Book Review: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater

img_5060

Rating: ★★★★.5
RRP Paperback: $19.99 AUD

A huge thank you to the wonderful people at Scholastic AU for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads synopsis:

The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.

And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .

img_1374

Note: If you’re here, I’m going to assume you’ve already read The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater. If you haven’t, please go do that first and then read Call Down the Hawk! This book/book review wont make a lot of sense to you if you haven’t!

As with every other work by Stievater that I’ve read, this novel has a beautiful way of telling a complex story in a very subtle and intricate way. It focuses very heavily on the character experience, which is something I’ve always loved. A character driven novel is always more interesting and inspiring to me than a novel that is full of action but no strong character development. Stiefvater has this incredible knack of having a book feel like nothing really happened, but also everything happened all at once, it’s breathtaking and I adore it.

Call Down the Hawk gives us Ronan Lynch’s story. He’s a dreamer. He can literally bring things back from his dreams and manifest them into life. But the Dreamers are being hunted because a small group of people call Visionaries have been having visions of a Dreamer who will manifest a fire so terrible, it will burn the earth to cinders, bringing about the end of the world. This was a really amazing start to a pretty intense mystery and I cannot wait for the next book!

Honestly, my only complaint is that when reading the Raven Cycle books, I fell in love with Adam Parrish (Ronan’s partner for anyone who stuck around, even after my warning that this won’t make a lot of sense!) and this book had entirely too little of him in it! I hope we get more of Ronan and Adam together in the next book! All the new characters were incredible though and I honestly loved learning more about Ronan’s family.

As usual, this book just felt like magic. Maggie’s writing is so atmospheric, I could have been there with these characters while reading. Now I know these books aren’t for everyone, they are highly character driven and less about moving the plot forward at lightening pace but more a slow burn, intricate web of detail for us to wade through. They are incredible, subtle and magical. I highly recommend you give them a go. 4.5 stars!

Book Review: A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

img_4582

Rating: ★★★★.5
RRP Paperback: $16.99 AUD/$18.99 NZ | Hardback: $25.99 AUD/$27.99 NZ
Publication Date: 21st January 2020

A huge thank you to the wonderful people at Bloomsbury Publishing for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads synopsis:

In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.

Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

img_1374

Please note that this review does contain spoilers for the first book in the series!

Ok, where do I start! What an amazing second book to a series! I absolutely loved this! It was a little bit slow to start with, but it really picked up and turned into such an incredible romantic adventure! I absolutely adore Brigid Kemmerer’s knack for blending romance with a brilliant story line! I’m also completely happy with the relationships in this series of books and I’m so glad we weren’t taken down the obvious path!

A Heart So Fierce and Broken picks up a few months after the events of A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Grey is in hiding and carrying the deadly secret that he is the legitimate heir to the Ironrose throne. After being captured and taken back to the castle by force, Prince Rhen will stop at nothing to know Grey’s secret and eliminate any threat to his own claim on the throne. All the while, Grey grows closer to an enemy princess and together they must navigate their way through a world of changing allegiances, forbidden magic and love.

If you’re here, I can only presume you’ve read A Curse So Dark and Lonely (and if you haven’t, what are you doing here? Go read that first and then come back!) The second novel in this series takes a slightly different turn, we no longer get alternating perspectives from Rhen and Harper. Instead we get a story from the perspectives of Grey and a new Character, Lia Mara! Now, I may be totally bias, but because I adored Grey in A Curse So Dark and Lonely I thoroughly enjoyed reading his story, maybe even more than the first!

The world opened up for us in this book! We got to see more of Emberfall and explore different villages and kingdoms! More characters and creatures were introduced and the plot was really engrossing! As I said previously, it did feel like it started out a little bit slow, but the pacing started to pick up after a short while and after that, I couldn’t put it down! The new characters and party dynamic was everything! The banter and begrudging respect that forms between these characters was so much fun to read.

The story comes to a pretty epic conclusion with some rather huge revelations coming to light that already has me itching for the next book! If you haven’t picked these books up already, I would highly recommend you do so! 4.5 stars!

Once again, thank you so much to Bloomsbury Publishing for the opportunity to review A Heart So Fierce and Broken!

Book Review: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

img_3565

Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

img_1374

So I’ll be honest, the reason I decided to grab this book off my shelves and finally read it was because:

  1. Everyone on bookstagram is/has been raving about it, and
  2. I saw a really amazing piece of fan art that blew my mind and got me falling in love with the main characters before I even opened the cover. (it’s completely NSFW though so I won’t link it here.)

I am so glad I decided to pick it up though because I really enjoyed reading this book! I smashed through it in a matter of hours and it was just so entertaining. For some reason going into it, I assumed it was a stand alone book. I was pleasantly surprised to find that we’ll be getting a sequel!

Serpent and Dove is your classic enemies to lovers/ fake marriage troupe (one of my favourites)! The story follows head strong and foul mouthed Lou, a witch in hiding stealing to survive and the stoic and loyal Reid, sworn into the church as a Chasseur and lives by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. As their lives intertwine they are forced to confront their prejudice and forget everything they think they know about one another.

So one of the things I really loved about this story was the magic. It had a really eerie and interesting quality to it that was really immersive to read. It really did feel like something that could be feared! I would love to learn more about how the magic system works for each of the different witch covens too, but I’m sure we’ll learn more in the coming book(s). The world building was awesome and really atmospheric! I felt like I could have been there with Lou on the roof top of the old theatre watching the stars, or walking along cobblestone streets, eating sweet buns!

The characters! Lou was so sassy and fun! I loved that she was so outspoken and forward thinking. Reid was a bit of a cardboard box to start with, but that was to be expected given his character. He had a lot of great growth in this book and I’m sure he’ll have a lot more in the next. The supporting characters were all really interesting and added something different to the plot (particularly Ansel, bless him)!

