Sunday, May 29, 2016

Review: The Square Root of Summer

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

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Date Read: May 18-22 2016
Date Released: May 5th 2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary/Sci-fi
My Rating:

Note this review contains ranty spoilers.

Synopsis:
"Last summer, Gottie's life fell apart. Her beloved grandfather Grey died and Jason left her - the boy to whom she lost her virginity (and her heart) - and he wouldn't even hold her hand at the funeral! This summer, still reeling from twin heartbreaks, Gottie is lost and alone and burying herself in equations. Until, after five years absence, Thomas comes home: former boy next door. Former best friend. Former everything. And as life turns upside down again she starts to experience strange blips in time - back to last summer, back to what she should have seen then . . .

During one long, hazy summer, Gottie navigates grief, world-stopping kisses and rips in the space-time continuum, as she tries to reconcile her first heartbreak with her last."

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Here’s a question that doesn’t require a physics degree to answer: what do you get when you combine space time theory with teenage romance? A recipe for disaster that’s what. The Square Root of Summer was one of the biggest jumbled messes I’ve ever read. Complete and utter chaos.

The premise is easy enough to understand – it’s the beginning of summer vacation for Gottie and everything is falling apart. The boy she had a fling with the previous summer is back, add that to the grief she’s still suffering from her grandfather, Grey’s, death and Grots is a bit all over the shop. Everything reminds her of last summer, and it’s grief and happiness colliding. Then her childhood friend returns to England and she’s got her anger at his returning to deal with too. What wasn’t necessary was the amount of science/maths used to drive the plot. Rather than memories, Gottie’s actually travelling back in time through wormholes. What the.

I liked Gottie’s character. She’s a mess of feelings and was very relatable. The father figure and person she looked up to in life has passed away and she doesn’t know what to do with herself. Little bits and pieces of her life before her grandfather’s death keep popping up and these are constant reminders of a much happier time and place. They drag her down and I could really feel how depressed she got. With the way she got lost in her thoughts I could tell she was spaced out a lot and this added to her character. I’m not sure of her character growth in terms of her awareness about the people around her, but she grows as a person in terms of understanding death and letting go.

The romance is cute. The love interest so obviously likes her and he does all these little things to please Gottie but she doesn’t realise it (as I said, she’s got her head in the clouds most of the time). I loved that he cooks and loves baking! I too would like a boyfriend who makes me delicious food (y’all know I love my food, especially desserts. I mean have you seen my Instagram? Ahem). He’s a bit geeky and very caring and observant. I totally shipped this. My only issue was that Gottie seemed so damn indecisive it was like she was giving him signals, stringing him along but didn’t realise it. I attribute that to her being so clueless!

My goodness the secondary characters were all so well layered and developed. Delightful people! Through Gottie’s ‘time leaps’(?) I could tell her grandfather was the life of the party. He was this totally hippie, new age dude who everybody loved. Then there’s Gottie’s brother Ned who’s in a band and comes home at dawn to puke in the grass and then fall asleep on the spot. Their seemingly absent-minded father who disappears into his own world a lot. Sof, Jason and Meg, the friends/ex-friends from a summer ago. Everybody was so different but take one character and put them with another and they’d have something in common – and Grey sort of brought everybody together too. Despite the, at times, messy relationships I liked that there were no real villains. There wasn’t the beautiful bitch or a really horrible guy. There were just a lot of misunderstandings and ok I do admit Jason was a bit of a prick. I liked that all the characters were there, Gottie just had to open her eyes.

By this point you’re probably wondering how bad the wormholes could have been to warrant this rating, given I liked Gottie, her feelings were portrayed realistically, I adored all the characters, and I thought the writing was beautiful and flowed nicely.

