Recommended Summer Reads for 2017

Summer is upon us and this means relaxing by the pool with an ice cold drink and a good book while getting your tan on. Or you can stay indoors with your cat and lounge in bed. It’s your choice.

As we roll into the summer of 2017, it is looking promising, so here are some of the ones you should pick up on your next book haul. There’s a book for everybody!

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Isn’t the cover just beautiful? Source.

As the author of Divergent, Roth takes us on epic sci-fi adventure through the stars. In a world where its citizens develop currentgifts which will help shape their world, the protagonists Akos and Cyra find their currentgifts to be vices upon themselves. Thrown into orbit together, the two must find a way to navigate a world of tyrants, different intergalactic nations and right the wrongs of the stars.

Out January 17th.

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

The words of a space princess. Source.

This ‘sort of memoir’ recollects and reveals Fisher‘s Star Wars memories from intimate to outrageous. Having recently unearthed her handwritten journals which contained her musings while filming Episode IV, she found love poems, naivety and a vulnerability she’d never noticed. Now complied into a book, this collection of excerpts from her journals unfold what actually happened behind the scenes of one of the most famous film series of all time. Filled with her sense of humour, the pros and con of celebrity life and Hollywood royalty, this is a diary you want to read.

Out now!

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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Start summer off with this contemporary romance which follows the story of Griffin who finds out his first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, has died in a drowning accident. Despite not being together and seeing Jackson, he’d always known Theo would come back, that they’d be back and the future Griffin had envisioned is now dissolving into nothing. On a downward spiral, his secrets and history are rising to the surface and the only one who seems to be able to help is Jackson. Filled with heartache, loss and recovery, Silvera’s writing will surely leave you breathless.

Out January 17th!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Inspired by The Black Lives Matter movement, the books follows 16-year-old Starr who is torn between the two worlds she lives in: the poor neighbourhood where she’s from and the upper class high school she attends in the suburbs. As if the struggle switching between the two wasn’t hard enough, it is completely destroyed when Starr is the only witness to her best friend’s death – a fatal shooting by a police officer. Her friend was unarmed. Now Starr’s voice has power, has meaning, and it can either get her killed or bring justice to her community.

Out Feburary 28th!

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

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Summer isn’t right without a good thriller. Eclipse chasers Kit and Laura are travelling the world together to see as many eclipses as possible, following the path of the dark moon. However, one evening at a festival in Cornwall they stumble across a man and woman and Laura knows this is something terrible. Yet the man denies it. So Laura tells a white lie, the victim’s gratitude becomes obsessive and things spiral out of control from there. Hachette Australia are calling this the suspense novel of 2017, filled with controversy, secrets and a truth that may destroy a marriage or prove fatal.

Out February 28th!

Letters to A Young Muslim by Omar Saif Ghobash

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If you’re looking for a serious read, this one is for you. From the Ambassador of the UAE to Russia comes a gripping insight into what it is like to be a Muslim in the 21st century. As a personal collection of letters to his sons, Ghobash discusses his struggles between being a father and an experience diplomat. He also raises the question as to what it means to be a good Muslim and is concerned with how Muslims today can band together to find a voice that is true to Islam while being active in a technologically advanced and modern world. Despite being a heavier read, this will prove to be fantastic exploration of the struggles of Muslims today.

Out January 3rd!

At The Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

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Another diverse read to add to your collection is this YA contemporary romance. From the author of We Are the Ants, Hutchinson brings us the story of Tommy and Ozzie, best friends since second grade and boyfriends since eighth. One day, Tommy just vanishes, completely erased from history and the only person who can remember him is Ozzie. And to make matters worse, it seems that the universe is shrinking around him.

Out February 7th!

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

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From the award-winning powerhouse Roxane Gay whose best selling works include An Untamed State and Bad Feminist, she returns with a collection of stories filled with the words of difficult women. The characters in these stories live through the consequences of beauty, pain, poverty, privilege, passion, human connection. It is described to be a haunting and wry vision of modern America, and its women.

Out January 3rd!

There you have it, folks! Enjoy your summer and dive into some of these books if you get the chance.

Until next time.

Stay golden.

Originally published at Chattr.

Book Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

In the wee hours of the second morning of 2017, I finished this book and almost cried because it was over and I wanted answers.

I need to know why!

Why do I feel so overwhelmed and joyous to have read this book yet somewhat disappointed? Why did that happen? Why am I in awe of this man’s writing? It was thrilling, magical and oh so very adult. With that being said, Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is a book I do not regret reading so let’s jump into the review.

