Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Release date: September 27, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 546
Goodreads || Book Depository

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

As Crooked Kingdom is a sequel, this review may contain spoilers for Six of Crows.

Crooked Kingdom is my favourite book of this year. I’ve read close to 150 books so far this year so it’s a big call but I can so confidently put this novel on my list of all-time favourites, right next to Six of Crows. I loved everything about this sequel and there’s absolutely nothing that I would change… except maybe that one tiny plot point at the end of the book that made me cry like a baby.

This book had everything that a great book should have. It had captivating characters whose stories draw you in and make you want to learn more. There’s thrilling action and intrigue that keeps you on your toes. And there’s fabulous writing that just sings and makes you never want to let go of the book. I honestly don’t even know where to start with this review. Let’s start with the plot. I absolutely loved how this book moved and flowed and how everything was planned to perfection by Leigh Bardugo. I thought the plot of this book was so perfectly constructed, with each character playing a crucial role in the ‘job’ and in the novel. There was nothing predictable about the plot at all and I was constantly worrying about my babies because I had no idea what was going to happen. There were also about a million plot twists in Crooked Kingdom and I loved every single one of them. Everything worked out so well and it all made sense together, which made the story a pleasure to read. Also, because the book has multiple perspectives, there was a lot of suspense and mystery in every chapter and this added to the sense of excitement that I felt as I was reading the book. The pacing of the story and the writing was so perfect that I raced through this 500+ page book in a few short sittings.

“This is the city that I bled for. And if Ketterdam has taught me anything, it’s that a guy can always bleed a little more.”

What I love most about this duology is that the characters are absolutely ruthless and it’s just so much fun to read. I will never tire of Kaz’s cruel but seamless plans and his hard exterior. He’s a perfect main character because of his complexity and his soft, gooey, marshmallowy centre. And that’s what I love about all of the characters in this novel. They’re all extremely complex and I’ll never stop discovering new sides to them no matter how many books Leigh Bardugo gives us (I’m devastated that this is only a duology!). I love that the book is peppered with little flashbacks so that we get to see the characters’ backstories and further understand where they came from. While a lot of Six of Crows was about the pasts of Kaz, Inej, Nina and Matthias, Crooked Kingdom places greater emphasis on Jesper and Wylan’s stories. I loved learning more about them because I didn’t really care for them as much as I did the other four characters in Six of Crows. I started to care more about them and see them as more than just side characters, which they were to me in the first book of the duology. And of course, I continued to love the rest of the characters and even developed a bit of a soft spot for Kuwei, who’s a bit of a troublemaker!

“I would come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together – knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

The relationships and the dynamics between the characters were what made this book for me. I, of course, loved the three couples. I loved how Jesper and Wylan were there for each other and supported each other throughout their family issues and devastating pasts. I loved Nina and Matthias’s relationship and how he was so awkward at expressing his feelings. I love that Matthias is strong and tough but is secretly a romantic, and I love how Nina balances him out by being her shameless, indulgent self. And I love Kaz and Inej, and how they’re both broken but they fit so well together. I love all the things that Kaz does for Inej and how her happiness comes first. But I also really love how all these characters interact with the other characters who aren’t their romantic partners/love interests. I really enjoyed Jesper’s banter with everyone around him, especially Kaz and Kuwei. I loved how Inej brings out the protective older brother in Jesper and Matthias. And, of course, Kaz and Nina hold a special place in my heart that I reserve for great fictional friendships.

But they were his first friends, his only friends, and Wylan knew that even if he’d had his pick of a thousand companions, these would have been the people he chose.

I could go on for another ten days about all the things I love about Crooked Kingdom and the duology in general. There’s really nothing that I didn’t like about the book and I could go on reading about the mischief that these characters get up to for another 100 books (pleeeeasseeeee!). I absolutely love this series and this world and I’m so sad to be saying goodbye.

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR for 2016

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the team at The Broke and the Bookish. This week I’m featuring my TBR for spring (because I’m in the Southern Hemisphere). These are all books that I either already own or have preordered/bought.

1. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Of course, Crooked Kingdom is at the top of my list. Six of Crows is one of my favourite books ever and I’m so excited to read the sequel! My preorder is already on its way and hopefully it’ll be here today. I’ll be jumping right into it as soon as it gets here.

2. Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

Blood for Blood is the sequel to another book that I absolutely loved last year, Wolf by Wolf. This duology is pretty action-packed and quick to read and I’m super excited to see how the sequel plays out.

3. When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore is an all-time favourite of mine and I’m so happy that she has a new book out so soon. I preordered this book months and months ago because I was so excited. And it’s since been nominated for the National Book Award, which makes me even more excited to have it in my hands.

4. Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

This book is currently on its way to me and I couldn’t be happier. It sounds right up my alley and I’ve seen some really good reviews for it so far. It sounds like the kind of contemporary story that I love and I can’t wait to read it.

5. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

This book has been on my shelf since May and I’m ashamed that I still haven’t read it. It’s a book that I need to read for a reading challenge so I’m hoping to finally get to it in the coming months.

6. Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch

I absolutely loved Snow Like Ashes and it’s one of my favourite books of all time. However, I didn’t really like Ice Like Fire and the direction that it started to go. Still, I couldn’t not finish the trilogy so I ordered Frost Like Night to see how it all ends. I do love Sara Raasch’s writing though, so I know I’m going to enjoy it.

7. The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

My favourite graphic novel ever is The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg and when I found out that she had a new book out, I had to pick it up. This one is also currently on its way to me and I’m hoping that I get it really really soon because the little bits that I’ve seen of it were amazing.

8. Everyone We’ve Been by Sarah Everett

This is another book that I preordered because the synopsis sounded right up my alley. I’m interested to see how I feel about it once I’ve read it. The cover is also really pretty and I’m keen to have it in my hands soon.

9. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I’m super excited for Nicola Yoon’s new book. I really enjoyed Everything Everything last year and The Sun is Also a Star sounds even more amazing! Plus David Levithan wouldn’t stop raving about it and I need this book in my hands soon!

10. This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

This is mostly just a cover buy, but I really liked First and Then by Emma Mills. It was a really cute contemporary and I’m hoping this will be of the same standard!

Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

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Publisher: Piatkus
Release date: August 9, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 363
Goodreads || Book Depository

NEMESIS (n)

1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She prides herself on being loved by everyone at work – except for imposing, impeccably attired Joshua Templeman.

Trapped in a shared office, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game, The Mirror Game, The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything – especially when a huge promotion is on offer.

If Lucy wins, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she questioning herself? Maybe she doesn’t hate him. And just maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game . . .

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

I have no words for how incredibly adorable and sweet this book was. It was exactly the kind of story that I needed to read after having a rough time these past few days. It definitely brightened up my day, put a huge smile on my face and melted my heart.

The Hating Game is an office romance with two of the most endearing characters. Ever since Lucy and Joshua’s respective publishing houses merged, they have shared an office working as executive assistants for the two co-CEOs. And they absolutely hate each other. They love engaging in different ‘games’ and trying to beat out the other person. When the position of chief operating officer is up for grabs, Lucy is determined not to let Joshua beat her. If she loses, she’ll resign and she makes Joshua promise the same thing. But in the days leading up to the interview and promotion decision, she finds that she doesn’t really hate Joshua as much as she thought she did. And he doesn’t seem to hate her as much as she thought either.

One of my favourite romance tropes in fiction is the hate-to-love trope and The Hating Game executes it perfectly. I could feel the tension between the two characters throughout the book, including a whole heap of unresolved sexual tension (HAHAHA). Their banter was fantastic and the way that they tried to one-up each other was absolutely perfect. The way that their romance unfolded was very realistic to me and I really enjoyed the way that it was developed very gradually. I thought the slow-burning romance suited the characters and the story brilliantly and added to the ‘will they or won’t they?’ aspect of the book. It kept me interested and I devoured this novel!

Lucy was a fantastic narrator. I loved her voice so much and I could never be tired of reading about her. She’s such a relatable character and I found myself connecting to her from the very first page. She’s quirky, she’s fun and she’s bite-sized, which makes for some wonderful banter between her and Josh about her height. Josh was also an amazing character. He was grumpy and broody and exactly the kind of guy I like to read about. Even though he was a bit prickly, he was also sensitive and romantic and I swooned hard, guys. I swooned hard.

This is a feel-good book that I can see myself rereading over and over when I need a pick-me-up. It’s a fantastic debut novel and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more by Sally Thorne.

