Monday, 5 October 2015

Review: Madly by Amy Alward

Madly by Amy Alward

Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: September 29th, 2015
Pages: 384
Series: Potion #1
Source: Publisher **I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
Rating: 4/5

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When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news.

No big deal, then.

Now here's the thing, Madly turned out to be a really good time. I'm really not sure what I was expecting. I just remember reading something about a kingdom and a love potion and thought to myself I should request this book from the publisher. And I'm really glad I did. Madly was the perfect read at the perfect time. I needed something quick and fun and it so happened that Madly checked those things off easily.

Samantha's family runs one of the oldest alchemist shops in the kingdom. But these days they have very few customers as technology and the use of synthesized potions have become taken over. With Samantha's younger sister showing the signs of becoming a very strong talented(witch), Samantha being an ordinary, is primed to take over running the families shop. Although Samantha dreams of bringing the shop into the 21st century, her grandfather is set on running it as it has always been run. All seems like the eventual demise of the old way, until the Princess becomes poisoned with a love potion and the court calls The Hunt. An old competition that sees the kingdoms most known alchemists competing in a world wide race to save the sick royal(in this case the Princess). As the love potion being outlawed many a years ago, the competitors must work off their knowledge and instincts to produce the correct potion to save the Princess. Samantha may be an ordinary but she has an extraordinary talent for alchemy and mixing. She joins the hunt to save the Princess but also to prove that the old ways aren't dead and thus save her families shop. Samantha cannot guess what The Hunt will bring; except she knows not letting the Megapharma(and old family rival), ZoroAster win is top of her list.

I really loved the world Alward created; Nova and the rest of the world is purely fantasy, yet set in the 21st century. Magic, alchemy and mythical creatures were all present, but so were T.V.s, cell phones and airplanes. It was a cool mix. As was the comparison's between the different lands and our countries. I laughed at how Nova has a royal court, but also a parliament thus showing the royal court to be more for show than anything else(remind you of a certain bunch of royals?). I just found that the world was something I knew well, but also had a great fantastical element to it.

The Hunt itself turned out to be what you would expect; something akin to The Amazing Race. It saw Samantha leaving her kingdom for the first time to travel the world in search of rare and sometimes dangerous to find ingredients. The Hunt was heavy with competition, obviously, which meant backstabbing and racing to that finish line. Not only was the Princesses life on the line, but so was the kingdoms future and each team wanted the prize.

As seemed to be the running theme with Madly, the characters were super fun too. You've got the ditsy Princess who creates a love potion which she accidentally ingests, thus falling in love with herself. Which provided a bunch of chuckles. Than there's the outcasted King's sister who was set to destroy the competitors of The Hunt so she could take over the kingdom. Being a light book, she's not truly scary, just a good Disney type villain. Samantha's grumpy grandfather, was the character with secrets that he was set on keeping to stop changes to his life. Samantha's loyal best friend, who was more set on seeing Samantha succeed than her own family. Molly, Samantha's younger sister, who just happens to prove herself at the opportune moment. And my favourite, Kirsty, the families Finder(she travels to world to find ingredients for Samantha's family). She's the one who knows the world and get whatever and wherever with her charisma, know how and don't care attitude. There always needs to be a Kirsty.

Samantha was an excellent heroine. Even though she'd not traveled, she never appeared sheltered. Although technically ordinary, her brain and skill at mixing proved magic is far from everything. Samantha turned out to be quite endearing and fearless. She definitely had that "special" aura about her, but for some reason it worked and didn't have me eye rolling. Samantha had a good conscience and used her intelligence to make right decisions, but also the dangerous ones, knowing the pay out would be worth it. Samantha was exactly the type of heroine to fit the story.

Now of course there was romance. But it wasn't the focus, or what was centric to making the plot progress. That fell purely on Samantha's talents. Anyhow, based on how light and fun a story Madly was, guessing the love interest didn't take a rocket scientist. So as it turned out, the son of ZoroAster had a secret crush on Samantha. Zain is of course handsome, popular and charismatic. But was also under the thumb of his overbearing father, so you know, Samantha just happened to be that intriguingly smart and special girl that can help him stop his father. You know how it goes? Like everything else I mentioned, the romance fit with the story. Unlike Zain's father it was not overbearing, just sweet tinged with the awkwardness of being a teen and the distrust Samantha had in Zain's feelings.

Madly was a super quick, light and fun read. It had a full arc and ends as it is a stand alone. I know Goodreads has it listed as the first book, but I'm not sure where Samantha's story could go next. Everything was wrapped up nicely. Although a little cheesy, that's not something I mind so much. A little cheese never hurt anyone. That being said, I wouldn't mind a sequel that sees Samantha taking her new found life forward. I'd look forward to it actually.

Happy reading!


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