Review: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

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Publisher: Gollancz
Release date: October 1, 2009 (originally July 17, 2006)
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 647
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In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with colour once more?

In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage— Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

After much coercion from every single person on this planet, I finally read The Final Empire, the first book in the Mistborn series. I had high expectations going into the series and, despite the novel going in a much different direction to what I had anticipated, I wasn’t disappointed at all by it.

The Final Empire has a very interesting world and a unique magic system. Being the first book in a series, much of this novel is actually spent on the world building and setting up the magic system, Allomancy. Allomancy was really intriguing and unlike any other magic system I’ve encountered before. The magic wielders ingest different types of metals and by ‘burning’ them, they’re able to acquire certain powers from these metals. However, once the store of metals inside your body has been used up, Allomancers are not unlike normal, non-magic wielding people. As much as I love the world and magic system, it took me a while to get into it, and it wasn’t until I’d reached maybe the 150 page mark that I was really immersed in the world. However, what I really did like was that we were introduced to the magic system by Kelsier, a charismatic and trouble-making Mistborn who is able to use all metals he ingests, teaching his apprentice Vin to use her Allomantic skills that she didn’t know she had. It gave the reader a very comprehensive look into Allomancy and what Allomancers and Mistborns can do.

“You ask why I smile, Goodman Mennis? Well, the Lord Ruler thinks he has claimed laughter and joy for himself. I’m disinclined to let him do so. This is one battle that doesn’t take very much effort to fight.”

As for the plot, I loved the concept of it. I’ve had this novel pitched to me as a heist story and I don’t really agree. For me, this is definitely a story about rebellion from the lower classes who are oppressed by the nobility, and mostly by the Lord Ruler, who is immortal and rules over the entire world. Sure, the operation is run by a bunch of thieves from the underground, but I’m not sure that that makes it a heist story. I was a little bit surprised by how little action there was in the book. I was expecting it to be super action-packed and fast-paced but it’s quite a slow-paced read that was a little bit draggy at times. I did listen to a small part of the novel via audiobook though, and that probably made it even more draggy. I just felt like there were big chunks of the book that was filled with intrigue and planning but not a lot of action. I also had a problem with some of the action scenes being a bit too descriptive, especially at the beginning of the novel. Almost every move that a character made during an action scene was written out and it was a bit hard to follow (ironically). But overall, I did really like the story. I just wanted a bit more out of it.

The characters in the book were wonderful though. My favourite had to be Kelsier. How could I not love this crazy, crazy man? He was very impulsive and quirky and I loved that about him so much. He had so many brilliant ideas and was a great leader to the crew. He was also a great mentor to Vin and omg I loved him. I’m a bit annoyed about the direction that the story took him and I’ll probably be annoyed for a long time to come. Another character who I absolutely loved was Elend. He reads books at parties so it was pretty much guaranteed that I’d love him. His character was a bit flat though so I’m keen to see how he develops further. Now, on to Vin, who’s arguably the main character in the book… it took me a long time to warm to Vin. She started off as a very cautious and mistrusting person who was a bit self-deprecating and shy. But I felt like she was also simultaneously really stubborn and had an inflated sense of self-importance that really annoyed me. Thankfully, I grew to like her a little bit more as the book progressed but it took probably 400 pages for me to start liking her. Luckily there were a whole cast of side characters who I could enjoy while I struggled to overcome my issues with Vin. I really liked most of the side characters and thought they were all extremely interesting. The characters all felt relatable and I enjoyed following their journey very much.

The Final Empire wasn’t what I thought it was going to be but I highly enjoyed it anyway. The pacing of the book is a bit slow and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to motivate myself to pick up the next books. I am definitely intrigued by where the story is going to go next and will be reading them at some point.

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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Publisher: Scholastic
Release date: December 1, 2011 (originally September 14, 2008)
Format: Paperback (boxset edition)
Source: Purchased
Pages: 454
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Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

I finally read The Hunger Games! Going in to the book, I kinda knew what the book was about without really knowing anything and this was reflected in my reading experience. As I was reading, I felt like I was reading something very familiar, but still feeling completely shocked and surprised by a lot of things in the book. There’s probably not a lot that I can say about this book in my review that hasn’t already been said but here’s my experience with The Hunger Games anyway.