The NY Times Book Tag

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It’s been a really, really, REALLY long time since I’ve done a tag and I had no post prepared for today so I thought I’d go ahead and do the NY Times Book Tag today. I was tagged by Casey @ Adoptabookaus, and some other people who I can’t remember! Ever since I stopped doing tags regularly, I’ve stopped keeping track. GAHHH.

What is on your nightstand right now?

the-hating-game I’m a book monogamist so I only ever have on book on my nightstand (and this same book follows me around during the day too). Also I use the word ‘nightstand’ very loosely because my books sleep next to me on my bed.

The book that I’m currently reading is The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. It’s really cute and uplifting and I’m loving it so far. I read Sally’s fanfiction back in 2009/2010 and I’ve been following her on Twitter ever since so I’m so happy to have her debut novel in my hands right now!

What was the last truly great book you read?

eleanor-and-park I’ve read lots of great books in the last few weeks, including Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington, The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson, The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee, and of course, Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas.

But the book that I’ve most recently added to my favourites shelf on Goodreads is Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. It was absolutely amazing and was a truly great read.

If you could meet any author – dead or alive- who would it be? And what would you want to know?

I would love to meet Anthony Doerr, the author of my favourite book of all time, All the Light We Cannot See. I’d love to know his research process because his books are so extremely well-researched and I know that All the Light We Cannot See took over ten years to research and write.

What books might we be surprised to find on your shelf?

I don’t really think that I have any books on my shelf that would surprise anyone. I read pretty widely and I have a good mix of both adult and young adult books, as well as non-fiction psychology books. I have a set of 20+ Horrible Histories books? Is that surprising?

How do you organise your personal library?

I currently have rainbow bookshelves! I have a shelf just for series and trilogies because I can’t bare to split the books apart, but the rest of my books are sorted by colour. My TBR books are not part of the rainbow, but are hidden in separate shelves with doors so that nobody can see how big my collection of unread books are😄

What book have you always meant to read but haven’t gotten around to?

the-unbearable-lightness-of-being I’ve started The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera probably three times and I’ve never had the time to read it to the end. I’m hoping to finally complete this book this year because I love Kundera and this was the first of his books that I ever bought.

In addition to this, I also have a few Haruki Murakami books that I need to finally read. I still have get to read The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, even though I’ve had it for so long that the edition I own is no longer in print.

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel you were supposed to like but didn’t?

our-chemical-hearts it-ends-with-us stitching-snow I have an endless list for this question but three recent disappointments were Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland, It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover and Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis. I expected to like these books a lot more than I actually did and I rated them all 3 or 3.5 stars.

What kind of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of?

My favourite genre is contemporary so I’ll always be drawn to them. In particular, I love mental illness books, realistic fiction and cutesy contemporary romances. The genres that I stay clear of are crime and thrillers.

If you could require that the president read one book, what would it be?

all-the-light-we-cannot-see This needs no explanation if you’ve followed me or my blog for a while.

I will never ever stop recommending and pushing All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I’ve made pretty much all my friends read it and they’ve all loved it so more people need to listen to me when I say that this book is amazing and my favourite book in existence.

Now it would be great if the president/prime minister/whatever could read it and push it too😀

What do you plan to read next?

heartless swarm Once I’m done with reading The Hating Game, I’m planning to read either Heartless by Marissa Meyer, which I’ve had for weeks and weeks now and have been dying to read, or Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti. I want to read Heartless next just because I’ve been really excited to read it but kept having to put it off to prioritise review books. But having said that… I need to read Swarm for review soon HAHA.

I Tag:

I tag everyone! If you want to do this then go right ahead! (I really have become a lazy blogger. I’m sorry).

Review: Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

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Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Release date: May 1, 2013
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 336
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she Shifts to her ′other′ life – a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she′s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she′s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.

With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments which bring her dangerously close to the life she′s always wanted… But just what – and who – is she really risking?

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

I am so in love with Jessica Shirvington right now! I read her Disruption duology back in July and absolutely fell in love with it and I’m happy to say that Between the Lives was just as good.

