January Wrap-Up 2017

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Hey everyone! Here is my rather belated January wrap-up. Unfortunately, I only read 6 books.

The Books

All titles link to Goodreads

Talking As Fast As I Can

By Lauren Graham

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4.5 Stars

This book was fantastic and fun and I’m so glad I decided to listen to the audiobook. Lauren Graham is such a performer and she is just so wonderful to listen to.

A really easy read, I recommend it to all fans of Gilmore Girls.

 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5)

By J. K. Rowling

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5 Stars

Many people say that this instalment is their least favourite of the series, but I didn’t find that at all – perhaps because I listened to the audiobook rather than reading a physical copy. At any rate, I loved this book.

Overall, it was a fantastic read with brilliant characters, mixing entertaining times with frustrating ones.

If you are struggling to get through, I do thoroughly recommend listening to the audiobook as I feel it would help out significantly. However, that is coming from someone who loves audiobooks and what works for me may not work for you.

You can find my full review here.

 

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6)

By J. K. Rowling

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5 Stars

One of my favourites of the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was an easy and engaging read.

Ginny, Neville and Luna continued to be fantastic characters, coupled with the ever-brilliant Hermione and Professor McGonagall. Dumbledore was also most definitely a highlight. While I’m still up in the air about whether I actually like Snape, I did appreciate the foreshadowing where he was concerned.

I appreciate how the relationships between Harry and Ginny & Ron and Hermione were fleshed out, making me more on board with them than I was. However, I’m still not sure if I like Ron and Hermione together.

Ron under the love potion was probably my favourite part, but Luna’s quidditch commentary certainly comes a close second.

 

Hamilton: The Revolution

By Lin-Manuel Miranda & Jeremy McCarter

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5 Stars

I love this book and Hamilton with every fibre of my being. It was fantastic and amazing and brilliant. – I read it in three sittings.

Lin’s annotations were definitely my favourite part. I learnt so much and was throughly entertained and sometimes even got slightly emotional (I teared up near the end).

This book cements my love of Hamilton and I will forever love it and pet it (seriously, this book is gorgeous!)

I will forever stand by the fact the Lin is an absolute genius.

 

Ida

By Alison Evans

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4 Stars

I was surprised at how much I ended up liking Ida – it took me a while to really get into the story.

An awesome thing about this book is the amount of representation it has, especially considering it’s not the main focus (which some books do). Here, it’s not really a big deal – which I like. There are characters who are bisexual, genderqueer and genderfluid.

Another pro is that the pronoun “they” was used in reference to the love interest, Daisy, which is something that took a little bit of getting used to but was rather cool.

Even though it’s not really highlighted, there are also some PoCs in here.

Frank was great – he was certainly a highlight and perhaps even my favourite character.

Damaris and Adrastos were quite interesting, if confusing – they were never quite explained.

The narrative style of third person present tense was something that I’m not usually a fan of but it did grow on me.

I’m glad I read Ida in one sitting, because it had the potential to be rather confusing. It also had a rather open ending with some things left unresolved. However, it was interesting and I did enjoy it.

 

No Sugar

By Jack Davis

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3.5 Stars

This was a school text and while I did enjoy it to some extent, it wasn’t the best. It was better than I’d anticipated but I really had to push myself to read it.  That said, it is probably one of the more interesting books I had to read.

As it deals with the treatment of Aboriginal people in Australia during the Stolen Generation, it is not only diverse but #ownvoices too, which is cool.

Gran was pretty awesome, while Cissie and Sister Eileen were also interesting.

Blog Posts

 

Other Notable Points

  • I set my Goodreads goal to 70 books. I usually set it to around the hundred mark, but as I’m in year 12 this year I wasn’t sure if I could make it.
  • I had an awesome time at a bookish picnic hosted by the YA Room, a new Melbourne-based book club. I’m also actually in a group photo, which is a welcome change (even if I’m at an event, I always seem to miss the group photo. You can find the official wrap-up post here.
  • The YA Room’s first book of the month was Ida by Alison Evans. We had a discussion at the Alexandria Gardens where Alison graced us with their presence. It was another awesome time. The wrap-up post can be found here. I also managed to be in this group photo too, which was awesome.
  • School started back and with it, year 12 – a.k.a my final year, which is sure to be a lot of fun, but also a stress-fest. We’ll see how the procrastinator in me handles it.

 

Let’s Discuss!

So, what have you been reading lately? Any exciting life occurrences? Any new years resolutions?

Have you read any of the books I listed? If so, what were your thoughts?  Do your opinions differ from mine?

How were your holidays? (If you had any) Did you get up to much?

Are you back at school too?

Please leave a comment so that we can discuss!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5)

Read from 3-14th January, 2017

Author: J. K. Rowling

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5 Stars

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I’ve been rereading the Harry Potter books for some time now, but this is the first instalment where my thoughts are extensive enough to warrant a review. That said, please forgive the fact that there are no prior reviews on these books and that I am instead jumping in at number five.

Many people say that this instalment is their least favourite of the series, but I didn’t find that at all – perhaps because I listened to the audiobook rather than reading a physical copy. At any rate, I loved this book.

Professor McGonagall and Ginny Weasley completely stole the show with their vibrant personalities and high levels of sass. Luna, Hermione, Neville, the twins and Tonks were also fantastic.

Umbridge has always been a fantastic love-to-hate villain and she certainly did not disappoint. There was also an interesting detail about her that I had forgotten until rereading which I quite liked. She was completely horrible and cruel, and it was a delight seeing her in disarray when the Weasley twins were up to mischief.

