Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas

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


Date Read: September 19 - 29 2017
Date Released: September 5th 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since Aelin shattered the glass castle, since Chaol's men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

Now he and Nesryn sail for Antica – the stronghold of the southern continent's mighty empire and of the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme. It's Chaol's one shot at recovery, and with war looming back home, Dorian and Aelin's survival could depend on Chaol and Nesryn convincing Antica's rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover there will change them both – and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined."

---

There were times I debated not reading Tower of Dawn because Chaol Westfall is my favourite character in the TOG series and the way he’s been treated since the end of Heir of Fire/beginning of Queen of Shadows has me really disappointed. Crown of Midnight was wonderful and the events in there definitely put a rift between Celaena and Chaol, but the complete 180 these two had in feelings for each other between one book and the next just didn’t make sense. It was drastic and it felt forced. However, I love these books for the world and the plot that has me at the edge of my seat and I was very curious about the Southern Continent. I’m so glad I decided to pick up ToD; I initially thought this was a parallel to Empire of Storms as a #5.5 but the events in ToD are actually crucial to the story and plot.

Bitter. That is one word I’d use to describe Chaol when Tower of Dawn opens. He’s full of disappointment and self-loathing after the cumulative events of the books and then this spinal injury at the end of Queen of Shadows. Arriving at the royal court of the Southern Continent, he not only hopes to walk again, but he’s tasked with trying to win over the khaganate and amass an army to help Aelin’s cause. It’s a difficult journey both physically, mentally and emotionally – he’s harbouring dark emotions from when he first left Anielle and there’s layers and layers of negativity he needs to get through. As the previous Captain of the Royal Guard, he didn’t play any political games so the khagan’s children really have him frustrated with their deceptions and mind games.

I think Yrene is the first female protagonist (well one of the main cast) SJM has introduced who is not a fighter, but a healer. Celaena, Aelin, Manon, Lysandra, Nesyrn, even Nehemia (let’s not talk about poor Sorscha), knew how to fight in some shape or form. Yrene has only ever held a knife for surgical purposes so it was quite different seeing this gentle woman who was fierce in her own way. She’s amazing at what she does and well loved by the people of Antica. As her and Chaol’s story intertwines she learns a lot about herself, about healers and her ancestry. I can’t wait to see what SJM has in store for her.

The royal family are really an interesting lot though. There’s the sly princess Hasar who is Yrene’s friend; their friendship is kind of weird because I could tell they cared about each other but Hasar clearly had the upperhand and as a royal she was conniving and would occasionally manipulate Yrene. Then there’s steadfast Kashin who has this crush on Yrene and it would be cute if he wasn’t so politically powerful. My favourite was definitely Sartaq who’s charming and quiet BUT HE RIDES A RUK. HE GETS TO RID AN ENORMOUS GOLDEN BIRD WHO IS PRECIOUS. Like I fell in love with Kadara immediately, she’s loyal, intelligent and described by Sartaq as clucky. One of my absolute favs was Hafiza, the Healer on High, this extremely wise and gentle woman who is the most powerful healer on the Southern Continent. She embodies goodness and I hope to see more of her in the future books. Then there’s Shen who’s a minor character but I find helps put Chaol’s situation into perspective. There’s definitely heaps of characters and they’re more diverse than in her previous books. I do think that they all have a purpose no matter how many characters SJM introduces.

I’ll never get off my Chaolaena ship but I could see where this romance comes from. It’s one of healing and acceptance, facing inner-truths and darkness. There’s actually two romantic storylines going on and I’m grateful. The other one is freeing and adventurous, perfect for this particular character. I was definitely shipping this second romance a lot more!

The Southern Continent is a really different place and I’m glad SJM expanded on her world to include a more diverse culture. It’s kind of like oriental and Middle Eastern? The world-building is fabulous, the khaganate having a long history of being smart enough to embrace all the cultures of these southern lands to ensure peace but also showing force when required to quell discord. We get to see the mountains and deserts surrounding Antica as well as exploring the bustling city. As usual, the writing is gorgeous and lovely, with in-depth imagery to heighten our senses. The food was what got me, my goodness do I really want to eat from one of those street vendors, or sit at a restaurant, or try some of Cook’s delicacies in the Torre Cesme. There’s mint tea, and spiced meats and honeyed pastries AND I JUST DROOOOOOOOOL.

Of course underpinning all this FUN (because who doesn’t love flying on birds, exploring new cities and EATING?) is the pressing threat of the Valg. The overarching Throne of Glass story continues which is why this book actually needs to be read after Empire of Storms and before the last ToG. There are like REVELATIONS that are so important to the story and had me shook.

Tower of Dawn is a book of healing, of facing your inner darkness and truths. Set against the glorious sunburned backdrop of the Southern Continent, in typical SJM fashion, this book had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. I can’t wait to see how this series finishes!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Review: If There's No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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



Date Read: September 11 - 16 2017
Date Released: September 5th 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She's ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend, Sebastian, know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be one of opportunities and chances.

Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.

Now Lena isn't looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian could never forgive her for what happened.

For what she let happen.

With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when tomorrow isn't even guaranteed?"

---

If There’s No Tomorrow may not have been the most amazing book I’ve ever read, but it’s a very important book. The themes JLA discusses are not ones usually seen in YA. I’ve never read anything like this, and I found it extremely unique.

The story is told in a before and after style. Before, Lena is your typical high school girl – wait is typical a thing anymore? Is that a stereotype? Whatevs LOL. Anyway, she’s got the part time job, dealing with some family problems, does well at school, has friends, is doing not so bad at life and waiting for high school to finish so she can go on to college ya know? We’ve all been there. Then she makes a particular choice and after, she’s a totally different person. Lena is ridden with guilt and it consumes her. Add on the grief and her life is basically on pause. She stops seeing her friends, stops interacting, she is detached from everything. I thought JLA did an amazing job of first person POV because I was totally in Lena’s headspace. Her transition from carefree teenager with boy problems to her lack of presence in the real world was so well done.

ITNT has a diverse cast of characters that JLA all gives distinct personalities. They’re memorable and fun-loving but also flawed. Abbi was one character that really stood out to me. She’s fierce and not afraid to speak her mind; the things she said to Lena made me angry because they were hurtful but also so very true. All of Lena’s friends have different aspirations and the glimpses JLA gives us into each person makes everything in the after quite impactful.

How is it that JLA writes such wonderful boys? There’s Damon, Roth and ohmygod Aiden St. Delphi. For those of you who have been following me/reading my reviews for a long time you know the Covenant series is my favourite YA series of all time and Aiden St. Delphi is my #1 book boyfriend. In IFNT we are introduced to Sebastian who is this dark-haired blue-eyed wonder. A gorgeous specimen of course but also kind, funny and the kind of boy every parent wants their daughter to marry. Good natured, not a player, understanding, I couldn’t help but think this is who Aiden would’ve been in a contemporary YA without all the daimon drama making him broody. Lena and Sebastian have been best friends forever and you kind of wonder why the hell they aren’t together. There’s the wondering before, then there’s the after where Lena locks herself away and it’s interesting how their dynamic changes.

