Shadow Study. Maria V. Snyder.

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Shadow Study
by Maria V. Snyder

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

(This review was actually done last year and chronicles my reading experience!)

F I R S T  I M P R E S S I O N S

Omg so it’s true, there are three more books! Well, I can’t say that I’m not excited, because I am, and because I really love the original three, but will they live up to my expectations? Yelena and Valek are my favouritest couple ever! I guess I’m excited?? But expectations…are hard to live up to sometimes.

update–16th Nov 2015 at 00:15am
loveeedddd this! missed this world so much!! Yelena, Valek, ari, Janco, everyone and everything!

more detailed review later!

U P D A T E
– 11am 16th Nov 2015

So technically it’s 4.5 stars but in this case, the rating doesn’t really matter because as a long time fan of this series, I loved this installment a lot! And my expectations weren’t disappointed (mainly because I really was soooo in the mood to read this).

Welcome back Yelena and Valek, and all the crew of the Study series. This time though, rather than simply being told from Yelena’s perspective, the story is alternated between Yelena, Valek and Janco. This was a nice change, and while I usually have reservations about one character being told in first person, and the others in third, Snyder blended it in pretty nicely. In many ways, Shadow Study is more Valek’s story than Yelena’s, as we learn so much about him than we ever had in previous books.

It never ceases to amaze me how easily I can slip into the Study series’ world. Comprised two countries: Ixia and Sitia, one North, the other South, one organised like a military with a Commander as its head, the other more relaxed and functioning with a Council and full support for the existence of magicians. Snyder doesn’t bog down the writing with long and winded, detailed and sometime painfully irritating descriptions of the world. Yet, somehow, it’s so very easy to imagine her worlds. Her details are brief yet somehow, oddly vivid. In a way, it helps that the original trilogy was written in first person, because it does, I feel, help the reader become immersed into the world a lot easier. Plus, Snyder had a nice way of providing info without the usual infodumping (in the lessons Yelena had with Valek way back in Poison Study).

This book is set across both lands. Which is great, though still, predominantly in Sitia, I was happy to see more of Ixia, since I missed seeing it in Magic Study and Fire Study.

Yelena, Valek, Janco, Ari, the Commander, the Master Magicians are all back! Along with more familiar faces! Good guys and bad guys alike!

The only difference though, is that it’s been eight years since the events of Poison Study. And it was both odd and normal to see Yelena as a 27 year old woman. It was a little strange, mainly because she didn’t sound any different or act any different to the original trilogy, yet, she is definitely older. Though, still, sometimes as immature as before (specially when she’s around her brother Leif). I liked that she was familiar, it made it all the more easier to re-engage with this series.

Valek. Oh Valek! I learnt so much about you this time. It was really nice to see your life before Yelena, and I like also, seeing your development, after all, we never really got to get to know you before not like this. Still, I really wonder how you’ll deal with all the problems you’re facing, and are coming at you next! And not to mention the cliffie at the end of this book.

Janco–I totally didn’t expect to read from his perspective, but that was interesting! But unlike Valek’s part, Janco’s is written like Yelena’s in the sense that it was action orientated rather than character building. Though, told from third pov perspective. As one of my favourite characters always simply because he has such a big mouth and is unable to ever sit still, it was nice seeing how he thought, and his attitudes to people.

Ari, more of a support than main, poor guy he didn’t get his own personal pov, but that’s alright! The little snippets of him and Janco were, like always, absolutely hilarious. They really make a great pair, and are one of my favourite comedy relief characters, such a good broship.

Other supporting characters: Opal and Devlen return, they were great to see! Opal is so mature and nice, I’d forgotten that. Devlen is still growing on me. Leif was the best! I mean someone really needs to figure out how to plug his stomach up. The Master Magicians, helpful but had a really small role. And the Commander. Oh, the Commander, what are you planning?

This was actually quite straightforward, and a little predictable, but it has that classic Snyder flavour of twists and turns, and sudden surprises. All the study books have a focus on mystery, so I’m not surprised that the majority of this book was also focussed on a problem that’s affecting both Ixia and Sitia.

Valek’s job, while he has always cherished it, since meeting Yelena, has thought about retiring. And while he’s always been challenged, there hasn’t been a challenger quite like this one. So while he’s worried about Yelena, he must also figure out the challenger, the Commander, and figure out what’s going on behind the smuggling operation.

