Sunday, March 11, 2018

Review: The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross

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

Date Read: March 1 - 6 2018
Date Released: February 19th 2018
Publisher: HarperCollinsAustralia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

"Born out of wedlock, Brienna is cast off by her noble family and sent to Magnolia House - a boarding house for those looking to study the passions: art, music, dramatics, wit and knowledge. Brienna must discover her passion and train hard to perfect her skill, in the hope that she will one day graduate and be chosen by a wealthy patron, looking to support one of the `impassioned'. As Brienna gets closer to the eve of her graduation, she also grows closer to her smart (and handsome) tutor, Cartier. He can sense that she is hiding a secret, but Brienna chooses not to reveal that she is experiencing memories of her ancestors - memories uncovering the mysteries of the past that may have dangerous consequences in the present. A daring plot is brewing - to overthrow the usurper king and restore the rightful monarchy - and Brienna's memories hold the key to its success. Cartier desperately wants to help Brienna, but she must chose her friends wisely, keep her enemies close and trust no one if she is to save herself and her people."


My goodness I haven’t read something this lovely in such a long time. If an author was to take a list that said “Jaz’s Checklist for Perfect Book”, this would’ve basically ticked all the boxes. I didn’t really have any idea what I was getting into reading this (didn’t even read the blurb) but your girl was SO pleased.

I loved Brienna’s character. She starts off as kind of average, not really excelling in any of the passions of art, music, dramatics or wit. She eventually settles on knowledge but she knows she’s got nothing on the other knowledge student. What I admired about her character was her dedication and diligence – hell she knows she’s lacking and makes up for it by studying endlessly and trying her hardest. I saw in her this drive to extend herself and when she found a purpose, a calling, she dedicated 110% to the cause. She’s loyal, committed and uses her brains to her advantage when she knows she lacks in swordsmanship.

There’s a whole cast of characters dedicated to the cause of overthrowing the tyrant king and I liked the way Ross showed different sides to the characters – the refined Valenians versus the Maevans who are skilled with swords. I admired Jourdain who accepted Brienna so quickly for his cause, it took a lot of trust on his part. My favourite was Yseult who’s very quick with her blade but also kind and had a just side to her. I really hope we get to see more of her in future books. The Queen’s Rising was really Brienna focused and didn’t have the other characters as fleshed out, which I’m sure means we’ll see more of them in the sequels!

The romance WOAH AM I HERE FOR THE ROMANCE. Like I said I hadn’t read the blurb (or properly looked at the cover) going into this (sometimes I like to live life on the edge and request books based on their titles LOL) so didn’t have a clue there was romance. BUT BOY WAS I ON BOARD THIS SHIP FROM THE GET GO. I’m getting all swoony and biting my lip just thinking about it. It’s hella slow burn… SLOW. And it’s worth every. Angsty. Agonising. Precious. Stolen. Moment. I love my men smart, gentle, slightly broody but caring and hella sweet. The kind who don’t try to hide their feelings but tell you straight out how they feel and my heart is pounding just thinking of Brienna and the love interest haaaaah. I’m rest assured by Ross that there is more of this person in book 2 and I AM EXCITE.

I thought the plot was very intriguing, starting with Brienna’s flashbacks, then the mystery unfolding and the whole plan coming together. I did have a few questions as there were things that happened that looked a teeny bit like possible plot holes. I overlooked these because the beginning of the book has a whole cast of characters that gives some things away so I may have gone off these assumptions? I don’t know. Either way, it was still very fun and I loved the adventure. There’s also a touch of magic with the promise of more. I’m not usually one for light magic but I’m here for the potential! Not gonna lie, some twists were predictable but I was having so much fun (AND MY SHIP) I was happy to be along for the ride.

I can’t get over Ross’s lovely writing. It’s the perfect balance of flowery and effortless so I just flew through the pages, every night going “one more chapter” and reading like 3 instead. I really liked the world she created too – the French-inspired Valenia was delicate and lush, whereas Irish-inspired Maevana was more wild in a highlands-calling-you kind of way that spoke of freedom and castles. I loved both and can’t wait to see more of Maevana in the next books.

