Sunday, November 22, 2015

[Review] Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall

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Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 20/10/2015
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Pages: 613
Source: For review
Genre: YA - Contemporary (12+)

Violence | Sexual ContentProfanity
My Rating: 

Fluffy and light read

My thoughts

(It's actually 2 stars but I don't actually have a graphic for it and I'm too lazy to make one just for this book. If ever I come across another 2 star book maybe then I'll make one.)

I should have run the other way as soon as I saw the cover and read the description, but it's been such a long time since I actually reviewed a book that I'd been sent for review (unsolicited) and I was in the mood for a light and fluffy read . . . Well, that's exactly what this book is: fluff. I felt like I was actually using less brain cells to read this book than I would have had I been watching an episode of The Bachelor. For some people that's not such a bad thing at all. After all, reading is a portal to another life, an escape from reality. But. I just could not connect at all. I'm only disappointed in myself because I knew exactly what I was walking into. One look at the cover and you should know what's in store for you. Now that that's out of the way, let's go a bit deeper.

Signs Point to Yes follows Jane, whose plans to spend the entire summer following graduation from high school writing Doctor Who crossover fan fiction are short-lived when her mum has other plans for her, namely, an internship at the place where she works. In order to avoid this, she decides to pick up a babysitting job instead. Unfortunately, that means she will regularly have to bump heads with the super hot but sort of awkward/dorky lifeguard with whom she used to be friends, Teo. Which is only a bad thing because his best friend REALLY hates her. Drama ensues.

I couldn't bother to work on a better summary of the book. These characters did nothing for me. I could not relate to them (which may have had something to do with the third-person narrative) and I found all their decisions and actions silly and juvenile. I could not believe how much blushing was in this book. The romance between Jane and Teo was blatantly shoved in our faces by the amount of blushing that went on. Mind you, I love a good story involving sexual tension where you're basically melting from frustration because CAN'T THEY JUST GET TOGETHER ALREADY? But I don't know. In this book, it was just... lackluster, and maybe that has something to do with the fact that they're such boring cliche characters.

Now let's talk about Ravi, Teo's best friend. Please tell me I'm not the only one who believed wholeheartedly that he has a massive crush on Teo and would do anything to have babies with him. I'm obviously not a guy but I have a hard time believing their friendship is just a friendship. I was so sure that there would be a big reveal, where Ravi confesses that he is actually gay and loves Teo, but I was sorely disappointed. Also, his reasoning for hating Jane was laughable. I'm sure there is a guy out there just like Ravi and let me tell you, he is one guy I hope never to meet because he's a massive tool. The only redemptive factor was his dedication to Teo, but again... I'm betting that he's secretly harbouring fantasies involving an alternate reality where they get together.

While we're at it, let's mention the "perfect" big sister Margo. Now, I also have a "perfect" big sister (seems like all big sisters are the "perfect" one). Which is fine. And this is probably where I had the most potential to really relate to Jane. Because I understand what it's like to be the lesser of the two and feeling like you're unable to meet expectations by comparison. Turns out Margo has a secret of her own. I like that this secret brings the sisters closer together, but I don't feel like the issue was explored completely. At the big reveal their parents seemed to brush it off, which kind of went against everything that the girls had implied from the beginning: that the parents would blow up.

Maybe I'm just too old to appreciate Signs Point to Yes. I feel like maybe tweens will like this, but I refuse to believe that anyone their age would act in the same way. The dialogue was also quite stale, and there was a lot of telling involved (a big writing no-no!). I gave this book an honest try, and I even ended up finishing it which I think is a big achievement on my part.

Let me ask my magic 8 ball: Would I recommend this book?

Don't count on it

(Only if you're really young, like <15 years, and/or you're looking for shallow fluff.)


AUSTRALIA: Booktopia

INTERNATIONAL: Book DepositoryAbeBooks

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

[Review] Lair of Dreams (#2) by Libba Bray

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Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 26/08/2015
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Pages: 613
Source: For review
Genre: YA - Historical (14+)

Violence | Sexual ContentProfanity
My Rating: 

Captivating - what a thrilling read!

My thoughts

OMG, 'LAIR OF DREAMS' WAS SO GOOD! This is an example of a really good sequel to a series! It has its own storyline and plot, and the characters are developed well, in that the author didn't depend on the first book to serve as their only characterisation. The overarching plot of the series has vastly widened, opening up towards grander things in books to come!

The characters are such a delight. 

They all have their own demons they need to face. I don't think I've encountered any other author who has a talent of writing many different characters, able to give life and substance to them as individuals. I'm as always sensitive to the inner turmoils and mini tragedies that people undergo, which all these characters face in their own ways. Sam- of actually being seen for who he is and letting anyone else in, Mabel- identity and unrequited love, Jericho- being seen for who he is, unrequited love, freedom, powerlessness, etc,etc.

I found myself reading this book every free moment I had. 

