Dumbledore’s Army Readathon TBR Pile

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Aentee @ Read at Midnight is hosting the Dumbledore’s Army Readathon in January. It’s a two-week readathon that is dedicated to reading diverse books. Each challenge is inspired by a Harry Potter spell and it looks like a lot of fun! There is also a points system and a house challenge. I will be playing for Ravenclaw, which is my Hogwarts house. For all of the readathon details, including the rules for calculating points and some FAQs, see Aentee’s sign up post!

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There are seven prompts for this readathon. All of the graphics in this post were made my Aentee.

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For this prompt, I am reading Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I’ve heard some good things about this one and it features a Chinese-American family that I could probably relate to. I enjoy reading family sagas so I’m hoping that this one is a great read.

304 pages, potential +30 points

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Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is set in and features characters from Nigeria. This is definitely a group that I have read very little about. In fact, the only book that comes to mind when I think about Africa or African characters is The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr. I’m very excited to check this one out because I’ve heard endless amazing things about it.

477 pages, potential +47 points

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I had an endless number of options for this one so I decided to choose a book that I recently bought. I’ll be reading We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson.

455 pages, potential +45 points

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I’ve had Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill on my shelf for probably close to two years and I am so glad this prompt will finally push me to pick it up. It’s a book about feminism and hopefully one that is inclusive and empowers all women.

392 pages, potential +39 points

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It wouldn’t be a readathon for me if I didn’t read a book about mental illness. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone has been on my TBR for ages and it’s a book about OCD.

368 pages, potential +36 points

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Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates has received a lot of hype and, from what I’ve heard, it’s all well-deserved. I’ve been meaning to read this for a while and I picked it up intending to read it straight away. But, as with a lot of non-fiction books, they tend to be forgotten in my stack of unread books. I will be endeavouring to finally read this one for the readathon.

152 pages, potential +15 points

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Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim is one that Jeann @ Happy Indulgence has been raving about since she read it a few months ago. It’s a little embarrassing that I haven’t picked it up yet since Wai is a Sydney-based author and is extremely supportive of us bloggers! But it will be devoured in January!

272 pages, potential +27 points


There is a 5 point bonus for each prompt that you complete so if I finish all 7 books, my total will be 274 points! There are also bonus points for reviewing each of the 7 books. Go forth and share your thoughts and opinions on these diverse books!

I also have a stack of other diverse books that I want to read when I finish these 7 prompts and you’ll get to see what they are in my wrap up!

Will you be joining Dumbledore’s Army too?

Book Haul: November 2016

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My monthly hauls are always really massive but I feel particularly bad about it this month because I was away for two weeks and did barely any reading, so it feels as if my TBR has grown immensely with all the books I’ve hauled in November. It’s only a few days into December and I’ve already got a sizeable haul for the month. I think I’ll be on a no-buy until the end of the year!

BOOK DEPOSITORY

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A few of these were preorders that I made a few months ago: Scythe, The Sun is Also a Star and Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy. I’m super keen to jump into Scythe and Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, but because I’m 20 books away from hitting my Goodreads goal for the year, I might leave these two bigger books until 2017. When I visited Jeann @ Happy Indulgence in October, I went with her to the library and saw Once Was a Time, which I immediately had to get for myself because I really enjoyed Tonight the Streets Are Ours. I ended up buying the exclusive special edition of Eleanor & Park that was recently released because it has fanart as its endpapers. And finally, I ordered about 10 books off my wishlist and Between Shades of Gray and Maybe in Another Life arrived In November!

DYMOCKS

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Dymocks had a ‘spend $75 and get a Harry Potter tote bag’ offer, so I spent quite a bit of money in November. I also bought some Aussie YA books for overseas friends, so my total was actually over $150 (whoops!). I went to the monthly YA Bookmeet at the start of November, where Mark Smith was the guest, so I ended up purchasing a copy of his book to be signed, and picked up everything else on the same day.

BARNES & NOBLE

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When I was in Boston for my work conference, there was a Barnes and Noble pretty much right next door to  the conference venue (thank you conference organisers!). I was tempted to buy a lot more but was limited by suitcase space T_T.

INDIGO

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When I visited Toronto at the end of November, Jesse @ Books at Dawn took me to many different bookstores and I ended up buying four books at Indigo. I’ve been wanting to read The Sky is Everywhere for a really, really long time since I’ll Give You the Sun is my favourite YA novel of all time. But I haven’t been able to find the edition I wanted… until now! I snapped this one up so quickly! I’ve also been eyeing Still Life With Tornado since before it was released so I’m happy that I now have a copy. Tell Me Three Things and The Female of the Species were recommendations from Jesse.

