Archive for the ‘Review’ Category:

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

Release Date:  March 28th 2017
Published By:  Hodder & Stoughton/Hachette/Little Brown
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Rating: 5 out of 5

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.

Welcome to Weep.

 

Review: Captivating from the very first page, Strange the Dreamer is a truly enchanting story filled with mystery and wonder, tragedy and romance, beauty and sorrow. This is master storytelling at its very best!

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Review: Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1) by Elly Blake

Release Date:  January 12th 2017
Published By:  Hodder & Stoughton
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Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Synopsis: In a land governed by the cruel Frostblood ruling class, seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has spent most of her life hiding her ability to manipulate heat and light – until the day the soldiers come to raid her village and kill her mother. Ruby vows revenge on the tyrannous Frost King responsible for the massacre of her people.

But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable…and so are the feelings she has for Arcus, the scarred, mysterious Frostblood warrior who shares her goal to kill the Frost King, albeit for his own reasons. When Ruby is captured by the Frost King’s men, she’s taken right into the heart of the enemy. Now she only has one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who took everything from her – and in doing so, she must unleash the powers she’s spent her whole life withholding.

Frostblood is set in world where flame and ice are mortal enemies – but together create a power that could change everything.

 

ReviewFrostblood is another 2017 brilliant YA fantasy from a debut author! Cold, heartfelt, intense and intricate, Frostblood is an enthralling read and the start of what I believe will be a fantastic series.

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Review: Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber

Release Date:  January 31st 2017
Published By:  Hodder & Stoughton
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Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis: Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

 

Review: Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard about Caraval. Caraval is one of mostly highly anticipated releases of 2017 from debut author Stephanie Garber, and if I had to put it in most simplistic of terms – it is absolutely stunning!

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Review: The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen #1) by Roshani Chokshi

Release Date: December 1st 2016
Published By:  Harlequin Teen
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Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

 

Review: The Star-Touched Queen is a beautiful story filled with beautiful prose, lush world-building and a just the right amount of stars to captivate readers of all tastes.

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Review: The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

Release Date: November 1st 2016
Published By:  Simon & Schuster
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Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Synopsis: A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.

Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.

When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.

As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

 

Review:

The Diabolic is the story of Nemesis.

A Diabolic. An engineered bodyguard – strong, fierce, deadly.

And that is where the similarities end.

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Review: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Release Date: October 3rd 2016
Published By:  Penguin / Putnam (US)
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Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him-at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.

Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl-she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland’s brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.

 

Review:

Our Chemical Hearts is a book about first love. It is messy, beautiful, bittersweet and wonderful. But this is not your average love story – it is complex, disastrous, joyous and is poignant in a way that only real first true loves can be.

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Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Release Date: October 6th 2016
Published By:  Penguin / Knopf (US)
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Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed ‘America’s Fattest Teen’. But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Since her mum’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world – theirs and yours.

 

Review:

The truth is often confronting and beautiful and messy… and so is Holding up the Universe.

Beauty, truth, secrets, confrontation, emotion… realness.

It is all within this book.

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Review: A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) by Sabaa Tahir

Release Date: September 8th 2016
Published By:  Harper Voyager
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Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: Elias and Laia are running for their lives.
After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf – the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison – to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene – Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own – one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape… and kill them both.

 

Review: This review contains no spoilers for this book. It does however contain spoilers for An Ember in the Ashes. See my review here. (more…)

Review: The Map of Bones (The Fire Sermon #2) by Francesca Haig

Release Date: April 7th 2016
Published By: Harper Voyager
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Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Synopsis: The Omega resistance has been brutally attacked, its members dead or in hiding. The Alpha Council’s plan for permanently containing the Omegas has begun.

But all is not entirely lost: the Council’s seer, The Confessor, is dead, killed by her twin’s sacrifice.

Cass is left haunted by visions of the past, while her brother Zach’s cruelty and obsession pushes her to the edge, and threatens to destroy everything she hopes for.

