Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas

Firstly, thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for this review copy <3


Date Read: September 19 - 29 2017
Date Released: September 5th 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since Aelin shattered the glass castle, since Chaol's men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

Now he and Nesryn sail for Antica – the stronghold of the southern continent's mighty empire and of the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme. It's Chaol's one shot at recovery, and with war looming back home, Dorian and Aelin's survival could depend on Chaol and Nesryn convincing Antica's rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover there will change them both – and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined."

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There were times I debated not reading Tower of Dawn because Chaol Westfall is my favourite character in the TOG series and the way he’s been treated since the end of Heir of Fire/beginning of Queen of Shadows has me really disappointed. Crown of Midnight was wonderful and the events in there definitely put a rift between Celaena and Chaol, but the complete 180 these two had in feelings for each other between one book and the next just didn’t make sense. It was drastic and it felt forced. However, I love these books for the world and the plot that has me at the edge of my seat and I was very curious about the Southern Continent. I’m so glad I decided to pick up ToD; I initially thought this was a parallel to Empire of Storms as a #5.5 but the events in ToD are actually crucial to the story and plot.

Bitter. That is one word I’d use to describe Chaol when Tower of Dawn opens. He’s full of disappointment and self-loathing after the cumulative events of the books and then this spinal injury at the end of Queen of Shadows. Arriving at the royal court of the Southern Continent, he not only hopes to walk again, but he’s tasked with trying to win over the khaganate and amass an army to help Aelin’s cause. It’s a difficult journey both physically, mentally and emotionally – he’s harbouring dark emotions from when he first left Anielle and there’s layers and layers of negativity he needs to get through. As the previous Captain of the Royal Guard, he didn’t play any political games so the khagan’s children really have him frustrated with their deceptions and mind games.

I think Yrene is the first female protagonist (well one of the main cast) SJM has introduced who is not a fighter, but a healer. Celaena, Aelin, Manon, Lysandra, Nesyrn, even Nehemia (let’s not talk about poor Sorscha), knew how to fight in some shape or form. Yrene has only ever held a knife for surgical purposes so it was quite different seeing this gentle woman who was fierce in her own way. She’s amazing at what she does and well loved by the people of Antica. As her and Chaol’s story intertwines she learns a lot about herself, about healers and her ancestry. I can’t wait to see what SJM has in store for her.

The royal family are really an interesting lot though. There’s the sly princess Hasar who is Yrene’s friend; their friendship is kind of weird because I could tell they cared about each other but Hasar clearly had the upperhand and as a royal she was conniving and would occasionally manipulate Yrene. Then there’s steadfast Kashin who has this crush on Yrene and it would be cute if he wasn’t so politically powerful. My favourite was definitely Sartaq who’s charming and quiet BUT HE RIDES A RUK. HE GETS TO RID AN ENORMOUS GOLDEN BIRD WHO IS PRECIOUS. Like I fell in love with Kadara immediately, she’s loyal, intelligent and described by Sartaq as clucky. One of my absolute favs was Hafiza, the Healer on High, this extremely wise and gentle woman who is the most powerful healer on the Southern Continent. She embodies goodness and I hope to see more of her in the future books. Then there’s Shen who’s a minor character but I find helps put Chaol’s situation into perspective. There’s definitely heaps of characters and they’re more diverse than in her previous books. I do think that they all have a purpose no matter how many characters SJM introduces.

I’ll never get off my Chaolaena ship but I could see where this romance comes from. It’s one of healing and acceptance, facing inner-truths and darkness. There’s actually two romantic storylines going on and I’m grateful. The other one is freeing and adventurous, perfect for this particular character. I was definitely shipping this second romance a lot more!

The Southern Continent is a really different place and I’m glad SJM expanded on her world to include a more diverse culture. It’s kind of like oriental and Middle Eastern? The world-building is fabulous, the khaganate having a long history of being smart enough to embrace all the cultures of these southern lands to ensure peace but also showing force when required to quell discord. We get to see the mountains and deserts surrounding Antica as well as exploring the bustling city. As usual, the writing is gorgeous and lovely, with in-depth imagery to heighten our senses. The food was what got me, my goodness do I really want to eat from one of those street vendors, or sit at a restaurant, or try some of Cook’s delicacies in the Torre Cesme. There’s mint tea, and spiced meats and honeyed pastries AND I JUST DROOOOOOOOOL.