RECEIVED

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Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending a copy of The Light That Gets Lost. Jesse @ Books at Dawn gave me Falling Kingdoms, which is his favourite series. I’ll definitely be picking it up soon, now that I have a copy. The ARCs of The Unexpected Everything and Irena’s Children were given to me by Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts. Thanks Joey!


That’s all for this month. Hopefully my December haul will be much shorter!

Wrap Up: November 2016

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Hello! I am back from my semi-hiatus, which ended up being a two-week hiatus anyway. I spent the first half of November getting read for my conference trip and the last two weeks of the month travelling to North America for the conference and various lab visits. It’s been a very busy month and I posted a measly four posts in November. I was a little bit slumpy in November and didn’t read for a whole week while I was away but I did manage to get through 13 books (no idea how!). I’m currently 4 or 5 books behind schedule for my Goodreads goal of 200 books but I’m not going to give up hope yet. I can totally read 22 books in December… *lays out all my super thin books*.

In case anyone is interested, I went to LA, Boston and Toronto on my trip. I have a recap of my time in Toronto (feat. Jesse @ Books at Dawn and Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts) up on Happy Indulgence where I am a co-blogger.

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Reading summary header

1. Moon Chosen – P.C. Cast  35 stars

Moon Chosen is the first book in a new fantasy series. It had a bit of a caveman sort of vibe, which is definitely not my usual kind of read but I still, ultimately, enjoyed it. My main criticism is that it was kind of wordy and could have been a 300 page book instead of 600 pages.

2. The Sun is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon  5 stars

I highly enjoyed Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon and I have to say that The Sun is Also a Star was even better for me. I loved the cultural diversity and I really enjoyed the romance too. While there was definitely insta-love in the book, I found that I was able to overlook it for the most part because the story was so charming.

3. The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy & Me – Michael Gerard Bauer  4 stars

This is an Aussie YA novel that I didn’t really have any high expectations for, and it definitely surprised me. I enjoyed this book so much and found myself relating to the main character a lot. I liked the writing in the book and I enjoyed all of the characters and the relationships they had with each other. It was a very quick read and I would definitely recommend it.

4. The Universe of Us – Lang Leav  4 stars

I don’t read much poetry and I’m not very good at critiquing it, so The Universe of Us gets an above average 4/5 from me.

5. Gemina – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff  4 stars

I wasn’t as big of a fan of Illuminae as most of the YA community is/was, and I feel the same way about Gemina. I liked Gemina a lot more than Illuminae but ultimately, I found it to be kind of predictable, especially having read Illuminae and being somewhat familiar with the twists that the authors use. I did like the romance between Hanna and Nik though.

6. Under Rose-Tainted Skies – Louise Gornall  4 stars

This is a book about agoraphobia that is written by an own voices author. I liked the agoraphobia aspect of it and found it to be extremely accurate, but I felt that the book lacked plot overall. It read to me as a book of symptoms and there wasn’t a whole lot that happened in the book.

7. When Michael Met Mina – Randa Abdel-Fattah  4 stars

When Michael Met Mina is an Aussie novel that tackles political issues that are very relevant to us today. It deals with refugees and racism and I thought it was a very important and thought-provoking read. I enjoyed both of the main characters and loved their relationship, but there were times when I wanted the plot and the writing to be a bit more sophisticated.

8. By Your Side – Kasie West  4 stars

I love all of Kasie West’s books and By Your Side is no exception. I loved the main character, Autumn, and I highly enjoyed the plot as well. This novel is probably one of my favourite Kasie West novels, along with The Distance Between Us.

9. Why We Broke Up – Daniel Handler  45 stars

I’d been wanting to read this book for over a year and I’m glad that I finally did because it was beautifully written and conceptualised. I found it to be so relatable and I connected with the main character and her story very deeply. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending and the ultimate reason why they broke up but that didn’t detract from how much I loved the story.

10. Tell Me Three Things – Julie Buxbaum  4 stars

Tell Me Three Things is a cute contemporary read that contains a mystery aspect to it. Our main character has recently moved to a new school in California and receives an email from a mystery person who offers to be her anonymous guide to high school. The book revolves around this mystery of who this anonymous emailer is. I predicted who it was quite early on but I still really loved the story and how adorable it was.