As the country moves closer to all-out civil war, Cass will learn that to change the future she will need to uncover the past. But nothing can prepare her for what she discovers: a deeply buried secret that raises the stakes higher than ever before.

 

Review: This review contains no spoilers for this book. It does however contain spoilers for The Fire Sermon. See my review here.
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Review: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas

Release Date: September 6th 2016
Published By:  Bloomsbury
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Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

 

Review: This review contains no spoilers for Empire of Storms. It does however contain spoilers for previous books in the Throne of Glass series.
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Review: Shield (Spark #3) by Rachael Craw

Release Date: September 1st 2016
Published By:  Walker Books Australia
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Purchase: Click here to purchase

Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis: “This is the Affinity Project – where freewill is turned to ash.”
Evie is out of options. She must comply with the Affinity Project – obey their rules, play their deadly games, give up Jamie. And her losses keep growing…

When she decides to help a small group of Shields trying to affect change, Evie finds herself in the firing line. Counsellor Knox is intent on revealing her secrets and shackling her to the Affinity Project for life. To protect her family, Evie must betray those closest to her.

The odds of success – let alone survival – are slim.

The final thrilling conclusion to the Spark series.

Review: This review contains does not really contain spoilers for previous books in the series but to read my reviews on those books, you can find them here and here.

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Review: The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski

Release Date: March 24th 2016
Published By:  Bloomsbury
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Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis: War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

Review: This review contains spoilers for previous books in the series. To read my reviews on those books, you can find them here and here.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne

Release Date: July 31st 2016
Published By: Little Brown UK / Arthur A. Levine Books
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Purchase: Click here to purchase

Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopsis: Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Review: Like the rest of Australia, and the world, I rushed out to get Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on release day. I was more excited than an eleven year old boarding Hogwarts Express for the first time – I just could not wait to get my greedy little hands on the next piece of the magical world created by J.K. Rowling – to get another sliver of magic, to cling on to another piece of this wizarding puzzle, to have another moment of wonder in this phenomenal world that will always hold a place in my heart.

So with the spell cast, I got my copy and I read eagerly wanting to get every bit of Harry Potter that I could – and the result was similar to the Hermiones first attempt at polyjuice potion: both fantastic and down-right ugly.

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Review: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff

Release Date: July 25th 2016
Published By: Harper Voyager
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Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis: Destined to destroy empires Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in the shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student. The shadows loves her. And they drink her fear.

ReviewNevernight was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016, so did it live up to my very high expectations? Hells yes it did!

The short version of my thoughts about Nevernight is this: IT IS BLOODY AWESOME!!! Run out to get yourself a copy. Don’t walk, RUN! This is book is filled with so much awesomeness that I cannot form proper words!

Jay Kristoff is a beloved Aussie author, and following the success of Illuminae, everyone had high expectations of this book. But this book is not Illuminae, but it certainly holds its own ground on every level. I am a fan of Jay’s, not just because of his previous work, but as a person. He is honest, down to earth and absolutely hysterical (follow him on Twitter to see what I mean). He doesn’t hold back in his thoughts and opinions, and this book is everything, and more, that I expected from him. It encompasses everything about him and his amazingly twisted creativity. From the vivid imaginary to the brutality of this world, Jay does not hold back on creating a full and complex world filled with everything from first lust/maybe-love, to blood and gore, revenge, conflict and sacrifice. This book is as complex, raw, honest and funny as I would have expected from Jay. During a conversation with a friend I said “if you read this book without knowing who the author was, you would pick Jay as the author”. That isn’t saying it is predictable in any way, it is saying that it is a 448 page book of what I would expect from this amazing author: world-building, amusement, abruptness, complexity, mystery, quirkiness, bloodshed, intricacy, secrecy, darkness and one absolutely amazing ride! (and a few Jay Kristoff-isms thrown in there too).

