Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Reads

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Welcome back to another Top Ten Tuesday on my blog. I feel like it’s been a while but it’s only really been two weeks… Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is beach reads.

So… I don’t really go to the beach even though Sydney has some of the most beautiful beaches. But I’ve tried to choose ten books that are either set on the beach, set in summer or just a light and quick read that you could probably read in one sitting. And I’ve tried to choose books by a variety of authors so that I’m not putting down every single Huntley Fitzpatrick book, every Morgan Matson book and every Kasie West book (though you should read them all!).

1. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

This amazing book is set in a coastal town and has a very summery feel. It’s also one of my favourite contemporaries and I’ll never stop recommend this book. It’s cute and summery but also packs a punch with its themes.

2. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Another book that is cute and summery but packs a punch, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a loose retelling of The Little Mermaid. As with all of Sarah Ockler’s other books, it goes beyond being a contemporary romance and delves into some serious issues. The message of this book really carries through and if you’re still not convinced, there are mermaids 😀

3. SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Morgan Matson

All of Morgan Matson’s books are perfect for summer and the beach, but Second Chance Summer is my favourite. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend bringing this one to the beach or reading it in public since it’ll probably make you ugly-cry at some point. But it’s set at the beach and the characters are so relatable!

4. This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

I love Jennifer E. Smith’s books and I wanted to feature one in this list of cute and summery contemporaries. This one is also set in a coastal town and features a cute relationship with a small town girl and her penfriend, who turns out to be a Hollywood actor.

5. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

When it comes to quick and easy summer contemporary reads, Kasie West doesn’t disappoint. This is probably my favourite of her books that I’ve read. It’s got a really cute romance that kept me hooked. I finished the book in one sitting.

6. Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

This is a really recent read. It’s not really set in the summer but it’s a very quick and easy contemporary read by an Aussie author, and it feels super summery. This book is more NA than it is YA so if you a new NA book to read that isn’t completely full of sex scenes, try this one!

7. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

I thought I’d throw in a road trip book since road trips always remind me of summer. This is probably my favourite road trip book, though I do really like The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith too. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour is also super quick to read. I think I read this in just one or two sittings.

8. What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Another Huntley Fitzpatrick book that I love love LOVE! I’ve loved every single book that she’s ever written and this one was definitely no exception. It’s also set in a coastal town and feels very beachy. I absolutely loved the story and the characters in the book. Cass, the male love interest is just a super nice guy. Huntley Fitzpatrick is just so good at writing genuine and GOOD guys.

9. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Okay, this book isn’t really summery or beachy. There’s actually a lot of snow in this one… But I felt like I had to include a Stephanie Perkins book when talking about light contemporaries. This is my favourite of Stephanie Perkins’ books. Though I suppose she has a new anthology of short stories out that are summer-themed?

10. The Flywheel by Erin Gough

This is another book that isn’t really set in the summer but has a light, summery feel to it. It’s a really great LGBTQ+ book that’s set in Sydney with some really relatable characters.

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Book Haul: May 2016

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I went a little crazy again this month with the book buying but I do have a couple of excuses. First, I went to Florida and there were so many beautiful hardcovers that I couldn’t help myself. Second, there were some highly anticipated releases that I had preordered and they all arrived this month. And third, I went to Teen Con and the Sydney Writer’s Festival with other bookish people, including my coblogger, Jeann @ Happy Indulgence, and Aentee @ Read at Midnight, which led to some book shopping. So in total, I ended up with 34 new books this month. Yeah, whoops.

BOOK DEPOSITORY

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These three books were all preorders. The Raven King is one of my most highly anticipated series finales of the year and I’m happy to finally have it in my possession. The cover is so beautiful and I can’t stop staring at it. The Unexpected Everything was also highly anticipated. Anything by Morgan Matson is an autobuy book for me. And I preordered The Hidden Oracle because Apollo is probably my favourite of all the Greek Gods and I had to buy this. Unfortunately, I haven’t read the Heroes of Olympus series yet and I’ve been advised to read that first. So I’ll probably be marathoning those books really soon (though, I’ve been saying that for months).