Yelena’s magic is suddenly blocked, why? She doesn’t know, but for the book, she’s vulnerable. This plot development early on actually gave me the chance to see a side of Yelena I hadn’t seen before. It’s funny because the last time she had no magic was back in Poison Study, and for her to revisit that feeling, it’s such a scary thing for her. Yet she remains strong, even though for the most of this book, she feels lost. So while she’s trying to figure out what secret is lurking behind the recent breakout of a notorious prisoner, and trying to figure out what happened to her powers, she’s vulnerable to anything.

Very easy to read. Colloquial and not dense at all. Descriptive without being overly so! And Snyder has a nice way of leaving each chapter ending with a hook to make you keep reading! It’s also high fantasy. Definitely YA even though the main characters are beyond YA ages, however the writing and storyline is very YA. Complex enough for the genre, but not as complex and in depth like an adult novel.


Really enjoyed this installment–my opinion ladies and gents is unfortunately very biased based on the fact that I’ve loved this series for ages! If I was’t so biased, I might have rated this lower, maybe 4 stars, maybe 3.8 because although there was a lot going on, and although Snyder does a brilliant job with switching povs, there felt like something missing. But it was only such a slight small thing (I don’t know what it is), that I guess it doesn’t matter to me!

It’s a great YA high fantasy splashed with mystery. It has one of my favourite OTPs too. And it’s got a nice mix of serious characters and humorous ones so it doesn’t feel so heavy.

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Top 5 Favourite Book Series.

Totally random post (and I have no idea what day I’m scheduling this for!), but I felt like sharing 5 of my favourite book series.  Since I’m only going for 5, they’re probably all going to be YA.  But I do have some favourite adult books and of other genres!

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  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2) by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3) by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4) by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5) by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6) by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7) by J.K. Rowling

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Harry Potter! Of course, I LOVE this series. It takes an undebateable top spot on this list simply because this was the first series I ever read and loved to bits. Even though when I first came in contact with this series, I was around 7 or 8?  I had it read to me, because I was at a point where I couldn’t read it for myself yet. But by the time Prisoner of Azkaban came out, I was reading the books on my own, over and over again.  So of course, this series takes the number one spot on my top five favourite series.  How can it not?  😛

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2.  A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1) by Libba Bray Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle, #2) by Libba Bray The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle, #3) by Libba Bray

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Next on the list would have to be the Gemma Doyle Trilogy. This is on here because it was the first YA series I read during highschool. I’d love to say I read books every single day since I first encountered HP but truthfully, I stopped for a while for a variety of reasons. And because I stopped, I wanted to get back into the swing of things. And doing that, I started with standalones like Just Listen (Sarah Dessen), The Truth about Forever (Sarah Dessen) and Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher). But the Gemma Doyle Trilogy was my first series. And I LOVED it for the historical setting. LOVED it for its gothic story. LOVED the ending even though it was somewhat heartshattering.  But it was also the first time I had ever encountered a story that did not end in happy ever after (if you’ve read this series, then you’ll understand what I mean!)

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3. Poison Study (Study, #1) by Maria V. Snyder Magic Study (Study, #2) by Maria V. Snyder Fire Study (Study, #3) by Maria V. Snyder Shadow Study (Soulfinders, #1) by Maria V. Snyder Night Study (Study, #5) by Maria V. Snyder Dawn Study (Soulfinders, #3) by Maria V. Snyder

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Next would have to be the Study Series. This holds a special place in my heart for being so awesome.  I think what I loved about this series was that Yelena is the main character.  Despite her hard history, she is able to stand on her feet and keep trying.  Although she falls in love, their romance is not the sole focus of the whole story.  I love how it’s there, and yet, doesn’t take over the whole show!  Not to mention that this was perhaps one of the first series where I decided to read it again right after I had just finished it.  How did I come across it?  I think I was looking for stories that involved assassins – in particular female, since I really was in the mood.  This wasn’t it, but it came up in the search, and I figured I’d give it a try.  It was also one of the first few books in which I actually did not mind the larger age gap between the main protagonist and her love interest.

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4. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1) by Marissa Meyer Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2) by Marissa Meyer Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3) by Marissa Meyer Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5) by Marissa Meyer Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4) by Marissa Meyer Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer

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Even though I’ve only read this series recently, it definitely deserves a place on my list of favourite series for simply being amazing.  I think it’s one of the most creative retellings I’ve ever come across in a long time.   l love the mesh of science fiction, fairy tales, and imperfect characters.  The romances are also very adorable.  But what holds this series together, is the well planned out plot.  Some of it was very predictable, but there was enough emotion to keep the roller coaster going.  I had to consume each book as quick as possible, and I think, asides from the other books on this list, this is something I haven’t done for a long time (or so it feels like!)

