Book Review: The Rift By Rachael Craw

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Rating: ★★★★★
RRP: $19.99 AUD
Find it on Book Depository

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

For generations, the Rangers of Black Water Island have guarded the Old Herd against horrors released by the Rift. Cal West, an apprentice Ranger with a rare scar and even rarer gifts, fights daily to prove he belongs within their ranks. After nine years away, Meg Archer returns to her childhood home only to find the Island is facing a new threat that not even the Rangers are prepared for. Meg and Cal can’t ignore their attraction, but can they face their darkest fears to save the Island from disaster?

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I need more! This book was incredible and I need more!

I honestly wasn’t expecting to love this as much as I did! I don’t really know what I was excepting, but this book took me back to the feeling of reading The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater for the first time and it was amazing! I knew it was going to be one of my new favourite books when I got about 3/4 of the way through and was frantically googling if there was a sequel in the works! Please, please, please let there be a sequel in the works!

The Rift by Rachael Craw is told from two different points of view. That of Cal West, an apprentice Ranger with rare abilities living on Blackwater Island and responsible for the safety of an ancient herd of deer, coveted for their antlers magical healing properties. And Meg Archer, the daughter of the Master Ranger swept away to the mainland by her mother to live a “normal life” after a terrible childhood accident. Upon Megs return to the island the pair must navigate their way through their growing attraction for one another all while facing their greatest fears to save the island and the Old Herd from disaster.

This book took the term “magical realism” and ran like hell with it! It felt incredibly magical and rich. The world building was so atmospheric and engaging, I could have looked up from my book and been on Black Water Island, surrounded by thrumming lay lines, hell hounds and ancient mythical deer, and I wouldn’t have been surprised. The pacing of the plot was brilliant, I was never once bored with the story and ended up burning through this book in a matter of hours.

The characters were really likeable and despite possessing rare, magical abilities, they still felt completely authentic and real. The slow burn romance was perfection and the interactions between Cal, Meg and other minor characters was really fun and enjoyable.

Overall, The Rift was incredibly whimsical and original. It felt a little murky and confusing to start with, but the more I read, the more clear everything became, and I was able to understand the dynamics of the world and how the characters fit into it. Despite this, I couldn’t bring myself to deduct any stars from this review. I really, truly, LOVED this book and I will definitely be reading any future sequels. Now, excuse me while I go to the store and purchase every other book Rachael Craw has ever written.

Book Review: A Curse So Dark And Lonely By Brigid Kemmerer

we are okayRating: ★★★★
Title: A Curse so Dark and Lonely
Author: Brigid Kremmerer
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Goodreads Synopsis:

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

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This was great! I enjoyed it. I would say it has a very similar feel to the ACOTAR series while reading, but probably aimed more at a slightly younger audience. Nevertheless, I liked it a lot and will definitely continue the series!

A Curse So Dark And Lonely follows Harper, a teenage girl, swept away from her home in Washington DC by Grey, the Commander of the Royal Guard, to Emberfall, a fairytale-esque Kingdom, currently cursed by a powerful enchantress. The only way to break the curse is for Harper to fall for Prince Rhen. But with very little time before the prince is doomed to live as a beast forever and his people are left without a ruler, Harper struggles to know her true feelings. With Emberfall slowly going to ruin, Harper must navigate her way through love, loss, war and heartache.

I actually really enjoyed this Beauty and the Beast retelling. It felt fresh and different, while not straying too far from the original source material  for the reader to know it’s a retelling of a classic fairytale. The novel was right up my alley in terms of genre, and the romance was very sweet. However, I do get the feeling that a love triangle will be a predominant part of the next instalment as there were quite a few moments that it was hinted at and slowly built upon. The love triangle troupe is something I really dislike, so I hope that the author chooses to go a different route or does it in a way I am able to enjoy.

I loved the rich world building! I felt like I was right there in Emberfall with Harper, Rhen and Grey. Speaking of which, the characters were fantastic! I loved that we were given a really strong, female main character with cerebral palsy. It’s not something I have ever seen represented in a YA book before, so it was really great seeing it represented so respectfully. Despite the hints of an impending love triangle, I actually really liked both the male leads and found them both equally as interesting and charismatic. Although, personally, I wouldn’t go past a Commander of the Royal Guard! Ha!