This book had me hooked right from the start, with a phenomenal first chapter that is clever, intriguing and somehow sucks you right in! As the pages go on, you find a dark world filled with luscious detail. This is masterful storytelling my friends! The past and present are masterfully weaved together, with little pieces of the puzzle coming together in due course. And the footnotes throughout this book are sometimes relevant to the storyline, sometimes funny antidotes – literally some laugh out loud moments are to be found within these little gems.

The storyline is intricate and dark, with a fierce and determined protagonist, Mia. Mia deeply misses what has been ripped from her, and this fuels her desire for revenge. From the age of ten years old when Mia was pulled away from her life of privilege and hiding from the very people who murdered her father, she has been training to become an assassin. Now at sixteen, she has finally found her way to The Red Church, a training facility for the best of the best, in the hopes of becoming one of the few that survive the training and become the ultimate assassin, a Blade.

The training is not for the weak of heart or stomach. It is brutal and only the sharpest, quickest and most cunning will survive. And even survival does not guarantee that one becomes a Blade. This is everything Mia has dreamt of since she was child, and she will do whatever she needs to do to make sure it happens. She is determined to become a Blade so that she can extract her revenge on those who killed her father and stole her mother and brother away from her. Her only reason to be here is become a Blade, and while at The Red Church she seeks comfort from the shadows that are always there, she tries to keep her distance from the possibly-would-be-allies within the walls of The Red Church, she is ruthless, cunning and utterly determined to make her dream a reality. But hidden secrets, plots and betrayal within The Red Church may change Mia’s life forever.

Never flinch. Never fear. Never forget.

To be honest, I cannot form the words to accurately describe the awesomeness that is Nevernight. I just can’t do it justice, and my brain can’t even try, it is still fan-girling over this AMAZING book!

And that cover! OMG – that cover!!!! The Aus/UK cover is beyond stunning; it is filled with beauty, intricacy, mystery and darkness. It perfectly showcases the amazingness on what these pages contain.

Without getting into the debate on whether this book is YA or not, as YA is subjective, let me say this: this is a fantasy book that does contain some graphic content. Personally, I loved the frankness of it all, but if you classify swearing as “gosh darn”, or if you consider graphic deaths as “she shot an arrow into his heart” and you think that sex scenes should fade to black, then this is not the book for you. Jay does not hold back, his descriptions are vivid and detailed; with lots swearing, stabbing and blood and gore, and sex scenes that could make some blush (bravo Jay for these scenes by the way!). If you want your adult themes to be like an episode of Neighbours or Home and Away then this book will shock you. It is brutal, it is upfront, it is completely honest… and I loved it!

Nevernight is amazing first instalment into this new world with lots of blood, inner-turmoil, courage, despair, treachery and hope – along with a few OMG moments, luscious writing and fantastic twists that will keep you furiously reading page after page and leave you desperate for the next book.

After finishing Nevernight, my only thoughts were really “holy shit that is amazing!” – and a few other profanities to go along with it. And to be honest, a few weeks after reading it, my thoughts are still the same. The random words that keep running around my head when trying to form sentences about this book include: Phenomenal. Bad-ass. Brilliant. Vengeance. Stab. Epic. Betrayal. Amazeballs. Murder. Dark. Assassins. Intense. Fantastic. Blood. Cats. Violence. Tremendous. Fierce. Brutal. Heartbreak. Shadows. Heart. Delicious. Fucking-amazing!

Basically, I absolutely adored everything about this book! Besides the fact that it put me in a huge reading funk and now I just don’t know how other books could possibly compare. Nevernight is epic. This is easily the best book of 2016! I know the year isn’t over yet, but I cannot foresee anything topping the awesomeness that is Nevernight.

 

 

 

 

Strange the Dreamer Samplers – 10 Things I Learnt

   

 

OMG! I have been ridiculously spoiled by certain someones, and I now have my little Laini Taylor obsessed hands on both the UK and US Strange the Dreamer samplers!!!

Now I don’t normally read samplers, because I find that they are nothing but dirty teases – but of course I was going to read these… and this is what I learnt.

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