KINOKUNIYA

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I found myself in Kinokuniya this month on Free Comic Book Day. They had 20% off comics, manga and graphic novels, so I decided to pick up Nimona, since I’d been thinking about getting it for a while and had been deterred by how pricey it was. But because the comic book section was so crowded, I found myself wandering around the YA section instead, and ended up picking up First & Then, which was a book that I had been wanting to buy for a while but couldn’t find a copy anywhere. I also bought Yellow to read before an event that I attended with the author. I found myself in Kinokuniya a second time during Sydney Writer’s Festival, when I went with Jeann and Aentee. I couldn’t resist getting a copy of The Crown. I’m not a fan of The Selection series at all but I’d read the first four books and needed to know how it ended.

DYMOCKS

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So this month, I ended up with a nice little stack of Aussie YA books from Dymocks and they were all signed by the authors as well. I went to Dymocks with Jeann and Aentee and pretty much bought most of these on a whim. I’ve been interested in the Every series for a while because it’s a reimagining of Sherlock Holmes and I love anything that’s Sherlock. I was only intended to get the first book to try out but I saw that Every Breath and Every Move were signed so I snapped them up thinking that they were the first two books. Turns out, Every Move is the last book in the trilogy. My bad. Jeann also kind of convinced me that I needed The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl and I agreed because the blurb mentions baked goods and superheroes. Finally, I bought Summer Skin because Jeann loved it and it’s also one of the books that she’ll be discussing on the #ABCRhi #OzYay radio segment. Basically, I bought all of these books because of Jeann.

TEENCON GOODIES

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I went to TeenCon at the Sydney Writer’s Festival this month and got a whole bag of goodies. But… I’ve read most of these already so I’ll probably be giving some away. Thank you to Jaz for giving me her copy of Since You’ve Been Gone. I already have a hardcover edition of the book but I wanted the paperback too (cos I’m greedy) and Jaz was nice enough to give me the copy she got in her bag.

RECEIVED

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I received a couple of books from publishers and from friends this month. When I met with my Happy Indulgence co-blogger, Aila @ One Way or An Author, she gave me this beautiful hardcover edition of The Star-Touched Queen, as well as a highly coveted copy of Kindred Spirits. From my other co-blogger, Jeann, I got Star Struck to review on Happy Indulgence (thanks to Bloomsbury for that). Jeann also gave me her spare copy of The Things I Didn’t Say because she knew how much I wanted to read it. From publishers, I received The Unexpected Everything from Simon & Schuster Australia, Ruined and The Smell of Other People’s Houses from Allen & Unwin, and A Court of Mist and Fury from Bloomsbury Australia. And yes, I now have hardcover and paperback editions of The Unexpected Everything.

FLORIDA HAUL

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I went to Florida earlier this month for a research conference and got to meet Aila @ One Way or An Author. She took me to some really cool places, including The Dali Museum and an indie bookstore called Haslam’s. At those places, I ended up picking up the Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination book, which is pretty much the exhibit that we saw in book form. I also ended up picking up Salt to the Sea and Spark Joy at Haslam’s. I’d previously read Marie Kondo’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and thought it would be interesting to follow it up with Spark Joy. On a separate day, I ended up at a Barnes and Noble and couldn’t resist getting some books there too. They had a small selection but I still managed to pick up a combination of new releases that I’d had my eye on, some older releases that I haven’t been able to find in Australia and a finished copy of When We Collided.


So yeah… I had a pretty eventful month and ended up with a lot of books. It’ll take me a while to make my way through them all but I’ve read 15 of the 34… which is a good start? I have some preorders coming in next month and I’m sure it’ll be another big haul in June.

Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

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Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Release date: April 26, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Aila @ One Way or An Author
Pages: 342
Goodreads || Book Depository

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I went into The Star-Touched Queen knowing nothing except that all of my friends have loved it. And they were right – I loved it too. This was a really unique, fantastical and magical story with a captivating setting and beautiful writing. It combines elements of Indian mythology with a rich and magical world, creating an intriguing and beautiful story that you will just devour.