Dystopian novels aren’t really high on my list of preferred genres, which is one reason why I haven’t read or watched anything from The Hunger Games franchise until now. But I ended up enjoying this book a lot more than I thought I would. It was thrilling and action-packed and I enjoyed the small bit of brutality that was in the novel. I also enjoyed how the book doesn’t really waste any time and goes straight into the plot from the very first chapter. It’s very fast-paced and I don’t think there was any part of the book that felt draggy. There were a few twists and turns in the book that I really, really liked and they kept me interested in the story. Like who doesn’t love a mutant dog? In addition to the action of the plot, it also has a ‘reality TV’, competition aspect that I think appeals broadly to YA readers.

The characters in the book were also great. I thought they were nicely developed and I got a good sense of who they all were. Katniss is such a fierce and smart character, with some crazy survival skills that I wish I had. She’s quite an aspirational character and I loved almost everything about her. I did, however, think that she was a bit oblivious when it came to the way she perceived herself and others. I think there’s definitely room for development on that front and I’m keen to see how she changes throughout the trilogy. I also really liked a lot of the side characters in the book, especially some of the other tributes. Rue was a beautiful character and I wish we could have seen more of her. And of course, I loved Peeta. He’s definitely my kind of character and I really felt for him at the end of the book. I’m keen to see how this plays out in the next two books.

Overall, The Hunger Games is worth the hype for me. I was definitely skeptical going into the trilogy but it exceeded my expectations and I’m keen to see how the rest of the series plays out, though I do think this novel can stand alone by itself.

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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Publisher: Orion
Release date: February 1, 2013
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 325
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Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried.

Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book – he thinks he’s made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor… never to Eleanor.

Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

I can’t really express how much I adored this book and connected to it. I want to say that Eleanor & Park is my favourite Rainbow Rowell book, but I don’t think anything can top Carry On and Fangirl. So they’ll all have to tie for first place.

Eleanor & Park is definitely a character-driven story. Both Eleanor and Park were such complex, interesting and REAL characters that I couldn’t help by connect and relate to them. Both Eleanor and Park are going through some rough times. Park is half-Korean and in his small Nebraskan town in the 1980s, he stands out because he’s different. He also stands out at home because he’s different from his father and his younger brother and has interests that don’t always involve being masculine. Eleanor herself is having an even rougher time. She’s bullied at school for being overweight and for the strange clothes that she wears. At home, she has to tread lightly around her stepfather who is abusive and restricts the freedom of her whole family. She lives in a house with too many members and not enough money.

When the two meet and slowly fall in love, it seems like there are too many barriers in the way. And as they slowly overcome these barriers and begin to feel invincible, more terrible things get in their way. I just felt so much for these characters and what they were going through. What Rainbow Rowell has done so well here is making her readers empathise with her characters. I’ve never really been where Eleanor and Park have been but I felt like I understood exactly what it was like for them and it put the most uncomfortable feeling in my chest. The characters themselves were also perfection. But in the most imperfect way. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows when they first connect with each other and form a relationship. There are lots of doubts and secrets and ugly thoughts. Park, while he was a wonderful guy, was often embarrassed by Eleanor and this was portrayed beautifully in the book. I just really enjoyed how human the characters in Eleanor & Park were and that it wasn’t all smooth sailing and wonderful.

“I don’t like you, Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…” – her voice nearly disappeared – “sometimes I think I live for you.”

As imperfect as it was, I loved the romance in this book. Eleanor and Park are so perfect for each other and they’re definitely high up on my list of OTPs. I loved the natural progression of their romance and relationship in the novel. It transitioned so beautifully and it was hard to tell where it began. Everything about the relationship felt incredibly natural and realistic and I really appreciated that about this contemporary novel. Their relationship was awkward and uncomfortable at times but so very real.

I wouldn’t say that there’s a lot of plot in this novel but I didn’t mind that at all. I enjoyed being with the characters and learning about them. I also didn’t mind that the book was a little slow-paced because, for me, it enhanced the 1980s small town vibe that the novel had. I’m a little bit mad that the ending was so abrupt but I have a good idea of what Rainbow Rowell intended it to be. I’m crossing my fingers that one day she’ll write a sequel. For now, I’m just ecstatic that this book exists because it’s now one of my all-time favourites.

Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

a-gathering-of-shadows

Publisher: Titan Books
Release date: February 23, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 508
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Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

This is the second book in Shades of Magic trilogy, which means that this review contains spoilers for the first book. Proceed with caution. I also received a sampler of A Gathering of Shadows from NetGalley.

A Gathering of Shadows is the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, and being a chronic non-blurb-reader, I was kind of surprised by the direction that this sequel took. I thought that I had an idea of where the series was going to go after the first book and, while I do feel that this was a good continuation from ADSOM, it felt like this book was taking a bit of a detour. It felt very much like a filler book and I’m not sure that it added all that much to the trilogy. Having said that, I did really like what I read and enjoyed the plot of the story very much.

A Gathering of Shadows is very much about the aftermath of A Darker Shade of Magic and how Kell and Lila are living their separate lives. It’s also about their reunion and about a competition between magicians. Meanwhile, in the background, something dark and sinister is happening, which could cause the collapse of Red London. I loved the pacing of this book. It was extremely slow-paced but I thought that the pacing really suited the atmosphere of the book and what the plot was trying to achieve. There wasn’t really much happening in the first 300 pages of the book but I enjoyed slowly seeing how Kell and Lila are coping with what happened during A Darker Shade of Magic. There was a lot of character development built into this book and I thought it was done very successfully.

I enjoyed every single character in this book. They all served a purpose and I thought that they were all extremely complex and well-developed characters. They were multifaceted and I really enjoyed not knowing exactly what to expect from them. One of my favourite characters of this book was Alucard Emery. His character just gave me so much joy because he reminded me of beloved characters from other books. I also loved the old characters who we’d met in the first book. Kell was a magnificent character as always and I enjoyed Lila as well. I still haven’t managed to warm fully to Lila and I’m still having a hard time seeing why people love her so much but she’s definitely growing on me.

Overall, this was a great sequel, even though it felt a bit like a filler book in the story arc. I can’t wait to revisit these characters in A Conjuring of Light!

Review: The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle

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Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: April 21, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 288
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Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry “used “to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa and before Annabeth was killed in a car accident.

Enter Geoff, Quinn s best friend who insists it s time that Quinn came out at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy a hot one and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually have a happily-ever-after ending if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

On paper, The Great American Whatever is exactly my kind of book. Grief, LGBTQIA+ elements and a coming of age story is exactly what I like in a contemporary novel. And while I did enjoy it, I didn’t really connect with it as much as I thought I would.

This novel is about Quinn, who’s been struggling for the last six month since the death of his sister and the abandonment by his father. When his best friend tries to pull him out of his funk, he finds romance and discovers things about himself and his sister that he never knew before. As a coming of age story, it was enjoyable and contained lots of great character growth. The development of Quinn’s character throughout the novel was nicely paced and done quite seamlessly. However, I have to say that I felt a little bit bored at times. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 75 pages and the last 100 or so pages but the middle section felt like a bit of a drag. There wasn’t really much happening and I just didn’t really connect with the book for quite a bit of the middle section.

This was probably in part due to the romance. I wasn’t a huge fan of it but didn’t hate it either. It was just a little bit average and I suppose that was exactly the point of it… so maybe this isn’t really a criticism but more of a pat on the back for Tim Federle? I just didn’t really feel anything from the romance and I think that was what made the book seem a bit boring and draggy for me in the middle. Having said that, I did like the role that the romance played in the book and appreciated how it played out.

Even though I didn’t connect with the romance, I did really like Quinn as a main character. I connected with his sense of humour and loved his snarky tone. His voice and his personality were fantastic and I just really enjoyed how realistic he came across as a character. He just seemed like a really normal boy (who’s obviously been through some rough times) and I could see him being someone from my everyday life. His reactions were genuine and I never felt like he was just a fictional character.

Overall, I did enjoy The Great American Whatever. I had a little bit of trouble connecting with the story, especially in the middle section of the book, but I thought the beginning and end were really strong. It’s a quick read and I thought it was a successful YA debut for Tim Federle.

Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

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Publisher: Titan Books
Release date: January 26, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 432
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Patricia is a witch who can communicate with animals. Laurence is a mad scientist and inventor of the two-second time machine. As teenagers they gravitate towards one another, sharing in the horrors of growing up weird, but their lives take different paths.

When they meet again as adults, Laurence is an engineering genius trying to save the world – and live up to his reputation – in near-future San Francisco. Meanwhile, Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the magically gifted, working hard to prove herself to her fellow magicians and secretly repairing the earth’s ever growing ailments.

As they attempt to save our future, Laurence and Patricia’s shared past pulls them back together. And though they come from different worlds, when they collide, the witch and the scientist will discover that maybe they understand each other better than anyone.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I don’t really know where to start with All the Birds in the Sky. It was strange and unique and I can’t neatly fit it into any one particular genre. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good because I thought it was incredibly quirky and unlike anything I’d read before.

This story is about magic and science and what happens when they interact. It’s set in the near future, in an apocalyptic setting where the world is about to self-destruct and our two main characters are on separate missions to save the future. But they have two very distinct ways of going about it. Laurence, a scientist and engineer is working to create a machine that will allow people to be transported to a different planet. His philosophy – and the philosophy of his fellow scientists – is that humanity doesn’t have to be tied to this particular rock in the universe. However, Patricia, a witch with a magical tie to nature, is determined to save the future by saving planet Earth and curing it of its ailments. As magic and science go to war, what will happen to the future?

But the story doesn’t begin there. The story begins more than a decade ago when Patricia was just a young girl discovering her magical abilities for the first time, and Laurence is a young boy who is obsessed with science and spaceships, and the inventor of a time machine that can propel him two seconds forward into the future. As they make their way through middle school as the misfits and are bullied by those who despise any kind of weirdness and unconformity, they gravitate towards each other and become the other’s only friend. The first half of All the Birds in the Sky is actually about Laurence and Patricia’s past. We spend a good amount of the book learning about their friendship as teenagers and how their connection and their story would later affect the future. This section of the book was probably my favourite (and this may partly be due to the fact that I read a lot of YA) because we really got to know the characters and what they represented… as well as what they meant to each other.

But that’s not to say that I didn’t love the rest of the book too. The second half of the book is about Laurence and Patricia reconnecting as adults, after having spent high school apart. In the first section of the book about their adulthood, we get to learn more about the upcoming apocalypse as well as who Laurence and Patricia are now as adults. I thought it set up the climax really well and I enjoyed the romance that was brewing between them. However, I did feel that there was a strange transition in the book where the romance and the plot of the book just kicked off without warning. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it because even though it felt really sudden, the whole book up until that point had been setting up for that moment. My main criticism of the plot would have to be that the last 50-70 pages of the book felt a little rushed and the ending slightly unresolved. But overall, I really enjoyed the entire story.

What I loved most about All the Birds in the Sky was the writing and the pacing of the book. I loved the third person omniscient narration in this book and I found the writing to be lyrical and beautiful. The book was quite slow-paced, especially in the first 3 parts of the book, and I thought that this added to the slightly magical feel of the story. I thought the format of the book worked really well and I enjoyed following Laurence and Patricia’s story from childhood into adulthood.

The writing and narration style also made it easy to connect with the characters. I absolutely loved Patricia and Laurence separately and together. They were both strange children who stood out too much for society’s liking. They’re bullied at school and are treated with almost no affection from their parents. But they were some of the most interesting and unique characters that I’ve read about and I really appreciated their quirkiness. Together, Patricia and Laurence were amazing. They became each other’s one and only friend in childhood and also had a wonderful connection in adulthood. ‘Friendship goals’ is all I can say.

This novel isn’t going to be for everyone. But I definitely enjoyed it. If you like slow-paced fantasy stories or magical realism stories, I think you might enjoy All the Birds in the Sky. I think it’s an adult fiction novel that would appeal to YA readers too.

Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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Publisher: Titan Books
Release date: January 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 340
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A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates – brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find – aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge – but who will be left alive at the end?

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

I love a good story about ambition and vengeance and Vicious definitely delivered. It’s an intense story about jealousy, ambition and heroism, from the perspectives of a group of antiheroes and misfits.

