Book Review: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater

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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. . . .

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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

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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.

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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: 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!