Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Firstly, thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for this review copy <3

Date Read: February 7 - 8 2015
Date Published: August 1st 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Mystery/thriller
My Rating: 

"Elise is dead.And someone must pay.

Anna, her boyfriend Tate, best friend Elise and a group of close friends set off on a debaucherous Spring Break trip to Aruba. But paradise soon turns into a living nightmare when Elise is brutally murdered.

Soon Anna finds herself trapped in a foreign country and fighting for her freedom. As she awaits the judge's decree, it becomes clear that everyone is questioning her innocence. To the rest of the world, Anna isn't just guilty, but dangerous. As the court case unfolds the truth is about to come out, and it's more shocking than you could ever imagine..."


Sadly, I was the black sheep with regards to this book. It’s meant to have a mind blowing plot twist but I just didn’t feel it.

A spring break vacation gone wrong, Anna and her friends had planned on an amazing trip to the Caribbean island of Aruba when her best friend is murdered the first week they’re there. Anna and her boyfriend Tate are the prime suspects.

The story is told in a very unique fashion – there’s Anna’s current point of views in the aftermath of Elise’s murder as she’s held in custody but also flashbacks to Anna’s developing friendship with Elise and the others in the group. There’s also TV scripts and mobile phone transcripts to display how the case is going and to reveal evidence. As much as I liked the original way the plot was relayed, I grew restless after a while. I thought a lot of the stuff seemed to drag on – the court case, some of the flashbacks and I thought things could have moved a lot faster.

The evidence presented against Anna as the main suspect just wasn’t believable for me. The prosecutor Dekker is obviously grasping at straws and the way he presents the evidence against the accused just had me scoffing. The way the crime scene was presented for one, then using Anna’s social media against her, it was all so melodramatic and for a minor too? I just couldn’t believe it. Compared to all the crime shows I’ve watched I just didn’t feel that this was realistic or believable – it felt like an episode of Pretty Little Liars with less twists.

I didn’t like ANY of the characters in this book. Anna’s friends were all shallow and it seemed everybody was against her or everybody was a suspect and nobody was genuine. I got so exhausted reading about these shallow teenagers with their money thinking they could play God with someone’s life in the court room.

In terms of the plot twist at the end I just wasn’t shocked. By that point I’d run through so many scenarios in my head that the plot twist had been considered at some point and another one of the major plot points I’d already guessed from the very beginning.

I expected a lot more with the plot twist as well. After the revelation I thought some questions would be answered – did the stab wounds show signs of a struggle? Did Elise die from blood loss or did she die directly from a stab wound to the heart or stomach or neck? These would have indicated if Elise had been surprised by her attacker and hence signified if she may have known them or not. Stabs to fatal areas first may have indicated that her killer was merciful rather than stabbing her elsewhere to inflict as much pain as possible. What could they glean from the contaminated crime scene? I’m sure they could have gotten SOME facts. I just wanted more of these things.

I’ve yet to read a YA mystery that manages to leave me awestruck and mind blown (Ellie Marney’s Every Breath was close but the culprit was too easily identifiable for me so that’s where it fell flat). I’m waiting for a YA that mind fucks me the way Dan Brown does.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Branching Out: LGBT

Hi guys, it’s time to introduce my other feature called Branching Out! In this feature I aim to recommend books outside the common YA books we all love. That means this feature will concentrate mainly on adult books – mystery, chick-flick, literature etc. that I’ve enjoyed. While YA will forever be my love, I realise that as I grow older, I also want to try other things. Maybe you do too so each fortnight or something I’ll recommend 2 or 3 books under a specific genre through mini-reviews.

This time I’m starting within YA but with something I think we’re all trying to read a bit more, especially with the We Need Diverse Books campaign last year: LGBT. These are my favourite books where the main character is LGBT. I'm constantly on the hunt for more of these books.

Clicking the title link will take you to the Goodreads page with synopsis.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

My Rating: 
For lovers of: Lyrical writing, slow summers

This is hands down my favourite LGBT book. Set in the late 80s, not only does it have themes of LGBT but also deals with characters of colour. 15 year old Aristotle is a sullen teenager who wants more out of his boring summer. In learning how to swim he meets the sweet Dante who is always smiling, bright and sees the best in things. What ensues is a beautiful friendship and so much more.

