Book Review: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before By Jenny Han

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Rating: ★★★★
Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

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This was a really sweet contemporary! I have been finding it a little hard to review due to the fact I watched the Netflix movie adaption about  thousand time before reading it. But to be fair, it’s a pretty accurate representation of the book. I’d even go as far as to say the movie made some of the characters more likeable. This may have more to do with the fact that the book had far more time to give me insight into the characters and their personalities, something that would be harder to fit into an hour and a half worth of film.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before tells the story of starry eyed Lara Jean. Lara Jean has been in love exactly five times in her life and she has written exactly five love letters, which she keeps in an old hat box her mother gave her. She can be as whimsical and bold as she likes, because she’s never going to send them out… Until one day, they do mysteriously get sent and her life comes tumbling down. Lara-Jean once wrote a letter  to her best friend, Josh, who happens to also be her older sisters, now ex, boyfriend! To save face, she decides to start a mutually beneficial fake relationship with non other than Peter Kavinsky, the most handsome boy at school.

I really did enjoy reading this. It was a quick, easy read and was fairly light hearted and fun. In terms of the characters, I found some of them could be a little frustating at times, but this didn’t take away from the over all story for me. As with a lot of YA contemporary, I found myself thinking “this would be a lot easier if you just spoke to each other” but I think this has more to do with the fact I’m not necessarily a “young” adult, just a regular adult (I’m a cool Mum, not a regular Mum. Points if you have any idea what I’m talking about!) But still, I enjoyed getting to know the characters more and delving deeper into their personalities and emotions.

The plot and pacing was awesome. Everything seemed to flow really nicely and it was really easy to read. There were a few scenes that I grew a little bored with, but luckily none of them really lasted very long before the story progressed. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I’ll definitely be reading the next couple of books before the movies come out. Because of this I am giving To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before 4 stars.

Book Review: Winterhued By E. H. Alger

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

In a land on the edge of all that is known dwells Princess Winterhued,
erudite, beautiful, broken-hearted. The heir to her father’s kingdom and raised to be queen, she is troubled by terrifying dreams and now finds the half-demented king turning against her. Slimy sycophants whisper in his ear, persuading him that a ‘mere woman’ is incapable of ruling, and now he ogles the princess’s ladies-in-waiting and boasts of begetting a male heir.

But Winterhued’s fears become as naught when a vast and ancient being comes flying on dread wings to lay siege to Castle Lawhill. Trailing fear and slaughter, it traps Winterhued and her people within the broken walls. The princess strives to save her subjects, but it seems the only one courageous enough to help her is the lowliest servant-boy in the castle.
Yet from the east, riding across wraith-haunted Iron Crag, comes a nameless knight, exiled and condemned… and a horned creature follows him, silent as moonlight.
 

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Unicrons, dragons, a beautiful Princess and a brave Knight! This truly was a fairytale.

Wow, ok! So this is not the kind of book I would normally pick up! I am really grateful that I get to do what I do, because I get to be introduced to some really wonderful new books! Winterhued is no exception, I really did grow to enjoy this book.

Winterhued is a tale filled with incredible and allusive mythical creatures, a daring, exiled knight and the beautiful, headstrong, raven haired Princess with whom his heart belongs. Within the Kingdom of Manydown, Princess Winterhued fights to protect her people as a terrible ancient being lays siege to Castle Lawhill.

This book took me a while to get into, which I believe is mostly to do with the way it’s written! The author is very clearly an incredible writer who has an extensive knowledge of medieval practices and language! At first, the language seemed to create these strange “road blocks” in my mind and I found myself reading very slowly to try and understand what was happening. However, as I made my way through the book, my brain started to learn how to understand the language and I actually grew to appreciate the lyrical and authentic writing style.

In terms of the plot and pacing, this was the definition of “slow burn” and highly character focused. This happens to be something I really like reading, so it was enjoyable for me. I did find there were times I struggled to get through some of the more heavily descriptive content, but I believe it all served a purpose and was a great way to immerse the reader within the Kingdom of Manydown.

The story and characters are what gripped me most. E.H Alger has a brilliant knack for giving each of her characters their very own voice. It was fantastic! Their individual personalities felt so real that often times, it felt as though I was watching these characters interact in a film rather than reading it. There were several times throughout reading that I found myself laughing out loud at the witty banter! I am also a total sucker for a bit of romance, so this beautiful, slow burn, love-of-the-ages type story was right up my alley.

Overall I grew to really enjoy Winterhued. I did struggle occasionally to get through the almost leisurely pace of the story and I understand that this read may not be for everyone. But for me, the strong female characters, the creative and fun character interactions and the vivid storytelling the author produced completely outweighed this. Because of this, I am giving Winterhued 3.5 stars!

I would also like to thank the author for sending me a copy of Winterhued in exchanged for an honest review.

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
Find it on Book Depository

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.