Pondathon Readathon

What is the Pondathon?

The Pondathon is a co-operative and story-driven readathon hosted and run by CW from The Quiet Pond. The aim of the Pondathon is to read books and collect points to protect the friends over at The Quiet Pond from the encroaching malevolent forces that threaten our friends in the forest.

Have fun participating in the Pondathon readathon by joining one of five teams, each with a unique way to collect points and signing up! You can also follow the story of the Pondathon as it unfolds, and participants can also complete ‘side quests’ during the readathon to collect extra points. The readathon takes place from January 24th 2020 to March 7th 2020. More information about the readathon can be found here.

Information about Joining the Pondathon

  • Create a blog post, bookstagram post, booktube video, Twitter thread, or whatever medium you wish, with ‘#Pondathon’ in the title or your tweet. Share the character you have created and your character card!
  • Share your updates on your blog/bookstagram/booktube and social media. You are more than welcome to tag @thequietpond or @artfromafriend on Twitter or Instagram in all your updates! We’d love to see all of the beautiful and awesome characters that you create!

My Pond Character – Marlock!

Readathon TBR

If you’re anything like me, I try to plan out my TBR but then fail miserably after the first read. I’m easily swayed by pretty covers and intriguing synopsis so I can never truly be held to account around which order I’m going to read books in (though this is something I’m trying to be better at in 2020!

Rather than post my aspirations here and then feel bad about myself when I don’t stick to them, I’ll keep my thread of ‘books read’ on Twitter so that way I am keeping myself accountable but also giving myself some of that sweet flexibility.

Best of luck to my fellow defenders!

Crown of Coral and Pearl – Mara Rutherford

For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.

Amazon | Goodreads

You took two daughters who loved you and turned them into weapons to exact your revenge, never realizing that there was no enemy

Crown of Coral and Pearl was an emotionally charged, fast paced story about the things you do for love (though with less pushing a child out of a window … but not by much). Nor and Zadie are Coral and Pearl personified, twin sisters raised to be beautiful in order to become a Varenian princess to marry the crown prince of Ilara. Beauty is what the Varenian’s covet, so when Nor becomes scarred from a childhood incident all attention is focussed on Zadie, leaving Nor the chance to become strong and learn other skills she may have been prevented from learning if she were protecting her beauty from unnecessary damage.

Nor would do anything for Zadie and her people, even impersonating Zadie when she becomes gravely injured and take her place as the chosen Varenian princess set to wed the cruel crown prince Ceren. Embroiled in court secrets and determined to uncover the truth about what is going on sets Nor down a path of self-discovery and fighting for those that she loves. Nor is a kind and compassionate individual who will do anything to save a life, even risk her own. Whilst prone to taking risks, she has the skills and the strength to back herself.

Nor and Zadie are such loving sisters and I really enjoyed reading the love they had for each other, how it tied them together across land and sea. The strength of this relationship and the fact that it was always a supportive relationship was a massive selling point of this book and was developed extremely well. I was concerned that this was going to turn into a love triangle with Nor, Crown Prince Ceren and Prince Talin as I really dislike love triangles, however the interactions between the three were most definitely not that of a love triangle and the budding romance between Talin and Nor was quite sweet. A protective male who also respects their LI’s decisions and doesn’t try to stop them from going into dangerous situations, but instead arms and steps back is the direction that I want from LI’s in all future books.

I’m definitely intrigued as to where this story is going to go in book 2.

*thank you to Harlequin Australia, HQ (Fiction, Non Fiction, YA) & MIRA and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Chasing the Shadows – Maria V. Snyder

Year 2522. Lyra Daniels is dead. Okay, so I only died for sixty-six seconds. But when I came back to life, I got a brand new name and a snazzy new uniform. Go me! Seriously, though, it’s very important that Lyra Daniels stays dead, at least as far as my ex-friend Jarren, the murdering looter, knows.

While dying is the scariest thing that’s happened to me, it morphed my worming skills. I can manipulate the Q-net like never before. But Jarren has blocked us from communicating with the rest of the galaxy and now they believe we’ve gone silent, like Planet Xinji (where silent really means dead).

