Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

heir-of-fire

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Release date: September 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1408839121
Pages: 562
Goodreads || Book Depository

Heir of Fire is the third instalment in the Throne of Glass series. If you haven’t read the first two books, here are my reviews for Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight. The rest of this review will probably contain spoilers for the preceding books.

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Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

crown-of-midnight

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Release date: August 15
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1408834944
Pages: 418
Goodreads || Book Depository

Crown of Midnight is the sequel to Throne of Glass, so if you haven’t read Throne of Glass, you should leave now and check out my review of Throne of Glass. Also, if you haven’t yet read the prequel novellas, The Assassin’s Blade, I would recommend you read those first before proceeding because the events in those novellas are alluded to very often in Crown of Midnight. You definitely don’t have to read those first and you can definitely understand what happens in the series without reading the prequel novellas… but knowing about Celaena’s past definitely added to my reading experience and I was better able to understand her actions and her thought processes.

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Review: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

the-assassin's-blade

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Release date: March 4, 2014
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1408851989
Pages: 430
Goodreads || Book Depository

Celaena Sardothien owes her reputation to Arobynn Hamel. He gave her a home at the Assassins’ Guild and taught her the skills she needed to survive.

Arobynn’s enemies stretch far and wide – from Adarlan’s rooftops and its filthy dens, to remote islands and hostile deserts. Celaena is duty-bound to hunt them down. But behind her assignments lies a dark truth that will seal her fate – and cut her heart in two forever…

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

The Assassin’s Blade is a bind-up of 5 prequel novellas that were released in electronic format prior to the release of Throne of Glass. These novellas take place before the events in Throne of Glass and give a lot of great background on Celaena’s past. Throne of Glass alludes to Celaena’s past a lot but I don’t think it’s important to have read The Assassin’s Blade before Throne of Glass because I think Throne of Glass gives a better introduction to the world than The Assassin’s Blade does. I actually read the novellas after reading Throne of Glass and I would probably recommend this reading order because I had a better grasp of the world by reading Throne of Glass first. Here is my review of Throne of Glass.

All five of the novellas in The Assassin’s Blade were great. I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed Throne of Glass. I rated each of the novellas 4-5 out of 5 stars. The Assassin and the Desert was my favourite of the 5 novellas, but I thought every one of them were enjoyable. I loved a lot of the characters in the book and I thought the stories were great. We also get to see different sides of Celaena that I don’t think we get to see in Throne of Glass. She’s strong and fierce but also tender and has a really good heart. It was great to be able to see more of her. My favourite character in these novellas was definitely Sam. Why bother with Dorian and Chaol when you have Sam? Sam and Celaena’s relationship was adorable and just… the best.

I loved the writing in these novellas. The stories are so action-packed and fast-paced. I really appreciate that Sarah J. Maas doesn’t shy away from all the gory and graphic bits. Everything is described in such great detail that I can see everything in my head. What I probably liked best about the book is the format. Even though The Assassin’s Blade is a bind-up, these novellas read more like a novel. They appear chronologically in the book and each novella follows on from the previous one so smoothly. There is a little bit of a lapse in time between novellas but it almost reads as if the story has just continued where it left off. I think it is worthwhile to get The Assassin’s Blade rather than each novella separately, and I’d definitely recommend reading them in the order they appear in the book.

Top Ten Tuesday: Last 10 Books that Came into My Possession

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by the lovely team over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is books that last came into my possession, whether it was bought, borrowed from the library or received for review. All of the books on my list were purchased by me from either Book Depository or my two favourite Sydney bookstores, Dymocks and Kinokuniya.

last-ten-books

1. Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater: This is a companion novel to The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy (review linked). I originally wasn’t planning on reading this because I preferred the Grace and Sam pairing over the Cole and Isabel romance. But I loved Cole in the trilogy and thought he was such an interesting character that I just have to know what happens next for him. I’ve never actually seen this in store anywhere in Sydney, so I purchased it from Book Depository.

2. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black: I picked up this book because I’ll be attending a Cassandra Clare and Holly Black event in August. I thought it would be a good idea to read some of Holly’s books before meeting her. None of her books were in stock at any of my local bookstores so I had to order it on Book Depository in order to receive it and read it before the signing.

3. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera: I’ve heard so many great things about this debut novel and I’ve been obsessed with diverse books lately. I just needed to pick this up. Plus the whole concept of the book seems really interesting. I purchased this from the Book Depository.

4. The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris: This is a book that I ordered as a gift for my friend’s birthday so it technically isn’t mine. But it currently is still in my possession so I’m adding it to the list. I bought this from the Book Depository.

5. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: I’ve been hearing Max at WellDoneBooks on YouTube rave about this over and over again. I absolutely had to pick it up since I usually really like the books Max recommends. I got this on Book Depository and I can’t wait to start reading this soon.