Despite having heard a million times what Vicious is about, I still managed to be surprised by the plot that unfolded. It was engaging and suspenseful and played out in the most seamlessly unpredictable way. We follow Victor Vale, a man who has just escaped from prison and is intent on getting revenge on his former close friend in college. Victor and Eli were intelligent and driven boys who were intrigued by the possibility of creating ExtraOrdinary people who have superpowers. The boys tested their hypothesis on themselves, and their relationship and their sense of morality deteriorates rapidly soon after. When Victor is locked up in jail, he spends his ten years in prison planning his escape and his revenge against Eli. And when, upon escaping, he realises that Eli is on a mission to ‘remove’ all ExtraOrdinaries from the world, he’s more determined than ever to get his revenge.

There were a couple of things that drew me in to the plot of Vicious. The book starts off with a very intriguing and mysterious first chapter that reminded me a lot of The Raven Boys. I was then immediately captivated by the science in the first couple of chapters and how the boys talked about variables and the scientific method. But all of that was quickly eclipsed by the chilling actions of the boys and how the idea of villainy and heroism was explored. I really liked how Vicious explores what it means to be a hero and whether possessing superpowers makes you a hero. It also explores whether eradicating powers that you think are evil, makes you a hero. I just enjoyed and appreciated how much the novel made me think.

This novel is split into two parts and for the first half of the book, we explore the events that have led up to the present day. We get to see the Victor and Eli from ten years ago, who are experimenting with their lives and going down a dangerous path. We get to see the events from a couple days ago when Victor escapes from prison with his cellmate, Mitch. And we get to see what happens when Victor finds a girl who’s been shot, as well as the things that have happened to her to get her in this predicament. There are lots of different timelines in this book and the chapters jump back and forth between them. I actually really liked this non-linear format because it added some suspense and allowed me to try to put the pieces together before they were revealed. The second part of this book also contains a non-linear timeline but is more focused on the present day. The last 50 pages of the book follows a much more linear timeline, as the book literally counts down to its climax. I really enjoyed the format of the book and that the chapters were short. It made the story very exciting to read.

I also enjoyed the writing of the book immensely. I thought the pacing was slow but it was just the right amount of slow for the tone and atmosphere of the story. It was slow in a dark and dangerous kind of way and I thought it worked really well. V.E. Schwab’s writing drew me in and I just sped through the book because it was so captivating.

Of course, the characters were spectacular in this book and I believe they are what makes this novel exceptional. They were complex and I love a book about villains and antiheroes. I love a book that focuses on morally grey characters and makes them simultaneously relatable and repulsive. There wasn’t a single character in this book who I didn’t like (though like may not be the right word here since we’re dealing with villains and dislikable people). I thought they all added something to the story and represented a different shade of morally grey. The characters were brilliantly conceptualised and I thought they were all developed and utilised to their potential.

I’m really excited about the sequel that’s in the works and I can’t wait to see how the story continues because I loved Vicious a lot as a standalone.

Aussie YA Blog Hop

Aussie YA Blog Hop Banner

This week the Aussie (and NZ) YA Bloggers group is doing a blog hop to highlight some awesome #LoveOzYA books and why we love Aussie YA! The moderators of the group are hosting this fun blog hop and I’m so excited to be joining in. The blog hop runs from August 8 – 14 and there will also be a Twitter chat on Sunday 14th at 6pm AEST.

1. What you love about Aussie YA

My favourite thing about Aussie YA is the relatability aspect. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a story set in my home city of Sydney, and being able to recognise the places that are talked about. There’s a feeling of familiarity and It makes it easier to connect with the story and the characters. I also feel like Aussie YA novels are much more honest. They’re often grittier and darker and explore issues that matter, including diverse issues.

2. Favourite Aussie YA authors

I’ve always loved The Book Thief and Markus Zusak has always been one of my favourite authors. But there have been some wonderful authors that I’ve discovered in the past 12 months. I love Jaclyn Moriarty and her storytelling ability and her characters. I think her books are absolutely wonderful. I also really love Jessica Shirvington (despite having only read her Disruption duology).

3. The Aussie YA book that you grew up with

The two Aussie YA books that I distinctly remember reading when I was a younger reader were Melina Marchetta’s Saving Francesca and of course, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.

