Saturday, May 13, 2017

Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas

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

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Date Read: May 1 - 8 2017
Date Released: May 2nd 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: High Fantasy
My Rating:

Warning: this review contains spoilers for the first 2 books (but NOT ACOWAR)


Synopsis:
"Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places."

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It’s no secret I’m SJM trash and waiting for the finale of the ACOTAR trilogy has been one of the most torturous waits of book releases for me. While I didn’t love ACOWAR as much as my all time fav, ACOMAF, I still loved ACOWAR’s story so much and thought it a fitting end to this arc.

Feyre has gone through so much and she’s got one last hurdle to get over with her return to the Spring Court. I really liked her strategizing and manipulation to get her revenge in the court. I would have liked her exercising her High Lady status and powers a bit more rather than hiding them or seeking other people’s approval. I mean yes I understand she’s fresh but by the end she should have been telling people what her decisions were and trusting that they’d support her in them rather than being secretive about her actions. This happened a lot. I also had issues with her decisions too. There was this one point in the book where I knew Maas was trying to make Feyre seem humane but it was the wrong bloody situation. I was like NO. LEAVE THEM. But nope, overly kind Feyre has to do this and NEARLY GETS ONE OF MY FAV PEOPLE KILLED. NO THAT IS NOT OKAY. It’s not worth it. Choose your battles lady. Your goal is to win the war.

I didn’t think it was possible to fall in love with the Inner Circle anymore. But I did. MY PRECIOUS SMOL CHILDREN. Especially Azriel and Cassian. They are so compassionate and strong and I want to give them all hugs. I loved Cassian’s humour and the little moments when we’d catch Azriel making a joke or slightly smiling at something. I can see them as two besties – the mischief maker and the quiet broody one – in real life who I could be friends with. Cranky Amren was as hilarious as always. I mean she’s meant to come off as scary but I can’t take her seriously when’s snapping at people. I love these guys so much. As for Feyre’s sisters, I still don’t get Nesta’s hate for Feyre. Like why? It pissed me off to no end how Feyre just gives and gives and Nesta takes it all but not for one moment does she seem grateful. Nesta’s great as a character – she’s strong and unflinching but the familial stuff was terrible.

Rhysand. *Sparkly eyes* Such perfection. I love this guy. I’m in love with this man. I’ll admit Rhys didn’t wow me the way he did in ACOMAF when we first found out about him, but he’s still awesome here. Lovely, charming, let’s Feyre do her own thing, funny, ruthless when he needs to be. I could properly see how he chose his battles, fitting for a 500 year old High Lord. He’s good at what he does and he knows it. Makes me weak at the knees hurhur.

I loved the exploration of the other courts. In typical SJM fashion, she paints her world vividly, with gorgeous colours and descriptions. The red and golden toned hues of the Autumn Court with its seemingly sentient forest. The chilling Winter Court, forever frozen in a white glaze. And then there’s the Dawn Court *sighs in wonder* I’m a sucker for the concept of castles in the sky. The fantasy element, the way it’s ethereal, majestic and so Final Fantasy-esque really draws me in. The palette of the Dawn Court, the food, the plush d├ęcor and silks makes me so darn happy. I was honoured to be welcomed into Thesan’s home.

Now let’s talk about the problematic aspects of this book. I felt like diversity was being forced down my throat for the sake of quelling the cries of the community. I’m fine with the High Lords of each court being coloured as SJM did mention their colouring in ACOTAR. But then there’s the LGBTQI+ representation that I thought wasn’t done right. So many LGB couples suddenly popping up? At one point it’s mentioned that the mating bond is whatever higher power determining that a male and a female would breed strong children but then at another point there’s same sex couples apparently having the mating bond? Is that a plot hole or did I miss something I don’t know. (It’s not even about the passing of the High Lord title since we see the Summer title being passed to other family members.) She tried but eehhh…

Nevertheless, the story is engaging and the brewing war instills a fear wrought from knowing the terrors that Hybern can inflict. The battle tactics are cleverly thought out and Hybern is really a force to be reckoned with, not just their numbers and the dark lengths they’ll go to, but for their millennia of existence and experience. War is painted in a realistically haunting and exhausting light. There is no glory in it and I’m grateful that it’s not romanticized for a fantasy.