11. Metaltown – Kristen Simmons  2 stars

I received this book in my October Fairyloot and was really looking forward to reading it because steampunk is a genre that I tend to enjoy. However, I found Metaltown to be quite boring. Nothing happened until about two-thirds into the book and I didn’t really enjoy the ending. I found the characters to be annoying and I couldn’t get on board with the romance.

12. Him – Elle Kennedy & Sarina Bowen  45 stars

Him is a new adult novel about ice hockey that has LGBTQ+ themes. I binge read Sarina Bowen’s The Ivy Years series last month and loved it, so I thought I’d check out some more of her ice hockey themed books. I highly enjoyed this one and loved the two main characters in the novel. There is a sequel that I’m sure I’ll be picking up really soon.

13. Tales of the Peculiar – Ransom Riggs  45 stars

This is a collection of short stories that is set in the Peculiar world. This book is referenced in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series but it isn’t linked to that series at all and can definitely be read as a standalone. If you enjoy short stories that are slightly weird and peculiar, you will love this collection. Also, the hardcover edition is beautiful!


How was your reading month?

Book Haul: October 2016

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My October book haul is coming to you a little bit late because I’ve been super busy at work and I’m on a semi-hiatus. By the time you read this post, I will be in sunny California visiting a colleague before I head over to Boston for my work conference. Let’s get into the haul!

BOOK DEPOSITORY

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Half of these books were actually preorders that I made months ago. Everyone We’ve Been, This Adventure Ends, Frost Like Night and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Edition were all preorders. I also picked up Tales of the Peculiar and Radio Silence, both of which have been on my wishlist for a while. Finally, I was talked into buying the Under the Never Sky trilogy on Twitter.

KINOKUNIYA

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I spent a lot of time in Kinokuniya this month because I was waiting for Blood for Blood to be available. I pretty much went every day to see if they had stock and ended up picking up the other books.

RECEIVED

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I went to Brisbane in October and stayed with Jeann, so naturally I went home with a whole bunch of books to review on Happy Indulgence. I brought home It Looks Like This, Somewhere in Between, Mistletoe & Mr Right and The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy & Me. Jeann also gave me the movie tie-in edition of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because I love the trilogy and I’m so happy to have it. I received three books from a friend as a late birthday gift: The Thing About Jellyfish, China Rich Girlfriend and Everything I Never Told You. These were all on my Book Depository wishlist. Metaltown technically wasn’t a ‘received’ book. I got it in my October Fairyloot box so I did purchase it. But I’m also too lazy to put it in its own category. Finally, Pan Macmillan Australia sent me Moon Chosen.

EBOOKS

There was a Harper drop on Edelweiss and I have three books to review for Happy Indulgence: The Upside of Unrequited, The End of Our Story and By Your Side. I bought An Improper Bride because it’s the second part of a story and I needed to know how it ended (only to read it and find out that there’s a third part…). Most of my month was spent reading new adult books because I was in a big reading slump so I kind of became obsessed with Sarina Bowen’s books. Totally waiting for her next release!


Hope you guys had a great month!

Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

heartless Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: November 8, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Aila @ One Way or an Author
Pages: 464
Goodreads || Book Depository

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

MY THOUGHTS

35 stars

The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favourite series of all time and I was extremely excited to read another retelling by Marissa Meyer. Sadly, Heartless fell way short of my expectations and I hate to say this… but I’m glad that it’s a standalone and that we can move on to bigger and better things.

Heartless is a villain origin story. It’s an Alice in Wonderland reimagining and we follow the Queen of Hearts from my childhood (or young adulthood) into her descent into evilness. Prior to being the Queen of Hearts, Cath was a girl who was not interested in being a society girl and marrying into a wealthy family. All she wanted to do was to open a bakery with her maid and best friend. However, without the approval from her parents and the resources to do so, she’s left with no choice but to enter into a courtship with the King of Hearts. But when she meets the court jester, Jest, they fall in love and begin a secret relationship…

My biggest problem with Heartless was the romance. I didn’t think that Cath and Jest had any chemistry together. I didn’t feel any passion or love between the two of them, which was a really big surprise to me because of how much I love all of the ships in The Lunar Chronicles. It didn’t feel like Marissa Meyer had taken the time to develop the relationship between Cath and Jest, and it just felt extremely forced. In terms of the characters themselves, I didn’t feel like Cath or Jest were particularly interesting characters. Besides Cath being a talented baker, there was nothing about her that stood our and her characterisation just fell flat. I felt similarly about Jest. I was expecting him to be quirky and interesting because he was the court jester but he came across to me as another typical male love interest. There just wasn’t much to the characters in this novel.

