Book Review: Iron Gold

33876216Rating Five Star

Title: Iron Gold

Author: Pierce Brown

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Series? Yes

Goodreads

Book Depository // Dymocks // Booktopia


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia, all opinions are mine.

Note: This review will contain spoilers for the first Red Rising trilogy (including spoilers of the last book, Morning Star). I promise it will be absolutely spoiler-free for Iron Gold itself! If you haven’t read the previous trilogy, what are you waiting for?! Go binge it immediately, it will be one of the best decisions you’ll make this year.

Iron Gold
Darrow Character Art by Magali Villeneuve

I can say with absolute certainty that the Red Rising trilogy is one of the best series I’ve ever read, and it’s one I regularly recommend to avid bookworms and reluctant readers alike. Aside from its gripping action and high-octane emotional drama, the series is populated by some of my fictional favourites. While I found Morning Star a wholly satisfying conclusion, I was pumped to discover Pierce Brown wanted to expand on the series. We’ve seen numerous fictional tyrannical empire fall before visionary young leaders, yet we rarely witness the aftermath of these upheavals. Iron Gold explores the conflict and unrest which continues to plague the newfound Republic a decade after its establishment.

“War eats the victors last.”

If the first trilogy is an examination of revolutions and wars, this sequel trilogy scrutinizes the slippery slope of governance and politics. In classic Red Rising manner, Iron Gold never deals in moral absolutes. The readers are shown numerous sides of every political debate, and I can appreciate the hefty weight that Mustang carries on her shoulders as the Sovereign of the new Republic. Similarly, Darrow faces a multitude of challenges as he’s simultaneously the ArchImperator of the Republic, and a living symbol of The Rising. Our heroes’s exploits during the The Rising have been made into legend in the decade that followed the fall of society, but we will soon find out that being living gods is a tough act when the fate of the Solar System hinges on your every decision.

Alongside with the challenges of governance, we also see Darrow grapple with being a father and a husband. One of Darrow’s most enduring trait throughout the series is his inability to choose, whether it’s he’s torn between his identity as someone who’s both Red and Gold – or picking between his duties to the Republic and his responsibilities to Mustang and his son, Pax. We also see several other characters struggle with the fine balancing act that comes with a family, most delightful of all being the Barca – Sevro and Victra both retains the essence of their character, honed all the sharper in their roles as parents.

On the flipside to the Republic, the book also follows Lysander and Cassius as they travel to the Rim of the system.  The Rim is somewhere I’ve always wanted the first trilogy to explore in more details, so I felt gratified to see it in sharp focus during Lysander’s chapters. The culture of the Rim is derivative of Japanese traditions, in particular the honour codes of the samurai. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous to see the world building head towards this direction –thankfully the influences avoided cultural misappropriation by featuring more than stereotypes and aesthetics. Numerous new personalities emerge from the Rim, with my favourites being the two mother-daughter duo of Dido and Seraphina.

Another reason why I found Lysander’s chapter engaging was the philosophy by which he lived, as they are drastically different from my own. Although I don’t agree with his point of view, at times they infuriated me, I could always understand where he was coming from. I can’t wait to see where future books will take his character and his choices. A mirror to his own story arc, Lysander’s relationship with Cassius is fraught with contradiction and tension. Their brotherhood is tainted by mistrust and Cassius’s betrayal of the Golds ten years ago, yet strengthened by the time they spent in exile together. This series has such a knack for layered friendships and this one quickly became one of my favourites.

Two new voices are added in this series, and they both add another dimension of depth to the world of Red Rising. The first is Lyria of Lagalos, a Red been liberated from the mines – but finds herself shackled by poverty and prejudice that still plagues this new world. Her narration is filled with resentment towards Darrow and Mustang, along with the unfulfilled promises of the Republic. I loved her chapters, especially for the way Iron Gold incisively criticises the ongoing social injustices of the real world through it. The other point of view is Ephraim ti Horn, a Gray who once served in The Rising, but walked away once bloodshed and tragedies turned him cynical. Through his eyes, we see the underbelly of society, where gangsters and thieves are caught in an interplanetary web of crime and deceits. Ephraim is also the first main character in Red Rising to openly identify as gay, and I’m glad to see a step towards more inclusivity in this series.