Harry really frustrated me, but I actually think that this was a good thing. Harry’s temper was quick and destructive (his friends were even scared of him at times), he didn’t appreciate the people around him, he was selfish, and he was rash. However, some of those qualities (such as the temper) I believe may have been (at least to some degree) appropriated from Voldemort. It also made him flawed and somewhat more relatable. It will be interesting to see his character development through the next few novels – you can already start to see it at the end of Order of the Pheonix in his interaction with Luna.

I really didn’t like Cho but I understand that she was needed to help Harry grow as a character. Personally, I found her to be selfish, extremely shallow and rather superficial.

Dumbledore was interesting. For the majority of the novel, I, like Harry, was frustrated at and disappointed in Dumbledore, who had been like a father figure to Harry in his time at Hogwarts to date. It had been such a long time since I’d read “Order of the Phoenix” that I’d entirely forgotten his motivations – but Rowling did a fantastic job at portraying them in the reveal at the end, painting Dumbledore as flawed, vulnerable and… old. That conversation was perhaps one of my favourite scenes in the novel.

Overall, it was a fantastic read with brilliant characters, mixing entertaining times with frustrating ones.

If you are struggling to get through, I do thoroughly recommend listening to the audiobook as I feel it would help out significantly. However, that is coming from someone who loves audiobooks and what works for me may not work for you.

Let’s Discuss!

Have you read Harry Potter? Are you one of the few who haven’t?

What’s your favourite instalment? Least favourite?

Favourite character?

Any unpopular opinions?

Come chat with me! I love to discussions.

October, November & December Wrap-Up 2016

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*Image not mine

Hey everybody! It’s been ages but I’m finally back! She say the month before year 12.

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be doing a slight redesign as well as uploading new content – I have big plans and I’m really excited about them.

Over these past three months I read a total of 25 books.

Note: like my previous wrap-up this one is extremely long. You have been warned.

 

The Books

All titles link to Goodreads

 

October

 

Omari and the People

By Stephen Whitfield

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3.5 Stars

A character-driven exodus of a people lead by hope and just looking to survive. While this story does have some elements of romance it is more a side element than anything.

You can find my full review here.

 

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3)

By Leigh Bardugo

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4 Stars

A great, satisfying read with beautiful writing.

I marathoned this trilogy earlier this year, with the exception of the last two or three chapters of this novel. I really wish I had kept on reading as there were a few things I was slightly confused about upon completion – definitely a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.”

 

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #2)

By Ransom Riggs

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4.25 Stars

I liked this instalment a lot better than the first, which is a relief.

It was a lot more engaging, the characters more developed, the writing better (there were quite a few great quotes!) and the romance between Jacob and Emma a lot less creepy (I’m kind of behind it now, but we’ll see).

I especially liked how Jacob’s peculiarly was further developed and we get a hint at another unexpected aspect (but that could just be me overthinking).

Again, I really liked how the characters were explored. In Miss Peregrine’s I felt rather detached from the cast, but I came to care about them in Hollow City.

To be perfectly honest, I was unimpressed with the first book and had to push myself to read this one. However, I am extremely glad I did and am excited to see how this series ends.

 

These Broken Stars (Starbound #1)

By Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

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4 Stars

Although it took a bit to get into, I ended up really enjoying These Broken Stars.

The character development was definitely a highlight and is what stands out for me. The characters really came into their own and also came to fit with each other really well.

Recommend for people looking for a solid sci-fi survival romance. I’ve also heard it described as “the titanic in space”, though it was more focused on surviving the planet than the high society/world aboard the spaceship.

 

This Shattered World (Starbound #2)

By Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

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4.25 Stars

This Shattered World was easier to get into than These Broken Stars for me. I really enjoyed the characters (plus those epic action scenes) and the plot was more politics and conspiracy theories than survival, though they both share a strong military vibe.

I really appreciated the diversity in this book; Lee is half Chinese and Flynn is Irish, and there was a fair amount of culture surrounding that, which was really cool.

I will say that I was (and still am) confused about the dream passages that we get every few chapters. It made sense to include them but I’m still rather confused. I preferred the interview excerpts from These Broken Stars in that regard.

I would recommend reading this series back to back if possible, because there are a few subtle references and cameos that are easy to miss.

Tarver and Lilac have a cameo! Which was a lot of fun. I also really liked how there was an obscure mention of Lee in These Broken Stars, Sofia was a minor character in this book and Gideon was also mentioned (though more obscurely). Excitement levels = very high.

Overall, this series so far is an excellent sci-fi with great characters and an intriguing plot. I would recommend to those who enjoy YA books and may want to dabble in sci-fi.

 

Their Fractured Light (Starbound #3)

By Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

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4.75 Stars

I really loved this book, and reading it also made me appreciate the previous books more.

I was initially disappointed to find out that this finale was only in Sofia and Gideon’s POVs, but it worked out really well.

I loved all the connections between characters that have been woven in from the beginning. Seeing everyone interact and the threads finally coming together was absolutely fantastic and rather fulfilling. However, I must admit, my favourite parts were the excerpts from the whispers before each chapter. My heart soared, broke, and everything began falling into place.

I will say that the characters do feel older than teenagers – but then again, these characters have been forced to face a lot of challenging situations and grow up fast.

The plot took unexpected turns, often throwing me for a loop, which is always great.

An easy read and a solid finale, Their Fractured World is definitely worth the read. Again, I suggest marathoning this series if that is at all possible as there are subtle connections and foreshadowing threaded throughout all three books.