Synopsis

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Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

{Book Depository; Goodreads}

Review

Oh my god, where do I even start? I was instantly captivated by this book, the first few pages gripping me and so beautifully written. It starts off with the narrator introducing us to who and what Mia has been called, and leaves us to read to make our own judgement of her. The next few pages are a contrast between Mia’s first time having sex and her first time murdering someone. I found the comparison and allusions to each other very creative and clever, attributes that are woven throughout the rest of the novel.

I loved the premise behind the story: a young girl out for the blood of the men who sentenced her father to die finds herself being educated at an assassin’s school was so cool. The school itself was awesome with the ‘subjects’ they learned separated into Halls, training themselves in the ways of being deadly in all shapes and forms. What I loved was the brutality of the Red Church, but it was also the aspect that let down the rest of the book. The Red Church was far more violent than the actual murders and assassinations that took place throughout the book. Also, just a fair warning that this is an adult fantasy book despite the main character being sixteen. There are detailed sex scenes, which I thought were fantastic but placed so close together that it was almost like reading a porn-without-plot book for a good 100 pages.

Oh, and the f-bomb is dropped like there is no tomorrow.

I absolutely loved the Venetian elements, the details in the geography and how Kristoff weaved magic into the world without being cliche. I also liked the footnotes at first as they were sarcastic, witty and explained concepts that Kristoff has built in this world of violence and blood. But I often found myself skipping them when they took up almost half the page. I honestly couldn’t be bothered to read them, sorry Jay.

Holy smokes I love Mia. She is the epitome of fiery, sass and recklessness. I loved the concept of her being darkin and the rarity of their kind. But do we get to know about darkin? Nuh uh. We have to wait for that one, little lamb. I love Mister Kindly, tha not-cat shadow that keeps her nightmares away He is too precious and his conversations with Mia were some of my favourite parts. Mia’s characterisation grows but also stays stagnant in some ways. At first I thought she would become the soulless assassin and while she has cold-hearted moments, she showed she cared. She also showed this care by stabbing some people and slitting their throats. 10/10.

Some of my favourite quotes by Mia are:

“Apologies,” Mia frowned, searching the floor as if looking for something. “I appear to have misplaced the fucks I give for what you think…”

“If I were going to name my blade,” Mia said thoughtfully, “I’d call it ‘Fluffy’.”

God, I love her.

Warning: spoilers ahead! 

Read More »

Writing Snippets

I wrote a 3000 word piece for university and I figured I’d share some of it on here. It’s called Finding Life in Colour, a creative non-fiction profile on a local artist. I categorised parts of her life through colours that I felt suited the tone of the events.

I hope you enjoy!


Green

1993

Out the window from Nola Tegel’s room, dawn illuminated the stone courtyard. Dusted with the touches of spring, pots of geranium covered the yard, the flowers glowing in the sunlight. This was the routine – wake up early, have breakfast, start painting. With early morning chills, Nola made her way through the stone passageways of the monastery and across the courtyard to the breakfast room, the sudden warmth seeping into her skin. A spread of fruit, bread to toast, fresh honey from the bees they kept and coffee was waiting for her. Her fellow artists were surely up and dining, chatting about what the new day will bring to their canvases.

As she walked there was a change in the clean air, an interruption – it was the awful heavy smell of the metal recycling yard close by; although it wasn’t too bad. She caught a glimpse it, churning out smoke and mist like a grey aura. Her eyes bypassed the growing fog to the olive groves covering the other side of the monastery, framed by the lush Italian hills of Terni. Beyond were layers and layers and layers of mountains. Cypress trees dotted the rolling landscape alongside winding roads. It still took her breath away, the vast space and layers around her: it was a landscape she was just itching to paint.

 ‘I liked the doorways, the field, and the mountains with their layers,’ she reflected with a sparkle in her eye. ‘We don’t get the layers here like they do over there. It was just wonderful.’

~

Orange 

2015

In the deep niches of the Indian city, Nola set herself up against a wall to avoid the traffic and commotion bubbling around her. The grey body of the Ganges flowed ahead of her. It took her a moment to notice a man and his wife attempting to push through behind her. She stepped out of the way and turned so they could see her work.

