Book Review: To Kill A Kingdom By Alexandra Christo

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

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: 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.

Book Review: The Quiet At The End Of The World By Lauren James

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Rating: ★★★★.5
RRP: $16.99 AUD
Find it on Book Depository

A huge thank you to Walker Books for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Synopsis:

How far would you go to save those you love?

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion. 

Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice . . .

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“We live in the quiet at the end of the world. The slow winding-down clockwork motions before life stops completely. Time is slipping through our fingers.”

I really, truly, loved this.

We got some Transgender representation.

We got some Bisexual representation.

We got some Asian representation.

We got big, existential life questions and a beautiful, slow burn romance.

And it was all done so incredibly well!

The Quiet At The End Of The World by Lauren James follows Lowrie and Shen as they navigate their way through a world where the human race is going extinct after a virus has caused global infertility. Being the youngest humans on Earth, they spend their days mudlarking and exploring until one day their family and friends, one by one, start to mysteriously fall ill. Together they must find the cure and decide how to spend the rest of their remaining years.

This book was amazing! It started out a little slow for me, and I found I was taking a bit of time to get through the first half. However, looking back I think it was a really great start for what the novel turned into. I loved the format and the way we were fed information so slowly that it felt as though we were right there with Shen and Lowrie finding out as the same time they did. The novel was jam packed with brilliant, beautifully done diversity that was so refreshing! The characters themselves where really likeable while still having flaws and feeling real and the slow burn romance was just perfection, I really enjoyed it!

That plot! Wow. This was awesome! I didn’t even see where this was going until we got there! It was so well done! The world building was great and I loved the juxtaposition of the very futuristic assistant robots in a world that has become over grown and essentially “taken back” by nature. The writing style was incredible. It honestly just felt quiet, like we were right there at the end of the world while reading. IN-CRE-DI-BLE.

Over all, I haven’t really got anything bad to say about this book. Reading it has made me want to go out, buy the rest of Lauren James’ work and and burn through it! This is one author who has easily made it to the top of my TBR for any future novels. If you’re looking for a brilliantly done dystopian/science fiction mash up, that is going to get you really thinking about your own life and what it is to be human, then this is definitely your next read!

My Birthday Book Haul 2019

img_0877Happy birthday to meeeee! Oh and happy International Womens Day because I was born on March 8th and that’s pretty awesome in itself!

Hooray! It was my birthday this week, and I turned 29! One more year and I’m officially an old person! My birthday week was spent eating cake, hanging out with family and friends and you guessed it, buying books! I was lucky enough to be able to drop my baby girl off with her grandparents and spend the morning wandering the book store, handing books to my husband to carry around for me until I had chosen the ones I wanted to take home! And let me tell you, it was tough, but I managed to choose five books! If you’re interested in what I got, you can find a list below!

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A Curse So Dark And Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

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Find it on Goodreads and Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Fall in love, break the curse. 

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.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

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Find it on Goodreads and Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him in the years since, it’s that the dead hide truths as well as the living.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice. 

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

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Find it on Goodreads and Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody

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Find it on Goodreads and Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Kennedy Rhodes turns down an acceptance to an elite private school, instead choosing to stay at her high school and jump at the opportunity to date the boy of her dreams. Three years later, Kennedy walks in on that same boyfriend cheating with her best friend—and wishes she had made a different choice. But when Kennedy hits her head and wakes up in the version of her life where she chose to attend the private school, she finds that maybe it’s not as perfect of a world as she once thought.

Muse Of Nightmares (Strange The Dreamer #2) by Laini Taylor

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Find it on Goodreads and Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.

She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.

She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer. 

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought in a comment or come find me on bookstagram!

Book Review: The Diabolic By S.J. Kincaid

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Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire

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This book took me just over two weeks to read. Which, with my reading turn over, may as well be a couple of months! I’m not really sure why, because I enjoyed the overall premise and found it entertaining enough! There were things I really enjoyed about this book and things I found that didn’t quite hit the mark for me. Mostly I’ve found myself with little interest in continuing the series and I’m not sure if this is because the story itself wrapped up fairly well or because the book fell a bit flat for me.

