Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

or: YESSSSSSSSSSSS

Goodreads  ||   The Book Depository

Synopsis: Simon Snow just wants to relax and savour his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his room-mate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savour anything. Based on the characters Simon and Baz who featured in Rainbow Rowell’s bestselling novel Fangirl, Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

This book was perfect.

No for real though, this book was EXACTLY what I needed it to be.

I waited on tenterhooks for this book for all of 2015. And it finally, blessedly came to us unworthy mortals and it was GLORIOUS.

Rowell was my goddess last year. I professed all fealty and honor to her mighty skills. This book sealed the deal. This is the end flourish on my utter dedication.

This is the book, my friends, that is the crowning glory to all fan girl needs. This book was written for the audience by one of our own. This book provides salvation to all those who’s ships have sunk and have endured endless ‘feels.’ This book is THE book; this is the story of the fandoms and feels like the perfect tribute to all the fic writers and readers of the internet.

This book is the symbol. This book signifies all those times reading fan fic where you sit back and think, ‘Man, that fic deserves to be published.’ This book stays with you. This book MAKES you.

I haven’t been able to write this review to now because I just couldn’t even for the longest of times. And to be honest, I still can’t even.

Once again, Rowell drapes the reader in rich dialogue, brilliant plot timing and devices and sucks you so deep into her world you begin to taste Watford air on your tongue. The characters are rich and complex and crafted with such a love that it is almost impossible not to get sucked in and fall in love with them too.

The plot twists gripped me and I couldn’t predict what direction things were going to go in. The pacing of major events was perfect, with the right amount of time allowed for character development and revelations to occur.

Even though Simon Snow Watford is heavily inspired by Harry Potter with many nods to JK Rowling placed throughout, Rowell has succeeded in making the stories so different its a struggle to compare them or judge them off each other. Rowell has put a great deal of time and effort to create a rich wholistic world that lives and breathes. Rowell’s writing style tends to be more descriptive than Rowling’s; everything about the two is different.

Honestly, now that this book has closed up the fan girl world, I’m really quite gutted. I loved both Carry On and Fan Girl and i’m sad that this is the end for them. I wanted to stay in this world just a bit longer. But alas. Maybe Rowell will end up writing a sequel? Fingers crossed.

Read: International Paperback Edition

This Book was read in 2015 and was apart of my 2015 Reading Challenge.

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Review: Archived by Victoria Schwab

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The Archived by Victoria Schwab

or:  Ah damn… another series I’m devoted to

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Synopsis: Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive. Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost, Da’s death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself may crumble and fall.

I really didn’t need another series to follow. The list that of series that I am currently reading is rapidly growing at an ever expanding rate and I promised myself I wouldn’t jump into another series before I finished a few off.

But I was weak. I’M WEAK.

After looking at this book and uhming and ahing for ages, I bought it in late 2015 and read most of it on a train journey too and from Sydney.

This book is EXCELLENT

I read Schwab’s Vicious (written under her adult fiction pen name V.E Schwab but the same lady) in 2015 also but struggled to connect with the story/characters (See Review). This book seemed to solve the issues I found with Schwab. She seemed comfortable, the characters were fascinating and vibrant and her plot and pace felt like the perfect tempo.

The very complex and engaging world sucks the reader in very quickly and never once did I spot any holes in her world or feel like it was too contrived. I LOVED the Archive, the characters who filled it out and the sinister backdrop that it created. The whole premise is so interesting and I’ve never encountered anything similar to this.

This book feels refreshing- like a storm clearing away a humid day.

The mystery had me fooled to the very end. Usually I can pick up the hidden villain and potential plot outcomes very quickly, but I didn’t this time. I love when books prove me wrong and manage to get the drop on me. Schwab is extremely masterful in this book, weaving the mystery so subtly and doesn’t drop any tells. When her villain shows their true colours, it’s perfect and I cant help but admire her skill at creating such twisted characters.

Mac is a spitfire and I loved how Schwab portrayed her dealing with grief. It was real. I cried more than once, and it gave Mackenzie an inner spark that made her leap off the page. She didn’t annoy me; she held her own but also wasn’t too perfect. She grudgingly admitted her faults and actively strives to fix herself, even though she admitted multiple times how hard it was.

This shows how carefully and how skillfully Schwab creates her characters, the same level of thought put into each and everyone. Schwab breaks her characters, and then lets them go to see how they will cope; do they rise above? do they sink? or do they ignore it? This may be Schwab’s greatest strength; her characters.