Oh my god the execution of the plot using quantum physics. Worst. Thing. Ever. I appreciate the effort Hapgood used to draw the diagrams to help the reader understand the theories. I’m also going to assume that the science behind it all is correct because it certainly sounded very scientific. And that’s where the problem lay. The way the science was used to drive the plot did not mesh well. It was a physics class one moment and then the next moment emotions and romance that didn’t connect with the physics. A lot of the book is Gottie going back to moments last summer and coming back to current time to realise hours have passed. But then she visits alternate realities and there’s like GAPS in the space around her. Like there’s an area in the sky that’s missing blue and in its place is outer space. WHAAAAT. I didn’t know what to believe, it was so disjointed. The going back and forth through the wormholes, then the idea of altering events in time. Thinking back, there was this moment in the book where it all happens and I was so confused, it’s like that part in Interstellar with the sand and the lines like what was even going on. I don’t know what she was doing, how she was changing stuff and how she was returning. And if you say quantum physics I will give you a blank look. The story really could have been better off without all the science. It would have been a perfectly swoony summer read with memories zzzzz. Then the ending happened and I was mega confused, like did she fix everything? Did anything need fixing? Was it just her feelings? It seemed like it. I DON'T KNOW lelelel.

Tl;dr I did not understand the plot and how we got to the end and thus I did not feel like I read a complete book ha.

Did this review make sense? Are you as confused as I am? Well that’s how I felt reading this book. Send help. Actually, send me a brain. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t enjoy this.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas

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

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Date Read: May 3-7 2016
Date Released: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating: (not enough stars)

Note this review contains spoilers for A Court of Thorns and Roses but NOT A Court of Mist and Fury.

Synopsis:
"Feyre is immortal.

After rescuing her lover Tamlin from a wicked Faerie Queen, she returns to the Spring Court possessing the powers of the High Fae. But Feyre cannot forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people - nor the bargain she made with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court.

As Feyre is drawn ever deeper into Rhysand's dark web of politics and passion, war is looming and an evil far greater than any queen threatens to destroy everything Feyre has fought for. She must confront her past, embrace her gifts and decide her fate.

She must surrender her heart to heal a world torn in two. "

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“To the people who look at the stars and wish…”

It’s a well-known fact that Throne of Glass is my favourite ongoing series. And if you asked me to pick a book I’d say Crown of Midnight is my fav but they keep getting better. Welps A Court of Mist and Fury has knocked ToG down to second as ACOTAR takes its place as number 1 ongoing series and ACOMAF as favourite book of all time. I'm suffering a massive book hangover after reading this. I don't give out 5 stars lightly. Even if Sarah is my fav author and I've loved all her previous books, I would never say before reading that that book will get 5/5. I give a 5 because I think a book deserves it. If I had hated ACOMAF I would have given this a 1 or a 2 regardless of how much I love Sarah. So you know when I say this is amazing, then there really aren't enough stars in the world to rate it.

This book is the most beautifully written story I’ve ever read. It spoke to me in every way. As an INFJ, it’s deeply ingrained in me that people do the right thing. I’m an egalitarian and an idealist. I believe that people should fight for what they believe in, stand by their opinions and good things happen to good people and vice versa. ACOMAF touched on all these beliefs for me.

With the way ACOTAR ended and going into ACOMAF, I thought I knew what to expect. Because ACOTAR is a Beauty and the Beast retelling I thought I knew how this story would progress and ultimately end. Oh how wrong I was. And how glad I am of that. The book opens to Feyre back in the Spring Court and everybody is still reeling from the events Under the Mountain. Feyre most of all suffers from a very serious case of untreated PTSD. And the way Maas writes holy moly. Feyre’s depression, anxiety, how she’s plagued by nightmares of Amarantha – I felt it all. All her pain, anguish, despair and helplessness. The beginning was so bleak and I was honestly afraid of the internal abyss Feyre seemed to be falling into. I was afraid she’d never come back out. She’s suffocating in her own skin and everybody is too busy dealing with their own nightmares to help her. I loved that she’s her own person. That she refuses to bow to anyone. So she fights, driven by her fury. For herself, for what she believes in. As the book progressed and she grew even more as a person, the self-actualisation that comes to her made me so proud.

