Month: March 2016

Book Chat: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Posted March 31, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Book Chat: The Winner’s Curse by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Published by Bloomsbury ANZ on 3rd July 2014
Pages: 359
Format: E-Book, Paperback
Source: Bought
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Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Reading The Winner’s Curse is like taking a really deep breath before going underwater because you don’t know when you’re going to remerge. The whole entire book is one big constant what if and what now. Even re-reading it for a fourth time, I find myself completely spellbound by this fantasy world – where no magic exists – that Rutkoski has created.

Originally I was going to do a mini review for both Curse and Crime, as I’m about to start reading the final book, Kiss, but I realized I have too many feelings and there was nothing “mini” about my review.

Kel is one of my favourite YA heroines. She’s not like my other badass favourite, Celaena (from Throne of Glass), who uses her fists and crazy ninja skills more often than logic. Kel, on the other hand, is logical. She’s smart and very tactical, and it’s her desire not to spill blood that makes her highly appealing in a world where it seems that to have a strong YA heroine, she has to be a fighter. She’s also not perfect, and we’re reminded of this with her interactions with Arin. Both of them are fighting for what is best for their people, and at whatever cost that may be, which means a lot of self-sacrificing on their part.

And Arin. Arin, be still my heart. You make me swoon but you make me angry too. Fourth time reading and I still feel shocked at the turn of events halfway through. And that, dear reader, is the hallmark of a great book. These two have so much room to grow that I don’t know if my heart can handle it.

The beauty of The Winner’s Curse is that it’s a book of subtlety. There’s no grandiose or over the top reminders that things are about to get real. The romance is understated and slow burning and you’ll find that most of the time you just really, really, really want Arin and Kestral to just hurry up and fecking kiss already, but at the same time, it’s a huge breath of fresh air.

What I also loved was that there was a good mixture of plot and characterisation, so you never felt like as a first book, The Winner’s Curse was an info dump of world building and setting up the next two books. I love that even though it’s a fantasy, there’s not even a hint of magic. It’s really defined a new set of rules for the fantasy genre that will open up the gateways to a whole new set of readers.

Full of unexpectancy, intrigue and the strongest main characters in YA right now, The Winner’s Curse is definitely one for your to-be-read-right-now pile.

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Queen of Destroying My Feelings: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas

Posted March 30, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Queen of Destroying My Feelings: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J MaasQueen of Shadows Series: Throne of Glass #5
by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury ANZ on 1st September 2015
Pages: 645
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher, Finished Review Copy
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Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

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Let me begin by saying that attempting to review this book is just plain insane. Even now, six months later, I’m not done with Queen of Shadows and the way it makes me feel. To review and have that review give this book justice is just plain crazy, and so much has already been said that I feel I’m just adding noise to the crowd. But because Bloomsbury Publishing ANZ are amazing, wonderful people, I’m going to attempt to. I don’t my review does any justice to the level of thought running through my brain right now, so if you’d like to discuss what I’ve said (and I’m sure there’s lots I haven’t said, you are more than welcome to talk to me – which means, please do, because I’m at a total loss!)

Now for the obligatory warning: this will more than likely, at some point, contain spoilers from previous novels. If you don’t want to be spoiled, run away! Leave now! At the end of my review, there’ll be a spoilers for sections about some pretty heavy thoughts I have on certain things that happen in Queen of Shadows. It’ll be a lot of rambling, but I’m still unable to process thought coherently.

There is no doubt that Sarah J Maas has earned herself the title of Queen of YA Fantasy. If there isn’t a title, then I’ll dump the crown on her head myself. Or steal it from someone. You guys, if there was a Writer’s Got Talent show, Maas would win it, hands down. The thing I love about Sarah is that she has this amazing way with words that I can’t even begin to describe. It’s purely magic. Her words jump off the page, and I’m so usually immersed that I forget everything. Like being in a library and not to yell out in public at certain events.

“She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.”

Sarah J Maas is also the only person who can make me like third person, multiple point of view storylines. In Heir of Fire, this bothered me a lot, but in Queen of Shadows, I loved it. I loved reading all the different point of views and anticipating how they were going to intertwine with each other.

Which brings me to the secondary characters. You guys, if Queen of Shadows can be anything, it’s awesomely badass. The female characters absolutely MADE this book. There was so much other stuff going on that was breaking my heart so much, but with Manon, Elide and Lysandra being absolutely buttkick awesome, I was able to piece myself back together (sort of). Let’s talk Manon. Her character annoyed me in Heir of Fire, but that changed in Queen of Shadows. She was so awesome! Have you ever heard Tom Hiddleston talk about villains and Loki? It’s exactly how I feel about Manon. Of course now that I want the quote, I can’t find it. Even Kaltain, who I had forgotten even existed, makes an appearance and turns Queen of Shadows into a Beyonce song.

