Review: Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Release date: January 1, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 464
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After the scandalous events at her presentation ball in London, Lady Helen has taken refuge at the fashionable seaside resort of Brighton, where she is training to be a Reclaimer with the covert Dark Days Club.

As she struggles to put aside her genteel upbringing and take up the weapons of a warrior, Helen realizes that her mentor, Lord Carlston, is fighting his own inner battle. Has the foul Deceiver energy poisoned his soul, or is something else driving him towards violent bouts of madness? Either way, Helen is desperate to help the man with whom she shares a deep but forbidden connection.

When Mr Pike, the hard bureaucratic heart of the Dark Days Club, arrives in Brighton, no one is prepared for the ordinary evil he brings in his wake. He has a secret task for Helen and Mr Hammond, and the authority of the Prince Regent. They have no choice but to do as he orders, knowing that the mission will betray everyone around them and possibly bring about Lord Carlston’s annihilation.

MY THOUGHTS

This is the sequel to Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club, which means that this review may contain spoilers for the first book.

Thank you to HarperCollins Australia for providing a review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I read and really enjoyed Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club last year and was extremely excited for the release of its sequel this year. I loved Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact even more than the first book and it’s made me even more excited for the last book in the trilogy.

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact picks up a few weeks after the end of the first book and we follow Lady Helen as she starts her training. Meanwhile, Lord Carlston is acting increasingly strange and Lady Helen, as well as the members of the Dark Days Club, are concerned about Lord Carlson’s motives and his future. When Lady Helen is approached with a dangerous task that will betray the people she has grown to love, especially Lord Carlston, she struggles with what the right decision is. I really loved the entire plot of this book. I thought it was exciting and I didn’t find any of it to be predictable. I was kept on my toes for a lot of the book and I found the last third of the novel to be really exciting. The pace of the novel was quite slow for the first two-thirds but I didn’t mind it too much because I thought it set up the climax brilliantly. The ending of this novel really left me wanting more and I’m highly anticipating the third book in this trilogy.

I really, really enjoyed all of the characters in this installment and I really liked learning more about each of the characters and their backstories. I loved Lady Helen’s strength and intelligence. I loved reading about her journey and the way she approached the troubles she was facing. I also really liked some of the side characters and the role that they played in the novel. I’m not entirely sure how I felt about Lord Carlston in this book because he was kind of moody and wasn’t really himself. I’m looking forward to learning more about him in the next book. The only character who I wasn’t a big fan of in this book was Duke Selburn. I absolutely loved him in the first book but I found him to be extremely annoying and clingy in this novel. I honestly cannot wait to see how the trilogy is going to end.

As a whole, I was extremely happy with Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact. I thought it was a wonderful continuation to the story and I can already see a really exciting finale in store for us. I’m looking forward to learning more about the characters and the world, and I can’t wait to see how the story wraps up.

Review: Windwitch by Susan Dennard

windwitchPublisher: Tor UK
Release date: January 10, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 382
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Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Windwitch is the sequel to Truthwitch, which means that this review may contain spoilers for the first book.

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

Windwitch was a fantastic sequel to Truthwitch. There was a lot of character development and I really enjoyed how much more we got to learn about the characters and the world. In this second installment, we follow the four main characters on their separate journeys. We have Safi who is now travelling with the Empress of Marstok, Vaness. Their ship is attacked and during their escape, they are captured by the scary Hell-bards. Prince Merik has also found himself the victim of an attack and after losing his ship and most of his crew, he roams his lands searching for the one who’s responsible for his disfigured face. Along the way he discovers a dark secret that could change everything. Iseult is on a mission to find her Threadsister, Safi, but runs into Aeduan, who has been tasked with the job of capturing Iseult. The two strike up a deal and end up travelling together but they both find out more about themselves and each other during their journey.

I loved everything that went down in this book but I did feel that it was a bit of a filler book. I didn’t really have a good idea of where the book was going and how everything fit together until close to the end of the novel. There isn’t a lot that actually happens besides a lot of walking around, escape and survival. It was definitely more of a character-driven book than a plot-driven book, and because of this, it took me a while to get through it because I was unsure of what was happening and where the series was going. The last 100 pages of the book, however, makes things a lot more clear and by the end of the novel, I could see a clear direction of where the series was going. I also didn’t really mind that it was a character-driven book because the characters were extremely interesting to me.

