Monday, September 14, 2015

Travelling to Ireland - YA Books set in Ireland

I've been dreaming about travelling to Ireland for about ten years and this road trip is finally happening now! I'm leaving tomorrow with two friends and will be back in two weeks. Can't wait! Here's the route we are taking. Do you have tips? What should we do?



As I was planning the route I started wondering if there were any YA books set in Ireland. And I actually found four books. Can you think of another YA story set in Ireland or Northern Ireland? I'll add them to my list here.

YA set in Ireland


Their love was meant to be.

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRÍs.

But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.


THERE YOU'LL FIND ME by Jenny B. Jones

Grief brought Finley to Ireland. Love will lead her home.

Finley Sinclair is not your typical eighteen-year-old. She s witty, tough, and driven. With an upcoming interview at the Manhattan music conservatory, Finley needs to compose her audition piece. But her creativity disappeared with the death of her older brother, Will.

She decides to study abroad in Ireland so she can follow Will s travel journal. It s the place he felt closest to God, and she s hopeful being there will help her make peace over losing him. So she agrees to an exchange program and boards the plane.

Beckett Rush, teen heartthrob and Hollywood bad boy, is flying to Ireland to finish filming his latest vampire movie. On the flight, he meets Finley. She s the one girl who seems immune to his charm. Undeterred, Beckett convinces her to be his assistant in exchange for his help as a tour guide.

Once in Ireland, Finley starts to break down. The loss of her brother and the pressure of school, her audition, and whatever it is that is happening between her and Beckett, leads her to a new and dangerous vice. When is God going to show up for her in this emerald paradise?

Then she experiences something that radically changes her perspective on life. Could it be God convincing her that everything she s been looking for has been with her all along?"


SHINE by Jeri Smith-Ready

In this dramatic conclusion to the Shade trilogy, Aura and Zachary’s relationship sizzles as the secrets of the Shift are revealed.

Life can change in an instant, and no one understands that better than Aura. It’s been almost a year since her boyfriend tragically died. She’s finally letting go of Logan’s violet-hued ghost, but not her search to uncover the truth about her past.

As the first in a generation that can see ghosts, Aura is convinced she has a connection to the Shift. She’s trusted Zachary, ever patient and ever by her side, with all that she knows. But when the government threatens his life in an attempt to learn Aura’s secrets, she will stop at nothing to protect herself and the one she loves...even if that means betraying her own heart.


And here's what I'm planning to read while on my trip in Ireland and Northern Ireland:

I've been wanting to read THE WHITE ROSE by Amy Ewing for a while and am very curious about BURNING GLASS, Kathryn Purdie's 2016 debut novel. Hope that I'll find the time to at least finish these two then.

Take care!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Book Review: Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

Title: Ice Like Fire (Snow Like Ashes #2)
Author: Sara Raasch
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date: October 13th 2015
Length: 479 pages
Keywords: YA, fantasy, romance, magic, kingdoms, war
Source: Edelweiss

It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.

Summary by Goodreads

The sequel to SNOW LIKE ASHES primarily concentrates on the political side of relations between the kingdoms of Primoria. Politics is very important to strengthen Winter's position in Sara Raasch's intriguing game of kingdoms. Every action is followed by a reaction, every small comment by Meira could be interpreted in many unfortunate ways. I really appreciated that Sara Raasch planned some greater variety for ICE LIKE FIRE in so far as that she introduced us to other kingdoms, their leaders and their histories. There is also a new secondary character that I really grew to like. She's so kick-ass! 
Winter might not be as strong as it was before, but it is taking new shape again. In ICE LIKE FIRE we visit Winter and see how people are recovering from the years of servitude and fear. We learn what it means to come back home and to slowly rebuild the kingdom.
   Despite being her people's new leader, or especially because of it, Meira goes on a journey. A huge event brings along another quest for Meira and her friends. They are leaving Winter to search for three hidden keys that should either help solve all their problems or destroy their world forever. We are given clues and Meira has to figure them out before anyone else does. Don't you just love these kinds of quests, too? 
  In the second book in the SNOW LIKE ASHES series readers will get the chance to travel even more kingdoms than in the first book. Meira and Theron travel to Summer, Yakim and Ventralli. We are in Winter for some chapters before and learn more about Cordell and Autumn, too. 

So ICE LIKE FIRE is about Meira's politically motivated travels to the other kingdoms, but the story focuses on Meira's inner journey, too. In SNOW LIKE ASHES we got to know Meira as the little orphan girl who wanted to be a warrior. Now we meet Queen Meira, the well-being of an entire kingdom resting on her shoulders. She's often torn between being the person she once was and the person she is supposed to become. So who is she right now, in this moment?