I’m thoroughly hooked here, I’m desperate to know what happens next, despite the rather neat ending Schwab managed to tie together. The second book definitely has a spot in my cart during my next book buying hall. I’m glad I decided to pick up this book despite initial doubts. I was right in my Vicious review; this book is definitely more my style.

Read: International Paperback Edition

This Book was read in 2015 and was apart of my 2015 Reading Challenge.

Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

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Soundless by Richelle Mead

or: I can hear clearly now the Hiatus has gone

Goodreads   ||  The Book Depository

Synopsis: For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village. Her people are at the mercy of a mysterious faraway kingdom, which delivers food in return for precious metals mined from the treacherous cliffs surrounding them. When villagers begin to lose their sight, their rations shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the boy she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation. Then Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon…

I honestly don’t know why people don’t like this book. I loved this book! Some of my favourite reviewers really disliked it and I was really shocked when I found out. I do agree, Mead sometimes misses the mark, but I honestly really liked this book.

I’ve never really been exposed to much Chinese mythology, and Mead’s story has certainly inspired me to read more. Mead has done her research here, and while some are complaining of it’s lack of authenticity coming from a white author, I think they’re not considering how many people are now going to look into Chinese mythology because of this book.

Was there a few times Mead’s white-ness showed through? Yes. Did I mind? No. It can be forgiven because Mead has been nothing but respectful.

I liked the setting and the world building, I loved that the characters were deaf. I loved the tension and the struggle within the book. I loved the ending. I loved it.

I loved this book because it was so different to what Mead usually offers us. Mead made the brave call to go out on a limb and go into a new area. Because it was her first book since the end of the Vampire Academy/Bloodlines Universe, it was bound to stir up some anticipation and controversy.

This book did however, have issues with pace. Sometimes it felt like Mead was spending too long on parts that should have been short,sharp and snappy and racing over parts that needed more explanation. This isn’t a new problem for Mead, she struggled with this in the Dark Swan series and one or two books in Bloodlines/VA. I would have loved more time spent on the nature of a society where everyone is deaf; I feel like she skipped over it and focused solely on the village problem of not having food. I also wish she had taken more time to weave the cultural mythologies and fantasy through the story a bit more so it wasn’t so sharp of a surprise when very very strong fantasy was shoved down our throats right at the end.

I also kind of feel like Mead rushed this book. This entire book felt hurried. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe I was just a bit jolted by her change in narration style, but this I feel ties closely into her pace issues. Given hindsight and more recent knowledge on Mead’s up and coming projects- this feels like she quickly spat this book out before her new series, like she wanted to get the idea out of her head before she dedicated herself to the new series.

But, overall, as I said, I really enjoyed this book. I totally understand peoples different opinions and I totally understand why people may take offense. If you have been offended, I’d like to appologise on Mead’s behalf. We are still a long way from delivering perfect PoC stories, but I feel like this is a step in the right direction and encouraging the masses to read more PoC things.

I received this book in my November OwlCrate and I was so stoked to receive this book. Thank you Owlcrate!

Read: American Hardcover Edition

This Book was read in 2015 and was apart of my 2015 Reading Challenge.

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas (Throne of Glass #2)

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Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

Or: YAS GURL

Goodreads  ||    The Book Depository

Synopsis: From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil. Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart. Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

My opinion of this book can be summarized into two words. Hell Yes

I liked the first book of this series. But I LOVED this second book. This is exactly what I wanted to see from Maas for this book; improved skill and craftsmanship in her writing, a killer plot and mysteries galore. Let me tell you, this book delivered.

I was initially hesitant with this series; these books had a heck tonne of hype and its easy to become daunted. This book proves it’s top place in pop culture right now.

I didn’t think Celaena could become any more bad-ass but she did. She showed us her assassin side, a side which Maas had previously very carefully hidden in the last book but let come out with a vengeance. This improved her character, made everything more believable and made you root for her all the more. I adore morally ambiguous anti-heroes, and its rare that you find such a good one in YA.

My only quip with this book however, was the predictable reveal about Celeana’s heritage. Saw that coming a mile off. I had it pegged in book 1 when she found the tomb, and I felt slightly annoyed that I had been right in my guess when the bombshell was dropped. Maas did well in dropping it, but I think in her excitement, she kept giving readers glimpses of her hand too early. She could have hidden it easily but she let too much slip.