At times I found the book itself dragged on. I understand that the lengthy ‘Before’ was required to set the scene and establish the different characters but it definitely went on for a while and I wanted to just get on with the plot and the ‘what happened’ and ‘After’. The book is definitely easy to get through though in typical JLA fashion – her writing has an addictive quality to it that sucks you in no matter what world.

Without giving too many spoilers away the plot is a good one. It really drives home the idea of perspective. You know when we say ‘could’ve, should’ve, would’ve’? That’s what I think of when I read this book. All the things we could’ve said, should’ve said, but for fear of making a big deal we don’t speak up. And it’s normal. How many times as a teen (or even now) did you not want to speak up about something because the majority were saying you were just making a big deal out of nothing and you’re just setting everybody back? IFNT draws on such conflicting thoughts we have and that at the end of the day, what are those consequences. Can we entirely blame someone? I think chance has a really big part to play in everything that happens. If There’s No Tomorrow is an important book about safety, the could’ve/should’ve/would’ve moments we have in life and the consequences when chance isn’t in our favour.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Review: Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) by Jay Kristoff

Firstly, thanks to Harper Voyager Australia for this review copy <3



Date Read: September 2 - 10 2017
Date Released: September 7th 2017
Publisher: Harper Voyager Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church hierarchy think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending the men who destroyed her familia; in fact, she’s told directly that Consul Scaeva is off limits. But after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia suspicions about the Red Church’s true motives begin to grow.

When it’s announced that Scaeva will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end him. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between love and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world."

---

There’s something about a really good… No… Really amazing book that leaves me speechless. A book that makes me angry is easy to review because all I want to do is rant my heart out. Something like Godsgrave though? All I want to do is yell at you READ THIS BOOK. Thus I’m here yelling at you through the screen, notice my caps: READ THIS BOOK. READ THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE. START NEVERNIGHT IF YOU HAVEN’T YET.

I’m going to attempt stringing some words together for some semblance of a review but be warned, it’s probably just going to be heaps of cussing and yelling at you to READ THIS DAMN BOOK through caps lock.

Shit guys (oops strike one) Kristoff has really done a number on me with book 2. I thought Mia was ruthless in Nevernight but she is nek level goals and ambition here. I freaking loved her for it. “Eyes on the prize Corvere” is a common mantra and damn (strike two) is it accurate. Mia lets nothing stand in her away, nobody she won’t kill to get what she ultimately wants. Girl is all daggers, knives, poisons, punches, everything in her arsenal. Girl is the type to kick a man while he’s down to make sure he stays down! Yet at the heart of it all Mia is not a bad person. She is a girl with morals – albeit questionable ones – so there are numerous moments that had me going “FUCK NO. YOU DID NOT. OMG YOU DID.” But then my girl comes through and I’m like yeah truuuuuust you did good. I just love Mia Corvere so much and she is lethal, hilarious AND OMG I WISH SHE WOULD QUIT SMOKING THOUGH?

Kristoff introduces new characters but brings back familiar faces from Nevernight and y’all should really just read Nevernight to know what I’m talking about. We can love and hate the characters together! No spoilers but there is one person who re-appears that when I first saw them again I wanted to KILLLLLL THEM. STABBY STABBY KILL DIE I HATE THEM SO MUCH. Buuuuut Kristoff really does a number on me so that I eventually warm to this person. I’m still not sure if I completely trust them but not gonna lie I really like them now. Then there’s this group of FRANS that Mia meets (Mia won’t admit they’re her friends but I swear they buddy buddy) and I couldn’t help but grow attached to them. They’re all different and loveable and memorable.

There is romance and omg sexy times are sexy but I’m not sure I’m totally onboard with the person given their actions previously. Also I’m sorry but I’m attached to a particular someone from Nevernight haaah. Buuuuut Kristoff writes such seductive sexy times and I was shipping Mia and this person so hard I was so invested in these scenes LOL :shrug:

Everything is accentuated by Kristoff’s sensual and lush writing. The gritty, gory imagery is in full swing and I love the dark vibes. The descriptions are intense and totally draws me into this unforgiving ancient Roman-inspired world. One of the techniques I loved in Nevernight that I’m really glad continues in Godsgrave is the use of parallels to show juxtapositions between characters. Have two different characters in nearly the same situation, but change a few things as we go back and forth between views and the differences are so much more profound. There’s a lyrical nature to it and I couldn’t help but look for these moments.

Of course the story is amazing and I’m on the edge of my seat the whole time cheering Mia on as she progresses through her killing spree, AHEM I mean journey. Kristoff doesn’t make it easy for her so every tiny victory seems like a big step in the grand scheme of things. AND THEN. AND THEN. Kristoff totally blindsided me because THAT ENDING. THAT DAMN ENDING. My brain is still a grey mess it’s literally been blown to smithereens. Talk about fucked up. I was like fuck. FUCK. FUUUUUUUCK NO WAY. NO FUCKING WAY. I’m still not over it. Conspiracies layered within conspiracies and the mind fuckery is so real. One more book. One more book and Kristoff needs to get Mia out of this cesspool he’s thrown her in. GOOD LUCK MATE.

Basically read this book, READ NEVERNIGHT. READ EVERYTHING JAY KRISTOFF WRITES because we’re all masochists here and love having our feelings slayed. Embrace the dark, gritty, seductive world of Nevernight and rise with Mia Corvere.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Review: The Duchess Deal

The Duchess Deal The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Every time I try one of these historical romance novels I hope for something different. Alas, they all fall into one of two plot styles and The Duchess Deal was no exception. I'm not sure why I even bother but there's the hope that one day I'll stumble across one I really love.
The Duchess Deal lacked the complexity in plot I was looking for to make this standout. It's typical poor girl with sad back story and broody troubled aristocrat being forced together and falling in love. There's the occasional obstacle here and there but nothing majorly chaotic. It's light, on the surface and of course accompanied by smut.
The Duchess Deal wasn't bad per se, it was ok (see the 2 stars lel) but I got bored a lot of the way through. Said obstacles bored me and had me rolling my eyes.
Emma is fierce and tenacious enough, speaking her mind and the Duke is certainly broody and caring in that stereotype we see. I don't mind their characters but they didn't stand out to me.
I get these are meant to be cute, sweet, sexy and the kind of book you read when you want something to get away from the deep, heavy stuff. I KNOW that, I even expect it? But I can't help wanting more.

View all my reviews

Review: The Savage Dawn (The Girl at Midnight #3) by Melissa Grey

Firstly, thanks to Date a Book for this review copy <3



Date Read: August 15 - 20 2017
Date Released: July 6th 2017
Publisher: Hachette Australia (Atom)
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"The sides have been chosen and the battle lines drawn.

Echo awakened the Firebird. Now she is the only one with the power to face the darkness she unwittingly unleashed . . . right into the waiting hands of Tanith, the new Dragon Prince. Tanith has one goal in mind: destroy her enemies, raze their lands, and reign supreme in a new era where the Drakharin are almighty and the Avicen are nothing but a memory.