I even brought this book to work! (I only ever bring a book to read on night shifts because we're normally too busy otherwise.) I just could not pull my eyes away, it was a masterfully strung together plot existing within 600+ pages. The description did get a little excessive at times, but it never detracted from the plot and character building long enough for me to want to put it down for long.

I loved the attention to historical detail.

 The segregation and racism towards Chinese people... This is the first time I've seen it addressed in a YA novel. Ling really grew on me. I think it's an important angle of American history and hope it is explored further in the next book. The slang and places and fashion and descriptions were little touches that went a long way. A good historical fiction novel is achieved when you know the author has done their research and they place you seemingly without effort in that historical point in time.

The romance was just... How do I even begin to tackle this topic? 

There are so many bittersweet feelings attached here, and as always I found myself being swept away by it all. Henry's pursuit for his long-lost lover Louis just tugged on my heartstrings and would not let go. And of course, the love triangle, or rectangle--point is, it's still a bit of a mess. We saw traces of it in 'The Diviners', but in its sequel we see more of it being played out. I'm all for Jericho and Evie. What can I say? I'm a sucker for the stoic man with a heart of gold, though I do feel for Mabel. I know how unrequited love feels, and I can only imagine how much harder it is when you see the one you really like be enamoured by your best friend instead of you. To want the best for those you care for, whilst also secretly resenting everything and feeling the unfairness of it all. But all in all, I'm interested to see how these relationships develop in the next book. I can't help but feel invested; there's just something about these characters that I can't get out of my mind, and along with that attachment is my desire to know how they all get on.

I loved the exploration of dreams in this book, and dream walking sounds like a power both glorious and terrifying.

I like how, in true Bray fashion, the concepts related to dream walking and the dream world and the sleeping sickness, etc, were revealed gradually. Bray writes tension and suspense to perfection and I remember distinctly that I had that rare experience of completely losing myself in a world within a book.

I'm eager to see how everything ties in.. What is the bigger picture here? Why do these people have extraordinary powers? What is Project Buffalo and how did it originate? And so on. I'm just full of questions, but I have no doubt Bray will reveal the answers in her own time.

Until then, we are left to speculate in the dark.


First line: Every city is a ghost.


"'If I could dream of any place, I'd dream of a cabin on the bayou,' Louis had said at the time. 'A little cabin. Fishing boat. A newspaper fulla crawfish ready to eat.'
'Would I be there?' Henry asked quietly.
'Wouldn't be a good dream if you weren't.'
And just like that, Henry knew what it was to be in love. (115)

 "'Perhaps there are things that exist only because we make them so, because we must.' (318)

 "Evie sat up, glaring. 'I did not come to this party to hear a lecture from you, Sam Lloyd. You steal people's wallets. Don't act like you're better than I am.'
'Me? Sure, I'm a thief and a con. But not you, kid. Unfortunately, you care. I know you.'
'No you don't,' Evie said, lying back again. 'You just think you do [...] But nobody really knows anybody. We're all just a bunch of Pears soap ads walking around clean and neat, ready to wash away to slivers.' (403)


AUSTRALIA: Booktopia | The Nile | Fishpond | Bookworld

INTERNATIONAL: Book Depository | Wordery | AbeBooks | Kennys

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Friday, September 25, 2015

[Review + Giveaway] Queen of Shadows (#4) by Sarah J. Maas

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Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 01/09/2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 645
Source: Bought
Genre: YA - Fantasy (14+)

Violence | Sexual ContentProfanity
My Rating: 

Gripping, emotional, edge-of-your-seat read

My thoughts

Sarah J. Maas never fails to amaze me with her gripping storytelling - one of such rarity, managing to captivate me time and time again with bone-chilling, edge-of-your-seat, tantalisingly glorious twists and turns, and unfaltering writing style. 
Her heightened ability to create characters that stick, cling and crawl under one's skin seems to be a weapon of its own. I cannot, will not manage ever to remove Aelin nor Aedion nor Rowan nor Chaol nor Dorian nor Nehemia nor Sam, out of my heart and mind. I know I am not alone in this, a reader whose connection to the characters found in a book made profound, palpable and real and lovely... For me it is something I cannot find often in tv or movies. As a sequel, the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series, it stands triumphant. I am still reeling from the experience, excited for the day to come when my real life friends to whom I've recommended this series get around to reading this so they too can engage and fall in love with the characters, the writing and the author as much as I have.

I think it's pretty blatantly obvious that I loved this book, and adore and cherish this series as a whole. I guess I should add some substance to this review, hey?

