Book Review: The Binding By Bridget Collins

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Rating: ★★★★★
Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.

But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.

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Every now and then I read a book that steals my heart. The Binding just stole my heart. It was an incredible, boundary defying love story, and I was utterly besotted with the two protagonists, Emmett and Lucian. If you can’t tell by their names, this is a LGBT love story and it was perfection. I could read this again and again and I’m certain I’d enjoy it just as much as I did the first time. The writing had a beautiful lyrical quality and the gothic, atmospheric setting was perfection.

The story begins with Emmett, a young man set to inherit his families farm, until one day he receives a letter, telling him that he must go to become an apprentice book binder. In the world of The Binding your memories can be taken away and bound into books, something that promotes fear and prejudice. After giving up the only life he has ever known, Emmett it surprised to find a book with his name on it. From there, The Binding takes you on an incredible journey of self discovery and forbidden love.

This was amazing. My only critic would be that it did start a little slow, but not in a bad way. I actually really enjoyed getting to know these characters in an almost leisurely pace, unfolding little bits and pieces of them one page at a time. It was a gorgeous slow burn novel that focused heavily on the details, something that I find I often miss when reading YA as opposed to an Adult novel.

The plot and setting was incredibly immersive and at times confronting and gritty. It had such a profound effect on me that it had me turning page after page as if in a daze! Emmett and Lucian’s love story might be my new favourite too! I feel like I’ll miss them now that I’ve finished with this book.

Over all, this was an emotional read! One that I thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend! Because of this, I am giving this historical fiction-romance-fantasy mash-up 5 stars!

Book Review: Call It What You Want By Brigid Kemmerer

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Rating: ★★★★★
Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship…

This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?

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I am in such a Contemporary mood right now and this book was the icing on the cake! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I burned through it in a matter of hours! The writing was easy to read and flowed nicely, the characters were flawed and amazing and the romance was perfection! I want more! Which means I might be heading to the book store to see if I can grab some more of Brigid Kemmerer’s Contemporary Fiction!

Call It What You Want is told from the perspectives of Rob, the once popular high school jock whose life fell apart when his father was caught embezzling half the towns money and Meagan, the perfect overachieving student, who let the pressure get to her and was caught cheating on her SAT’s. Together they navigate their way through an unlikely friendship, love and the blurred line between what is right and what is wrong.

I really did enjoy this! All the characters, even the minor ones, where intriguing in their own right and I really loved the overall tone of mortality and what it looks like for different people. There was a lot of representation in this book, which I also thought was great. It covered a lot of important issues such as suicide attempts (and the devastating aftermath for the family), racism and privilege, teen pregnancy and focused heavily on  individual characters morals and how nothing is every truly just black and white, which really gets you thinking about your own!

There were times when I was actually talking to this book! I wanted to shake some of these characters and tell them “No! Don’t do that!” It was really immersive, I honestly wish I didn’t burn through it as fast as I did because I already miss the characters! The romance was awesome. Although, I am always a little confused as to where these totally ripped, “sexy as hell” teenage boys come from, because… come on? Y’all seem to be skipping the awkward stage these days and I am not down for that!

But overall this was a great read! I will definitely be reading it again at some point and would highly recommend it! Because of this, I am giving Call It What You Want 5 stars!

Book Review: We Are Blood & Thunder By Kesia Lupo

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Rating: ★★★
RRP: $16.99 AUD
Find it on Book Depository

A huge thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Synopsis:

In a sealed-off city, it begins with a hunt. A young woman, Lena, running for her life, convicted of being a mage and sentenced to death. Her only way to survive is to trust those she has been brought up to fear – those with magic.

On the other side of the locked gates is a masked lady, Constance, determined to find a way back in. She knows only too well how the people of Duke’s Forest loathe magic. Years ago she escaped before her powers were discovered. But now she won’t hide who she is any longer.