Overall this was good and I will definitely continue the series. I’m really looking forward to where these characters will go next, particularly after one very exciting and interesting revelation at the end of the book! I’m hooked! I’ll be giving Serpent & Dove 4 stars!

Book Review: Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

img_2952

Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

img_1374

Why is this over!? It can’t be over! Can someone please contact Holly and let her know we’d like a whole novel of Jude and Cardan just living their lives and interacting with their cute-as-heck sass.

Queen of Nothing picks up right where The Wicked King left us. Jude is in exile and High King Cardan is on the throne in Elfhame. When Jude’s twin sister Taryn arrives at Jude’s door with some interesting news, Jude is persuaded to return to Elfhame in Taryn’s place.

This was everything I was hoping for! It was such a brilliant ending. My only complaint is that I wish it was longer (which is hardly a complaint really, I’m just super greedy when it comes to Cardan Greenbriar). It was such a fantastic story and I actually enjoyed this one more than the first two (if that’s even possible).

The story flowed perfectly. I loved the fact that this book focused a lot more on our favourite characters and their relationships and that the more political aspects weren’t as prominent (don’t get me wrong, there was still plenty of intrigue, but it just seemed to be more enjoyable in this one! Less plotting and more action!)

It was such a satisfying conclusion to a series I have absolutely adored. I will thoroughly miss these characters and will definitely have to have another read through of the entire series at some point, but until then… I am so happy with how this story wrapped up and I highly recommend picking this series up if you haven’t already.

overall this was an utterly magical and whimsical fairy tale. I absolutely adore the wicked and eccentric vibe of the faeries in Holly Black’s work! I finished this is a matter of hours, it was so readable! But seriously, can we just get another book of Jude and Cardan being perfect?

Book Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

img_2504

Rating: ★★★★★
RRP: $32.99 AUD

A huge thank you to Penguin Publishing Australia for gifting me a copy of this incredible book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.

What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians–it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.

Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life. 

img_1374

“Are you lost or are you exploring?”

I have no words.

This was beautiful.

It was poetic and magical.

It was everything I could ever want in a book.

And it’s easily my favourite book of the year!

The Starless Sea takes you on an incredible, vivid adventure. Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, this book thoroughly immerses you in magic and wonder. I have already set a goal to read it again before the year is out so I can further understand all the small intricacies!

After Zachary Ezra Rawlins stumbles across a mysterious book in his university library, he is whisked off on an adventure that leads him through a magical painted door to a mysterious underground labyrinth filled with stories.

This book was gorgeous! It made me remember why I loved The Night Circus so much. Erin Morgenstern has a way with words. She is a poet. Honestly, my heart is so incredibly full after reading this book. The characters were beautifully written and complex, we got a perfect slow burn (and wonderfully queer) romance and the plot was layer upon layer of intricate detail that came together so beautifully in the end. It’s the kind of book that has you intrigued the whole way through and as you read the last page it’s as if all these pieces fall into place and you look up from your book and just stare in utter reverence at how incredible some story tellers are.

Now I understand that this book may not be for everyone. It can be a little “heavy”and as I’ve stated, there is a lot of intricate detail that some people may find a bit much. But for me, it was absolute wonder. This is a world I would very much like to be a part of!

Over all, I cannot fault this glorious book. It has everything I love in a story and I will read it over and over and over for the rest of my days. Go ahead, leap down the rabbit hole, step through the back of your cupboard, walk through that painted door. You won’t regret it. All the stars in the night sky for this one. Utter perfection.

 

Book Review: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

img_2276

Rating: ★★★★★
RRP: $16.99 AUD | $18.99 NZ
Publication Date: November 5th 2019
Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this conclusion to Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.

img_1374

This was such a satisfying and epic conclusion to this series! I’m so lucky to have been able to read it early! Thank you so much to Walker Books for sending me a review copy. Just wow! It was amazing! If you haven’t read Scythe or Thunderhead yet, go do that before you read on! You won’t regret it!

After the major cliff hanger we had at the end of Thunderhead, The Toll tells the story of the events that have happened over the three years after the sinking of Endura. Rowan and Citra have been found, we see a world gone mad under Scythe Goddard’s rule (which was both entertaining and utterly horrifying), we get an array of new characters, which at first felt really overwhelming, but after a while was fantastic and really pushed the plot forward and executed the story perfectly and, of course, we get epic intertwining story telling!

I honestly loved this, I can’t fault it. I feel really satisfied with how the series ended and would highly recommend reading it. I actually forgot how much I enjoyed Neal Shusterman’s writing style! It was both very fun and very matter-of-fact all at the same time (if that makes an ounce of sense). As with both Scythe and Thunderhead, The Toll tackles huge issues and  it was  really interesting to read and see the parallels forming between the main villains and their corrupt ideals and the horrors of real people from our own history! You almost read this while wanting to scream “ARE YOU CRAZY!? WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!?”

The characters, new and old were amazing, I feel like we got just enough of all of them. This book has certainly come a lot further since Scythe and branched out in terms of loveable and realistic characters. We got some INCREDIBLE representation when it came to Jericho, the feisty and tenacious sea caption, who is non binary! They identify as male under the cover of clouds and female under the sun. I really loved that and was so happy to see such awesome representation continuing into this book!

The Toll had all the elements that I really loved in Scythe. It got you thinking about your own morals and your own perspective on human kind all the while keeping you incredibly entertained! Too much happened in this amazing book for me to feel like I could ever truly do a review that would give it justice. So my final word on The Toll, is go read it! Read the whole series if you haven’t done so yet! 5 stars!

Thank you once again to Walker Books! You guys are all incredible. I truly appreciate being given these opportunities!

Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

we are okay

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

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.

img_1374

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.