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5. Obernewtyn (The Obernewtyn Chronicles, #1) by Isobelle Carmody The Farseekers (The Obernewtyn Chronicles, #2) by Isobelle Carmody Ashling (The Obernewtyn Chronicles, #3) by Isobelle Carmody The Keeping Place (The Obernewtyn Chronicles, #4) by Isobelle Carmody The Stone Key (The Obernewtyn Chronicles, #5) by Isobelle Carmody The Sending (The Obernewtyn Chronicles, #6) by Isobelle Carmody The Red Queen (The Obernewtyn Chronicles, #7) by Isobelle Carmody

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I include the Obernewtyn series here as well because I feel I need to add at least one Australian author on my list.  And there aren’t many Australian authors with series I wanted to list that I’ve finished.  But Obernewtyn, though I started it late, is definitely a long time favourite of mine.  I forgive the somewhat slow ending because I love, love love what Carmody does with her story here.  Not only is it a great story that features heavy themes about Being Kind to Animals and whatnot, Carmody does something really special with the language.  As a linguist, I don’t see this kind of creativity very often.  Most other authors who’ve written books set in the future and are considered YA don’t really give much attention to the language. But language, people! is tied with our existence, and it does not truly remain the same.  It evolves!  It would definitely look different in the near and distant future.  Carmody knows language.  It’s beautiful.  I think this was probably one of the reasons why I was really attracted to her story (that and all my favourite characters!)  She even gives the animals a really believable language system too!  And this is why I also love the Obernewtyn series (not just the story!), it’s because of her approach to the language.

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And those are my top five favourites!  What about you?  What are some of your all time favourite book series?

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Oh and to wrap up – some honourable mentions!

Night Circus. Erin Morgenstern.


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by Erin Morgenstern

MY RATING: 3 | 3.5 | 3.8. Depending on how I want to look at this story. (And this time, I’m writing three mini reviews based on how I felt, and why I would have rated it 3, 3.5, or 3.8. Since depending on the kind of reader or the shoes I decide to put on, I could have found this book mediocre, or I could have really loved it.)

Buddy read with Woolfie! for the Quarterly Book Club!

In all honesty, I am so utterly conflicted about how I feel about this book! It took me longer to read, simply because I had to put it down for a moment, and read something else. Of course, when I went to read something else, I kind of understand now the difference between this book and others. And also, what separated other more exciting books with this one.

What I do love across all my conflicted rating choices is the ‘circus’. I love the Circus in this story, and to me, it was the highlight of the story.

What I absolutely hated across all three ratings is the very fact that the alternating POVs sucked. I didn’t like it at all. Morgenstern definitely doesn’t write it well enough, nor in a way in which I could appreciate it fully.


I rated this book 3 stars on one level simply because asides from one factor, this book loses its appeal. You get dragged into this 400 something paged book with promises of a dual between two really promising ‘illusionists’ who battle it out in a circus venue. It’s a very promising start, and I must say The Prestige flickered through my mind initially. Of course, thankfully I don’t remember much about the Prestige, but one thing’s for sure, The Night Circus does not read anything like the Prestige. It’s a very disappointing comparison. Asides from a similar sounding premise, The Night Circus and The Prestige are nothing alike! At this rating I can safely say this book is very boring. It coasts for one, does not have enough highs and lows. And You are distanced from the characters, giving you very little space to actually care about them. It also doesn’t help that the style is third person and it’s written with alternating point of views. I honestly ended the story without caring much for Celia or Marco or Bailey. Didn’t really care about any of them!

The Promise of an epic contest, is actually very mild. There’s no intensity to the challenge placed on Celia and Marco. The game itself is merely enchanting etc…the details of which you won’t find out until the last 100 pages. Although it’s the most promoted part of the book, it pretty much plays the smallest role in the book. Which is a shame. I wanted someone to epically fail! (Well I won’t tell you what happens at the end, but if you’re after a plot orientated story, this isn’t it. If you’re after a epic battle, this isn’t it either.)