I think the standout of this book was the writing. It was so wonderfully descriptive, lyrical and just a feast for the imagination. The imagery that Roshani Chokshi created was out of this world (literally) and I had no difficulty seeing the setting and the world in my mind. She makes use of her beautiful writing to build the world, and I found it to be magnificently done and flew through the book because my eyeballs couldn’t stop devouring the writing. However, there were times when I felt that there was too much description and that the book had too much world building and not enough plot to keep me satisfied. I found myself reading pages of beautiful writing and description, with nothing much going on in the plot. The book never felt like it dragged but I was very aware that there wasn’t very much going on in the story. I do have to say, however, that what we got of the plot was really exciting and intense. There were a lot of things that I didn’t see coming and had me completely shocked.

I also really enjoyed the characters in this book. Maya was a wonderful main character. I loved her backstory and how she tries so hard to be seen as her own person, rather than as part of a larger crowd of women who are only there to look pretty and bear children. She wants to be seen as an equal and becoming Amar’s wife allows her to do that. I loved her strength and determination, though some of her choices seemed very impulsive and frustrated me to no end. But I really admired the way that she went about fixing her mistakes and thought she was a really caring and kind character. I also really liked Amar and wish there had been a little more of him in the book. He seemed like a really complex character but ultimately, his character fell a little bit flat to me because it wasn’t developed as much as I would have liked. Still, if you enjoy a dark and mysterious love interest, you will probably end up falling in love with Amar.

“I want your perspective and honesty,” he said, before adding in a softer voice, “I want to be humbled by you.”

I thought the romance between them was really great as well. It was super swoon-worthy and there are endless quotes that will melt your heart. The romance contains a trope that I actually really, really love so Maya and Amar are definitely a couple that I can ship from the bottom of my heart.

Overall, I thought this was a good start to the series. There were some things that I thought lacked a bit of development but hopefully those things will be ironed out in subsequent books.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Got On A Whim

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It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday but I’m back this week. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week I’m featuring ten books that I got on a whim.

1. Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

I don’t remember exactly why I bought this book. I think I saw the cover somewhere, somehow and just went on Book Depository and bought it. It ended up being a really great book about a jinni in Hollywood. I thought it was wonderful and cannot wait to read the sequel!

2. Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

This is a book that I randomly picked up as I was browsing the Australian YA section of my bookstore. The interesting cover and spine caught my eye and I thought the blurb sounding really good. I ended up really enjoying this book too and it was a delight to read a book that was set in the area where I go to uni.

3. One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

I bought this one a couple of years ago before I even heard of Me Before You. I saw it when I was browsing the bookstore and the cover must have just enticed me to buy it. I have yet to read this one but I hope to get to it sometime this year.

4. This is Shyness by Leanne Hall

This is a relatively new purchase. It was one of the books that was featured at the magical realism-themed YABookmeet at Dymocks Sydney. The synopsis was really intriguing so I picked it up on the spot.

5. The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard

This was one that I saw in Allen & Unwin’s catalogue earlier this year. I hadn’t heard anything about it but the synopsis sounded like it was right up my alley. I completely fell in love with the characters and the story and am so glad that I requested this one!

6. Sway by Kat Spears

This was another cover buy and it was a bit of a fail. It was one of my least favourite books of last year because of the way that the book portrayed women. I found it to be offensive and disrespectful and did not like it one bit.

7. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

I love David Levithan so when I saw this one on sale on Book Depository, I checked it out straight away. It has a really interesting format and I loved what David Levithan did with it.

8. A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

This book was another cover buy – it has such a cute cover! But the contents were really boring and it felt like a super generic romance. There were 14 perspectives in the book and I hated the way that it was done. Not an enjoyable read at all.

9. One Hundred Days of Happiness by Fausto Brizzi

I bought this one last year because the cover is beautiful and the synopsis sounded heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I have yet to read this one but I’m hoping to get to it in the coming months.

10. YOLO Juliet by Brett Wright

I’d been interested in these Shakespeare emoji books for a while but I never intended to actually read any. But when I saw YOLO Juliet in store, I just had to get it. The cover was hilarious and the couple of pages that I read in store were super funny too.

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release date: May 3, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 624
Goodreads || Book Depository

A Court of Mist and Fury is the sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses, which means that this review will contain some major spoilers. If you haven’t read ACOTAR, please leave and read my review for that book instead!

Also, there are spoilers for the romance/ship in this book, so if you haven’t been spoiled already, please continue no further.