I highly enjoyed how much the characters developed in this book, and I loved seeing the relationships between them deepen. The dynamic between Safi and Vaness was a really interesting one and I enjoyed seeing the respect that grew between them. I also really enjoyed Safi’s interactions with the Hell-bards and how the group dynamic changed throughout the book. I enjoyed seeing the complexities of Merik and his sister, Vivia’s relationship. I really appreciated being able to follow Vivia’s perspective throughout Windwitch too because I thought she was a fantastic character and I’m glad that we got to see so much of her. But most of all, I enjoyed Aeduan and Iseult’s budding relationship that evolved from animosity to respect to companionship. I just ship them so hard! I can’t wait to see how all these relationships unfold in Bloodwitch.

Overall, I thought this was a really strong sequel, despite not being able to latch on to the plot. I highly enjoyed all of the characters and I’m really excited to see how everything plays out in the next installment.

Review: Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

wayfarerPublisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release date: January 3, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 532
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All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Wayfarer is the sequel to Passenger, which means that this review may contain spoilers for the first book. Check out my review for Passenger instead, if you haven’t read it yet.

I really enjoyed Passenger when I read it last year and was really looking forward to Wayfarer. It wasn’t really what I expected but I definitely wasn’t disappointed by it either. I did have some issues with the book but those were probably issues that I had because it had been a whole year since I had read Passenger and it took me a while to get used to the world again.

My main issue with the book was that I found the plot to be confusing. I don’t know if it’s because I’d forgotten a lot about the world and the time travel rules, but I had a hard time following what was going on, especially in the first 50 pages. I reread the ending of Passenger to familiarise myself with what had gone down in the first book and that helped a little bit but I still found it difficult to understand some of the time travel logic and the world at the start of the book. This book talks about many different timelines and I found myself really confused for the first 20% of the novel and couldn’t really follow along. It did get better as I progressed through the book though.

The other problem that I had with the plot was that I had no idea where the book was going for the majority of it. We follow Etta and Nicholas through two separate story arcs and I didn’t quite know what to believe because we were being led to believe two different things. The motives of the side characters and key players of the book were unclear and we were deliberately made to be suspicious of everything, which just added to my confusion as to what was happening. It also didn’t help that there were a lot of different parties with vastly different motives and goals. I couldn’t really keep track of who wanted to do what and I just felt a bit overwhelmed and found it to be too much at times. Ultimately, I just went with the flow and decided not to think about it too much and I ended up really enjoying everything that happened and how the story played out anyway.

We are, all of us, on our own journeys…

I loved all of the characters in this book. The characters were all very complex and multidimensional and I really enjoyed that there wasn’t a single one who was purely evil or purely good. I enjoyed reading about each character’s motivations as well as about some of their origins. I loved the new characters that we got to meet in this book, like Julian Ironwood and Henry Hemlock, as well as the old characters that we got to revisit. The character development in this book was also great and I learnt so much about some of the characters that I didn’t really like in Passenger. The character relationships in this book were spectacular and I loved the friendships that were forged in this book as well as the reunion of family. As a huge Etta and Nicholas shipper, I was a bit disappointed that the two characters spent so much of the book apart, but I was pretty happy with how their reunion played out.

I really enjoyed this duology. I’d love to reread the books again because I think it’ll help me understand Wayfarer a little bit better. Despite the confusion and how overwhelmed I felt while reading this book, I highly enjoyed it. It was action-packed and I loved all of the places that the characters time travelled to. It was so much fun and I loved the characters so, so much!

Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

starflight Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release date: February 2, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 369
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Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

Starflight is a fast-paced and addictive YA sci-fi novel. I was hooked from the very beginning and devoured the book in two short sittings because there was so much action and hilarity. I highly enjoyed the plot and the characters, but the standout for me was definitely the romance!

In this story, we follow Solara, who’s a criminal desperate for a new start in the Outer Fringes of the universe. But in order to get there, she needs passage on a ship and her only option is to indenture herself to her high school enemy, Doran Spaulding, heir to the biggest fuel company in the universe. But things quickly go wrong and the two of them find themselves on board the Banshee, which is home to a crew of misfits with their own secrets. What I loved most about the plot of this book was that it was nothing like what I expected going into the book. I started the story with an idea of what was going to happen but it deviated pretty quickly from what I expected. I enjoyed all of the action in the book and it kind of had everything: from space pirates to accidental marriages to betrayals to unexpected surprises at the end. I loved it all. I also really loved that the book was really funny. There was a lot of banter between the characters and some of the things that happened were hilarious.