I’m also left wondering if Amie enjoys writing zombies as they have appeared in both her series to some degree…

 

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2)

By Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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5 Stars

While I didn’t like Gemina quite as much as Illuminae I still really enjoyed it. Despite it being over 600 pages, the format and the fast pace meant that I finished it in a single day (and a school day none the less).

I really enjoyed the new characters we were introduced to, though it took me a little longer than with Hannah and Ezra. Nick and Hannah were pretty great, though Ella was by far the standout. Ella was severely disabled but she didn’t let that stop her – she was sassy and amazing and an incredibly talented hacker.

In this instalment we also meet Isaac, Kady’s dad, which was great.

I will say, I went into Gemina expecting the surviving crew from Illuminae to come in around half way through, but it was more like two thirds.

I loved all the plot twists – which are essentially staples in both Amie and Jay’s writing. The character one was great, but at the end when we find out what “gemina” means? Genius. (And yes, I am being deliberately vague, thank you for noticing).

Suffice to say, I recommend this series to pretty much everyone and I can’t wait for the third one (in which my name will be included!)

 

Matilda

By Roald Dahl

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4 Stars

This was my first Roald Dahl book.

Matilda was a surprisingly good read with a humorous voice, an incredibly intelligent protagonist who loves to read, a horrid antagonist and some great friendships.

In terms of plot, I pretty much knew what was going to happen as I’d seen the movie as a child and saw the musical just before I picked up the book. It’s always really interesting to see different takes on a story and how it changes the meaning. Both adaptations are quite good but there is a definite innocence and charm about the original source material.

A recommended read to all ages, especially if you have seen or are going to see one of the adaptations. Dahl’s narrative voice is certainly one I will be exploring further.

 

November

 

Infinity (The Infinity Division #1)

By Jus Accardo

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5 Stars

A surprisingly brilliant read, Infinity features fantastic characters, a great plot, and a focus on perspective.

You can find my full review here.

 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3)

By J. K. Rowling

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5 Stars

It’s been years since I first read the Harry Potter series, and I’ve been really enjoying listening to them on audio. It’s amazing the little details you forget even when you think you know the stories so well. Prisoner of Azkaban is perhaps my favourite so far.

 

Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them

By J. K. Rowling

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3.75 Stars

Note: this is the textbook, not the screenplay.

I read this in anticipation of the movie. As expected, it was interesting but rather dry as it is, in fact, a textbook.

 

Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #3)

By Ransom Riggs

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4 Stars

Library of Souls was an average read for me, but it wrapped up the series well.

This series put me in a slight reading slump as I simply had no read desire to pick it up. I felt no connection to the characters, the plot was okay, the world was decent and it was overall just a “meh” book (and series) for me.

I feel that 4 stars is somewhat generous so that may be subject to change, but we’ll see.

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this series but that’s just my opinion – I know several people who love it. However, I feel like these books will ultimately prove forgettable and I’ll likely unhaul them.

 

December

 

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1)

By Alison Goodman

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4 Stars

A fun and historically accurate read, (well, excluding the whole demon hunting thing) Lady Helen has a strong, stubborn, intelligent protagonist, an alluring love interest and great female friendship.

I was hoping for more training on Helen’s end but I understand that this was very much an introductory novel where she was still working out where she stood. However, I sincerely hope that there will be more training in the second instalment.

 

Lusus Naturae: A Lord Carlston Story (Lady Helen #1.5)

By Alison Goodman

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3 Stars

An okay read, this is just a short novella from Carlston’s point of view when he first meets Helen. It doesn’t tell us all that much that we didn’t already know, save for the fact that his wife did indeed go missing as her body was never found. Again, I hope that more will be revealed around this in the second book.

 

Saga Volume 1

By Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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5 Stars

New to graphic novels though I am, I found Saga to be an absolutely fantastic read.

The art was beautiful, the characters great and the plot intriguing. However, my favourite part was definitely the fact that their daughter is the one narrating the story.

I absolutely flew through these first three instalments – I read them back to back and it took me less than an hour for each. I can’t wait to read the rest. (Shout out to my friend Tara who leant me her copies. You’re a gem.)

However, I will say that there is sex, nudity and violence in these comics. If you’re not comfortable with that, maybe give Saga a miss.

 

Saga Volume 2

By Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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5 Stars

 

Saga Volume 3

By Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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5 Stars

 

Ms Marvel: No Normal (Ms Marvel #1)

By G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

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4.5 Stars

A whole lot of fun, Ms Marvel was a great read. Kamala Khan is an adorable, nerdy teenager who is also a muslim – that alone had me sold. She writes fanfics too! So relatable and awesome. Her friends and family were also fantastic and I can’t wait to see where this story goes.

 

On the Fence

By Kasie West

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4.5 Stars

A fun, light read, On the Fence was exactly what I needed to get me out of my slump – I breezed through it in a single sitting.

Reminiscent of Sarah Dessen (who got me into contemporary) it has great characters, an interesting story and deals with more serious issues of identity and family.

 

The Distance Between Us

By Kasie West

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4.5 Stars

Another fun story to read in one sitting, The Distance Between Us is full of vibrant characters and dynamics, sarcasm, banter and wit. It has people being people, raw and unfiltered.

Kasie is fast becoming a favourite author if mine, and I’m amazed that I haven’t picked her up sooner – the Sarah Dessen vibes, the light, fluffy story, the rave reviews… I also really appreciate how her stories feature cameos from other stories – One the Fence briefly mentions this protagonist, and has more in-depth mentions from two others.

A great read, I can’t wait to read the rest of her collection.