I didn’t think that the world building was strong. The world just felt like every other Alice in Wonderland-inspired novel that I’ve ever read. It wasn’t particularly original and there wasn’t a lot of time dedicated to developing it. I was honestly a bit underwhelmed by it. However, I did enjoy the plot of the book and how it fit into the world. I was a bit disappointed with the first half of the book because there was absolutely nothing happening and I found it extremely hard to get into the novel. But I did start to enjoy it more towards the middle of the story when there was a little bit more action. I loved the story of the Jabberwock and the role that it played in the book. That was perhaps my favourite aspect of the novel. The last section of the novel was interesting but I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. Knowing that Heartless was a villain origin story ruined the ending for me a little. I knew that Cath would start becoming evil and when she did, I found it to be a bit underwhelming. I thought that it happened too abruptly because one moment she was not evil, and the next she was. I also found the catalyst of the whole thing to be kind of predictable.

Overall, Heartless was not the book that I wanted it to be. It wasn’t exciting enough for me and I thought the characters, the romance and part of the plot were boring and disappointing. However, Marissa Meyer’s writing never disappoints so I still managed to enjoy it.

Blog Tour: Moon Chosen by P.C. Cast

moon-chosen Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Release date: October 25, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 600
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

Mari is an Earth Walker, heir to the unique healing powers of her Clan; but she has cast her duties aside, until she is chosen by a special animal ally, altering her destiny forever. When a deadly attack tears her world apart, Mari reveals the strength of her powers and the forbidden secret of her dual nature as she embarks on a mission to save her people. It is not until Nik, the son of the leader from a rival, dominating clan strays across her path, that Mari experiences something she has never felt before…

Now, darkness is coming, and with it, a force, more terrible and destructive than the world has ever seen, leaving Mari to cast the shadows from the earth. By forming a tumultuous alliance with Nik, she must make herself ready. Ready to save her people. Ready to save herself and Nik. Ready to embrace her true destiny…and obliterate the forces that threaten to destroy them all.

MY THOUGHTS

35 stars

Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Welcome to my stop on the Moon Chosen blog tour! I will be sharing my thoughts and opinions on this first book in P.C. Cast’s new series. Moon Chosen isn’t really my typical read but I found it quite enjoyable to read. Even though it was a giant book with 600 pages, I read it all in just two days!

Moon Chosen follows our heroine, Mari. She belongs to a clan of Earth Walkers, where her mother is a Moon Woman, who is the most important person of the clan because of her healing abilities. Mari has inherited these abilities but has spent most of her life hiding in secrecy because her father belonged to a rival group. Unsure of what her identity means for her existence in her Earth Walker clan, she has never shown her true self. However, when her clan is attacked by the rival group and things start getting out of control, Mari learns the extent of her powers and begin to embrace who she is.

It’s a little bit difficult explaining the plot of this book because the novel is quite slow-paced and there isn’t really a lot of action. Most of the book is spent setting up the world and getting the reader comfortable with all of the different clans and customs of each clan. I did find the world to be very confusing at the start of the book. It took me over 100 pages to have everything sorted in my mind. There were a lot of characters introduced and I had a hard time putting everything together and figuring out how they all fit into the story. However, I got used to it pretty quickly after that and had no trouble following the story. I found the world to be quite interesting and not like many other worlds that I’ve read before (though admittedly, I am no expert in fantasy worlds). The world felt like a early history kind of world, with clans and tribes and lots of nature and biology. But what I found most interesting was that this was a post-apocalyptic world where all things man-made and technological had been wiped out. Whether it’s post-apocalyptic or not doesn’t really factor into the story but I just thought that that was unexpected and interesting.