The characters themselves were great and while I wasn’t sure about some of them at the start, I grew to love all of them really quickly. The crew were a family and it was hard not to fall in love with all of them. My favourite character was definitely Doran. He was super cute and I loved his learning curve in the novel. He really developed from a bratty rich kid into a wonderful and loyal man. I also really enjoyed Solara throughout the book. She did annoy me a little at the start but it was impossible not to relate to her and fall in love with her character and personality. I also loved the crew members, especially the first mate, Renny. He’s a kleptomaniac and steals the most random things because he can’t help it. I thought he was so funny and I loved him to bits. And of course, I really enjoyed the Captain, who has a pet sugar bear that he pretends not to love but secretly does. I just loved them all.

She’d learned that home was a fluid thing, and whether on a planet, on a satellite, or on a rusted bucket of a ship, this crew was her home.

The romance in the book definitely had my attention from the start. One of my favourite romantic tropes is hate to love and this book executed it perfectly. The development from enemies to friends to lovers was perfect and I shipped Solara and Doran sooooo hard. I cannot wait for the sequel, Starfall, to come out so that I can see my two babies together again.

If you’re looking for an addictive space opera, look no further. Starflight is absolutely amazing and it’s honestly embarrassing that I’ve had it for so long and only just picked it up now. It’s a fast-paced and light read and perfect for anyone who just wants a bit of action and fun.

Review: Replica by Lauren Oliver

replica Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release date: October 6, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 520
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Lyra’s story begins in the Haven Institute, a building tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida that from a distance looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, Haven is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed. When a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects – Lyra, aka number 24, and the boy known only as 72 – manage to escape.

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. A lonely teen, her life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April. But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven Institute. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.

replica_covers

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

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

Replica is a sci-fi novel with a very interesting format. It is written from the perspectives of two different girls, Lyra and Gemma. You can read Lyra’s story first and then flip the book over and read Gemma’s story. You can do the opposite and read Gemma’s story first. You also have the option of reading alternating chapters of Lyra and Gemma’s story until their stories meet in the middle.

I personally read Replica in alternating chapters, starting with Lyra’s story and then ending with Gemma’s. I decided against reading one perspective after the other because I thought it would take away some of the suspense of the story because I’d already know important plot points from reading the first perspective in its entirety. Having now read the entire book, I would still choose to read it by alternating perspectives every chapter, but if you were to read one perspective at a time, I don’t think that there is too much overlap. One thing to note is that there is one extra chapter in Gemma’s perspective, so if you decided to read Replica in alternating chapters starting with Lyra’s perspective like I did, you’ll find yourself left with two Gemma chapters after Lyra’s story is over.

I really, really loved the concept of this story. I don’t read a whole lot of sci-fi but Replica falls into my favourite type of sci-fi. I enjoyed the concept of the Haven Institute, which is home to thousands of replicas or clones that are experimented with and observed. These replicas have extremely weak bodies and have never been outside of the Haven Institute. They’re born and bred at the Institute and spend their days undergoing cognitive testing and physical exams. They are completely uneducated and are unable to read. The only people they come in contact with are the doctors and nurses who work at the Institute, who constantly remind them that they’re different and are lesser than human beings. I loved the Haven Institute and all of the mystery surrounding it. Lyra’s perspective gave us some really good insight into the Institute and how the system of the replicas worked. I initially went into the book expecting the replicas to be like robots or androids but they were no different from humans. They displayed the same kinds of physical and mental illnesses and humans, including eating disorders and suicide ideation, which I found really intriguing and interesting. My only criticism of the Haven Institute is that I felt like the world needed a bit more development and that there were some things missing from the book. The novel spends a lot of time focusing on the origins and the purpose of the Haven Institute and I would have liked a bit more focus on the operations within the Institute. Having said that, Replica is the first novel in what I believe is a duology so I’m hoping these things will be addressed further in the sequel.