I’m glad however,that Maas flipped over and reversed her decision with the love triangle. Thank christ she fixed it. But even better was that she made the degeneration of the triangle seem inevitable and not rushed or guilty. She let the plot fix itself and let characters shine. I’m glad we saw Celeana’s conflict with both herself and Chaol and I loved their struggle with each other and their feelings. I get so sick of seeing perfect relationship in fiction all the time, especially with characters with less than perfect personalities. Thank god Maas saw sense.

The action was perfect! This book held a lot more badass fight/conflict scenes than the last believe it or not, but they were well paced and certainly well executed. Maas succedeed in giving me nightmares yet again with a certain character or two and a round of applause needs to go Maas’ way for her ability to weave such tension and suspense into her writing

This book has sold me on this series, and I’m desperately hoping the rest of the books live up to this one. I’m keen as a bean to see what happens next, and hopefully I can burn through my TBR pile quickly this year so that I can grab the next installments.

There’s a reason this book made it onto my top books of 2015 list, even though I read it reasonably late in the year. Trust me, if you haven’t started this series yet, you need to.

This Book was read in 2015 and was apart of my 2015 Reading Challenge.

Other books in this Series; Throne of Glass, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows

Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

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City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

or: This is starting to look excellent 

Goodreads   ||    The Book Depository

Synopsis: Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

I’m a bit guilty with this book- I read it in late August/early September and never ended up writing a review on it. So here is a very delayed review of a book that I actually really enjoyed.

I wrote a late review on  City of Bones describing my happiness at getting in- very very late I might add- into the Shadow hunter Chronicles. I really enjoyed the first book, but I enjoyed this book 10 times more. Clare’s writing definitely improves in this book, and the 2D, slightly confusing world she set up in the first book comes into more of an abrupt focus.

Have I said yet how much I love Valentine as a villain? Valentine is one of those brilliant, maniacal villains who has no redeeming qualities or backstory; he’s just plain evil to be honest. I love it when an author just provides us with a killer villain (lol) and doesn’t appologise and someone please raise a glass to toast Ms Clare for her offering of Valentine.

Simon, who was a favourite from the beginning becomes soooo much better in this book. Loved, loved, loved what Clare did. She finally breathed some life into him and gave him some balls. Praise. The end Battle Royal definitely killed me though.

Clary, who annoyed me in the first book, pissed me the hell off in this one. I reaaaaalllyyy hope she improves because she made me want to throw the book at the wall more than once. Someone please tell me that this girl improves, please. Honestly, I don’t read this book for Clary; I tried to ignore her and focus on things around her. Clary is the sort of heroine I would have loved to read about when I was 15 or younger, but fast forward 6 years? I’ve lost all patience for characters like Clary.

The Fearie court was interesting and so was the introduction of several different down worlder groups. Clare really fleshed out her world and I really enjoyed finding out her mythology on Werewolves and Vampires. Magnus was even more charming if possible, and Alec and Isabelle started to come into themselves.

Other than Clary, my main problem- and lets be honest I think it’s everyone’s problem as far as the reviews seem to go- is the incest thing. Clare does this strange thing where she tries to make the idea of incest ok. It’s not ok, and I can guarantee you I don’t want to read about it. She’s teased it too long and its getting too uncomfortable. It’s fairly obvious that Jace and Clary aren’t brother and sister, I mean come on, it’s just there to create tension and drama because Clare let them fall together too early. But the whole plot device of “brother/sister” is disgusting and has been drawn out way too long. It needs to stop.

Please, dear lord, let her stop with the incest.

Will I read the next book? Hell yeah I will. I’ve been given hints that they get better and I’ve also been given a hint that Simon gets better which makes me happy. Fingers crossed Clary improves too.

So, long story short (literally this book dragged on a bit), Ashleigh liked the book but had a few tiny problems with it (and one larger one). Will Ashleigh get time to read City of Glass before Christmas? Probably snot. But Ashleigh is Determined to finish this series.

Read: English paperback

Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

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The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

or: Amish, and Post Apocalyptic Vampires, oh my!

Goodreads  ||  The Book Depository

Synopsis: Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning.

This book grimly fascinated me. But I don’t know if it was for exactly the reasons that the author wanted.

This book was a typical YA book centering around “the end of the world”; it’s told by a ‘plain’, but apparently beautiful main character who is so distracted by potential suitors, the potential of creating a truly meaningful discussion on societies failings are lost.

For some reason, YA is really frustrating me for this reason right now.

I read this book quite a few months ago but have really struggled to put my feelings for this book into words. See that’s the thing about this book; it had me both gripped but also kind of disappointing.