The war that has been brewing for centuries is finally imminent. But the scales are tipped. Echo might hold the power to face the darkness within the Dragon Prince, but she has far to go to master its overwhelming force. And now she’s plagued by uncertainty. With Caius no longer by her side, she doesn’t know if she can do it alone. Is she strong enough to save her home and the people she loves?

Whether Echo is ready to face this evil is not the question. The war has begun, and there is no looking back. There are only two outcomes possible: triumph or death."

---

It’s always so hard to review the last book in a series. There’s so much to say and yet I can’t talk about most of it because it would spoil the journey that was taken. And what a journey The Girl at Midnight has been. From the moment Echo first appeared on my doorstep back in 2015 to the very last page of her saga in 2017, I have been invested in her story.

Once upon a time Echo was just a simple human girl in an Avicen world and all she wanted was to eat sweets. But then prophecies, destiny and an ages old war swept her up in magical mayhem and Echo is no longer simple human girl stealing sweets. Watching her become this increasingly selfless heroine was an interesting progression. It was a bit jarring seeing her throw everything down to save a friend with no hesitation at all; she hit the ground running from the first page of the book. Echo continues taking on more of the burden, the responsibility of needing to save the world solely resting on her shoulders. It was definitely exhausting reading from her POV sometimes because she wanted to do everything herself, not letting others around her in to help. But can we blame her when she’s the Firebird?

Grey has done an absolutely stellar job of including a cast of wonderful and diverse characters with their own storylines. I can tell you that a number of books I’ve read have included diversity for the sake of having it, like the author felt it had to be included to tick off a box. Those occurrences come off as forced and unnatural and honestly those books would’ve fared better without the so called ‘diversity’. This series though? Done so well. We’ve obviously got the glaring race issue of Avicen versus Drakharin but amongst that there’s LGBTQ representation throughout. And you know what? These characters aren’t cast aside, they’re front and centre, with their own stories and perspectives and HUGS ALL AROUND. I loved Ivy’s gentleness, Dorian’s steadfast and unending loyalty, Jasper’s confident façade that hid his vulnerabilities.

I’m biting my lip just thinking about the romance. So much build-up throughout the series and MY SHIPS. I just… nope can’t even with the feels. Sweet and lovely and bittersweet and fleeting and enduring. I’m sorry I can’t really string together proper sentences so I’m just flinging adjectives at you. These are my emotions in full swing *massive sigh*.

The plot continues with the Kucedra’s wrath threatening the world and the Firebird racing to stop it. I’m not going to lie and say it’s anything mind blowingly complex but it’s a story that we’ve heard a lot and doesn’t tire – giving one’s people a chance, of being sick of needing to hide and the ambitious means to be great. Execution style? Not graceful or ideal but in the eye of the beholder’s clouded judgement well… Do I even make sense? I’m just going to carry on now.

ANYWAY. I love Grey’s writing style. She’s not flowerly but there’s a poetic ease in the way she writes that gets her point straight across. It’s effective and she uses that technique of bringing together many meanings that can’t be expressed by a single word in the English language, through a foreign word. I loved it and was scrambling to commit these lovely words to memory as they rolled off my tongue.

It’s a story filled with magic and heartache, lives are lost and sacrifices made. With Grey’s lovely writing directing Echo to the end we experience happiness, love, loss and in those final pages, a bittersweet edge that for now it’s the end.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Review: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh

Firstly, thanks to Date a Book for this review copy <3



Date Read: May 8 - July 23 2017
Date Released: May 16th 2017
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known."

---

This review is so painful to write you don’t even understand. Imagine a child dragging their feet along the floor in utmost resistance as they enter the dentist. That’s me and this review. I mean we can review the evidence, the time between when I started reading Flame in the Mist, the time between me putting it down and finally picking it back up again, to the time between finishing and writing this review. From the beginning of May to mid-July to the end of August. Every time I think about the book I ask myself why couldn’t I like this, why it had to be this way. Then a deep disappointment fills my bones.

Call me presumptuous but I already knew I wouldn’t like this book from the very first page – how dare she just assume and not give this book a chance you may be asking? It was in the writing but we’ll delve into that later. I had a lot of problems with Mariko, the protagonist of the story. The daughter of a wealthy clan and family of samurais, she is enroute to her marriage with the emperor’s son when her envoy is attacked. Her litter is in flames and her inside it but she still can’t decide whether she wants to leave it despite her attackers already having presumed her dead. Honey, you’re more likely to survive outside that in a wooden contraption feeding the fire. And that was what frustrated me about Mariko throughout the book. All her supposed thinking/pondering that was meant to come across as strategizing. Her constant internal debates were meant to show how she had a great mind for a battle of wits but she came across as indecisive and uncertain. There were so many situations where I was screaming at her to just go – I’m sorry that I like my heroines who know when to act. Then there was her supposed wit – those moments where she says it’s more powerful to stay silent rather than retort? I found it embarrassing as this came across as her not having a proper comeback and admitting defeat when she’s adamant she’s right. I didn’t buy into her character.

The book would occasionally cut to her brother Kenshin’s point of view and while I actually liked the Dragon of Kai and the honourable qualities of his character, I just didn’t care about his perspective. I feel that the book could do without these parts and it would be fine; even better really because it would speed up the pace.

Having infiltrated the Black Clan disguised as a filthy peasant boy, Mariko spends her time trying to get to know the members and their motive to kill her. The two main guys Okami and Ranmaru immediately accept her as a boy and I found this a tad unbelievable? I mean come on, the Ouran Host Club found out Haruhi was a girl within a day and they didn’t even live with her. Mariko spends months with these guys and nobody suspects a thing? What the? I can’t say I even cared too much about Ranmaru or Okami like yeah cool bromance guys now move on with the story.

Of course there had to be romance. Honestly could have done without. I’m not sure how hate turns into love so quickly. I fully support hating someone but there’s chemistry leading to attraction, but love? It felt so forced too, hate one moment, love the next. I didn’t understand, I didn’t feel and I didn’t sense the chemistry at all. No attraction. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

The plot progressed so slowly I kind of wondered if anything was ever going to happen. Endless pages of Mariko “biding her time” and nek minnit days or weeks have passed. This book isn’t a slow read by any means, the physical turning of the pages can happen quickly, but it’s just nothing seems to move? The writing itself is easy enough to read but it felt so distant and simplistic. I was craving the lush, lyrical style that Ahdieh graced me with in The Wrath and the Dawn and I got the complete opposite. As soon as I read the first page, my heart plummeted as I’d set my hopes up for the writing style I had fallen in love with. Don’t get me wrong, the writing isn’t bad, Ahdieh is a good writer but Flame in the Mist wasn’t a style to my liking.

