Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

the-darkest-part-of-the-forest

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Release date: January 13, 2015
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 0316213071
Pages: 324
Goodreads || Book Depository

Hazel and her brother, Ben, live in Fairfold, where humans and the Folk exist side by side. Tourists drive in to see the lush wonders of Faerie and, most wonderful of all, the horned boy. But visitors fail to see the danger.

Since they were children, Hazel and Ben have been telling each other stories about the boy in the glass coffin, that he is a prince and they are valiant knights, pretending their prince would be different from the other faeries, the ones who made cruel bargains, lurked in the shadows of trees, and doomed tourists. But as Hazel grows up, she puts aside those stories. Hazel knows the horned boy will never wake.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel has to become the knight she once pretended to be. But as she’s swept up in new love, with shifting loyalties and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

my thoughts

4 stars

After reading the description of this book, I didn’t really know what to expect but I knew that it would be great, based on my experience with The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. The Darkest Part of the Forest was eerie and mysterious and darker than I thought it would be. I probably enjoyed The Coldest Girl in Coldtown just a little bit more but I would still really recommend this one if you like reading about faeries.

I thought the plot was very interesting and clever. It really kept me guessing and nothing was very predictable to me. The beginning of the book was very slow but it became more and more fast-paced as the book progressed. I flew through the last third of the book and I really enjoyed how it ended. The story and the world were well-developed, especially for a standalone novel, but I still wanted a little bit more from the story. For me, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was a bit better developed.

The characters were my favourite part of the book. They felt incredibly modern and now, and I think a part of that comes from all the diversity that Holly Black put into this book. We have a couple of gay characters and some dark-skinned characters. I really appreciate that Holly incorporates diverse characters into all her books. Each of the characters in The Darkest Part of the Forest were very unique and we really got to know each of them very well. Ben was my favourite character from the start. He was very interesting to read about and I just connected with him straight away. I actually wasn’t a big fan of Hazel – I found it hard to connect with her and there were times when I felt that she was a bit dramatic. I liked most of the other characters though, and the relationships between them. I also liked that the romance didn’t play out in the way that I had expected and I really liked what we got in the end.

The other aspect of the book that I thought was really strong was how the book ended. I thought the epilogue was the perfect way to end the book. It was a nice, light ending to a book that was quite dark and creepy.

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Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

the-coldest-girl-in-coldtown

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Release date: September 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 0316213101
Pages: 419
Goodreads || Book Depository

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

This standalone paranormal fantasy novel was a really enjoyable read. It’s set in our modern world but in an alternate setting where there was an outbreak of vampirism a decade ago. In this world, vampires are feared but also romanticised at the same time, which created a very interesting world and setting. This book was atmospheric from the very first chapter. It was dark and a little bit creepy but very entertaining. It wasn’t a very fast-paced book or a page-turner for me, so it did take me a couple of sittings to finish it. It also explored some deeper questions about humanity, which I really liked.

This book was so well-developed for a standalone. It’s written with alternating chapters of present and past. In the present chapters, we follow Tana from the aftermath of the massacre all the way into the Coldtown. The past chapters were really interesting. Because the book is written from third person perspective, there were snippets of not only Tana’s past but also the past of some of the other key characters. These chapters did a really great job of building the world, as well as setting up the plot of the story.

I thought the plot was really great. It was kind of what I wanted from the book after reading the description. There wasn’t a lot of romance in the book but I was very satisfied with what we did get and the amount of romance there was. If it was any heavier on the romance, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much. The resolution to the plot was perhaps a little bit anticlimactic but I didn’t mind it at all. In fact, I really liked how everything unfolded because I don’t think I could have taken anything more intense. For me, the ending to the book was perfect and I wouldn’t change anything because I was thoroughly satisfied.

The aspect of the book that I didn’t enjoy very much were the characters. For the first half of the book, I didn’t like any of the characters that were introduced, except Tana and Gavriel, the main characters. I thought all of the characters were really manipulative and selfish, and I just did not like them at all. However, my dislike of the characters didn’t change my opinion of the plot or the story, because Holly Black kind of intended for them to be that way. Plus there are definitely more likeable characters that are introduced in the second half of the book, and you grow to like them as you progress through the book. What I really appreciated was the inclusion of diverse characters. We have a bisexual character and a transgender character, which I thought was really nice to read about.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is probably one of the best vampire books I’ve read. There were some cliched aspects but a lot of it was very unique, and I liked that it was a standalone novel. Also, the cover (art and texture) is perfect. I’m definitely going to get this copy signed at the Holly Black & Cassandra Clare event in mid-August!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds

ten-book-nerds

This weekly meme was created by the team over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is fictional book nerds. These include characters who love reading, work at/own a bookstore, are writers, etc.