Australia doesn’t have Amish communities; we do occasionally get a religious secluded settlement but it’s not an organised religion, just usually a cult off-spring. The Amish and their ways have always fascinated me, and it was definitely the promise of learning a bit more about the culture that drew me to the book.

And Bickle does deliver on that; she works very hard to set the scene of an Amish community. It does seem a bit forced sometimes, but on the whole, I am satisfied by what she put forward on the community in this book. I wish I knew how accurate her information was, but Bickle never commented in Authors Notes or Acknowledgements her sources for this book.

I was also initially curious about the vampires, especially on how the Amish community would deal with them. I quickly lost interest in the vampire plot point about half way through. Bickle was so earnest in trying to get her audience to believe there was a vampire doomsday, she went over the top and the whole thing became too contrived. She should have left the mystery there and just left them unknown; the story would of had more gravity and would have been so much better.

The love story bored me. Too cliche, too obvious. Didn’t add anything to the story. In fact, the story would have been 10 times better without it. I wish that the outsider had just stayed her friend and that would have been the end. The Amish boy who made up the other side of the love triangle was awful and I had zero sympathy for him. He was an asshole and so uninspiring I don’t even remember his name.

There are apparently other books in this series. I will not be, however, wasting my time or money on them.

I don’t know how well this review captures my feelings on this book. As I said, I really don’t know how I feel about this book other than that a lot of it annoyed me. I never ended up giving this book a stared rating on Goodreads and for a good reason. Now? I think I would give it a 2.5 stars.

Guess I’m not in Kansas anymore Katie

Read: English Paperback Version 

Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Or:…. WOW

Goodreads   ||   The Book Depository

Synopsis: When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control. Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living

Every once and a while you find a book that has an original and ingenious plot and universe. This is one of those books.

This book was so interesting, and meaty, I had no clue what was going to happen, and I loved it.

I love complex main characters who acknowledge that they are imperfect. That is Ruby. Bracken was walking a fine line with Ruby; she could have easily made her a Mary Sue. She didn’t. Not by a long shot. She let Ruby make mistakes and let Ruby learn from them. This is such a breath of fresh air. If I didn’t love Bracken already from her skillful and beautiful story telling in this book, I certainly loved her for the way she crafted her characters.

Bracken’s characters are all so human. In fact her characters are so believable its sometimes hard to remember that this is fiction and this didn’t actually happen.I had to keep pinching myself; Bracken’s work is so good it’s hard not to take this as a warning of what COULD happen. That’s what makes a good dystopian story; when something hits so close to home that it’s possible.

It’s interesting how Bracken has chosen to write this story. Ruby doesn’t have flashbacks to explain her childhood- no Ruby’s story is told as chronologically as possible for the unreliable narrator that is Ruby. Bracken’s skill is so great that she manages to write the story so it’s believable that Ruby has a 10 year old’s education; Ruby is not exceptionally clever, she’s naive and childish. She doesn’t have complex problem solving skills and that’s why, partly, its so believable.

She doesn’t just write Ruby this way, she writes all the children/teenagers this way. Things happen the way they do- all the disasters of the quest to find east river- because the children lack the capacity to make complex decisions in a world twisted by fear. Zu is a notable character, both for her tenacity and for how well she pulls at your heart strings. Liam is every girls teenage fantasy and he is just as flawed as Ruby.

The end twists, I certainly didn’t see coming. I cried, I gasped and I spent hours sucked up into this world. The next book in the trilogy is in my TBR pile ready to go. But I want to pace myself with this series. Hopefully, the other two books are just as good as the first.

You could study this book for hours and find all the cleverness that Bracken has expertly worked in. In fact, I really want to give it to my best friend who’s studying to become a high school English teacher. She’d love this one.

This book deserves all the hype it gets. Trust me here; you’re going to want to read this one.

Read: Paperback English Version. 

Review: Vicious by V. E. Schwab

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Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Goodreads  ||   The Book Depository

Synopsis: Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

This book has been the center of some pretty severe hype over on Booktube and Bookstagram. Everyone’s been talking about it for months, and so, in one of my book buying splurges, I invested.

This book is interesting and definitely not what I expected.

First and foremost, if you are thinking about reading this book, avoid spoilers if you can- trust me, the full effect of this book comes when you know nothing about it. Secondly, think seriously about hype and the potential bias that it may place on your expectations. This book is good yes, but I’m not sure if it lives up to the hype. Don’t be fooled here. And thirdly, dedicate the necessary time to read this; make sure you don’t have anything else going on and concentrate on how creatively this story is told.