I loved both of the main characters in this novel but my personal favourite was Lyra. I thought her story was so interesting and unique and I really loved her voice. I enjoyed how Lyra had never really experienced the real world and how she handled learning about new things. I did however think that Gemma’s story was fleshed out a little bit more than Lyra’s (possibly because Gemma lives in our contemporary world that doesn’t need much development) and I would’ve liked to have seen a little bit more from Lyra’s perspective. I thought Lyra was sensitive, kind and intelligent and I connected with her character from the very beginning. I wasn’t enamoured by Gemma from the very start but she quickly grew on me. Her character and her worries were extremely relatable and I ended up loving her and wanting to read more about her story by the time I reached the end of the novel. Her perspective worked extremely well with Lyra’s and I thought together, the two stories came together in a very exhilarating manner.

What I really enjoyed about the plot and the two different perspectives was that they worked together seamlessly. There was a tiny bit of overlap in plot and dialogue but the two characters do spend a large amount of time apart, leading to separate and unique stories. There were an endless number of plot twists, some predictable and some not, and I was so captivated by the story and how everything fitted together that I didn’t want to put the book down. Another thing that kept me invested in the book were the romances, even though I did have some issues with them. I thought there was a lot of insta-love and every boy that appeared in the book seemed to be a potential love interest. Having said that, I thought they were super sweet and I enjoyed the roles that the boys played in the story.

Overall, I thought this was a very interesting read and the ending definitely left me wanting more. The writing was easy to read and I sped through the book. I’m excited to see what the sequel will bring and whether it will be in the same format as Replica.

Review: Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan & Deborah Biancotti

swarm

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release date: September 28, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 400
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EVERY POWER HAS A DARK SIDE

Keep the secret.
Use your power for good.
Keep out of trouble.
Stick together.
Or things will fall apart.

It’s the holiday season, but the celebration at the Zeroes’s underground nightclub is blown apart when two strangers with new powers take to the dance floor. The Zeroes pursue them, only to discover that they’re fleeing an even more sinister power-wielder, Swarm. The Zeroes must learn all they can about this dangerous new player if they are to stay safe.

Meanwhile each of the Zeroes also has their own issues to deal with. Bellwether’s confidence is challenged, and Mob questions the nature of her power. Crash’s conscience gets a workout, and Anon and Scam face harsh truths about belonging. And it’s up to Flicker to pick up the reins and lead the Zeroes into a terrifying showdown.

A terrific sequel with a cracking pace that raises the stakes in this brilliant and unique superheroes series.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Swarm is the second book in the Zeroes trilogy, which means that this review may contain minor spoilers for the first book.

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

All I can say right now is whoa. And I need the next book ASAP! Swarm ends on an incredibly painful cliffhanger and I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself for the next 12 months while I wait for the next book to be released…

This trilogy is getting better and better. I enjoyed Zeroes immensely but wasn’t completely sold on all the characters and the plot of the book. Swarm takes it to a completely different level. It was engaging, fast-paced and action-packed. The whole novel takes place over just a few days and there’s so much that happens in the book that it’s hard not to get swept up in everything that’s going on. It also struck me again how unique and interesting the superpowers in this series are. This book picks up 6 months after the events in Zeroes and is about what happens when our group of Zeroes meet a pair of other Zeroes that don’t have good intentions. As they try to stop this couple from causing mass destruction, it turns out that there’s a bigger enemy called Swarm who has a mission that puts all Zeroes in danger. I really, really loved the plot of this book. I enjoyed it more than the events in Zeroes because, to me, it seemed a bit more logical and clear. I connected with it much more and was really invested in what was going on in the story. This might have been because I was more familiar with the characters at this point and could focus on the plot – who knows? I just thought that the plot explored a lot of really interesting questions about superheroes and superpowers, and whether having a superpower means that you’re automatically doing good. And what happens when your powers unknowingly destroy things and cause harm instead?

The other thing that I really loved about this book were the characters. When I read Zeroes, the only two characters that I really liked were Flicker and Anonymous. The others I either disliked or didn’t really care for. However, the character development in this book was fantastic. In the previous book, I felt like I didn’t have a good idea of who some of the characters were but Swarm definitely rectified that. We got to know more about Crash and she became a character that I came to like a lot more. We also get to see a different side to Bellwether and that was really refreshing. I also started to like Mob a little bit more. She was a character that I didn’t really understand or connect with in Zeroes but her character really morphed into somebody who was really interesting. Finally, there’s Scam… I’m still not completely sold on Scam. While the Ethan side of him is kind of endearing because he’s so awkward, I find it really hard to connect with his character. He also didn’t have a lot of page time in this book and I don’t feel any closer to him than before.

