Saturday, March 28, 2015

Review: Starling (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #3) by Fiona Paul

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

Date Read: February 13 - 18 2015
Date Published: March 24th 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Historical fiction/mystery
My Rating: 

"In the stunning conclusion to the Secrets of the Eternal Rose trilogy, there is nothing more dangerous that a secret closely kept... Cass and Luca are fugitives, on the run from the law and the deadly Order of the Eternal Rose. As they separate to pursue the only evidence that could save them, their worlds-and their romance-are torn apart by spiteful friends and murderous enemies. When Cass finds herself ensnared in the Order's twisted plot, Falco emerges once again as her only hope for freedom. But it turns out Luca has a shocking scheme of his own. From ancient mercenaries to sly magicians, from clever courtesans to vengeful killers, no one can be trusted. In the breathtaking conclusion to the Secrets of the Eternal Rose trilogy, Cass must confront the Order and once and for all decide her destiny. Who will fly beside her when she finally finds her wings? This historical romantic thriller is perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl, Anna Godberson's The Luxe, and Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty and The Diviners."


This was a serious case of “it’s not the book, it’s me” where I think I’ve just grown out of the style of this series. Had I read this maybe 3 years ago I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more but I found that Starling was too simplistic for my liking.

Cass has always been my biggest issue throughout the series and I find that her character is the weakest link, dragging the books down when they could have been a lot better. I seem to always have issues with heroines in historical novels as I find them annoying, weak, stubborn and more often than not, stupid when they’re trying to be brave. Either I’m not reading well-written historical novels or this is just the way they have to be and historical novels aren’t for me. There’s a definite struggle to keep the customs and limitations of women in accordance with history while balancing the need for character growth and acts of bravery. Throughout Starling, I found Cass’s actions to be rash and ignorant. Every time she said she was trying to be brave and she would think things through, she was actually running headlong into situations and putting everybody around her at risk. It killed me and I wanted to shake some sense into her. I feel that she hasn’t grown at all throughout the series and while brave, she’s also immature and ignorant of the consequences of her actions. What I did like though was that Cass made decisions for herself and not because of her love interests which is what I thought the previous books did.

As secondary characters go, everybody has always been black or white. You’re either a good guy or a bad guy. For me, the characters lacked the layering I’d expect of a conspiracy type historical story. I expected characters to have hidden agendas, complex motives and the like but instead, it was straight-laced “I want this, I will get this, that’s it.” And that, in turn, killed the plot.

Funnily enough my favourite part of this series was the love triangle. I’m a hater of love triangles and don’t find them necessary but from the beginning of The Secrets of the Eternal Rose, I’ve always been conflicted about the guys. In this world, a love triangle was plausible, made sense and I liked the differences between the two love interests. This series was one of the only ones where I actually had no clue where the romance was headed and who Cass would end up with – it could really have gone both ways. I loved Falco’s passion, intensity and volatility but at the same time I loved Luca’s stability, strength and unwavering support. Luca was a real constant while Falco came and left leaving a storm in his wake every time as he challenged her beliefs. I’m happy to say I would have been fine with whoever she ended up with but what’s more important is how Cass got there – I liked her decision process and the way the book progressed to allow her these revelations of which guy was right for her. I’m happy with her choice!

In terms of the plot, it was Cass’s determination to get to the Book of the Eternal Rose so I didn’t think there was much there as a lot had been established in Belladonna. Cass faced various obstacles but to me they weren’t major and I felt like I was driving on a straight road where I knew my destination. I wasn’t thrown any curve balls and I wasn’t really wow’d in any way.