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4)

By J. K. Rowling

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4.25 Stars

Another great instalment, The Goblet of Fire was fun.

The biggest thing rereading this series has done for me is making me appreciate Ron’s character – prior to the re-read, I simply thought he was an idiot. Now, even though I still sometimes think he’s an idiot, I really appreciate his friendship with Harry.

However, I am left with a question: why is it that Harry can’t see the thestrals at the end of Goblet of Fire but can in the beginning of Order of the Phoenix?

 

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

By Becky Albertalli

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5 Stars

This book is so completely adorable I think my heart has melted. (I mean, I was warned but…)

Everything is just so cute and fluffy and adorable and I love it so much! It does also deal with friendships and family which is cool, but I’m currently riding the high from this book.

I am extremely tempted to immediately reread so I can catch all the adorable moments irl with Blue now that I know who he is (and he’s perfect btw) – I can only remember a few.

Anyway, I love it, should have read it sooner and must now impasse upon you all the importance of reading this book ASAP.

 

Milk and Honey

By Rupi Kaur

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4 Stars

A beautiful, moving, accessible collection of poems that anyone can read and understand.

 

The Fill-In Boyfriend

By Kasie West

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4 Stars

While not my favourite work of hers, The Fill-In Boyfriend was still a great read.

Highlights include expansive character development, a focus on family and friendships, as well as encouraging us all to be better, more authentic and open people.

Kasie has definitely earned her place as one of my favourite contemporary authors and I look forward to reading more from her.

 

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)

By Leigh Bardugo

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5 Stars

So, after much delay, I finally picked up Six of Crows and, as anticipated, absolutely loved it.

The plot twists were amazing and the heists excellent, but the characters are what really made it for me. – The wit, the chemistry, the genius… I loved it all (especially Kaz).

Though I’m still not 100% sure that it’s necessary to read the Grisha trilogy before Six of Crows, it definitely helps. I’m also glad that I listened to the audiobooks as it definitely helped my mental pronunciations of the various terms that otherwise I would have had no idea.

I will say, I kept getting distracted by the sheer beauty of the physical book. I managed to score the black stained hardback, and it is utterly gorgeous – the colours are so deep and (again) gorgeous.

I definitely recommend this book and can’t wait for the next one.

 

Blog Posts

 

Other Notable Points

  • The Gemina launch happened! I got to meet so many of my amazing twitter friends for the first time and/or again. It was amazing! Plus, I actually took photos this time.
  • I’m still obsessed with Hamilton. I really don’t think that’s going to stop any time soon.
  • I got my dream job at a bookstore.
  • The school year finished! Hooray for holidays but cue existential crisis about year twelve.
  • I marathoned all of the Gilmore Girls episodes ever and am now obsessed. However, I’m not really a fan of the revival – though there are parts that I like, not least that it’s existence pushed me to start watching the show in the fist place. Highlights of the revival include the introduction and Emily’s story arc.
  • I’ve been organising my life – to some extent. Let’s not talk about the homework that’s glowering at me ominously from the corner. I got rid of a lot of clothes, I unhealed a heap of book, I rearranged my bookshelves and I got a diary.
  • I made my first instagram post, which is cool. I’m @joysofbookworms if anyone cares. However, I doubt I’ll be posting much – twitter is where my heart is. Self-promo much?

 

Let’s Discuss!

So, what have you been reading lately? Any exciting life occurrences? Any new years resolutions?

Have we read any of the same books? Do your opinions differ from mine?

Please leave a comment so that we can discuss!

 

September Wrap-Up 2016

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*Image not mine

At 22 books, I had an absolutely fantastic reading month this September! (A fact which I blame almost entirely on my ridiculously high levels of procrastination)

 

The Books

All titles link to Goodreads

A Monster Calls

By Patrick Ness

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4 Stars

An absolutely fantastic and extremely emotional read. A Monster Calls has a unique and powerful take on grief that definitely pulled on my heartstrings.

Dark middle grade, I recommend going into it knowing little or nothing at all.

 

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)

By Sarah J. Maas

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5 Stars

I have been reading this series since only the first one was out and I can safely say that Throne of Glass will always be one of my favourite series, and Sarah one of my favourite authors. This was a re-read for me.

This series, with it’s magic, banter, wit, humour, fae, fantastic characters, sass, character developments and overall story arcs fills my little heart with joy (and addiction). Throne of Glass is one of those books that checks all the right boxes for me, and I am so excited (and scared) to see what’s in store for the finale.

I also got the chance to meet Sarah last year, and she is such a lovely person.

 

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)

By Sarah J. Maas

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5 Stars

 

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness #1)

By Tamora Pierce

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5 Stars

A time-old favourite, the world of Tortall will always be one I will read and re-read.

Criminally under-hyped, this book, series, and accompanying world is a fast, fantastic read full of magic, phenomenal characters, knights and fun times. Likely my third re-read by now (I’ve lost track) it is such a phenomenal story and easy to fly through in one sitting.

 

In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness #2)

By Tamora Pierce

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5 Stars

 

The Woman Who Rides Like A Man (Song of the Lioness #3)

By Tamora Pierce

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5 Stars

 

Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness #4)

By Tamora Pierce

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5 Stars

 

Wild Magic (Immortals #1)

By Tamora Pierce

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5 Stars

A sequel series to Song of the Lioness, Immortals stars different characters, but said characters do interact with the crew from Song of the Lioness, which means there are minor spoilers for those starting out with Wild Magic (as I did).