A Court of Wings and Ruin is a fitting end to Feyre’s arc of the story. Maas has taken us across Prythian and beyond, and introduced us to many characters that I can’t wait to meet in the future.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Blog Tour Review: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

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

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Date Read: April 17 - 21 2017
Date Released: May 1st 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.
Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe."

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With a diverse cast and great representation, Queens of Geek is a heartwarming Aussie YA that speaks to the fangirl/boy in all of us.

I found it so refreshing the way Wilde told the story through two different perspectives – Charlie and Taylor who are best friends but have basically opposite personality traits. Charlie presents the con from a celebrity POV. A famous YouTuber turned movie star she’s quite outgoing and very sure of herself. I like that she didn’t let the fame get to her and she was so nice to all her fans. On the inside though, Charlie’s still struggling through a breakup that really tore her up. Her feelings are a mess and it’s clear her ex was manipulating her. I liked her journey to self-actualisation throughout the book, coming to terms with who she is, accepting herself after her messed up relationship made her doubt herself and really understanding what she wants. In the other perspective we have introvert Taylor who suffers from anxiety. Through Taylor we can relate to the long lines and waiting to meet our idols. Her apprehension at being in such a large crowd, the thrill and adrenaline of being with likeminded people – I lived it. Then there was her anxiety which Wilde wrote so well – the sudden overwhelming emotions, the panic out of nowhere. For Taylor, the con was about stepping out of her comfort zone to go for what she really wanted.

The two main secondary characters – Jamie and Alyssa – were great. Jamie’s a bit of a geek and I liked that he didn’t trying his suppress his fanboying. Bonding with Taylor over a favourite book series, he’s a genuinely nice guy but not perfect. Then there’s Alyssa, a really famous YouTuber who is honestly such a sweetheart. I adored her kind and cheerful demeanour. Just like Charlie, she didn’t let the fame get to her and she was so appreciative of her fans, knowing she wouldn’t be where she is without them.

I guess the romance is where this book faltered slightly for me. There’s two love stories going on at the same time here. One is really slow burn which I love; there’s lots of flirting disguised as friendly banter. The tension is cute and I just wanted them to get together. On the other hand, the other romance was insta-love to me. I loved each person individually, and I definitely wanted them to get together but it was just a bit too quick for my liking. Everything was happening in leaps and bounds, from the first meeting to flirting and touching and feelings and I was like wow ok slow down it’s been 3 days.

Plot wise, the story is set in the con and centres around Charlie and Taylor making their way through the weekend at SupaCon (San Diego Comic Con anybody?) discovering themselves. Wilde’s writing is fresh and easy to read, I was drawn into the story immediately. My favourite aspect of this book is that it’s not only Aussie YA, but it’s so diverse. Taylor has anxiety, Charlie is Australian Chinese and bisexual. Like omg can it get any more perfect? For ONCE a Chinese MC that’s ‘normal’. She doesn’t have a Chinese name as her English name, she’s not going to uni to be an accountant or doctor or lawyer – none of the stereotypical Chinese stuff I’m so sick of when authors attempt diversity. If Wilde didn’t mention Charlie’s Chinese I wouldn’t have known and I could relate because I’m Australian born Chinese. I have an Anglicised name, I like Chinese food but that’s not all I eat, I really suck at maths. To be properly represented is an amazing feeling. I’m not bi so I can’t speak for the rep but it felt real reading it, and I’ve heard this was done right from various bi friends. From what I read, Jamie and Alyssa aren’t white either – based on Jamie’s last name he sounds Latino/Filo and Alyssa is black? It’s just wonderful having a non- full white cast but everybody bonds over their fandom.

Queens of Geek is a fun, refreshing read filled with all things geeky that you’d find at a convention. The diversity representation is wonderful and heartwarming.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Firstly, thanks to Quirk Books for this review copy <3

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Date Read: March 23 - 30 2017
Date Released: April 4th 2017
Publisher: Quirk Books
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.
Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise."

