a wonderful, fearless, fierce retelling of the classic with amazing imagery and world building. I might still be a little cautious of Maas' Throne of Glass series but this one is definitely on my favorites list. Definitely recommend this for people who're fans of fantasy. And NA! This is definitely NA I could get into. 


"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

How pretty is the cover for A Court of Thorns and Roses? I couldn't resist doing nails. 

Not sure if you guys can tell but that's a wolf. On the middle finger. I had to make my own sheer black polish to tint my index and ring fingers. 

I think this is pretty obvious. Haha. 

You can check out more of my nail art over on instagram. Just search theunicolenicorn.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #25 : A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Title: A Little Something Different
Author: Sandy Hall
Format Acquired: Paperback
Publication Date: August 26 2014
Publishing House:  Swoon Reads
ISBN: 97812500161454
Source of Copy: Gifted


Lea and Gabe are in the same writing class. They get the same culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is a little aloof, Gabe is shy, and it looks like they are never going to work things out.

But something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at the local Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV series. The bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes Lea and GAbe were meant to be together.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Seriously, guys, I have not read anything as cute as this book. It's told in fourteen different points of view, none of them in our lead characters' voices. You would think that it would be incredibly confusing, but it's not. This book was an absolute blessing, I was craving a light, fluffy contemporary to read -because it was almost Valentine's Day - when this fell into my lap. It had been collecting dust on my bookshelf for some time and I thought I'd save it from its misery. 

I find that I need to repeat that this book so disgustingly cute. We get to see Gabe and Lea's love story through the eyes of the different people they come across in their everyday life. Friends, teachers, the bus driver, the baristas at Starbucks and even a squirrel and a bench. How fun is that? Gabe in particular is crazy adorable, and so awkward it made my heart melt. I loved his conversations with his friends and the way he pined over Lea and got so flustered when they engaged in conversations. I just wanted to smush their faces together. 

You know what's unfair though? That this did not happen to me in the four years I was in college. I bounced from clique to clique because I'm picky with my friends, met a lot of new people which was fun, but not once did I meet a guy who gave me the butterflies. Obviously, I was meant for greater things like fictional boys. 

Anyway, another thing that I like is that despite being awkwardly cute characters, Lea and Gabe don't fit into any pre-designed molds. Gabe is an athlete, a sort of jock, and he has his own issues - like the trauma he suffered from his car crash. Lea is not your average bookish, good girl type, she parties and has a penchant for stalking Gabe. (I feel for her, I used to do this in college too) They are the recipe for ultimate cuteness. It's insane! I couldn't put this book down mainly because I couldn't wait for them to get together and every time something got in their way it was just SO. FRUSTRATING. Just kiss already!

In a nutshell, this book is basically the epitome of CUTE. Really, the next time someone asks me to gift them something cutesy I am so giving them this book. Read this if you're looking for something light and fluffy and oh so very romantic with a different writing style. For an added bonus, it has the POVs of a bench and a squirrel.



"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

Here's a set inspired by this insanely adorable book. For more details and the materials used head on over to my nail art blog. Enjoy guys!


Sunday, February 15, 2015

[GIVEAWAY] NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #24: Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Title: Falling into Place
Author: Amy Zhang
Format Acquired: Paperback
Publication Date: September 9 2014
Publishing House:  Greenwillow Books
ISBN: 978006236788
Source of Copy: Fully Booked


Inertia, force, mass, gravity, velocity, acceleration...cause and effect. Liz Emerson doesn't understand any of it. But I do. I understand how we fall. Where we fall. Why we fall. I understand her sadness and loneliness and silence, her shattered heart. It doesn't have to be this way, does it? It wasn't always this way was it?

Stay alive, Liz Emerson, stay alive.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


I never really expected to like this book, I don’t really do well with books tackling suicide but I have to give credit where it’s due. Amy Zhang’s Falling into Place is an incredibly heartfelt and poignant story written in a nonlinear fashion that tells the story of one Liz Emerson’s life - the small seemingly inconsequential instances and the heartbreaking events that led to her decision to kill herself.

There is no doubt that I love this book despite the fact that I am not a fan of the main character. Which is surprising because Liz Emerson is NOT in the least bit likable. I get that she’s got her issues and she’s got a lot to deal with, depression is no laughing matter, but I never really understood her. I never really GOT her. I felt for her, I really did but she was just really unlikable and mean and a general b-word I just couldn’t! It was hard because she was a terrible person who was doing crappy things to people and ruining lives and bullying, bullying, and bullying. But she continued to do what she did despite the fact that she admitted to being a horrible human being and continued feeling sorry for herself. Rinse, lather repeat.

I may not like Liz Emerson but I have to admit that Amy Zhang crafts incredibly realistic characters. And Liz, despite all her negative points had the potential to be something more. Julia and Kennie were also very strong secondary characters and it was fascinating to see how they affected and influenced Liz and vice versa. Then there’s the boy who’s been crushing on Liz from afar, Liam. His story was quite surprising since he was a victim of Liz’s scheming and yet he managed to find it in himself to forgive her, to understand her.