A favourite of many years, this is probably about my fifth re-read of this quartet. Immortals is my favourite series by Tamora and is a quick, fun read with magic, animals, fantasy, dragons, strong female characters and sass.

 

Wolf-Speaker (Immortals #2)

By Tamora Pierce

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5 Stars

 

Emperor Mage (Immortals #3)

By Tamora Pierce

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5 Stars

 

In the Realms of the Gods (Immortals #4)

By Tamora Pierce

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5 Stars

 

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)

By Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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5 Stars

Another re-read for me, Illuminae was just a fantastic the second time round. With unique formatting, great characters, lots of sass, a slightly evil brilliant AI, spaceships, and a deadly disease that basically turns people into zombies, Illuminae appeals to a broad audience and is definitely worth the read.

Not only is this proudly #LoveOZYA, but I have met both Amie and Jay and they are lovely. I also stalk follow their twitter accounts, and they are often hilarious.

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #1)

By Ransom Riggs

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3.75 Stars

A solid read, though I wouldn’t say it was particularly creepy or overwhelmingly fantastic. I liked it well enough and will continue with the series, but it certainly does not live up to the hype.

Piece of advice to those thinking of reading: LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Don’t expect it to blow your mind, but enjoy it for what it is. And if you end up loving it? Power to you.

Also, I will say that the romance was kind of creepy because reasons.

 

Splintered (Splintered #1)

By A. G. Howard

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5 Stars

First of all, let me just say that I LOVE THIS SERIES.

Taking only a single sitting, Splintered totally captivated me. The characters, the world, the plot twists… It was all just completely fantastic, whimsical, empowering and generally amazing.

Can everyone take a moment to appreciate the gorgeousness of this book? The stunning cover, the PURPLE print, the pretty headers, the floppiness… The aesthetics are completely on point here.

This is also one of the love triangles that I actually like – and am still not sure which team I’m on… (Though I’m leaning towards Morpheus to be honest)

An overall fantastic, fun, exciting read, if you feel like Splintered might be your thing, I 100% suggest going for it. This is also a great series to marathon (I certainly did!)

Just a quick side note, I’ve interacted with Anita over Twitter and she is so lovely! (I know I keep saying that these authors are lovely but it’s true).

 

The Moth in the Mirror (Splintered #1.5)

By A. G. Howard

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3 Stars

An okay read, The Moth in the Mirror didn’t really add anything to the story for me. As it is mainly told from Jeb’s point of view (as these are his memories) I have discovered that I’m not really a fan of his voice. I did, however, end up loving Morpheus more than ever.

 

Unhinged (Splintered #2)

By A. G. Howard

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5 Stars

 

Ensnared (Splintered #3)

By A. G. Howard

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5 Stars

As previously stated, I am a huge fan of this series and I really loved how it concluded. Everything about this book was fantastic and I love it to pieces (especially the end).

 

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)

By Maggie Stiefvater

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5 Stars

This is one of the series that had bee sitting unread on my shelf for a year, and my TBR before that – despite the fact that I was sure I would love it (spoiler alert: I did). Thanks to the shrieking recommendation from Cait at Paper Fury and Sam on Twitter, I finally picked it up – my only regrets being that I didn’t read it sooner.

Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate just how gorgeous the hardcovers are? I am in love.

 

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)

By Maggie Stiefvater

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5 Stars

 

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3)

By Maggie Stiefvater

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5 Stars

 

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

By Maggie Stiefvater

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5 Stars

I love this series so much. The writing, the characters, the ships, the plot, the mythology… but mostly the characters.

Rich and beautiful, relatable and heartwarming, these characters are my children and I love them so. They are so ALIVE and precious and I can vividly picture them as if they were alive and lived here, in our world. They are so developed, so real. Their fears, loves, losses, growth, hopes, dreams… Everything.

The characters make the book, it is their story just waiting to be written. Needing to be written, shared. They are the most dynamic and real characters I have ever read and I love them, and I love how they love each other – the overarching rightness of it all.

There is no doubt: this book, this series, is cyclical, and it is made all the more beautiful due to the nature of this book – how it plays with time.

It is about hope, growth and making your own path but knowing some things are meant to be. 100% recommend.

 

Graceling (Graceling Realm #1)

By Kristin Cashore

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4.5 Stars

I technically finished this one on October first, but it was 4 in the morning, so I’m counting it.

Graceling was a lot of fun and a solid read. An easy story to read in one sitting, it has strong characters, a great romance, character development, a fast-moving plot and is technically a stand alone.

I’m interested in seeing what the other instalments are like as they focus on different characters, but I’m mostly interested in Bitterblue as the protagonist is introduced in Graceling and I really liked her.

 

Blog Posts

 

Other Notable Points

  • At last, I’m back from my (practically year-long) hiatus. I have lots of exciting ideas and am aiming to post weekly(ish) from now on.
  • I finally got to reading a lot of books I’d been anticipating for quite some time but had been putting off (see previous point about procrastination) and absolutely loved them.
  • I met a number of bookish friends from Twitter in real life for the first time at Dymocks’ Our Chemical Hearts book launch.
  • I reached 200 followers here on Live. Laugh. Read. so thank you all for that! It means the world to me 🙂

 

Let’s Discuss!

What books did you read this September? What was your favourite? Which was the most problematic? Are you reading anything at the moment?

Have you read any of the books I listed? If so, what were your thoughts?

Please leave a comment so that we can discuss!