No eyes were focused on her drying paint. The Indian man was reaching for the niche behind the wall, a small space to worship their revered gods and goddesses. When the couple left without so much as a word, Nola peered over to see what they had done. A jolt of shock rocked her as she saw a swarm of fat black ants – he had fed ants. The creature scavenged a green leaf dripping with a sweet syrup, surrounded by tiny balls of sugar.

Well, that’s something you don’t see every day now, is it?

An attempt to bring good karma, to break the cycle of reincarnation. ‘It was absolutely fascinating. I love India,’ Nola said with a wide smile, her hazel eyes crinkling.

 

Top 10 Books I’ve Read in 2016

So… let’s be honest. I haven’t read much this year. I’ve been sporadic with reading, writing and reviews because of factors such as university, my mental health, my job and other volunteer positions that I dedicate time to.

However I haven’t lost the moments of finding a good book and savouring every word. They’ve been there, like wisps of sunlight in during my fiction deprived days. So without further ado, here are my top books of 2016 (which have not necessarily been published in 2016):

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

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“Once a thing is set to happen, all you can do is hope it won’t. Or will-depending. As long as you live, there’s always something waiting, and even if it’s bad, and you know it’s bad, what can you do? You can’t stop living.”

This tiny tale was the required reading for my creative writing subject this year and I am so glad it was. It masterfully blends journalism and creative non-fiction to produce a haunting and fascinating read on the murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. It was a heavy read, weighing down on my heart as I tried to understand how two people can do something like this and that was the beauty of it. You thought, you questioned, you discovered. As a reconstruction of the events, Capote’s extensive research and skill with words gives an insight into the harrows of violence and the fragility of life.

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

“Aelin had promised herself, months and months ago, that she would not pretend to be anything but what she was. She had crawled through darkness and blood and despair-she had survived.”

As the fifth book in the Throne of Glass series, this book is fiery with the character development, plot points and writing. Aelin, our fire breathing bitch queen, surprised us all with her determination and self-sacifrice to ensure Terrasen is safe and in capable hands. While steamy with smut and romance, there were more badass moments in this novel that have defined the characters: Manon and her defiance against all she had believed in, Lysandra and her strength, Elide and her determination and selflessness despite her injury, and of course, Aelin. I also found new ships that I pray will not sink, especially Lorcan and Elide. I need this pairing! Overall, strong female leads, a strong fifth installment.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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“And I wondered if love was too weak a word for what he felt, what he’d done for me. For what I felt for him.”

I just had to have two Sarah J. Maas books on my list! The second installment of A Court of Thorns and Roses was a million times better than the first. What made it so great was the way Sarah developed her characters, especially Feyre and Rhysand who were the pinnacle of this novel. We got answers to the things covered up in A Court of Thorns and Roses, and the true colours of some original favourites were revealed. More importantly, Feyre’s struggles after what she endured Under the Mountain are validated and her recovery is something that Rhysand makes a priority. Once again, this is somewhat character-driven and the Inner Circle were great supporting characters, adding to the plot rather than acting as pretty things to discuss. The plot points throughout the novel were solid and dramatic, with only a couple being a bit off-putting and contradictory to the first installment. Overall, the writing was brilliant, the characters hold a special place in my heart and  Feyre and Rhysand are my ultimate OTP on my long list of OTPs.

Full review can be found here.

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

“He was good. The best fighter she’d ever faced. But Safi and Iseult were better.”

I’d been looking for a YA fantasy book that didn’t have romance as one of its main themes. I wanted something with friendship, struggle and fantasy and this book delivered exactly that (with a side dish of a blooming romance that wasn’t the crux of the novel). The concept of witches in this universe was intriguing  are that they have their own skillset, with Safiya’s being truth and Iseult’s being threads. What I loved was that Safiya and Iseult have a bond like sisters and it’s their loyalty to each other that drives the story as they flee from a Bloodwitch and travel with a Windwitch. The politics of their world feel like a sub-plot, but it’s made up for with action scenes and witchy goodness. Overall, Dennard has a brilliant writing style, the fantasy elements are great and the witch culture is interesting. Worth a read!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

“First, the colours.
Then the humans.
That’s usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.”

This is a re-read because why not. The beauty about re-reading books is you pick up on things you missed the first time, and this time I found that this book is more wonderful than I initially thought it was. Death as a narrator will always be my favourite thing about this book, aside from the beautiful writing and the heartbreaking plot. There’s something about WW2 books that I just can’t get enough of.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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“You wanted to feel alive, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re monster or human. Living hurts.”