A Protector Class spaceship is coming to our rescue, but we still have to survive almost two years before they arrive – if they arrive at all. Until then, we have to figure out how to stop an unstoppable alien threat. And it’s only a matter of time before Jarren learns I’m not dead and returns to finish what he started.

There’s no way I’m going to let Jarren win. Instead I’ll do whatever it takes to save the people I love. But even I’m running out of ideas…

Amazon | Goodreads

Chasing the Shadows begins where Navigating the Stars left off. Lyra Daniels is now known as Ara Yinhexi Lawrence aka Junior Officer Lawrence aka Mouse, following her sixty-six seconds of death at the hands of ex-friend/looter/all-around-asshole Jarren. For her own protection she is now sharing a Unit with Chief of Security, Officer Tace Radcliff aka the father of her incredible boyfriend Niall Radcliff aka Toad. Keeping her identity a secret is of utmost priority because if Jarren realises that she is alive, he won’t hesitate to come back and finish the job.

Ara undertakes officer training and learns how to push herself to limits she never knew before, both physically and mentally and it’s great to see a character with such self-confidence and grit in her own character. She knows who she is and fights for herself and those she loves. Ara commands respect both with her skill and with her compassion.

The level of detail that Maria V. Snyder went to in regards to the development of the Q-net, worming, HoLF’s and the overall world building is second to none and something that I have always enjoyed in Maria’s previous works. The Q-net and Worming just sounds so incredibly awesome that I wish it was in reality (though with all the technological advancements happening maybe it’s just a matter of time?).

I really like the direction that Maria is taking the novel in regards to the real purpose of the terracotta warriors, what the HoLF’s actually are, what Ara’s purpose is and how it all wraps together. I was pleasantly surprised with the end and I can honestly say that I didn’t see it coming and I’m looking forward to seeing how it is explained in book 3.

*thank you to Harlequin Australia, HQ (Fiction, Non Fiction, YA) & MIRA and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Storm and Fury – Jennifer L. Armentrout

Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…

Amazon | Goodreads

I hadn’t looked up at the stars in, like, forever, and it sort of hit me, you know? That one day I would look up and I wouldn’t see a star, and that would be it. I’d never be able to see something so … beautiful and simple again. Up until that moment, I’d taken that for granted. So, every night, I look up to see if I can see the stars.

If you’d have told me last year that I’d be saying that a shape-shifting gargoyle is a great LI, I would have asked for whatever you were on. Post-Storm and Fury, I’m 100% on this brand. Shape-shifting gargoyles is a first for me but I’m totally on board now.

Jennifer L. Armentrout is cementing herself as a trusty YA author to me (disclaimer note: much to my best friends’ disgust I still haven’t read the Lux series, but that will be taking place much sooner rather than later) and I can honestly say that if I’m reading one of her books, I know I’m going to have a good time.

Storm and Fury tells the story of Trinity, a secret hidden in a dangerous world, and the events that happen to her in her life. This is a very character driven story, so if you don’t like Trinity, then you’re not going to have an overly enjoyable time. Luckily for me, I was a massive fan of Trinity, so I had an incredible time. She is smart, strong and witty (though with her fair share of personality flaws – which are good because nobody is perfect) and I thought her expressions and mannerisms were very well written. I was taken along the journey with her and I understood her motivations for her actions. Zayne is a great ‘typical’ YA love interest, but that didn’t remove any of the shine from it for me. I like a good amount of predictability when it comes to LI’s, especially when it’s in a book that is full of character drama.

The book is very long, though it didn’t feel like I was slogging through a big book, I managed to get through it in a few hourly sittings and enjoyed it all the time I was reading it. The plot devices used throughout the book were really well done and the side characters that were introduced, especially Peanut and Roth, were very enjoyable to read. I’m curious to see where we are going to be taken in this world – there was enough shades of grey for all of the characters for me to be unsure as to where we might end up.