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Aelin, no longer going by Celaena, is still someone I’m trying to figure out. In parts of the novel, I loved her, but she’s not the same person she was in the other books. Of course, that’s to be expected, but at the same time, I don’t think the change was for the better. Sure, she was sharp and cunning, but her vengeance also made her vindictive and unlikeable. Aside from the female characters, the way she treats people (okay let’s face it, the way she treats Chaol, Dorian and Aedion) was completely awful. In some ways I lost a lot of respect for the girl she’s become, and I’m hoping that the next two books can change that.

Now all I can say is this: bring it, Maas. This isn’t endgame, not by a long shot. I’m on to you. The inconsistency throughout this book just doesn’t add up to me, and I’m not satisfied. And if you are about to embark on the journey that is this book, be prepared, because the feels factory is working over time.

Did you hear me say spoilers? If you want hear my darkest, rambling thoughts about a few things, mainly the elephant in the room, just click on the view spoiler button.

View Spoiler »

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Book Chat: The Reluctant Jillaroo by Kaz Delaney

Posted March 29, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 3 Comments

Book Chat: The Reluctant Jillaroo by Kaz DelaneyThe Reluctant Jillaroo by Kaz Delaney
Published by Allen & Unwin on 4th January 2016
Pages: 348
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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Surf-loving Heidi impersonates her horse-mad twin to help Harper get a scholarship to attend the much sought-after agricultural school in this rural romance from Australia's queen of teen, Kaz Delaney. Suitable for teen readers of Rachael Treasure.

Harper Gage has won the opportunity of a lifetime - ten days at Winmaroo Jillaroo and Jackaroo school. The camp could give her the recommendation she needs to go to the exclusive Agricoll for years 11 and 12. But when an accident leaves Harper hospitalised, her twin sister, Heidi, goes in her place. The only problem is that Heidi is not much of a country girl - not like her sister. And to make life even more complicated, her sister's biggest rival Trent is going to be there. Will she be able to fool him?

And then the reality of the school hits Heidi hard. It's all dust, snakes and heat - a million miles away from the surf she loves. When she meets the fun and handsome Chaz, life at the school suddenly doesn't seem so bad, although with Trent acting up and trouble brewing with the other students, Heidi's not sure how long she can keep her identity secret. And if her secret is revealed, will Chaz ever be able to trust her again?

The Reluctant Jillaroo was probably one of the cutest books I’ve read in a long time. Perfect because I’ve just moved to New South Wales, have always been a bit horsey (still mad my parents never let me do riding lessons as a child), and enjoy a good bit of whodunnit, The Reluctant Jillaroo had a bit of everything in it that made for a great light read.

Surf loving city girl Harper Gage inadvertently caused the accident that left her twin sister, Heidi, in hospital, and out of a placement in one of the the best jillaroo camps in Australia, thus ending her chances of getting into a prestigious agricultural school in New South Wales. So the twins come up with a plan – Harper will spend the ten days pretending to be Heidi, Heidi’ll get a reference and (fingers crossed) get into ag school, Harper will feel less guilty about injuring her twin and everything will be dandy.

Of course, as life goes, it’s not quite all sunshine and roses.

What I love about this book is that it’s quintessentially Australian without being stereotypical in the character’s behaviours and traits. It read like a rural romance for young teenagers (and as a “city” girl myself, I love rural romance). I felt like I was right there alongside Heidi – er, Harper – as she went on this crazy adventure pretending to be her sister. While it’s definitely aimed at younger teen readers, which means the language and tone of Harper was at times a bit grating (“Holy Batman”, one of Harper’s catch phrases, got old quickly), I think this has a great wider appeal to older teens and adults as well.

Of course, thrown in was a splash of romance – Chaz was adorable, and I loved the budding romance between him and Harper – which gave Harper the moral dilemma of was she doing the right thing. It was definitely a learning experience for her, and as a 15 year old she matured quite a lot through the course of the book too. The sub plot of items mysteriously disappearing was a great addition as well, and I thought rounded out the novel.

I would love young adult rural romance to become a thing here, it would definitely be right up my alley, and I hope Delaney explores the world she’s created (Harper and Trent’s adventures, maybe?) in forthcoming books!

