Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: Belladonna (The Secrets of the Eternal Rose #2) by Fiona Paul

This review should have been up ages ago (the blog tour was well over a month ago LOL) but it's taken me yonks to write because I suck. BUT HERE IT IS FINALLY!

Firstly, thanks to HarperCollins Australia for providing a copy of review as part of the Belladonna Australian blog tour <3

Belladonna (Secrets of the Eternal Rose, #2)

Date Read: June 27th – July 2nd 2013
Release Date: July 1st 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Historical
My rating: 

Synopsis: "Cassandra Caravello is trying to forget Falco, the wild artist who ran off with her heart, as she grows closer to her strong, steady fiancĂ©, Luca. But Luca seems to have his own secrets. When he′s arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night, Cass′s life is once again thrown into chaos. She must save Luca, and that means finding the Book of the Eternal Rose -- the only evidence that will prove he is innocent.

So begins her journey to Florence, a city haunted by whispers of corruption, secret soirees and clandestine meetings of the Order of the Eternal Rose. And home to Falco, who′s working for the Order′s eerily stunning leader, the Belladonna herself.

Can Cass trust her heart to lead her to the truth this time?

Nothing is as it seems in this seductive thriller, where the truth may be the deadliest poison of all..."


“No man can achieve greatness without risking his life for it.”

I think I’m in the minority with regards to my overall opinion of Belladonna. I wasn’t as fascinated by it as I was Venom and I think I had extremely high expectations going in. For the most part though, I was satisfied with what I got.

With Luca accused of treason, our protagonist Cassandra Caravello, ventures to Florence to try and clear Luca’s name and find out about the mysterious Order of the Eternal Rose which everybody seems to be tangled in. One thing I was really looking forward to was Cass’s growth from the impulsive, slightly immature girl in Venom. And although she did show signs of some growth, it was not to the degree I wanted to see that is usually customary over the course of a sequel. On the other hand, I can understand why Paul has kept the impulsive streak in Cass – it makes her stand out amongst the other 15 year-old girls of that era and really highlights the theme of women being trapped. I admired Cass’s dedication to her cause and her resilience. Despite those around her disagreeing with her desire to free Luca, she persists, even when it seems like the world is against her. With everything happening around and her conflicting emotions, Cass was determined to find the Book of the Eternal Rose.

“Luca had saved her once. Now it was her turn to save him.”

Resident sexy artist Falco makes his reappearance, but under the employ of the very owner of a certain book Cass is after. Personally, I was immensely happy to see Falco again as I love the chemistry between him and Cass. Although their encounters were much fewer, it made them all the more precious and definitely heightened emotions. I love how Paul has created Falco to be the very antithesis of Luca and the conflict this causes Cass.

“Falco grabbed her without warning. He spun her around him so that her body was pressed up against the wall. Cass’s heart leapt into her throat.”

Where Falco is volatile, passionate, a radical and free thinker, Luca is the constant in Cass’s life. He’s the calm and mature one but also the cause of Cass’s troubles in Belladonna. What I realised about Belladonna was that Luca is again in the background like with Venom. I thought it was interesting that although he’s a large part of the story and one-third of the love triangle, we don’t see much of him – that being said his presence is overarching and shares much of Cass’s thoughts along with Falco. I loved Luca’s selflessness. I’m not really sure how I feel about the love triangle and which boy I prefer. Tis a hard choice they’re both loveable and have their own distinct traits.

“Go be happy. It’s what I want for you.”

For me, the plot wasn’t as thrilling as Venom and I think I’m the black sheep here. In Paul’s defence I really think it’s an “it’s not the book, it’s me” thing as I’d gone into Venom not knowing what to expect and I came out all giddy. I had no idea Venom would be slightly macabre so I was really surprised, thus going into Belladonna I technically already knew Paul’s level of writing thrilling scenes and didn’t end up being wow’d as much as I sort of already knew what to expect – does that make sense? I don’t think it really did but oh wells. I still enjoyed the mystery though, and Paul takes the reader on a journey right into the grand home of the Belladonna herself. And from that moment we’re transported into the Order’s world and their intriguing proceedings which somehow tie in Cass’s past, present and future. I loved how Paul incorporated a paradigm shift of that era – the emergence of the Renaissance movement in art and thinking, combined with the scientific exploration of the anatomy of the human body. However, I do think that with these tools the plot could have been stronger than what was presented – at times it was predictable and a bit flat for my liking.

“The Order’s existence must remain a secret, and new members selected prudently and ardently.”

