Book Review: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

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Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

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So I’ll be honest, the reason I decided to grab this book off my shelves and finally read it was because:

  1. Everyone on bookstagram is/has been raving about it, and
  2. I saw a really amazing piece of fan art that blew my mind and got me falling in love with the main characters before I even opened the cover. (it’s completely NSFW though so I won’t link it here.)

I am so glad I decided to pick it up though because I really enjoyed reading this book! I smashed through it in a matter of hours and it was just so entertaining. For some reason going into it, I assumed it was a stand alone book. I was pleasantly surprised to find that we’ll be getting a sequel!

Serpent and Dove is your classic enemies to lovers/ fake marriage troupe (one of my favourites)! The story follows head strong and foul mouthed Lou, a witch in hiding stealing to survive and the stoic and loyal Reid, sworn into the church as a Chasseur and lives by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. As their lives intertwine they are forced to confront their prejudice and forget everything they think they know about one another.

So one of the things I really loved about this story was the magic. It had a really eerie and interesting quality to it that was really immersive to read. It really did feel like something that could be feared! I would love to learn more about how the magic system works for each of the different witch covens too, but I’m sure we’ll learn more in the coming book(s). The world building was awesome and really atmospheric! I felt like I could have been there with Lou on the roof top of the old theatre watching the stars, or walking along cobblestone streets, eating sweet buns!

The characters! Lou was so sassy and fun! I loved that she was so outspoken and forward thinking. Reid was a bit of a cardboard box to start with, but that was to be expected given his character. He had a lot of great growth in this book and I’m sure he’ll have a lot more in the next. The supporting characters were all really interesting and added something different to the plot (particularly Ansel, bless him)!

Overall this was good and I will definitely continue the series. I’m really looking forward to where these characters will go next, particularly after one very exciting and interesting revelation at the end of the book! I’m hooked! I’ll be giving Serpent & Dove 4 stars!

Book Review: Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

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Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

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Why is this over!? It can’t be over! Can someone please contact Holly and let her know we’d like a whole novel of Jude and Cardan just living their lives and interacting with their cute-as-heck sass.

Queen of Nothing picks up right where The Wicked King left us. Jude is in exile and High King Cardan is on the throne in Elfhame. When Jude’s twin sister Taryn arrives at Jude’s door with some interesting news, Jude is persuaded to return to Elfhame in Taryn’s place.

This was everything I was hoping for! It was such a brilliant ending. My only complaint is that I wish it was longer (which is hardly a complaint really, I’m just super greedy when it comes to Cardan Greenbriar). It was such a fantastic story and I actually enjoyed this one more than the first two (if that’s even possible).

The story flowed perfectly. I loved the fact that this book focused a lot more on our favourite characters and their relationships and that the more political aspects weren’t as prominent (don’t get me wrong, there was still plenty of intrigue, but it just seemed to be more enjoyable in this one! Less plotting and more action!)

It was such a satisfying conclusion to a series I have absolutely adored. I will thoroughly miss these characters and will definitely have to have another read through of the entire series at some point, but until then… I am so happy with how this story wrapped up and I highly recommend picking this series up if you haven’t already.

overall this was an utterly magical and whimsical fairy tale. I absolutely adore the wicked and eccentric vibe of the faeries in Holly Black’s work! I finished this is a matter of hours, it was so readable! But seriously, can we just get another book of Jude and Cardan being perfect?

Book Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

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Rating: ★★★★★
RRP: $32.99 AUD

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.

What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians–it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.

Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life. 

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“Are you lost or are you exploring?”

I have no words.

This was beautiful.

It was poetic and magical.

It was everything I could ever want in a book.

And it’s easily my favourite book of the year!

The Starless Sea takes you on an incredible, vivid adventure. Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, this book thoroughly immerses you in magic and wonder. I have already set a goal to read it again before the year is out so I can further understand all the small intricacies!

After Zachary Ezra Rawlins stumbles across a mysterious book in his university library, he is whisked off on an adventure that leads him through a magical painted door to a mysterious underground labyrinth filled with stories.

This book was gorgeous! It made me remember why I loved The Night Circus so much. Erin Morgenstern has a way with words. She is a poet. Honestly, my heart is so incredibly full after reading this book. The characters were beautifully written and complex, we got a perfect slow burn (and wonderfully queer) romance and the plot was layer upon layer of intricate detail that came together so beautifully in the end. It’s the kind of book that has you intrigued the whole way through and as you read the last page it’s as if all these pieces fall into place and you look up from your book and just stare in utter reverence at how incredible some story tellers are.

Now I understand that this book may not be for everyone. It can be a little “heavy”and as I’ve stated, there is a lot of intricate detail that some people may find a bit much. But for me, it was absolute wonder. This is a world I would very much like to be a part of!