Let’s get it out there – we all know this book is about Feyre’s bargain with Rhys and how she spends a week every month in the Night Court. It’s everything I thought it would be but so much more. It’s dark and cunning, filled with people who would sooner rip each other’s throats out than attempt being civilised. Horrible people who’d sell each other out even to other courts if they thought they could slither out from their High Lord’s wrath. It’s a court full of nightmares. It’s a court of people whose dark passion makes them fight for what they believe in. Who will don a mask to protect what they love. A court of dreamers. It’s beautiful and stunning, and the characters we meet have all been through so much I loved glimpses into their stories. How Maas manages to create such layered characters, introducing them to us and showing us so much in one book is beyond me. The Morrigan who’s known such darkness and yet chooses to live. The mysterious Amren who despite everything, has a sense of justice. Wild and passionate Cassian. Quiet and dark Azriel who’s always bathed in shadows. I loved them all. They’re flawed and yet perfect in my eyes.

The romance. Holy sweet baby Jesus the romance. I suspected a love triangle but THIS? This was not at all what I expected. The High Lord of the Spring Court is not who we think he is. And the High Lord of the Night Court is full of surprises. There’s the love that leads us to do things out of desperation and clouded judgement. Then there’s the love that goes beyond, one of selflessness based on having experienced the unthinkable and knowing pain – a self-sacrificing love for someone else’s happiness. I felt all of it in this book and I understood. The strength of emotions in this book simply floored me. Left me crying and unable to breathe because it felt like something was squeezing my chest and it was expanding and expanding and I couldn’t contain all these emotions within me. A love story of fates and bonds.

Maas always has a way of writing intricate plots with many twists and turns. The first book is barely a glimpse into the whole story. We deep dive into ACOMAF and nothing is what I thought it would be. The threats are so much bigger than imagined, and nobody is who we expect. There’s clashing swords, glorious fighting and ugly bloodshed. There’s magic of the beginning and the end. I was happy and then I was shocked. Sad, enraged, joyous, filled with sorrow and the need for retribution.

Then the writing. Maas’ writing is a prize in itself. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed her elegant style until I read the first page of ACOMAF. It’s her trademark way of explaining things beyond what I thought my brain could comprehend. Describing things to me in a new light, emotions slamming into me full force. Her poetic dialogue and ability to write a different voice for each character filled me with awe.

I thought the world-building and imagery in ACOTAR was amazing. I thought the Spring Court was beautiful. How mistaken I was. How… narrow and naïve my tiny human brain. Because there is a world out there. And it makes the constant budding spring stifling. The flowers are cloying after a while, the shining manor an empty façade just to look at, the pretty dresses limiting one from movement. Out there is a Prythian with the briny sea and ocean breeze, snow-capped mountains with the fresh scent of pine. Maas flies us through Prythian and opens our eyes to a world beyond.

My heart was thrown open to a people who have suffered, endured so much pain, been tortured and tormented, all for their dreams to keep on living. ACOMAF was a song to my soul that sang to me see Jaz, see what you could do if you dream big. If you reached for the stars, this is what your dreams could be – you could rattle the stars. But only if you’re willing to fight for it.

“To the stars who listen – and the dreams that are answered.”

Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court #1) by Richelle Mead

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

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Date Read: April 18 - 24 2016
Date Released: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"Big and sweeping, spanning the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies capable of arranging powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together, they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first, as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and later, when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands."

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This is not so much a review as a rant with possible spoilers because this book made me roll my eyes so much.

If you know me at all, you know I freaking love Vampire Academy. That series is one of my favourites of all time – like outside of Harry Potter, it’s probably tied for first as my favourite completed series along with Covenant. Romitri is my ultimate ship and I sing praises about VA everywhere (Shadow Kiss cabin scene hnnnng). I also quite like Bloodlines. Thus, when it was announced Richelle Mead was doing a new YA series and I saw the cover for The Glittering Court, I was like GIMME GIMME. Pretty covers: 1, Jaz: 0. I don’t know what happened with this book. I really don’t but it was a major mistake.