"Maybe everyone loves differently. Maybe that's all that matters."

Love doesn't discriminate. Ari and Dante's story crept up on me quietly, beautifully and stole my heart. Saenz's writing is lyrical, poignant and so thoughtful.

Ari is the quiet one, the one that's always thinking. Dante the one that laughs and says what's on his mind - who's not afraid to express himself. Together, they're like pieces of a puzzle, unknowingly filling the gaps the other leaves.

Ari's loneliness. I felt it. All of it. His thoughts were personal to me because I have these thoughts all the time. He has so many uncertainties, is in denial about his growing friendship with Dante and as a result becomes frustrated and angry with himself. His voice was so real, so raw and truthful.

Saenz's doesn't make picturesque descriptions, he just makes you feel through dialogue and actions and Ari's thoughts. I've never read a style like Saenz's and it's stunning.

"Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer morning could end in a downpour."

I cried at the beauty of friendship, loneliness, trying to find our identity and ultimately family. Ari parents and Dante's parents are also complete opposites. And yet they love the same - compassionately, truthfully, wholly and unconditionally. They never fail to let their sons know how much they love them.

"We don’t always make the best decisions… We do the best we can."

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

My Rating: 
For lovers of: Art, quirky writing 

This won the 2015 Michael L. Printz Award, which is basically THE award for YA books. And I can definitely see why. IGYtS has Nelson’s signature quirkiness and beautiful writing style.

Told through dual POVs across two time lines, 16 year old Jude hides underneath layers of clothes and closes herself off from friends while Noah is the popular boy. 13 year old Noah is the next Picasso with his beautiful sketches but is teased by the older boys while Jude is a daredevil and surfer, ever popular and surrounded by friends.

Through both their connections to art, 16 year old Jude and 13 year old Noah tell their stories of how they ended up the way they are – barely talking, both with secrets and screaming on the inside. Jude may be falling in love but she can’t bring herself to open up; Noah’s growing friendship with the new boy has him yearning for something that he’s scared to openly admit.

I’ll Give You the Sun expertly deals with homophobia – the repercussions and fear arising from it and how the victims react. It made me realise why some people are afraid to come out and it broke my heart how people can treat each other so horribly.

I loved the art aspect of this – the way art is used to express emotions and everyday thoughts. Rather than screaming and crying through words, the characters struck stone and lashed at paper with colour.

All of this is accentuated through Nelson’s beautiful writing – the voices of Jude and Noah are sort of exaggerated which makes the goings on almost surreal at times. Add in the art and it’s trippy, expressive, colourful and will make you feel so many things.

My Rating: 
For lovers of: light summery reads, design projects

Finally a book where the main character is openly lesbian and not cast out because of it.

ELtY is a fresh, summery read with a hint of mystery that gave this sweet story an extra kick. Emi is a gifted set designer and trying to get over her last relationship. While designing a new set, Emi and her best friend Charlotte discover a letter that leads them to Ava and together the 3 of them uncover the mystery that is Ava’s childhood and then some.

I just loved how normal this book made being gay. Emi can have a straight female best friend and people won’t tease Charlotte about it. Emi’s family treats her normally and so do people at school and work. This is how it’s meant to be. And at the same time this is how it isn’t. Which I guess is where the scepticism comes in because it almost seemed too good to be true – that everybody could be so accepting of Emi. I WISH people could be this open-minded but I know in real-life that’s not the case even though we try for it.

I adored the layers to Ava’s character. She’s beautiful and holds a lot of potential but conflicted about everything that’s coming at her. Emi is uncertain of Ava’s sexuality but is definitely falling for her and I thought it was perfect that the reader couldn’t tell if Ava was straight, lesbian or bi. LaCour totally gets rid of the stigma that lesbians are “butch” or whatever.

LaCour also did an amazing job of showing the reader what it’s like being a set designer. We get to see a movie come together from behind the scenes and it’s stressful yet so rewarding! I love design so this was perfect for me.


