Book Review: Illuminae By Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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

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 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.

April Reading Wrap-Up

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April was definitely my worst reading month so far this year! I only managed to get through three books! It wasn’t for lack of trying though, I just never seemed to have much time on my hands. I have a few review books to get through over the next month so here’s hoping I get more time to read in May!

The books I did read this month were all really great, so I had a fantastic reading month when it came to the amount of enjoyment I got from these stories! If you’re interested to see what I read, check out the list 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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04b334ef-e08d-49f3-9adb-7ca92c0525caFind it on Book Depository

Title: The Quiet At The End Of The World (★★★★.5)
Author: Lauren James
Genre: YA Dystopian/Science Fiction

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: This book started out a little slow for me, but as the story progressed I realised that it was actually a really fantastic beginning to the story. It has some amazing LGBTQ+ representation and one of the main protagonists is Asian, which I loved! I had absolutely no idea where this story was going until we got there and it was absolutely incredible! Highly recommend reading it.

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Title: A Curse So Dark And Lonely (★★★★)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: YA Fantasy

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: A really fun, fresh take on the story of Beauty and the Beast. I would recommend this to fans of Sarah J Maas, however, it does feel as though it is aimed at a slightly younger audience. Be warned that there are quite a few times where a love triangle is hinted at, so this may be a predominant feature in any future sequels, although I am hoping the author chooses to go another route. Overall, this was a really great fantasy and I really enjoyed the romantic plot line.

c41fa662-a3e3-46ec-98cb-32f54de05ef4Find it on Book Depository

Title: The Rift (★★★★★)
Author: Rachael Craw
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: This was absolutely brilliant! It gave me all sorts of Maggie Stiefvater vibes that took me back to when I read The Raven Cycle for the first time! We got a really perfect romance and incredibly descriptive and magical world building! Unfortunately there is no sequel in the works as of yet, but it was definitely left open enough that one could be written if the author so chooses (FINGERS CROSSED BECAUSE THIS WAS PERFECTION!) I highly recommend giving The Rift a read, it’s easily my favourite read of the year so far.

Book Review: A Curse So Dark And Lonely By Brigid Kemmerer

we are okayRating: ★★★★
Title: A Curse so Dark and Lonely
Author: Brigid Kremmerer
Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

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This was great! I enjoyed it. I would say it has a very similar feel to the ACOTAR series while reading, but probably aimed more at a slightly younger audience. Nevertheless, I liked it a lot and will definitely continue the series!

A Curse So Dark And Lonely follows Harper, a teenage girl, swept away from her home in Washington DC by Grey, the Commander of the Royal Guard, to Emberfall, a fairytale-esque Kingdom, currently cursed by a powerful enchantress. The only way to break the curse is for Harper to fall for Prince Rhen. But with very little time before the prince is doomed to live as a beast forever and his people are left without a ruler, Harper struggles to know her true feelings. With Emberfall slowly going to ruin, Harper must navigate her way through love, loss, war and heartache.

I actually really enjoyed this Beauty and the Beast retelling. It felt fresh and different, while not straying too far from the original source material  for the reader to know it’s a retelling of a classic fairytale. The novel was right up my alley in terms of genre, and the romance was very sweet. However, I do get the feeling that a love triangle will be a predominant part of the next instalment as there were quite a few moments that it was hinted at and slowly built upon. The love triangle troupe is something I really dislike, so I hope that the author chooses to go a different route or does it in a way I am able to enjoy.

I loved the rich world building! I felt like I was right there in Emberfall with Harper, Rhen and Grey. Speaking of which, the characters were fantastic! I loved that we were given a really strong, female main character with cerebral palsy. It’s not something I have ever seen represented in a YA book before, so it was really great seeing it represented so respectfully. Despite the hints of an impending love triangle, I actually really liked both the male leads and found them both equally as interesting and charismatic. Although, personally, I wouldn’t go past a Commander of the Royal Guard! Ha!

Overall, the story was great! There were a couple of things I didn’t overly enjoy, but it wasn’t enough to stop me from wanting to pick the book up and devour it in a matter of hours. I really liked this retelling, and with the way it ended, I look forward to reading the next instalment!

My Bookish Confessions

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Every now and then I do something while reading that I just know would be looked down upon by a more sophisticated reader than I. So I decided to write them all down, show everyone and run the risk of being shamed for it. HA! Below you will find a few of my bookish confessions.

I never pay attention to the map in the front of a book. Ever.

I love fantasy! I adore it! It’s easily my favourite genre. It’s also easily the most likely genre to have/need a map printed in the front due to all the world building that takes place. But do I ever look at the map? Well, with the exception of Holly Black’s ‘The Folk of the Air series’ (and only because it’s pretty) no, I never read the map. I don’t even really care much about where places are in relation to one another, I just read it and move on with the story.