Where SNOW LIKE ASHES was told from Meira's point of view, in ICE LIKE FIRE we've got alternating perspectives between Meira and Mather. Which was a good feature since they aren't together the entire story. And I'm very happy about Sara's choice to let Mather have his own chapters, he's such a great character!
   For me Meira and Mather are a dream couple. Well, at least in theory they are. It feels like there are a hundred obstacles between them and their happiness. They are both very strong and impulsive personalities. And they sure are taking their time to finally acknowledge their true feelings. I can't even tell you now if they will ever find a way to be together or if Meira's heart truly belongs to Theron. Grab a copy of ICE LIKE FIRE as soon as you can and find out yourself!  

If you read the first book in a series and fall in love with it, you want the sequel to be just as good. Unfortunately, there were some parts of ICE LIKE FIRE that were too lengthy. Still, knowing many sequels are a series' weak spot, ICE LIKE FIRE is definitely one of the better sequels I've read.  


4/5 **** ICE LIKE FIRE - And suddenly the series turns into a game of kingdoms!

Politics, tactics and game play on the one hand. Affairs of the heart and finding your identity on the other hand. ICE LIKE FIRE is a potpourri of epic fighting scenes, solving clever riddles, finding love in times of war and surviving the world of politics in Primoria. Expect a few plot surprises as well!

"He’s afraid of our pasts too. He’s afraid that what happened will happen again, nightmares that keep playing out.“You don’t have to keep me safe,” I whisper." – p.9


ICE LIKE FIRE you might want to have a look into these 2016 YA releases. I have a feeling they are going to be epic! They are REIGN OF SHADOWS by Sophie Jordan, BURNING GLASS by Kathryn Purdie and SWORD AND VERSE by Kathy McMillan.

* Have you read ICICLES LIKE KINDLING, the original prologue to the story? You can read it here for free.

* Click here for an excerpt of ICE LIKE FIRE!

* Want to meet Sara Raasch? Check out her event schedule.

* For more information about Sara Raasch and her books visit

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Book Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Title: Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1)
Author: Sara Raasch
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date: October 14th 2014
Length: 416 pages
Keywords: YA, fantasy, romance, magic, kingdoms, war
Source: Edelweiss

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

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 the 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 Winterians’ 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 her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom 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.

Summary by Goodreads

Sara Raasch's debut novel was one of my favourite reads in 2014. In fact Sara Raasch is one of my favourite authors, too. I got to meet Sara at her SNOW LIKE ASHES launch party at Books of Wonder in New York last year. She was just the sweetest, a bit nervous and so modest about her brilliant book!

It wasn't only the stunning cover that made me want to read SNOW LIKE ASHES. It was the promise to let my mind wander to an entirely new and enchanting world. I'm also easily hooked by such a love story as we are promised between Meira and Mather.
   The entire character cast of SNOW LIKE ASHES is made of awesome. Meira is an orphan girl and she lives the life of a refugee. Still she's optimistic about a brighter future and set on getting back the kingdom of Winter and freeing her enslaved fellow Winterians. The story is told from Meira's point of view and so we get to know her very well, her deepest feelings, thoughts and motivations. Mather is her best friend and Meira has been secretly in love with him (I'm not so secretly in love with him, too). There's only one problem. Mather is the future king of Winter and all the sorrow and hope of an entire kingdom is resting on his shoulders. He's smart, loyal and and a fearless leader. So I'm sure he'll be on many readers' book boyfriend lists!
   At this point I have to warn you though, that there's another man in Meira's life who is trying to win her over. So yeah, SNOW LIKE ASHES comes along with a love triangle, which is not my favourite, but definitely doesn't make the story of SNOW LIKE ASHES any less enjoyable.
   Meira and Mather's group is made up of eight refugees in total. They are a group of isolated Winterians, and you just can't but love every single one of these peculiar characters and want to get to know them all. As they are the last of their kingdom to be free, to be able to put up resistance against the oppressive Spring tyrant, their group is tightly knit and they are all so brilliantly fierce and dedicated to their goal. In numbers they are weak, but in courage and belief they are very strong. So Meira and Mather's story is also the story about the gigantic feat of a group of eight refugees who fight for themselves, to protect what they love most and together rebuild their kingdom of Winter.

At the beginning of SNOW LIKE ASHES we are provided with a map of Primoria, showing where each kingdom is located. This map really helps navigating the world of Primora and makes it much easier to follow Meira's journey in SNOW LIKE ASHES. A few months ago Sara Raasch shared this exact same map in her featured Behind The Pages post with annotated fun facts. Have a look at the post here.

What fascinated me most about SNOW LIKE ASHES are the eight kingdoms of Primoria that Sara Raasch imagined and so richly brought to life in her captivating debut novel! There are four Season kingdoms and four Rhythm kingdoms. Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Yakim, Paisly, Ventralli and Cordell. Every kingdom has their own king or queen, depending on the bloodline. And these royals are the only ones who can wield magic, brought to them by special conduits. Clever, huh? It is an elaborate and very smart concept that allows for many different and ever new adventurous and smart storylines to spring from it. I just love every single detail about SNOW LIKE ASHES!

