Farewell To The Local Bookshop

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On Love Your Bookshop Day (August 10th 2019), along with a good friend of mine, I decided to head to the local bookstore we both know and love, to peruse the shelves, tell each other we really won’t be buying any books and then, of course, leave with a couple anyway. However, as I approached the store, I saw a large red banner covering its signage. “Stock Sale” it read.

My local bookshop has been open for twenty-one years. Twenty-one years. That feels like a lifetime, and I suppose for some, it is. Upon entering the store it was clear something wasn’t quite right. The once meticulously stocked shelves looked bare and unkept. The staff seemed forlorn. The store was closing down, they were given two weeks to get all their stock out the door. 50% off everything. That’s a pretty great deal, if only it didn’t come with a side of heartache.

twenty-one years. That’s more than half of my time on the planet. Now we won’t just be saying goodbye to the ink and pages that make this small corner of the shopping centre what it is, but also the potential new friends we could have made after spotting them contemplating the purchase of one of our favourite books or the cheerful look on the staffs faces when they are able to order you in that book you’ve been wanting desperately, but can’t for the life of you find anywhere else. We’re saying goodbye to an incredible independent bookstore.

Now, I can only speculate that this is possibly the result of higher rent within the complex, something a small, indie bookshop probably wouldn’t be able to compete with. But it also feels like a result of us. Supporting your local bookstore is important. I think this may have been the busiest I have ever seen the store. 50% off. What a steal, eh? Yet maybe, if we had chosen to shop there to begin with and paid the slightly higher prices, rather than bi-passing them in favour of large online stores or the chain department stores that are able to offer us cheaper goods, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.

All I can really say is please, if you have a local independent bookstore near you, support them. Because it’s heartbreaking when they have to close down.

#supportyourlocalbookshop

Book Review: Illuminae By Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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I thoroughly enjoyed Illuminae! So much so, that I have put off writing this review in favour of reading the next book in the series, Gemina. It was a very interesting format, which I admit, was hard to get my head around at first and one of the reasons it took me so long to actually pick this book up in the first place. I even considered listening to the audio book instead (absolutely no shade on audio books, the reason I wanted to listen to it is because I’ve heard its phenomenal!) But I pushed ahead, got over the fact it had weird formatting and read it anyway… And I am so glad I did!

Illumine follows Kady and her ex-ex boyfriend, Ezra through an epic (and terrifying) space adventure. After their home planet is invaded and they are forced to flee, they find themselves separated onto two different space crafts. But the terror doesn’t stop there. Nobody in charge will tell them what’s really going on and as strange things start to happen, Kady puts her impressive hacker skills to work to uncover the truth.

This was amazing! It has all the right elements to create an intense and sometimes downright heart-wrenching plot. As I said before, the formatting took some getting used to as it’s almost as if you are reading through notes and photocopies of conversations for a trial, but after completing the novel, I don’t think a normal format would have done the story justice. It was different, quirky and really fun to read.

The characters, in true Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman style, were awesome. So much sass and great snarky banter! I found myself laughing out loud a lot while reading this one. Especially when I could almost feel the Aussie sense of humour coming through! On the other side of things, this book could also get really quite emotional and sad (also something this duo is incredible at!)

Overall, this was an amazing scifi! If you love rouge AI, deadly, mutating plagues and incredible badass characters, this one is for you! If you, like me, haven’t picked this up because the formatting “looks weird” just do it, go ahead and read it, its amazing! You won’t be sorry!

Book Review: To Kill A Kingdom By Alexandra Christo

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

I have a heart for every year I’ve been alive.

There are seventeen hidden in the sand of my bedroom. Every so often, I claw through the shingle just to check they’re still there. Buried deep and bloody.

Princess Lira is siren royalty and revered across the sea until she is cursed into humanity by the ruthless Sea Queen. Now Lira must deliver the heart of the infamous siren killer or remain a human forever.

Prince Elian is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world and captain to a deadly crew of siren hunters. When he rescues a drowning woman from the ocean, she promises to help him destroy sirenkind for good. But he has no way of knowing whether he can trust her…

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My goodness was this awesome or what! For a 350 page stand alone novel, this was jam packed full of story and damn did it flow! Sometimes I find it can be hard to strike a balance between a stand alone of this length feeling like everything happens too quickly or so slowly that it feels like nothing has happened at all. This struck that balance perfectly. I’m honestly a little sad that this story isn’t continuing!

To Kill A Kingdom feels a little bit like the Little Mermaid meets Pirates of the Caribbean! It’s got Sirens, Pirates and Evil Sea Queens! It’s jam packed full of action and has a very seamless flow that left me wanting more, but also wrapped up all the loose ends nicely. It tells the story of Lira, a Siren Princess conditioned to be a killer. After upsetting her mother, the Evil Sea Queen, she is sentenced to humanity and can only return to the sea if she brings her mother the heart of the Pirate Prince, Elian. However, upon joining his crew, Lira has other plans for her return to the sea!

I loved this! These characters! Where do I start! They were so much fun to read! Their interactions were perfection (who doesn’t love a bit of snarky banter!) and the romance was really subtle too which I thought was fantastic (no instalove WOO HOO!)

The plot was an epic adventure! I would happily read this again and again. I loved the in depth law we got of the Sirens and their underwater Kingdom as well as the incredibly rich and vivid world that these characters travel through. This is actually one of the reasons I’m sad to see this story end! I would have loved to explore the world more with these witty characters!

Over all, I couldn’t recommend this more. If you are a fan of Sarah J Maas or Leigh Bardugo, go and read this. It’s epic. 5 stars!

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!