Overall, the story was great! There were a couple of things I didn’t overly enjoy, but it wasn’t enough to stop me from wanting to pick the book up and devour it in a matter of hours. I really liked this retelling, and with the way it ended, I look forward to reading the next instalment!

Book Review: The Quiet At The End Of The World By Lauren James

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Rating: ★★★★.5
RRP: $16.99 AUD
Find it on Book Depository

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

How far would you go to save those you love?

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion. 

Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice . . .

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“We live in the quiet at the end of the world. The slow winding-down clockwork motions before life stops completely. Time is slipping through our fingers.”

I really, truly, loved this.

We got some Transgender representation.

We got some Bisexual representation.

We got some Asian representation.

We got big, existential life questions and a beautiful, slow burn romance.

And it was all done so incredibly well!

The Quiet At The End Of The World by Lauren James follows Lowrie and Shen as they navigate their way through a world where the human race is going extinct after a virus has caused global infertility. Being the youngest humans on Earth, they spend their days mudlarking and exploring until one day their family and friends, one by one, start to mysteriously fall ill. Together they must find the cure and decide how to spend the rest of their remaining years.

This book was amazing! It started out a little slow for me, and I found I was taking a bit of time to get through the first half. However, looking back I think it was a really great start for what the novel turned into. I loved the format and the way we were fed information so slowly that it felt as though we were right there with Shen and Lowrie finding out as the same time they did. The novel was jam packed with brilliant, beautifully done diversity that was so refreshing! The characters themselves where really likeable while still having flaws and feeling real and the slow burn romance was just perfection, I really enjoyed it!

That plot! Wow. This was awesome! I didn’t even see where this was going until we got there! It was so well done! The world building was great and I loved the juxtaposition of the very futuristic assistant robots in a world that has become over grown and essentially “taken back” by nature. The writing style was incredible. It honestly just felt quiet, like we were right there at the end of the world while reading. IN-CRE-DI-BLE.

Over all, I haven’t really got anything bad to say about this book. Reading it has made me want to go out, buy the rest of Lauren James’ work and and burn through it! This is one author who has easily made it to the top of my TBR for any future novels. If you’re looking for a brilliantly done dystopian/science fiction mash up, that is going to get you really thinking about your own life and what it is to be human, then this is definitely your next read!

Book Review: The Price Guide To The Occult By Leslye Walton

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

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Blackburn women are cursed. Ever since the extraordinary witch Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island centuries ago and was shunned by the eight “original” settlers, Blackburn witches have been doomed to carry out a brief whirlwind affair with a descendant of the Original Eight. The vengeful curse, however, had unintended side effects: it diluted the Blackburns’ supernatural powers. That’s perfectly all right with seventeen-year-old Nor Blackburn. All she wants is a quiet, unremarkable life—her powers are blissfully unexceptional, her love life pretty much nonexistent. Nor hopes the curse has played itself out through enough generations that she’ll finally be spared the drama. But when a mysterious book comes out promising to cast any spell for the right price, Nor senses a dark storm headed straight for Anathema—and straight for her. 

In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author—Nor’s own mother—looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.

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So I really wanted to love this book. That cover, that synopsis! It all looked and sounded like something I would thoroughly enjoy. It started out really promising and the author has an incredible knack for creating atmospheric worlds. I honestly felt like I could smell the fog and feel those cobblestone streets beneath my feet. But when it came to the characters, something was really lacking for me. I would also like to point out that there is also a fair amount of self harm either happening or being talked about in this book. If this is a trigger for you, I would recommend steering clear of this one.

The Price Guide To The Occult follows Nor Blackburn, the latest witch in a line of cursed witches, and her fight to keep the ones she loves most, safe from none other than her own mother. Nor’s mother is hell bent on getting exactly what she wants and she doesn’t care who she has to kill, or how much black magic she has to use to get it. Nor finds herself with more power than she should rightfully have which is both terrifying and may be the only way of destroying her mother for good.

As I said, I couldn’t fault the world in which this is set, it is beautifully written. I loved it. It had this fantastic witchy, dark, mysterious vibe that I could definitely get into and enjoy. However, when it came to the characters, this was when it went down hill for me. It was such a shame that the author was able to create such a rich world, but filled it with cardboard, one dimensional, cliched characters. I found that some, if not all the supporting characters felt completely unnecessary and were there purely to guide the main character from one plot point to the next. The romantic sub plot felt just as unnecessary and bland. Some of the characters were so glossed over that it almost felt intentional, like I was supposed to be waiting for a plot twist that may have involved them. It didn’t come though, they were just bland characters with very little backstory.

