Sword in the Stars (#2) by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

Published: 7th April 2020 (print)/ 7th Apr 2020 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Rock the Boat/Bolinda audio
Pages: 355/10 Hours 48 min
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

In this epic sequel to Once & Future, to save the future, Ari and her Rainbow knights pull off a heist…thousands of years in the past.

Ari Helix may have won her battle against the tyrannical Mercer corporation, but the larger war has just begun. Ari and her cursed wizard Merlin must travel back in time to the unenlightened Middle Ages and steal the King Arthur’s Grail—the very definition of impossible.

It’s imperative that the time travellers not skew the timeline and alter the course of history. Coming face-to-face with the original Arthurian legend could produce a ripple effect that changes everything. Somehow Merlin forgot that the past can be even more dangerous than the future…

After the first book I was expecting a lot from this sequel and a lot of answers and it certainly delivers. The old problems and new problems, as well as the world threatening and personal issues all coincide as each character makes their move through history and plays their roles.

Once again the creativity these authors show with creating a whole new, fantastically complex and stunning story but entwined seamlessly into the established Arthurian myth is something to marvel. These rich, flawed characters are in depth and unique and their complicated relationships with one another are never trivialised.

The diversity of the characters are highlighted further as they step into the past and I loved how the characters manage and reflect on their surroundings as a result. There’s conversations, so casual and important at the same time about identity. Coming from the future, even our future, it shows how far their society has come that this is such an everyday thing it isn’t even a big deal. Discussions about pronouns and having to be misgendered in the middle ages with the danger of hiding gender for protection – female and nonbinary knights are a hurdle but one that isn’t brushed over as a minor inconvenience. The characters talk openly about how it feels awful to be misgendered all day and how it wears them down. Capetta and McCarthy use the characters to remind us how whitewashed and male dominated this story has become over the centuries and how the middle ages were a lot more diverse than what has been told, even with the constraints of misogyny and sexism.

One of the things I loved, and it’s something that didn’t need to be included but I am so glad it did, was how the story breaks the fourth wall in a way with wonderful references to how the Arthurian legend has survived. Completely in narrative but the references are real with in jokes about the various versions of the legend told and retold throughout history in TV shows, movies, and other various books and retellings.

There’s so much contained within this story and it all works so well. There’s heart-warming romance, suspense and tension, action and drama all within a story of magic, time travel, space, and capitalism. I would love nothing more than to read more about this world and these characters but I also love that it’s confined to two books because those two books pack a punch I don’t know if I could handle another.

The conclusion is positively amazing. The way it fills in details and gaps, answers questions you didn’t even know were being asked and becomes a fabulous rich and complicated set of circumstances makes it the perfect story. This is the Arthurian retelling I didn’t know I needed but it one I will absolutely cherish.

You can purchase Sword in the Stars via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Once & Future (#1) by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

Published: 26th March 2019 (print)/29th August 2019 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company/Bolinda Publishing
Pages: 336/10 hrs and 54 mins
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I’m done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

First and foremost this story is phenomenal! It’s the King Arthur legend, set in the future, set in space, with a female Arthur and a fabulous, beautifully constructed time loop of curses and legends and a beautiful cast of diverse characters that you will fall in love with.

The world building is definitely something to love – the world that’s been created is incredibly clever and diverse, not only in the planets and their various structures but in the community and the characters as well. Honestly the detail throughout is a constant delight every time something else pops up and the way the original characters and established mythology is woven into this entirely new story is brilliant. It is the myth we all know but it also has a new story unfolding too which was amazing to read about.

The reimagining of Arthur and his legend is incredible; the fact that it feels like a completely new story but also a well told one at the same time is a credit to the imagination and writing skill of these authors. There’s intricate, complicated magic and age old magic being used alongside new players and it’s in these overlaps that you see the remnants of the old stories come through and the mythology stand out in this new construction.

The characters are such a huge part of the magic of this story as well. Ari and her brother, their sibling dynamics as well as their bond over being fugitives is a solid connection. I loved the other bonds between characters and how even with Merlin as the newcomer he fits into this established group really well. There’s a beautifully fluid introduction of the characters and their relationships to Ari are well understood, often with their own backstories seamlessly included. The dialogue and casual conversations never felt clunky or forced, this is a huge benefit of setting the story in the future, it normalises conversations and makes debatable things in the present day feel like outdated issues. There was no need for explanations, things just were and it is well understood.

There is so much I could gush about in regards to this story. Truly from start to finish I was captivated; I was in awe, and I was blown away by how beautiful and smart and funny this entire book was. Even the conclusion was perfect. This is only book one in a duology but the way details and gaps in the story are filled and how answers are given for questions you didn’t even know were being asked is astounding, and the absolute majesty of how it becomes a fabulously rich and complicated set of circumstances makes it a perfect story and one I could reread until the end of time.