In terms of the world-building I feel like this incorporated every trope-y, stereotypical Japanese element stuffed into one book. Samurai, geisha, teahouses, ninjas, THROWING STARS. I’m not Japanese though so I don’t have a right to comment on these aspects. My Japanese friend did look at the writing and at parts like “Ranmaru ronin” go “what a weeb” LOL.

And coming to the end of this review I’ve made this book sound so much worse than it really is. I think I’m still feeling the disappointment because I love The Wrath and the Dawn duology so much and I had such exceptionally high hopes for Flame in the Mist. This book just wasn't for me.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Reading Quest Sign-Up and TBR


I haven't posted in a loooooong time as I've sort of quit blogging but in a rush decision today I've decicided to participate in #TheReadingQuest hosted by Read at Midnight.

Hopefully, this read-a-thon will motivate me to read more as I want to complete the minimum 5 books for my character class!


I've decided to take the path of the Mage~



Main Questline:
  • A Book With a One Word Title: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
  • A Book That Contains Magic: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
  • A Book Based on Mythology: The Savage Dawn (The Girl at Midnight #3) by Melissa Grey
  • A Book Set in a Different World: Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2) by Claudia Gray
  • The First Book of a Series: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Dash & Lily #1) by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan



Side Quests:

  • Expansion: Daimon by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Mini-Game: Paper Girls volume 3
  • Potions: You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan


  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Review: If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

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



Date Read: July 15 - 19 2017
Date Released: July 1st 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"Linny has been living life in black and white since her sister Grace ran away, and she's scared that Grace might never come back. When Linny witnesses the return to Miami of a cult movie star long presumed dead, she is certain it's a sign. Surely Álvaro Herrera, of all people, can tell her why people come back - and how to bring her sister home?

Sebastian has come to Miami seeking his father, a man whose name he's only just learned. An aspiring astrophysicist, he can tell Linny how many galaxies there are, how much plutonium weighs and how likely she is to be struck by a meteorite. But none of the theories he knows are enough to answer his own questions about why his father abandoned him, and why it left him in pieces.

As Sebastian and Linny converge around the mystery of Álvaro's disappearance - and return - their planets start to collide. Linny's life is about to become technicolor, but finding the answers to her questions might mean losing everything that matters."

---

If Birds Fly Back is one of those lovely contemporaries that warm your heart and move you with its deeper meaning.

Linny is still grieving over her sister leaving 5 months prior. With nothing but a note, her sister disappeared into the night leaving Linny behind. She feels completely lost without her sister as she believes she lived in her sister’s shadow. When a missing author/movie star suddenly reappears, she thinks that by spending time with him she can understand the reasons why he left and came back, and that this can in turn lead her to Grace. She thinks she’s wandering along listlessly through the book but she’s actually learning to be herself and realising what she wants. I liked her strength of character, the way she spoke her mind even though she considered herself shy. Sorosiak showed Linny’s love for film and photography through the way she perceived the world and noticed the small details in her surroundings.

Sebastian on the otherhand has been wondering his whole life where his father is. When he suddenly finds out said father is alive he literally jumps at the chance to meet him and ask him why he abandoned Sebastian and his mum. But his dad isn’t what Sebastian hoped for and the more time he spends with him, the more confused he is and more questions are raised. I guess Sebastian’s growth was his aim for his closure but I feel he didn’t grow as much as Linny. I wasn’t really sure about his love for astrophysics, other than being told this fact and he was going to Cal Tech to study it. He had more of an obsession with a particular book rather than astrophysics overall in my opinion.

I really liked the different secondary characters. Cass especially interested me. At first I thought she was the beautiful but mean girl who was using Linny to make herself look better. As I kept reading though I understood there was so much more to her. Then there’s Alvaro whose cryptic phrases added to Linny and Sebastian’s already many questions. I also really enjoyed Linny’s interactions with her parents, who she forgets are also victims in the whole Grace missing situation.

The romance is cute and the attraction is definitely there. I felt like Sebastian was attracted more to Linny especially in the beginning. Honestly though I can’t say I cared too much about romance as I was there more for their individual journeys.

The plot is quite interesting as they try to figure out where Alvaro’s been for the past 3 years. But it was quite obvious to me after a few chapters in what had happened to him. I can’t say it was anything profound for me but for the characters I guess it was a shock. While the plot was different, I didn’t feel like If Birds Fly Back astounded me as a lot of contemporaries out these days have deeper meaning plots too. I would have liked Linny’s chapter heading bits to actually relate to the chapter. The writing is well developed though and I couldn’t tell this was Sorosiak’s YA debut.

I think I might sound harsher than I intended in this review. I want to point out that I actually really enjoyed If Birds Fly Back, but I’ve been in a massive reading slump and almost nothing has impressed me lately haha. Great writing and interesting characters made for a lovely summer read about understanding why people leave.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Firstly, thanks to Date a Book (Hachette Australia) for this review copy <3



Date Read: June 8 - 24 2017
Date Released: May 30th 2017
Publisher: Hodder
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

Side note: This review has been a long time coming but I’ve been in a massive reading slump and by proxy, reviewing slump since coming back from Europe. I got really sick – I haven’t had such a debilitating cold in 10 years – and then work/life got in the way. BUT HERE IT IS.

Synopsis:
"The arranged-marriage YA romcom you didn't know you wanted or needed...

Meet Dimple.
Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.

Meet Rishi.
He's rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she's got other plans...

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways."

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When Dimple Met Rishi was so adorable I was fully set on recreating the cover for an Instagram post - me holding my Starbucks Green Tea Frappuccino (because I don’t drink coffee), biting my straw and grinning… but then Starbucks stuffed up my order (why does it always happen at this one Starbucks? Why do I never learn?) and I gave up. Anyway my point is, I loved this book so much I thought it was worth the effort had Starbucks not gotten my order wrong.

I was showing one of my Indian colleagues WDMR to help me translate some of the phrases and she said all the Dimples she knew had very happy/bubbly personalities. I can’t say that’s the same for this particular Dimple though. If I had one word to describe her, it would be FIERCE. I could relate to this girl so much – she’s a feminist but at the same time she cannot deny her culture which has conservative traditions. I loved how she felt conflicted because she wanted to uphold those values and make her parents happy, while still putting her ambitions and career first. She is driven, dedicated but also a great friend. During her 6 weeks at Insomnia Con, she’s on a journey to self-actualisation with the people around her and it was so endearing to watch her grow.

Rishi couldn’t be more of an opposite to Dimple if he tried. And yet they were also very similar. While Dimple tried to put her career progression over her parents’ traditional wants for her, Rishi embraced everything culturally. But they are both wonderful friends who stick up for others, loving children who want to please their parents, and all round great people who I honestly wish I knew in real life. Rishi, the hopeless romantic that he is, warmed my heart. I wanted to give him a big hug and tell him to step back and slow down. He seems to have everything sorted out, or does he? I loved that Rishi wasn’t there as just the love interest, he’s got his own story and things to figure out himself. Can I just say I would LOVE to see his art work?