This is a contemporary novel with a paranormal twist. Sabine has lived two separate lives for as long as she can remember. Every night at midnight, she Shifts into her other body and lives that same day again, except as her other self. And her two lives and selves could not be any more different. In one, she’s the slightly rebellious girl from a poor family who runs a small pharmacy. She has a younger sister who she adores but not much else going for her. However, in her other life, she leads a privileged life and has the perfect relationship with the perfect boy. During her entire existence, her Shifts have been governed by the same rule, that anything external or not part of her body cannot be transported from one life to another, but anything internal such as illnesses will appear in both lives. Until one day when her broken arm in her delinquent life doesn’t transfer to her other life. Sick and tired of living two lives as two separate people, and going through the panic that comes with Shifting each night, Sabine runs a series of tests on herself in an attempt to extinguish her delinquent life in order to live only her more privileged life to the fullest. However, things don’t always go to plan and Sabine definitely didn’t plan on meeting Ethan.

The story and plot of this book was just so captivating! I was drawn in from the very first page and I just constantly wanted to know what would happen next. I thought the concept of the book was brilliant and that it was executed extremely well. While Sabine’s two lives were slightly cliched (perfect rich girl vs poor delinquent), the plot of the book drew my attention away from that because I was just so focused on how the story would end. Because the novel constantly alternated between Sabine’s two lives, I found the book to be quite thrilling and exciting because we (and Sabine) were constantly left in suspense until she Shifted back 24 hours later. It was this constant uncertainty and mystery that drove the book and made me so interesting to read. My only small criticism with the book was that there were a few things that I thought could have been resolved a little bit more, but I really loved the last few chapters of the book and thought it was a fantastic ending.

Sabine’s character really made me love the book as well. While she has two different lives that forces her to behave in two different ways, I never felt that she was two entirely different people. Her personality really came across to me, even though who she portrayed herself as was different depending on where she was supposed to be. I really loved the internal struggle that Sabine had. On one hand, she doesn’t want to let go of either of her lives because of the people around her but at the same time, she’s exhausted from having to live each day twice and having to transform into two different people and constantly reminding herself of who she needs to be. I loved this internal conflict that she had and it was so strangely relatable (no, I do not have two lives) that I couldn’t help but just sit in my little corner cheering Sabine on.

And of course there’s Ethan. I can’t say that Sabine and Ethan’s romance is OTP status for me like Maggie and Quentin from Jessica Shirvington’s other work, but I loved them together anyway. I didn’t feel this all-consuming passion but I thought they were wonderful for each other. They each brought something to the other’s life (or lives) and that really hit me hard and made me tear up.

There wasn’t very much that I didn’t like about Between the Lives. It was a quick read, filled with lots of brilliantly executed elements. Highly recommend!

Birthday Giveaway: Preorder for an Upcoming Release

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My birthday is coming up next week and I’m holding two giveaways to celebrate!

Part one of my giveaways is on Twitter and it’s for a hardcover copy of The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee, which I recently read and loved. It also has the most stunning cover! I mean, LOOK AT IT.

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Part two of my giveaways is going to be run through Rafflecopter. I’m giving away a preorder of any upcoming release of your choice, valued up to $25 AUD on Book Depository. The rules are listed down below.

Giveaway Rules

  • This giveaway will end at 11:59pm AEST on September 22, 2016 (my birthday!).
  • This giveaway is open to all countries that Book Depository ships to. If you’re not sure whether Book Depository ships to you, you can look it up here.
  • There will be ONE winner who will be able to choose any upcoming release to preorder (up to $25 AUD in value).
  • The winner will be chosen at random through Rafflecopter.
  • I will contact the winner on September 23rd and if I don’t receive a response within 48 hours, I will choose another winner. I will be checking the winner’s entries so please don’t cheat!
  • I will be ordering the books for the winner and will require an address, so please make sure that you have parental permission if you are under 18 years of age.
  • Book Depository will be sending out the order so I take no responsibility for damaged or lost parcels. I will send you an order confirmation though.

Enter now

CLICK THIS LINK TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY THROUGH RAFFLECOPTER

(Sorry, I was too lazy to make an image for you to click).
Here are some of my most anticipated upcoming releases if you need inspiration:


I am also running a 1K followers giveaway on Twitter. One person will win a one month CraftedVan subscription. Enter here.

Here’s a look at their August and September #readhappy subscription packages (books are not included).