What are some of your favourite LGBT reads? In 2015, I'm really looking forward to Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Firstly, thanks to WalkerBooks Australia for this review copy <3

Date Read: January 29 2015
Date Released: March 25th 2014
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: ARC via publisher
Genre: Magical realism
My Rating: 

"Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.
Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human."


“Happiness had a pungent scent, like the sourest lime or lemon. Broken hearts smelled surprisingly sweet. Sadness filled the air with a salty, sea-like redolence; death like sadness.”

This was my first foray into magical realism and I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. It definitely took a while to get used to but I think once I did I really enjoyed this book. However, I thought the blurb was a bit misleading. It said Ava Lavender tries to understand why she was born with wings and embarks on a quest to find out why with a generational saga. This wasn’t so much about Ava’s own quest as it was an explanation into the history of the women in her family. I think I expected more of her. I felt sort of distant from her for a LOT of the book.

Ava’s female ancestors certainly all have their own unique stories, beginning with Ava’s great-grandmother, her grandmother Emilienne and her mother Viviane. It’s a story of intense heartbreak and misfortune that filters down the female line. Personally, I thought there was too much bad stuff going on, to the point where I didn’t feel anything. It was just one tragedy or heartbreak after the next and I was like “oh here we go what bad luck is going to befall them next” to the point where it was exhausting. The onslaught left me immune to feeling anything. There were definitely some happy moments but I just knew something bad would happen after.

I did like the women themselves though. I liked Emilenne’s resilience and cold strength, Viviane’s passion and the way Ava (when we FINALLY got to the ‘present’ of her story) just took her wings in stride. I loved Ava’s friend Cardigan who treats her as a true friend, especially towards the end of the book.

There were definitely some things that happened in this that made me extremely uncomfortable and were just another addition to the terrible things that happened to Ava and her family. It made me cringe and lose faith in humanity. But it made me realise the importance of family and how people can come together in bad times to support each other.

There’s also a hint of mystery tied into the plot that increases the intrigue of the Roux women’s tribulations and adds depth to the existence of Ava’s wings. The tinge of mystery in the history (hey that rhymes!) made the story more fascinating and again, made this a really wonderful take on magical realism.

The writing of this book was simply stunning. Walton’s prose is so elegant and poetic and magical and it was her writing that made my heart ache. The way she described things accentuated the magical realism element of this saga. My favourites were the descriptions of Emilienne’s bakery – those delectable pastries and breads and buns and desserts omg *mouth waters*

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a beautifully written book of the strange events of Ava Lavender and the sorrows of her family. Falling in love, falling out of love, heartbreak and generations of misfortune come swooping down as Ava learns to open her wings and find her place in the world.

“It whispered to me from dark corners during lonely nights. It was the song of the birds in spring and the call of the wind through bare branches on a cold winter afternoon. Fate. Both my anguish and my solace.”

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Review: The Intern (The Intern #1) by Gabrielle Tozer

Firstly, thanks to HarperCollins Australia for this review copy <3

Date Read: January 22 - 25 2014
Date Released: February 1st 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Australian contemporary
My rating: 

"Josie Browning dreams of having it all.
A stellar academic record, an amazing career in journalism - and for her current crush to realise she actually exists. The only problem? Josie can’t get through twenty-four hours without embarrassing her sister Kat or her best friend Angel, let alone herself.

Josie’s luck changes though when she lands an internship at the glossy fashion magazine Sash. A coveted columnist job is up for grabs, but Josie’s got some tough competition in the form of two other interns. Battle lines are drawn and Josie quickly learns that the magazine industry is far from easy, especially under the reign of powerful editor, Rae Swanson.

From the lows of coffee-fetching and working 10-hour days, to the highs of mingling with celebrities, scoring endless free beauty products (plus falling for her cousin’s seriously gorgeous flatmate James) this is one year Josie will never forget.

Totally fresh and funny, this debut novel from industry insider Gabrielle Tozer reveals just what is behind the seeming glamour and sparkle of the magazine industry."