1. William Herondale (The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare):
Will Herondale… my book boyfriend. One of the reasons why I love him so much is because of his love for books. He’s always talking about books with Tessa (who I could also include on this list) and he’s just perfect.

2. Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas):
I love that even though she’s totally fierce and kickass, she still loves spending time in the library and reading books, especially smutty romance novels. Throne of Glass review.

3. Sam Roth (The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater):
Sam works at a bookstore when he’s not busy being a wolf. He loves reading and quoting poetry and, for me, the scenes with him and Grace in the bookstore were the best of scenes of the whole trilogy. I’ve done a review of the whole trilogy here.

4. A.J. Fikry (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin):
A.J. Fikry is the owner of a bookstore, who’s been a little unlucky in life. But one day, he gets a surprise package left in his bookstore, which changes his life forever.

5. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling):
I couldn’t compile a list of book nerds and leave Hermione Granger off the list. I was a bookworm when I was young and reading the Harry Potter series, and I wanted to be just like Hermione.

6. Marie-Laure LeBlanc (All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr):
Marie-Laure is a blind French girl who spends most of her time reading books in Braille. She doesn’t own very many books but she treasures all of the ones she has. She just loves reading and learning about new things and I love her so so much. This is my favourite book of all time, so of course I’ve written a review.

7. Cath Avery (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell):
Cath is so in love with the Simon Snow series that she writes fan fiction about it. Fangirl also has adorable scenes where Cath reads aloud to Levi.

8. Liesel Meminger (The Book Thief by Markus Zusak):
The Book Thief was a required reading at my high school when it first came out. I was going through a phase where I wasn’t reading very much but this book made me want to read again. It was probably the best required reading ever. Liesel lives in a world where books are banned, which forces her to steal books and read them in secret.

9. Matilda Wormwood (Matilda by Roald Dahl):
Matilda was probably the first book nerd I ever encountered in fiction. When I first read this book as an 8 or 9 year old, I just wanted to be her. I wanted to be as smart and clever as her, and she also had telekinesis as a superpower…so who wouldn’t want to be her?

10. Delilah McPhee (Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer):
Delilah is a girl who is obsessed with this one fairytale and the prince from the fairytale. One day, the prince from the story talks to her. They then devise ways of getting the prince out of the fairytale and into the real world. Review here.

Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

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Publisher: Dial Books
Release date: June 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 0803736991
Pages: 394
Goodreads || Book Depository

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

I absolutely loved this book. Both of Huntley Fitzpatrick’s books have been home runs for me.

If you’re looking for a book with a great summer romance, this is the one for you. It has a fabulous cast of characters and a really enjoyable plot. While it wasn’t the most unique and original plot I’ve ever read, it was very realistic and relatable… and I don’t think you can ask for more than that from a contemporary novel. I loved the way the story flowed. It was just so easy to read. The pace of the book was just right, not too slow and not too fast, which made it very comfortable to read. It did pick up in pace a little bit towards the end, and it became a real page-turner. I could not put it down. I really liked how the book ended, but I did want just one or two more chapters at the end to wrap up Sam and Jase’s story. But there is a companion novel coming out in mid-August and I guess we’ll be seeing more of them in that book.

loved the characters in the book. Samantha was so easy to relate to, and I loved her voice. She was funny and it was just a lot of fun reading from her perspective. I did find her family and friends to be quite pretentious (which I think was the point), and I felt uncomfortable for her, which is something Huntley Fitzpatrick does so well. Her writing makes me empathise with her characters, and I really feel whatever they feel. There wasn’t a lot of character development, but I don’t think Sam needed a lot of development anyway. She just needed to stand up for who she wanted to be, and she did that, which was enough for me. I loved Sam’s relationship with Jase. It didn’t feel insta-lovey to me, and they came together in such a natural way. At times, there was some awkwardness but that made their whole relationship feel so real. They were adorable together, and became one of my favourite YA contemporary couples.

