Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

To simply call this a fairytale retelling would do this story an injustice.. This is a uniquely, magical story in its own right…

This would be one of the best books I have read this year… A story of mystery, identity, magical betrayal and intrigue.. A story of one crown – two women: Mina, whose heart is made of glass.. Lynet, who is made of snow.. both brought to life by a magician the kingdom is taught to fear..

A step-mother/step-daughter relationship based in a kingdom in need of only one queen. At sixteen years of age, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees their king for the first time, Mina makes it her mission to win the king’s heart through her beauty to become queen and finally know what love is. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother to Lynet, who at aged fifteen, is the  splitting image of her late mother but one day Lynet discovers why… A magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order but rather than filling the shoes of her late mother, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. What started as a bond between step-mother and step-daughter may soon become a fight to the death for the crown…

 I gave this book a standing ovation. This story takes you into a whole new world of twists, turns and mystery whicht left me gaping, page turning and confused as to which character had my allegiance. This story had fantastic world building and was mildly paced so it allowed me to immerse myself into this new world as well as the character development but the suspensful plot got the heart pumping and captivated me to the very end!!! Such an amazing story and I highly recommend this to fans of fairytale retellings (although I find this book is more than that) and fans of YA Fantasy Fiction… This is on the shelf as one of the best of 2017!!!

Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me a Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

Advertisements

One by Sarah Crossan

This is a must read for YA fans… I read this book in one sitting!!!

A moving and beautifully crafted story about identity, sisterhood and a love that ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

“One” is a story about Grace and Tippi, who are twins – conjoined twins and it follows their lives in high school as they have to decide whether or not to have the operation which will physical separate them.

I have always struggled to enjoy poetry but this book did the impossible. It made me love the poetry style with which this story is told. This story, and the poetry prose through which it was told, was a raw, personal story which had me feeling every emotion.

I loved this book and could not stop hugging this book after I finished the story.
-Amanda

 

Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim

“Maybe in the nightfall, we will find the true light.”

A heart-rending story set in real-life dystopian history of China’s cultural revolution. A story of friendship, hope, and freedom.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Freedom Swimmer, I was attracted to this book initially because there weren’t many books written in English on the cultural revolution in China. During the revolution period of 1962-1976 people living in China had to use ration tickets in exchange for food, clothing and furniture. This was a period where family members turned against each other, teachers and business owners publically whipped and shamed for being “exploitative”, and young students recruited to the Red Guard to spread the words of Mao Zedong (Chairman Mao). Mao Zedong’s words and ideology brainwashed and manipulated a generation of young men and women, putting them through unimaginable suffering, separating them from their families and “re-educating” their ideals; in short, robbing people of their freedom to choose and think for themselves.

Freedom Swimmer is the first Young Adult (YA) novel I have come across that explores such a complex period in China’s history through the eyes of two 17-year-old boys (Li and Ming). Ming and Li questioned the suffering that they were made to witness and endure, coming to terms with the impact of the cultural revolution and famine on their family and friends. For a better life, they’ve decided to swim for freedom through shark-infested waters to Hong Kong. Ming and Li’s story is written with so much heart and soul; at times it was gut-wrenching. There were some truly heartbreaking moments that you just have to read for yourself. The themes of friendship, coming-of-age, love and hope contrast wonderfully against this real-life dystopian backdrop which made the characters highly relatable despite the story setting in a different time and culture. Freedom Swimmer was also inspired by the author’s father’s experience and his real-life freedom swim from China to Hong Kong. This is truly a notable and unique read if you’re after a book with depth and insight, or is interested in reading about a real dystopian period in recent history.  This book is highly relevant today given the issues concerning the plight of refugees/asylum seekers, as Ming’s father said to him in Freedom Swimmer –“it doesn’t matter where they’re from, all desperate men are the same.” I highly recommend this read!

– NJ

London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning

Great Read – 4 Stars

When Sunny finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, it leads to an all night adventure across London. HAving recently moved back to Australia after living in London for 18 months, I was concerned that this book may not capture the spirit of London – or paint an accurate picture of the London I love – the London forever embedded in my heart. Sara Manning manages to capture the essence of London. A city that never sleeps. A city where you can have all night adventures, meet unique characters and make life-long memories.

This story is full of heart, humour and fun characters. Full of experiences that define London: the night bus, the horror when the tube is down, dodgy chicken shops on every corner, queuing random events like a night club in a convenience store (yes I went to one on the Shard). More importantly, Manning highlights the diversity of London – the culture, the history and the adventure that runs throughout the city.

