Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review: November 2016 FairyLoot

Two posts in one week? What is wrong with Jaz you must be thinking. Well I'm on annual leave because IT'S THE FESTIVE SEASON and I also really wanted to share my thoughts on my first ever FairyLoot box!

FairyLoot is a YA book subscription box that centres on sci-fi/fantasy books and they're based in the UK. As with OwlCrate, I made the plunge to try out FairyLoot for November because birthday muahaha. What really drew me to them was their concentration on SFF and what seemed like every box included a book plate (I'm a sucker for signed merch).

Ok let's get right into it.

Month: November 2016
Theme: Royals & Rogues
Price: ~$70 AUD (£26 single purchase + £15 shipping to Australia = £41)
Delivery: Shipped November 19 arrived November 29 (10 days to get to Australia)

My Rating:

The Royals & Rogues themed box included:
  • Hardback copy of Nemesis by Anna Banks
  • Signed Nemesis bookplate
  • Nemesis bookmark
  • Nemesis print
  • Letter from Anna Banks
  • Royals & Rogues themed tea + tea filters by The Tea Leaf Co
  • The Wrath and the Dawn mirror by Bookworm Boutique
  • Queen of Terrasen notepad by Drop and Give Me Nerdy
  • Wolf by Wolf quote print by Read at Midnight
  • Queen of Books mug by Read at Midnight
  • Red Queen art print + quote (double sided) by Book Otter and Lovely Owls Books
  • Spectorium soap crystals by Crafty Ragamuffin
  • A Court of Mist and Fury tote by Lovely Owls Books
  • FairyScoop
Not gonna lie I nearly shit bricks in excitement when I opened my box. Never have I been so pleased with a book subscription box.

Opening the book bag...
I hadn't heard of Nemesis before but I've read Anna Banks' earlier stuff, and based on what I read of the blurb, this is another mermaid type book which I'm quite keen for. BOOKPLATE. I am so freaking trash for bookplates. Signed guys. SIGNED. This was enough to draw me in to the box haha. It's extremely hard to get signed stuff in Australia so I always jump at the chance. There's also the matching bookmark for Nemesis, a sketch of some... thing... creature... from the book and a letter from Anna herself (I've yet to read this). This all came in the black book bag FairyLoot have started to put their books in to keep them from being damaged. Another lovely idea because my books always get damaged in my bag and I'd been using the Aesop cloth bags up until now. LOVE LOVE LOVE. So that's all the 'official' Nemesis stuff! The FairyScoop which is a newsletter also included an interview with Anna which was really fun to read.

I was a bit wtf at the Spectorium crystal soap (by Crafty Ragamuffin) until I read the interview with Anna Banks in the FairyScoop and the Royals & Rogues card to determine what it was. At first I thought it was candy and I was like wow that's a really huge chunk of candy haha. I'm not entirely sure how to use this (rub it all over myself?!) or if I'll even use it at all as I'm not a soap user but we shall see! It smells really good though. Like candy actually. Yeh if I wasn't told it's soap, I definitely would've taken a lick leeeeeel.

The art/quote prints are really pretty and I especially love the Mare illustration from Red Queen (Book Otter is so talented I was like wooooow). There's a cool Red Queen quote on the back by Lovely Owls Books. The Wolf by Wolf quote print was designed by Aentee omgggg I was flailing when I found out GO YOU AENTEE.

Speaking of Aentee (aka Read at Midnight). THAT MUG. Queen of Books. I'm totally taking it to work with me IT IS SO GORGEOUS. YOU GO FAIRYLOOT. I adore mugs. As a tea lover I am always using mugs and on the lookout for pretty ones. The design is quite floral which is so me and UGH is there a more perfect mug for a book lover? I think not. Apparently mugs have never been done in a box before and it's seriously such a good idea! What's next, drink bottles/thermos?

Tea (by The Tea Leaf Co)! With tea filters/bags to put the loose leaf tea in. I love it when people consider these things. Sadly for me I hate Earl Grey leeel so I'll probably take it to work and share it around. I still think it's really cool though that FairyLoot got tea Royals and Rogues themed :D

As a massive Throne of Glass fan the Queen of Terrasen (by Drop and Give Me Nerdy) notepad really appealed to me but it's so pretty I don't wanna use it *stares at it for life*

Then there's the mirror WITH A WRATH AND THE DAWN QUOTE (by Bookworm Boutique). Y'all know how much I adore that duology? Shazi and Khalid for life. "My queen is without limitations. Boundless in all she does." *SOBS* All the feels.

And then. AND THEN. Sweet baby Jesus I was squealing and nearly screaming when I saw the tote. THE TOTE. THE. TOTE. Designed by Lovely Owls Books it is hands down the BEST tote I now own because RHYSANDDDDDDDDDD. *Heavy breathing* RHYSRHYSRHYSRHYS. ACOMAF ACOMAF <3 Rhysand is book boyfriend #1, A Court of Mist and Fury is my #1 fav book of all time so this was utter perfection. The quote is absolutely perfect and makes me want to cry whenever I think of the scene it happened "That I will bow before no one and nothing but my crown." Shit this breaks my heart. Can't even right now. You guys don't know the feels this brings out in me.

Item price breakdown time:
  • Nemesis hardback $24 AUD on the Book Depository
  • Crafty Ragamuffin soaps ~$9 AUD on their Etsy store
  • The Tea Leaf Co Earl Grey tea £6.99 = ~$12 AUD on their site
  • Bookworm Boutique mirror ~$5 AUD ? Guesstimate
  • Lovely Owls Books ACOMAF tote ~$27 AUD (RedBubble pricing)
  • Read at Midnight mug ~$20 AUD (society6 pricing)
  • Prints ???
Total ~$97+ AUD so definitely got my money's worth. This did not include the prints.

Welps this review turned out to be more flailing and screeching than actual reviewing... Royals & Rogues has been so well curated, each of the items fitting the theme (I'm mega mega happy that both the ToG and ACOTAR series made it in the box along with TWatD). The mug is so useful and the tote absolutely blows me away.

How much did I love this box? Enough to take out a 3 month subscription (they're not paying me to say this either). I highly recommend giving FairyLoot a try, because despite how expensive it is, I find that the bookplate and the extra items they pack in make it really worth it. Maybe I was lucky with my first experience and all the extras they included were for books I adore? It definitely added to my love for the box.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Review: November 2016 OwlCrate

OwlCrate is a YA book subscription box (I believe THE first YA book subscription box) that I've wanted to buy since its inception back in 2015. The boxes have always been filled with wonderful bookish goodies and a hardback YA release, but THE SHIPPING oh lordy.

I finally made the plunge in October for the November book because 1) November was my birthday and I thought it high time I treat myself and 2) with the theme being Wonderland (I think every second book subscription box was this) I knew it was Heartless and OWLCRATE DID AN EXCLUSIVE COVER

I'll now go through the items in the box and compare it to how much it cost, the shipping and delivery time.