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Ten Books I Really Want To Read This Autumn

Posted March 15, 2016 by Hannah in Features / 4 Comments

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While the seasons dictate that it’s now Autumn, here in sunny Sydney the weather hasn’t quite got the memo, and the humidity is still making my soul die a little. But all that is bearable, because today I’m going to tell you ten (only ten, I know!) books that I’m looking forward to getting my hands on over the next couple of months.

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Wanderlost by Jenna Malone //Europe, travel, wandering nomad, l’amour….what possibly could be bad about this contemporary??? Absolutely nothing, that’s what.

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski // I’m currently re-reading The Winner’s Trilogy but I seriously do not think my heart is ready for the last book in this series.

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig // I love time travel, and I love pirates, but sadly the time travel to come out of 2016 hasn’t been the greatest. HOWEVER, I have heard absolutely amazing things about The Girl from Everywhere, and it seems to be that type of book that seems to be one step above the rest. God hope so.

 Ruined by Amy Tintera // I am lurrrrving the amount of fantasy that is cropping up at the moment, and even though I wasn’t Reboot‘s biggest fan, my book body is ready for this one. Deception and murder? YES.

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A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann // I’ve heard a mixture of reviews about this one, but even the bad reviews make me want to read it more. One of my growing tastes is these pyscho-thriller-esque horror novels, and I love reading books that really leave me going WTF mate?

 The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye // Russian historical fantasy? SAY NO MORE.

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas // Alright, so I wasn’t ACOTAR‘s biggest fan, but it’s Sarah J Maas, and I want need to see some Rhys sexy time, and judging from what I’ve heard, I think I might just get it.

Traitor Angels by Anne Blackman //I’m a bit wary with books based on real life people, especially those I don’t know too much about, but I’m a sucker for a historical read, and this seems to have a sense of mystery about I’m really looking forward to.

The Season of You and Me by Robin Constantine // Another contemporary read that looks really promising (see what I did there?) I really enjoyed Constantine’s debut, so I’m sure I’ll love this just as much.

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch // I’m LOVING this plethora of travel novels that are cropping up in YA at the moment. And this one is just too cute to resist, I know it. Plus GELATO.

What books are you looking forward to this autumn/spring? Have you read any of the ones on my list? Let me know in the comments below!

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Book Chat: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

Posted March 7, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Chat: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J MaasA Court of Thorns and Roses Published by Bloomsbury ANZ on 5th May 2015
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback, E-Book
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Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price.

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

A Court of Thorns and Roses was an interesting read. A new series from one of my favourite authors, Sarah J Maas, ACOTAR explores a new world of fae and magic through the eyes of Feyre, in a reimagining of the Beauty and the Beast story.

Whenever I start a new series by a much loved author, it’s always with great wariness. It’s like someone setting in front of me an Italian dish I’d never in a million years try because why go with something new when you can always have good old carbonara? Starting ACOTAR I was quite hesitant. My beloved characters in the Throne of Glass series were suffering great hardship and here I was, putting my heart and feels on the line once again. And if it’s anything Sarah J Maas can achieve, it’s how to hit you hard in the feels.

Sadly, ACOTAR didn’t quite live up to the hype and expectation that I’d been prepared for. The series has been marketed as a young adult/new adult crossover with protagonist Feyre nineteen in the first book. While Maas uses the same brilliant descriptive tone that she uses in the Throne of Glass series, it was refreshing to read Feyre from a first person point of view. I was in my element. Feyre, however, didn’t act like the nineteen year old I’d expected her to be. Even taking into consideration the hardships she’d faced, most of the time I found Feyre to be acting stubborn and sullen, especially where Tamlin was concerned. There was too much of a romantic build up, and Feyre turned out to be more talk than she was. I found myself more interested in the supporting characters, Rhysand included, and wished we had more time with even the villainous characters. In fact, I found myself wishing for more Rhysand/Feyre interaction. Definitely jumping on that ship.

The main problem I had with ACOTAR was that coming straight off from the Throne of Glass series, it felt subpar. It didn’t feel like anything new from Maas, which is what I was hoping for. When you get so invested in a series, sometimes it’s nice and refreshing to have something new from an author, even if it’s a fantasy again. ACOTAR deals heavily still with the fae world, and doesn’t stand apart from Throne of Glass like I wanted it to.

In saying that, there was still plenty of ACOTAR to enjoy. There’s a subtleness to the romance between Feyre and Tamlin that made me sigh with relief – we weren’t getting the heavy stuff that a lot of new adult romances tend to have. And Maas’ writing, like I’ve said time and time before, is beautiful. She has a way with words that one only wishes to emulate. And now that the next novel promises a whole lot more of Rhys…well, of course I’m there like a heartbeat!

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