 

Omari and the People

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Author: Stephen Whitfield

Narrator: Curt Simmons

3.5 Stars

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Goodreads

Audible | Book Depository

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In a squalid ancient city on the edge of a desert (based in part on the African Sahara’s Empty Quarter) a weary, thrill-seeking thief named Omari sets his home afire to start anew and to cover his many crimes. When the entire city is unintentionally destroyed by the flames, the cornered thief tells the displaced people a lie about a better place which only he can lead them to, across the desert. With the help of an aged, mysterious woman who knows a better place actually does exist, they set out. The desperate people must come together to fight their way through bandits, storms, epidemics, and more. As a result of Omari’s involvement with Saba, a fiercely independent woman who is out to break him in the pay of a merchant whom he has offended, his ability  to lead – his very life – is jeopardized.

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Note: I received this book from Jess at Audiobook Promotions in exchange for an honest review as a part of this tour. The tour is being sponsored by Stephen Whitfield and Curt Simmons. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Although not a story I would usually reach for, Omari and the People was a solid read.

First of all, the narration in this book was fantastic. Curt’s slight accent kept me captivated and coming back for more. With a relatively slow plot and overall story arc, that was important for me. It also serves to further highlight that this was not, indeed, a european setting. I’m not great with accents, but I believe his was possibly arabic.

Omari and the People is largely character driven, rather than plot heavy. The characters, while slightly hard to keep track of due to similar sounding names on audio, were interesting and developed throughout the story. Umal, an older lady, was my favourite character as she was the most intriguing – shrouded in mystery, constantly surprising everyone, incredibly wise, and perhaps even possessing paranormal abilities, Umal was always one to look forward to. Sofia, mother of two young sons, and Umbaric, former captain of the city guard, were also quite interesting.

On a quick side note, shout out to Dab of Darkness for including character names in her review, for otherwise I would have no idea what any of them were (save Omari and perhaps Saba).

The setting, according to Stephen, is loosely based off Africa, but to me – perhaps because of the accent Curt assumes – it appears to be more Middle Eastern, the characters Arabic. However, due to the nature of the descriptions, the desert could really be anywhere. The whole “exodus across the desert” is reminiscent of the story of Moses, but there are no real religious mentions – with the exception of a few characters having possibly supernatural gifts. So, again, the story is one that encourages readers to build the overall world and time for themselves.

A character-driven exodus of a people lead by hope and just looking to survive, this story does have some elements of romance but it is more a side element than anything. I recommend giving Omari and the People a read (or listen, as I would suggest) if you’re looking for something slightly different but enjoyable none the less.

 

 

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)

Note: Though I have done my best to keep it spoiler-free, this review may contain mild spoilers for A Court of Thorns and Roses (Book 1; sometimes referred to as ACOTAR). See my ACOTAR review here.

Read on 1st June, 2016

Author: Sarah J. Maas

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5 Stars

Quite possibly the best of Sarah’s novels so far (equal to if not slightly exceeding Queen of Shadows),  A Court of Mist and Fury (sometimes referred to as ACOMAF) is an absolutely fantastic, page-turning read with intriguing, complex characters and brilliant writing.

Note: I would like to mention that this book isn’t necessarily for a younger audience as it contains a substantial amount of sex scenes. They’re not that explicit, but enough that it’s quite obvious as to what’s going on.

If you’re comfortable with that and this book sounds interesting to you (read: fae, magic, fight scenes, hot guys and major character development), I sincerely suggest that you check it out. If not, that’s fine too.

A Court of Mist and Fury is a very character-driven narrative. Yes, there is an interesting plot and the novel is jam-packed with journeys, adventures and all that awesome stuff, but at the end of the day I feel like it is about personal growth, friendships and the impact of people on our lives as we ourselves grow and change.

A Court of Mist and Fury is a celebration of life, a recognition of the heavy toll sacrifice often leaves on our hearts and minds (subtly discussing post-traumatic stress disorders and depression), and also plays with the idea of  what it means to have true freedom.

It is a commentary on love and relationships (both platonic and romantic) – highlighting unhealthy relationships by juxtaposing them with ones based on mutual trust and respect, while realistically displaying how one can be trapped and not even realise that they are in an unhealthy relationship due to not knowing anything else. Emotional manipulation, control issues and possibly even domestic violence are all issues which are hinted at. Corruption, dreams, prejudice and mistreatment are all prominent themes in the novel.

Feyre undergoes massive character development throughout this story. She grows into herself as she is forced to adapt to new situations and her priorities change. Feyre forms unlikely friendships as we are introduced to a whole new cast of rich, vibrant, haunted characters and it is with their help that she is able to begin healing from the traumatic experiences she’s been through. Feyre’s journey from an empty husk who can barely function to acceptance, confidence and assurance within herself and those around her is a very well-crafted and believable depiction.

Although we barely get a glimpse into Rhysand’s character in A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury features him heavily – and I enjoyed every second of it. A lot of his background is revealed, allowing readers to see past his masks and understand his actions and motivations. Be warned: your heart will bleed (and swoon). Rhys is a great big ball of contradictions, raw vulnerabilities and darkness. To say the least, he quickly became my favourite character. Also, while I love Tamilin and Feyre’s relationship in the first book and appreciate how he helped shape her character, I now wholeheartedly ship her with Rhys (a seemingly common theme within Sarah’s books). Quite a few key scenes in A Court of Thorns and Roses are shed new light as we get to see his perspective on them.

Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship – their is full of banter, tension, friendship, respect and trust. They heal each other. Their “note passing” was adorable, made me grin every time.

