Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Publisher: Simon & Schuster’s Books for Young Readers
Release date: May 2, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 336
Goodreads || Book Depository

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

MY THOUGHTS

Always and Forever, Lara Jean is the third and final book in the series so this review may contain spoilers for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

I think my rating for this book is probably closer to a 4.5 stars but it’s inflated just because of sentimental reasons. I’ve been waiting for this book since the first book came out. I really liked P.S. I Still Love You but this was the book that I wished that one was. If you love Lara Jean and Peter together, this is a must-read for you. There are no love triangles, I promise!

Always and Forever, Lara Jean is about the final few months of Lara Jean and Peter’s senior year of high school. Peter’s been accepted to the University of Virginia already and Lara Jean is convinced that she’s going to be accepted too. She’s already planned out her college experience with Peter and is extremely excited about being able to be with Peter, as well as close enough to home to visit regularly. However, things don’t always go to plan and suddenly Lara Jean and Peter find themselves having to alter their plans and learn who they are as individuals away from each other.

I really loved the plot of this book. It’s been a long time since I graduated from high school, but I felt really connected with this story because my co-blogger, Aila just graduated and was going through some similar experiences recently. I really connected with Lara Jean’s struggles when it came to figuring out what she wanted to do after high school, especially after her plans fell through. I enjoyed watching her character development throughout the book as she learned to become more independent and put her own needs and wants before others.

But of course, my favourite aspect of the book was the adorable romance between Lara Jean and Peter. This is the first book in the series where we get to see the two of them together for the entire book and it was so worth the wait. The two of them are so perfect together and I loved how Peter just indulges Lara Jean’s quirks. I enjoyed how they worked through their problems together and I just thought their relationship was sugary sweet and everything I needed.

I’m so glad that Jenny Han decided to come out with this third book in this series. I wasn’t super happy with how P.S. I Still Love You ended because I wanted more of Lara Jean and Peter’s story. I’m extremely happy with what we got in this third novel and I’m going to be binge rereading this on sad and rainy days for a long time to come.

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Review: The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: January 26, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 373
Goodreads || Book Depository

Love chose me, and I tried, but I couldn’t stop the arrow in its flight.

As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, fifteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of using her extraordinary sense of smell to mix base notes, top notes, and heart notes into elixirs that help others fall in love.

All while remaining incurably alone.

For Mim, the rules are clear—falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school existence—taking up a sport and limping away flush from victory, joining the debate club and saying things like “That’s a logical fallacy!” Having a boyfriend.

When she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the school soccer star to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that when it comes to falling in love, the choice isn’t always hers to make.

MY THOUGHTS

I have a few Stacey Lee books at home on my shelf but The Secret of a Heart Note is the first one that I’ve picked up, and it absolutely blew me away. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately and this was just what I needed. It was not only cute and a feel-good read, but also a really refreshing contemporary story with a sprinkle of magical realism.

This book follows Mimosa, who is one of two aromateurs left on the planet. Her role as an aromateur involves making love elixirs and playing matchmakers for the clients who visit her and her mother for help. These elixirs are based on the scents or notes of her clients and there are lots of intricacies involved. Mim has a superior sense of smell because of her being an aromateur, which brings a lot of pros but a few cons as well. There are lots of rules involved and not all of the rules are agreeable to Mim, especially the one dictating that she must never find love in her own life, or she’ll cease to be an aromateur due to her superior olfactory senses fading away. Having just recently gotten her reluctant mother to allow her to attend high school, rather than continuing to be home-schooled, Mim finds her time as a student in jeopardy when she accidentally gives the wrong target a love elixir. In order to fix this problem, she requires the help of Court, the rich boy and school soccer star, but quickly finds herself falling for him.

I thought this story was so adorable. It was whimsical and fun and I have to say that the magical realism really added to the story here. It made it a really unique and refreshing read and I fell in love with it from page one. But that wasn’t the only thing that I loved about the story. I really enjoyed all of the relationships that were explored in this book and I loved that it wasn’t only about romance but was also about familial love and the relationship between Mim and her mother. With the weight of the world and the family aromateur legacy on her shoulders, Mim has always felt that she needed to be exceptional in order to not disappoint her mother and to uphold the legacy of her family, even though she longs to just be an ordinary girl. It was really great to see Stacey Lee explore that in detail and to focus on those family elements in the novel. But that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the romance between Court and Mim. I found it to be really endearing and sweet, and I looked forward to every scene with the two of them. I liked the dynamics of the relationship, especially the forbidden love aspects, and it’s one of my favourite romance stories that I’ve read so far this year.