The series definitely sits on the younger end of YA for me – I’m not sure why I think that. Some of the themes are definitely mature but it read like a MG book. The world-building is great as usual, with lovely (and not so lovely) detailed descriptions of Venice, filled with sights and smells. I felt that Paul was really on point with the historical accuracy of this. Despite all the issues I had, I found that Paul managed to tie up all the loose ends and bring the series to a satisfying close.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Where I Buy My Books

I've been a very bad blogger the past 2 weeks and haven't posted. I thought I'd post something different other than book reviews because I'd also like to thank you all for 100,000 PAGE VIEWS OMG. ONE. HUNDRED. THOUSAND. I am so shocked and grateful *hugs you all*

Anyways I thought I'd share with you all where I buy my books from - both online and in-store (:


The perk of buying online is that it is SO MUCH cheaper than buying in-store. For one, you're not paying GST on items (Goods and Sales Tax in Australia is 10%) and you get a much larger variety to choose from with regards to book editions.

I generally buy online because I want the US hardback, don't care for the paperback edition, or don't mind waiting for a book I'm not super keen to read.

The price comparisons are based on my personal experience, quick look up of some books along with comparisons of Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas for YA and The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro for adult.

The Book Depository

TBD is hands down my favourite online bookstore. They're cheap and they always have the international edition of a book I want.
I buy from TBD when I want a US hardback or when I can't find a paperback in store (either standalone or the 1st in a series, so that way I can ensure I also get the rest of the series in the same edition on TBD). If I decide to buy a series on TBD, I always need to check the ISBN of editions to ensure they'll match.
With the dropping AUD, hardbacks are becoming more and more expensive on TBD sadly. When they're on sale, I can get them for $17 but usually I pay around $24 for a hardback. That's STILL cheaper than in-store in most cases. In an actual bookstore here, the US hardbacks are usually $25 or $30 (except for HarperTeen titles, which HarperCollins Australia sells in store for $19.99, bless their souls). TBD does have price drops but you have to keep your eye out. I remember when I was paying $14-$16 for a hardback back when we were above parity ;(
Delivery time for TBD takes about 2 weeks including weekends. They estimate 5-8 days to Aus and I've found that to be true. They used to take 10-12 days but they've sped up the process which is great! There's the rare occasion where a book has taken a whole month to arrive.
The great thing with buying from TBD is that when a book arrives damaged they will send you a new one at no extra cost and if a book hasn't arrived after a significant amount of time (I give it 4-5 weeks) then you can assume it's been lost in transit and they'll send you another copy.
Don't expect to find Aussie paperbacks on TBD though, they're much more US and UK edition focused.

Pricing (AUD): approx. $23 for US YA hardbacks, $30 for US adult hardbacks, $13 - $16 for paperbacks
Delivery time: 5-8 working days
Pros: have most international editions, can pre-order and these may arrive before release day, cheaper than Aussie book store RRP
Cons: no Australian editions, delivery time, may arrived damaged, sometimes they don't send the edition pictured because they run out


I go to Booktopia when they offer free shipping because I honestly can't justify paying $6.50 for shipping (even though it IS flat rate).
They're an Aussie online bookstore so when you buy from them, you ARE supporting Aussie publishers. That means they sell Aussie editions and they also sell the US hardbacks of books (but it's freakishly expensive).
Booktopia now price matches to The Book Depository (I know, weird right?). I know this because I ALWAYS do price comparisons for books when I buy online so I have a bunch of tabs open for all the online bookstore ;p However, these price matches are only for some books, aka NOT the US YA hardbacks :( in some cases, the paperback is actually cheaper on Booktopia and when you add in their free shipping + books that have express post, it's SO worth it.

Pricing (AUD): approx. $12 - $16 for AU edition YA paperbacks, $20 - $30 for AU edition adult paperbacks, $27 for US YA hardbacks, $35 for US adult hardbacks
Delivery time: 3 days on books with express posting (they will specify on the book), otherwise same time as The Book Depository
Pros: very cheap Aussie edition of paperbacks, occasional free shipping charge, also offer US editions, large range I've also never had the issue of a delivery being lost or damaged.
Cons: US editions still cost a lot, shipping is $6.50 flat rate


I used to LOVE buying from Bookworld, but sadly, at the beginning of this year, they introduced shipping charges :((
Once upon a time, they used to be the cheapest Aussie online bookstore with their free shipping, express books and great range.
I actually haven't bought anything from them since they introduced the shipping fee. Although their shipping fee is a flat rate of $5.50, their books are a few dollars more expensive than Booktopia which means I'd buy from Booktopia now.
Their range is quite decent but they're less likely to have US YA hardbacks.
I've noticed they've offered a no shipping charge coupon because I hadn't bought from them in so long, but the prices were still a bit high for me when I factored in wait time.

