Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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Rating: ★★★★★
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

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Just call me Cather, because I am FANGIRLING! I’m going to preface this review and say that if you don’t understand that reference, go away and read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell before you dive into Carry On. It isn’t necessary, but it does add to the fun of reading!

I have seen A LOT of negative reviews for Carry On. A LOT. Most of them comparing Carry On to Harry Potter. I went into this without any expectations, I didn’t compare it to anything, I just enjoyed the story. AND IT WAS AMAZING. We get the sweetest enemies to lovers, gay romance, which I think really carried this whole thing for me. The story was fun, but it’s not anything that hasn’t been done before. It’s Rainbow Rowell’s take on the classic “Chosen One” story! But the romance! That was perfection. I could re-read this over and over and I’d still squeal with excitement when Simon and Baz finally admit they have feelings for each other.

Now the only negative thing I really have to say is that the first quarter of this was fairly bland world building. Because we meet Simon in his last year at Watford School of Magicks, we have a bit of backstory to catch up on so it felt like not a lot happened. But once Baz enters the scene and we finally start getting a more character driven book, it becomes something you can devour in one sitting! As I have said, Simon and Baz made this book for me, I could take or leave a few of the supporting characters, but the romance was such perfection that I’ve already purchased a snowbaz t-shirt and pre-ordered Wayward Son (I told you to call me Cather, I was not joking around.)

I could honestly re-read this again immediately. I loved the quirky magic and easy going flow of the writing. It’s the mark of a great book when I can’t imagine picking up anything different. It’s given me a literal book hangover!

Just go read it, you won’t regret it. 1 million stars.

Book Review: Gemina by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

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Rating: ★★★★★
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminaecontinues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

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Wow, this was incredible! IN-CRED-I-BLE! I loved it even more than I loved Illuminae, and if you’ve read my review, you know that I loved Illuminae!

We’re introduced to two new characters in this instalment of the Illuminae files! Hanna, the pampered daughter to the Heimdall Space Station’s Captain, and the tough but lovable, Nik, the reluctant member of a well known crime family! After the station is invaded by Beitech’s forces the pair are thrown together to fight for their lives and the lives of the ones they love!

This honestly blew my mind (seriously, I’m not kidding, I have documented footage on Instagram of the exact moment this book blew my mind!) It was so well done and since I’d already read Illuminae, I didn’t have the issue of finding the formatting hard to get my head around! It flowed really nicely and was actually a really fun way to read this instalment. It was thoroughly engaging and had a lot of “WHAT IS HAPPENING?!” moments! So. Good.

The characters! My goodness! Where do I start! I loved them! I think I actually loved them more than Kady and Ezra (sorry guys! I still love you, but I can’t go past a bad boy with a heart of gold and a badass, sassy, butt kicking heroine!) Once again, the snarky banter was on point and I really just fell in love with the characters interactions with one another. The authors were able to really give each character an individual voice, which was great considering a lot of the story takes place over instant messaging!

The plot was awesome! Such an epic continuation of the overall story and I loved how it tied all these characters stories together! Overall, this was perfection and I can’t fault it at all. 5 stars! NOW GIVE ME OBSIDIO AND LEAVE ME ALONE FOR A DAY PLEASE.

Book Review: Illuminae By Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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Rating: ★★★★.5
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Goodreads Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: To Kill A Kingdom By Alexandra Christo

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Rating: ★★★★★
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Goodreads Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: The Binding By Bridget Collins

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Rating: ★★★★★
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.

But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.

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Every now and then I read a book that steals my heart. The Binding just stole my heart. It was an incredible, boundary defying love story, and I was utterly besotted with the two protagonists, Emmett and Lucian. If you can’t tell by their names, this is a LGBT love story and it was perfection. I could read this again and again and I’m certain I’d enjoy it just as much as I did the first time. The writing had a beautiful lyrical quality and the gothic, atmospheric setting was perfection.

The story begins with Emmett, a young man set to inherit his families farm, until one day he receives a letter, telling him that he must go to become an apprentice book binder. In the world of The Binding your memories can be taken away and bound into books, something that promotes fear and prejudice. After giving up the only life he has ever known, Emmett it surprised to find a book with his name on it. From there, The Binding takes you on an incredible journey of self discovery and forbidden love.

This was amazing. My only critic would be that it did start a little slow, but not in a bad way. I actually really enjoyed getting to know these characters in an almost leisurely pace, unfolding little bits and pieces of them one page at a time. It was a gorgeous slow burn novel that focused heavily on the details, something that I find I often miss when reading YA as opposed to an Adult novel.

The plot and setting was incredibly immersive and at times confronting and gritty. It had such a profound effect on me that it had me turning page after page as if in a daze! Emmett and Lucian’s love story might be my new favourite too! I feel like I’ll miss them now that I’ve finished with this book.

Over all, this was an emotional read! One that I thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend! Because of this, I am giving this historical fiction-romance-fantasy mash-up 5 stars!

Book Review: Call It What You Want By Brigid Kemmerer

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Rating: ★★★★★
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Goodreads Synopsis:

When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship…

This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?

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I am in such a Contemporary mood right now and this book was the icing on the cake! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I burned through it in a matter of hours! The writing was easy to read and flowed nicely, the characters were flawed and amazing and the romance was perfection! I want more! Which means I might be heading to the book store to see if I can grab some more of Brigid Kemmerer’s Contemporary Fiction!

Call It What You Want is told from the perspectives of Rob, the once popular high school jock whose life fell apart when his father was caught embezzling half the towns money and Meagan, the perfect overachieving student, who let the pressure get to her and was caught cheating on her SAT’s. Together they navigate their way through an unlikely friendship, love and the blurred line between what is right and what is wrong.

I really did enjoy this! All the characters, even the minor ones, where intriguing in their own right and I really loved the overall tone of mortality and what it looks like for different people. There was a lot of representation in this book, which I also thought was great. It covered a lot of important issues such as suicide attempts (and the devastating aftermath for the family), racism and privilege, teen pregnancy and focused heavily on  individual characters morals and how nothing is every truly just black and white, which really gets you thinking about your own!

There were times when I was actually talking to this book! I wanted to shake some of these characters and tell them “No! Don’t do that!” It was really immersive, I honestly wish I didn’t burn through it as fast as I did because I already miss the characters! The romance was awesome. Although, I am always a little confused as to where these totally ripped, “sexy as hell” teenage boys come from, because… come on? Y’all seem to be skipping the awkward stage these days and I am not down for that!

But overall this was a great read! I will definitely be reading it again at some point and would highly recommend it! Because of this, I am giving Call It What You Want 5 stars!

Book Review: We Are Blood & Thunder By Kesia Lupo

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Rating: ★★★
RRP: $16.99 AUD
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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!