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Top Ten Tuesday: All-Time Favourite Book Covers

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Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday post. This is a weekly feature that’s hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is actually ‘All-time favourite books from X genre’ and I was really excited to share my favourites but then I realised that I talk about my favourites all the time and you’re probably sick of hearing about the same books over and over again. I was fully intending to skip this week’s TTT but then inspiration struck when I couldn’t stop raving about how beautifully packaged The Thousandth Floor is. So my topic for today’s list is “all-time favourite book covers”. I also happen to really love all of these books on my list so take this as my list of recommendations!

1. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

Since this whole list is inspired by this book, it had to be at the top of my list. I love everything about this cover and how this book is packaged. It has a beautiful smooth texture and a beautiful embossed title. The spine is also amazing and is probably my favourite part of this whole book. The endpapers are also stunning and finally, when you undress the book, the naked hardcover has the title on it in beautiful gold lettering.

2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This is my favourite book of all time and there really isn’t any part of it that I don’t absolutely love. The cover is stunning. I love the colours and that the cover is slightly shimmery. It’s so beautiful!!

3. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

This novel is one of my favourite reads of 2016 so far. I love the colours on the cover, as well as the feathers and the branches. I just think that it’s very beautifully simplistic.

4. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

This cover is just stunning. The illustration of the bird is so detailed and I could spend hours and hours just staring at it and trying to figure it out. I have the Australian paperback edition but I’ve seen the UK hardcover addition and omg it’s BEAUTIFUL.

5. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

The picture I’ve included doesn’t do this cover justice. It’s absolutely beautiful in real life and the debossed lines on the cover, as well as on the naked hardback is not only beautiful to the eyes but wonderful to touch. This is my favourite YA novel of all time and I’m so happy that it has an insanely pretty cover too.

6. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

I love not only the illustrations on the cover, which are so stunning and detailed, but also the texture of the cover. I have the hardcover edition and it’s got a wonderful matte cover and I love touching it so much!

7. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I love the covers of all three books in this trilogy but I had to mention this one because it’s the first. I think the covers of Hollow City and Library of Souls are really mysterious and unique but this first book just has a really iconic cover. I love that it’s greyscale and that it’s just so peculiar!

8. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

I mean, just look at this cover. Just look at it! The colours are so pretty and there’s nothing that I can say about it that you can’t already see.

9. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

What I love most about this book is the texture of it. The black hole on the cover is stitched and I love feeling the raised bits of thread. I don’t like that it’s not centred but other than that, it’s perfection. I also really love the debossed black hole on the naked hardcover.

10. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

I love the font and the embossed lettering of the title. When I first got this book, I couldn’t stop feeling it. I also really like the bottle and the ship. I just think that it’s a beautifully designed cover!

Review: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

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Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: August 30, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 448
Goodreads || Book Depository

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Amid breathtaking advancement and high-tech luxury, five teenagers struggle to find their place at the top of the world. But when you’re this high up, there’s nowhere to go but down…

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

I don’t know where to start with this review. I loved this book so much more than I expected to! I have to admit that this was first and foremost a cover-buy (I could go on a 10 minute ramble about why this cover is the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen, so don’t get me started) but I enjoyed the writing, the world and the story in The Thousandth Floor so much!

The standout aspect of this novel is definitely the world that Katharine McGee has created. The novel is set in the near future in the 22nd century. There’s a lot of really advanced technology but it wasn’t so farfetched that I couldn’t imagine everything actually existing. There were so many wonderful inventions that I wanted to have or try out, and I’m so sad that I won’t be able to in my foreseeable future. There was an incredible communication system where people wear a digital display as contacts… if they can afford it. There’s also a really advanced transportation system of hovers, autocars and trains that can travel from Manhattan to Paris in 3 hours, under the Atlantic. But most exciting of all, Manhattan is literally inside a Tower with 1000 floors. There are streets and different landmarks on different floors, with transportation running up and down the Tower as well as on each floor. For example, Central Park is on the 307th floor of the Tower. I thought this was such an interesting concept and the world was built so nicely in the book. I was just really enamoured by the world and it kept me immersed and interested in the story throughout the entire novel.

The plot of the book was also captivating. The story starts with a prologue that describes a girl falling to her death from the very top of the tower. We don’t know who she is, why she was there or what caused her to fall from the tower, but we slowly find out as the story progresses. I loved the mystery in this book but I tended to forget about it because there were so many other things going on. It wasn’t until the last 100 pages that I remembered that it was supposed to be a mystery. But I didn’t really mind that because I was so intrigued by all of the characters and what was happening in their lives. The Thousandth Floor definitely has a Gossip Girl vibe to it. There are lots of first world problems and dramas but I found them to be kind of relatable in a weird way. I found myself really caring about what happened to these characters and what they would do next, and this really kept me invested in the story. I was a fan of Gossip Girl though, so I guess it was no surprise that I’d love the drama and the multiple POVs in this novel.