Pricing (AUD): approx. $15 for AU edition YA paperbacks, $25 for new release adult paperbacks, $13 for on sale popular adult paperbacks, $28 for US YA hardbacks, $37 for adult hardbacks
Delivery time: 3 days on books with express posting (they will specify on the book), otherwise 10-15 days
Pros: Aussie YA paperbacks still cheaper than in-store, free shipping charge
Cons: more expensive than Booktopia by a few dollars even after factoring that BW is $1 cheaper in shipping, the search functionality is really poorly done -  I find that their database indexing hasn't been set up properly and search results always bring back too many random results

Angus & Robertson

I find that A&R gets so overlooked. These guys actually have great prices - they match Booktopia and Bookworld - with free shipping over $30. That's so easy considering books are like $15 these days online.
I used to use them a LOT when I first started buying books online but I haven't actually bought from them in years since the aforementioned stores came to my attention.
I find that for not-so-well-known titles/older titles, they don't have as much stock or the shipping takes too long (10-15 days) and these prices are only just below RRP in-store. Since I buy books online because I'm willing to wait, I can't justify paying the same price as RRP when it's gonna take nearly 3 weeks to arrive. Hence, I will go to a cheaper option like Booktopia where I can wait for a free shipping charge.
That being said, their newer titles are decently priced!

Pricing (AUD): approx. $15 for AU edition YA paperback, $21 for AU edition adult paperback, $32 for US YA hardback, $40 for adult hardbacks
Delivery time: 3 days on books with express posting (they will specify on the book), otherwise 10-15 days
Pros: free shipping over $30, some titles match Booktopia pricing
Cons: not as many titles that offer express shipping, price is not that much different to RRP


Another site I used to use frequently, Fishpond is more a site where you can buy all sorts of entertainment in new and old condition.
I used to buy a lot of my manga from them back when it was cheaper to online.
It's more a market so you have to be careful of editions when you're buying. I think their prices have gone up in recent years so I don't buy from them anymore.

Pricing (AUD): approx. $20 for AU edition YA paperback (more expensive than in store), $12 for UK edition YA paperback, $26 US YA hardback, $31 US adult paperback
Delivery time: varies on supplier - from 7-14 days
Pros: can find very cheap bargains, free shipping usually
Cons: prices can vary extremely greatly, to the point where it might be cheaper to buy in-store


When the AUD was still higher (i.e. above 80c US) buying from BookOutlet was worth it, but now not so much.
They offer EXTREMELY cheap prices for US hardbacks and paperbacks - I'm talking $5 US hardbacks and $0.99 paperbacks. And all the books I got came in perfect condition. You may even be lucky enough to get a signed copy.
They get new arrivals every week and they've got some great popular YA titles. However, a lot of the time these are the 2nd or 3rd book in a series (still good if you're missing those). That means their range is quite limited as they are a bargain bookstore. They don't have any new releases.

Pricing (AUD): approx. $8 for US hardback, $1.50 for paperbacks at cheapest - this is NOT including shipping
Delivery time: 5 weeks
Pros: really cheap hardbacks
Cons: shipping to Australia is based PER UNIT. This means that shipping costs a bloody fortune, you WILL pay more for shipping than the actual book. On a order that totals around $30 USD, you will pay $38 USD for shipping to Australia, that means nearly $80 AUD for 5 books. Hence, at the moment it's cheaper to buy from TBD or other online bookstores.

