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.