Jase is perfect. I said this about Cass from What I Thought Was True, also by Huntley Fitzpatrick, but Jase is even more perfect than Cass. Jase is just the ultimate good guy and I love that he’s just a nice and caring person. He’s got a great temperament and he doesn’t do stupid things. Best of all, he’s just in love with being in love. He’s great at fixing things, great with all of his younger siblings, and he’s also an animal lover. His bedroom is a zoo, with all different types of animals in cages and tanks. I loved this quote from the scene when Sam first visits his room and realises she’s interested in him:

“Maybe Jase Garrett is some sort of snake charmer. That would explain the animals. I look around again. Oh God, there is a snake.”

(The snake is called Voldemort by the way, which is just perfect). Jase also has the most adorable siblings. He’s the third of 8 kids and all of his siblings were fun and wonderful to read about. His 4 year old brother, George, is a genius who just spits out facts about the world and reads National Geographic Kids. George was probably my favourite of all of the Garretts (besides Jase). Patsy, the baby, is always being breast-fed and her first word was ‘boob’. I found myself wanting to be a part of all the chaos and fun.

There were some characters who I wasn’t sure about, and Tim was one of them. I did not like him at all at the beginning of the book but he grew on me. I don’t think we saw enough of him for me to completely change my mind about him. I feel like there was this gap in the middle that we didn’t see, where his character just developed really quickly. But the new companion novel, The Boy Most Likely To, is about Tim so I guess we’ll see a lot more of him and how he develops further.

I’m mostly just excited to read more about Sam and Jase.

Review: What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

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Publisher: Dial Books
Release date: April 15, 2014
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0803739095
Pages: 407
Goodreads || Book Depository

Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say good-bye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge, and she hails from a family of housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries this will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape what happened—or the island—her past explodes into her present, redefining the boundaries of her life. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

I really loved this book – a lot more than I actually expected to. This was my first Huntley Fitzpatrick novel, even though I’ve owned her debut novel, My Life Next Door, for a while now. I decided to pick up What I Thought Was True first because a companion to My Life Next Door is coming out in mid-August and I wanted to marathon them. But after reading this book, I might have to jump right in to My Life Next Door.

What I Thought Was True is a beautiful summer read about second chances and first love. It also contains strong family elements, which I loved and thought elevated the story really beautifully. At times I even enjoyed the family aspect of it more than the romance. This novel is more of a mature YA contemporary, in terms of the story and themes, as well as the writing. The writing style is quite sophisticated and didn’t sound juvenile at all. It flowed beautifully and I just ate it up. This is definitely a more slow-paced book. A lot of the first half of the book was focused on Gwen’s past and setting up the story so it did take a while for the book to really take off. There isn’t a lot that happens in the book but everything that does happen is heart-warming and emotional. I actually really enjoyed the slower pace of this book and thought it was one of its charms.

Aside from being emotional and hauntingly beautiful, this story also has some hilarious moments. Gwen’s mother is obsessed with romance novels and mentions them around the house all the time. The elderly woman who Gwen works for as a caretaker asks Gwen to read steamy romance novels aloud to her and her group of friends. Hilarity ensues. And Gwen herself was really sarcastic and funny.

Gwen was definitely a great main character. She’s a strong character who stands up for herself and for the people she loves, and I just really admired her strength. Cass, her love interest, was perfect. It’s so great to be able to read about a guy who is just really really nice. He was polite and romantic, and I loved the two of them together. I also liked all of the members of Gwen’s family. They were just such a close and loving family, even though they weren’t by any means perfect. I was so invested in all of the characters and their stories. I felt happy when they were happy and I hurt for them when they were hurt. And I think that’s the mark of a really great author.

Review: Paperweight by Meg Haston

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Publisher: Harper Teen
Release: July 7, 2015
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 006233574X
Pages: 304
Goodreads || Book Depository

Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. In her body. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert.

Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at mealtime, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid.

Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn’t plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

A dark and emotional book about a girl struggling with an eating disorder, I thought this was such an important story that all young girls need to read. It was confronting and made me feel uncomfortable (and ugly-cry) at times, but I’m so glad this book is out there in the world because not many people talk about eating disorders.