5/5 ***** SNOW LIKE ASHES - A phenomenal start to Sara Raasch's magical YA fantasy trilogy!

Sara Raasch is an extraordinarily articulate and imaginative, young, talented author who I hope gets a ton more book deals beside her SNOW LIKE ASHES trilogy. Her world building in SNOW LIKE ASHES is exceptionally beautiful and rich, her characters sincere and so fierce! There is also an ultimate villain and a noble goal to risk everything for. What else is there to be desired?! If you haven't read Sara's debut book I recommend getting a day off so you can delve into her world of Primoria, a world with eight kingdoms, one more fascinating than the other, and spend a time-out of the most fulfilling and bookish kind!

"But he's not just Mather he is Winter. He will always be Winter first and foremost, and there is a palace in his future, not a cottage.
So I help him over to the fire and hurry to pack what I'll need for the trip, moving and doing in silence because silence is infinitely easier than talking. And now, finally, I'm moving and doing what I've always wanted helping my kingdom."p.21

SNOW LIKE ASHES you will enjoy these three fellow YA fantasy stories: SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo, THE WINNER'S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski and THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THRONS by Rae Carson. 


* Have you read ICICLES LIKE KINDLING, the original prologue to the story? You can read it here for free.

* Click here for an excerpt of SNOW LIKE ASHES!

* Want to meet Sara Raasch? Check out her event schedule.

* For more information about Sara Raasch and her books visit

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Mini Review: Oh Yeah, Audrey! by Tucker Shaw

Audrey Hepburn fan alert! OH YEAH, AUDREY! is to be read after a successful shopping day on Fifth Avenue, or a Breakfast at Tiffany's movie marathon with your best friends. It is a fast and fun read!

Oh Yeah, Audrey! by Tucker Shaw

"It’s 5:00 a.m. on Fifth Avenue, and 16-year-old Gemma Beasley is standing in front of Tiffany & Co. wearing the perfect black dress with her coffee in hand—just like Holly Golightly. As the cofounder of a successful Tumblr blog—Oh Yeah Audrey!—devoted to all things Audrey Hepburn, Gemma has traveled to New York in order to meet up with her fellow bloggers for the first time. She has meticulously planned out a 24-hour adventure in homage to Breakfast at Tiffany’s; however, her plans are derailed when a glamorous boy sweeps in and offers her the New York experience she’s always dreamed of. Gemma soon learns who her true friends are and that, sometimes, no matter where you go, you just end up finding yourself." (Summary by Goodreads) 
   Just look at this funky cover! It promises a light and fun read with lots of fabulous Breakfast at Tiffany's fandom moments. OH YEAH, AUDREY! has a simple but stylish page design as well. It nicely compliments the 60s theme and Audrey Hepburn chic of Gemma's story.
In Gemma's story there is a great focus on style, fashion and pop culture! The movie Breakfast at Tiffany's is our protagonists' pop culture bible and so there are many comparisons, quotes and references strewn across the story. I really enjoyed them! It's no surprise Gemma's adventure starts on Fifth Avenue at 5 a.m. in the morning. I bet you can guess why...that's the beginning of Holly Golightly's story, too.
   Divided into three parts, with various shorter chapters, OH YEAH, AUDREY! tells the story of fans, of friends who dedicate a special day to their idol Audrey Hepburn. The first chapter starts at 5:00 a.m., followed by the next chapter at 5:05 a.m., the next at 5:10 a.m. and so on. This makes it easy to keep track of Gemma's adventurous day. Set in New York, Gemma's story shows what it means to be young, get swept away in the rush of a big city and so many new possibilities.
   Readers should be prepared to spend one crazy fun day in New York. Not every of Gemma's decisions is reasonable and it might be possible that she isn't the reader's favourite all the time. Her story isn't always as substantial as I'd hoped for it to be. But in general she and her friends were awesome, young and lively characters that allow readers to identify with. Everyone has had to be fan of someone or something at some point in his life. When I thought of my beloved series and icons my heart only grew fonder of the Audrey fanatics we meet in Tucker Shaw's OH YEAH, AUDREY!. More people should celebrate what they love, no matter what others think. Most important is to feel good about yourself and what you do and have fun!

3,5/5 ***/* OH YEAH, AUDREY! - A fun, quirky tribute to Audrey Hepburn and the glamour and kindness she contributed to Hollywood!

Gemma's story empowers readers to fully embrace their fandom! Fans of Audrey Hepburn, Tiffany & Co. and Breakfast at Tiffany's will sure enjoy Gemma's story, filled with live-the-moment decisions, big city glamour and classic fan talk. More YA books should be dedicated to outright crazy adventures, where everything is possible, created by fandom.