The Diabolic is a Young Adult Sci-fi novel that takes place in a world where Diabolics, humanoid creatures created and grown in a lab using human DNA to be stronger, faster and more viable than regular human beings, are issued to the elite families of the Empire to protect them at any cost. Our main character, Nemesis, is one of these ‘creatures.’ Nemesis is assigned to Sidonia, the daughter of a galactic Senator hell bent on insulting the power-hungry Emperor with his heresy against the Helionic faith. Once the Emperor gets wind of this, he summons the senators daughter to his galactic empire to meet her fate as retribution against the senator. Due to Nemesis’ innate nature to protect Sidonia, she is sent to impersonate her.

I found this book a little hard to review. I think because I was told this was originally a stand alone, but it ended up getting a couple of sequels. The story was great, but felt a little slow and I didn’t find myself gaining much of a connection to the characters. It felt like a lot of information was given and I could understand how the characters fit together, but I couldn’t really understand why they would want to. This could either be a very clever tactic by the author in getting the reader into the mindset of a Diabolic, or a total fluke. I’d like to believe it’s the work of great writing, but I think the only way to know for sure would be to read the sequels and I’m not sure I’m really that interested.

The characters themselves were interesting enough, I enjoyed the touch of romance. However, it was probably the least romantic romance I’ve ever read in a YA novel. But again, this has probably got more to do with the main characters lack of emotional understanding. I also feel like the author did a disservice to a few of the characters by either, killing them off really flippantly or dedicating only a couple of lines to what could have really been a fantastic, diverse back story! This could be due to the fact that it was originally a stand alone and the author didn’t have much time to truely delve into their character. There is a lot of senseless brutality within this book. I understand the author trying to paint certain characters as tyrants, but a lot of the brutal scenes felt a little unnecessary.

I really did enjoy the world in which this story was set. I suppose the use of the word “world” is used rather loosely as most of this novel is set on a space ship/station in the middle of the cosmos! But I really loved learning about the advanced technologies and the way in which these characters lived in a galactic environment! The advanced technology and physical enhancements gave me a little bit of a Hunger Games vibe, which I really enjoyed!

Because Diabolic was fairly brutal at times and the numerous twists and turns were lacking in suspense for me, I’ll be giving this book 3.5 stars. It was entertaining enough, but I’m still undecided as to whether I will read the sequels.

My (Super Easy) Guide To How I Edit My Bookstagram Photos

There is nothing more satisfying than looking at your Instagram feed and seeing a cohesive group of pictures that blend so well together that the overall effect is like you’re looking at one picture. It’s similar to one of those artistic photos that, when you look close enough, are actually made up of hundreds of different smaller photos.

So I know you probably haven’t been wondering, but if you have and would like to know, below you will find a (super easy) guide to how I take and edit my Instagram photos as of late! Keeping in mind that my feed has changed a lot since I first started Instagram, but I do feel like I have finally found a theme that suits me!

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Equipment & Editing Apps

Lets start with the easy stuff! What I use to take my photos. I don’t use anything special! No big bulky camera, not lighting set up. I just use my iPhone XS and I make sure I take all my photos right next to a big, open window, with lots of natural light streaming in! I always try to shoot when the lighting is the same, otherwise I end up having to tweak my photos more to keep their uniformity.

Once all my props are set up, which can take anywhere from about 5 minutes to an hour, depending on how creative I feel that day, I generally take about 10 photos before I get the one I’m most happy with. This can vary though, again, depending on how creative I feel and If I’m happy with my initial set up! I have also made sure to get really familiar with my Iphone’s camera settings so I know how to adjust the exposure and focus while shooting. I’ll usually shoot with ‘portrait’ mode when I’m not doing a flat lay because it gives the photos a really nice, almost professional, quality.

After sorting through the photos I’ve taken, I choose my favourites to edit. I start by using the in phone editing options to crop or realign a photo. After this I drop it into:

Colourtone

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Price: Free (with optional in app purchases)

Colourtone is my all time favourite editing app. I don’t want to bother with creating my own filters or paying big bucks for a subscription to an app I may not even use! I am much happier using presets! And boy, does this app have some beautiful preset filters!  The app itself is free and a select few of the filters are free also! However, the filter I use, I purchased in a pack for no more than, I believe, about $2.99 Australian.

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After I’ve thrown on the filter I like to use, I then move on to checking where it will fit in best on my feed by using:

UNUM

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Price: Free (with optional in app purchases)

UNUM allows you to plan out your entire feed, and the best part about it, is that it’s FREE! Well, you can purchase an upgrade, but I’ve never found I needed it. I import all the photos I have edited into UNUM and start moving them around to see what photos I want to upload to Instagram and in what order I’d like to upload them. This is a much easier way of creating an overall aesthetic, rather than uploading to Instagram and then finding out later that the photo doesn’t really fit with the rest of your feed! Or worse, uploading, then taking it down, then uploading, then taking it down… You get the picture! It’s annoying for both you and your followers!