 Remember how I said there was a factor that stood out the most? Well, if I am a reader who is simply after beautiful writing, then this was the book that I wanted. When I say beautiful, I don’t mean loquaciously elegant, utterly stuffed and dense with metaphoric meaning – that’s writing that can and may not always be beautiful if the meaning is obscured by the overuse of language at its finest – I mean that the writing is simple yet wonderfully adorning the pages of my book with some whimsical beauty. It reminds me a little of Lauren Oliver’s (Delirium, Before I Fall) writing (of course with the different styles). Even though I felt close to nothing for the non-existent-yet-supposed-to-be-there romance between Celia and Marco, I found something sparkly and enticing in the writing style. I would definitely read another piece of writing from Erin Morgenstern just for the writing!

But of course, under this writing, my feelings about other aspects of the book don’t stray far from my 3 star rating. I still can’t tell myself that there was chemistry between Celia and Marco. I still feel the duel/battle/challenge between Celia and Marco was over promoted or at the very least wasn’t described accurately enough. The emotions just weren’t really there in the book. And I really, really, really, hated the alternating POVs. Normally I’m alright with it. But this time, I just couldn’t handle it. It infuriated me, irritated me, and seriously, I had an urge to stab the book simply because it was so jarring and choppy and didn’t really help the flow of the story at all. SURE, I loved some parts of the alternating POVs, but most of the time, I found the pov switch happened at the worst possible moments.

 This isn’t the most perfect book in the world. Yet, I can see why it’s loved. I can also understand why others have given it positive 4 or 5 ratings. This book has the potential! If I looked at this with a critical literary eye, I would say, in a way, it’s an intriguing piece of ingenuity. What this book is, is not a love story, or a romance, or an epic, or an antihero story, or a magician story. What it is, is a book about a circus, about the people in the circus, about how it became to be. It is a magical thing, full of mystery, and like the way the story is written, it is filled with many tents, not half of them possibly discovered all at once, but instead must be discovered one by one when the time is right for each one.

This is how the Night Circus unfolded.

Morgenstern weaves her story, one chapter at a time. She does not aim to shock or startle her reader with a hook at the end of each chapter. Instead, she just weaves her story, and I’m reminded of Dickens, a little, or Wuthering Heights, those old classics that are always so dense and leave me holding on somehow for weeks simply because I want to finish it. But of course, the writing of the Night Circus is simpler. The tale this book holds is something precious, and shouldn’t be read as a romance or action filled novel.

It should be read as a history of the circus, or something similar. Because that’s how it unfolds, and to me, I found that the main character in the whole book is the circus itself. In a way, there was a flavour of One Hundred Years of Solitude – not in the magical realism sense, or that Morgenstern had the same way with words as Marquez has, or that the fates of the characters are even remotely similar. What they have similar is this winding tale that lasts for a few decades. Time is and isn’t of the essence in this book, so the flow of time in the story is jumpy, choppy, and a pain to deal with.

In my other ratings, I complained a little about the style. The choppiness, etc. Well, under this rating, I can say that the style isn’t entirely worthless. A little spoiler. By the end of the book you learn that the story is actually a recount by Wdget (who he is, you’ll find out if you go read the book!). Thus, it makes sense that there’s a distance placed between him and the other characters of the story since he hasn’t been around long enough to know all the history (which also knows at the same because of his abilities). Still. For someone who was so intimately knowledgeable about characters in the book, it is a little unbelievable that there isn’t as much connection between the reader and the characters.

In saying that, even at the 3.8 rating, there are cons I can’t run away from.
– The story is a coasty. (But then, this can be a pro too if you’re after a beautiful story about life.)
– Half the flipping time, I kept getting caught up by the introduction of one character, then the sudden use of ‘he’ or ‘she’ ONLY to find that it wasn’t referring to the character I’d just been introduced too.
– Choppy alternating POVs.


Late 1800s, early 1900s. Originally set in London, but moves from city to city. The Circus is also the main setting too.


Look. This book is pretty relative. You’ll either love it. Or hate it. I liked it. But had my problems with it. The ABOVE is a very sketchy right-this-moment reflection of how I feel after finishing. BUT actually, I’m still not sure how I REALLY feel about this. I like it. But I don’t love everything about it. If anything of the above appeals to you, relates to you, interests you, then give this a go?

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Quarterly Book Updates!