The world building is expanded immensely in this book, yet it never gets in the way of the constant thrum of action. There are machinations from all sides, open-war and heart-stopping combat, betrayals and triumph, and underlying all of that – a deeply personal narrative about how difficult it is to remain a hero in a broken world.   But they bloodydamn try, and I love them all for it.

As I said to CJ on twitter earlier on today, it’s not a Red Rising book unless you feel your very existence is being threatened while reading it. Iron Gold certainly fits that bill, so Howlers: brace yourselves and pray for your faves.


Please tell me whether you’ve read this series, and let me know your thoughts. However: No spoilers for Iron Gold in the comments please, or The Reaper himself will come for you with his slingBlade.

I also posted some phone wallpapers based on the book earlier on this week, check them out here!

Book Review: The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night

36453128Rating Four Star

Title: The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night

Author: Jen Campbell

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Series? No

Goodreads

Book Depository  //  Dymocks  //  Booktopia


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review.

As a self-professed lover of fairy tales, their origins, and their reinvention, I was primed to love the whimsical and beautifully written collection of stories. Within these short stories readers will find tales imbued with the ghost of familiar fairy tales, intertwined in with historical facts that are stranger than fiction. The stories within this collection are driven by voices of the outcast, weaving the border between reality and fantasy, yet it remains consistently enchanting due to the beautiful imageries the writing conjures. The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a testament to the enduring power of fairy tales and their ability to withstand the test of time.

The Beginning of the World In the Middle of the Night

I’ll be reviewing some of my favourite stories within the collection below:

ANIMALS

First Lines: “These days, you can find anything you need at the click of a button.

That’s why I bought her heart online.”

The collection is off to a powerful and haunting start with Animals, a story set in a world where fickle and impermanent human hearts can be exchanged for hearts of a different kind – ones made of glass, or hearts which once beat in the chest of another animal. Fixated on finding the perfect heart for his girlfriend, the narrator of this story orders the heart of a swan. What follows is a tale that examines love and possession, intermingled with passages about hearts and animals from both myth and history. It’s fairy tale retelling meets Frankenstein: raw and visceral, dark yet beautiful, filled with human thirst – in short, it’s the perfect way to begin this collection. Continue reading “Book Review: The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night”

Book Review: City of Brass

36475759Rating Five Star

Title: City of Brass

Author: S. A. Chakraborty

Series? Yes, 1 of 3.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Goodreads

Book Depository // Booktopia // Dymocks


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Harper Voyager Australia in exchange for an honest review.

For me, City of Brass takes the title of Fantasy Debut of the Year. It contains an impressive and expansive world, populated by a cast of diverse and morally-complex characters. This is fantasy at its finest, imaginative and mesmerising, while also offering cutting commentary on the real world. There’s engaging action, compelling palace intrigues, slow burn romance, and everything else I could possibly love in fantasy – get this book into your hands!

City of Brass Continue reading “Book Review: City of Brass”

Book Review: Wild Beauty

33158561Rating Five Star

Title: Wild Beauty

Author: Anna-Marie Mclemore

Series? No

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Goodreads

Book Depository // Booktopia // Dymocks


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wild Beauty, like all of Anna-Marie’s Mclemore’s previous books, is filled to the brim with enchantment and beauty. The story contains all of the elements of a fairy tale: forbidden love, a family curse, an enchanted garden – mixed in with heartfelt exploration of sexuality, gender, and socioeconomic divide. Wild Beauty is a tale to be savoured, especially on warm spring days where fresh blooms are in sight and life is brimming with unexplored potential.

WildBeauty.png

The Nomeovildes women have inhabited La Pradera for more than a century, locked to the place by a dark legacy. With the Nomeovildes’s natural gift, La Pradera flourishes with lush vegetation and fragrant blooms – but should any of the women try to leave La Pradera, they succumb to an agonising end. Even more tragic is a powerful curse which erases any person the Nomeovildes women loves too deeply. They’re not only physically trapped by this otherworldly garden, it also emotionally separates them from the rest of the world. In Wild Beauty, we watch as the youngest generation of Nomeovildes women traverse their savage inheritance.