The romance ermagherd. So so SO cute. I loved the way it started, with Dimple throwing her coffee at Rishi. I adore romances that start off with either party (or both) hating the other. Then watching them get to know each other, grow accustomed to one another, find out that hey, they actually like some of their qualities. The outings they planned with each other were so thoughtful (RISHI U R TRU MVP), like let me find a guy like that in real life. Not gonna lie, the romance was quite full on I was like HEY FRIENDS MAYBE HIT PAUSE YOU’RE- ok well if you must, carry on LMAO because I shipped it so hard. But y’all know it’s never quite that simple and remember they’re both only at this con for 6 weeks so…???

The plot doesn’t lose focus which I think Menon deserves extra brownie points for. There’s a lot going on with the romance, the side stories with friendships and family. I loved Celia and Ashish, and the way they juxtaposed Dimple and Rishi. At the heart of it all is Dimple’s purpose at Insomnia Con: to develop an app that will win the con and allow her to meet her programming idol. Dimple will do anything to win, and Menon has her step out of her comfort zone which really added to my belief in Dimple’s dedication. I want to add that I’m so appreciative of Menon for making the ‘bitchy/bad person’ the guys. In so many books I feel like women are demonised, labelled the ‘bitch’ but here the females all kind of stick up for each other. In my own personal experience, when guys want to be horrible/gossipy they’re a million times worse than girls – the stuff they say is more malicious and hurtful. So yeah, GIRL POWER.

Menon’s writing is fun and engaging, her characters multifaceted and the kind of real people you know in real life. She gives the whole San Francisco setting a little extra oomph by introducing us non-SF noobs to Karl. YES, APPARENTLY SAN FRANCISO PEOPLE HAVE NAMED THEIR FOG. I can vouch for this because I asked my SF friend and he said it’s an attraction. He then proceeded to show me a time lapse and Karl looks like this sea and it’s cool and also kind of creepy. This really gives the whole book the tech-vibe because ya know SF, Silicon Valley?



I hear Menon’s next book is called From Twinkle, With Love? Gimme!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas

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

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Date Read: May 1 - 8 2017
Date Released: May 2nd 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: High Fantasy
My Rating:

Warning: this review contains spoilers for the first 2 books (but NOT ACOWAR)


Synopsis:
"Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places."

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It’s no secret I’m SJM trash and waiting for the finale of the ACOTAR trilogy has been one of the most torturous waits of book releases for me. While I didn’t love ACOWAR as much as my all time fav, ACOMAF, I still loved ACOWAR’s story so much and thought it a fitting end to this arc.

Feyre has gone through so much and she’s got one last hurdle to get over with her return to the Spring Court. I really liked her strategizing and manipulation to get her revenge in the court. I would have liked her exercising her High Lady status and powers a bit more rather than hiding them or seeking other people’s approval. I mean yes I understand she’s fresh but by the end she should have been telling people what her decisions were and trusting that they’d support her in them rather than being secretive about her actions. This happened a lot. I also had issues with her decisions too. There was this one point in the book where I knew Maas was trying to make Feyre seem humane but it was the wrong bloody situation. I was like NO. LEAVE THEM. But nope, overly kind Feyre has to do this and NEARLY GETS ONE OF MY FAV PEOPLE KILLED. NO THAT IS NOT OKAY. It’s not worth it. Choose your battles lady. Your goal is to win the war.

I didn’t think it was possible to fall in love with the Inner Circle anymore. But I did. MY PRECIOUS SMOL CHILDREN. Especially Azriel and Cassian. They are so compassionate and strong and I want to give them all hugs. I loved Cassian’s humour and the little moments when we’d catch Azriel making a joke or slightly smiling at something. I can see them as two besties – the mischief maker and the quiet broody one – in real life who I could be friends with. Cranky Amren was as hilarious as always. I mean she’s meant to come off as scary but I can’t take her seriously when’s snapping at people. I love these guys so much. As for Feyre’s sisters, I still don’t get Nesta’s hate for Feyre. Like why? It pissed me off to no end how Feyre just gives and gives and Nesta takes it all but not for one moment does she seem grateful. Nesta’s great as a character – she’s strong and unflinching but the familial stuff was terrible.

Rhysand. *Sparkly eyes* Such perfection. I love this guy. I’m in love with this man. I’ll admit Rhys didn’t wow me the way he did in ACOMAF when we first found out about him, but he’s still awesome here. Lovely, charming, let’s Feyre do her own thing, funny, ruthless when he needs to be. I could properly see how he chose his battles, fitting for a 500 year old High Lord. He’s good at what he does and he knows it. Makes me weak at the knees hurhur.

I loved the exploration of the other courts. In typical SJM fashion, she paints her world vividly, with gorgeous colours and descriptions. The red and golden toned hues of the Autumn Court with its seemingly sentient forest. The chilling Winter Court, forever frozen in a white glaze. And then there’s the Dawn Court *sighs in wonder* I’m a sucker for the concept of castles in the sky. The fantasy element, the way it’s ethereal, majestic and so Final Fantasy-esque really draws me in. The palette of the Dawn Court, the food, the plush décor and silks makes me so darn happy. I was honoured to be welcomed into Thesan’s home.

Now let’s talk about the problematic aspects of this book. I felt like diversity was being forced down my throat for the sake of quelling the cries of the community. I’m fine with the High Lords of each court being coloured as SJM did mention their colouring in ACOTAR. But then there’s the LGBTQI+ representation that I thought wasn’t done right. So many LGB couples suddenly popping up? At one point it’s mentioned that the mating bond is whatever higher power determining that a male and a female would breed strong children but then at another point there’s same sex couples apparently having the mating bond? Is that a plot hole or did I miss something I don’t know. (It’s not even about the passing of the High Lord title since we see the Summer title being passed to other family members.) She tried but eehhh…

Nevertheless, the story is engaging and the brewing war instills a fear wrought from knowing the terrors that Hybern can inflict. The battle tactics are cleverly thought out and Hybern is really a force to be reckoned with, not just their numbers and the dark lengths they’ll go to, but for their millennia of existence and experience. War is painted in a realistically haunting and exhausting light. There is no glory in it and I’m grateful that it’s not romanticized for a fantasy.

A Court of Wings and Ruin is a fitting end to Feyre’s arc of the story. Maas has taken us across Prythian and beyond, and introduced us to many characters that I can’t wait to meet in the future.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Blog Tour Review: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

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

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Date Read: April 17 - 21 2017
Date Released: May 1st 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.
Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe."

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With a diverse cast and great representation, Queens of Geek is a heartwarming Aussie YA that speaks to the fangirl/boy in all of us.