I could really see an improvement in Paul’s writing in this sequel; Venom and I got off to a rocky start as the first few chapters had noticeably short sentences that really got on my nerves. Therefore, I was extremely happy that Belladonna flowed a lot better. I think the pace was satisfactory and overall Paul has done a good job with a sequel. Excited for Starling next year!

“New life. New beginnings.”

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cover Reveal: That One Summer (Summer #3) by CJ Duggan + Giveaway

I am so excited to be revealing to y'all today the cover for the final book in the Summer series. I absolutely loved The Boys of Summer and it's definitely one of my favourite Aussie YAs.


Eeeep I love it. Matches the whole series <3

"Loving Chris Henderson would be wrong. Diabolically disastrous. I mean, what is there about him to love? He’s moody, bossy, brooding, a control freak, and that’s on a good day … but there was one achingly obvious fact that haunted my every thought, every minute of every day …

He sure could kiss.

As the countdown to the new millennium begins, there is one thing everyone agrees on: no one wants to be in Onslow for New Year’s Eve.

So that can only mean one thing: road trip!

No longer the mousey, invisible, shy girl from years ago, Tammy Maskala is finally making up for all those lost summers. A new year with new friends, which astoundingly includes the bossy boy behind the bar, Chris Henderson.

She likes her new friends (at least most of them), so why does she secretly feel so out of place?

After chickening out on the trip, a last-minute change of heart sees Tammy racing to the Onslow Hotel, fearing she’s missed her chance for a ride. The last thing she expected to meet was a less-than-happy Onslow Boy leaning against his black panel van.

Now the countdown begins to reach the others at Point Shank before the party is over and the new year has begun. Alone in a car with only the infuriating Chris Henderson, Tammy can’t help but feel this is a disastrous start to what could have been a great adventure. But when the awkward road trip takes an unexpected turn, Tammy soon discovers that the way her traitorous heart feels about Chris is the biggest disaster of all.

Fogged up windows, moonlight swimming, bad karaoke and unearthed secrets; after this one summer nothing will ever be the same again."


That One Summer will be released in 2014

Add THAT ONE SUMMER to Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18192972-that-one-summer


Check out the Summer series:

The Boys of Summer - the book that started it all

Buy it at:

An Endless Summer - the journey continues 4 years on...

Buy it at:

About C.J. Duggan

There is an element of cringe-worthiness when I say writing to me is an extension of who I am. I know it’s rather clichĂ©, but it is so deeply ingrained in me, and has been for so many years, it’s impossible to contemplate not doing it. In all my creative, secluded wisdom, I must say I had never thought of it as something to share with others, never thought of it as a career, it’s not about sitting down at the desk to churn out a best-seller and retire from that check in the mail. For me, it’s not a job it’s just what I do; to be honest, I had never given it too much thought.

So why now?

Because there is this immense satisfaction of being able to channel that creativity with others in the writing/reading community, being able to share and discover new talent and realize I am not alone! Cue the dreamy music and let me tell you about a little ditty called “Blog” a word my husband still can’t get his head around, but I assure him it’s a great thing. And it has been for me! A platform to vent and share my work to a group of like minded people who also help inspire you to believe in what you are doing. It has challenged me and made me take responsibility of my work, it’s all very new, exciting and oh yes overwhelming.

As I enter this new phase of embracing my inner writer, I have been able to network my writing through the wonderful world of blogging, where I discuss the trials and tribulations of independently writing my first book: 'The Boys of Summer'. By offering an insiders look at the struggles a writer goes through in order to put those words on paper. Being independent I write from the heart, no deadlines, no big bucks rolling, no movie deals, but that’s o.k., like I said it’s not what it’s about!The response has been over whelming and having been able to link into the Indie community has been truly inspiring. I look forward to giving you an insight to the wonderful world of Independent writing, the good the bad and the ugly. (hopefully not too much of the latter)

Find her at the following places:



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #19

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and every week bloggers post about books they’ve added to their bookshelves! This includes books bought through a physical store, online store, eBooks, books borrowed from the library/a friend and gifts.