4. Favourite Aussie YA book released in 2016

Wow. It’s so hard for me to narrow down my Aussie YA favourites! I have so many that I’ve loved from this year! I’ll try to narrow it down to 3 books. I absolutely loved The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard, A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty and Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.

5. Aussie YA debut you are looking forward to

I’m really, really excited about Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland. Not only does it have a beautiful cover, it also has a synopsis that sounds right up my alley. It’s been touted as a John Green meets Rainbow Rowell story so I’m definitely going to be picking it up when it’s released.

6. Favourite Aussie YA series

I don’t typically read a lot of series because contemporary is my favourite genre, so I mostly read standalones. But there are two Aussie YA series that I’m absolutely in love with. The Colours of Madeleine trilogy by Jaclyn Moriarty is one of my all-time favourites because of its creativity and magical plot. The third and final book, A Tangle of Gold, is one of my favourite books of 2016 so far. I also really love the Disruption duology by Jessica Shirvington, which I’ve already mentioned above!

7. Unexpected Aussie YA surprise

I’m not really sure if I’d call this one a surprise because it’s a contemporary and had a plot which didn’t include any tropes that I hate. I knew going into Frankie by Shivaun Plozza that I would like it but I was completely unprepared for how much I would love it! It was absolutely amazing and I enjoyed all of the characters and their relationships.

8. Aussie YA book you always recommend to others

One novel that I’ve been recommending to others since I read it back in early 2015 is The Flywheel by Erin Gough. It’s a beautiful LGBTQIA+ book that features very relatable characters and a realistic lesbian romance. It’s set in the inner west of Sydney and I loved the setting so much.

9. An Aussie YA book on your TBR

I have so many Aussie YA novels on my shelf right now but one that I think I’ll be reading relatively soon is One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn. Claire is going to be a guest at the #YABookmeet, hosted by Dymocks Sydney in early September so I’ll be picking it up soon. I also hope to read Ellie Marney’s Every trilogy in upcoming weeks because I now finally own all three books and can binge this trilogy of Sherlock retellings.

10. Recommend your favourite Aussie YA bloggers

How do I even choose?!! There are so many Aussie bloggers that I’ve gotten to know and I don’t want to leave anybody out T_T. Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way. I love Jeann @ Happy Indulgence, because she’s amazing (and I also co-blog there HAHA). I love Aentee @ Read at Midnight, who is my blog twin and food partner in crime. I also love my NZ blogger friend CW @ Read Think Ponder, who is back from her hiatus! I also love Cait @ Paper Fury, Chiara @ Delicate Eternity, Emily @ Loony Literate.

Click here to Follow the blog hop and check out the other posts through the linky on Happy Indulgence!

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

shatter-me

Publisher: HarperCollins
Release date: October 2, 2012 (originally November 2011)
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 338
Goodreads || Book Depository

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

MY THOUGHTS

3 stars

I’m not really sure what to say about Shatter Me. I’ve been looking forward to reading it because I’m probably the only person at this point who hasn’t picked up this trilogy… and the male love interests sounded really interesting. But after reading this first installment, I’m feeling a little bit let down.

My main issue with Shatter Me is that I felt like there was no plot. The story for me didn’t begin until 30 pages from the end of the book and I felt like the first 300 pages were just 300 pages of nothing. I couldn’t even tell you what happened because I feel like nothing did. This book follows Juliette, a girl who has a fatal touch. She’s been imprisoned for over 250 days in a dark cell but one day she’s brought out of her cell in order to aid The Reestablishment in their mission… something which Juliette doesn’t want to do. But even though the novel had a really great concept, I don’t think it was executed to its full potential. Juliette spends most of the book either locked up in different locations like a prisoner or on the run from different people who are after her. The plot doesn’t really progress and by the end of the book I felt like I was still kind of at the beginning.

What this book does focus on are the relationships between the characters and the romance. But I wasn’t a fan of the romance in this book, nor the developing love triangle. Even though Adam seems like a great guy, I never really warmed to him and was always suspicious of him. I felt like the romance developed slightly too quickly and it was just a bit uncomfortable for me to read. Warner was an intriguing character to me but I also felt like he was a bit of a creep. Overall, none of the characters really did it for me.