Simply put, if you love The Devil Wears Prada (the movie that is, I haven’t read the book) then you’ll love The Intern. I could draw so many parallels while reading The Intern, but despite the similarities, I could still enjoy The Intern as its own work of art.

University student Josie Browning dreams of being a newspaper journalist but instead gets landed working at high profile fashion magazine Sash. The poor girl is an absolute walking disaster – I’m actually not sure it’s possible for someone in real life to be this clumsy? I couldn’t relate to all her embarrassing situations as a result of this, I mean I consider myself a klutz but Josie was a different story. That didn’t stop my face from heating up in humiliation on behalf of Josie while reading. I think, in part, some of her clumsiness could be attributed to her unease and lack of self-confidence at the beginning of the book. She makes SO many mistakes throughout, but my high school maths teacher once said “I make mistakes every day, but I never make the same mistake twice”. I loved that about Josie – despite all the shit she managed to get herself into, she would always pick herself up and get on with life and make the most out of things.

I loved the insight into life working at a fashion magazine. I know Tozer’s worked at a few magazines herself so I could tell a lot of this stuff was legit. A lot of it seemed ridiculous to be honest – making interns do menial tasks, fetch coffee and be the errand girl (I guess someone’s got to do it, but really does it have to be the person in university who’s meant to be getting real hands on experience that’s meant to contribute to their degree?). As someone who’s done 3 internships, I’ve been told if I wasn’t given real work after a certain point I should speak up so Josie’s situation really made me flinch. But this is a different type of industry, one that admittedly has some shallow people but also required Josie to prove her worth. It was interesting to see the range of tasks she was faced with and how she tackled them.

There’s a pretty juicy scandal in the midst of this and I cringed at how the poor target got dragged through the mud throughout it all. This was my favourite part of the book – the way it was handled, the aftermath and what Josie and others took from this horrid situation. There was no sugar-coating the ordeal, only to get through it, learn and move on. And don’t make the same mistake twice.

Let’s not forget the really sweet romance in this. There’s an absolutely swoon-worthy boy and a bunch of really icky ones. Shant talk much more about this because you should read and find out.

My biggest issue with The Intern was the writing style. I felt that it was a bit over the top and because of that, it made the situations seem unrealistic so I couldn’t relate to some of the things that went on (aforementioned clumsiness). Don’t get me wrong, Tozer’s style is engaging and it’s definitely got the essence of someone who writes articles to draw the audience in but at times I would just pause in my scepticism.

Overall, I felt that Josie really matured by the end of the book and I can’t wait to see where Faking It takes her. This was a light read that’s very fun, swoony and I loved the fashion aspect.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Series in Graphs: Legend trilogy

Today I can finally introduce my new blog feature: A Series in Graphs! I have been working on this feature for MONTHS deliberating the best way to do this, what to show you guys etc. etc. But it's here yay. If you've read my 2015 goals post, this is the secret feature I was working on.

Basically this feature summarises a whole series (usually a trilogy) in the form of graphs/charts so you can get the jist of my opinion of a series without reading a whole review. I hope that this not only tells you what I thought of the series, but also gives you an inkling into whether you'd like to check out the books if you haven't (:

If you have any questions about the graphs or want me to add anymore, comment below.

The first series I'll be covering is: Legend by Marie Lu

Legend is a dystopian series that I absolutely adored! The plot was fast-paced, and I loved the story and characters. June and Day were both so conflicted which made the story so gripping and filled with feels and angst.

Legend synopsis:
"What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets."


Character Development

Love Triangle


Necessity of Love Triangle




Ending Satisfaction

Overall Ratings

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Harry Potter Book Night


I've been looking forward to this since Bloomsbury first announced it. Harry Potter was my first foray into novels at the tender age of 8. Harry Potter holds a very special place in my heart because I am part of the Harry Potter generation. I was there pre-ordering and rushing to the bookstore at 9am for Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallow as soon as it came out. I did the midnight screenings of the movies. I've watched them all multiple times and in 3D where possible. Of course I own Harry Potter merchandise. The Harry Potter books remain the one series that I've read more than 15 times (or more) over the years.