First off, sorry guys for disappearing!  Three weeks of my life just came and went and I have no idea how.  I do know however I did age a year older, but really, I don’t feel much different!  (Soon I shall post my birthday book haul, most likely on instagram, but I’ll suggestive read them here if they’re any good!  One of which will be the first of a series I hope to read for the Quarterly Book Club!)

Quarterly Reads 3

Since the start of the month, it’s been that time of the year again!  What’s on the list for the second Quarter of 2016?

Well Sam and I have decided that we’re going to one quarter on Science Fiction since last year we missed out this broad genre.

So far on the poll list, we have:

I’m looking forward to the next Quarter!  It’s been a while since I read something science fiction, and personally, I can’t wait!

If you’re in the Quarterly Book Club group on Goodreads, please vote, let us know what you’d like to read! (Link)

If you’re not, tell me, what of the above have you personally enjoyed reading?  I’ve read All Our Yesterdays which I can absolutely suggest as a read!  And the first Starbound book.  Currently, I’m reading Lost Stars, and need to finish that actually! So what books have you enjoyed?

The Quarterly Book Club is designed for the busy reader, with Quarterly reading challenges as well as Yearly challenges for flexibility. It’s also a place for personal reading challenges, book discussions, and essentially sharing your book tastes with others of similar tastes. Although we mainly focus on YA novels, that does not mean that we don’t read Adult or Middle Grade novels.
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Brought to you and hosted by Sam @ A History of Books and Nina @Words that Flow Like Water
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Hopefully we’ll see you there 🙂 Sam and I will be posting the challenges that we do over on the group here on wordpress and post any book related posts in our group.  We Hope You Can Join Us!!!  We really would love to see you there!

 

The Red Queen. Isobelle Carmody.


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The Red Queen by Isobelle Carmody

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Read: 23 Dec 2015

How to begin this review/Suggestive Read? In truth, this is one of the hardest ones I’ll probably ever write, simply because this is one of the longest series I’ve ever waited end on end to read.

And yes, my rating is biased on the fact that I’ve loved this series for so long and now it’s over! If I didn’t the rating might have dropped to 3-4stars for length and odd-ish pacing.

This will probably be a sketchy review of the whole series, and an indepth-ish review of this book. I remember reading the first book thinking that it’s okay. I remember the mystery etc., and thinking, I’d like to see where this will go. When I started reading the second than third sequels, I started really falling in love with the story. Isobelle Carmody does many things with her series. She brings forward so many truths about life we should always be more wary of. Things like being kind to animals, being kind to each other, the dangers of humanity, and my favourite part–yes I know, it must seem really weird, but when I think about all the other dystopia, scifi novels, and futuristic stories set in a distant future, I think, there isn’t really many books that matches Obernewtyn when it comes to a convincing way of portraying language in a distant future. AND I LOVE THIS. Do you know why I love this? Because as a linguist, it gives me chills to see it done well. What Carmody does, is not like what other authors do, just changing a little this, or saying that the characters are speaking ‘another’ language, or have characters simply imply that there are ‘differences’ between their language and that of the past. The characters in the Obernewtyn series really uses, speaks and thinks in a wholly evolved English language. They use words that are pronounced exactly the same, yet are written differently enough that you know you’re not in the same world.

Speaking of the world.

The Obernewtyn Series is amazing. The World Building is fantabulous. Isobelle Carmody does a wonderful job in building her world. There’s various territories, the Tainted Lands from the Great White aka Great Cataclysm, etc. Because this series is set in a distant future, it feels more like a fantasy than scifi. But it’s a pretty well developed fantasy. It has the flavour of a historical fantasy, with horses being the main mode of transport, and of near (but not really) primitive means of survival, yet there is a very comfortable mix of digital technology. I really loved the smooth transition between the world that the story exists in and to the old technology of the past (which would in fact be the kind of technology we have today). I never once felt like it was out of place.

Now, since it seems like I’m writing this Suggestive Read backwards, let’s get to the Characters.

For me, it’s really hard to review my opinion on every single character in this book. Simply because the Red Queen features all the characters from previous stories, and for several pages, it took me awhile remember all the faces. Admittedly, I wish I had reread all the books before getting to this one, but with the limited time, and the hateful waiting for the books at the library, I forgoed it.(I would own all the books, but I started reading it with loaned books, and maybe, in the near future, I’ll by the boxset 🙂 ). But it didn’t take me long to remember, I mean with 1100 pages to read, there was bound to be a nice portion devoted to linking this sequel back to the events of the previous installments. And Carmody did, though it was a slight info dump, it wasn’t such a pain to read, nor did she do it all completely in one shot. With characters, it was a little harder. I had a good memory of most, and the more I read, the more I remembered, though of specific events involving characters, that was different. But I DEFINITELY remembered the emotions tied to each character. Specially characters like Dameon, Rushton, Dragon, Matthew, Swallow, Miryum, Maruman, and Gahltha, etc. It was great seeing them all again, and watching them develop. Especially since the whole series covers a period of around 5 years.