Month: November 2016
Theme: Wonderland
Price: $45.49 USD = $62.51 AUD (based on AMEX exchange rates for that day + my bank's international transaction fee)
[$25.50 USD ($29.99 USD with a Flipping Through Pages 15% off discount code) + shipping ($19.99 USD) for 1 month subscription]
Delivery: Shipped November 19 arrived November 26 (1 week to get to Australia)

My Rating:

The Wonderland themed box included:
  • Hardback copy of Marissa Meyer's Heartless with an exclusive OwlCrate cover (white as opposed to the standard black)
  • Letter from Marissa Meyer
  • Heartless quote card
  • Alice in Wonderland pin/badge
  • Alice in Wonderland bookmark by Authored Adornments
  • Alice in Wonderland magnet by EvieBookish
  • Mad Hatter's Wonderland Elixir tea by Riddle's Tea Shoppe
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Rock Paper Books exclusive cover
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Rock Paper Books matching bookmark
I absolutely love the hardback of Heartless by Marissa Meyer. Having read the book I knew I wanted a copy; I'd seen the naked book and it is STUNNING underneath. When I heard that OwlCrate would get an exclusive cover I knew I had to have it. I'm immensely pleased with the white cover, it adds a real twist.

I was also really pleased that OwlCrate essentially gave 2 books for November, as a copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was also in the box. The cover is designed by Rock Paper Books and I believe exclusive to OwlCrate, there's also a matching bookmark which is really cute.

There's a tin of tea (called Mad Hatter's Wonderland Elixir) by Riddle's Tea Shoppe also made exclusively for OwlCrate. The tin itself is sooooo pretty, is one of those dedicated tea tins to keep the scent, and re-usable. What I really loved is that the tea isn't loose leaf, they've put them into little tea bags which makes my life so much easier. The tea seems like a blend similar to Earl Grey which I admit I'm not a fan of. However, it seems fruiter so I am keen to try!

Also included is a bookmark by Authored Adornments and the little glass has an Alice in Wonderland quote inside. There's an Alice magnet by EvieBookish too as well as a Heartless quote card and letter from Marissa Meyer.

As nearly all these items are exclusive to the box, I believe they're priceless (especially that cover!) but let's try valuing the items (I know it's weird but I'm the type of person who likes to know they're getting value for their money):

  • Heartless hardback $26 AUD on the Book Depository
  • Riddle's Tea Shoppe tea $24 USD ~$33 AUD according to the sites they sell on
  • Authored Adornments bookmark ~$20 AUD based on the price of their other goods on Etsy
  • EvieBookish/Seo magnet ~$3 AUD
  • Rock Paper Books Alice's Adventures in Wonderland $9.99 USD ~$14 AUD
Total ~$96 AUD in value. I definitely got my money's worth. Note: some of the prices such as the tea and bookmark are guesses so the total value is an approximation, give or take.

I would definitely recommend if the theme for that month REALLY appeals to you and you want to try the box out like I did. I took out a 1 month subscription (there is no single box purchase) and cancelled after the next billing cycle (the first of the next month). While I say you get your money's worth, it doesn't take away from the steep price especially if you live overseas and in a country where the currency is below parity to USD e.g. Australia.

I give it a 3.5 - 4 stars based on how much I wanted the Heartless cover, the speed of delivery and total value of the items but I'm not going to lie, this is a only-splurge-once-in-a-very-long-while-if-i-really-like-the-theme thing.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

On Branching Out From YA

It's one week until Christmas which means 2 weeks until the new year (did you know New Year is exactly 1 week after Christmas?) and on top of thinking of what I'll pack for my overseas trip, I've been reflecting on the books I read in 2016.

I will always love YA. ALWAYS. No matter how old I get, YA is a demographic with a variety of genres that I can always go back to. That being said, I've branched out this year. The books that really stuck with me and left an impact were all 'adult' fantasy and science fiction.

Looking back I started off with The Final Empire back in 2014 which was the first time I really tried adult fantasy. And I loved it so much I went out and bought the rest of Mistborn and all of Sanderson's books. Even with his writing prowess, there's only so many books Sanderson can write in a year though and I've read all the ones I wanted to thus far (mind you I still need to tackle Words of Radiance in preparation for Oathbringer in 2017).

2015 was spent navigating my way through Sanderson's books and it wasn't until this year that I discovered some really amazing reads (props to Crini for a lot of the recs actually). One of the many reasons why I don't read 'adult' fiction books is because I can't connect to the characters. Their experiences aren't something I can relate to - divorces, the drama and a lot of family centric issues just don't interest me. I'm really glad I found the adult fantasy and sci-fi genre which transcends these themes.

Let's talk about these books (and here begins my book pushing - ha did you think I'd go a post without trying to book push?) and my thoughts on them. Emily May on Goodreads put in a few words exactly what these books makes one feel - they make us feel small. It's sort of scary at how these authors can elicit such a feeling in the space of 300 pages. Reading these I was struck by the epicness of the universe.

The Martian by Andy Weir - I was very late to the game on this, only reading it when the movie came out (I still haven't seen the movie and don't think I plan to lol). Weir is a genius and I could easily tell he's a scientist. As we follow the main character on his journey being stuck on Mars there's feelings of happiness when it seems he's going to make it and then the disintegrating hope when it all goes wrong. Because as soon as something goes wrong he's screwed. He has nearly no resources, Mars air is unbreathable and there's a nearly 2 year wait until someone can come save him. I couldn't put this down it was so fascinating. It's a very quick read as they're journal entries. The science goes over one's head sometimes but yes, good stuff.

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson - of course there's Brandon Sanderson in one of my fantasy/sci-fi post. This whopper is over 1000 pages and daunting af. It took me ages to bring myself to commit to reading and it took me 3 weeks but so worth it. This is the epitome of epic/high fantasy. The Stormlight Archive joins Sanderson's Cosmere which connects his books into one sort of universe/greater world system. There's multiple perspectives from a scholar, slave soldier, brother of a king, all linked by the magic system which is essentially infusing gems with the power of storms (hence Stormlight). I would always recommend people start with Mistborn for their first Sanderson but damn Stormlight is sooooo epic.

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel - I could not believe this was Neuvel's debut because this totally blew my mind. I finished this one in like 2 days and it was utter, brilliant, mind fuck. A girl uncovers a gigantic metal hand as a kid and the book talks about just what this discovery could mean. Its makeup is impossible as the compounds go beyond human discovery and history. It's another one with a lot of science but I was fascinated with what this hand could possibly be. Neuvel takes the story in a totally unsuspecting direction and I cannot wait for Waking Gods in 2017!

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth trilogy #1) by NK Jemisin - this stuck with me for the unique style it's written in. We follow 3 females - a young girl, a young woman, and a woman in her early 40s. The plot centres on the world ending and a power called orogeny that some people possess where they can manipulate kinetic energy around them to cause seismic movement. There's heaps of intrigue and it's a wonderful set up for the next book which I'll be reading in January.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch - this left me totally mind blown (I know I've said this about all the books in this post but seriously) like wow how do people come up with these ideas? Our protagonist Jason Dessen is professor with a wife and son he loves. One day he gets kidnapped, asked "are you happy with your life?" and wakes up as Jason Dessen but the life he knows is gone. He has never married, never had a son and he's an award winning physicist. Dark Matter is not just a sci-fi book, it's a story that makes one question their choices in life. Would you change your decisions knowing where you'd eventually end up? Does that one small regret from a past choice make you wish for something else? I still can't get over how impactful this book was.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Bookmas Gift Guide 2016

It's Decemberrrrrr which means it's the season for giving and *throws confetti* I love buying presents for people but what do you get a booklover who seems to have ALLLLL the books? Well I've put together a little gift guide with some suggestions to help you on your gift buying journey!

