Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas

Firstly, thank you SOSOSOSO much to Bloomsbury Australia for the opportunity to read Queen of Shadows early <3 Celaena approves


This review contains no spoilers for Queen of Shadows, but might contain some spoilers for books 1 and 2, there shouldn’t be any spoilers for Heir of Fire either.

Date Read: August 12 - 15 2015
Date Released: September 1st 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: High fantasy
My Rating: (not enough stars)

"Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .
She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world."


Have you ever wondered what perfection looks like? Well it’s staring you in the face when you read Queen of Shadows.

Now let’s establish something first. Before you pounce on the one word many of us reading this series worry about (“ship”) I’m going to say this: I’m not going to be talking about that in this review because 1) this book was about the vengeance for me and 2) most importantly, I trust in Sarah. I trust her and the journey she’s taking us on and that’s all I’ll say about it.

Well Celaena’s back. And she’s pissed. So obviously she wants to wreak hell on those who captured her, tormented her and caused her so much grief and heartbreak. Add in that she’s more badass than ever before (READ HEIR OF FIRE IF YOU HAVEN’T) and she is DEADLY. She’s also matured so much, come to terms with who she is and accepted her identity. That doesn’t mean she’s done a 360 though; she is still very untrusting, keeping things to herself – but can we blame her? The more people know, the more danger they’re in. She will do anything to protect those she loves. And this is why I connect with her; she has such a strong moral compass I know she’s always going to end up doing what’s right. She might lie and deceive on the surface, but underneath there’s just this brutal honesty about her so when she makes friends, she makes them for life. In Queen of Shadows we see just how cunning of an assassin Celaena can be. My goodness her plans are so well thought out. Complex and intricate she’s got all her bases covered. It’s like she just conducts the most thorough risk assessments in her mind and knows where all the weaknesses exist. I was actually mind-blown. Celaena once again proves she’s Adarlan’s Assassin.

Aelin Ashryver Galathynius. What a queen this woman this. A family slaughtered, her kingdom taken from her and her people in ruins. The lost Queen of Terrasen is one that loves her people. She would do anything for them. And her people love her. The King of Adarlan commands his people through fear and brutality. What made the kingdom of Terrasen so strong was that their rulers treated their people with justice and respect. We can see the qualities of her ancestors in Aelin. This is one queen I would gladly serve.

While all of the secondary characters were individually amazing – Chaol’s change and growth, Dorian’s own battle, Aedion and Rowan each getting to know their queen – it was the relationships in this book that made it really stand out. Queen of Shadows was all about the forming of bonds and friendships for life. There was Chaol’s undying loyalty to Dorian; Aedion finally meeting his hero Rowan, but what develops is this amazing brotherly relationship forged through respect and fighting side by side for the queen they would lay down their lives for. BUT BUT BUT. The girl power. Holy sweet baby Jesus. THE GIRL POWER IN THIS BOOK. *Flails*. It was just amazing how the females in this book didn’t let guy shit and personal stuff get in the way of helping each other out. The way they respected each other and each other’s talents ermagherd. Celaena and Nesryn. Celaena and Lysandra. Lysandra and Evangeline. I adored Nesryn’s calm, Lysandra’s cunning and Evangeline’s understanding. All these young women had all suffered in their own way so seeing them come together for a common cause but then form everlasting bonds deeper than friendships just had my heart all warm and fuzzy.

Now let’s not forget Manon and her Thirteen. DAYUM I loved Manon’s internal battle with herself as she struggled with what she had been brought up to believe against what her moral compass told her. I was also shocked at the glimpse we got into the Thirteen. One particular character’s story had me in tears I was just sobbing for ages. Crying for an Ironteeth Witch? Who would’ve thought?

The already dark plot of this series gets even deeper and more heartwrenching, accentuated by each individual character’s suffering. There are so many shocking revelations throughout – from Arobynn’s reach, to the extent of the King’s plans and the way everything is connected. It’s like just asaskdsakjfhdhds WHAT and the one question that consistently arises throughout this book: are monsters born or made?

I couldn’t stop turning the pages of this book, couldn’t stop devouring Maas’ lyrical writing and stunning world building. I felt ALL the emotions. I related to every single one of the characters, lived their stories filled with despair, joy and everything in between. 

Queen of Shadows rattled the stars.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Review: The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen

Firstly, thanks to Harper for this review copy <3


Date Read: June 24 2014 - August 5 2015 (YES LOL >1 year)
Date Released: July 14th 2014
Publisher: Harper
Source: Edelweiss via publisher
Genre: Sci-fi/fantasy
My Rating:

"An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom's haunted past... or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea's forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea's nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen's Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen's vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen's Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as "the Fetch."

Kelsea's quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea's journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her."


I’m not entirely sure why it took me SO long to read The Queen of the Tearling because it was a pretty decent book and once I got into it, I couldn’t stop reading!

The thing that I (and I think many people picking up this book) had to get over and accept is that The Queen of the Tearling isn’t actual high fantasy. It’s not set in a wholly created universe but rather, in some distant future where our current world has gone through some disaster and forced the ancestors of this story to make some ‘Crossing’. Whether it’s into a new dimension/universe or to some country they then made their own I don’t know. In this new world though, everything has regressed. Technology no longer exists, but there are remnants of the old world – people seem to remember bits of technology, genetics, books (there was a Harry Potter mention that made me go WTF but YAY) but the advancements of the old world are few and hard to come by. But there’s magic. Ok, wtf moment over?