Elspeth is the main character though and her story is the most important. How to stop the weaponmachines from destroying the world a second time and causing a more devastating great white? That’s Elspeth’s mission. And throughout this book, we see her make choices that are sometimes cold because of her quest. Yet they always tear her apart. She always stayed true to her calling, even though in previous books, she had faltered.

Dragon, another favourite character of mine, grew a lot in this book too. She changed when she regained what was hers, but she really does become what she is supposed to be. I loved her.

And as for the other characters, it was great to read them all over again. Dameon’s crushing feelings, the ones he had to hide for so long, they were so sweetly and tenderly expressed, and as expected of an unrequited love, Dameon steps aside. I felt so sorry for him, yet by the end of the book, it is clear that he and Elspeth will always remain friends.

As for a character I wanted to see more of! RUSHTON. I was so disappointed that we didn’t get to see more of him!! He, unfortunately, only appears towards the end of the book, within the last fifty pages as a proper character, rather than just being a part of Elspeth’s dreams.

Things I want to mention

…since I can’t talk about the plot without spoiling the rest of the other books. The book is MASSIVE and it was a pain to read everything, since it took a while. I wish it was smaller, but without the size that it is, it probably wouldn’t have been able to convey everything it should and did. Carmody put so much in this book and she paced it well. The easy pace meant I didn’t feel like it was rushed or that events were being forced on me because it had to happen before the next thing could. It felt easy and tame. I still wish it was smaller though!

It was also a bit slow sometimes, if one didn’t have the patience for reading such a big book. My favourite parts were the parts when Elspeth actually did something.

Overall.

I find that this is probably one of the best Sci-fi fantasy stories set in a distant future written by an Australian author, yet first written back in like idk the eightiess??? in a long time. And I don’t think there are many Australian authors that can beat this anytime soon. I think this series is AMAZING and deserves to be read from book 1 to book 7. And no review can do it any justice at all. Not even this one. I can’t even begin to put how I felt once this series finished–let’s just say, I was so torn! But happy with the ending!

ALSO I wanted to compare this to a few things. Reading this now again after reading The Darkest Minds, I’m reminded of how similar they are a little. Mainly in terms of paranormality and also, that both series have particular categories of paranormal abilities. But both series are very different.

I also had another comparison in mind, but momentarily forgotten. Will add a little later. A lot of popular YA sci fi novels these days had elements that are already present in the Obernewtyn Series, which, has been around for sooooo long.

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These Broken Stars. Amie Kaufman & Megan Spooner


These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5/idk it’s good enough to be 5 stars yet I don’t know why I’m holding back!

Really enjoyed this, eyes glued to the pages at that dangerous level of engagement (do not touch or I’ll explode kind of intensity).

I can’t even explain how I feel right now but this book is a little bit more than just a romance. It’s not even really a romance! nor love focussed yet THAT plays such a big role and the fact that there’s just two of them. Really….I think I just need to read next book and the last book to really really understand how deep this trilogy will go.

Shucks I can’t explain this right now–but I TOTALLY get what Sam’s review over at A History of Books refers to now! and I get it. I totally agree with her.

Okay a more coherent examination later. But note: while in the beginning I was reading this out of curiosity and as a recommended book, and expected more love/romance, but by the end, I was in this for the meaning. I was in this for the mystery. I wasn’t in it for Lilac and Tarver only anymore (I think if I was, I’d have rated it lower), I was in this for the ending. (Well near the ending part).

U P D A T E

From the above you can see that I ended this book really enjoying it. Hard not to when the climax of the whole novel had me in chills and goosebumps. It was creepy yet it wasn’t so creepy that it would keep you up with nightmares. Rather, it was creepy because of the implications. I mean, sure this book is sci-fi fantasy. It’s not real. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be real in the future. Scientists are always wondering and searching the world for the existence of life other than Earth after all.

