5 October 2015

Blog Tour: Madly (Potion, #1) - The Recipe for Samantha Kemi

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Amy Alward
Pages: 384
Format: ARC - available September 29, 2015! 
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10

* I received this from Simon & Schuster CA in exchange for a fair and honest review* 

Summary (I'm mad about you, Goodreads): 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.

My Thoughts: So, I wasn't a hundred percent sure what to expect with this novel. I mean I saw a tagline that said that Madly was The Princess Diaries and The Hunger Games mixed together and talk about intrigue. I'm generally a little scared of fantasy, just because it can go in so many different directions and I never know exactly what I'm going to get with it. But, if Madly is any indication of what to expect in the fantastic-y world, count me in! There was magic and mythical creatures and love and kickass characters (I mean, hello, Samantha Kemi? Can we be best friends please?). It took place in a modern setting - which, hello sorry for another interlude from yours truly, but how cool is that? I never ever read fantasy stories that take place now - and it never felt like it was trying to hard or it was reaching. It was refreshing to read about this kickass girl and these surreal and wonderful (and often, not so wonderful) experiences taking place in a world that I can clearly imagine, because it's my world. There was some romance, but I thought that it was adorable and added to the story. There wasn't any insta-love or anything like that. They genuinely cared about what would happen to the other people, and I was here for it. Basically, without spoiling anything, if you add alchemy, mix in some fantasy, stir in adventure, add a whole heck of a lot of humour, and add a pinch of romance, you've got yourself a recipe for Madly. Maybe that's actually the love potion recipe... 

However, I think that my absolute favourite part of the novel was how wonderfully written it was. All the sudden I was swept up into the world, and seriously devouring the book. Once I was in, I couldn't get out. And once I was in, I didn't want to get out. I'm eagerly awaiting the rest of the series to see what kind of trouble our characters are going to get into!

P.S. Serious cover lust. Hardcore cover lust. Lust that is moving into love territory kind of lust. 

Final Thoughts: This was a light, funny, and fun read. It was the perfect end of summer story, and I'll definitely be finishing off the series!


The Recipe for Samantha Kemi 

Making A Main Character by Amy Alward, author of Madly
Inspiration when creating your characters flows down from your everyday life and upbringing, from your old Aunt Mildred to that villain in your childhood novels. When creating my main character for Madly, I pulled and picked and flipped and twisted characteristics that stuck with me over the years, then finally pieced them together to create Samantha Kemi. In this specific book, my inspiration came from all the characters I’ve encountered in my reading. And I remember exactly the wizards and witches and all around kick-butt characters who inspired me:

1. Chrestomanci, from The World of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones

Chrestomanci is employed by the Parliament in The World of Chrestomanci and his job is to make sure magic isn’t being misused in the world. His character seeped into Samantha in the way that he can be random and unpredictable, but also honourable. Samantha’s main goal is to redeem her family’s name and save Princess Evelyn, two very honorable endeavors.

2. Ged from The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin

Ged is the main protagonist in A Wizard of Earthsea and can be seen as a very serious and arrogant boy who then matures into an extremely powerful wizard. Now, I wouldn’t say Samantha is arrogant but she definitely has got some cheeky-ness to her! She doesn’t take any crap and is confident in her potion skills. The only person who can ruffle her feathers is Zain and that’s when her cheeky attitude really comes forward!

3. Indiana Jones from Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones is one of the cleverest and quick witted characters I’ve ever seen. But more importantly, he’s human. I wanted to create a supernatural world but with very relatable characters. Like Indy, Samantha makes mistakes and ends up in sticky situations and they both have fears like you and I (can’t forget Indy and the snakes!). Indy and Samantha are really only human at the end of the day.

4. Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss is a kick-butt character that I absolutely love and there are qualities in her that I definitely mirrored when creating Sam. The most important characteristic about Katniss is her strive to create her own fate. Even before she volunteers as tribute she is always pushing the boundaries of her district. Samantha is very much like Katniss in this sense, she will not settle for the reputation that her family’s name has developed and will go to great lengths to prove herself and carve her own path.

5. Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling

The characters in the Harry Potter series as a whole have definitely influenced my writing and inspired me as an author. But it is Hermione Granger that specifically inspired elements of Samantha while writing Madly. It is her desire for truth, her ability to learn, and her passion for what she is learning that I infused into Samantha. Just as Sam prefers natural potion ingredients as opposed to synthetic ones, Hermione also hates cutting corners (especially when it comes to studying!).
There you have it! I hope you enjoy reading about Sam as much as I enjoyed creating her and writing Madly! Let me know which characters inspire your writing @amy_alward.


  1. It sounds really interesting, I just added it to my TBR list.

    1. I hope you like it! I really enjoyed it! :)

  2. Colour me intrigued..... I hadn't heard of this book before so thanks for the heads up with this great review! xx

    1. Thank you! It was definitely a good book! :)

  3. I haven't started this one yet but my hopes aren't too high. So it's nice to see it's light and fun. Nice review!


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