Sunday, March 26, 2017

Review: The Song Rising (The Bone Season #3) by Samantha Shannon

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

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Date Read: March 4 - March 15 2017
Date Released: March 7th 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London's criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…"

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With each book in The Bone Season series, the world somehow keeps on expanding and I have to remind myself there’s seven books in all. Let’s be honest, I’ve fallen so far into Scion I’m probably never going to make it back out of this intricate and devastating world.

The Song Rising opens with Paige hitting the ground running as Underqueen and it’s daunting how much discord her reign starts with. Everybody is divided on her right to rule and her betrayal of Jaxon in the Rose Ring. If The Song Rising had an alternative title it would be Everybody is Out to Get Paige! They either hate her and want her dethroned, or they’re afraid of her and want to kill her for her powers. Or all of the above, take your pick! Paige faces a massive challenge with the need to prove she’s ruthless enough to be Underqueen, while balancing her internal desire to be considerate and kind. As someone accustomed to being in the thick of things and doing the dirty work, it’s a real lesson for Paige in learning to pick her battles. Her journey and growth isn’t easy and I have to keep reminding myself Shannon has to pace the growth across the books. I think Shannon did a good job of giving Paige just the right amount to develop and leaving lots of room for improvement in character.

There are so many great secondary characters in this series but the real standouts were of course Nick and Eliza, Paige’s mollishers. These two have stuck with her through thick and thin and I loved the unquestionable trust they have. Shannon peels back the layers of these characters and we get a glimpse of what betraying Jaxon meant to them. We see the consequences of this – their sacrifices and their wants, overridden by their need for the greater good. We finally see glimpses of the human villains and masterminds behind Scion; it’s hard to picture these people as human because they cause such tragedy on a large scale but at the end of the day they are definitely mortal. And then you got to wonder how such evil and callousness exists in the world… oh wait *looks at reality* nevermind.

In typical Bone Season fashion, the romance continues to be slow burn and the tension is wonderful and UGHHHHHH it also makes me want to rip my hair out ‘cause JUST GET TOGETHER ALREADY. On the other hand, it makes the stolen moments all the more precious and the angst and feels are delicious.

The plot though. Wow the plot. The world keeps expanding and the web reaches farther than I thought possible. Scion’s corruption is deep and I think the Rephaite have their own hidden agenda (what’s with their world?!) that Shannon’s going to slowly reveal throughout the series and it’s going to be mind-blowing. In The Song Rising we see life outside of Scion London and the effect Scion has had on the rest of the UK. It’s a sorry sight, everything leeched of life, perpetual poverty everywhere people turn. The streets seem layered with scum and nobody walks around carefree. Shannon really has a way with words and her imagery is always on point, to the point where you read about filth and you sort of spew a little in your mouth. Oops sorry TMI? She’s that good!

What a ride guys, what a ride. I get the chills thinking of what book 4 will bring because it’s like a whole new world of unknowns, but excited for all the possibilities and the havoc Paige will wreak. I get a little more scared for Paige with each book as her powers become more coveted and Scion is increasingly more far reaching and dangerous. It’s a thrilling and fast-paced world, there’s no safe place, no surrender.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Review: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

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

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Date Read: February 26 - March 4 2017
Date Released: March 1st 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:
Synopsis:
"Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.
Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed."

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That feel when you find a gem of a contemporary. With a gorgeous cover (dust jacket AND naked cover), This Adventure Ends is beautiful inside and out. Emma Mills was already on my radar since I adored her debut First & Then, so when I heard she was releasing another contemporary (blessed with gorgeous covers Mills is) I was so excited. Safe to say this is one of my favourite contemporaries of all time and Mills is now auto-buy.

One of the first things Sloane does upon her arrival in Florida is to stick up for a guy (Gabe) at a party. As a result, she befriends said guy’s twin sister and is immediately part of their friendship group. Said twin sister Vera is actually a social media sensation no big deal, Sloane doesn’t lose her head over it (she doesn’t use even use social media). That’s the way things are with Sloane – she’s mega chill, casual and extremely witty. I loved her comebacks, her wisdom and her independence. She’s immensely loyal despite giving off the vibe she doesn’t need friends. That’s one of her many flaws and I really liked the way she got hurt and contemplative when people called her out on her shit – because nobody had done that before. Sloane’s growth throughout the book via her interactions with these friends is touching and wonderful.

Vera really stood out to me in this book. She’s a gorgeous social media sensation, posting selfies on Instagram and similar platforms but she doesn’t let it get to her head. She’s this humble ball of energy that makes everybody around her feel like they have all her attention (they do). She’s sweet, sensitive and a great friend overall. The other relationship that resonated with me was between Sloane and her dad. Everett Finch is kind of like Nicholas Sparks in that he writes tragic yet hopeful romances. Her dad’s in a writing slump but holy crap he is HILARIOUS. When he finds out about fandoms online he gets totally obsessed with this teen werewolf show (basically Teen Wolf), bingeing the series, reading all the fanfic… and starts writing fanfic of his own. He gets totally immersed in the world, learning terms like ‘canon’ and ‘AU’ (I mean I never even knew what this meant but thanks to Sloane’s dad I do now) as well as ‘ship’. His obsession with the world draws in Sloane, Vera, Gabe and their friends Randy and Aubrey. It was so interesting seeing a TV show connect different generations. The book also explores Sloane’s bilateral interactions with the other characters and their own problems, giving each character dimension and making them unique and memorable. Because while Sloane imparts wisdom, her friends also give a lot back that make her think twice about who she is.