You can purchase Once & Future via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

8th Blogiversary Celebrations + Int Giveaway!

Eight years today. Eight years! I will continue to be astounded by the passing of time every single year I celebrate my blogiversary because I am still mentally half back in that third year mark or somewhere even around the fifth where that was a mini milestone and seemed like a huge number. Now I’m at eight years and it’s closer to ten than not and that’s a whole thing in itself.

In eight years I know my writing has improved, I know I have read some amazing books, and shared some wonderful adventures but I also know I have been able to share all my thoughts and rambles and opinions with some great people in the book and blogging community. I would like to thank the wonderful people who have been following me from the very beginning, to those who found me along the way, and those who stuck around during those times when everything went a bit haywire over the years. I am incredibly grateful.

Last year was a year nobody was expecting so to come through the other side with people still wanting to read my reviews and my thoughts means the world.

I am excited about what this next year of blogging will bring, I have a few ideas up my sleeve for features which I am excited for and even though in person book events are on hold, there are always virtual events to look forward to.

Today though is all about celebrating and thanking you guys! I’m feeling super generous this year and I am giving THREE lucky people the chance to win ONE of the books from the selection below. Included is my Top Five reads from 2020 as well as a few other favourites I read this past year.

The Selection

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

Once & Future (#1) by A. R. Capetta

Heartstopper (#1) by Alice Oseman

The Adventure Zone: Petals the to Metal by Clint McElroy*

What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner

The Lightning Thief (#1) by Rick Riordan

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

 

*This item is a sequel that possibly won’t make any sense if you haven’t read the previous ones. Keep that in mind when picking your book.

 

To enter: For a chance to win one of the pictured books simply enter here and complete the Rafflecopter form.

Please note: This giveaway is international on the basis the Book Depository ships to your country. To see if you are eligible you can check their website.

Thank you for helping me celebrate and if you entered the draw I wish you the best of luck!

Giveaway runs until midnight AEDT on Saturday 20th February 2021

Top Five of 2020

Even with 2020 being what it was, I still managed to read some truly remarkable books. I am so excited to share these ones because some of these are so fantastic I had gifted them five stars before I’d even finished. I’ve got two gender flipped classic retellings, a brilliant graphic novel and stories full of fun and diversity and representation. Even the picture books are full of delight, filled with humour, absurdness and incredibly sweet.

Once & Future (#1) by A. R. Capetta

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This story is phenomenal! It’s the King Arthur legend, set in the future, set in space, with a female Arthur and a fabulous, beautifully constructed time loop of curses and legends and a beautiful cast of diverse characters that you will fall in love with. Honestly the detail and world building Capetta has done is a constant delight every time something else pops up and the way the original characters and established mythology is woven into it is brilliant. It is the myth we all know but it also has a new story unfolding too which was amazing to read about.

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (#1) by Mackenzi Lee

This was such an interesting book because I got to watch my own opinions of these characters gradually change as the book progressed. Lee takes you on a journey as you go from hating some characters to loving them and it’s a growth for them as well which is even better. The story is wonderful, it’s creative, full of sarcasm, has fabulous sibling banter and while it’s not overly complicated it has enough daring and adventure to make it captivating.

 

 

What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume

What stood out for me with this book was how much it felt like a real teenage story. Guillaume has captured the voice so well that you felt like these characters were real life teenagers living their lives in front of you. The story is perfect in that it shows how families and life can be imperfect and that teenage years can be downright messy. I adored it from start to finish and it’s an added bonus that it’s an Aussie YA because I loved seeing my own experiences reflected in a story.

 

 

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner

Gender flipped Robin Hood? Yes please. I loved every minute of this book, the way the original myth is woven into this retelling is amazing. Spooner doesn’t bring it into modern times or change the era, instead she gives us a brilliant story about another origin for the Robin Hood myth and it is one I will eagerly get behind. There’re secrets and danger and it’s full of tension and suspense which is stressful but also quite exhilarating when you know anything could happen. This is a story full of adventure but also full of love and justice, secrets and surprises.

 

The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal (#3) by Clint McElroy

I will admit if these keep coming out once a year they will end up on this list every time. I love this story and this is my absolute favourite arc in the Balance storyline and to see it play out before me with the images I tried to conjure in my head is fantastic. Pietsch has done another stunning job on the illustrations and as the next book in the series it is a great addition to the ongoing storyline. It is just as funny and just as brilliant as the podcast with the little adjustments required for the format change which adds its own special something.

 

Honourable Mention

I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

 

Top Five Picture Books

Stormy: A Story About Finding A Forever Home by Guojing

Truman by Jean Reidy

71 Sheep Try Soccer by Pablo Albo

The Good Egg by Jory John

The Duckling Gets a Cookie by Mo Willems