I've whipped up my Hogwarts profile for you guys :D

House: Ravenclaw (I've known I'm a Claw the way Draco knew he was Slytherin)
Wand: 10 3/4 inches, black walnut with unicorn core, unyielding
Quidditch position: Chaser
Favourite subject: Charms and Runes
Pet: Owl

My Favourite...

Harry Potter book: Deathly Hallows and Prisoner of Azkaban
Member of the Golden Trio: Hermione Granger 
Secondary character: Fred Weasley - I wept so hard in Deathly Hallows. When we were watching the midnight screening my friends just shoved the tissue box at me at that moment.
Chapter: The Prince's Tale
Shop: Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour (and of course Flourish and Blotts)

For my post, I'm going to share with you guys my favourite quote from each book. I have HEAPS and it was hard to choose, but these have always stood out to me. I made some graphics to go along with them (:

For those of you that haven't read the books, I hope this somewhat convinces you. For those of you that have are you nostalgic? Reminiscing? 
AND DOESN'T "ALWAYS" JUST HIT YOU RIGHT IN THE FEELS? I can't NOT cry whenever I read that chapter.

Now, I am going off to read Quidditch Through the Ages and possibly do a re-read of Philosopher's Stone <3 What are you doing on this Harry Potter Book Night?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

2015 Bookish Goals

I wasn’t going to do one of these posts but I’ve been doing some thinking lately. Actually I’ve been doing a lot of thinking now that uni is over – non-school related thoughts luckily. My thoughts have been concentrated on my blog of course: where it’s heading, what I’ve achieved, what I want to achieve, what I had hoped to achieve by 2 years of blogging. And you know what? Looking back, while I did accomplish some things, I’m not satisfied. At all. I feel disappointed in myself as a blogger. I know I shouldn’t be comparing myself to others but my blog has been on a semi-hiatus (or full hiatus) for pretty much 40% of the time I’ve been blogging. And the times I’ve been active my posting frequency is nowhere near the 4-5 posts a week most bloggers output. For me, active was 1 review a week. Circumstances of course. What’s done is done, I can only look back and aim to improve. With uni out of the way I’m really hoping to become a better blogger.

I’ve been reassessing the way I review. This blog started out as me sharing my love of books. Then I got so inundated that I ended up just reviewing books I received from publishers. I haven’t reviewed a book I bought myself in probably a year or more. What happened to that sharing? Sure there’s Instagram but it’s just a few lines, nothing that encompasses all I want to express. Top Ten Tuesdays as well don’t cover it as I only do the feature sporadically and for ones I want to do. Let’s be honest, a lot of the books I receive for review from publishers aren’t my favourite books. Don’t get me wrong, I unearth a lot of amazing gems (All the Bright Places, All Our Yesterdays, These Broken Stars, Red Queen) as well as series continuations (Throne of Glass, The Bone Season) but the majority of wonderful books I read are the ones I’ve purchased myself, binge read and then write a short paragraph about on Goodreads. My blog isn’t reflecting this.

It’s time for a change.

Firstly, I need to catch up on a lot of review copies of course and write reviews for these and post them. I think I have a short attention span because if a book doesn’t immerse me immediately, I will put it down and pick up another book… Or two… and the review copy will lie there untouched and every time I look at it guilt will eat away at me. Hence, I’m going to try to now finish these review copies or just be done with it – DNF because ain’t nobody got time for dat! I feel SO guilty when I DNF a book though because it feels like I didn’t give it a chance and I’m one of those people that always tries to finish what they started, no matter how long it takes. The struggle is real.

I’ve noticed that most blogs don’t just post reviews (and the ones that do post 4-5 reviews a week are amazing like how do you write a review for every single book you read and manage to post something like every day?) but discussions and features and rambles like this. I wasn’t sure people would be interested in my boring chatter but well… I want to post more haha and reviews ain’t gonna cut it so I’m turning to posting more bookish musings.