I’m a spine cracker.

Ok, so I draw the line at dog earring a page, I hate that! But I will 100% crack that bad boys spine. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I love the feel of a paper back book, folded over itself to be made easier to hold one handed. It’s great! The perfect life hack for leaving the other hand free for coffee and/or snacks. Please don’t kill me!

I skim over words.

If I don’t know a word, I’ll just say “sfbuyerbfjk” in my head as I skim over it. Yeeeeaaaaahhhhh, I am the worst. If I can remember, occasionally I’ll look the word up to learn it. But more often than not, I just skim right over it and see if I can make sense of the the sentence as a whole.

I make up names.

I’ve actually spent the entirety of a series calling a character the wrong name. I didn’t learn how it was correctly pronounced until well into the series (I’m looking at you Chaol Westfall from the Throne of Glass series.) So I’ll either pronounce the name wrong for the whole series, or, if the name is particularly weird or misleading with its spelling, I’ll remember what it looks like and just do as above and “sfbuyerbfjk” over it. For those wondering, I called Chaol ‘Coal’ the whole time! For some reason my brain didn’t register the spelling at first and just made up a new name. It’s actually pronounced like ‘Kale’. It blew my mind the day I found out!

I will judge a book by its cover. Ruthlessly.

If it has a persons face on the cover, I struggle to pick it up. This is my most hated cover style. I’ve written a whole blog post about YA books that were given terrible covers to begin with, and most of them are terrible because they have models on the front cover. I really hate being shown how a particular character is meant to look. I’d much rather use my imagination and develop my own sense of the characters appearance. Movie covers are another one I absolutely hate, for the same reasons as above.

I prefer female protagonists.

I’m not saying I won’t read a book with a male protagonist, but I do prefer reading from a female point of view. But I suppose as long as the story is gripping, I’m not too fussed. Still, if I had to choose the same story but from a male or female point of view. I’d always pick female!

So that’s it, to name a few. Do you have any bookish confessions? Let me know in the comments or find me on bookstagram (@readingsumpton) and tell me all your secrets!

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March Reading Wrap-Up

March was a fairly decent reading month for me! I finished four books and got to take part in a blog tour for Nina LaCour’s novel We Are Okay (spoiler, I loved it!) Running a blog and being able to review books from publishers and take part in blog tours is just incredible. I’m so thankful to be able to do what I’m doing!

This month was a bit hit and miss in terms of finding books I enjoyed and books I really disliked! To find out which ones I adored and which ones I wanted to sleep through, check out the list 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_0467Find it on Book Depository

Title: The Diabolic (★★★.5)
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Genre: YA Science Fiction

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: I found this book really hard to review, mainly because it started out as a stand alone and turned into a trilogy. The story is a little slow, but otherwise interesting. I didn’t really connect with the characters, but I did really enjoy the world building. It was very reminiscent for the Hunger Games world in terms of technologies and character appearance. This book could be very brutal though and I felt like a lot of characters could have been more developed if this didn’t start out as a stand alone sci-fi.

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Title: The Graces (★)
Author: Laure Eve
Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: This was not my cup of tea. This book was very “Twilighty”. I didn’t enjoy it at all. It had very little plot for nearly the whole book, until the very end when we were bombarded with information and a very obvious plot twist. It just fell really flat and I honestly wouldn’t recommend reading this book. Others have enjoyed it though, so maybe if you don’t mind a book that essentially lives for the twist at the end, you may like it. But I certainly won’t be continuing the series.

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Title: We Are Okay (★★★★.5)
Author: Nina LaCour
Genre: YA Contemporary

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: I received this book from Aussie YA Bloggers and UPQ Press as part of a blog tour and I was honestly blown away at how emotionally charged this book was. The whole thing was so beautifully written and the character interactions and connections were what really made this book for me! It has some great LGBTQ+ representation which I loved and an overall really deep, all encompassing emotional pull! This is the kind of book that I think would impact you more if you have lost a loved one as navigating grief is a very large element in this story, but I think it’ll tug at pretty much anyones heart strings.

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Title: The Price Guide To The Occult (★★★)
Author: Leslye Walton
Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: I received this book from Walker Books Aus in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed this books atmosphere! It really made me feel as though I was right there in the thick of it. However, the characters felt really one dimensional and some of them felt completely unnecessary, as did the romantic sub plot. I won’t read this again, but I may continue the series to see where to goes from here. I would like to point out that this book contains a fair amount of self harm either happening or being talked about and some could find it triggering.