The characters themselves were also interesting. I didn’t really feel a close connection with any of them but I understood and empathised with most of them. They weren’t particularly likeable characters but I still found myself caring. If I had one criticism, it would be that I thought some of the characters could have been a little bit more complex and developed. They were at times a little bit too typical or one-dimensional and I would’ve liked to have seen a little bit more out of them. My favourite character in the book was Cord, who isn’t a main character in this book but I’m really interested to see more of him in the upcoming books. I liked Rylin, Avery and Eris quite a bit in this novel. I thought they were the most relatable to me and I was most interested in their stories. Leda and Watt were a little bit too creepy for my liking but I still appreciated what they brought to the novel and the roles that they played.

There were a lot of romantic relationships in this book and I can’t say that I was a huge fan of any of them. Having said that, I didn’t dislike any of them either. I was just ambivalent and I’m hoping that we’ll get much more development in the sequel and that there will be a romance that I can latch on to and champion. I did really like that there was a F/F relationship that didn’t just last a couple of pages and I’m happy that there’s some diversity of sexual orientation and race in this book. However, there is a bit of cheating in this story and a relationship that could be considered taboo, so if either of these things are a dealbreaker for you, you may want to avoid this novel. I should say, however, that these were two very minor aspects of the novel and the rest of it was incredibly well done.

I’m super excited for the sequel of this book. The Thousandth Floor does end in a slightly unresolved way (though I wouldn’t call it a cliffhanger) so I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book to see how the story continues. I enjoyed the writing immensely and I absolutely loved the world and the idea of Manhattan being literally inside a tower.

Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

trial-by-fire

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Release date: November 10, 2015 (originally September 2014)
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 373
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted … which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily’s life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem – one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian … Lily’s identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences. Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger.

Thrown into a world she doesn’t understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected. But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

MY THOUGHTS

3 stars

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

Trial by Fire was an interesting read for me. I love books and stories about science and magic, whether it’s about an integration of them or the tension between the two camps, and that’s exactly what this book had. However, I didn’t really enjoy the reading experience and, while I think many fans of fantasy or paranormal books would like it a lot, Trial by Fire just wasn’t for me.

This novel is about Lily, a sickly girl from Salem, Massachusetts who suffers from lots of allergies and is prone to having seizures. Professionals have no idea what is wrong with her and her condition has just been something that Lily has had to deal with her whole life. Until she is transported to another Salem – a parallel universe – that is simultaneously medieval and advanced at the same time. This world has magic and witches and for the first time, Lily is able to understand why her body and health is the way it is. What she wasn’t prepared to find out was that this world’s version of Lily is the Lady of Salem and the most powerful witch in the world. And in this world, the Lady of Salem is responsible for the abolition of science and the murder and unjust treatment of many people.

I had a couple of issues with the plot of this book. I found it to be really draggy and dull. For most of the book, I didn’t have a clear idea of where the story was going and it also didn’t help that the chapters were really long and added to the feeling of sluggishness. I had a hard time understanding the logic of some of the things that were happening and was quite confused about a lot of the plot and why things were happening. There were some great plot points but I felt that the novel lacked a story arc or clear transitions, which made the reading experience a little bit unpleasant.

However, I did love the magic vs science aspect of the novel. I especially enjoyed that the magic system in the book had a scientific aspect to it, despite the witches and magic wielders insisting that it wasn’t really science. I thought the parallel worlds were interesting and I liked that the magical Salem had both a medieval and futuristic feel to it. Having said that, I didn’t really get a good sense of how the magic system worked. There weren’t clear rules set out and I found it to be really confusing to grasp. Lily was a little bit of a special snowflake and she seemed to be able to learn and perform new abilities almost instantaneously so there wasn’t a lot of time spent explaining how everything worked. I love when we get to learn about a world or a magic system as a naive character learns about it in the story, and this was lacking in Trial by Fire because Lily barely had to learn anything.