While the plot and the story was slow-paced and dragged out, it didn’t bother me too much because the  characters were engaging and I couldn’t help but care about them. I was right with them throughout the book and I loved watching the friendships form and seeing how they interacted with each other. Mari was a character who I wasn’t a big fan of at the start but she grew on me throughout the book and I enjoyed her development into a slightly whiny girl into a caring and independent woman. I loved her kind personality and the lengths she goes to to help others who are not probably not so deserving of her help. I also loved her friendship with Sora, who also grew on me extremely quickly in the novel. I also really liked Nik, the male from Mari’s rival tribe. I wasn’t sure of his intentions at the start and was highly suspicious of him, but he proved to be a character who was also quite easy to love. But of course, one of my favourite characters was Jenna. Yes, simply because she shares my name.

Perhaps my favourite aspect of this novel was the concept of the Companions. Certain tribes in this book have animal allies that are bonded with tribe members. This bond is extremely strong and those who are bonded are tied together for life. If you love reading about animal companions, like Manchee in The Knife of Never Letting Go, you will love Moon Chosen because this series takes it to a whole new level.

Despite really enjoying most aspects of the book, there were a few things that I didn’t like so much. I was not a big fan of the dialogue in this book. At times, it felt very forced and I couldn’t really imagine people talking that way. There were also a lot of instances where characters spoke aloud to themselves and that just seemed a bit strange to me. I also had a bit of a problem with the pacing. While I didn’t mind that the book was very long, I did think that there wasn’t really a climax to this book, so it never really got intense and exciting for me. It just wasn’t as epic as I wanted it to be and I just wanted it to be paced a little bit better. But overall, I enjoyed the book and thought that it was a great read despite some of my problems with it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

pccast PC was born in the Midwest, and grew up being shuttled back-and-forth between Illinois and Oklahoma, which is where she fell in love with Quarter Horses and mythology (at about the same time). After high school, she joined the United States Air Force and began public speaking and writing. After her tour in the USAF, she taught high school for 15 years before retiring to write full time. PC is a New York Times Best-Selling author and a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. Her novels have been awarded the prestigious: Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Prism, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers’ Best, and the Laurel Wreath. PC is an experienced teacher and talented speaker. Ms. Cast lives in Oregon near her fabulous daughter, her adorable pack of dogs, her crazy Maine Coon, and a bunch of horses.

Website || Goodreads || Twitter

Wrap Up: October 2016

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October was a bit of a rough month for me. I was in a bit of a reading slump for most of the month because I had a lot going on outside of blogging. I had a lot of assignments to mark and that sucked the life out of me. I also did a bit of travelling as well, which was quite draining. I went away for a weekend for a friend’s wedding, and I also went to Brisbane to visit my coblogger, Jeann @ Happy Indulgence. It was a lot of fun but it didn’t leave me a lot of time for reading.

I ended up reading a lot of new adult books this month to get me back into reading and to stay on track with my Goodreads reading challenge. I completed my goal of 150 books last month, and decided to increase it to 200 books. Ever since then I’ve been 1-3 books behind but hopefully I’ll be able to catch up soon. I’ll need to get ahead of schedule soon though since I’ll be travelling for two weeks in November and won’t have much time to read. Enough chatter.

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Reading summary header

Books are listed in the order that I read them and reviews are linked.

1. Swarm – Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan & Deborah Biancotti  4 stars

Swarm is the second book in the Zeroes trilogy and I inhaled it because it was so fast-paced and action-packed. It continues the story of our group of six Zeroes extremely well and ends on a cliffhanger that will leave you crying for more.

2. Nothing Tastes As Good – Claire Hennessey  4 stars

I love a good issue book and this novel explores body image and eating disorders. It has a very interested concept and I thought it was executed well. I did have some concerns about the first half of the book – there were some things that made me feel very uncomfortable- but all of these concerns were addressed by the end of the book. I do have to say though that it could be triggering for some people, so proceed with care.

3. Replica – Lauren Oliver  4 stars

This was a really interesting read and I have to admit that I was initially interested in this book because of the two books in one format. This is a sci-fi novel that can be read in 4 different ways. I switched perspectives after every chapter, which made for a unique reading experience. I’ve never had to read with two bookmarks before. But looking beyond this cool format, I really enjoyed the story too. I loved how the perspectives worked together and that the story was fast-paced and thrilling.

4. When the Moon was Ours – Anna-Marie McLemore  5 stars

I absolutely loved Anna-Marie McLemore’s debut novel, The Weight of Feathers, and this book was just as good. It has magical realism, racial diversity and sexual diversity. I fell in love with the story and the relationships in the book. Definitely one of my favourite reads of the month.