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When I heard about Geekerella I knew it was the book for me. Fandoms? Conventions? Cosplays? Oh my god this was my high school and uni years.

Our modern Cinderella is Danielle (Elle), a regular high school teen who seems odd to outsiders but seems familiar to those of us who are dedicated fans of anything. Elle is an extremely passionate Starfield fan, having grown up with the intergalactic TV series and it’s what connected her parents. She knows every episode off by heart and is faithful to the show’s original cast and story. Elle also writes fanfic and keeps a dedicated blog of her thoughts on the show, this is a true fan girl right here (doesn’t that sound familiar?). Can someone be annoyingly selfless? Because I found Elle to be selfless to the point of spineless and never sticking up for herself. Whatever people wanted, she did their bidding no complaints. I was screaming GIRL SAY NO COME ON but nope she let people walk over her, bully her, taking it all in stride. Just once I wanted her to be like the Princess Amara or Prince Carmindor she adored, the way they took the initiative to act rather than sit back and let their enemies defeat them. There’s a lot of development required for Elle, she’s got to learn to go for things.

Prince Charming comes in the form of hottie teen heartthrob Darien Freeman who’s been cast in the role of Prince Carmindor and I loved his character so much. There’s the juxtaposition of what he does from his point of view, such as requesting someone to take him off a signing schedule, to how the act is actually perceived – he comes off as pretentious and self-entitled. The poor guy only wants a break from the media and paparazzi, to take a breather, but everybody is breathing down his neck. I thought Poston did a great job of portraying how difficult it must be to be a teen celebrity, especially one controlled by others and trying to please everyone. It’s a different side to the glamorous lifestyle, lacking freedom and making things like going to the vending machine to buy something, an extremely hard thing to achieve. I liked his own journey of trying his best to do the role of Carmindor justice because for him it’s personal – he’s a Starfield fan too. Along the way he learns what he really wants out of life.

I found the modern twist Poston put on the characters to be really fun and creative. There’s the typical evil stepmother and stepsisters but the stepsisters are YouTube beauty vloggers who are materialistic. I also liked that there’s more to the stepsisters than meets the eye. Then we’ve got the ‘fairy godmother’ who is just so fitting… and the very literal pumpkin. I had a right laugh when I got to that part. The characters represented their original fairy tale monikers but held their own as Poston’s creation. Also props to Poston to the natural way diversity was incorporated.

The romance is sweet and develops in the back-and-forth of text messages which I found really cute. I thought it was fitting given how the story has social media/technology driven vibes. The conversation has this prince and princess theme in the form of Carmindor and Amara. It’s here the two are able to voice their truths and find a reprieve from their everyday problems. At the same time, the method of communication presents the issue of safety because two strangers texting each other never having met… it’s almost like online dating? You really don’t know who’s on the other end. Both Elle and Darien voice this concern which is good and they don’t ever really talk about meeting – which is like BUT YOU MUST from the perspective of the reader. There are swoony moments, angsty moments and just how does a text message manage to slay me? Don’t you feel it’s easier to talk to someone and say what you really want to say via text/IM?

The plot being centred around a fandom and cosplay is just ughh *hugs this book* it gave me all the fuzzy feelings. It took me back to a time when I used to write (horrible) fanfiction, and spend my nights reading HP fanfic. I was transported to the world of cons and cosplay (I actually went back to my photos of Animania, ah the nostalgia). This was a world that spoke to me and I got it. I got the difficulty of Elle getting her Starfield cosplay correct, to the buttons and crown (there was this one time I wanted to cosplay Organization XIII from Kingdom Hearts and making the robe is HARD, I didn’t go through with it). There’s the whole online community, everybody different in real life but united by their fandom, it’s so supportive and fun. Watching Elle navigate her fandom world as she raced against the clock to get her costume together was so exhilarating.

Basically, I adored Geekerella and I thought Poston did an amazing job turning a much loved classic into a relatable modern fairy tale of fandoms, love and friendship. Never underestimate the power of a fandom y’all.