6. The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black: As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m going to be attending an event for The Copper Gauntlet (the sequel to The Iron Trial) in August. I needed to pick up The Iron Trial and read it before the event. It was also only $10 at Dymocks, so it was a really great time to purchase it. I’ve done a full review of the book here.

7. The Flywheel by Erin Gough: I had seen this in a book haul by the LittleBookOwl and when I saw this in Kinokuniya (and saw how pretty the cover is), I had to pick it up. I’ve done a full review of this book.

8. What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick: I’ve been meaning to pick up a book by Huntley Fitzpatrick for a really really long time. Her new book is coming out later this year so I thought I’d pick up her other books and marathon them before her new release. I bought this at Kinokuniya.

9. Every Day by David Levithan: I picked this up at Dymocks during the Sydney Book Lovers meet-up at the beginning of July. I’ve seen this in a lot of book hauls and I have yet to read a book by David Levithan, so I thought I’d pick this one up and give it a go.

10. Divergent by Veronica Roth: I also picked this up at Dymocks during the Sydney meet-up. The US hardback edition was on sale for $7 so I just had to buy it.

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

throne-of-glass

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Release date: August 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 140883233X
Pages: 404
Goodreads || Book Depository

Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament – fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I will be attending a Sarah J. Maas event in Sydney later this year so I decided it was finally time for me to read Throne of Glass.

There is so much hype about this series and initially I wasn’t overly impressed by it, but I did like the characters and the plot. I was a bit disappointed with the first part of the book. It felt kind of slow to me and I had a hard time really getting into it. It picked up when the competition actually began and it got more interesting from there. I thought the plot was great and there was this mysterious element running throughout the book, which kept me guessing and kept me intrigued. I was expecting the tasks in the tournament to be a little more exciting but they seemed to be logical tasks for the Champions to be undertaking considering the position they were competing for. I wouldn’t say that anything in the book really surprised or shocked me, but there wasn’t anything that was predictable either. For me, the final battle in the tournament was really long and confusing, and I had a hard time figuring out what was really happening. But I think that might have been the point… since Celaena probably wasn’t sure what was happening either. I’m happy that some of the questions that arose during that scene were answered in the subsequent chapters.

I really loved the characters in the book. Celaena is a strong and kickass female protagonist, who is independent and doesn’t really need anyone. I loved her from the very first page; her strength and abilities are revealed almost straight away and you just can’t help but love her and want to be her. I also really liked Dorian and Chaol by themselves, but also as Celaena’s love interests. I think I might be Team Dorian because Dorian is so sweet and funny, and the things he does for and with Celaena are just adorable. But I can also see Chaol being really good for Celaena and I like their relationship together too. I don’t know. I’ll see what the next book brings.

What I liked most about Sarah J. Maas’s writing is that she’s able to bring out so many emotions in me. I love the characters that I love but I also really hate the characters that I’m supposed to hate. I thought the writing flowed so well and I just loved the dialogue. There were a couple of chapters that I felt were dedicated solely to developing the romance between Celaena and Dorian, or Celaena and Chaol. I didn’t feel like these chapters added anything to the plot and sometimes they felt out of place. But I did like reading about these interactions, particularly scenes with Celaena and Dorian. What I also liked was that the book didn’t really end on a cliffhanger. While I’m still excited to read about what happens in the next chapter of Celaena’s life, I feel like the book had a proper ending and answered a lot of the questions that I had about the story.

This series definitely has great potential. Throne of Glass was a great first instalment to the series. I’m excited to learn more about the magic system and see how our characters develop in the next few books.

Review: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black

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Publisher: Doubleday Children’s Books
Release date: September 9, 2014
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0857532502
Pages: 295
Goodreads || Book Depository

Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing.

Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

The Iron Trial is the first instalment in the Magisterium Series, which is a five-book middle-grade series. I initially had no plans to pick up this series but Cassandra Clare and Holly Black are holding an event in Sydney in mid-August to promote the next book, The Copper Gauntlet. So I thought I’d pick it up and give it a go. This was a very quick read for me, since it is a middle-grade series. I finished it in one sitting.

I thought The Iron Trial was a really fun middle-grade fantasy read, and a great start to the series. There was a lot of really good world and character building, though at times I wish we got to see even more of the world, especially outside of the Magisterium. The atmosphere of the whole book was great, as was the twist near the end of the book. Cassandra Clare is just so great with all of her plot twists! (I haven’t read anything else by Holly Black yet, so I can’t comment on her plot twists). The Iron Trial was filled with action and mystery in every chapter, and was just a really engaging read.