P L O T

So this book begins with a scene and disaster parallel to that of the titanic. Lilac LaRoux is the daughter of the richest man in the universe and she’s on the Icarus, one of her father’s biggest luxury spaceliners, for her birthday. Tarver Merendson is a decorated war hero,a guest on the Icarus. There’s a little of instalove here, but trust me, it’s not really instalove. Anyway, so he meets her for the first time, and unaware of her identity, he shows an interest in her. Just like she shows him (though she knows exactly who he is). But it doesn’t take long before she draws a line between them, and makes it clear that he was just a game.

And then disaster strikes. The Icarus is yanked out of hyperspace, and plummets into the nearest planet–Lilac and Tarver just manage to escape in their escape pod which neither had wanted to share if survival hadn’t been at the forefront of their minds.

They are the only ones to survive. And yet they hope for rescue. So together they travel across the terrain of the terraformed planet towards the wreckage of the Icarus in hopes of being rescued. After all, the spaceliner of such a big company as LaRoux Industries carrying the daughter of it’s head, would be looked for after all right?

The plot is slow going, with very little plot. It reminds me of Blood Red Road, where the beginning of the story is focussed on the main character in search of something. There’s a very small cast of people, and it’s simply a narrative of their travels, their fears, and their discoveries. Lilac and Tarver, after their encounter on the Icarus dislike each other immensely during the first half of their trek across this unknown terraformed world. Well, they don’t really dislike each other, but rather, they dislike the hierarchy that separates them. For Tarver, he just wants to be rescued and off this planet, same as Lilac, so they stick together.

As the journey proceeds, Lilac is the first to be affected by the strange things on the planet. There are whispers, and things that mysteriously appear. As they get closer to their goal, the mystery deepens as they constantly question the existence of this planet…

R O M A N C E

I figured I’d give this its separate section since the premise of my edition heavily implies romance. I quote:

These Broken Stars is a timeless love story about hope and survival in the face of unthinkable odds.

There is a love story. But it’s not hot and heavy, nor is it fast and dramatic. It’s slow and accumulating, building over the time that Lilac and Tarver spent together. It’s not my favourite kind of love story because it focusses so much on tthe love story. I love slow burning love stories but I don’t like books that only focus on love stories (too muvh romance and not enough action sometimes!). And this book, like I mentioned earlier, is focussed on the development of their relationship as they traverse the plains of the terraformed planet, and yet isn’t so overdone that I had to roll my eyes and put it down. What I appreciated was the way Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner develop both Tarver and Lilac. They also develop the relationship between the two characters, giving them more than just an ‘instalove’ story.

But even though there’s a strong love story, I feel like These Broken Stars has actually got a stronger mystery plot. It’s a survival story too.

C H A R A C T E R S

Lilac LaRoux is a spoiled rich brat. But I figured she probably wasn’t as spoiled as she seemed. (Kind of classic YA.) She was interesting. I liked her character in the sense that I didn’t find her annoying. I like that she grows through the book. That she’s not above helping out and taking on some of the workload. I should point out though, that in the beginning, Lilac is somewhat pretty insufferable! She seems so spoilt! But she’s not really as spoilt as she seems…

Tarver Merendson is awesome. Well as awesome as a guy gets in YA. I mean he’s clever, reliable, actually capable of doing things rather than just brooding and being grumpy. But he’s a little skeptical–which, I think is a good thing since it gives him that additional dimension. I also feel this book was more his story, since his chapters seemed a lot more substantial than Lilac’s!

S E T T I N G

Futuristic world. Sci-fi. Some Terraformed planet.

W R I T I N G

Very nice. Very easy to read. Wasn’t overly descriptive, so sometimes I had to stop and reread again to see what I’d missed. But otherwise I did like the writing. This book is also sci-fi, though it’s not really a heavy sci-fi. It does deal with things you’d see common to the genre, but I don’t feel (at the moment) that it’s too much sci-fi. Meaning, even if you don’t like sci-fi, you might like this if you like fantasy. There aren’t any mind-boggling terms to work your way around, no foreign scientific hardcore jargon to burn those cogs in your head.

Also, this book is written in first person pov.

O V E R A L L

I really wished I’d bought This Shattered World the last time I went to the store. I’d have started reading that now! But well. This book….this book….well if any of the above appeal to you, then give this book a go? That’s what I’d suggest! ALSO, I have to say, I LOVE that Amie Kaufman is Australian. As an Australian myself, that makes me go gaga over wanting to read this. And wonder why I hadn’t done it earlier!