That being said I’m going to also introduce some features to the blog! There’s one I’ve been working on for AGES and it’s taking a lot of thinking because it requires much Photoshopping. But keep an eye out because it’s coming. This feature I’m going to introduce ties in with my aforementioned realisation that I’m not properly expressing my love for a lot of the books I read/purchased. Another feature to be is called Branching Out – while this will always be a YA blog and books in the YA age group are always going to be my favourite, I’ve been branching out to read more literature, classics, adult fiction rah rah rah. And I want to share those with you. When I was first branching out, it was really difficult because I had NO idea whose opinion to trust. As YA bloggers, we build a rapport with each other and we know who to turn to for specific genres because we know each other’s tastes after a while. That’s YA books, but what about everything else? So I’m hoping to introduce some books outside the standard YA tropes to you guys, for those of you who like my tastes, these will hopefully quench your thirst. There WILL be some YA ones though, like diversity. A few I’m thinking of however are mystery, historical fiction, literature, fantasy, poetry, classics, children’s classics. Tell me what else you want and I’ll see if I’ve read it. These posts will include 1-3 recommendations with mini reviews (hopefully).

After the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign last year and me signing up for the #DiversityDive challenge this year, I’m obviously going to try to read more diverse books. I’m going to mainly concentrate on books that deal with mental illness and characters that are LGBTQ. I’ve already read 2 of these this year! We need to get rid of the stigma that surrounds these and also characters of colour. What is “normal” anyway? I don’t think anybody is really “normal”, everyone is unique in their own way and books need to reflect this.

I want to connect with you guys more. Bloggers and non-bloggers alike. This means I’m going to be commenting on a lot more blog posts finally. I don’t usually read reviews though. You probably did a “what the shit” just now. Clarification – I don’t usually read reviews for a book I haven’t read yet. I will turn to a blogger’s opinion I trust and I will look at their star rating. If it’s 3 or more stars I will usually check the book out. I don’t read the review itself because I believe this will sway my opinion. I’ll have the reviewer’s thoughts in my head and be looking out for those things which means I don’t pay attention to other aspects as much. But yes more commenting on other kinds of posts! I’m thinking of also opening up Q&A/FAQs where you guys can ask me stuff about anything which I’ll attempt to answer – bookish, blogging, life related etc.

Welps here we are 1000 words later (my gosh I always manage to go on for a while don’t I?) and those are my aims for 2015:

  • Catch up on review copies – have the guts to realise when enough is enough and DNF
  • Write posts that aren’t just reviews
  • Introduce some new features
  • Read more diverse books
  • Connect with bloggers and non-bloggers

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review: Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

Firstly, thanks to Hachette Australia for this review copy <3

Date Read: January 30 - February 1 2015
Release Date: February 10th 2015
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Sci-fi/fantasy
My rating: 

"The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?"


“I see a world on the edge of a blade. Without balance, it will fall.”

I almost didn’t request Red Queen. Almost. But at the last minute I decided to click the request button. You guy this is one of the best debuts I’ve ever read and Aveyard has set the benchmark high for 2015 debuts! And 2015 releases altogether really.

When I saw that beautiful cover I was intrigued. It’s beautiful yet macabre and haunting at the same time. I’ve been tricked by gorgeous covers before (a le The Selection), and by raving reviews with gorgeous covers (queue The Winner’s Curse) so I was hesitant with Red Queen. I proceeded with caution. This had the grittiness The Selection lacked and the climbing crescendo of a plot The Winner’s Curse failed to achieve.

I know, I know, why am I comparing Red Queen to other books in a review? I don’t usually do this but Red Queen actually seemed like familiar territory – it’s got elements of a lot of books I’ve read. I couldn’t help but compare this to The Selection – the impoverished girl suddenly thrust into the world of royalty; The Winner’s Curse – a ploy that was waiting to be executed, all the while the characters are all on a knife’s edge; Shadow & Bone – a common girl suddenly finding that she has powers… AND HEROES/X-MEN if the situation were flipped because SUPERPOWERS (so sort of like Shatter Me).

“You are no match for us. We are your betters. We are gods.”