Of course underpinning all this FUN (because who doesn’t love flying on birds, exploring new cities and EATING?) is the pressing threat of the Valg. The overarching Throne of Glass story continues which is why this book actually needs to be read after Empire of Storms and before the last ToG. There are like REVELATIONS that are so important to the story and had me shook.

Tower of Dawn is a book of healing, of facing your inner darkness and truths. Set against the glorious sunburned backdrop of the Southern Continent, in typical SJM fashion, this book had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. I can’t wait to see how this series finishes!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Review: If There's No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Firstly, thanks to Harlequin Australia for this review copy <3



Date Read: September 11 - 16 2017
Date Released: September 5th 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She's ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend, Sebastian, know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be one of opportunities and chances.

Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.

Now Lena isn't looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian could never forgive her for what happened.

For what she let happen.

With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when tomorrow isn't even guaranteed?"

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If There’s No Tomorrow may not have been the most amazing book I’ve ever read, but it’s a very important book. The themes JLA discusses are not ones usually seen in YA. I’ve never read anything like this, and I found it extremely unique.

The story is told in a before and after style. Before, Lena is your typical high school girl – wait is typical a thing anymore? Is that a stereotype? Whatevs LOL. Anyway, she’s got the part time job, dealing with some family problems, does well at school, has friends, is doing not so bad at life and waiting for high school to finish so she can go on to college ya know? We’ve all been there. Then she makes a particular choice and after, she’s a totally different person. Lena is ridden with guilt and it consumes her. Add on the grief and her life is basically on pause. She stops seeing her friends, stops interacting, she is detached from everything. I thought JLA did an amazing job of first person POV because I was totally in Lena’s headspace. Her transition from carefree teenager with boy problems to her lack of presence in the real world was so well done.

ITNT has a diverse cast of characters that JLA all gives distinct personalities. They’re memorable and fun-loving but also flawed. Abbi was one character that really stood out to me. She’s fierce and not afraid to speak her mind; the things she said to Lena made me angry because they were hurtful but also so very true. All of Lena’s friends have different aspirations and the glimpses JLA gives us into each person makes everything in the after quite impactful.

How is it that JLA writes such wonderful boys? There’s Damon, Roth and ohmygod Aiden St. Delphi. For those of you who have been following me/reading my reviews for a long time you know the Covenant series is my favourite YA series of all time and Aiden St. Delphi is my #1 book boyfriend. In IFNT we are introduced to Sebastian who is this dark-haired blue-eyed wonder. A gorgeous specimen of course but also kind, funny and the kind of boy every parent wants their daughter to marry. Good natured, not a player, understanding, I couldn’t help but think this is who Aiden would’ve been in a contemporary YA without all the daimon drama making him broody. Lena and Sebastian have been best friends forever and you kind of wonder why the hell they aren’t together. There’s the wondering before, then there’s the after where Lena locks herself away and it’s interesting how their dynamic changes.

At times I found the book itself dragged on. I understand that the lengthy ‘Before’ was required to set the scene and establish the different characters but it definitely went on for a while and I wanted to just get on with the plot and the ‘what happened’ and ‘After’. The book is definitely easy to get through though in typical JLA fashion – her writing has an addictive quality to it that sucks you in no matter what world.

Without giving too many spoilers away the plot is a good one. It really drives home the idea of perspective. You know when we say ‘could’ve, should’ve, would’ve’? That’s what I think of when I read this book. All the things we could’ve said, should’ve said, but for fear of making a big deal we don’t speak up. And it’s normal. How many times as a teen (or even now) did you not want to speak up about something because the majority were saying you were just making a big deal out of nothing and you’re just setting everybody back? IFNT draws on such conflicting thoughts we have and that at the end of the day, what are those consequences. Can we entirely blame someone? I think chance has a really big part to play in everything that happens. If There’s No Tomorrow is an important book about safety, the could’ve/should’ve/would’ve moments we have in life and the consequences when chance isn’t in our favour.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Review: Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) by Jay Kristoff

Firstly, thanks to Harper Voyager Australia for this review copy <3



Date Read: September 2 - 10 2017
Date Released: September 7th 2017
Publisher: Harper Voyager Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church hierarchy think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending the men who destroyed her familia; in fact, she’s told directly that Consul Scaeva is off limits. But after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia suspicions about the Red Church’s true motives begin to grow.