5. Odd and the Frost Giants – Neil Gaiman  45 stars

I picked up this book because of the beautiful cover and packaging of this book. It’s an interesting middle grade story that has Norse mythology elements. The edition that I read had illustrations by Chris Riddell and they were absolutely stunning. Each page also had some beautiful silver accents. I was in love!

6. An Improper Bride – Nadia Lee  3 stars

An Improper Bride is the sequel to An Improper Deal second part of Annabelle and Elliot’s story. I’ve had issues with Nadia Lee’s recent books because she’s been splitting up her books into multiple parts and releasing them separately. But since I’d already started the first part of this story, An Improper Deal, I decided to pick up An Improper Bride to finish it off… Only to find out that this isn’t the end of the story. There’s a part three! I think I’ll be quitting Nadia Lee after I read that last part when it’s released. I just can’t agree with authors releasing what is one story in multiple parts in order to rake in the cash.

7. Phantom Limbs – Paula Garner  4 stars

I love a good book about grief and Phantom Limbs explores the theme in a light-hearted but impactful manner. It has a great balance of grief, romance and friendship and I enjoyed the plot and the relationships immensely.If you’re looking for a serious read that won’t leave you feeling dark and heavy,  this is the one for you.

8. The Year We Fell Down – Sarina Bowen  35 stars

I saw a recommendations list on Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse‘s blog this month and this book was on it. I don’t read a lot of new adult books but Deanna said she really loved this series so I picked it up. I highly enjoyed The Year We Fell Down because it had two characters with physical disabilities and I’ve never read that in a new adult novel before. I also really liked the romance in the book and the side characters as well.

9. Blood for Blood – Ryan Graudin  5 stars

Blood for Blood was one of my most anticipated books this year. I loooooved Wolf by Wolf last year and I couldn’t wait to pick up this sequel. It was everything that I wanted and more. While it wasn’t as fast-paced as Wolf by Wolf or the prequel novella, Iron to Iron, I really liked the plot of it and all of the twists and turns that it took. My heart was completely broken by the end of the book but it was so completely worth it.

10. Everyone We’ve Been – Sarah Everett  4 stars

This book has a stunning cover and a plot that is pretty amazing too. It’s about first love and identity and I’d recommend it if you’ve watched and enjoyed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. At times, there were a few  too many similarities but I did enjoy what the characters brought to the story.

11. The Year We Hid Away – Sarina Bowen  4 stars

This is the second novel in The Ivy Years series. it can be read as a standalone though. I really enjoyed the plot and the romance in this book. I liked that the characters came from different walks of life and I appreciated that the author tried to incorporate different issues into this book.

12. Blonde Date – Sarina Bowen  4 stars

Blonde Date is #2.5 in The Ivy Years series. This is a novella about two side characters from The Year We Hid Away. I thought their romance was really adorable and it was a light and fun read.

13. The Understatement of the Year – Sarina Bowen  45 stars

This is book 3 of The Ivy Years and probably my favourite one of the series. It features a LGBT relationship and is a coming out story. I don’t really have the words to describe why I enjoyed it so much but I really connected with the two main characters and their personal stories.

14. Rat Queens, Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery – Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch  35 stars

I really enjoyed the humour and the action in Rat Queens. It was really sassy and funny and I loved the four main characters that make up the Rat Queens. The plot was enjoyable and the art style was beautiful. It wasn’t the best graphic novel that I’ve ever read but I enjoyed it enough to want to pick up the next volume.

15. The Shameless Hour – Sarina Bowen  35 stars

The Shameless Hour is the fourth book in The Ivy Years series. Again, this one can be read as a standalone. This novel explores slut-shaming and I appreciated what the author was trying to do. I liked the main  characters and enjoyed their romance a lot. It wasn’t my favourite of the series but the writing was very addictive.

16. The Fifteenth Minute – Sarina Bowen  35 stars

This is the last novel in The Ivy Years. I liked the characters in this book but wasn’t as big of a fan of the plot as I was of the other installments. I still enjoyed it immensely though and liked how relatable the characters were.

17. Rookie Move – Sarina Bowen  4 stars

This is the first book in a spin-off series to The Ivy Years. It features a second chance romance, which is one of my favourite romantic tropes! This novel follows a side character that has appeared in multiple books in The Ivy Years and I enjoyed finally being able to read his story.


Thank you for reading. I’m on a semi-hiatus right now but I have a small giveaway running in this post.