While there were some elements that reminded me a lot of the Harry Potter series, I think The Iron Trial brings something completely different to the table. It turns the classic magician’s tale on its head and the story is just not what you’d expect. I liked the magic system in this book and I hope we get to learn more about it in the upcoming books. The writing in this book wasn’t really to my taste. Because this is a middle-grade series, the writing felt a bit juvenile to me, but I would have definitely liked it more if I was younger.

Let’s talk about the characters. I really liked Call a lot. He by no means is a hero or the ‘chosen one’. He’s just your average kid who gets bullied by his classmates, but manages to find a world where he fits in. At times, his spontaneity and recklessness annoyed me a little but you have to keep in mind that he’s a 12 year old. My biggest complaint about his character was his name. I don’t understand why Callum gets shortened to Call… because I read that as ‘call’ and not ‘Cal’. Aaron and Tamara, who I kind of see as Ron and Hermione, were interesting characters. I liked Aaron from the very beginning but it took a while before Tamara grew on me. The friendship between the three was really great and was definitely reminiscent of Harry, Ron and Hermione.

Even though I could keep drawing Harry Potter parallels, I thought The Iron Trial (and The Magisterium Series) was quite unique in its world and magic system and I’m looking forward to the next book.

Review: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

extraordinary-means

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
Release date: May 26, 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1471115488
Pages: 336
Goodreads || Book Depository

When he’s sent to Latham House, a boarding school for sick teens, Lane thinks his life may as well be over.

But when he meets Sadie and her friends – a group of eccentric troublemakers – he realises that maybe getting sick is just the beginning. That illness doesn’t have to define you, and that falling in love is its own cure.

Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about true friendships, ill-fated love and the rare miracle of second chances.

my thoughts

5 stars

Wow. I absolutely loved this book. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. It definitely took me by surprise.

A lot of people have compared this novel to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and I do think that fans of TFIOS would love this… but I probably liked this book more than I liked TFIOS. Extraordinary Means the the type of YA contemporary that I enjoy reading the most, which is why I prefer it over TFIOS. This book is more of a slow contemporary read, without too much action, that gives you all the feels.

I thought the story was so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I was really drawn into the story and I could not put it down. I enjoyed the writing style and the fact that it was written from dual perspectives. I typically prefer to have just one narrator but I thought the dual perspectives was done very successfully and very well in this novel. The story flowed very well from chapter to chapter, which made it a very smooth and well-paced read. I did think that the end felt a little bit rushed but overall I’m satisfied with how it unfolded. The ending was neither predictable nor surprising. I thought it had a really great balance.

I really loved Lane and Sadie as the main characters. I fell in love with Lane almost right from the beginning and I very quickly grew to love Sadie too. They were both very genuine and likeable characters, who didn’t frustrate me very much. I could see bits of myself in both of their characters. I also really loved some of the minor characters and I felt very connected to them and to their stories.

This book is definitely one of the best 2015 YA contemporary releases I’ve read so far. I’m looking forward to reading more from Robyn Schneider because I really loved The Beginning of Everything (Severed Heads, Broken Hearts) too.

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

aristotle-and-dante-discover-the-secrets-of-the-universe

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release date: 2012
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1442408936
Pages: 359
Goodreads || Book Depository

Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.

But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

my thoughts

5 stars

I’m so mad at myself that I didn’t pick up this book sooner. This is definitely a coming of age, LGBT book that everybody needs to read.

This book tackles some very important issues about sexuality and being comfortable with and unashamed of who you are. This felt like a true coming of age story. It didn’t have much of a plot and just felt more like a teenage boy living his life and discovering himself and the importance of family and friendship. The writing in this book really drew me in and I couldn’t put the book down. This was definitely a page-turner. The writing flowed so well and had short chapters that made it a very fast read. The lengths of the chapters differed throughout the book, ranging from a single paragraph to about 10 pages, and I thought that really added to the story and made it even more powerful. The writing in this book really reminded me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. If you enjoyed that book, I’d definitely recommend this one.

I thought the characters in this book were perfect. I really connected with both Aristotle and Dante and I thought their friendship was so beautiful. In fact, I thought all of the relationships in this book were beautiful and inspiring. I loved how their parents interacted with them and loved them so unconditionally. That really brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t realise how much this book affected me until I started crying… but I cried not from the injustices in the book, but from the happiness.

I really do think this is a must-read book for all teens, regardless of whether you’re gay or straight. I think everybody could benefit from reading about Aristotle and Dante.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Hyped Books I’ve Never Read

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is hyped books I’ve never read. These are not books that I won’t ever read – most of these I just haven’t gotten around to reading yet. So let’s jump right into it. This list is in no particular order:

1. The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead: I feel like this is a series that I probably won’t be picking up for a long time. I’m not a huge fan of books with vampires. I’m just a little bit over it.

2. Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth: A friend of mine spoiled the ending of the trilogy for me, so I had no urge to pick it up after that happened. I’ve also heard very mixed reviews about Allegiant so I’ve been putting off reading the trilogy. But, a couple of days ago, I managed to pick up a hardcover edition of Divergent for only $7, so I probably will read it sometime this year.

3. Looking for Alaska by John Green: I’ve read The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns by John Green but I’ve never really had an urge to read all of his other books. Paper Towns was the most recent one I read and I didn’t really connect with the characters or the story that much, which has put me off picking up Looking for Alaska. However, I probably will read it at some stage before the movie comes out.

4. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: I have been meaning to read this book for the longest time. I just need to pick up a copy from my bookstore and get into it.

5. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: I’ve heard some mixed reviews about this book so I haven’t picked it up yet. I wait until the next book comes out and see what other people think of that before I pick them up.

6. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: I already have a copy of this, but I plan to read this with some friends so I haven’t read it yet.

7. The Host by Stephanie Meyer: I don’t really have any plans to read this now or in the future. This book has been out for a really long time, and if I haven’t read it yet, I probably won’t ever read it.

8. A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab: I’ve been hearing about this book since the end of 2014 and I really need to pick up a copy and read it! The reason why I haven’t bought a copy yet is because I can’t choose between the US cover and the UK/Australian cover.

9. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: This was the first Rainbow Rowell book I bought and now it’s the only one I haven’t read. I started this book at the end of 2014 but I ended up having to put it down for some reason that I can’t remember. And I just haven’t picked it back up yet.

10. Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson: I’ve only heard great things about Mistborn. And I do plan to read it sometime this year. There are just so many books on my TBR shelf and Mistborn is a lengthy trilogy. Hopefully I can shrink my TBR a little before picking it up.

If you’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday post, please send me a link in the comments. I’d love to see your list! If you’d like to participate in Top Ten Tuesday, the rules are on The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday page.

Review: The Flywheel by Erin Gough

the-flywheel

Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Release date: February 1, 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1742978177
Pages: 306
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon (Kindle edition)

Seventeen-year-old Delilah’s crazy life is about to get crazier. Ever since her father took off overseas, she’s been struggling to run the family’s cafe without him and survive high school. But after a misjudged crush on one of the cool girls, she’s become the school punchline as well. With all that’s on her plate she barely has time for her favourite distraction – spying on the beautiful Rosa, who dances flamenco at the tapas bar across the road.

Only her best friend Charlie knows how she feels about Rosa, but he has romantic problems of his own. When his plan to win an older woman’s heart goes horribly wrong, Del is the only one who can help Charlie stay out of jail.

All this leaves Del grappling with some seriously curly questions. Is it okay to break the law to help a friend? How can a girl tell another girl she likes her without it ending in humiliation and heartbreak? And – the big one – is it ever truly possible to dance in public without falling over?

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

I loved this debut novel by Sydney author, Erin Gough. I love supporting our Australian authors! The Flywheel was the winner of the Ampersand Project in 2013. This is a campaign that gives unpublished authors a chance to shine. And this novel definitely does shine!

The Flywheel was a great coming of age, diverse book that reminded me a lot of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, which is one of my favourite books. The Flywheel tackles some similar issues and is just so heartwarming and adorable that it really brought back all the feelings I had while reading Simon vs. I wouldn’t say that I liked it as much as Simon vs, just because it wasn’t as cute and adorable, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. And the cover art is beautiful!

I loved the story and how relatable it can be to everybody. The book not only tackles LGBT issues but is also a coming of age story that I think everybody can relate to in some way. There is such a diverse set of characters, each with their own problems, that there is definitely one character that you can identify with. I loved that this book was set partly in school and in the real world. I appreciated the way Erin Gough highlighted that there are nasty people everywhere and that there are ways to overcome this. I liked being able to see how each character developed and overcame their problems without running away from them. The character development in this book was one of my favourite aspects of the novel.

I really liked the characters in this novel. They were all unique and funny. I liked how snarky Delilah was, although sometimes she did annoy me with some of her selfish moments. But, overall, I did think she was a great protagonist and I loved the romance that unfolded between her and her love interest. My favourite character was probably Charlie. He was funny and unpredictable, and I just found myself laughing at the things that he’d do.

This was a fantastic book that was very quick to read. I finished it in one sitting. The chapters are short and I found myself flying through the book. The writing flowed very smoothly and I just wanted to know what would happen next. I’m very happy with the way the book ended – it ended on such a hopeful note – but I just wished there was more. I just could not put the book down.

This book is quite hard to obtain for those not living in Australia. I bought my copy from a local bookstore in Sydney but I haven’t seen it online. It’s listed on Book Depository but is currently unavailable (at the time of me posting this). There is an ebook for Kindle available on Amazon Australia. I’ve added links to both of these above.