The plot itself was interesting, if not a little rushed. I found that I didn’t find the antagonist all that foreboding, despite all the horrendous things she does throughout the book! Again, this could be because I lacked a connection to any of the characters and wasn’t really that concerned that they may not survive the whole book. Due to the story feeling rushed, it felt as though there was no real struggle for the main character. As if this was mostly just a way to start the story and bridge it over to what this series will really be about.

Overall I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t love it either. Parts of it where interesting, original and fun and other parts where unoriginal and felt rushed. The part I most enjoyed was actually the prologue more than the story itself, I wouldn’t mind reading more about the formidable Blackburn matriarch, Rona Blackburn. Despite this, I probably will continue the story and read future sequels.

Once again, a huge thank you to Walker Books for the opportunity to review this book.

5 Ways To Survive A Reading Slump

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We’ve all been there. You’re smashing your TBR pile/shelf one book at a time, writing all the reviews and just generally living your best book loving life. Until all of a sudden, that drive is gone! Vanished! It’s in the void! You can’t even fathom picking up a book. I’m a weird reader. One moment I’ll be reading constantly, all I want to do in my spare time is pick up the book I’m currently reading. Then the next moment, I won’t feel like reading anything! My worst/longest reading slump lasted almost a year! It was of course around about the time I found out I was pregnant all the way through to after she was born which was both a beautiful dream of baby cuddles and total feelings of love and completion but it was also a total nightmare of no sleep and a crying baby I had no idea what I was doing with.

fast forward 8 months and I can feel myself getting to a point that I may be hitting another, slightly smaller slump. My kiddo is getting teeth, and as most parents know, THIS IS NOT FUN! In addition to this, she also needs to be highly supervised as she is becoming more mobile now, so half my “spare time” is now taken up by a baby who won’t sleep or a baby who just wants to touch everything. So here are the tips and tricks I’ll certainly be following to try and get some reading done and some books completed this month!

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Forget About Your Reading Goal

If you’re anything like me, you’ve set a reading goal on Goodreads this year. I am a total sucker for it, but it comes with both positives and negatives. Positives being, well, it’s fun! Until you hit a reading slump, then those numbers just feel like a burden! So my first tip is to just forget about the numbers! Reading is supposed to be fun. If you only read half a book one month, so be it! As long as you enjoyed that half of a book, the numbers don’t matter! Just roll with it!

Reread Something You Love

Read a book you know you adore (hello ACOMAF)! I find rereading a story with characters I love/have an unhealthy obsession with (hello Cassian!) really helps me get back on track with my reading! I have also found it helpful before, to read a book I haven’t read, yet written by an author I love! Give it a go, you’ll be out of that slump in no time!

Join A Buddy Read

Ask your friends if they’d be interested in doing a buddy read with you! Set small reading goals for the week and then chat about it, preferably over coffee! If you don’t have anyone in your life that is interested in reading, jump on Bookstagram! There are bound to be so many other readers in the same boat as you that would be really happy to do a buddy read with you and chat about it online at the end of the week!

Switch Genres

I’m a total fool for fantasy novels. I love them. LOVE THEM. But sometimes, especially if you’ve been delving into a lot of different worlds, it can get a little repetitive. So why not switch it up! Try reading a contemporary or sci-fi! Or maybe even switch to non-fiction and try that instead. Sometimes all you need is a break from your usual read!

Ride It Out

Sometimes, a book slump is going to win. But instead of forcing yourself to try and get back into reading, why not instead do something else with that spare time! Focus on other bookish things! Write for your blog, takes pictures of Bookstagram, get started on that novel you’ve been thinking about writing for 300 years (you must be a Fae or something if you’ve waited that long though and if that’s the case, hit me up I’d like to visit the Night Court!)

And if all else fails, there’s always Netflix. Go binge watch something awesome and forget about books for a while, the slump will pass eventually. I recommend Brooklyn 99 if you’re looking for a good laugh.

Book Review: The Graces By Laure Eve

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Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

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What the heck did I just read?!

Ok, so I don’t really want to just throw the words “this was just like Twilight” around, but.. This was just like Twilight in so many respects.