Bookmarks $3.50 - $8 AUD

Every booklover's necessity is a bookmark! Say no to using receipts/scraps of paper to mark those beautiful pages. Nevermind if they already seem to have heaps, one can never have too many bookmarks! I mean personally, I only use Book Depository ones to mark my pages and buy HEAPPPS of pretty ones which I just keep for aesthetics BUT NEVER MIND THAT. There's heaps of booklovers out there who sell fandom bookmarks and they're stunning.

Skinny Hues is probably my favourite bookmark store. She creates gorgeous watercolour bookmarks on thick textured paper and they're just so lovely I love touching them and staring at them heeeh (psst she also does custom orders)

Ink and Wonder Designs are an Aussie based store that sell woodmarks which are really thin wooden bookmarks with beautiful designs. I love that they're thin enough not to dent the pages but are strong and durable at the same time. Shipping is free within Australia (and $3 worldwide!)

Obvious State have this beautiful Blooms collection which are quotes from Romanticism poetry with pretty floral backgrounds

Book Boy(girl)friend Lip Balms and Soaps $4 - $9 AUD

What better way to be close to your fav book boyfriend/girlfriend than to have them on your lips or wash yourself in their scent?

The talented Gina at Behind the Pages has created lip balms (and scrubs) and soaps inspired by characters from books. She takes the scents described and puts them in a tangible form.

My personal favourites are Rhysand (citrus and jasmine, so fresh!), Chaol (vanilla, hay and cashmere totally luxurious) and Ron (chocolate, vanilla and Howler which is very Christmas-y).

Mugs ~$15 - 18 AUD

Sit down with a good book and a cuppa. I feel like mugs are another thing a booklover can never have enough of.

There are so many artists on society6 who do gorgeous fandom mugs, one of my favs is Evie Seo.

[Image credit: Society6]

Funko Pops $18.95 AUD

At $20 a pop they're a decently priced Christmas present that you can buy at a your local bookstore (Kinokuniya and Dymocks sell them in Australia in stores and online, as well as Popcultcha). The range is massive and hell if you're at a loss, get them a Harry Potter or Disney Princess Funko Pop. I MEAN EVERYBODY LOVES HARRY.

Candles $20+ AUD

Candles are a fickle thing as everybody likes different scents and I very nearly didn't put this in but I know so many people (myself included) who loves candles. If you know the person you're buying for well enough, then you could probably get them a scent you think they'll like.

Glasshouse Fragrances are an Australian brand that, while aren't bookish, do really wonderful scents that I think cater for everybody. As someone who likes fresh and floral smells my favourites are Amalfi Coast, Manhattan and Positano.

I've seen lots of awesome bookish candle makers out there such as Form and Flux (Aussie) and Novelly Yours (US based, been meaning to try but omg that shipping).

These are just some of my suggestions and I tried to include international stores while still having an Aussie focus. It's actually really hard getting bookish merch here because shipping omg. Other suggestions include tea (T2), apparel (hoodies and t-shirts from society6), tote bags (society6), stationery (journals and planners from Kikki K)~

Tell me what are some of the things you love giving and receiving at Christmas?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

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

Date Read: November 19 - 27 2016
Date Released: December 1st 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

"Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself."


Wow what a beautiful book! I’ve never read anything like The Star-Touched Queen before and now I want more. As YA fantasy goes, this sits up there on the scale with The Wrath and the Dawn and Cruel Beauty. It had the quality of an epic story where worlds are hanging precariously in the balance which I’m fascinated with.

The story opens with our protagonist Maya (Mayavati) a princess of the kingdom of Bharata who is shunned by all for her cursed horoscope. The stars dictate that her life and marriage are plagued by death and despite being a princess, the court shies away from her. She gets treated horribly by the harem wives, is basically bullied, mentally and physically abused. I mean I’d be bitter too if I was Maya. I think through everything she’s tried to grin and bear it. My favourite protagonists are those who are all about the doing. And that’s what Maya does. Words mean nothing to her, it’s all in the actions. Make a mistake? Go out and fix it. And if you want something done, go and do it yourself. I admired her loyalty and compassion. Maya’s just the kind of heroine one needs and wants to read from in these types of books.

There’s the mysterious Amar, supposedly a king, who comes and sweeps Maya off her feet and at first I was like OMG IS THIS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. And then I was like I WANT AN AMAR FOR MYSELF. Where do I get one? He is so sweet and holy gosh the stuff he says might seem far-fetched from a common dude’s mouth but from him it’s beautiful with a touch of edginess (like this sharpness that he possesses). He has secrets though. To trust or not to trust? That is the question. But like he shows her skies split into night and day, he gives Maya a room full of stars where she can hold the galaxy in her hands. LIKE WOOOOW?

Hnnnnnng the romance. MY FEELS. I SHIP THIS. I ship it so hard all I want is my ship to sail on into the beautiful sunset. Alas if only it was that easy. There’s storms to weather and whirlpools that get in the way (figurative speaking… somewhat). The romance is sweet, but edged with something harsher because Maya and Amar aren’t soft. No, they’re both edged in blades, Maya because of her upbringing, Amar because… reasons?! The romance tugged at my heart strings and made me swoon. Will they ever get together? Who knows (I do, but you won't unless you read the book).

The plot was very interesting and I know nothing about Indian folklore so I’m not sure if this is a re-telling and if what happened is expected. I don’t care. I really enjoyed it. There was a lot of intrigue, secrets hidden behind every door and lots of questions about who to trust. There’s this whole world-ending aspect which made it feel so epic and wonderful.

What I loved about TSTQ was that it mentioned concepts and they weren’t just myths, Chokshi made them possible in the story. Reincarnation, horoscopes, magic, demons - they had a part to play in the story. This really enhanced the world-building which omg was sooooo fantastical. The world was a phenomena in itself. From split skies to palace halls with doors leading to other worlds, to rooms that contain whole galaxies and pools that lead to another life, I was stunned at how much could happen in one book.

All this was accentuated by Chokshi’s stunningly gorgeous prose. No I am not exaggerating. I’ve never read a style like that. Admittedly, a little OTT sometimes but eloquent and luxurious nonetheless. All the senses explode with her descriptions and it’s like seeing, tasting, hearing and feeling the world in a different way. There’s almost a synasthaesia-esque aspect to the way things are portrayed. Different and takes a while to adjust but once I did, I sort of wanted to drench myself in the words.

You know when you read a book and you’re left with this feeling of wonder at how big the world is (even if it’s not real) and you feel small but complete because such epic could happen in a book? It leaves a mark. The book becomes memorable and every time I think of TSTQ I’m just like ‘wow, this is why I love fantasy’.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Firstly, thanks to Penguin Teen Australia for this review copy <3

Date Read: October 29 - 31 2016
Date Released: October 4 2016
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

"Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed 'America's Fattest Teen'. But no one's taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Since her mum's death, she's been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby's ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he's got swagger, but he's also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can't recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He's the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can't understand what's going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don't get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world - theirs and yours."