I also loved almost every single character in the book but Mim was definitely my favourite. She was an extremely relatable character because, while she had an extraordinary gift, her wants, desires and though processes were really ordinary and relatable. I admired her tenacity and her wanting to set things right whenever she made mistakes and I loved following her on her journey. I also absolutely loved Court, even though sometimes he made rash decisions that frustrated me. The other side characters in the book were all a lot of fun to read about and I really loved the reading experience because of how much fun I had reading about the characters and their antics.

Overall, I absolutely loved The Secret of a Heart Note. It was an extremely unique read and I finished it in two sittings because I was so captivated by the story. It’s one of my favourite books that I’ve read so far this year and I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for a light read that will leave you with all the warm and fuzzies.

Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan & Brian Conaghan

we-come-apartPublisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Release date: March 1, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
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Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess’s home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship grows into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and hopeful futures. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?

For fans of Una LaMarche’s Like No Other, this illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have no words for how much I love this book. It was raw and honest and I could not have asked for anything more from it. I loved the themes of racism, immigration and love in the novel and it was just one of the most poignant stories I’ve read in a while.

We Come Apart is a story that is written in verse and from dual perspectives. If you’ve never read anything by Sarah Crossan, you must because her ability to tell stories in verse is out of this world. I’ve previously read One and The Weight of Water and they were both amazing. I haven’t read anything by Brian Conaghan but this book made me really excited to check out his solo work. I really loved the two perspectives in this book and I thought they worked wonderfully together. The book alternates perspectives every few pages and I really enjoyed this because it gave me a really good idea of what they were both thinking about a certain situation or event. The book doesn’t have headers telling us whose perspective we’re reading from but it’s completely clear who is speaking because the voices were so different.

Nicu, our male lead, is an immigrant from Romania and speaks in very disjointed English. I particularly loved his voice and never found it to be difficult to understand. The reason why I loved his voice so much was because he expressed every thought and feeling in a pure and honest manner because of his inability to speak English fluently. The way that he tried to describe his thoughts was just so unflinching and relatable that it was impossible not to love his voice and his character. I also highly enjoyed Jess. Her voice wasn’t as ‘meaningful’ to me as Nicu’s but I thought she was still a very relatable character and even though, she’s very different to who I am as a person, I still connected with her story and empathised deeply.

i was extremely taken by the story of We Come Apart. Jess and Nicu meet at a Reparation Scheme for juvenile offenders. They are both having trouble with their families and this draws the two of them together. Nicu’s family is staying temporarily in North London so that they can earn enough money to pay for teenage Nicu to take a wife back in his village in Romania. Despite his repeated protests, Nicu’s family has no interest in what Nicu wants and are determined for him to return to Romania and get married as soon as possible. Nicu wants badly to stay in London and get an education, but at school, he is severely bullied by his classmates and teachers for being different and a person of colour. Jess lives with her mother and abusive stepfather, who regularly forces Jess to video record while he beats up her mother. Jess’s mum doesn’t seem to have any intention of leaving and Jess isn’t strong enough to do anything about it either. She spends her days lashing out by stealing and engaging in behaviours that would be frowned upon. But when she meets Nicu, the two of them open up to each other and are there for each other. What I appreciated about this friendship and relationship was that there was a very natural and gradual development. The two don’t start off as fast friends but gradually develop into two people who understand each other. I loved the development in their characters and Jess’s change from being a prejudiced teen like her schoolmates to being a more tender and empathetic person.

If I had one small criticism, it would be that the ending of the book was a little bit rushed and not very resolved. I finished the book feeling like the authors left me hanging a little and would’ve liked more resolution. However, I was still extremely satisfied with how the book played out and how relevant the issues it explores are to society today. It’s an important story that needs to be read!