I enjoyed The Queen’s Rising the further I read, to the point where I was smitten. I’m not going to even deny that it’s mainly because of the romance/ship because IT IS. Lovely writing, great ship, dedicated heroine, swoony love interest and an intriguing world set up for more – WHEN IS BOOK 2?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Review: Say You'll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

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

Date Read: February 16 - 23 2018
Date Released: February 1st 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Teen Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

"When Drix was convicted of a crime--one he didn't commit--he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the new Second Chance Program, the governor's newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor's daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn't may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle's parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix's messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can't imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves--Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence--and each other to finally get what they deserve."


Katie McGarry has a real knack for writing page turning contemporaries centred on someone from the wrong side of the tracks. Whether it’s bad girl meets good boy or vice versa she always writes a good story that has me hooked.

Drix is a reformed bad boy who’s spent the last year in a special program for juvenile delinquents. He comes back home completely changed but also with a heavy heart because he was accused of a crime he didn’t commit. And he knows someone close to him did it but he took the fall. That’s the kind of guy Drix is, he loves his family and friends so much he’d protect them to no end. What I liked about Drix was he wasn’t afraid to think about his emotions and how he was feeling. He didn’t brush them away but considered how he was feeling and the impact that might have on those around him. Like if he was angry he’d stop and pause, move away from the situation if he felt like he could possibly punch a guy. What I really loved about Drix was his ability to admit his mistakes. While he didn’t commit the crime, he acknowledges that the life he was previously leading was heading towards a downward spiral. He was self-destructing, he knew it, but he couldn’t stop it. The second chance program really helped him and he openly says so instead of fighting it. I think it really shows great character growth when someone can see ways to improve themselves.

On the other perspective, governor’s daughter Elle is the external picture of perfection for her dad’s election campaign. I’m not entirely sure I enjoyed being in Elle’s head. I appreciated the way she was written in that she knows she’s privileged and extremely lucky to be living in the luxury she has. Her parents both came from tough backgrounds and worked hard so she could have everything and she knows this. She’s sheltered and quite na├»ve, struggling to earn her parents’ approval because she’s not perfect at everything. I understand all that but after a while her internal arguments just became privileged white people problems for me. Constantly complaining about how she hates being part of her dad’s campaign – understandable given the disgusting older white rich men leering at her – but at the same time loving it. I couldn’t tell if she really did enjoy spending hours memorising bullet points so she could speak to younger votes, if she really believed in a lot of those policies. She said she did but it’s easier said than done. She also hates her parents for not letting her pursue an internship because they don’t think she can handle the hours with the campaign. I didn’t get why she didn’t just pick one when it was obviously destroying her inside. I mean, at least she even had extra-curriculars to choose from? First world problems.

Obviously there’s the chemistry between them and romance which kind of developed quickly. They’re both immediately drawn to each other’s appearances. Drix was captivated by the exact shade of Elle’s blue eyes and I do admit I thought it was a bit cheesy. They do get to know each other more and like each other’s internal qualities but I couldn’t help but notice how much of it was physical?

This was the majority of the book to be honest. Flipping between Drix and Elle as they went through their internal struggles, both trying to do their part for the governor’s campaign. There’s some focus on finding the real culprit but I didn’t think it was major. This book was sloooooow. I mean that 80% of it was pretty uneventful and there’s family stuff thrown in but I was pretty bored. The only thing keeping me going was McGarry’s writing.

Overall, it was ok. I was turning those pages very quickly at the end. I enjoyed Drix’s character and the way it started with him reformed so he’s adjusting back into his life. However, I didn’t care for Elle much and the book moved slowly. The highlight was definitely McGarry’s writing and I do think her Pushing the Limits series is her strongest work yet.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Review: The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

Firstly, thanks to Harper Voyager Australia for this review copy <3

Date Read: January 31 - February 17 2018
Date Released: January 22nd 2018
Publisher: Harper Voyager Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

"Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for..."


If you told me The City of Brass was Chakraborty’s debut, I wouldn’t have believed you. Set in a wonderfully built world, with gorgeous writing and complex characters, it was easy to fall into the world of 18th century Cairo and be transported to Daevabad.