Without saying too much in fear of spoilers, Rhysand’s Inner Circle – Mor, Cassian, Azriel and Amren – are all absolutely fantastic, amazing, wonderful, complicated characters which I love with a passion. Their friendship and loyalty to each other is amazing, and they are each such unique and distinct characters. I love how Sarah has reflected their unity and cohesion, their interactions and comradely – it is apparent how much they care for each other. I especially love Mor and Azriel’s relationship and would love to see them come together – they would make an adorable couple.

Honourable mentions to Nesta, Elain and Lucien, whom I love dearly.

At around 630 pages and approximately a third larger than the first book, A Court of Mist and Fury is a decently long book – though I would gladly soak up another 600 pages (I’m at the point where I would greedily read anything Sarah puts out) – but it doesn’t drag at all. Character development aside, so much happens in this book – adventures, world building, tension, fight scenes, dancing… Every moment I was entranced; I had no wish to put it down (which resulted in essentially no homework completed, lack of sleep and a highly unproductive school day, despite the fact that I had no less than four tests coming up within the next week).

If you want to get into Sarah’s writing, but Throne of Glass seems too daunting (those books are massive) and you don’t mind a bit of mature content then I would definitely suggest starting with these books.

Essentially, this book is absolutely fantastic and if you’re even slightly inclined to pick it up, please do. A Court of Mist and Fury is quite possibly the best book I’ve read so far this year and I highly recommend it.

Let’s Discuss!

Please come chat with me if you’ve read this as I have a ton of spoiler-y thoughts to discuss and would love to hear your thoughts. What was your favourite part? Who do you ship? Have you read any of Sarah’s Throne of Glass books? Thoughts?

Don’t You Trust Me? Release Week Event + Giveaway

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Hello everyone! Today I’m coming to you from a ridiculously long hiatus with an exciting linkup with Jess from Audiobookworm Promotions to celebrate the release of Patrice Kindl’s new YA triller.

With a spotlight on Don’t You Trust Me?’s narrator, Bailey Carr, and a fantastic giveaway happening, I’m super excited to get my hands (or, more likely, ears) on this story and I hope you are too.

A teenage girl switches identities with a stranger and pulls off a long-term scam in this smart, sarcastic thriller perfect for fans of Ally Carter.

Don’t you trust me? I mean, look at me. Blond, blue eyed, the very image of innocence. Pretty enough, if you care about that kind of thing. I don’t. But would a normal person switch identities with some wet mess of a girl at the airport just to get her to stop bawling about being separated from her loser boyfriend and sent to live with some distant relatives? Nope, she wouldn’t. Yet I did. I’m not as normal as you think. And you’ll just have to trust me.

©2016 Patrice Kindl (P)2016 Recorded Books

Goodreads
Author’s Website

Bailey Carr
Bailey Carr is an audiobook narrator for multiple New York Times Bestselling authors including Morgan Matson, Heather Graham, Ann Aguirre, Samantha Towle, and Laurie Halse Anderson. She has narrated over 50 audiobooks for audio publishers including Audible Studios, Recorded Books, and Tantor Audio. Bailey graduated with a BFA in Acting from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She lives and records in Brooklyn, NY.

Q & A

How did you get started in audiobooks?
I grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee and moved to New York for college in 2006. I graduated from the NYU Tisch Acting program in 2010 and was cast for my first book for Audible Studios in 2011. I’ve always loved reading, and I feel so grateful to get to bring stories to life in audio.

What are some of your favorite books that you’ve narrated?
So hard to choose! Some of my favorite audiobooks recorded to-date include The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate, Inception by Bianca Scardoni, and Art & Soul by Brittainy C. Cherry. I have a youthful voice, so I mostly narrate Young Adult and New Adult material. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to narrate the incredibly interesting and special memoir of hummingbird rehabber Terry Masear, Fastest Things on Wings. I learned so much about hummingbirds! I also recently narrated some Non-Fic on the Myers-Briggs Personality Types. (ENFP over here!) I can’t say too much about upcoming books due to publisher restrictions, but I CAN say I’m very excited about a nine-book YA series on the horizon, and also a book I’ll be co-narrating with a Disney TV star that I totally had a poster of in my locker in school!

What is your preparation process like?
I mark up my scripts like crazy – I’ve created my own notation language (a shorthand IPA, for you VO people) so I can mark pronunciations, underline operative words, and take note of direction the author has subtly gifted me in the words they’ve chosen. Staying true to the text is very important to me, so I rely on the author’s clues to inform my delivery and direct my performance (such as “Not if I get there first!” she gritted through her teeth.) Script preparation helps me be relaxed and present in the booth. Audiobook narration is a marathon and requires stamina, so it’s important to take lots of breaks to remain engaged and connected to the material. As for while I’m in the booth, I’ve learned a lot of tricks of the trade. Hydration is so important. I drink a ton of water! And tea. I probably have at least three different liquids on hand at all times. I also brush my teeth right before every recording session. (Is that weird?)

Any interesting stories from the booth?
In Morgan Matson’s The Unexpected Everything, four best friends have a group text thread. No spoilers, but one of the characters gets challenged to an emoji-only summer, where she’s only allowed to use emojis to communicate via text. It’s pretty hilarious! I worked closely with Morgan, the author, and it was a super fun challenge to translate the emojis to spoken word for the audiobook, especially for an emoji-lover like myself 💕📚🐶🐕🐩🍦💑.

Fun facts about Bailey?
My recording booth is purple! (My favorite color.) I play the guitar & the saxophone. I have a pet blue crayfish named Dr. Claw. Out of the booth, I volunteer at educational non-profit, FarmingNYC. I’m also a New York Times published photographer.