Semi-Hiatus and Giveaway

 

semi-hiatus-giveaway

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted as regularly this month as I usually do. In fact, I’ve only posted twice in the past two weeks, when usually I post on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday/Monday every single week.

I’ve just been struggling with work and real life, and I think I need to take a bit of a break. I’m an academic tutor/TA (whatever you want to call it) at university and I’m swamped with assignments to mark, which has pretty much made me lose the will to live. The last thing I want to do at the moment is read more words and write words/blog posts/comments. I know that I’ve been abysmal at commenting and replying to comments in the past few weeks and I think it would help immensely if I stopped writing blog posts for people to comment on (even though I LOVE your comments!).

I’m also going to be going on a two-week work trip in mid- to late-November and won’t be able to stay up to date with blogging and commenting while I’m preparing for the trip and when I’m overseas. So I’ve decided to take a bit of a short break. I have some posts planned (but have not written yet) and I intend to still post them but I have no idea when I’ll be able to reply to the comments. (I’ll be putting up an October haul and wrap-up soon. I’m part of the blog tour for Moon Chosen by P.C. Cast so expect a post for that on November 3. And I plan to post my review of Heartless by Marissa Meyer on Tuesday November 8).

I will still be posting every Wednesday on Happy Indulgence as usual but for now, my posts on this blog will be pretty sporadic. I’ll resume blogging when I get back from my trip, but I might reduce the number of posts to 2-3 a week because 3-4 (plus one more on Happy Indulgence) is just too much for me to handle right now.

To make up for my absence and my terrible commenting record, here is a small giveaway:

GIVEAWAY Rules

The giveaway prize is a one month subscription to CraftedVan. You will be receiving their December package. (This giveaway is not sponsored. I just really love magnetic bookmarks.)

RULES:

  • This giveaway will end at 11:59pm AEDT on November 8, 2016.
  • This giveaway is open to all countries that CraftedVan ships to (which should be every country).
  • There will be ONE winner who will win the December subscription package from CraftedVan. You can choose either the planner option or the booknerd option.
  • The winner will be chosen at random through Rafflecopter.
  • I will contact the winner on November 9th and if I don’t receive a response within 48 hours, I will choose another winner.
  • CraftedVan will be sending out the subscription package so I take no responsibility for damaged or lost parcels. However, I will liaise with CraftedVan if there are any issues at all.
  • I will be checking all entries and disqualifying invalid ones, so please don’t cheat!
CLICK THIS LINK TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY THROUGH RAFFLECOPTER!!!

Good luck!

Review: Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

blood-for-blood Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Release date: October 6, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 496
Goodreads || Book Depository

There would be blood.
Blood for blood.
Blood to pay.
An entire world of it.

For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.

Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love?

This gripping, thought-provoking sequel to Wolf by Wolf will grab readers by the throat with its cinematic writing, fast-paced action, and relentless twists.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

Blood for Blood is the sequel of Wolf by Wolf, which means that this review may contain spoilers for the first book.

Wolf by Wolf was one of my favourite releases of last year and I’ve been highly anticipating Blood for Blood since last year. And it definitely did not disappoint. Wolf by Wolf ended on a bit of a cliffhanger and I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this sequel other than more fantastic storytelling and lots of intense action. Ryan Graudin definitely delivered both of those things and I can say that this was one of my favourite releases of this year.

Blood for Blood picks up exactly where Wolf by Wolf ended, with Yael running away from the ball. It’s a little bit hard to describe exactly what this book is about because there are so many things going on, but throughout the novel, Yael and her comrades escape from various foes and work with the Resistance to bring down the Third Reich and the Fuhrer. I absolutely loved the plot of this book. There were countless unexpected twists that kept me on my toes, and it’s definitely a book where nobody is safe from death. There was never a sense that our beloved characters were untouchable and I really enjoyed that about the book (even though I will protect my babies until the end of time). This book was extremely action-packed even though it wasn’t as fast-paced as Wolf by Wolf. I thought the pacing was perfect for the story and I loved the intensity of everything that was going on. Some of the events in this sequel had me visibly shaking and it’ll take me a little while to get over all the feels. The last 100 pages of the book absolutely blew my mind and I really loved how everything was revealed and tied together neatly at the end. There was definitely a lot of internal screeching as I was reading Blood for Blood, but it was completely worth all of the pain and fear I felt.