Jennifer Niven has such a knack for writing engaging contemporaries. All the Bright Places is one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read - it’s so impactful and really stuck with me. Niven’s HUtU also struck a chord in me.

I really loved Libby’s character. Previously known as “American’s fattest teen” she returns to high school in a much better mental and physical state than she was previously in. I really admired Libby’s strength - she tries not to let people get to her and puts on a good front. Like any human being, some of the hurtful comments get through and affect her but she retaliates with brave acts to promote body image. I loved how opinionated she was and she wasn’t afraid to voice those opinions. She’s smart, resilient and overall just a character I really enjoyed reading.

I’m not sure how I feel about Jack. I thought it was interesting how his prosopagnosia was portrayed. I didn’t always feel like he didn’t recognise the person, but as someone who has no idea how the condition works I can’t vouch for the accuracy of its portrayal. His character lacked a bit of dimension in my opinion. While he was always trying to please people or giving off a eat-shit-I-don’t-care attitude - which is understandable given his need to cover up his inability to recognise people - he came off as not really having an opinion or unwilling to defend his beliefs. To me that’s a weakness of character which meant I didn’t warm to Jack as much as I would have liked to.

The plot was kind of a typical contemporary where our two characters navigate their way through high school with challenges from each other and those around them. There’s cute dancing, family troubles, high school bullying (why do people need to be so horrible to others just so they can make themselves feel better? Ugh) and of course romance.

The romance was cute but I do not believe love is a cure for diseases. Love is a wonderful thing, it can make people happy, it can chemically release hormones to make one feel things. But I don’t think it’s a cure. And that’s where Holding Up the Universe fell flat for me. High school love was used as a cure and it made what could have been a lovely book about appreciating one’s self, into a story I scoffed at.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book. Niven is a skilled writer; her style is engaging and I flew through the past-faced story. I liked the diversity and Libby’s strength in standing up to horrible people who have nothing better to do than pick on others to make themselves feel better.

I think books like this drive home how society degrades women and we can never just BE. We’re either too fat or too skinny or too tall or too short or too something (I think Niven mentions this through Libby in the book, I can’t remember). Believe it or not, I was bullied in high school for being too skinny. I was constantly being asked if I was bulimic or anorexic or just blatantly called “ano”. I’d have my mum write notes to excuse me from swimming carnivals because of the horrible stares and comments I’d get whenever I wore a swimming costume. Anyway, this isn’t about me looking for pity/sympathy. It’s my way of telling you that you’re perfect the way you are and screw society. I’ve learnt to accept myself.

Despite the books use of romance to make everything seem better (which it doesn’t), Holding Up the Universe is an important read reminding ourselves that no matter what society says, you are wanted and loved. You be you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Firstly, thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this blog tour opportunity and this review copy <3

Date Read: September 21 - October 9 2016
Date Released: November 8 2016
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy/Re-telling
My Rating:
Buy Links: Booktopia | A&R Bookworld

"Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, the infamous Queen of Hearts, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favourite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King's marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness and monsters, fate has other plans."


While I enjoyed The Lunar Chronicles I thought the series faltered at times, especially with regards to the world building. Heartless though? Wow, what an original and gorgeous re-telling. With all the Alice in Wonderland re-tellings out there, I thought Meyer took an original angle with a re-telling of the Queen of Hearts and how she became the way she is (in the Alice in Wonderland stories).

I immediately warmed to our protagonist, Cath (Catherine), who, as the daughter of a Marquis, just wanted to bake. I could definitely tell she was a sheltered, aristocratic teen though with her wishful thinking and naiveté. I think Meyer kept her true to character but at times this also really frustrated me. Cath thought she wanted something so badly, but the thought of disappointing her parents or giving up her title would have her shrinking back in fear. Like girl make up your damn mind, do you want this or not? Her indecisive goes on for much of the book and at times I liked her, at times I wanted to shake some sense into her. But the ending? Oh holy wow. Her descent into madness is fascinating, heartbreaking and written so well. I could understand perfectly how she ended up practically mad!

I freaking adored Jest. He was mysterious, charming, handsome, funny and such a gentleman at the same time. I loved his wit and the way he challenged everything. Everything about him was perfect for me and the fact that he was such a gentleman, not pushing Cash when he was so obviously into her, it made me swoon!

One of my favourite parts about Heartless was the romance. Made my heart speed up y’all. It was slow burn, although I do admit a little too slow and I wished things progressed faster, BUT the feels my gosh the feels were so intense. The heart wants what it wants and when these two were together I could feel the chemistry coming off the pages. The way Jest challenged Cath, the attraction, the way neither of them would openly reveal their feelings. ANGSTY.

In terms of the plot though, it definitely moved too slowly for me. This was my gripe with the book. It took me ages to read because nothing seemed to happen or if it had, the progress was a slow crawl. There was a sort of mystery involved which drove the plot but at times I didn’t care for it. While I believe the inclusion of a lot of mundane things were to help build the world that was Wonderland and that a lot of unnecessary things happened in this ‘mad’ world, it didn’t help the story for me.

On the note of world-building though, it was definitely fantastic. Such detail and descriptions! My gustatory and olfactory senses were through the roof as a result of the intense imagery. Cath’s baking creations were described in epic detail to the point where I was practically drooling all over my pages (this was especially prominent at 3am when I was mega hungry). Tarts, pies, cakes, macarons, wow the girl is a born pastry chef. Then the descriptions of Wonderland – literally anything could happen I didn’t know which way was right or up or down and when magic came into play. Meyer made the possibilities endless and there seemed to be no boundaries to the world which was fitting in this context. It is definitely similar (and at times the same) to the original Alice in Wonderland with respects to the creatures but I felt there was that original Meyer touch too.

Heartless is a wonderful take on the Alice in Wonderland re-telling with a twist. A swoony, angsty romance with lots of delicious baked goods and a witty, handsome love interest made Heartless a lovely read. Meyer’s writing is gorgeous and how pray tell, does Cath become the Queen of Hearts? Well you must read and find out!


Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Six Reasons to Read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I recently finished Crooked Kingdom, the sequel and last book to Six of Crows and I LOVED IT SO MUCH. Hands down one of the best books I’ve read this year or ever to be honest. I read Six of Crows earlier this year and I’ll be honest, I liked it but I didn’t love it the way I loved Shadow and Bone. The plot dragged for me a little but I did for the characters (still a solid 4/5 stars mind you). Crooked Kingdom blew me away.