Continue reading

Review: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

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Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Release date: February 3, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 388
Goodreads || Book Depository

If Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing separating Skylar from art school is three months of summer…until Skylar’s mother loses her job, and Skylar realizes her dreams may be slipping out of reach.

Josh had a different escape route: the Marines. But after losing his leg in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be.

What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and, soon, something deeper.

Compelling and ultimately hopeful, this is a powerful examination of love, loss, and resilience.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

I honestly have no idea why I waited so long to read this book because it was absolutely amazing and is now one of my favourite contemporary YA novels ever. It had a good balance of romance, family and friendship elements, which is a formula for success when it comes to contemporaries for me.

This book is set in a very small town in California. Skylar lives in a trailer with her mother who is an alcoholic and won’t stop drinking, even though her husband died in a car accident while drunk driving. Skylar has just graduated high school and cannot wait for the summer to end, when she can finally go to art school in San Francisco and escape her suffocating small town. But when her mother is fired from the only job she’s ever had, things go downhill and suddenly Skylar’s future is no longer clear. Enter Josh, a previous colleague of Skylar’s at her job at the Paradise motel. He’s back from fighting in Afghanistan, with one less leg than he had when he left…

It was like the whole town was swimming in failure, but no one realized they were drowning.

I was very impressed with how many themes and elements Heather Demetrios managed to explore in this book. And none of these themes were glossed over. Each and every one of them were given enough page-time to be thoroughly explored and I really appreciated how well it was done. I’ll Meet You There explores some very common YA contemporary themes, like alcoholism and small-town-suffocation (I totally made that up, but it’s now a thing), in a completely novel and different way. I never got the sense that I was reading something that I’ve read a million times before. It felt very unique and special and I enjoyed every single page of the story. The novel also explores PTSD, which is something that we’re seeing increasingly often but I have to say that this was one of the best PTSD stories that I’ve ever read. It felt incredibly realistic and even though I don’t know what it’s like to be have PTSD or be in a situation where everyday things could trigger panic attacks or high anxiety, I felt like I knew Josh and I knew how his experiences in Afghanistan have affected him.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book. Skylar was a wonderful protagonist and I couldn’t believe how strong and resilient she was, in the face of everything she was going through. She’s pretty much taking care of her mother, who is on the path to self-destruction. They’re both relying on Skylar’s income from working at the motel and Skylar just wants to make sure that her mother has a job and is able to take care of herself before she moves to San Francisco. Skylar definitely surprised me with how resilient she was. If I had to go through everything she went through in this book, I would’ve broken down much, much earlier. Her mother behaved in ways that I couldn’t imagine any mother behaving and she just didn’t seem to have her daughter’s best interests at heart. The family arc in this book was incredibly hard to read and honestly pretty upsetting at times. I was really proud that Skylar decided to take some time just for herself and put some distance between herself and her mother’s problems. I really admired her maturity when it came to making decisions.

Josh was a character that I also loved. There were short chapters that were written from his point of view and I thought they were really interesting. They allowed me to get to know Josh a little bit more and I loved that we got to see into his head and get a sense of how his experience in Afghanistan had affected and changed him, physically and mentally. I also thought it was interesting that Skylar and Josh knew each other previously and that Josh used to be a bit of a jerk and had a reputation of being a player. It really added a different dimension to his character and transformed him into a really complex character.

The romance was probably my favourite aspect of the book. There was so much to love about this book but I thought the relationship between Skylar and Josh was just so realistic and moving. They become attracted to each other quite early in the book but the romance itself was a bit of a slow burn. It developed at a very natural pace and nothing felt rushed or dragged out. Everything just happened in a really realistic way and it was impossible not to feel connected to Skylar and Josh as they figured out their feelings for each other. I loved how much they relied on each other and supported each other throughout the book. Josh helped Skylar through her issues with her mother and was just there to listen when she needed to talk. And in return, Skylar helped Josh come to terms with his traumatic experience in Afghanistan. She never let him use the war and his experiences as an excuse, which was exactly what Josh needed.

And of course, there were a lot of great friendship elements. Skylar and Josh’s relationship wasn’t just a romantic one. Their relationship was first and foremost a friendship that turned into something more. But this book also explored Skylar’s friendships with her best friends, Chris and Dylan. They were always there for her when she needed a friend and needed advice. I loved their role in the book and I thought their friendships were so heartwarming.