In Queen of Shadows, Celaena has just returned back from Wendlyn, where her Fae powers and true identity as Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, Queen of the fallen Terrasen were actualised, and she has a few scores to settle in Rifthold, the city that both served and enslaved her. Meanwhile, Prince Dorian has been captured by his father, the King of Adarlan, a Valg demon trapped inside of him; and Chaol has since abandoned his duty as Captain of the Guard to serve the King, now a member of the opposing Rebels, full of self loathing and dealing with his decision to run when Dorian needed him most. War is on the horizon, one that will involve creatures horrific and not of this world, and the fate of the world rests in the hands of The Assassin, the monster that Arobynn Hamel made, his protégé, Celaena Sardothien.
As I previously stated, the writing is just flawless.
The book runs by its own pace. One of the things I really like is that Maas takes the time to develop her characters, and the world-building is probably one of the greatest I've encountered in YA fantasy. I have been a fan of the writing style from the very beginning, and I'm glad to see that a consistency has been maintained as we pass into the second half of the series. She manages to keep a delicate balance of suspense, action, emotional and humor. I don't think there was one emotion that I did not feel whilst reading this book. This is definitely a book that will demand your undivided attention.
I simply could not get enough of it!

If you've been following my reviews for a while or have any idea about my taste in books or know me personally, you'll know that I tend to focus more on the emotions and the connections that I feel towards the characters.
As such, 'Queen of Shadows' really blew me away. Here we have Celaena Sardothien who has just returned from Wendlyn, now with the knowledge that she is Aelin Galathynius, the rightful heir to the throne in Terrasen, and she has to face all of the physical and mental scars from her time in Rifthold (and more specifically by the hands of Arobynn Hamel). Maas could not have done it better. She manages to bring us back to the past with flashbacks, evoking conflicting emotions within the reader. Following Aelin in this emotional journey just brings home just how much she has had to struggle to get to be where she is today, and I love her more for it.

Romance-wise, Aelin is not without her fair share of suitors, and it seems that the line just keeps getting longer. I really really adored the direction Maas took with the relationship between her and Rowan in Heir of Fire because there was no real romantic intention there. I admit I was still taken by how it has progressed in this book (I'm ashamedly very canon with my books), but upon reflection I did find it a little bit unnecessary, and it sort of felt like just an excuse to bring more sexual tension, steaminess and drama into the equation.

I admit I'm a sucker for the bittersweet and melancholy, so I quite liked the interactions between Aelin and Chaol. 

I know there is a lot of hate for Chaol now, a character that everyone used to adore until he pushed her away because she had magic running through her veins. But that's beside the point. I just like how Maas has brought both characters to this point where they're both okay, there is nothing left between them, and that's okay. That is life. I feel like this is rarely explored in YA literature. Feelings and people change. So at this moment, I'm just floating, I'll see where things go from here.

The last hundred pages or so of this book was just non-stop. 

So much happened and I could not read fast enough. Without spoiling anything, this is without a doubt a must-read. The end of this book marks the beginning of something big for the gang, and I have absolutely no idea how I can wait another year for the next book to come out so I can find out what happens next! Oh, the struggles of reading series as they're still being published...



So what happened was I pre-ordered a copy off of The Book Depository. Not only does it take forever to arrive with shipping but they actually dispatched it like a week after the release date! Not cool. I couldn't wait. I went out the day after release day and grabbed a copy at Kinokuniya so I could read it right after I was done with what I was reading at the time.

Which is good news for one of you lucky guys!
  • 1x SIGNED and personalised copy of 'Queen of Shadows' is up for grabs!
  • AU/NZ ONLY unless you are willing to pay for postage or buy me a book in exchange :'

a Rafflecopter giveaway


First line: There was a thing waiting in the darkness.


"Arobynn continued to pin her with that lover's gaze. 'Nothing is without a price.' He brushed a kiss against her cheekbone, his lips soft and warm. She fought the shudder that trembled through her, and made herself lean into him as he brought his mouth against her ear and whispered, 'Tell me what I must do to atone; tell me to crawl over hot coals, to sleep on a bed of nails, to carve up my flesh. Say the word, and it is done. But let me care for you as I once did, before . . . before that madness poisoned my heart. Punish me, torture me, wreck me, but let me help you. Do this small thing for me--and let me lay the world at your feet.' (23)

"She dared to look up at him, her elbow brushing his forearm. 'I missed you.'
His mouth tightened. 'We weren't apart that long.'
Right. To an immortal, several weeks were nothing. 'So? Am I not allowed to miss you?'
'I once told you that the people you care about are weapons to be used against you. Missing me was a foolish distraction.'
'You're a real charmer, you know that?'(242)
The whole page 326 scene at the grave.
"'I stopped caring,' Asterin said at last. 'About anything and everything. After that, it was all a joke, and a thrill, and nothing scared me.
That wildness, that untamed fierceness . . . They weren't born of a free heart, but of one that had known despair so complete that living brightly, living violently, was the only way to outrun it. (504)

"'You make me want to live, Rowan. Not survive; not exist. Live.' (527)

Page 613 - The whole scene between Aelin and Rowan. <3
"'What was it like?' Manon asked quietly. 'To love.'
'It was like dying a little every day. It was like being alive, too. It was joy so complete it was pain. It destroyed me and unmade me and forged me. I hated it, because I knew I couldn't escape it, and knew it would forever change me.' (634)


AUSTRALIA: A&R | Booktopia | Bookworld | Boomerang Books | Dymocks | Fishpond | QBD | The Nile

INTERNATIONAL: Book Depository

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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