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Once I’ve decided what order I want to post my content I move onto Instagram! In Instagram, I usually only ever use the sharpening tool to really make the foreground pop! Other than that, I don’t make use of any of the other editing tools or filters within Instagram.

At the end of the day, your content should reflect your personality. Create content that you love and are proud of, but don’t be afraid to try something new! Happy Bookstagramming everyone!

14 Years Later: My Thoughts On Twilight By Stephenie Meyer (Chapters 1-5)

Please note: due to the large amount of commentary I seem to have on this book so far, I have decided to split these blog posts into parts! Chapters 6 through to 24 will appear in later blog posts.

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It was the year 2005. my hair was black and I wore more eyeliner than anyone ever should in their entire lifetime. I lived in skinny jeans, hoodies and converse sneakers. I was fifteen years old the year Twilight hit the shelves and it was really the first YA novel I ever read. And let me tell you, I was obsessed! I was in love! It was all encompassing and true!

I have since watched the movies of course, the nostalgia gets the better of me at times and although the acting is subpar and the idea of a 100+ year old vampire being attracted to a teenage girl does send up some red flags, I still, somehow, enjoy them for what they are. I have not however, picked up these books since those fateful teenage years all those moons ago. So here it is, I have challenged myself to reread Twilight. Yes, only the first one, I’m not some masochistic lion, you guys.

Below are my thoughts on Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. 14 years since I last read it.

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Chapters 1-5

If you haven’t read or watched Twilight, you’re probably the luckiest person in the world and if you have read or watched Twilight, my condolences. Here is a quick synopsis for the aforementioned luckiest people alive.

Bella Swan is your super average teenage girl who has decided to move to a town named Forks to live with her father, Charlie. She goes to school and meets a family of vampires. She falls in love with one of them. Ridiculousness ensues. 

So to start with, it appears, in my opinion, that Bella Swan is a wet blanket of a human being who is so self involved and self deprecating that it makes me want to gouge my own eyes out so that I won’t have to read one more word about how badly she “doesn’t want to be noticed” or how she “doesn’t communicate well.” Not to mention I couldn’t help but liken her to a freshly born calf, tripping over its own legs with the amount of times she references her clumsiness!

Now I tried to enjoy the first five chapters, I really did! But not only was Bella completely unlikable, but there was also quite a few times the author used words and phrases that could only be described as problematic. Some of these gems are as follows.

(Regarding Bella’s father, a police officer, no longer removing the bullets from his gun when he gets home)

“I guess he considered me old enough not to shoot myself by accident, and not depressed enough to shoot myself on purpose” 

and this zinger

(Regarding Edward talking to Bella)

“He enunciated every syllable, as if he was talking to someone mentally handicapped”

Eeeeekkkkk….

There was also a point where Bella actually thinks that her too pale, white skin will cause her to be noticed and ridiculed. As a white woman myself, I’m not even going to touch that one, but it certainly reeks of ignorance. Now not only is Bella extremely self conscious, she also comes across as extremely pretentious! At one point, the character Jessica is trying to befriend her and she literally thinks the following:

“I couldn’t remember her name, so I smiled and nodded as she prattled about teachers and classes. I didn’t try to keep up.”

Wow. Just, wow.

Bella is so incredibly self involved that all she really cares about is how everything around her is going to impact her life. She has little to no care for anything other than herself. Oh. Well, that is until Edward Cullen makes his appearance. In which their first interaction quite literally only involves him “glaring down” at her, no words are exchanged at all. But from that moment on, she is infatuated. She is so ridiculously emotionally involved that she then starts having all these weird dreams about a guy she’s known for maybe a month and for most of that time he is actively trying to avoid her. But hey, he’s hot right? That means it’s ok when he’s being a jerk! Edward eventually decides he doesn’t want to stay away from her anymore, however he makes a point of constantly telling her that he isn’t a good guy and that she should be scared of him. (GIRL, RUUUUUN!)

But again, he’s like, so hot right?

Chapters 6 – 10 coming soon. Whenever I can bring myself to continue reading this garbage.