There’s an air of suspense to this book, like as if at any given moment everything could come crashing down. Zhang’s book is a definite recommend although if you’re in the market for something light and fun this isn’t it. Falling into Place is like a slap to the face, a reminder of how the littlest of actions can cause a ripple that results in a tidal wave and because of this book I feel like I should be better. Could be better. Will be better.


"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

Here's a set inspired by the book. For more pictures and details on the mani visit my nail art blog HERE.


It's giveaway time! Good luck to everyone joining and I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did! Thank you also to the awesome people over at Fully Booked for making this happen. 

Terms and Conditions:

1. The contest is open to Philippine residents only and will be shipped by Nicole via Xend. Likewise, The Twins Read will not be held liable for any lost / damaged packages.

2. You must be 13 years old and above to join. Please ask your parent/guardian to join the giveaway for you, if you aren't.

3. If you only use ONE account to do all these tasks and enter under different names, they will still only constitute as ONE entry. 

4. If the winner does not respond to messages via Facebook, or e-mail within 48 hours, The Twins Read has the right to choose another legible winner.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #23: Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Title: Storm Siren
Author: Mary Weber
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: August 19 2014
Publishing House:  Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins
ISBN: 9781401690342
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn't merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth - meaning, she shouldn't even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains. Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court adivser and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she's being prepared to fight...not to mention the trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn't want to be the weapon they've all been looking for?

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Nym is a slave facing her fifteenth auction. Technically, she shouldn't even be alive since she's an Elemental and her kind are usually killed at birth - and are usually male. She's kind of an anomaly of sorts. But a slip-up at the latest auction has her catching the eye of a court adviser who seeks to hone her into a weapon to use in the war and Nym isn't sure if she can, or wants, to be the weapon they need.

I love this book. I like Nym and how she's, basically, a tortured girl who's got powers she can't control and carries around a whole lot of guilt in her heart. She copes through self-harm and I like how Weber tackled this subject in the book. I also like how Nym treats her disfigurement - she doesn't go around throwing pity parties for herself but accepts that that's what she has and just goes with it. I mean what's a disfigured hand compared to her powers which have killed people? Some tell her she's special but she just doesn't buy it, doesn't believe she is and wishes she weren't. 

I loved the romance too. How could I not? Eogan was just about perfect and I loved his relationship with Nym - kudos to the author for not letting the romance take over the story. Even if I wish there were more kissy scenes, I'm perfectly okay with the way Weber wrote this. 

Another reason I enjoyed the book was the prose. Weber's writing was so beautiful and lyrical, I couldn't help myself, I had to keep on reading. The world she built was amazing too with the magic and the steampunk-like elements in the story and the way she doesn't gloss over the hard stuff like slavery and Nym's self harm.

But the most amazing thing about this book? The way I got blindsided. You know how you're near the end of the book and everything's coming to a close and it all points towards a happy ending? Yeah. Then when you get to the end it's like BAM IN YO FACE. I never expected it an I had to reread a few times just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating. I'm not even kidding, I even checked to see if my book had missing pages. It was incredibly painful and I stared it it for a few seconds in open mouthed shock before cussing it out and rereading again.

Safe to say I am looking forward to the next book because I have this desperate, all consuming need to know what happened. WHAT HAPPENED???! And every time I see my copy of Storm Siren I end up feeling so frustrated so I legit need the next book. Looking for your next fantasy read? This. You need to pick Storm Siren.


"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

Just a quick announcement! I have finally caved and created a blog dedicated solely to my nail art. You'll find more pictures for the nail art set over there plus a list of all the book manicures I've ever done. Some don't get published on this blog. 

Hope you like this! Link to the nail blog below.

I drew out Nym on my nail by the way. It was tough but I did it.

More pics on my nail art blog. Novel Nails Designs.


Monday, January 19, 2015

NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #22: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 14 2014
Publishing House:  Balzer + Bray
ISBN: 9780062286925
Source of Copy: eARC/Purchased from FullyBooked


Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now the Winterians' only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for an opportunity to steal back Winter's magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter's defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterian's general, Sir. Training to be a warrior - and desperately in love with her best friend and future king, Mather - she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she's scaling towers and fighting enemy soldiers just as she's always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn't go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics - and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Run, survive, repeat - that's all Meira's ever really known. Training to be a warrior to reclaim the lost Winter locket and help rescue her people and reclaim Winter to its former glory. When word reaches her of the locket's location she jumps at the chance to do something for her people. But a mission gone awry leads to a different destiny - something she could never have imagined. 

Snow Like Ashes came as a surprise. I started this book late last year, reached a couple of chapters in and quit it. I was in the midst of a crazy book slump (also known as the quarterlife crisis) and couldn't bring myself to read anything. Thankfully I managed to score an actual copy of the book and hooray! So. Good.