Wild Beauty is written in Anna-Marie Mclemore’s signature whimsical yet intimate style. I’m continually floored by how she manages to blend magic with heart-rending realism. Although magical realism is a subgenre I absolutely adore, at times I find it difficult to relate to the characters within these stories. This is never the case with Anna-Marie’s books, especially in Wild Beauty. All five of the Nomeovildes ladies have noteworthy characterisation, despite the relatively short length of the novel. Fel and Estrella’s narrative voices are distinctive, yet both manages to retain a lyrical cadence that I found arresting.

Aside from the visual wonders in Wild Beauty, the book is also rich in representation. All five of the Nomeovildes girls are initially in love with Bay, a genderqueer character. The novel portrays the fluidity of sexuality, and throughout the course of the book we witness many different kinds of love. Without giving too much away, Fel’s character arc was also an excellent commentary on race and class. Wild Beauty is brimming with hope and warmth, despite the dark and oppressive atmosphere of its setting.

Speaking of La Pradera, I don’t think any review of Wild Beauty could be complete without mentioning its haunting setting. To the Nomeovildes, La Pradera is a garden, a refuge, a home, but it is also a prison. The land thrives under their ministration and grow rich in beauty, but it also guards these women jealously –  crushing them down whenever they attempt to leave. Within the gardens, the reader will find blooms of every kind, moonlit spring nights, and dozens of mementos from generations of hopeful Nomeovildes girls. The complex relationship between the family and their land is one of the central focus of the novel, and I found the resolution absolutely satisfying.

As a lover of slow-burn romance, I was completely drawn in by the romantic entanglements in Wild Beauty. It felt forbidden yet inevitable, and I loved that it began as a tentative friendship and built upon a foundation of trust.

This is a book I can see myself revisiting time and again. I highly recommend this, along with Anna-Marie’s entire backlist, to everyone who wants to lose themselves in the magic of stories.

Book Review: Nevermoor

33276673Rating Four Star

Title: Nevermoor

Author: Jessica Townsend

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Series? Yes

Goodreads

Book Depository //  Dymocks  //  Booktopia


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review.

Nevermoor is an enchanting tale that celebrates individuality and relishes in the extraordinary. Morrigan Crow and The Wunderous Society will undoubtedly capture the imagination of generations of children and adults alike. Infused with wonders and magic, this is a story that begs to be shared by parents and kids everywhere.

Nevermoor.png Continue reading “Book Review: Nevermoor”

Book Review: The Language of Thorns

34076952

Rating Five Star

Title: The Language of Thorns

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Series? Spin-Off of the Grishaverse

Goodreads

Book Depository  //  Dymocks  //  Booktopia


Disclaimer: I received this book from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review.

The Language of Thorns is an enchanting collection of folklores from Leigh Bardugo’s richly embellished Grishaverse. Aside from the pleasure of reading stories your favourite Grishaverse characters would have grown up hearing, the beguiling tales within this collection will captivate readers with their subversive narrative and beautiful composition. In these stories, you will find human truths hidden amongst dangerous beasts and courageous maidens – simply put, this is fairy tales at its finest.

Language of Thorns 01

We have all grown up reading or hearing fairy tales, we know their rhythm as intimately as our own heartbeat. The stories within The Language of Thorns retains that familiar rhythm of a well-loved and oft-told fairy tale, yet they also manage to invent delightful and transformative twists. While Leigh Bardugo never flinches from portraying the cruelty and savagery of the Grishaverse in these tales, she doesn’t shy from infusing the stories with courage and optimism either. The writing throughout this collection is consistently lyrical and gorgeous, it’s one of those book that begs to be savoured on repeat.

I feel each of the six stories within deserve their own mini-review, so here goes. Continue reading “Book Review: The Language of Thorns”

Book Review: The Tiger’s Daughter

29760778

Rating Four Star

Title: The Tiger’s Daughter

Author: K. Arsenault Rivera

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Goodreads

Book Depository  //  Booktopia


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Tor and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Tiger’s Daughter captured my imagination the moment I heard about it. The summary suggested a sprawling tale of love and lost, where star-crossed lovers are caught in a predestined battle with ancient demons. Shizuka and Shefali’s relationship encompasses everything I seek in a romance –  filled with tragedy and promise, poetry and passion, and a sense of longing that left my heart aching.

