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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img_5422Find it on Book Depository

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!

img_5423Find it on Book Depository

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.

img_5424Find it on Book Depository

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!

img_5425Find it on Book Depository

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!

img_5426Find it on Book Depository

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.

img_5408Find it on Book Depository

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!

img_5543Find it on Book Depository

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

You can read my in-depth review here.

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

img_5648Find it on Book Depository

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

You can read my in-depth review here.

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

Book Review: Fangirl By Rainbow Rowell

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: An Enchantment Of Ravens By Margaret Rogerson

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Rating: ★★.5
Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Isobel is an artistic prodigy with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious, Rook spirits her away to his kingdom to stand trial for her crime. But something is seriously wrong in his world, and they are attacked from every side. With Isobel and Rook depending on each other for survival, their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

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I really wanted to love this book! The cover art is perfection and it’s easily one of the most beautiful books on my shelves. But unfortunately the story felt unoriginal and had very little direction.

An Enchantment of Ravens tells the story of Isobel, a young prodigy portrait artist who is commissioned by the Faerie Prince of the Autumn Court, Rook, to paint his portrait. Having painted real human sorrow in his eyes the Prince is humiliated and ridiculed by his fellow Fair Ones for showing weakness. To save face, the Prince comes to whisk Isobel away to stand trial in the Autumn Court, but they get more than they bargained for as their feelings for each other start to grow, something that could end up getting them both killed.

This was alright. I am a huge fan of faerie stories and magic so it was definitely the right genre for me, but unfortunately the whole thing felt rushed and a little messy. I feel like this book told us how much time had passed, rather than showing us. Which made the whole plot really disjointed. I have never liked “instalove”, and due to the fact the plot felt rushed, so did the romance. I think because this is a 300 page stand alone book, the author pushed through all the plot points fairly quickly, which made nearly all the action scenes fall flat. It was as if a threat would come and go within a few pages, so even though we are told the characters are going through this terrible ordeal, it didn’t feel all that bad considering they got through it and move on from it so swiftly.

I think the book could have been great if it was given the right amount of time to really delve into the story and expand upon the world and the culture of the faeries! There were some really fantastic elements within the world that I would have loved to learn more about, but again, due to the book being such a short stand alone, these felt fairly glossed over. Nearly the whole plot is Isobel and Rook travelling too, which isn’t terrible when it’s done right, but it just felt as though we went from one part of the spooky forest to a slightly different part of the spooky forest over and over and over.

The romance felt extremely unbelievable. From the moment the characters meet, they have some sort of strange connection. Then Isobel is essentially stolen from her home by Rook and they fall in love in what feels like a matter of days. There was also very little to no other relationships built upon besides the central romance. I felt absolutely no connection to any of the other characters within the story which is a real shame considering sassy side characters are my usual jam.

Overall I feel like this could have been an amazing book if it was given more time to flesh out the story and it’s characters. It had incredible potential, but unfortunately it was underwhelming for me. I have read a lot of books about Fae that I absolutely adored, so I think if you don’t have anything else to compare this to, you may love it! But sadly, it didn’t quite hit the mark for me.

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: Aurora Rising By Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

Nobody panic. 

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Ok, this book was a lot of fun. I’m not always the biggest fan of sci-fi novels, but this was awesome! It was full of snarky banter and hilarious one liners that had me laughing out loud. It was also pretty great being able to tell that the authors were Australian just by some of the language used by the characters. (Yes, the word “undies” makes an appearance more than once.)

The story follows Tyler Jones, Aurora Academy’s resident golden boy and his merry band of misfits on an action packed sci-fi adventure. As they harbour a stowaway and try and pull off one of the biggest heists in history, it lands them smack bang in the middle of a war millions of years in the making, something they did not ask to be a part of, thank you very much.

As great as this book was and as much as I did enjoy reading it, I found I wasn’t connecting with a lot of the characters as well as I’d hoped. Which made some of the harder hitting parts of the book have less of an impact on me and far less emotionally jarring. I was hoping to grow really attached to the characters and feel like I was right there with the rest of the squad blasting through space, guns a-blazing, but unfortunately this didn’t quite happen for me.

In terms of pacing and plot, this was a total success. It gave me amazing ‘Stranger Things’ vibes and was completely action packed from start to finish. I was never once left feeling bored or like parts of the plot were unnecessary. The whole thing flowed nicely which had me flying through this read (I finished it in 2 days, that’s like 5 hours in Mum time.) There was also a very slow, sweet romance happening under our noses the whole time and as I am a total sucker for a bit or romance, this subplot was completely welcomed. It was definitely not the soul focus of this novel, but I am sure it will be explored further in coming novels.

Overall this was a really fun, exciting read. The story was epic and the witty, sarcastic banter was laugh-out-loud worthy. The only real issue I personally had with the novel, as I said previously, was that I just couldn’t connect with some of the characters and at times, found them edging on annoying and unlikable. Because of this, I am giving Aurora Rising 4.5 stars.

Book Review: I Am Change By Suzy Zail

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Rating: ★★★★★
RRP: $19.99 AUD
Publication Date: August 2019
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:

They told her that her body belonged to men and her mind didn’t matter. They were wrong.

“What if I don’t want to marry?” Lillian held her breath. She had never said the words out loud. “Not want to marry?” Her aunt frowned. “What else would you do?” 

Set in a Ugandan village, Lilian has learned to shrink herself to fit other people’s ideas of what a girl is. In her village a girl is not meant to be smarter than her brother. A girl is not meant to go to school or enjoy her body or decide who to marry. Especially if she is poor.

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“Men don’t marry smart women” her mother said, snuffing out the fire. “Especially woman who are smarter than them.” She stared at the damp page on Lilians lap. “Just because you can draw those lines and dots, doesn’t mean your dreams will come true.”

If you do one thing today, make it buying this book and then devouring it whole.

I Am Change was inspired by and written in consultation with young Ugandan women. It tells the story of the fierce Lilian! An incredibly strong, intelligent young girl, navigating her way into womanhood and through the harsh reality of what life is like for young girls in Uganda. Lilian does not want to be forced to marry someone she does not love and bear him children, she wants to finish school and become a writer. She want to go to university and forge her own path! She wants girls to have a voice and for them to be treated as equals in a world so overpowered by men.

At times, this was a hard story to read. Not because the words didn’t flow or the pacing was off. The writing was, in fact, rather wonderful. It was a hard story to read, because it’s a true story for so many young girls in Uganda. But as hard as it was to read, I feel like it’s a story that needed telling.

Lilian’s story was inspired by 30 different Ugandan women, which made the characters in this book feel very real. It was both incredible, and at times, disheartening getting to know the culture that shaped these women. I do have to say that this book could be slightly distressing for some readers as it covers some very intense topics such as rape, female genital mutilation, child marriage and extreme poverty.

The juxtaposition between the extremely wealthy and the extremely poor was very jarring to read, but one thing that stood out to me, was the fact that it didn’t matter whether these girls/women were rich or poor, they were consider secondary to the men. They were no good for anything but making babies and keeping their mouths shut. I really enjoyed reading Lilian’s journey into feminism and watching her character growth as she learned her worth.

I Am Change was a highly emotional read that had me in tears at times. It made me look at my own daughter, and think of all the things that she is capable of and all the things she has the opportunity to do that we, a lot of the time, take for granted. This was a powerful, feminist read and I highly recommend everybody buy a copy and delve into Lilian’s story. It’s an important one.

Once again, thank you so much to Walker Books for sending me a copy of I Am Change in exchange for an honest review.