Dystopian world, monsters big and small, two main characters who will snatch your heart and make it ache. Just for some background, V-City is divided in two and swarming with monsters big and small. Kate Harker is the daughter of the crime lord who runs the North, and August Flynn is the son of the rebels in the South. As per usual, these two characters find each other tangled in a race to find out how to save their city and themselves. But this one was different – there is no romance, no cliche, nothing you would have expected.  As my first Victoria Schwab novel, this took me a wild ride and I was blown away. It raises questions on morality, on what it means to be human, on what you’re willing to sacrifice. I also loved how dimensional Kate and August were as protagonists. An excellent read!

For a full review, you can find it here.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

“And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.”

This satricial piece is my first Vonnegut novel and I was not disappointed. His writing is effortless yet so powerful as he draws on his own WW2 experiences, a manipulation of fiction and non-fiction. The Narrator introduces the story of Billy Pilgrim and his story is mostly linear as we jump between his war life, life before the war and post-war life, with the bombing of Dresden, an event Vonnegut witnessed, being the reason behind the story. It’s about war, about life, about love and hate, about sanity and about death. It’s thought-provoking and it will leave you bewildered.

The famous quote “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt” finally makes sense, yet I found that there were other parts of the novel that resonated with me more. Vonnegut’s repetition of “So it goes,” as a narrative transition and as a means of explaining the things he cannot explain hit me harder than anything else. The way Vonnegut writes about the continuation of life, especially after death, is raw and somewhat jumbled, but it suits the existential and postmodern concepts of the novel. This reads like an autobiography, as an outlet for Vonnegut’s experiences he couldn’t put to words when it was all initially happening. I had no expectations going into this and I was thoroughly impressed at how much I enjoyed this anti-war novel.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”

Can I say I officially think Stiefvater is one of my new favourite authors? The Raven Boys is a beautifully written first installment, dusted with touches of magic and Welsh mythology. I love how character driven it is, and oh the characters. Blue Sargent, you are too precious for this world. Growing up around psychics, Blue is a unique character whose determination and kindness shines through.  And all the raven boys: Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah. They act like a tight knit family more than school friends, and I love their interactions varying from sassy banter to fierce arguments. Their loyalty to each other is admirable. The overarching quest to find Glendower is ever present, but I found myself more intrigued with the characters than anything else. They’re just so interesting! This is an excellent read!  

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

“Don’t be afraid. There’s the two of us now.”

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I adored the TV show (Sam and Caitriona have the best chemistry as Jamie and Claire) so picking this up was a no-brainer, and I loved it. The book is rich, vibrant and full of action, romance and complicated relationships. I loved the Scottish elements, the touch of magic and how the story just sang off the page. A perfect read for lovers of Scotland, romance and drama. 

 

milk and honey by Rupi Kaur


As the only poetry collection I read this year, it delivered everything I could have wanted and more. Reminiscent of those poems I read on tumblr, Kaur’s writing is raw, heartbreaking, yet warms the bottom of your chest. The themes of survival, feminism, loss and love are all written beautifully and it’s a testament to modern poetry, especially feminist poetry.

That’s it for my top 10 for 2016! What were your favourite books this year? I’d love to hear about them.

Until next time.

Keep heart.

 

Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury

Full disclosure: this is probably one of Sarah J. Maas’ best works to date. I honestly feel like she gets better and better with each novel she brings out.

PSA: There will be spoilers in the full review for both A Court of Thorns and Roses and this book. Now, A Court of Mist and Fury… where do I even begin? It is a long and compelling narrative that will leave you breathless yet satisfied. As the second installment to A Court of Thorns and Roses and almost double its size, there were many good things about this book with only a couple of itty bitty gripes I had with some of the plot.

Synopsis

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Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

(Book Depository; Goodreads)

Review

I have too many feelings over this book. For a sequel, this was a million times better than the first novel. I hooked from the very beginning unlike ACOTAR where it took me a while to really get into it. Sarah’s writing is so addictive, her skill with words impeccable. There was more character development across the board, more badass Fae drama and more political intrigue as we travel beyond the Spring Court to the other sides of Prythian. This book does a great job at setting the stage for bigger things that are to happen in Prythian; things involving the King of Hybern, the Night Court and the supernatural forces of the Cauldron that created the world. Swoon-worthy, heart-breaking, and packed with action (in various ways), I loved this book! Someone give me a teleportation devise cause I wanna hijack it and winnow to the Night Court. PLEASE.   