Price Comparison

Raw pricing with no shipping if site charges

Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas 
AU paperback ISBN: 9781408839126 (Bloomsbury AU)
The Book Depository: unavailable
Booktopia: $12.50 (with express shipping)
Bookworld: $13.79 (with express shipping)
Angus & Robertson: $14.99 (with express shipping)
Fishpond: $17.91

US hardback ISBN: 9781619630659 (Bloomsbury US)
The Book Depository: $24.75
Booktopia: $24.75 (with express shipping)
Bookworld: $28.51
Angus & Robertson: $30.99
Fishpond: $25.61

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
AU paperback ISBN: 9780571315048 (Allen & Unwin)
The Book Depository: $21.19
Booktopia: $22.75 (with express shipping)
Bookworld: $20.85 (with express shipping)
Angus & Robertson: $20.85 (with express shipping)
Fishpond: $49.90 (what the eff?)

US hardback ISBN: 9780307271037 (Knopf) (The UK hardback is more popular though)
The Book Depository: $30.53
Booktopia: $38.50
Bookworld: $41.39
Angus & Robertson: $44.99
Fishpond: $35.41


I've only bought from them once and I wouldn't do it again. The book I ordered was extremely dirty when it came (I ordered a new copy and it didn't even look new), took over a month and was still quite expensive.
Shipping is also per unit on Amazon, factor in that it's USD and I don't think it's worth it at all since their hardbacks still cost around $13 USD. TBD is more reliable.

Publisher Sites 

I've bought quite a number of times from the Harlequin AU and Bloomsbury AU sites. Harlequin sometimes offer massive discounts on their tiles and free shipping if you spend over $30. I've basically bought all my Maria V Snyder and a number of Julie Kagawa books from the Harlequin sales. They were like $4 - $8 each!
Bloomsbury have on occasion had 50% site wide and their flat rate shipping actually made it really worth it. I bought my hardback set of the new HP covers for like $117.50 including shipping - it's the cheapest I've ever seen it. I think the cheapest you can get it online is $150 now - it was $140 online elsewhere at the time I bought it.

Pricing (AUD): 50% off RRP, $4 - $10 publisher's edition of paperback
Delivery time: 10 days
Pros: sourced directly from publisher, extremely cheap prices
Cons: for Harlequin, they don't have many titles in paperback anymore so it's actually hard to find physical copies and Bloomsbury sales are not that frequent


I will pretty much always buy a book when I stop into a bookstore (well 1 bookshop specifically) because I'm such an impulse buyer and one always needs books.

The perk of buying in-store is that you can always pick and choose which book you want regarding condition and you can see what the edition looks like first hand!

I'm a sucker for cheap books so I only buy books when I know I can't get it cheaper in any other store.

Big W/K-Mart/Target

I find that these variety stores have really great prices. Unfortunately, I don't live close to a Big W so I don't get the benefit of their cheap books. I know for a fact that Big W has a really great (but random) range and every time you go you can find something different.
K-Mart and Target are more popular title focused. K-Mart have just started stocking Sarah J Maas but both K-Mart and Target have a lot of Penguin Aus and HarlequinTeen titles at great prices - around 35% below RRP.
While I have K-Mart and Target at my local shopping centre, I don't really go to my shopping centre so it's harder for me.
New releases are also harder to find at these places unless they're really popular but I still find them about a week delayed with new releases. I find that Target's range has dwindled in recent years... back in 2010 I found Embrace (book 1 in The Violet Eden Chapters by Jessica Shirvington) at Target but don't expect that anymore. I'm wondering if this has anything to do with publishers and sales too.
Also, different store locations will have different stock. I got my Collector's Edition of Clockwork Prince from Target and Collector's Edition of Clockwork Princess from K-Mart. I know you can get Colleen Hoover, Sarah J Maas, Cynthia Hand, Ally Carter, and Suzanne Collins from Big W because I've gotten some of those there myself.

Pricing (AUD): approx. $10 - $14 for AU edition YA paperbacks, $16 - $20 for AU edition adult paperback
Pros: extremely cheap, at times half the price of RRP (Big W)
Cons: stock and titles vary, it's very volatile!

Basement Books

This is sort of like Sydney's version of BookOutlet. They do extremely cheap bargain books but sadly their YA range is a bit tragic. Their titles also vary greatly and they sometimes have US hardbacks! I've picked up some random titles on occasion.
If you're near Central Station in Sydney then definitely check them out.