If you haven’t been convinced to pick up these books yet here’s six (heeeh see what I did there?) reasons why:

  1. Perfectly flawed characters - who wants to read about perfect characters anyway? Is there even such a thing? What would be the point if they’re not interesting? Every single one of these characters has so many layers to them. They make the choices that the privileged don’t have to make. They make the hard choices that should make us hate them but we love them instead. Leigh Bardugo writes such depth to these characters (Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, Jesper, Wylan), the more you read on the more you understand the things they do. 
  2. Tackling tough issues - sex trafficking/forced prostitution, what refugees have to face, addictions (drugs/gambling), racism, phobias this series has it all. Leigh Bardugo takes issues that are present in our current day and tackles them head on. She takes it seriously, she treads carefully but persistently to put it into perspective. It’s still YA but it brings to light all these issues for the reader and makes us SEE. It was horrifying and at times uncomfortable but this is necessary. 
  3. It’s a freaking heist - I mean how much more exciting can it get? All the planning and strategising and layers upon layers of scheming! And in the end will they pull through? ONLY YOU WILL KNOW IF YOU READ IT. Leigh Bardugo is an absolute fracking genius to come up with everything. There’s scheming then there’s one upping the schemers and then some. How to even? 
  4. Inej Ghafa - my leading lady. She is amazing. After everything she’s been through she still holds so much hope and love inside her. How she can see the light after everything is beyond me. She’s a symbol to not give up. When things are at their worst she still stands strong. I admired her so much and my heart broke at her pain. 
  5. Diversity - all the characters are different nationalities. I love fantasy books because authors make up different nations and races and they tackle racism in this way. But not just diversity of race and colour, but diversity of sexuality, diversity of religion. The characters have different values and there’s clashing, especially in the first book but it’s amazing to see them work through these or agree to disagree and just get along with their lives and not let them affect the mission at hand. Acceptance requires understanding and the books are a journey to this. 
  6. The writing and world building are stunning - Leigh Bardugo has a way with words. If you’ve read the Grisha trilogy, Leigh Bardugo expands so much on her Grishaverse outside of Ravka. If you haven’t read the Grisha trilogy you should totally read that too! Anyway, we’re pulled in the Barrel - the slums of Ketterdam and its corrupt world. Leigh’s introduced whole languages to add to the world as well as Barrel slang to really make the reader feel like they’re part of the gangs. It’s a gritty and dark world enhanced by decadent language that flows. 

HAVE I CONVINCED YOU YET? Well here’s bonus reasons:
  1. The books are visually stunning - I felt like showing them off while walking down the streets, with the gorgeous covers and black/red sprayed edges. And inside there’s MAPS. YES MAPS *squeals with glee* what’s a better fantasy than a book with maps??? Also gorgeous chapter headings 
  2. There’s only 2 books - YAY AND NOOO because it’s over but you can read it all in 1 hit! And then suffer the intense withdrawal with the rest of us.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Review: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Firstly, thanks to the author for this review copy <3 (This in no way influenced my opinion of the book.)

Date Read: September 14 - 18 2016
Date Released: October 4 2016
Publisher: Putnam (Penguin) US / Penguin Australia
Source: Review copy via author
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

"Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.

Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland's brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love."


It’s always a tough job reviewing books for an author I know personally. It’s even tougher when they’re a friend. I was all kinds of excited when Krystal sent me a copy of her book but I was also practically shaking with nervousness when I started because WHAT IF I DIDN’T LIKE IT? I’d have to go hide in a corner for the rest of my life is what. Well silly me there was nothing to fear because Krystal’s book is as fabulous as her person - that is say, extremely fabulous.

Our Chemical Hearts is a romcom about first love, written with a witty voice and poignant touch. The characters and story drew me in, made me laugh and cry and then spat me back out leaving me reeling from the experience (a good one mind you).

Told from the first person POV of Henry Page, the ‘hero’ of our story is drawn to new girl Grace Town from the first moment she steps into class with her shaggy unwashed hair, boyish clothing and limp. He’s intrigued by her, at times infuriated by her, then falling head over heels for her. I loved Henry’s perspective; his voice was snarky and he had occasional cynical views of the world while also being a big romantic and dreamer. I relate to this boy. His burgeoning obsession with Grace drives much of the novel and it was so interesting to see his emotions as the book progressed and his growth by the end. His realisations about life and love aren’t profound in the way that he’s suddenly discovered the meaning of life, but it’s a coming of age for sure.

Grace Town was an enigma that I was completely drawn to. She’s far from perfect and while she seemed like a Manic Pixie Dream Girl at first (and this is acknowledged in the book), by the end I could see she wasn’t put there just for Henry to have his epiphany of first love. Grace was by no means selfless - she had her own agenda. She was selfish and she used people and she was dealing with her own issues which we discovered. Her relationship with Henry was growth for her as well, helping her come to terms with something she didn’t want to face. There was a lot of depth to her character and THINGS that triggered certain actions which made her story mysterious.

Kaz (in the tradition of Aussies butchering people’s names and chucking a ‘z’ on I am henceforth referring to Krystal as Kaz or Kazza) made this a multi-dimensional story with her wonderful cast of supporting characters. Henry’s family was lovely. I adored his sister Sadie (Suds, I LOVE THE NAME SUDS) who was a terror in high school but also a genius. She’s got dreadlocks but is an acclaimed surgeon. Suds has such wit and sarcasm (more intense than Henry) but also words of wisdom too. Their parents are also hella cool. Then there’s Henry’s besties Lola and Muz - firstly, diversity done right. I loved that Kazza put Lola in as a diverse character but didn’t make it a thing - I can’t bloody deal with racial tropes. Lola’s a great artist with a love of music and is the down to earth one in their group. Then there’s Muz the Crocodile Hunter wannabe who was my comedic relief, he made me laugh so hard. Each character has their own sort of romantic storyline going on in the book which I really enjoyed.

These cool kids and their love lives are set against the backdrop of the encroaching deadline for putting together the school paper, of which Henry and Grace are chief co-editors. The progress of the paper rivals with Henry’s romance and Grace’s increasingly erratic behaviour. Just what on earth is Grace Town hiding? I’m not gonna lie I knew immediately what the deal was but it was still interesting to see it unfold. I laughed a lot but my heart also fractured bit by bit with each turning page. And will they ever get the paper’s theme and finish it in time? You’ll have to read to find out.

Kaz’s writing is sophisticated without being overdone. Her style is entertaining; a little tongue in cheek, a lot of philosophical musings that, given any other context, would seem try-hardy, but given the story, balances the humour with the serious touch that’s required. She gives Henry a voice that leaps off the page and made me feel for the guy.

And in the end? Well in the end many lessons are learnt. I freaking adored the ending. It was so realistic and believable and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a satisfaction of sorts because had it ended differently, the integrity of the novel would have been compromised and wouldn’t have the effect Kaz had built up throughout. YOU GUYS READ THIS BOOK.

Sutherland (Suz?) apparently has another book coming out SO KAZ I NEED IT YESTERDAY.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Firstly, thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this review copy <3

Date Read: August 21 - September 6 2016
Date Released: October 1 2016
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

"Three sisters. One crown. A fight to the death.
In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn't solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it's not just a game of win or lose . . . it's life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown."


I can’t even begin to describe how sad I am that I didn’t like this. When I think of TDC and how it just went downhill, I’m filled with such disappointment.

The premise sounded amazing - three sisters who are equal heirs to the crown and who have to fight to be queen on their sixteenth birthday. Each has their own distinctive ability: elements, poisons, nature. There was the implied promise of strategy, action, manipulation and wonderful magic.