I found it so refreshing the way Wilde told the story through two different perspectives – Charlie and Taylor who are best friends but have basically opposite personality traits. Charlie presents the con from a celebrity POV. A famous YouTuber turned movie star she’s quite outgoing and very sure of herself. I like that she didn’t let the fame get to her and she was so nice to all her fans. On the inside though, Charlie’s still struggling through a breakup that really tore her up. Her feelings are a mess and it’s clear her ex was manipulating her. I liked her journey to self-actualisation throughout the book, coming to terms with who she is, accepting herself after her messed up relationship made her doubt herself and really understanding what she wants. In the other perspective we have introvert Taylor who suffers from anxiety. Through Taylor we can relate to the long lines and waiting to meet our idols. Her apprehension at being in such a large crowd, the thrill and adrenaline of being with likeminded people – I lived it. Then there was her anxiety which Wilde wrote so well – the sudden overwhelming emotions, the panic out of nowhere. For Taylor, the con was about stepping out of her comfort zone to go for what she really wanted.

The two main secondary characters – Jamie and Alyssa – were great. Jamie’s a bit of a geek and I liked that he didn’t trying his suppress his fanboying. Bonding with Taylor over a favourite book series, he’s a genuinely nice guy but not perfect. Then there’s Alyssa, a really famous YouTuber who is honestly such a sweetheart. I adored her kind and cheerful demeanour. Just like Charlie, she didn’t let the fame get to her and she was so appreciative of her fans, knowing she wouldn’t be where she is without them.

I guess the romance is where this book faltered slightly for me. There’s two love stories going on at the same time here. One is really slow burn which I love; there’s lots of flirting disguised as friendly banter. The tension is cute and I just wanted them to get together. On the other hand, the other romance was insta-love to me. I loved each person individually, and I definitely wanted them to get together but it was just a bit too quick for my liking. Everything was happening in leaps and bounds, from the first meeting to flirting and touching and feelings and I was like wow ok slow down it’s been 3 days.

Plot wise, the story is set in the con and centres around Charlie and Taylor making their way through the weekend at SupaCon (San Diego Comic Con anybody?) discovering themselves. Wilde’s writing is fresh and easy to read, I was drawn into the story immediately. My favourite aspect of this book is that it’s not only Aussie YA, but it’s so diverse. Taylor has anxiety, Charlie is Australian Chinese and bisexual. Like omg can it get any more perfect? For ONCE a Chinese MC that’s ‘normal’. She doesn’t have a Chinese name as her English name, she’s not going to uni to be an accountant or doctor or lawyer – none of the stereotypical Chinese stuff I’m so sick of when authors attempt diversity. If Wilde didn’t mention Charlie’s Chinese I wouldn’t have known and I could relate because I’m Australian born Chinese. I have an Anglicised name, I like Chinese food but that’s not all I eat, I really suck at maths. To be properly represented is an amazing feeling. I’m not bi so I can’t speak for the rep but it felt real reading it, and I’ve heard this was done right from various bi friends. From what I read, Jamie and Alyssa aren’t white either – based on Jamie’s last name he sounds Latino/Filo and Alyssa is black? It’s just wonderful having a non- full white cast but everybody bonds over their fandom.

Queens of Geek is a fun, refreshing read filled with all things geeky that you’d find at a convention. The diversity representation is wonderful and heartwarming.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Firstly, thanks to Quirk Books for this review copy <3

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Date Read: March 23 - 30 2017
Date Released: April 4th 2017
Publisher: Quirk Books
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.
Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise."

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When I heard about Geekerella I knew it was the book for me. Fandoms? Conventions? Cosplays? Oh my god this was my high school and uni years.

Our modern Cinderella is Danielle (Elle), a regular high school teen who seems odd to outsiders but seems familiar to those of us who are dedicated fans of anything. Elle is an extremely passionate Starfield fan, having grown up with the intergalactic TV series and it’s what connected her parents. She knows every episode off by heart and is faithful to the show’s original cast and story. Elle also writes fanfic and keeps a dedicated blog of her thoughts on the show, this is a true fan girl right here (doesn’t that sound familiar?). Can someone be annoyingly selfless? Because I found Elle to be selfless to the point of spineless and never sticking up for herself. Whatever people wanted, she did their bidding no complaints. I was screaming GIRL SAY NO COME ON but nope she let people walk over her, bully her, taking it all in stride. Just once I wanted her to be like the Princess Amara or Prince Carmindor she adored, the way they took the initiative to act rather than sit back and let their enemies defeat them. There’s a lot of development required for Elle, she’s got to learn to go for things.

Prince Charming comes in the form of hottie teen heartthrob Darien Freeman who’s been cast in the role of Prince Carmindor and I loved his character so much. There’s the juxtaposition of what he does from his point of view, such as requesting someone to take him off a signing schedule, to how the act is actually perceived – he comes off as pretentious and self-entitled. The poor guy only wants a break from the media and paparazzi, to take a breather, but everybody is breathing down his neck. I thought Poston did a great job of portraying how difficult it must be to be a teen celebrity, especially one controlled by others and trying to please everyone. It’s a different side to the glamorous lifestyle, lacking freedom and making things like going to the vending machine to buy something, an extremely hard thing to achieve. I liked his own journey of trying his best to do the role of Carmindor justice because for him it’s personal – he’s a Starfield fan too. Along the way he learns what he really wants out of life.

I found the modern twist Poston put on the characters to be really fun and creative. There’s the typical evil stepmother and stepsisters but the stepsisters are YouTube beauty vloggers who are materialistic. I also liked that there’s more to the stepsisters than meets the eye. Then we’ve got the ‘fairy godmother’ who is just so fitting… and the very literal pumpkin. I had a right laugh when I got to that part. The characters represented their original fairy tale monikers but held their own as Poston’s creation. Also props to Poston to the natural way diversity was incorporated.

The romance is sweet and develops in the back-and-forth of text messages which I found really cute. I thought it was fitting given how the story has social media/technology driven vibes. The conversation has this prince and princess theme in the form of Carmindor and Amara. It’s here the two are able to voice their truths and find a reprieve from their everyday problems. At the same time, the method of communication presents the issue of safety because two strangers texting each other never having met… it’s almost like online dating? You really don’t know who’s on the other end. Both Elle and Darien voice this concern which is good and they don’t ever really talk about meeting – which is like BUT YOU MUST from the perspective of the reader. There are swoony moments, angsty moments and just how does a text message manage to slay me? Don’t you feel it’s easier to talk to someone and say what you really want to say via text/IM?

The plot being centred around a fandom and cosplay is just ughh *hugs this book* it gave me all the fuzzy feelings. It took me back to a time when I used to write (horrible) fanfiction, and spend my nights reading HP fanfic. I was transported to the world of cons and cosplay (I actually went back to my photos of Animania, ah the nostalgia). This was a world that spoke to me and I got it. I got the difficulty of Elle getting her Starfield cosplay correct, to the buttons and crown (there was this one time I wanted to cosplay Organization XIII from Kingdom Hearts and making the robe is HARD, I didn’t go through with it). There’s the whole online community, everybody different in real life but united by their fandom, it’s so supportive and fun. Watching Elle navigate her fandom world as she raced against the clock to get her costume together was so exhilarating.