Pricing (AUD): approx. $1 - $15 for their fiction titles
Pros: extremely cheap, can have US editions and books out of print, you may find a book you'd been looking for a long time ago and gave up on finding!
Cons: stock and titles vary, some books have a black marker line on the bottom
Location: Central Station, Devonshire Exit tunnel near UTS


I frequent the Dymocks in the CBD a lot and find that they sometimes have a title my favourite bookstore doesn't have. Dymocks CBD have an AMAZING YA range. They will get titles on release day mostly if they're popular.
However, I find that their service will always be sub par to Kinokuniya which is my fav (I'll explain later) so I don't buy from them a lot. 
I do like to take advantage of bonus point days though.

Pricing (AUD): $15 - $20 for AU edition YA paperbacks, $30 for AU edition adult paperbacks, $30 for US YA hardbacks
Pros: Booklover club, great YA selection
Cons: service isn't as good as Kinokuniya, RRP
Location: CBD, near the Strand on George St.

Galaxy Bookshop

This is like the best sci-fi/fantasy bookstore in Sydney. Their range is extensive/fabulous/amazing. It's literally a whole level of a bookstore dedicated to sci-fi/fantasy and they have EVERY edition you can dream of. They stock AU, UK, US paperbacks and hardbacks where possible. They even have out of print books.
I've actually never bought a book from them sadly because their prices are ridiculously expensive. Because they sell international editions, they sell these at a premium and Aussie paperbacks are RRP. I can buy said international editions for much cheaper online and sometimes Kinokuniya will stock these for cheaper too.
They are definitely worth a browse though and I swear, one day I WILL buy something from them.

Pricing (AUD): $16 - $20 for AU edition YA paperbacks, $30 US YA hardbacks, $20 US adult paperbacks, $40 US adult hardbacks
Pros: amazing range of sci-fi/fantasy you probably won't find at any other bookstore, basically every edition that you can find in AU/UK/US, out of print editions
Cons: RRP AU editions, very expensive US/UK editions
Location: above Abbey's Bookstore, opposite QVB on York St.


I saved the best for last. Kino is my bookstore of choice. I consider them my "local" bookstore because I frequent the city so often, And now that I work in the city, it's even easier because Kino is a 10min walk from my workplace. Get ready for my gushing...
I think they are the biggest bookstore in Sydney if not Australia. Their range is AMAAAAZING. They dedicate a whole section of the bookstore to YA, separating them into YA sci-fi/fantasy and contemporary. I'm talking FLOOR TO CEILING shelves of glorious YA. With dedicated Aussie YA section <3 They DO sell at RRP but if you pay $25 for their membership, you get 10% off all purchases for 2 years - then you can renew the subscription for $10 a year and on special events you can get a sub for only $5. I've been buying the subscription card from them for the past 5 years or so. I can tell you I've saved WAY more than $10 in a year because of this. They also have member only sale days with 20% storewide and I go CRAZY in these cases.
Not only is their YA section fabulous, but because they're a Japanese bookstore they stock SO MUCH manga and graphic novels. As soon as a manga has been licensed by a North American publisher and in-stock, Kino will have it. They also sell Chinese and Japanese novels/graphic novels.
Kino all sells like every genre you can imagine - history books, art/design/photography, so much non-fiction I don't even know because I don't read it and they also have a stationery shop inside that specialises in Japanese stock. They also have like figurines and anime DVDs/Blu-Ray.
This place is glorious I tell you.
And I haven't gotten to the good part - their service. Is spectacular. Hands down.
When I ask for a book and they don't have it, they will specifically see what suppliers they have and order it in for me, and then email me when it arrives. I'm talking US books too. This was why I was able to read Jennifer L. Armentrout's books so early on, and Tammara Webber's Easy too. They went out of their way to order me US editions. Dymocks has never offered to do this for me, Dymocks has only offered me the AU release date and to put my name down.
THEN there are the times when I can't find a book on a shelf and I'll ask them. The other day I was looking for a copy of The DUFF at Dymocks, they apparently had 5 copies but after 10min of searching they couldn't locate ANY of them and gave up. I was at Kino last month and couldn't find Disruption. They had 2 copies left and the sales assistant looked for a good 1/2h for me, all over the store until she found me a copy.
There was also the memorable moment when Jessica Shirvington's Endless came out. A book I was DESPERATE for on release day. I went to Dymocks and they said they had it, but it was out in the back and they wouldn't be unboxing them for a few days and to come back in a week after the books had been priced. At the time I think I went to Dymocks because I thought they might be cheaper. Anyway I went to Kino and was SO SAD to not see it on shelves either. I asked and Kino said they'd just got stock that morning, but it was in the back and if I was willing to wait they could get a copy unboxed and priced for me in 15minutes... I nearly cried in happiness.
That is all. The amount of times Kino has done this for me and exceeded my expectations. I am willing to pay a premium for this amazing service.