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect when I started Red Queen. I think because of the hype I actually lowered my expectations considerably and thought this might be a fluffy dystopian. I have never been more glad to be proven wrong! This is anything but fluffy. The world of Reds and Silvers isn’t just a term to separate the elitist born of money and nobility. This is a world where Silvers are gods because they have POWERS. They freaking BLEED a different colour to us red-blooded humans. WTF right? It’s so cool! But at the same time it’s not because the Reds are treated like trash, they’re enslaved and beaten down on by the Silvers. And they can’t do anything about it because what’s a human to do but cower when your enemy can enter your mind and control you, burn you alive, drown you on the spot or use any metal and turn them into knives to pierce your heart? A rebellion is not so simple after all. Especially when all the Reds are basically being conscripted to fight a war with a nation in the same situation of Reds and Silvers.

“Their Silver war is being paid for in Red blood.”

Enter Mare Barrows a Red who finds herself in the unlikely situation of having her own power! *Jumps up and down in glee* The royals pretend to make her one of their own and she’s thrown into their world and a lot of shit goes down.

“At least you knew this was coming. I woke up with morning and didn’t even have a boyfriend.”

And so begins the game of the nobility where Mare is thrust into a dangerous world where Silvers all have their own secrets and nobody is who they seem. This book is filled with action-packed scenes and Aveyard doesn’t hold back on the fighting, I felt like I was watching an episode of Heroes I swear!

“One girl, barely twelve years old, explodes everything she touches like some kind of walking bomb.”

“Evangeline answers with a flurry of metal shards, all of them sharp and deadly, pointed at my heart as they rip through the air.”

I’ll admit I predicted how the book would turn out but the way it was executed was fabulous. Everything was believable, Mare relatable, most of the characters layered in their own ways. Sure there were some stereotypical characters but in light of all that was going on I could overlook the tropes.

Aveyard’s writing is entrancing and she pulled me right into this dystopia of a fantasy world. I loved how this wasn’t a post-apocalyptic US or some actual country, but it’s a completely made up world with altered technology like airships in addition to trains. What made this so believable was the way things were presented. Living in the poor Red Stilts, Mare hasn’t seen much so the first time she sees a giraffe (I’m pretty sure it’s a giraffe) she describes it as having an extremely long neck and not saying the name of the animal because she doesn’t know it! She describes a lot of things and that really gave the impression of a world where the Reds really were isolated from things. Much real. Much believe. SHOWING NOT TELLING = WIN.

“A little girl… feeds tiny bits of apple to a spotted, horse-like creature with an impossibly long neck.”

I can’t say much more without giving anything away but the two princes Cal (the crown prince) and Maven, are extremely enigmatic, intriguing, sweet, tortured and whew. But don’t expect this to be romance heavy, Mare’s got a head on her shoulders and she uses it. She knows her cause and what she aims to do and she never lets herself waver from that. I loved her determination and her belief in the future she wanted.

“I must do everything I can until my blood is matched and my game is over.”

Red Queen had everything I wanted in a sci-fi/fantasy: a relatable heroine whose resolve never wavered, superpowers accentuated with fantastic action-packed fight scenes, hidden motives, a driven plot, bloodshed and girl power! The divide is not in gender, but in blood and what power each Silver possesses. Thus, one Red has the power to match the Silvers and tip the scales.

“And we will rise up, Red as the dawn.”

Monday, February 2, 2015

January Wrap Up + Book Haul

If you haven't figured out already I'm not doing great with the filming videos thing so I'm back to writing up my wrap up/book haul posts hah! The amount of time required to edit and film the videos is just not worth the return right now.

January was very awesome for me and I think I really started 2015 off with a bang. Despite going on holiday to Tasmania for 5 days (where I trekked Cradle Mountain and braved the 40min walk up a consistently upward incline to see Wineglass Bay) and Hamilton Island for 4 days (relaxing on the beautiful Whitehaven Beach and snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef - dream come true!) where I read nothing, I still managed to read 10 books. I also held my 2 year blogoversary and am so happy to be sharing books with you guys. I was also part of Australian leg of The Mime Order global blog tour hosted by Bloomsbury. I could have made it 11 books as I was halfway through Red Queen by yesterday but I my friend and I drove (well he drove) to the Hunter Valley to do some wine tasting - it was a beautiful day and I tasted lots of lovely and uh... interesting... wines and brought back some for myself. The vineyards were extremely picturesque and the air was so fresh.