Meira is a strong character. Fierce and strong-willed. Which was probably why being stuck in camp drove her stir crazy. But I found her actions to be a little selfish sometimes - wanting to go on missions just so didn't go crazy in camp? She wasn't even any good with hand to hand combat. But I get it, I understood her need to prove herself to Sir and Mather but she could be a little rash. 

As for Mather, well, despite the summary claiming that Meira was desperately in love with him I just couldn't see it. I mean they could be really good friends but that's the extent of their relationship. The pretty boy I wanted to see Meira with though was Theron. Yes guys, there is a love triangle but I'm not complaining because in my eyes Mather doesn't stand a chance. Theron is the Cordellian prince and he fits Meira. He's stable and calm and he sees her eye to eye and their chemistry was just...mmmmmm. Yes please. Can I also add that he has a wonderful physique and wields weapons masterfully? Oh, Theron. 

Raasch does a good job with the world building, it gets a little confusing at first since there were eight kingdoms to keep track of but you get the hang of things soon enough and it's an enjoyable ride from there on out. The magic is a little difficult to understand, initially, but as the story progressed, I got a feel for how things worked. 

The ending was done beautifully, enough to give readers satisfaction but with room for more. Can more be scenes of Theron with his shirt off? 


"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

Just a quick announcement! I have finally caved and created a blog dedicated solely to my nail art. You'll find more pictures for the nail art set over there plus a list of all the book manicures I've ever done. Some don't get published on this blog. 

Hope you like this! Link to the nail blog below.

More pics plus details HERE.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #21: Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title: Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Format Acquired: Paperback
Publication Date: July 8 2014
Publishing House:  Harper
ISBN: 9780062328090
Source of Copy: Gifted by Sab


Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom's haunted past...or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea's forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nation who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea's nineteenth birthday, the tattered remains of the Queen's Guard - loyal soldiers who protect the throne - have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the kingdom into turmoil - and unleashing the Red Queen's vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen's Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as "the Fetch".

Kelsea's quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals and treacherous battles, Kelsea journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend...or destroy her.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


I was hesitant to pick this book up mainly because of the reviews it got over on goodreads. People had a love or hate relationship with this book and it got me scared. So I need to take a moment and thank Sab for gifting me this book because I love it.  If you can get over the world building, which I will get into later, it's an interesting book and it helps that the men who make up Kelsea's guard are a bunch of hunks. 

On her nineteenth birthday, the men who comprise the Queen's Guard whisk Kelsea away from her quiet life in the forest and thrust her into the role of Queen - into politics and lies and deceit. Her first actions as monarch, though brave, incite the anger of the Red Queen and puts her kingdom into peril. Danger is around every corner and the fight for the survival of her people and her kingdom has just begun. Dodging attacks on her life and fearful magic, Kelsea has to find a way to secure the future of her kingdom and be the queen they need her to be.

One reason to love this book is Kelsea. She's an incredibly strong, good character (righter of wrongs, our Kelsea) but also very much relatable. In the book, people have a tendency to comment on her looks - she's plain-looking - and I wanted to give them a good slap because plain or beautiful, it was obvious that Kelsea had the guts and the resolve to maneuver through all the nasties that her uncle, who ruled while she was away, had done to her kingdom. She's intelligent and witty and that's what counts, because how is beauty supposed to rule a kingdom? 

Another point for this book is the lack of romance and abundance of possible romantic interests. Okay so maybe 'interests' isn't right, but when the men who make up the Queen's Guard are all incredibly fine specimens of the opposite sex, I couldn't resist. It also helps that they're pretty well nuanced and interesting characters. Lazarus, for example, whom Kelsea's makes captain of her guard. He's a fierce warrior and acts as a sort-of-but-not-quite father figure for Kelsea. Then there's the Fetch who is equally mysterious and fierce. He's got a vested interest in seeing Kelsea rule the Kingdom right for reasons unknown. It makes me a little suspicious. 

As for the world building it was, admittedly, a little strange. It's like a dystopia combined with historical fiction with magic for added flavor. They referenced J.K. Rowling's books! A little weird but truthfully, I found that I didn't mind at all but i can totally understand why people have a bone to pick with the worl building. I just hope that we get a little more backstory in the next book. It would be good to finally understand what actually happened that Kelsea's forefathers felt the need to establish a new world. 

I also enjoyed Johansen's writing. Loved how she plotted out the story, the twists and turns and secrets that just so happen to be everywhere. Don't people know it's not smart to keep secrets from the Queen? How is she expected to rule a kingdom and save it from its enemies when all the cards aren't on the table? 

This book is definitely heavier than other YA books, is it even YA? I would recommend it to older teens though since there is a lot of nasty that happens in this book. Lots of rape and violence and yeah. But I loved it and I seriously cannot wait for the next book. 


"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

Yaaaaas! Queen of the Tearling nails! This set just about drove me crazy. It was tough trying to draw on the castle. 

Nail polish used:
China Glaze Liquid Leather

The book.

Nails with the book. 

Drew the castle on the middle finger.

The thumb, I just added on a layer of glitter.

Closer look.