I really loved the character relationships in this book. I will adore Flickonymous forever and ever, and I’m really keen to see how their storyline plays out in the final book of the trilogy because this book killed me with all the feels. What I really enjoyed about Swarm was that the other romances in this book weren’t obvious. There were ships in the previous book that I was sure were going to sail in Swarm but the authors definitely turned some things on their heads. It was really refreshing and enjoyable to see. The group as a whole is more tight-knit and I’m interested to see where the next book takes them.

Swarm was published by Allen & Unwin on September 28, 2016. It is available at all Australian retailers for $19.99.

Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

crooked-kingdom

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Release date: September 27, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 546
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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: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

the-thousandth-floor

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: August 30, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 448
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A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

trial-by-fire

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Release date: November 10, 2015 (originally September 2014)
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 373
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Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

3 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

empire-of-storms

Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Release date: September 6, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 704
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The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

In this breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what – and who – to sacrifice if she’s to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

Empire of Storms is the fifth book in the Throne of Glass series, which means that this review may contain spoilers for the first four books.

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

I loooooved this fifth installment of this series but I didn’t love it more than Queen of Shadows and Heir of Fire. While there were lots and lots of elements and plot points that I highly enjoyed, I had a few minor issues. But they were so minor that I could probably overlook them.

The plot of this book was great and I thought it followed on nicely from the ending of Queen of Shadows. However, at times, I felt that the plot lacked logical flow and transitions. There were things that kind of happened out of the blue and I think that’s a little bit inexcusable for a book that’s 700 pages. Having said that, while it did make me slightly confused at times, it didn’t really bother me and I loved where we went in this story and how the book ended as well. It fit in really well with the overarching story arc of the series and I’m super excited to see where the finale takes us and how it’ll end.

This book follows a couple of different perspectives and character journeys and I enjoyed all of them. We follow the stories of not only Aelin and her court but also Manon’s story, Elide’s journey to finding Aelin and Lorcan’s own personal quest to find the Wyrdkeys. I loved finding out more about Elide and Lorcan because they were intriguing characters that we didn’t really get to see a lot of in previous installments. Those two characters really, really grew on me throughout the novel and I love them so much! I also highly enjoyed Manon’s story arc. I loved her in previous books but now I think she might be my favourite character of the series. Her journey throughout the book was heartwrenching but worked so perfectly with plot of the series. What I think was slightly missing in this book was Chaol’s story. I’m not the biggest Chaol fan but he wasn’t in this novel at all and I did find myself wondering what he was up to. I can understand why his story wasn’t included in this book since it was already filled with lots of juicy action but I think fans of Chaol will really be disappointed by the lack of Chaol in Empire of Storms.

All of the characters were fantastic in this novel. I had problems with the characters in A Court of Mist and Fury but I was definitely not disappointed by Empire of Storms. I do have to say though that some of the side characters overtook Aelin as my favourite. I thought the complexity of Manon and Elide’s characters in this fifth book were much more appealing and interesting to me than Aelin. She just felt a little bit less feisty and funny than in previous books. We saw a much more serious and responsible side of her in this novel, which worked well with the plot and makes complete sense. I just found her to be slightly less interesting to me than some of the other females in this book. In terms of the other characters, I continued to love Rowan in this novel. But I felt that his character was also slightly different to who he had been in the past. He was also a bit more subdued and at times came across as a bit weak and needy, as opposed to the big, bad Fae warrior he was in Heir of Fire. These are all very minor criticisms though because I love the cast of characters in this series and the things they make me feel.

All you really need to know about Empire of Storms is that it is absolutely amazing. Fans of Chaol might have a bit of a problem with the lack of Chaol in the novel but you definitely cannot deny that this is a wonderful installment with a clear story arc. I can’t wait to find out how it all ends and I’m so sad that it’ll be another year before I find out.

Empire of Storms was published by Bloomsbury on September 6, 2016 and is now available at Australian retailers for $17.99.