Plot

Let me just take a moment to breathe and remember that this is a book and not real life. Things are heating up in Prythian with politics, world domination, Fae lore, and evil asf kings, winnowing us to the Summer Court and more impressively, the Night Court, a place that has been painted as dark and evil. The shadows and characters that Tamlin’s pretty Spring Court had kept hidden from us are now in full view, slowly peeling away the layers of Prythian to reveal a deeply unsettling truth about the Fae courts and their rulers. While I didn’t like how Feyre suddenly became the answer for every single issue happening in the Fae world, it was an entertaining read and I simply couldn’t put it down.

Also, in a classic Sarah J. Maas fashion, the Tamlin we all grew to love is suddenly the villain. And guess who becomes our next sugar daddy? Rhysand. And while I was put off by it after the impression we got from Rhysand was somewhat unpleasant yet strangely atrractive),  I’m now totally OKAY WITH IT! All aboard the Rhysand train, friends!  

I liked how fleshed out the plot was in this installment – there was just so much more we could sink our teeth into unlike ACOTAR where we were rather secluded to one area of the world. I loved the intricate character development, especially with Feyre and Rhysand as we grow with their new budding friendship and relationship. It was satisfying and brilliant, totally worth the 600 odd pages.

Characters

“There are good days and hard days for me—even now. Don’t let the hard days win.”

Can we just talk about my baby girl Feyre for a moment? The trials she endured in ACOTAR have ramifications in this installment and it shows that despite being immortal, she is still human. She’s in pain, guilt ridden and continues to be haunted by the horrors she had to face – something Tamlin turns a blind eye to. I loved how Sarah didn’t hide the fact that Feyre was struggling to function day to day, especially when Feyre couldn’t find her old passion of painting. She validated her issues and that was important. Feyre’s strength shines through as she comes to terms with her actions and her new immortality, but she does relapse. She isn’t always strong and that’s okay.

Also, her powers! With a piece of each court in her body, she’s able to harness abilities across a wide spectrum. *insert proud Rhysand*

“The issue isn’t whether he loved you, it’s how much. Too much. Love can be a poison.”

With Tamlin, it’s not often we see what happens after the fairytale ending so his change came as a shock to me. The sauve and mysterious boy toy we were in love with is suddenly twisted and he’s the bad guy. He neglects Feyre, refuses to let her leave the Spring Court and throughout the whole wedding preparations (and the wedding itself), he doesn’t seem to give a damn about how Feyre feels. The possessiveness that a lot of us ladies like to see in men is warped in a way for us to see that it’s not healthy – his version of love is not right. It was hard to have their relationship written off as a mistake after what happened in ACOTAR (I mean, Feyre absolutely destroyed herself for him), but it sort of makes sense. I re-read ACOTAR after this and realised that the signs were there, just subtle ones so we wouldn’t pick up on it so easily. And the shit he pulls at the end of this book, I mean…  I’m completely on board the Tamlin the Tool ship.

“You are my salvation, Feyre.”

*insert excited squeal* I’m admitting this now: I’m Rhysand trash. Complete and utter trash for this Fae. His character unfolds so wonderfully in this novel as the Rhysand we had met in the first book turns out to be completely different. While this a cliche and it almost annoyed me to no end that Sarah decided to throw Tamlin under the bus and replace him with this ass, I’m happy she did. The way he supports and protects Feyre when she needed someone during a time where she felt worthless really put him in my good books. And don’t even get me started on the wedding scene when he casually gate crashes the ceremony and steals Feyre with that charisma we’ve grown to love. Oh, and chapter 55.

I like that we got to see different layers of Rhysand and the secrets he’s been keeping in order to protect his Inner Circle and his people. I also loved the dialogue between him and his Inner Circle and Feyre – so much sass and innuendo.

Also, the Inner Circle are so precious to me. I just love how they interact and the close bonds they share. I never want anything bad to happen to them. I love them so much and can’t wait to see what they do in the next installment.

Writing

Sarah’s writing has improved drastically from the first novel. Like I said before, Sarah grows with every novel she comes out with. It’s amazing to see how rich and wonderful her story weaving is becoming, how deep and dimensional her characters are becoming. I also love how she makes the effort to have strong female leads, but not without their flaws. Oh and uh, why is this book targeted in the children’s section? It has some very mature scenes and it shouldn’t be anywhere near children.