The protagonist, Kelsea, is one of the most realistic MCs I’ve ever read. She’s heir to the Tearling throne but grew up in an isolated cottage for her own protection. Her foster parents have taught her all they can but when the Queen’s Guard comes to retrieve her so she can claim her throne, the journey is not easy. I loved how realistic Kelsea is. She knew her abilities, her limits –a dead weight for the guards and that she couldn’t protect herself. She didn’t try to be brave and jump in the fray which would cause more trouble. Knowing her limitations, Kelsea tried to better herself by learning from those around her, requesting training and taking on feedback. Her looks are also plain and while she tries to not let it get to her because she knows there are more important things in life, it’s something she’s self-conscious about… Because I think everybody has felt that way at one point in their lives. Everything about her was so relatable and I liked the way she struggled with the image she had in her mind of her mother versus the information she’s given.

There is so much intrigue surrounding the characters. I really loved the mystery surrounding her mother’s rule, but the most enigmatic were her own guards (well her mother’s). They each had their stories and her closest guard, the Mace, has a LOT of secrets. I really liked his protective nature, his counsel and the mentor relationship Kelsea developed with him. I can’t wait to see what other things are revealed about him in later books! Then there’s also the handsome Fetch who has his own agenda – at first glance, mercenary… But maybe not? What’s really interesting was that all the characters around Kelsea were much older than her – at least 10 years older, so it was quite fascinating to see her interacting with her seniors despite being their queen.

As the plot and pace goes, it IS slow going. The challenge is the journey to the Keep and securing her throne. But there’s lots of obstacles and Kelsea and her guard face numerous challenges. There’s threats from everywhere, including some freaky, tyrannical immortal queen from a neighbouring kingdom who wants to take over the world. Or something. Cannot wait for her backstory though.

The world-building itself is a bit vague, what with this Crossing business and not knowing the line between our world (like me and you) and the one created in the book. The writing also drags on a bit but overall it’s quite easy to read. The book is definitely setting the scene for future books what with all the intrigue, unanswered questions and slight glimpses into all the other characters.

Despite its flaws, I did quite enjoy The Queen of the Tearling and I’m now waiting for The Invasion of the Tearling in the mail! Can’t wait to see what happens next in Kelsea’s story and extremely intrigued for the backstory on this new world that Johanssen has created.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

I'm Back: A Tale of My Adventures

Oh lordy you guys I am so sorry for the unintentional hiatus I've taken for the past month. I'm back though and here to stay (somewhat... hopefully).

Life has been pretty hectic and I just moved away from blogging because I had no time for internet. July started off with a bang, with me reading 3 books in the space of 2 weeks - I felt so good about myself. Then everything went downhill from there.

But first, a huge thanks to HarperCollins YA for the tickets to the Paper Towns premiere. Paper Towns was one of the first books I read in July and I enjoyed it so much! It's my 2nd fav after TFIOS. I adored the road trip feel, the mystery, the pranks, the diverse characters, but most of all the realistic ending. Cara Delevingne was absolutely flawless at the premiere and she was so down to earth and funny! The movie itself was a faithful adaption of the book.

Then my demise follows. A workmate recommended a K-drama to me. Now to be fair, this was one I'd wanted to watch back when it came out - I was still in high school at the time but never got around to it. He was raving about and I knew it was really well received so I thought you know what? I'll give the first ep a go. I. Was. Hooked. It was so different to the usual K-drama formula: it's usually sweet poor girl and snobby rich guy are meant to be together but rich guy is in love with rich girl; rich girl is in love with rich guy's best friend who is also rich but very nice... and so the story goes. Secret Garden was SO different and it had a bit of magic (THE GUY AND GIRL SWITCHED BODIES) and omg THERE WERE SO MANY FEELS. My heart :c

After and during my 2 week binge of Secret Garden (where I did no reading) everything seemed to be happening in my social life.

I went to a K-pop concert! BTS (Bangtan Bomb) were even more amazing live and I fell in love with them all over again. My fav songs were definitely I NEED U, Sick, Just One Day, Danger and War of Hormone.

I had 3 days of full day training at work and I was so exhausted each night. Then the Saturday straight after the training was the ball for my work. I was in the city early getting my makeup and hair done. The ball was fabulous. I'd never been to anything so fancy before! The theme was Miami Glamour so I wore a short blue lacy dress and I turned up feeling SO undressed. It was full black tie, with ladies in floor length dresses and guys in tuxes with bow ties. The venue was massive with high ceilings, gorgeous decorations and the food was awesome. There were apparently 800 people there. Went after drinks (BIG mistake) and stayed in a hotel overnight.

Turned up to breakfast on Sunday with Amie, Kat and Caz feeling absolutely gross and hungover but had a great morning with these lovely ladies!

Work then picked up with me finishing later every night and I was so exhausted when I got home I basically had dinner and just fell into bed. So again, no reading for me :(

A friend then held a wonderful Christmas in July party at her house and she did up her backyard so beautifully!

My team then won the Trivia Night for my uni's society. The theme was Disney and I can say I was the one answering all the Disney questions - and correctly :D

AND THEN AND THEN... I went on a road trip to Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay (whitest sand in the world) over the Bank Holiday long weekend. It was so gorgeous and beautiful and the weather was perfect. We had a onesie party, lots of good food and even more alcohol was involved. It was just an overall great weekend bonding with the people I've met this year. The sand was actually the whitest I've ever seen (whiter than Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island) and our beachhouse had steps from our backyard that went right down to the beach!

Kiama Blowhole, on the way there

Stanwell Tops and Black Head Reserve on the way there and back

Sunset at Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay

View from our beachhouse (Hyams Beach)

Now... I finished The Queen of the Tearling (finally) the other day and I'm halfway through Howl's Moving Castle so August is looking like a much better reading month.

Tell me lovelies, what's been happening with you?