Was it really so surprising that Yael was nothing like the slurs Luka’s father/teacher/Fuhrer spewed? That out of all the souls Luka had ever come across, hers was one of the brightest? It held the bravery of one hundred Iron Crosses, melted down and forged into something purer – a courage not corroded by cruelty.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book, even though we have a potential traitor in our midst. I appreciated Yael so much more in this book because she was completely herself and not a fake Adele Wolfe. I loved her compassion, her strength and her convictions and she’s definitely one of my favourite fictional heroines because of these qualities. Her resilience was astounding and I enjoyed everything about her character. I also continued to love Luka in this book, which is probably a surprise to no-one because I loved him immensely in the first book. We got to see so much more of his character and I really connected with him and his story. I love every side of his character – his cockiness, his ability to find humour in every situation and his love for doing what he thinks is right. As for some of the other characters, I really did not like Felix in this book. He really grated on my nerves but I did like the way that his character was developed. I also really enjoyed seeing some of the characters that were mentioned in Wolf by Wolf. It was nice to see them make an appearance here in the book and to see the relationship that they had with Yael.

There wasn’t a lot that I didn’t like about this book. While it didn’t have the excitement of a fast-paced motocross race, it did have war, strategy, survival, family and love all wrapped up nicely into one book. My only criticism would probably be that there isn’t another installment.

Review: When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

when-the-moon-was-ours Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release date: October 4, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 288
Goodreads || Book Depository

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

When the Moon was Ours is the epitome of everything that I love in a story. It had beautiful writing, a romance and friendship that gave me hope, and magical realism elements that left me in wonder. This book isn’t for everyone, but if you love all of the things that I mentioned above, I think you will absolutely fall in love with this story.

I read Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Weight of Feathers at the beginning of this year and fell in love. That novel is still my favourite of her books but When the Moon was Ours explores other things that are near and dear to my heart. The diversity in this novel is absolutely amazing and I loved the exploration of and focus on identity and having the courage to be the person we want to be. This novel follows two LGBTQ+ characters: Sam, a transgender boy, and his queer best friend, Miel. And what I appreciated about this LGBTQ+ representation was that it didn’t feel forced. McLemore incorporates the exploration of gender identity so well into her plot, her characters and her magical realism elements, and everything just worked seamlessly and effortlessly. While I do read a lot of LGBTQ+ fiction, I’ve read very few books that feature transgender main characters and When the Moon was Ours is by far the best. It thoroughly examines the struggle that transgender people go through, including the fear of rejection by the community and the fear of nonacceptance by family and friends. It explores the courage that it takes to tell others and to own your identity. It was evident that these issues mean a lot to the author and it’s particularly special knowing that her own personal story is reflected in this novel.

This book not only has diversity of sexual orientation, it also includes lots of culturally diverse characters. Sam is Pakistani and there’s a lot of Pakistani food and culture mentioned in the book. McLemore uses a Pakistani cultural practice called bacha posh quite heavily in her book and I really enjoyed how much of the plot and Sam’s identity was tied to this. Bacha posh is a practice where families without boys will choose one of their daughters to dress and live as a boy until they are old enough to get married. In the novel, Sam hides behind the practice of bacha posh and uses it as an excuse to keep living as a boy, without hurting or disappointing his mother. I just really appreciated how these cultural elements were incorporated into the story and that the author wasn’t scared to include a lot of diversity in her novel. Cultural identity is important and McLemore highlights this importance brilliantly in her book.

She was a place whose darkness held not fear, but the promise of stars.

My favourite thing about this book is definitely the relationships. The romance between Sam and Miel was first and foremost a friendship and I loved how much they supported each other through the good times and the bad. Their connection was great and the way that they kept each others secrets and protected each other was really beautiful. But it wasn’t just the relationship between Sam and Miel that warmed my heart. I absolutely adored Sam’s relationship with his mother, as well as Miel’s relationship with Aracely, the lady who takes in Miel at a young age. The family and friendship elements were exquisite and made the book extremely touching and enjoyable to read.

All of the beautiful elements that I’ve discussed above make it unnecessary to even talk about the plot because at this point you’ve probably already run away to order the book. But I also absolutely loved the plot. I thought it was extremely clever and the way that the magical realism elements tied into the themes of the book as well as the plot was really masterful. I loved all the magic and the quirkiness of the story and its setting, even though it was surprisingly creepy and thrilling. There were some amazing plot twists that I didn’t see coming and I highly enjoyed every last word of this novel.