I admit, I probably enjoyed this book mainly because of my love for London but I think most people would have fun reading this book. A book that shows what its like to be in love with a place and what it can offer. London was such a great adventure but it’s so great to be with Read3r’z Re-Vu!!

Special thanks to Allen and Unwin for sending me an Advance Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.

-Amanda

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

“When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?” – Graceling, Kristin Cashore

5 stars! Heart pounding and heart warming read! 

Graceling is a dynamic, action-packed read. I liked the concept of a medieval fantasy world containing individuals born with special abilities known as Graces, which is both deadly and exploited. I feel that the author has put a lot of thought into the world and the main character Katsa, who had to come to terms with her grace (the grace of killing) and her identity. I loved all the elements in the story from world building, the quests, characters, dialogue, plot and themes about individualism and independent choices. The story had the right mix of pace, interesting abilities and unforgettable characters that stays with you until the last page. I enjoyed the coming-of-age aspects of Katsa’s character, the highlight for me was seeing her character grow and confidence in making her own choices. For the romantics, the romance element was endearing, heartwarming and memorable – Po is a charming, incredibly caring and courageous character deserving of our protagonist’s love, read it and tell me if you feel the same! I also didn’t see all the twists and turns, but for the few that I did see – I had to read on and see if my theory held. I want to thank Jacky who told me about this marvellous novel. 

– NJ

Click here to read the book blurb on Goodreads

Other interesting quotes:

“Katsa sat in the darkness of the Sunderan forest and understood three truths. She loved Po. She wanted Po. And she could never be anyone’s but her own.”

“How absurd it was that in all seven kingdoms, the weakest and most vulnerable of people – girls, women – went unarmed and were taught nothing of fighting, while the strong were trained to the highest reaches of their skill.”

“It seems better to me for a child to have these skills and never use them, than not have them and one day need them,” she said.

The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

This was a fantastic read, A book I would give this 6 stars to if I could

From beginning to end this book is an amazing page turner!! An Arabian nights inspiration comes a creative story set in a land ruled by a murderous boy-king where each dawn brings grief to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When Shahrzad’s dearest friend, Shiva falls victim to the Caliph, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride and is determined not only to stay alive, but vows to avenge her best friend death by plotting to kill the Caliph.

However, Shahzrad learns once volunteering herself to be the Caliph’s next wife that things may not always be what they seem. There is more to the tale than what she knows and it’s a strange turn of events when Shahrzad has lived past dawn and night after night she enchants the Caliph, Khalid with stories of the old. What happens next will blow your mind!!! Such an addictive read – very well written and nothing like I have read before – I cannot wait for the next book!!! 10/10!!!

-Annie

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

An unforgettable, emotional epic ending

The Winner’s Trilogy # 3 …. 4.5 stars

“There is a difference between you and me. If I die, you’ll survive. If you die, it will destroy me.” -Arin

The Winner’s Kiss combined all the best parts of The Winner’s Curse (book 1) and The Winner’s Crime (book 2); there’s more character development, more tender moments for Arin and Kestrel, more plot twists, tension and strategy games between Herran, Valoria and Dacra. You’ll feel as if you’re reading a chess game, you’ll end up second guessing every choice made by the characters, and you’ll discover that trust is such a delicate, precious commodity in times of love, friendship and war. 

What I loved most about this book is what was left “unsaid”. Much of the feelings and emotions were inferred through simple actions and clipped dialogue between the characters e.g. a nod of acknowledgement, a tender look between characters, gestures of thanks and forgiveness, a sigh of resignation, a meaningful touch, or a perceptive remark. It makes the story heartfelt; the emotions delicate, exquisite and raw. It also added more depth to the characters. There’s not many YA books I would re-read but I would re-read this book as I loved the way it’s written. The Winner’s Trilogy is well worth the investment! Recommended for readers that love political intrigue, plot twists, love, ‘everything hanging on the balance’ moments and character development.

Other great quotes:

“She thought of her past. Her whole life. ‘I want better choices’
‘Then we must make a world that had them.'”

“‘It’s not like you to question someone’s friendship.’…
‘Maybe I should’
‘Maybe it would make you less yourself, if you did'”

“You don’t need to be gifted with a blade. You are your own best weapon.”

image

Click here to read the book blurb on Goodreads.

– NJ