A powerful and terrifying storm cloud unites them. It descends over the dukedom and devastates much in its wake. But this is more than a thunderstorm. This is a spell, and the truth behind why it has been cast is more sinister than anyone can imagine … Only Lena and Constance hold the key to destroying the spell. Though neither of them realise it, they need each other. They are the blood and they have the thunder within.img_1374

I was honestly expecting this to be a series of at least three books. I don’t think I have ever really come across a stand alone fantasy novel that was able to immerse me completely in 400 pages. Unfortunately this is no exception. Although the story wasn’t terrible, it just didn’t feel all that original. The world building was almost non existent and the magic system felt clunky and strange. There were a lot of things touched on that I would have loved to have seen explored further.

We Are Blood And Thunder is a story told from the perspective of two young mages, Constance and Lena. Constance is returning home to the isolated and quarantined, Dukes Forest, to finally conquer the dreaded magical storm cloud that lingers over the town taking the lives of many of its citizens. Lena however, is running from it after being convicted as a mage and sentenced to death.

This book took me a fairly long time to read. I found it hard to connect to both Lena and Constance and didn’t find either of them particularly likeable or memorable. There were a few occasions where different spells where introduced to the story and I though “Ok! This could be fun!” but I feel like the author could have delved far deeper into the magic system and the backstories of the Nine Gods that represent each mages power. (I would have loved a whole book on the Nine Gods actually, they sounded badass.)

The plot wasn’t too bad, it just felt so slow. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with the fact that, chapter by chapter, we switch points of view back and forth from Constance to Lena, so we are essentially getting told two different stories that get 200 pages each to squish all the details into. I got about half way through this book and I still wasn’t sure of where it was going, I very nearly didn’t finish it, but I persevered!

Overall, this wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t the most original fantasy novel I’ve ever read. It had a lot of promise, but unfortunately, it didn’t hit the mark for me and fell rather flat. Because of this, I am giving We Are Blood And Thunder 3 stars.

Thank you again to Bloomsbury Publishing for sending me a review copy of this book!

May/June Reading Wrap-Up

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Well, today concludes my reading month for June! I’ve decided to combine May and June into one wrap-up because May was my worst reading month so far this year! I only managed to read one book. Eek! But I well and truly made up for it in June! I read seven books this month and I am now one book away from completing my Goodreads reading goal! To see what I read over the last couple of months, check out my wrap-up and mini reviews below!

My Rating System

5 Stars: This. Book. Blew. My. Mind. I’d read it again and again and would highly recommend it.
4 Stars: The book was great! I enjoyed it and I may read it again.
3 Stars: I could take or leave this book. It had some interesting moments, but nothing too captivating.
2 Stars: Not a very good book, I’ll more than likely forget about its existence once it’s lost in the expanse of my book shelves.
1 Star: A book I wish I didn’t waste my time on. I did not enjoy it at all and would definitely not recommend it.

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Title: Winterhued (★★★.5)
Author: E. H. Alger
Genre: Fantasy

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: This is a really quirky fantasy novel. Winterhued is extremely character driven, which I loved. It can be a little bit tough to get into due to the “old timey” language used but once I got used to this, I really grew to enjoy it!

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Title: I Am Change (★★★★★)
Author: Suzy Zail
Genre: YA Lit

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: This was beautiful. Just go read it please, it had me in tears. Such a beauitful insight into the lives of young Ugandan girls and women.

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Title: Aurora Rising (★★★★.5)
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Genre: YA Sci-Fi

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: This was epic! I loved this! The only issue I found was that I couldn’t quite connect with some of the characters, which made harder hitting parts of the book have less of an impact on me. I believe I am in the minority with this though, as most people I have seen reading it have said the opposite! It had incredible world building and a fantastic fast paced plot!

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Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (★★★★)
Author: Jenny Han
Genre: YA Contemporary

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: A super fun, light hearted contemporary read. I enjoyed it! It was a fun reading experience and I will definitely be reading the following books. However, I honestly preferred the movie over the book this time! I know! Crazy! I highly recommend both reading and watching it though!

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Title: An Enchantment Of Ravens (★★.2)
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Genre: YA Fantasy

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: This disappointed me a little bit. Which is kind of upsetting because when a book has a cover this gorgeous, you want it to be amazing! If you don’t have any other books about fae to compare it to, you may like this a lot. I however found the pacing off and felt like there was room for a lot of improvement.