Romance is slow burn and cute and kind of not really there. If you want to talk ship it’s kind of still docked at the harbour, bobbing in its spot, but waiting to set sail if you ask me! Sorry was that lame? Sorry not sorry. Gabe is this broody, quiet guy who’s more aware of things going on around him than he lets on. He’s the total opposite of his sister and I really think he just needed a hug most of the time.
Underpinning the progression of the book and Sloane’s developing relationship with the characters, is her quest to find a priceless painting left by Vera and Gabe’s mum before she died. It was accidentally sold and Sloane has made it her personal mission to try and get it back for the twins. It was a real rollercoaster ride every time it looked like Sloane had a lead only to get to a dead end. While I didn’t find the quest to really expand on her relationship too much with the other characters, I believe it was part of her personal growth in understanding her drive towards why she wanted to get this painting back so badly.


Mills’ writing is engaging, fun and her dialogue gives unique voices to each character. I laughed a LOT and I also got teary a couple of times throughout the book. The characters were all wonderful, the plot seemingly light, yet layered in a way that I could gently peel them back and find the deeper meaning at its core. This Adventure Ends is honestly one of the loveliest, most thought provoking books I’ve read in a while and I can’t wait to see where Mills will take me next. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Review: Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2) by Alwyn Hamilton

Firstly, thanks to Faber & Faber for this review copy <3

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Date Read: February 1 - 11 2017
Date Released: February 2nd 2017
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"This is not about blood or love. This is about treason.

Nearly a year has passed since Amani and the rebels won their epic battle at Fahali. Amani has come into both her powers and her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit, and the Rebel Prince's message has spread across the desert - and some might say out of control. But when a surprise encounter turns into a brutal kidnapping, Amani finds herself betrayed in the cruellest manner possible.

Stripped of her powers and her identity, and torn from the man she loves, Amani must return to her desert-girl's instinct for survival. For the Sultan's palace is a dangerous one, and the harem is a viper's nest of suspicion, fear and intrigue. Just the right place for a spy to thrive... But spying is a dangerous game, and when ghosts from Amani's past emerge to haunt her, she begins to wonder if she can trust her own treacherous heart."

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While I enjoyed Rebel of the Sands last year, I wouldn’t say I loved it and I had my problems with it. That being said, I was still eager to see where Amani’s journey, and that of the rebellion, would go to next. I’m happy to say I really enjoyed Traitor to the Throne and found it fun and thrilling.

Amani is a character whose perspective I’ve always enjoyed reading from. She’s able to think quickly on her feet – at times too quickly, acting before she thinks but that’s what makes her such a fun character. Nobody is without their flaws though and I’d rather someone who acts than stands still. Amani’s wit is also something I adored. She’s snarky and her comebacks are blunt and accurate. I could relate to this so much because this is the type of person I am. I really admired her capacity to care. She was constantly thinking of everyone, giving everybody the benefit of the doubt, thinking of ways to help others while she herself was in peril. That’s one amazing strength of character right there. Oh don’t get me wrong she used people to her advantage but to me, her overarching kindness outweighed that. Amani is definitely somebody you want as a friend.

This series has a lot of secondary characters but my favourite was the Sultan. The infamous Sultan, so hated and talked about in the previous book, the whole point of the rebellion. He was not what I (or Amani) expected. Kidnapped into the harem, Amani meets the Sultan and it turns out he’s not crazy and pure cruelty. You know what makes scary tyrants? Not the unreasonable ones, but the ones who are able to take your argument and your beliefs and spin them with their reason so you end up seeing their point of view. You almost believe that what they’ve done is justifiable because of their rationale. That’s what makes a leader to be concerned about – their cunning and smarts. The Sultan is definitely a clever man and I loved the way Hamilton crafted his character. Another character I adored was Shazad, daughter of the general and she is so freaking brilliant. She’s just so supportive and smart and the strength of her friendship is goals.

Romance isn’t everything; I mean heck I liked that this book concentrated on Amani’s ability to be independent as she survives in the harem but Jin’s absent for the majority of the book and I felt it. I’m kind of disappointed because I lived for this ship in Rebel and I wanted moar MOAR MOOOARRRRRR. I was a bit mad at Jin for his constant disappearing acts too, like boy, get your act together and be more responsible. I know it’s a lot to ask for but I’m praying for a happily ever after.

Hamilton’s style is easy to read and I could tell she’s definitely improved since Rebel. She’s more detailed and there’s more imagery in Traitor however I still felt the lack of world-building which was my issue with book 1. It’s definitely a lighter touch than what I’d expect from a high fantasy.

The plot is very twisty and had me gasping and I loved the politics and games in the harem. There were a lot of secrets and conspiracies which were all slowly revealed. I did have issues with the pacing though. This book is over 500 pages and this probably won’t make sense but while I turned the pages quickly and got through this quite quickly, I felt the story itself was slow? I felt the pacing was off and everything happened in the last 70 or so pages. But those fast few chapters, they were like BAM BAM BAM and the ending had me shook. For ages I thought this was a duology so when I got to the end my feelings nearly died because I was like no way is that the end. THANK GOODNESS THERE’S ANOTHER BOOK. That’s all I have to say.

Overall I found Traitor to the Throne to be an enjoyable and relatively fast read. A witty MC who is fast on her feet, Amani takes the rebellion to the next stage with action and politics and I can’t wait to see the final showdown.