Social:
I absolutely love connecting with listeners on social. Recording alone in a booth many hours every day can be isolating, and I put my whole heart into each character and book I narrate, so it’s very meaningful to me to hear back when listeners enjoy a story.

Bailey’s Social Media Links
Twitter: @BaileyCarrVOICE
Instagram: @BaileyCarrVOICE
Don’t You Trust Me? is now available to purchase through Audible  (Digital) and Recorded Books (CDs)

Giveaway

Don’t You Trust Me? Audio Giveaway

#SlayThatSeries TBR + A Quick Update

Hello everyone! *waves* So… I’m not dead (apparently). First of all, I’d like to thank everyone for their support on this blog and on Twitter – it really means a lot to me. I promise that I haven’t forgotten about you or this blog, it’s just that I’ve been having trouble managing school, work and reading, which has put me in a blogging slump. Also, procrastination

Regardless, I have a lot of plans and things that I want to do here, so you can look forward to a lot of hauls (because I have bought heaps of books), tags, wrap-ups and reviews. I just don’t know how frequent posting will be.

I’m really hoping that, being my first read-a-thon, #SlayThatSeries will help me to get kick started and motivated once again. Plus, it’s the holidays and I now have Twitter so I can finally participate in all that awesomeness!

For those of you who don’t know, #SlayThatSeries is a read-a-thon hosted by Sara @ SarahwithoutanH and Chami @ ReadLikeWildfire (links are to their announcement videos) which provides an opportunity to catch up on series that you’ve been meaning to get to, but keep putting off for whatever reason. They could be series that are completed, ones where only part of the series is published, or you can choose to marathon a series that is completely new to you.

#SlayThatSeries will run from 12am your time on Sunday 27th September (aka today – talk about procrastination…) to Sunday October 4th.

The official twitter account is @SlayThatSeries, you can follow Chami @ChamiRosealia and Sara @_sarawithoutanH

Now that’s out of the way, onto my TBR!

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I’m not entirely sure how much I’ll be able to read this week, but I really want to try and marathon The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I’m currently 142 pages into Cinder and am really enjoying it so far (though I’m just waiting for the moment where Captain Thorn waltzes in).

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If by some miracle I manage to finish those, I want to start rereading the Throne of Glass books by Sarah J. Maas so that I can get onto Queen of Shadows and be able to appreciate it to the full extent.

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Ideally, I would love to start with The Assassin’s Blade (which I have not read) but it’s currently on loan to my Aunt, so we’ll see how that goes.

If I’m not really feeling that, I could always start the Chronicles of Ixia by Maria V. Snyder.

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Failing that, I also really want to get to Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan which I own in the stunning hardback edition and counts because it’s part of an unofficial duology with Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods.

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Whichever way it goes, I know that I will never get to all of these books but at least I have options. Let me know your thoughts on what I should read, if you’re participating in this read-a-thon, or just anything in general.

I’ll hopefully be doing daily updates, but we’ll see how that goes. Either way, I will be updating my Twitter with all of my thoughts and progress, so be sure to come find me if you’re on Twitter too.

Have fun and good luck,
Lissa (aka joysofbookworms)

The Assassin’s Curse (The Assassin’s Curse #1)

Read from 22-24th June, 2015

Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke

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5 Stars

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Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to another pirate clan. But that only prompts the scorned clan to send an assassin after her. When Ananna faces him down one night, armed with magic she doesn’t really know how to use, she accidentally activates a curse binding them together.

To break the spell, Ananna and the assassin must complete three impossible tasks–all while grappling with evil wizards, floating islands, haughty manticores, runaway nobility, strange magic…and the growing romantic tension between them.

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A fun, easy read filled with magic, adventure, pirates, assassins and a whole lot of sass, The Assassin’s Curse is a fantastic story and exactly what I was looking for. I went in with pretty high expectations, which (thankfully) were met.

The characters in this story are absolutely brilliant.

Ananna (whose name I have no idea how to say, because I’m pretty sure that it is not supposed to rhyme with “banana”), our protagonist, is strong, capable, relatable and does not take any nonsense from anyone.

The Assassin (whose name I won’t reveal due to minor spoilers) is really cool. He is flawed and not, in fact, all-powerful –there are several times in which he is the one who has to be saved. He’s stubborn and kind of thick-headed, but we learn to love him nonetheless. His sweet side (yes, he has one!) is revealed in his own gruff manner and some of the things he says are guaranteed to make you go “aww” (while others will make you want to bash your head into a wall, but I digress).

Although a minor character, Marjani is super awesome. A pirate queen, she is intelligent, confident and commandeers respect.

The magic of this world is really interesting as it is based on the elements, with the addition of blood magic. Only “touched” people can use magic, but to varying degrees and often specializing in a specific element. However, there are also wizards, instances of mixed elements and curses, which add a further later into the system. Although magic is rather prominent in The Assassin’s Curse, the mechanics of it are rather vague so I am hopeful that we are able to learn a whole lot more in The Pirate’s Wish (the second and final installment).

My one criticism of The Assassin’s Curse would have to be that the synopsis is somewhat misleading; The three impossible tasks are revealed at the tail end of the novel, and none of them completed by the conclusion (which is perfectly understandable, but should not be included in the synopsis).

Unfortunately, the publishing company behind this duology has shut down, so physical copies are practically impossible to find. However, the ebooks are still available, which is something at least.

I highly recommend The Assassin’s Curse as it is a light hearted, brilliant read that will appeal to fans of Tamora Pierce (that woman is queen), fantasy, magic, pirates and strong female characters.