The tl;dr is the MC is a Countess, a descendant of one of the founders of her realm. Her family is going broke so she’s about to be married off to another rich noble to save face. She’s like nahhhh pls I don’t wanna be forced into an arranged marriage so I’ll run away to this thing where pleb girls are trained to be upper class women, then shipped off to one of the New Colonies to be married off to rich men. LIKE DO YOU SEE THE PROBLEM HERE? What she did was utterly pointless. Choice taken away from her in the beginning, only to be essentially forced into another marriage in the end? Sure she may get to somewhat ‘choose’ but not really, as you’ll see if you do decide to pick up this mess of a story.

The alias our Countess takes on is Adelaide when she runs away to join the Glittering Court. The first thing I’ll say is that I felt nothing for Adelaide. No sympathy, no pity, I could not relate to her for most of the book. Don’t want to be forced into an arranged marriage? Great I get that. But the decisions she makes ultimately have her end up in situations of powerlessness and this pissed me off so much. She throws away her title, her wealth and ties to her family so she can be trained to be something she already is. Then she gets herself into a whole lot of shit and complains that she’s suffocating again and we’re back to square one. WHYYYYYY? There was no love in the initial arranged marriage and she KNOWS that the suitors she’ll get from the Glittering Court will also be political. Pointless.

Mira and Tamsin are the main secondary characters introduced as her besties. Mira disappears a lot throughout the book doing God knows what and Tamsin is this ambitious girl who wants to be the best and marry the richest. While it’s great Adelaide has friends I didn’t see the point to these two. Their stories could really be expanded upon more and I thought they were just… Used. They were there for the sake of Adelaide’s convenience so that if anything happened, the besties were used as plot devices to get her out of trouble. Really? I’m hoping that their motives and stories are expanded upon in sequels (this seems to be a series) because this was ultimate character wastage.

Yes there’s romance, no there’s no love triangle thank goodness or I would have thrown a fit and the book too (nah not really, that cover’s still too pretty). Do I ship it? I guess? Is he comparable to Dimitri or Adrian? AHAHAHAHAHAHA PLEASE MOVE TO THE END OF THE LINE CEDRIC. I had no feels. None. I mean how did we go from Romitri and Sydrian to THIS? This… Nothing. I know I shouldn’t compare but I can’t help it. I mean don’t get me wrong, Cedric seems like a lovely young man, upstanding citizen, nice guy you get what I mean but the feels were missing. I was like ok yeah great get on with it now please.

Now the plot. What a mess. What was even going on? There was religion/heresy mixed in with the supposed challenges of inhabiting new colonies that were forcefully taken from indigenous peoples. But this wasn’t expanded upon either. It’s like Mead added these onto the side in an attempt to give this more substance than a pure Bachelor (that TV show that everybody watches but I refuse to hah) style story. It did not work at all. I got mega confused and when these were tied into the plot, especially at the end, it just added a whole lot of WTF. Like wait this was happening and it had such an effect but it was never actually talked about? I CAN’T EVEN.

This was made all the worse by poor world-building and terribad writing. It’s not a fantasy world. It’s like Mead just took early colonised USA and changed the names. Osfrid is very reminiscent of England, the Icori are basically the Scottish and the New Colonies are California during the Gold Rush. But it didn’t feel historical because the language was so modern. Minus the tech, the slang and colloquialisms were very 21st century. It’s like taking late 19th century/early 20th century US, with English fashion/customs and dropping a bunch of 21st century teens in costumes into this setting. It doesn’t work. It really doesn’t. Then add on Adelaide’s first person POV which is written in a very detached manner and it’s like I’m being told everything rather than shown. ALL THE TELLING. She breaks down into tears for a lot of things but I don’t feel anything because she TELLS me she’s crying. Her feelings aren’t explained. Everything is seen almost from behind a glass wall. Worstttttt.

Welps I just wrote a 1,000 word review for a pointless book. Rip. Save yourself 400 pages and read something better.