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Title: The Order Of The Rose (★★★.2)
Author: Alysha King
Genre: YA Fantasy

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: I am definitely not the intended audience for this book. It reads more as a Middle Grade read, but despite this, it was still a lot of fun. It has a similar dynamic to the Harry Potter series when it comes to the three main protagonists and had an interesting mix of fantasy elements!

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Title: Pan’s Labyrinth (★★★★★)
Author: Guillermo Del Toro & Cornelia Funke
Genre: Fantasy

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: Having never watching the Pan Labyrinth movie, reading it was mind blowing! It actually almost reads like a film. It was incredibly vivid and encompassing, and had me feeling incredibly ill at ease. Definitely an incredible dark fairytale!

img_5648Find it on Book Depository

Title: Fangirl (★★★★★)
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: YA Contemporary

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: A fantastic, witty and relatable contemporary about a quirky college freshman who writes fanfiction. The character interactions made this book for me! I loved it. It also tackles some pretty intense topics with grace. I highly recommend reading it!

Book Review: Fangirl By Rainbow Rowell

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Rating: ★★★★★
Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan..

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

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Alright, not only do I want to hang out with the characters in this book, I also want to hang out with the characters from the fanfiction that the main character, Cath, writes too! I love love loved this! What an incredibly relatable and fun book! I want more I tell you! More!

Fangirl is the story of loveable, quirky, introverted Cath! Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Probably the worlds biggest Simon Snow fan. She wears Simon Snow t-shirts and hangs Simon Snow posters, she even writes Simon Snow fanfiction (and she’s pretty damn good at it too). She practically breathes, eats and sleeps Simon Snow. But now, Cath is embarking on her first year of college and she’s struggling to adjust to campus life as she makes new friends and works on projects outside of her comfort zone.

I loved this book and I flipping adored these characters. All of them! Even when they were frustrating, I still loved them! They were all incredibly complex and real which made it very refreshing and interesting to read. There was a really wonderful, slow burn romance and I loved getting to see how different people coming in and out of Cath’s life changed her perspective in different ways. There were honestly times while I was reading this that I sat with the goofiest smile on my face, or I’d laugh out loud because the character interactions were just perfection! I could even see some of my own introverted tendencies when it came to Cath, so that was really neat too.

Fangirl also tackled some intense topics such as mental health and alcohol abuse with grace, while still managing to maintain this wonderful light tone. There were times when I genuinely felt for these characters! Because they were so well written, I cared about them a lot! It was a highly character driven read, which is something I really loved about this book.

Overall, Fangirl was amazing! The characters, as I said previously, where incredibly well written and even when unlikable, were weirdly loveable. I highly recommend reading this book! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to purchase every other book Rainbow Rowell has ever written, or heck, I might just reread Fangirl right now!

Book Review: Pan’s Labyrinth By Guillermo Del Toro & Cornelia Funke

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Rating: ★★★★★
RRP: $29.99 AUD | $32.99 NZ
Publication Date: 2nd July 2019
Find it on Book Depository

A huge thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Oscar winning writer-director Guillermo del Toro and New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke come together to transform del Toro’s hit movie Pan’s Labyrinth into an epic and dark fantasy novel for readers of all ages, complete with gorgeous and haunting illustrations.

This book is not for the faint of heart or weak in spirit. It’s not for skeptics who don’t believe in fairy tales and the powerful forces of good. It’s only for brave and intrepid souls like you, who will stare down evil in all its forms.

Inspired by the critically acclaimed film written and directed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and reimagined by New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke, this haunting tale takes readers to a darkly magical and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous men, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family.

Perfect for fans of the movie and readers who are new to del Toro’s visionary work, this atmospheric and absorbing novel is a portal to another universe where there is no wall between the real and the imagined. A daring, unforgettable collaboration between two brilliant storytellers.