I wanted to have the perfect words to tell him how he’d been family, how I wouldn’t be who I was without him and how my life was a collage of memories and he was in every one.

And finally, I absolutely loved the writing in this book. It was very impactful and I could quote from this book for days and days. Heather Demetrios just writes the most wonderful stories and I’ve enjoyed both her contemporary and fantasy stories because of the beautiful writing and storytelling.

Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

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Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: May 1, 2016
Format: Paperback ($AU 19.99)
Source: Publisher
Pages: 519
Goodreads || Book Depository

“It didn’t seem possible that after years of being beyond careful, watching all the tiniest details and trying never to make a mistake, we’d ended up here anyway…”

Before the scandal, Andie had important plans. And zero of them involved walking an insane amount of dogs, being in the same house as her dad or hanging out with Clark. Now there’s a whole summer stretching out in front of Andie without a plan. And Andie always sticks to the plan.

But here’s the thing – if everything’s always mapped out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

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

I absolutely loved this book. I have loved every single one of Morgan Matson’s books and this one didn’t disappoint at all. It’s not my favourite of her books – Second Chance Summer was just so amazing in every single way that it’ll be hard to top – but The Unexpected Everything was so relatable and adorable that you can’t help cuddling the book to your chest as you flail around on your bed (literally me when I finished the book).

This book is about Andie, the daughter of a Congressman, who has had her whole summer planned out to perfection. But things start to fall apart when her father finds himself in the middle of a big scandal. Andie’s plans fall to pieces and her summer is completely turned on its head. Now she finds herself walking dogs as a summer job and bumping into her previously absent dad around the house. But soon, she finds herself changing in ways she couldn’t have imagined and forging new relationships she probably never envisioned having.

“You have to take your chances. Go and attempt and see what happens. And even if you fail – especially if you fail – come back with your experience and your hard-won knowledge and a story you can tell. And then later you can say, without regret or hesitation… ‘Once, I dared to dare greatly.'”

I absolutely loved the plot of this book. It has Morgan Matson’s trademark blend of family, friendship and romance. The different aspects of this book were so nicely balanced and I never felt like any one aspect was taking over the book. There is probably a little more romance in this novel compared to her three previous novels, but it was still nicely balanced with the friendship, family and coming-of-age elements. I did find the first 150 pages or so to be a little bit too slow-paced and it felt a little draggy, especially considering that the book is over 500 pages long. But the rest of the book was much faster-paced and I sped through it. By the time I reached the end, I wanted it to keep going on and on forever.

The characters in this book were wonderful and really relatable. Morgan Matson is so great at developing characters that are easy to connect with and relate to. I loved Andie and thought she was a great main character but I have to say that Clark was my favourite. He was so awkward and cute at the beginning! But what I loved most was how complex and multifaceted his character was. He’s awkward at times but he’s definitely not the shy, nerdy and inexperienced type. I also loved that he was an author of fantasy novels and that he’s got lots of fans who are mad at him for not releasing his next book soon enough, as well as fans who send him fandom merch that he takes great pride in wearing/using. It all just spoke to my heart. I love Clark so much!

I really loved the relationships that were in this book. Andie’s relationship with her father was rocky at the start of the book but I really enjoyed seeing how they mended their relationship slowly and really made the effort to spend time together. Their father and daughter bonding activities were so fun to read about. I loved that they bonded with each other over Clark’s books and that he really made the effort to try to get to know Clark for Andie’s sake. It was just really heartwarming to read about. I also enjoyed how he was there to help out when she needed help. It was just an amazing relationship to witness and I could have done with even more of it. And of course I highly enjoyed Andie and Clark’s relationship. They were so well-suited and such a compatible couple. I loved the dynamic of their relationship and how he always gave her the chance to properly express herself and never let her hide from her own feelings. They were just wonderful together and their romance is probably my favourite out of the four that Morgan Matson has written. And it wasn’t only Andie and Clark’s relationship that I enjoyed, I also absolutely loved Palmer and Tom’s relationship and how awesome they were together too.

And finally, how could I not mention the dogs in this review? If you’re a lover of dogs, there is no way that you won’t fall in love with this book. This novel is so full of puppy-goodness that you’ll find yourself stroking the images on the cover and rereading paragraphs about the dogs over and over. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed!