Some pictures for your viewing pleasure...

Cradle Mountain and Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

Hamilton Island and Whitehaven Beach, the Whitsunday Islands Queensland

Hardy Reef, one the 2000+ reefs part of The Great Barrier Reef Queensland

The Hunter Valley, New South Wales

Let's break down January book-wise!


Reviews Posted

I only posted 2 as I wanted the focus of the month to be on my blogoversary giveaway (thanks for all your entries and your comments, I read through every single one of them <3)

Books Read

Unite Me (Shatter Me #1.5, #2.5) by Tahereh Mafi (4/5) - Destroy Me (Shatter Me #1.5) 4/5, Fracture Me (Shatter Me #2.5) 2/5, Juliette's Journal 4/5. I loved Warner's thoughts in Destroy Me, it was this ordered chaos after meeting Juliette and I loved the way he saw her potential. I really disliked Adam's POV as he was this emo, sulking guy who kept thinking Juliette was weak and breakable. She is NOT fragile! Juliette's Journal was very realistic. Overall, I liked how each had its own unique voice so I could immediately tell who I was reading, very believable.

The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2) by Samantha Shannon (4/5)

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) by Susan Dennard - 2.5/5 this just wasn't for me. While I liked the premise of zombies and the steampunk vibe to SSaD, the MC really annoyed me and I didn't find her relatable.

Ruby Red (Precious Stone trilogy #1) by Kerstin Gier - 4.5/5 such a fun read and I enjoyed this immensely. I rounded up the rating to 5/5 because I haven't read such an amazing book 1 since These Broken Stars back in 2013.

Sapphire Blue (Precious Stone trilogy #2) by Kerstin Gier - 3/5 I disliked how this one concentrated so much on the romance and it felt very juvenile with the MC sulking over the guy, it was like insta-love and that definitely stole from the story's arc which I wanted this book to develop more.

Emerald Green (Precious Stone trilogy #3) by Kerstin Gier - 4/5 a satisfying end to the trilogy with some great revelations. Overall, the series had a LOT of flaws, I think there were plot holes (even from book 1 but especially as the series developed), insta-love and other problems but I couldn't help but overlook them in the fast-paced story that had so much wit, hilarious moments on the MC's part and just how much I enjoyed this.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson - 4/5 if you liked The Sky is Everywhere (which I LOVED) you'll definitely enjoy this. It's got that Jandy touch where the story is a standard one but the writing and the POV's are so eccentric it really makes the book out of this world.

Mr Penumbra's 24h Bookstore by Robin Sloan - 3/5 I enjoyed the mystery and the premise to this, as well as the good explanations of technology but I REALLY disliked the MC and I swear he had like no morals... well where secrets were concerned. There are some things so rooted in tradition that they are best left like that. Sure we have technology for a reason, but there's a reason why people still prefer to read the printed word. He could NEVER keep a secret. Ask the MC to keep a secret and he'd go and spread it to the world. Swear to god I wanted to punch him. He kept thinking he was doing the right thing and I think in the end he sort of learned his mistakes but yes my issues with him ruined the experience of the book.

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) by Sara Raash - 2/5 an extremely hyped up debut in my favourite genre so I think I set my expectations too high. I was quite disappointed by this, unrelatable MC with her coming to terms with things so quickly when she was opposing them moments before, insta-love (despite me shipping the couple), predictable plot, and simplistic writing that seriously hindered the world-building - a high fantasy needs eloquent and lush writing to really support the world.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton - 3/5 very beautiful writing but so much sadness and wtf moments. Full review to come.

Book Haul


Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard (4.5/5) - I already read this, and it is a FANTASTIC debut. Full review to come.

Thanks to Hachette Australia for this e-galley!

Review Copies

Books Bought and Gifted

(From L to R, top to bottom)

Whew, this haul completed so many trilogies - Everneath, Mara Dyer, Splintered and Dante Walker :D