We Come Apart is released on March 1st, 2017 by Bloomsbury Australia. It is available at Australian retailers for $17.99.

Review: Wires and Nerve, Vol. 1 by Marissa Meyer & Douglas Holgate

wires-and-nervePublisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: January 31, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 240
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure — with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team.

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

This review may contain spoilers for The Lunar Chronicles.

I have no words for how much I’ve missed the world of The Lunar Chronicles and how much I loved Wires and Nerve. This graphic novel follows Iko, an android and Cinder’s best friend, as she tries to rid Earth of rogue wolf-hybrid soldiers that were created by Queen Levana. Along the way we get to check in with the rest of the crew, especially Cinder, Cress and Thorne.

What I loved most about this graphic novel was that it was a continuation of The Lunar Chronicles rather than a rerelease of the original story in graphic novel format. It was really nice to be able to see Earth and Luna, post-Levana, and see how the world is developing. It was also fantastic to be able to reconnect with all of the characters again and see where they are now, especially because the small glimpses that we got in Stars Above was just not enough for me. It was so wonderful to see the couples and there was some serious flailing going on while I read it.

I finished the graphic novel pretty quickly and my biggest complaint is that I have to wait another year for the next volume to come out. However, what happened in this first volume of Wires and Nerve has made me extremely excited to see what happens next. Marissa Meyer has teased us with a few moments of romantic tension between Iko and Kinney here and there and I can’t wait to see what will happen next. I’m anticipating lots of great interactions between the two. There also seems to be a great Wolf storyline coming up in the next volume that I cannot wait to explore further. Wolf and Scarlet is a couple that I really liked in the series and I was a little bit disappointed that we didn’t see more of them in this first volume. However, there were lots of Cress and Thorne moments, which made me extremely happy because they are my favourite of the four couples that we saw in The Lunar Chronicles. I loved the involvement of all of the characters in the plot and that the story wasn’t just about Iko.

I also really loved how this graphic novel explored attitudes towards androids and cyborgs, and how Iko never felt like she fit in with other androids, and at times with her group of friends. Iko is so sassy and confident in the series that it was nice to read from her perspective and see her vulnerabilities and how out of place she feels. I’m keen to see how that’s going to be explored further in the next volume.

I’m so excited to have another Lunar Chronicles book in my hands and it definitely did not disappoint. I cannot wait to get the next volume and see where Marissa Meyer takes the story.

Top 10 Books of 2016

top-ten-books-of-2016

As of right now, I’ve read 198 books this year (trying to power through 2 more to reach my goal of 200!), so it was extremely difficult to narrow it down to just ten favourites. But there were quite a few clear standouts on my list and here they are. If you would like to see other lists of my favourites from this year, I posted my top ten contemporary reads of 2016 on Happy Indulgence and was also a part of Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts’ 2016 Thinking Awards.

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

This novel took me completely by surprise. It was a highly anticipated book of mine but I had no idea that I would love it as much as I did. This book is set in Alaska in the 1970s and follows four different perspectives. I thought the writing was absolutely beautiful and there was a wonderful balance in themes. I also especially loved how the four perspectives came together and how seamlessly the book tied it all together.

9. Corruption by Jessica Shirvington

Corruption is the sequel to Disruption by Jessica Shirvington. While I really loved the first book in this Aussie YA duology, it was this sequel that completely took my breath away. It was packed full of action and omg the romance in this duology is just off the charts good. Maggie and Quentin are my OTP of the year! If you haven’t read this yet, you have to pick it up.

8. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

I love the Shadowhunter books and Lady Midnight was no exception. In my opinion, it’s actually one of the better books from Cassie Clare. The Infernal Devices is still my favourite but Lady Midnight definitely surprised me. I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters when I first read about them as pre-teens in City of Heavenly Fire but I absolutely loved the whole cast of characters (yes, even Perfect Diego)!

7. The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Trilogy was one of my favourite series that I read this year and The Winner’s Crime was definitely my favourite of the three books. While I really liked The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Kiss, I just thought that this second book had really great tension and political intrigue.

6. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

This book. THIS BOOK. It’s perfect for all fans of magical realism. It had a whimsical and enchanting world and I love Anna-Marie McLemore’s storytelling abilities. The characters were perfection and the themes and messages in the book came across to me so clearly. I thought it was brilliantly executed.

5. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

This was my first Ruta Sepetys book and I have no idea why it took me so long to read one of her novels, since I’m a massive fan of WWII historical fiction. What I loved about this book was the research that Ruta Sepetys put into writing her novel. It was obvious from the very first page and I really enjoyed reading about a little-known event in history. This book also transcends time and marketing categories. Even though it’s a YA novel, I can see so many different people appreciating it and loving it.

4. Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

This was one of my most anticipated sequels of this year after I read Wolf by Wolf earlier in the year and it didn’t disappoint at all. There was so much action and the plot twists were almost heart-stopping. There were a few plot points that I didn’t like (not because they were bad but because they hurt my heart) but this book definitely gets all the stars from me.

3. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

This is probably one of the books that I raved about the most this year. I highly, highly enjoyed this Romeo and Juliet-inspired story and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for months and months. In fact, I’m still thinking about it. I enjoyed it so much when I read it that I couldn’t bring myself to write a review for it. It’s absolutely beautiful and has a romance that had my heart out of control.

2. I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

This is my favourite contemporary read of this year. It had been recommended to me multiple times by different bloggers, so I finally picked it up earlier this year. And it was so good! There was nothing that I didn’t like about this novel. The characters were perfection, the romance was perfection and the plot was perfection.

1. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom is without a doubt my favourite book of this year. It was my most highly anticipated book of the year and it definitely lived up to all of my high expectations. It had everything that I wanted from this sequel and it wrapped up the duology in the most incredible way. I didn’t think that I could love it more than Six of Crows but it was absolutely amazing. If you haven’t read this duology yet, I honestly don’t know what you’re waiting for.


What was your favourite book of 2016? Stay tuned for my next post: 2016 End of Year Survey!

Review: Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

blood-for-blood Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Release date: October 6, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 496
Goodreads || Book Depository

There would be blood.
Blood for blood.
Blood to pay.
An entire world of it.

For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.

Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love?

This gripping, thought-provoking sequel to Wolf by Wolf will grab readers by the throat with its cinematic writing, fast-paced action, and relentless twists.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

Blood for Blood is the sequel of Wolf by Wolf, which means that this review may contain spoilers for the first book.

Wolf by Wolf was one of my favourite releases of last year and I’ve been highly anticipating Blood for Blood since last year. And it definitely did not disappoint. Wolf by Wolf ended on a bit of a cliffhanger and I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this sequel other than more fantastic storytelling and lots of intense action. Ryan Graudin definitely delivered both of those things and I can say that this was one of my favourite releases of this year.

Blood for Blood picks up exactly where Wolf by Wolf ended, with Yael running away from the ball. It’s a little bit hard to describe exactly what this book is about because there are so many things going on, but throughout the novel, Yael and her comrades escape from various foes and work with the Resistance to bring down the Third Reich and the Fuhrer. I absolutely loved the plot of this book. There were countless unexpected twists that kept me on my toes, and it’s definitely a book where nobody is safe from death. There was never a sense that our beloved characters were untouchable and I really enjoyed that about the book (even though I will protect my babies until the end of time). This book was extremely action-packed even though it wasn’t as fast-paced as Wolf by Wolf. I thought the pacing was perfect for the story and I loved the intensity of everything that was going on. Some of the events in this sequel had me visibly shaking and it’ll take me a little while to get over all the feels. The last 100 pages of the book absolutely blew my mind and I really loved how everything was revealed and tied together neatly at the end. There was definitely a lot of internal screeching as I was reading Blood for Blood, but it was completely worth all of the pain and fear I felt.