On Monday I had lunch with the lovely Manda, the YA publicist from HarperCollinsAU. We had a pretty awesome lunch at this steak/roast place inside Sydney Westfield. Manda had this huge beef burger (sandwich?) that she said had a million slices of beef LOL. I had a delicious medium steak with chips and salad and these awesome grilled mushrooms *drools*
Anyway, Manda surprised me with a bag of books. For those that have been following my STS, you'll know I met another publicist not long ago who also gave me books - I just want to state now before you make assumptions that I DO NOT meet these publicists with the hidden agenda of expecting free books. That has never, and never will be, my reason for meeting publicists/book people. I want to meet them because I've genuinely enjoyed talking to them (online or otherwise) and really want to discuss books with and love their company (I also love new lunch buddies). I'm extremely grateful to them for bringing me books though but I don't expect them to do it. Don't get me wrong, I love getting free books, but I do feel hella guilty because I've got such a huge pile and there's a chance I won't get around to the unsolicited copies for ages (if ever).

Thank you Manda/HarperCollins Australia for these babies <3

Requested for Review:


I also entered an Allen & Unwin competition on Facebook and won this :DDD

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for these books <3


Friday, August 16, 2013

A-Z Book Survey


Jamie over at The Perpetual Page Turner makes the funnest posts - she's the one that started the End of Year Book survey and she just made this fun A to Z survey which I adore.

Author you’ve read the most books from:

It's a tie between Jennifer L. Armentrout and Richelle Mead - 10 books each.
 (Only doing YA, if we included all those Babysitter Club and Jacqueline Wilson MG books I've read my gosh LOL)

Best Sequel Ever:

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, sequel to the 2012 fantasy debut, Throne of Glass. Far out this book killed me, it was so beautiful and just hit all the notes perfectly.

Currently Reading:

The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon - heralded as the next J.K. Rowling as she signed a 7 book deal with Bloomsbury.

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Tea always <3

E-reader or Physical Book?

PHYSICAL! I REALLY dislike e-books and only read them because of eARCs/ebooks that aren't released in physical form.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Ohmygod this is so hard because I never dated in high school :( ummmm... I want to say Aiden St. Delphi from JLA's Covenant series but that's just not likely, a guy like that would not date a girl like me no matter how much I'd dream of it LOL. So uhhh... Will from Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta me thinks.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Losing It by Cora Carmack - funny story behind this. Last year before Losing It was released, Cora followed me on twitter and I didn't think much of it. Much later I was going through my Followers list and I saw that she's a debuting author so I looked up Losing It and my first thought was "woah a book about a girl trying to lose her virginity? What message is that sending to young girls out there?!" Then closer to the release I decided to check this book out as it was on NG... I requested it and I FELL IN LOVE WITH GARRICK TAYLOR. Cora in fact sends the right message to young readers and I heart her and her books so much! This is a kee

Hidden Gem Book:

The Boys of Summer (Summer #1) by C.J. Duggan. It's an Aussie YA set in the Australian summer in a country town and it's got that gorgeous laid back style that only an Aussie book can achieve. I think it's also set in the 90s too because I got that vibe and it gave it that real relaxed and chilled feel. I absolutely adored this book - it's nothing serious or major but it's cute and sweet and extremely enjoyable. If you love Aussie YA (which I know most people do) I think you should check this out.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

Finding out about the book blogging community/Twitterverse thanks to my friend Mariam. Without her I wouldn't have discovered the book blogging world and made such awesome friends!

Just Finished:

Camp Boyfriend by J.K. Rock. 3.5/5 a fun, summery read!

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

I tend to not read as much dystopian as I get fed up with them easily. I'm also shying away from "new adult" books with a lot of angst - especially ones about (sexual) abuse or shady pasts. They're painful to read and I'll be honest, I'm getting sick of them all following the same premise and a lot of them aren't written that great.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - 766 pages. Not that many really.

Major book hangover because of:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I didn't know how to function for ages after that book. Actually, every time I think of it I want to just break down and cry.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Just the 1 but I've got enough books to fill 3! This one bookcase takes up a whole wall and is stacked 3 in per shelf.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead - this series omgggg <3

Preferred Place To Read:

In bed. It's just the most comfortable place to read and I'm in my jammys so <3

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

"You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world... but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices." - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

Reading Regret:

Not having read Susan Ee's Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days #1) sooner! That is a damn amazing book.

Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series):

The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta. I've read book 1 (Finnikin) and I've started Froi but I need to finish this series because Melina is one of my favourite authors ever!

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

Aiden St. Delphi from Covenant and Crown of Midnight - Chaol Westfall <3

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

Sentinel (Covenant #5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout - THE LAST BOOK OMG!

Worst Bookish Habit:

Eating and reading at the same time, I get so many crumbs in my books lol it's gross.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay - this is amazing omg.

Your latest book purchase:

The Darkest Part by Trisha Wolfe (it came out today!)

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill. It's one helluva debut and omg it had be sobbing and just ALL the feels.