I did like the world in the book. The novel has an apocalyptic setting that I found really interesting. It was interesting to read about how the weather and ecosystems are failing due to human activities, and how the people live with barely any food and are concentrated in small communities that are governed by soldiers and The Reestablishment. What I was a little bit underwhelmed by was The Reestablishment itself. I thought the book lacked description and I didn’t think The Reestablishment was very well conceptualised. I had a rough idea of who they were and what they did but I thought the world building in this respect was weak.

Having said that, I enjoyed the writing style. It was easy to read and I sped through the book in two sittings. It made me want to keep reading and I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of the trilogy. Hopefully the next two books address some of the plot and world building issues that I had.

Book Haul: July 2016

July16haul

At the beginning of this year, I told myself that I wasn’t going to go on book buying bans or force myself not to buy books. But I wanted to limit my book buying so that I’d read more books each month than I bought. That has completely gone out the window in the last few months and July was no exception. My terrible book buying habits are still in full force. So let’s just get into it.

BOOK DEPOSITORY

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Aila @ One Way or an Author has been telling me to read Starflight since she read it and I finally got myself a copy! It’s beautiful and I’ll be reading it really soon. I read Red Rising a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it so when I saw Golden Son majorly discounted, I picked it up so that I could continue the trilogy. I’ve been wanting to read The Great American Whatever since it was released and I’m happy that I finally bought it. The other two books, Soppy and Furiously Happy, were books that I bought using the BookTubeAThon discount. I have two other books that I ordered along with them but were shipped out late so they’ll be in my August haul at the end of this month.

KINOKUNIYA

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I was a little naughty this month and went to Kinokuniya multiple times to browse… which obviously led to some book buying. I’m going to a few David Levithan events in late August and early September so I’m making my way through his books that I haven’t yet read. Obviously I had to pick up his newest release, You Know Me Well, and I also couldn’t keep my hands away from How They Met, which is a short story collection. I’d been wanting to check out a Jennifer L. Armentrout novel for a really long time but I was never really that interested in her Lux series or any of her other books. But The Problem with Forever sounds right up my alley! And it also has a beautiful cover

Kinokuniya had a 14th birthday 20% off storewide sale at the beginning of the July, so I bought a few books then. I purchased The Outsiders, which I’ve always wanted to read. Every Word is the second book in a trilogy and I picked it up because I own the first and third books. I also picked up Between the World and Me and The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You because I’d heard some good things about them. Finally, I got the Alex + Ada volumes because it’s been a series that I’ve been eyeing for a while and I liked that it was a completed series.

DYMOCKS

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is finally here! I preordered it and picked it up on July 31st because I was so excited about it! The book itself is so beautiful. The naked hardcover is stunning, as are the end papers. I try to go to #YABookmeet each month, hosted by Emily from Dymocks Sydney, and the theme for last month was disability. She recommended Maggot Moon and I snatched up the last copy. I also did a bit of a browse and bought a copy of Where Things Come Back, because I loved John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behaviour. Emily also convinced me that I needed a copy of Seven Ways We Lie, which she special ordered for me. In July, I also went to the Sydney launch of Nevernight and got myself an early release copy. It was absolutely amazing!

RECEIVED

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I was really fortunate this month to receive lots of books from publishers and from my coblogger, Jeann @ Happy Indulgence. Jeann moved house in July, so she sent me a package of books to review on Happy Indulgence before she packed them all away. She sent me her extra copy of When Michael Met Mina, and review copies of The Other Side of Summer (thanks to Penguin Random House Australia), Whisper to Me (thanks to Bloomsbury Australia) and Nothing Tastes As Good (thanks to Allen & Unwin). I received Arena 13 as a trivia prize at the #YABookmeet.

From Allen & Unwin, I received for review The Boundless Sublime, Maggie’s Kitchen, With Malice and London Belongs to Us. Fremantle Press sent me Saving Jazz and I received Trial by Fire from Pan Macmillan Australia. Thank you to all these wonderful publishers.

EBOOKS

unicorn-tracks

The author of Unicorn Tracks, Julia Ember, asked if I wanted to review her book and of course I said yes because UNICORNS. BABY UNICORNS.


Check out the books I read in July and what I thought of them in my July Wrap Up!