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Paper Valentine. Brenna Yovanoff.

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Paper Valentine
by Brenna Yovanoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read as a Your Choice Book for the Quarterly Book Club 3rd Quarter Read (Paranormal/Mystery/supernatural)

Okay so I gave this 4 stars primarily because in comparison to the last book I read, this one was so much better. Once the story started flowing (thankfully within the first 50 pages), I really started getting engaged, and it didn’t take me long to finish this at all! (It does help that I had a to-and-back train ride to read.)


The Plot

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

Paper Valentine is a hauntingly poetic tale of love and death by the New York Times bestselling author of The Replacement and The Space Between.

For a book like this, I think it was well done over all. If I compared to this another book, I’m not sure I would pick out any flaws, because there aren’t many–or maybe it’s better said that compared to the last book I read, I had a lot more to like in this book in comparison. The plot is pretty average, pretty straightforward. It takes a moment to get used to the idea of the ghost hanging around, but you know what? I think the ghost’s relationship with Hannah is the most outstanding part of this novel. The actual mystery plot was pretty predictable, but at the same time, not very. I didn’t exactly spot it until later on. Still, it was a nice twist. I was expecting it though!


The Characters


Hannah Wagner is the main character and focal of the whole story. On the whole, she’s a quiet girl who always seemed to be overshadowed by her best friend, the now dead Lillian. For a moment, I thought this story would twist their relationship and burn it after ripping up all the history between the two, leaving me with a story about a girl who actually didn’t realise her best friend didn’t like her that much and was only haunting her because she was the only girl who was too chicken to do anything. BUT. Yovanoff didn’t do that. What she did though was paint the story of a girl who had taken her own life and another girl, the one left behind, and wove a beautiful story of friendship between them. The ups and the downs, the anger and the sadness. THe loneliness and the grief. Yovanoff exposes it, and spoon feeds you as the reader, guiding you on a coaster of paranormal mystery. I really love the things that Hannah realises about herself and also, about everyone else around her, and mostly, about Lillian. It was also interesting to compare the inner voice of Hannah and her actual physical appearance. She’s described as small, and wears a lot of bright coloured dresses (influenced by Lillian), something I often forgot, since her inner voice never seemed like someone who would wear a brightly coloured dress.

Oh Lillian who I can’t remember despite just finishing this, what her last name is. Lillian is the ghost of the story. She is literally a ghost, and she is currently haunting Hannah. Or rather, more specifically, she’s watching over her (something that isn’t entirely evident until later on). She is definitely a colourful character. Certainly, a much more outstanding social voice than Hannah, yet before this book starts, she suicided, and it absolutely devastated Hannah. Yet she’s still alive six months later, albeit as a ghost, and she’s haunting Hannah. If Hannah is the main character, then Lillian is the second. And I really loved how her character developed. I really loved how much the pair mean to each other. The declaration of their friendship is so much more than the small romance in this book–the romance is nothing in comparison! It’s cute yeah, but your eyes and mind will be on Hannah and Lillian.

Other characters, all had evidently important/key roles in the story. Although with one character, I did want to kind of see what happens after the ending scene of this book, but that’s just one small desire compared to whole of the book. One small tie which well, quite frankly, it was nice to see Hannah snapping at that girl! Finny was an interesting love interest. Though, their romance was a very small aspect of the book. Ariel–love her as Hannah’s sister! As for other primary characters, they were all interesting! Specially who turned out to be the murderer in the end.


Setting

The City of Ludlow.

And also predominantly Muncy Park where most of the killings take place. At times I forgot to worry about what era this was set in, because even though it’s set in contemporary I often forgot because Hannah was always wearing some brightly coloured vintage thing. Another thing about Hannah.


The Writing

On the whole I liked the writing. First person, plain and not overly embellished with pointlessly dense metaphors. And yeah, that’s all I have to say about the writing. It was very simple, but not overly simple. It brings out the emotions which I like the best about the writing. Other than that, yeah!


Overall

I suggest this as a suggestive read. I liked it. (Even if my opinion is a little biased based on what I just read yesterday–A History of Glitter and Blood.) It’s not bad for a paranormal mystery. Simple, quick, easy, and not at all disappointing (though maybe if I’d read this another time, after a series of spectacular books, this book’s good stuff might have been dimmed in comparison).

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