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This was incredible, heartbreaking and thought provoking. I think I may be one of the only people left on the planet that hasn’t watched the Pan’s Labyrinth film, but after reading the book, I’ll definitely be watching the movie. This was a beautifully dark, magical journey from start to finish and I loved every second of it! Written by the film director and Cornelia Funke, this book gives new insight into the 2006 film.

Pan’s Labyrinth (for those few, like me, who haven’t seen the film.) is a dark fantasy tale that follows 11-year-old Ofelia. After picking up her life, along with her pregnant mother, and moving to the secluded home of her new stepfather, the tyrannical and sadistic Captain Vidal, Ofelia finds herself drawn into a world of fairytale fantasy. But, like most fairytales, all is not what it seems.

This book was a-ma-zing! Each scene was written in such a way that you felt as though you were a spectator in these characters lives, like you could be walking in and out of this world watching their every move. The world building was rich and atmospheric and had an incredible knack of making me feeling completely uneasy. From the very beginning I found it hard to discern who to trust and who to fear most. It was done so well, that the feeling of unease seemed to stick with me well after I had put the book down. It even chased me into my dreams on a few occasions!

I would like to mention that this book is not for the faint of heart. Set in 1944, in Nazi-held Europe, there is a lot of brutal content that could make some readers feel uncomfortable. However, it all combines perfectly to create a dark and menacing read. The characters felt completely raw and real, which I think is what this book is all about at the heart of it. Human emotion, good, bad and truly evil.

Honestly, I cannot fault this book. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s probably one of my favourite reads of the year! The beautifully written story, along with some truly gorgeous illustrations combine to create a mesmerising reading experience. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch Pan’s Labyrinth and bawl my eyes out some more.

Book Review: The Order Of The Rose By Alysha King

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Rating: ★★★.5
Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

“You possess a power as great as that of the false Empress. You do not understand it yet but you will come to learn its true nature. It is the only match to true evil. You doubt it, but you must embrace it or you will fail.”

When Carey Lee discovers that not only is she a witch but also part of a rebel order, she figures it can’t be any worse than the life from which she just escaped. Little is she prepared though for what lies ahead – an all-powerful empire and a murderous Empress, a seemingly impossible quest to rescue her family, and a power so dark that Carey begins to doubt her very existence.

The Order of the Rose is the first in a series of three novels to be known as the Rose Chronicles. 

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This was an interesting read for me. I am definitely no longer the intended audience, and being a fairly well read adult woman, at times it felt a little too young for my tastes. However, I think younger readers would find this action packed adventure/fantasy rather enjoyable.

The Order Of The Rose tells the story of Carey. A young teenage girl suffering from amnesia after a traumatic childhood event. Who, upon escaping from a horrible orphanage, joins forces with Ji and Kat, two of her oldest friends (she just doesn’t remember them!) Together they are the last remaining members of the magical rebel Order Carey’s grandmother founded to fight the evil, Empress Malevolence.

I found this a little hard to get into to begin with, but again, I believe this is because it is intended for younger readers. The pacing felt a bit rushed and was driven mainly by the three protagonists having seemingly random encounters with evil. This was frustrating as it felt like there was constant action and very little quiet moments in between for us to really get to know the characters. Having said that, this was justified further into the novel once more of the plot was divulged, but it meant that the first half of the book felt slow and wasn’t as enjoyable for me.

The second half of this book however, was where it started to really shine. Carey had some really nice character growth and became a far stronger, more likeable character and the action seemed to become more intentional when it came to driving the plot forward. I really enjoyed learning about the world and setting, however it was a little confusing at first as I wasn’t sure where or when the story was set until about half way into the book.

The characters all had some great growth! I adored Kat! She was extremely fierce, capable and just an all round badass. Carey could be a little unsure and frustrating at times, but I think this was justified considering she was thrown into the middle of an epic battle between good and evil, having absolutely no idea what she was or who she was up against. The trio’s dynamic was also really fun and not unlike the Harry Potter series in some ways, which I really enjoyed.

Overall I liked this book! I think I would have liked it more if I had read it when I was younger. I may even go as far as to say it could be classed as more of a Middle Grade read. But taking that into account, it was enjoyable and was a fantastic starting off point for the rest of the series.