The Tiger's Daughter Continue reading “Book Review: The Tiger’s Daughter”

Book Review: Godsgrave

34696801

Rating Three Star

Title: Godsgrave

Author: Jay Kristoff

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Series? Yes, 1 of 3

Goodreads

Book Depository // Dymocks // Booktopia


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Harper Voyager Australia, in exchange for an honest review.

Note: This review will contain spoilers for Nevernight, the prequel of Godsgrave. It will NOT contain any spoilers for Godsgrave itself.

I read Nevernight last year and was quickly taken in by both the book’s darkness and its ever-present sense of self-deprecating humour. Godsgrave contains the same wicked delights that made Nevernight an entertaining read. The latter half of Godsgrave amped up the stakes and imbued the series with a fresh new direction. However, I felt the book’s exploration of slavery was rudimentary, especially considering the significance of the subject matter.

Godsgrave

Let’s begin with the positives. With Godsgrave, we can see marked improvements in Jay Kristoff’s technical writing. While I enjoy descriptive and ornate writing, I have previously felt that Kristoff’s writing veered a little close to purple prose. The writing within this novel is more confident, with vivid imageries conjured by concise yet artful sentences. Like Nevernight, Godsgrave also features alternate narrative timelines. The main narration followed Mia as she slowly made her way into the arena of Godsgrave, and the ‘past’ narration documents why she decided to take this bloody and hopeless path. Continue reading “Book Review: Godsgrave”

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere

35221049

Rating Four Star

Title: Little Fires Everywhere

Author: Celeste Ng

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Series? No

Goodreads

Book Depository // Dymocks // Booktopia


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review

After reading Everything I Never Told You earlier in the year, Little Fires Everywhere instantaneously became one of my most anticipated releases for the second half of 2017. Little Fires Everywhere has all the elements that made Celeste Ng’s debut novel a triumph: an intimate examination of the relationships between family members, a nuanced portrayal of the various choices we make in life and where they lead us, and a riveting interplay between conformity and those who defies convention.

little fires everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere is set in Shaker’s Heights, an idyllic neighbourhood so distinctly confident with its orderly lifestyle that its motto is ‘Most communities just happen; the best are planned.’ Mrs Elena Richardson proudly lives by these words, and following rules have paid off in the form of a secure home in one of Shaker’s Heights more affluent neighbourhood – complete with a loving husband and four healthy teen children. The certainties in the Richardson’s lives are challenged when artist Mia Warren and her teen daughter, Pearl, moves into Shaker’s Heights. The dynamics between the two families create some tantalising conflicts which will unravel mysterious pasts and missed opportunities. Continue reading “Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere”

Book Review: Because You Love to Hate Me

35651100Rating Three Star

Title: Because You Love to Hate Me – 13 Tales of Villainy

Author: Various, all listed below. Edited by Ameriie.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Goodreads

Book Depository // Booktopia // Dymocks


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury Australia in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been very curious about this anthology ever since it was announced last year. Generally, the authors in the young adult community have a very strong social media presence, allowing them to interact with readers and bloggers on a daily basis. This collaboration between YA authors and some influential booktubers takes this relationship to a whole new level, and I was excited to see how this partnership would unfold. As with anthologies in general, I found this one a bit of a mixed bag – but it’s centred on villains, and I love to LOVE them. You can find short reviews of each individual story below.

Because You Love to Hate Me

The Blood of Imuriv by Renee Ahdieh, prompt by Christine Riccio

First Line: Everywhere Rhone walked, the nightmares followed.

I’m a fan of Renee Ahdieh’s descriptive writing style, but I felt this story lacked tension and was heavy on info-dump. The short story format does not lend itself well to adequate world-building, and although the story was set in space – the location and period could have changed and I would not have noticed any difference. I also found the story unfolded in a very clunky manner, with the villain’s internal monologue and motivation ringing false, perhaps this due to how restrictive and specific the prompt was. Continue reading “Book Review: Because You Love to Hate Me”