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!

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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!

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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: Pan’s Labyrinth By Guillermo Del Toro & Cornelia Funke

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Rating: ★★★★★
RRP: $29.99 AUD | $32.99 NZ
Publication Date: 2nd July 2019
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:

Oscar winning writer-director Guillermo del Toro and New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke come together to transform del Toro’s hit movie Pan’s Labyrinth into an epic and dark fantasy novel for readers of all ages, complete with gorgeous and haunting illustrations.

This book is not for the faint of heart or weak in spirit. It’s not for skeptics who don’t believe in fairy tales and the powerful forces of good. It’s only for brave and intrepid souls like you, who will stare down evil in all its forms.

Inspired by the critically acclaimed film written and directed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and reimagined by New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke, this haunting tale takes readers to a darkly magical and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous men, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family.

Perfect for fans of the movie and readers who are new to del Toro’s visionary work, this atmospheric and absorbing novel is a portal to another universe where there is no wall between the real and the imagined. A daring, unforgettable collaboration between two brilliant storytellers.

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This was incredible, heartbreaking and thought provoking. I think I may be one of the only people left on the planet that hasn’t watched the Pan’s Labyrinth film, but after reading the book, I’ll definitely be watching the movie. This was a beautifully dark, magical journey from start to finish and I loved every second of it! Written by the film director and Cornelia Funke, this book gives new insight into the 2006 film.

Pan’s Labyrinth (for those few, like me, who haven’t seen the film.) is a dark fantasy tale that follows 11-year-old Ofelia. After picking up her life, along with her pregnant mother, and moving to the secluded home of her new stepfather, the tyrannical and sadistic Captain Vidal, Ofelia finds herself drawn into a world of fairytale fantasy. But, like most fairytales, all is not what it seems.

This book was a-ma-zing! Each scene was written in such a way that you felt as though you were a spectator in these characters lives, like you could be walking in and out of this world watching their every move. The world building was rich and atmospheric and had an incredible knack of making me feeling completely uneasy. From the very beginning I found it hard to discern who to trust and who to fear most. It was done so well, that the feeling of unease seemed to stick with me well after I had put the book down. It even chased me into my dreams on a few occasions!

I would like to mention that this book is not for the faint of heart. Set in 1944, in Nazi-held Europe, there is a lot of brutal content that could make some readers feel uncomfortable. However, it all combines perfectly to create a dark and menacing read. The characters felt completely raw and real, which I think is what this book is all about at the heart of it. Human emotion, good, bad and truly evil.

Honestly, I cannot fault this book. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s probably one of my favourite reads of the year! The beautifully written story, along with some truly gorgeous illustrations combine to create a mesmerising reading experience. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch Pan’s Labyrinth and bawl my eyes out some more.

Book Review: The Order Of The Rose By Alysha King

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

“You possess a power as great as that of the false Empress. You do not understand it yet but you will come to learn its true nature. It is the only match to true evil. You doubt it, but you must embrace it or you will fail.”

When Carey Lee discovers that not only is she a witch but also part of a rebel order, she figures it can’t be any worse than the life from which she just escaped. Little is she prepared though for what lies ahead – an all-powerful empire and a murderous Empress, a seemingly impossible quest to rescue her family, and a power so dark that Carey begins to doubt her very existence.

The Order of the Rose is the first in a series of three novels to be known as the Rose Chronicles. 

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This was an interesting read for me. I am definitely no longer the intended audience, and being a fairly well read adult woman, at times it felt a little too young for my tastes. However, I think younger readers would find this action packed adventure/fantasy rather enjoyable.

The Order Of The Rose tells the story of Carey. A young teenage girl suffering from amnesia after a traumatic childhood event. Who, upon escaping from a horrible orphanage, joins forces with Ji and Kat, two of her oldest friends (she just doesn’t remember them!) Together they are the last remaining members of the magical rebel Order Carey’s grandmother founded to fight the evil, Empress Malevolence.

I found this a little hard to get into to begin with, but again, I believe this is because it is intended for younger readers. The pacing felt a bit rushed and was driven mainly by the three protagonists having seemingly random encounters with evil. This was frustrating as it felt like there was constant action and very little quiet moments in between for us to really get to know the characters. Having said that, this was justified further into the novel once more of the plot was divulged, but it meant that the first half of the book felt slow and wasn’t as enjoyable for me.

The second half of this book however, was where it started to really shine. Carey had some really nice character growth and became a far stronger, more likeable character and the action seemed to become more intentional when it came to driving the plot forward. I really enjoyed learning about the world and setting, however it was a little confusing at first as I wasn’t sure where or when the story was set until about half way into the book.

The characters all had some great growth! I adored Kat! She was extremely fierce, capable and just an all round badass. Carey could be a little unsure and frustrating at times, but I think this was justified considering she was thrown into the middle of an epic battle between good and evil, having absolutely no idea what she was or who she was up against. The trio’s dynamic was also really fun and not unlike the Harry Potter series in some ways, which I really enjoyed.

Overall I liked this book! I think I would have liked it more if I had read it when I was younger. I may even go as far as to say it could be classed as more of a Middle Grade read. But taking that into account, it was enjoyable and was a fantastic starting off point for the rest of the series.

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: 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.