Three Dark Crowns started off strong - I was immersed in Katharine’s training of poisons and the way she’d been brought up in the family of poisoners. Blake keeps true to her word that it’s about three sisters with equal rights to the crown because she writes all three perspectives of each sister. I can’t say I cared much for Arsinoe and her supposedly naturalist gift. Mirabella was quite interesting with her elemental abilities and to be honest she seemed to be the only one who had any sort of personality. By the end I didn’t see how Katharine had grown as a person. I had no idea of her hopes and dreams, what she wanted for herself. Arsinoe too seemed to not really give a shit about anything and I was extremely bored with her. There were some things to do with her ‘abilities' that led her in a particular direction but her drive for that was very lacklustre. I found the sisters to be quite flat overall. Can you tell I don’t even care?

I think the secondary characters, especially the heads of each family that were training each sister, really drove the direction of the novel, and the sisters themselves. There was definitely manipulation here and the sisters felt like puppets. As such it didn’t feel like the story was about the sisters but more about these families at each other’s throats trying to put the sister they were looking after onto the throne for their own goals. Was I interested in their motives? Somewhat but not really. There wasn’t enough there to make it anymore than a power play and be a famous family.

What I really wanted more of was the history of the queens. There seemed a lot of promise behind the idea of the triplets and I’m really hoping that Blake explores this because it has so much potential to drive the direction of the sisters going forward. As it stands, there wasn’t enough of this history to hint at what Blake plans for the future and I can’t even tell if this history will be opened up in the sequels. This is possibly wishful thinking of my part.

The plot… was not really a plot at all for me. Maybe because it took me so damn long to read this book because I got so damn bored because it dragged on forever and nothing seemed to happen. Everything was meant to lead to this festival but honestly I was so fed up at this point that any plot twists/revelations and the like didn’t wow me or reduce my boredom at all. Stuff happened and I guess I was like wtf but then I was like ok *turns the page* let’s get this over and done with.

It felt like the story lost its direction. I couldn’t tell where Blake was going with this. By the time this ended I felt lost. I didn’t feel like I’d finished a story. I felt like I’d drifted in the middle of the sea and was floating aimlessly. There’s potential but I can’t anticipate what happens in the sequel because not enough happened in Three Dark Crowns. I wanted more from the sisters; I expected more from their abilities and I wanted them to use their brains.

I see the potential in Three Dark Crowns, I really do. However, book 1 failed to hit the mark to establish itself for a strong series. I’m hoping the sequel will be better.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Empire of Storms Blog Tour: Fan Cast + Giveaway

This is my favourite time of the year - the release of a new Sarah book, followed by a Maas Thirteen blog tour! We get to spread the love for Sarah and fangirl over another wonderful addition to Celaena and Aelin's journey. Of course I adored EoS beyond words, check out my review which is basically all flails.

I can't believe this is the THIRD year of the Maas Thirteen. Let's get right to it.

"The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don't.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?"

Buy links: Amazon | Target | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Book Depository | WHSmith | Kobo | iBooks | Audible

About Sarah

Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series and A Court of Thorns and Roses series, as well as a USA Today and international bestselling author. Sarah wrote the first incarnation of the Throne of Glass series when she was just sixteen, and it has now sold in thirty-five languages. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog. Empire of Storms, the fifth Throne of Glass novel, will release on September 6th, 2016.

She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in 2008 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies.

Author Links: Website | Blog | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram

Empire of Storms Fancast

You knew it was coming! I've been doing these every year since like Crown of Midnight haha. Obviously would be continuing the tradition for EOS :D

Check out my previous fan casts for Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows  including Celaena, Chaol, Dorian, Rowan, Aedion, Manon, Nesryn, Asterin, Lorcan and Lysandra.

Emily Browning as Elide Lochan - I always imagined Elide to be slightly pixie looking with her small frame and delicate in appearance but really strong underneath. That's the impression I get with Emily Browning who can look sweet and innocent yet seductive. I could also imagine an Asian actress as Elide like Kim Yoo Jung but she's a bit young at 16.

Evan Rachel Wood as Ansel - described as having wine red hair and a cutting smile I could picture Evan Rachel Wood playing the assassin Ansel with her sultry eyes and mischievous smile. Evan Rachel definitely looks older than Ansel is meant to be but it is SO HARD to find young actresses that fit the bill. 

Liam Hemsworth as Gavriel - I had Alex Pettyfer as Aedion because I imagine Aedion as having a harder look about him with everything he's been through as the Wolf of the North. I can picture Liam (same age as Alex I believe) being a calmer but larger Aedion so it would be really interesting to see the two next to each other.

Theo James as Fenrys - supposedly so beautiful he's hard to look at with golden hair, tan skin and dark eyes. Theo is in my opinion one of the most gorgeous men on this planet lel so it works? Also, would like to see Liam and Theo as besties in a movie because they've each done huge YA post-apocalyptic roles.

The fan cast isn't perfect, they never are and I found Empire of Storms to be the hardest one yet. I really struggled with Ansel, Gavriel and especially Fenrys. A little bit of makeup and costume can go a long way though and it's all up to the actress/actor to embody the character!


  • One signed copy of Empire of Storms
  • One Throne of Glass tote bag
  • One set of lip balms (Dorian, Chaol, Rowan) & one Celaena soap (c/o Behind the Pages
  • One set of Throne of Glass buttons (c/o ThroneofGlassPH
a Rafflecopter giveaway


September 7 - Katie @ Polished Page-Turners
September 8 - Steph @ No BS Book Reviews
September 9 - Sarah @ What Sarah Read
September 12 - Kelly @ Belle of the Literati
September 13 - Louisse @ The Soul Sisters
September 14 - Gillian @ Writer of Wrongs
September 15 - Andi @ Andi’s ABCs
September 16 - Gina @ Behind the Pages
September 19 - Jaz @ Fiction in Fiction in Fiction
September 20 - Mel @ The Daily Prophecy
September 21 - Betty @ Book Rock Betty
September 22 - Rachel @ Hello Chelly
September 23 - Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Blog Tour: Words in Deep Blue Interview with Cath Crowley

If you're aren't already aware, Words in Deep Blue is one of my absolute favourite books I've read this year and overall! See my gushing review here.

Hence, I was mega excited when Pan Macmillan Australia asked me to be on the blog tour AND I got to interview Cath yeehaw!

30336056 Synopsis:
"This is a love story.
It's the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets.
It's the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea.
Now, she's back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal and looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind."

Date Published: 30th August 2016
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Buy Links: KinokuniyaDymocks | Booktopia | A&R Bookworld 

Interview with Cath Crowley

1. Have you ever written a letter to a stranger and slipped it in a book? Or opened a book a found a message from a stranger? If so, what’s the most memorable one?

I have written a letter to a stranger and slipped it into a book. I left quite a few around Melbourne while I was writing Words in Deep Blue. I rented a post office box so I could safely leave my address. I didn’t get a single reply. But that doesn’t mean a stranger didn’t read them. Or maybe they haven’t been found yet.

The most memorable thing I’ve found in a book was a letter I wrote to my father when I was overseas. I sent it twenty years ago, and he’d kept it all this time. I found it in one of his books after he’d passed away. It made me incredibly happy and incredibly sad to find it there, tucked into a book he loved.