Publisher: Amulet Books
Publishing Date: October 14th 2014
Length: 243 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, friendship, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Audrey Hepburn

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Mini Review: The Dolls by Kiki Sullivan

Advertised as "sultry, seductive [and] irresistible", the second book in this series, MIDNIGHT DOLLS, comes out September 1st 2015. Who of you has this fall release on their wishlist?

The Dolls by Kiki Sullivan

Eveny Cheval hasn't been to the town of Carrefour in a long time. That's the place she was born; also the place where her own mother died many years ago under unresolved circumstances. So when she returns to Carrefour with her aunt, her arrival is met not only with curiosity but rumours and hidden agendas, too.
Back in Carrefour Eveny meets Peregrine and Chloe. Being known as the Dolls the two consider themselves the universal centre of attention. They are beautiful, rich and popular so it's no wonder they are ruling the school. Every boy loves them and they even have their own henchmen. Whatever the girls want, their spells buy them. Together they are constantly trying to persuade Eveny to join them because she is a Doll, too. So a great part of the story is made up of the three girls practicing spells and introducing Eveny to the world of magic.
   Eveny was an acceptable protagonist, but I really couldn't care less about Peregrine and Chloe's superficiality and promiscuity. There might be more to them than one first notices, but overall I perceived them as rather annoying and dull characters. With the intention to add a bit more excitement to the story than a girly and cliché group dynamic, Kiki Sullivan sent an unknown killer after the Dolls. 
   At first I was intrigued by the scenery and the city of Carrefour, a magical town in the South. Its city gates only open for people who are in possession of a magic key. Eveny lives in an old house with a mysterious housekeeper. Set in Louisiana the story carries a certain mysterious and atmospheric feel to it. Just not as much as I'd hoped for. Furthermore I would have wished for the girls to be more adult and serious characters. Overall I guess THE DOLLS just wasn't my kind of story. 

2,5/5 **/* THE DOLLS - Equipped with lip gloss, high heels, a snake and a bunch of old spells, Eveny, Chloe and Peregrine are fighting evil.

Being a fan of the Tv show Pretty Little Liars I was very much looking forward to read THE DOLLS. I had hoped for Kiki Sullivan's novel to be an even darker and more atmospheric read than mentioned Tv show but with the same girl power and drama. Sadly, it wasn't at all what I'd hoped for. The concept of the Dolls is rather dull, Eveny's love story is weak and all the potential Southern gothic flair mostly wasted.  

Publisher: Usborne Publishing
Publishing Date: March 1st 2015
Length: 432 pages
Keywords:YA, thriller, romance, mystery, magic
Source: Publisher
Goodreads Summary  
The Dolls Excerpt  

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Mini Review: The Two of Us by Andy Jones

Today I'm back with a mini review of THE TWO OF US by Andy Jones. Since the blog has been a bit too quiet for my taste in the past months, I've decided to post a few mini reviews in the next weeks in order to get caught up with my review schedule and rebuild a blogging routine. Really hoping this plan works. Let's do this!

The Two of Us by Andy Jones

Andy Jones' newest fiction release tells the story of Ivy and Fisher who have known each other for about nineteen days. Yet they both carry a strong conviction to spend the rest of their lives together. It's not only that they have to convince their friends and parents about the validity of their plan and feelings, but the reader and above all themselves as well. Their feelings for each other aren't always easy to admit, their approaches at honesty and loyalty not always fully comprehensible. Yet, Ivy and Fisher's romance is as comfortable and relatable to readers as it is, because their story just feels real.   Told from Fisher's perspective we are learning bit by bit about the beginning of Ivy and Fisher's love story and how their feelings for each other change and intensify over time. Great pick of a pov! Fisher is funny and committed, a fabulous protagonist. Just like him we never know entirely what is going on in Ivy's mind. Sometimes I was a tad glad, we don't. Based on her often reserved and withdrawn behavior I couldn't always be sure about her next move. Some parts of the story were definitely weaker than others and that's why I couldn't name THE TWO OF US a favourite read, despite enjoying it as an overall quick contemporary read. My favourite part about this book probably are the secondary characters that make THE TWO OF US extra special. I assure you, you'll love El!

3,5/5 ***/* THE TWO OF US - A surprising everyday love story, with a relatable narrator and a very moving side plot!

THE TWO OF US is a fast-paced read, even though there isn't really that much action to the story. Despite a few weak points to the story and its female protagonist, it's the exceptionally ordinary characters and quirky dialogues that make for a likable contemporary read. You should give it a try!  

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publishing Date: May 7th 2015
Length: 400 pages
Keywords: romance, chick-lit, friendship, family, drama
Source: Publisher
Goodreads Summary  
The Two of Us Excerpt