I was first interested in this book because of the cover (the hardback version is beautiful with and without the jacket) but when I read the description, I was even more interested because of my background in psychology. There are more and more YA books about depression and suicide now and that’s really great to see, but there are definitely not enough books about eating disorders. Anorexia, bulimia and the other types of eating disorders aren’t really seen as much of a problem, and sometimes are even glorified. So I think this book gave a great perspective on the issue. Meg Haston actually started writing this novel when she was at a treatment centre for her eating disorder.

I thought the story and the writing were good but I didn’t love it. There are lots of flashbacks incorporated into the story, which I didn’t love but didn’t hate either. These flashbacks were formatted in the same way as the rest of the book, which annoyed me a little bit, but it was obvious each time that it was a scene from the past. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the story of Stevie’s past because I felt that it was a bit dramatic at times – mother abandons the family, brother is dead, she has no true friends, and therefore eating disorder. Having said that, I did like that the author made it clear that some of the other girls at the treatment centre didn’t have tragic pasts or dysfunctional families. Because anybody can have an eating disorder and not only those who come from a certain background. Even though I didn’t like the story of Stevie’s past, I did like all the events that happened in the treatment centre. They were very realistic and incorporated a lot of great information about eating disorders and the treatment of them.

On to the characters… I wasn’t a huge fan of Stevie, which was also a reason why I didn’t connect with the story as much as I thought I would and would have liked to. It’s hard to fall in love with a story when the protagonist isn’t very likeable. I did warm to her a little bit towards the end but for most of the story her character just didn’t sit well with me. For more than half of the book, she acts quite superior and puts down other girls who aren’t as skinny and close to death as she is (she does this all in her thoughts but it was still quite disturbing to me). She thought other girls were being arrogant when they said they were so sick that they passed out, and she looked up to girls who had a feeding tube because they weren’t able to keep themselves alive with real food. She also treated bulimia as if it’s not a serious and life-threatening condition. I can appreciate the fact that she was sick, and had some unhealthy beliefs and thought patterns but it just really put me off that she wasn’t able to understand that other people aren’t aiming to literally starve themselves to death. She just generalised her wants and beliefs and expected people to think the same way, and for a big part of the book I felt little compassion for her (which made me feel like the worst person in the world).

We see so much development in her though that I think it redeemed her character. There were so many moments in her journey that made me tear up. I loved seeing her make friends and take care of others. I liked all of the side characters from the treatment centre and they really made me root for them. There was also a character called Jenna and that made me so happy because it’s very rare for me to see my name in a book (and when I do, she’s usually the bitchy girl who steals the protagonist’s boyfriend).

Overall, I thought this book was great. It’s set in a very specific location (New Mexico) but I could this story being set anywhere in the world, which is why I think it’s so important for books like this to be out there. The characters in this book were so real and are relatable to all young girls (and boys) who are currently living in a society that promotes the thin ideal and poor body image. This is a story that I think all readers could learn something from, either about themselves or about eating disorders.

Review: Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel

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Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0062327615
Pages: 384
Goodreads || Book Depository

Ever since Sarah was born, she’s lived in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Scarlett. A budding astronomer, Sarah’s days are devoted to math club and the boy she’s loved since kindergarten, Tucker. Her nights are spent observing the vast universe through her Stargazer 5020.

Then Tucker breaks Sarah’s heart, and she goes to Cape Cod for the summer with her family, ready for something big in her life to change. She doesn’t want to live in the shadows anymore. She wants to be someone who shines. Someone like Scarlett.

She doesn’t expect to meet Andrew. Gorgeous college boy Andrew. Andrew pulls Sarah out from behind her telescope. He sees the girl she wants to be.

For Sarah, it’s a summer of firsts. A summer of blazing comets and shooting stars. Before she knows what’s happened, one little lie has transformed into something real. And by the end of August, she might have to choose between falling in love and finding herself.

MY THOUGHTS

35 stars

This is a coming-of-age story about self-identity and self-discovery and I felt like there wasn’t enough character development in the book. When I reached the end of the book, I still wasn’t completely sure exactly what Sarah had figured out about herself, and I couldn’t see a clear journey from the start to finish. I thought that Sarah seemed a little bit juvenile in her thoughts, but her actions were very mature. At some parts of the book, the story felt a little bit pretentious, but that probably could have been because Sarah was pretending to be someone who she wasn’t. Overall, I just wasn’t in love with Sarah and it made it a bit difficult to really fall in love with her story.