Over all, I cannot fault this glorious book. It has everything I love in a story and I will read it over and over and over for the rest of my days. Go ahead, leap down the rabbit hole, step through the back of your cupboard, walk through that painted door. You won’t regret it. All the stars in the night sky for this one. Utter perfection.

 

Book Review: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

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Rating: ★★★★★
RRP: $16.99 AUD | $18.99 NZ
Publication Date: November 5th 2019
Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this conclusion to Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.

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This was such a satisfying and epic conclusion to this series! I’m so lucky to have been able to read it early! Thank you so much to Walker Books for sending me a review copy. Just wow! It was amazing! If you haven’t read Scythe or Thunderhead yet, go do that before you read on! You won’t regret it!

After the major cliff hanger we had at the end of Thunderhead, The Toll tells the story of the events that have happened over the three years after the sinking of Endura. Rowan and Citra have been found, we see a world gone mad under Scythe Goddard’s rule (which was both entertaining and utterly horrifying), we get an array of new characters, which at first felt really overwhelming, but after a while was fantastic and really pushed the plot forward and executed the story perfectly and, of course, we get epic intertwining story telling!

I honestly loved this, I can’t fault it. I feel really satisfied with how the series ended and would highly recommend reading it. I actually forgot how much I enjoyed Neal Shusterman’s writing style! It was both very fun and very matter-of-fact all at the same time (if that makes an ounce of sense). As with both Scythe and Thunderhead, The Toll tackles huge issues and  it was  really interesting to read and see the parallels forming between the main villains and their corrupt ideals and the horrors of real people from our own history! You almost read this while wanting to scream “ARE YOU CRAZY!? WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!?”

The characters, new and old were amazing, I feel like we got just enough of all of them. This book has certainly come a lot further since Scythe and branched out in terms of loveable and realistic characters. We got some INCREDIBLE representation when it came to Jericho, the feisty and tenacious sea caption, who is non binary! They identify as male under the cover of clouds and female under the sun. I really loved that and was so happy to see such awesome representation continuing into this book!

The Toll had all the elements that I really loved in Scythe. It got you thinking about your own morals and your own perspective on human kind all the while keeping you incredibly entertained! Too much happened in this amazing book for me to feel like I could ever truly do a review that would give it justice. So my final word on The Toll, is go read it! Read the whole series if you haven’t done so yet! 5 stars!

Thank you once again to Walker Books! You guys are all incredible. I truly appreciate being given these opportunities!

Book Review: The Man in the Water by David Burton

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Rating: ★★★.5
RRP: $19.95 AUD

A huge thank you to Aussie YA Bloggers and UQP for providing me with a copy of this book as part of a blog tour!

Synopsis:

On the first day of year 10, Shaun sees a dead body. 
When Shaun finds a body floating in the lake of a quiet mining town in outback Queensland, he immediately reports it to the police. But when he returns to the site with the constable, the body is gone. Determined to reveal the truth, Shaun and his best friend, Will, open their own investigation. But what they discover is far more sinister than they expected, and reveals a darkness below the surface of their small town.

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I actually enjoyed this. Although I’m not sure if “enjoyed” is the right word for it. This was such a vivid murder mystery set in outback Queensland, but it felt like a hell of a lot more than just a “murder mystery” too. It was gripping, easy to read and, in my opinion, perfect for young adult readers. Growing up in Australia myself added a totally unique and relatable understanding of the vernacular in this story too which was really fun. The Man in the Water covers a lot of important topics such as grief and suicide, and the effect it can have on those left behind in a really seamless way along side the main plot.

The story  follows 16-year-old Shaun, who finds a body floating in the lake of the quiet mining town he calls home. After finding the body, Shaun immediately reports it to the police only to find the body has disappeared once they arrive back at the lake. Not only is Shaun having a hard time getting people to believe him about the body, but he’s also dealing with his own grief having lost his father the year prior.

In terms of the plot, this was really fast paced and interesting. The characters were all very raw and realistic which I enjoyed and it was actually really fun reading a book set in Australia. I don’t often do it, so it was fun having an insider understanding of the people, places and language. However, as an almost thirty year old woman and most definitely not the intended audience for this book, at times I found following a teenage-boy-turned-detective a little tedious, but again, this book is intended for younger readers who I am sure would find it gripping and binge worthy.

Over all I liked this. It covered some intense topics with grace and candour, the characters were wonderfully real and the story itself was plot twist after plot twist! I absolutely didn’t see the ending coming and would highly recommend this to young readers interested in the murder mystery type genre. 3.5 stars!

Once again, a huge thank you to UQP and Aussie YA Bloggers for allowing me to be part of this blog tour!