*thank you to Harlequin Australia, HQ (Fiction, Non Fiction, YA) & MIRA and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Beauty of Rosemead – Lucy Tempest

With everyone she loves at the mercy of fairies, Bonnie risks everything to cross the forbidden forest at the end of her world to reach them. She arrives in Faerie with unforeseen company, intending to resume the quest to break Leander’s curse.

The plan sounds simple enough: Cross every fairy court and bargain with the queen who cast the curse. But as their numbers dwindle, so do the petals of the rose counting down to Leander’s doom, and that of everyone bound to him.

As they keep being dragged off course in the uncharted land of unpredictable magic and time, trials and revelations will test all bonds and unearth painful secrets, ones even her insatiable curiosity cannot withstand. But after all their struggles, will they reach the Spring Court in time? And what if Bonnie fails to negotiate with the queen?

How far will she go to save her beastly prince, before the last petal falls?

Amazon | Goodreads

It’s comforting, knowing that no matter the stages life goes through, even if parts of it wither, if cared for and nurtured, it will bloom again.

Beauty of Rosemead is the stunning conclusion to Bonnibel Fairborn’s duology tale within the Fairytales of Folkshore world. To those of you playing along at home, you would be aware that I am a huge fan of this world and all the magical tales within it. You can check out my five star review of Beast of Rosemead here. I’m going to make this review as spoiler free as I can, as I strongly encourage everyone to read these books. For the best experience, I would suggest starting at Thief of Cahraman with Ada’s story.

We were left at a cliffhanger at the end of Beast of Rosemead of which we weren’t too sure where we would end up after that. I started this book with accepting that any path is possible and I was incredibly curious as to which way we would be directed. Bonnie and Leander’s blossoming love story in Beast of Rosemead was beautifully scripted and held all of the concerns, joys, insecurities and butterflies that a fairytale first love is said to have. I’m pleased to say that all of that magic was carried over into Beauty of Rosemead and developed even more holistically and heartwarming.

Bonnie learns a whole lot more than you might be expecting and the ramifications of this knowledge is felt throughout the entire book. Bonnie is a wonderful female character and displays strength in her kindness, embodying everything that you would think a fairytale role model should be.

It figured that the instant I finally took the leap into the unknown, I’d go from blind thirst for adventure to being crushed under breakers of doubt

One of the things that I love about the Fairytales of Folkshore is the way that all of the stories are interwoven and you are given hints as to what the next tales could possibly be. It’s not done in an over the top way either, it’s done in an organic way where you genuinely want to read more about these ‘side’ characters and are looking under every rock and leaf to try and figure it out for yourself. I have a few theories about potentials for the next few books, and I am excited to continue with this series to see if I am on the right path or if I’m lost in the brambles. Either way, it’s sure to be a magical journey.

An Illusion of Thieves – Cate Glass

In Cantagna, being a sorcerer is a death sentence.

Romy escapes her hardscrabble upbringing when she becomes courtesan to the Shadow Lord, a revolutionary noble who brings laws and comforts once reserved for the wealthy to all. When her brother, Neri, is caught thieving with the aid of magic, Romy’s aristocratic influence is the only thing that can spare his life—and the price is her banishment.

Now back in Beggar’s Ring, she has just her wits and her own long-hidden sorcery to help her and Neri survive. But when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it. To do so, she’ll have to rely on newfound allies—a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they’ll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic.

Amazon | Goodreads

“Where did the true evil lay? In the intent, or in the magic itself, or in the soul that made use of magic?”

An Illusion of Thieves was a tough book to rate. Up until about 91% of the book I still wasn’t sure what I was going to rate it, but then the ending happened and I had my mind made up for me quite quickly.

I’m not going to lie, going into this I thought it was a YA book, but very early on it was made quite clear that this was an adult book. There is a fair bit of brutality in this book and an open-minded approach to the life of a courtesan. Obviously there is a lot of grey area to touch on when there is a story about a courtesan who has developed a strong ‘relationship’ with the man she is courtesan for, because it opens up the discussion of master/owner and is there really room for a relationship to grow within those confines.