Basically, I adored Geekerella and I thought Poston did an amazing job turning a much loved classic into a relatable modern fairy tale of fandoms, love and friendship. Never underestimate the power of a fandom y’all.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Review: Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel

Firstly, thanks to Random House for this review copy <3

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Date Read: March 16 - 20 2017
Date Released: April 4th 2017
Publisher: Del Rey
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating:

Warning: this reviews contains major spoilers for book 1 Sleeping Giants


Synopsis:
"As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars."

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Last chance - if you haven't read Sleeping Giants DO NOT PROCEED.

Sleeping Giants was one of my favourite books of 2016, it absolutely blew my mind with the concept and Neuvel’s immersive writing style. I’d never read such wonderful plot twists… until Waking Gods that is. Waking Gods surprised me at every turn and was even more impactful than book 1.

The book opens 9 years after the events of Sleeping Giants, with a new robot having appeared out of thin air in the middle of London. Everybody is in a tizzie because what could this mean and what do they do, when do they bring Themis in?

Since coming back to life at the end of Sleeping Giants, Rose has been struggling with who she is for the past 9 years. The 4 years she spent working on discovering Themis are not a part of her, and while she’s still a brilliant scientist she questions the ‘Rose’ during those 4 years which she can’t remember. I can’t blame her for continuing to question her existence – I mean who wouldn’t be if they were brought back to life? Sleeping Giants Rose approached the discovery of Themis with a positive energy and fervour that made Themis her life. The Rose after is much more hesitant. She is no less brilliant but she’s now seeing things in a much more cautious and negative light. Everybody basically tells her to harden the eff up but it takes her the course of the book to develop and come to terms with who she is.

Kara and Vincent have gotten a lot closer since book 1 and I love their dynamic. I never would have pictured them becoming a couple when they were first introduced but oh how far things have come. Kara is still kind of reckless but hilarious with her witty comebacks, and Vincent is still a genius but I could totally see that they’re in love. Vincent especially has a smaller ego and is always considerate of Kara and it’s so damn sweet. Their life as a couple is also their work and I admired their ability to maintain such a strong relationship despite their differences. Their banter was fun and delightful as always and showed how well they got along.

The unnamed man who I think of as the mastermind behind all of this is still pulling strings and manipulating people throughout the story, however I feel like he’s grown softer. I really admired the way Neuvel did this character’s voice. He elicits such reactions from people with his calm and blunt comments and I could always ALWAYS tell when it was him speaking. There’s something so penetrating about the structure of his words and sentences that cannot be misinterpreted. It’s jarring to the receiver, and to those who aren’t used to him it’s kind of hilarious the way they get angry. Then you’ve got Rose and Vincent who answer normally while Kara responds with her usual wit because they’re so used to him. Neuvel has really done a fantastic job with this unique and recognisable voice through both books. He’s managed to give the character growth in his subtle and infrequent shows of emotion with the way he protects those he’s come to care about.

As with the first book there’s a lot of science and I’m no scientist but I could tell Neuvel had really done his research. The science is in-depth yet Neuvel is also able to explain it in layman terms, presenting these in interview style as a scientist talking to a pleb like me, ahem, I mean non-scientist. There’s more maths, more chemistry and metallurgy, and heaps of biology with talk of DNA and evolution. It was fascinating and planted a lot of seeds in my brain with the direction this story was going. Neuvel’s writing style is easy-going, flowing well and immersive – I couldn’t stop turning the pages!

The plot though, my goodness! Alien robots that are posing to be a threat to mankind seems standard but there’s so many plot twists and mind-fuck moments. There’s punch you in the feels moments too that left me in denial (I’m STILL in denial damn it) and an ending to end all endings with a whopping cliffhanger.

To say Waking Gods is one of the most breathtaking and thought provoking books I’ve ever read in my lifetime is an understatement. It messed with my brain and my heart. Thank goodness there’s a book 3 – I made sure to check with Neuvel and he’s confirmed it’s in the works!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Review: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor

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

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Date Read: February 11 - 26 2017
Date Released: March 28th 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around - and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries - including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage."

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In typical Laini fashion, Strange the Dreamer made my heart ache with its lyrical writing and phenomenal plot.

The story is told in third person from two main perspectives, our dreamer Lazlo Strange and our girl Sarai. Though they may seem different on the outside, on the inside they’re both idealists.

I really loved Lazlo’s gentle and dreamy perspective. There aren’t many guys like that in the books I’ve read so I appreciate a genuinely nice guy who’s shy, kind and thoughtful. He’s always got his head stuck in a book, and fairytales and fantasies at that. I found him perceptive in his own way, noticing the little things that only someone who stands on the sidelines can see. All his hours reading books pay off though and his knowledge may not be in alchemy, but myths and fairytales stem from some truth. People underestimate him because he’s kind, considerate and quiet. But screw them because this is a guy who sees beyond and thinks outside the box – here’s a dreamer that’s the hope for a lost city. Lazlo is just the sweetest guy and you can’t help but immediately root for him.

The story then breaks to the perspective of a girl in a citadel and I was sort of like nooooo I want more Lazlo. Of course, then I instantly fell in love with Sarai and her life up there. Her character and person is so beautiful. She’s so conflicted because while she is meant to hate her supposed enemies, her gift has allowed her to see what her people have done to them and she can’t help but understand their hate. She can’t help but feel compassion towards them as she battles her need to hate what they did to her people. Sarai is so kind and sweet with a strong moral compass – I really want to be her friend!

Each of the secondary characters have their own story and I was especially fascinated by the few others in the citadel with Sarai, and the citizens of Weep who Lazlo became familiar with. The Godslayer and Azareen have their own back story which I can’t wait to see more of. There’s also Minya who creeps the hell out of me, she’s this little girl but she’s not and I’m like omg this one is scary.

When Lazlo and Sarai meet there’s this lovely purity to it. Here are two people who have suffered in their own ways but are filled with light. It’s the stuff of dreams (literally), with endless possibilities and anything can happen. Including the growing hope of a possible harmony between two races that have caused carnage and done unspeakable things to each other. There’s something so epic about these two and every moment they have together is hard won and precious. I loved the innocence to the way these two interacted. They’re both kind of naïve in the way of romance but there’s no denying their connection – they share the same ideals, always giving others the benefit of the doubt and treating them with kindness. Lazlo and Sarai shone so brightly for me and yet I felt like they were standing on a precipice and everything could fall.

The mystery of Weep immediately drew me in and I can tell Taylor barely scraped off the top layer in terms of revelations in this book. There’s so much going on what with supposed gods (Godslayer had to slay something godly right?), floating citadels, metals with unknown composition and lost memories. While it’s a completely different world, I couldn’t help but draw similarities with the DoSaB trilogy in terms of themes and characterization. For fear of spoilers I won’t say anymore about the plot, only that it twists and turns and punches you in the feels. Not once but multiple times. I came out of this with a bruised yet hopeful heart.

While I found Strange the Dreamer to be slow in pace, I can’t deny Laini’s writing is as gorgeous as always. Her style just keeps you wanting more. Her way with words is stunning. Everything is altogether more bright and glowing, the world around us vivid and vibrant. Everything is also more devastating, the bloodshed more tragic, the strength of each emotion multiplied tenfold. Your eyes take in the writing, your brain processes the words and it’s a jolt to each neuron as your heart feels like it’s exploding.