2. What are your thoughts on writing on the pages themselves? Are you the type of person who believes a book shouldn’t be marred by a pen?

If a book is mine, not a library book or a book that belongs to someone else, then I do write on the pages. I love seeing lines marked in book I’m reading. It’s as if someone has loved those exact words before me.

3. There’s something about handwriting a letter that adds sentimental value – do you still write letters to people?

I love receiving handwritten letters. I have a couple of close friends who still write to me that way. I can hear their voice on the page, in a way that I can’t hear in an email. I do still write letters to people, although not as much as I did. I have hundreds of letters in a box, mailed to me by friends and relatives when I was overseas. It was before email took off, and so my only contact with home was the written posted word.

4. Rachel grieves for her brother Cal and looks back on his death frequently. What advice can you provide on moving forwards, but at the same time preserving someone’s memory?

Grief is very personal, so I can’t give advice. I think it’s different for every person. After my father died, it took me a long time before I could even look at his books, because they reminded me of him. After a year, though, those things stopped being a source of new grief, and started to be a comfort. I’m not sure what changed in me, but now I love that I can hear his voice on the pages. He left himself behind in the things he loved – words, poetry and books.

5. If you could choose one thing you love most about second-hand bookstores, what would it be?

I love the history of them. Ruth Gamble, who works at Alice’s Bookshop in Rathdowne Street thinks ‘there’s an archaeology of soul in a bookshop’, and I think she’s exactly right.

About You

1. Sea or city?


2. Your favourite second-hand bookstore?

I have two – The Known World Bookshop in Ballarat and Alice’s Bookshop in Rathdowne Street.

3. A song (or playlist) to go with Words in Deep Blue?

I have playlists for my other novels, but for Words in Deep Blue the backing track is a book list – T.S. Eliot, e.e.cummings, Charles Dickens, David Mitchell, Jennifer Egan, Junot Diaz – and all the books that were playing in my head while I wrote.

4. Coffee in bed or at a café?

In bed, definitely.

5. Short stories or novels?

I love them both, so it depends on mood. But if I have to choose, I choose novels.

Thanks for joining me on the blog Cath (:!

Thanks so much for having me, Jaz x


I hope you all enjoyed Cath's insightful, lovely and at times, bittersweet responses. I think the style is a reflection of Words in Deep Blue.

Haven't got your hands on it yet? GO.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Review: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas

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


Date Read: August 30 - September 2 2016
Date Released: September 6 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating: (not enough stars, Aelin rattled them all *sobs*)

Note: this review contains NO spoilers for Empire of Storms but may contain spoilers for earlier books in the series. If leaving a comment please DO NOT post any EoS spoilers, this ruins the experience for others and these comments will be deleted.

"The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don't.
As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?"


Never has a book broken me so much. Made me cry not just at one point, but made me sob incessantly at MANY parts throughout. Over the years and the amount of books I’ve read, my heart has definitely hardened so for Maas to continuously evoke such feelings and reactions from me is a feat unto itself. For Maas to continuously surprise me despite my many predictions coming to fruition? Well then.

I’m not going to waste your time telling you how much I love my Queen Aelin. Y’all have heard it a thousand and one times (and then some). BUT HOLY GODS what she did in EoS. She’s a queen in title only as we’ve seen in the past few books. She’s been an assassin most of her life, had no training to rule. And yet. AND YET. Her scheming, her planning, her sacrifices excuse me while I go cry at how she’s been forced into all of this way too young. This woman has been shoved into something she didn’t ask for, born into a bloodline and gift that isolated her, but she still manages to love so fiercely, to protect, to be loyal. How the hell can this world ask so much of her? And how does she keep giving and giving? I have no words. I just cried and cried.

This was a book about the ladies. Elide. Manon. Lysandra. So much girl power and strength. I loved all my girls so much. I AM SO PROUD OF THEM. Elide’s resolve, Manon’s loyalty, Lysandra’s willingness to do anything for her queen. Aasdlkjsfsljfsdfldshsdf *flails* each girl gets her moment in this book – many moments actually. There is this one bit where Lysandra did this thing that had me flailing all over the place and screaming and on the edge of my seat and *pants* I was just like damn you Sarah for writing such wonderful battle scenes. So the Thirteen. One particular member had me bawling my eyes out in QoS. YOU KNOW WHO. YOU KNOW WHICH SCENE. Welps it happened all over again. Yeh I’m just crying all over the shop here. All the ladies. All the love.

Okayyyy la romance. I’ll never ship it. Never can. For reasons. Buuuuuut doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. Doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate it. I could definitely feel the love between Aelin and her significant other. Moving on because this series stopped being about the romance for me since like book 3. THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS PEOPLE. Like a queen battling an age old evil.

The plot thickens. If you thought SJM couldn’t possibly drop anymore bombshells (I thought I was so smart because I’ve known the direction this series would head since book 1) well… I was like WTF throughout. I may have known where the general plot was heading but then all the little pieces fell into place after what felt like SJM backhanding me I was so shocked and in so much pain. THINGS are revealed in this book. Very important things. Game changers. Events and revelations that had me reeling and crying (wow no surprise there) and going nope NOPE NOPE I REFUSE MAKE IT STOP *sobs* of course I want more. I always want more. I’m a sadist when it comes to Sarah’s books.

More blood, more feels, more battle scenes. Damn does Maas know how to write a brilliant fantasy that has her readers engrossed. I’ve loved the battle scenes that Sarah’s written throughout the series. They’re always epic. Empire of Storms though – the naval battles, the armadas, the armies that are raised – blew me away with the detail and the way the action built up and went on for pages. Had me gasping and screaming at the characters. So good. So sooooooooo good. Hatchets, knives, daggers, swords, arrows, claws, Ironteeth, jaws, and magic. Lots and lots of wonderful magic dredged up and exhausted after they’ve laid ruins at their feet.

Then the ending happened and I didn’t think I could cry anymore but NOPE SJM pulled up my tears like she had Aelin pull up those flames and I. Didn’t. Stop. Crying. For ages.

Here’s a queen who would do anything for her people. For those she loves. For her kingdom. Here’s a real queen who thinks on her feet, who considers all the possibilities. Who, because she was born into it, has been preparing all her life even at the most unlikely times, making the most out of every single damn opportunity and situation she’s thrown into. Here’s the true Queen of Terrasen who ensures that her people and her kingdom will always be safe and live on regardless. Here’s Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, the heir of ash and fire, the queen of flame and shadows, the fire-breathing bitch queen, queen of the wildfire, Fireheart, who is a force to be reckoned with. Those who try to break her don’t know her true strength and what they’re dealing with. *Flails and cries and screams and hugs Aelin and everyone*

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Firstly, thanks to Pan Macmillan Australian for this review copy <3


Date Read: August 15 - 20 2016
Date Released: August 30 2016
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

"This is a love story.
It's the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets.
It's the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea.
Now, she's back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal and looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind."