This book was good. I liked it, I enjoyed it. But I wouldn’t tear off my shirt and froth at the mouth raving about it.

This book, as I’m sure you can tell from the type of books that I review, isn’t my normal choice when picking up potential reads. But I was sucked in by social hysteria and convinced I had to read it. I justified the purchase by reminding myself that I have been trying to read books out of my comfort zone this year.

This book is a mix between a sci-fi and a superhero/villain book. The premise is exciting- it’s clear from the beginning that our two main characters are not redeemable and their motives will not be justified. Honestly, It’s about time recently that an author created a book that didn’t try to apologise for the villains or make some tragic backstory. I love villains when they are unapologetically evil, and that’s exactly what Eli and Victor are. And I love that they both become so obsessed with destroying each other that everything falls to the wayside.

Like I said earlier, I liked this book, I’d give it a solid 3 and a half stars, but I’m not in love with it. I struggled at first to connect with the story, got confused often and therefore found myself putting this book down more than I was picking it up. Will I read more by Ms Schwab? Hell yes! I’ve got more of her books in my TBR pile. I just honestly think it was a case of- like the author and the skills, but not really connected here. I’m really eager to try her other things.

So, in summary? Good book, good premise, cool characters, just not as good as the hype. I really struggled writing this review because I’m still not quite sure how I feel about this book. I don’t think I did it justice in this review, but it was worth a shot.

Read: English paperback version

Review: Iron Crowned by Richelle Mead

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Iron Crowned by Richelle Mead

or: eh? Wait what just happened?

Goodreads   ||    The Book Depository

Synopsis: Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham is the best at banishing entities trespassing in the mortal realm. But as the Thorn Land’s queen, she’s fast running out of ways to end the brutal war devastating her kingdom. Her only hope: the Iron Crown, a legendary object even the most powerful gentry fear…Who Eugenie can trust is the hardest part. Fairy king Dorian has his own agenda for aiding her search. And Kiyo, her shape-shifter ex-boyfriend, has every reason to betray her along the way. To control the Crown’s ever-consuming powers, Eugenie will have to confront an unimaginable temptation–one that will put her soul and the fate of two worlds in mortal peril…

The third book in the Dark Swan Series, this book had to deliver a lot. After a stellar second book, my expectations were high. This book left me… well, kind of at a loss.

Don’t get me wrong, Mead’s skill hasn’t diminished… it’s just that the story is starting to feel a little far fetched now. And the major plot twist of this story? Predictable.

I was most looking forward to the Iron Crown in this book; hello, a super magical crown, that no one else can touch, with cosmic power? HELL YEAH. Mead promised a quest for this and I was kind of tricked into thinking that it would take up a good portion of the book… No. It lasted for three chapters if you were lucky. It was so anti-climatic it was almost funny.  The monsters weren’t scary- just recycled from Greek mythology. Easily disposed of and not much of a road block. Then the only other two obstacles? Dull. Boring. Unsatisfying.

I wanted to see Eugenie kick major ass here but she was given zero opportunity to by Mead, who just rushed this section beyond belief. This could have potentially been the defining moment of the series… but it so wasn’t. Mead missed this opportunity totally. In fact, Mead seemed so focused on making this book about a love triangle that I was kind of disappointed. Mead is usually so skillful in this area and this kind of seemed… not her best work. At all.

Eugenie had minimal character development, as did Kiyo (his major character change was so predictable you could see it from a mile away). In fact the shining light of this book? Jasmine. Eugenie’s f-ing sub plot villain! I actually like Jasmine now which is both surprising and quite frankly, alarming.

On Goodreads, I gave this book 4 stars after I finished, partly because I was confused, and partly because I didn’t give myself time to think about what was bugging me about the book. I now give this book 3 stars. But Ashleigh, you just complained about it, why are you giving 3 stars? Because even with the problems in this book, there were some parts I really liked.

I really liked how Mead summed up and wrapped up the war. Nicely and neatly done. Could she have spent some more time describing battles and have Eugenie more apart of her own war? Yes. But am I mad she didn’t? No not really. It kind of fits Eugenie’s flighty character to not be so involved in her own problems. The storming of the castle part though was excellent, and was the type of scene and world building that should have made up the rest of the book. In order not to spoil it for anyone, I ultimately think Mead made the right decision on certain characters’ fate.