Was it really so surprising that Yael was nothing like the slurs Luka’s father/teacher/Fuhrer spewed? That out of all the souls Luka had ever come across, hers was one of the brightest? It held the bravery of one hundred Iron Crosses, melted down and forged into something purer – a courage not corroded by cruelty.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book, even though we have a potential traitor in our midst. I appreciated Yael so much more in this book because she was completely herself and not a fake Adele Wolfe. I loved her compassion, her strength and her convictions and she’s definitely one of my favourite fictional heroines because of these qualities. Her resilience was astounding and I enjoyed everything about her character. I also continued to love Luka in this book, which is probably a surprise to no-one because I loved him immensely in the first book. We got to see so much more of his character and I really connected with him and his story. I love every side of his character – his cockiness, his ability to find humour in every situation and his love for doing what he thinks is right. As for some of the other characters, I really did not like Felix in this book. He really grated on my nerves but I did like the way that his character was developed. I also really enjoyed seeing some of the characters that were mentioned in Wolf by Wolf. It was nice to see them make an appearance here in the book and to see the relationship that they had with Yael.

There wasn’t a lot that I didn’t like about this book. While it didn’t have the excitement of a fast-paced motocross race, it did have war, strategy, survival, family and love all wrapped up nicely into one book. My only criticism would probably be that there isn’t another installment.

Review: When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

when-the-moon-was-ours Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release date: October 4, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 288
Goodreads || Book Depository

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

When the Moon was Ours is the epitome of everything that I love in a story. It had beautiful writing, a romance and friendship that gave me hope, and magical realism elements that left me in wonder. This book isn’t for everyone, but if you love all of the things that I mentioned above, I think you will absolutely fall in love with this story.

I read Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Weight of Feathers at the beginning of this year and fell in love. That novel is still my favourite of her books but When the Moon was Ours explores other things that are near and dear to my heart. The diversity in this novel is absolutely amazing and I loved the exploration of and focus on identity and having the courage to be the person we want to be. This novel follows two LGBTQ+ characters: Sam, a transgender boy, and his queer best friend, Miel. And what I appreciated about this LGBTQ+ representation was that it didn’t feel forced. McLemore incorporates the exploration of gender identity so well into her plot, her characters and her magical realism elements, and everything just worked seamlessly and effortlessly. While I do read a lot of LGBTQ+ fiction, I’ve read very few books that feature transgender main characters and When the Moon was Ours is by far the best. It thoroughly examines the struggle that transgender people go through, including the fear of rejection by the community and the fear of nonacceptance by family and friends. It explores the courage that it takes to tell others and to own your identity. It was evident that these issues mean a lot to the author and it’s particularly special knowing that her own personal story is reflected in this novel.

This book not only has diversity of sexual orientation, it also includes lots of culturally diverse characters. Sam is Pakistani and there’s a lot of Pakistani food and culture mentioned in the book. McLemore uses a Pakistani cultural practice called bacha posh quite heavily in her book and I really enjoyed how much of the plot and Sam’s identity was tied to this. Bacha posh is a practice where families without boys will choose one of their daughters to dress and live as a boy until they are old enough to get married. In the novel, Sam hides behind the practice of bacha posh and uses it as an excuse to keep living as a boy, without hurting or disappointing his mother. I just really appreciated how these cultural elements were incorporated into the story and that the author wasn’t scared to include a lot of diversity in her novel. Cultural identity is important and McLemore highlights this importance brilliantly in her book.

She was a place whose darkness held not fear, but the promise of stars.

My favourite thing about this book is definitely the relationships. The romance between Sam and Miel was first and foremost a friendship and I loved how much they supported each other through the good times and the bad. Their connection was great and the way that they kept each others secrets and protected each other was really beautiful. But it wasn’t just the relationship between Sam and Miel that warmed my heart. I absolutely adored Sam’s relationship with his mother, as well as Miel’s relationship with Aracely, the lady who takes in Miel at a young age. The family and friendship elements were exquisite and made the book extremely touching and enjoyable to read.

All of the beautiful elements that I’ve discussed above make it unnecessary to even talk about the plot because at this point you’ve probably already run away to order the book. But I also absolutely loved the plot. I thought it was extremely clever and the way that the magical realism elements tied into the themes of the book as well as the plot was really masterful. I loved all the magic and the quirkiness of the story and its setting, even though it was surprisingly creepy and thrilling. There were some amazing plot twists that I didn’t see coming and I highly enjoyed every last word of this novel.

Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

crooked-kingdom

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor-park

Publisher: Orion
Release date: February 1, 2013
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 325
Goodreads || Book Depository

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried.