Pricing (AUD): RRP, $16 - $20 for AU YA paperback, $27 for US YA hardback, $20 - $30 for adult paperbacks, $35 for adult hardbacks, $13 for standard volume of manga
Pros: stellar service, 10% discount if you pay for subscription, amazing range, will most likely order in a book for you upon request
Cons: need to pay $25 initial subscription for 10% discount, and $10/year to renew otherwise RRP
Location: top floor of the Galeries, opposite QVB

Honourable Mention - Better Read Than Dead
As BRTD is in Newtown I really don't have much of a chance to frequent them. They're an indie bookstore and they hold a LOT of Sydney-based author special events like high teas.
They're a wonderful bookstore that's open quite late - I remember walking Newtown at 8pm on a Wednesday and they were still open!
Their prices are RRP and they do have quite a decent range of every genre - YA included. I think they also sell some titles cheaper too, with discounts or something.

Price Comparison

Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas
AU paperback ISBN: 9781408839126 (Bloomsbury AU)
Dymocks: $15.99
Galaxy: $15.99
Kinokuniya: $15.99 ($14.39 with membership discount)
Better Read Than Dead: $14.39

US hardback ISBN: 9781619630659 (Bloomsbury US) - on their online site
Dymocks: $28.99
Galaxy: unavailable
Kinokunya: $26.77 (24.09 with membership discount)
Better Read Than Dead: $23.63 (JESUS CHRIST WHAT? SO CHEAP)

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
AU paperback ISBN: 9780571315048 (Allen & Unwin)
Dymocks: $24.99
Abbey's (Galaxy): $29.99
Kinokuniya: $29.99 ($26.99 with membership discount)
Better Read Than Dead: $26.99

US hardback ISBN: 9780307271037 (Knopf) - on their online site
Dymocks: unavailable
Abbey's: $45,95
Kinokuniya: $40.11 ($36.10 with membership discount)
Better Read Than Dead: $35.41

Where do you buys your books from? Are you extremely price conscious?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Life Update

Hi mates, so this isn't so much a specific book post as an update on my life situation right now (sounds like srs business) and the lack of inactivity on the blog!

I started full-time work in mid-February. At the beginning it was alright and you were seeing me still do regular posts because I'd scheduled a heap of stuff beforehand. But as work wears on I'm becoming lazier and lazier as exhaustion kicks in from travelling to work each day.

I love the place where I work though, it was my employer of choice when I did my graduate applications last year and was so happy I nearly started crying when I got the offer last April. The community and network are amazing and they really love graduates here. If you're confused about what that means: a lot of large employers offer something called graduate programs - intended for those that have just graduated from uni (usually undergrad) and you get a really good support network (buddies and mentors). It's different from being a lateral hire because there's induction/orientations, training days, you do rotations in different business units and you're given a more sound understanding of what the company/business does, sort of like when you first started high school there were a few days of getting to know everyone and settling in, but this is for full-time work. And really anybody can apply for it because there are so many benefits to graduate programs! Not gonna lie, the application process can be long and intense with lots of competition but welcome to the real world.