Laini Taylor has cemented as a master of fantasy, a queen with words and uniquely epic tales filled with hope and lovely characters. I can’t wait for Muse of Nightmares!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Review: The Song Rising (The Bone Season #3) by Samantha Shannon

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

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Date Read: March 4 - March 15 2017
Date Released: March 7th 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London's criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…"

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With each book in The Bone Season series, the world somehow keeps on expanding and I have to remind myself there’s seven books in all. Let’s be honest, I’ve fallen so far into Scion I’m probably never going to make it back out of this intricate and devastating world.

The Song Rising opens with Paige hitting the ground running as Underqueen and it’s daunting how much discord her reign starts with. Everybody is divided on her right to rule and her betrayal of Jaxon in the Rose Ring. If The Song Rising had an alternative title it would be Everybody is Out to Get Paige! They either hate her and want her dethroned, or they’re afraid of her and want to kill her for her powers. Or all of the above, take your pick! Paige faces a massive challenge with the need to prove she’s ruthless enough to be Underqueen, while balancing her internal desire to be considerate and kind. As someone accustomed to being in the thick of things and doing the dirty work, it’s a real lesson for Paige in learning to pick her battles. Her journey and growth isn’t easy and I have to keep reminding myself Shannon has to pace the growth across the books. I think Shannon did a good job of giving Paige just the right amount to develop and leaving lots of room for improvement in character.

There are so many great secondary characters in this series but the real standouts were of course Nick and Eliza, Paige’s mollishers. These two have stuck with her through thick and thin and I loved the unquestionable trust they have. Shannon peels back the layers of these characters and we get a glimpse of what betraying Jaxon meant to them. We see the consequences of this – their sacrifices and their wants, overridden by their need for the greater good. We finally see glimpses of the human villains and masterminds behind Scion; it’s hard to picture these people as human because they cause such tragedy on a large scale but at the end of the day they are definitely mortal. And then you got to wonder how such evil and callousness exists in the world… oh wait *looks at reality* nevermind.

In typical Bone Season fashion, the romance continues to be slow burn and the tension is wonderful and UGHHHHHH it also makes me want to rip my hair out ‘cause JUST GET TOGETHER ALREADY. On the other hand, it makes the stolen moments all the more precious and the angst and feels are delicious.

The plot though. Wow the plot. The world keeps expanding and the web reaches farther than I thought possible. Scion’s corruption is deep and I think the Rephaite have their own hidden agenda (what’s with their world?!) that Shannon’s going to slowly reveal throughout the series and it’s going to be mind-blowing. In The Song Rising we see life outside of Scion London and the effect Scion has had on the rest of the UK. It’s a sorry sight, everything leeched of life, perpetual poverty everywhere people turn. The streets seem layered with scum and nobody walks around carefree. Shannon really has a way with words and her imagery is always on point, to the point where you read about filth and you sort of spew a little in your mouth. Oops sorry TMI? She’s that good!

What a ride guys, what a ride. I get the chills thinking of what book 4 will bring because it’s like a whole new world of unknowns, but excited for all the possibilities and the havoc Paige will wreak. I get a little more scared for Paige with each book as her powers become more coveted and Scion is increasingly more far reaching and dangerous. It’s a thrilling and fast-paced world, there’s no safe place, no surrender.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Review: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

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

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Date Read: February 26 - March 4 2017
Date Released: March 1st 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:
Synopsis:
"Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.
Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed."

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That feel when you find a gem of a contemporary. With a gorgeous cover (dust jacket AND naked cover), This Adventure Ends is beautiful inside and out. Emma Mills was already on my radar since I adored her debut First & Then, so when I heard she was releasing another contemporary (blessed with gorgeous covers Mills is) I was so excited. Safe to say this is one of my favourite contemporaries of all time and Mills is now auto-buy.

One of the first things Sloane does upon her arrival in Florida is to stick up for a guy (Gabe) at a party. As a result, she befriends said guy’s twin sister and is immediately part of their friendship group. Said twin sister Vera is actually a social media sensation no big deal, Sloane doesn’t lose her head over it (she doesn’t use even use social media). That’s the way things are with Sloane – she’s mega chill, casual and extremely witty. I loved her comebacks, her wisdom and her independence. She’s immensely loyal despite giving off the vibe she doesn’t need friends. That’s one of her many flaws and I really liked the way she got hurt and contemplative when people called her out on her shit – because nobody had done that before. Sloane’s growth throughout the book via her interactions with these friends is touching and wonderful.

Vera really stood out to me in this book. She’s a gorgeous social media sensation, posting selfies on Instagram and similar platforms but she doesn’t let it get to her head. She’s this humble ball of energy that makes everybody around her feel like they have all her attention (they do). She’s sweet, sensitive and a great friend overall. The other relationship that resonated with me was between Sloane and her dad. Everett Finch is kind of like Nicholas Sparks in that he writes tragic yet hopeful romances. Her dad’s in a writing slump but holy crap he is HILARIOUS. When he finds out about fandoms online he gets totally obsessed with this teen werewolf show (basically Teen Wolf), bingeing the series, reading all the fanfic… and starts writing fanfic of his own. He gets totally immersed in the world, learning terms like ‘canon’ and ‘AU’ (I mean I never even knew what this meant but thanks to Sloane’s dad I do now) as well as ‘ship’. His obsession with the world draws in Sloane, Vera, Gabe and their friends Randy and Aubrey. It was so interesting seeing a TV show connect different generations. The book also explores Sloane’s bilateral interactions with the other characters and their own problems, giving each character dimension and making them unique and memorable. Because while Sloane imparts wisdom, her friends also give a lot back that make her think twice about who she is.

Romance is slow burn and cute and kind of not really there. If you want to talk ship it’s kind of still docked at the harbour, bobbing in its spot, but waiting to set sail if you ask me! Sorry was that lame? Sorry not sorry. Gabe is this broody, quiet guy who’s more aware of things going on around him than he lets on. He’s the total opposite of his sister and I really think he just needed a hug most of the time.
Underpinning the progression of the book and Sloane’s developing relationship with the characters, is her quest to find a priceless painting left by Vera and Gabe’s mum before she died. It was accidentally sold and Sloane has made it her personal mission to try and get it back for the twins. It was a real rollercoaster ride every time it looked like Sloane had a lead only to get to a dead end. While I didn’t find the quest to really expand on her relationship too much with the other characters, I believe it was part of her personal growth in understanding her drive towards why she wanted to get this painting back so badly.


Mills’ writing is engaging, fun and her dialogue gives unique voices to each character. I laughed a LOT and I also got teary a couple of times throughout the book. The characters were all wonderful, the plot seemingly light, yet layered in a way that I could gently peel them back and find the deeper meaning at its core. This Adventure Ends is honestly one of the loveliest, most thought provoking books I’ve read in a while and I can’t wait to see where Mills will take me next.