When it’s announced that Scaeva will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end him. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between love and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world."

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There’s something about a really good… No… Really amazing book that leaves me speechless. A book that makes me angry is easy to review because all I want to do is rant my heart out. Something like Godsgrave though? All I want to do is yell at you READ THIS BOOK. Thus I’m here yelling at you through the screen, notice my caps: READ THIS BOOK. READ THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE. START NEVERNIGHT IF YOU HAVEN’T YET.

I’m going to attempt stringing some words together for some semblance of a review but be warned, it’s probably just going to be heaps of cussing and yelling at you to READ THIS DAMN BOOK through caps lock.

Shit guys (oops strike one) Kristoff has really done a number on me with book 2. I thought Mia was ruthless in Nevernight but she is nek level goals and ambition here. I freaking loved her for it. “Eyes on the prize Corvere” is a common mantra and damn (strike two) is it accurate. Mia lets nothing stand in her away, nobody she won’t kill to get what she ultimately wants. Girl is all daggers, knives, poisons, punches, everything in her arsenal. Girl is the type to kick a man while he’s down to make sure he stays down! Yet at the heart of it all Mia is not a bad person. She is a girl with morals – albeit questionable ones – so there are numerous moments that had me going “FUCK NO. YOU DID NOT. OMG YOU DID.” But then my girl comes through and I’m like yeah truuuuuust you did good. I just love Mia Corvere so much and she is lethal, hilarious AND OMG I WISH SHE WOULD QUIT SMOKING THOUGH?

Kristoff introduces new characters but brings back familiar faces from Nevernight and y’all should really just read Nevernight to know what I’m talking about. We can love and hate the characters together! No spoilers but there is one person who re-appears that when I first saw them again I wanted to KILLLLLL THEM. STABBY STABBY KILL DIE I HATE THEM SO MUCH. Buuuuut Kristoff really does a number on me so that I eventually warm to this person. I’m still not sure if I completely trust them but not gonna lie I really like them now. Then there’s this group of FRANS that Mia meets (Mia won’t admit they’re her friends but I swear they buddy buddy) and I couldn’t help but grow attached to them. They’re all different and loveable and memorable.

There is romance and omg sexy times are sexy but I’m not sure I’m totally onboard with the person given their actions previously. Also I’m sorry but I’m attached to a particular someone from Nevernight haaah. Buuuuut Kristoff writes such seductive sexy times and I was shipping Mia and this person so hard I was so invested in these scenes LOL :shrug:

Everything is accentuated by Kristoff’s sensual and lush writing. The gritty, gory imagery is in full swing and I love the dark vibes. The descriptions are intense and totally draws me into this unforgiving ancient Roman-inspired world. One of the techniques I loved in Nevernight that I’m really glad continues in Godsgrave is the use of parallels to show juxtapositions between characters. Have two different characters in nearly the same situation, but change a few things as we go back and forth between views and the differences are so much more profound. There’s a lyrical nature to it and I couldn’t help but look for these moments.

Of course the story is amazing and I’m on the edge of my seat the whole time cheering Mia on as she progresses through her killing spree, AHEM I mean journey. Kristoff doesn’t make it easy for her so every tiny victory seems like a big step in the grand scheme of things. AND THEN. AND THEN. Kristoff totally blindsided me because THAT ENDING. THAT DAMN ENDING. My brain is still a grey mess it’s literally been blown to smithereens. Talk about fucked up. I was like fuck. FUCK. FUUUUUUUCK NO WAY. NO FUCKING WAY. I’m still not over it. Conspiracies layered within conspiracies and the mind fuckery is so real. One more book. One more book and Kristoff needs to get Mia out of this cesspool he’s thrown her in. GOOD LUCK MATE.

Basically read this book, READ NEVERNIGHT. READ EVERYTHING JAY KRISTOFF WRITES because we’re all masochists here and love having our feelings slayed. Embrace the dark, gritty, seductive world of Nevernight and rise with Mia Corvere.