The main message that I took away from the book was that you should be yourself because there are people who will love you for who you are (and the things that you love are what make you you). But I thought Sarah’s actions in the book weren’t very consistent with this message. She keeps up her lies all the way until the end of the book, and while I understand that it’s scary to admit to people that you’ve been lying to them, I felt like this was just completely incongruous with her discovery that people love the scientist in her and love her for who she really is. I also wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending – it felt a little bit rushed to me – but I can see other readers loving the way it ended.

Let’s talk about some of the characters. I’ve already mentioned that I didn’t connect with Sarah, but I really really liked Andrew. I thought he was sweet and charming and just the perfect love interest. I definitely was not a fan of Tucker. We don’t get to learn a lot about him, but he really annoyed me. His actions, to me, also seemed a little bit out of his character, based on the little that we do get to know about him. (To be honest, I’m just kind of sick of the YA trope where the protagonist has a bad break-up, or is burned by an ex, but they find someone new who is more perfect and helps them get over their issues.) I also didn’t like Sarah’s family. They were controlling and seemed to be very absent from her life, and I don’t feel like that was properly resolved in the book.

This has been a bit of a rambly review. I should have collected my thoughts before I wrote this… but overall, I enjoyed the relationship between Sarah and Andrew but I did think the overall message of the book was a bit weak. It lacked a bit of character development and there were a couple of things that I didn’t think were completely resolved. I would still recommend this to anyone who is looking for a summer romance read, and I know lots of other reviewers who thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

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Publisher: Soho Teen
Release date: June 2, 2015
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 1616955600
Pages: 304
Goodreads || Book Depository

The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto – miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. Aaron could never forget how he’s grown up poor, how his friends aren’t there for him, or how his father committed suicide in their one-bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough.

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn’t mind about Aaron’s past. But Aaron’s newfound happiness isn’t welcome on his block. Since he can’t stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

More Happy Than Not is a coming-of-age LGBT book, with some sci-fi elements that are reminiscent of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It is by no means an adorable, feel-good book like Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. More Happy Than Not is a dark and heavy book that also deals with depression and suicide, as well as homophobia and hate crimes.

I have to admit, I did not like this book at all when I first started reading. For the first 100 pages, I was just not into the book. I couldn’t connect with the writing or the characters  and my attention just kept wandering away. I didn’t like Aaron or Thomas, and I thought Aaron’s friends were absolutely ridiculous and not the kind of people you’d want in your life. I actually almost gave up on the book. But then the story really picked up when we got to the next section of the book, where Aaron’s character starts making self-discoveries and accepting himself for who he is. From that point on, I was hooked. My rating immediately jumped from 2 to 5 stars. I ended up giving it 4.5 stars because of those first 100 pages, but I was so emotionally affected by the story that it feels like a 5 star book to me.

Adam Silvera has written such a heart-wrenching story about a boy who is unable to be himself because he doesn’t have the support system that he needs. His whole life, he’s been surrounded by people who tell him not to be gay. I think this is a book that everybody needs to read. It delves into the complexities of sexuality and self-identity. This isn’t just a coming out story – it’s so much more than that and I don’t think I have the proper words to describe it. But while this novel is sad and emotional (and made me cry lots and lots), it is also full of hope. It really sends the message that you don’t have to change yourself or forget the negative or ‘unwanted’ parts of yourself in order to find happiness. Because happiness comes from just being who you are.

For those of you who are looking for a romance or a love story, you’re not going to get that in this book. This is a novel about coming out to yourself, forging healthy relationships and dealing with pain. I highly recommend this beautiful novel. The first 100 pages might bore you to death and the story might break your heart, but it’s so worth it.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books That Celebrate Diverse Characters

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme, created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is diversity, so I’ll be featuring 10 books that celebrate diverse characters.

1. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: This is probably my favourite LGBTQ book of the year. It’s adorable and just the ultimate feel-good read.

2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz: Another one of my favourite LGBTQ books. This is a coming of age story, set in the 1980s, featuring two Mexican-American boys and their families. See my full review here.