Rating

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I feel I’m giving 5 stars to all the books I’ve been reviewing, but I haven’t come across anything I have disliked yet. What did you guys think of this sequel? Are you as keen as I am for A Court of Wings and Ruin?

Until next time!

Stay golden.

This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab: Review!

Hello everyone! Today will finally be my book review on This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab. It’s been sitting on my night stand for months now and I’ve gotten around to finishing the damn thing so here is my little spiel on what is now leaving me reeling on my chair.

Synopsis

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Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city, a grisly metropolis where the violence has begun to create real and deadly monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the inhabitants pay for his protection. August just wants to be human, as good-hearted as his own father-but his curse is to be what the humans fear. The thin truce that keeps the Harker and Flynn families at peace is crumbling, and an assassination attempt forces Kate and August into a tenuous alliance. But how long will they survive in a city where no one is safe and monsters are real…

(Book Depository; Goodreads)

Review

This is my first Schwab novel and I must say, I’m blown away by her power with words. She has created such a dark and mysterious world, ruined by monsters, corruption and power, and brought us characters that shine like no other. I connected with her style quite instantly, loving the way she repeats words and draws out the moment until you’re holding your breath and bursting with emotion. The rest of this review is not completely spoiler free as I’ll be making some vague references, but feel free to read it after you’ve read the book.

Characters

I am honestly in awe with how Schwab slowly fed me the story, especially when it came to August and Kate. Their personal struggles and identities are a constant occurrence throughout the novel, but the gradual unfolding of their characters, strengths and weaknesses only heightened the bond between them, the synergy in their natures.

They had the right amount of dimension and depth without being overwhelming. Schwab does a great job at shifting the focus between Kate and August’s relationship to their own individual developments which is something I find tends to be neglected in YA.

PSA: This is a YA novel without romance. Yes, and it’s incredible. I didn’t particularly feel like another typical YA romance, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Plot

The plot commences on a fiery note. Quite literally. We’re thrown into Kate’s perspective as she burns down the chapel of her boarding school, left with questions that are given sparse answers. The dystopian elements throughout the novel are intriguing. The divison of V-City with the monetary system of protection run by Callum Harker in North City and the FTF fighter system run by Henry Flynn in South City, paints a a torn picture of what the city is like on the surface and beneath. Schwab does a fantastic job at showing the depth of corruption, violence and betrayal in V-City while love, hope and humanity dance on delicate strings as we jump between Kate and August.

Schwab has created a whole new breed of monsters: Corsai, Malchai and Sunai. I love the songs that go along with each type of monster and this is acts as a slight motif throughout the novel. We don’t see a lot of the Corsai and when we do, their image wasn’t as clearly portrayed as that of the Malchai.

“Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone will eat you raw.
Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly,
Smile and bite and drink you dry.
Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,
Sing you a song and steal your soul.”

How awesome and chilling does that song sound?

I loved the subjective concept of humans and monsters. There’s the physical but also the mental and spiritual aspects. We’re left pondering on what is it really like to be human. What separates us from the monsters? Schwab did an excellent job at making me wonder.

Writing

 I connected with Schwab’s writing from the beginning. She knows when to be sharp and concise or when to be soft and drawn out, especially as we alternate between Kate and August, two sides of an eroding city. Her writing style changes as the tone of the book does, her descriptions detailed with great elaboration of the world. But it was the small pieces of quiet time that really made the story come to life.

“I read somewhere,” said Kate, “that people are made of stardust.”

He dragged his eyes from the sky. “Really?”

“Maybe that’s what you’re made of. Just like us.”

And despite everything, August smiled.”

This scene was beautiful and honestly made me tear up. The dimension Schwab gives her all her characters is incredible.

Rating

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fresh dystopian novel with elements of magic, monsters and moments that have you questioning your own moral compass.

For those who have read it, what did you think? I’m curious to see if anyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

Until next time!

The 15 Struggles of Being a Writer

Writing is something I love doing. It’s been a passion since the beginning of high school and I showed my English teacher, who was also the school librarian, a first draft of my novel. I recall her saying, ‘Good but the concept is cliche. It’s been done before.’

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This is pretty much how I imagined her saying it. Source.

But what hasn’t been done before? Originality is so important in fresh discoveries for published books, but how can we be original when we are inspired by so many incredible authors? How can I be a writer when everything I want to write has been written? (At least, this is how I feel about being a writer. Maybe one day I’ll write something so bizarre it’ll be dubbed the next big thing).