The Graces follows the new girl in school, River (Bella), who is, along with everyone else at school, infatuated with the Graces (Cullens). The Graces are a threesome of super attractive teen siblings, that are supposedly witches (vampires). For one reason or another they choose River to be their new best friend and together they navigate love, loss, magic and betrayal.

Unfortunately I felt like this book completely lacked atmosphere, and although I believe it was the authors intent to create deep, dark and emotional characters, they mostly just came across as down right pretentious. The pacing was completely off! Nothing happened plot wise for the first 300 pages, by which time, it felt like a dam burst and we were flooded with a lot of information and a really obvious plot twist.

River as a character was horrible! I am really over reading stories about young, hateful girls who rip other girls to shreds because they differ from them. Not to mention her complete and utter adoration of the Graces was cringe worthy! The Graces themselves felt very one dimensional and, for lack of a better word, completely unbelievable and uninteresting. I had absolutely no strong feelings for any of the characters, they all felt completing lacking in substance.

The unoriginal characters are accompanied by unoriginal dialogue. The supposedly “deep” conversations just come across as weird and unbelievable and having to read about River fawning over Edward Cullen’s, oops, I mean, Fenrin Grace’s “crooked smile” and how he smelt “like a thicker, manlier kind of vanilla, was down right nauseating.

I really don’t know how else to describe how I feel about this book. The ending felt really unsatisfying, which I assume is because it’s meant to lead you into reading the squeal. However, due to the first half of this book being totally boring and the last half feeling like it was just too little, too late, I won’t be reading any further. It felt like the author was trying too hard to push the dark and moody vibes of the story that, in the end, it didn’t quite hit the mark. Because of this, I am giving The Graces 1 star.

Book Review: The Diabolic By S.J. Kincaid

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire

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This book took me just over two weeks to read. Which, with my reading turn over, may as well be a couple of months! I’m not really sure why, because I enjoyed the overall premise and found it entertaining enough! There were things I really enjoyed about this book and things I found that didn’t quite hit the mark for me. Mostly I’ve found myself with little interest in continuing the series and I’m not sure if this is because the story itself wrapped up fairly well or because the book fell a bit flat for me.

The Diabolic is a Young Adult Sci-fi novel that takes place in a world where Diabolics, humanoid creatures created and grown in a lab using human DNA to be stronger, faster and more viable than regular human beings, are issued to the elite families of the Empire to protect them at any cost. Our main character, Nemesis, is one of these ‘creatures.’ Nemesis is assigned to Sidonia, the daughter of a galactic Senator hell bent on insulting the power-hungry Emperor with his heresy against the Helionic faith. Once the Emperor gets wind of this, he summons the senators daughter to his galactic empire to meet her fate as retribution against the senator. Due to Nemesis’ innate nature to protect Sidonia, she is sent to impersonate her.

I found this book a little hard to review. I think because I was told this was originally a stand alone, but it ended up getting a couple of sequels. The story was great, but felt a little slow and I didn’t find myself gaining much of a connection to the characters. It felt like a lot of information was given and I could understand how the characters fit together, but I couldn’t really understand why they would want to. This could either be a very clever tactic by the author in getting the reader into the mindset of a Diabolic, or a total fluke. I’d like to believe it’s the work of great writing, but I think the only way to know for sure would be to read the sequels and I’m not sure I’m really that interested.

The characters themselves were interesting enough, I enjoyed the touch of romance. However, it was probably the least romantic romance I’ve ever read in a YA novel. But again, this has probably got more to do with the main characters lack of emotional understanding. I also feel like the author did a disservice to a few of the characters by either, killing them off really flippantly or dedicating only a couple of lines to what could have really been a fantastic, diverse back story! This could be due to the fact that it was originally a stand alone and the author didn’t have much time to truely delve into their character. There is a lot of senseless brutality within this book. I understand the author trying to paint certain characters as tyrants, but a lot of the brutal scenes felt a little unnecessary.

I really did enjoy the world in which this story was set. I suppose the use of the word “world” is used rather loosely as most of this novel is set on a space ship/station in the middle of the cosmos! But I really loved learning about the advanced technologies and the way in which these characters lived in a galactic environment! The advanced technology and physical enhancements gave me a little bit of a Hunger Games vibe, which I really enjoyed!

Because Diabolic was fairly brutal at times and the numerous twists and turns were lacking in suspense for me, I’ll be giving this book 3.5 stars. It was entertaining enough, but I’m still undecided as to whether I will read the sequels.