This book has very little romance, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s an intriguing thing. I liked the magic within the story and am looking forward to seeing how it develops even further in the sequel. The family dynamics was also written genuinely and showed genuine struggles which allowed me to connect with the MC and her brother.

If I had to describe Romy in one word I would go with intriguing. There is more than meets the eye with Romy and I don’t think we’ve seen all she has to offer yet. I liked how she was a strong, intelligent woman who made the best of whatever she was made to endure. There are definitely cracks starting to show with how much she has had to go through throughout her life, so I am interested to see how the author goes about this, whether she patches it up or lets it all fall apart.

*thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

I Am Change – Suzy Zail

They told her that her body belonged to men and her mind didn’t matter. They were wrong.

“What if I don’t want to marry?” Lillian held her breath. She had never said the words out loud. “Not want to marry?” Her aunt frowned. “What else would you do?”

Set in a Ugandan village, Lilian has learned to shrink herself to fit other people’s ideas of what a girl is. In her village a girl is not meant to be smarter than her brother. A girl is not meant to go to school or enjoy her body or decide who to marry. Especially if she is poor.

About the book

Inspired by the stories told to the author by young Ugandan women. Timely and salient – the rights of girls and women in African countries are only now being exercised. A moving story of one girls struggle.

200,000 million girls in developing countries don’t have the opportunity to go to school. Their education is disrupted by poverty, child marriage, gender based violence and cultures which favour boys’education. I Am Change highlights the issues that these young women face.

Through Lilian, Suzy Zail gives readers a connection and a meaning to the young women’s stories.

Where to buy | Goodreads

I Am Change is a powerful narrative inspired by true accounts of young Ugandan women. This book is the perfect blend of harrowing mixed with hope – it’s definitely not all smooth sailing however you are never left feeling entirely defeated, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel.

Don’t let what you cannot do rid you of what you can
This is definitely a character driven story and the main character is just so beautifully strong. Lilian fights for her worth, every single day. She fights to go to school, she fights to better her life and pursue her dreams – even amongst the constant oppression that the females in her village face (though let’s be honest this is happening in most villages). We are constantly told that being female is never enough. We can never amount to anything more than being a wife, a mother and a homemaker. Men don’t have to try even a fraction as hard, yet can still achieve what they want. They don’t have to ask and they get. If they don’t get then they’ll take.

This book is quite heavy in graphic details and doesn’t shy away from real world issues (female genital mutilation, child brides and rape), however Suzy Zail has approached the topics with such care that it doesn’t seem exploitative. You can tell that Suzy has done her research and she genuinely cares about the story she is writing.

In the Acknowledgements, Zail thanks the thirty brave Ugandan girls who opened up their lives and their intimate moments to Zail and trusted that she would tell their truth with compassion and grace. Zail also had a lady by the name of Namukasa Nusula Sarah assist with ensuring that everything was written with authenticity and stayed true. I believe it is the combination of these two things mixed with an easy to read writing style which makes this book one of the most important and thought provoking books of the year for me.

The main character in this book is a reflection of true people and true stories. If you would like to assist with helping to get girls into schools and keep them there, please consider following the below link and donating:

mycause.com.au/page/106767

*thank you to Walker Books Australia and AusYABloggers for providing a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review and participation in the blog tour

Meet the Author

Suzy Zail has worked as a litigation lawyer, specialising in Family Law, but now writes full time. Among other titles, she has written her father’s story, The Tattooed Flower, his life as a child survivor of the Holocaust. Her first novel for young adults, The Wrong Boy, was short listed for the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Awards, the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature, the WAYRBA, USBBY and YABBA awards. Her second novel with Black Dog Books, Alexander Altmann A10567, was a Notable Book at the CBCA Awards. She lives in Melbourne and has three children.

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/authorsuzyzail/
Websitehttps://www.suzyzail.com.au/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1359375.Suzy_Zail

If you would like to follow along with the review tour, please visit the AusYABloggers master post containing links to all stops ❤