I’ve complied a list of the many struggles of being a writer and as I was writing these I realised there are more than 15, but I decided to stick with these for fear of  having a list of 100 things we all relate to. So, are we incredible writers or just majorly sleep deprived and fantasising left, right and centre? Or maybe we’re just too good for this world where writing isn’t as awesome as it should be.

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Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

PSA: I am officially in another Sarah J. Maas fandom.

Sarah, what are you doing to me? I have things to do, places to go and all I can think about is this book!

Anyway, let’s get into the review.

A Court of Thorns and Roses suggests a world as beautiful as the title. And it is. We shift from the poverty stricken human world of 19-year-old Feyre, a huntress and sole breadwinner of her family after their downfall from riches. She is tough as nails as she fights to feed her family in the harsh conditions of winter – and this all changes when she kills a wolf. A Fae wolf. And now she must pay with her life in captivity over the wall that separates humans from Fae with her masked captor, Tamlin – who happens to shape shift. Feyre finds herself in the Spring Court, a place where it is always spring and learns that the Fae world is not as perfectly ruled as the tales told to her.

My cat was a good model this time.

I think I picked up this book simply because it had Fae in it and after reading the Throne of Glass series, I can’t resist them. I just want to touch them and love them.

But moving on from that.

The pacing of this book was rather slow to begin with. Feyre’s sisters were aggravating my nerves and her crippled father only added to the injustice I felt for Feyre. It isn’t until Feyre is taken that I became enchanted and couldn’t stop reading. The pace suddenly quickened and there was passion, conflict and sass.

The characters we meet in the Fae world are brilliant. We meet one of Tamlin’s only friends and right hand, Lucian, who looks he could kill you but is actually a cinnamon roll. There’s Alis, who gives Feyre advice when she needs it the most, and further along we are graced with the presence of Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court. As soon as he arrived, I almost recoiled. Surely Sarah wouldn’t give us another love triangle? (She doesn’t, we’re in the clear).

Feyre herself is independent, fierce and it might be the age similarity, but I can empathise with her. She is the only one taking care of her family and no one seems to appreciates it, not even when Tamlin snatches her away. It’s the journey she takes, not the romantic aspect of the book (which I didn’t mind at all), that made me cheer her on. She isn’t someone to be saved but someone who will save others before herself. And I love that.

Sarah’s writing has definitely improved over the course of her books. Her style iw becoming her own and her words are bewitching us. Would definitely recommend this book.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – A Feminist Romance

I picked this book up after watching the TV series and I can see why they adapted this book into a show. It’s an historical feminist romance, one unique to its genre and one you cannot put down. I will admit I swooned a lot during the show, but that’s incentive for you to go and watch it and read the book.

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To quickly recap the novel, Claire is a WW2 nurse and the novel commences after the war when she’s reunited with her husband, historian Frank Randall. They plan to reignite their marriage and finally go on their honeymoon to the Scottish Highlands. With lots of herring and tea, Claire finds herself content until she touches the stones of Craigh Na Dun and is teleported back to 1763 where we meet her husband’s ancestor, Black Jack Randall – however, he isn’t as loving and kind as his descendant. She finds herself an outlander, a Sassenach, in a volatile time period and her safety lies in the hands of Jaime Fraser, a Scottish warrior, the kind we all love to love.

The complexity of the novel is not only the time travelling between the 20th and 17th century, but the extensive research gone into the Highland culture, which came across as rich, exciting and alive. Gabaldon is exceptional at weaving a historical tale because it felt like I was immersed in the Highlands themselves. I could feel the crisp chill of the night, feel the lush landscape on my hands, hear the stones scream as they take Claire back in time.

My own image

Warning: some spoilers ahead! 

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June TBR for 2016

My June TBR consists of three pretty awesome and big books. With uni finishing mid June, I’ll surely get through this pile. 

  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – I’ve been meaning to read this since I got into the TV series. I really want to see the differences and similarities between the book and the show (and ogle more of literary Jaime). 
  • Night Study by Maria V. Snyder – this is the 5th book in the Study series and while I’m excited to read it, I’m hestiant since the ending of the previous one. It read a lot like fanfiction so… we will have to see. 
  • Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – I loved the Mortal Instruments series so I have to give this a go. Everyone in the book world has this book and said some good things about it. 

That’s it for this month! I’ll be writing reviews and a wrap up at the end of the month. 

When the cat photobombs your photoshoot