3. The Flywheel by Erin Gough: This book features a lesbian relationship, which I don’t think we see enough of in YA. It is also set in Sydney, Australia (where I’m from) and that makes it even more unique to me. Full review here.

4. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: Lara-Jean, the main character in this book is a Korean-American. We definitely don’t see enough Asian protagonists in YA books. This is the first book in a duology and both books are amazing. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before reviewPS. I Still Love You review.

5. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: This book is about a quadriplegic and his carer. It was an emotional experience, reading about disability and its effects on everyone involved, but completely worth it. Review here.

6. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton: Set in 17th century Amsterdam, this book features a gay character and a dark-skinned character, both shunned by society.

7. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh: A re-telling of One Thousand and One Nights, this story features Arabic culture throughout the book that is very interesting to read about. Full review here.

8. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler: This is a re-telling of The Little Mermaid. Elyse, the protagonist, is from Trinidad and Tobago and the story makes frequent references to the culture of the islands. I have written a review.

9. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera: This is a recently released LGBTQ book (with some sci-fi elements) that I’m  currently reading.

10. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (and any of the other books set in the Shadowhunter world): Almost every book by Cassandra Clare features a diverse character. The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices have such unique characters. I really applaud Cassie Clare on how well she is able to incorporate current issues of society into her books.

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Release date: May 5, 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1408857863
Pages: 416
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Feyre is a huntress.

She thinks nothing of slaughtering a wolf to capture its prey. But, like all mortals, she fears what lingers mercilessly beyond the forest. And she will learn that taking the life of a magical creature comes at a high price…

Imprisoned in an enchanted court in her enemy’s kingdom, Feyre is free to roam but forbidden to escape. Her captor’s body bears the scars of fighting, and his face is always masked – but his piercing stare draws her ever closer. As Feyre’s feelings for Tamlin begin to burn through every warning she’s been told about his kind, an ancient, wicked shadow grows.

Feyre must find a way to break a spell, or lose her heart forever.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

This definitely deserves a 5 star rating. A Court of Thorns and Roses is a wonderful story inspired by Beauty and the Beast, as well as other fairytales and folklore. It was a fantastic first book to a trilogy, with a really great fantasy world and unique characters. I thought this was a better first book than Throne of Glass (although I do still prefer that series just because I’ve spent more time in that world and with those characters). I’d categorise this as halfway between a young adult and new adult series. It’s definitely more mature than Throne of Glass and some other YA fantasy series that I’ve read.

The beginning of A Court of Thorns and Roses was a little bit slow but I didn’t think it was boring. The first part of the book was mostly dedicated to developing the relationships between the characters. It started to get more interesting as I found out more about the world and as Feyre and Tamlin, our two main characters, started spending more time together. And it got even more exciting and interesting when we got past the halfway mark. The pace of the book really picked up then and remained very fast-paced until the end of the book. The story and world were beautifully crafted and the action scenes in this book were as exciting as those in Throne of Glass. Sarah J. Maas is definitely not afraid of giving us bloody and gory descriptions.

While Feyre is no Celaena Sardothien, she was just as fierce and fearless. We get to see so many sides of Feyre and I think her character development is a noteworthy aspect of this book. I liked that the book was written from first person so that we were able to really get into Feyre’s head and it was a nice change from the third person narration that we get in Throne of Glass.

I also really liked the other characters in this book. Tamlin wasn’t the most unique male love interest, but he’s a sexy, muscly shape-shifter so I can’t complain. He actually reminded me a lot of Rowan from the Throne of Glass series in terms of physique and personality. A more tender and less snarky version of Rowan. I actually really liked the romance between Tamlin and Feyre. Some other reviewers have mentioned that they found it to be quite insta-lovey, but that wasn’t the case for me at all and I thought the romance developed quite naturally. I also liked some of the other side characters, like Lucien and Rhysand, and it was really exciting to learn about their Fae powers.

I thoroughly enjoyed the world in this book. The different Faerie courts were very interesting and original, and I can’t wait to see how this is developed in rest of the trilogy. This first book in the trilogy ended in a very satisfying way and I’m not sure what direction the next book will take but it’s definitely going at the top of my most anticipated reads of 2016 list.