I adored our protagonist Nahri. Bred on the streets of Cairo with no family whatsoever, she’s learnt to fend for herself. Cunning, at times sly and fully independent, she’s a rare sight in a world that expects her to be married. I loved her quick thinking and ability to leverage every situation so it turned in her favour. She’s untrusting and rightly so given her upbringing. I thought this was balanced nicely with her ability to heal – she could have been taken advantage of easily because of her powers but she doesn’t let that happen. Nahri is put in a lot of difficult situations and pushed to her limits but she’s so determined and when she puts her mind to something, she succeeds.

The book switches perspectives between Nahri and Prince Ali (wow I just started humming that song from Aladdin) and while I liked his character I can’t say I particularly cared too much for his chapters. Especially during the beginning and middle, Nahri’s and Ali’s chapters alternate and I just really wanted more of Nahri. I can understand why Chakraborty did this though because Ali’s character is basically the opposite of Nahri’s. Where Nahri’s ways can be morally questionable, Ali is all about morals. He’s very devout to his religion and lives in a world of black and white… at least in the beginning. Ali is so sheltered that when his dad and brother think it time to expose him to the world, it’s not surprising how confronting reality is to him. His once black and white world is suddenly harder to navigate as he learns there is no single right or wrong. I really did love his character growth. He learns to overcome his prejudices, his preconceived notions of people and the way the world works. His is a journey of politically and morally questionable choices that would leave anybody mega confused and conflicted by the end.

All the secondary characters are important and memorable. I loved reading their interactions with each other, with Nahri and Ali. I especially loved the dynamic between Ali and his brother the Emir, Muntadhir. There is so much love there which I find refreshing and rare in books with two brothers next in line for the throne. There’s also the sweet Jamshid which I have many THOUGHTS about but shall leave unsaid for reasons.

The romance though, am I here for that. I only wish there was more. I know that wasn’t the focus of the novel but boy does Chakraborty know how to keep a shipper on the edge of her toes. It made all the rare moments more precious and cherished. Honestly, THE ANGST. Like just get together already ya know? I still have hope after that ending though and will wait to see what the sequels bring.

My issue with The City of Brass was the pacing. It was immeasurably slow. The beginning starts off great, with high speed chases and magic carpet rides (YES MAGIC CARPET RIDES but we’ll get to that later). There’s flashy magic and it’s wonderful but then it starts to draaaaag. And drag. The middle consists of a heap of… political stuff happening? In excess too. To the point where I kind of lost the plot and didn’t really know where the story was going or if it was going anywhere. I lost the bigger picture. Was it about rebellion and Daevabad’s history, was it about Nahri’s heritage, was it about Dara’s history? But then the ending comes at me in a rush and it all comes back together again. There’s a lot of secrets going on what with the current royal family, all the history of the different characters (DARA ERMAGHERD) and the unrest in the city. Chakraborty reconnects everything for one helluva killer ending and it all makes sense again! I just wish it had been spaced out better.

Let’s talking about the world building though. Weeeooooow was it imaginative and lush. From 18th century Cairo to sudden magic I was immediately immersed in this world. There are magic carpet rides (YOU CAN SCREAM NOW), enchanted tea, cursed lakes and mythical creatures throughout. Then there’s Daevabad with its upside-down waterfalls and magic where you least expect it. Can we also talk about the food? *Drools* My goodness does Chakraborty know how to make me drool. I want to eat everything described in this book. The desserts and the wine and the platters of rice and dishes full of flavour and spices. I literally just had dinner but thinking about the food in The City of Brass has my second stomach growling.

None of these complex characters or beautiful world would have worked without Chakraborty’s lovely writing. Her style is sophisticated and her flowery prose is right up my alley (again I say FOOOOD). She doesn’t overdo it, putting in just the right amount of descriptions to make me really see/feel/hear/smell the wonderful City of Brass.

Complex characters, thoughtfully and thoroughly built world, my only gripe was the pacing which was a major setback for me. Overall, The City of Brass is a strong debut from Chakraborty and I’m eager to see where the Daevabad trilogy goes.