Anyway, I've actually met quite a few people at work who love to read! I had a meeting with a manager quite high up yesterday and in talking about my work's LGBTI community I told him about the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and he asked for a rec. No duh I said Ari & Dante and OMG HE'D HEARD OF IT! I told him he HAD to read it. And then we started talking books and he recommended me The Rosie Project haha which I told him is sitting on my bookshelf right next to the sequel. I'm now more motivated to read it. We then proceeded to email each other recs. TODAY I talked to another colleague who told me she loved The Book Thief (oh the shame I'm 150 pages into this and it's been sitting on my shelf for 4 years) but she was surprised it was YA. I then gave her a spiel on how YA is an age group, and there's fantastic books in it, how I can relate more to characters and life-choices and then she asked me for recommendations. I'm so pleased!

So I'm now trying to figure out my work-BLOG balance as work-life is pretty good. The challenge is ensuring I read a balance of both review and non-review books to get enough reviews for my blog to keep running, but also aim to keep at my blogging goals for 2015 like more features and blog commenting. It's really hard now but let's hope I find my feet soon. I get in before 9am everyday and make sure to leave at around 5. If I so deign I go shopping (perks of working in the city, not so great for my bank account) and on Friday nights us grads hop down to the bar downstairs for Friday night drinks then do dinner - so my social life is definitely in-tact!

I've actually been spending HEAPS of time shopping, now that I have a stable income again - those 3 months without an income and eating into my savings had me majorly worried, I'd never known the proper meaning of book buying ban until then - and I'm sadly moving towards the more luxurious end of the scale where brands are concerned. Oh the woes of being a girl right? I need clothes for work, makeup because despite what anybody says, first impressions do count and you get judged on your appearance in the business world, random pretty things (like candles what even) and then OF COURSE BOOKS. Always the books.

I've read quite a few books recently so let me give you the down low from mid-Feb - March if I didn't write a review on it:
- Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (3.5/5) which I really enjoyed. I absolutely ADORED Cinder in this. She's my favourite character thus far and Thorne is hilarious. I'm still finding the world-building to be lacking though. I'm definitely going to read Cress before Winter comes out. Also, WINTER IS 800 PAGES WHAT?
- Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott (3.5/5) was a great high fantasy with Japanese elements but for some reason I couldn't really connect to the way the MC was just able to be in touch with her power and harness it so well.
- A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (3.5/5) has the most gorgeous cover ever seriously and I'm so glad I liked this otherwise I'd be devastated because THAT COVER. I thought this was too romance heavy and lacked the action I expected from the blurb. I wanted more universe hopping, more world-building in some cases. I think I just kept comparing it to Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE which has the most complex storyline and intricate world-building. It's a fantastic story and manga and absolute mind-fuck (customary CLAMP). I can't wait for Ten Thousand Skies Above You though!
- Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally (3/5) was alright and I liked Parker as a character but I thought she didn't stand up for herself enough at times. She wasn't sure of herself and because of that would regret many decisions she made. It annoyed me that her friends also treated her like crap when she was always supporting them.
- The Archived by Victoria Schwab (4.5/5) was my first foray in Victoria's work and I was extremely impressed. I'd heard such amazing things about her writing I was genuinely worried I'd be the black sheep. Thank goodness I wasn't. The Archived had a gorgeous and original concept. It was haunting, slightly gothic and creeptastic in the best way. Even though I guessed the culprit I still liked the way the revelation happened.
- To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (3/5) left me with mixed feelings. I adored the Lara Jean's family, her sisters, their relationship with their father, the father himself was a wonderful dad. I had issues with Lara Jean. It annoyed me constantly that she never stood up for herself, cried whenever she... Just cried whenever. There was no character growth with her. I will read the sequel though. I like the fresh, summery vibe Jenny's books have. AND THE COVERS <3
- Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (4/5) was recommended to me extensively by Mel from YMR. Then Gina and I saw it at Dymocks and we were sold when we saw that SJM had blurbed it LOL. This kept calling to me from my bookshelf so I picked it up and couldn't put it down! It's Beauty and the Beast with a Greek mythology twist and it's done so well. My only issue was that the romance felt too quick to the point of NEARLY insta-love. But the world is amazing and very mind-blowing and gave the story this really epic, world-end kind of feel!