Book Haul: April 2016

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I think I did pretty well this month with my book haul. I controlled myself pretty well and only bought a couple of books. I’ve read a lot of the books in this haul already as well, which makes me feel super happy.

BOOK DEPOSITORY

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These are books that I’ve had on my wishlist for a while. I’ve been waiting for the paperback US edition of The Blood of Olympus to come out for a while to complete my collection and now it’s finally here! I’ve also been highly anticipating The Rose and the Dagger and it definitely didn’t disappoint. And I’ve been wanting to buy I’ll Meet You There for a really long time because Lois @ My Midnight Musing keeps recommending it to me… and she was totally right. This book is amazing so far!

RECEIVED

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I received quite a lot of books this month but most of them were actually from my coblogger, Jeann @ Happy Indulgence. She’s been saving them all up to send in one package haha. She sent me Honor Girl, The Honest Truth, The Square Root of Summer, and Thanks for the Trouble to review on Happy Indulgence in the coming weeks. So thank you to Walker Books, Scholastic, Pan Macmillan and Simon and Schuster for those books. Jeann also sent me a couple of books I’ve been wanting to read for a while: The First Third and Falling into Place. Some publishers also kindly sent me a couple of books for review as well. I got The Outliers from HarperCollins, Love, Lies and Spies from Pan Macmillan, and The Winner’s Kiss from Bloomsbury. I actually also bought my own copy of The Winner’s Kiss when it first came out because I couldn’t wait to read it. I was in Melbourne at the time and ended up walking all around the city and the Carlton area to hunt down a copy 😀

eBOOKS

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Sarah Ockler has recently just released four of her books as ebooks in the UK and Australia. She was kind enough to send me copies of The Book of Broken Hearts and Bittersweet to review on Happy Indulgence! I also picked up A Hollywood Deal on a whim from iBooks… and it was a bit of a disappointment…


Have you read any of these books? Let me know which ones I should pick up ASAP!

Review: The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

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Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release date: April 26, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 416
Goodreads || Book Depository

The Rose and the Dagger is the sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn, which means that this review might contain spoilers for the first book.

THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER SYNOPSIS

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster – a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain – but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid – a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The sumptuous saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

I really really enjoyed this sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn, and it exceeded all of my expectations. Granted, I didn’t really know what to expect and went into the book without many expectations, but I still thought it was a wonderful and magical ending to the duology.

“Cut the strings, Shazi. Fly.”

While I enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn mostly for its plot and concept, I enjoyed The Rose and the Dagger because of the complex characterisation and the relationships between the characters. I liked Shazi as a main character a lot more in this sequel. I felt like I understood her a little bit better and her defiant attitude and sass wasn’t as annoying to me this time. I liked that she stuck to what she believed in and what she wanted, and her determination really came through to me. I also really loved Khalid in this story. I liked that he’s not the typical misunderstood guy who’s actually really gentle and sensitive. He has his dark and ruthless side, which made him a really interesting character to read about. I also really loved some of the side characters, especially Irsa and Rahim, whose romance I absolutely fell in love with. I was so invested in their story that I almost enjoyed it more than Shazi and Khalid’s story. I also really loved the addition of Artan, the magus, in this book. He was probably one of my favourites and I wished he had had a bigger role in the story. Overall, the characters were a standout and I felt so connected to them that I might have shed a tear or two… or three.

The Rose and the Dagger was a little bit slow in pace but it had a wonderful magical quality to the writing and atmosphere that I highly enjoyed. I felt like I was transported into a really mythical and magical setting. However, I did have a few problems with the magical aspects of the book, especially Shazi’s magical abilities. They felt very convenient and her abilities were really only displayed when she was in a bit of a pickle and needed a way out. I wish it had been developed a little bit better and the story might have been stronger if this was a trilogy instead of a duology. There were just some aspects that felt a little weak and underdeveloped to me, including the climax of the book. While it was kind of epic, I just wanted a little bit more action, thrill and intensity.

Other than that, I really enjoyed the plot and how well it flowed. It had lots of sweet moments and heartstopping moments, which kept me hooked. I finished the book in two sittings and thought it was delightful.