Now, lets move to the elephant in the room. The love triangle. I’ve always been Team Dorian. I think he’s a better fit for Eugenie, and I think Kiyo is just a dramatic element created to make problems. Now I’m sure there are others who would certainly disagree with me, but this isn’t the place for battling for either team, as I’m not sure I really care about the outcome. In the second book, I much preferred the dynamic between the three and much preferred how Eugenie acted with Dorian. I think Eugenie’s strengths as a character come through when paired with Dorian; she’s less whiny, more focused and doesn’t have those annoying wank fests about where she ‘belongs’. Because this book was all about her break up with Dorian, i’m sure it’s obvious what my sentiments are.

I don’t like Kiyo and finally, the end of this book has justified why. Was it predictable? Oh most definitely. Am I pissed of that the thing happened with Kiyo? Hell to the yes. Has Mead set up enough drama to validate the presence of the next book? Yes. Can I predict how the series is going to end? Yes. It’s going to shock me if things don’t occur the way that it makes sense to.

All in all, I’m sure it’s fairly obvious I’m rather disenchanted by this book. Mead seems to have slipped up here. The reason? I think it’s because this is a back up series that was written in-between Mead writing for her main focus; Bloodlines and Vampire Academy. I understand why this one is kind of sub-par- you have to run out of creativity eventually while you’re perfecting your best work. I’m glad her focus was on Bloodlines and Vampire Academy because she did her best and they were perfect but that’s another post entirely and I wont wank on about them here.

I will inevitably read the final book in this series. Mainly because I’m weirdly curious how much more dramatic it can get, and mainly because I want to get proven right by how it’s going to end. It’s a book, however, that’s been seriously bumped down the list because of all the other books I’d prefer to read first. I will eventually get there though i’m sure.

Read: Australian Paperback Edition (New Cover)

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

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Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

or: BOOM LETS GO MOTHER FUDGER

Goodreads   ||   The Book Depository

Synopsis: In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught. Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

People have been recommending me this book for ages, but for some reason, I’ve only just recently picked this series up. I know, I know, I’m insane right? I’m afraid I’ve only just recently seen the error of my ways.

This book is a brilliant debut novel;- I read Maas’ Court of Thorns and Roses earlier in the year so I was familiar with her work. But wow. What a kicker of a debut. You can tell Maas’ spent a lot of time working on this book. It’s been polished so much it shines.

The tournament is excellent. All the tests are placed perfectly through the middle of the book in a believable time frame. I honestly have no idea how Maas came up with all those creative tests. Either she has some weird dreams or she watches/reads some messed up stuff. Nothing felt repetitive, and it was refreshing watching Celaena really struggle with some tests but succeed in others.

This is what made Celeana an enjoyable character. She could have been one of those unbelievable heroines that was good at absolutely everything. I’m so glad she wasn’t. She made mistakes, and learned from them. She was stubborn without being annoying, and the slight psychopathic overtures you see in her logic and workings is fascinating.

And the elvish mythology subtly woven in? Almost got a nosebleed from how good that was. I’m really interested to see where she takes the whole forgotten queen story line. Especially the messed up stuff the baddies are getting messed up in. That’s creepy but interesting as heck.

My only quip with this book? The forced romance. WE DON’T NEED ROMANCE. IT’S NOT A NECESSARY REQUIREMENT FOR A NOVEL BELIEVE IT OR NOT. Augh, I hate it when an author chokes a book with romance when it’s not needed. Celaena doesn’t give a rats ass about that romance, she’s just forced into it. She’s an assassin. A good one. A man shouldn’t define her.

Sorry, had to get that frustration out.

By all means, create tension in your work. It just doesn’t have to be romantic all the time. Maas does end up improving on this in the second book; with hindsight and after reading the second book, I much prefer her approach in the second book to a romance between Celaena and another character. But that’s because its warranted, believable for her character at the time, and isn’t soppy in the slightest. But that’s for the next review. Lets go back to this book.

The dark shadow creatures scared the absolute bejesus out of me. Expertly crafted, Maas develops something of true night horror quality. But ultimately, the scariest villain in this series? Human. That’s what makes him so scary. But to avoid spoilers, that’s all I will reveal about the main villain. While slightly predictable, it’s still a good plot reveal and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.

As mentioned, I have read the second book in the series already- I raced my big white butt straight to Kmart and snatched it and devoured it soon after finishing this book. Watch this space for the review.

Overall? Liked it. Now sucked into this series.

Highly Recommended.

Read: Australian/English mass-market paperback edition