I’m not even going to deny that I’m very behind with reading YA by Australian authors. Hell I know heaps of readers overseas who have read more Australian YA than me. I’d never read a Cath Crowley book before this, but her name is one I hear often. When I heard about the concept of WiDB I knew I immediately had to have it in my life. I was also a teensy bit worried that I wouldn’t like it because Cath is so well loved. PRESSURE’S ON. I’m officially a Cath Crowley fan now. Much koala tea.

Set against the backdrop of a Melbourne second-hand bookstore where visitors can leave letters to each other in books, WiDB had such a dream-like quality. I don’t mean it was not realistic, far from it actually. But imagine stepping into a bookshop on a rainy day and there’s a fireplace inside and it’s all warm and cozy (Howling Books does not, in fact, have a fireplace – it does however, have many other awesome aspects). It’s got that glow you know? The glow of stepping into another world, another reality.

Told from dual-perspectives the book opens with our female MC Rachel as she returns to the city nearly a year after the death of her brother Cal. She can’t stand living on the coast anymore as it’s a reminder of everything she’s lost. I connected really well with Rachel. She is struggling in her grief; nearly a year after Cal’s death she questions whether she should have started to move on but at the same time how could she do that to Cal’s memory? And this is essentially what the majority of the book is about from Rachel’s POV. It affects the way she connects with people. I liked her slow and gradual growth throughout the book.

Henry though… man this guy was a piece of work. I love that he reads and he’s got a sense of humour. He’s a nice guy but my gosh his obsession with Amy was too much. She’s like on his mind 90% of the time. I wanted to slap him so many times like omg what did he see in her? So she might not be the worst being on earth but she’s not winning any girlfriend awards anytime soon. Other than her looks I couldn’t figure out what was the connection between the two. Apart from that, his appreciation of the written word is inspiring. He will read just about anything and he actually evaluates the book’s messages – perks of growing up in a family who owns a bookstore.

The secondary characters were fantastic. The exploration of familial bonds and relationships was on point. Rachel’s love for Cal was obvious in the memories she has of him. Henry’s loving relationship with his sister and parents also shone through. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, but it’s the underlying ties that bind. There are kind and loving ex’s who still care. There are great friendships too – the friends from school but also the friendships formed from years and decades of visiting the same bookstore and connecting over a love of words. Crowley broke so many stereotypes and yes there is drama but reality is not always a soap opera.

My absolute favourite part of this book though, are the letters. THE FEELS. Crowley has interspersed WiDB with letters from the Letter Library. It’s not just leaving letters in classics and poetry (though there’s that too) – it’s underlining favourite passages in TFIOS and Anna and the French Kiss, looking for meaning in life after death in Cloud Atlas, expressing love through Great Expectations. There’s letters from basically all the characters in the book which add to the current plot, but also paints a picture of other timelines, other stories. In fact, there are a set of letters that are part of the main plot, but have a story of their own AND THEY BROKE MY HEART. I was silently tearing up in the beginning but then by the end I was outright sobbing. Beware the feels. These letters were the perfect touch and I can’t get over the perfect execution.

Words in a Deep Blue is a celebration of the written word. A tribute to the lives and memories of those we’ve lost but continue to love. Crowley’s writing is stunning in the way she uses imagery and detail to bring to life the present, but also the past, through the achingly beautiful letters that restless hearts leave for each other. When I first picked this up I was hopeful but unsure of the outcome. Turning the last page of this book I felt a great satisfaction. It’s like serendipity. I’ve also added a great amount of books to my TBR and bought a number of modern classics as a result.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Review: London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning

Firstly, thanks to Allen & Unwin for this review copy <3


Date Read: July 25 - 30 2016
Date Released: June 2nd 2016
Publisher: Allen & Unwin/Hot Key Books
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

"Seventeen-year-old Sunny's always been a little bit of a pushover. But when she's sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she knows she's got to act. What follows is a mad, twelve-hour dash around London - starting at 8pm in Crystal Palace (so far away from civilisation you can't even get the Tube there) then sweeping through Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensington, Notting Hill . . . and ending up at 8am in Alexandra Palace.

Along the way Sunny meets a whole host of characters she never dreamed she'd have anything in common with - least of all the devilishly handsome (and somewhat vain) French 'twins' (they're really cousins) Jean Luc and Vic. But as this love-letter to London shows, a city is only a sum of its parts, and really it's the people living there who make up its life and soul. And, as Sunny discovers, everyone - from friends, apparent-enemies, famous bands and even rickshaw drivers - is willing to help a girl on a mission to get her romantic retribution."


Not gonna lie guys, when I read the full synopsis of London Belongs to Us I was sceptical of how Sunny would spend a whole night chasing down Mark as the blurb details – I mean how hard is one person to find when you know them and can contact them? I can 100% confirm that this book delivered as promised and it was exciting, fun, realistic and damn awesome. It's also so much more.

The book opens with our self-conscious, confidence-lacking, main character Sunny getting a photo of her (supposedly hunk) boyfriend locking lips with another girl. Poor girl is in absolute denial in the beginning then her hurt progressively grows into anger. I loved the realistic way her emotions slowly turn and the way they shape her actions in the book. Her development and growth is astonishing and I was cheering her on the whole way through. Some may think she’s being stubborn and relentless at parts, but what’s a girl to do when your whole life you’ve been trodden on like a doormat and this is the last straw? You show them what you’re made of and not to be messed with! I really admired Sunny’s determination and the way the events of the book help build her confidence.

On her adventures she’s accompanied by her best friend Emmeline, but mainly these two French boys known as the Goddards – Vic and Jean-Luc. One is a playboy, and the other seems to only know sour expressions. But like sidekicks, they follow her around London, providing comic-relief, advice and segues into more hilarious moments. There’s actually a whole cast of diverse characters that Sunny meets during her traipse through London – from drag queens, to superhero like girls, to famous band members. And yet because of the hour, the way things happen, it’s all entirely believable. I loved that each character had their purpose, had some light to shed on the situation and offer help or advice.

I adored the way Manning gives us a real local’s perspective of London nightlife. It’s not the tourist walk through Westminster, going on the London Eye and visiting Buckingham Palace. It’s the ‘burbs; London trains at night with track work, out of the way clubs, hot wings at midnight. It’s London like I would’ve never experienced on my own and Sunny certainly wouldn’t have either at that hour without her vendetta.

Romance isn’t the biggest factor in the book which I’m really grateful for. Qurrlll ain’t got time for any boys when she on her quest to kick some cheating arse! I liked the way bits of Mark’s true character are slowly revealed as the night goes on – in the beginning she thinks he’s the most amazing person on earth and that she can’t possibly deserve someone so wonderful. But as the night progresses and he never says he’s where he is, Sunny notices his flaws. Each stop along the night draws out a memory, an aspect of Mark that has Sunny reassess her earlier feelings. It was refreshing to see her head slowly come out of the clouds.

The best thing about this book is the girl power. It’s not just about one girl’s quest for revenge. It’s about her taking a stand, other girls helping her out, girls banding together in the face of pos (‘piece of shit’ for those of you who don’t know, I recently learnt the term) guys who think girls can easily be duped and are just for hook-ups.

All this, in one night. From north London to south London (and back). London Belongs to Us is an appreciation of the city and its diverse people – the way they can help a girl on a mission to right a wrong.