I'm currently reading Every Word by Ellie Marney and loving the grittiness. It's an Aussie Sherlock retelling which is fantastic and I recommend you get on the series :)

What have you guys been reading lately? Do you have a shopping problem like me? For those that work full-time especially in the corporate space - how do you balance work, life + blogging and reading?

Over and out.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Review: Shadowfell (Shadowfell #1) by Juliet Marillier

Firstly, thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this review copy <3

Date Read: December 1 - 8 2013
Date Published: July 21st 2012
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: High fantasy
My Rating: 

"The people of Alban are afraid.
The tyrannical king and his masked Enforcers are scouring the land, burning villages and enslaving the canny.

Fifteen-year-old Neryn has fled her home in the wake of its destruction, and is alone and penniless, hiding her extraordinary magical power. She can rely on no one – not even the elusive Good Folk who challenge and bewilder her with their words.

When an enigmatic stranger saves her life, Neryn and the young man called Flint begin an uneasy journey together. She wants to trust Flint but how can she tell who is true in this land of evil?

For Neryn has heard whisper of a mysterious place far away: a place where rebels are amassing to free the land and end the King's reign.

A place called Shadowfell.

A story of courage, hope, danger and love from one of the most compelling fantasy storytellers."


I think choosing Shadowfell as my first Juliet Marillier book was a mistake. I’m told I should’ve started with her Sevenwaters series. I was so excited when I was asked to review this because I could finally read something by Marillier. However, it’s taken me over a year after reading this to finally review it because I barely have anything to say about Shadowfell.

Neryn is a 15 year-old who can apparently see the Good Folk, a trait that either gets people in the Kingdom of Alban killed or recruited and used by the tyrannical king to exact cruelty and inflict fear on its people. So Neryn runs and tries to remain hidden. She aims to reach Shadowfell to aid the rebellion with her skills. I can’t say much about Neryn’s character. She wasn’t amazing. She didn’t stand out. She was just flat. Quiet and shy, trying to stay hidden she sort of went about everything hesitantly and with doubt. I don’t know, I feel that a 15yo protagonist with such a weight on her shoulders is just a bit much. I saw no strength or determination to her and those attributes are, in my opinion, key to a successful YA high fantasy heroine.

The majority of Neryn’s journey is spent alone, interspersed with some appearances by the Good Folk who aid her journey despite her reservations. As a result I can’t say there was much of a supporting cast. For me, this made the story a bit dull as the Good Folk didn’t have a lasting impression on me.

One presence though was Flint. He’s the mysterious man who keeps saving her but seems to have his own agenda. I really liked the intrigue of his character although I could easily guess who he was. I aim eager to hear more about his history though as he’s quite a conflicted character.

What’s a YA high fantasy without a little romance? I liked how the romance was in the background and was very slow to develop and not at the forefront of the story. It made Neryn’s journey the focus which was the most important thing. This could have foregone the romance and Marillier would have still delivered.

My biggest issue with this book was the pacing. A snail’s pace. It made it seem like the story never moved on. There is walking. And walking. And walking. And more walking. Barely anything happens but this incessant amount of walking. There’s like self-discovery and stuff at certain points but coupled with the exceedingly slow movement I just couldn’t wait for this book to end. I just needed something to happen and nothing ever did. The walking never really built up to anything spectacular. Maybe this improves in the next book?

Marillier has a lovely writing style and her world-building is detailed, filled with lush descriptions and entrancing words. However, it just wasn’t for me. The way words were strung together were too much for me – I couldn’t concentrate properly and it made the slow pace of the book drag even more because I thought there were a lot of unnecessary words that hindered the story’s movement and progression. It’s fantasy style writing which I usually adore but for some reason it just didn’t work for me.

While I can see the potential for this series and why people love Marillier, this book wasn’t for me. I had too many problems with it and it was just so boring. There I said it. What this review amounted to – this book bored me so much I nearly DNF’d it. But I did and I WILL try Raven’s Flight because I have hope.