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Disruption and Corruption by Jessica Shirvington

disruption-duology

The Disruption duology by Jessica Shirvington was recently rereleased with new covers. Aren’t they just beautiful? I think they’re more representative of the story than the previous covers, even though they were extremely beautiful too! Let’s get into my thoughts on the two books.

Thank you to HarperCollins Australia for sending me review copies of the books. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

DISRUPTION

disruptionPublisher: HarperCollins Australia
Release date: June 20, 2016 (originally April 2014)
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 416
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

What if a microchip could identify your perfect match? What if it could be used against you and the ones you love?

Eight years ago, Mercer Corporation’s M-Bands became mandatory. An evolution of the smartphone, the bracelets promised an easier life. Instead, they have come to control it.

Two years ago, Maggie Stevens watched helplessly as one of the people she loved most was taken from her, shattering her world as she knew it.

Now, Maggie is ready. And Quentin Mercer – heir to the M-Corp empire – has become key to Maggie’s plan. But as the pieces of her dangerous design fall into place, could Quentin’s involvement destroy everything she’s fought for?

In a world full of broken promises, the ones Maggie must keep could be the most heartbreaking.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Disruption was a fantastic start to Jessica Shirvington’s dystopian duology. It was fast-paced and engaging, and has characters that you can’t help but root for.

The story begins 9 years after the US government made M-bands mandatory for all of its citizens. M-bands are a magnificent piece of technology that allows you to keep track of all things in life, including your heartbeat and other vitals, your medical history, your car keys (so to speak) and your money. Most importantly, M-bands allow you to find your true romantic match. As soon as you turn 18, your M-band is installed with Phera-Tech, which calculates a rating based on pheromones with everyone who has Phera-Tech activated within a certain distance. While you can have Phera-Tech turned off, each person must log at least four ratings each month and if four or more ratings are negative, you are taken to a rehabilitation camp because you are a ‘Neg’ and a danger to society. Or at least that’s what the public think.

Our main  character, Maggie’s father became a Neg overnight and was taken away two years ago. Since then, Maggie has been trying to locate her father by searching Neg camps and blackmailing people to help her. What Maggie’s discovered is that the rehabilitation camps are fake and the Negs are locked up in underground prisons and recruited into being soldiers and slaves… all controlled by the Mercer Corporation. In order to rescue her father, she must use Quentin Mercer and get him to empathise and open his eyes to the atrocities that his family is responsible for.

I absolutely loved the plot of this book. It was a really well thought out world and I highly enjoyed how the story unfolded. It was filled with twists that I never saw coming and I was really invested in everything that was going on. My criticism of the plot was that it dragged a bit in the middle section of the book. There wasn’t much happening for a large portion and it definitely felt like we had jumped from doing not much at all to the climax where everything was happening all at once. It was just missing a little bit of plot development for me. Having said that, it didn’t bother me too much because there was a lot of wonderful character development going on during this middle section of the novel.

I loved the characters in Disruption. Maggie starts off as a bit of a dislikeable and manipulative character who doesn’t care who she steps on in order to achieve her main purpose of rescuing her father. She blackmails those around her into doing her bidding and doesn’t care that she’s ruining other people’s lives in the process. However, Maggie’s growth throughout this novel was one of the highlights of Disruption for me. She develops lots of wonderful relationships with the people around her and it was wonderful to see her trust in them and confide in them. Her relationship with Gus, the black market computer genius and hacker, was so funny and they fought constantly like siblings. Gus was so snarky and had a great sense of humour. I loved his role in the book and how he became such a big presence in Maggie’s life.

And of course I loved Quentin, the love interest in the novel. He was just perfection – handsome, smart and most importantly, not evil. He brought out so many great qualities in Maggie and taught her to love and care about others. Even though their relationship started off a bit rocky, with Maggie manipulating him, I really enjoyed how their romance developed and I ship these two soooo much! It was a romance that had my heart racing and breaking throughout the book and I wanted to read more and more about them! And luckily, I could because there’s a sequel!

I’M NOW GOING TO GO INTO MY THOUGHTS ON CORRUPTION. THERE NO SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST BOOK, EXCEPT FOR THE SYNOPSIS THAT I’VE INCLUDED WITH THE BOOK INFORMATION.

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