Book Review: Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

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Rating: ★★★★★
RRP: Paperback $17.99 AUD | Hardback $24.99 AUD
Find it on Book Depository

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

The story is supposed to be over.

Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after… 

So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?

What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…

That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.

They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place… 

With Wayward Son, Rainbow Rowell has written a book for everyone who ever wondered what happened to the Chosen One after he saved the day. And a book for everyone who was ever more curious about the second kiss than the first. It’s another helping of sour cherry scones with an absolutely decadent amount of butter.

Come on, Simon Snow. Your hero’s journey might be over – but your life has just begun.

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Ok, so it’s taken me a while to process my thoughts and feelings when it comes to this book! Originally I was going to give it 4 stars, but after much thought, I’ve decided that although it was completely different to Carry On, it was still bloody brilliant and deserves all the stars in the universe just like Carry On did.

Wayward Son takes us on an entirely new adventure! Our heroes are off on a road trip across America, with plenty of ups and downs along the way. There is an interesting overarching plot that I’m sure we will get more of in the next book. Unfortunately for me, the one think I loved most about Carry On was lacking in Wayward Son. It wasn’t worse than Carry On, just really different!

Carry On was driven wholeheartedly by Baz and Simons relationship development. After the events in Carry On, I suppose I expected to see these characters healing and working through all that trauma together, however there seemed to be little to no character communication. To put it bluntly, I wanted more fluffy SnowBaz! Now it’s completely understandable that these characters would be dealing in their own way and as I have mentioned before, this story was still fantastic. But I did spend a lot of this book hanging out for at least some sweet moments between the boys. Having said all this though, we do get a few lovely moments, it just didn’t feel like enough for me!

Aside from my slight disappointment with the lack of emotional SnowBaz content, the other characters were awesome. We got a new face in this book and he’s easily snuck his way into my heart! I still haven’t got much time for Agatha, but hopefully in the coming books we get to see more sides of her because I’m sure she’s capable of being a total badass. Penny as usual was sassy, strong and incredible.

Overall I really enjoyed this book! It didn’t feel much like a continuation of Carry On, but the back of the book just about states that itself! It’s an entirely new story with the same gorgeous characters. Just be prepared to feel a little… winded when you finish. BRING ON BOOK THREE I SAY! 5 stars!

Once again, a huge thank you to Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of Wayward Son in exchange for an honest review!

Book Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

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Rating: ★★★★
RRP: $32.99 AUD
Find it on Book Depository

A huge thank you to Penguin Random House Australia for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Synopsis:

The resistance starts here…

No one speaks of the grace year.
It’s forbidden.
We’re told we have the power to lure grown men from their beds, make boys lose their minds, and drive the wives mad with jealousy. That’s why we’re banished for our sixteenth year, to release our magic into the wild before we’re allowed to return to civilization.
But I don’t feel powerful.
I don’t feel magical.

Tierney James lives in an isolated village where girls are banished at sixteen to the northern forest to brave the wilderness – and each other – for a year. They must rid themselves of their dangerous magic before returning purified and ready to marry – if they’re lucky.

It is forbidden to speak of the grace year, but even so every girl knows that the coming year will change them – if they survive it…

The Grace Year is The Handmaid’s Tale meets Lord of the Flies – a page-turning feminist dystopia about a young woman trapped in an oppressive society, fighting to take control of her own life.

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How do I even begin to put my feelings about this book into words. It’s almost like The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies and Handmaids Tale made a gritty dystopian YA baby. It’s a harrowing, and at times, confronting feminist novel that had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through.

The Grace Year follows Tierney James and the other girls from her secluded village on the cusp of womanhood. After being banished by the men to the Northern Forest to brave the wilderness and rid themselves of their dangerous seductive “magic”, Tierney finds herself navigating deception, betrayal and a forbidden love as she fights for her life.

The pacing of this was everything! It was so intense and took me right back to the first time I read the Hunger Games. The main character, Tierney, was tenacious and strong, and still managed to remain believable through the circumstances she ends up in. The novels cast is made up of a lot of complex and interesting characters that evoked a lot of different emotions in me, making me feel like I was actually one of the Grace Year girls myself.

The romance was nice and I understand how it was used to advance the plot and create a pretty epic, bittersweet ending, however I feel like the main male companion was introduced far too late in the book for me to really have a strong connection to him. None the less, I did enjoy it, but it did feel more like a plot device than an intentional path for our heroine.

Overall this was a great read, I would highly recommend it to anyone who loved The Hunger Games or the Handmaids Tale! The perfect ambiguity of the ending left me in a total state of awe. The last page was poetic and beautiful, I read it at least 5 times. Once again, a huge thank you to Penguin Random House for the review copy!