The characters in the novel were good but not exceptional or particularly interesting. I liked Lily as a main character but she did get on my nerves at times because of her stubbornness and her tendency to think that she knows best. She did grow on me slightly throughout the novel but I wouldn’t consider her to be one of my favourite fantasy heroines. I, however, really disliked her doppelganger, Lillian. She was villainous and did a lot of despicable things. But my biggest problem with her character was that I didn’t understand her motives. She was neither a complex character nor a simple villain who’s just evil. She just came across as extremely confusing. My favourite character in the novel was probably Rowan, the main love interest in the novel. There isn’t really any romance in the book but it’s definitely developing and I can see it becoming a more prominent theme in the rest of the trilogy. I liked Rowan because he was not only a noble and strong character, but he was also sensitive and caring. I liked him a lot in this book.

Overall, I wasn’t enamoured by Trial by Fire. I don’t think my kind of book and I just didn’t really enjoy reading it. It wasn’t a book that captivated me and made me want to continue the trilogy, but I can see lots of readers liking it a lot.

#ReadThemAllThon Wrap Up

readthemallthon

#ReadThemAllThon was a Pokemon Go inspired readathon that ran from August 14 to September 4. It was hosted by Aentee @ Read at Midnight, who also made the beautiful header in this post. There were 8 challenges in this readathon as well as a fun points system to go with it. For a full explanation of points, check out Aentee’s original sign up post and my readathon TBR post.

I had a really really great time with the readathon. It made me super productive and conscientious with posting reviews (I still haven’t replied to a lot of the comments though. I’M SORRY!!! I’ll get to them soon!). I did slack off during the last week of the readathon though because of bookish events and a family emergency but I don’t regret anything because those things come first. I’m proud of how I did regardless.

I ended up sticking to my planned TBR and read a couple of extra books too. Let’s get into my breakdown that I’ll put into chronological order.

Challenges

vicious Thunder Badge: Read a book with thunderous hype

Vicious by V.E. Schwab (read: August 14)

320 pages + completion 20 CP
Review posted: 20 CP
= 72 CP


all-the-birds-in-the-sky Marsh Badge: Read a book with fantasy or supernatural elements

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (read: August 15)

430 pages + completion 20 CP
Review posted: 20 CP
= 83 CP


salt-to-the-sea Cascade Badge: Read a book that might make you cry

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (read: August 16)

393 pages + completion 20 CP
Review posted: 20 CP
= 79 CP


the-great-american-whatever Rainbow Badge: Read a book featuring diversity

The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle (read: August 17)

288 pages + completion 20 CP
Review posted: 20 CP
= 68 CP


a-gathering-of-shadows Flame Badge: Read a book with a red cover

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (read: August 20)

508 pages + completion 20 CP
Review posted: 20 CP
= 90 CP


eleanor-and-park Soul Badge: Read a book with an epic romance

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (read: August 21)

325 pages + completion 20 CP
Review posted: 20 CP
= 72 CP


the-hunger-games Earth Badge: Read a book with a post-apocalyptic setting

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (read: August 23)

454 pages + completion 20 CP
Review posted: 20 CP
= 85 CP


the-final-empire Boulder Badge: Read the first book in a series

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (read: August 25)

647 pages + completion 20 CP
Review posted: 20 CP
= 104 CP


Extra Books

Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples (read: August 26)
160 pages = 8 CP

Saving Jazz by Kate McCaffrey (read: August 27)
297 pages = 29 CP

How They Met, and Other Stories by David Levithan (read: August 29)
256 pages = 25 CP

Monstress Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda (read: August 29)
192 pages = 9.5 CP

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley (read: August 30)
352 pages = 35 CP

One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn (read: August 31)
305 pages = 30 CP

Rurouni Kenshin Vol. 9 (Volumes 25-28) by Nobuhiro Watsuki (partially read: August 31)
Reread volumes 26, 27, 28 and extras: 581 pages of 776 = 29 CP

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling (read: September 3)
123 pages = 12 CP

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (read: September 4)
704 pages = 70 CP

The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan (partially read: September 4)
70 pages of 210 = 7 CP


Reading + reviewing total: 907.5 CP

Evolution bonus: 120 CP

Social media bonus: 162 CP (46 tweets + 14 photos)

TOTAL:  1189.5 + original 10 CP = 1199.5 CP (which I’m going to sneakily round up to 1200 because it looks nicer)

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